Straight out of the Lone-Star State, Marcos London joins The AfterDark World for an interview, in continuation of “A Man’s World Interview Month”
1. Marcos, what a pleasure to have you on, and thank you for taking the time out, and please why don’t tell us a little bit about yourself?
2. How long have you been writing and when did you decide writing this genre was for you?
There’s always a temptation to play upon George Carlin’s answer to a similar question. When asked if he always wanted to be a comedian, he sometimes replied, “Well, not in the womb, but after that yes.” I’ve always loved storytelling and have always dug wordplay, so being a writer seemed to be a natural fit. As for how I decided to write in this genre, about a year ago I struck up a friendship with an erotic romance writer who encouraged me to try writing something in her genre. Suddenly I sold not only that one but another tale, and next thing I knew I was an erotic romance writer.
3. In an industry dominated by women, how you handle the pressure? On top, how do you explain to others about what you write?
Basically, as with any other industry, I just try to produce the best work possible. Having said that, when I wrote my first erotic romance I never really thought about the business side of it. I probably knew that women writers outnumber men twelve to one, but except for doing the math and actually having the sudden realization that I am a minority in this industry it’s never been an issue, so I pretty much handle the pressure as I always do: with a certain amount of irony and self-deprecating humor and more than a dollop of sarcasm. I’m a member on an online community of romance writers that is incredibly supportive, and I’m proud to call many of them friends. As for telling people what I write, well, I just tell them that at heart I write relationship stories. Depending on the venue and who asks I might add, “With explicit sex.”
4. How does you family and friends feel about your work?
Actually my wife and stepsons have been incredibly supportive. My wife had said for years that I ought to try writing some form of erotica or other, so when I told her I was trying to write in this genre her only real response is, “Well, finally.” My mother knows and has been incredibly supportive; my father, who has some real hangups about explicit sex, knows but doesn’t talk about it at all. A lot of my friends, again, have been incredibly supportive, even if they’ve been a bit snarky about it. I know a lot of science fiction writers in my area, and the members of my workshop have all expressed enormous support. Only a few have read it, however; not out of disdain for the material, but for the lack of time.
5. Is there a particular genre you haven’t touched, but would be interested in doing?
I’ve written in most genres before. I’ve written science fiction and fantasy, I’ve written horror, I’ve crime and suspense stories, I’ve written thrillers, love stories, and straight-up mainstream fiction, so I’ve pretty much covered most of the genre bases. I haven’t written a Western yet and would love to write one, though I imagine in doing so I’ll wind up adding either aliens or explicit sex. Just seems to be how my mind works.
6. Tell us about your current book, Academia Heat?
Academia Heat is about an English professor after her divorce who has a chance encounter with a younger man at a restaurant. Nicole Lansing has pretty much allowed her sex life to become dormant and finds it very suddenly reawakened after witnessing an incident at a friend’s party. In essence, it’s about rebirth and renewal.
7. What inspired you to write your book Academia Heat?
I’m a member of the longest-running science fiction and fantasy writing workshop in Central Texas, and at the beginning of March I had come away with positive criticism of my most recent story, with even one of my mentors saying, “Not bad, pretty good.” But instead of revising the story, I decided to write something entirely different. I tried a few different stories that weren’t quite ready to be written, and then, with the encouragement of an erotic romance writer with whom I had begun a friendship, decided to write one. I took an incident I witnessed at a restaurant—a young man asked out an older woman while she was paying her bill—and asked who these people might be, then began populating their location with additional characters. I was surprised at how naturally it all came.
8. Do you have any upcoming projects that you wish to share?
That’s the problem: there are too many to list! At the moment I’m trying to finish a collaboration with SammyJo Hunt, a thriller with some very kinky sex entitled Murder, Most Likely. Once we get that finished and off to Rebel Ink Press, I’ll begin work on a spy thriller with a friend of mine, which we’ve tentatively entitled American Caesar. After that I have a sequel to “Academia Heat” entitled “Strange Attractors,” a story that incorporates elements of Joseph Conrad, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.G. Wells, among others. And there are still more. Man, but I wish I had the time to finish it all.
9. What was one of the toughest projects you have ever faced, but was proud of the accomplishment?
Every project faces its share of challenges, but the most difficult has been the current one, Murder, Most Likely. SammyJo Hunt and I began working on it in the Fall of 2011, thinking we’d have it done within a few weeks, then suddenly had one issue after another crop up. First I had a major health issue, then she had a family issue. And then we both had lives and careers that needed to be addressed immediately. The good news, however, is that it’s getting done, and that we’re both with sight of finishing it very soon. I’m proud if it because it’s the first novel-length project I’ve ever worked on, which in and of itself is a major accomplishment.
10. What advice would you give to other writers, especially to those starting out?
The best advice I can give is to keep at it. Persevere. Sometimes you won’t be compelled to write but do it anyway. That talent and inspiration should take a back seat to hard work. If you have the Holy Fire to do it you’ll manage to do it. And don’t worry about writing for markets. The writing scene is tough right now, but if you are any good you’ll be able to sell your work.
11. Lastly, where can people follow you (i.e. social networks, blogs, websites, etc.)
You can read my blog at http://marcos-london.blogspot.com, follow me on Twitter under the Twitter handle mlondonwriter, and can look at my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marcos-London/121454071269947.
Time for some trivial questions...
12. Cocktail Moment: If there was a drink of your kind, what would it be (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)?
A Dragon’s Heart of Fire, which is a shot of vodka with about half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper dropped into it before drinking. Trust me, it’ll wake you up.
13. Your Day Off: If you could take a day off from your normal activity, how would you spend it?
Hmmmm…my time off usually is spent how I love spending it: discussion with friends over food and drink, a movie or play, browsing secondhand bookstores looking for esoteric titles, going to art or natural history museums. In other words, too many to list.
14. Favorite Man Food: It’s your day off and you wake up at 10AM, describe your kind of brunch?
Oh, that’s easy: an omelet filled with muenster cheese and diced ham or turkey, served with mimosas.
15. Something Extra: Is there anything trivial you wish to share to your readers about yourself?
Something they probably don’t know: I’ve never learned how to hold a pen or pencil properly. I learned how to write very early, but being able to hold a writing instrument the way everybody else does eludes me.
Mr. London, I had an awesome time interviewing you and I hope to see you on here again. Thank you so much!
My pleasure, man. Thanks again.
Here’s the excerpt from Academia Heat:
Silently she waited for him to continue. He reached down next to her chair and fumbled for something. “You dropped your napkin.”
She looked at it in his hand before finally placing it on the table next to the leather wallet. “Um, thank you.”
He nodded. “Sure.” He looked around uncomfortably. “Can I have your phone number?” The words tumbled from his mouth.
She blinked. “What?”
Blushing, the young man ran a hand through his hair. “It’s my friends,” he explained, pointing inside the restaurant. Through the window she could see to other young men, both in tee shirts with writing on them, watching them intently. “They actually dared me to do it. They bet me that I wouldn’t be able to get your phone number or e-mail address. They’d want to call it, just to make sure it’s valid, or maybe get an e-mail response, if you have a BlackBerry.”
She did what she could to hide the incredulity from her face. It worked, she thought, because his hopeful, eager look never left. Even the pink hue remained. Cute. “You want me to give you my phone number?”
Squirming, he put his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “Or e-mail address.”
“The idea is that I’m supposed to ask you out sometime. They at least want to make sure the address or number is valid so that the potential is there.” He looked in the restaurant at his friends, then at her. “Look,” he said, leaning in as if sharing confidentiality, “I’m never going to call. I already plan to delete the number after my friends verify it. I figure the last thing you need is some guy you’ve never met before harassing you for a date.”
Her eyes traveled down his body, back to his eyes. “How old are you?”
Maybe a student, she thought. One I hadn’t seen before. “Are you in the Master’s Program?”
He shook his head. “I have my degree.”
“So you’re not a student here.”
He smiled at some private amusement. “No.”
She laughed and shook her head, amazed at the corny, clichéd line she was about to use. “I’m old enough to be your mother.”
The young man shrugged, and Nicole saw that the tee shirt he was wearing beneath his light jacket was not tie-dyed but a red-and-yellow full of swoops and swirls. What had she heard it called before? A Mandelbrot set. “I don’t think so,” he said, “unless you were having children when you were ten.”
Nicole couldn’t tell if he was deliberately trying to flatter her, but it worked. Her response was visceral, the kind of rush in the lower part of her stomach when a rollercoaster would begin its first plunge.
She considered. He didn’t look like anybody she had seen on campus, which wouldn’t be surprising if he was in one of the science programs...which the fractal designs on his tee shirt would indicate. And his voice, even and controlled, held none of the lazy Southern drawl that laced the voices of most of her students. “You’re not a student here, are you? Not from here.”
He shook his head again, his hair falling into his eyes. “Actually, no.” He opened his mouth to add something else, then shook his head again. “No. We’re driving to Houston later today.”
Nicole looked away for a moment. If he wasn’t a student, if he was just passing through town, then she likely wouldn’t see him again. Her anonymity would be assured as long as she didn’t give her name or take him to one of the Holiday Inns dotting the freeway. And she didn’t want to do that, anyway, because it felt sleazy. Somewhere out of the way, she thought, maybe one of the secluded areas around the park. They wouldn’t even have to leave the car.
She looked back at him. He was attractive. His green eyes complimented his very light tan.
Maybe this was her chance. If she could steel her courage and go through with it.
“How much did you say they bet you?”
He looked at his shoes. They were hiking boots, weathered but in good condition. “I didn’t. But it’s enough that I could keep gas in my car for a month if I won. Enough that I’d have to do some creative bookkeeping for a couple of weeks if I lost.”
Nicole smiled to herself and looked back the restaurant’s window. His friends continued to look at them. She looked back at the young man’s expectant face.
“The thing is,” she said after a pause, “I never give out my phone number or my e-mail address. I have to keep both of those things very private. I’m sure you understand.”
The young man nodded. If he was disappointed, he was cool about it. “Sure. Not a problem.”
“However,” she continued, “I have an idea that may work a little better than just a phone number.”