Brina Brady is best known for her novel Rent Me, and is continuing to write. She has a skill to create characters that feel real. Readers are pulled through a story that keeps the pages turning.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
To be quite honest, two years ago I never heard of m/m fiction. I read books about Polygamy, every book they wrote on the subject. One day, Amazon suggested that people who read this book read Lynn Kelling’s Whatever The Cost. This was my first introduction to m/m fiction.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I have always written novels, but never published them. I began reading m/m novels to the tune of 300 of them and I decided I could write one. I knew what I wanted to read so why not write what I like. I also joined GoodReads and wrote many reviews. I gathered up as many friends that have similar reading tastes, too. I created a FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google + accounts, too. I joined writing groups and took classes. I think all of the above contributed to my fan base.
Has your background in teaching influenced your writing?
Teaching hasn’t really influenced my writing, but the education prior to teaching has as well as the continuing education I have had. Organizing a lesson is somewhat like organizing scenes for a chapter.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
All-important people in my life know what I write. However, they won’t read it. Some religious people might drop me as a friend if they knew. Oh, I would hate for any of my former students to find out. Not because I write m/m fiction but the sexual content is not fitting for any of my former students. That would be bad. I certainly don’t want any of them to see me in that context.
What was it like to work at an all boy group home, and to teach at a Juvenile Hall?
I love working with teen boys. The boys I had were troubled and needed some direction and guidance. Most of them didn’t like who they were. It’s tough being young and feeling bad about yourself every day.
One facility had placement on Wednesdays, this meant some kids would be placed in a foster home. Many siblings and friends were split up and this caused for somber Wednesday. Of course, some were left behind and that was sad, too. Many tears were shed on Wednesday, so we had tissues on hand for them. I remember driving home in tears. It was very gratifying to be able to help them and sad when they left placement.
The Group home was a placement where you had six teenage boys to a house. I was in charge of everything. I drove a big blue van and took them to the beach, which they loved. We had group sessions to discuss their problems. They were abused teen boys. I assigned all the jobs in the house. It was the lowest paid job I’ve ever taken, but the most rewarding. I got paid fifty dollars from Friday until late Sunday.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
Women love men. Two men are better than one. Me, personally I don’t care to read about woman parts during the sexual act. I prefer focusing on the men. I like men and that’s what I want to read.
What was the inspiration for Rent Me?
I suppose I was always fascinated with rent boys and Russian mobsters. I had to amp it down because I like to write taboo topics, but I had to restrain myself as not to be banned on arrival.
I read about Putin’s stand against gays in Russia and that disturbed me greatly. There goes my trip to Russia. I wanted to show how difficult it could be for a gay man to fight his desires and his culture. Dmitri loved Brennen but he had many cultural forces against his lifestyle with Brennen. I wanted to show that Dmitri, like any repressed person could grow and accept who they are regardless of the cost. In his case, Dmitri lost friends and family’s respect.
What are you currently working?
I am working on Bend Over. This is a book about eighteen year old Shane O’Rourke who runs away to California because he has a secret. Shane meets Julien Callier, a black Dom from Martinique. They form a BDSM relationship. It will be their struggles in their relationship. Shane falls in love with Julien instantly. Julien wants Shane but on his terms only. Shane has no experience with BDSM and is willing to do anything within reason for Julien but sometimes things don’t work out as planned.
I’m also working on Own Me, which is Rent Me part 2. This will be about them as a married couple living the BDSM lifestyle. They will fight like cats and dogs but in the end, they still love each other.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
My writing process begins with two characters and then I add more. I fill out a thorough character chart for each. I create in Scrivener because I am able to have pictures of my characters while I type. From this point, I begin writing and have my characters talk to each other. My first draft is dialogue with sparse settings and descriptions. For some reason, I like to focus on 3000 words at a time. I will work it for a week until the skeleton grows some flesh. During this process, I add more action and beats to the tags. The description is more detailed, sometimes too much then later needs cutting.
In Rent Me, I did extensive research on the Russian culture and Russian mobsters located in California. I know California since I lived there. I wanted to make sure Dmitri reacted to his oppressive culture and grew from it. He was suppressed as a child because in Russia you can’t be openly gay. This caused problems for him because he was in love with Brennen, but he married Nika to appease his family and friends. I like to create conflict in each chapter.
I researched rent boys on Twitter to see why they liked their job. Another great resource for me was Tumblr. The pictures fused my imagination for sex scenes. I also investigated some pictures and videos on some Gay sites to get ideas. That was the fun part of researching.
One day I sat down and thought about a backstory for Brennen. Where did he come from? How did he meet Dmitri?
As time went on, I added layers to each chapter. I took many writing classes from Romance Writers of America. I found out I needed some hooks so I added them in later. I joined writing groups and listened to what my beta readers suggested and having a great editor helps, too.
My writing begins in my head and my characters demand time on my screen. I allow them to do as they will for the most part. A couple of times, both Dmitri and Brennen were out of control so I had to rein them in.
I do rewrite to death.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
It took me one year to write Rent Me.
Was there a lot of research necessary to write Dmitri Dubrovsky?
Yes, there was a lot of research for Dmitri Dubrovsky. First, I had to research Russian names, pet names and some swear words. I googled Russian food, too. But what was interesting was going to E.R.I.C to read a comparative study of American culture and Russian culture. This is where I learned the most. I did a study on Russian mobsters in California and what their investments. So, with him, there was a lot of research.
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?
Don’t write gay fiction unless you read gay fiction and enjoy it. Right now people think the gay romance is the upcoming genre. Write what you love to read. I never thought in a million years that I would earn money from Rent Me. It reminds me of teachers I had in school. If a teacher loved his or her subject, I learned by his or her love. When a teacher hates what they teach, the students sense that. So, that is why I believe you should write what you love and the writer’s first audience is himself or herself. If you’re not pleased then your audience will not be happy, either.
Honestly, I had no idea where my audience came from but it might have to do with me self-promoting my book on 100 FB promo sites every day. But I actually reached #2 in Gay Erotica on day 3 my book stormed the market. I hadn’t done anything because at that point, I thought I was done. I imagined myself logging on to Amazon to look at my book cover and I would go back to MS Word and write another book. But I read up about promoting my book and followed the recommendations and it seemed to work for me. I share this information on my blog. http://brinabrady.wordpress.com/