Hayley B. James talks about Elemental Attraction–do you have it?

I have with me here today Hayley B. James! She’s hear to answer my questions and to talk about the first in her Elemental Attraction series: Water Waltz.

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Hello Hayley! Welcome to my blog and 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?

I like to write stories that focus on plot with a sprinkle of romance. I definitely like to surprise my readers with twists and turns and shocking revelations. The only exception to this is Paid Leave. It’s contemporary romance without a mystery element so the twists and turns mirror real life love only.

Do you believe in love?

I believe in all shades of love and that it is not entirely linked to sex or physical touch. Love is a very different beast to each individual.

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

I had a few friends who nudged me in the right direction.

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

Aside from one terrible fanfic, I’ve written only m/m. I prefer reading m/m when I read romance, so I don’t see myself ever writing another genre.

The Zombie Apocalypse has begun. You have a van with enough gas to get you to a defensible location. In addition to your immediate family, you can take three of your own characters with you. Who would you chose and why?

Varun from Fire Tango and Water Waltz. He’s a demon with control of water so I think he’ll come in handy for finding drinkable water. Benji from Paid Leave because he’s a cop and has experience with firearms. My final pick would be Lucian from World on Fire because he can paint us a safe haven.

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

It means I do extensive research on any topic I want to write about, and gain life experience to better write a situation. It also means I need a strong sense of empathy to crawl into my character’s position and decide on his reaction.

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

I’m a bit of both. I usually have a general idea of where I’m going before I attempt to go, but that path is rarely plotted out with every plot point. Sometimes I don’t have the end planned out until about half way there, but other times I start with the ending.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

I’m alone with an unlimited supply of hot coffee, my laptop and an internet connection, my day-job has forgotten my phone number, and I have a stack of books. The location is not important. My closest friends are also all there with their laptops and books. One big caffeinated nerdy and geeky party.

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

Fremont from Water Waltz and Fire Tango. He wears a mask to be strong but inside he has the same insecurities we all do. He seems confident in all he does, but he second guesses himself just as much as anyone. However, he doesn’t let his second guesses or concerns lead him from the path he chose. He’s a sweetheart that needs a lover to lean on but can’t bring himself to ask for help.

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

Paid Leave for fans of contemporary romance fans, and Fire Tango for anyone who enjoys fantasy or mystery. Since Fire Tango is the second book in Elemental Attraction series, Water Waltz might be the better pick out of the two so readers don’t spoil the plot.

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

Aside from the basics like water and food, I need my computer, internet, and family. I write on my computer and use it to stay in contact with my friends. The internet is useful for research, friendships, and wasting time on tumblr. And my family is a huge support in my life—especially my parents.

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

Don’t give up and don’t listen to the naysayers. If you write because you enjoy telling a story, don’t ever lose that feeling.

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?

Since high school I’ve worked in offices that strive for sales. You’d think I would be better at it. I don’t like the feeling I get when I tell someone to buy something. That comes into play for my own books. Do I think readers will enjoy them? Yes. I’m very excited for people to read Paid Leave, but I don’t have that sales personality to tell everyone to buy it because it’s my best one and they’ll love it.

However, I don’t have a problem being anyone’s and everyone’s friend so I will tweet the heck out of you if you tweet to me. Or if you friend me on Facebook or G+ or even on Tumblr.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world (real life, celebrity, fictional, etc.) who would you choose to dine with and why?

I used to pick F. Scott Fitzgerald or another favorite author of mine, but today I feel like answering with a celebrity. Martin Freeman. His career has really changed over the past few years, but he still seems like the friendliest famous guy out there.

Any advice for the 20 year old you?

You’re not as alone as you think you are. And call your mother more often.

If you could pick one of your stories to become real, one world which you could be part of, which would you choose and why?

The Elemental Attraction series (Water Waltz and Fire Tango). Hands down. I’d miss the internet and cell phones, but I could be a devil and have a tail, so it might even out. And I’ll solve puzzles with the leading boys from the stories and forget all about tumblr.

Brains are nice, but what’s your favorite physical characteristic on a man or woman? What do you check out first? What makes you decide if someone’s good looking or not?

Arms. It’s weird. I like toned arms (not too muscular) but I like chubby legs too. I blame the skinny jean fad for that part. Give me a man with meaty legs that can’t wear skinny jeans, please.

What’s your go-to method of providing comfort after a bad day (week, month, year)? Is it a favorite book, movie, television show? What gets you through the rough times?

I’m a strong advocate of moping. When I’m down, nothing really brings me up, so I’ll either embrace the down mood by reading or watching something heart wrenching until I get a good cry and move on, or I’ll force myself to get over it by pathetically staring at the ceiling and counting the good things among the bad until I feel silly for moping during a rough patch. I’m optimistic enough to know rough patches are okay, and I’m strong enough to not allow the patch to become the normal.

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

From experience, a cover is the first selling point for a small author. If a wildly successful author has a bad cover, no one cares because the fans had that puppy on preorder for months. In my opinion. I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about some of my covers and how readers wanted to pass on it based on the image. So I think an excellent cover is key. Of course, an excellent cover is not the same for everyone. A good blurb is hard but definitely a must as well.

Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?

Always. It’s fantastic to read a positive one, and a little disheartening to read a negative one. But that’s a part of being an author and putting yourself out there.

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?

At the end of Water Waltz I was very sad to know I wouldn’t write Fremont again. I missed all the boys, but Fremont was my favorite. My beta readers wanted a sequel, but I just couldn’t see one happening. And then an idea hit me for a story about Fremont and Fire Tango was written.

What are your writing goals for 2013? Your personal goals?
My most important personal goal for 2013 is to prepare my life for moving in January 2014. For writing goals, I have two WIPs I plan to finish in 2013. I’d love to see more finished but I try to keep the goal low so I don’t burn out. The first WIP is the third book in Elemental Attraction series. The second WIP is a story about a private investigator.

Water Waltz blurb:
Elemental Attraction: Book One
In a land where humans are enslaved as sexual toys, angels and demons are in constant conflict with their playthings. The demon Varun works with STAR, an organization devoted to human liberty, and it’s a never-ending battle.

Two years ago, the angel Triste broke Varun’s heart by choosing to be his butler instead of his beloved, giving Varun no explanation and no hope. However, that doesn’t mean that Triste will simply sit back and watch as Varun takes the human Elden under his protection, and Triste’s secret investigation will unearth terrible secrets, including the kernels of a pernicious plot.

Despite appearances, Triste and Varun are still in love, and Varun may well risk everything to protect Triste and discover why the angel left him heartbroken. But a still worse danger hangs over them as they seek to calm the threat of a catastrophic war.

Water Waltz by Hayley B.James is available on Dreamspinner Press.

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