L.A. Witt is best known for her novels Rules of Engagement and Where Nerves End. She is lucky enough to write full time, which helps produce books that her readers love. Her ability to write believable characters create novels where the pages fly.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
To be honest, someone dared me to write a male/male romance after I wrote a male/male sex scene to prove a point to a writing group. A member of the group insisted that women couldn’t write believable sex scenes from a male perspective, so I upped the ante and wrote a male/male sex scene. After that, another member dared me to write a full-length erotic romance with two men. The result was Rules of Engagement.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I’m still not entirely sure. LOL I set out to write hetero erotic romance, then started writing gay romance after the dare mentioned above, and… just kind of never stopped. The fan base grew with time, and got a few boosts along the way thanks to publishers like Samhain and Riptide, not to mention collaborative projects like Tucker Springs and Market Garden. And it blows my little mind to have this kind of a fan base – readers, y’all are awesome!!
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
That would be one of those early career decisions that made sense at the time, but I might do differently if I could go back and do it over. Not the name itself – L.A. Witt is actually my real name – but maybe not have two pen names (I also write as Lauren Gallagher). It was simple at the time – one name wrote gay romance, one wrote hetero – but got a little more complicated as I started adding trans*, bisexual, and lesbian romances, not to mention expanding into other genres (I’ll be releasing some mainstream-ish SFF in the next year or so). One name would have been simpler. Live and learn, right?
What was it like to move to Okinawa, Japan? Was it a culture shock?
It was quite the adventure! I loved Okinawa. I definitely wouldn’t be upset if the Navy sent us there again. And yes, there was definitely some culture shock, though there was probably more when we moved back to the States. When you move someplace foreign, you expect everything to be different and confusing, so you kind of roll with it. When you come back to your own hometown and feel like you’ve just landed on a new planet? That’s a weird feeling.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
I can’t actually think of anyone who doesn’t know I write M/M. I promote my books on my personal Facebook page, and that has friends, family, former co-workers, etc., on it, so… it’s not much of a secret.
What is it like to express your life through your webcomic, Marginally Unhinged? Do you plan on continuing it?
It’s fun! It’s a really relaxing thing to do on a day off. I do plan to continue it, but I lost PhotoShop (which I used to make the comics) when my laptop imploded. I’m learning to use another program, so hopefully I can resurrect the comic eventually.
Do you find that photography as a hobby allows you to express yourself in ways that writing cannot?
Oh yes. Getting behind a camera requires an entirely different mindset than writing. It gives me a chance to shut off the verbal side (though the characters never shut up completely). Sometimes it’s cool to see what you can do with something already in front of you (i.e., taking an interesting/artistic shot of a landscape or an object) versus conjuring something out of what may as well be thin air (writing).
What are you currently working on?
Oh lord, what am I not working on? At the moment, I’m co-writing another Wilde’s book with Aleksandr Voinov, and a hot little contemporary with Cat Grant. There are a few other collaborations in the works too. On my own, I’m working on a couple of M/M novellas, a hetero novel, a couple of modern Mafia books (including a sequel to Aleks Voinov’s Dark Soul), and an inspirational romance. Yes, I’m actually writing an inspirational book. No, I don’t know how that happened either.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I outline, but pretty vaguely. Just enough to know the general direction of the story. I write out of sequence, so I need to know the basic sequence of events to avoid continuity issues. I also edit as I go, so by the time I finish the first draft, the book is about 75% complete. At least until my editors get their hands on it.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
These days it’s taking me longer to finish one book because I’m working on multiple projects simultaneously, so it can be 2-3 months from start to finish. If I’m working on one book, uninterrupted (i.e., no edits), with nothing else going on, I can write a novella in 4-5 days and a novel in 2-3 weeks.
What was it like to write Quid Pro Quo alongside Aleksandr Voinov? Was it difficult to work with another writer?
Quid Pro Quo was actually our third book. The first one we wrote together was Unhinge the Universe, which was mind-blowing. It was my first ever WWII historical (second historical of any flavor), first co-written book, first time I’d written M/M in third person, etc. The very first day, we wrote over 20,000 words together because the story hit the ground running (almost literally – the first line of the book is our character landing after parachuting, lol), and we immediately fell into sync with each other’s voices, thoughts, etc. Co-writing is AWESOME. It’s actually easier for me than writing solo – when you hit a snag or a lull, your co-writer can pick it up and run with it. It’s great fun. I’ve also written with Cat Grant and Marie Sexton, and I’m currently working with Anna Zabo and Brien Michaels, as well as one other co-author who I will hopefully announce sometime in 2015.
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?
Write what you’d like to read. It sounds silly and simple, but it’s true – chances are, if there’s something you want to read but can’t find, you’re not the only one. Write that, and the readers will read it.