Jay Vaughn is best known for her Rough Boys series. Her ability to write convincing characters that grab readers by the hand brings more to the story. No matter what she writes next, it will be a great read!
What originally made you interested in writing m/m fiction?
I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I am an organic writer—I don’t do a lot of plotting up front—I let my characters write their own story. I was about halfway through writing a straight adult fantasy novel when one of my young, virile MCs ended up in an all-male slave pen for just a bit too long. A gorgeous, effeminate new slave gets added to the mix and the natural outcome, of course, was a blow job (you can read this chapter for free on my website). Things just went on from there. The next thing I knew, I was reading as much M/M romance as I could get my hands on and had started writing Rough Boys.
How did your career start as a writer? Did you ever expect to have such a large fanbase?
I’m relatively new to my career in writing. I’ve officially only published one trilogy and a short story. I started posting on Literotica.com when I realized that the stuff I was writing for myself was as good if not better than a lot of the stories I saw up there. I ended up getting addicted to the positive comments I received and couldn’t stop.
I don’t think I’d classify my fanbase as large, but it is growing and my fans seem very loyal. I have gotten some amazing comments on my stories along the way, which warms my heart and motivates me to write more.
What is it like to carry your laptop everywhere to write? Anywhere interesting you’ve written at?
I do actually carry my laptop everywhere. I’ve given up carrying a purse in favor of a backpack so I can easily schlep my laptop around. It’s a MacBook Air, so it’s nice and light.
I used to commute by train and wrote daily during my commute. More than once I missed my stop. I’ve written while camping, eating out, in the car, by the pool … pretty much any time I have more than twenty minutes to kill, I’ll pull out my laptop.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction. How do you think they’d respond?
I think the only one I’m close to who doesn’t know what I’m writing is my mom. She thinks I’m writing “something like Fifty Shades of Gray” because I won’t let her read it. I did tell her my pen name, knowing that she doesn’t have Internet and wouldn’t know how to look me up if she did. What I didn’t think about is that my brother is perfectly Internet savvy and my mother managed to remember my pen name long enough to give it to him. His embarrassing question for me last Christmas was “How do you do your research?” But at least he didn’t tell my mom.
I’m sure she’ll figure it out some day, and it won’t be the end of the world. She won’t understand and will think she did something wrong while raising me. It’ll probably be the main topic of our conversations for the next six months
I’d also prefer my coworkers not find out, but most of them would probably be okay with it. They all think I’m a little weird anyway, but they’re weird too, so it’s okay. ☺
What inspired your Rough Boys series?
I was inspired by Pete Townshend’s song of the same name. I heard it on the radio one morning—not on my usual station. “Rough boys, running the streets … rough toys, under the sheets…” I started thinking about what kind of boys these would be. I wanted to “get inside their bitter minds.”
I slammed out the first 15,000 words in a week and posted it on Literotica without too much forethought. I was overwhelmed with the response I received and shortly abandoned all other in-progress writing efforts to focus on that one.
Why do you think so many women are reading m/m novels?
When I first started writing (and reading) M/M I wondered what was wrong with me. I’ve since discovered that the vast majority or readers and writers of M/M romance are women—mostly heterosexual.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering the why, and the best answer I can come up with is “one cock good, two cock better!” Either that or we all have penis envy. (Laughs.)
In any case, I’ve decided that women enjoying reading or writing about two men in a relationship is normal, if still culturally a bit taboo in many places. Women writing gay romance for other women has been around for a long time in Japan, but it’s just now becoming a phenomenon in the rest of the world. I think the reason it seems to be growing rapidly in popularity is the advent of the ebook. Women like to read about two men, but they don’t necessarily want their husband, children, parents, friends, coworkers, etc., to know that’s what they’re reading. They don’t want Fabio and Fabio sitting around on their bookshelf. Enter the ebook where they can safely hide what they’re reading behind a nondescript electronic device with a password. Voila! A hot new industry is born.
What was it like creating the character of Ty? Was he interesting to write?
I really enjoyed writing Ty. He’s sweet and smart, but very naïve in the beginning and, unfortunately, easily led astray. Luckily he also emerged as headstrong and resilient. Ty isn’t the most fascinating character I’ve ever penned, but he’s someone most readers seem to be able to relate to. They get sucked into Ty’s story and care about what happens to him—sometimes passionately. When I was publishing chapter by chapter on Literotica, I got a lot of hate mail when Ty started going down the path of drugs and alcohol. A lot of readers really like Kaeden as well, who’s more unconventional, but lovable too.
Are you currently working on anything?
I always have multiple writing project in process, although I try to keep the lid on the number I’m actively working on otherwise I wouldn’t get anything finished. I just completed editing the first novel in the Encounters with Evil series. It’s called The Valjevo Encounter and is about a young man who falls in love with a super-hero-type guy that turns out to be a vampire hunter. Unlike Rough Boys, which is a single three-novel story, The Valjevo Encounter is complete on it’s own and should be out the end of September.
I’m also working on a dystopia story which I’m hoping will turn out to be only 50-60 thousand words. I’m not very good at keeping my stories short.
I have many, many plot bunnies jumping around in my mind saying, “Oh, pick me! Write me next!” So many men, so little time.
Tell me about your writing process. Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I’m tend to let the story unfold as I write. I start with a seed idea and go from there. Usually by the time I have the first chapter written, most of the plot has been worked out in my head. I do outline a bit as I write, but not to lay out the plot ahead of time; I outline mostly so I don’t screw up the timeline. In one of the first novels I wrote I accidentally let one of the characters get ten months pregnant. (Laughs.) I had to go back and rework that one.
I edit a lot—probably more than most writers. I don’t tend to cut out huge swaths of stuff I’ve already written, but I do rewrite sentences and scenes over and over to get them right. And after something is published, I don’t want to read it, because I’ll always find something else I want to change. I’ve also learned my lesson about tweaking a story after it’s already been through copyedits—never again! No matter how careful I am, I don’t seem to be able to spot my own typos.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel, from idea to finished draft?
I’ve discovered it takes me just as long to edit after I “finish” writing a novel as it took to write the novel in the first place. Valjevo has taken about a year from start to finish, with about six months spent writing and six months spent editing. I’m hoping to get faster.
What was it like to write Hunting Under Covers alongside other authors?
I volunteered to publish Hunting Under Covers under my publishing company. Because I never do anything the easy way, when I decided to self publish, I set up my own company. I had this dream of spending half my time writing and the other half of my time editing and publishing for other new authors. Unfortunately I’m also a single mom living in an expensive city, so I hold down a very busy fulltime computer industry day job. I simply don’t have the time to run the publishing end of things. Maybe some day.
So, back to your question … I really enjoyed working on Hunting Under Covers. I loved almost every aspect of it. I liked the discipline of having a very short timeframe to write my story. I thoroughly enjoyed editing for all of the other authors, and thankfully a few of them edited for me as well. I met some wonderful people and made some good online friends that I’m hoping to meet in person some day.
The anthology is free and was written as a gift for Katie who runs the challenges and fun events on the M/M group at Goodreads. The authors run the gamut from never having been published to well-established and award winning. For whatever reason, I was not intimidated to write alongside these other authors, and once I had a plot in mind, the story unfolded very quickly. I’m not generally a short story fan, but I’m pretty happy with how Pierced turned out.
What advice do you have for those thinking about writing gay romance?
Just do it! ☺ Start writing and keep writing. I wrote for a long time before I showed my stories to anyone. I was able to read what I had written, analyze its flaws, and learn from my own mistakes. I got steadily better (you should see how bad the first chapter of the first novel I ever wrote is), but it took a long time. I write for the sheer enjoyment of writing. Any money I make off of it is frosting on the cake.
I also recommend reading a lot in the genre in which you are writing. You’ll learn from other author’s successes as well as their mistakes. Publishing on a free site and getting that real world feedback when I was finally ready was also extremely helpful.
What about on growing an audience?
(Laughs.) I’m not sure how good my advice will be here. I really suck at self-promotion, which I think is one of the main keys to getting more readers.
Again, publishing on the free site helped me a lot. Many of the fans who read my stories there found my author website and have been following me since—and urging me to write faster. It also helps, I think, especially when you are first starting, to publish some stories for free. I’m planning on releasing the dystopia story that I’m currently working on for free.
There are also a few key pieces that you should have in place. An author website is essential. A Facebook presence and Twitter account for your author is also a great way for people to find you. Being active on places like the M/M group at Goodreads is probably also helpful, although mainly I participate at Goodreads because it’s fun.
When you do publish something, be prepared to spend a lot of time promoting it—doing a blog tour on other author sites, getting reviewers to look at it, etc. I’m not very at good keeping up with social media or blogging. My spare time is precious and I prefer to spend it reading or writing fiction and hanging out with my kids, family, and friends.
Jamie, thank you so much for the interview. Interviews are one of the few promotion mechanisms that I actually enjoy. ☺
Readers can find my free stories and occasional blog posts on my website, authorjvaughn.com. My published novels can be found on my publishing website, divergentpublishing.com or by searching for Rough Boys Runaway, Rough Boys Redemption, Rough Boys Revenge, or Hunting Under Covers at allromanceebooks.com, Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.