Friday, June 19, 2009

Interview with author/editor Vincent Diamond


I recently had the pleasure of reading Animal Attraction 2, a collection to novellas having to do with hot male couples and the animals that bring them together. I was so impressed with this collection, that I asked the editor, Vincent Diamond, to give me an interview. The following is the result of that interview:

Q: When did you start writing and how many novels have you published?
VD: My first writing attempts were in elementary school with my serious attempts as an adult starting in the mid-90s. I've actually published just short stories so far though the collection, Rough Cut, is certainly novel-length. (And, many of those stories are connected into longer story arcs.) My first fiction sale was Best Gay Love Stories 2005, and that was a huge vote of confidence.

Q: Was there someone in your family, a teacher, or perhaps a favorite book, that inspired you to begin writing?
VD: I had a third grade teacher, Miss Thigpen, who pushed me to write and a couple teachers in high school who were encouraging. But ultimately, I didn't get back into writing until after grad school and work and real life.

Q: What was the first story you ever wrote about?
VD: A werewolf. And ironically, I've actually sold two werewolf stories to anthologies under a different pen name. Weird, huh?

Q: Do most of your stories have gay or lesbian main characters. If so, why do you write about GLBT character, considering that it limits your audience.
VD: No, to be precise, most of the stories I write are not about GLBT characters, but—and here's the important part—it's mostly of the romantic/erotic stories are the ones that sell. I've written and submitted just as many "mainstream" fiction stories but so far, it's the sexy ones that get picked up.

Q: Who are the authors who most influence you, both in your early career and now?
VD: Thomas Harris, Alison Lurie, Carl Hiaasen, Stephen King, and Jane Smiley are the authors most represented on my bookshelves. They each kind have their own niche: Harris has serial murder, Lurie has academic adultery down pat, Hiassen rants about the evils of developers, King does Everyman everyday horror, and Smiley has narrative human relationships down pat. I'm not sure what *my* niche, but I'm looking for it!

Q: Your short story collection, Rough Cut, has been recently released. Tell us a bit about the stories.
VD: Many of the stories were published in anthologies such as Best Gay Love Stories, Best Gay Romance, Cowboys, Hot Cops, and the like. As time went by, it was easy to keep a longer story arc going with the same characters, so there are seven or eight stories that feature Steven and Conrad; there are three I think with David and Marcus, and a couple others are freestanding/standalones. Once I get into characters, it's hard to let them go so I do tend to go along the lines "and the continuing adventures of…" kinda deal. There's even a novel outlined featuring Steven and Conrad, I just haven't, um, written it. Yet.

Q: You recently edited an anthology of short stories called Animal Attraction 2. I understand that you are donating 10% of the editor’s proceeds to Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue based in Maryland (http://www.gentlegiantsdrafthorserescue.com/) and Florida Draft Horse Rescue (http://www.drafthorserescue.org/) based in Florida. Why are you so interested in the rescue and rehab efforts for the draft breeds of horses?
VD: Well, my first lesson horse at the barn where I ride now was a small Percheron. Small because she was underfed as a foal so she's barely 15'2 hands, which means her back is only 62 inches off the ground. That's short for a Percheron, who are normally 16'2 to 18 hands tall. The draft breeds—Clydesdales, Percherons, Shires, Belgians, and the like—are bred to be cart horses so they're not typically used for riding. But Dreamer is so calm and placid and safe for beginners, and she's a good sport. She has a really flat topline so it's easy to sit her trot. J
I found out that the big draft horses are often used for the Premarin farms where they're hooked up to catheters all the time and kept pregnant so that their urine extract can be used to manufacture hormone supplements for women. And because of their size and potential value to meat dealers, draft horses often end up in feedlots for slaughter. (Even the Amish just sell their old cart horses for slaughter, which strikes me as kinda cold.) It's just so sad. If I could save all of them, I would, I really would.
These two rescue groups are doing their best with the money they have so I try to support them in my own small way.

Q: Out of all the stories you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?
VD: Wow, that's a tough question. Probably any story with Steven and Conrad because I just have their longer story in my head, and I know how it all turns out in the end. Whether they stay in Tampa, whether they stay together, all that stuff is floating around in my brain to drizzle out at some point in the future.

Q: If you could offer one tidbit of advice for new writers, what would it be?
VD: Get used to being edited. That means accepting suggestions for revision without getting defensive and hissyfitty about it. With my editing gigs for various publishers, I see a really wide spectrum of writing skill, and one thing that does flummox me is when an author wants to spend more time arguing about a relatively minor point than just making the damn change. As a writer, I appreciate when an editor offers suggestions to make a story stronger. It would never occur me to bleeping argue with my editor.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
VD: I ride horses for fun, connection, and exercise. Since I spend *so* much time in my own head reading, writing, and editing, riding really forces me to do something totally physical. For me, my focus has to be so completely on what I'm doing, where my legs are, where my weight is, what the horse is doing, that it gets me completely away from work and intellectual shenanigans. I'm working at the very rudimentary level of dressage, which is all about control and connection and precision. At the high levels, of course, it's literally like dancing with a horse.

Q: Had you not become an accomplished writer, what other occupation would you have most liked to tackle?
VD: Something bookish, a librarian probably.

Q: What, more than anything else, fills you with rage?
VD: The sense of entitlement that some folks have about ruining the ecosystem, nature, and overpopulating the human species. We just don't need more people on the planet, folks, we just don't.

Q: Can you tell us something about the place you call home?
VD: Rural, green, a little hilly. On my regular drive in and out of town I often see: deer, wild turkeys, foxes, eagles, owls, hawks, the rare bobcat, raccoons, possums, armadillos, snakes, gopher tortoises, cranes, and gators. I seldom go outside at night that I don't spot something skulking about the yard.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
VD: Thanks for the interview and time; it was fun!

Vincent Diamond Rough Cut.
Smut with heft.
http://www.vincentdiamond.com/

3 comments:

julielomoe said...

Fascinating interview. The part about draft horses is heart-wrenching. They're such beautiful animals - the Albany police department uses them for patroling special events - the most recent one I attended was the gay pride parade, which was led by two mounted cops. (Now there's a hot image for you!) I always try to pat the horses' noses for good luck.

Vincent Diamond's description of dressage reminds me of one reason I like downhill skiing - it demands total concentration and keeps me completely in the present moment, leaving my daily concerns behind.

BTW, how do you conduct these interviews? By e-mail, or live?

Julie Lomoe
Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

AlanChinWriter said...

Yes, this was one of the more interesting ones, and that's say a lot. As to your question, I did this by email, but he and I exchanged several emails before the actual interview, so I had a good base to start from. I'm looking forward to reading more from Vincent.

Alan Chin

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