Monday, January 24, 2011

Interview with Author Johnny Miles

Please welcome fellow Loose Id author, Johnny Miles, who had a new book released last week!

• When did you get started writing and what motivated you to write?

I started writing many years ago but didn't do anything about it until the 80s, when I had several m/m stories published in various magazines. Back then it was called porn, though. Not like today where it would've been considered erotica from the get go. However, it wasn't until two years ago, when I got laid off from my last job, that I decided I should get serious about what I've wanted to do every day for the rest of my life. It was one of those now or never moments that, though extremely difficult and excruciatingly painful, I have not regretted. I cannot look back and lament something that has, eventually, led me to being happy in what I do.

• What genres do you write in and why?

Right now, I've been writing predominantly m/m erotic romance. I think for me it's because it was the closest to what I was writing in the past. Only, now, there's more story and character development. There are actual plot lines other than getting in and out of bed or figuring out how to get into someone's pants. Can you imagine? Eventually, I'd like to branch out and write in other genres. For now, the erotic romance is cool because I can really hone my writing skills and learn discipline.

• What do you have published and where?

I have a few self-published titles available through Lulu but they're predominantly erotica, just for the sake of it. My other work is available through Loose Id and I can tell you from personal experience that getting published by someone else is far more satisfying than self-publishing.

The very first novel accepted for publication was “Casa Rodrigo.” It's an LGBT Multicultural Historical about a Spanish plantation owner who falls in love with a slave. My second novel, “Lauderdale Hearts,” will be released Tuesday, January 18, 2011. It's an LGBT Multicultural Contemporary about a successful advertising exec who comes to Fort Lauderdale to recuperate after a heart attack and winds up falling in love with a Latin massage therapist.

• Tell me about some of your WIPs?

I currently have several WIPs. However, the only one I feel comfortable speaking about right now is “Learning To Samba.” It's the story of a 48-year-old man who returns home -- to Brooklyn – after losing his partner 7 years ago. There, he meets a 25-year-old International Med Student who teaches him how to open up, live life, and trust in love once again. Believe it or not it was inspired by a “naughty” picture Kei Chan posted on Facebook!

• Tell me about yourself?

I'm the oldest of 4 children and a first generation American. I live with my sainted partner of 14 years, 4 pugs and a cat. I love books, movies, theatre, parties, wine, and travel. A bit basic but there you have it.

• Where can we find you on the Internet?

I'm on Facebook and I also have a website:

• What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I like to read all kinds of stuff. It truly does run the gamut! Some of my favorites are: J.K. Rowling, Armistead Maupin, Gregory Maguire, Janet Evanovich, Treva Harte, Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Val McDermid. Recently I've been turned on to Neil Placky, Michael Jecks, Agatha Christie and Brent Weeks. And that's just for starters!

• How do people react when they find out your are an author?

I find I usually get one of several reactions. The first is, “Oh,” usually from the group of people who have no idea what to make of writers. They probably just think we're weird. I dunno. The second is, “Oh, that's interesting. What type of stuff do you write?” The secondary reaction, when I tell them I write m/m romance, is always priceless. Like they have no frame of reference. And the third is, “Oh, really? You know, I've always wanted to write!” This is usually from the group, of which I was once one, that comes up with every sort of excuse as to why they are not writing.

The really cool thing is that I'm now meeting new people who then share that they, too, are writers and exchange ideas.

• Do you like writing your hero or heroine better? Which POV do you prefer?

In answer to the first part of this question, I'm not sure yet. I haven't written a m/f romance as of yet. However, hopefully that will soon be coming! I've got a story percolating in my brain but I can't tell you much more since it's one of the WIPs I'm still developing. What I can tell you about it is that the heroine is an “older” woman who falls in love with another man, after many years of being a widow and unexpectedly becoming her grandson's legal guardian.

As for P.O.V. I'm still experimenting with that one. I find that writing in third person is great because you're the narrator. You're omniscient. But I don't feel you can really get into a person's psyche writing third person the way you can in first person. The problem with that is that the story can get tricky. Sooner or later you'll want to jump perspective and you can't.

• What is your perfect hero? Perfect heroine?

I think it depends on the genre. For the most part, the perfect hero is a flawed underdog or a misunderstood badboy. He's irresistibly human, with the heart of a knight and follows his instincts. Maybe he doesn't always think before he acts. Cocky but full of doubt. Good-looking, scruffy, somewhat gruff. Utterly masculine, with a beefy ass and a lot of chutzpah! Think Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood or even The Doctor. More than anything, though, he needs to be someone that I can either: a) completely fall head overs heels for, or b) identify with on several levels.

• Do you belong to any writer’s chapters or groups, like RWA?

No. I'm afraid I don't belong to any organizations though I do participate in a local gay writers critique group from time to time.

• Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read! And then read some more. Don't think that the very first thing you publish is so good that it'll make you a household name. It may very well be, but chances are pretty good that you might have to struggle a bit in the beginning. Be curious. Ask questions. Write because you want to write, not because you need the money. Trust me on this. You won't be able to jaunt the Riviera, rent a limousine or hire a maid. Don't let ego tell you how good you are, let the readers do that. Be grateful and respectful. Thank the loyal fans you make along the way and always follow your instincts. When that doesn't work, follow the voices in your head.

• How long did it take you from when you started writing to being published? From first submitting to being published?

It took a very long time to get published from when I first started writing because I was just no good, lacked confidence and didn't know what the hell I was doing. I still don't! But I'm a bit more confident in some ways. The first book Loose Id published took about a year from when I first started writing to when it was released.

• What do you think about the future of epublishing?

I'm no expert on publishing, let alone e-publishing. All I know is what I see and hear. That having been said, I personally think e-publishing is definitely here to stay. With the popularity of book readers there's no way in hell anyone is going to do anything to sabotage the growing industry. I do feel that it's an awesome and inexpensive way for publishers to take a risk on “unknowns” and perhaps cultivate new authors. I still love traditional books, though. I'm pretty old school that way. I find great comfort in a well-read book. I love the sound of pages turning, the texture of paper at my fingertips and coming from a graphic arts background I even love the smell of ink! I've been known to meander the book aisles and pull a book out at random, crack it open and bury my nose in it for a good whiff.

• Do you do research for your stories? If so, what kind?

As a matter of fact, yes, I do research but probably not as much as I should. I'm the type of person that, if I get too bogged down in the most minute of details, I'll never write the book. It's better for me to plod along first, ask questions to fill in the gaps later.

• Are you a plotter (plots and outlines) or a pantzer (by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer)? Why?

I think I'm a combination of both. I'll do some basic outlines and plot structure, as well as timelines. For the most part, though, lately, I've been winging it. My first book, “Casa Rodrigo,” I was in between a plotter and a pantzer. For my second book, “Lauderdale Hearts,” there was a bit more outlining. Actually, I wrote the blurb first, does that count as outlining? The story I'm working on now, “Learning To Samba,” is a complete pantzing. It's been one hell of an experience! I'm not sure which I like best. I'll let you know when I write a plot or outline and actually stick to it.

• What is the best or worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best writing advice I was ever given was to write every day and to write because I must and to find out what happens next.

• Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Yes, I'm afraid I do use a pen name. Dunno why really. I suppose it's because when I first started writing porn, everyone said I should write under a pseudonym. They all said that no real, or serious, writer would ever dream of putting their real name to something as base as porn. Now it's as legit and acceptable as anything else but the habit just kinda stuck I guess!

• Is there a genre that you haven’t written that you would like to?

Oh, totally! Mysteries, thrillers, suspense, horror, mainstream fiction, science fiction, fantasy. My goal is to write several stories in each genre just to be able to say I did it. Even if I have to pick different pen names! But I hope it doesn't come down to that as it would be like starting from the beginning and having to prove myself all over again.


Deanna said...

Great interview, Johnny! ALways nice to learn a bit more about people. I love Jack from Torchwood too! *swoon*
Can't wait to sink into Lauderdale Hearts, its waiting on my Kindle for me!

Johnny Miles said...

Thanks Deanna! And thanks to Jeanne St. James who was so wonderful to interview and add me to her blog.

Kei-chan said...

It is a great interview. I didn't realize that you had been writing that long.
I'm loving the changes in Blake in Lauderdale Hearts. But I still like Ricky the best!
I can't wait until Learning to Samba is finished.

Johnny Miles said...

Thanks Kei. Yeah. I've been writing a long time but insecurities, lack of confidence, sometimes even life, get in the way of going where you want to go. But life has an amazing way of balancing things out so you get back on your path. I suppose this was mine.

Thanks for your awesome words of encouragement! Sometimes it's exactly the type of fuel I need to keep going!

Penny Brandon said...

Great interview. I like to hear how other people have conquered whatever hurdles they've met and pushed forward to reach their goals. Like you I've spent many years writing and waiting for the right time to get over that final barrier. I did it. And for those out there who are still waiting, you'll get there, I'm sure.