AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Billy London
What is your most current work out Billy?
My newest release is the third book in the Italian Knights Series. It’s called The Claim published by Beautiful Trouble Publishing.
Tell us a little about The Claim
Death threats usually work, and are a great motivational tool. Actually, I was in a muse-less rut, twiddling my thumbs, wondering what was taking so long with the new series of True Blood and out of nowhere, I thought about Rocco Mamione. Cool, calm, based a little bit on the hottest lawyer I ever saw in my natural life and a lot on the grace, elegance and gentlemanly behavior of my late godfather. Then 36 days, about 44,000 words later, it was all done. Rocco was always going to have a good relationship with his grandmother but mainly it came from the idea that there is one relationship that people always wish ended differently.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out, or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
The story always tells itself. Or rather, Hank, my hot, serially absent muse, will give his dictation and I type. Only once did I try to make a character do something that they didn’t want to. It was like they leaned back on the nearest surface, gave me a dirty look and said, “Try it. Go on. See what happens.” I learned the hard way to do as I am told. It works out easier for me.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I like to think all round general horniness lead me into writing erotica, but I’ve always wanted to see heroines who looked like me. A little geeky (until the boobs grew in), a little smart, a little bit (a lot) of food loving, and all chocolate 70% cocoa. After my holiday, I’m edging towards Green and Blacks 85% cocoa. Not that I didn’t ever read a book that didn’t inspire me, but there are only so many times one wants to read the line ‘long, flowing, blonde locks’. Where were the twists, the afro, the hot combed, the Ghana plaits, the smack down from the Ghanaian parents? If I don’t find it, I write it myself. That’s what led me on this path. Did any of that make sense? Good.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
That’s like picking between my children! Alright, I’ll do it. Kamilah from Put Out The Zombie, because that hardcore witch picked herself up, dusted herself down, sparked up her magic and got herself a hot deity to make up for a pretty dire experience. Then there’s Nick from Windows who will always be my baby. The first anniversary of Windows being published passed in February and I re-read it. He’s cheeky like hell! But then I remembered that a man’s cheekiness will always help him to get me naked.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
I think Anna in The Claim was pretty tough. Only because I didn’t want her to come over as the archetypical ‘bitter black woman’, but hasn’t everyone experienced some sort of betrayal? She’s tough because she’s had to be, but she’s brilliant because she’s all about justice. It might be because there are a lot of my own experiences in Anna’s background but I didn’t want to write her as me. I wish I had some of her spunk though. There are plenty of people who deserved not only a tongue lashing of doom but a fist to the face guaranteeing a visit to the dentist.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Nonna from The Claim is drawn from my late godmother who did teach me that a good sponge cake will get you what you want nine times out of ten. Too many people know that I write for me to give up the juicy stories, but I will give away a Lady London one because she is just that blunt. There was an artist who was properly after me, for no good reason other than the chest ladies. My mum, Lady London, saw him just as he was dropping me home and she said, “If you end up marrying him and having his ugly children, I will disown you.” Let’s just say, men don’t get to meet my mother.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Finishing the blasted thing! I’m an eternal procrastinator. To be honest, I’m rather surprised I’ve finished ten stories, given if I’m not getting anywhere, I’ll fall asleep… for everything. It’s dented male pride here and there.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I can pole dance. Sober. But I’m normally quite shy when I meet people for the first time. Like any woman, I need warming up before I give up the goods.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Reality TV. My day job is mentally and emotionally taxing. There’s nothing I like more than coming home, putting my feet up and watching Made In Chelsea or The Only Way Is Essex. I feel like I earn it.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is a must have or the creative juice won’t flow?
I need a pint glass of Ribena, the TV on in the background and Portishead will get me on the creative path. That or if I’m stuck a bit of washing up and gazing out at the garden will tickle Hank’s fancy.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
All of my stories have their own soundtrack. I put them on my blog and my Facebook page, so readers can know what I was listening to while I was writing and at what stage. At the moment, I can’t listen to Skunk Anansie without thinking of Ryan and Courtney from @Last. Gyptian’s Hold You always reminds me of Tony dancing with Lydia in On Caristo’s Watch. Actually, every time I hear Gun Shot by Akon, I think about Tony and start laughing. Slightly awkward when I do that on the bus in front of people, who don’t know me.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Ooh, I am obsessed with Luke Evans – he is buff. Have you seen The Immortals? Ooh la la… I could totally see him playing Rocco, tattoos and all. If Isha Sesay from CNN International curled her hair, she’d definitely play Anna.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I got stalked by Beautiful Trouble Publishing. Their words, not mine! I told my Dad first who was asking me if I was just going to write forever and not try to get anything published. I said I was going to have something published. He didn’t believe me. I still don’t think he does, even though he held a print copy of Windows. And ate the cake with the cover printed on it.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I distinctly remember being eleven and going to the library with my mother. Since I got my own library card, I went straight to the romance section, picked up a Robyn Donald and hid it in my bag along with a book on the Tudors. You know, to look like I was doing something useful. Jaw dropped and three hours later, I was hooked. Romance is like literary crack, once you’re on it, you can’t wean yourself off, you need it, you look for shades of it in all other genres or the book doesn’t feel complete. Damn, I sound like an addict.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I saw Jayne Ann Krentz do an interview and I commented on it and she replied. That’s when I had a squeeeee moment. I had a major shy time around the other authors from Beautiful Trouble Publishing when we had the Meet & Greet in February. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it was incredible to be in a room with those intelligent, articulate, talented and hilarious women. That was an ultimate fan girl moment.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I do have a non writing job and I met a lovely retired couple on holiday who let me believe there is a light at the end of the employment tunnel. It’s called a pension plan!
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I have three Italian Knights books on the go, which now that I’ve done my research trip to Italy I can finish two. The third one needs another trip, of course. I’m still thinking about doing a fantasy, swords, mountains, one ring… no, but that sort of genre. I’ve completed a flash for Mocha Memoirs’ Anniversary called Starting Over and there are the twitches for another horror story as well. If only there were more hours in the day and someone to feed me gelato while I write.
How do you pick your characters names?
The heroines all tend to have either biblical names or names that I have shamelessly stolen from members of my family… distant members of the family. Ones I don’t see very often as passing the pepper to someone you’ve made do some pretty kinky things on a laptop screen isn’t bonding. There are some great websites that I have used to pick the male names. Whatever tingles one’s fancy.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I ask them if they’ve ever read a romance novel. Until they have, I don’t view their opinion as valid. It’s a difficult genre to write in and its complication with balancing the characters, the story line, being original or having a modicum of originality, humor, sex is highly underrated. The skill of a romance writer is underrated. I’ve read books on the Orange Booker Prize short list and in comparison to some romance books I’ve read – the imagination and lyrical quality of those authors – those nominated and award winning books don’t even come close to the romance novels. But, so far, everyone I’ve been introduced to has been fascinated and very nice.
Where can readers find you?
They can find me everywhere. I’m a technological ‘ho:
There are also yahoo groups for Drea Riley, Laura Guevera, Nikki Winter, Jayha & Jeanie, Reana Malori that I catch up with as much as I can.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
If you ever come to London you must try my absolute favorite chocolates. Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc De Champagne Truffles. There’s a shop in the Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street. Utterly sinful spoils you for life. A Snickers® never quite tastes the same after. See, now I want one… or five.