Best known for her novels The Guy From Glamour and Exposed, Skylar Cates is nothing short than a great author. Her novels keep readers wanting more, and whatever she writes next will keep the pages turning.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
Well, the stories really. I fell in love with them as a reader first. Then through a series of coincidences, and some time on my hands due to a brief, mandatory bed rest, I found myself writing one.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
Oh, wow, thank you, but I’m shocked by the word humongous! I truly love hearing from my readers, so the idea of a fan base at all delights me. I have absolutely no clue how to grow a fan base. I simply try and produce the best story possible and hope readers enjoy it.
I do have a Facebook and Twitter account (and a neglected blog too), but I don’t go crazy trying to promote myself or anything. In fact, I prefer just chatting with people about other things.
I began with writing poetry, but I got paid in copies of the magazines, and that did not pay my bills. I stopped writing for a time, but when I drifted back into it, I was suddenly caught up in the world of fiction. I still love poetry, though.
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
Privacy. I’m shy at times. It really has little to do with the genre at all (my family and friends all know), and I’d keep a pseudonym no matter what genre I explore. I feel that having a pseudonym gives me a little distance. I like being able to turn off social media and step away from it all.
What is it like to attend conventions like Rainbow Con?
That was a blast! I signed up again for next year too. Honestly, everybody there was warm and welcoming—they made it easy for me to join in the fun. Since Rainbow Con was my first convention, I can’t compare it to any others. I’d say the biggest thrill, aside from just connecting with people, was being asked to autograph a paperback copy of my book. I enjoyed the panels as well. There were some fabulous discussions.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
Hmmm….That’s a tough question. Pretty much everybody in my life knows what I do. I’m proud of it. Why shouldn’t I be? I think everybody deserves a romance. I suppose some of the parents of my children’s friends? I would not want my kids to be hurt by something I do, you know? On the other hand, if those parents disapprove, then they were not people I want my kids around anyhow. I’m a huge advocate of civil rights, and nothing makes me angrier than prejudice of any kind.
Where have you traveled across the country, and has it influenced your writing?
I’ve traveled quite a lot, both in America and abroad, and I lived in many areas too: New York, California, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, California….Yes, it influenced my writing. It allows me to be comfortable in various settings. I enjoy creating different landscapes and exploring different ethnicities in my books. I could do that if I had never traveled too, but I think having lived there does help my comfort level about the accuracy of the setting. That said, some areas I have not been to visit in years, and I still google things and try and double-check it all.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I think there are so many talented writers in this genre, and women want a good story (as do men).
What was it like creating the character of Dean Pierce?
Oh, I loved creating Dean! I started out with the idea of a guy who never had real relationships, and who was lonely for contact, not just love, but family too. The other trick for writing Dean was to approach him like a man visiting another planet. Seriously, lol, that was my mantra as I wrote him: he has landed on an alien world and does not speak the language—go!
What are you currently working?
A new trilogy. It is set in Florida and revolves around four housemates. When a tragedy strikes, it sends them all into different directions. It was totally unplanned. I was supposed to finish a Shifter novella. I still hope to do that one too.
I also finished a sweet YA holiday story that I submitted to Harmony Ink.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I start with the idea and briefly outline the characters. I don’t plot it out to death, but I have a definite idea of what I want.
I absolutely rewrite it. I go through draft after draft. I tend to revise every three or four chapters at a time. I’ll revise again at the end, revise with my early beta readers, and with my edits. Finally, I drive my editor crazy because I‘ll even revise at the galley stage. I need to work on letting go, lol. Truly though, it matters to me deeply, and I want to put out the best possible product. I’m grateful to anybody who gives my work a try.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
The first draft is anywhere from four to six months, (although, maybe less on a novella), and I’ll spend another four to six months revising it. Some stories are faster, and some are slower. For example, when I co-wrote a novella with Cate Ashwood, we wrote fast and furiously. It was like some gift from the heavens. It also might have been working with a partner and not carrying the entire load that made it go quickly, but Exposed took me nearly two years.
Exposed explores a dynamic of betrayal that is often not seen in novels. Was it hard to write this novel because of this?
I wanted that dynamic. It remains one of my favorite things about the book. I knew that I wanted forgiveness to be earned too, and not come instantaneously. That was equally important for me. As a reader, I disliked books that had a big betrayal, say a fake pregnancy or something, and the forgiveness was in the same paragraph as the big revelation of the secret baby. The same paragraph! It irked me, and I knew I wanted a more realistic timeframe for the betrayal in Exposed. Does that make sense? And yes, it was hard to write in terms of emotional output, but it was also rewarding for me.
I’ll tell you what was also hard to write in that book—getting Rafe on the yacht. My original version did not have Hector too. I added a friend partly to give Rafe somebody to talk with as he kept his secrets from Daniel.
Okay, I feel as if I’m babbling on this question. Moving on!
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?
I’m too new at this to really give advice. But I’ll try—
Don’t hurry the book. Live with it. Revise it. Read it out loud, have friends read it, before you try and publish it.
The main thing, though? Write it! Finish it.
Building an audience is a mysterious thing, and my best piece of advice would be to write from your heart. Hopefully, your readers will feel that sincerity. I’d also add to be kind to fellow authors. Authors are readers too. They are also people. Never put somebody else down to make yourself look better. Be grateful for every moment.