"Josh Lanyon pulls you in from page one with fast paced adventure, wonderful characters, zippy dialog, brutal, sword-through-the-heart longing. He has an ability to rise above the sexual content and expose the very heart of a character."
-- LB Gregg
Bestselling author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance, JOSH LANYON has been called "the Agatha Christie of gay mystery."
Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan's annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place on the list).
The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the Goodreads M/M Group (which has over 22,000 members). Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist for Gay Mystery, and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.
Josh is married Kevin Burton Smith and they live in Southern California.
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So that's the official bio thingie. I'm not sure how much it means to a prospective book buyer, so I asked some loyal readers to suggest a few questions on behalf of...you.
Are you male or female?
Why do you use a male pen name?
Back in 1996--which was when I began pitching the first Adrien English novel--I found it all but impossible to find a publisher for a book that was important to me. I was already successfully published in mainstream, but mainstream wasn't interested in a story about a gay bookseller with a heart condition. And GLBT publishers believed that gay men preferred to read fiction written by gay men. It wasn't a question of "cultural appropriation" or "xenocentrism" or "identity as platform" -- nobody thought about, let alone talked about, these issues then. It was about a tiny, insular market struggling to survive. Nobody could afford to take chances--keep in mind some of these houses put out maybe three books a year. It wasn't like it is now with hundreds of new releases every month. Had I been writing literary fiction, it might have been different. But I was pitching genre fiction. I received 27 rejections, changed my pen name and was instantly accepted by Gay Men's Press. That's how it was back then.
Okay, that was back then, but what about now? Why don't you change your pen name to something appropriately feminine or at least gender neutral?
First of all, I've spent twenty years building the Josh Lanyon brand and Josh Lanyon is my legal DBA. Secondly, I believe--and have been saying so since I arrived on the scene--that the gender of the author should not matter. Unless we are also going to start evaluating things like the author's IQ or level of education or work experience or success in forming and maintaining relationships. How dare anyone write romance who hasn't been successfully partnered at LEAST ten years! Do you see what I'm saying? When you try to evaluate the merit of the book against the quality of the author, it gets ridiculous. Fiction is not reality. Fiction is art. Art = artifice. Fiction is equal parts imagination, craft, research and--most important, in my opinion--empathy.
What should readers know about your books before they buy them?
I write gay romance usually within the context of a mystery or adventure novel. My stories generally contain adult content. Sex and sweary words, if you must know. Also cocktails are frequently imbibed and one or two characters even smoke. If any of those things are a problem for you, you probably landed here by mistake.
But if you're not here by mistake, and you don't mind the occasional murder or -- worse -- whiff of tobacco, I write stories about smartass writers and tough, handsome cops or sensitive artists and tough, handsome navy SEALs or tough handsome special agents and other tough handsome special agents. Sometimes I write about witches, but we don't need to talk about that if you don't want to.
Basically I write stories about smart, mostly civilized grownups who fall in love with other smart, mostly civilized grownups -- usually at a bad time for both of them -- and then figure out a believable way to make their relationship work. And sometimes they have to figure it out while running for their lives or solving a murder.
Do your books have a HEA (Happy-Ever-After)?
There is certainly always the promise of an eventual Happy Ever After. I firmly believe in Happy Ever Afters.
What are your protagonists like?
I write real people -- minus the boring bits and leaving dirty socks on the kitchen table. My characters are smart and capable and often funny. That's not to say they don't make mistakes -- sometimes very serious mistakes -- but so do smart, capable people in real life.
Some of my characters are battling chronic illness or addiction. Some of my characters are Republicans. I think one of them may own a cat. What can I say? I prefer multi-faceted characters.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your books?
I hope I provide tired, stressed minds with a few hours of relaxation. If I can open someone's mind or teach them something new, that's a bonus. Mostly I'd like my readers to finish my stories feeling like all is right with the world -- even if it's only for a few minutes.
And if they can't wait to buy my next book, that's okay too.
Why would a woman want to write about men?
Why would a man want to write about men? Why does anyone want to write about anything? This is unanswerable because what you're really asking is why does anyone create art.
No, why would a woman want to write about gay men having sex?
As a matter of fact, I don't want to write about gay men having sex. I want to write about humans figuring out their place in the world and becoming better humans through learning to love someone more than themselves. And solve murder mysteries while they do it. It just so happens that I've found the best vehicle for that is in writing about gay men in a market where the books tend to do better if the characters have sex. And, frankly, I think sex is a terrific mechanism for revealing things about characters we could never otherwise possibly know.
Do you write full-time?
Yes. Well, less full-time than I used to. I stop for dinner now. I take vacations. But writing is my full-time job.
Why do you start new series or standalone books when you haven't finished or at least continued existing series?
I'm sorry. I hate to disappoint readers. I know there have been significant lags between promised books. However, I'm not a jukebox. Creativity isn't always predictable. Sometimes a story has to simmer for longer than expected. Sometimes the urge to write something out of order is more powerful than the need to stick to my intended schedule. It comes back to the nature of art (and maybe the nature of artists as well.) 2017 & 2018 will be devoted primarily to catching up long-promised series and sequels.
Ebook sales are down and the Male/Male Romance market is currently flooded with new books and new authors. Do you think it's still possible to earn a living in this genre?
Absolutely. Regardless of the genre, there is always room for another good writer. Especially if that good writer understands something about marketing and advertising. That said, you have to define "earn a living". Because the cost of living in New York or California is a lot higher than in Kansas or Utah. And you have to take into account whether yours is the sole or primary income--and how many people you have to support. It's a lot easier to support your solo twenty-something self in an apartment in the middle of downtown Nowhere than it is to support a family of five in a house with two mortgages in Orange County.
I do think, thanks to Kindle Unlimited--as well as other factors--it's going to be increasingly difficult for most authors to earn a living writing fiction. But frankly, that's how it's always been.
I also think--though I hate to sound pessimistic--that it's going to get much worse before it gets better. I'm predicting a tough five years ahead of us.
How long have you been writing professionally?
Since I was sixteen. My first ever sales were poetry. I sold a romance novel to Harlequin right after college. Then I took a few years off to pursue a career in music. (If you think writing is tough, try making it as a musician.) I wrote a couple of Josh Lanyon novels and then eventually I sold a mystery series to Pocket, and then another series to Penguin. Somewhere in the middle of Pocket and Penguin I discovered M/M Romance and began to write primarily as Josh Lanyon.
Because you couldn't make it in mainstream?
:-D :-D :-D Because I enjoy writing as Josh Lanyon more than I enjoy anything else. When I decided to make JL my focus I had already contracted with a new publisher for more books in my first series and had just signed for additional titles in my second series. I could have had a lucrative career in mainstream--and still could. I'm writing what I love to write -- I'm doing what feels meaningful to me.
Is it true that you're planning to conduct an online mystery writing seminar?
Yes. Well...maybe. I'm toying with the idea. There are logistics yet to be worked out. If it happens, it will be sometime in 2018.
Where can readers interact with you?
What? You don't consider this interaction?! If you need more you can find me on the social media sites listed below. Or if you just want to keep up with my latest releases, sign up for my mailing list and avoid the midday traffic.