The characters just sort of showed up for me. :) I had a strong mental image of a short, handsome man who was spitting mad, standing in jail, holding onto the bars, telling his friend to get him out of here, that he hadn't done anything wrong. He had absolute faith and trust that his friend could and would believe him and get him out, even though they hadn't seen one another in a long time. As I wrote, I got to know them better and liked them both a lot.
How do you know if your characters are sympathetic?
I think that's a difficult question to answer. To me as a writer, my characters are always sympathetic because I know what's going on inside them. To understand is to sympathize. But how do people on the outside get to like your characters, especially the non-viewpoint characters?
I think the answer is you don't know if it works or not. It will vary from reader to reader. I love the guys in this story, even when they frustrate me, because I understand what's going on with them. But will the reader? By the end, I believe so--at least the important things. But no character will connect with every reader, and some people will probably just not enjoy some of my characters.
Jamie, for instance, is difficult. I like his kaleidoscope emotions and intense personality. But will he connect with readers? I guess it depends on the reader. :)
Why did you start writing M/M romance?
I was raised in a very conservative environment so although this was something that interested me for a long time, I was afraid to "go there." Recently with a lot of study, research, and prayer, I finally knew for sure that gay romance was no different morally from straight romance, and it became very important to me to tell the stories I felt inside me.
It is especially important to me to tell stories that don't always revolve around sex. I've read erotica, I've even written a bit, but the stories that I *need* to tell are the ones that usually focus on romance and feelings and growing relationships and accepting oneself, not on exactly what happens in the bedroom.
I think more people need to know that gay romance can be as diverse as m/f romance -- modern or historical, from non-explicit to highly erotic, etc. I think readers need lots of choices, so that everybody who's interested in this genre can find what they want. And for me, that's generally "sweet" romance. :)
I also really hope that the world is changing so that more people will not have to grow up feeling bad about themselves if they are gay or are interested in gay stories. I want to help with that in whatever small way I can. Sometimes it is very hard to put myself out there, but I *need* to do this. I have to trust that my stories will make someone out there smile, or think, or feel better about themselves. Because this genre has helped me that way -- a lot.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I'm open to it. But most of the time, I think love grows as people get to know one another better. Love is not a one-time feeling or choice, it's a life journey. But can the journey start at first sight? Of course! :)
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Of course. Every single one. But if I did that, I wouldn't keep moving forward as a writer. I need to move forward, not just rewrite every story until it's perfect. They will never be perfect.
And sometimes the more I rewrite, the worse a story gets. It's dreadful; I think I'm making it better, but in the end find out I've just made it worse!
But I believe I'm learning something from every single story I write--and hopefully the half-finished ones on my desktop, too. :)
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Do it for yourself. If you just want to please everyone you won't please anyone and will burn yourself out. Every reader has an ideal book inside them that they want to read. Most books will never meet it. Writers have the wonderful, amazing ability to try to get those books out and make themselves happy with exactly the story they want. There is such a contentment in writing the story you want to read. Of course, it'll still never be perfect, but you'll be happy if you get anywhere close at all. :) But you need to write for love, not money or fame. I know those things exist for some writers, but the lottery is probably a bit more likely for most of us.
Title: You Were Always the One by Hollis Shiloh
Genre: M/M Romance, Contemporary
Expected publication: October 30th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
Length: 104 pages
Max struggled through every day in high school, especially when his hormones seemed to crave boys rather than girls. His best friend Mason and Mason’s younger brother Jamie made a bright spot in his teen life, until he confessed to Mason he was gay. Mason responded by ripping away all his joy, ending their friendship, and warning Max against seeing Jamie. Max is a policeman now, comfortable in his sexuality but private and wary, taking solace in his job and the friendship of his golden retriever, Alex. But the past he thought was behind him demands resolution when a prickly, wounded, shockingly sexy Jamie gets arrested, and Max comes to the rescue.
Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4284