Interview with Author L.B. Gregg

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LB Gregg is best known for her novels Catch Me If You Can and Mark and Tony. She has an ability to write characters in a way that draws readers through a story. No matter what she writes next, the pages will fly!

What made you interested in writing m/m fiction? 

I always dreamed of writing a book, from the time I was thirteen and read my first romance novel. When Susanne Brockmann wrote Jules Cassidy, she opened the door to the idea that readers would enjoy stories about two gay men. I just fell in love all over again with the genre.

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

I sat my butt in a chair and wrote. I had the encouragement of friends like Carolyn Crane, Joanna Chambers, and Josh Lanyon. My family cheered me on. And as a former blogger, I had knowledge of the booming new world of ePublishing, which helped me tremendously when I started.
I have a humongous fan base? Awesome news! I do have loyal readers who have followed my transition from blogger to writer and have stayed with me after my sabbatical. It’s been a challenge to get back into the swing of things—but they are the absolute best fans ever.

Is there anyone who you’d not want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?

“When will you write a real book” is the question every romance author—whether she or he writes paranormal, historical, contemporary, category, m/m, what have you—hears and dreads. But it’s up to us as writers to decide that our books are ‘real’ enough, that we are credible storytellers, and we can do those things as we laugh our way to the bank. Romance sells. Here are the stats listed by Romance Writers of America. 1.8 billion dollars. I have no problem telling anyone I’m an entrepreneur in such a successful industry.
When my children were in school, I didn’t think it was appropriate to have their friends distributing my books and dealing with the inevitable parental freak out over the sexual content. I think that’s an across the board feeling in romance. Everyone knew what I wrote, and everyone thought ‘how cool!, but some books are steamy and it would have been awkward if a fifteen year old told me they’d read and enjoyed my work.
My kids have finished high school now and are in college, so I let my penname out. So buy my books!
A note: I write romance novels. It doesn’t really matter if these books feature gay or straight characters. I love this genre in every form, and every flavor, and I’m a committed lifelong reader. My job is to tell a good love story. I’m proud of what I do. My family is proud of what I do.

Do you think that traveling helps you with your writing? Seeing different places must be an inspiration.

Yes it’s inspiring, but no it’s not helpful! It’s hard to find the groove when you’re constantly moving, switching time zones, living out of suitcases, and swapping hotel rooms. It’s super tough to stay on top of all these assignments (like this interview!). I drop the ball fairly often.
That said, I love traveling the world with my husband— the incomparable Mr. Darcy.

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

Women read the vast majority of romance novels period. They buy them, they publish them, and they write them. I don’t think the question is why women love m/m specifically, because women outnumber men in their love and appreciation of the romance genre as a whole.

What was it like to write Caesar Romano and his struggle to want to be an artist? Did the mystery of who stole the statue help move the story along?

He’s not an artist, actually. Caesar begins the series as an assistant in an art gallery and eventually becomes a caterer. He’s a damn good one, too! Like many of us with four year degrees in the humanities (his degree is in Art History; mine is in Theatrical Design and Production), the real world offers limited career opportunities and low pay. Caesar’s struggle to survive as a twenty-eight year old in NYC with college debt and staggering bills makes him relatable. I totally get him! Holy crap! College debt is the worst.
The missing Justin Timberlake sculpture in Catch Me If You Can was just crazy enough of a plot device to shake my pal Caesar Romano up—plus, he met Dan!

Any current projects?

There’s Something About Ari, book two in a multi-author series for Riptide Publishing. Each story takes place in the newly revitalized town of Bluewater Bay, Washington—where a brand new cult classic werewolf television show is being shot on location. My New Adult novella features two former best fiends, Buck and Ari, who are reunited after five years. Sparks fly. Sex may happen. Love will prevail. Are those spoilers?

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

It varies depending on the length of story and how easily the words flow. For the book I’m working on currently, I used a very simple outline to keep myself focused. I stray, but the basics are there.
I rewrite the hell out of everything. I’m not afraid of the editing process, and prefer it to writing the dreaded first draft. My editors love me! I think words are cheap, but stories are magical. Maybe it’s the theatre major in.

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

Novellas take me about two months, category length takes three, and a full—takes me a long time! I’m a slow writer. I just attended Courtney Milan’s Slow Writers workshop and, while there’s really no way for me to write faster, it would help me tremendously to stay in one place for a while!

What was it like to write about Mark as he discovered his boyfriend cheating and that Tony is not what he thought he was?

In Men of Smithfield: Mark and Tony, Mark’s reaction to Jamie is the most memorable scene I’ve ever written. People love a good bible thumping, and revenge is always sweet.
Mark is a reactive character, but Tony is calm and strong. That balance has made Tony Gervase a fan favorite. He’s appeared in every Smithfield story, sorting things out, offering advice, getting pissed off, arresting people, laughing with and at his friends, and basically bringing a consistent balance of hot sex on a stick and good natured affability to every scene he walks into.
Discovering that Tony is flawed helps readers believe Tony’s love for Mark is genuine. Tony isn’t perfect. He’s made some big mistakes. He understands Mark’s bad choices. He’s willing to wait for the real thing. Tony deserves Mark’s love and forgiveness.

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?

Believe in your story. I know it’s hard to do when the world may not believe in you, but persevere. Keep writing. Be tough. Take criticism. Edit hard. And then start all over again!
Building an audience means being online and creating a presence. You have to be visible, and be nice, but don’t get in over your head. Find balance. When you find that balance, spread the word because most of us struggle. The publishing landscape has changed dramatically—so reach out to other writers for insight and friendship. I recommend joining Romance Writers of America. They try hard to stay ahead of the curve, and offer professional development and a wealth of current information.
Also…have fun. Love what you do!

When not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama– sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny stories about men who love men. For more information about LB, visit her on the web.

 

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

      

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