Saturday, 3 October 2015

Author Interview: Alexa Milne

Today folks I have another wonderful Author Interview, and this time it is with the very talented writer and lovely lady that is Alexa Milne.

Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview Alexa, I am so excited to have you on my blog.

So tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you write?

First of all Dan, thanks for having me on your blog again. Well, my name is Alexa Milne and I’m an author of m/m romance. I’m in my mid-fifties, and retired from teaching after thirty years due to bloody awful arthritis two years ago. I’m from South Wales, but have lived up North, in Lancashire, since I started teaching. I love reading, watching far too many TV shows, rugby and football, supporting not playing, doing family history research – my own and others, and cats.

You're writing is what you consider erotica, what made you want to explore this genre of writing.

Sorry, but the idea of me writing erotica makes me laugh. I’d say I write romance with erotic elements to the stories. I suppose I started writing fanfiction and, as my main character was Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood, I was always going to have to include sex in my stories. I like to leave the door open, although I’d say I find the mechanics of sex hard to write. I have been known to work out whether the things I write are possible!

I would love to hear about how you got into writing M/M fiction.

I read my first m/m novel over thirty years ago, but I think my fascination began in my teens watching such programmes as the Naked Civil Servant. I read Gay Mens’ Press novels and books by Armistead Maupin and Chris Rule in the 1980s.
I started writing fanfiction in the Torchwood fandom after the death of Ianto Jones. When I decided to try my hand at writing original fiction I found it more comfortable to write about men than traditional m/f romance.

As an aspiring MM writer, I sometimes get nervous about writing a sexy scene. How long did it take you to get comfortable with writing something so sexually explicit?

I have to admit I find writing sex scenes difficult. I wouldn’t say I’m always comfortable now. I love exploring emotions, and I’m a fan of angst and humour. For me, to make it easier, I read a lot of stories by writers who have great scenes which, shall we say, appealed to me. I make notes on how they construct a scene, the emotional language used, as well as the practical descriptions. I’ve also had a lot of help from my editor Faith Bicknell-Brown, who gave me great advice about ‘sexing up’ a scene. In my story, Stay, I even ended up being asked to write sex at a funeral. It had to be light enough not to be tasteless. I hope it worked.

What advice can you offer to aspiring MM writers?

My only advice is to keep trying. I was extremely lucky that Totally Bound Publishers took a chance on a new novelist. You also need to read as much as you can in all genres. I’d also say learn how to punctuate and the rules of grammar. I didn’t think I was bad, but now I’m so much better. Lastly, read out loud what you write. I find it helps me get the words right,

What kind of genres to love to write, and where do you get your inspiration from?

Currently, I write m/m romance, but I’ve dabbled in science fiction in my fanfiction. My next story will be out for general release on 15th December. It’s called Not Every Time and although it is a m/m romance Christmas story, there is a new element in it for me. I’ve written a sequel as well if Pride Publishing decide to go with it.
As for inspiration, that comes from all over the place. Sporting Chance came from my love of rugby and Gareth Thomas coming out. I wanted to write a story about a gay rugby player trying to find love. Rainbow Connection’s inspiration came from a story in the news and seeing the man delivering vending machine supplies to my school. Stay, came from the idea of a random act of kindness and a real life occasion when I gave an old lady an orange many years ago. Not Every Time comes from a film – I’m not giving too much away. Other ideas come from photographs, family history research, snippet overheard in places, newspaper stories – so many places.

So what is a typical writing day like for you?

I’m fortunate not to have to write for a living, so I write when I want. I’m not a morning person, but I usually get up between eight and nine. I spend too much time on social media – about an hour – then I write. Usually I write between 1000-2000 words, but it can be more if I’m on a roll. I aim to write around 5000 words a week. In the afternoon, I’ll do my own edits and/or watch which ever box set I have on the go. At the moment I’m watching Orange is the New Black. Sometimes I’ll write in the evening but not usually. I have notebooks in my bedroom, bathroom and on my coffee table just in case I get an idea. I’ve learned to write things down immediately or I forget.

I would love to hear about your writing career so far and your journey to publication.

I started writing Sporting Chance about three years before I submitted it. The first publisher turned it down so I tried again with no expectation of it being accepted. In March last year, I got an e-mail to say Totally Bound wanted to publish and I screamed and cried. Rainbow Connection was also rejected to begin with. After advice from MLR Press, I rewrote sections and sent it back but didn’t hear anything. Then, out of the blue, that story was accepted as well. But getting a contract is just the beginning. The editing process was a huge learning curve for me on both books, for different reasons, and I owe an immense amount to my editors. I sometimes have to pinch myself knowing I have five contracts signed.

You’re are currently published with Totally Bound / Pride Publishing, what are they like as a publisher and what are the team like to work with?

Totally Bound/Pride Publishing have been great. My editor, Faith, has taught me so much – her book is also really helpful. Emmy Ellis has made me some wonderful covers, and I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does with Not Every Time and Comfort Zone. I love chatting with other TB/PP authors on Facebook as well. And, as you know, PP also organise blog tours to get their authors names and stories out there. I’m still rather shy about doing that myself.

What do your family and loved ones think of your success?

My family are very supportive. My Mum wanted a signed copy of Sporting Chance and has even got me sales talking to other people about my work.

What do you tell people who ask what you write?

I tell them I write romance between men. My ex teaching colleagues have been a little surprised but intrigued.

Is Alexa Milne your real name or a pen name? Do you think it is important for an author to have a pen name and why?

Alexa Milne is a pen name. There are a few reasons why I chose to use a pen name. The first reason is my real name is used by another author who writes in a different genre. I have one of her books on my shelves. It was a joke to say I’d written a book, but now I have more than one. My other reason was to do with my work. Although I’d finished teaching when I was first published, I didn’t want ex-pupils to find out about my new career. Probably, in a few years, when they are all older, I won’t care about that either. I think each author has to choose for themselves whether they use a pen name.

What’s next for Alexa Milne?

I have a Christmas short story, Not Every Time coming out in December, and the follow up to Sporting Chance, a full length novel called Comfort Zone, is out on general release in February. This one has Aron’s story and whether he is prepared to step out of his comfort zone for love.
I’m currently writing the third (or maybe fourth) in a series set in Scotland which I’ve named the Home Series.

The fun stuff:
Who is you ultimate celebrity crush?

I’m going to have two. I love John Barrowman and Misha Collins. This picture may tell you why. One day I hope they will appear in the same programme. I admire the charity work both of them do as well as their performances on stage and screen.
If you could, what celebrities would you pair up in an MM scene?

It would have to be Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, but if John Barrowman turned up as well then the more the merrier! I have this hope that one day Baby, the Winchester brothers Impala, will one day be turned into a human in the form of John Barrowman.

What is your favourite part of a man?

His brain. I’m more interested in what people say than what they look like, although I love a man with a good pair of shoulders, in a suit and wearing glasses.

Who are the authors who you love to read?

There are a lot of authors I love to read. Among my automatic purchases are Kaje Harper, Sue Brown, Harper Fox, Riley Hart, Jay Northcote, Josephine Myles and Josh Lanyon. The list could go on forever. Over the years I’ve read a lot of fantasy and science fiction stories as well as crime stories and family sagas. JRR Tolkien will always be my favourite. I’ve read Lord of the Rings at least six times.

Thank you so much for answering my questions Alexa. You are a star.

Thanks for having me, Daniel.

About Alexa Milne

Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions. Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing. She is currently owned by a mad cat and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.