Without any further adieu, here is an interview we have with our very own Renee Stevens, Hosted Author extraordinaire, Forum Moderator du jour and last, but certainly not least, News Blog Co-helper/Organizer/Goddess....
Interview with Renee Stevens
In your “about me”, it states you began writing back in junior high. What were your earliest subjects about?
This is kind of embarrassing now, but the first story I started writing was in the 8th grade. That story was about a killer mountain lion named Tom who was preying not just on cattle, but he was attacking the townsfolk. I never finished that story, but what I had written my teacher enjoyed. I was so lucky that I had an awesome English teacher who read through what I did write and gave me pointers and encouraged me. It was a far cry from what I write now, obviously.
Here you are a straight woman, happily married but you are publishing on Gay Authors. What attracts you to writing M/M romances?
I’ve been asked similar questions a number of times and honestly, I never have a good answer. I got so tired of reading the harlequin romance novels and somehow or another I ended up reading a story by Sara Bell called “The Magic In Your Touch”. I thoroughly enjoyed it and by joining her yahoo group at the time, I met a lot of wonderful people, a couple of which became really good friends.
After reading Sara’s story I decided that I wanted to see what I could do in the Gay Romance genre. My reasoning at the time was that as a M/F Romance writer I would have less chance of getting published as it is so hard to get noticed amongst all the other authors that write M/F romance. With a lot of encouragement from the friends I met through Sara’s group, I started my first M/M story and Eternity was the result.
You have been a member of GA for almost three years now. What is the one thing you have enjoyed most about that time?
I think the thing I have enjoyed the most is the people I’ve met. There are so many great people on GA and I’ve been lucky in that I have become close friends with a few of them. Through those friendships, I keep meeting more and more people and my daily list of who I talk to just continues to grow. Also, I think it’s great that new authors can come to the site and get honest feedback on what they have spent their time creating.
One of your many titles here is Hosted Author. For you what does that title mean?
I consider it an honor and a privilege to be a Hosted Author at GA. But with that honor comes some expectations. For me being a Hosted Author means ensuring that I continuously post stories for the site readers. It has also meant multiple beta reads to ensure that everything I post is as error free as possible. As a Hosted Author I am always looking for ways that I can give back to the site. My way of doing this is getting involved in multiple aspects of the site, everything from the blog, to the anthologies, and to being a forum mod.
In your stories you seem to go for the stories that involve folklore like Vampires and Werewolves. What is the attraction for you as an author?
The only answer to that is that I just love Vampire and Werewolf stuff. And it’s not even just werewolves that I enjoy, I like all shifter stories. In fact, for this last anthology I did a story with a Tiger shifter that I’ve had a few people want me to turn the story into a full length novel. With vampires, there are so many stories out there about these “evil” vampires and while in most of my stories I do have that, I also like showing the other side of the coin. The same goes for werewolves. I like to take these types of characters and put a new spin on then, alter something that people feel is a regular part of their mythology. Whether it’s Vampires being able to go out in the sunlight or werewolves not being affected by silver, I like to make sure there is just something that is different from the “norm”.
Your story Joined by Blood was well received on the site last year. Has the popularity of that story encouraged you to take more chances in your writing?
I don’t know as it has encouraged me to take more chances in my writing. I mean, the biggest worry I had with “Joined by Blood” was on how the “triad” would be accepted by the readers. It was something new for me and it seemed like most of the readers enjoyed the way that story went. I have tried to branch out a little more lately, but that’s not really a direct result of “Joined by Blood”, and at this point none of my newer stories are anywhere near being ready for public consumption.
There seems to be a sudden flurry of authors on the site publishing their works. Do you plan to have any of your work published as well?
I do have some aspirations to get published and actually sent one of my stories, “No More Hiding”, to a publisher, but it was rejected at the time. The publisher told me what needed fixed and I am very slowly working on it and then plan to resubmit it. Also, I am hoping to submit “Joined by Blood” to a publisher in the near future. There are some things that need to be changed but I’m slowly correcting that as well.
With that in mind, I would like to invite all those who have read “Joined by Blood” to visit my forum. I have created a topic asking my readers what they thought seemed off about the original so that while I am revising I can look at what people thought was unbelievable and correct it. You can visit the topic here.
Besides being a Hosted Author at GA, you are listed as the Forum Moderation Team and now the head of the Anthologies. What exactly do those titles mean and what does that translate to for those here on GA?
The Forum Moderation Team simply makes sure that the GA Members are following the rules that have been set forth by the Administration team. Some of these rules are necessary to keep GA up and running due to the revenue from ads and such. As a member of the Forum Moderation Team, it is my job to watch out for things that could affect the running of GA. Also, if members have questions or problems, they can come to me or any other member of the moderation team and we will do our best to help them.
As far as the head of the Anthologies. I took over from Graeme as the Anthology Coordinator just this past Winter/Spring. My job as far as that goes is simple. I make sure that everyone knows when the anthologies are due as well as helping anyone who has questions. I also, with some help, go through all the entries to check for content and editing. Not just that, but in the fall, I will compile a team to narrow down the suggested themes for next year’s anthologies.
What is the story you are most proud of having written and why?
The story I am most proud of is actually one that is not even on GA. “Life After Loss” is a M/F story and was the first story I completed, but that’s not even why I am most proud of it. It has a lot of issues that need to be fixed, but the reason I am most proud of it is while the story is fiction, parts of it are based on some aspects of my own life. It was actually written in an effort to help myself deal with my brother’s death. It took a lot of courage for me to actually write it and out of all of my stories, it’s probably the one that means the most to me.
Every writer has a story they have written that they feel might be overlooked. For you, which of your stories would that be?
Out of all the stories on GA, I think the one that might be overlooked more than any other is “Night Walker.” It was actually the first vampire story I’d ever written and is a relatively short story at just around 12K. If I remember correctly, it was actually originally posted in the old e-fiction, but once it got moved, I think that’s the one that most new readers overlook. I have given some thought to turning it into a novel, but only time will tell if I do that.
We know from the weekly blog you are involved in that as well. You and Trebs have been pumping it out regularly now since taking over from Lugh. While we all enjoy the blog what is the main thing you are hoping the readers get from that?
There are so many things I hope the readers get from it. I think one of the main things is that I hope people check out a writer that maybe they’ve never read before. I think there is something for everyone in the blog. Whether someone is a reader, an author, or an editor, there is something that will hopefully appeal to them.
Besides writing, what other projects do you enjoy doing?
There’s a lot of stuff I do besides writing. During the summer months I am very rarely home as I spend a lot of time out at the lake camping, swimming, and fishing. During the fall, I’m on the mountain quite a bit for hunting season. While I know there are a lot of people out there who dislike hunting, there is something satisfying about helping to provide the meat for our family. Plus, it’s something I grew up doing. For most of my childhood, I lived on venison.
Other than those, I enjoy reading, but I don’t read near as much as I used to. I also enjoy the beta work I do for some of the authors on site as well as the stuff I do for the site, like the blog and being the anthology coordinator. I like knowing that I am helping give back to the site.
I have also recently started sewing quilts, though I have yet to actually get one finished. Other than that, I just write and occasionally play some games on gaming systems and just enjoy taking care of my hubby. Though I do detest housework, but it is a necessary evil.
What is the next major project your readers can expect to see from you?
Well, I plan to finish up “Forging Trust.” Also, I should have a story coming out in the Premium section in the near future called “Challenging Fate”, so watch out for that. Other than those, I have a few stories in the works, just need to see what one really jumps out at me after I finish “Forging Trust”.
What is one thing you feel any writer should be aware of when they write?
Have at least some idea of where you want your story to go. It may change a bit along the way, but if you have at least some clue where you want to end up, you’re more likely not to get stuck halfway through. This may sound odd, but when I’m writing, my characters “talk” to me.
If your characters are trying to veer you off your path, at the very least listen to them and then think about how the changes could affect where you want your story to end up. You may find yourself in a different place than you planned, but sometimes that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I had this very thing happen with Joined by Blood and let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier with the way that story turned out. While I’m most proud of my non-GA story, “Joined by Blood” is by far my BEST story. So, just have an idea where you want the story to go and keep that in mind, but don’t be afraid to veer off course.
What is one thing you wish all the members of GA to know about you as writer?
I think one of the main things I want everyone to know about me is that I will always finish my stories. I don’t tend to post something I’m writing unless I have a pretty good idea where it’s going and while I try not to have any major breaks in posting, sometimes life happens but never fear that I will finish anything I start.
And I know you said one thing, but also, I thrive on getting feedback from my readers. My forum isn’t used as much as I would like, but I love hearing via the review system what my readers are enjoying about a story.
Even if there’s something my readers don’t like, I enjoy hearing about that too. In fact, some of the revisions I’m going to be doing on Joined by Blood are the direct result of some of the critiques my readers gave me. I do listen to what my readers have to say and enjoy their questions as they read my stories. While I may not always be able to tell you the reasons behind something that is happening in the story without ruining the plot, I will always try to answer a question as much as I can.