Why don’t we start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
MV: Currently I live alone in Atlanta, GA with my dog Scarlet.
I was in the food industry for over 30 years. During that time I went to culinary school, where I got a degree in Culinary Arts and Food Science.
I was a Chef for years until I was forced to retire due to health reasons. My feet and knees finally gave out. Lord knows, I sure did wear this poor old body out.
TNA: Was there someone who inspired and encouraged you to begin writing creatively?
MV: A friend of a friend asked if I would help by beta reading for a woman who was writing a book that had a M/M couple and a sex scene in it. We became fast friends during that time.
She turned me on to a few books and after I read them, she encouraged me to start writing. I guess that’s where things stand at the moment. I’m surprised the poor woman has any hair left! Love you, Susan.
TNA: Why did you start writing M/M romance?
MV: Write what you know, right? With a lot of time on my hands I started reading a lot more. It had been awhile since I had read a M/M book and when I started picking up a few, I discovered some that were really good and others that were just dogs. That’s when Susan, the friend who got me started, convinced me I could do this. It still feels odd for me to call myself an author. Never in a thousand years would I have ever considered writing as a second career before I retired. What really gets me is when someone says they’re a fan of mine. That really gets me. I’m just me. Hell, I’ll talk to just about anyone.
TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?
MV: I have a small office where I live with a window that overlooks a parking lot. I guess I could write just about anywhere. Most of the time, my surroundings disappear when I’m really into the story.
TNA: Tell the readers a little bit about your writing process. I know you are an early riser (blech), is that when your creativity is at its best?
MV: LOL, yes I’m an early riser. For years when I was in charge of Garde Manger in a hotel where I had to be AT work at 5 a.m. Been getting up early ever since. I like it when the world is quiet and I can have a leisurely cup of coffee.
I have that cup of coffee in front of the computer, a continuing old habit I had when I worked in food service. I’ll get the morning news on TV and watch the sun rise. Now I’ve added my morning chat sessions with K.c. Wells as part of my routine.
After that I’m off to the races.
I start with characters. I will have seen or heard something that sparked my interest. Sometimes it will remind me of a person or place. For me, it’s all about the characters. I do a full character development before I actually start writing the story. So I get to know them before I start writing—they’re already talking to me by the time I start.
TNA: Your first GRL is coming up very soon. What are your feelings about being a published author by whom many will be star struck, but also meeting your own favorite authors and being star struck yourself?
MV: OMG, I don’t even know where to start. When I registered I had one little short story out and a few anthologies, nothing much. I basically just wanted to go and hang out with people that I’d been able to meet on FB.
Now? I’m more than a little freaked out. First off I’ve had three books that have hit the best sellers list and MLR is releasing my first piece with a major publisher during GRL. Yeah, I’m shaking in my….well not wearing boots at the moment, so just shaking at the thought of it.
AND on top of all that I’m going to be meeting some really great authors that I admire. I just hope I don’t turn into a total blithering idiot!
TNA: Tell us a little bit about the special, invitation only event you have planned during GRL. Will photographic evidence of bad behavior be available on your blog?
MV: LOL Well, the whole idea came to me when some of my favorite people were going to be in town and I wanted to get them away from GRL so I could spend a little time partying with them. I decided to take them to one of my favorite hang outs, Bliss of Atlanta. It also happens to be the closest gay bar to my house. Bliss also happens to be an all-male all nude-strip club.
So I talked to the manager there and she said she would do something very special for my group, like waving the cover charge and stuff. She’s a fun lady. So, now there is quite the group going. I can’t wait!
TNA: How much input do you have in the design of your book covers?
MV: Quite a bit actually. I usually get a rough draft and then it progresses. With P.O.W. it was really a case of trial and error but I love the finished product. My Hero blew me away. A.j. Corza has to be one of the great hidden talents when it comes to book covers. She did My Hero practically overnight and it was perfect right from the start. I was so lucky to have stumbled onto her. We’ve also become great friends, and working with her is a total joy!
TNA: Which part of writing P.O.W. gave you the most satisfaction?
MV: The ending. It was a tough road for all the main characters, but they survived and were a family after that. I hope that I was able to convey the love they all felt for each other.
TNA: What was your inspiration for writing about this particular topic?
MV: I started this story with an abstract idea that really didn’t congeal until I saw a news report on CNN by Anderson Cooper. He was doing a story on the Syrian Civil War and part of that report was the reports of how some were being tortured. I found out while doing a bit of research that sexual torture was quite common, especially in the Middle East. I was very shocked that very little reporting was ever done on this. It has clearly been swept under the rug. After that, the story wrote itself.
TNA: Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?
MV: My all-time favorite character? Wow, that’s hard to say. I think one I had the most fun with was Marie in Anything For You, Sir. She is a combination of so many women I know. All are so strong and true to themselves and their own culture.
TNA: Are any of your characters based on real people you have known? If so, are you willing to give us any details?
MV: ALL of my characters are based on real people in some way or another. I’ll take a piece from one and stick it on another sometimes. I love to people watch, always have. If feeds my voyeuristic fetish.
In My Hero, there are two very real characters in that book. All I’m sayin’ on that one.
TNA: What has been the high point of your writing career so far?
MV: The highpoint of my writing career are the wonderful people that I’ve met so far. By far that is the most amazing thing about this whole writing thing.
TNA: How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
MV: All kinds of things make me laugh. I have a bit of a dry, twisted, off the wall sense of humor. It doesn’t take much to get me to laugh.
TNA: Conversely, what makes you cry?
MV: The mistreatment of children and animals. It kills me when I hear about children being dumped on the side of the road because they are perceived as gay. An animal has no defenses whatsoever and that just kills me.
TNA: If life really were like “The Breakfast Club” (and let’s face it, we all know that it is), which character would you be?
MV: Never saw it. Next.
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?
MV: I have like ten! Bits and pieces stuck here and there. The one that I’m really trying to get polished up is a vampire story, which I swore I’d never write but did on a dare. It was during NaNo last year. I wrote the whole thing in about three weeks. Now…I felt that the whole vampire thing was way over done and I didn’t like most of them. I read Lestat when it first came out, and I thought well, that’s it. You can’t top that one.
So I decided I would take the challenge and see if I couldn’t put a new twist on it. I think I may have accomplished that. I mean, who doesn’t like Marines, right?
TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from P.O.W. with us?
“Mayday, Mayday, Black Hammer is hit; I repeat: Mayday, Black Hammer is hit. We’re going down.” Bucky’s voice may have seemed calm to an outsider, but those who knew him understood he was anything but calm. “Mayday, Mayday. Black Hammer’s current location: thirty-three Lat by seventy Long. Repeat. Mayday, Mayday.” Bucky choked out as the cabin of the helicopter quickly filled with smoke.
Samuel J. Stone looked at the other five members of his team. “Fuck,” he mumbled, wondering if perhaps they weren’t going to make it out of this one. He yelled at his best friend Benoit. “After all the fucked-up shit we’ve been through, I’m not gonna fucking die splattered on the side of some mountain in this hellhole.”
“Vasquez, get that damn door open,” Stone yelled across the cabin to the other Marine.
“Gettin’ it, Stone,” Vasquez answered his lieutenant.
Stone opened the opposite door, letting some of the thick smoke billow out of the burning helicopter. He and his fellow Marine, Benoit, looked out the open door. They could tell they were going down fast.
“We’re still too high to jump,” Stone yelled at the others trapped in the flaming bird.
“If there was anywhere to fucking jump to,” Benoit yelled back.
Even with both side doors open, the cold winter wind whipping through the cabin, the acrid black smoke continued to surge in, making their eyes burn, their chests constrict with the lack of breathable air. There was a bitter taste in Stone’s mouth from inhaling the foulness of burning rubber and jet fuel.
Using hand signals to keep from yelling to be heard, Stone motioned for Vasquez and the two others to use the door they had just opened to escape through, while he and Benoit and the new kid, Saundersen, would use the one opposite.
The high-pitched scream of the rotor motor was loud enough to pierce the ear-protection headphones, making it nearly impossible to speak. Each man could barely hear Bucky still calling out a Mayday over the radio, through the headsets.
Thanks so much for being here with us today, Max. It’s been great fun!
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED