Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blog Tour: Tyler Knoll's Just For Fun, with AB Gayle

Today I'd like to welcome to the blog, as part of Tyler Knoll's Just For Fun tour, Tyler's alter ego, the fantastic AB Gayle. I strapped AB into the hot seat, well, the comfy chair, and interrogated her mercilessly. Well, asked her some questions in a polite, calm manner. 

Check out the excerpt as well, and see below for how to win awesome prizes! 

AB: Hi Lisa, thanks for having me!

1. Tyler is not your usual hero. He’s full of snark, and not looking for love, and totally unapologetic about hooking up, which is very refreshing. Where did the inspiration for Tyler come from?

I adore lovable clueless narrators. One of the best examples is Marshall Thornton's "Perils of Praline." Often humor in stories revolves around the secondary characters --their idiosyncracies and weirdness-- while the narrator is often the "straight man." There are numerous examples of very successful books using this format, but sometimes this can border on the cruel. We laugh at them and from afar. I wanted my hero to be the source of amusement. But not intentionally. Just as Peter Palmetiere (Praline) is the good-hearted but much put-upon character in Marshall's book.

It's not easy writing someone like this. They have to be funny but not pathetic or cruel. A very fine line indeed.

2. Tyler Knoll has an interesting genesis story. Can you tell us anything more about it?

Back in early 2013, I was a member of a Goodreads group that had a thread entitled: "What I really hate in m/m romance stories." This was full of different pet peeves people have, such as: "I hate it when in the middle of sex they start to speak in staccato... Need. You....Want. Now"... and "winking holes."

Like all good threads in social media, the topic drifted on and on, going down various detours, but the list grew longer and longer. Some people wanted more of some things eg licking. Less of other things. Challenges were thrown around to write something incorporating all the pet hates and likes.

So I churned out a short story almost overnight. It was full of snark (some of which has been toned down for public consumption), cliches and general tongue in cheek references to both gay porn and the MM romance genre.

This was pure seat of the pants writing. No brain involved. Foreign territory for me as I'm usually a plotter. But the words just flowed out.

It possibly helped that I'd recently been reading a lot of gay porn. There was lots of shagging going on, gagging for it, ten inch dicks and (unfortunately) a few homophones eg feinting for fainting and dyslexic typos eg bugle for bulge. These books represent the opposite end of the spectrum from what is popular in the MMromance world. But I re-read them now and again as an antidote, purely because they are so raw, brutal and basic.

Also around that time, I was deep into the editing and upcoming release of "Leather+Lace", so editing and the whole writing process mashed together with this MMromance vs gay porn debate gicing birth to Tyler Knoll. Even the name is a joke that came to me one day - a certain character in "Slashed " who shall remain nameless "gets it."

I sent the first episode off to one of my betas who laughed, said go for it, so I published a very raw version on Smashwords for free under Tyler's name.

The reaction was varied. But the responses kicked off what was to become a very reader reactive process. For example, after it was published, one reviewer made the comment: "There's meta and there's META.... And this is just too much meta for me."

I had never come across the term before, so I looked it up, fell over laughing and decided I had to continue the story with the VR from TURD. And for those who fear I've strayed into crappy territory, the initials stand for the Virtual Representative of The Universal Reading Department. Meta personified!

Once this character arrived on the scene, the story spun off into an entirely new direction. While "Snared" had been inspired by porn, a lot of slave fiction and BDSM books were being released (including mine). I also wanted to poke fun at the Big Misunderstanding. (Not only the one Tyler had with Word) but between him and Gareth Evans (an inside joke for us Aussies).

Like the rest of the stories, a "What If..." sprung into mind. What if Tyler thought he was in for a big BDSM scene, but the truth was quite different.

"Shredded" was fun to write. But again not easy. I knew what was going on, but it had to be plausible enough for the reader. The result had readers scratching their heads even more. Very few stuck with the series long enough to discover what Gareth Evans wanted Tyler for, but by then I didn't care. I was off playing in paranormal land, or at least Tyler thinks he's drifted into shifter, sucker and shredded territory, but he's at death's door so who can tell?

Once I finished "Slashed", I was in a quandary. Could I publish it and charge money? Would I be sued? I'd definitely drifted into some weird shit, and there might be consequences. As it turned out, most of the people who betaed the final product hadn't read the series I was alluding to, so the jokes fell flat. Still, they are there for the fans. I like to think of them as Easter Eggs. The series is riddled with them. Some are homages, some are digs, some are just nods of recognition. So, if you read them and wonder "Is this referring to such and such." The answer is probably, "Yes."

As for "Screwed," I felt the series had to come full circle. While some may see the stories as poking fun at the MMgenre, I see them as having a dig at different aspects, but that doesn't mean I disrepect or dislike the genre. Love, romance and monogamy and dreams of a happy ever after are very real. What bugs me is the narrow parameters writers in the genre are sometimes expected to follow. A couple of beta readers expressed disappointment that there aren't as many jokes in this final instalment. There aren't meant to be. In fact, I took a few out. And in the Epilogue, I added a serious statement that sums up, for me, the whole concept of what is needed for a true HEA. It's not the GRPFATAAHDSS (aka gold rings, picket fences and two and a half dogs statistically speaking) as Tyler says to the VR from TURD when he brings up monogamy: "it’s more important to want whatever is best for the other person. To listen to them. Respect them. And to do that, we need to know what makes each other happy and what makes us sad.” So "Screwed" was all about communication.

3. When I write a story, I always end up with a favourite character. Sometimes it not the MC. Who is your favourite character in Just For Fun?

Without a doubt, Tyler. Once I found the model whose photos we use on the cover and in the brilliant video/trailer that Lily Velden of Wayard Ink Publishing made, no one else would do. In those photos he has that same lovable goofiness that encapsulates all that Tyler is. I do think covers are important. One of my betas found it very dificult to read the raw text as there was no blurb, no cover to go by. In fact that's the typical response I get. Readers complain that by the time they work out the character's "voice" the story has come to an end. But, hey I used that as a plot point in the second book.

4. What do we have to look forward to from Tyler in the future?

Unfortunately nothing. Mind you, ever since I finished, I thought of so many other avenues that could have been explored eg Tyler bemoaning the fact he doesn't need a Street Team to get his book seen, he needs a Highway Army!

Since then I've thought of a few more popular aspects that could have been addressed. Cock blocking and knotting for starters! Though I'm not sure whether those two terms could or should ever be used in the same paragraph! And mpreg! That didn't get a mention. Mermen! Tentacles!

If I'm really desperate, I could always do a spin off. I mentioned to hubbie that the stories covered just about every part of the genre except for the ever popular zombies and detectives. He suggested combining the two. So I checked on Goodreads, saw there was a dearth of those hence "Hardacre and Hindsmith" came into being -- the fictional series that made Tyler Knoll into a mega star. I figured a zombie PI and his lover, the mortician, would provide plenty of opportunity for jokes.

Thanks so much for joining us today. AB. And if you ever write that zombie PI with his mortician lover, I'd be all over it in a flash! And now, for your added enjoyment, AB interviews the star himself - Tyler Knoll!

Tyler:Hi, my name is Tyler Knoll, and I hope you read my latest release, "Just for Fun."
A.B.: Is that it? This nice blogger invited you along to help publicize your book, and all you've got is one sentence?
Tyler: ***Grumbles*** I hate having to do all this marketing, promotion shit. I've written the story, can't people just pick it up and read it?
A.B.: That's not how it works, honey. Nobody has ever heard of you before, why should they pick up your book when there are so many others out there to read?
Tyler: I don't know. Maybe because it's different? Isn't that what the marketers are always saying? They want something fresh and innovative?
AB: Well, sure, but I think some people might find your book a little too different. What did that first publishing company say in their rejection letter?
Tyler: Please don't remind me! "I didn't like it and I don't think it will sell."
AB: No, that was the beta reader, and they're not always right. I meant the other one.
Tyler: Oh you mean, "what you’re doing is clever and quirky, but I think it’s a little too left of centre for us...."
AB: That's the one. I know you were super disappointed at the time, but it's kind of a compliment. Remember, you were dead set about not writing a traditional MM romance.
Tyler: Yeah. I suppose so. Probably just as well they did reject it otherwise Wayward Ink Publishing would never have taken it on board, and they have been super supportive. They don't mind that it's a bit whacky.
AB: Way out.
Tyler: Weird you mean!
AB: ***Chuckles*** I must admit readers are never going to think about shredders again without giggling.
Tyler: Or call their kid Gareth.
AB: Speaking of Gareth, do you realize that even though you didn't mean to write an MMromance, that in the end you sort of have?
Tyler: Are you saying I sold out?
AB: Never! But you have to admit it's kind of ironic. But that's life isn't it? You find love when and where you least expect it.
Tyler: I certainly didn't plan to end up with the GRPFATAAHDSS. It just happened.
AB: That's the story of your life, though, isn't it? Stumbling into chaos. From one disaster to another.
Tyler: But at least I survived.
AB: You didn't just survive. You went forth and prospered!
Tyler: Hey! I suppose I did. Who woulda thunk? And none of my adventures would have happened if it hadn't been for that first Funtastic Friday. But if I say any more, I'll give away too much and spoil the fun. Maybe people should just read my story for themselves.
AB: See! That wasn't too hard.
Tyler: I suppose not. What do I do now?
AB: You thank the blogger for having you and offer to answer any questions that readers may have.
Tyler: What? Will someone actually read this? Wow!
AB: That's the general idea.
Tyler: Then I need to thank the blog host and the readers! You guys rock.

And here's an excerpt: 

At least he wasn’t mad at me. He kept giggling and shaking his head, muttering, “Tyler, Tyler, Tyler. What am I going to do?”
His broken glasses and the lens were sitting on the desk behind him. I picked them up. “Don’t worry. It’s easy. My screw fits into this little hole perfectly.”
He burst out laughing again.
I handed him his glasses and Dilbert put them back on. I heaved a sigh of relief. Now he wasn’t the sexy stranger who I knew would feature in my dreams for the next few evenings.
“Thanks,” he muttered. His hand shook slightly as he dragged a pack of Marlboro’s out of his pocket.
Dilbert had only recently started to smoke. Or maybe he’d been doing it forever, but I only just noticed. Since the introduction of the compulsory no smoking policy, employees had been bitching about having to stand on the footpath. Dilbert’s suggestion to management that an unused loading dock could be converted to a secluded landscaped area was surprisingly successful. They must look after their smokers back in Oz.
Personally, I didn’t care either way because I didn’t smoke, but Dilbert took advantage of the maximum permitted breaks and joined me in the courtyard about five times a day. Seeing I had to maintain the garden anyway, he suggested I do those chores while he lit up a fag. His use of the word had offended me at first, but he assured me that’s what they were called back home. Anyway, I noticed he never used the term again in my presence. I’d wondered if I should also persuade him to stop smoking, but then he wouldn’t have an excuse to visit me so often.
I enjoyed those short breaks. For some weird reason, we were never disturbed, although I heard later that there must be some problem with the door into the basement as someone had complained that they couldn’t get it open. It seemed fine when Dilbert and I checked, so they mustn’t have been pushing hard enough.
Dilbert’s hand was still shaking when he tried to flick the lighter. “Fuck!” he said.
“Erm….” Should I remind him that we were still inside? Technically, he was in a superior position in the company, but Mrs. Stringer had reassured me that while I was down here, I was in control. Or in charge. I wasn’t sure which word she used. Both gave me an unusual sensation of security. A space where I belonged. “Shouldn’t we?” I gestured toward the door leading from the underground car park to the outdoor smoking area.

Dilbert chuckled. “Sorry. Force of habit. I always light up after a screw.” 
To win awesome prizes, check this out: 
Prize: $20 WIP Gift Card and 1 ebook copy of Tyler Knoll’s Just for Fun

Here is the blurb and the buy links: 

Tyler Knoll was born one wild, stormy night in April 2013.
Of course, Tyler might tell you he was born twenty years earlier, but should we believe anything he says? That’s for you to decide.
In Tyler’s first adventure—like many a gay man before him—he was SNARED by gay porn, wallowing in tales of bigger, stronger, harder….
Then his fickle mind was seduced and SHREDDED by the prospect of BDSM and slavery.
When a Big Misunderstanding SLASHED at Tyler’s sanity, almost costing him his life, he turned to another genre for his salvation. But even this encounter proved potentially hazardous—not from freezing temperatures, but at the hands of irate fans.
Finally, tired and SCREWED by his all his trials and tribulations, he discovers—like many storybook heroes before him—that sometimes Mr. Right is closer than we think.

Everyone who bought SNARED gets a 20% discount at buying the Just for Fun composite from the WIP website! Check the website for details.

About the author
Unlike many authors, A.B. Gayle hasn’t been writing stories all her life. Instead she’s been living life.
Her travels have taken her from the fjords of Norway to the southern tip of New Zealand. In between, she’s worked in so many different towns she’s lost count. A.B. has shoveled shit in cow yards, mustered sheep, been polite to customers, traded insults with politicians. Sometimes she needs to be forgiven as she get confused as to who needs what where. 
Now living in Sydney, Australia, A.B. finally has time to allow her real life experiences to morph with her fertile imagination in order to create fiction that she hopes her readers will enjoy. 
A.B. values feedback on her writing, both negative and positive.

A.B. Gayle can be found at:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Will I see you in Munich?

Not long now until Euro Pride Con, which is in Munich on July 11 and 12. If you're going, I can't wait to meet you there. And if you're not, I'll bet you're jealous! 

It looks like a fun event, and I get to be on TWO panels. I'm on Other Worlds, which is all about world building, and also Teamwork, which is all about co-writing. JA Rock will be on that one with me, as well as Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt. I'm sure JA and I won't be intimidated at all. At all. 

I'm also looking forward the fingerling over a bunch of writers I haven't met yet, and of course checking out Munich! 

The thing I love most about conventions is the chance to hang out with like-minded people, whether they're writers or readers. For me, writing can very much be a solitary affair. I live in a regional city where the chance to discuss m/m romance doesn't exactly come along every day. Bless the internet, amiright? But even the internet can't match the feeling of getting into a room and finding it full of awesome people talking about the things I love to talk about too! The m/m community might only be a small one, but it's a great one, and I love it when I get to meet its other members face to face. 

I'm so excited!