McGee Mathews is the winner for NEW AUTHOR for her book Moving Violations in the 2019 Lesfic Bard Awards.
Where were you born? In an Army hospital. My dad was a Warrant Officer.
Where did you grow up? Michigan.
Do you have any siblings? Yes, one sister and one brother.
What were your parent’s professions? My mom was a homemaker and dad was a mechanic.
Why do you write? The characters come to me and interrupt my dreams until I find them a story. Then they stalk me until it’s finished.
What do you think makes good writing? When the reader is pulled so far into the story, they feel the emotions of the character and time just slips away from them.
How do you choose the names for your characters? Some are easier to select than others, I use old census records and baby name lists. Sometimes I’ll use a name generator just to get me started.
When you are writing each novel. Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? A tiny tidbit here and there, but the characters present themselves in situations which lead to other situations. My life is full of laughter, but we aren’t that interesting!
What is the hardest part of writing a book? Cutting out that scene you love.
What is the easiest part of writing a book? For me, the research, which can lead into a rabbit hole, but sometimes that’s where the best ideas are hiding.
Do you think a book can have too much detail it? Do you think it can detract from the story? There’s a reader for every style, so not really. If the reader can’t see it in their head, there’s not enough.
What are you working on now? A story set in a small town in South Carolina, not any different than several just up the road. Sort of a second chance, can’t run from yourself kind of thing.
How do you keep your different characters separate in your mind? I make a character chart for reference as needed, including an image or two for each. I try to pick three good traits and one bad, and then have one of those traits pop up in most scenes.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I do when writing the first draft. I set timers to “sprint” by which I mean that there is no stopping to look up a thing, just write as fast as you can. Editing is much slower so I have no targets for that.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I outline on paper with a crazy bubble chart kind of thing, but write on the computer. I’ve started using Scrivner, and the jury is still out.
Where do your ideas come from? I see a scene, in my mind or literally, and it strikes me as curious. Why is that person there? What are they thinking about? What happens next? One answer leads to more questions.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I write myself into corners, or worse just a pretty scene, if I don’t have some sort of outline written down. I took a plotting class at a Book Lovers Convention, and I took what works for me from that. The characters usually are tricksters and act in ways I hadn’t expected and they take the story a whole new direction.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor.
What genres do you normally write in? Romance, both contemporary and historical. I’m already fighting the box. I’m a romantic at heart, so no matter what I write, a romance happens somewhere in there. I think I’m humorous, but it’s really hard to write humor.
What genres do you typically read? I like cozy mysteries, sappy romances, and funny stories.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle? I’d love to wrestle with world-building, but I suspect that would become a huge rabbit hole and I’d never get around to actually writing a story!
What was the first book you ever published? Moving Violations. It’s a little genre mash, but I loved hanging out with the characters. Amy is a hot mess, Molly wonders how she got involved with these people, and Robin is a Peter Pan with a mischievous streak. What could go wrong?
When did you first sign with (your current publisher)? I signed with Sapphire Publishing a few months ago.
How did you celebrate your signing? In the era of Covid, just a few phone calls. Someday we’ll have a celebration.
Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you? I make a sound track on Spotify for each book as I’m plotting, songs that put me in the emotional space for that story. I listen to it when I write that book, or at least a good bit of the time.
Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write? I tend to get rolling at night, and then all of a sudden, it’s three am and I’m still typing away!
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I won a young authors contest in elementary school. I remember sitting in that huge auditorium in downtown Detroit and thinking, after I grow up and learn some interesting things, I’m going to be an author.
Tell us about your new release. Exceeding Expectations, the second book in Diamond Lake came out in February and I have two nearing completion but I don’t have release dates yet. One is a historical romance set in the 1860’s with some quirky characters that I just love. The second is a more contemporary drama dealing with mental health issues, a love lost and a love found.
What are your major sources for research? Do you use books or google? Even movies? I try to at least do a cursory google search for general background before I use my friends, friends of friends, whomever, for that little detail only a person who has been through that event/job/skill would be able to describe. Thankfully most of those experts have been willing to read at least sections to make sure the storyline is plausible, even if not likely.
What kind of jobs have you have in the ‘real’ world? Everything from factory work, kitchen help, farm work to building maintenance, automotive engineering and teaching chemistry. Jill of all trades, master of none. It’s an oddly American thing to identify by our occupation, and I found a certain satisfaction from a job well done no matter the task.
Some quickies (pardon the pun—pick twelve):
Satin or Lace? Lace
Hot or Cold? Hot
Camera or Canvas? Camera
Denim or Leather? Leather
Talking or Texting? Talking
Irish or Italian? Irish
Thunder or Lightning? Lightning
The sound of a heartbeat or a crackling fire? Crackling fire
Holding hands or Holding her attention? Holding hands
Crayons or Paint? crayons
Mountains or Beach? Beach
Rain or Sunshine? rain
If you could meet anyone famous, PAST or PRESENT who would it be, and why? Ellen DeGeneres, she’s made a huge personal sacrifice that benefited so many other lesbians, and I would thank her. And then tell her something funny and she would hopefully laugh.
Is there anything in your life you would delete? Anything you would replay? I feel like I did the best I could with the cards I had at the time, but some of the most painful parts of my life have given me the emotional fodder for my writing, even if I don’t write about those events.
Were you good at English? Pretty good, but in my opinion not exceptional.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Yes. I love Robin Alexander’s books, although I can’t put them down and laugh and wake up my wife. There are so many good story tellers out there in lesfic right now, I’m afraid to start listing and miss someone.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I use an ebook cover so it feels like a “real” book, but I appreciate being able to increase the font!
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I was a science major! I take all the help I can get!
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. I play around with images that seem to relate to a part of the story and then get help!
Who designed your book covers? To date, two of my friends. Claire Britain worked with me on my first two books. I based a character on a friend from high school, and when I showed her a draft, she popped back a wonderful cover. I haven’t set a release date at this time.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I think it catches readers with that first look so they will check out the blurb. Now the subjective part is what defines a good cover? No idea…lol
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Make a plan, and then follow it. Don’t leave it up to the winds.
What’s your views on social media for marketing? Pick your format and engage. Whatever you enjoy will be the same for your readers. Then show them the real you, maybe the shiniest you, but still you. No one wants to read about your books all the time.
Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell? It’s the story first, and sometimes we get so caught up in grammar and arcs that we forget to be a storyteller.
How do you relax? I work on genealogy projects.
What is your favorite positive saying? “this too shall pass.”
What is your favorite quote? Hillel the Elder, “If I am not for myself, wo will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Traveling with a caravan of lesbian authors who RV, writing and laughing as we explore the world.
What is your favorite movie and why? American President, funny, sad, touching, and the daughter plays trombone.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t worry so much, everything will be all right.
What is your favorite word? Maybe
What is your least favorite word? Cunt
What turns you on? The right smile
What turns you off? Sweaty socks
What sound or noise do you love? laughter
What sound or noise do you hate? Alarm clock
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Disc Jockey
What profession would you not like to do? Mortician
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Well done.
Have you ever Googled yourself? If you did, what did you find out about yourself? NO! I don’t even read Goodreads reviews; I sure don’t want to open that can of worms.
Pen name vs no pen name? What was your rationale? Pen name, predominately since people are crazy, most in a good way, but some not so much.
Besides writing THE END, how do you KNOW a story is over and you should conclude it? When I am so sick of them and couldn’t possibly reread the story! Lol then I put it away for a month or so and let it cool off before I tackle it with fresh eyes.
What do you think of the ‘explosion’ of available titles for the Lesfic Reader that have come onto the market vs say 5-10-20 years ago? Is this a good thing or bad? It’s a great thing! There is no one narrative of the lesbian experience and who better to tell our stories? The quality improves out of necessity, and readers have a chance to support books that represent them. The river raises all the boats. More books will pop up to “mainstream” as great books are discovered by a wider readership.
Are you a quiet person or verbose in person? I’m chatty, for sure. I am the rare thing in the writer’s world, the extrovert!
Is there something in life you wish you had been braver about? I am not a brave person by any stretch. My wife insists I spoke in tongues when we parasailed. I insist it was the intermittent twenty-foot drops mixed with the number of sharks below us.
Do you consider yourself successful at this thing called writing? What makes you think that? Yes. I had a lady write to me that my book was the first she had read in thirty years. I cried.
Were there any teachers that stood out through school? Anyone that made it bearable and that you remember fondly? I was lucky to have a number of great teachers over the years, but one in particular I would like to be able to talk to for about ten minutes. I would tell her that 1) she was right, it would be okay if I was a lesbian and 2) Look at what I wrote! Somehow, I suspect she already knows.
Do you enjoy debates? Any particular subjects? I have been known to switch sides just to keep going at it! I’m a little less passionate, or at least a little less likely to keep talking to a wall.
Do you believe in astrological signs and what they mean? Do you think you follow your own and are stereotypical of what it says about your birth day/year? I teeter totter on this one, but generally agree that the signs seem to fit most people. Why wouldn’t babies who all spend their first months in a warm soft breeze be more similar than babies wrapped up against the cold on their little noses?
Toe ring or belly button ring if you HAD to have one? Ugh. I can’t stand things on my toes, those toe socks, a string or bump in a sock, that stuff drives me nuts.
What is the one thing that surprised you about becoming a published author? Someone I hadn’t heard from in literally thirty years reached out to congratulate me. I was shocked that she’d seen it.
Where were you when you found out you had won the Lesfic Bard Awards, and how did it feel? I was still in bed, lazing around on a Sunday morning, even the dogs hadn’t gotten up yet. I started scrolling on my phone. I had noticed the finalist list the day before, and wasn’t listed. I thought that meant my chances were over. Then I started reading the list and I was shocked to see my name. I told my wife, “I think I won something.” She took the phone, read the screen and gave me big hug. I was stunned most of the day.