Samantha Ann King is an USA Today bestselling author who started writing in 2010. She is best known for her Lovers and Friends series, which she is planning on continuing in some form.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
My interest grew from my characters. I didn’t start out writing m/m. I wasn’t even reading it. I began writing an MFM ménage. Something happened between the two heroes in that first book that surprised me and them. In fact, we were all so shocked that we dropped it and didn’t explore it—at least not in that book. However, I’m currently writing a sequel in which that surprise is explored further. For my second book, I set out to write another ménage, another MFM, but the men were resisting. Turns out, they were already in a relationship…with each other. So I decided to explore that relationship. When I’d finished that book, Waiting for Ty, I realized they didn’t need anyone else. Their relationship was perfect. By my third book, I found it difficult to put two men and one woman in such an intimate situation and keep the men away from each other.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I have a humongous fan base? Really? Hey, I just write books. I’m lousy at promoting myself, which is why I have a publisher. For my last release, I actually hired a publicist, Dani Barclay, at Barclay Publicity. Dani convinced me to start a newsletter, so I’m growing that. I really enjoy interacting with readers on Facebook and at conferences and signings. I love getting email from readers, and I respond to every single one. I tweet sporadically. Twitter overwhelms me! I have a presence on Goodreads, but I’m not active there.
I began my career as most successful writers do, by writing and studying the craft. I read books on writing and attended writing conferences and meetings of local writers’ groups. I learned!
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
My surname isn’t very romantic, and even my husband and his father can’t agree on how to pronounce it. So I selected another family name—from my side, not my husband’s. Samantha Ann King was my great great grandmother.
Do you find that volunteering as an advocate for children’s issues has any influence on how you write?
Sure. The heroine in my first book, Sharing Hailey, is a professional grant writer. I was a volunteer grant writer. Because of my work with nonprofits, I realize how tight money is, and many of my characters volunteer not only financial resources but also their time. My husband’s work with kids also influences me. He mentors students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Several of my characters do the same: Landon in Waiting for Ty, and Meredith in Tempting Meredith.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
Why wouldn’t I want everyone to know that I write m/m? It’s not illegal…at least not in this country.
What was it like to move from Texas to New Mexico? Did the change have an influence on your writing?
Location doesn’t influence my writing as much as life experiences. Personally, I had difficulty adapting to New Mexico. I came from the lush green, humid, sea level city of Houston to the high desert of New Mexico. I dealt with altitude sickness the first two weeks, and I really missed the green. But the desert beauty finally won me over!
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
The short answer? Brokeback Mountain. We loved watching two tough men express tenderness toward each other. We were devastated they couldn’t be together. (I sobbed!) We wanted them to get their happily-ever-after! With gay romance or m/m romance, we get that happy ending. The long answer (I wrote a whole blog post on it!) is here.
What was it like to decide to write erotic romance in 2010? Was it a reaction to the beginnings of having an empty nest?
This is a difficult story to tell. When I took up writing…for the second time, my nest wasn’t quite empty. My son had gone to college, and my daughter was starting high school. I was trying to decide how to fill those long days without them. I’d tried my hand at writing before my kids were born and when they were young, but I’d put it away because of my oldest daughter’s health issues. When she died, I simply didn’t have the heart for writing, so I didn’t go back to it. I focused on my kids (probably too much!). Fifteen years later, when I was trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I kept coming back to writing. I resisted because I knew how difficult it was to publish. Finally, I just said what the hell. I started Sharing Hailey and finished it six months later. One of my old writing buddies encouraged me to enter it in a contest for feedback. I won the contest, which was judged by Angela James at Carina Press. She asked for the complete manuscript, and a month later I got “the call.”
What are you currently working?
Readers asked for it, so I’m working on a sequel to Sharing Hailey. That first book I mentioned earlier? The one in which the men surprised me? Yeah, they’re finally dealing with their feelings.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I usually start with a character, and I sketch out some ideas before I sit down to write. I wouldn’t call it an outline because it’s very informal—just some notes scattered here and there. The first draft is getting to know the characters and doing research. I do both at the same time. The next few drafts are fleshing out the scenes, fixing those that aren’t true to the characters, and choosing the best words to express what’s going on as far as mood, plot and characterization. With my first two books, I wrote in a linear fashion—from page one until the end. For the third book I skipped around, and I’m doing that with the fourth, too. I don’t think there’s any right way to write a book. I think it depends not only on the writer but also on that particular story.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
Anywhere from six months to a year.
What was it like to win first place for Erotic Novel in 2013 through OKRWA IDA?
All of the awards and recognitions have been thrilling. Writing doesn’t come with that feedback of bi-weekly or monthly paychecks. My publisher sends quarterly royalty checks. Other publishers send them every six months, and the first doesn’t typically arrive until a year or more after the book is released. That can be years after it’s been written. It’s a long time to wait for validation! Awards and other recognitions help get me through the interim when I’m convinced that every word I put on the page is crap.
What advice do you have for those thinking about writing gay romance and what advice do you have for those who are trying to build an audience from scratch?
First, don’t write a story that you’re not passionate about. Then research what you don’t know. Learn the craft. Connect with other writers. Write, write, write, and if necessary revise, revise, revise.
As for building an audience, I think the best thing you can do is write a good book and another and another. My publisher seconds this. Again and again she says, “The best thing you can do for sales is write another book.” But if you just can’t help yourself (I know I can’t!), I’ve found that reviews—whether positive or negative—and excerpts on blogs increase sales. I haven’t noticed an increase with paid ads, except for Bookbub.
Thanks so much for having me today. These were great questions!