Today, Wesley interviews James Buchanan.
Wesley is still looking for interview subjects, so don't be scared! It's fun and he's met some interesting people and learned a lot.
Wesley: What is your favorite color?
James: Purple. Second favorite is Black. Sorta the whole bruise scenario.
Wesley: What is your favorite food?
James: Mashed Potatoes actually. They remind me of my Grandma. Every Sunday we'd walk to her house for dinner. There was always Mashed Potatoes and homemade Mac and Cheese.
Wesley: I noticed you’re a Clive Barker fan. What is your favorite work by him?
James: The Lord of Illusions.
Wesley: Has he been a big influence in your writing?
James: Yes and no. The big thing I’ve learned from him and other masters of horror is the acknowledgement that you should mix the real with the surreal to make it scary. One of what I call the “step to the left authors.” You take the everyday and ordinary, then take one step to the left and you’ll creep people out. Plus his paintings are gorgeous.
Wesley: Do you prefer cars, trucks, or SUVs?
James: Prefer classic cars and trucks, but I drive a station wagon on steroids (ML320). I’ve owned, over the course of time, a ’63 T-Bird, ’69 Mustang, ’62 Dodge Pickup (really bastardized… had the gear shift of a Mack Truck with a bit old hole cut into the floor, and a Chevy engine. It came out of a machine shop where they just kept cannibalizing other trucks to keep that one going. That truck was the inspiration for the one in My Brother, Coyote), ’67 Fiat Spider, ’63 AMC Rambler, ’61 Mercedes 190E and a ’57 T-Bird.
Wesley: Nice. If you could drive any automobile in the world, money is no object, what would it be?
James: My ’57 T-Bird. Right now it’s sitting in the drive waiting for a complete re-do of the brake system, almost every gasket needs to be replaced, one hub-cap is somewhere in San Francisco Bay, the floor panels are rusted out b/c the weather stripping has dried out, and I think my bro installed the radio wrong so the battery keeps dying. Lots of work to do.
Wesley: LOL, that’s the fun part. What got you started in writing?
James: I’ve always written. My mother has a “book” I wrote when I was five on a roll of calculator tape. It goes through all these bugs, until the end where the lizard is. I wrote stories in grade school, I was on the literary magazines in HS and College. I did Vampire Poetry in Law School. I did some freebies on Literotica and people started telling me I should write professionally. I subbed some stuff to contests and one of them sent me a letter back saying “It’s great, I love it, too long for the contest” but then pointed me in the direction of Torquere Press where I sold that story.
Wesley: How long have you been writing?
James: All my life.
Wesley: After perusing your site, I noticed you write mostly homosexual erotic running the gamut of mystery, thriller, horror and sci-fi. Is there anything in particular that got you started writing in this genre?
James: Originally I was a poet, which pays horribly for the amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into a piece. While I could get my poems published, I really wanted to write just plain old fantasy, science fiction and horror. And it just didn’t work, my characters were dull and lifeless, the plots got stuck, yadda. I could go through reams of what editors didn’t like about my work. I put the non-poetry writing aside for a long time.
Then two things happened. I found a Hugo Weaving fan community and we’d challenge each other to write fan fiction. And then I stumbled across Literotica and started reading. That’s when it hit me. What everyone responded to in my fan-fics was the hot sex (they were just drabbles) and the one thing I never let my original characters do was do each other. I got my feet wet writing a few original erotica pieces, posted them on Literotica and got really good feed back. Plus they have a HUGE forum community where I found other authors and volunteer editors there who tutored me in how to clean up my writing. So then I decided to jump back in and entered The Darkness into a best fantasy erotica competition. I didn’t get accepted… but the reason was it was too long and that editor told me to get my butt over to Torquere with that story. It took me a few months to get up the balls to sub it. I was floored when they accepted it.
Wesley: Any plans to venture into another genre?
James: No. Well I might write non-erotic some day, but I’m guessing that I’ll stay in the gay-fic realm. I don’t write women that people like. Really, I’ve been told that people want to bitch-slap my heroines in the few het pieces I tried.
Wesley: Do you have a set schedule, something to get you going before you write?
James: No, I tend to write when the mood strikes me. If I’m in the “zone” I can crank out a 5-8k short in a weekend. Other times it’s pulling teeth and I jump back and forth between 5 or 6 projects. I’ll get centered on one and finish it, but I don’t schedule things.
Wesley: Do you prefer music, television, or silence when you write?
James: I have two spawn, three cats, two dogs and a Sexy Guy who plays on-line poker in the same room where I usually write… I’ve learned to write with just about anything going on. If no ones around I’ll put on the “In Dark Faith Eternal” channel from www.live365.com internet radio. It’s Goth ambient.
Wesley: What books and/or authors have most influenced your writing?
James: Ray Bradbury and HP Lovecraft. Bradbury for the descriptions. I can see, feel and taste his settings. I wish I was half that good. Lovecraft… I wish I could manage that creepy.
Wesley: Are you a sports fan?
James: Not particularly. I watch poker, but mostly because the Sexy Guy does. Oh, wait, most people probably don’t consider that a sport huh?
Wesley: Tell me about your current release.
James: April 18 my story Technique comes out in the Hand Cuff Toy Box from Torquere Press (www.torquerepress.com ). Torquere does a lot of mini anthologies, three to four shorts around a central theme. This one was actually written due to prompting by my editor. She kept reminding me that “we’re doing hand cuff shorts” in April or “you have some hot cops in that novel we’re running (Cheating Chance is in their serialized novel catalog).” I would just tell her I know. Finally, she gave up the hinting and just came out and asked, “You’re going to write me Nicky and Brandon and hand cuffs, right?” So I did.
The other current release is Pat Down in the Under Arrest! Taste Test. Again another mini anthology through Torquere which came out in March. That one happened during a chat where two other authors and I were lusting over cops. We kept teasing that we had to write a set of stories about sexy cops. So we did. Pat Down is told from the perspective of the other side of the law. Basically, what happens when two guys who secretly lusted after each other in high school wind up face to face… and one has become a cop and the other is, well, a bad boy.
Wesley: Any upcoming projects you want to talk about?
James: God, tons of them. I’ve always got four or five balls in the air. I just finished writing the sequel to Twice the Cowboy… its called Twice the Ride. I’m half way through the sequel to Cheating Chance and the third book in the Jules LaRousse stories, Lutin’s Heir. In the midst of that I’ve got cops I need to write for a ManLoveRomance anthology (www.manloveromance.com is an author co-op and we’ve decided to write a few anthologies to help defray some of our advertising costs), I’ve got a longish short due for Phaze Phantasies III, I’m writing firemen for a Force Heat Sheet submission. And then there are the projects I just need to write. A ghost story involving Maximilian’s Treasure, a science fiction space opera, and a Hopi story.
Wesley: Who or what inspired you to write your first book? How long did it take to get published?
James: If we’re talking about my first book… it took almost 15 years. It was the proverbial trunk novel. It was based, loosely on a D&D character of mine and those of some people I played with. I started it out just to chronicle things for us and developed it beyond that a bit. But, like I said, it was flat and just not good. So I put it away. While I was doing my little bits on Literotica I was cleaning out a file cabinet and found it. I picked it up, dusted it off and went into it mercilessly.
I posted that rough draft in a workshop environment and people liked it. I started subbing it. It was still pretty rough and garnered a slew of rejections. But every time an editor sent the MS back, I got lucky and they commented. So I did what they said. It was almost a year into publishing with Torquere that Phaze accepted Lord Carabas for publication. It came out February this year. Now there’s a sequel, Cry Melusine, coming out in July, Lutin is scheduled for late 2007, and Phaze has an option on the other five books in the series.
Wesley: If you could have any career in the world, what would it be?
James: I’d be able to write full time.
Wesley: Up until you were 15, who do you feel has made the greatest impact on your life?
James: My maternal grandmother. She was the kind of woman who never let anything stop her. My grandfather died in WWII, when my mom was 3mo old. She knew she had to make it so my grandma went door to door to trade schools until she found one that would allow her to trade tuition for work – she cleaned the floors the bathrooms, yadda – and became a dental hygienist. Her passion was not her work. Her passion was birds. I can remember hand feeding sparrow hawk chicks in her kitchen.
Wesley: What about after the teen years?
James: Hmm, actually, some of it was negative influence… in a positive way. I was with people who did not live good lives. Eventually able to step back and see what they were doing to themselves with drugs and sex and other things. I knew, I could see where they’d be in 20 years and knew I didn’t want to be there.
Wesley: Good for you. What is the most embarrassing moment you’ll own up to?
James: Waking up in a field on Nov. 1 after a 3 day Halloween Party, where I’d messed myself up on lots of stuff (see the above answer). The guy next to me was cute, he was blond, he was not the guy I was living with, we were both naked and didn’t know each other’s names. A wee bit awkward there.
Wesley: Which star or celebrity would you most like to hang out with and why?
James: Actually, living in Los Angeles, I’ve had the chance to. I was setting up a Vampire Live Action game (yes I was and am a geek). Met another guy who was trying to as well, so we could combine forces. The conversation went something like:
Me: “I’m in law school, what do you do?”
Him: “I’m an actor.”
Me: “Really,” feigned over-interested voice inserted here, “what restaurant?”
Him: Polite laughter, “No, really, I’m a working actor.”
Me: “Okay, what have you been in recently?”
Him: A really wicked look passed over his face. “Well, Stargate.” This was the premier weekend BTW, and I was going to go see it with a good bud of mine. “But, I’m not in it until the second half of the movie and none of my lines are in English.”
Me: “Great, I’m seeing that tonight, I’ll look for you.”
Fast forward to the movie that night, theater darkens, promos are over and intro rolls. I whisper my bud, “look for this guy. His name is Alexis Cruz. We need to stay for the credits so I can say I saw him.”
He’s watching the screen and whispers back... “you mean THAT GUY?” The fifth name down in the credits. BASTAGE! We hung out for about four years before we drifted apart.
Wesley: What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
James: That I can’t do this alone. Promotion is harder then writing. I need a degree in marketing. And that I can write a novel in a month if I put myself to it.
Wesley: Do you have any advice for other writers?
James: Write, write and write some more. Listen to what other people say. Criticism may be hard to take but sometimes it’s necessary. I use a few die hard fans as my beta readers. These are people who are not afraid to tell me that they don’t understand something, or like something or that I’ve missed things. Now I take it with a grain of salt, but these are the people who buy my books. If they see it, others will too.
Wesley: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
James: Does groveling on the floor in thanks count? Honestly, I’m stunned that I have “fans,” people who tell me they buy every book I write. Holy cow! I’m still floored by it every time I hear it.
Thanks for the interview, James! It was…interesting.