I’m interviewing K.A. Mitchell today. Most M/M readers know her since her books are very popular – from what is probably her best known and most popular book Collision Course to her very first book Custom Ride. Almost all of her stories are reviewed on the site so if you haven’t read any of them here’s your chance.
Here’s her bio
K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house, and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Chip and Ken made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. An unnamed number of years later, she’s happy to find other readers and writers who like to play in her world.
Hi K.A. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on the site. I hope you enjoy the questions. 🙂 I would also like to thank Jenre who once again helped out with some excellent questions. Since we don’t know a lot about you, would you like to tell us a bit about K.A. Mitchell the person and the author?
Thank you so much for interviewing me on your site. I know it’s very popular with readers so I’m glad to have a chance to talk to them. Everything in the bio is true, including the fact that same-sex couples seemed both appealing and commonplace to me at a very young age. That it took until I was almost in my twenties before I realized I was more physically and romantically attracted to my own gender is kind of odd under those circumstances. I’ve been sneaking gay male erotica since my teens, imagine my surprise when I found an internet full of girls like me.
My personal life is above-average boring to read about. I’ve been married to the love of my life since it was legal (in Massachusetts), but we really should be anticipating a buttload of silver presents next year.
I recently reviewed your most recent book Life, Over Easy and I thought many of the characters were wonderful, and John was so delightful – a mixture of innocence and maturity. How did you come up with his character, which I thought was quite unusual?
Thank you for the lovely review, Wave, and I’m glad you asked about John, because he actually does have a conception story. Like many other accidental conceptions, it happened in a car. (Don’t close your eyes. I won’t be gross.) I was driving back from a writing conference, thinking about basic story styles and said to myself, “I’d like to do a fish-out-of-water story.” My muse took me almost too literally. I got John, the diver who has vertigo from a brain injury and can’t dive.
Did you research synaesthesia, a condition similar to the one suffered by John, and then decide on the character? Or vice versa?.
I learned about literary synaesthesia “the black roar of the ocean” as an English major in college, and discovered the actual condition of sensory synaesthesia about seven years before I thought of John. His synaesthesia and his “colors” came about as I thought of ways his brain injury might have affected him. I didn’t know a thing about Alex or Mason until I sat down and started the book.
In almost all of your books your characters are opposites in temperament and outlook starting with Ryan and Jeff in Custom Ride, John and Mason in Life, Over Easy, Cameron and Noah in Diving in Deep, Joey and Aaron in Collision Course etc. Do you deliberately set out to do so or does it just happen? Will there be a K.A. Mitchell book where the characters’ temperaments are not so far apart or do you not want to tamper with a formula that works?
In addition to the sizzle and spark of opposites attracting, I’ve always enjoyed stories with characters who have reasons why they can’t be together beyond whatever external factors brought them together. When I’m telling a story, I have to be in some suspense about how it’s going to work out in order to stay in love with the story and keep writing it. I love the kind of conflict that comes from how the characters see the world instead of just what the world has done to them. They might not have to change completely before the end of the story, but they’re going to have to be willing or vulnerable enough to try some new ways of doing things if they’re going to have a happy ending.
One of the things I know I won’t ever do is write characters who both have a passive aggressive style of fighting again. I thought I’d strangle Sean and Kyle in Regularly Scheduled Life.
I have read most of your books, and Collision Course & Diving in Deep are my favourites because I love the characters. When you hear from your fans, is this pretty typical?
Joey and Aaron do seem to be fan favorites, but Cameron from Diving In Deep hasn’t won everyone over as easily. Diving In Deep and Chasing Smoke get a pretty far range of responses. I’m happy if I’ve created characters that feel real enough to people that they want to argue about them. Aaron’s been called his share of names, but usually with some affection.
Here are some questions from Jenre
Many of your characters are opposite in temperament, what attracts you to that ‘opposites attract’ pairing?
Like I said before, I like to have a conflict that isn’t easy to fix, like agreeing on what town to live in or who gets to use the land. If the conflict comes from who the characters are, deep down, I feel I’ve got a chance at keeping a reader’s attention. And it’s really a lot of fun to write characters who have a long way to go to meet in the middle.
All your readers seem to love Joey – me included! – is he your favourite character, or do you have another character from one of your other books you like better?
I’m always falling in love with a new character, but Joey is one that doesn’t seem to ever want to retire to a nice rocking chair in my brain. He popped up when I needed someone for Noah to talk to in Diving In Deep. I said to myself I need an ex-boyfriend, maybe a therapist or something and Joey jumped to life. He filled my head with his back story, and even while I was working on other projects, he kept telling me he wasn’t happy with the boyfriend I’d given him. He nagged me for a hero, so I came up with as anti a hero as I could write. It didn’t slow him down. He still drops by to tell me about some shorts he’d like me to write for him—mostly sex. I think he’s a bit of an exhibitionist.
I was very fond of Cade and his cynical attitude. I share Daniel’s horror for his hometown. Kim says the kind of stuff I wish I could get away with saying.
On Twitter you often say that you have a compulsion to put your characters through the emotional wringer, why is that, do you think?
In one of my favorite series, the author killed the hero in the middle of a book. Killed him! She brought him back, but dishing out that kind of abuse certainly kept me turning pages. If the heroes don’t have something to fight, if it’s not bad and getting worse, if the reader can’t see that big ugly explosion coming, she might put the book down and I don’t want that to happen. I want to deliver the same sleepless nights, the same anxious moments, the same gut punches my favorite authors have given me. That means my characters (and to a much smaller extent me when I’m trying to get a handle on their emotions) get to suffer.
How difficult was it to switch gears and write a historical, especially as all your other books have been contemporaries?
I love this question, because it was more of a switch to write contemporary. I’d been writing everything but contemporaries for years before my first sale. The story that became An Improper Holiday was something I wrote almost twenty years ago, with no idea it would ever have an audience. I love writing historical, particularly the language, but also the constraints created by the mores. That’s not to say I don’t also love contemporary. It’s wonderful to be able to switch between the two. I really want to do both consistently, though the historical sales haven’t been equal to the contemporary. I have other stories planned, especially with Julian Lewes in them.
Would you say that Collision Course has been your most successful books so far, and are you surprised about that?
I was about halfway through Collision Course when my dad had to have open heart surgery. I knew I had strong characters when I was able to sit in the waiting room with my laptop and keep right on rolling like I was tucked away in my office. I knew I loved the story and the characters. I’m so glad that readers have enjoyed them too.
Now back to my questions. 🙂
Many M/M readers are fans of your books and they can’t wait for a new release. How do you account for your popularity, other than excellent characterizations and plots?
I am absolutely thrilled to have readers. It’s not something that ever gets old. Every single piece of fan mail makes me do a little happy dance. For each book, I tell the best story I can and hope I never lose what it is that makes people want to read it.
An Improper Holiday, your first historical, has been a resounding success. Erastes, a very discerning historical writer, reviewed the book for this site and gave it 5 stars. Do you have plans for more historical books in the future?
I definitely have more historical stories planned, two more in particular involving the character of Julian Lewes from An Improper Holiday. I have a few other historical ideas bouncing around in my brain like balls in a bingo hopper. An Improper Holiday doesn’t seem to have sold as well as other books of the same length, but I’m definitely willing to give historical another shot.
As an author, which do you prefer – sales or industry awards?
Well, I don’t think I have any industry awards, so that’s pretty easy to answer. It’s very exciting to be able to make money with my writing. I announced being an author as my career goal at the age of six. Quite a few decades passed before I met the income side of that equation. Of course, without readers, I wouldn’t have sales, so I definitely prefer having them to any award. That’s not to say that I don’t have fantasies involving winning the first Rita ever given to a gay romance.
I have been reading your books for three years exactly since Custom Ride in August 2007. Was Custom Ride your first published work? What are some of the challenges and what are some of the benefits of being so successful?
Custom Ride was my first sale. I had no idea if there would be another one and since I’d been working toward a sale for most of my life, I was determined to enjoy every aspect of it right down to being delighted with my first ISBN. Nine sales later, it still doesn’t get old, like I said. I still get very excited to get a contract offer, to get a cover, to see the book released. There are challenges, things I never could have thought of before my first sale. I’m always worrying about letting readers down with the next book. I want to keep bringing them the kind of stories that make them look forward to my new releases. I worry about things like why the historical didn’t sell as well as the contemporary. Was it the genre, the timing or do readers not like authors who switch genres? One thing I’ve learned is to try not to focus on what I can’t control and to focus on what I can, and that’s writing the best story I have in me.
Many of your fans can’t wait for your next release, so what do you have coming up over the next 3 – 6 months?
Not Knowing Jack, which features the characters of Jack and Tony who were in Regularly Scheduled Life, is due out in December. My critique partners think it’s darker and more angsty than Regularly Scheduled Life, but Tony is so much fun to write I think he lightens it up a lot. After that angst-fest, I’m planning to work on something fluffier that popped into my head. That should do it for the next six months, but I plan on doing the next book in the Fragments series that started with Life, Over Easy, and another book or two in Jacksonville (Hi Joey!) and the historicals and….I can’t turn off the generator in my head and I hope it never runs out of juice.
What does K.A. Mitchell do for fun?
Writing is fun (most days). Of course, I love to read when I have time. I’m afraid I’m a horribly one-dimensional character. I’d have to cut me out of one of my books. I enjoy going to the beach, watching Supernatural, and playing the sort of computer games where I get to boss people around (Sims, Civilization, Godfinger). My all time favorite was an old game called Outpost where the computer would purr, “The people looooove you, Commander.” Quite the boost to one’s ego.
What one thing can you reveal about yourself that you have never published before? 🙂
I am truly, madly, hopelessly addicted to my iPhone. My palm itches if I haven’t held it for an hour. There’s a new game called Zombie Farm where you get to raise a zombie army. The zombies are squishably cute. And I get to boss them around.
Thank you so much K.A.
Thank you, Wave and Jenre.
I appreciate all you do for the genre.
K.A. Mitchell is giving away a copy of Life, Over Easy, her newest book, to a lucky reader who comments on her interview.
K.A. Mitchell’s Contact Information