Last year, I went to the Gay Rom Lit conference in Atlanta. I wasn't there as an author, because I didn't register in time. But I had an airplane ticket I had to use, and one of my publishers, MLR Press, needed some help with a big event they were sponsoring.
So I flew up to Atlanta for a couple of days. I hung out with fans and talked about books, I went to the parties at night and had fun, and I wrote.
The first night, I was standing in the buffet line behind this great-looking older guy who just oozed sexuality. I was stunned into near-silence, which is pretty unusual for me, and we talked for just a moment or two about the crowd.
Later I realized that he was an actual porn star who was there to promote a line of books he was editing. I admit, I got a little obsessed with him, and he started my imagination going.
There was a Starbucks about a ten-minute walk from the hotel, and the next morning I trekked over there with my trusty netbook. I opened a new document and started to write.
Usually the most I can get out of a writing session is about two hours, before my inspiration starts to flag and I begin to remember all the things I have to accomplish that day. But that morning in Atlanta, I had to reason to hurry back to the hotel, and I kept writing and writing.
I felt almost like Jack Kerouac with his endless roll of paper, typing away at On the Road. That’s what obsession feels like, when the words just pour out through your fingertips, with no idea where the story is going. It was a very different experience for me; while I often start hearing a character’s voice in my head, I also begin with an idea of what kind of book I’m writing, and where it’s going.
Will it be a romance? A mystery? A piece of erotica, or a non-fiction article?
With Freddie Venus and Newt Camilleri, I was just eavesdropping on their situation. But once they got together I had no idea what they were going to do or what kind of story they were in.
Between that day and the next, I ended up with about fifty pages. I had no idea where it was going, but it started with a retired porn star living in isolation in southern France, and the overweight, middle-aged fan-boy/writer who gets obsessed with him.
When I got home, I had to go back to manuscripts that had deadlines attached to them, and besides, I had no idea what to do with Freddie and Newt. It was only over the next few months that I realized I’d set these guys up in the territory where my bodyguard heroes, Aidan and Liam, live. So their story, which begins as a romance, was going to have to turn into a case for the Have Body, Will Guard team.