Today I have Mel Gough, author of A World Apart on my Divan of Discourse. Welcome, Mel!
Please tell us about your book.
Answer: A World Apart is the story of Ben, a cop, who meets Donnie, a redneck who is brought to the police station as a suspect. It turns out that Donnie didn’t do what he’s accused of, but he clearly has something to hide. Ben meets Donnie again shortly after, and he feels intrigued and attracted to him. They start seeing each other, but Donnie has a lot going on. Ben, who likes taking care of people, helps him, and they develop quite a strong bond, despite their different backgrounds and the challenges in both their lives.
I’ve read it (Goodreads), and the story deals with some very serious issues. What inspired you to write the story?
Answer: I’m very interested in science, especially biochemistry and physiology. I started on a biomedical degree as a mature student, and while I didn’t complete that I have a real fascination with medicine. So I use those tropes in my writing a lot. I also like writing sweet stories, where the characters take care of each other.
I also wanted to write a story with an unequal dynamic. Ben isn’t the perfect guy, he’s quite overbearing. I didn’t want to belabor the point, but I find it interesting to write realistic relationships where love isn’t just born from physical attraction. You can get deeply invested in a person because they need you. There are people who thrive on that, and people who run a mile if someone turns out to be too needy. It’s not a selfless act; Ben gets a lot out of this relationship too. His need of not being alone, and feeling needed is met. And Donnie isn’t a pussy. He was dealt a hard hand, but he makes the best of it. There are two more books I want to write with these two which I hope I’ll be able to find a home for.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?
Answer: As I said, I’ve got some background in biomedicine. Aside from the scientific knowledge I also did the thesis for my MA degree on HIV in a specific culture.
I think my basic understanding of medicine is very influential on what kind of story ideas I get. Then I go and do a lot of research, maybe talk to people who work in the field, too, until I’m pretty sure I got the facts as correct as I can.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
Answer: I’m not so keen on writing sex scenes. Oftentimes, I just put a [sex goes here] placeholder when I write. It’s not that I mind thinking or writing about it, or even reading it when it’s well done. But I like my scenes to have meaning, and I like that in A World Apart you’ll really miss out on story development if you skip the sex. It’s always there for a reason that goes beyond the erotic.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Answer: My background as a writer is writing fanfiction. As such, you’re exposed to stories that are written by the people who also read fanfiction. You get an idea quickly about what’s of interest to your readers. Fanfiction isn’t mainstream, though, so when you make the jump to original stories you suddenly find that what will guarantee you roaring success with fic readers is a total no-no with the publishing industry. It was quite the learning curve for me. I think you can tell that I wrote A World Apart without really thinking about traditional, 3-act story structure, with first plot point, midpoint, hook etc. I do think that you can tell a good story without first studying those tools to degree level. Most writers who make it to being published have an intuitive understanding of storytelling. But had I come at the story from a different angle it would’ve probably looked more familiar to critics and readers.
Having said that, I always write what I want. I pay more attention now to the craft of telling a story, but the actual ideas and the characters come to me from inside my brain and through life experience. I couldn’t write to commission, at least not right now. I feel very free writing LGBTQI romance because I think that as a genre it allows for characters that are outside the mainstream, and they’re the kinds of characters I love and get really invested in.
Tell us what your next project is, or what you’re currently working on.
Answer: Right now, I’m writing a standalone novel with a twist on the theme of ménage à trois. I won’t say too much, but it’s a boy meets girl meets boy kinda story, and it’s quite dark and a little twisted.
I’m also working on expanding on books two and three for Ben and Donnie’s story, and I’m especially excited about book two because some of it is simply too cute!
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Mel! Where can readers find you on the web?