First please tell me, what inspired you to start writing? Was this something you always wanted to do?
No, I didn’t really think I had what it took to be a writer. My inspiration came when my foster son was having difficulty with the coming out process. He was nineteen and was letting men take advantage of him. I wanted him to learn about relationships and how he could respect himself without being co-dependent. As with all kids who have just found their independence, just telling him my opinion wasn’t doing much good.
Out of frustration, I began writing short stories about relationships and giving them to him to read. FYI, this was very successful, and although he’d probably argue that I was just being an overbearing parent, he’d probably also reluctantly tell you that it helped.
Of course, I got the writing fever after that and haven’t been able to stop since.
What do you like most about working in the romance genre specifically?
I’ve always loved romance novels. When I was in high school, my librarian seemed to know inherently that I’d love them, so she introduced me to Mary Stewart’s books. I’ve been hooked ever since.
I think romance novels are the best way to demonstrate how relationships can work, in a perfect world. Yes, they are fantasy, but they do show what men and women, whether gay or straight or other, should strive for in a relationship.
I read somewhere, that many male authors writing in the romance genre prefer to write under female pen names, believing female readers are then more inclined to purchase. You mentioned that a large percentage of M/M romance readers are also female, may I ask why in that case you chose a male pen name?
Well, as a gay man, I figured it would be best to let people know I actually am a man writing gay romance. When writing M/M romance, I don’t write for a female audience. I always just assumed gay men would be the ones reading my writing.
I tend to write with men like my foster son in mind hoping I’m able to give a little hope and guidance since I have been out since I myself was nineteen.
To be honest, I was shocked to learn that the majority of my readers are women but isn’t it awesome that people of all genders enjoy my writing. To me that’s beyond cool!
Suzie Empowered has exceptionally strong messages which align with the #MeToo movement. What draws you to writing about that particular movement and what would you like to say about it?
Like Suzie, I was sexually assaulted while in my teens. Also, like Suzie, I had to deal with a lot of backlash when the truth finally came out. People tend to blame the victim and for someone who is still raw and fragile, it can be very painful to go through that process.
My inspiration for Suzie came while I was watching Dr. Blasey Ford go through the public backlash when she testified in Congress about her experiences when she was a teenager. I recognized some
of the same reactions to her statement as I had experienced when I was disclosing what my perpetrator had done to me.
I was mortified by that entire experience and really wanted to do something to stand up for her. The only way I knew how to do that, was to write a story that demonstrated just how difficult it is for someone whose been through that experience to deal with it. Thank God I didn’t have to fight my perp in public, I could only imagine how much more detrimental that would’ve been.
You’ve set a target about publishing an exceptionally high number of novels this year, please tell me how you plan to achieve that and continue to keep standards high and plot lines unique?
Well, here’s a secret about that. For the past three years, I’ve been drafting stories. I began sending my novels through the editing process last summer. I’m a pretty fast writer, but I’m not magical or anything.
That being said, I’ve got a pretty tough work ethic regarding my writing, one of my favourite romance authors, Nora Roberts, when asked how she was so prolific, answered in a way that has inspired me. Simply put she said the secret to her writing success is “Ass in the chair.”
I try to write every day, even on weekends. When I’m not writing I’m reading or editing. Luckily, I also have a great team of editors, friends, and proofreaders who help whip my manuscripts into shape.
Please tell me more about your upcoming books, what can readers look forward to next from you?
My next novel is Bobby Transformed. It’s about an Iowa farmer who accidentally falls for a big city publisher in New York. Bobby is funny and lighthearted and has a lot of angst between both characters. The big city publisher may or may not have ended up face-planted in a big puddle of poo when he storms the Bobby’s family farm in Iowa.
The next three books are loosely connected in a series called The Chance Series. Love By Chance is about a food critic whose learning to love again after a nasty breakup. He moves to and meets a sexy Cuban in Fort Lauderdale.
Another, Chase With Love, shows how the main character learns to take responsibility for his own past relationship mistakes.
Finally, the series ends with Taking a Chance For Love. This story is about two men who aren’t what they appear on the surface. As they learn to see each other the sparks fly and through their combined efforts things work out for them better than they would’ve otherwise.
There are several other upcoming books to follow including one about two men thrown together as co-stars on a home improvement show and a series that includes some mystery and a few supportive apparitions. I will be announcing each new book/series on my FB page Blake Allwood Author as they become available.
For readers who have not read a M/M romance before, which author or novel would you recommend they read first?
The first M/M romance I read was by Lucy Lennox. In my opinion, she’s one of the best writers of our genre, or sub-genre to be more precise. I also love May Archer, Lily Morton, Riley Hart, and more than I can possibly mention during this interview. M/M romance is like all the others, each author has their own unique style of telling a story. The reader will have to try out different ones and see whose style they like the most.
What are your favourite tropes?
Oh, this question is hard. It would be easier to say what I don’t like vs what I do. For the most part, I love a lot of angst and discord in the beginning. I love when the two main characters have to figure out how to overcome obstacles to learn to love each other. I think it’s best when they have to work at it. I’m not a big fan of domineering characters unless the weaker one learns to stand up for him/herself.
Ultimately, my experience with romance is regardless of the trope, if the author is clever most tropes can be enjoyable.
Are you a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’?
Total pantser! I’ll tell anyone who asks that I’m a storyteller who writes. What that means to me is that I need to allow the story to develop as it will. That being said, I just finished writing my first three book series and had to learn how to plan to ensure the story stayed consistent. It was a whole new experience for me!
What did you find most difficult about writing from a heterosexual heroine’s perspective?
Wow, so this goes right to the heart of why I don’t usually write straight romance. Every woman and for that matter straight man who reads this will roll their eyes when I say, women experience relationships very different than men. As I said before, I’ve been reading romance since I was a teenager, but reading and writing are two very different things.
Suzie, the main character in my book, in many ways represented my experience of dealing with sexual assault and learning to overcome that experience so I could allow myself to be in a relationship with another man. I realized very early on that I needed a lot of help getting through the sex scenes as well as understanding Suzie from a woman’s perspective. My editor and advisor Amy Leibowitz played a major role in helping me flesh out these nuances. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to pull Suzie Empowered off without her candid support.
Are you an early morning writer with a coffee or a late night writer with a beer?
I’m a late morning writer with lots and lots of coffee, a Jack Russel curled at my feet, and he and I are often buried underneath a blanket. I couldn’t imagine I’d be very good at writing if I consumed alcohol during the process. Having a beer for me is either acting like a fool while out with friends or falling asleep to the evening news. I also tend to reserve my evenings for cuddling with my husband and reading or watching one of our favourite television shows.
Finally, if people would like to learn more about your novels, please tell them where they can find out more online.
I’m on Facebook as Blake Allwood. Just send me a friend request. My FB page called Blake Allwood Author is where I post silliness, sexy men pictures, and updates on upcoming books. You can also find me on Goodreads and Amazon.
Thanks Julia it’s truly been a pleasure.
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