Tami Veldura is best known for her novels Baited and Closer Than Touch. She writes stories that draw readers in, creating worlds around them. No matter what she writes next, it will be devoured by readers!
What made you interested in writing m/m fiction?
I started reading fanfiction in high school and inevitably you see stories with different gender pairings in the archives. I was hooked from day one and that quickly evolved into writing. I never questioned writing gay or lesbian stories- it’s so common in fanfiction communities. It took me until 2011 to realize there was a public market for those stories, though. And now I exclusively write original fic.
How did you begin your career as a writer? How did you manage to grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I don’t know that my fan base is humongus 🙂 However, I do have a few dedicated readers whom I adore with all my heart.
My mother turned me on to publishing in the GLBTQ space, actually. She sent me a link to Less Than Three Press, a small press that specializes in queer romances. I sent them a story, honestly expecting a rejection. They accepted the short and the rest is history.
Has living in California influenced your writing in any way?
For sure. I realized just recently that there’s never any weather discussed in my story. SoCal is sunny and seventy. Always. People here never look at the weather report. It’s such a non-issue that I utterly neglect mentioning the weather in my writing. It’s just always sunny and seventy!
Anyone you’d never want to discover you write m/m fiction? What do you think they’d say?
I don’t think there’s anyone in my life that I don’t want to discover it, but there are certain people that I don’t flaunt the subject in front of. My friends all know what I do. Much of my family does, but those that don’t wouldn’t panic. My relatives are very liberal.
What inspired Fanged? Was it enjoyable to write?
I wanted to get a vampire book out there that didn’t cater to lovable mis-understood vampires. I wanted a monster book with some erotic elements. I wanted horror. Fanged was a lot of fun to draft. I wrote almost the whole thing in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s truck. We carpooled to work but our schedules were an hour off so it was a great time to focus.
Why do you think it is that so many women love to read m/m?
I’m not sure that the majority of readership is made of cis women, or straight women at all. I’ve never seen a poll done to show the demographics of M/M readership, but I think it’s less dominated by female readers than people might expect and assuming otherwise isn’t very welcoming to the queer audience it’s supposed to be for.
E.E. Ottoman recently put together an impressive blog post on the topic that I highly recommend everyone take a gander at. I’ll defer to their more reasoned expertise.
What was it like writing Kyros Vindex and his relationship with Eric Deumount?
So much fun. The MM Romance group on goodreads hosts a great event every year for writers and readers to find each other. It’s always exciting to participate and Blood In The Water is the longest story I’ve written so far. I’ve done quite a bit of period reenactment and have several friends who love the historical elements, so I was less concerned about my period accuracy as I was about making a great story.
The support cast for Kyros and Eric went a long way toward highlighting their different temperments. Kyros is extraordinarily liberal for his time, while Eric is flexible but prefers the conservative opinions of the general public. Getting the two of them together took some acrobatics.
What are you currently working on?
This month I’m putting the finishing touches on En Memoriam, a vampire story that I took from Fanged and expanded to a stand-alone story. People who read Fanged when it first came out had an opportunity to vote on their favorite story, and En Memoriam is a direct result of that demand.
Tell me about your writing process. Do you start with a plan? Do you write in order?
I do start with a plan. Usually I’ll spend a few days letting the idea of a new story brainstorm in my head, maybe a week or two. I then get everything out of my head and onto paper, usually in the form of a rough outline. I’ll rework and add info to the outline until I have a line describing every scene of the story. From there I can make a good estimate of my final wordcount.
I draft based on the outline. Drafting is the hardest part of the process for me. I know how the story is going to go, but it takes so long to get it out of my head that it can be quite frustrating at points. Knowing some of my favorite scenes are coming up helps push me through the mountain of work. While I draft, I inevitably find things that will need to change, so I start another document for edits to be done later.
The story then sits for a week or two while I start something else to get my mind off it. Once I’m sufficiently removed from the text I can go back to it and review what I’ve written. This is the first edit I do and it’s usually the most significant. I go through everything on my editing document. It may take a while, depending on the severity of the edits or the length of the story.
After my first edit the story goes to beta readers. I have a large collection of readers that read a variety of things, so any given story doesn’t go out to everyone. I select 5 or 6 people who enjoy the genre/trope I’ve written and send it to them for feedback. That can take a month or two if the story is long.
Then I edit the story based on their feedback. This edit is another big one. I need to filter the feedback I’ve received from a group of people, some of which may contradict. I pick and choose the kinds of changes that will help mold the story in the direction I want.
Then it goes to my editor for a final review of the text. She may have small line edits for me or it could be larger critique. I respect the hell out of her and she’s very in tune with my writing and where I want to take it, so much of her feedback gets implemented.
At this point the pattern splits. If I’m traditionally publishing with a small or large publisher, it goes on submission and the timeline is out of my hands.
If I’m self-publishing then I make or pay for a cover, gather all my surrounding text pieces (cover page, copywrite, forward, etc) and submit the package to my formatter. She’ll do a line-edit pass if I ask, but otherwise puts the book together for publication.
While the story is away for edits or formatting I work on supporting content that I can use on my blog or twitter to boost the launch of the book. I’ll do art, excerpts, additional stories, deleted scenes, etc, to post in the week leading up to a book’s release.
Then the book is for sale!
On average, how long does it take you to write a novel?
I don’t know. I haven’t written one yet! Just the drafting process is a very small element of the whole project, but I can write 1500 words/day most days. At that rate short stories take a month, novellas take two, novels take four and epic novels (100k+) can take 6 months of just drafting.
Editing and support work take even longer.
What inspired you to write Baited? Did you have to research?
Baited was another story written for the M/M Romance group on goodreads. The main love interest, Mason, is a falconer and hunter. I’m lucky enough to know falconers myself and I’ve been out in the field watching a Master Falconer hunt her bird. It’s an amazing experience and all of that knowledge was filtered into Baited when I drafted it.
I’ve never lived in a small town, so the research I did for that was more reading rather than living, but the story went over well with most readers and I’m proud of it.
Any advice for those thinking about writing gay romance and any for those who are trying to build an audience from scratch?
Write a story about people. If they happen to be gay, lesbian, disabled, or a minority race, then that’s fantastic. But don’t write a story because you want a gay sex scene. Treat your stories like any other piece of fiction, your characters are people first.
As for writing: Finish what you start. You can be the world’s best author of opening chapters, but you’ll never grow as a writer if you don’t finish your work. Start small if a novel is intimidating. Work in fanfiction if original fic is really scary. Find a way to write and find a way to finish that work.
Once a story is written, that’s only the start of the project.