What fun! Joining us today is Authors After Dark Featured Author, Anne Tenino, author of a number of books including those of the Theta Alpha Gamma series set around a small town college.
Hi back! Thanks so much for inviting me.
Let’s jump right in where you tell us what you look forward to most about Authors After Dark in Savannah. Planning to play the tourist? Looking forward to any of the convention activities or workshops?
I’m probably most excited about dressing up for the balls/parties/etc. I love doing stuff like that, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what I’ll wear (to the point that I bought a corset). I’m on three panels, all about GLBTQ subjects, including one titled “He Put What Where?” TOTALLY looking forward to that one, it should be good. I’m dedicated to realistic sex in my books (and lots of it, heh) so it’s something that (in spite of my gender) I feel qualified to talk about.
When you were a child, did you dream of becoming a writer or were you aspiring to become something else entirely?
I aspired to become a long list of things, but I know writer was in there. In junior high (side note—every time I call it “junior high” my kids correct me and call it “middle school.” They seem not to care that it was called junior high when I was in it) I was pretty sure I would write someday, but then my sister came home with something she’d written and ruined it for me. My mom went on and on about how great it was, and I thought, “Dammit, there’s another thing she’s better at than me.” I don’t know what that says about me . . . I’m competitive? I only want to do it if I’m the best? I give up easily? Whatever.
Ultimately my (first) major in college was theater, but I moved through quite a few others, including fire prevention, before I got a degree in Art History. Really, a bachelor’s degree in art history (much like a degree in English) only prepares you for a few things. I’ve done two of those things: I worked in the non-profit sector asking people to donate money to our cause, and now I write.
Star Wars! When I was about six, my dad took us one weekend when my mom went out of town for work and he didn’t know what else to do. We might have gone twice, actually. Even then, one of my biggest concerns was whether Luke and Leia would hook up (although by Return of the Jedi I realized why they didn’t, and I was rooting for Han Solo). Of course, I didn’t think of it as “hooking up” then. But I do like to think I was romantically precocious—I knew even in my wee youth that a single kiss motivated by jealousy did not constitute a love story, although it sometimes makes an excellent Chapter One.
What was the most insightful thing someone told you about writing or being an author? Or if you can’t think of anything along those lines, what about writing or being an author has taken you by surprise?
“Everyone wants to be a writer, but no one wants to write.” Someone told me that Madeline L’Engle said that (I later looked it up, and she may have said something along these lines. Or it was Ursula K. LeGuin. Or possibly someone else). I think hearing that was the point at which I realized, “Oh, you have to finish something in order to be a writer. I get it.” So I finished a book and sent it to a publisher and tah-da! Instant writer sauce.
Now that you’re an established author, do you require any special routine or location for your muse to speak to you?
No, although there are times where the muse is more likely to speak to me. If I’m driving, if I’m in the shower and if I’m lying in bed half-asleep, too tired to get up and go write it’s always cooking stuff up. So, I take voice memos on my phone in the car, I have a waterproof notebook in my shower, and I’m still working on the bed thing. The muse also likes to poke me about stories I’m not actually working on at the time. Usually when I have a looming deadline and I can’t switch projects.
What is something fun you enjoy doing with your family?
Traveling. We’re pretty committed to giving up other stuff (my God, you should see what I drive) in order to take our kids places. My husband has to travel for work a lot, so he has this huge bank of air miles, also. We’ve taken them to Europe twice and China once on free tickets he’s earned. We also do smaller trips in the US, but those tend to be camping. I seem to be the only person in the family that hates camping.
When it comes to the TAG series, what gave you the idea to write about guys in a college setting?
Actually, a publisher had a call out for college stories. I’d just gone over the call’s word limit on Frat Boy and Toppy (with another 10,000 words estimated to go) when Riptide asked me if I had anything they’d be interested in, so I sent it to them when I’d finished instead of the original publisher. The way things worked out in the end, that was the much better choice for me.
I notice that many of your characters have issues with each other’s ‘type’ like the jocks vs. those who are not. It’s interesting how they must adjust preconceived notions not just about others, but about themselves. Do these plots and characters come to you that way or do you set out deliberately to write a story with that sort of conflict?
Well, for one thing, the world tends to be that way. I like to think when I got to college, I didn’t stand out as much as I did in my small town high school, and while that’s true, there were still divisions we didn’t cross. People were jocks, or stoners, or geeks. Sure there was some mixing of the groups, but stereotypes existed. Fast-forward fifteen years, I was going back to college for the third time, and I could still see those divisions (or similar ones).
On top of that, I’d had a conversation with a friend about how there are these other, more defined divisions in the gay world (like bears, leathers, twinks). In particular, he was talking about the perceptions of masculinity, and jock-types (to make it an easily relatable category for everyone) were generally more desirable since they were more “macho.”
I can’t remember how I decided on a frat boy, but I read a couple books of essays about gay frat members, and many of those pieces were full of issues around “type” and caste in their world. The conflict between social groups in FB&T was something I didn’t plan, but that came about naturally from all of these factors.
(N.B.: This sort of social caste system stuff is still an element in my next TAG book, Sweet Young Thang, but it’s not so much about types within the gay social groups as types and social hierarchy in general.)
Do you have a particular favorite scene or character from the TAG series? A scene that was memorable to write?
The hairbrush scene in Frat Boy & Toppy. I still don’t know where that came from (I’ve never done it, swear), but at first I figured I’d end up taking it out, even though it totally amused me. Then I became attached to it, and I thought it showed a lot about Brad. No one asked me to cut it during edits, so . . . *shrug*. Oh, and another scene from FB&T that I love is when Brad is explaining gay sex to Kyle.
In Love, Hypothetically, my favorite scenes are the bar scenes with Toby. As for Sweet Young Thang, there are some scenes after Eric and Collin have sex that I love, because they get all mushy and silly and cute.
Because I just finished reading Paul’s book, he’s on my mind at the present. Trevor gave Paul a wonderful day out sailing and picnicking for a date. Strictly hypothetically of course, tell us what Paul would plan as a date with Trevor?
Oh, that’s an awesome question! Paul would probably take Trevor to some professional sporting event (not baseball though) that he’d have to work very hard to get tickets to, then he’d complain half the time about how hard it was to get tickets. He’d tell Trevor repeatedly that he’d better appreciate this. And Trevor would—he’d hold Paul’s hand and smile every time he bitched, because he’d know half of Paul’s problem was that it scared him that he loved Trevor enough to doing something like that. But in the end, Paul would admit that he loves Trevor that much, and that he’d freaked himself out, and they’d spend the whole weekend on the boat, making it rock.
There is a new book in the TAG series coming out in a few short weeks. Can you tell us anything about it?
Yay! Sure, I’ll tell you about it—as a matter of fact, I think I’m giving away a copy of it on the blog (to be given to the winner when the book is released on July 22). Sweet Young Thang is the story of Collin (Brad’s frat brother) and Eric, a firefighter Collin meets when someone sets Theta Alpha Gamma house on fire. You know what? How about I just give you the blurb?
Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.
Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.
Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.”
Sweet Young Thang is already available for preorder from Riptide (where you can also find the two previous books in the Theta Alpha Gamma series), by following this link: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/sweet-young-thang-theta-alpha-gamma-3
Any future projects or thoughts you wish to share with us before we wrap up?
Yes! I’m so excited, because this was an unplanned story, but after writing SYT, I had this scene between Brad and Sebastian (from FB&T) that wouldn’t leave my head. I finally gave in and wrote it, and it turned into a short story of about 17,000 words. It’s titled Good Boy, and will be released October 7. For anyone who felt that Brad and Sebastian’s “happy for now” ending wasn’t good enough, this story will give you the “happily ever after” you’re looking for. I hope. Well, it worked for me. 😉
After that, the second story in the Romancelandia trilogy, Billionaire with Benefits, will be coming out in January (near the beginning of the month, I believe). Then the last book in the TAG series, tentatively titled Poster Boy, will be available in spring of 2014. I have at least two more books coming out in 2014, but I’m waiting to announce what they are—that fickle muse sometimes gets in the way, after all.
Thank you so much, Anne for being a sport and letting me toss all these questions at you.
Not a problem! I enjoyed it—talking about my work is a little like talking about my kids; I’m happy to babble on at length. LOL
See you at Authors After Dark!
Anne is giving away one copy of Sweet Young Thang to one lucky commenter with the book is release in July. To enter, leave a comment below for Anne.
Giveaway end July 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM EDT.