An interview with author T R Byron

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I usually have a general idea of where I’m going, but I usually don’t know exactly where the stories will take me. Blogging is a stress reliever for me. As for poetry, that is my biggest struggle. Staying structured makes me a little crazy.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was in grade school. I came across a few books I wrote as a child. They are horrible! But you could tell that I had a knack for putting stories together. I was in my late twenties when I really started writing novels and short stories. My first novel I wrote in twenty-four hours. I couldn’t sleep, the story wouldn’t let me get any rest until I had it all written down. That one book turned into a four book series. This was during my VC Andrews phase and that series really shows it.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Probably believing in myself, in work, that it is good enough. Aside from the common issues with grammar and missing words, I tend to be a perfectionist, and am constantly editing trying to make it better.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
Romance and erotica mostly. I love flawed characters with heart. If I had to choose, it would definitely be Romance.

Do you ever find it hard to admit that you write erotica, or to let close friends/family read your erotica?
Definitely. Most people think erotica is porn and cannot see the difference. They focus on the sex and nothing more. And then, of course, there’s that little flash I will see in their eyes where some people wonder if I’m just a tramp. If you write about it so openly, then you must be doing something dirty. What they fail to see is sex is as natural as breathing. If feel that if I’m going to write about love and romance, it’s a natural progression, and leaving the intimacy out downplays its importance.

So, can you explain the difference between porn and erotica, when it comes to writing/reading?
I see porn as having no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire. Anyone can do that. Plot isn’t required in Pornography, nor is the emotional connection between the main characters. The characters usually don’t grow emotionally, stay together, or even in some instances like one another. Readers of porn want to read about sex, plain and simple. Pornography’s concentration lays in the physical activity between the characters. You won’t find a happily-ever-after here, but do expect a wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Don’t assume the word choices will be nice or sensual either. They won’t be. They can get rather crude, distasteful and cringe-worthy, which all depends on your preference of what you want and prefer

The driving force behind Erotica is exploring a character’s sexual discovery. I see it as a romance. Sex is the common link between Erotica and Romance, but the outcome of the story can be completely different. Erotica can easily leave the door open to the characters staying together, or going their separate ways, while in romance the couple must come together by the end of the book. All Romances have a hero and heroine that strive to be together no matter what, the reader expects to root for both, and to have the happy conclusion. What set Romance and Erotica apart are the details in the sex scenes itself. My erotic scenes fall in the middle of Romance and Porn. The most important thing to me is making that emotional connection between my characters and reader, and letting my readers enjoy the journey with them as well.

Are there any difficulties particular to writing erotica? For instance, I find it hard to write erotica in first person because I end up feeling like I’m writing about my own experiences even if I’m not!
I’m like you there and usually write in third person. It allows me to step outside and visual the scene more clearly in my head as I write from my characters point of view. The most difficult for me was my first erotica novel, Distracting Duncan. I had this one character who used women, loved prostitutes and used his status to the fullest. I had to write a scene where he gets physical with the prostitute, and I struggled for weeks to write that one scene. I had to keep stepping away, but when I finally completed it, it made me hate that character, and that was the emotion I really needed my reader to hone in on.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I try to put a little comedy in my stories. I love to laugh. I don’t think I could write a real tale of horror.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
Yes. I am always looking for a good romance to read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
People inspire me. I like getting to know people, what makes them tick, those little things that make them smile. I get my ideas everywhere. I find myself watching television or movies and thinking, I wouldn’t have written it that way. I love good dialogue, and will often write certain phrases in a notebook to use for my characters.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
I’ve read everything by VC Andrews and that is what really started me on my writing path. I am a huge fan of Linda Lael Miller and Maggie Shayne. Miller has great romances, a lot of them centered around cowboys. Maggie Shayne does supernatural. I like that even her darker characters have some endearing qualities.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Slow down and visualize the scene. In the beginning, I had a tendency to rush through just to get the story out. When I came to Writing.com, that’s when I really learned to slow the scene and work on painting a picture so the reader could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
Being published is the dream. I even went so far as to pay $1500 for an editor who was supposed to shop my book around. After a year, and minimal editing, they sent my manuscript back. It was a good lesson. I’ve tried for years to find an agent, sending in manuscripts. Finally, last year, I decided to put my books out there on CreateSpace. Mostly family bought them, but I’ll never forget seeing my book in print.

What’s your favourite piece of your own writing?
My novel, A Perfect Fit. My main character has a lot of me in her. I think she’s the stronger, more outgoing version of me.

Anna flew out of the Boutique on cloud nine, ready to burst. In her excitement, she plowed right into someone on the street. Their hard figure was as unmovable as a brick wall. Her eyes focused on a chest covered in a light brown T-shirt. The man caught her at the elbow, preventing her from stumbling to the ground. When she looked up into his face, her knees almost buckled and her heart pounded at an erratic pace. Those eyes she knew so well looked down at her, and Nolan smiled for a change.

“Where’s the fire?”

Anna swallowed the hard lump in her throat. The mere sight of him, mixed with the feel of those strong hands holding onto her sent her pulse racing as she fought for control.

“Sorry. Guess I didn’t see you.” She couldn’t let that smile and those intoxicating dark eyes deceive her again. She refused to let him into her heart so he could take advantage of her emotions, not to mention her eager body. Their eyes met and locked, making Anna powerless to look away, even though she knew she should.

“That’s obvious. What are you doing in this part of town?” The softness in his eyes disappeared. The coldness returned while he continued to stare at her. One eyebrow lifted as he waited for her to respond. “Checking up on me or you just couldn’t stay away?”

“Try again,” she said taking a step back. Anna steeled her spine and stood tall as irritation flooded her. “If you must know I was offered a job, not that it’s any of your business.” The quick anger thankfully hardened her voice. This man was nothing but trouble, and trouble she didn’t need.

“So you are trying to get close to me, honey,” he said, moving closer.

Again with that word! The endearment rattled her mind and began to break away all her defenses, not that she had many when it came to him. The fact that he presumed she was following him galled her and reinforced Anna’s opinion about his massive ego. He did nothing more than irritate the hell out of her, knew it and enjoyed it.

“I’m not your honey, so don’t say it again. For your information, I don’t spend my days wondering where you are and what you’re doing.”

A Perfect Fit by T R Byron

Do you do anything in particular to promote your published works?
I did start a facebook page, and I had a few giveaways for my books, hoping that I would get some objective reviews from it, but sadly, nothing happened. I find it hard to try and promote myself, and I know I seriously need to look into doing that. I’ve considered donating a few of my books to my local library, but haven’t yet.

Is there a third book in the Endurance series, and when can we expect it to be available?
Books three and four are halfway complete. I started a big edit of Bride 2 Be, the third book in the series, and am hoping to finally finish it by the end of the year so I can complete book four.

You can find the first two books in T R Byron’s Endurance series, A Perfect Fit and Megan’s Man at her Amazon profile.

Mispronouncing words because you’ve only ever read them

This is the curse of every bookworm, right?  You know how to spell the word, you know what it means, you can use it in a sentence…but you can’t pronounce it correctly because you’ve never heard it said aloud.

Most of my examples come from historical fiction.  And I’m usually corrected by my mum when discussing the books with her.

The funniest one we ever had was when my sister, my mother and I were discussing a historical Scottish novel and my sister said ‘Och aye’.  She pronounced och as ‘otch’ rather than ‘ock’.  My mother and I just about wet ourselves laughing.  Not a cruel, laughing-at-someone-else’s-misfortune laugh, but just that uncontrollable laughter you get when something tickles your funny bone.

I’m not immune to it, and I’m more than happy to entertain people with my mistakes.  Two of the ones that amuse my mother the most are victuals and blackguard.  She was highly amused when I pronounced them as ‘vick choo als’ and ‘blak gard’, instead of ‘vittles’ and ‘blaggard’.  Ugh.  I’ve got blackguard down pat now, but I’m constantly forgetting the correct pronunciation of victuals.

Waistcoat is a trickier one.  My mother likes to remind me that it should be ‘weskit’, but honestly, if I said ‘weskit’ to anyone in my generation (I’m in my 30s), would any of them know what I was talking about?  Maybe in the UK?  I dunno.

There was one that I didn’t know I was saying incorrectly until I read the correct pronunciation in a book.  Ha ha!  Oh, the irony.  So, the American state, Arkansas.  Yup, I pronounced it as it was written.  Then a character, who was actually British, tried to pass herself off as being from Arkansas, and was corrected by the person questioning her.  “I know you’re not from there, because the locals say it ‘ar kan saw’.  I was all ‘Wait, what?’ So I Googled it, and yeah, I stand corrected.  I guess all the Americans knew that one, huh?

Hmm, another one that always catches me out is archangel.  I know it is ‘ark’ instead of ‘arch’, but my brain always wants to say ‘arch’.  Colonel and lieutenant catch me unawares too.  I know they’re pronounced ‘kernel’ and ‘left tenant’, but I forget.  My brain wants to say ‘col on el’ and ‘loo tenant’.  I work for two ex-army guys, so I really need to get those ones correct.  By the way, I am aware that the Americans do say ‘loo tenant’, not ‘left tenant’, but as a New Zealander I should be speaking British English, not American English.

The one I hear most commonly mispronounced, ironically, is pronunciation.  I’m forever correcting people on that.  You don’t use the ‘ounce’ sound, it’s an ‘unce’ sound instead.

One my son pronounced wrong, because he’d read it rather than heard it, was monk.  It should rhyme with dunk, right, but he said it as if it rhymed with donk.

When I was thinking about writing this blog post, I did a little Googling and came up with some others that surprised me.

Conch.  Who the hell knew that was pronounced like ‘konk’?  I’ve never heard it said that way before.  Bizarre.

Forte.  Apparently, unless you’re talking about music, it’s pronounced the same as fort.  I just…  That doesn’t work in my head.  So writing is my fort?  It just sounds wrong, don’t you think?

Ooh, here’s a good one – quinoa.  I was definitely one of those clueless people who pronounced it as ‘kwin oh ah’ when it first became trendy, instead of the correct ‘keen wa’.

Sometimes Google contradicts itself.  I found articles that said niche should be pronounced ‘nitch’ instead of ‘neesh’ and then other articles that said the opposite.

But you wanna know the most shocking one of all?  This is a serious ‘hold the phones’ moment, I promise.  Flaccid.  We all know how to pronounce flaccid, right?  Well, apparently it’s pronounced ‘flaksid’ instead of ‘flassid’.  No shit, go and Google it.  I’ll wait.

I know, right?  Like seriously, what the fuck?  ‘Flaksid’?  I just… I… No.  Just no.  My mind is going ‘Nonononononononono!’  Ha ha!  ‘Flaksid’?  Mind. Blown.

So what words do you commonly mispronounce?  Did you learn any new ones from this blog post?