Hi James. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on the site again. We last talked almost 2 years ago – in January of 2009. WOW. A lot must have taken place in the interim so let’s do a very quick update for the fans up on what has happened to James the author and James the person since then. What are you currently working on?
Simultaneously working on books two and three of the Deputy Joe novels. I was working hard on Requiem in Leather, but I’ve also been going back to a yet untitled book that takes place in winter in Utah. I’m a very seat of my pants writer. Which often means I’m working simultaneously on more than one book. I know it’ll disappoint folks that Requiem won’t be done soon – no Joe at Folsom – but take heart that it means at least two more Deputy Joe books.
The last time I asked you to tell the fans something that they didn’t already know about you and you whispered the words “boxer briefs,” LOL so that’s no longer a big sekkrit. Here’s another personal question which you can answer (or not). What turns James on the fastest? A six pack? Brains? A gorgeous tight ass that quivers when touched? The eyes have it? A new motorcycle? All or none of the above?
All of the above on the new motorcycle. Although a six pack could be a negotiable item as long as the body is fit. Add chest hair into the mix and I’ll drool for days. For someone who likes big and rather otter/bearish guys…I ended up with the “Marlboro Man” who has less fur than I do.
You write erotic romances that are a bit darker and edgier than most authors. Is this a deliberate strategy on your part so that it would be harder to categorize your stories, or do you write what you like to read?
I would hate to say I do anything “deliberately” other than to just write. I let the story take me where it will when I write. While I have ideas of things and scenes in a story that I want to include I don’t start out thinking I’m going to make this one more supernatural or more philosophical. As I get deeper into a book I may massage deeper storylines into a book. It would be so much easier though to, when folks ask, answer something easy like, “I write paranormal romances.” Instead I end up having to give a whole explanation of the types of things I write.
But I wouldn’t change it. I like pushing boundaries on genre and messing with people’s heads. I mean, you should have seen the looks I got when I’d say I was writing an Inspirational, BDSM Gay Romance-Procedural. The only real issue is how to list the books on Amazon.
What is the biggest turn on for you as an author and what’s the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge: forcing myself to sit down at the computer and write. Which, I think is probably the biggest challenge for most writers. As far as turn ons, I guess it’s seeing a completed story out in the world and finding out that people love it.
I have to thank you for your posts on BDSM on this site which I think are very helpful to other authors who are not as familiar with the lifestyle. I’m constantly amazed at the BDSM stories that are actually dangerous if anyone were to try some of the scenes in them. Your two posts here are among the top favourites. How did you become so knowledgeable? When people think of BDSM typically they think of dungeons, which is of course ridiculous because many people who practice the lifestyle, yourself included, do so at home. Why do you think some people equate BDSM with dungeons or something darker?
I learned the way most learn: started off small, slightly more than vanilla. Then I started reading and talking to people, and reading more, watching demonstrations, asking manufactures at places like Folsom to demonstrate the products and discussing more with other practitioners. I practiced ties on the backs of chairs, dildos or on myself then put what I learned into practice. Part of coming off knowledgeable is I know my limits, both in discussions and in practice. You won’t see me discussing suspension Riggings anytime soon because I only know enough to tell people to be very careful with it and not to do it if you’re not really trained in it.
As far as perception, TV, media and books influence most folks’ understanding. Dungeons are illicit and dark and feed into our need for a little bit of voyeur terror. They also glamorize or demonize BDSM depending on the skew of the person presenting that story. Most BDSM is not practiced in dedicated play spaces…but a two bedroom apartment in New Jersey just doesn’t have the visceral kick of lavish dungeon.
But we want to think of the places BDSM is practiced as exotic and pretty, with lavish rooms with red leather walls, free flowing vodka in crystal and a Manhattan club vibe… not some four room bungalow in the suburbs with duct taped patches on the horses and carpets stained with booze and bodily fluids. That’s assuming the venue allows for booze or bodily fluids – many don’t. It’s hard to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Many writers don’t take the time to explore that. Instead they use the built up contrivance of the BDSM Club of fiction to short cut the issue (not that there aren’t some good “club” stories out there).
The practice of BDSM and Kink is still seen as a mental illness in many circles. The mass mindset of the human race is that anything that causes you pain is bad for you…if you enjoy it you must be sick. On the flip side, I’ll tell people I’m a sexual sadist — I get off on hurting my partner. However, that term, in a broader sense is used to designate a form of dissociative mindset common to serial killers. Now, I don’t dehumanize my partner. I rather like him and want to keep him around to play again and again. But vanilla folks often can’t understand why causing physical pain to someone I care for would be erotic and appealing anymore than they can wrap their heads around why he gets off on receiving that pain. And in many states, the consensual practice of many aspects of BDSM is illegal.
I asked a few readers to come up with a few questions for you and here’s one from Anja:
Is there a sequel to “The Good Thief” planned?
In my head yes. Getting time to put it on paper is an issue. I know the basic plot and themes I want to explore and the antagonist…but no words cranked out yet. Caesar, Nate, snarky Production Assistant and diva make-up artist mixed in with a string of Southland burglaries.
Tam wants to know:
Usually the stories are more serious (not a great word) but complex stories, with a law enforcement element that I LURVE, but I wondered if just for fun you ever considered writing a romantic comedy or something just totally light and fluffy?
I’ve done it in short stories. Pat Down and Speed Trap from Ready to Serve are both on the light and fluffy side. Although I’ve thought about it, I’m not sure I could maintain it through a whole book. I find sit-coms boring and I only go to comedy movies if I’m dragged to them by SG (and have to fight off falling asleep)… although I do love the Hitchhiker’s Guide books. I’m just not sure I have the requisite mindset to build an entire book over the structure of a comedy – possible, but I don’t know.
How do your multiple identities – wife, mom, genderqueer, lawyer, writer affect your work and where you see it going? Are you hoping to write enough to quit lawyering?
Answering the last question first: Hell fucking yes — sort of.
And when I figure out how to pay off the 50Gs I still owe on my law school loans and feed and clothe the family, I may just do that. Although, honestly, I don’t think I’d ever completely quit lawyering. I love court. I love civil litigation. I love finding that case that blows someone else’s theory out of the water. I’m a pretty kick-ass trial attorney. There are parts I really enjoy. I’d like to have the option of doing the parts I enjoy and leaving the crap I hate to others.
Plus, if I had to stay cooped up in my house with no one but the cat to talk to all day…I’d be nuts. I wouldn’t have fodder for my stories. The way I get the character traits that make my secondary and minor characters breathe is by observing people, taking them in and burnishing that to suit my stories. I’d miss it.
Jenre, one of the guest reviewers on the site who has reviewed most of your books, has a few questions for you:
Your Against the Odds series with Nicky and Brandon is very popular. Did you plan the story arc as a series or did the characters just refuse to let go? 🙂
I planned them as a short erotic piece and they just wouldn’t shut up…three books worth of not shutting up. I have an idea for a fourth book, but I’m really weighing whether I should give them one. Series should have an end. Especially romantic ones. It becomes hard finding ways for the relationship to change and grow without forcing “false angst”…you know, the overblown misunderstandings or out of character actions just to give the characters something to fight about.
In The Good Thief one of your heroes is a housebreaker, did you worry about how well such a man would be received by readers?
Yes and no. I tend to just write what makes sense for me to write and then worry about WTF I’m going to do with it later: who’d publish or if readers would react well. To me the profession of Burglar seemed a natural for a bad-boy character. What I’m amazed is I managed to portray Caesar as rather unrepentant and people still found him sympathetic.
Why are many of your heroes cops or law enforcement officers such as FBI? What attracts you to that type of occupation?
Okay, that’s only part of it. At one point I wanted to be a cop. I think it’s a very intriguing profession. I do have the mindset that is attracted to law and order positions. I originally wanted to be a criminal prosecutor…there weren’t any positions available when I passed the bar so I went into civil law.
I have a follow-on question. Does your RL occupation as a lawyer have anything to do with your story choices?
Yes and no. I tend to write a lot of cop stories because I’ve come in contact with a lot of officers. I have this massive store house in my brain of their “war stories” and the silly shit that happens to them on patrol. I’ve gotten to see them when they think no one is watching (my favorite being reviewing a dash board cam of a freeway chase and the officer didn’t realize his mike was on…he’s singing, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…” the entire time). This gives me things to weave into my stories and put nuances into the characters.
Because of that, I also see them as real people and not these cardboard cut out heroes. There’s a minutia to police work that rarely gets shown in romances and I think that’s a shame — not that you need to show every detail of report writing, but you should acknowledge that a good 50% of a beat officer’s job is paperwork and reports.. Most romance cops would be off the force before the ink had a chance to dry on the write-ups they’d garner. It’s very much a paramilitary mindset where the group success matters more than that of any one officer. They don’t tolerate loose cannons and cowboys.
In Personal Demons one of your heroes was a follower of the Santeria religion. Why does that interest you and what did you have to do to research its practices?
I am interested in all types of religion, especially those that have been somewhat maligned in the popular imagination. Most people, if they know anything at all about Santeria, see it as a religion about sacrificing animals and dealing with black magic and nothing else. The deeper layers of belief, again the little bits of things — I have a mind built for the collection of odd facts and information — intrigue me. I like to discover the why behind the what.
Researching meant reading lots and lots and lots of books on Santeria. I did not get a chance to go to any ceremonies but I did talk with practitioners and visited local botanicas.
Your stories are always complex and you never follow the old formulas which is why your fans love you. Which fan letter moved you the most?
All fan letters move me. I especially like the ones that point out how something touched or resonated with the reader, like Jeff Weaver’s house in Inland Empire. I had a fan write to tell me how that was like the houses she grew up in and it made the story that much more real to her. Another reader told me how she cried at the end of My Brother, Coyote. That little connection is what is so nice.
One of your books that I really loved was Hard Fall because it didn’t have traditional protagonists (none of your books do, but this one had a Mormon cop and an ex con as the main characters). Have you ever thought of revisiting these characters? I’m thinking a sequel rather than a series.
Yeah, like I’ve said, I’ve got a good chunk of Requiem in Leather written and the other book (I’m going to have to come up with a name soon). Of all my characters, I could see them holding out the longest…series wise. Joe is far more set up to be the protagonist of a traditional detective novel, which leaves me a lot more room to play with plots. Now, obviously, I’m going to have to make the same call I’m debating with Nicky & Brandon…when is enough enough? But there’s at least two more books there.
What’s next for James Buchanan since you seem to have achieved just about everything you want?
Well, I hate heights so I don’t think I’m signing up for the commercial flights into low orbit anytime soon. I enjoy presenting on panels so maybe teaching some writing courses? I might try branching out into more mainstream mysteries. I don’t know right now. But, I do know that there is always something next…sometimes you don’t realize it’s what’s next until you’re right up on the opportunity.
JAMES BUCHANAN UNPLUGGED
James, as you may know, occasionally I let my associates in the hot tub interview selected authors and I thought you would be an excellent candidate. They are not known for being politically correct so I hope you’re not easily offended.
Me? Shit, I used to do collections – chasing people for credit card debt and unpaid student loans. There isn’t anything I haven’t seen, heard or been called.
Billy, one of the guys, wants to know why you’re still wearing your boxer briefs in the tub? Are you trying to hide the “junk in the trunk?”
My ass ain’t that big, sheesh. As for the front, cyberskin and latex don’t fare so well in chlorinated hot water so packing isn’t going to happen. I’m willing to ditch the briefs for the hot tub if you’re all game.
Some of the guys want to know if Kabe would allow Deputy Joe to come out and play with them. (I wouldn’t recommend it because they have been known to be ‘inappropriate’ in the hot tub).
Well, and I know about five other guys that would be fighting them down for that as well. He seems to be the character that struck the biggest “chord” with guys. Something about his personality, that laconic view of the world and no-nonsense personality really gets guys revving.
Another couple of guys want to have a foursome with Brandon and Nick of the Taking the Odds series because they think both of the guys are pretty hot. Is this an ‘open’ relationship? Do you think the guys are up for a wrestling session in the tub and maybe a bit of the old in and out? 🙂
I don’t see why not. Their dynamic seems to be love is love and sex is sex and a hand job in the back of the bar doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’ve always seen that aspect to their relationship. Brandon’s more of the jealous type — a lot of that goes along with the closet case he’s been for so long. He’s got something damn good and doesn’t want to let it go. But, if he didn’t feel emotionally threatened, the sex would be a non-issue. So yeah, I’d say they’d be up for it.
Billy who I wouldn’t trust, wants to know how you would feel about joining him in the tub for a massage. He’s practicing to be a ‘massage therapist’ in one of those seedy massage parlors and I think he‘s just looking to cop a feel.
Tub is fine. A little groping is fine…but I’ll probably pass on the massage. I had a friend in college who was a massage therapist. She told me I was the only person she knew who came off her table more tense than most people went on it. I get easily overwhelmed by touch.
Johnny, another of the freaky guys in the tub, wants to know how you feel about BCS (Big Cock Syndrome)? He says that all the M/M romances that he’s been reading lately have guys with length and girth that would choke a horse. He would like you to give your next hero something he could grab a hold of which would spill over his hands (and he has pretty big hands) LOL
Snort. I tend to write my guys a little more realistically. Even Nicky, who Brandon drools over his “porn star dick”… well, I have a free read on my site called Measure Up where they play with rulers. You’ll just have to read it to find out what the result was.
On that note I think it’s time to end the interview. 🙂
Thank you James
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