Lee James on *Errors and Omissions*, characters powerful and sexy, and love

Click the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner store.

Rock star Brent Hunter has a plan to get back to the top of the charts—until his jet vanishes en route to London. Four months later, a phone call convinces Austin Hunter that his brother is alive and in hiding. That, or it’s all an elaborate and deadly confidence game.

Austin turns to private detective Kirk MacGregor to find the truth about his brother. As Kirk follows a trail of dead-end leads in the most perplexing investigation of his career, a strong attraction simmers between him and Austin, despite the fact they’re both married.

Together they unearth a tragic family history of violence, pure greed, and a thirty-year-old fratricide as they take on the coldest killer since Hannibal Lecter. But deadly foes have nothing on the painful truths and even more painful losses Kirk and Austin must face… and none of that compares to confronting what they feel for each other.

About the Author: Lee James is a retired civil rights lawyer who enjoys rose gardening, working in the yard, music, reading, and writing. He is married, and resides in a Twin Cities’ suburb.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I want the names of my main characters to fall pleasantly on readers’ eyes and ears. The villain, however, must have either a Christian or a surname that will make a reader’s nose wrinkle; e.g., “Claggart,” in Melville’s Billy Bud, is a surname that makes me think of the sound some charming guy makes before spitting on the sidewalk. I keep a list of uncommon or interesting names that I’ve heard or read, and I spend a good deal of time choosing names that feel and sound right for the characters.

Book titles are also critical. I tend to dislike one-word titles; they do not, in my opinion, convey much to a prospective buyer. I think a title needs to encompass what the novel is about, or the underlying message, if there is one.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Errors and Omissions is Book One in my Los Angeles Private Eyes series. I chose The City of Angels primarily for its mystique, extreme wealth and abject poverty, crassness and breathtaking beauty; plus, as an M/M romance/mystery-thriller writer, nothing ever seems too strange or horrific in Los Angeles.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: My characters get all the power. It’s simply the way I like to write fiction.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: The most satisfying element is depicting how two men can fall deeply in love, and stay together for a lifetime. (My husband and I have lived happily together for twenty-eight years.) I write M/M with the hope of chipping away at America’s Puritanical notions. In many ways, we are an intellectually advanced nation that’s emotionally locked in the nineteenth century. Cast-off those old, tired ideals!

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Readers have commented on what they like and dislike about my characters, dialogue, story lines/plots, endings, and cover art. It’s become my practice to listen. I’ve not received story ideas, to date.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Chatting with readers via e-mail, FB, Twitter, and on my blog (leejameswrites.blogspot.com) is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing. I always take the time to answer readers’ questions, or thank them for their comments. It’s been my pleasure to have gotten to know several readers; their careers, spouses, children, and new books they’ve read and loved.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Those who are professional (paid or unpaid) in their reviews, who have read (not skimmed) and comprehended my work, and use constructive criticism are very helpful. Echo Magazine (Bob Lind), Hearts on Fire Reviews (Lucy, Aggie, et al), reviewsbyjessewave.com, mrsconditandfriends.com, pixie at goodbooksreviews, and The Novel Approach offer insightful and helpful reviews.

Then there’s internet vitriol. Anyone with A PC and an ISP has venues to offer critiques such as, “I skimmed it just to say I’d read it. I didn’t understand it. This book sucks.” Wow, how insightful… and telling.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: The novel I’m writing at the moment always has the sexiest main character/s. If the characters I’m creating turn my head, it’s my hope that they’ll do the same for readers.

Errors and Omissions‘ Kirk MacGregor (tall, blond, ruggedly handsome, with hidden assets), and Austin Hunter (dark-haired, blue-eyed, cowboy roughneck and vulnerable) were my first main characters, and many readers told me they fell in love with them. A Crack in Time’s Micha Dahl (young, full of life, wonderful to look at, but he doesn’t know it) who has a fling with USAF Lieutenant Trent Valiston (handsome, married, and a real tramt) held the “sexiest” titles at the time I was writing the short story. Readers will soon meet my newest and sexiest characters: Mike Holland, a smokin’ hot private detective, and drop-dead handsome actor Heath Mathis.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: I’ll give you something warm (the hottest words are for sale) from my upcoming novella, Land of Dreams. In the following scene, protagonist Mike Holland and Heath Mathis meet for the first time. And yes, hot, sweaty sex ensues.

A young man, wearing clingy, white silk gym shorts, and a towel bunched across his shoulders, answered the door. His chiseled features and jade green eyes made him a work of art, Mike thought. He cleared his throat. “Heath Mathis?”

“Yes.” He toweled his curly blond hair, and then swiped at his pecs and six pack abs. “Pardon me. You caught me during my workout.” Heath took a closer look at the man outside his door. The guy stood at least six foot four, with bruising shoulders, a square chin, sinuous muscles, jet black hair, and turquoise-blue eyes. Heath’s heart skipped a beat: before him stood milk fed, Grade-A beef. He smiled.

Mike smiled back.
Oh shit, Heath groaned inwardly. The man had dimples that could stop traffic. It was lust at first sight.

© Copyright 2012 by Lee James.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: As mentioned, my next project, recently submitted to DSP for consideration, is Book Two in my LA Private Eyes Series, titled Land of Dreams. I’m presently working on Book Three of the series, Hard Luck and Trouble.

1 Comment

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One Response to Lee James on *Errors and Omissions*, characters powerful and sexy, and love

  1. Aggie

    Great interview! Thanks for the teaser, Lee! And shoutout! I can’t wait to read Land of Dreams and Hard Luck and Trouble! Of course, Austin and Micha are my top sexy dudes that you wrote about!

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