N.L. Gassert, writer of that wonderful suspense/action adventure book The Protector featuring two great characters, is our guest today on the blog. Nadja is a new author and I mean really NEW. This is her first and only book published and I wanted to talk to her because I thought it would be a unique experience to interview a writer who was still pinching herself at realizing her dream and had stars in her eyes at being published.
Nadja proved to be just as delightful as I thought she would be and I hope you enjoy her perspective on life and writing. Those of you who haven’t read The Protector might want to give it a try. So on to the interview with the very composed N.L. Gassert!
Hi Nadja and welcome.
What one fact about Nadja Gassert can you tell us that no one knows?
Well, it’s not exactly a secret, but I’m a wuss. I’m so afraid of heights, I can barely climb a ladder to change a light bulb. I’m terrified of roller coasters and things that plunge. I get motion sickness from carnival rides. I can’t watch horror movies and I don’t eat food that looks like it did when it was alive (think sea food). I can’t stand bugs, but I let my daughter have a lizard (and she made me feed it live crickets!). Yeah, I’m a wuss.
The Protector, your debut novel (reviewed here), has received a lot of critical acclaim. For those readers who don’t know what the story is about, could you give us a short blurb?
The Protector is about Mason Ward, ex-Army Ranger, trying to protect twenty-something Soren Buchanan from his evil, ruthless crime lord father and an equally ruthless but far sexier terrorist-girlfriend. Nothing goes according to plan, of course, and that includes the attraction Mason and Soren discover for each other.
I’m super excited to report that the second edition of The Protector has arrived and is ready for shipment to curious readers. Oh, and the e-book version will be ready for download in early 2009, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day or Armed Forces Day 🙂
I believe you’re working on a sequel called The Stalker. When will it be published and what can you tell your readers and fans about this new book? Do you feel a lot of pressure to write a story that is at least as good as your first novel and are you concerned that lightning may not strike twice? g
The Stalker is on my publisher’s 2009 schedule. At this point, I would be guessing if I tried to narrow it down to a specific month. I’m not even done writing it yet. And, yes, I think that’s partly because I do feel the pressure to deliver a bigger, better book. Seeing The Protector through to publication was a huge learning experience, but all that newfound knowledge can be a bit overwhelming–especially for someone like me who leans toward perfectionism. So, yes, I feel the pressure.
Since The Stalker is the second in the series, many of the same characters reappear. Mason, Soren, Ben, Stoney, James, among others. I’m trying to avoid blowing up the Sprite, but I would really, really like to include a large explosion 🙂 When I sat down to write The Protector, I had a very linear plot in mind. I wanted something very simple and straightforward. Since I think far more complicated than that, keeping it simple was a real challenge. While there is a lot more going on in The Stalker, I’m trying again to keep the forward momentum very linear (with the occasional hot sex scene thrown in to slow things down).
I like the fact that the setting for the story was in Guam, a location that most of us have never visited. I believe that you also never visited Guam, so how did you manage to do such a great job of world building in the book?
Research. I’m a sucker for research. I love research. It’s possible I overdo my research. It’s also quite possible that I own every single tour guide ever published about Guam (there aren’t that many). The Guam Visitors’ Bureau has some wonderful brochures they don’t mind sharing and Yahoo even has a few social groups loosely arranged around Guam, its culture and dating services.
Beyond that, it helps that I’ve lived on Okinawa, Japan, and Hawaii. I have first-hand tropical knowledge. I know all about gecko poop on the walls, 100% humidity and trying to surf after a typhoon (a very dumb idea). By the way, The Protector was in its final editing stages when I discovered Google maps. I promptly realized that the Buchanan villa could not possibly be where I had envisioned it. I had to move it a few blocks to the south 🙂 I just love research.
Have you written other books? If so, are they published and what can you tell us about them?
I was going to regale you with stories about the large box of unpublished stuff under my bed, but all those epics are better left where they are. The Protector is my only published work of fiction for the time being.
Did you ‘fall into’ writing or have you always wanted to be a writer?
I was born to write. No, seriously. I once had my horoscope done and it suggested that I might have been a writer in past lives, too. How awesome is that? I’ve definitely always wanted to be a writer. I’m not always writing, though. I took a long hiatus in the mid 1990s when I switched from writing in my native German to writing in English. But even if I’m not putting pen to paper, I’m always busy making up stories and learning characters and reading. I’m always reading.
I have asked this question of several female writers who write about the relationships of gay men as a subplot of whatever theme or plot their book is about (in your case, romantic suspense) and I’ll ask you the same question. What do you think about when you’re creating the love scenes between your protags? g
I think I have the same reaction actors and directors have when they film love scenes: it’s all very technical. There are a lot of limbs to keep track of and only one set of pronouns to work with (he, his). I usually start with a visual–a pose maybe or a location–then I try to work the scene out in my head. If I had any talent for drawing I would probably do storyboards. I’ve heard that some writers (and a number of readers) imagine themselves in the protagonist’s place. I don’t do that. I’m really not an active participant at all. I’m much more of a voyeur.
Most female M/M writers say that they write about relationships between men because it’s a different dynamic than het relationships where the male usually assumes the “protector” role – in M/M the characters are more equal – which makes the storyline more balanced and appealing. In your book Soren started out in the typical female role, with Mason as the dominant character. How did you resolve this characterization in your own mind initially, and in the book?
I have this personality quirk: I like being contrary. The romantic suspense genre is flooded with alpha males, so naturally I had to have an omega male. Also, I like playing with stereotypes and nothing is farther from the ultra-capable alpha tough guy than a male damsel in distress. Poor Soren, he never stood a chance 🙂 Soren, in my own mind, was always a feisty, defiant, young man in an emasculating situation not of his own choosing. That didn’t make him weak, just unfortunate. He was born with the potential to rise through the ranks, he just hadn’t had the opportunity yet. Like Mason, I really like Soren for his unrealized potential. And, hey, without giving too much away about the novel, Soren does save Mason’s life!
In the book, the main characters whose personalities are quite different, really shone, warts and all. Being a relatively new writer, how did you manage to write such complex but flawed characters with realism?
Research. Lots and lots of research. All my characters have pretty extensive profiles and horoscopes and personality work-ups that absolutely must include a few flaws. During the writing of The Protector, I took a great workshop about applying the nice basic Enneagram personality types to fictional characters (Soren, for example, is an Eight: resourceful, but willful and confrontational). I’m deeply fascinated by people, their flaws, and personalities. And in all honesty, I’m not new to the troubled character; I’ve been writing flawed, damaged males since the early 1980s 🙂
How have you dealt with the fame of being a well-known author? How has your life changed, or has it?
I’m forced to wear sunglasses in public now. No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t know I was famous, but the idea appeals to me 🙂
Tell us something fun about Nadja Gassert?
I love to drive fast. And I love to sing along to the radio or the iPod or whatever, which is very embarrassing; I shouldn’t even be allowed to hum.
Thanks for having me, Wave. That was fun. Before you move on to the next great author–I love the company I’m in–I’d like to offer a signed, first edition copy of The Protector to one of your readers.
Thanks Nadja. I’m looking forward to The Stalker (I really hope she doesn’t blow up The Sprite) g.
Interviewing Nadja gave me an ideal opportunity to say thanks, in his own language, to one of the most faithful and helpful followers of this blog, so I asked her to write a special message from me to Christian Otto, or as he is known in the blogging community – Shoganrea .
Mit ganz besonders freundlichen Gruessen an Christian, einen sehr guten Freund. Danke
Since most of the readers on this blog don’t speak German, this is the translation: “With very special greetings to Christian, a very good friend. Thank you.”
By the way Christian, Nadja also wanted me to thank you for your very kind review of The Protector.
And that’s a wrap
N.L. Gassert’s contact information
N.L. Gassert’s website
The Protector is available here