Hello MD, and thanks for allowing me to feature you on sylvre.com. I’m looking forward to sharing some excerpts from your work, but first I’d like to ask a few questions about you, your ideas, and how you turn them into great fiction.
Thanks for having me and I’m also looking forward to sharing myself with potential readers. (sharing my ideas anyway, ;))
Q: You live in Oregon, now, according to your bio. Is that where you were raised? You said the “wet” state of Oregon, so I assume you live west of the Cascades. With the mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other, it’s a region with a lot of character, I think. Has the landscape influenced your writing? If so, how? You set Psychic Moon in Seattle. Have you spent much time there? Why did you choose to set the story there, and how big a part does locale play in the way your story plays out?
A: Yes, I was raised in Oregon. I live in the Willamette Valley. I suppose the landscape has influenced me in that I’m used to seeing trees and lots of them. Trees, mountains especially and just a lot of green. It’s hard for me to imagine living in a place which is flat and desert-like, which means I should probably stay away from Arizona and New Mexico. Most of the places I set my stories are usually forest-like or small towns, like the one I grew up in. As for Seattle, no I haven’t actually been to Washington, but I wanted a wet forest state with a humane center and Washington has a lot of forest parks, which allowed my characters to play in the woods.
Q: You’ve wanted to be an author since second grade, so I’m sure you’ve been writing right along. What or who has inspired you to keep your eyes on your goal along the road?
A: Amazingly, my entire family, close and extended, have inspired and supported me. Also, my favorite authors, just by reading their books, have influenced and inspired me, making me think that I could one day write as good (or close) as them.
Q: Was Psychic Moon your first published work? Of course, the publisher’s acceptance is the bona fide stamp of approval, but was there a point in writing the novel when you knew you had it—knew that this story was a winner and worthy of publication and would surely make it? If so, can you tell us a bit about that?
A: No, I have another story published by Torquere Press called “A Giant’s Friend”. It was my first work and I’ll admit, it needs some revision. Despite its flaws, I cherish it because it really made me believe I could become a published author and it opened up an entirely new world for me with resources I didn’t even known I needed (like Beta readers ). Psychic Moon is essentially based around an animal humane center because I watched several “Animal Cops” shows and was so touched and horrified by the abuse inflicted on animals meant to give humans comfort. I started to wonder what would happen if a shifter was involved and what he/she would do about it. Psychic Moon is that result and I was so passionate about this story, I was going to submit it to any and all publishers until one came back with a contract. I knew this story was worth telling and since most people have pets or had pets, I knew others would feel the same.
Q: Stories about (shape) shifters are quite popular right now, both in the M/M romance genre and elsewhere in genre fiction. Why do you think that’s true? What prompted you to write a shifter novel? How do you see your story—or your characters—as different from other novels about shifters? In this story, did your characters come first and drive the story, or did the plot create the need for characters like those you’ve created?
A: Shifters have certain (pardon the pun) animal magnetism to them. They are the “other” that challenges “normal” people and yet they can disguise themselves as one of us. I think they have a similar appeal as the vampire does—the primal, dominate, slightly savage nature that has no morals when they are in animal form. They are an escapist fantasy for people tired of human society, morals, and structure. For myself, all of that is true. That is why I love shifters, and I love coming up with different animals for shifters to be and matching their personalities to that animal. I haven’t read many other shifter stories (shame on me, I know) so I can’t say if my stories or characters are “different” but I like to think I have a unique take on them. The shifter stories I have read seem to present their shifters in a vacuum, sort of speak. The shifters just are with no real explanation why. I’m a big fan of why. I have a tendency to go back to the Beginning and create a story of why. Psychic Moon is only the first book in my shifters series and I have about twenty planned (for now). I delve more into the shifters’ past and the why of their existence. Another thing that’s “different” is that I have the Agency, a secret non-government, privately funded organization whose sole purpose is to keep shifters a secret to the general public and the act as the “policing” force against rogue shifters. As the series goes on, I get into the why of them as well. I have a whole bushel of stories and several-book storylines that are just nagging me to get out.
As for this story, and which came first, the plot or the characters, I’d have to say character. I do have a tendency to come up with both at the same time, however. This time, I thought of a shifter humane officer and a human vet and then the rogue shifter and Agency came after. The plot formed and solidified after that.
Q: MD, I ask this question of every author I interview. Some enjoy answering, some seem to squirm (although it’s hard to be sure just by the look of the words on the page). Regardless, none escape, and now it’s your turn. Who is sexiest, Derek or Brian? You can fudge (waffle a little), but you cannot cheat. (“Both” is not an answer.) You can’t choose a name and move on to the next question. Explanation is required. Think of it as a brief essay question. 😉
A: Derek. I love Brian, don’t get me wrong. He’s sweet, funny, loving and kind but Derek is the bad boy. They are both working to save animals from human cruelty and they are so cute together and Brian is sexy in his own right but I lean towards Derek. Maybe because I made him the alpha…
Q: The cover Reese Dante created for Psychic Moon is another example of her very fine work. How much influence did you have in determining what the cover would look like in general? Do you feel the men on the cover portray your characters in a generally accurate way?
A: I love that cover. When I first saw it, I stared at it for several seconds before squealing. I had a lot of influence on the cover, I described what I wanted and how I wanted the men positioned and the cover was even better than what I imagined. The men were even better than what was in my mind. I looked at the cover and I thought, “those are my guys.”
Q: I understand you have a couple more works coming up for publication based on these characters. Without giving away more than you’d like about any of your pieces, can you tell us a little more about what’s coming up? Can you share perhaps a little “teaser” excerpt? MD, if you don’t want to do that fine. If you do, go ahead and insert it as part of your answer.
A: I’d love to share that with you! I have a Christmas short coming up in December that involves Derek and Brian, titled Celtic Warrior and Wolf Spirit. I am very proud of it and it involves Brian’s very ex-boyfriend Kyle (the abusive one). He shows up and well… Derek doesn’t like that too much… It is Derek and Brian’s first Christmas together and Brian is determined to make it perfect, and of course, his plans get wrecked but something good comes out of it.
I also have book 2 of my shifter series coming out sometime in February or March, entitled Love is a Whirlwind. I introduce two new characters in this one, a human named Caleb and a bull shifter named Ryan (aka Whirlwind). Agent Poe, who first shows up in Psychic Moon, comes back in this one after Ryan is kidnapped. To find out who and why, I encourage you to read it!
Here is a Chapter 1 excerpt of Love is a Whirlwind:
The bull flew out of the chute, bucking like a demon and the bull rider didn’t stand a chance. Whirlwind twisted like a tornado and kicked up dirt, making it hard for the bull rider to keep up. It wasn’t three seconds before the bull rider flew off and planted his face in the dirt.
The crowd ate it up, but the bull wasn’t done. Whirlwind ran after the rider even as the rodeo clowns descended on him, trying to keep the rider safe. Whirlwind seemed to be satisfied with running those jokers off and let the bull rider gain his feet. The cowboy high-tailed it out of the ring while Whirlwind flung his head around in triumph. He strutted for the crowd, the flank strap and bull rope falling to the ground.
Caleb grinned wide, his face actually hurting. He cheered and hollered with the rest of the crowd. That was his bull out there. His friend. With a coat of rich brown, deep brown eyes and the strength of an elephant, Whirlwind was a prize many stock contractors wanted. Numerous offers had been made but he and his mother would never sell Whirlwind, not for all the money in the world.
Whirlwind strutted into the out-gate, head high. He snickered. Whirlwind was so full of it. Arrogant prick. But he was Caleb’s arrogant prick. It was over. They had won. He knew without a doubt or looking at the points that Whirlwind had won. They would have some more money to take home and more prestige than they ever had before. He wished his dad was still alive. Wouldn’t his mother be ecstatic?
Of course, good ol’ Mandy O’Connell wasn’t one to get ecstatic. She would just nod, “humph” and say “good work”. But that was the equivalent of how other people would jump for joy and do a victory dance. For himself, he would do the victory dance. But it was too crowded in the arena to get a good one in at that moment.
The celebration wore one, the bull riding champion was named, pictures were taken and Caleb, along with his crew, were given the winner’s check and were nearly made blind by all the flashes of the cameras. The crowds slowly filed out, the media left and the cleanup crew came in. Caleb, by now sweating and probably smelling like a dumpster, made his way to the truck where Whirlwind was kept. The other bulls and the rest of his crew were already on their way home but he took care of Whirlwind personally. He drove the truck that housed the star bull and he set his own schedule when he started home. He always started a couple of days after everyone else.
Annoyed, he turned around to see one of the rodeo clowns jogging towards him. He didn’t know his name but stopped and planned to give him only five minutes of his time.
“Hey,” he said lamely, “You were good out there.”
“Me,” the man laughed and slapped his shoulder. “What about you and that bull? Whirlwind’s amazing. Never seen a bull so quick and smart. Sort of eerie right, the way he knows just how to turn and when the buck and how high. Intelligent.”
Caleb shrugged, unease making his stomach cramp. “As far as bulls go, I guess he’s intelligent. You could also say he’s well trained. There were other bulls that were just as impressive.”
The rodeo clown still had his makeup and suit on and Caleb didn’t recognize him. They were about the same height and the clown was maybe a bit thicker around the chest and waist.
“Come on,” the clown said, nudging him. “Just between you and me, what’s the secret, huh? You have to admit, he almost has human intelligence, it just blazes in his eyes. Yet he’s a bull. Strange, right?”
His palms were sweating and he rubbed them on his jeans. “Yeah, right, listen, I have to go. Nice talking to you. Good show this week.”
He left as quickly as he could, never looking back. He rubbed his stomach and forced himself to put it aside. That wasn’t the first time he’d been asked about a “secret” when it came to Whirlwind, but there had been a strange gleam, almost manic, in the rodeo clown’s eyes and he hadn’t liked it. At all.
The bull was sleeping in his pen in the truck but instantly opened his eyes when Caleb approached. A large brown eye captured his own eyes and he stood in front of Whirlwind with a huge smile. The encounter with the rodeo clown drifted to the back of his mind and was buried. This wasn’t the day for worries, it was the day for celebration.
“We did it, buddy. Another notch on our belt and all that money. Maybe we should go commercial, huh? Have you sell a few products?”
Before his eyes, like many times before though it never lost its awe, Whirlwind shifted into Ryan, his best friend. The same rich brown eyes that had belonged to the bull now belonged to a thick, naked man kneeling inside the truck.
He had broad shoulders, a broad chest, thick waist, thighs and arms. He resembled a bull even in human form. But that wasn’t surprising when considering that Ryan’s mother had been an actual cow and his father had been in bull form during his conception. It was incredibly rare, nearly impossible, for offspring to be born from an animal and a shifter. Ryan was certainly one of a kind.
Caleb learned a lot about the real world from Ryan. Like the fact that there was a shifter community, a community filled with extraordinary creatures who could live as animal or as human.
Ryan raised an eyebrow. “We’re in Vegas. I’d rather go drinking.”
Q: What can your readers expect from you in the next couple of years, in addition to what you’ve already shared? Are you writing in genres other than M/M? Anything else you’d like us to know?
A: Well, certainly more shifter stories and I’m working on another series, a fantasy one, which involves a mage who thinks he’s a villain, magic gemstones, dragons, elves, and a world resembling Earth but without the technology. I’m taking my time with these, considering they are unashamedly very fantasy and I want to make them as “realistic” as possible (beta readers are priceless!).
Thank you again, MD. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you a bit. I hope you will visit again.
It’s been great fun! I really enjoyed your questions and I hope I’ve gotten readers excited or at least curious about my future (and present) works. This really is my passion and it’s the readers who will keep me going.
(Bull Riding photo above by C. Szmurlo)