Delighted to have Lee here today. We go back a long time!
You and I have known each other since before you were Lee and I was Charlie. What does it feel like to be multi-published?
Incredibly frustrating, to tell the truth. Every time I get the books up and running, the publisher dissolves, or loses interest. I hope Dreamspinner is 3rd-time-the charm. I want to write new stuff, but most of this past year has been getting the Royal Navy series back in line. And it was disappointing when Running Press decided not to support the M/M Romance series. I sometimes feel like the kid sitting outside the temple gates, wanting to be a monk: Do I REALLY want to be a writer? But I’m still here, so I guess the answer is yes.
What do you think you’ve learned since you were first published?
Get it in writing. It doesn’t matter how nice the publisher seems to be – s/he may be a lovely person, but if it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist. I knew this intellectually, but it took a kick in the teeth to bring it home.
What do you wish you’d known when you were first published?
That the job is only beginning when you type “the end.”
What inspired the latest book?
Latest — Well, right now, Home is the Sailor is just about to re-emerge from limbo, and that was inspired by Will Marshall’s inability to send Davy into a situation where he might get killed. I suppose this makes him less conventionally heroic than, for instance, Horatio Hornblower, whose closest friend did get blown to bits acting on his orders, but Will’s not as neurotic as Hornblower and while duty is important to him, the love of his life is just a tiny bit more important.
The latest WIP that I haven’t been able to complete… well, that’s just not ready to even talk about yet. I’ve found if I spend too much energy discussing a story idea, I don’t have enough to get it on its feet.
Did you know where Home is the Sailor was going from the start or did it take an unexpected turn?
I wasn’t sure. I’d set up the Archer family back in Ransom (and if I’d realized one character was doomed I would not have named him after my brother-in-law), and I knew that Davy’s vulnerabilities came from childhood, and that this was a situation that would let him resolve them once and for all, and finally earn his father’s respect. But things got a lot more complicated, which means more work but it’s also more interesting to write. I guess I knew where it was starting and where it was going, but the events in between, like the night ambush, just sort of developed out of the situation
Have you ever been writing and discovered something totally unexpected about one of your characters?
Yes. Will’s fears. It took some time before I was finally able to accept that this wasn’t going to be a series of rollicking naval adventures with fire in the hold. I think overall that was a really good thing because I hate when an author keeps writing the same story over and over; I enjoy a series where characters mature and change as they learn from their life experiences. It means I’ve got a lot of research to do for the next book — yes, there will be one, and it may annoy some people – but it’ll keep the characters honest. And research is fun.
Which book do you wish you’d written and why?
I wish I’d had the mind, talent, and persistence to write something truly outstanding, like Lord of the Rings or the Aubrey-Maturin series. But I think this lifetime I’m just a storyteller. Or maybe I’m working up to something more significant.
Which book do you wish somebody else would write?
I wish Elizabeth Peters had a son or daughter able to carry on her Amelia Peabody series, the way Dick Francis’ son Felix did with his father’s racing books. I’d love to know what Ramses and the rest of the Emerson family got up to after the first World War. Then again… probably nobody could write them the way she did.