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 always find the question so interesting when asked what I do for a living because there are so many different answers or ways to approach the question because I really get involved in a lot of things all of which help me to produce a way to live. However the root of all of the things I do boil down to one thing; serving to make a difference. I am a Captain in the US Army leading Soldiers to protect our way of life, I work to produce community development enrichment programs, and I help lead a company to give back to those who have served and do serve us by treating the inner shells of brave men and women; of their mental and behavior health care. And just like what I do for a living for fun brings a whole new list of adventures.
Obviously I enjoy reading but the adventures I get to experience in books only satiate one part of me. I love to get out and explore, to travel either to a new city or better yet a new country, play games, hit the clubs, comedy, listen to music, work out, compete in just about any sport, hang out with the fam and the list goes on. Dare I even say it…yes long walks on the beach and laying looking at the stars. Ha ha I laugh because it is so cliché but also so true. It seems as if there is always something new to learn and master.
How and when did you pick up your first romance? Was it in a sub-genre (as in paranormal, thriller, contemporary etc.)?
How and when did I pick up my first romance…so I think that I was curious more than anything else. All of us kids loved to read growing up, we didn’t watch TV so we were either playing outside inventing new games, laughing and having fun, finding new ways to get scraped up or to annoy one another or we were inside reading. I remember often times someone was getting yelled at to get out of the bathroom because they were taking too long knowing all along they were in the loo reading when they should have been helping with chores.
I grew up with three sisters, two of which are older than I and who both enjoyed romance. My older sisters would pour through romance books all the time and I would just see them laughing their heads off. You must see how this confused me…why were they laughing so hard at these romance books…they weren’t supposed to be a comedy?? I mean I read fighting books where the good guy got the girl but these were obviously not the action adventure books after two seconds looking at the front cover. So not that I wanted to get caught reading a “girly” book but I was still curious as to what was so funny.
So one night I saw the opportunity to curb my curiosity…a stray romance book was left out and I could temporarily borrow it and read it without anyone knowing the better. So I snuck a romance book and read it when no one was around. I think I must have been around 9…I don’t remember a lot of the details about the book more about the mood…how the depth of the scene, setting, light, mood, all led and created this path that neither could escape no matter how much they tried until they finally gave in to one other. I was fascinated by the entire scenario, how everything wove together…and how there were times because of the tension the book built when something unexpected would happen I too would find myself laughing.
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 always find it interesting that I was drawn to romance because even as a young boy I was a “man’s man”. I had to be the best, the fastest, the strongest at everything…and I barely ever lost. That part of me that never lost yet only thrived as I had to find the next challenge, the next competition where I could pit my strength, endurance, skill, and wit against the best I could find landing me in a testosterone driven environment where there is no room for weakness…yet I enjoy romance books, such the contradiction. Well the truth is that romance gave me a venue for understanding women, their wants and desires, their passions, how to create the ambiance…they were guides, text books, teachers, mentors, all of the above.
And although they are “romances” they usually involve the knight in shining armor, battling the odds to defend her honor, her family, her village, her wish or her dream. It gave the perfect Ying and Yang. The books brought harsh rough rugged ferocity melding with the passion and compassion, thoughtfulness and creativity. I wanted to be able to do it all, be the strong man who can conquer anything in his past but also be the thoughtful considerate one who would be worthy of an amazing woman. So I read every romance book I could find around the house and my sister had hundreds and hundreds of them. That reasons that captivated me back then still hold true today. I want to skillfully navigate both worlds. There are so many genres of romance to choose from you can usually find something that suits you…for me I like some action involved, struggle, defiance against the odds from the man, woman, but it’s best if it is both.
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?
Favorite romance authors…I am so bad at this…I don’t remember most of the authors’ names I am sorry to say. A true injustice from someone who really enjoys their work so much. I normally just saw the book picked it up and started reading it. If it was laying around then someone in the family already picked it out so it was probably good. Now that we are older I still don’t have to do much searching, I can just ask my sister for a good book to buy and she tells me I would probably like thus and so and I get it. They usually involve some sort of science fiction twist to it or something a bit supernatural. Thea Harrison has some great books, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs…and much much more.
Non-romance authors, Robin Cook is an all-time favorite, Jack Campbell, John Grisham, Orson Scott Card, J.R. Tolkien, Octavia Butler. I probably read about 50/50, all depends on my mood. I will usually go on a kick in a genre for a while before switching gears…never leave a genre for good but I do like taking a break from time to time.
If you could make a wish-list of a story you would like to read but haven’t yet, what would it be?
Wow a wish list of a story I haven’t read yet…I really enjoyed a new book…it is a military romance by Jessica Scott titled Because of You: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance. I think I enjoy this style a lot because it educates people so much about the men and women who fight and support this country, with grit, determination, courage, bravery, yet are still people with thoughts and dreams and passion and desire. My wish list would be for there to be more books which incorporate romance that depict today’s challenges and battles…you learn while enjoying.
Romance really is about emotion. It can be raw driving physical hungering need to pleasure and explore to the sweet longing and desire for companionship…but it is all emotion. Being able to explore emotions on a deeper visceral level in ways that others cannot comprehend gives them the chance to see beyond the hardened almost invincible exterior of our everyday heroes ; the woman behind the uniform, the man that fights the fire, the team that works tirelessly to stop the next disaster from cubicles light by flickering lights yet is never recognized, the teenager who gleams with pride knowing he/she stood for something. We always see the outside shell but with romance you get to see and understand so much more.
Since I’m approaching this as a conversation, would you like to ask me something in return?
When are you going to publish your next book?
ME: My next full length novel comes out in November. It’s book five in the Elder Races series and is entitled Lord’s Fall. I’m excited-and nervous-about this one!
What aspects of your life do you bring to your writing, incorporate and weave into your stories?
ME: Everything, really. Writing is a very organic process for me, and I pull snippets from all of my life, down to the color of the sunset I saw last night and the weird road sign this morning.
We all generalize people, what stereotype do you break?
ME: Awesome question. I would like to think I break all kinds of stereotypes, but I might just be fooling myself on that one. I don’t know. I embody the stereotype of a Gemini, though—creative type, of two minds, etc.
What genres do you enjoy to read the most and why??
ME: I like thrillers, mysteries, science-fiction/fantasy, and a little bit of horror (I call it “horror lite”—I don’t care for hard core horror), and romance, of course, including all the mash-ups or genre-mixing. Mostly I just like a compelling story, but I have to say, I’m especially drawn to imaginative worlds and mythologies.
Is there anything you would like to add?
The only think I would like to add is just a simple Thank you!
Thank you, Marcus! Such a pleasure to visit with you—I’m glad you reached out and took the time to write out this Q&A.