Jeff and Will get started by talking about the surreal week of interviews they did for the podcast. In addition, they announced the final total in the Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens auction that recently ended.
Kit Williamson and John Halbach, the guys behind the Eastsiders series stop by to talk about the Kickstarter they’re running to fund season three. They’ve got details on a way for listeners and supporters to win a great prize this week.
The Dirty Dancing remake and the season finale of Arrow are discussed.
The guys also interview the duo that make up the writing team of Ari McKay. They talk about their latest book, Breaking Bonds, which is part of the Dreamspun Desires line. In addition, we get their origin story, how they approach collaborating and what’s coming up later for them. There’s also a bonus 10 minutes of the interview, which appears in the podcast feed, on YouTube as well as the shownotes page.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode:
- Somewhere on Mackinac by Jeff Adams on Dreamspinner Press
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Kit Williamson & John Halbach Interview
- Dirty Dancing on ABC
- Arrow on CW
- Ari McKay Interview
- Ari McKay: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon
- Sense8 on Netflix
- Leverage on TNT
- A Taste of Honey by Ari McKay on Amazon
- The Whole Kit and Kaboodle by Ari McKay (this title is out of print)
- Striking Sparks by Ari McKay on Amazon
- Breaking Bonds by Ari McKay on Amazon
- Herc’s Merc Series by Ari McKay on Amazon
Sweet Summer Fun Paperback Giveaway
This giveaway closed at 11:59pm PT on Sunday, June 11, 2017.
Ari McKay Transcript
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: We’re very excited to welcome Ari McKay to the podcast. Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary fantasy, science fiction, Gothic, and action-adventure. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge-watching TV shows together.
Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day, who is eagerly looking forward to, hopefully, becoming a full-time writer in the not too distant future. And McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. Welcome you both to the podcast.
Ari: Thank you.
Jeff: Very excited to have you here. So I have to ask before we really get going, what shows are binge-watching right now?
McKay: Yes, Season 2. We also finished up “Leverage” recently.
Jeff: Okay. So you’ve got two books, two new books that we wanna talk about. Well, one’s a rerelease, and then one is a brand new one. A couple weeks ago, you released the second edition of “A Taste of Honey.” Tell us about that book and what might be new in its second edition.
Ari: Well, there’s not really much new in the second edition. That book, we really liked it. It was a very different thing for us because of the cross-dressing that was in it as far as our published work. I think we only have one other story with a crossdresser. What do you think McKay? That was “Kit and Kaboodle” was the other one that was in one of the Dreamspinner anthologies.
Ari: So, actually, McKay wrote Rob, who was the cross-dressing character in that. And that was fun. It was the whole fake girlfriend kind of thing, where a guy who is nominally straight…I mean, he’s not…he’s wondered about himself before. And he decides, you know, because he’s going home to his very controlling Southern mother, that he needs to bring a girlfriend with him so that he doesn’t get, you know, set up with every single female around, which if you’ve ever had anything to do with Southern families, matchmaking is definitely part of the culture. His best friend just happens to be a drag performer, crossdresser, and he brings him home to meet mama, and things kinda proceed from there.
Jeff: And hilarious high jinks ensue, I’m sure, because I could just imagine the Southern reaction to the crossdresser when that finally gets revealed. I’m sure it does at some point in the book.
Ari: Oh, it does…
McKay: Oh, yes.
Ari: You wanna speak to that, McKay?
McKay: Just to say there is moonshine involved over the course of the book. Yes, it does get revealed. There are high jinks. And, yeah, that was one of my favorites. I really enjoyed writing that one because it was sort of light, and sweet, and romantic. Not a whole lot of angst. So it was just a really fun story to write.
Will: Cool. Now, “A Taste of Honey” was originally released a couple of years ago. What was it like going back over an older work for this new rerelease?
Ari: Well, I was actually, kind of, surprised to how well it’s still held up.
Will: Good, good.
Ari: Of course, going through the Dreamspinner editorial process is an experience in and of itself.
Will: It is rigorous.
Ari: Well, that’s just…
McKay: Yes, yes.
Ari: …you know, the comments about, you know, autonomous body parts, I dread seeing that.
Will: Exactly, yes.
Ari: I dread seeing that comment anymore. But, I mean, I think that because the editorial process was more rigorous on the second edition that it did make it a better book, at least, you know, from a technical standpoint. I think the story was still solid, but now it reads a little better. So we were really excited about that. We were very excited that Dreamspinner did pick up a bunch of our works for rerelease.
McKay: And some of those are getting revamped quite a bit. Some of them we have looked back on and went, “Oh, God, no,” and have changed certain aspects considerably. But I agree with Ari that “Honey” held up pretty well. It was one of the ones that we…we went back on it and felt like it was pretty solid, and it didn’t need significant changing. But others that we have resubmitted through Dreamspinner have gotten a lot more reworking. We look back on them, and we’re like, “No, no, we gotta change things. This is…no.”
Jeff: Yeah, that’s good. I think it’s always interesting to revisit a work after several years because the writing always evolves.
Will: Now, last year, the tail end of 2016, the two of you released “Striking Sparks.”
Will: One of the enjoyable stories that I’ve read in the Dreamspun Desire series. And I reviewed it a couple of months ago, I really, really enjoyed it.
Will: I really like how Jake, the main character, had a lot of stuff to work through other than just, you know, the romance. I think the story dealt with his situation. Jake has to come home to his small town and, kind of, take over the family business when his brother dies. So he has…I don’t think he feels stuck necessarily, but he does feel obligated to take care of the family restaurant. Then there is his sister-in-law who’s pregnant. And so, he’s got a lot of stuff on his plate, plus he has to deal with, you know, cooking on a reality TV competition. So I really like the depth of the characters between Jake and Beau in the romance and the, sort of, realistic stuff that they had to deal with in order to get to their happily ever after.
Ari: Oh, thank you. Yeah, we enjoyed that one a lot. I think it was probably a little…well, there was more angst than we normally put in one of our books, just because Jay did have so much that he had to work through. And that was one reason why we had to make it, kind of, not an established relationship, but at least they knew each other, they had a history because trying to…especially in the length of the Dreamspun Desires, trying to work in, you know, a brand new relationship with a whole lot of angst on either one side or the other is a little difficult. So I think we gave them enough to work through. And at least Jake was willing to work through it. That’s, I think, one of the differences, too, was that he wasn’t looking to be unhappy. He was looking to be happy, and he did have this attraction to Beau. So it wasn’t as hard to get through it in, you know, the length that is expected, as, you know, it might have been otherwise.
McKay: Right. And for people who might not know, the Dreamspun Desires line, they want you to shoot for between 50,000 and 60,000 words. Like, 60,000 words is the hard max. So you are somewhat constrained, you know, you have to balance what you can put in. And like Ari was saying, you know, you couldn’t have too much on Jake’s plate, and you certainly couldn’t have anything on Beau’s plates because it would just be too much, and you would have too much to work through in the time constraints. So, usually when we have one character who has a fair amount of angst, then the other one is not, you know, they’re like Beau, that, you know, they’re kind of settled, and they can be the more stable, calming, helpful, comforting, whatever presence, rather than adding to it and compounding the angst.
Jeff: Talking about that book is a great segue to the other book you’ve got coming out, because on Thursday this week, on June 1st, you have another Dreamspun coming out, and this one is “Breaking Bonds,” which Ari is holding up right here. It’s the second of The Walker Boys Series. So what’s up this time out?
Ari: Oh, this one is one of my absolute favorites, I think, that we’ve ever written. I had so much fun with it. So this time, it’s one of Beau’s cousins. It’s Liam Walker. And he left Texas and went to New York because he was going to make his mark in the culinary world, you know, in the most difficult place in the world to make your mark in the culinary world. So he’s worked his way up through culinary school, and he’s, you know, been a sous-chef in a bunch of different restaurants. And then he gets discovered by a celebrity chef, who then makes him the executive chef at one of his premier restaurants. And Beau’s got a bit of a temper like most of the Walkers. That’s, kind of, a…
Ari: …the theme through it. I’m sorry, you’re right. Liam has a temper like most of the Walkers do, and he slugs a critic at a charity fundraiser.
Ari: He said some unkind things about his ability. And so, he’s told by his mentor to take a break, take some space, you know, go on vacation. “You’ve not had a vacation in a decade, basically, so just go away and don’t even think about cooking.” So he goes away, and he goes to a resort in North Carolina. And the first thing he does is cooking.
McKay: Yes. And that’s where he meets my character, Carter, who…And the really nice thing about this book is that it is set in a town that is real. The town, Buffalo Lake in Texas was fictional, but Maggie Valley is absolutely real. It’s this tiny little resort town in Western North Carolina. It’s right there nestled in, as the name suggests, a valley. And they get a lot of skiers in the winter, they get bikers year-round. And I love it. It’s a beautiful, beautiful little town in a beautiful part of North Carolina. And just a little fun fact for your viewers…Yeah, Ari, hold up the cover again, please?
Ari: Oh, yeah.
McKay: So this is Carter on the cover, and what he is standing in front of is actually a real place in the real world. And it’s mentioned, Liam and Carter go there in the book, called Clingmans Dome. And so the background image on the cover is actually a view from the top of Clingmans Dome in Western North Carolina.
Jeff: Wow. I was drug off to that place as a child. It’s so funny that you mention that place.
McKay: Yeah, I’ve been there but my view was not that good. But in this one, my character is the one who has the angst because he has a very overbearing father, who is this type A personality and wants Carter to follow in the family business. And he and his mother are both not happy that Carter is gay, and so they have trouble accepting him on multiple levels. And that’s, kind of, where the title came from, “Breaking Bonds,” that in order to be his authentic self and to live the life that he wants, Carter has to learn how to break free of the bonds that are trying to hold him back. And so, that’s part of the journey that he goes on with Liam is breaking those bonds that are holding him down and preventing him from being happy.
Jeff: I can’t wait for this to end up on our mailbox.
Ari: Well, there’s actually, kind of, an interesting, you know, echo in it in that, you know, at some point, you know, Liam thinks that he’s, you know, footloose and fancy-free other than his own…because his family supports him. You know, he’s out with his family. He’s got a cousin who’s gay, so they’re…you know, his family knows, and he’s been allowed to follow his dreams. But then he finds out he’s actually got bonds that he has to break away from in order to be with Carter because, you know, he’s tied himself into this career path that, you know, he thinks that’s what he wants, and it’s been something he’s been working for.
And you know, but then he has this mentor that he feels like he owes, you know, a great deal to, for giving him a chance. And then his mentor starts putting pressure on him to come back to New York. So, both of them realize that they have a lot in common about, you know, people wanting things from them that they’re not really prepared to give. So like I said, I love this book. I guess that is really good to say about your own book, but…
Jeff: How many more Walker Boys stories do you have in you?
Ari: Well, right now we have one that is in the pipeline. It’s called “Seeking Solace.” And it’s a little different. This one, actually, I don’t…Should we give them a hint, McKay?
Jeff: Exclusive hints.
McKay: We’re not contracted, so we don’t wanna talk too much about it.
McKay: But I think probably the hint is a cruise ship.
Jeff: Ooh. Nice.
McKay: The Walker in this one…The running theme is that the Walker boy is related to the culinary world in some way, you know. Jake had the pantry. Liam, of course, is an executive chef. And this Walker starts out as a bartender on a cruise ship. But he has goals. He wants to be, you know, in the kitchen.
Jeff: So let’s jump back to your origin story. How did you two get together and start your collaboration?
McKay: We’re both geeks from way, way back. You know, I saw “Star Wars” in the theater, you know, when it was originally released, and George Lucas had my soul from that point on. And I had a family friend who nurtured me by giving me Tolkien, and McCaffrey, and Bradbury. Constantly, she was like an enabler, it’s like, “Here, I think you might like this,” and sliding me a book. And she was always right. So, you know, as I got older, I started branching out in fantasy, science fiction, horror, and all of that. And then the internet happened, and I found out about, you know, fandom online. I had been, kind of, involved in fandom offline, but then, you know, I found out this amazing thing called fan fiction.
McKay: And that’s how we ended up in the same Fandom, writing about the same ship. And we, kind of, liked each other’s stories from afar.
McKay: Like, “Ooh, that’s a good one. Ooh.” And then we ended up writing together. And, you know, we’ve been writing together ever since.
Ari: It was very interesting because, yeah, I actually remember the first of McKay’s stories I ever read. And, yeah, I think we like the same kind of things. We have the same hot buttons as far as, you know, the…Let me tell you, every single time we find a television show that has a tall, thin guy with long dark hair and a big nose, oh, we are there. We both…
McKay: Snarky badasses.
Ari: Snarky badasses are definitely one of the things that we both really like.
McKay: Yeah. We like a lot of the same character archetypes, the same kind of tropes, the same type of relationship dynamics. And so our tastes dovetail really well, both as readers and writers. And I think that’s been the key to our sustainability, you know. We’re very alike in personality, in what we like offline as well as online, so we mesh well on a lot of different levels. And that, I think, comes across in our writing.
Will: What was the initial spark that moved you from fan fiction into your own original work?
Ari: Well, the author of our fiction-verse killed our ship. I mean, sank it big time, killed both characters.
Ari: So we had started actually when we saw the…There were signs that the ship was sinking and that she had, you know, bad plans, bad by our opinion, for our characters since she wasn’t gonna get them together. And we had started writing alternative universe, so using the characters and using their personalities, but totally different setups. Like, one of the stories that I’m more famous for, in our ship, is in ice skating. Before “Yuri on Ice,” I actually wrote an ice skating story. This was back in, oh, lordy, 2004, I think, or 2005, something like that.
And so, we realized that we were writing original fiction just using these characters. And then, basically, all we were writing was original fiction with these characters. And it was like, you know, if we stepped out of the comfort zone a little bit and actually came up with our own characters, this might actually work. So we did.
McKay: Yep. I mean, that’s basically…And this was around 2012, I think, 2011.
McKay: Yeah, 2012 was when we got our first Dreamspinner Daily Dose, the June Daily Dose published. But, yeah, I mean, first we started writing alternate universe in the canon to, kind of, fix the situation. Then we started taking them out of the canon and putting them, you know, like on the ice skating, and then we had one that was set on a reality show. I mean, we were taking them further and further away from the original source material. And then, you know, we had that conversation, it’s like, “Well, why don’t we just write our own thing?” And it took a little bit for us to get to that point because…And the funny thing is, we were saying, “Oh, but if we have to come up with our own plots and our own characters every time, boy, that’s gonna be hard.” And how many plots did you say we have on our bunny list now?
Jeff: Wow, goodness.
McKay: Yes, we use Google Drive for writing, and we use OneNote for notes, and for our plot bunny list, and all our miscellaneous stuff. And we have an ongoing plot bunny list. So that fear was unfounded.
Ari: Yes. The voices never shut up.
McKay: No, they do not.
Jeff: Can you say what ship you were writing in?
Ari: Sure. I mean, not unknown. We were writing Severus and Remus in “Harry Potter,” so Snape Lupin was our ship.
Jeff: So, what’s your process from going from plot bunny to finished work? I’ve heard, you know, talk about as we were talking about these two books that one of you takes one character, one of you takes the other. But what’s your overall process to pull all the way through to a finished manuscript?
Ari: Let’s see. Well, it…
Ari: …kinda depends on what we’re doing, if it’s for a publication call or if it’s just something that we’re writing just because. You know, for a publication call, like, say, writing for Dreamspinner, especially in the Dreamspun lines or something where there’s a fixed word count that we have to meet, it takes a little more plotting because you have to make sure that you’re gonna be able to resolve all the issues within the specified word count. But I would say the vast majority of our stuff, we just get an idea and start writing, and it develops.
McKay: Yeah, we do have some planning. Basically, since we don’t live anywhere near each other, our two main tools for writing are chat and Google Drive. So we’ll have chat up, and we’re talking and, you know, “Oh, oh, I’ve got this bunny.” “Oh, okay, what is it?” And blah, blah, blah, you know, tell her about the bunny. And then we start thinking about characters for the bunny. And then, you know, somebody might pop up and start talking to one of us right away. And sometimes we might have to talk a lot about them, you know, kind of, develop them a little more before we decide who writes which main character. And we do, sort of, a loose outline. We get a vague idea of what we want to accomplish with a story, the beats we want to hit. That does tend to get a little tighter if we’re working for a specific line like Dreamspun or one of the June or December Daily Dose stories, which is even tighter word count-wise.
And then, you know, when we feel like we’ve got a handle on it, then we open up a Google Doc, and we figure out, okay, which…we alternate POV by chapter. And so we decide, all right, who’s gonna…What makes sense in terms of starting off, who needs to talk first? And so, we establish who needs to start, where we’re gonna start, and then we just dive in. And then the next chapter, we’ll go to the other main character and so on. And so, we just back and forth. And then once we’ve got a rough draft, we’ll, kind of, let it sit for a little while, and then Ari will look at it, and then she’ll turn it over to me because I’m the English teacher, so I’m the editor, and then we send it off.
Ari: Yeah. We do divide up certain things as well. I’m a bit more comfortable writing action than McKay is.
Ari: So if there’s a fight to be written, or a battle, or something like that, I guess because like…I mean, we both play Dungeons & Dragons. That’s another thing that we both have in common. But I actually was a DM, so I’m used to actually choreographing battles including major battles and stuff, so…
McKay: Plus you like, like, hard military sci-fi more than I do.
Ari: Oh, I read a lot of hard…I’m a guy. A lot of what I read is very guy-like stuff because I do love hard military science fiction. It’s just one of my things, and action-adventure. And, you know, so I’m very comfortable working in that kind of genre because I’ve read so much of it, and of course, been a Dungeon Master, and stuff like that. And I work with a lot of military guys, so I hear a lot of this stuff, you know, firsthand. There’s actually been a few things that have made it into stories that I’m sure the guys who told me what had happened on the battlefield would be a little surprised to find in the kind of books that we write.
I mean, we switch it up all the time, not within a book but…So, for instance, McKay wrote Beau Walker and I wrote Liam Walker. So even, you know, they’re, you know, two guys, two cousins in the same family. We, you know, kind of, you know, tend to divide it, just like whoever’s talking to one of us more. And it’s like, “Oh, okay, that character is talking to you. That’s fine. Yeah, go with it.”
Will: Is that how you decide to do projects as well, is if a particular plot bunny…? You guys write in, like, pretty diverse genres. Is it really just a case of a particular plot bunny kinda jumping out and taking hold of your imagination?
McKay: And there’ve been a lot of examples of that happening. The first Walker Boys story did that. We had a really strong bunny. The first “Herc’s Mercs” book…
Ari: Oh, my God.
McKay: …God, Cade Thornton latched on to Ari and did not let go until we started producing words for him. And there was another couple in the third “Herc’s Mercs” book, Darrell and Emerson, man, those two are still talking to us.
McKay: Yeah, they managed to get into every Herc’s book, just because they won’t shut up, they’re that vocal.
Ari: Yes, they get a little cameo in most of the books. But, yeah, with like the first “Herc’s Mercs” book, the character, basically, I imagined it was like when Venus sprung from the forehead of Zeus fully formed, right? It was like this character…I mean, literally, just like, it was like a bolt from the blue, this character, his personality, his entire history, what he wanted to do, what he was like, just was there. And it was like, “Oh, my God, we’ve got to write this.” And McKay is like, “Uh…”
McKay: Because that was…the way she pitched it, you know, it was very much not my thing. You know, it’s not genre that I’m familiar with, that I was comfortable with. And I was like, “Okay, put it on the list.” And I was prepared to just let it sit there on the list forever.
McKay: But, you know, she kept saying, “Okay, I’ve got the…here’s this.” And we kept coming back to it. And so, finally, I was just like, “Okay, fine. Let’s just write. Obviously, this is talking to you, so if you can guide me through this, because I am completely out of my comfort zone with this, if you can guide me through it, then, yeah, we’ll do it.” And so, a multi-book series was formed.
Ari: Yeah, those have been our best sellers, actually. The “Herc’s Mercs” books, we’ve sold more of those than anything else. And it was just from one of those things that, I guess, the character came in and bumped me over the head and said, “Hey, you, write me.” Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Jeff: So, what’s on your release calendar for the rest of the year?
Ari: I have a list. So July 5th is a rerelease by Dreamspinner of “Santa’s Naughty Helper,” which was a Christmas story that we wrote. Wow, that was one of our first ones. It was a while ago.
McKay: Yeah, it was.
McKay: I would say, like 2013 maybe.
Ari: Yeah, so that was several years ago. And that one is fun. We had a ton of fun writing that one. It didn’t get twiddled too much in the rerelease. And then August 1st is “Out of the Ashes,” which is a Dreamspun Beyond.
Jeff: Oh, fabulous, you’re doing a Beyond. That’s awesome.
Ari: Yes. And, theoretically, is the trilogy, or three stories, three connected stories. And, well, to go back to “Santa’s Naughty Helper,” that’s actually book one of Lawyers in Love. And in November, book two of Lawyers in Love, which is also a rerelease, it’s “Fortune’s Slings” and “Cupid’s Arrows” is coming out.
McKay: That one did get an extensive overhaul because we were looking at that one and going, “Ooh, we made some mistakes.” So that one has been overhauled pretty significantly. You know, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s like a whole new story, but it is very different from the original version.
Ari: And for December, we’re hoping to have something for the Dreamspinner anthology.
Jeff: So what’s the best way for all of our listeners to keep up with all of these projects you’ve got going on? Where are you online?
McKay: arimckay.com. And we have Twitter and Facebook. I think you’re a little more active on Facebook, yes?
Ari: Yes, I’m the Facebook person.
McKay: Yeah, I do a lot of the blog posts and keeping the website updated. And one of my goals for the summer is to start putting out a monthly author newsletter. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do but I just haven’t had the time. But now that we’re, kind of, easing into summer, that’s one of my goals is to get a monthly newsletter going for us.
Ari: Our comfort zone is we like to have one release coming out every month if we can, which when we’re both available is entirely doable.
Ari: And that’s even writing not just novellas, but novels. So I think our productivity will go up quite a bit in 2018, so we’re both looking forward to that a lot.
Jeff: All right. Well, thank you guys so much for being with us. It’s been great. And I know we’re looking very forward to reading “Breaking Bonds,” and then seeing what else you guys get out this year.
Ari: Thank you very much. We really loved being here.
Ari McKay Interview Continues from the Bonus Reel
Jeff: How do you decide really where to go next, outside of things that you might be doing for calls? If you’ve got 100 bunnies on the list, are you working on bits and pieces all along to see which ones become more fully fleshed out, or is it really just a matter of, well, we’re done with this, time to move to the next thing, let’s go to the list?
Ari: It kinda depends. Usually, it’s like whatever voice is screaming the loudest. Like, and that could be for any reason. Like, a brand new bunny could, you know, just whack us over the head, and it’s like, “Hey, we’ve got time to write this now, let’s write it.”
Ari: Now, I will say nothing is ever wasted because we do have a bunch of…I wouldn’t even call them abandoned…we have a bunch of partial things that we started, and it, kind of, wasn’t going where we wanted, and maybe it’s like, “Oh, you don’t have time to work on this anymore, so let’s put it aside.” And there have been plenty of things that have eventually come out where, you know, we started working on it, and it wasn’t quite going where we wanted it to go, and then maybe a call will come out for a story, and it’s like, “Oh, well, you know, if we took that and we kinda twiddled it just a little, you know, we can, you know, make it go forward from there.”
And, you know, if the voices are loud, but then they won’t cooperate eventually, which happens. I mean, because I think, as writers, as you both know, you bring your personal baggage in anytime that you’re writing. And, you know, if I’m having a time when I’m pissed off at the husband, and I’m hating men because, “Oh my God, they’re such jerks,” you know, I will be like, “Ugh,” you know, it’s like, and you can’t…You have to kinda move yourself around that. But sometimes it’s kinda hard if you’re having a crappy day at work. And it’s like, you know, you’re just, “Oh, boy, we’re taking this really dark,” because it’s like, yes, the character wants to stab everybody or something, you know. But, yeah, so it depends. And like I said, some things do get, you know, kind of, shuffled off to the deal with it later pile. You know, even after we’ve written, you know, several thousand words, it’ll be like, “This just isn’t going, I’m not feeling it, you’re not feeling it, whatever,” and we just let it go.
McKay: Right. Neither one of us have any problems with recognizing that, you know, this is just not working, for whatever reason. You know, maybe we started strong, but then it kinda fizzled out or, you know, one of us is not really feeling it anymore, whatever. You know, we’ll look at it and say, “Okay, we need to stop.” And we have no problems revising things as much as it needs to be done. We have no problem with just putting things aside because like Ari said, you know, nothing is ever really wasted. It’ll get repurposed at some point.
But to go back to the question of, do we just pull stuff? Sometimes, yes. I think we used to do that more a few years ago than we do now. We haven’t gone to the list in a while because we’ve had specific calls that we’ve been working for, or we’ve had persistent ideas. And the longer that we do this original writing thing, I think the easier it is for us to just, kind of, go, “Oh, hey, this thing happened. Or I saw this, and it gave me this idea,” and we roll with it. So, we’ve got the list as a fallback, and we used to go to it quite often. It’s like, okay, well, we finished this, what are we gonna write next? Let’s go to the list. But I find that we’re doing that less and less the last year or two, I think, because ideas have been coming up more organically. And we get inspired by everything, you know.
Ari: Oh, yeah.
McKay: Just anything could be like, “Oh, hey, we could turn that into a story.” You know, stuff that happens in real life, stuff we see on TV, stuff that we read.
McKay: Pictures. Yeah, I mean, inspiration comes from everywhere.
Jeff: Which I imagine is both good and bad.
Ari: I sent McKay a picture of Brock O’Hurn, and let me tell you, we got that one.
McKay: Yeah, he was actually the inspiration for a book that’s coming out…isn’t it this fall?
Ari: It is August 1st.
McKay: Yes, “Out of the Ashes,” the werewolf lead character, Eli. In my mind, he looks just like Brock O’Hurn. And it was because of that picture that she sent, and I was like, “Damn.”
Man: You both balance full-time jobs in real life. How many books do you manage to crank out on average in a year?
Ari: Oh, less than we used to.
McKay: Well, that’s because the last two years I’ve been back in grad school. So I’ve actually been balancing a full-time job, grad school, and writing.
Jeff: My goodness.
McKay: Yeah, I’m graduating. This is my last semester. I just finished up my last semester, so I’m going to have more free time, so our output will probably increase. But, yeah, basically, we write in the evenings. You know, we have our job, we come home, and then we get on chat, and we start in. We don’t do it every night because some nights we’re just too tired, we’re not feeling it, or whatever. But, you know, most nights of the week, yeah, we’re writing.
Jeff: That’s amazing.
Ari: Oh, yeah.
Man: And awesome.
Ari: And then we have, for our self-pub stuff, we’ve pretty much decided that it’s Dreamspinner and self-publication. Well, we do have something that we might submit to another publisher that’s very, very different from the other stuff we’ve written. But we got this idea…I’m married to a hoarder. He’s a packrat and I’m a purge rat. So every time my husband goes out of town, I call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and have these guys come and…yeah, they’re nice, young attractive guys, and they come and they make my life better. So this idea came to us about using that kind of format for actually a whole series of stories. And, I don’t know, what do you think, McKay, should we say the series title, or is that giving too much away?
McKay: Yeah, I think we can stop there because we haven’t really started writing it too much yet. We haven’t, but we want to…
Ari: We have half a story or a quarter of the first story, something like that.
McKay: I’d say about a quarter. This summer we can work on the self-pub, hunky young men story.
Ari: Yes, lots of very hunky young men. Anything that we…I mean, the self-pub stuff is easier to get out quickly, and…
Ari: So we don’t have a…We can get that written, and then turned around, and put out on Amazon fairly quickly.
Jeff: Yeah. Especially as you’ve got an English major in the family who can help edit.
Ari: Oh, she’s phenomenal. Yeah, I’ll handle all the action as long as she will handle that editing. Oh, God, while she was doing her graduate work, I was having to handle some of the deadlines for the edits coming back from Dreamspinner, and it’s like…
McKay: Oh, yeah, I usually handle those. But the spring semester, I was working on my creative thesis, and I, you know, had very limited time, so I asked, you know, “Are you okay handling the edits for some of this?” And this is not like editing the whole manuscript, it was just, Dreamspinner got the edits back to us, and you had to go through, and accept or reject blah, blah, blah. And I usually handle that. So Ari got thrown into the deep end this semester and had to handle it for at least two stories. So I think she has an even greater appreciation for what I do now after this. And she’s like, “Are you done with it yet? Can you take over again yet?”
Jeff: I completely sympathize, Ari. I did my own recently.
Ari: That’s okay though because I handle, you know, all the technical stuff with the self-pubs and stuff.
Jeff: It balances itself out.
Ari: Yeah, we balance each other out. I think we have a pretty good division of labor that is what each of us is comfortable with.