Christa Tomlinson has written two novels so far, The Sergeant and Martini Seduction. Her ability to write characters that are relatable on some level brings readers deep into the novel. Whatever she writes next, the pages will turn!
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
I’d read some m/m romance by authors like Evangeline Anderson and Katie Evans. I thought they were really hot. So I had those stories on the brain when I was thinking of what to write next – which led me to dream up two male heroes.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I started my career publishing a novella with Siren publishing. But since I was so new, I didn’t know what I was doing as far as promoting. As a result, I didn’t go very far with that story. After doing lots of research, I realized just how much promoting I needed to do as a newbie author if I wanted to get my name out there. I feel that the best piece of advice that I came across was to join Facebook groups relevant to my genre. I did so and was able to reach out directly to people who wanted to read a m/m erotic romance. And is my fan base humongous? I didn’t know that! I just know I’ve met some awesome people that I love communicating with.
What is it like to participate in a roller derby league? Does it influence your writing?
Playing roller derby is wonderful! I’m currently out with a knee injury unfortunately. But I’ll be back on the track as soon as possible! What I love most is the feeling of being a part of something special. And I love working with and playing against such a diverse group of women. If roller derby influences my writing in any way, I think it’s in the way I create characters. We’re all so different and I plan to write characters that are different as well.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
The last person? My Dad. Although technically he already knows. I sent my mom a picture of the book cover, but didn’t go into any further detail on what the story was about. He’s proud of my success, but not exactly thrilled with the subject matter that brought it about.
Has living in Texas effected how you write?
I don’t think so, other than giving me other cities to feel more comfortable writing about. And I’m able to write outside in the fall and winter because the weather is so mild. It’s nice.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I think because it’s different. Women have been reading romance for a long time and the main characters have predominately been male/female. So the m/m genre is fresh and exciting. I also think women like to see men depicted a little more vulnerable, which you’re more likely to see in a m/m novel than m/f. Oh, and because it’s hot!
How much research was necessary to write the SWAT team in The Sergeant?
I did a lot of research, both for the BDSM and SWAT. I watched documentaries, movies, and TV shows on SWAT teams. I watched YouTube videos on firing weapons. I even had the opportunity to interview an actual SWAT officer in Atlanta, GA. We talked for over two hours and he gave me tons of great information. Of course, not all of it made it into The Sergeant. But that’s okay, I’ll save it for the next book in the series.
What are you currently working on?
I’m actually working on two things right now. I’m writing my next erotic romance. It’s m/m featuring a tattoo artist and a doctor. They have to find someway to make their relationship work despite the barriers of their careers, race, and society. And I’m at the planning stage of a top secret project, that I can’t discuss just yet.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I’m pretty regimented in how I go about it. My mind wanders a lot – so if I don’t have a plan, nothing will ever get done. I day dream up the concept then do a rough outline. Next I create the characters with their descriptions, personalities, and background. Then I’ll do another outline broken up into chapters before I finally start to write. And yes, I do rewrite to death!
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
I”m still figuring that out! I wrote Martini Seduction and The Sergeant in my spare time while working full time, so they took me over a year. I’m more dedicated with my writing time now so it doesn’t take as long. But I haven’t perfected the system yet.
What was it like writing Martini Seduction?
It was a joy and it was awful. When I started Martini Seduction, I was in a relationship with my wonderful boyfriend. He was very supportive and a great sounding board. Unfortunately, by the time I sold the book and went through the whole rewrite and editing process he’d passed away from skin cancer. I used my grief as fuel to power through and I dedicated the book to him.
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?
If you’re going to write gay romance, you need to READ gay romance. Read the genre, discover what you like about it and what you can bring to the table. Interview people to get a little background knowledge in your head. Watch gay porn to make sure you get the mechanics right (there must be lube with anal penetration!) and above all be respectful to the community. If you’re trying to build an audience from scratch, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. Be friendly! Join groups on Facebook and Goodreads. If you’re going to do paid advertising, choose wisely where you spend your money. And reciprocate! Don’t just talk about your book on social media. If you read something you loved, share it! Readers will engage more with you if they know you aren’t just a sales bot.