I recently featured A. B. Gayle’s new book on my blog, and she followed it up with answers to my interview questions. The details of the new release follow.
Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun by A.B. Gayle
Clare: Tyler’s adventures in these episodes are all centred around his thoughts, experiences and desires. And what a rollicking time he has! LOL As a reader, I ask myself, is he a “real” character – a vehicle for the author – a moralist and adventurer for our times – or maybe a cipher? Can you give us a brief overview of Tyler, as *you* see him?
AB: Hi Clare. Thanks for inviting me to your blog. That’s a good question. Tyler is probably a part of myself. The innocent part, the bit that says and thinks dumb things. As such, he became a vehicle for me to explore a number of situations. I wanted to create a character who is naive and good hearted, but is a lot wiser than they appear. Maybe he’s the Forrest Gump of the MM world!
Clare: Tyler is all about the first person POV! *smile* What do you enjoy about writing in this style? And what are the frustrations? Do you have any ongoing preference in your books?
AB: ***Chuckles*** We’ve discussed this before, and I delved into the topic once before on the Dreamspinner Blog here. In short, I find it easier to immerse myself in the character in first person. As Tyler says, “I feel stupid saying Tyler did this and Tyler did that. You know who I am. The name is on the cover, and this way I don’t get my he’s mixed up. Unless it’s a ménage, of course, and then it’s always a bit tricky as to who’s got what where. But, rest assured, I don’t plan on having any of them. Not until I’m a bit older. Or a better writer. Whichever comes first.”
In this book, particularly, it suited the situation because Tyler is so much in his head he’s oblivious to what is happening around him. As his friend Dilbert notes later, he has very few lines of his own dialogue because so little of what he thinks about actually comes out. But in life, none of us know what is going in each other’s heads. We can only guess or try to interpret from body language.
There are dangers in this however, as some readers can’t identify or empathise with people they don’t agree with. None of us like to be thought of as stupid. So to have a character like Tyler can be off-putting. I hope they will persist with the story and see that he’s like this because he’s nervous. He’s been told all his life that he’s not as good as anyone else and he believes it.
The big difference in my book is that he gradually changes as he starts to gain confidence and survive his adventures. So, in that respect, he is unlike Forrest Gump.
Clare: As an author/reader, I can’t miss the asides in the books about MM romance tropes, as well as more general editing references, and comments on reviews etc. How did you feel about including these? Did you find it empowering, cathartic or just plain fun?
AB: I like to think of it as a tribute to them! I did a stint of preofessional editing for a while and beta for a couple of people (who return the favour). I have huge respect for good editors, but I don’t think a lot of readers truly appreciate how influential they can be to a book. Around that time, I read a stack of books written by a best selling author. The quality and style of the books varied a lot. It was more than just plot and character difference, I suspect it reflected who had edited it. At one stage, she switched to self publishing and lots of avoidable errors slipped in. Homophones etc. She very much belongs to the category, “If you don’t see the problem, how do you know your editor has done it correctly?” Lots of readers don’t care about things like this. I do, so they leap out of the page at me.
I even contacted another author who often has the “bugle/bulge” mistake and offered to proof read his books to catch that type of thing, but he regretfully declined as his partner of many years is his editor and would be offended if anyone else helped.
I think what I was trying to point out that we are very much at the mercy of our editors. They are the hidden foundation stones of our stories. They can make or break our reputations. There are some great ones out there but they are not all perfect.
I’ve even heard cases where authors give the rough story to their editor and rely on them to make it right.
Words matter to me.
But I’ve strayed off topic and ignored the fact that you asked me whether the asides empowered me. Were they cathartic or just plain fun? All three. I’m too sensitive to reviews , ratings and sales. I doubt this book will be a best seller (sorry Lily). It’s probably more of a book for authors who will chuckle, identify wth some of the asides but not want to admit to that publicly. Perhaps there is something about Aussie humour that allows us to laugh at ourselves.
Clare: In more general matters – what would be the title of your life story, if it were written?
AB: Been there, done that.
Although that phrase has a condescending edge to it. Going there and doing that? Want to go there and do that? When I look back at my life to date it has been filled with lots of different experiences and I hope I have many more before I die.
Clare: As an author, what do you think is the best part of the creative process?
AB: Coming up with an idea that you feel is different to what has already been written. Which is also the biggest source of writer’s block. But when it happens, you have to grab it.
Clare: Long or short? Stories, that is LOL. Tyler’s are shorties, but I’ve read your novels, so know you write both. What advantages do you find in either?
AB: Humor – short, definitely. But I find short stories difficult to write which is why I don’t participate in calls for submissions for anthologies. All the shorts I’ve written have not been well received. Or if they have been, people complain that they are too short. I have great respect for authors who can pull off good short stories. They are not easy to write.
Clare: How do you rate the importance of secondary characters? Are they of major interest in your books, or in a supporting role?
AB: Have you got an hour?
I did a great workshop once with Tere Michaels who demonstrated how secondary characters could be used and were needed to drive a plot forward. It’s not easy, but once you get the hang of it, they can really make a book feel more real. However, sometimes they take over the book and their personality dwarfs that of one or both of the main characters. That can be a distraction.
It’s a personal thing. I was taught that a romance in particular consists of a string of scenes between your two major characters wth other stuff providing the filler. The main growth of your characters (the emotional arc) should be through their interaction with each other and from the impact of the circumstances they find themselves in.
In my writing therefore I avoid the trope where a lot of this change stems from the interfering family member or best friend. When the communication lines and dialogue flow better in the scenes wtth a secondary character, I wonder whether the “couple” truly are the best fit.
That doesn’t mean I avoid having secondary characters or that they can’t have an active role with the character or the plot. In fact, the longer the story, the more you need them to add spice and colour. Keeping the spotlight and focus on the main pairing is the tricky bit.
Clare: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received, as a person or an author?
AB: Not sure it’s the best, but the one I get most at work and in writing is thanks for my help.
Clare: You can be anywhere on earth – where would it be, and why? And/or what would you do there?
AB: ***Grumbles*** I hate these questions! I travel a lot and have seen many places. I love Australia, but I fell in love with Italy. Think “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Not so much for the scenery, mainly because of the food!
Clare: The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Is there a specific quotation that lingers in your mind when you write?
AB: Not so much a quote as the underlying lesson from The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot. People need to be allowed to change. We tend to pigeonhole and categorise people when we meet them. Even if we were correct in our assumptions, if they change or make an effort to be different, we have to adapt our thinking to this. The corollary of this is the scenario parents and families face in “coming out” stories. The person they always knew hasn’t changed but our picture of them has to. We have to reconfigure our brains to see them differently (as they want to be seen) and accept them as such. It’s a fascinating topic.
Sorry it’s not a short quote and thank you for taking the time to listen to my ramblings. Perhaps I can give a plug here to the great interview you did for me a while back on sequels: What Happens After the Last Page is Turned.
Clare: Thanks, AB and good luck with the new release:
Title: Tyler Knoll’s Just For Fun Series (Books 1-4)
Genre: Satire, humor, gay, gay romance, LGBT
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Tyler Knoll was born one wild, stormy night in April 2013.
Of course, Tyler might tell you he was born twenty years earlier, but should we believe anything he says? That’s for you to decide.
In Tyler’s first adventure—like many a gay man before him—he was SNARED by gay porn, wallowing in tales of bigger, stronger, harder….
Then his fickle mind was seduced and SHREDDED by the prospect of BDSM and slavery.
When a Big Misunderstanding SLASHED at Tyler’s sanity, almost costing him his life, he turned to another genre for his salvation. But even this encounter proved potentially hazardous—not from freezing temperatures, but at the hands of irate fans.
Finally, tired and SCREWED by his all his trials and tribulations, he discovers—like many storybook heroes before him—that sometimes Mr. Right is closer than we think.
Everyone who bought SNARED gets a 20% discount at buying the Just for Fun composite from the WIP website! Check the website for details.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Tyler-Knolls-Just-Fun-Books-ebook/dp/B00ZW6552U/