Interview with Nessa L. Warin

Hello! Welcome to my blog, Nessa! Thank you for answering my nosy discerning questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m sure your questions are very nosy, I mean discerning, and I’m happy to answer them. *winks*

The best way to describe me would probably be to say I’m a geek. Sure, I can give you facts—I’m a thirty something woman currently working to quit the Evil Day Job so I can write and work with my publisher full time—but you’ll get everything that matters by saying I’m a geek. I mean that as a positive description, by the way. I’m passionate about Science Fiction and Fantasy shows, movies, and books. I love to read. I get really involved in the things I love and learn everything I can about them. I enjoy costuming and going to Renaissance Festivals and conventions. I go to wine tastings and then bring bottles home to organize tastings of my own. I’m just as happy in front of my computer as I am out with a crowd of friends.

My writing really reflects who I am. Two of my three novels are Science Fiction as is my novella, and the one novel that isn’t Science Fiction is set at a convention. My next release is going to be Science Fiction as well, and the series I’m working on now has to do with my other passion—wine.

Tell us a little about your latest release. 

My latest release is called To Dream, Perchance to Live. It takes place in a world where there are people known as Dreamers who can enter and manipulate other people’s dreams. They’re known in the world and have jobs using their abilities. There are also psychic bonds that form between people in relationships and bonding is equivalent to getting married. One of the Dreamers, a guy named Wyatt, has been illegally owned by a corporation since he was 16, kept asleep and forced to participate in corporate espionage for them. Something goes wrong with one of his assignments, the person whose dreams he’s in dies, and he’s left for dead. He’s found by Aidan, who takes him in, nurses him back to health with the help of some friends, and tries to figure out what happened to him. When he wakes up, they start to bond, and the story revolves around finding the people who had Wyatt and keeping him safe from them while Wyatt learns to function in the waking world again and Aidan and Wyatt fall in love.

There are a lot of crazy twists and turns in the story, because there are two plot lines: Wyatt and Aidan’s relationship as they learn to live together and fall in love, and the corporation who had Wyatt trying to find him and get him back. It sort of worked out that as one thing gets smoother the other gets more complicated. I don’t want to give too much away, but it reaches a point where things are really good on one front and really bad on the other and they end up having their relationship tested a lot more than they thought it would be.

I had a lot of fun with this story because I really got to explore my passion for world building. The world Wyatt and Aidan live in is very similar to ours in many ways, but it’s also subtly different and exploring that was both the most exciting and most challenging part of writing this story for me. It’s not a straight up fantasy world or a futuristic science fiction world, so I couldn’t make everything drastically different, but at the same time, it’s not our world either, and I needed to show that with more than just the Dreamers and bonds. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I hope my readers are too.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I wrote some as a child, but it was mostly for school assignments. I remember everyone being impressed with a book I wrote in the 3rd grade, and with a gothic short story I wrote in high school, but even those were written because I had to, not because I wanted to.

My real passion for writing started when I was in my early 20’s and I discovered Lord of the Rings fanfiction. I started writing that and honestly never looked back. There are times I write less and times I write more, but since I started writing then, I never stopped, and I have no intention to.

What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

My friends. As I said, I was writing fanfiction, and I had several friends who started getting published with original work. Ariel Tachna, in particular, was a very big supporter from the get-go, encouraging me to submit both my first short story and my first novel. Now she’s the one who makes me write every day.

I see you write M/M fiction. Would you characterize your stories as M/M romance, erotica, or something in between?

They’re definitely more romance than erotica. I enjoy a well-written sex scene as much as the next person, but I read for plot and characters, not sex. My books have sex in them, but that’s not what they’re about, and to me that’s what erotica is.

Honestly, I wonder if some of my books are even romance. Two of my three currently published novels are science fiction stories with a romantic element, and the one that comes out early next year is too. My first book and the series I’m working on now are what I’d classify as straight romance.

What draws you to the M/M genre? Have you written in other genres?

All of my published work is M/M. I have a story I want to write that is F/F, and another one I’d like to write with a female protagonist that might be M/F or F/F, I’m not sure, but I haven’t really started them yet. Most of my plot bunnies are M/M, so that’s what I’m focusing on at the moment.

I started writing M/M because, well, I like men so having more of them is better when I’m imagining the story.

I keep writing M/M for two reasons. First, it’s because of the people it’s introduced me to. I’ve made a lot of very good friends since I started publishing, and I can honestly say that every one of them has changed my life in a good way. The people in this genre have done everything from brighten my day to literally change the course of my entire non-writing career, and I honestly think my life would be much poorer without my fellow writers and our readers.

The second reason is because of the difference I think M/M fiction can make. I still remember going to the first Cincinnati Pride festival Dreamspinner was at, and having men come by and just be so astonished that these books existed. They were thrilled to have books about people like them, and even more thrilled to have books about people like them with happy endings. Beyond that, I think writing and publishing M/M fiction (or any LGBTQ fiction for that matter) gives us a great avenue for advocacy and discussion and that is so important. Writing M/M fiction has led me to work with Dreamspinner’s Young Adult imprint, Harmony Ink Press, which publishes all varieties of LGBTQ Young Adult fiction. That gives me the opportunity to meet and help teenagers who may be struggling with their identity.

The impact that I can have and that the people I’ve met can have on me has gone beyond just writing M/M fiction, but that’s what started it. That’s why I stick with it.

City Girl or Country Mouse—and why?

I’m a City Girl. I like the white noise of the traffic in the background and being able to get anywhere I want to go quickly. I’m not a big city girl—I live on the outskirts of a mid-sized city—but I can’t stand the quiet in the country. I can’t fathom it taking a half-hour just to get to a real store somewhere. My mom lives out in the country, and I have trouble sleeping every time I visit her because it’s too quiet. I do like visiting the country, I just don’t think I could ever live there.

“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

It means I need to learn about whatever I want to write. If I only wrote exactly what I know now, I’d have to keep writing the same book over and over. But there are a lot of things that interest me that I wouldn’t say I know, but that I can learn about. And learning about them gives me more ideas for books or plot twists and it lets me grow as a person as well as an author.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

Kind of a little of both. I tend to outline as I write, planning ahead a few chapters at a time. I used to outline the whole thing before I was more than a couple chapters in, but I found it changed a lot, and now my outlines are much more fluid. The current one probably can’t even properly be called an outline, just a list of what things need to happen. I guess that means I’m swinging toward the pantser end of the spectrum.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

Traveling with friends. I’d like to go places I’ve never been and share the experience with people I care about. I want a nice mix of days where we just hang out and do whatever, and days where we go and see all sorts of exciting things we’ve never seen before. I want to try new things. I want lots of laughter and crazy photo opportunities. I want good food and good wine.

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?

Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?

At the moment, I would suggest Sauntering Vaguely Downward for the story people should start with. It’s my first book, and as such has its weaknesses, but I’m still proud of it. It’s a contemporary, and as such is more likely to appeal to more readers, but it’s set at Dragon*Con, a Science Fiction, fantasy, and pop culture convention, so it keeps some of the geekiness/fantasy stuff I love.

My personal favorite is probably To Dream, Perchance to Live. That’s the book that I dedicated so much time to bring to fruition, and it’s my baby even more than my other books are my babies. Storm Season, my January/February release (I don’t have an exact date yet), is a close second. They’re both Science Fiction stories with a lot of world building in them, and I love world building. I had so much fun getting into the characters and the story.

What are the three most important things in your life—the things you can’t do without?

Oh, wow. Um. I hate to call my cats things, but they’re kind of my babies and I can’t imagine being without them. As far as physical things go, my computer, preferably, but I’d settle for something that let me write. Lastly, this is sort of terrible, but an internet connection I could use. I connect to so many people and things that way and I honestly get twitchy when I can’t do that.

If I can’t count my cats as a thing, I’d say a comfortable bed. I love sleep (probably because I don’t get enough) and I absolutely adore waking up on a lazy morning and cuddling with my cats until I actually want to get out of bed. (Or until they decide it’s been too long since they’ve been fed, which usually comes first.) And if we’re doing this in a save from a fire sort of way that requires physical objects (and assumes all living beings are safe), I’ll go with books. Physical ones, though I do love my Kindle, because I can’t imagine not having paper books to hold.

Have you ever tried internet dating? (I have no idea why that question popped out—it just did!)

No. I’ve thought about it, but I always get part way through the questions where I’m supposed to talk about myself, get stuck, and end up leaving the site. I don’t want to talk about me, I want to talk about fictional characters and places and plots! Unfortunately, I can’t make up a character for an online dating profile if I want it to be effective once it starts going places. My mom actually met my stepdad via an online dating site, so I know it can work very well, I just can’t get in the right mindset for it.

If you could have one super power or magical element from popular science fiction movies or literature, what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to teleport. Honestly, it’s mostly because then I wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning. I’m a chronically late person, and the idea of only needing to leave a couple seconds before I have to be somewhere appeals to me greatly. I’m also doing a lot of travel lately, and sitting on airplanes in the coach cabin is not a pleasant experience. Even if I had to take it in jumps, teleporting would make that more pleasant as well.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?

My goal is to be a part-time writer. I’m actually working with Dreamspinner Press and their Young Adult imprint Harmony Ink Press as a media coordinator part time, and I’m going to be doing that and work with the editing department full time come April. Then I’ll be able to quit my evil day job and support myself through my writing and promoting/editing other people’s writing.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

Keep writing and keep trying. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Edit. And then edit some more. And edit a few more times for good measure. At the same time, though, don’t edit so much that you lose the story. Don’t let life stop you from writing. There is no perfect time. Just write wherever, whenever, and however you can and worry about cleaning it up and compiling it later.

Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?

Facebook and I do not get along. At all. I’m comfortable on Twitter, though I’m much better at the being social part than the promoting myself part, and I’m learning Tumblr, but Facebook keeps changing every time I figure it out, and I get frustrated with it very easily. I think there’s too much other stuff there for me to really get it.

As far as other self promotion, I love doing interviews on blogs, because I can think about questions. I’m horrible about updating my own blog though, so I feel bad that I can never return the favor.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

My real life creeps into almost all of my stories in some way. Sauntering Vaguely Downward is set at the 2009 Dragon*Con, and though the story I told was fictional, the events of the con were real, as were a lot of the attitudes, costumes, etc. There’s a lot I participated in or witnessed firsthand in that one. In To Dream, Perchance to Live, I worked some of my nightmares into the dreamscape sequences. The nightmares Wyatt and Aidan are running through when Wyatt is ill are actually all nightmares I’ve had personally. My current project is about a wine shop and that too is drawing from my real life. My kitten has made a cameo appearance, and I go to wine tastings all the time, so a lot of the things I’ve learned there are coming into play as well.

Research: love it or hate it?

Depends on what I’m researching, to be honest. Right now I’m researching wines and wine shops, which means I’m going to a lot of wine tastings. It’s a difficult life, but someone has to do it.

For everything, I’d say I like it. Some things, like with the wine or when I went to Dragon*Con or spent hours reading Greek mythology, I love. Some things, like when I had to get information on rival sports teams, I only liked it. I love learning new things, which helps, and I can find something to enjoy about almost anything, which also helps, but there are just some things I’m never going to love. I doubt I’ll ever hate research, though.

 Editing: love it or hate it?

Hate the process, love the end result. Honestly, I want my editors to make me cry. If they notice something a reader will notice it, and I want to know before the book is sent out to the public. Editing makes me pull my hair in frustration sometimes,

How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

I think they figure in a lot. People won’t even pick up the book if they don’t find the cover appealing in some way, and if you have bad cover art, people are going to assume that the book is just as bad. It’s the same with the blurb, though they usually have to get past the cover first. The quality and allure of the art and blurb reflect the quality and allure of the words inside the book in the minds of many readers despite the fact that the author, blurb writer, and cover artist are seldom the same person.

At the same time, though, it’s important to make sure the art and the blurb aren’t misleading. If the people on the cover don’t match the descriptions in the book, it can be annoying. If the look of the book or the wording of the blurb suggest one genre and the book is another, readers will be upset.

Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?

I honestly don’t read my reviews unless someone I know sends them to me and tells me they’re good. People have every right not to like my books, but I don’t need to know about it on anything more than an intellectual level. I’ve found, too, that reviews are usually intended for other readers, not the writer, so while there may be valid constructive criticism or genuine problems the person is pointing out, it’s not presented in a way that is going to be valuable to me. I’d rather get constructive criticism (and yes, I want it, see my answer to the editing question) from people who know to make it valuable to me.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, do you find what you listen to influences the story at all?

I don’t really listen to music at all. I’m kind of weird like that, I know, but the only time I have music on is when I’m in the car by myself, and that’s more for the noise than anything else. There are songs here and there that I enjoy, but I don’t connect with music on an emotional level.

Have you ever created soundtracks for your stories?

Nope. I honestly doubt I ever will. (You’re shocked given my answer to the last question, I know.)

I had someone create a soundtrack for a piece of fanfiction I wrote once. It was awkward, because they were associating all these songs with things my story made them feel and the songs all meant absolutely nothing to me.

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

I occasionally miss my characters, but I don’t look for ways to write sequels. I have read a lot of books and watched a lot of television and movies where the story was over but they kept telling it anyway without moving on to something new, and I don’t ever want to do that. If a sequel presents itself to me, I’m not going to say no, but I need to be able to do it as a new chapter in the characters lives, as a new story to tell.

What I will do is write little vignettes if I really miss someone. I haven’t done that with my published stories, but I had fanfiction where I wrote timestamps just showing what the characters were up to in a given day or situation, but without any plot. I’m also writing a series where the main characters in the first book are friends with one of the main characters in the second book, and they all know one of the main characters in the third book. The stories will focus on each individual couple, but there will be opportunities for the earlier characters to appear so my readers and I can “check up” on them.

Is there anything you wish that I’d asked you, but didn’t?

Well, as  you may have gathered from some of my earlier answers, I’m very passionate about the work I’m doing with Harmony Ink, so I wouldn’t have minded a few questions that focused on that.

What’s the one thing you’re *glad* I didn’t ask you?  *grins*

If I tell you, you’ll probably ask me. I don’t think I want to do that. *winks*

An excerpt:

To Dream, Perchance to Live by Nessa L. Warin

(rating: explicit!)

Blurb:

Wyatt Mettler is a Dreamer. While asleep, he can insert himself into people’s dreams and manipulate them, watch their fantasies, steal their secrets, and change their minds—all without their knowledge. For eleven years he’s been Lumoinnovations’ secret weapon, illegally enslaved, all in the name of the bottom line. But when an assignment goes awry and results in the death of the subject, Wyatt’s handlers leave him for dead.

When Aidan Donecoff stumbles across Wyatt’s unconscious body in an alley, he is struggling to get over a failed relationship and has almost given up hope of forging a true Bond with anyone. He has known Dreamers in the past, but none like Wyatt. When Wyatt truly wakes up for the first time since he was a child, it is Aidan who helps him find his way in the world. They grow close as Wyatt gains confidence, and life is good… until Wyatt’s handlers discover he is still alive and decide they want him back.

Excerpt:

“Is that going to happen again?” Wyatt wrapped himself around Aidan after they climbed back into bed, resting his head on Aidan’s chest and slinging a leg over Aidan’s hips. They had stripped the guest bed so the sheets could be washed in the morning, showered together in the large corner shower-tub combination in the master bathroom, and were now contentedly entwined in Aidan’s bed, eyes drooping.

“No.” Aidan didn’t have to ask what Wyatt was talking about. He just knew, the same as he knew that Wyatt was too exhausted for them to dream that night and that he was worried Aidan would be disappointed in him because of it. He wouldn’t be.

Wyatt lifted his head and looked sleepily at Aidan. “Are you sure?”

“Of course.” Aidan met Wyatt’s lips, kissing him softly but thoroughly before pulling back. “A Bond is mostly mental. It just needs the physical aspect to fully form. After that, we could never touch again, as far as our Bond is concerned.” Not as far as Aidan was concerned, but that wasn’t the point of the conversation. “We can definitely have sex again, but it won’t be like that. Our Bond won’t force us into it or hurt us if we don’t anymore.”

“Oh.” Wyatt regarded Aidan seriously for a few moments and then smiled. “So no more frantic, must-have-you-right-now, desperate, mind-blowing sex?”

Aidan laughed loud and hard, surprised by the teasing lilt in Wyatt’s voice. “Well, not with pain like that involved.” He let his grin turn predatory as he rolled, pushing Wyatt down to the bed with one swift motion, then leaning down to growl in his ear. “We can definitely have more frantic, must-have-you-right-now, desperate, mind-blowing sex, though.”

Wyatt swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly dry and his palms sweaty. Aidan’s gravelly, come-fuck-me-now voice had his cock springing to attention, and his eyes rolled back in their sockets as Aidan licked his ear, swirling his tongue over the shell before sucking the lobe between his lips and tugging on it with his teeth. Wyatt bucked. “Aidan. You’re killing me.”

“Not yet.” Aidan slowly slid along Wyatt’s body, licking and sucking at his pulse point and collarbone, then taking the time to lavish attention on both nipples, leaving them red and aching for more. As he kissed his way down Wyatt’s stomach, swirling his tongue in Wyatt’s belly button, Aidan grabbed Wyatt’s wrists before sliding his tongue downward, tasting the sensitive skin just above Wyatt’s cock. When he reached it, he stopped, his face hovering just above the moist tip of the erect organ.

“Aidan.” Wyatt squirmed, groaning with displeasure as Aidan lifted his head further, a mischievous smile playing on his lips. The look set Wyatt’s heart racing. “Please.”

“Too messy.” Aidan climbed to his knees, brushing his erection against Wyatt’s. “I don’t want to have to change this bed tonight too.”

“It’s a big bed,” Wyatt ground out through clenched teeth. “We can take care of it in the morning.” He rolled his hips up, deliberately brushing his cock against Aidan’s, silently begging him to do something, anything, about the erection he had caused. “I’ll sleep in the wet spot. Just. Please.”

Aidan’s grin widened as he climbed over Wyatt, situating himself facing Wyatt’s feet with his knees at Wyatt’s shoulders and his penis bobbing over Wyatt’s face. “Less mess this way.” And then, before Wyatt had a chance to process what was happening, Aidan leaned over and licked the length of Wyatt’s cock just once before slipping his mouth over the end and sucking.

Wyatt moaned, his eyelids fluttering and his brain trying to catch up, so lost in the warm heat of Aidan’s mouth and the sudden onslaught of delightful sensation that it took him several moments to untangle his fingers from the sheets and guide Aidan’s cock to his lips. He mirrored Aidan, licking and sucking, scraping with his teeth, moving purely on instinct, lost in the pleasure and pure electricity between them. He pulled back as far as he could, swirling his tongue over the tip of Aidan’s dick and then swallowed it whole, humming around the engorged flesh.

Aidan had to pull back, gasping and mumbling incoherently as his elbows buckled at the surge of pleasure. “Oh God.” His vision grew hazy, and he returned his attention to Wyatt, taking special care to lick every inch of Wyatt’s cock before opening his throat and taking it all the way in.

The combined sensations of Aidan in his mouth and Aidan’s mouth on him were too much for Wyatt. He didn’t try to hold back and willingly tumbled over the edge, his hips buckling and his fingers clenching in the sheets as he screamed Aidan’s name around his cock and spurted his come down Aidan’s throat.

The vibrations of Wyatt’s scream and the warm, salty liquid pouring into his mouth were enough to send Aidan over as well. He barely managed to swallow before he was yelling Wyatt’s name, his hips jerking as he came down Wyatt’s throat. His limbs shook as he fell to the side, pulling free of Wyatt’s mouth and gasping for breath as he lay bonelessly next to his lover, their sweat-slicked bodies pressed close together on the large bed.

Wyatt licked his lips, caught a dribble of come that had escaped, and swallowed it. “That’s less messy?”

“Nothing. On the sheets.”

“Except sweat.” Wyatt sat up and pulled at Aidan, manhandling him until they faced the same direction.

Aidan sagged limply, letting Wyatt maneuver his lax limbs. “Doesn’t count,” he mumbled, burying his face in Wyatt’s shoulder. “I sweat at night anyway.”

“That’s attractive.” Wyatt laughed, his chest shaking under Aidan as he moved them to the untouched side of the bed. “Way to ruin the mood.”

“The mood was over.” Aidan wrapped his arms around Wyatt and snuggled down, his head pillowed on Wyatt’s chest and his eyes closed. He didn’t move as Wyatt reached across him, grabbed tissues from the nightstand, and wiped them both as clean as possible while pinned by Aidan. “Besides, you love it.”

Wyatt chuckled and kissed the top of Aidan’s head. “That I do. Now sleep. You’re exhausted.” He let his eyes drift closed as he wrapped his arms around his lover in a loose embrace, content for the moment to just sleep and let his dreams take him where they willed.

 

Thank you so much for coming by, Nessa, and giving such interesting answers to my questions! To Dream, Perchance to Love sounds like a fascinating premise, and your sci-fi geeky background really shows in such an inventive world you’ve created! I’m looking forward to reading more about Wyatt and Aidan!

 

Nessa L. Warin lives in southwestern Ohio with a cat who graciously allows her to pay all the bills and demands pampering on a regular basis. She enjoys wine tastings and travel, and can easily get lost in science fiction or fantasy stories. She’s a true geek, enjoys costuming, and can be found dressed up at at least one Renaissance festival and fantasy convention each year.  When she’s not having fun, Nessa works in Corporate America coordinating the production and mailing of marketing materials and wishing she had more time to write.

Visit Nessa’s blog at http://nessa-l-warin.livejournal.com/ and follow her on Twitter @nessalwarin. She can also be reached at nessa.l.warin@gmail.com.

Also, Dreamspinner is celebrating the huge number of DSP authors that received Rainbow Awards this year by discounting award winning stories for a limited time! Do check out their website for all the details, and to find out how you can enter to win a Kindle too!

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Interview with Nessa L. Warin

  1. Hi Nessa & Sarah! Nice interview. It’s great to get a chance to learn more about an author I enjoy. To Dream is a great read!

    • I’ve been having fun asking people the same questions and seeing how different and entertaining their answers are! I haven’t read To Dream myself yet, but it sounds wonderfully intriguing. I have to admit, I’m like Nessa in that I prefer a story with some romance, rather than a romance story. 🙂

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