1. For new readers, what genre do you write?
All my stories feature gay characters primarily, though I often include characters from other groups under that colorful rainbow umbrella: bi, gender queer, intersex, trans—the list goes on.
My early works—novels one through eight—featured gay teens. But my Trailblazer series, as well as my newest novel (For Love Of God, release date June 16), feature gay characters in their twenties.
2. When did you discover your wordy passion?
Ah, thereon hangs a bit of a tale. When I was 13, from an inspiration I’ve since forgotten, I wrote a series of short stories about a teenage girl in 19th century Canada, Jessica Taylor. I gathered them all under the title “Oh, That Taylor Girl!” Jessica was adventurous, always getting into scrapes. Once she was kidnapped by fur traders. Usually she got herself safely home, though sometimes her boyfriend would rescue her. My classmates loved these stories and handed fraying copies of my hand-written fiction around until they disappeared into shreds. Truthfully, I think I’m glad I don’t have any of them now.
Since then I haven’t stopped writing.
3. What do you think writers struggle with most?
Self-doubt. “Is what I’ve written any good?” “Will anyone actually read this?” “Will anyone actually spend money to read this, and will they be sorry?” “Am I fooling myself thinking I’m contributing something meaningful?” “Readers lovedmy last novel, but can I write another one they’ll like?” “Should I just delete everything I’ve written so far and start again?” “Should I just stop trying to write?”
A close second might be procrastination. I know some authors joke that the best time to do laundry/use social media/watch TV/do almost anything is when they’re supposed to be writing. This is ironic. Or, it is for me, because I love writing. And yet….
4. Where do you feel you do the best in the writing process?
I’m a bit of a grammar nerd, I have edited professionally, and I have no patience for dialog or story lines that aren’t credible. This doesn’t exclude fantasy or sci fi, it just means my standards for good writing skills and a well-constructed story are high. I’ve worked hard to hone my own technique so that the writing itself doesn’t get in the way but lets the characters be who they are.
My style brings the reader directly into the story, into the action, into the characters’ minds. It’s highly personal, almost conversational. There’s an immediacy to my writing voice.
Process…. I’m not a planner. I couldn’t tell you how my stories end up being a cohesive tapestry of woven threads that all pull together in the end, but that’s what happens. I let the characters tell me about themselves and what their lives are like.
Once, when I was stuck, I asked my character, “What’s wrong?” He reached his hand out from my computer screen, took one of mine, and said, “It was back here, where you wrote something that didn’t happen.” He was right. I deleted everything back to that point, and the story practically wrote itself after that.
So I guess my work is best when I just get out of the way.
5. What one thing would you change if you had the power?
Hmmmm…. That could be applied to my writing or to the world my stories live in. For the former, I wish I spent less time doing things other than writing. (I say that like I have no control. Which isn’t true. See “writers’ struggles” above.)
The biggest change I would make in the world around me relates to publishing. I published six novels through Kensington Publishing before venturing into the world of indie publishing. There are many resources to help self-published authors, and the biggest “resource” (using the term loosely) is Amazon. But they have a stranglehold on the market and, therefore, on authors as well as readers, and they wield their power mercilessly. I won’t go into the many ways in which I’ve been aggravated by them, or describe the battles I’ve had trying to work with them, but I hate that I have no choice. Some authors have real horror stories about interacting with A-z. I’m not sure what I’d change, but boy, would I change a lot.
6. Do you read as much as you write?
I used to read a lot more than I do. Certainly, reading was critical to beginning to write. But the more I’ve worked on my own writing skills… let’s just say that if I start a book and feel the urge to fetch my red editing pencil before finishing chapter one, I don’t usually finish the book.
7. When out for a book signing, what do you enjoy the most?
The obvious answer is the people, and that’s true. But what I like best is when they ask me questions. “How did you learn enough about dog behavior to write about it like this?” “How did you know what it would be like to be intersex?” “Did someone help you understand how it feels to have to use a wheelchair all the time?”
My favorite questions are ones that prove the reader saw the deeper message. From general reviews, I know that my stories are engaging, even “page-turners.” And I love that. But for readers who want more, most of my novels have some philosophical aspects that encourage people to think.
8. What does your ideal writing space look like?
I’m not fussy. Mostly I write either at my kitchen table or in my study, where I have a sit-stand desk that raises and lowers, and that keeps me from sitting too long in one place. But I can write anyplace I can be comfortable. I’ve never tried to write in a public place, but I bet I could do it. When I write, the outside world mostly goes away.
9. What is your favorite part of being an author?
Learning. I reject the adage “write what you know.” If I did that, I would bore myself silly, and I’d learn nothing. Every one of my works includes topics I knew little or nothing about before I had to write about them. Synesthesia. Paganism. Autism. Photography. The foster care system. Islam. Drug addiction. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I often use subject matter experts to be sure my writing is as sensitive and realistic as it can be.
10. What is your favorite writing drink?
Depends on what time I’m writing. I love loose-leaf tea, especially Darjeeling. But I also love single malt scotch, the older the better. I’ll say no more.
11. Where can readers learn more about you?
There’s a lot of information on my website, robinreardon.com. On the home page I talk about why I write what I write. I also have a blog, And Now This, where I explore topics such as current events and religion, mostly as they pertain to the queer community. One of my favorite posts was “Orlando: Phoenix Rising,” which I wrote after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub.
Readers can find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/robin.reardon), and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/therobinreardon), and Instagram (robinreardonauthor).
I love hearing directly from readers through my email, email@example.com. I reply to all messages. I value readers. And I can never have enough of them!
But—hey, if you want to know who I am, read my books. I’m in all of them.
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