Today I’m interviewing AM Riley who is a virgin interviewee, so she had no idea what she was in for when she agreed to let it all hang out here. I hope she’ll come back after today. 🙂
Hi AM. It’s such a pleasure to talk to you at last. I have always wanted to interview you because I love your books, but it wasn’t until I read and reviewed your latest, Blood on the Ice, which had me curled up laughing my head off, that I decided to email you to request an interview. Before we get started, I would like to thank Jenre, who is your other big fan on the site, for some of the questions. Jen’s questions are in blue.
Why don’t you tell us something about AM the person and AM the author? Is there a difference? 🙂
Well, one difference is my name. AM Riley is a pseudonym. I work on a lot of PG films, so when I started writing, a pseudonym seemed a good way of separating my two occupations. I’m a film editor and have worked for most of the major animation studios at some time. Other than that, there aren’t a lot of differences. I’m opinionated, talk too much and am extremely liberal. I’m a die-hard feminist. I love Ice Hockey. I believe all of this comes across in my books.
One of the first things that attracted me to your writing was your humour and I remember reading What To Buy For The Vamp who Has Everything in December of 2008 and thinking that Adam Bertoni was one of the funniest vamps – not because he had funny lines, but who would have thought of writing a story about a vamp suffering from depression? I still giggle about Adam using condoms even though he’s dead. A vamp who has safe sex??!! Is he afraid of catching an STD and dying? 🙂
Damn, was that funny? I thought it was poignant moment. 🙂 Adam isn’t the sharpest tool and he has some vague idea that he’s protecting Peter from the vampire virus. I like it when writers insert humor into tense situations. Stephen King excelled at that.
How important is humour in your writing, either through a droll character, as in your later books, or a humourous situation, such as can be found in your earlier works?
There is a bit of a problem when I’m speaking facetiously and someone takes it literally. I’ve had a few odd feedback emails that make it clear that I’m not always as amusing as I think I am. I’m pleased you see the humor in my books.
It must be difficult to find plot bunnies in the grocery store or Starbucks when you write the types of stories that you do. When/where do you dream up your characters and situations? In a morgue? LOL
I’ve had an interesting life. I meet a lot of unique people. For reasons I do not fully understand, people spill their innermost crazy thoughts to me. And I think I’m lucky to have the natural imagination that so many creative people have. Maybe it’s a form of controlled schizophrenia. My brother once asked me if I was afraid I’d not be able to think of anything new. I told him, sometimes I wish my imagination would STOP popping these weird ideas into my head and let me veg for a few days.
I did visit the Los Angeles Morgue before writing Immortality is the Suck, and met a policeman who didn’t want his picture taken, but agreed to take mine. The morgue is not a happy place, of course, but it has a gift shop where you can buy coffee mugs and book bags with tape body outlines on them. I love Los Angeles.
Some of my favourite of your heroes, such as Roger Corso and Adam Bertoni are uncompromising Alphas. What draws you to those types of heroes?
My family is dominated by strong, silent SOB’s that you gotta love anyway. When they are good they are heroic. When they are bad I want to slap them. There are many athletes, ambitious businessmen and alcoholic jerks in my family tree. They are fascinating characters and their voices come to me easily.
Besides, plenty of good books are written with more ‘stereotypical’ gay men in them. I don’t need to add to the stack.
I love how you structure your books so that things aren’t always what they seem, either with the situation or the character. Why do you write so many of your books with unreliable narrators, or characters who keep secrets even from themselves?
Everyone is in denial about something. Well, except for me, lol. I haven’t ever met a human being who didn’t have layers upon layers in them. It simply doesn’t seem natural to me that a character in a book be clear and consistent when so few human beings really are. Once again, except for me. I’m clear as water. Heh.
Would you say you are first and foremost a mystery writer? Are there genres you would like to explore further?
I aspire to be a mystery writer. I’m still in process of ‘becoming’ a writer. I’ve got a fantasy in the works and some ‘just for fun’ domestic discipline fiction out there. But I like the structure of mysteries and the way they reveal character. They are some of my favorite books to read. As I’m evolving, I find that I prefer mystery with romantic elements, to romance with a mystery wrapped around it.
How much time and research have you spent looking into the world of BDSM?
What I want to know is: How much do you put into practice. 🙂
Well, now there’s a good question. I moved to California quite young and on the tails of a little family scandal, with fifty dollars, a suitcase, and a box of books. I happened to be befriended by a group of insane Wiccan women and a couple of men who belonged to Avatar, the then semi-secret Leather community in West Hollywood… My twenty first birthday, I received a bullwhip and some lessons. Long story very much shortened, I’m pretty good with a straight-tail and have, I believe, a deep understanding of the BDSM lifestyle. I don’t practice anymore. It doesn’t answer a need, for me, though it does for some. And the Los Angeles area is lucky in that private demonstrations are still held here frequently. My friends have both passed away, though I still have friends in the life. One of them appears in The Elegant Corpse. I sent it to him to read and he sent it back with spelling corrections. He’s very controlling, lol.
When your first book was accepted, what was your reaction and how did you celebrate (if you can remember)?
My first was a submission to an anthology. I’d submitted a lesbian and gay male story. I was surprised the gay male story was accepted instead of the lesbian one, because I thought the lesbian story was written better and was a little ‘deeper’.
I felt guilty. Damned if I know why. I didn’t exactly celebrate. I did send an email to Edibea who had beta read all the abysmal fanfiction I wrote for years without whining or asking for anything in return. That woman is a miracle. waves Hi Edi!
As I mentioned in the introduction, I LOVED Blood on the Ice. How did you get Nickie, the narrator and hockey enforcer? He was hilarious and I couldn’t get over how matter-of-fact he was about his role. He had no delusions that he was a star.
I come from a hockey family. I’ve got a broken tooth and a scar on my leg to prove it. Nickie was a natural character for me to write. Just your down to earth hardworking athlete who knows he’s lucky to get paid to play and knows it won’t last forever. Unless you’re a vampire, of course. 🙂
Most of your stories are paranormal but recently you wrote a contemporary story set in Texas – Son of a Gun – that I reviewed. The book was about politics, dirty dealings, getting in bed with a hot secret service agent, and lots of family secrets. This was quite a departure for you. What was the genesis of this story and will you be writing other contemporaries in future?
looks around furtively That family was related to me, in a way. Shh. Don’t tell anyone. I’ve got a sequel in the works, as it happens. AND I’m writing another contemporary that takes place in Humboldt County, California. So, yes, I will be writing contemporaries. If I can find an interesting twist, I will. The Humboldt County story is a who-done-it with a marijuana industry side story. And it’s semi-mystical.
Now that you have been writing for a while what do you find most challenging? What are the fun parts?
I have a problem with going online. It’s very distracting and messes with the mess in my head. I love you guys, but I can’t read too many reviews of my books. It distorts the process for me. And, of course, the process is the fun part. Putting words into the mouths of the people in my head. Making people I know spin and dance for me in ways they would never agree to do in real life. Making it all better and seeing justice served. I love it.
I’d guess, the hardest part for me is still the nuts and bolts of writing. My spelling stinks. I get caught up in story and forget to clean up continuity errors. I want to include too many characters’ POV’s. I am heavily dependent on a really good editor. Shout out to Judith David.
What new books, if any, do you plan to release within the next 3 – 6 months? Perhaps you could give us a preview of one of them.
The police detectives that appeared in Amor en Retrogrado, Bill and Kate, are set to solve another murder. This time, a famous film director and his crew are involved. The story focuses on one lowly second AD on the crew, a Jeremy Reilly. His job is simple: Deliver the film on time and under budget, while averting disaster. Of course, temperamental stars, his director’s demanding artistic sensibilities, scandal and Jeremy’s own attraction to his boss are making that job difficult. Then a fortune teller attached to the film company is murdered and he finds himself desperately trying to protect his job and his boss from Bill and Kate who, frankly, don’t give a rat’s ass about famous directors or lowly AD’s and their troubles.
The book is called Death by Misfortune and it is in it’s last round of line edits, so it should be out fairly soon.
AM and the Hot Tub Boyz – sort of
The boyz in the hot tub who help me with the interviews decided to take a pass on you when I told them that you wrote paranormals. They couldn’t imagine themselves getting into the hot tub and doing the nasty with ghosts or other members of the undead. They did like Stephan and Special Agent Evans though, and wondered if you would let them come out to play? 🙂 [I should tell you that things get hot and heavy in the hot tub so I’m not sure this is a good idea].
Hmm. Stefan and Evans are both a little old fashioned, though Stefan would be annoyed to admit it. I’m not sure either would be up for a wild and crazy hot tub adventure, except with each other.
I’ve got a few characters in the Humboldt murder mystery that would take on your boyz, though. The dead guy in the book was a sort of man-whore, and the cast of characters are his exes.
The boyz did want to know which of your heroes you would like to do the old in and out with? I told them it was none of their business but they insisted that it was a legitimate question.
Hmm. turns red That feels kind of like you are asking which of my friends I secretly have the hots for. I’d say either George or Patricia from “Quod Tam Sitio”. Those skinny little white collars just do something for me.
What does AM Riley do for fun?
I write for fun. That sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it? When the blood starts to pool in my ass, I get up and hike with my dogs. Los Angeles has a lot of great hiking areas, and I’ve always enjoyed exploring the city by foot. I watch Ice Hockey during the season and skate at a local rink whenever I can. And I read. Gobs. I’ll get hooked on one writer and read him/her until I hear his/her voice in my head even when I’m not reading. I read all of Michael Connelly in one month, a few years back. Dorothy Sayers and Charlie Huston, recently. I’m currently re-reading Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’m also an avid amateur orchid gardener.
Last question: If you weren’t a writer what would you like to be, other than a superhero?
I’d be the NHL’s first female right winger.
Thank YOU, Wave. What a great bunch of questions! It was fun to answer them.
Thanks to Jenre for coming up with some great questions. 🙂 Here’s hoping that AM Riley returns after the grilling she received from the boyz. Why do I always let them take over the interviews? 🙁
AM Riley’s contact information