Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview (plus giveaway): Drew Hunt

Welcome to our latest Spring Celebration interview, this time with the the fantastic Drew Hunt, author of such gay male erotic romances as Twelve Hours, Fireside Romance, and Calvin's Cowboy (all of which are published by JMS Books, which means any one could be chosen as part of this weeks' grand prize). Fed up with characters who are super-wealthy, impossibly handsome, and incredibly well-endowed, Drew is determined to make his characters real and believable. He lives a quiet life in the north of England with his cat, and someday hopes to meet the kind of man he writes about.

His latest is Brett's New Game Plan, a sequel to his first Afterlife story, Waiting for Colton:

College football player Brett is devastated when he learns Gavin, the man he’s waited for in Heaven, is married and intends to spend his afterlife with his wife, who predeceased him. Lost, Brett leans heavily on his friends, his dads Colton and Dennis, as well as his work as a vet tech. Brett is assigned the rehabilitation of Willow, a tall sorrel horse, who died in a lightning strike. However, where Willow goes, so does Jake Rushton, the cowboy who rides him. Can Jake adjust to life in Heaven and, for the first time, allow someone close enough to love and care for him? Despite past hurts, can Brett be all Jake needs him to be?

And now, without further ado, let's get into the interview . . .

♥ What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I write gay male erotic romance, chiefly though not exclusively my stories have a contemporary setting.  Why do I write in this genre?  Mainly because those are the sorts of stories I like to read.

♥ When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

2003, I think.  It was a long time ago. Back then e-books didn’t exist. The only stories I could access online were free and generally of poor quality.  I thought I could do better so set about trying.

♥ What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Edit. In many ways it’s easier to tell someone else how to write than to write oneself. 

♥ What books are currently on your nightstand?

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Maybe I would argue with his writing style, but the man spins a wonderfully entertaining and humorous yarn which keeps me engaged.

♥ Do you remember the first novel you read?

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.  I remember crying buckets when Charlotte died.

♥ Who are your favorite authors and why?

James Herriott tells simple stories, but does so very well.  Bill Bryson makes me laugh but also manages to educate me. Although more a playwright than an author, I adore anything written by Alan Bennett.  His ability to dissect and observe the world around him is amazing. Also doesn’t hurt that he’s originally from Yorkshire, like me.

♥ What is your favorite gay book that you didn’t write?

Bareback by Chris Owen.  It was also one of the first gay books I read, but it’s powerful (and not always comfortable) message has stayed with me. 

♥ Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

I am legally blind.  I use synthetic speech on my computer to read back to me what I’ve written.  Some people say I write very realistic dialogue.  I think the fact I actually hear the words being spoken aloud to me helps with this.

♥ Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Cheese, as my waistline can attest.

♥ Where are you from originally?  Family?

I was born and still live in the north of England.  The recent (and not so recent) economic downturns have blighted the local economy pretty badly. But for the most part Yorkshire people have remained positive and friendly.

♥ Why do you write? What excites you about writing?

I can put myself in the shoes of one of my characters and can fall in love with the man I create for him. Finishing a story excites me, sending it off to my small group of editors/beta readers and getting their feedback. It’s not always positive, but when it isn’t it’s constructive. I am always learning.

♥ What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I don’t do more than an hour’s writing at a time.  If I push it I find my mind wandering.  I know when it’s time to write again because I can’t concentrate on whatever it is I’m doing, my characters keep butting in with suggestions for what I should do with them next.

♥ Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Try and join a critique group.  It’s okay to show your work to your friends or family, but ask yourself if they’ll be objective.  Learn how to take constructive criticism without wanting to crawl under the desk and curl yourself into a ball. Writing is a learning process. Your first story might not be very good, but hopefully your second will be better.

♥ What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?

The beginning. it’s the hardest and takes me the longest, but it’s the most rewarding.

♥ Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

Clean out the cat’s litter box.

♥ How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?

Months. I write slowly, get distracted, want to write other things.  I wonder if part of this is because I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters.  For example, in my recent book Calvin’s Cowboy I still want to talk to the guys, give them exciting things to do.  Maybe I should write a sequel, but I don’t like sequels for the most part. It’s so difficult to hit new highs with the same cast of characters.

♥ What is the best and worst writing advice you have ever received?

The best advice was about how to write in limited third person. It wasn’t easy to do this at first, but I know I was able to get much deeper inside my characters when I limited myself to one scene, one point of view. The worst advice was to just sit at my computer and write whatever comes into my head.  It didn’t work for me.  I ended up just writing nonsense.  I’ve found that I can’t force the words when they don’t want to come.  However, I recognize this might be good advice for some people.

♥ Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?

I write when the voices in my head become too loud to ignore.  I figure if I can successfully block out the suggestions being told to me, then those suggestions aren’t strong enough yet to make their own way in the world.

♥ Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?

I had decided to treat myself to a doughnut  after finishing my short story “Missing Manhole Cover” Ernest had just come out to Liam then had taken himself on a walk to give Liam some thinking time. Liam was there to greet Ernest on his return, they confessed their love for each other, the orchestra swelled and the final credits rolled.  But on my walk the inner voice said, “What if Liam wasn’t there waiting?” So I rewrote the ending, it was still happy, but I would like to think more fulfilling.  This was the first time I got an a-ha moment, I hope it won’t be the last.

♥ What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?

Holding a print copy of my first book in my hand. 

♥ How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

About fifteen.  Some aren’t published yet and a few are still incomplete.  I think I’m most proud of Calvin’s Cowboy, but probably Colin and Martin First Christmas is my favorite because Martin is the closest I’ve ever come to describing myself in one of my stories.

♥ When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?

Yes. Even though I know it’s totally out of my hands by that point, I still worry that I should have done this, that or the other to the story.

♥ What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

Further installments of Fireside Romance, Afterlife and Twelve Hours

♥ Of all the books you have written, which would you consider your easiest to write? The hardest to write? The most fun to write?

The Fireside Romance stories were the hardest, they were also my first. I didn’t know what I was doing initially.  The most fun to write was “Trucker and Pup” Joey could do and say things I would never do myself. Don’t think I have an “easiest book” all my stories took quite some effort to produce.

♥ What story haven’t you written yet but would like to?  Is there anything holding you back from writing it?

I’ve had a story in mind, almost from the beginning, about an English high school student falling in love with his new next door neighbor who is American, possibly native American.  Don’t really know what’s holding me back, I guess I want to really do it justice so want to wait until I think I’ve honed my wordcraft to such a degree that I can do it properly.

♥ What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?

I am an Englishman but choose to set many of my stories stateside.  It’s important to me to get the American idioms and speech patterns correct.  Thus I consult with a small panel of US citizens who let me know what I’ve done wrong.  When I recently visited New York I tried to implement all I’d learned, but I’m sure (accent aside) I stuck out like a soar thumb.

♥ Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

Hinder. I don’t do well under pressure.  I like to finish a story before submitting it for publication. Therefore everything, apart from the editing, is already done.

♥ Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I have a mental outline, which is subject to change as my characters do things I hadn’t intended them to do. I have a series of loosely connected scenes, conversations or just phrases that I want to use in the story, so the writing process is often about joining these various things into something that flows naturally.

♥ What was your first published work and when was it published?

Something About Trevor was published in July 2010.  It’s my best-selling book, and I honestly don’t know why.  Sure, I like the characters and the situations I put them in, but I wouldn’t say it was any better than my other stories.  Just goes to show an author is not the best judge of his work.

♥ If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?  What is your favorite cover of all your paperbacks?

I cried when I held my first book.  The cover of Rough Road to Happiness is my favorite.  It’s uncluttered, simple and quite dark in tone.

♥ What is your least popular published story?  Why do you think readers don’t like or “get” the story?

Trapped Nerves hasn’t sold as well as I would have liked.  I wonder if readers are put off because one of the protagonists is disabled and is in a wheelchair. Many of my characters are not physically perfect, Mason was the most damaged of all my characters I think.

♥ Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Generally (but not always) one of the characters is very loosely based on me, or shares some of my beliefs/fears/aspirations.  His love interest tends to be the kind of person I would like to date. 

♥ Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

Yes, I try not to use a name I’ve used before, but as I write more stories that’s harder to do.

♥ Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?

No, thankfully.  But they do talk to me when I’m buying groceries, in the shower and once while sat on the toilet. No, the mental prompt had nothing to do with bathrooms.

♥ Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?

A couple of readers said Something About Trevor would make a good movie. I’d have to think about who could play Paul. Hmm,  Daniel Craig, although his hair is the wrong color. And I’d play Trevor ‘cause I’d get to make out with Daniel Craig!

♥ Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?

I start out dictating what types of people (job temperament etc) each character should have, but invariably the characters have other ideas and change things around.

♥ What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

A loneliness or a need which the other party can fulfill.

♥ Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

John “Brock” Brockwell from Calvin’s Cowboy He’s a  cowboy, he’s strong  but yet vulnerable, he’s lost but too proud to admit it.  And did I mention he’s a cowboy? The fact he’s a contractor and often wears construction gear doesn’t harm, either.

♥ Do you have a favorite vacation spot? 

New York. There’s so much going on in the Big Apple.

♥ Are you a cat person or a dog person?

A dog person.  But don’t tell my cat.

♥ Name one website you visit every single day

All Romance eBooks.  I buy way more e-books than I can read.

♥ Where do you get your daily dose of news?

I’m British, therefore I get my news from the BBC.  It, along with our National Health Service, is a most precious institution.

♥ If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?

I don’t listen to a lot of music but I think it’d have to be Bryn Terfell’s Something Wonderful. What can I say, I like show tunes, and Bryn’s voice is heavenly.

♥ What’s the last album you bought?

And the World Goes Round, a selection of music by Kander and Ebb.

♥ What was your favorite movie when you were 12?

Mary Poppins. But being English I couldn’t stand Dick Van Dyke’s appalling attempt at a cockney accent.

♥ If you could meet anyone, living or dead, for dinner, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

Thomas Edison.  I’d like to bring him up-to-date with technology and show him that his inventions are still in regular use nowadays.

♥ What is your favorite word/phrase for the male or female genitalia?  What is your least favorite word/phrase?

Being gay I have no interest whatsoever in female genitalia. My favorite name for male private parts would be “wedding tackle.” Least favorite, hmm, “meat and two veg.”

♥ What is your favorite curse word?


♥ What body part do you wash first?

My face.

♥ Innie or outie?


♥ Have you ever been tied up? Do you want to be?

I haven’t, but if the tie-er was the right guy (someone I could trust completely) I’d give it a go.

♥ How many drinks does it take before you get drunk?

Four double gin and tonics and I’m asleep.

A huge "thank you" to Drew Hunt for stopping by. You can check him out on the web at JMS Books.


With Drew Hunt here to help keep the last week of our Spring Celebration going strong, it's also time for you - the readers - to do your part by stopping by, saying hello, and hopefully even sharing a few thoughts on either his books or his interview.

Don't forget, this is also your chance to become eligible for this week's giveaway (including your book of choice from JMS Books), so be sure to include your email address in your comment. Of course, you don't have to be a follower to win, but being a follower will earn you a bonus entry for the week (just let me know in your comment if you're a new follower or an old favourite).

1 comment:

  1. I am a new follower and I really enjoyed this interview. I am definitely going to be putting these books on my 'to-read' bookshelf! I am trying to decide between where I want to start as I am fairly new to M/M, but I love the sincerity of two men together, as well as the artistic "visual", of course =) I think I'm going to start with best-seller, 'Something About Trevor', to see why its so well-liked... Cheers!