Series Spotlight Interview & Giveaway (US/Int): Meet L.A. Witt and Marie Sexton, the masterminds behind the addicting LGBT Tucker Springs story universe
DaVinciKittie (DVK): Please help us welcome L.A. Witt and Marie Sexton, two of Riptide Publishing’s authors in the Tucker Springs universe, a contemporary series of LGBT romance stories set in Tucker Springs. Thanks so much for joining us today, ladies!
L.A. Witt (LW): Thanks for having us!
Marie Sexton (MS): Happy to be here!
DVK: Many of the Tucker Springs stories take on heavy subjects like AIDS, imperfect bodies, and extreme religious conflicts. What inspired you to tackle these subjects and what were your biggest writing challenges?
LW: I like tackling the tougher subjects because it means really putting the characters through the wringer. Which is fun. Of course. But the stories tend to just…happen. I put two characters together, and the issues (i.e., religious differences) make themselves known.
MS: Right. My answer is much the same as Lori’s. I don’t know that I ever made a decision to tackle tough issues. I simply went where the story led. The one exception was Owen and his congenital amputation. I have a good friend whose youngest daughter was born with the same amputation, and I’d been toying with the idea of writing about it for several years. The hardest part, in that particular case, was not having Owen’s missing hand suddenly pop into existence. Especially during sex scenes. 😉
DVK: LGBT fiction has become more popular, and seemingly more accepted, over the past few years. As an author, what draws you to it? Do you bring any personal factors or experiences into your writing?
LW: I write every gender and orientation. I just like writing about people, and some of those people happen to be gay, some happen to be straight, etc.
MS: Before I was ever writing at all, I was an avid fantasy reader, and I found myself gravitating to stories featuring GLBT characters. When I finally started writing, back in 2009, the story was about two men who fell in love. I didn’t bother questioning it.
DVK: As women writing male/male romance, what kind of research do you have to do? Do you ever have those moments of “uh, is that really possible?” or “does it ACTUALLY work/feel like that?”
LW: If I don’t know something, I’ll ask someone who does. This goes for anything from subject matter outside my areas of expertise (police details, for example) to anatomical differences.
MS: Yep. What Lori said. Honestly, it doesn’t come up as often as you might think and when it does, I ask the gay men in my life. They’re usually quite willing to share their experience.
DVK: Tell us a little about your muses. For some of your stories that feature characters with special circumstances or disabilities, how do you get into their headspaces? Do you ever base them on real people you know or come across?
LW: I’m forever writing about people with different circumstances, and it’s easier than you might think to slip into their headspace. By the time I’m writing the story, I know the character pretty well, and when they encounter an issue, I just ask myself how that person would react to that situation. In some cases, I can relate. Jason’s shoulder injury and acupuncture treatment were based on my own, so I know how they feel and how frustrating it is to deal with a chronic injury. I’ve been a Christian and am now an atheist, so I can easily see the spiritual world through Darren’s eyes or Seth’s.
MS: Well, once again, I’m just going to parrot Lori. (Maybe I should make her answer after me from now on! LOL.) Once you open yourself up to a character, it’s pretty easy to let them inhabit your headspace and to fall into their world view. Owen is probably the only character I have who was inspired by a real person. But even then, it’s a very loose similarity. (He was inspired by an 8-year old girl. That same little girl also served as the inspiration for Nick’s sister, June.) But mostly, these people just appear in my head.
DVK: Riptide Publishing’s Tucker Springs story universe is authored by various writers. How exactly does that work? Did you request to be part of the lineup? How do you deal with writing in appearances for other people’s characters?
MS: For the record, Tucker Springs is not Riptide’s series. The series belongs to the authors. Lori and I came up with the idea one day while brainstorming. We pitched it to one of our publishers, and they accepted it. That publisher was Amber Allure. That’s why the first book in the series (Lori’s Where Nerves End) is published with Amber. But later, the decision was made to move the series to Riptide, and to bring in another author (Heidi Cullinan).
DVK: Gotcha! Thanks for clearing that up! You guys have a dynamite series here.
MS: To answer the second part of your question though, writing each other’s characters is honestly half the fun. While writing Never a Hero, I took Lori’s character of Nathan and ran rampant with him.
LW: She totally did. She kept showing me snippets, and I was like, “Wow, okay, I didn’t know that about Nathan, but it absolutely works. Awesome.” Then when I was writing After the Fall, which is Nathan’s story, I was struggling with a particular scene, and Marie said, “BTW, remember Nathan and Owen are friends now.” Which completely resolved the issue I was having.
MS: She pinged me and said, “What would Owen say if Nathan called him up and asked for a hand?” That’s one of Owen’s least favorite expressions, so we had a good time figuring out where that would take her scene.
LW: And as we’re coming up with additional stories, we’ll usually ask each other “would this character do X?” or “Can I borrow so-and-so for a scene?” Which is a lot of fun. Bringing the guys into later stories, or having them show up before they’ve had their own story, is part of the fun of writing a series like this. They do cameos, walk-ons, sometimes even have fairly significant roles. Nathan shows up in three (maybe four? I think three) books before he finally gets his own story in After the Fall, which also introduces Brad, who will be getting his story in It’s Complicated. Definitely keeps things interesting.
MS: And helps keep us (and our editor!) on our toes.
DVK: Tattoos. Ok, spill it! How many tattoos do you have and what/where are they?
LW: At the moment, I have seven. Japanese Kanji on each wrist, a horse on my right shoulder, a rose on my left shoulder, a Polynesian design on my right arm, a gryphon on my left leg, and a frog on my right. Currently designing a 30 Seconds to Mars-inspired tattoo for my left arm.
MS: I only have two. I have an elaborate swirly thing (technical term) around my belly button, and I have a tramp stamp. I like tattoos, but I’m very picky about where I put them.
DVK: Let’s talk about vices. Everybody has them and they can be oh so luscious. *grin* Tell us about some things you just CANNOT live without!
LW: As it happens, I am currently consuming what will be my last Dr Pepper. I just signed on with a personal trainer to finally lose this weight I’ve been meaning to lose, and part of the deal is no soda. So…that’s my big vice, and it’s going away. Today. Right now. Otherwise….I buy books. A lot of books. A ridiculous amount of books. I probably need an intervention.
MS: Mine is probably coffee. I’m supposed to be not drinking it at all, or only drinking it in moderation. But my idea of “moderation” keeps expanding to include ONE MORE CUP. And (again, like Lori), I buy lots and lots and lots of books.
DVK: *snicker* You’re in good company with this book-addict crowd! I’ll bet most of the GT readers probably need a book intervention of some kind, too! *starts re-arranging out-of-control Kindle library*
LW: You just need a bigger coffee cup. Then “one cup” will last longer. /enabler
DVK: Thanks again for joining us today and for being such great sports! You’ve been a ton of fun!! Do you have any last words of encouragement or advice for our readers?
LW: Stay in school and stay off drugs? Okay, just kidding (though you probably should stay off drugs, even if my characters are pot-smokers and drinkers).
MS: Fear not the unmarked path.
LW: See? Marie gives better advice than I do. Just listen to her. I write smut. I’m a bad influence.
MS: I’m quite sure the unmarked path is littered with bad influences. 🙂
LW: Fair enough. But it’s still better advice than I can come up with.
MS: Thanks again to GraveTells is it for having us! We’re so glad you’ve enjoyed visiting Tucker Springs.
LW: Yep, what she said! Thanks for having us. 🙂
DVK: I’m looking forward to my next TS visit!
About the authors
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along.
Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
L.A. Witt is an author of gay erotic romances, and has been recently exiled from Okinawa, Japan, to Omaha, Nebraska. She resides there with her husband, a telekinetic goldfish, and two incredibly spoiled cats. It’s unclear if the exile was the result of the mostly classified “Aquarium Incident,” or if she’s actually being hidden, for her protection, from the Polynesian Mafia and her arch nemesis, erotic romance author Lauren Gallagher.
Let’s give away some SWAG!! Ok and an ebook too, because I <3 the Tucker Springs story world and think you should all check it out too! *grin* To enter to win, leave a comment or question for Marie & L.A. (something fun, be creative and help keep up their awesome energy!) then fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. No shipping restrictions. Good luck!