Interview – Rowan McBride

os_frontpage2After reading several books by this very cool author and following Rowan’s blog and twitter rather slavishly, I thought it would be interesting to ask a few questions about writing, reading and Pocky!

Would you care to share a few things about yourself? Favorite place,Β shoes, music, t-shirt..?

Favorite place: Any room with good friends, good drinks, and good anime.

fave shirtFavorite music: It varies according to mood. When I lived in Hawaii, I really liked the Ka’au Crater Boys, but someone recently told me they broke up. Also liked Bright Red Boots (sadly, no longer together), ClosetHuman (on hiatus). For a while I was thinking my tastes were cursed. Nowadays I listen to Death Cab For Cutie, Vince Gill, Ludo, Ella Fitzgerald, Seether, artists like that. But my favorite band is probably still the Electric Mayhem. πŸ™‚

fave shoesI’ve attached pictures of my favorite shoes and shirt. The shoes *used* to be blue suede, but I’ve had them so long and they’ve seen so much of the Texas sun that they’ve faded into a color I can’t even name at this point. I’m not actually sure where I picked up the aloha shirt (the safe bet’s Hawaii, but you never know with me), but I wear it all the time. I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart yet.

When did you start writing?

Second grade, I think. In third I had to read a story I wrote (about an elf who grew to be eight feet tall, heh) to the entire grade, and the experience scarred me so badly that afterward I kept everything I wrote (except for an independent study I didn’t know anyone had paid attention to until the year after) secret until well into high school.

lone_coverWhat types of characters and situations are you drawn to write about?

I like to write about characters who find themselves, who discover their own worth. I’m also a big fan of MGS (Muscle Growth Stories), because I like to play with ideas of strength and power. That, and the shallow side of me just adores a muscular form. πŸ˜€

I really liked one of your blog posts back in May about writing as therapy. How much of yourself do you see in your books?

Wow, yeah. Writing that post was a good day for me. I’d just learned my mother was cancer-free after five years, and it was quite a milestone. That sense of relief led to some introspection on my part.

While I’m writing, I don’t see myself in my stories at all. The characters always seem like shiny new strangers, the situations entirely unique. It’s often months, or even years, later when I look at those books and go “Ohhh. That was *my* trust issue.” or “That was *me* trying to patch himself together after being broken.” I suppose that’s a good thing– putting yourself into your stories. Even when you don’t realize you’re doing it, if you’re willing to put yourself out there from the beginning it adds an element of honesty.

oghsmallWhat’s your writing process like? Outline or seat of your pants?

I start with a spark of an idea. It could be one line of dialogue that makes me curious about why it was said, or a character whose story I want to know more about, or a bizarre event that I can’t resist dropping unsuspecting characters into. From there it’s usually seat of my pants until I discover I have too many scenes jumbled together in my head. Then I crack open a pack of index cards and storyboard the rest to make sure it makes sense.

How important are your beta readers and what part do they play in your writing process?

Good, honest beta readers are worth their weight in gold. I’m the writer, so naturally I think each of my stories is a jewel. Sometimes I don’t see plot holes, continuity issues, characters taking leaps they really shouldn’t take. Some beta readers are great at telling me whether the overall concept works, and whether the characters resonate with them. Others will tear apart my grammar until I dream about misused semicolons. Having different perspectives is important because if a story is fresh in my mind, I tend to fill in blanks without realizing it.

Is there a piece of work you feel especially proud of?

“Want Me.” I got to go crazy with several themes I enjoy. Love it when my stories come full circle, and in that one each turn of the spiral allowed me to explore that concept again and again. I also like playing with the idea of true power– where it really comes from, what a person does when they believe their strength has been stripped from them, etc. And Joel, starting in a life he was content with and painfully moving to one that holds more depth… that was my favorite part.

And the muscle growth. Always love that.

paulsdreamthumbYou not only write, but draw, what is your favorite piece?

I have a long way to go, but it’s been hella fun learning how to draw in a manga/anime style. Eventually I’d like to get to a place where I don’t always need a reference picture, and I’ve been starting to inch toward that direction lately.

The only picture of mine I ever framed and hung on my wall is “Lelouch 1“. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, and this was the first image that came out exactly the way I wanted– from hair to eyes to the little smirk on his mouth. It must have taken me over a week to draw.

Another favorite of mine is “Colors“. I think I’d colored it at three in the morning, and I was impressed he came out looking how I felt at the time.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Any particular reads you’d recommend?

Reading for fun? What is this concept? πŸ˜‰

I enjoy quirky science fiction like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I also like to read books about writing, and Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a favorite of mine. Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” is excellent– It was recommended to me by someone via twitter, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud with a book. I enjoy poetry, especially anything by Langston Hughes. I’ve learned it’s hard to go wrong with anything by Jet Mykles or Katrina Strauss.

I’m getting ready to dive into a lot of new books, so hoping to find more autobuy authors.

pocky 1Please explain Pocky? O-o

lol! Pocky is this glorious cracker cookie stick thing usually dipped in chocolate (but also comes in strawberry and a variety of other flavors). It’s imported from Japan and is the food of the gods. πŸ™‚

My favorite flavor actually comes from its Korean counterpart– Pepero. It’s called Nude because (I think) the cookie is on the outside and the chocolate is on the inside.

So, now that I have drooled all over your shelves of books, what are your favourite manga?

One of my favorites out of the mainstream manga pool would be “Saiyuki,” by Kazuya Minekura. It’s loosely based on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and features a half-demon, a demon who used to be human, an amnesiac monkey king, and a monk who drinks and smokes and carries a Smith and Wesson revolver. The dynamic between the four men is funny and intense, and the art contains some of the most gorgeous fight scenes I’ve ever seen.

pocky 2

With yaoi, my favorite to date is “Totally Captivated,” by Yoo Ha-jin. It’s actually a manhwa (the Korean counterpart to manga), but I don’t know what the Korean word for yaoi would be. I tried to ask my mother, but that entailed explaining exactly what yaoi was and, well, she’s still processing that information. “Totally Captivated” features violence, angst, some pretty intense sex. It also has an unexpected humor to it, as well as moments of tenderness. I don’t know how the creator managed to balance all that, but they did, and it was fab.

Oh! And “Tokyo Babylon” by CLAMP. One of the best of ALL TIME.

{ahem} Pardon my fanboi moment there…

wmsmallFinally (I promise there are no more questions!) what have you got coming out soon?

At the moment I don’t have anything planned. Been writing almost non-stop for three years, and it’s time to take a break. Once I’ve recharged I think I’d like to complete “Broken Thread,” this bizarre royal alien rock star yaoi thing I’ve been working on for a while now. I’d also like to get a few sequels finished and maybe complete a serial or two.

Should be a lot of fun once my muse starts talking to me again.

This has been such a cool interview to do and I’ve really enjoyed the emailing back and forth and having a chance to yak. Thanks Rowan!
I had a lot of fun too! It was great chatting with you, and I’m glad that the time difference + my insomnia worked out so well. πŸ˜‰

Rowan has kindly consented to put up an ebook to be won. Just leave a comment below and go into the draw for one ebook of your choice from Rowan’s back catalog. πŸ™‚

Check out Rowan’s website, twitter, art and most important Β – books!

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46 thoughts on “Interview – Rowan McBride

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      1. Uh. Yea. I haven’t quite figured out the DETAILS yet. lol. But it’s such a COOL shirt! *facepalm* I’d look like I was wearing my dad’s clothes when I was a kid. lol!

  1. Hi, Rowan–So, I’m curious, do you have any specific artistic goals with your drawing? Like, do you one day wish to design the cover art yourself for the books that your write? And do you ever draw scenes to go with the books that you write?

    1. I started drawing with the lofty goal of shipping my favorite characters together. heh. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate each new lesson as it comes along– different styles of shading, parlaying the things I learned about shading into photoshop coloring and vice versa, etc.

      Since drawing is one of the things I do to relax or get past writer’s block, I don’t see myself getting into cover art and turning it into a job. Making money at what you love is fantastic, but sometimes you need a pocket away from it where you don’t have to worry about things like deadlines.

      I haven’t drawn full scenes from my stories, yet, but I have attempted my own characters from time to time. None of them are from currently published books, but so far Audrick is my favorite: http://tinyurl.com/o96w7q.

  2. A great interview! I just finished buying/reading One Shot and immediately started to seek out some of your other works. πŸ™‚ I, very much, like your writing style. It would be good to see some of your serials completed. I managed to read the incomplete Jonah’s Giant in one sitting and found myself anxious for more.

    I have to agree on Saiyuki, it’s one of my favorites from the mainstream and I’ve collected all volumes that TP has released. But, I have to admit I’m enjoying Vassalord and One Thousand and One Nights. Of course, my library overflows with Yaoi manga from all the major publishers.

    1. I just started Vassalord V3 last night! As soon as I read “cyborg vampire who works for the Vatican” I knew I was checking out the story. πŸ™‚

      Jonah’s Giant has had an odd resurgence in popularity lately. When I first posted it, the story didn’t seem to generate much interest, so when I was prioritizing which serials to work on, I had to let this one go. This year I’ve gotten quite a bit of mail regarding it, which is cool because I always liked the story and hopefully after I’ve recharged a bit I’ll get to jump into it again.

      1. I don’t think its odd at all that “Jonah’s Giant” has had a resurgence in popularity — out of all of your “side stories,” I think that Jonah’s Giant is your best. (well, I think Michael Finally Grows Up is just as good..lol) I really was amazed with how you shaped the story around someone who has anti-social personality disorder, and the way you were able to really make him ‘live’ despite the way he looks at everything without any emotion. Personally I can’t wait for the next chapter! πŸ™‚ Good luck with all of your amazing ideas!

      2. I’m so glad you’re considering working on Jonah’s Giant again. And like Racheal said, Michael Grows Up was a great one as well, so hopefully you’ll add that one to your list πŸ™‚

        BTW – will ‘Want Me’ be available in e-book format in the future? And some of your out-of-print books, will they come back as e-books at some point? *is wishing to buy more of your work*

    2. Hey Jukebox, so glad you enjoyed the interview. It was loads of fun. I just sat back and Rowan did all the work. I just drooled over the manga. hehe. πŸ˜€

  3. Great interview. Very fun to read. I have to admit that I’ve not read any of Rowan’s work *ducks and runs* but I’d love to. Anything that Sarah is reading slavishly needs my attention. Oh, and thanks for the manhwa suggestion.

  4. Great interview, I really enjoyed reading it! Whenever I read an interview about my favorite authors, I love to take some of the advice that they share — the putting ideas on notecards in order to planout/outline a story is one of the best I have heard! As an aspiring writer myself, I totally ate that one up!
    I have always wanted to try pocky; it always looks so good in anime lol.
    Oh and I totally agree with you Rowan, Totally Captivated has to be one of the best yaoi-manga of all time. I was depressed for like a week after it ended…
    I think that its awesome that you draw too!! And code geass? now that was an awesome show..another one I was depressed over once it ended.

    1. Hi Rachel! I love storyboarding as opposed to outlining because you get to lay a story out on the carpet to see how it works out scene by scene. Later if you feel you need to add something it’s just a matter of adding more cards, and it’s just as easy to *remove* something by taking those cards and tossing them. I know the same concept holds with an outline, but for some reason I always felt as if I was locked into one as soon as I finished it, you know?

      Love Pocky. And I’m with you– if anything anime characters just make it look *better.*

      Don’t get me started on Code Geass. Could talk about that anime for HOURS. Ask Katrina Strauss– She’s been very patient indulging all my otaku madness. πŸ˜€

  5. Just finished One Shot and I’m now sunk as I’ll be on the ‘backlist hunt’ that I embark upon whenever I find *new* (well new-to-me) authors. The story took me completely by surprise but I totally loved it!

    CLAMP is one of my all-time favourite mangaka; their stories are so different and the artwork is always stunning. Tokyo Babylon is excellent and X/1999 just completely blew me away. The connection between the two series was really cool too.

    Wonderful interview…and how timely that I just ~ and I do mean just ~ finished One Shot!

    PS. I really enjoy the manga-inspired covers that you have.

    1. I’m glad you liked One Shot! Nick and Riley were a lot of fun to write, and I’m happy people seem to feel the same way about them that I do.

      CLAMP is one of my favorites, too, even though they have a certain gift for ripping your heart out and running it through with a katana. Obviously that doesn’t stop me from reading them, though, since I’ve just started Xxxholic. lol.

  6. Pocky and yaoi, such a great combination! (loved Totally Captivated myself and I noticed you have Junjou Romantica on your shelf! Love that one too)

    Just finished reading ‘One Shot’ myself and wanted to let you know how much I really enjoyed it. (and will be adding your other stories to my ‘to read’ list!)

    1. One of my favorite scenes from Totally Captivated was with Ewon and the vase. The fallout from that was so unexpected and funny that I laughed out loud, and looking back that’s what got me addicted.

      Thank you for the kind words on One Shot! I hope you enjoy my other stories as well!

  7. So, Rowan, I don’t know whether to love you or hate you since I just spent a small friggin’ fortune buying yaoi online, not to mention my current craving for Pocky.

    *mutter* Most expensive interview I’ve ever read. *Dammit.*

  8. Loved the interview. I’m a big fan of your books. Want Me was the first book of yours I ever read and its my favorite. Am I the only one who never heard of Totally Captivated. Now I have to read it. Which is good i love anime. Well, just wanted to say great interview and try not to mention pocky so much now I have to go buy some.

    1. Want Me is my favorite to date, although sometimes it varies according to my mood. It was my first mix of scary *and* erotic, and it was a great opportunity to stretch those writing muscles.

      If Totally Captivated was made an anime I’d snap of those DVDs so fast! lol.

      Sorry for mentioning Pocky so much. In future interviews I’ll do my best not to mention Pocky nearly so often. I realize how the mere mention of Pocky can induce cravings, since I frequently suffer from Pocky cravings myself, and I should be more careful not to induce Pocky cravings in others. πŸ˜‰

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