AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ELIZABETH SILVER
Part of the writing team of Silver and Urban, Elizabeth Silver has agreed to spend a little of the hectic holiday season with us…
Elizabeth what is your most current work out?
My most current work is actually a short story, Laced, included in the Best Bondage Erotica 2012 anthology from Cleis Press. But my most recent romance release is the m/m/m novella Where the Heart Is, from Loose Id. Here’s the blurb:
Jason, Steve, and Chris have seen each other through the toughest times of their lives, but when they’re snowed in together on their annual Thanksgiving ski trip, they learn that you can still have secrets even after twenty years. After Steve reveals he’s on the verge of a major decision that could break them apart, those secrets — their desires — might be the only thing that could save them.
Then a blizzard hits and snows them in, and there’s nowhere to run from the feelings they’ve been ignoring for years. None of them want to choose one and risk the other, but before the week is out, they’re going to have to find a way to make the three of them work again. If not, they’re going to lose each other after all.
Tell us a little about Where the Heart Is, what inspired you to write Where the Heart Is?
Jenny (my co-author) and I love writing tightly-focused stories, where it’s just us and the lovers and couldn’t resist the idea of snowing in our characters and forcing them to face feelings long-denied. We were also intrigued by the idea of writing an interracial romance where the characters had known each other so long that their different ethnic backgrounds were almost incidental. Have you ever had a friend for so long that you know what their favorite foods are, but have to stop and think what color their eyes are? Imagine having two friends like that for most of your life, and then imagine being completely in love with both of them. That feeling right there was what we wanted to explore, more than anything.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I always know what kind of story I want to tell before I start. There’s always the big concept, or the central idea, and I build on it until I know what I’m going for. I develop my characters, too, because knowing them is key to knowing how they’ll react to situations—especially because they’ve never been shy about rewriting my plot ideas to suit themselves before!
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
Romance in general? I’m a sucker for a happy ending. You know how in those ridiculously romantic movies, the couple see each other at the end and go running across the distance, into each other’s’ arms? I even tried that once, without the swelling music. Don’t recommend it, by the way; I got knocked over and my head bounced on the sidewalk so hard I forgot how to cuss. I still married him, though, so I guess it all worked out.
As for writing male/male romance, the relationship dynamics appeal to me much more than the typical heteronormative standards we see in male/female romances. I like the idea of writing two (or more) equal people finding their places in each other’s lives, and if that means writing two men, why not? Everyone falls in love, right?
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Published, that would have to be Chris Lee, from Where the Heart Is. My artist, my peacemaker, my gentle strongman. I couldn’t write him as a primary character without knowing him, so I spent a lot of time thinking about him. We had our own little romance, in a way.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Chris. He did not come easy to me at all when we were writing and I had to dig deep to find out who he was.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I guess I steal little bits from everywhere. I’m part magpie, I suppose. Never enough you’d be able to recognize someone, though. Which is probably a good thing, because since I started writing romance, I’m suddenly the go-to person for relationship advice. All those happily ever afters have to be good for something, I suppose?
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Writing is easy. Marketing is the hard part. I never know how far to go when showing people this thing I wrote, see? Isn’t it cool? Without going too far. I know I hate having promo crammed down my throat, and I always worry that I might be doing too much. As a result, I probably don’t do it enough. Oh well. At least I’m fun at parties.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’ve been studying Buddhism for two years and while I consider myself Buddhist, I’m seeking a teacher to take me through the next steps to make it official.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Usually I wallow happily in my pleasures, with a spectacularly rude hand gesture for anyone who disapproves. I think it comes from working two years in a chocolate factory. I got fat, but oh, I was so happy. These days, though, I suppose the one guilty pleasure I have no matter what would be Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Vampires, Werewolves, and sex; what more could a girl ask for?
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Concentration. Quiet. If not quiet, then at least just general back ground noise—I can’t write with the TV on, or with people talking to me. I close Twitter and all the shiny distractions and just concentrate on the work. I’ve got one of those full screen programs I’ve been using lately, and it works like a dream for stopping that impulse to check my email, refresh Tumblr…
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Sometimes, but not all that often. I’d probably just use the music as something else to be distracted by if I played with it too often, although I did write a freebie earlier this year with Keith Urban’s “Put You In A Song” in mind. So much so, I named the story after it!
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
For Where the Heart Is, we didn’t really have anyone in particular in mind (boring answer, I know!), but for my current novel in progress, Seeking Same, I’d have to say James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. No big shock to anyone who has spent more than an afternoon watching me on Twitter, I’m sure.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was sitting at my desk at my old day job (billing customer service) when I got the e-mail. I read the message on my phone and danced a little… okay, a lot in my seat. My cubicle neighbor was the first to hear, because she wanted to know why I was spazzing out.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I remember stealing romances from my step-mother when I was just barely 11, but I’d had a library card for years already, and had worn a groove in the sidewalk between my house and downtown (I grew up in Small Town, America, where the shutters on the houses still work, the cool kids are in the high school band, and the library is a tiny building full of old books and wonder just across the street from the firehouse and next to town lake where everyone still goes ice skating in the winters when it gets cold enough).
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Jim Butcher and Ray Bradbury are my top two favorites outside of my own genre. In my genre, I’d have to say ZA Maxfield and Belinda McBride.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I had a proper office job until May, when I was laid off. Now I’m an editor with Musa Publishing. It’s taken most of the past four months to figure out a schedule to get my own writing in around it, but it’s my dream job, and I love it. It’s demanding, and I never, ever want to give it up.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on a novel, Seeking Same, that I started in the middle of November on a lark to try and do NaNoWriMo along with getting the hang of editing. I’m kind of superstitious about talking about projects (I swear it jinxes them!), but I’m really happy with how it’s developing. It’ll be the prequel for the first novel Jenny and I ever wrote together, an untitled monster that we’ve been promising ourselves we’ll clean up “one day soon.” We’ve been promising that for three years now, but I’ve set myself a deadline to have both novels out by June next year.
But my big project right now, the one that’s taking up all my time, is an editing one. I’ve been editing two anthologies that’ll be releasing in time for Valentine ’s Day at Musa Publishing, with eight of the most amazing novellas I’ve had the privilege of reading in a long time. I’m super excited about them both, and the whole project’s just sort of taken over my life over the past few weeks. It’s been amazing!
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Well, I already write with Jenny Urban, and I’m not sure anyone else could actually measure up to the same experience. Jenny and I have been working on our writing together for so long, it would probably feel wrong to try to work with someone else at this point!
How do you pick your characters names?
Do they sound good with the other characters’ names? How does it sound spoken? I haven’t used it before, have I? Basic questions like that. It’s an advantage to writing contemporary, in that I don’t feel too much pressure to come up with names to fit the world building.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Steady growth is much believable for me, unless it’s a supernatural reason to bring the lovers together faster.
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 had just this conversation with my mom not all that long ago! Just because there’s mantitty on the cover does not negate the effort that goes in to creating the content. Likewise, the romance genre is a rapidly growing genre for a reason; people want to read it. We’re not talking Betty and Veronica comics here, we’re talking books that provide satisfying emotional outlets to thousands of readers time and again, opening up sub-genres and meeting the demands of a beautiful and diverse readership. I write books. They might not be your kind of books, but I still string words together into sentences, sentences into paragraphs. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re sexy, sometimes they might make you think, but just because my plot is about person A and person B and how they get past all the conflict and the mess to find their own happiness in the world, instead of about a secret agent sleeping his way across European gambling establishments for the betterment of MI6, that doesn’t make what I produce any less of a book. Nor does it make my readers any less “important” than Ian Flemming’s (incidentally, I read James Bond novels when I was probably far too young to be reading that sort of stuff. I’m sure that says a lot about me).
Where can readers find you?
- My Website: http://www.UrbanSilver.net
- The Dirty Birdies: http://www.dirtybirdiesauthors.net
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LizSilverWrites
- Tumblr: http://lizsjunkdrawer.tumblr.com/
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark chocolate! Nom nom nom! My current obsession is anything that puts sea salt in chocolate, but if you start with dark, you can’t go wrong, IMO.