Monday, October 8, 2012

Two for One. . .A mmmMMMonday interview with Xara X Xanakas and Piper Vaughn

Just for reading this interview, and commenting on it, you are entered to possibly win one or two FREE books. SO DO IT! And you'll be glad you did!

Wt--- Greeting and salutions, This is Wt Prater and here tonight with Piper Vaughn and Xara X Xanakas. Thank you so much for joining me.

XX --- Thank you for having us.

PV --- Greetings. :)

Wt --- Tonight, as I interview these two incredible human beings, I am rocking out to No Doubt’s new CD, Push and Shove. What about you two? What is currently in your one CD of choice?

PV--- Right now, Muse’s “The 2nd Law,” which just came out. They’re my favorite band.

XX--- Is it bad that I don’t have any favorite CDs right now?

Wt --- Weird, but not bad. Lol. You have heard P!nk’s latest, right? SO GOOD!

PV --- I’ve only heard one song from that album so far. I’ll have to listen to the rest of it!

XX --- I haven’t heard it yet. I’m kind of stuck in the 80s still - hair bands and early heavy metal.

Wt --- My computer apparently got sick of No Doubt, and switched to Joni Mitchell. My computer is so bipolar. Xara, you’re still stuck in the 80’s, you were there when last we met. Still listening to the exactly same bands?

XX --- Probably. I’m a creature of habit. Or routine.

Wt--- When you’re writing what do you listen to, if anything?

XX --- I can’t listen to anything when I write. My brain winds up following the music, and the shiny takes over.

PV --- For me, it depends on what I’m writing and what kind of mood I’m going for. Sometimes I need music and sometimes I need silence. There are times when the music just distracts me, and times it helps.

Wt --- I love listening to music in other languages while I’m writing. My currently fave is an Icelandic band called Sigur Ros. What about you? Ever tried that?

PV --- I’ve listened to stuff in Spanish and Japanese, but as I said before, it’s entirely dependent on my mood.

Wt --- So, I have couple of questions for you as individuals. Let’s start with you, Piper.

You’re written about pirates, zombies, rock stars, geeks, and party boys. Do you have a favorite of those, or one you seem to relate to better than the others?

PV --- Well, I guess I relate most to the geeks, though I am more pop culture than a techy geek. I’ve always been kind of introverted and dorky, so they’re probably the best fit. I’ve really enjoyed writing my rock stars with MJ, though. I wish I had any sort of musical talent, but sadly, I don’t. I do hope to learn to play the banjo someday, though. One day, I want to banjo duel. :P

Wt --- Fair enough. And looking over your resume of writing, you appear to have a great relationship with Goodreads. Could you tell us about that?

PV --- I joined Goodreads as a reader back in July 2007. Most of my friendships there were started before I was even published, including with Xara and my other co-author, MJ O’Shea. I created a profile for Piper in 2010, I believe, since I’d always been a fan of the site and it seemed like it would be cool to be able to connect to readers under my author persona. These days, I mainly use GR under my reader profile to track all of the books I’m reading and the challenges I’m participating in.

Wt --- Well, looking your reviews, you are dearly loved. Over 90 percent of your reviews for your books and stories are 4 star or above. Except strangely for “Promise in a Kiss” which is slightly lower at 3.25 stars. Why do you think this book was received differently?

PV --- You know, I’m not sure if I can really answer that one, but I’ll give it a try. The main complaint I saw about “Promise in a Kiss” was that people felt there wasn’t a complete story and that it was more like the prologue to what should have been a longer book. I never intended it to be part of something bigger; it was always meant as a cute, little, serendipitous kind of story, sort of a modern-day fairytale. I was satisfied with it and felt it was complete and could stand on its own. Judging from the feedback, perhaps most people disagreed.

Wt --- You’ve published a total of 4 stories through Goodreads. Have you noticed a different reaction to those than those you’ve published through Dreamspinner, Less Than Three, or Loose ID?

PV --- I’ve self-published 4 freebies on GR altogether. Two vignette collections co-written with MJ and two solo stories. Of those, “Wanting” is by far my most popular, and it currently still holds the most ratings for any of my titles. That story is where most GR regulars first encountered my writing, I’d imagine, and the most noticeable reaction is people being surprised that it was a freebie because they enjoyed it so much. Not everyone, of course, but I’ve seen quite a few people make that type of comment since it was published in July ‘11.
The vignettes are connected to the “Lucky Moon” series I write with MJ, and those aren’t really intended to stand on their own. They’re meant to be read in addition to the books and were written as more of a “behind the scenes” kind of perk for the fans, which is why they are free. I’ve seen some people comment about not wanting to read them because they aren’t technically in the main series, but for us they play a part. I assume, though, being that they’re only posted on ARe and GR, a lot of fans might not even know about them.

Wt --- Turning to you, Xara, you’re written about shifters, cowboys, cops, and rebels. Who do you relate to the most?

XX --- No matter what they do, my guys tend to be self-depreciating and snarky, using humor to cover their insecurities. I think that’s what I relate to more than their professions.

Wt --- I loved your book, Snakeskin Boots, about a wereboa and werewolf that fall in love. What your philosophy with regards to the weres? Are there any animals you don’t want to use?

XX --- Weres are people too, just enhanced. Being dual-natured, I don’t believe they would ever be able to completely separate one from the other. In animal form, they’d probably be lucid and aware of their surroundings. Some may even use strategy learned in their human form. While human, I think they’d exhibit some of the characteristics of their animals, some of the physical tics their animal would show. As for off-limits animals? Nah, it’s open season on all of them.

Wt --- On a totally different subject, I’m curious about Bennie’s Wish and No Pants Day. Can you tell us the backstory of this?

XX --- Doesn’t everybody celebrate No Pants Day?
Everyone deserves a happily ever after. I wanted to show that, and do something different. Wish isn’t your typical romance hero. He’s just a regular guy, looking for someone who he can be himself with. I think that’s what most people want - someone who gets them, who lets them be who they are, without having to fit some supermodel mold.

Wt --- So, No Pants Day (May 4th) is your national holiday?

XX --- No Pants Day is always the first Friday in May. This year, it also happened to land on Star Wars Day - May the 4th. The EDJ (Evil Day Job) keeps me from celebrating No Pants Day the way I’d like to though. Stupid bills, expecting to get paid every month.

Wt --- LOL!! Both of you have written with multiple partners, Piper with MJ O’Shea and Xara with Lissa Kasey and LC Chase. What is like to write with different partnerships?

PV --- Well, the biggest difference is figuring out how you want to do things. MJ and I had one way of doing things. When I started working with Xara, we did thinks a bit differently. Whereas with MJ, I was writing the general outlines for each story and she was breaking them down into chapters, with Xara, we pretty much did it all together working in Google Docs. I’ve found I prefer the second way, actually, and since then MJ and I have used a shared doc to outline and summarize chapters together.

XX ---  I’ve tried to work with my collaborators to come up with the outline for the story, so we both know where it’s headed, and then break up the load so we both get parts we’re interested in doing. I really love seeing what they bring to the story, where they take our boys, and then working within the framework to bring it together. Hopefully in the end, it’s seamless and as much fun as we have while we’re working on it.

Wt --- Ok, so you both know, I am huge fans of both of you and have been since GRL last year when I met you both. It’s like a family reunion for me! Have you found an increase in your following since then? AKA How, if any, has your life changed over the last year?

PV --- I loved meeting you at GRL last year. Looking forward to seeing you again.
My fanbase has definitely increased since then, which I’m immensely grateful for. When we met, I’d only been officially published for a couple of months. Outside of my freebies, “Wanting” and “More Than Moonlight,” I only had one published book out there. I think most people had never heard of me. Since then, I’ve published two more freebies and four official titles. One of those stayed pretty high on the Amazon rankings in the GLBT Romance category for the first couple of months after its release. I think it was that book, “One Small Thing,” that most dramatically increased my readership. I’ve been amazed and very thankful for the feedback it’s received.

XX --- I loved meeting you too. I am extremely introverted, and having breakfast with you that first morning really helped me overcome some of that. I can’t wait to see you again. Last year, Snakeskin Boots had just come out, and I was terrified. I was shocked by how many people stopped to tell me how much they liked it. That has helped boost my confidence, so maybe this year, I won’t try to hide from everyone.

Wt --- I know both of you work with multiple presses, Piper and Xara with Dreamspinner and Less Than Three Press, and Piper with Loose ID also. What are some of the differences you’ve noticed in these presses?

PV --- Every press is a little bit different. The editorial processes, how they deal with covers, how much author input they’ll allow about certain things (like with the covers). For example, with Loose Id, I have an assigned editor. Everything I submit to them goes directly to her first, and then to the higher ups. With Dreamspinner, there are no assigned editors, outside of with anthologies when a specific editor handles the entire thing. You never know the name of who is editing your work; it’s all freelance. With LT3, there are no assigned editors either, but there are a set number of them on the LT3 roster and those are the people you will work with consistently. They all handle covers and the actual editing process differently, too.

Wt --- So, the project that brought you two together . . .tell me about it.

PV --- Well, the title for “Party Boy” actually came about while I was trying to think of an alternate title for “One Small Thing.” I was talking to Xara on Yahoo one day and we were spitballing ideas. If I’m remembering right, I suggested something like “The Club Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek.” She suggested “party boy.” Either one could have worked for OST, but wasn’t an exact fit and the title obviously implies that it will be some kind of guide. I liked the title so much, I put in a file and saved it. Later on, I asked Xara if she would like to write it with me. We came up with the actual plot together, discussing stuff in a Google doc and chatting.

XX --- We thought the idea of an ‘instruction manual’ of sorts would be a fun way to help tell the story.

Wt ---  And that comes out . . . .

XX --- Oct 10

Wt --- Last question, are there any questions you wanted asked that I didn’t and/or are there any questions that you are so sick of answering?

XX&PV --- I can’t think of anything.

XX --- And can I say congrats on your stories, Will?

PV --- Yes, congrats again.

Wt --- Thanks, my loves. And I will see you both in two weeks at Gay Rom Lit. Yippee!

Xara X. Xanakas decided years ago to embrace her weirdness. A friend first described her that way to the man who’s been her husband for over twenty years. That formula fits her, and she figures if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Being Texan, her crush on cowboys comes natural, but the techie in her loves to show nerds a good time. She relishes all things different, and brings saucy style to her writing. Whether wrangling a wayward ranch hand or adding another critter to her were-menagerie, Xara strives to make the outlandish appealing. She’ll make you quirk a brow and snort with laughter, and that’s all right by her. Xara believes that unique is best and happily ever after is the icing on the cookies.

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she's known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a thousand book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it's only in a book.

Purchase link for Party Boy:





  1. I enjoy reading all the various interviews online with m/m romance authors. I like to see what's in there heads as they write. Feel free to enter me into the free book contest.

    Christopher Hammel

  2. Cheers to you both. I love the idea of a guide book and I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

  3. I am very excited to dive into this book. I have a fascination with books/stories that reference other books, whether real or fiction. It sounds like you guys had fun in doing it. Looking forward to meeting y'all in ABQ :D

  4. I try to get others to celebrate no pants day as often as possible :D It was nice getting to know you two a little better. As far as music while writing, I've come up with a few interesting tidbits while listening to classical. Cheers to you both for your new release!