Marie Sexton was always good at the technical aspects of writing but never had any ideas for stories. After graduating from Colorado State University, she worked for eleven years at an OB/GYN clinic. She quit the clinic at about the same time she started reading M/M romances. At some point in the ensuing months the static in her head cleared and her first story, Promises, was born.
Marie lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Matt and Jared often tag along. Marie has one daughter, one cat, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
1) Was it just a coincidence that you started writing M/M erotica about the same time you stopped working at an OBGYN clinic?
My hubby wrote that bio for me back when Promises was first accepted by Dreamspinner Press. The truth is, I’d been reading m/m for a few months when I quit my job. But it was no coincidence that quitting my job led to writing. It seemed like eleven years of working full-time had filled my head with static. I worried about the doctors and their schedules and the surgery block and finding an assist and keeping their vacation time straight and…. a billion other things. Once I quit the clinic, the static started to clear, and about 6 months later, I woke up with men living in my head.
2) Have you ever received direct criticism as a straight female writing about gay protagonists?
Yes, but only a few times. The support I’ve received has been far greater than the criticism.
3) What inspired you to write M/M erotica instead of heterosexual stories?
The idea of writing a het romance never even crossed my mind, because I didn’t read romance. I could probably count the number of het romances I’ve read in my life on one hand. Before I started reading m/m romance, I read fantasy almost exclusively. But when I stumbled across the Trifecta, it was like a light bulb went on inside my head. Suddenly, I was excited and inspired, and a few months later, I started writing.
4) What is the Trifecta?
When I first discovered m/m, I talked to a few other women who had come from the world of fantasy and ended up reading gay romance, and without fail, they had all discovered m/m after reading one or two of the following series:
Nightrunner, by Lynn Flewelling
Doctrine of Labyrinths, by Sarah Monette
Wraeththu, by Storm Constantine
So I started jokingly calling it the Trifecta of Fantasy to Gay Romance.
5) What was your path to publication? Did you use an agent?
I don’t have an agent. When I finished Promises, I checked the backs of every m/m romance I owned. I looked up all of the publishers online. I picked one – not the one I thought was the best, but the one I thought I had the best chance of being accepted by – and I sent them my novel. That publisher rejected it, so I sent it to Dreamspinner (who I figured I had no chance with), and they accepted it (for which I will be eternally grateful).
6) With multiple publishers, how do you decide who to approach when you have something new?
I’m not sure, to tell you the truth. I’m very impulsive about where I send things.
My first venture beyond Dreamspinner was with One More Soldier. I wanted a different publisher for that story because I wanted to emphasize the fact that it was different from my other work, and that it wasn’t connected to my Coda series. I don’t remember exactly why I picked Silver, but I’m glad I did. Then I had Between Sinners and Saints. I’ll be honest: that book was problematic. The first place I sent it rejected it. The second wanted it, but wanted me to make some major changes that I was absolutely unwilling to make (specifically, they wanted me to add more sex to the first half of the story, and I felt it was absolutely the wrong thing to do). I sent a query to a New York editor, who requested the full manuscript. And then… I had to wait. And wait. And wait. In the meantime, I wrote another novel, Song of Oestend. I’d talked a bit to an editor at Total E-Bound, and wanted to work with her, so I sent Oestend to her. Then, only a few days later, I received the final rejection for Between Sinners and Saints. That very same day, I received an invitation to submit to Amber. It seemed like more than a coincidence. It felt very… serendipitous. So I sent it to them, and they accepted it immediately.
My latest book, Blind Space, I sent to Silver. I don’t have a good reason. It just seemed like the right place for it to go.
7) Does the fiction on your blog complement your published novels? Did the publishers encourage this idea, or did you have to make sure they had no objections?
The two short stories on my blog are both related to Coda. One is a short story about Matt and Jared from Promises. It falls after both Promises and A to Z, around the same time as The Letter Z. The other is a Scooby Doo spoof featuring the Coda characters. It’s utter silliness. It’s not intended to be taken seriously. At. All.
8) Have you ever been asked to make a change to your manuscript that you really didn’t agree with?
Twice. Once was the incident with Between Sinners and Saints, which I mentioned above. No contract had been signed yet, and I pulled the manuscript from that house rather than make the changes the editor was asking for. The second time was with a novel which had already been signed. It had gone through all of the edits with my own editor, but then on the final read-through, the senior editor asked for major changes. I threw a little bit of a diva fit (my first ever, I like to think). In the end, it worked out because my editor is awesome (although I’m still extremely annoyed at the idea of what I was asked to do).
9) With Total E-Bound, publisher of Song of Oestend, new releases are only available from their site for a certain amount of time before they are available anywhere else. Is this common in publishing these days?
A lot of epublishers do this, yes. In most (but not all) cases, the author also makes a tiny bit more on copies sold via the publisher site than they do on the sales from third party vendors (i.e. Amazon and ARe).
For the time being, you can buy Song of Oestend here: http://bit.ly/prxFl1
10) How much input do you have regarding your book covers?
It depends very greatly on the publisher. It also depends on how big of a diva fit you’re willing to throw. (I’ve never thrown a diva fit over a cover, but it’s certainly been known to happen.)
11) Where did the idea of “Coffee and Porn in the Morning” originate?
It came out of a chat with Heidi Cullinan. I don’t even remember exactly how. We were discussing what we could do together – we wanted some kind of blog or website or something – some way for us to connect to readers, but in a way that allowed us to work together. And somehow we mentioned the things we seemed to not be able to live without: coffee, wine, porn, sex. And Heidi said, “That’s it!”
Early in 2010, Heidi sent an email to the Dreamspinner author list asking if anybody wanted to help her work a booth at Pride in Des Moines. I said, “Sure!” The first time I met her was when I showed up on her front porch in June. I remember being very careful at fist about what I said around her, but then at some point on the second day, she said, “If we can’t talk shit together, I’m going to be really disappointed.” And a friendship was born.
13) Where do you find all the man-candy? And how does one tell just how NSFW a particular link might be?
We find the ManCandy all over cyberspace. I can’t speak for Heidi, but for myself, the number of exclamation points after the “NSFW” is indicative of how naughty the picture is. A bare butt will probably not have any exclamation points. A penis might have one. Mild sexual content, two. Full-on penis-to-anus action, or a blow job, or a menage? Three or four or five, depending on just how !!!!!! it makes me feel. 😉
14) Besides your website and blog, what other social media do you use?
I think I’m just about everywhere. I’m on Facebook (twice), Twitter, Goodreads (twice), Tumblr, and Google+ (although admittedly, I haven’t been very good about updated that last one). I also have the two sites with Heidi: Coffee and Porn in the Morning, and HaMEMA.
My website/blog: www.MarieSexton.net
Tumblr: http://mariesexton.tumblr.com/ (Tumblr is NSFW!!)
The Heidi and Marie Show (Goodreads group): http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/48765.The_Heidi_and_Marie_Show
HaMEMA (Heidi and Marie’s Excellent Manlove Adventure): http://hamema.wordpress.com
And be sure to join me for Coffee and Porn in the Morning: http://cupoporn.wordpress.com
15) What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
My laptop, I guess. Does that count?
16) What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
My brain. 🙂
17) What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
My child. “Persistent” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
18) Many writers go through a stage when they hate what they’re writing. Do you ever feel this way?
Absolutely. There’s always a point when a work is about 90% finished when I decide it’s crap. Also, a couple of weeks after each release, I decide I should give up writing forever. Just seems to be part of the gig.
19) When the day comes that you are on stage, accepting some prestigious award, who are you most likely to forget to thank?
My many long-suffering beta-readers.
20) Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Well, in the version I developed in my head when I was about 11, Han had a spitfire of a younger sister. SHE fired first.