Thursday, July 8, 2010

Interview with Rowan Speedwell

Today I would like to welcome author Rowan Speedwell to The Dancing Dove! This interview was actually supposed to go up about two weeks ago but things got a little mixed up. Sorry for the long wait, but here it is!

The Dancing Dove: Where/When was your first book published?
Rowan Speedwell: May 7, 2010 from Dreamspinner Press.

TDD: What was it like when your first book was published?
RS: Well, I read the email and then sat there for a few minutes, hyperventilating and shaking my hands, which had gone numb with shock. Dreamspinner was only the second place I’d submitted it, and it was only three weeks after the submission. I’d been prepared to wait months and then get rejected a dozen times before I found a publisher; all the Creative Writing classes I’d taken all said that your first novel would take at least a year to find a publisher AFTER you finished the book. For me, it was a matter of the book being in print less than a year after I STARTED it. Which was amazing and unbelievable!!

TDD: What was your inspiration for “Finding Zach”?
RS: A Public Service Announcement – actually, a poster of a young, dark-haired man in prison, seen from behind with his hands cuffed behind his back. It was something about not buying guns for felons, but it struck a chord with me—what if it wasn’t anything so mundane as a prison? What if he were being held hostage? How much worse could I make it…? It all sort of snowballed from there. I blended in some elements of a previous (unfinished!) story and came up with the general premise, of a young man trying to find his way back from a horrible experience. Then I tried to ask questions about how the recovery process would work, what would be his feelings, how would the people around him react, what would I do if it were someone I loved who went through that? I’ve had issues that I’ve had to deal with through therapy—the panic attacks were described from personal experience—and so that’s where that came from. In many ways it’s a very personal book, even though the actual events and characters—and even the setting—are outside my ken. (I’ve only ever been through Colorado by train…!)

I started “Zach” as an exercise to see if I could write—and finish!—a book I would enjoy reading. Even though I’ve read it about six hundred times now, I still like it!

TDD: Is there any chance of a sequel to “Finding Zach”?
RS: Mmm… Maybe not a novel, but I’d like to check in on Jerry, David’s ex. I rather liked him. And a couple of people asked me what happens to Brian.

TDD: What made you start writing M/M fiction?
RS: I’ve always found the heroes more interesting than the heroines, whether I’m writing them or reading them. I only started reading m/m a couple of years ago and just loved it—I get to have two heroes and no heroines to distract me! For some reason it makes it easier for me to get deeper into the story. I care more about the characters. There’s more risk, more danger, more angst—and a lot of the time more humor, more honesty, more reality. It may be something about the way humans are hard-wired, but the psychosocial needs of women in regards to relationship seem to depend more on the social courtship rituals. It probably has to do with their need to build social networks for the support of their offspring. Men, not so much. Makes for a different dynamic.

When I started thinking about Zach, I knew right away he was gay; it wasn’t as if I’d just taken a female character and “switched” him the way some writers of m/m do, but an organic part of Zach’s personality. I think what happens to Zach during his captivity is more devastating because he IS gay. Neither David nor Zach is the slightest bit effeminate; they are what they are and they just happen to be gay, too.

TDD: How often do you write?
RS: Five days a week. I try to write at least a thousand words a day, even if I have to throw out most of it the next day. I think about the story constantly, so that when I have the time to actually write, it’s productive time.

TDD: Is writing your full time job or do you have another occupation?
RS: I think if it were my full-time job, I’d probably never write. I’m a procrastinator, so having a very tight schedule actually means I get more done. I’m a law librarian and database manager. I write on my lunch hour.

TDD: Is there a certain place you like to write? The beach, the library, a comfy spot on the couch?
RS: No, those are places I read!! Actually, the library IS where I write, since I’m a librarian, but only on my lunch hour. Sitting in front of a computer all day is my job; when I clock out for lunch, I pull up my story and get to work for an hour. Then I go back to work. Of course, I’m THINKING about the story all the time!!

TDD: What's your least favorite part of the writing process?
RS: Of the actual writing process, the part where I have to throw out huge amounts of text to get the story back on track. That’s sad, but it’s part of the game. I can deal with that. The hardest part of the whole thing is the marketing—I’m SO not a self-promoter. And you really have to sell yourself these days to get your name out there. The whole social media thing is not me.

TDD: Do you have any works-in-progress you'd like to tell the readers about?
RS: I’m working on a Regency / Napoleonic-era historical involving my two favorite hero tropes of that genre: the dashing rake and the heroic cavalry officer. It’s very different from Zach: different setting, different time, different pacing. I’m not sure how it will be received, but I hope to have at least the first draft done by the time this interview is posted.

TDD: Do you have anything else you'd like to tell the readers? (Contact info, upcoming books, exclusive website content, etc.)
RS: I have a Facebook page called “Friends of Rowan Speedwell” and a blog. I’m also on Goodreads and GLBT Bookshelf. I have a LiveJournal account but so far it’s inactive, and I’m too skeered to Tweet.

I hope to have more stuff published soon!!

Thanks for your time, Ralph!!

Thank you for joining me, Rowan! I wish you the best of luck with your work!

You can purchase Finding Zach on


  1. Hi Rowan! I have purchased Finding Zach and I'm slowly gearing myself up to read it - books with a traumatized character always work me over.

  2. Thanks, Chris! I hope you enjoy it!! :)

  3. Hey Rowan,
    I loved Finding Zach and am eagerly anticipating whatever you come out with next. It was definitely an emotional read but totally worth the journey.


  4. Hi Rowan,

    Thanks for bringing your writing under the microscope for us. I really enjoyed reading about the whole process for you. Particularly the part about how sad it is when you have to throw away chunks you've written and the fact you find yourself always thinking about the story. I can completely relate. Oh! And the promoting - no one ever warns you do they? Or was it just me that never thought beyond the blood, sweat and tears of producing a manuscript?

    Anyway, hope to see more from you in the future. Your story looks really good and I can't wait to read it.

    All the best,