I have an extra-special pre-Christmas treat for you all today, an interview with none other than the extraordinary Joanna Chambers, author of one of my favorite M/M historical trilogies, the Enlightenment series. She’s here to promote not one, not two, but three new projects, with a spotlight on her first venture into self-publishing, Humbug! So join me in welcoming her, and read on to find out more about her sparkly Christmas story…
Welcome, Joanna! To start off, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing. Unlike a lot of M/M authors, you’ve also written M/F before. How did that transition come about?
It’s a cliché, but I always wanted to write. As soon as I could read, really. It took me a while to figure out what to write (romance), and then a little longer how to write it (sincerely). I’d had a brief but intense love affair with romance as a teenager, then read none at all for years and years. I rediscovered it in my early 30s as a new mother after years of reading miserable literary fiction that left me vaguely unsatisfied. 😉
My writing passion tends to follow the cycle of my reading passion plus approx. 2 years. So, when I was publishing M/F historicals, I was reading M/M historicals. I’m a massive glommer. When I love something, I tend to devour it to the exclusion of everything else (once went a whole year listening to nothing but Bob Dylan), and I’ve read pretty much exclusively queer romance for the last 5 years–this year mainly contemporary. I don’t honestly see that changing anytime soon, but it could do. I’d never rule out a return to M/F at some point, but I have to feel some degree of passion for whatever I’m working on.
So I guess the logical question is: What were you reading two years ago? And will we be seeing any contemporary books from you after this set of releases (I’d love to see what you’d do with an M/M romance legal thriller, since that’s your background)?
I kind of started on my (current) contemporary queer romance kick two years ago, and, yes, there is a contemporary novel planned–part of something bigger (and currently under wraps)… I don’t see any legal thrillers in my future though. I’m not a fan of those really. Never say never though.
You’re spoiling us with not one, but three releases in the space of a month, and all just before Christmas. You must feel a bit like Santa Claus. Tell us about Humbug. (Exceptional cover, BTW.) What about A Christmas Carol made you think it was ripe for an M/M twist, and how did you go about re-interpreting the classic?
I totally love the cover. It’s a contemporary retelling of A Christmas Carol, and I feel like Natasha Snow’s design captures a feel of the original as well as the contemporary vibe.
My Scrooge character is Quin Flint (aka Skinflint), a workaholic management consultant who specialises in downsizing. I had a lot of fun writing this story, figuring out equivalent characters for Marley’s ghost, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and a few other, more minor characters that aficionados of the original will recognise. Plus, on top of that, I’ve added a romance component. I love this story a lot actually–I really hope readers will too.
You also have a Christmas story in a charity anthology this year. How did that come about?
I’m really pleased to be doing another charity antho with Susan (Lee of Boys in Our Books) this year, particularly since I love Christmas stories–I literally can’t get enough of them. My contribution is a (pretty heavily) revised version of a story I published under another name a few years ago, “Mr Perfect’s Christmas.” The rights reverted to me a few months ago, so the timing was great.
I loved Another Place in Time, so I can’t wait to dive into the new anthology. Can you tell us a little bit more about it, and what charity the proceeds go to?
It’s called Wish Come True and it’s the lovely Susan Lee’s baby (as was Another Place in Time). However, whereas APIT was historical stories, WCT is contemporary NA. My fellow authors are fab: Kaje Harper, Megan Erickson, Anyta Sunday, Amy Jo Cousins, Keira Andrews, and Suki Fleet. All proceeds go to Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation whose mission is to take homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths to age 26 off the street and transition them into more permanent housing. So, a very worthwhile cause.
I personally love Christmas anthologies–there’s something about the holidays that just lends itself to shorter tales, kind of like a box of chocolates or presents under the tree. Do you prefer writing these shorter stories, or the breadth and depth of a novel?
I like both. I like the palate cleansing you get from writing a shorter story after working on a longer piece for months and months–it’s energising. But I like the challenge of the longer form, too. My first novel was over 90k and my second 75k ,but since then, most of my novels have clocked in at about 60k. That feels like quite natural length for me to write. And about 20k for a novella.
Speaking of novels, I cannot wait to dive into Unnatural, which is sort of a companion book to your Enlightenment series. I certainly understand the impulse to stay in that world–the trilogy is easily one of my favorite M/Ms of all time. What about Iain’s story drew you back, and is this a start of a new trilogy? Can we expect more companion books?
There’s an origin story that I’ll be blogging about separately; however, in a nutshell, Iain started off as one of those characters that I think of as human furniture–he was initially created literally just to stand next to Murdo in a scene in book 2, but once I’d described him in his scarlet uniform with his moustache and his glinting smile, I found myself writing him into another scene, then another. Then he got a small but significant role in my freebie short, “Seasons Pass” (set between books 1 and 2), which is where James gets his first appearance. After that, writing their story was inevitable…
I’ve not got any more Enlightenment books planned at this point. I could see myself possibly writing a short about Kit Redford (the owner of the club in “Seasons Pass”) at some point though. 🙂
Just a couple of fun questions to finish things off. So if you were visited by a ghostly presence in the middle of the night, would you prefer it to be the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, or Future, and why? (I’ve just noticed that that aspect of Humbug ties in nicely with your Somnus series, actually.)
Probably the Ghost of Christmas Past. Christmas is a time of nostalgia after all. I wouldn’t mind revisiting some of those exciting childhood Christmases. 🙂 And yes, I do seem to write about sleeping–and Christmas–a lot!
Finally, let’s play a romance version of a game we’ll call “One Night Stand, Long-Term Relationship, or HEA”. Of all of your characters, which one would you want to a) have a one-night stand with, b) have a long-term relationship (that ends in a breakup) with, or c) live happily ever after with?
Great question! My one night stand would be probably be Iain Sinclair from Unnatural
because–hello, moustache! (My love of facial hair significantly pre-dates the rise of the hipster. I used to have a regular piece at my old reader blog called “Tash or Slap” in which I posted a picture of man with a tash and another wearing make up and invited my readers to vote on their favourite. Example here
My long term relationship might be… Cam McMorrow from “Rest and Be Thankful” because we’re very alike and I think we’d have a lot in common. But ultimately (sob) we’d break up because we’re too alike.
My happily ever after is easy–Murdo Balfour. He seems all high-handed and arrogant, but really he’s a nurturer. So he’d be fabulously alpha in bed then bring you a cuppa tea after.
And that’s a wrap! Huge thanks to Joanna for stopping by and treating us to some time with her! Readers, who would your choices be for a ONS/LTR/HEA from among Joanna’s characters? Hit us up in the comments, and enjoy her holiday releases.
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.