A native of California, Rainbow award winner Viki Lyn travels the world in search of inspiration, but she and her husband call their beautiful Arizona adobe home. She wrote her first man love romance in 2009. Her stories are an eclectic mix but it is always the romance that drives her stories to their final happily-ever-after.
Q. Welcome to TwoLips Reviews, Viki. We hope you enjoy your visit with us. First of all, can you tell us what inspired you to start writing male/male romance?
Viki: I’m a real avid yaoi fangirl. Yaoi is Japanese boy’s love comics, and I got hooked on them a few years ago. I love the idea of two men in love and always had been fascinated by the gay culture – living most of my adult life in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Since my college days, I’ve had close gay friends and so I feel comfortable writing in this genre.
Q. For those of us who aren't familiar with yaoi, exactly what is it and what about it intrigues you so?
Viki: There are different opinions when it comes to the definition of yaoi. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition: Yaoi (やおい?) also known as Boys' Love, is a Japanese popular term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic relationships, usually created by female authors. Mostly, the stories are idealized and follow very specific story lines/plots – teacher/student, best friends fall in love, business men in suits (boss vs. employee), Yakuza (Japanese mafia)… Yaoi does not reflect ‘gay culture’ in Japan – usually one or both of the men are straight – so it’s more ‘gay for you’ although I’ve been reading more yaoi where one of the characters will admit to being gay.
I guess what intrigues me is how romantic the stories are. Two men together are hot and sexy, and when you add a dash of angst it’s even better. Plus I love the artwork – the Japanese mangaka (artists) create very beautiful men!
Q. How much of your motivation to write male/male romance is personal preference vs. how “hot” that market is selling your work?
Viki: I wouldn’t be able to write m/m romance if I didn’t love it. Honestly, while this is a hot market it has a limited readership. I’d make more money if I wrote straight erotic romances – but that doesn’t interest me, at least right now. I might decide to write straight romance in the future (I did in the past) but right now I’m having too much fun writing m/m love stories.
Q. In your opinion, what draws so many women readers to male/male novels?
Viki: This is hard to answer. I’m really not sure but I love to read m/m romances more than any other romance genre. I like reading about two men coming together because it’s intriguing and different, and sexy. Also, we are still in a world where it takes a lot of courage to be gay and openly display love for another person of the same gender.
Q. For the Bite of It, book 1 in your new Vampire in Exile series from Liquid Silver Books, was written in collaboration with Vina Grey. Since you're so successful as a solo writer, what made you decide to collaborate with such a newcomer to the male/male genre?
Viki: Vina Grey is a great friend of mine, and a wonderful writer. She writes under another pen name and has several books out as well. We went on a writing retreat last summer so we could finish our manuscripts. Well, we found a cupcake bakery, eh, that was oh so convenient to our condo, and yummy! One day after we left the bakery, we were talking about cupcakes and vampires and wouldn’t it be silly fun to write about a vampire cupcake baker! When we came up with the bakery’s name: For The Bite Of It, we had to write the story.
Q. What makes a great book to you? How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Viki: If I fall in love with the characters then it’s a great book! I really need to care about them. If I do, I can overlook some other issues, like pacing, plotting, even in some cases, bad writing! There are some books I read over and over again because I have to revisit the characters.
I’m not typical when it comes to writing books and I take quite a long time even to write shorter novels (45-55K). I’m happy to publish three books/year, and at that, sometimes I don’t make my goal. For The Bite Of It was written fairly fast since I had a writing partner! First time I published a book with another author. Vina Grey took the vampire POV and I took the cop’s POV. With two of us, we were able to write quickly and have a lot of fun doing it.
Q. I think details really make fictional characters come alive. Do you spend a lot of time researching or do your characters just come alive in your mind?
Viki: Both. I love to research. My paranormals are heavily researched because I tend to focus on one part of the world and study their myths, language, ancient history. For Fighting Chance, I used many Slavic terms and myths to create the Kresnik world (vampire slayers). For my shape shifter series, it’s more of an urban fantasy/paranormal, and takes place in the late 1940’s after WWII. I had to research abandoned military bases and places like bars and restaurants where the story took place. Even with my contemporary stories I research what I’m writing about. In Ryan’s Harbor, one of my characters used to be a very good surfer so I had to research surfing terms and such stuff. I’m now working on an angel para/fantasy and I’m studying Catholic angelology. I have binders of research notes – half the time I don’t use what I learn but pull out bits and pieces for the story I’m working on.
Q. Would you consider yourself a “plot-it-out-first” or a “seat-of-your-pants” author?
Viki: Again, both. I usually write the first four chapters by the ‘seat-of-my-pants’ then I step away and begin to seriously think about the plot! I have two CP’s that help me plot and they are a god-send.
Q. What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted and when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
Viki: Amazed, a little bit proud and very, very nervous! LOL
Q. You are known for the depth of emotion in your male/male stories. Why are most of your heroes usually wounded/tortured characters in need of “fixing?” What draws you to this part of the human condition?
Viki: I believe wounded men make very interesting characters. There’s something about wanting to fix them! They are also more fascinating to write. And I love reading about a strong, wounded alpha male softening and allowing his heart to open up. It’s taking that risk, jumping off the cliff and going for it. Writing m/m is a challenge when you have two alphas vying for control. Usually one must step down (just a little) to make a relationship work. This doesn’t make that character weak or feminine. IMHO it shows great inner strength and conviction.
Q. Out of Bounds received stellar reviews for realistically depicting the hardship many gay people experience when coming out. Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
Viki: I love football. And, I’m an artist or was in my past. Now, football is still a very homophobic sport – because when is the last time you heard about a NFL player coming out during their playing days? This got me to wondering about what would drive a future Hall of Famer to reveal they are gay to the public and his family? And, a NFL star and an artist seemed like an unlikely pair, which made it more intriguing to write. I feel comfortable with writing characters that are artists – since I know something of that world. Many of my books feature photographers, architects, painters, sculptors…
Q. The Hunter Within, your sequel to The Tiger Within, recently came out through Loose Id, LLC. This series is about shapeshifers. Are there any other sub-genres within the male/male domain you have left to explore? Do you ever see yourself writing a female/female romance?
Viki: I am writing a new m/m book about angels and their protectors but that’s still considered paranormal or what I like to coin my books para/fantasy. I also enjoy writing contemporary. Maybe a pure fantasy and/or sci-fi would be fun to write. I don’t have any desire to write steam punk because I don’t think I could pull it off. One of my favorite m/m genres is murder mysteries but to write a true mystery would take some time in plotting out the murder, clues... I’d consider writing female/female romance and there’s a character in For The Bite Of It that Vina and I have considered for a spin-off female/female novella.
Q. What are your current projects, and when can we expect to see them in print?
Viki: I’m sorry to say I don’t have any release dates yet for 2012! Am I bad! I’m writing an angel series but have no publisher for it yet. I’ve only written four chapters so far. I finished a contemporary but haven’t shopped it out. I just returned from Prague and Eastern Europe so another book in my vampire series with Loose Id, LLC is brewing in back of my mind. Also, I was asked to write a Valentine Story for an anthology so if it gets contracted, I’ll have something coming out in February.
Q. Do you set any limits as to how controversial you want your stories to be? Is there anything you’d consider taboo?
Viki: I don’t use my stories as a soap box but I’m sure my political and spiritual beliefs seep into them. I strongly believe in acceptance and tolerance and my newest WIP touches on these two issues. I avoid details of rape or torture, and writing about characters with severe mental disorders because it’d be hard to write a happily ever after in a romance book if one of my characters had so much to overcome. I write short novels and so I have to consider this when developing the romance.
Q. When you complete your novels, do you breathe a sigh of relief or do you feel sad the experience has ended?
Viki: Breathe a sigh of relief…but I’m sad to leave behind my characters.
Q. What book(s) do you feel are classics in your genre?
Viki: There are some classics I’ve read – Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. A classic murder mystery writer I like is Joseph Hansen and for westerns – Cap Iverson’s series is delightful.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring GLBT writers?
Viki: Write what you love and if it’s GLBT then go for it. There’s always room in the genre for good solid stories. And, if you’re a female writer writing about two men, keep it about two men, and don’t make one of your characters a ‘female with a dick’.
Q. How do you balance your home life with writing? Does your husband ever get jealous of your computer?
Viki: Well, my husband hasn’t hidden my laptop yet! But he does say that it’s No. 1 in my life (LOL). He’s a great guy and has never been jealous of my writing or any of my artistic pursuits. He’s very supportive and never once questioned why I was in this crazy business. Maybe because he’s as crazy as me!
Q. Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Viki: Just that it’s my readers that keep me writing. Without them, my stories would be saved on my hard drive collecting cyber dust! So thank you all!
Q. Where can we find you on the Internet?
Viki: I’m on Facebook, Twitter and have a website and blog and newsletter. I’m also part of two group blogs – Dirty Birdies and Truly, Madly, Deeply Romance Authors. If you go to my website you can find the links at http://www.vikilyn.com/contact.htm .
Q. Describe who Viki Lyn is in three sentences.
Viki: I’m eccentric in my taste. My husband says if I like a TV show it’ll be canceled in a week. I’m curious and have to explore new places and things or else I go stir crazy.
Q. Do you have any strange habits, hobbies or a hidden talent you’d like to share with us?
Viki: I’m a closeted slash fan fiction reader (recently I’m reading a lot of Glee fanfic) and devour Batman comic books! Talk about the ultimate alpha-hero. I also play golf most weekends which is so out of my comfort zone.
Q. Is there a sex scene you have always wanted to use in a book but never have?
Viki: Hmm. I’ve never used sex toys or bondage but I’d like to write a scene where my man wants to be tied up and blindfolded because he completely trusts his lover. I need to explore sex toys, because it’d be fun to use a few now and again.
Q. What is your most guilty pleasure?
Viki: Being indulged at the spa with an hour and half massage.
Q. If you had to spend a weekend in an ice cave at the top of a mountain, who would you most like with you to warm your sleeping bag? And what activity would you most like to while away the hours doing?
Viki: My husband, dull as that might sound, but he makes me feel safe and he’s my number one sexy guy. The activity would be behind closed cave doors!