Interview with JOSH LANYON
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon has been writing gay mystery, adventure, and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed ADRIEN ENGLISH series, including THE HELL YOU SAY, winner of the 2006 USA Book News award for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.
What are you reading right now?
I'm just about to start work on a short story set in the 1940s, so I'm reading crime fiction from the 40s to make sure I've got the tone and the feel right. I'm reading Howard Browne, Raoul Whitfield, Frederick Nebel, etc.
What first sparked your interest in writing?
Oh! That's going back a ways. I don't know. I was one of those kids who was always telling stories to the other kids. From the time I was very small my teachers were telling me I was going to be a writer, so I guess I went with it.
What do you love the most about writing? The least?
I love that almost magical (call it a waking dream state) that takes over when the work is going well. When you really are lost in the story, completely immersed in the world you've created and the lives of your characters.
I hate deadlines, but I would get nothing done without them. And I dread the first draft. My first drafts are sheer torture. They are hell to write, I have to drag the words out, my endings are never more than a rough sketch. I write horrible first drafts.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
I don't know if it's anything as organized as a "process." Basically I get an idea and let it stew for a while. Then I start by jotting down a lot of notes as I do my research, working out some of the general details, and then I start writing my really ugly first draft. I try to write about two thousand words a day. I write most every day. Then I hand it off to my editor and ideally they hang onto it for a week or so, long enough that I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I enjoy the rewrite stage a lot. That's where the magic happens.
What are your passions?
This week? This week my passion is for Wallace Nutting's tinted photographs, the Lindbergh kidnapping, and Italian cooking.
What inspires you?
Music in particular. In fact, I usually can't listen to anything with lyrics until the first draft is done. I have different Pandora channels set up for my writing moods. First drafts require something called "Meditation by the Sea."
Well, I'm mostly interested in character. All my stories are character driven. And mystery is all about motive and motive is essentially what drives people to do the things they do. The stakes are always high in mysteries, even if the crime isn't murder (though it usually is) and so the things that drive people to crime or to conceal crime are usually - at least in fiction - fascinating.
How was “Green Glass Beads” born?
The poem "Green Glass Beads" is one I remember from my childhood. I always loved it, loved wondering about the mysterious backstory of the nymph and the goblin, wondered about those green glass beads. And I knew I wanted - needed - to come up with some different angle for the anthology, so I thought what if my story was told from the perspective of someone on the other side of the law. Somehow those two ideas meshed.
What was it like writing a story for a shared world anthology?
Tricky! I'm not used to having to consider the creative ramifications of any of my storytelling choices. That's where having an editor like Nicole is invaluable. She kept us all on track and focused.
Of all your published books (and you have a lot!), do you have a personal favorite?
I like different titles for different reasons. Some, like OUT OF THE BLUE or SNOWBALL IN HELL, I'm especially proud of because of the research or the challenge of writing something I really had to stretch for. Some, like the ADRIEN ENGLISH series, I love because of my connection to the characters.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don't be satisfied with "good enough." Every single thing you write should be the very best effort you have in you at that time. It won't save you from looking back at earlier work and wincing, but you can reassure yourself that you did the best work you were capable of. That means a lot.