1. For those of us who don’t know you, what genre/s do you write in?
I write contemporary mm romance with a fair amount of steam and angst.
2. When did you know you had a story to tell?
I could say, I’ve always had a story to tell. I narrated my toys through their adventures instead of just playing with them, and I wrote my first story when I was six and my first novel when I was thirteen. For many years, I pursued literary writing and have both a BA and an MFA in fiction.
I kind of fell into writing mm romance by accident. The first thing that happened was stumbling across the genre one night when I was looking for something fun, fluffy, and sexy to read. The second thing that happened was participating in a reading series that took six writers and a classic work of fiction, assigned each writer a character from the novel, and asked us to create an erotic fan fict scene. My character was Sydney Carton from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and Dickens handed me the perfect set up for my scene. Carton and his friend C.J. Striver were legendary at university for their all-night orgies. So…I paired Carton and Striver and gave them an interlude at the Dickens’ Fair that’s held in San Francisco every December. Then I fell in love with the characters I’d created and started working on their book, which became my debut A Kind of Forever featuring Sydney Carlton and Stryver Lee.
At the time I was working on A Kind of Forever and having a lot of fun with it, I was also working on a very serious literary novel and taking part in a year-long revision workshop run by a couple of well-known literary novelists. I wasn’t having as much fun with the VSLN, which I’d been working on for more than a decade. The workshop ended in August of 2019. I looked at the two books and made a decision. I wanted to finish something in 2020 (this was pre-COVID), and decided it was going to be the mm romance because I was having fun with it. I figured, if it turned out well, I’d throw it up on Amazon and see what happens.
By the time I finished A Kind of Forever, I’d discovered the mm author community, the mm reader community, and the indie author community and had reconfigured my entire writing career. I couldn’t be happier.
3. Do you enjoy reading as much as writing?
That assumes I enjoy writing. I think the most accurate statement about writing for me is, “I enjoy having had written.” In the actual moment of writing? Not so much except for rare moments when the work flows effortlessly. But, to answer the question, I LOVE reading. I am a voracious reader. In addition to writing, I also am a developmental editor and I absolutely love reading manuscripts and figuring out how all the pieces can work together to fulfill a writer’s vision for their book.
4. Do you find it hard to find books you enjoy?
Nope. I will read just about anything. My favorite book is The Odyssey. I reread it every couple of years and always find something new to admire about the way it’s put together. I also adore that, at its heart, it’s a romance with a couple who are so passionate for each other that the gods have to hold back the dawn, so they have enough time to have hot reunion sex. I also love SF/F, contemporary fiction, romance, and classic fiction.
5. What do you feel is your biggest struggle with writing?
Dealing with the days when the words don’t come easy. The days where 500 words is a struggle are difficult for me because I never know whether I should quit for the day and do something else or keep my butt in the chair and keep working.
6. What do you enjoy most about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is when the pieces start coming together. These disparate elements that I wrote down, sometimes with no understanding of why they were in the story in the first place and trusting my instincts that they needed to be there, suddenly reveal themselves to have deeper meaning than I originally thought. It’s like magic or alchemy. The first time it happens in a new book is when I know it’s alive.
I also love writing the first physical encounter between a couple. It amazes me how different each couple is and how their physicality is so much a product of who they are. For instance, in my second book, Nothing Like Forever, Jake and Micah were all over each other. I honestly couldn’t keep them apart and had to tell them, “Guys, there needs to be a story here, you can’t just f*ck your way through this book.” They sulked for a bit after that and then gave me the most amazing Tantric sex scene that was absolutely perfect for moving their relationship into its final resolution.
7. How do you deal with those who don’t like your genre?
Honestly, I don’t care. I LOVE what I write, and I’ve got readers who adore my books. I’m completely upfront when I meet someone, and they ask what I write. Most of the people are fascinated and start asking questions about the genre, and I’mhappy to talk about the place of the romance genre within the publishing industry (it’s the single-most profitable genre in fiction, it has historically been dominated by women – women writers, women agents, women editors – and romance readers are voracious and loyal readers). I also talk about what I admire about romance writers and the skill it takes to make a story interesting and engaging when the reader knows how it’s going to end. I mean, think about that. Every romance ends with an HEA. Romance writers have to create compelling characters and interesting situations that keep the reader engaged because the reader knows how the story is going to end from the moment they pick up the book. That takes a heck of a lot of skill on the writer’s part. So…yeah, I don’t actually give people much room to express dislike of my genre.
8. What is your go to writing drink?
9. What does your perfect writing space look like?
It really depends on my mood. I’ve got a very comfortable office where I do most of my writing, but sometimes I need to migrate to the living room couch or my bed. My best friend (who is also a writer) and I take one or two writing retreat weeks every year (except for 2020/most of 2021) and we head for scenic and remote areas.
10. Where do you find the most inspiration?
Everywhere. I mean, literally, everywhere. One of the big indicators to me that I needed to stop working on the serious literary novel was that I wasn’t getting any ideas of what to write after it was done. No new stories percolated through my brain. As soon as I decided to switch genres, it was like the flood gates opened. I’ve got books mapped out until well into 2023 and, every time I turn around, I find videos or memes or see something in the world that makes me think of new stories. I also live in San Francisco and love hanging out in the Castro. Even before I started writing mm romance, it was my favorite part of the city. As a member of the queer community in this iconic LGBTQIA+ city, I’m very aware of the issues faced by queer people here and in the world, and that all finds its way into my stories as well.
11. When not rocking the author gig, what can we find you doing?
My “day job” is as a developmental editor, so you can find me working on other writers’ manuscripts. You can also find me reading, going to museums, walking my dog, having lunch or coffee with friends, and, sometimes riding in the Marin Headlands.
12. Where can readers find more about you?
My website: www.sinbinbooks.com
You can sign up for my newsletter on my website. I send the newsletter out a couple of times a month and it includes my latest news (releases, promos and giveaways, what I’m working on) as well as a postcard from San Francisco talking about what’s going on in the city and what I’m doing when I’m not writing.
FB group: Marie’s Sin Bin
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