Josephine Myles Interview

Today I am speaking with Josephine Myles. Hello Josephine and welcome! It is a joy to have you with us today. Thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to answer some questions.

Why don't we begin the morning by telling us how your day begins once you've had your cup of tea?

Thanks for letting me get my tea in first - I'm not good for anything before that first cuppa!

It usually starts by reading my five-year-old daughter a story in bed, then getting up and making breakfast and packing her lunchbox for school. I check my emails and drink a latte while she watches a TV programme or two, then we get washed, dressed and I walk her to school. All pretty mundane and domestic, but I like it that way - plus I'm not up to much until the coffee kicks in!

Your first novel, Barging In, released by Samhain Publishing, came out in September. Could you please tell the readers something about it?
Barging In is an m/m contemporary erotic romance set on the canal near Bath. It tells the tale of Dan Taylor, a travel writer and all-round party boy who has reluctantly agreed to cover a narrowboat holiday. When he spots a hunky boater on the towpath things take a turn for the better, but initially Robin seems immune to Dan's flirtatious charms.

Robin and Dan are both flawed characters and they absolutely don't want to fall for each other, but when they start shagging the inevitable happens. The latter part of the tale shows how they struggle to make their relationship work, despite the distance, and their very different backgrounds and hang-ups.

Where did you derive the story to write about Dan and Robin?
I once lived on a narrowboat on that section of canal for two and a half years, and I always thought it would be an excellent setting to use in a novel. Of course, you need an outsider to be the reader's guide into an unfamiliar world, so Dan was just perfect for that function. You can share his bemusement and occasional horror at the aspects of his life Robin takes for granted, such as pumping out the toilet tank.

As for the two characters: I love contradictions and romances between complete opposites, so it really appealed to me to pair up a trendy city-boy from a working class background with a posh boy who lives like a hippy.

Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write?
Yes, it's like they move into my head and won't stop chattering away, night and day. It's actually quite a relief to get to "the end", although they'll move back in again for edits, and then occasionally pop up demanding a sequel.

When did you decide you wanted to write gay erotica and romance?
I got into this a couple of years ago through slash fanfiction, as many m/m writers do. To begin with I only intended to write a romantic story fixing something that I thought had gone horribly wrong with my favourite TV show (Ianto's death in Torchwood), but the more erotic slash I read, the more tempted I was to try writing some. I'd always had an idea that I'd be able to write good smut, but I'd never dared give it a go. Fandom was a supportive place to experiment with that.

After a couple of months of wrapping my head around the idea that it was okay for a woman to write explicit gay sex scenes, I realized that I wanted to break free from the confines of fanfic and create my own characters. To begin with I thought I'd be writing all kinds of erotica, regardless of the gender and orientation of the characters, but I soon discovered it was the gay stuff that I enjoyed writing the most and that kept being snapped up by publishers. I haven't looked back since.

Do you go with the flow or form an outline when you write?
I do create a very basic outline in Scrivener, with a title for each scene and maybe a line or two detailing what happens. Stories tend to develop a life of their own, though, so the outline is very much a work in progress and I'm not afraid to abandon it if it isn't working.

In your opinion, what are the three most essential ingredients of an excellent novel?
Character, voice and style. I'm a character junkie, and I love to be given appealing yet flawed characters who grow throughout the narrative. This is far more important to me than an action-packed plot.

The author's voice is a really important aspect and it can be hard to analyse just what it is that makes this work, but I know it when I read it. If an author's voice captivates me, I will go on to read their entire backlist. JL Merrow was one of those writers whose voice grabbed me early on in my m/m reading, and I've been lucky enough to become good friends and critique partners with her.

Writing style is slightly different to voice, and I'm sorry to say that this is one area when an otherwise well-written story can really fall for short for me. It's partly a result of having been an English lit teacher, and partly because I spend so much time editing and critiquing stories, but I do find it hard to switch off this part of my brain. If a writer uses too many hackneyed dialogue tags, redundant words or repetition, I find it impossible to lose myself in the story.

Do you have any bad writing habits?
Getting distracted by the internet! I have to write on a laptop in the summerhouse in my parents' garden where there's no wifi signal. It's the only way.

I also have a tendency to start stories and lose interest in them for a shiny new project. I'm getting better at resisting the urge, but I do have a file full of WIPs that I really should finish off sometime.

What can the readers expect from your talented fingers in the future?
I have another novel coming out with Samhain in the spring: a contemporary m/m erotic romance called Handle with Care. This tells the story of Ben, a lonely geek on home dialysis who has real body-image issues, and Ollie, the cute skate-punk delivery guy who brings him his porn DVDs.

I also have another novella under submission: Tailor Made, a college-based m/m romantic comedy. This one stars an outrageous art student, Felix, who decides it's his mission in life to tutor serious and virginal fashion student Andrew in all things carnal.

Finally, in November I'll be self-publishing an ebook edition of Boats in the Night, a novella I've been running as a serial on my blog. It's a contemporary m/m erotic romance again, this time with a fire-dancing boater breaking down at the bottom of a posh guy's garden. Sparks certainly fly when Giles and Smutty get together!

What is your all-time favorite late night snack?
Marks and Spencer's 70% cocoa Madagascan dark chocolate - it's actually not a good late night snack for me as I'm very sensitive to caffeine and it keeps me awake for hours. I'm also partial to cold, leftover roast potatoes dipped in mayonnaise. Mmmm!

Do you have a household chore that you really hate doing?
Umm, all of them? I save my special dislike for ironing and vacuuming, though, and avoid them both like the plague. I've been known to sweep carpets rather than get the vacuum cleaner out. Wearing my delightfully crumpled clothes, I hasten to add.

Can you share your website and any other links to your books you would like to share?
My website. You'll find plenty of saucy free reads there and I blog regularly. So far my only novel-length fiction available is Barging In, which you can find at Samhain or Amazon, but I do have a series of m/m short stories I'm particularly proud of: First Impressions, a freebie short called Fuzzy, and Last Chance. Links to all my other shorts are on the website.

You have been chosen to be a character in any movie, which movie would you choose?
Tough one. I think I'd have to choose someone from my all-time favourite film, The Princess Bride. My favourite character is Inigo Montoya, but I think I'd rather be Westley. That way I'd get to be a swashbuckling pirate, and I could abandon Buttercup and run off with Inigo instead.

You have plans to take a romantic trip and would like to share the tips with your readers. Tell the readers what you consider the best plans to really make the trip fabulous?
Choose someone with a sense of adventure, a fascinating old city, and throw away the map. There is nothing more romantic than roaming the narrow streets of an old part of town, stopping to windowshop or take a bite to eat in a pavement café whenever the urge strikes you. May I recommend Paris, Amsterdam and Bath as being particularly good cities to do this in.

And if you've got the spare cash, following this is up with a night in a five-star hotel with an en suite Jacuzzi is always a good idea!

Thank you so much for sharing time with us, Josephine. It has been a delight. Anyone interested in reading more about Josephine and her exciting books, please visit her website to read more.

Interviewed by: Linda L.

Linda L.