Cowboy hats! Wyoming! Wild Horses! And yes, I am flailing like an idiot here because I love all three of those and they’re all wrapped up in one book. And isn’t that cover glorious?
By which you can tell I’m delighted to welcome Renee Stevens here today to be interrogated answer some gentle questions about herself and her new book, which is part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love collection. Welcome, Renee!
What inspires you to write?
It’s just something I enjoy. I get all these ideas in my head and I love to get them out and share them. I’m hoping I’ll be inspired for a long time to come!
Why do you write M/M stories?
I have heard this question so many times, and the simple answer is, why not? I enjoy it. I started out writing M/F stories, and then I read a book online by Sara Bell called The Magic In Your Touch. I was hooked, and I’ve reread that story countless times. I met so many great people and then I thought, there’s so much mainstream romance out there and there really wasn’t much I could do that hadn’t already been done. M/M was new and exciting, and at the time it was less accepted than it is now. I made some great friends and when I told them I was considering trying to write a M/M romance, they were full of encouragement. So I wrote my first M/M story, Eternity, and I never looked back. (Though I’ve learned A LOT since writing Eternity and may go back eventually and revise it).
What’s your favorite part of the writing process? What did you hate?
My favorite part would probably be learning who my characters are and why they do what they do. They all have their own idiosyncrasies (did I spell that right? LOL) and I love figuring out what makes them tick. I absolutely HATE coming up with names. Whether it’s character names, place names, or titles. It’s a necessary evil that I struggle through every time, since I don’t like reusing names and it’s hard to find a name that’s unique.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Staying motivated. It’s so easy to let my mind wander and/or get distracted. I’m trying to work on that, but there’s just so many things to explore!
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I love the way it turned out, but I do wish that I could have included more of the things to see in Wyoming. It was so hard to pick and choose, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d include things such as Cheyenne Frontier Days since that is such a big thing in Wyoming.
What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your books?
The most surprising thing was in this most recent story, Wide Open Spaces. In doing research on the industry here, I learned that Wyoming has 90% of the worlds trona beds! If you don’t know what trona is, it’s all explained in Wide Open Spaces If we’re talking about as far as writing, I was amazed when my editors pointed out how often I use modifiers (ly words).
Since there is always another story to tell, what are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on revising a story that I originally wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2010. It’s about the foremen of neighboring ranches and they definitely have their share of ups and downs. A single misunderstanding/overreaction sets the stage for their future encounters and they went from friends to enemies. Their bosses are determined that whatever happened, they need to learn to work together again, otherwise they could end up jobless.
Out of all these lovely characters, who would you most prefer to snog, marry or avoid?
I absolutely love both Devon and Levi. However, I think I’d have to say Levi, and part of that is because he stayed and he followed his dreams, but even more than that is his attitude. He is who he is and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it, but at the same time, he worries about those around him.
Which is your favourite character? Who was a joy to write (and why?) and who were you glad to see the back of (and why!)?
It’s hard to choose between Devon and Levi, but I think I enjoyed writing Devon the most. It was interesting to explore his reasoning behind the things he did and I enjoyed seeing how his mind worked. As far as who I was glad to see the back of, that is a definite tie between Blake, Travis, and Seth. Reason being, they’re jerks!
How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?
It really wasn’t that hard actually, with either of them. When I started writing Wide Open Spaces, it practically wrote itself. I was so focused that I just couldn’t stop writing it, and I really never got to a point where I was blocked. These guys just wanted me to tell their story, so I did.
Tell me something about yourself that will surprise me.
I absolutely love Mythology. I took a class on it in High School and I was instantly hooked. I even became the teacher’s assistant my senior year for my mythology teacher.
Tell me about one place you’d love to visit and what you’d do there.
I’d love to visit Alaska. There is some beautiful country up there and I’d love to explore it. On top of that, I think one of the main things I’d want to do is go fishing. The fishing in Alaska is supposed to be extraordinary and I’d love to experience it first-hand.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you have liked to be or do instead?
You like to ask the tough questions, don’t you? LOL! I’m not sure I can give a definite answer on this, because there are so many things I enjoy. But whatever I ended up doing, I think it would involve animals. I don’t think I could be a vet, because I can’t stand to see animals hurt, but definitely something with animals.
What’s your favourite literary quote – and why?
I’ve never given a lot of thought to quotes, so I decided to go take a look at some. I found a lot of lists, but so many of them I’d never even read the book. I did find one that really hit home and it’s from The Princess Bride. “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” I like this one because it is so true. Life is so full of ups and downs, and you can’t always avoid the pain, but it’s those experiences that make us the person we become, and without them, we wouldn’t be the same.
What’s your biggest vice – shopping, coffee, shoes?
My biggest vice would probably be fishing. I can spend hours just sitting on the shoreline, waiting for a bite. I might not catch anything, but it’s so relaxing and then there’s the rush when the tip of the pole dips, and then doubles over.
Devon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.
No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Length: 35,659 Words
RELEASE DAY : 31 AUGUST
Devon sank down on his couch as exhaustion swamped him. Most of it was from moving in, but the change in elevation didn’t help. He’d gotten used to being closer to sea level, so going back to the dry air at over six thousand feet was going to take some getting used to.
Bloody noses had become the norm while he stayed with Blake. Devon didn’t want to deal with them repeatedly and considered getting a humidifier until he managed to acclimate.
He looked around his living room. Boxes were scattered everywhere, and he should be unpacking, but he was too tired. At least he hadn’t had to carry everything in himself. Blake, Travis, and Seth were waiting for him when he pulled into the apartment complex. They shrugged off his objections and insisted they had nothing better to do. Devon appreciated it, but he wasn’t comfortable around them anymore. He managed to be a proper host, but damn, he was glad they left after a couple beers each. They made noise about getting together again soon, but Devon had used getting settled in as an excuse to keep from committing to anything.
He stood and wandered into his small kitchen. He didn’t bother opening the fridge or any of the cupboards. He knew they were empty. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten for a while. Devon dug his keys out of his pocket and headed for the door. He’d get something to eat and then maybe stop at the store to pick up a few staples. Paper plates, sandwich fixings, some chips, and he’d be good for a couple of days. At least it would give him time to get a few things—like pots and pans—unpacked. Then he could do a full grocery shop.
An hour later he was comfortably full from a greasy burger, fries, and a shake. He’d never eaten a lot of fast food, but he had few other options. He headed to Walmart, determined to stick to his list of sandwich stuff and maybe some eggs. Surely he could dig out some pans before the food expired. He headed to the chips first and scanned for the familiar bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. They were his all-time favorite, though he also knew he’d want something else after a day or two. So he grabbed a couple of other bags and headed for the eggs and then the freezer aisle.
Sandwiches and chips would get old fast. He found some frozen breakfast sandwiches he could microwave, tossed them in the cart, and moved on. Frozen lasagna quickly joined the few other items in his cart, followed by some potpies, a few TV dinners, and a bag of chimichangas. So what if he wasn’t sticking to his mental list?
He was more focused on getting groceries for the next few days than on the people around him.
He froze when a familiar voice spoke his name. He closed his eyes briefly, ducked his head, and steeled himself. He knew it would happen eventually, when he found out Levi still lived there. He thought he’d have more time to prepare. He swallowed—hard—and turned to face the man who had at one time meant everything to him. The man he’d risked being found out for. He lifted his head and gazed into the moss-colored eyes.
Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of Admin, Blog Coordinator, and Anthology Coordinator.
Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works.
When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts. When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.
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