Alex Kidwell and Robin Saxon
For a real book junkie there is nothing as thrilling as finding a new writer to love. One of the nice parts of my job is actually getting to know the person or persons behind the name on the cover. Alex Kidwell and Robin Saxon’s Blood Howl was released today by Dreamspinner Press. This is their debut novel and I have to admit, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet (my ARC was a tad late…). But, they agreed to be my first official author interviewees (is that a word?) Got to love technology…this interview took place with the three of us on two different states and two continents. Robin was at back home in Australia, while Alex and I were here in the states.
Hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I did.
Portia de Moncur Excuse what may sound like a stupid question, I should have checked your info, but are you both female?*embarrassed grin*
Alex Kidwell LOL we actually keep that really neutral online, but yes, we are in fact of the feminine type.
Portia de Moncur I have both male and female friends named Alex and Robin, so I wondered. I mentioned it to my husband and he thought you were girls. But….I said…why would lesbians write gay romance?
Robin Saxon Good question! I guess I’ll answer that with a question – why do straight men watch lesbian porn?
Portia de Moncur True…I actually started watching gay porn when I started writing erotica. Steve refuses to watch with me, but straight porn is kinda boring…
Robin Saxon We wanted to keep our names mostly gender neutral so that readers, upon picking up the book, wouldn’t immediately judge us over gender. Even though it seems like most m/m writers I’ve encounters are female.
Alex Kidwell It really, I think, is because it’s fun. We live with lesbian stuff – and not that we don’t or wouldn’t write f/f fiction! – But writing about men for us forces us to think a lot more. For me, it started as a writing exercise and then I found that I just enjoyed writing men.
Portia de Moncur Speaking of writing. Which of you caught the writing bug first?
Alex Kidwell Also, honestly, writing girl sex is way harder. >> There are no good nicknames for a vagina.
Robin Saxon I mentally identify with men more, I suppose. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, and I understand the male mind more. Apart from Alex, females are still a bit of a mystery to me!
Alex Kidwell Well, me, but that’s only because I’m older! We’ve both been writing since we were kids, and both have notebooks filled with all those adolescent stories and emo poetry that seems to be required of angsty teenagers. But really, until we met and started writing together, I think for both of us writing professionally was more of a pipe dream, like a ‘maybe someday if we ever get good enough’.
Robin Saxon I had LOTS of emo poetry.
Alex Kidwell I had lots of BAD poetry.
Portia de Moncur I could use a bit of emo poetry for Sinspirations…but, that’s another conversation. So tell me a little about your debut. Who came up with the idea and what’s with the colored sticky notes?
Robin Saxon The colored sticky notes are all me. As we were planning out the second book’s plot, I wanted to make sure that our sub-plots were consistent and constant. We have a number of them in the second book! So I got a little wild and put colored notes everywhere, all over the plot planning.
Alex Kidwell The idea really came from us talking about separate characters. I’d had this thought for a rough and tumble guy who enjoyed explosions and sex with random older men, and she was talking about writing someone who had been raised in isolation, with kind of a supernatural twist. Robin said ‘hey, I bet they’d be funny together’ and thus the union was born. We started just doing little writing exercises together and the characters changed and evolved from those first ideas, dramatically so, but their core characteristics became Jed and Redford. The world of the book kind of built around them.
Robin Saxon Our plots really come from our characters, instead of writing a plot first and then making the characters.
Alex Kidwell Yes, exactly, we’re big on developing characters. Over everything we write we really want to make sure we’re true to them and their progression and development. There were lots of times that the characters did things or reacted in ways that we couldn’t have anticipated until we put them in the scenario and started writing them, but we let them kind of grow on their own, letting the plot shape around them rather than the other way around.
Portia de Moncur Dumb question. Can you remember the moment when you thought “We can really do this…this is a real book.”
Alex Kidwell Hahaha about ten minutes ago.
Robin Saxon Yeah, it didn’t really kick in until recently for me. I never thought I’d have the staying power to write an actual novel.
Alex Kidwell Seriously, I don’t think that I, personally, ever doubted that it could be a book. It was more me wondering – and still very much wondering! – if anyone else would love these characters or be interested in them.
Portia de Moncur Do you mind me asking what you guys do when you aren’t writing naughty paranormal scenes?
Robin Saxon We’re both big video game nerds. And we play with our cats a lot.
Alex Kidwell We also have our list of ‘must watch’ television. We’re very nerdy homebodies.
Portia de Moncur Do you still have day jobs?
Alex Kidwell Yes, unfortunately. Some day we will be able to rest on our laurels! But that is not today.
Robin Saxon I’m in-between jobs at the moment, unfortunately, though I’m looking.
Robin Saxon The minute we can retire to a sandy island and drink mojitos off of author’s money, then that will be happening. Well, maybe not a sandy island. We’re both redheads and burn easily.
Portia de Moncur Did you submit to a lot of publishers before you got picked up by Dreamspinner?
Alex Kidwell No, actually! Dreamspinner was our first choice and our first submission with our first book. We will never have any other luck in our life ever, I think.
Robin Saxon Yes, we were incredibly lucky. And incredibly fortunate.
Portia de Moncur How long has it been from submission to publication?
Robin Saxon We sent our submissions off on April 20th. So that’s about five months.
Portia de Moncur Without giving away too much of the story. What is Blood Howl about? Genre, etc, etc…
Robin Saxon Is ‘guns and explosions’ a genre?
Robin Saxon It’s primarily urban fantasy, with a lot of action and mystery thrown in. And, of course, romance.
Robin Saxon To put it more specifically, it’s about two very lost people finding each other. It’s their journey to find their strengths together, and ending up finding them in each other.
Alex Kidwell With guns and explosions.
Portia de Moncur I noticed the hand grenade on the cover, but thought it was just a prop…obviously not.
Alex Kidwell Oh, no. Jed likes his toys.
Alex Kidwell There is a scene at a gun show that was probably like going into a live porn studio for Jed.
Portia de Moncur Is your next book a sequel or a stand alone?
Robin Saxon I love that little grenade on the cover. And the gun, too. I really want to find out what make of gun it is.
Alex Kidwell What we’re working on now is the next in the series, Sanguis Noctis. We actually have, wow, probably four or five other books planned in this world. We also are going to try to do some short stories for some anthologies due out next year, and those are going to be something totally different.
Alex Kidwell We have many, many ideas and are extremely excited to try and share them all.
Portia de Moncur Before I forget…how exactly does your collaboration work? Would I be able to tell who had written what if I was more familiar with your individual work?
Robin Saxon We write on separate computers using GDocs – an incredibly helpful tool for writing together.
Alex Kidwell I actually think we mesh really well. There’s no part of the book that’s ‘mine’ or ‘Robin’s’. After all the edits and all the back and forth and smoothing out plotlines, I feel like it’s fairly cohesive.
Robin Saxon Our minds tend to go in the same direction. As we write, I can be writing a sentence and Alex will fill out the second half of the sentence, usually in a better way than I would have written it!
Alex Kidwell We actually had that happen last night! We were working on something and I could not think of how to finish it – the word had just escaped me. Before I could even say anything, Robin filled it in exactly how I’d wanted it.
Alex Kidwell We’ve been writing together for five years now on various writing exercises and such. I think at this point, half of my brain has been transplanted into Robin’s.
Portia de Moncur Well, Ladies…it has been a pleasure getting to know you a bit. Before we wrap this up, could each of you tell me one thing about yourself that your soon-to-have throngs of fans will love to know?
Portia de Moncur Oh…and who are your favorite MM writers?
Robin Saxon I’m going to have fans? That’d be trippy. As for the one thing they’d love to know – I’m a seriously boring person. The most exciting thing in my life lately (apart from the book release) is bleaching my hair white-blonde just to see how I’d look. It looks okay!
Robin Saxon Though I still maintain that gingers have more fun.
Alex Kidwell I think the biggest thing to know about me is that if I can do it, anyone can. If you’re at all interested in writing, any genre, then you should just do it. Find something that interests you and write a story you’d like to read. Seriously, I’m not trained in this, I have no qualifications other than I love books and I enjoy writing. Robin and I just really want to have fun with this, so if we do get fans (how cool would that be!) we’d love to hear what they thought of the book.
Alex Kidwell Oh, man, I don’t think I can pick just one! I’ll read anything, seriously, and one of the best parts of doing this is getting to know some amazing authors in the community. Pretty much I love any author that gives me a plot and characters I’m thinking about after I turn the last page.
Robin Saxon One of my favorite m/m authors is actually outside the gay romance genre. Rob Thurman writes urban fantasy, and she has side characters in gay romances. I’m one of her biggest fans.
Alex Kidwell Truth, we love Rob Thurman. She actually is the reason we finally decided to write urban fantasy, because she decided to go ahead and have gay characters. It was such a relief to us, to have characters we could identify with in a genre we loved.
Portia de Moncur Robin, I have no idea what time it is in Australia, but I really appreciate you taking a break from your vacation to be my first authors’ interview. You guys made this painless and fun. I look forward to reading Blood Howl and getting to know both of you better in future.
Alex Kidwell Thank you so much! We were both really really nervous, actually, and you made this fun.
Robin Saxon It’s nearing 10am here! And thank you very much; we’re incredibly honored to be your first interview. This was ours, too, and it was indeed very fun.
Portia de Moncur When we are done here, I’ll copy and paste this whole interview into Word. I don’t plan on doing much editing. I’ll open with a little blurb about Blood Howl and this being your debut novel.
Robin Saxon That sounds good!
Alex Kidwell That sounds awesome! We’re seriously very excited, we were just sitting here talking about how crazy it is, getting to sit down with someone and chat about our book. It still is very surreal and we’re both really grateful for the opportunity.
Alex Kidwell Dreamspinner has been beyond incredible – both our editing team and Anne Cain, who did our kickass perfect cover, have made the process a dream.
Portia de Moncur Would you like to offer a give away with the interview?
Portia de Moncur I’m trying to stay away from a lot of the hype I see on review sites, but I’d love to get folks curious about Blood Howl. My review will be on my site, Goodreads and Amazon.
Alex Kidwell That’s amazing, we’re very excited to have people read it. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it as much as we loved writing it!
Portia de Moncur That will work then…Well, kiddo, my nicotine levels are dangerously low and I need to drop my 5yo in the tub before I have to give his whiney ass to gypsies. Have a good night and I’ll email you a copy of this interview when it’s published. It was a pleasure. ;-)
Alex Kidwell It was definitely a pleasure for us as well. Have a wonderful evening! ♥
Robin Saxon Ha-ha, my nicotine levels are seriously low too. Well, thank you for the interview. It was a pleasure :)