Today in my men reading romance series, I have a very special guest, author Myke Cole. Myke’s debut military fantasy CONTROL POINT (Ace, January 2012) has generated a lot of buzz! I’m delighted he has agreed to visit today, and to offer a giveaway of his awesome new book! [Contest details are at the end of this post.]
Hi Myke, tell me a little about yourself in a few sentences. What do you do for a living, and other than reading, what do you do for fun?
I’m a military reservist and disaster responder. I’ve done 3 tours in Iraq and was also on scene for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Irene. I’m also a nerd in the classic mode. I never grew out of Dungeons & Dragons, comic books and mass-market/wire-rack fantasy novels. Put the two together and you’ve got both my living and my hobby. My income (such as it is) comes entirely from my reserve commission and my writing. Unfortunately, I’m not much fun at all. Those two disciplines are incredibly demanding. As a result I have almost no free time. When I do, I like to spend it with friends and family (which usually involves talking about fantasy or military matters, so even that’s work related). Yup. I’m officially NO FUN AT ALL.
How and when did you pick up your first romance? Was it in a sub genre (as in paranormal, thriller, contemporary etc)?
I actually came to romance through the most “acceptable” means for men – through film. A guy reading a romance on a train is truly letting his freak flag fly, but any man can say “yeah, have to suck it up and go to a chick-flick tonight.” My two favorites were THE PRINCESS BRIDE and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. They are both absolute classics, nearly perfect stories that I try to watch once a year. THE PRINCES BRIDE also showed me that romance can exist in any genre, even being the focus of the story. THE PRINCESS BRIDE is a romance fantasy (and you should also check out ONE FOR THE MORNING GLORY – that’s a book, not a film).
Why does reading romance “click” for you? Conversely, do you find room for improvement in the genre in general (or any sub genre in specific)?
I firmly believe that CHARACTER (the interactions between people) is the core of all great stories in all genres. All of the stories that have resonated most strongly with me have had people, and how they behave towards one another, at the center (this includes my favorite genre of fantasy). This is why romance rocks so unbelievably hard – it is a discipline entirely concerned with character. Everything else in a romance is secondary, and that makes it both the most challenging to write (for me) and the most compelling in many ways.
I’m sure I will find ways I’d like to see the romance genre improve, but I’m still new to it and don’t feel comfortable making judgments yet. I will say that I prefer single-title to category, and less graphic to erotic so far. Give me time to learn and develop my tastes.
Who are your favorite romance authors? Non-romance authors? Can you give a percentage (just a rough off-the-top-of-your-head guess) about how much you read of each?
I would have said my favorite so far is Nora Roberts, but I was just introduced to Diana Gabaldon. I read her Outlander and found it to be absolutely breathtaking. I think of it as kind of a romance version of George R.R. Martin (who, incidentally, is one of my favorite non-romance authors). I’d say my other favorite non-romance author is fantasy author Peter V. Brett (though there’s plenty of good romance in his Demon Cycle). Full disclosure: Peter is a dear friend of mine and even blurbed my novel CONTROL POINT. As for percentages, I will admit that for now it’s fairly low. As a fantasy author, it’s really important for me to keep up on what is current in my field, but I have found time to start dipping my toe in romance, as it informs my writing of fantasy. The two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means. I’ve also read some Lora Leigh and just finished an Ellora’s Cave anthology. Both were more erotic and short. I much prefer the longer, sweeping epic style of Roberts and Gabaldon.
If you could make a wish-list of a story you would like to read but haven’t yet, what would it be?
Somebody *please* take the hard-bitten, gothic-edged twilight-of-humanity-all-is-war feeling of Black Library’s Warhammer 40,000 novels and expand them to show us what the characters do when they’re NOT fighting. Let us see them scratch in the dirt to make a living, raise their families, and yes, fall in love. That would be so cool.
Since I’m approaching this as a conversation, would you like to ask me something in return?
Yes. I have been told multiple times, by multiple professionals in the publishing industry and romance authors that men cannot write romance under their own names (as men). Why do you think this is? Do you think this barrier is realistic (or even real)? Do you think it will eventually be broken?
ME: Unfortunately, I do think the barrier is real, and I believe it’s generated by several things, including both reader and publisher expectations. However, I also believe the barrier can be broken, although it might take some patience and dedication in order to do so. Seeing bestselling authors Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie partner on successful romances tends to give me hope.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Men are every bit as interested in love, sex, marriage and relationships as women are. We just approach it a bit differently (and I am even now cringing at making such monolithic, sweeping statements about my entire gender). If romance is to expand to embrace us, it needs to be thinking about that approach, and working to meet it. Romance is, at its core, a genre about relationships, which positions it to more rawly distill the essence of what makes stories (and I mean ALL stories) resonate, how people interact and treat one another. In the end, that’s the most interesting thing in the world. Men care about that. Keep us in mind, don’t leave us behind. Tell us a great story.
Thanks so much for the visit, Myke, and for providing such thoughtful answers!
**GIVEAWAY [U.S. domestic only]**
Myke has a question for readers: “What is the one named poison in the film THE PRINCESS BRIDE?”
Leave a comment with your email address and your answer for a chance to win Myke’s smashing new novel CONTROL POINT.
CONTEST ENDS Wednesday March 21st at 5:00 pm EST!!