Tell us a little about you, who are you and what do you do?
I’ve been interested in writing all my life and dabbled in just about every genre and style over the years. My college major was history but there were not a lot of employment opportunities so I ended up working as a civilian for the Army and Air Force for twenty five years. After taking an early retirement I settled into a second career centered on romantic fiction. My first novel came out in 2001. When I started to write erotica and erotic romance, I took on a new pen name so my readers would know what to expect. Gwynn Morgan writes PG-13 plus hetero romance while Deirdre O’Dare gets down and dirty with a wide variety of characters and combinations!
How did you find inspiration for your latest release, Canine Cupids?
Canine Cupids is an anthology of four stories related only in theme. The first one, Doggone Love, grew out of a sad event, a trip to the vet to have my late husband’s dog put to sleep; she was ready to join him and her canine buddy who had oddly died on the same day, three years earlier. The vet at my usual clinic was new but really sweet and he became the paradigm for Eric Vann in Doggone Love. That story was my most successful to date and as a life-long dog person I decided it would be cool to do more where a man’s dog helps him hook up with the right partner. A friend who knows I prefer medium to large dogs challenged me to do a small dog story next and The Maltese Terror came to be. Others emerged after that. The first four were collected in print after being only e-formats previously. More are in the works. Burrito Belle’s Gringo Guy came out on September 6 in digital format.
It all sounds intriguing! Tell us about the characters in particular.
When I started writing romance, I decided my favorite heroes were Celts, cops and cowboys. (My pseudonyms reflect my own Celtic heritage, mainly Irish and Welsh.) My late hubby and my current gentleman friend are a bit of all three which may have some influence too. Military men are also special in my world. Anyway, one principal in each of the Canine Cupids stories seems to fall into one or more of those categories.
I have a rancher and a veterinarian (Doggone Love), a landscape architect and a rancher (The Maltese Terror), a former Navy medic and a cop (Saved By Sam) and a web designer who is also a search and rescue dog handler and a soldier just back from Iraq (Rescued By Love), In Burrito Belle there’s a Latino immigrant and a financial planner, a small deviation! Currently in progress is Schnickelfritz in Love (working title) which has a construction foreman and an Irish detective and two dogs, a miniature Schnauzer and a rescued Greyhound. More are on the drawing board in the planning stages. I am sure there will be at least a Canine Cupids Vol II in time.
I did not start out with a plan to become a m/m writer but it just happened. I have some gay friends and when I understood they fall in love just like anyone else does, it got easier as I wanted to present their romance and emotions just as I had been doing with my straight romance tales. I try to stay away from any sort of stereotypes and I enjoy the challenge of writing about two strong masculine characters falling in love and struggling to build a relationship. That’s what Canine Cupids and my other gay stories focus on.
We cover the stereotypical gay romance on my show a lot. It’s nice to see authors who can accurately portray the many facets of a gay relationship. Tell us, what’s a typical day like for you as a writer?
The past year and a half or so have been hectic. I have moved three times and been through a lot of changes so my writing has become sporadic. Things are settling down again now and I am trying to get back to a schedule. On a typical day, I get up early—yes, I am a morning person—and after some coffee go for a walk with my dog, an Australian Shepherd named Belle. She is a rescue with special needs as she has an autoimmune disorder but she is a real sweetie and my beloved fur kid. When we get back I check email for any urgent business and then get busy writing. My daily minimum quota is 1500 words. That does not sound like much but it does add up and often I will do a lot more if it is flowing well. I always say my characters tell me their story which I just write down. Sometimes they are demanding and talkative but sometimes I have to drag it out of them word by word. Occasionally if I have a deadline or an urgent scene that I want to get down, I may work in a second session in the evening. In between I do a lot of other things, including spending as much time outdoors as I can! I also do a lot of art and crafts things like sewing and making jewelry photography and trying to organize a bunch of memorabilia and souvenirs into a coherent collection!
Does your family know and support you?
My late husband was also a writer and was very supportive. I did not write seriously while the kids were at home because full time work plus “mom stuff” was pretty demanding, but as adults they are interested in what I do. My daughter has read most of my books.
I’ve been single now for over five years and after a struggle to get used to not having my tech advisor for military and law enforcement, brainstorm partner and first critiquer, I adapted my own schedule and fit writing in around the necessary chores of life. I now live with my brother who has to travel a lot for his work so I am the resident pet and house sitter. He is creative too, playing a number of instruments and writing music so is happy to give me space and time to work although he is not an avid reader. We’re both single and each have our studio/office/workshop areas in different parts of the house. This works fine for both of us.
My author self drinks whisky when he writes, sometimes getting so caught up in the scene that I find myself holding my glass in one hand while typing out the scene with the other hand. Do you have any odd writing habits?
No booze unfortunately <g> as my allergy meds and other medications don’t work with it. Just a tendency to munch and snack which I have to watch. I’ve worked hard to lose some unhealthy weight and do not want it to sneak back when I am not paying attention! I do tend to lose track of the time when it is going well and usually have to do a mental shift of gears to change from that reality to the one I live in normally. My people and their lives are very real to me so I really get caught up in most of my stories while they are taking shape.
Tell us what you wear when you write. I hear romance authors wear sexy clothes.
Sexy clothes? Moi!??! No, I live in jeans or shorts and tops according to the season from sports bras and sleeveless sun tops to flannel plaids and sweat shirts and am about as unglam as I can be. Oh, I do clean up pretty well when I need to, and like to dress to the nines for conferences and book signings etc but that’s by no means my everyday attire! I am a westerner to the core so dress up for me is broomstick skirts, western style shirts, vests, boots etc. for the most part. For real formal I affect a kind of medieval/fantasy style of attire, maybe going back to my Celtic ancestors or my historical studies and fascination with the distant past. Oh, I do have some nice –and sexy--lingerie that my SO gets to see now and then and a couple of fairly sedate bathing suits, but I am not Joan Collins or Sophia Loren much less in the park with the current crop of divas so I bow to reality and mostly act my age <vbg>. I say I have earned every gray hair and wrinkle and I’m okay with them, but there is still the proverbial fire in the furnace, I guarantee! Trust me, fifty and sixty-somes can be sexy too and have just as much fun as ever. But I don’t kiss and tell!!
Do you listen to music when you write?
Sometimes, it depends, Mostly it has to be instrumental as vocals are distracting. I used to sing and will find I try to sing along (that shower voice thing) with lyrics so normally I listen to instrumental jazz, classical or ethnic music when I am writing. I like Native American and Celtic music especially. When I am active like doing house work or outdoor chores, I like classic rock and some country and western but cannot listen to that and write. And I have a bunch of CDs that are my “road trip” music. Here in the west you have to drive a lot of hours to get places and I like to travel; I have a red mid-sized pickup that I call Red Hot Mama and she has a great sound system to entertain me on the road. I’ll be heading off over the Labor Day weekend to see friends and get some new inspiration.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned so far as a writer?
Probably the discipline to try to write what will sell and to treat it like a job where you adhere to a schedule and write whether you feel like it or not. I have always put words on paper from the time I could grasp a pencil and print the twenty-six letters into some very original spelling. But writing commercially is a whole different thing and a demanding master in many ways. I’ve found I cannot stop but there are times when it is less fun than others. Not writing is not an option though. It is a calling or a compulsion to me, so I try to make it pay at least some, but I also write from the heart.
I feel truly blessed to have some wonderful small indy/digital publishers who pretty much let me write what I want to. I did try to do category romance for a few years and just never could quite get in the box. I got great rejection letters but no cigar! Still, writing has been a fab second career and I plan to keep on with it as long as I have the capability to type—or even dictate--, imagine and create! Or as long as those people in my head keep talking.
How does it feel to be interviewed and reviewed by a male romance reader/author?
No prob! I happen to like men as I said on a blog recently. I grew up on a ranch working with cowboys and horsemen and spent a lot of time in the company of men as I was growing up and then working with the military. I am not quite “one of the boys” but can fade and blend until they almost forget I am a girl <g>. I think it is really kewl for men to write and read romance! I have several male writer friends and the highest compliment I can pay one of them is to say I would never guess the author of one of their books was male, but that being said, I don’t think either gender has a monopoly on love and romance! Some of the most powerful and beautiful love poems ever have been written by men and some very compelling and emotional stories also. Love/romance takes two, one way or another, or occasionally more to make it work. <smile>. No reason we cannot all write and read about it, now is there?
My sincere thanks to Coffee Time Romance & More and to you, Sascha, for the chance to chat about my work and share a little bit of behind-the-scenes information with readers and friends!
Thank you and best of success to you!