Hello, Andrew, and thanks for coming. I’m anxious to find out more about some of your many books, including Legal Artistry, your latest release. I’d like to start, though, by asking some questions about you as a writer—your process and perhaps what inspires you.
AG Thank you so much. It’s great to be here with you.
Q: You’ve lived and traveled many places. Did you spend most of your childhood in Michigan, where you were born? Do you think that landscape (whether urban or rural) influenced you as a writer? If so, how? What about where you make your home now, in Carlisle? If there has been any place or places in your travels that has influenced you more than others, perhaps you’ll talk a bit about why and how.
A: Yes, I spent my childhood and early adult years in Michigan, parts of them living in a rural community and I’ve found that all the places I’ve lived and visited have served as an inspiration. I’ve set stories in almost all the places I’ve lived in my life. The only places I haven’t used yet are Los Angeles and San Francisco and I probably will very soon.
I currently live in Carlisle PA and I love it here. The town itself is historic with a rich tapestry of scenery and personalities. I set A Taste of Love and A Serving of Love in Carlisle and I just finished A Helping of Love. I also have an idea for a new set of characters also set in Carlisle.
Q: It sounds like your parents were great inspiration, themselves. Do you feel you came into the world a writer in the making and they helped you realize that, or that you became a writer because of their influence, at least in part? (I know that may be an impossible answer, but I’m intrigued by the question, so if you can share your thoughts, that would be wonderful.)
A: My parents have always been rather supportive of everything I’ve tried to do. I did not come into the world as a writer. I love it, but discovered writing rather late in life. I’ve always been a reader and after discovering gay romance, I decided to give it a try.
Q: Why Romance, Andrew? Within that broader classification, you’ve written in several sub-genre, on a number of subjects—though your style seems consistent. How difficult is it for you to switch, for instance, from western romance to romance in a setting of foreign intrigue? Can you talk about the sub-genre you feel most inspired by or comfortable with?
A: I feel most comfortable writing contemporary. I love writing different types of stories because it helps keep my mind from getting tired of a particular setting or topic. I have no trouble switching between setting or sub-genre’s. I write what I like and what moves me.
Q: Generally, does plot come first for you and then you populate it with characters, or do your characters inspire plot? Any exceptions? How and from where do you draw your characters?
A: I usually begin with the characters, but that’s not to say that there haven’t been times when a plot idea has come to me and I built characters around it. Accompanied by a Waltz was a plot first story as is Legal Artistry to a certain degree. My characters themselves come from everyone I meet. I tend to use bits and pieces of everyone in my life in my stories.
Q: Okay, Andrew, this question is my favorite and most nefarious, and no interviewee escapes it: Who is sexiest, in your mind? Dieter or Gerald? Michael or Stephan? Two rules: you can fudge, but you cannot cheat (no saying “both.”); no one-word answers (not multiple choice, essay).
A: It’s hard to pick a sexiest character because each one has something that makes them attractive. For raw animal sex appeal, the sexiest man I’ve written is probably Gene from Spot Me. He’s full on, drop dead gorgeous sexy. But there are many things that make a man sexy and physical appearance is only part of it. Dieter is incredibly sexy in his innocence.
Q: It seems much, if not all, of your work includes an element of intrigue, and perhaps in Legal Artistry it’s especially strong. In general, do you find that helps or hinders kindling romance and moving it forward to the happy ending? In LA specifically, most of us are familiar with the controversy around true ownership of many valuable articles that were confiscated during the second World War—which was notably in the news several years ago. How long have you been thinking about including that in one of your novels? How did the idea to do so come to you? How did you choose location?
A: The idea came to me a while before I began writing the story and it percolated for a while. I love art and a bit of intrigue, so I thought I would try to combine them both. This topic fascinated me and I thought I would try to see how it would work. I also decided to use the Bottled Up universe because the situation seemed to fit my other characters.
Q: To my eye and ear, Andrew, your prose has a lovely, down to earth style that keeps the story flowing, keeps the reader’s attention focused on the characters and action (rather than the words), yet still imparting emotion, personality, and impressive setting. How natural is that style? Is it easier for you sometimes than others? This seems to be especially true in Legal Artistry. How easily did that novel flow?
A: The style in which I write is completely natural. I’ve always thought that I write the way that works for me because the world is more than what we say, it’s how we feel and the way we act. I try to include some of the nonverbal communication we all use in my stories. As for Legal Artistry, that story flowed easily for me as did its follow up Artistic Appeal. Both stories really seemed to work.
Q: Anne Cain has once again created a beautiful and expressive cover for LA. How much influence did you have in terms of elements, style, color. Your first reaction? You have published many novels with Dreamspinner Press—can you choose the artist, at this point?
A: The current cover for Legal Artistry is the second one we did. The first didn’t have the feeling needed for the story. I have some influence on the covers, but it was Anne and her brilliant artistic mind that developed the actual painting for “The Woman in Blue” and the rest of the cover flowed from there. I do not choose the artist for my covers, but I can ask if a title fits a particular style.
Q: In your Western series, you have a character named Wally, who is the love interest in A Shared Range. I love him. I know that’s blunt, but I just find him to be so much fun, and I love the way he takes over, from time to time, and leaves the big boss guy stunned and with no retort. How did you come to create him? Does his character reflect a person or persons you know? Did he, in particular, talk back to you as you were trying to write him?
A: Wally is strictly a figment of my imagination. I don’t know anyone like him and maybe that’s why he works so well. I love to develop characters where their personality is separate from the physical appearance. I think it makes the story much more fun. When I was writing Wally, he talked back to me all the time as most of my characters do. They tend to develop their own minds.
Q: About Dutch Treat, I’ve heard you mention elsewhere that you wrote it after having been on a similar assignment in the Netherlands for your “other job” as an IT professional. Can you talk a bit about that, and how it led to the in the story in the novel? Is this more autobiographical—not necessarily in terms of romance, but elsewise—than most of your novels?
A: Dutch Treat reflects a lot of what I felt during that extended assignment. I imparted in my character a lot of those emotions and experiences. As to how it led to a novel, I’m really not sure. I got the idea for a story and the setting just jumped out at me and I went from there. Often many of my stories spring out of my mind organically and they’re the ones I like best.
Q: I want to ask you about a series we haven’t mentioned yet—the Bottled Up series. I’ve read a couple of the books in that series, and it seems to me they showcase a special tenderness—between the lovers, and also on the part of the older men toward their wards. I’d love to hear about the origin and development of these novels, if you’d share. Also I should say that these simple, clean-styled covers are among my favorites, but I can’t find what artist created them. Can you share, and perhaps talk about your reaction to those covers when you first saw them?
A: The bottled Up stories were inspired by my brother’s wine store opening a few years ago. The covers were developed by Mara McKenna, the Artistic Director for Dreamspinner Press. When I first saw the cover for Bottled Up, I wasn’t sure about it, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. Mara also did all the Love Means… covers for me.
Q: Lastly, Andrew, what’s coming up? What can readers expect in the next year or so? Any new ideas kicking around that you’re especially fond of and don’t mind sharing? Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: I have a ton of things in the works. Artistic Appeal releases in October. Love Means… Healing will release in November and Love Means…Family in December. I also have An Unsettled Range and January. In addition, Artistic Pursuits and A Helping of Love are with my publisher and I’m currently working to finish Legal Tender. After that, we’ll see what comes up.
I have very much enjoyed perusing your work and having the opportunity to ask about you—Andrew Grey the author—and your many stories. Thank you. I hope you’ll visit again, sometime.