Alyssa Turner is best known for her novels Polished and By Surprise. She creates emotional stories that grab readers by the hand and pull them along for the ride. No matter what she writes next, it will be eagerly accepted by her fans.
What originally made you interested in writing m/m fiction?
Actually, I specialize in M/M/F fiction. I tend to be attracted to things unknown to me in the world. I am a heterosexual female with a healthy curiosity and a penchant for the underdog. As much as gay relationships are viewed as the minority arrangement, ménage relationships with two bisexual men and a female are even more elusive. The attraction for me is in the challenge of such complications. The fact that it’s so hot is a bonus.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
My very first publication was in Best Women’s Erotica 2010. I wrote an M/F/M ménage entitled Two for One about an overworked PR professional and the two masseuses she happened to have sent to her room. It was a light and fun romp of a story; a titillating fantasy that started it all.
It wasn’t until I published By Surprise in 2012 with Etopia Press, my first M/M/F story, that people began taking notice of me in the romance community. I wanted to take the typical M/M/F roles and shake them up. I wrote a married gay couple, who invited a woman into their relationship, but not for the reasons you might suspect. I was recognized for taking on such a challenging storyline and for the most part, people were impressed with the realism.
Overall, my writing is a little different. It’s raw and polite and kinky and sweet all at the same time. My readers have come to love this about my writing, I think. It’s my signature style.
What was it like to create intricate stories your whole life, starting with paper dolls?
Like with all writers of fiction, I have an active imagination. From early on, my dreams were like intricate movies and my play time was spent weaving intricate sagas for my dolls. I was an only child, so idle hours alone gave me lots of time to create some excitement, even if imagined. I grew up watching shows like Dynasty and Knots Landing with my mother, so my stories usually had a heavy dose of scandal laced into them. What’s scandalous to an eleven year old? Probably nothing anyone would think twice about these days, but for me it was ground breaking stuff. LOL.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction? How do you think they’d react?
Most everyone in my family knows I write erotica, but I doubt that anyone has actually read any of it. The minister at my mother’s church would probably be shocked. I would hate for her to be embarrassed by that.
What inspired Polished? Did you have a favorite part to write?
Polished was my second M/M/F published with Etopia Press. The first idea for that book was actually the nail polish ritual that Rory and Spencer share. I was intrigued by the idea of how a mildly taboo secret could foreshadow a much more impactful hidden truth about their relationship. As with so many of my books, the characters each possess a dichotomy of traits. I wanted to write a strong but sensitive protagonist; a confident yet vulnerable female and a cocky but sympathetic alpha.
If there was a favorite part for me, it would have to be the first time Spencer and Jack broach the topic of bisexuality. This is a pivotal scene, yet I wanted it to feel natural. To ramp up the realism I wrote their dialogue in spurts of clarity and avoidance as Spencer worked up the courage to reveal himself a little more to Jack. The conversation is a delicate tug-of-war between the two. I really liked building on the sexual tension between them with the natural subtlety and caution that would be expected under the circumstances. If there is a favorite part to read back, it’s the kitchen scene. For those who have read the book, you might agree. 😉
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I think it’s the mystery of it that has so many women mesmerized. Besides if you love men, then reading about them loving each other isn’t such a stretch. For me, M/M/F is the best of both worlds. I try to create relationships that are equal in all directions. The M/M part isn’t more special than the M/F connections, just different and maybe even more intriguing since it’s not the norm for women.
What was it like writing the relationship between Jodi, Paxton, and Nicholas?
Since Paxton and Nicholas from By Surprise were a married couple, I had to be very careful about how I introduced a third person. The fact that she was a woman and Nicholas identified as gay and not bisexual made their joining even more of a challenge. I wanted to create a relationship that was built on more than physical attraction. In fact, physical attraction is the least of what pulls them together. Nicholas is a social worker, a caretaker by nature and Paxton is a cop with a hero complex. Jodi needs their help and in doing so, both Nicholas and Paxton come to realize that she can offer them a sense of completion. Nicholas feels closer to Paxton as he comes to understand and share his need to care for Jodi. The physical attraction Nicholas develops for Jodi is a direct result of his emotional connection to her, not the other way around. This is something you don’t often see in contemporary romance.
Any current or upcoming projects?
I have begun writing the next story about Rory, Spencer and Jack as a sequel to Polished. I am also toying with an M/M/F/M. My imagination keeps me busy.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I admit it…I’m a pantser. Outlining for me is like that diet I’m always supposed to be on. I just can’t seem to stay on track. So I pants it, as in fly by the seat of my pants. I get an idea for what I want to happen in general; what the main conflicts will be and what I want to outcome to be and I go from there. Often the dialogue drives the flow of the story, almost like an improvisational production. I react to situations in the voice of the character and that can direct where the story will go next.
As far as re-writing goes, I rarely change the overall plot of a story once it is established. I will, however, go back and add more foreshadowing or character development once my first draft is complete. Sometimes my editor will want some facet of the story developed more and so I’ll address that as well.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
From first word to the last edit usually takes me eight months. Then there are the copyedits and production time with the publisher before release which takes another 3 months typically, so it’s usually one book a year for me.
Was there a lot of research needed to write Kyle Hunter and Manny Tescadero?
Yes there was! In Make Me, my latest release, Kyle Hunter and Manny Tescadero were lovers and co-pilots on a Marine Super Cobra helicopter. With the changing procedures as views on gays in the military, I found myself reading codes of conduct statutes. I also needed to understand the kinds of equipment, titles and lingo used in the Marines regarding helicopter pilots and the Afghanistan war. Thank God for the internet.
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?
I think that Gay romance isn’t all that much different from hetero romance. People are people, with hopes and concerns and shortcomings and triumphs of character. Write a love story and just look at it from a male point of view. Think of the character traits of your characters and make sure you are true to them. The rest will fall into place.
As far as gaining an audience, expose your writings to a critical audience and keep track of which stories get the most reactions. I’ve gotten some great exposure with beta readers and smaller blogs. Don’t be shy, just ask someone to read your work and give your feedback. Over time, you will build a name for yourself.