Kimber Vale writes across genres-from Gay Romances to Sci/fi. Her ability to hold attention through believable characters keeps the reader’s eager for more. She is best known for her novels Forever is Now and Star Catcher.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
All the sub calls for gay erotica over on the Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association site got me started. I hated having to ignore those calls and stick to the M/F, especially when I saw a theme that piqued my interest. I bought a few MM romance novels (K. A. Mitchell devirginized me) and read them and decided to give it a try.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
Wait a second—are you sure you’re interviewing the right person? If I have dedicated readers, I don’t know that their numbers are bigger than double digits, but I’m hopeful that with each successive book, that list grows. I’ve been happy with my sales, but I also put in a lot of overtime marketing. I definitely don’t hit crazy numbers like some MM authors do. Yet. 😉 Oh, optimism! Aren’t you adorable!
I started out writing short stories, so I do have a decent-looking backlist with my anthologies included. It was always my hope that I’d both find readers and hone my craft that way. And shorts give me permission to try genres I wouldn’t normally jump right into with a novel idea, so I highly recommend them to both beginner and seasoned authors.
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
Umm, I guess it was never really a question of whether or not I would use a pen name. For one thing, I started out writing horror shorts under my real name, and didn’t want to cross the streams. Also my hubs is a private guy who, although proud of me, likes that I keep my writing persona and personal one separate. Unless I need his help with research.
Has your background in being an RN influenced your writing in any way?
I think yes. On more than one occasion, especially when writing horror, having a medical background has come in handy. My current WIP definitely has a medical slant and I love writing what I know—so much easier than all the research involved in writing other professions.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
I pretty much tell everyone. 😉 I’m no more tight-lipped about writing MM than I am about writing erotic romance in general. Heck, even romance has its baggage and can result in authors being taken less seriously than just about every other genre. When I was at my fifth grader’s parent teacher conference this past year, I offered up the info that I was a writer. Her teacher asked me my pen name, but I told her I’d rather not say—I guess there are a few people I don’t feel comfortable telling. Mostly it’s a matter of not knowing who they might tell, and in this case, I didn’t want it to affect her treatment of my “amazingly talented writer” daughter. 😉
What was it like to create the “revenge” dynamic between Chance and Alex in Forever is Now, and make it believable?
The song stealing and subsequent revenge was pretty much my initial concept for that book—that and Chance’s appearance. So, the emotion I thought Alex would feel at Chance’s betrayal felt raw and real to me, and pretty much carried the first part of the book. I find it’s so much easier to write when I “know” my characters, and so I now do extensive worksheets for each one before I start typing away.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
Tough to say. I think many MM authors have tried to pinpoint it (and some have become sacrificial lambs when their answers were taken out of context), but for me, I think it was the added element of “we can’t be together” that many MM books have. Loads of MCs are still in the closet, so that’s an additional force pushing two people apart that MF romances don’t have. I think it adds extra new and exciting layers to the big bad misunderstanding and that initially made me love MM. Granted, I’ve read plenty of books with the two dudes out and proud, and loved them as well, but at first, I think that’s what drew me. You still get all the other reasons people fight and break up, plus that big one to play with.
What was it like to create the world within Bound by Ink? The idea that tattoos mean more in the story than they do in this world must have been exciting to explore.
Well, I’m a big tattoo fan. Someday, I’ll convince my hubs that I should have another… 😉 Anyway, the sub call for Written in Flesh, where Bound by Ink initially was published, absolutely intrigued me. I was still trying my hand at MM and at longer works when I wrote that. It was very much an exercise in writing gay sex and in completing a longer story. Prior to that, I had a 140,000 word unfinished YA paranormal WIP under my belt and a slew of MF and horror shorts. I wanted to convince myself I could write bigger, I guess. I could have done more with world building in that story, in hindsight, but I had the story idea, and wanted it fairly action-packed with plenty of sex and tattooing. I like to think I met my goals.
What are you currently working on?
I started the first in a new contemporary MM series not too long ago. I’ve been sidetracked with edits for my August 18th release, Hard Act to Follow: Shooting Stars 3, and promo stuff, and beta reading, and hobbits home for the summer…but, anyway, I hope to dive back in soon. It will be the first in three sorta tangentially related books (even less related than my Shooting Stars series). The first book involves an odd romance pairing—an ex-porn star and a funeral director. I’m trying to keep it from being too dark. 😉
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I spend a long time writing notes by hand in a comp book and on tiny snippets of paper that are taking over my desk. Eventually, I’ll sketch out a chapter outline when I feel like I have a good enough feel for my plot. I do character worksheets to figure out who the hell these guys are, and then finally I write. Occasionally, I’ll dive right in when a scene really grabs me by the balls, but then I always take a step back and outline. I don’t rewrite a ton, unless it’s something like flash fiction or a short story where every word needs to be the absolute best word.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
If I don’t get too much outside interference, probably about 3-4 months. I’m not all that prolific. I’m a NaNoWriMo flunky for sure. And then when you start factoring in promo stuff, it probably takes longer. My last novel (62,000 words) was 5 months from start to submission, but I had quite a few starts and stops with edits and promo for the prior release. I’m hoping I get more streamlined as I go.
The story you created in Star Catcher is interesting, where did you get the idea of aliens taking women to procreate on their planet?
I’m rather embarrassed to say that I was inspired by Katy Perry’s ET song. It was pretty sexy and got me thinking about hot aliens. That book started out as two inspired sex scenes. Then I went back to the outlining stage and tried to figure out what the actual story was.
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 think the universal READ applies to all authors. Read the genre you want to write. Read other genres, too. There are plenty of “how to” books out there, as well. Enjoy what you write, because if you don’t feel any passion about writing it, your readers won’t feel any reading it.
I think that it takes a long time to build a platform. I’ve written erotica of some form for three years now, and I am absolutely still building mine. Brick by boring brick. 😉 Anything worth doing takes time and effort. Grow your backlist. Be social, not spammy. Put out the absolute best work you can, because if you lose a reader the first time they pick up your book, you don’t get them back later when you bust your ass to write prize-winning prose. If it sucks, fix it before you put it out there. Find great beta readers and cherish them. Treat your fans like gold because they are. When you get a bad review or someone T’s you off on Facebook, open that file that never sees the light of day and write your scathing response there. Save it for next time, but never set it free. You’ll still feel better without punching holes in your own ship. 😉
Thanks for having me, Jamie! ☺