Author Spotlight

 

Surfing the big wave with ...

A.J. Llewellyn

 

Who is A.J. Llewellyn?  Tell us a little bit about you and how you got your start.
Aloha Jambrea, and thank you for your time! Okay, I’m kind of a geek even though I write very hot gay erotic romance fiction! My day job is to read screenplays for a studio in Hollywood. Have laptop, will travel. I am blessed to have a job where they email me the screenplays and thanks to Final Draft, the screenplay software program, I get to travel and write and surf and do my work.

I live part time in Los Angeles and part time in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. I bought a house with two other guys. Mmmm…maybe house is kinda loose. It’s a catastrophe! But I love it. I don’t know if you know about buying property in Hawaii but this one is fee simple, meaning we own the land so our dream is to develop a writers’ retreat one day.

Right now, we take turns doing work on it. The original windows had no glass and no screens (I borrowed this detail for Lopaka’s grandma’s house in Phantom Lover).

We are makua or toward the mountains - “upcountry” as locals call it. The house backs onto Koko Head crater, the extinct volcano and we have trails right out the back garden to the rainforest. Anyone who reads A Vampire in Waikiki or my Phantom Lover series will guess this location has been strip mined for my books! LOL.

By the way, the front of Koko Head is…the magnificent Diamond Head.

Tell us a little bit about Kimo and Lopaka.  I love those two guys and always want more.
Thank you, Jambrea. They live in my dreams and that Kimo is one bossy muse! I didn’t intend for Phantom Lover to be a series but Kimo had other ideas. I tried to write another book and it didn’t work. I had pitched the idea for The Forbidden Island to my wonderful publisher, Tina Haveman.

My idea was to continue the story of Johnny, who was the “villain” in Phantom Lover. I sent her the first five chapters and she contracted me for it. But I was stumped. And I never, ever get stumped.

I realized I could not tell Johnny’s story without bringing Kimo and Lopaka back and I threw out the entire book and started again. As soon as I started with Kimo coming out of the surf naked, the whole story worked.

I was very gratified to receive so many wonderful emails from people who felt they could not accept Johnny’s redemption, only to grow to love him. From this book, I realized I had the potential for a series and now I have sold 16 books about Kimo and Lopaka to eXtasy Books.

Out of your Kimo and Lopaka titles, which story is your favorite and why?
I love them all, Jambrea. But honestly, I would have to say the one I am writing now, The Cannibal King’s Husband, which comes out in May, 2009. It’s the darkest, most challenging of all because they go deep into Polynesia to lift a family curse…without their children. I have struggled with this book emotionally because Lopaka is essentially me, and I have to allow my feelings about my own mother’s death when I was six to come to the surface. Lopaka has to face all these things in order to keep his children safe and free from the old kahuna curse.

You have a lot of great secondary characters in your stories, who is your favorite?  Who was the hardest to write?
I love these questions!!! My favorite character is Tutu, Lopaka’s grandma. I adore her. My own grandmas weren’t so much fun, so this one is the grandma of my fantasies. I have enjoyed charting her evolution too in these stories and giving her a husband – Sammy.

The most challenging is Lopaka’s father who makes his first appearance in The Cannibal King’s Husband. What kind of man gives up his life, his wife and kids and willingly travels to Samoa to be the gay partner to the king of the last of the island’s cannibals?

I think the biggest secondary character you have is Hawaii.  You must love it so much to put as much of it into your stories as you do.  What is it about Hawaii that fascinates you?
Jambrea, I think you’re right about it being a prominent character. I’ll tell you something. There’s this thing called Pele’s Slingshot. Pele is the fire goddess of the volcanoes. She either flings you back to where you came from or she claims you as hers.

She pulled me in when I was twelve, the first time I went there. I believe in reincarnation because I must have had another life there. I feel so connected to the history, mythology and magic of the place.

I know you have other titles out there besides Kimo and Lopaka.  Please tell us a little something about them.
One of my favorite non-series books is Shipwreck Bay. It’s a very raunchy tale about what happens when Marek cheats on his boyfriend, Dragan. The whole story is pretty much autobiographical up until the point they go to Greece and Marek finds er…a very creative way to make it up to Dragan. That part was pure wishful thinking!

There’s Beyond the Reef which is one of my favorites. It’s based a lot on experiences I had working with an actor on location.,,again, the love interest Frank is a total invention…sadly…lol.

I also have my “Waikiki Vampire” series and I enjoy writing about Tem and Jimmy as much as I do Kimo and Lopaka, but please don’t tell Kimo that. I don’t want him to turn me into a toad.

I have some fun non-series books coming out next year including Hanalei Moon and Wanted.

Do you get character ideas from real life?  If so, who inspired your characters?  Any fun stories you could share?
They’re all real up to a point, as I mentioned above. I never had a twin so Maluhia is a complete invention for Lopaka, but as a very young child, I became obsessed with the idea that I had been switched at birth or adopted.  I think my father was upset about that!

But I saw the movie The Parent Trap and became convinced my deceased mother was really alive and living somewhere so much nicer than Sydney, Australia, with my twin! So that’s where that idea came from.

I mentioned the actor who inspired the movie star character Rufus Roscoe in Beyond the Reef and all I will say is this. All of it is true and he recently got some very bad plastic surgery. God works in some interesting ways, doesn’t he? 

Does music influence your writing?  If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?  How about Kimo and Lopaka? What would their theme song be?
Jambrea, these are cool questions! Several of my book titles are song titles! Fly Me to the Moon (Sinatra), Summer Love (the Australian band Sherbet) My Hawaiian Song of Love, Mele Kalikimaka and Hanalei Moon are all Hawaiian standards.

Kimo and Lopaka’s theme song is Pretty Face, the beautiful love song by my hero Henry Kapono – check him out on MySpace!

Kapono rules!

My favorite singer is Keali’i Reichel and he is the model for Kimo in terms of his tribal tattoos and kumu hula status. Keali’i’s music features in every single one of my books. Somebody is playing him somewhere because this is true of Hawaii.

He is the number one singer in the islands and you hear him everywhere but not to the point of being sick of him. He is our heartbeat and he is the most amazing man you’ll ever meet. Kind, spiritual and sexy, too!

I always give away his music as contest prizes. I’m spreading the word, one contest winner at a time.

Where were you when you got your first contract?  Who did you tell first?
My first book contract was in 1988 for a non fiction book that was published in Australia and the UK. I was at work, managing a video store. I’d gone back to Australia to get my green card and was waiting for my embassy appointment. I was dead broke so I took a part time job and was working nights. I hooked up with an agent and pitched this book idea to her. She sold it after I wrote the entire thing. She called me with the news at the store just as I was about to begin the night shift. I was talking to her on the phone just as two men walked in and held me up at gun point. True story!

If your Kimo and Lopaka stories were optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh My God! Okay…if he didn’t have an Italian accent, our mutual friend Francesco D’Macho would be Kimo and his fiancé Damien Cross would be Lopaka. They would have to grow their hair long and Francesco would have to bring cupcakes to the set! Francesco should take dialect lessons, don’t you think? Other than that, they are perfect.

Orlando Toro could be Johnny!

If Black Point was made into a movie, who would play Rose and who would play Matt?
Okay since I wrote Matt, I get to pick, right?  I would say Hugh Jackman. I adore him. As for Rose – who is really Thomas, I don’t think my co-author (and fave guy in the whole world!) D.J. Manly would mind if I suggested his heart-throb John Barrowman. Wow, would they be hot together! I know John is gay in real life so maybe he’d do it and Hugh has played a gay man – Peter Allen - on stage…so hey…maybe it could happen! 

We touched a little on your other stories earlier, but I would like to know more about Black Point.  Any interesting tidbits you would like to share.
I wrote it with my fave author, that’s all!

This is the first title you have co-authored, correct?  Was it hard to work with someone else on a story?
Yep. And I’ll tell you the truth. I’ve had bad experiences in the recent past. I had two different people ask me to co-author and both times they were people who do not write gay erotic fiction and they were uncomfortable with the genre. They also blushed over hard core sex scenes. I walked away from both projects. Out of the blue, D.J. emailed me and asked me if I was interested in writing a book with him.  I was like, “What, are you kidding me? You’re the hottest writer out there! Bring it on!”

He wrote the first three chapters and emailed it to me within a day of that first email…I laughed from the outset and figured out “my” character was Marcus.   Actually, he was initially called Marcus and I couldn’t get a swing on him and I asked D.J. if I could make him Matthew and I read the rest of Thomas AKA Rose’s scenes thinking about Matt. Once I took up the story, it just flowed. We wrote back and forth for three days. We actually finished the whole thing that fast. It was a first for both of us and for me it was a relief to work with somebody who has a good sense of humor AND who has no problem describing two hot men having sex in lurid detail.

He had tried working with others before and had similar experiences.

We just finished the sequel, Back to Black Point (coming out January 1) and it’s ten thousand times better. I think part of the reason is that we established fairly solid characters in the first book.

I started the story this time and D.J. effortlessly picked up the threads and wrote some beautiful stuff and some stuff that made me gasp.

We challenged each other this time which was fun!

Another reason I think this book is better is that we knew the first one was a big best seller and people liked our characters, even the supporting ones. We also had a strong villain in the character of Christian.

Thirdly, we trust each other completely. We were a lot less respectful with one another’s work this time and made suggestions and countered back and forth. It was great!

We are talking to Tina about a third book and I think we’re both excited about the idea.  I’ll tell you something I think is cool. I wrote the elevator sex scene in the first book, the first time Matt and Thomas actually have sex. D.J. suggested we have a competition for our readers asking them who wrote the scene. The prize was a free copy of the book.  He said that people would think he wrote that scene since it was lean and hard-core explicit sex. Not that I don’t write that way, but I was shocked! Some of the readers really put some thought into their answers. A few thought it was D.J. as he suspected, a few thought it was me. A lot of them really struggled with their responses giving reasons as to why we both had a hand in it. Ultimately, I had to laugh. I had no idea I am apparently obsessed with tongues and asses but that was a give-away to many readers!!! LOL

What was your favorite part about writing Black Point?
Honestly? How D.J. and I would have fun with each other’s characters. He has a wicked sense of humor. I think we both do. We talked on the phone one night and each admitted it was a relief to be working with somebody who had a similar style and taste.

What do you need before you start writing?  Any thing that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I am a Buddhist and I wake up at 6am and chant for an hour. I ask the Gohanzon to make sure I can pay my bills, to slow down the gray hairs on my dog’s face and to let me write good, hot stuff!

Then I make coffee, write for one hour. No emails. No business. I walk the dog, come back and do the business end of things. Then I walk the dog and come back and write. I write every single day, no exceptions.

Just ask my dog. She hates my laptop.

What are you working on now?
The Cannibal King’s Husband is half finished. I am a third way into Love’s Blood (a new Waikiki Vampire book).

I am editing my November 15 book Stolen Magic (A Kimo and Lopaka book) and editing my second paperback of the Phantom Lover series. This one comes out next month and combines The Forbidden Island with Summer Love.

Do you have any other stories published?
Yes! Check my website please!

Where can we find A.J. Llewellyn?
www.ajllewellyn.com

Any other tidbits about A.J. Llewellyn you would like to share?
Yes, any spare cupcakes going, please send ‘em to me. I never met a cupcake I didn’t like.

Jambrea, thanks for the groovy questions, sweetie. xoxo

 

     

© All Rights Reserved 2005-2010 - www.JoyfullyReviewed.com

All reviews are the opinion of the reviewer.
Graphic Design by Valerie Tibbs