Interview: MJ Williamz + Renee Roman
January 31

Interview: MJ Williamz + Renee Roman

MJ Williamz interviews Renee Roman:

I just want to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed Epicurean Delights! Congrats on your debut novel. How does it feel to have one out now?

Surreal. There are times I still can’t believe I have a published novel.

You’ve worked hard and studied the craft a long time. What would you say is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

Never stop learning. I’ve taken every opportunity available to improve my craft and improve as an author. I’ve been coached by wonderful individuals along the way. I owe each one a heartfelt thank you.

Now that you have a book out, what was the best part about writing it? And the not-so-best? LOL

The best part is seeing that first sentence evolve into a novel. As a pantser, it’s a surprise when I see how much (or how little) I’ve fleshed out in a writing session. The not-so-good, I never thought it was finished. Every time I read the manuscript, I found things I could fix, or change, or make better. At some point, you just have to let it go and trust it is good enough. My editor will help me put the final polish on it.

So, a catering business. Why did you choose that topic?

Writing is my #1 passion, but cooking is definitely #2. I love entertaining and cooking for friends and family. It made perfect sense to put it in a story.

You’re a newbie. I get that. But you wrote some killer sexual tension. How did you manage to keep the tension between Ari and Hudson through the whole book? What’s your secret?

Wow. I’m honored. I think it’s important to understand the chemistry of the characters in a sex scene. Ari and Hudson’s attraction was palpable for me. I could feel the tension between them, and I found myself constantly thinking, if I were Ari (or Hudson), how would I react? What would I be feeling/thinking. What would turn me on?

Let’s talk about sex. Because that’s what I write and love to talk about. Your sex scenes were amazing. Filled with emotion as well as physical stimulation. How do you feel about writing sex scenes? Are they easy? Challenging? Talk to me.

I enjoy writing sex scenes. A lot. While I’m no expert, I know what turns me on, and I relate that to my characters. What does she crave? Or not. The challenge? Sex isn’t an instant replay. As in real life, sex is varied. It depends on mood, state of mind, worries, etc. Characters shouldn’t already know what’s going to happen next, and neither should the reader. But the anticipation of what might happen should be physically and emotionally exciting.

Epicurean Delights was a romance, pure and simple. And that’s great. Is romance your thing? Or do you think you’d like to branch out into other genres? If so, what?

There are authors who write romances their entire career and are extremely successful. I’m not sure that’s who I am. I tend to try my hand at a variety of things. I’m sure there will be more romances in my future, but there will also be other genres as well, including erotica.

I loved when Ari and Hudson went to Provincetown. What a special place. I know you go there every year. How long have you been going and what’s your favorite thing about Ptown?

I went to Ptown a couple of times in the 80s and 90s. Then we started going fairly regularly around 2001, and every year since 2008. What’s my favorite? I love the sense of belonging and community. It’s quaint. It’s home. I can always be me.

Happily ever after. What a great ending. I’m so glad Ari and Hudson finally declared their love for each other. Now, I know you’ve been in a committed relationship yourself for some time. How long have you and the Mrs. been together? How did you meet? And how supportive is she of your writing?

Sue and I have been together twenty-eight years. We were married in 2011 in Ptown. We met in my hometown at a local lesbian bar when I was out celebrating my birthday. It was a night that changed my life. As for my writing, LOL…I’m not sure Sue understands how the mind of this writer works, but she’s always been supportive. She knows I have to write and that’s a good thing! 

Ari and Hudson were from completely different childhoods. When did you come out and how was your reception?

I realized my attraction to women in 1979 and told my parents shortly after. It was difficult. My dad didn’t understand and thought he’d done something wrong. He’d always been my hero. He still is, and I told him so. Mom was more receptive, even though she might not have understood. In the end, they just wanted me to be happy.

Who are some of the lesfic authors who inspire you?

The first lesfic book I read was Radclyffe’s Safe Harbor. It started my obsession. From there I went on to find Kim Baldwin, Gerri Hill, Katherine V. Forrest. I could go on and on. Each one inspired me in one way or another.

Do you read non-lesfic books? If so, who’s your favorite author?

I grew up on Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout. My mom was a phenomenal reader. She could read a book in a single day. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve read thousands of books. It’s a great way to relax.

Do you read books about writing? If so, which do you recommend?

I don’t actually read about writing, but I do have a number of writing books that I use for reference. My favorites are: Heroes and Heroines, Stephen King’s On Writing, and The Hero Has a Thousand Faces. Mostly, I just want to write.

What’s your go-to genre to read? Is it romance?

It really depends on my mood. By sheer numbers, romance is the majority. I read three to five books at the same time, and they can be of varying genres. I have a book at work, one next to my bed, one in my backpack, and one in the kitchen.

If you could have lived during any period in history, when would it have been and why?

The Wild West. I grew up on Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns. That time period has always fascinated me. How people survived. Traveling by horse or wagon. There’s a romantic quality to it. You might even see it in a future novel.

Is Renee Roman a pen name? If so, why? And where did it come from?

I get asked this a lot. It is a pen name. My legal name isn’t very easy and this had a nice ring to it. Also, when I was young, I kept telling my mom I was going to change my name to Renee. This was the perfect opportunity.

When you’re writing, do you need complete silence? Music? Something else?

I was just talking with another author about this. I can’t write if there isn’t a lot going on. I usually have music playing, and a second laptop running for research, etc. If I get stuck, I go on Facebook, play a game, chat…whatever gets me back on track. The only time there’s complete silence is when I’m doing first round edits from my editor. I study the comments as I go.

Take us into your office. Is it neat and tidy? Kinda messy? Covered with sticky notes?

I don’t have a desk. I have a couple of long, narrow tables in an L-shape. One holds my laptops and printer. The other has all of my working materials. Notes and references, my novel notebook (I keep one for each), editor info I need to refer to, the BSB Guidelines. Anything and everything I might need. I also have a corkboard covered with critiques and 3x5 reference cards.

We’re still in your office now and you’re writing. Is there a glass of wine nearby? A cocktail? A glass of tea?

Again, it depends on my mood. A lot of times it’s coffee because I do a lot of my writing on the weekend or right after work. Sometimes it’s flavored seltzer. I tend to stay away from alcohol, especially when I’m editing.

Children and/or fur babies. Do you have either? Tell us about them.

No children but we do have two cats, Sassy and Gizmo. Sassy is Ms. Personality Plus. You can see from her strut what she’s thinking, and she’s definitely Sue’s. Gizmo is a tuxedo and definitely mine. She’s pretty sedate, except when she’s hungry, which is all the time. Both were pet adoptions.

What’s next for Renee Roman?

I’m working on #2 for BSB titled Stroke of Fate. It’s a romantic intrigue and I’m having a great time with it. The sex is edgy and hot. The intrigue is, well…intriguing. I’ve also submitted a proposal for #3, which, if accepted, will be a romance. I also have five other ideas swirling around in my head, so stay tuned.

Are there any events coming up this year where readers can go and see you? Maybe hear you read something?

That’s my goal. New to the scene, I didn’t realize how fast things were going to happen, so I’m in the midst of contacting local book stores to arrange for readings/signing in the near future. I’m also hoping to have an event at my local Pride Center. I’ll be attending the UK book festival in Nottingham in May, the GCLS in Las Vegas in July, and of course, P-town in October.

Thank you so much for the interview, MJ. These were great questions. You really made me think!