Human beings are always trying to find their niche. The one place they can be comfortable, call home. A great deal of the time, things that make us comfortable are the same things that everyone else enjoys too. A sweet romance, a thrilling suspense, a frightening horror, a nice self-help book, a solid autobiography. In some cases, like with author Kim Fielding, it can be a very specific happy place where the overall masses may not be so cozy. That’s what I wanted to share with our TipsyLit readers.
There is no need to hide behind your mask, be something your not to please the masses. It’s OK to write outside the norm, go against the grain. In fact, I say do it, and do it often!
Today I interviewed Kim Fielding who writes romance novels that some might think is outside the perfect box society has around what is an acceptable love story and what isn’t.
TipsyLit: You write in a very specific niche market. As I understand it, your passion is writing male/male romances. Is that your primary genre or do you write in other genre’s?
Fielding: Everything I’ve written could at least loosely be classified as m/m romance. But I’ve had quite a bit of range within that genre. For example, my Ennek trilogy is really a dark fantasy with romance elements. I’ve also written contemporaries, paranormals, and lighter fantasies. Later this year I’ll even have a novella set in 15th century Bosnia!
TipsyLit: Do you find it difficult being a woman and writing from two male’s perspectives? For me, I’m lucky my critique partner is a man because he sets me straight when my male characters say something too feminine. How does that process work for you?
Fielding: Well, I like men, and I’ve lived with one for a long time! *g* I think there’s a lot of variation among my guys, just as there is in real life. An ex-con is going to be very different from a sort of happy-go-lucky housecleaner or a repressed psychology graduate student. Each person’s thoughts and reactions to life are going to be different, and everyone has different wants and needs. That said, most men tend to be less eager than most women to talk about their feelings. In fact, a few of my guys would probably rather be boiled in oil. That makes for some interesting dramatic tension in a story, I think. In the end, my characters feel very real to me, and I just try to write them faithfully. I have male fans, so I guess I must be doing something right.
TipsyLit: I find it fascinating that you are a married woman who not only loves to write gay romance novels, you’re damn good at it! I adored Venetian Masks. It seems as if the nature of your characters sexual preferences could be considered taboo, not necessarily easy table-talk. I have a hard time myself expressing that I write erotic romances without the person I’m speaking with thinking I’m kinky or debauched in some way. From one author to another, how do you handle how society or friends/family sees what you write?
Fielding: Thank you! And that’s a great question. At first I was a little hesitant to tell people what I write. But I gradually came out of the closet, and I’m thrilled to say the reaction has been uniformly positive. My family and friends are wonderfully supportive—my husband reads all my stories and cheers me on. I’ve even had great reactions from unexpected sources. Last summer I was attending a writing workshop. As it happened, three of the other attendees were pastors. But when I shared with the group what I write, they thought it was great. One of the pastors ran out and bought a bunch of my books as a gift for his choir director! A lot of people are surprised that the genre even exists, but then they become interested. I’m a lot less shy about the topic now. Several times now I’ve managed to sell my books to people sitting next to me on airplanes or sharing jury duty with me! You know, gay or straight, in the end I think romances speak to basic human problems and human needs, stuff any of us can relate to.
TipsyLit: Who is your primary target audience? I only write contemporary erotic romances and my market is 99% women. Do you find that more women read your novels or gay males?
Fielding: In general, I think about 75% of the audience for m/m romance is women. Which kind of makes sense—women tend to gravitate toward romance more often than men. And if a woman likes men, why wouldn’t she enjoy reading about two of them? *g* And in general, m/m romance is finding a wider audience. For example, book 12 in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood featured a male couple, and it was a huge bestseller. But I also get fan mail from men. One letter I especially treasure came from a young disabled gay man who was thrilled to find a story in which the hero was someone a little like him—a gay man with a disability.
TipsyLit: As I mentioned, I loved your novel Venetian Masks. The story was interesting but more so I was impressed with how you were able to place the reader so perfectly in another country. Places I’ve not been to, but feel like I have after reading your work. Do you do a lot of research? Vacation in the other countries to get your surroundings?
Fielding: I love to travel! I do it as much as time and finances permit, and so often my travels inspire my stories. The places in Venetian Masks—Venice, Zagreb, Trieste, Ljubljana—are all places I’ve visited. Other stories I’ve written take place everywhere from Iowa City to Mostar. Even my fictional locations have bits and pieces stolen from real places I’ve been. I love to include little details to make the location feel real, because I think those details make a story much more vivid. I think you really have to visit a place to get those details right. Plus then I have an excuse to travel more!
TipsyLit: According to your site, it looks like you have over 10 published novels. Can you share your publishing experience and any advice you’d give to other aspiring authors on the list?
Fielding: Sure! I self-published my first and second novels (and later the third novel in that trilogy as well). Self-publishing can be good because, of course, you have complete control over everything. On the other hand, you have to do all the work yourself, and formatting and so on are a lot of work. What helped me a lot is having some talented editor and artist friends I could draw on to help me out. And then of course you have to market your books—but then you have to do that with a publisher too. It’s been a few years but my sales are pretty steady with that series, which is especially great because I donate all the royalties from the trilogy to Doctors Without Borders.
All my other stories have been contracted with publishers—most of them with Dreamspinner Press. With publishers I get the benefit of extensive editing, beautiful cover art, and considerable promotion. I’ve found Dreamspinner exceptionally nice to work with. For example, they solicit a lot of input about the cover art and blurb, and they are willing to discuss editorial decisions.
The best advice I can give any aspiring author is to edit heavily! Whether you’re self-publishing or submitting to a publisher, you want your manuscript as clean and smooth as possible. That means you should run your drafts by several sets of eyes, and make sure those eyes belong to people who are willing to give you honest input. I enjoy having my ego stroked, but that’s not what editing is for. If something’s not working right in my story, much better to hear it from a beta reader than from a publisher or reviewer! So when the edits come, you have to set your ego aside—which is hard!—and be willing to listen and learn.
And speaking of bruised egos, an author has to be willing to deal with rejection. Sometimes a story isn’t right for a particular audience and sometimes it just misses the mark entirely. When that happens, you have to sit back and reassess. Then you can change the audience, revise the story, or try something new. For example, my novel Brute was turned down by a couple of agents but I continued to submit it, and eventually ended up with a contract. It’s now one of my best sellers and has received lots of glowing reviews—and it won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Fantasy. I’m really glad I didn’t give up on it!
TipsyLit: What’s presently the hot button book in your line up of work?
Fielding: My most recent novel is Pilgrimage, a light fantasy about a guy from California who gets zapped to another world, where he has to undertake a pilgrimage to appease an angry god. He hires a hunky guide to help him on his way. his month, my novella Speechless will be released in a Spanish translation, and I’m really excited about that. The Spanish title is Sin Palabras. In April, I’ll have a golem story released as part of an anthology, in May I’ll have a paranormal novel called Motel. Pool., and in June a short story called “The Border.” I’ve been busy!
The book I’m most proud of right now is my novel The Tin Box, which came out last September. Although it’s a contemporary m/m romance, it also deals with the shameful ways we’ve treated homosexuality and mental illness in the past.
TipsyLit: Our list is focused on book, booze, and brilliance, not necessarily in that order. What would you recommend a reader drink while snuggling up with one of your novels?
Fielding: Well, that depends on the novel, of course! The drink should fit the story. For Venetian Masks I’d recommend a bottle of good Prosecco. Pilgrimage needs a nice hearty ale. A big chunk of my upcoming novel Motel. Pool. takes places in Vegas, so I think that requires a margarita sipped from an oversized plastic cup. Well, I think margaritas are usually a good idea anyway.
For readers that are interested in getting a taste of Ms. Fielding’s work, you can download the following two short stories FREE99 from her publisher Dreamspinner Press and through the M/M Romance Group.
Check out Ms. Fielding’s blog at: http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com/
Follow her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFielding Writes
And Twitter: @KFieldingWrites
Join me next week on the Tuesday Tease where I discuss Book Hangovers!
Until next time … Namaste.
Check out my debut erotic novel Angel Falling today!