Interview with Author N.R. Walker

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N.R. Walker is best known for her novels Blind Faith and Point of No Return. She started writing one day and hasn’t stopped since, creating novels that take readers along for the ride with emotional plots.

What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?

I first found m/m in slash fanfiction. (I read and wrote fanfiction long before I wandered into the Original fiction world)  And I could not believe how HOT it was!  I’ve not read a het story since.

How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?

I began writing original fiction after an initial push from my hubs to give it a go. I don’t know if my fan base is ‘humongous’ LOL but I do believe I have been so very lucky (and blessed) to have the readers I do. I know quite a few readers followed me when I wrote fanfiction and we morphed into original fiction at around the same time. But the fanfic world is small compared to the big wide world of original fiction, so it can’t all be attributed to that. To be honest, I think a lot of comes down to luck – being in the right place at the right time. People took a chance on me when I was a newbie, and I’m grateful that they’re still with me.

What was it like to write blind character Isaac Brannigan? Was there a lot of research to do? 

I did quite a bit of research to get Isaac right. I read a LOT of articles written by people living with little-to-no sight, and learned a lot of their everyday hardships, which I tried to incorporate into Isaac. Realism in this regard was very important to me – I wanted people to understand him. Isaac is arrogant, stubborn, rude and infuriating (someone reviewed him as the most despised character ever LOL) but he’s also dealt with a lot of loss in his life, and the way he lashed out at people was purely a defence mechanism. Fortunately for Isaac and Brady, Carter saw through that.
I had two readers contact me to tell me they’d dealt with a spouse and a family member learning to live with sight loss, and they wanted me to know that I got the emotional side, the outbursts and the difficulties, of Isaac absolutely right. Those two comments meant a lot to me.

Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?

I don’t make it public knowledge in my real life that I write, not just gay romance, but write at all. I have only recently told my parents that I write anything, and that it was gay romance. Friends and family are starting to find out more and more, and that’s fine.
I live in small, conservative, regional town and I don’t think the school which my children attend would probably be too welcoming, but I certainly wouldn’t lie if asked about it.

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and achieved your dream of being able to write full time?

Well, as of the beginning of June of this year, this became a reality for me. ☺  It’s been a very long time coming, and between my old job and my writing, it was like working two full-time jobs for years. I survived on very little sleep, and missed out on a lot of school things with my kids.  It was very taxing, personally and professionally, and when my employer basically gave me an ultimatum (work longer hours or leave) I chose to leave.
Best thing I ever did. ☺

Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?

A few reasons, I think. One, because it’s hot. The only thing better than one hot, sexy guy, is two, right? LOL  But also seeing these characters deal with emotions, vulnerability, obstacles, adversity – it’s a different concept than the usual ‘damsel in distress’ trope we see in het romance. This is a broad generalisation, I know. Not all het romance/erotica falls into this category, but I think readers started looking for something more.

What was it like to create Matthew Elliot? Was it difficult to research his job as an officer?

The only thing I found different was researching how the American police hierarchy differs from Australia. The Turning Point Series was never really about policing though (the whole criminal case was more a subplot) because it focused more Matt and Kira as a couple.  I did more research for the second book, Breaking Point, which takes place mostly inside a Mixed Martial Arts cage, and also for Sal, the deaf father.

What are you currently working?

My WIP is a bit of a secret ☺  I’m currently 19K into an expected 60K story. I will post/talk about more when I get closer to being done.  I used to post details on my facebook wall, until I mentioned wanting to write something and what I would call it, and the next day it was added to Goodreads as a book. I contacted GR and asked them to remove it – as there was no such book – and they refused LOL  So out of all the ridiculousness, I learned not to post details, sorry 😉

Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?

I always have characters in my head before a story line. I can see them, I know if they’re funny or hurting, and the story evolves from there. I always have the ending in my head first, and usually write that scene before anything else.  Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don’t. Outlining can be great to steer the story, but I let the story write itself and sometimes outlining can curb the creativity.
So, I start with the ending first. Then go back to the beginning. I will add ‘milestones’ or major plot points that the characters need to go through, but the rest is ad lib.
I don’t rewrite, or very rarely. I am lazy to the point of horrendous, and will only do a read through/edit once before sending it off to pre-readers and my editor.

How long does it typically take you to write a novel? 

Depending on what’s going on in real life, on average I can expect to write between 10K – 20k a week.

What was it like to offer your free story Sixty Five Hours as rewritten fan fiction? Do you think it effected how people looked at it?

Giving Sixty Five Hours (and my other once-fanfics Learning to Feel, and His Grandfather’s Watch) as free-reads was perfect for me. They were free in the beginning (as online fanfiction) so I thought it was only fair that they stay free.  It was a great way to gain new readers, especially when starting out, because people could check out my writing style, and it only cost them time to read. ☺
I don’t think people judged 65H as ‘once-was-fanfiction’. Well, I hope they didn’t. It was never meant to be taken seriously (plot-wise) and I hope they enjoyed it based on the light, entertainment factor it was written in.

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?

Check out anthologies in publisher’s submission calls. Most anthology pieces are short (10-20k long) and it will be a great way to get a foot in the door. Then, when you write/submit something longer, you can say you have been published before. It will also show/teach you how the publishing process works, from submission to editing. It’s a fantastic way to start.
Offer freebies. They don’t have to be long, intricate masterpieces. But it gives people a chance to see how you write, and basically, if your writing is worth paying for.
Don’t expect things to happen quickly. One thing I have learned, is that the publishing game is slow and can take months from start to finish. This is very different from the instant gratification I was used to with fanfiction, so be patient.
Get yourself an online presence, such as Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, Goodreads. Join readers/writers groups online and talk about books you love, discuss how fabulous this genre is (because it is, it really is)  and avoid negativity at all costs. There’s no quicker way to commit professional suicide than being a “disgruntled author” or just being a general bitch online.
Be prepared for criticism, rejection and the blatant stripping of months of your hard work. It will happen, and you need to accept that. Not everyone will love what you do. Ignore it, learn from it, eat cake because of it, whatever. Deal, and move on. Remember that reviews are not for the author, they’re for other readers.
That being said, always write what you want. Don’t worry what other people might think of it, or how readers/reviewers might react. Write for yourself, and from the heart. It shows. And love what you do, because at the end of the day, it’s a pretty awesome place to be.

 

Jamie Lake is the author of Bad Boy: Naughty at Night and other m/m gay romance novels.

      

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