Welcome to my Reading Nook, Em Lynley. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink. Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.
Tell us about your favorite character from your books.
Oh this is so not fair. I can't just choose one. The others will certainly be jealous and stop talking to me. My favorite is whoever I'm writing about at the moment. So today it's Joshua Golden from Lighting the Way Home, which I co-wrote with Shira Anthony. He thought he's accomplished everything he ever wanted as a successful chef in Paris, until he comes home for a short visit and realizes how much he missed some of his old life, including former flame, sexy lawyer named Micah.
I'm also incredibly fond of Jay Brown from Brand New Flavor. He's kind of the opposite of Josh. Jay makes incredible ice cream, and everyone from his employees to his clients to the top restaurants in San Francisco tell him how great it is, but he's still not convinced it's perfect. Until he meets Cameron Clay, a food critic, and Jay decides to woo Cameron with a special ice cream flavor. I love that Jay isn't sure of himself, but eventually believes he can succeed.
Tell us about your current/upcoming release. What inspired this story?
Brand New Flavor is my latest release, from Dreamspinner Press. It's the first in the Delectable series, which revolves around characters in the food and wine business. My main inspiration is my love of cooking and—more importantly—eating. If you've read more than one of my stories you probably know I love to describe food and flavors in mouthwatering detail, especially foods I've eaten on my travels.
I got to combine some of everything in this book, and the research was fun! Research for Brand New Flavor was fun! I visited and sampled ice creams, gelatos, sorbets and other frozen desserts while I was deciding just what would make Jay's particular ice cream so spectacular. I actually created my own fantasy of what ice cream could be, though as far as I know no one makes anything quite like I've described. I even spent some time in the kitchen at Scream Sorbet, a local shop where I watched the staff at work and peppered the kitchen manager with dozens of questions, about their process, ingredients, sourcing, and how to grow a small business. I also spoke with chefs about flavor combinations to make sure the flavors I made up would really work, and taste as good as I think they sound.
Along the way I tasted: fresh corn, rice, green tea, rose petal, young coconut, new Mexico chile, lemon mint, tamarindo, avocado, cashew caramel, salted caramel and more.
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I try to write on one of my novels until I hit 750-1000 words in the mornings, then do some financial writing or editing (the “day job” for most of the year”). After that’s finished I’ll try to get back to the WIP until I hit about 2000 words for the day. If I’m really on a roll or have lots of ideas, I may work longer.
On some days I can’t write at all, then I force myself to get some word count down after dinner. If I start late, then I might stay up late, but I rarely write past midnight. My brain’s just too tired at that point.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
For me, every project has a different challenge. For some it’s figuring out how to connect the dots, for others it’s getting the motivation to write after I’ve plotted it out. I think I enjoy the planning more than writing, so getting words down can be tough. And revising. I actively dislike reading my own work over and over. I tend to put that off as long as possible. It’s one reason I’ve enjoyed co-writing with Shira Anthony. We do the revision on the other’s first drafts, and it makes the revision process a lot more enjoyable.
With every project I find the sex scenes to be tough and I leave them to write later. It’s difficult to make each scene fresh and new, and interesting to both the reader and the characters.
What does your family think of your writing career?
They all support me and think it’s great that I’m doing what I love and supporting myself. But after about the fourth book they stopped being so excited with each new contract or release. They seem to have the idea that this is pretty easy. My friends seem a lot more excited by my good news than my family, at this point.
What do you think makes a good story?
I could write a whole book on that! I have actually been doing some blog posts about this because it’s an issue I’ve thought about a lot, as a reader and as a writer. I used to focus on plot when I’d plan my books, and then I considered what I read and why. It’s a lot less about plot than it is about great characters. I want to love those characters and then I’ll follow them through almost anything. But if the characters aren’t three-dimensional and worth caring about, it almost doesn’t much matter what happens to them. It took me a while to figure that out enough to incorporate it into my own writing.
Plotter or Pantser? Why?
I’m a little bit of both. Since most of my stories involve some type of mystery I’m forced to be a plotter in terms of the thread of the mystery and solution. But for everything else I am more pantser, especially about the relationship between the characters. The shorter the story, the more I wing it, so for novel-length stories, I do more structure, but I admit it takes some of the spontaneity out of the writing, though it makes it a lot easier to finish, when I have a clear path the story should follow, even if I leave most of the details for the writing process.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
I don’t have a formula but I do have a process I’ve honed over the years. I start out with a vague idea of the characters and their jobs and how those jobs would bring them into contact and conflict. Then I’ll flesh them out in terms of personalities. After that I consider how their personalities and conflict will integrate with the big picture idea I have for the plot. I always know the ending before I start writing, since I plan the story toward a specific outcome. I also have a handful of scenes fairly clear in my mind between the two personalities and I figure out a way to incorporate those into the story. That can often lead to a challenge, but that’s part of the fun.
What book are you reading now? Any favorite authors/books you want to do a shout out for?
I'm just about to dive into Under the Rushes by Amy Lane. I'm a huge fan of her writing (and of Amy herself, after getting to meet her at the past three Yaoi-cons while working the Dreamspinner Press table). This one is steampunk and I can't wait to see how she creates a new world and what she'll put these characters through.
I'm looking forward to Shira Anthony's upcoming pirate shifter book Stealing the Wind. I love how her writing pulls me into a new world (especially in Dream of a Thousand Nights) and how much I love her characters. She really makes them come alive as people, far more than simple characters in a book. It's why I wanted to work with her on a book.
The rest of the books on my shelf are for research: winemaking books another book in the Delectable series, and books on the Yakuza for Jaded, Book 3 in the Precious Gems series, which takes place in Japan.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
When my brain gets overloaded with words and ideas I love to take a walk. My neighborhood is quiet and there are lots of lovely landscaped gardens and green hills to calm my senses. We have gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay from the hill I live on. I particularly enjoy a walk at night. It's even quieter and the bright lights across the bay sparkle, but not too brightly to block out the stars. It's incredibly peaceful.
Morning Person or Night Person?
I wake up early but I don't necessarily get going right away! I find it easier to concentrate at night for some reason, so in some ways I'm both.
Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning?
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm kind of addicted to coffee. More the smell of coffee than the taste since I don't make very good coffee. I use a French press now and it's a lot better than anything from a drip filter. My guilty pleasure in the morning is nice strong coffee with a healthy splash of Almond Joy-flavored creamer. Just enough to taste the coconut. I always make my coffee half-caff, so I can have another cup and not feel too wired.
What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?
A lot actually! I have the next two books in the Delectable series finished and they're scheduled to release in late March and late June. I'm finishing up book 3 in the Precious Gems series with Trent and Reed, this time they're in Japan, and I'll be starting Book 4, which is set in Turkey and will deal with stolen and smuggled artifacts from Iraq. We'll get to meet Reed's family in this one. I can't wait for fans of the series to learn more about Reed's background.
I also have a couple of paranormal novellas scheduled to release from Total-E-Bound and hopefully another collaboration with Shira Anthony. Stay tuned…
Anything else you want to add?
Find Me Here
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-EM-Lynley/146199905400403 and http://www.facebook.com/emlynley Twitter: http://twitter.com/emlynley Blog: http://www.emlynley.com/blog Other sites: http://emlynley.livejournal.com
Brand New Flavor, Delectable Book 1
Author: EM Lynley
Genre: Gay Romance (M/M), Contemporary
Buy links: Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/dsp-bnf Amazon: http://bit.ly/amz-bnf, and All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/are-bnf
Length: 150 pages/37,000 words
When artisan ice cream maker Jay Brown first meets food writer Cameron Clay at a charity tasting event, they get along like strawberries and chocolate sauce. Jay's unique flavors thrill more than Cameron's jaded palate, but after a delicious encounter in Jay’s delivery truck, where extra-creamy frozen treats are not the only delights sampled, Cameron loses Jay’s contact info—and any hope of a real date.
Desperate, Cameron convinces his editor to host an artisanal ice cream contest in hopes of drawing out the elusive genius. But more complications threaten to intervene. Will Jay even enter the contest? Or will the chance of a happily ever after melt away?
For the next thirty minutes, Jay forced himself to concentrate on ice cream and not on Cameron Cameron Clay. He went to the big walk-in cooler to see what fruit was ripe. He'd used up nearly everything on hand making the product for the tasting event. He'd use up what he had on hand and then call his suppliers and see what was ripe and when he should go to their farms to collect his orders.
He glanced around the cooler and selected several baskets of berries. He loaded them into a wide plastic tub, shut the cooler door, and strolled over to the ripening room to see what looked and smelled best. He picked up and sniffed a series of melons, choosing three varieties that were approaching perfection. The heady, sweet scent and just the right give under his thumb. He rinsed everything under warm water in the sink, and then brought his bounty over to the cutting boards. Within a few minutes, he had a pile of delicious chunks of three kinds of melon. He pureed each separately, pouring the thick sweet-smelling result into wide beakers. He did the same with the berries, sieving the ones with seeds, until he had a little rainbow of beakers. From the blue-black of blackberries to the celadon of Persian melon.
What were Cam’s favorite flavors? That did it. Jay's concentration broke, and he lost the battle to ignore the phone after only twenty minutes of work. He pulled his cell out of his pocket just to make sure he had a signal: four out of five bars. What the fuck am I doing?
“Whatcha working on this morning?” Maya’s voice shattered the silence and Jay nearly dropped his phone into a beaker of bright watermelon puree. He hadn’t heard her unlock the door. Had he locked up properly the night before? Probably too distracted with fantasies of Cameron Clay. Maybe he needed to increase security.
“Come on, Jay. Don’t you think you’re carrying this stealth thing a bit too far? No one’s spying on you.”
“I won’t risk it. Not after….”
“Jay, that was almost two years ago. You can’t keep hiding in here like it’s some sort of Batcave because you think someone’s going to steal your flavors and your ideas. The way to avoid that is to actually start selling them, get them into the market so everyone knows you created them. The longer you wait, the more chance you do have of being scooped.” She clapped a hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle. “Sorry.” She dropped the hand and her expression turned serious again. “I mean it. You’re not helping yourself. You’re letting that asshole win if you keep this up.”
Jay took a deep breath and pulled himself up to his full height. He exhaled and watched Maya’s face. His pulse skyrocketed and he heard the sound of glass shattering. He’d dropped the bowl he’d been holding. “Crap.” He bent to clean up the shards, nearly bumping his head against Maya’s.
“I’ll clean this up.” She knelt and pushed at his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have mentioned him. I’m sorry.”
Jay stood and watched as Maya swiped a damp towel across the floor, and fought to get his breath under control. Thinking about Paul Rhodes always did this to him. He went over to the sink and washed his hands, lathering up the anti-bacterial scrub and letting the hot water scald away the memories and distract him from the knot in his stomach.