PBA would like to welcome J. Check out my review of J Vaughn’s Rough Boys 1 and 2
Today I am talking with J Vaughn, author of Rough Boys – Runaway, Rough Boys – Redemption and Rough Boys – Revenge (due for release February 14, 2014).
Hello J! Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with us on the site.
So I’m going to go back to basics, in order to get to know J Vaughn better. When did you start writing and what made you write novels in the M/M genre?
Sorry, the answer to this question is a bit convoluted, as life often is. I started writing sixteen years ago shortly before my first daughter was born. I was inspired to start writing because I read a story (fantasy) that was, in my opinion, horrible. I thought, “How on earth could something like this get published? I can write better than that!” So I started writing. Three chapters into my first novel, a classic quest fantasy, I read what I’d written and thought, “Oh … no I can’t” (write better than that other guy). But I was having so much fun, I kept writing. I wrote a couple of hundred pages before my first daughter was born, and then life got busy and I didn’t write at all for another 12 years.
When I picked it up again, I rewrote those first couple hundred pages and then added seven hundred more before I realized I was way over my head; I had no idea how to wrap it up. I also noticed that sex kept creeping into my all-ages novel, in spite of my best efforts to keep it clean.
So I decided to start something new that would be shorter and adult-oriented (I warned you the story was convoluted). I started another fantasy novel where I could let all my perversions free. I didn’t realize my interests lie in M/M until one of my MCs ended up in an all-male slave pen for just a bit too long. The natural outcome, of course, was a blow job from another gorgeous young slave, and things just went on from there. The next thing I knew, I was reading as much M/M romance as I could get my hands on and had started writing Rough Boys.
Rough Boys, your soon to be finished trilogy, seems full of character ‘types’. Did you want it to speak to boys thinking of running away from home or setting off for their dreams too young, particularly and what do you think they should take from your stories?
I was inspired to write Rough Boys when I heard the Pete Townsend song of the same name on the radio one morning on my way to work (not my usual station). I wondered, “Who are these rough boys? Where do they come from?”
I didn’t think specifically of writing for boys running away from home, but I did want to give a message about drug abuse. I fought my addictions for many years, and with the help of good friends and the grace of God, I came out on the other side mostly intact. I wanted to give that message of hope to others.
I also wanted there to be consequences for making mistakes. My heroes are flawed and I put them through hell, but in the end they’re stronger for it and have learned something. Hopefully readers learn something along the way as well.
I admit, I had a hard job keeping all of the characters straight (no pun intended) in my head, reading the first book. How do you keep track of them in your own mind when writing?
I didn’t have any problem with Rough Boys. Most of the characters were developed enough that I didn’t forget who was who (easier for the writer than the reader, I’m sure). For my original quest fantasy novel—the one that got out of hand—I had a detailed list of characters and relationships so I could keep track of who was who without having to go back and reread parts of the novel.
Ty, Dani, Kaeden, Tommy, Abe, Nigel, Sean are all such three dimensional characters. Even secondary characters like Yuri, Tim, Taylor and the bad guys all have well written personalities and character traits. Was it hard to make them all different and did you enjoy the challenge? By the way, I just loved Abe and Nigel and Kaeden…
I definitely enjoyed writing about all of these characters. I didn’t work on making them different, they just came out that way, thankfully. I don’t like cardboard characters. I know I drew on stereotypes to make several of my characters—Tommy for example, seems like someone right out of a cheesy 1970s thriller to me (probably the informant). However, even my villains I tried to bestow with real backgrounds and motivations whether I reveal them to the reader or not. I think this makes for richer, more fully-developed characters.
I’m English so this maybe a silly question but is ‘Heartland City’ real or is it a representation of middle America and heart’s desire, something metaphorical?
(Laughing) My first draft of Rough Boys just referred to it as “the city.” I knew I wanted to set it in middle America, but I’ve never lived in that part of the country so didn’t want to pick a particular city because then I’d have to make sure I got all the details right. However, it seemed odd to me to just refer to the city as “the city” and I had beta readers comment on it as well. When I started researching names, most of the ones I came up with turned out to be actual cities. Heartland City was the only name I found that wasn’t real and portrayed the middle-America feel I was looking for. So not metaphorical, just practical.
I love your covers for Rough Boys. Do you design them yourself? Do you have an artist who draws them? I know why I like these kind of stylised cartoons for covers but we want to hear why you do?
I wanted a young, modern feel to the novels and love manga art—it’s so full of life and energy. The biggest issue I have so far with the first cover is that people think the story is YA, so I guess I succeeded with the young part. After reading another M/M book with a cover by the same artist, Drawn Together by ZA Maxfield, and checking out the artist’s website, www.plnunn.com, I was hooked. She was wonderful to work with. I came up with the cover ideas and she executed beautifully.
She certainly did and I admit I did notice the likeness to ZAM’s cover art. I’m interested, did you always intend Rough Boys to be a trilogy or did the boys’ stories just grow too big for one book?
Yeah. (Laughing.) When I first started writing Rough Boys, I thought it would end up novella length, 60,000 words or so. As I wrote it, I posted it chapter-by-chapter on Literotica.com. Originally, I had Ty’s story in my head, but he had to be underage (if he were 18 already, he wouldn’t be running away, he’d just be moving out), and I felt, since I was publishing on Literotica, I needed put some erotica in there. Therefore, I had to introduce an older character so I could write some sex scenes.
Enter Dani and Kaeden. I originally planned Dani as a friend for Ty and intended Kaeden to be a minor character, appearing only in a chapter or two. But Kaeden wouldn’t hear of it. He exploded onto the page and insisted on having his own story. By the time I was done telling all three of their stories, the novel had grown quite long.
I originally planned to publish it as a single novel, but after doing some research I decided it made more sense to break it up. Long novels tend not to sell as well in the romance genre and in order to look credible I would have had to price it pretty high. That seemed like a steep hill to climb for a first-time author, so taking a cue from Fifty Shades of Grey, I broke it into thirds. That decision was difficult because I hate getting to the end of novel only to discover it’s not really the end. I’m hoping to ease that pain by making the first book free. But, I’m happy I made the decision to break it up, otherwise I never would have gotten that delicious cover that PL Nunn created for Redemption.
I think I can safely predict that we haven’t seen the last of various characters like Mr Iverson, Brady and Tim. However, do we find out anything about Tommy’s and Sally’s back stories in Book 3 – Revenge?
Although both Tommy and Sally both appear in Revenge, I don’t spend much time with them. I had requests from readers who want more of various characters, especially Tommy. I even had a request for more about the girl who accidentally gets Dani’s flowers—she appears for all of two paragraphs in Redemption. And as fun as it is to weave more stories into the plot, I had to stop somewhere. It ended up much longer than I intended as is.
Your trilogy certainly represents a lot of hard work but can we know what you are working on currently?
I wanted to do something completely different and not so dark for my next novel. I think I succeeded on the first count, but maybe not so much on the second. My next novel, due out in April, is titled Encounters with Evil: The Vampire. The book stands on its own, although if there’s demand, I will turn it into a series. I find it rather astounding that I’ve written a vampire novel, because I don’t particularly like most vampire novels. It is a little different from most, however, because the vampires in this one are actually evil. It’s been fun to write because it’s a little tongue-in-cheek and the vampire hunter has special powers.
Thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed answering all your questions (as you can probably tell by the length of my answers ).
Thank you again J. and I like good, long answers! We will definitely look out for ‘Revenge’ released 14th February from Divergent Publishing and we look forward to meeting your vampires in ‘Encounters…’
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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