Mary Calmes is best known for her novels Change of Heart and A Matter of Time. Her characters come alive on the pages, pulling readers through their story. No matter what she will write next, her readers will devour the book.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
I tried to write m/f when I was first starting out because that’s what I grew up reading and I’ve loved it (Julie Garwood, Katie MacAlister) but m/m really clicked for me. When I wrote with two men, it all made sense to me. It’s the same thing that happens when I see a movie and I always think afterwards that it was great but it would have been better if both the leads were men. I can’t imagine writing anything different.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I began my career with A Matter of Time about Jory & Sam and from there decided on shifters. My fans are wonderful and I’m so lucky to have them and I want nothing more than to keep writing stories they enjoy.
What was it like writing Timing? Was it a fun story to create?
I loved writing Timing because I wanted to create that tension between Stef & Rand; it was the most important thing to me. And all the secondary characters were a lot of fun especially Rand’s mother and Charlotte. Writing strong amazing women really adds to the story for me as I like to see good mothers, supportive sisters and kind female friends in m/m.
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 have a pen name so everyone knows exactly what I do and when I’m asked I always say I write gay romance. I’m very proud of what I do. My husband is too. When he’s asked, he says the same.
What inspired you to write A Matter of Time?
There was an ad campaign in 2007 for Gucci Pour Homme II and Mathias Lauridsen was the face of the campaign. I saw that ad in Macy’s and then in GQ magazine and I swear it was like getting hit with lighting. I had to know what that guy’s story was and so I wrote 750k words of Jory and Sam.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I think because it’s hot and sexy and the writing in our genre is so amazing. Also it’s the possibilities of a new attraction that many haven’t read about before and that fierce combustible energy two men together bring.
What was it like writing the relationship between Jin Rayne and Logan Church in Change of Heart?
It was very important for me to show that Jin had found his mate, a man who would love and cherish him and be his rock. Jin didn’t want a mate but he wanted to belong, so there’s something needy yet prickly about him meeting Logan, while Logan only ever wanted a true mate. And for Logan, my goal was to show that without Jin, his life was a desolate place. They are two parts of a whole that was what I wanted to convey.
What are you currently working on?
I am writing a cook book novella that goes in a set with Amy Lane, Marie Sexton, RJ Scott and Amber Kell. It’s so amazing to be working with them and exciting to start a new project with so many talented writers.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I’m a pantser. I don’t outline, there’s no draft and I rewrite as I go. The one thing I do is to labor over the character’s names; I have to have the perfect two that fit in my head. And on occasion, after I start, I change them 3 or 4 more times until it feels grounded to me. Once the names are locked in, I just write. The fastest I ever wrote anything in my whole life was when I wrote with Cardeno C. who outlines. Sadly, it didn’t stick. I wish I could plot and outline but the few times I’ve tried on my own, the book I outlined never turns up to look anything like what I wrote down. So I just dive in.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
It depends. It took a year to write A Matter of Time and 6 months to write Change of Heart. I’m faster now, but it’s still between 3 to 4 months. I write slowly and that probably has to do with the aforementioned pantser situation. ☺
What is it like to get so detailed in creating characters? Do you find that it makes them more believable?
I like details; I think it adds to the experience for the reader. Like I love reading Damon Suede books because I love reading about New York, the streets, neighborhoods and the restaurants. If you read Rhys Ford, you can vividly see Los Angeles out of Cole’s eyes and if you walk with Ariel Tachna’s vampires through the streets of Paris, you get all the sights in vivid detail. In shifter books, I want to know the history and the why of the race. I enjoy sinking into a world and whether that’s one I know fleshed out in heavy detail or a new one like Under The Rushes, Amy Lane’s steampunk universe, I enjoy reading every piece.
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?
My advice is to love what you’re writing and to write people you love as well. I have a friend who asks me when I’m writing, do you like the book you’re working on now? And my answer is always yes. I love the men in my books and I want the HEA for them but more than anything, it has to make sense for the characters. As long as you stay true to the people you made, you’ll be in good shape.
As for building an audience?
Be kind and encouraging and respectful of your fans, your fellow authors and the community that you’re a part of.