This week on Indie Publishing Group we have an author interview with the very talented author Drea Roman!
Hi, Drea Roman welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website! Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
Hello! I am Drea Roman, a newbie author in LGBT romance, specifically contemporary mm romance. My first book, Loving Him, published in December 2018. It is the first book in the series Hearts Intertwined. Saving Him, a novella in this series, published as part of a New Year’s giveaway for new authors in late December through early January. By day, I am a teacher of English at a charter school. Around everything in my crazy busy life, I write. I started in March of last year and I have not regretted a moment of it. Ballroom dancing is the hobby I must return to this year. There are two activities in life that make me feel authentically myself: dancing and writing.
When did you start writing and why?
I have always wanted to write romance. But my mf stories kept stalling out. My female characters were just not working out. The genre has its limitations and some of those are fueled by the sexist strictures under which women still function to this day. Unfortunately, I could not find a way to write the stories I wanted to in the genre I loved. Then I discovered mm romance and fell in love. It was not until a plot bunny jumped into my head that it occurred to me that I should try mm romance instead of mf. While LGBT romance comes with its own issues and pitfalls, I have found far more freedom in writing gay characters than I was finding in writing heterosexual ones. I have also found that one can confront more issues of sexism, homophobia, prejudice, and inequality in mm romance than in mf. The expectation for mf is that it is fantasy. It seems few readers want to confront any issues and that is not the case for the audience of mm. This audience embraces how characters push boundaries and that makes writing this sub-genre of romance so much more fulfilling. I do have plans for several ff stories in my current series and even a mf paranormal series I would love to get back to someday. For now, I am focusing on mm.
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
I have written one novel and a novella. While I love the novella, Saving Him (Book 1.5 of Hearts Intertwined), I adore the guys from Loving Him. They fight very hard for their HEA. The idea for the book started with the question “what would you do if you were trying to hunt down the love of your life, but you had to pee.” I had just read a book in which a character goes to an upscale apartment with a concierge. I wondered what would happen if you had to wait in the lobby because you could not go upstairs, but you had too much coffee on the plane ride out to reclaim your love. This is the first scene I wrote. It happens three-fourths of the way through the book. I think it will always be one of my favorite scenes because it is funny and ridiculous, but very true to life.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
It took forever to title this book. Eventually, I asked one of my characters what the book should be called. He suggested Loving Him because that was the only thing he was trying to do, love the other guy. The rest of the series will be titled in a similar fashion. Saving Him involves one character saving the life of the other. Protecting Him (book 2 and my current project) involves a cop protecting a witness. So the titles show a bit about what at least one of the characters is trying to do for the other. I honestly cannot remember how I came up with the series title, Hearts Intertwined. Maybe it came to me in a dream (as my pen name did).
Who helped you with the cover? Or did you design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
Amani Designs did my cover for Loving Him. The inspiration is sunflowers. Black thinks of sunshine and sunflowers when he is around Aubrey, so the yellow of sunflowers became very important to how I view the story. Samantha Santana’s work is absolutely gorgeous. Zoe Perdita did the cover for Saving Him. It was a pre-made with a man standing out in the rain. The story begins in the rain, so it was perfect. As soon as I saw it on her Facebook page, I had to have it.
What are some of the themes of your story?
Hurt/comfort is the primary trope of the book. Aubrey tries to love and care for Black, even when the pain of Black’s past intervenes into their relationship time and again. The hurt/comfort goes both ways eventually. One theme is not giving up on something you want just because it is hard. This is Aubrey’s attitude toward everything in life. Another theme is owning who you are as a person. You have a right to love the things you love. Being happy and joyful as a person is not encouraged in our culture. Aubrey doesn’t buy that, and he refuses to hide his light under a bush.
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book and do you have a system?
Characters show up and start talking to me. I imagine a scenario or a character. Often I write a scene without a clue as to the characters’ names or their lives other than that moment as it first comes to me. From there, I am able to figure out who they are. I fall between being a panster and a plotter. I have to write some scenes and get a feel for the characters before I know where they are going and where they have been. When I first imagined Black, I had no clue what he did as a career, but I knew what he was doing in the scene. After I have notes and some scenes, usually at least forty pages, then I can plot out the story. I cannot do it before I have a feel for the characters and what is important to them. I do not write chronologically until I have a number of scenes written. Eventually, I put them in order and tie everything together.
Who are some of your favorite characters and why?
Of my own or someone else’s? Lol. Aubrey is my favorite character I have written. Interestingly many people fall for the brooding artist, Black. But Aubrey is the hero of the story in my opinion. His heart is wide open, and he puts Black’s needs over his own so often. Plus, he is funny and warm. That being said, David in book two may end up as one of my favorite characters ever. He is a delightful ass. But once you get past the contrary sense of humor and what appears to be good-time carousing, you discover a man with some dark secrets and a heart which has never managed to heal from the traumas of his youth. He makes me laugh and he has already made me cry more than Aubrey and Black and that is saying something.
As for other authors, one of my favorite mm romance characters is Tom (Collins) Samuels of Susi Hawke’s Hollydale Omegas series. He is just about the funniest character I have ever read. He has a tragic past he covers with snark, good times, and abundant goodwill. When he finally finds the alpha for him, it is a match made in heaven. If you have not read Peppermint Spiced Omega, read it now. Plus, Drew Bacca voices Tom so beautifully in the audiobook.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have a PhD in English, so I have read many authors. But many of my current favorites do come from mm romance. Susi Hawke, who writes mpreg/omegaverse, is one of my all-time favorite writers in any genre. She can pull off funny like no one else. She recently launched a contemporary pen name, Susan Hawke, with a new series, Love Strong. It is just as phenomenal as her mpreg works. Sloane Kennedy is another favorite for her darker and emotionally trying stories, particularly the Protectors series. Beyond LGBT romance, I adore Maxine Hong Kingston, a Chinese American writer dedicated to peace and creating it through art, protest, education, and love. I wrote my dissertation on her fiction, poetry, peace activism, and teaching. The Woman Warrior is her most famous book, though my favorite of her works is The Fifth Book of Peace. It is a mixed media non-fiction, fiction, non-fiction sandwich, as she herself called it. It recounts the loss of her home in a California wildfire, her rewritings of a novel lost in that fire, her peace activism, and her writing workshops with veterans of American wars.
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
I am finishing a short story for a Valentine’s giveaway. It is a second chance romance with a friends-to-lovers element. After that, it is time to buckle down with David and Trevor of Protecting Him, Book 2 of Hearts Intertwined. I thought Loving Him had heavy elements. But I had no idea how heavy things could really get until Detective David Derricks started telling me about his life. He plays everything so close to the vest and it takes an incredibly large shakeup to his life to change how he thinks he is capable of living that life. Trevor is a psychology graduate student who finds himself possessing some dangerous knowledge. When only the incredibly annoying and far too attractive Detective Derricks can help him, Trevor is not pleased. The fireworks between the two are instant but threaten to burn down the house with them in it. The pair are far too stubborn for their own good. But it just so happens they are good for each other. I would love to have my beta draft finished by the end of March, but the end of May is far more likely. Since I work full time in a non-writing career, writing takes me longer than it does full-time writers.
If you could have any superpowers what would they be?
Mind control, lol. I know that sounds terribly nefarious, but I promise to use my powers for good (as far as you know).
If you could travel to any location in the world where would you go?
Ireland. It is just so green and beautiful. Plus, my ancestors were Irish, so I am very curious about it.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?
I would love to be writing full time. As a realist, I would be very happy to have a college-level teaching job and more time to write.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview, Drea Roman! Take a minute and check Drea Roman out on the links below! If you would like to do an author interview, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
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