Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Z.A. Maxfield

1. What is your favorite thing about being a romance writer?

ZA: I grew up reading books of all genres and my favorite part of writing romance is the chance to right (or re-write) the wrongs done to all those hapless couples who suffer tragic endings in literary novels.

While I would never rewrite any specific book, everyone should be aware by now that I truly believe in maturity, loyalty, redemption and just plain good luck.

And okay, the literary books were great, but Catherine should have valued Heathcliff and… I dunno. Gotten some serious therapy because wow... Dysfunction Junction. Romeo and Juliet should have just hitched the first ride they could get -- maybe from a wine merchant -- to France where they could join a theatrical troupe of because dang, drama much? And Cyrano de Bergerac…I can’t be the only person who saw Roxanne as wholly unworthy of a guy like Cyrano. (That shallow biznatch.)

Don’t get me started on Jack and Ennis. Just… don’t. *sobs*

I want to write about lovers who win against all odds. That happily-ever-after is both my goal and my reward. That’s romance!

2. What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

ZA: Like most of the writers I know I schedule reading time into my workday. (Bwahahah… it is good to be me.) I’m always reading romantic stories, because that’s my thing, but my choices aren’t always specifically from romance: the genre.

I love mystery, suspense, and humorous writers like P.G. Wodehouse and Douglas Addams. I read Arthur Conan Doyle and police procedurals, literary novels. Owning a Kindle is like having a never-ending box of really fine chocolates that don’t make you fat. At any point, when life gets a little boring, you can just open it up and say, hmmm…. What looks good today?

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

ZA: I wish I could say I’m a plotter but the ugly truth is I’m not organized enough to give a children’s birthday party, much less plot out a novel. Usually I have a loose framework, like…These guys meet (and a few lines about that). These guys have conflict (and a few lines about that). These guys overcome (with a few more lines).

For me the sequence of events in a book is dependent upon the characters in it. As I write, and my characters interact, I’m creating people and the plot follows. Of course I guess I always have the “story” in the back of my mind. Like a blurb, that tells me what is going to happen as far as exterior conflict, but sometimes how the characters handle that conflict will change based on what I’ve learned as they become more fully realized for me.

4. What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

ZA: I’ve been told I have the running theme of redemption through my work, and my husband teases me that I am going to singlehandedly create a new “Inspirational Erotica” genre. I believe it’s perfectly wonderful when people with hard, unused, or uncertain hearts open up and let love in.

5. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

ZA: I guess if I had a theme, it would be: Sometimes, when people are at their emptiest, that’s when they have the most to give.

6. How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

ZA: This is actually funny since it’s my kids who dared me to write in the first place. My genre, m/m romance, isn’t the first thing people think when they get to know me, and my kids very much enjoy telling their friends (now that they’re old enough to understand what m/m romance is) that I write gay love stories. I got my pen name from mixing up all their names, and my son Maxfield still rolls his eyes and asks why couldn’t I be M.A. Zachary so his twin’s full name would be on the books.

My family is so terrifically supportive. If I had a magic wand I’d wave it and the house would be spotless, I’d be at every event at school, I’d always know when permission slips were due, and I’d arrange fantasy erotic nights out with my man. Since I’m all out of wands, and they love me anyway, I’m the luckiest writer in the world.

7. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything on your road to publication?

ZA: If I had anything to do over, I think I’d get started WAY sooner. I spent a lot of time imagining that my chances of being published were statistically pretty bad, like… getting hit by a piece of Skylab or marrying the Prince of Wales.

While this might be true in the hallowed halls of New York’s publishing giants, e-publishing, POD printers and small presses, niche-driven markets, and affordable, respectable self-publishing has changed the playing field entirely and it’s up to writers to change the way they think.

I tell young writers all the time to spend ten minutes in bookstore just picturing that each and every one of those books was written by a person who gets up in the morning, brushes their teeth, and does virtually the same things we all do. Every writer has doubts. The only difference between all those published writers and you and me --besides the obvious gifts of talent and whatever cocktail of genetics and divine intervention one has no control over– is that they actually acted, at some point, on their dream.

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