Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Taylor V. Donovan here today to talk about writing and her release Six Degrees of Lust. Welcome, Taylor!
My name is Taylor V. Donovan and I’m an author of gay romance and suspense. Today I’m here to talk about writing…about my voice and my style. Thank you so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me!
Those of you who have read my work already know my stories are mostly inspired by everyday situations. For those of you who have yet to read my work and have absolutely no clue what to expect, I’ll tell you that realism is my “thing.” There’s no magic penis that’ll cure anything and everything, but my characters are full of love, commitment, hope, and determination to be happy. Also, making my readers part of my characters’ journey is my main goal. The ride is never a quick or easy, but hopefully you’ll feel emotionally invested. ☺
My first title was contracted in May 2011. My first story, a freebie called Heatstroke, was published in July of 2011. Since then I’ve become very familiar with reviews and readers’ reactions to my work. I’ve met other readers clamoring for “different” stuff. I’ve learned there are professional reviewers, neutral reviewers that focus on craft, mean reviewers that make authors reconsider whether they’re cut out for writing or not, passionate readers that offer their opinions in the form of a review, reviewers that have such firm ideas of how a story should go that they pretty much tell us how we should’ve written the book, reviewers that—
I’ll shut up now. I’m pretty sure you all get my drift, and this post is not about reviews. It’s about my personal journey and individual style as an author, but before we reach that point, I need to get back to basics.
I’ve been reading fiction forever. I adore doing so. It’s been my favorite hobby my entire life. If I remember correctly, I discovered the romance genre when I was only eleven. A battered Harlequin copy was mixed in with a bunch of magazines my aunt gave me. I read it and I was hooked. Not to Harlequin, but to reading romance.
As a reader, I don’t like gratuitous anything. Books with misunderstandings that go on for at least four chapters, silly bickering written in an attempt to replace real conflict, and too stupid to live characters that should not be allowed out of their houses are, in my opinion, a waste of precious reading time and an insult to my intelligence. And boy, don’t get me started on the sex. I mean, I most definitely enjoy a hot sex scene, but it’d better not be the only thing happening in the book, and it better mean something. Porn without plot and stroke stories are not for me. When the only thing growing between the main characters is their erections I cannot help but to feel turned off and frustrated.
I want a solid plot. I want realistic characters and situations. I don’t want to escape the world. I want to see how these guys who become real to me the moment I start reading deal with every day issues. I want to get emotionally invested and cheer on the guys until they find their way to happiness. And you know what? That doesn’t always happen within 50,000 words and fifteen chapters.
If you’ve been following my writing career you know I’m not a rookie author anymore, even though I only have a few titles to my name. Life happened to me, so yeah… To date I have three published stories: Heatstroke, Six Degrees of Lust, Six Degrees of Separation, Hearsay, and Disasterology 101, which is currently being formatted for re-release. But if you’ve read my work then you also know I don’t stick to any specific formulas. There are two reasons for this:
1. I write what I like to read, and
2. early on I decided to let the characters do the talking.
Every one of my stories, both published and works in progress, began with just one character. Sometimes he turns out to be the MC, but not always. He’d much rather be in the background and wait until the time is right for him, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have lots to say and things he needs to bring to the table.
That was the case with Logan, one of the characters in my By Degrees series, a romantic suspense featuring a serial killer of gay men and the FBI team leader trying to catch him. Logan demanded his POV was included in Six Degrees of Lust, the first installment in the series. Then another character appeared with the same behavior. And another. And another. And what they had to say needed to be said on their time and on their own terms. I had to listen to them because if I didn’t, their story wouldn’t have been the same. And that, my friends, is how I ended up writing an ensemble serial with unresolved situations.
Several unresolved situations.
This, of course, will change as the series advances. Sadly, it just could not happen in one book. Not unless I wrote a 2,000-page saga.
Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition was just released on January 2, and it has received wonderful reviews. Some readers love the format and the build-up. They appreciate the fact that every character has a distinctive voice. Other readers hate the cliffhangers and would’ve preferred the book didn’t have as big a cast, and focused on Sam and Mac’s POVs, the main romantic couple in this installment. All opinions are valid and appreciated. It is a matter of personal taste and to each their own, yes?
But when the first edition of the book released back in 2011, those opinions got me thinking hard and carefully. Should I not write ensemble novels? Should I find a way to silence all those voices even though I know why their story needs to be told a certain way? Should I stick to conventional formulas so that I don’t upset the readers that know what they want (only the MCs) and how it should be (no cliffhangers or open storylines, please)?
Someone told me I need to write more sex. I’ve been advised to stick to a proven, successful formula. I’ve been told I’m better off not including kids in my books. I’ve tried to decide the kind of readers I want to reach: the escapists or the hard-core realists… and I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is to remain loyal to my characters and their journey, however long and bumpy it might be.
All my other stories, and this includes Heavy Hitters, my next title to be released, focus on the main couple. But when/if the time comes for another big cast, I will welcome it with open arms, because they have a right to be heard even if they aren’t the norm.
Just like I’m not.
But enough about me. I want to hear what you guys have to say about this. Are you willing to read out of your comfort zone, or do you prefer to stick to stories similar to the ones you’ve liked the best so far? Why do you feel that way? Could I change your mind? Just kidding on that one. 😉
Come on, guys. Discussion time. Inquiring minds would like to know. 🙂
P.S. I’ve brought some copies to give away. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of electronic copies Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition.
P.S. 2 Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition, releases today. If you read the first version, I’d still recommend you get this one as well, as some characters were fleshed out and, even though the story arc remains basically the same, there are tweaks foreshadowing events in Six Degrees of Separation, which in turn leads to events in Six Degrees of Agony, finally coming to you late 2017.
Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition
Release date: January 2, 2017
By Degrees; Book One
New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.
Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.
One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.
First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.
When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.
Taylor Donovan has brought some copies to give away. Leave a comment along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of electronic copies Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.