If you follow lesbian fiction at all, you’ve probably seen many names that have become synonymous with the genre. What you may also have noticed is that a couple of those names belong to men. I thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about two of the men who have become successful lesbian fiction authors, Erik Schubach and Geonn Cannon. (Yes, I had to ask to make sure, Geonn=John, which will be explained in a bit!)
On to the good stuff:
So, guys, tell us a little about yourselves! Where did you grow up? Where are you among your siblings in birth order? What’s your favorite junk food?
Geonn: My name is Geonn Cannon, I’m from Oklahoma and I’m the youngest son. I have an older brother whose name is Geoff, so you can kind of see where my parents got the name from. My favorite junk food… does soda count? I drink a ton of soda. But I go through junk food phases. I’ll like something for a few months and then it switches to something else. Right now I’m in a tiny glazed donut phase. (Smart-aleck comment from interviewer: Oh… a “youngest” – though I notice you didn’t say “the youngest”, just “youngest son”. Nevertheless, speaking as an eldest, I am assuming that means you got away with murder!)
Erik: Well, I was found under a rock in England and was whisked over to the States when I was two. I’m the 2nd youngest of four in our litter. My favorite Junkfood? Chocolate éclairs of course. I share them with my imaginary pet platypus, Frank.
Me: that probably explains a lot, Erik, both the rock and the imaginary platypus. Lots of time to think up stories under a rock…
A lot of people would be surprised to find men writing lesbian fiction. How did you first get into writing and what made you decide to write about women loving women?
Erik: My two nieces are both gay, and so is my son. One of my nieces mentioned how there was a lack of stories that had just regular women who just happened to be gay, without the book focusing on the fact they were lesbian. That if the book didn’t have a focus on the lesbian aspect, then the characters were just the quirky gay best friend stereotype. I happen to love strong female leads in the books I read, like Honor Harrington, or Mercy Thompson, so I sat down one morning with an idea to merge that and my niece’s concerns. Two days later, Music of the Soul was born. The series became a hit and grew a huge following. So I didn’t stop there. I figured that if I could offer the types of characters people wanted to read and identify with in romance, why not other genres as well? So I expanded into scifi, paranormal, urban fantasy, and fairytales. All of my books feature strong female leads who just happen to be lesbians, just like some are right handed and some left, or blond or brunette. The fact that they are gay isn’t the focus of the book at all. Character development and emotion are the main focus. My Urban Fairytales series is quickly overtaking my Music of the Soul series for reader enthusiasm. The toughest question I am asked, being a male author writing about women in love is, “What would you know about being a lesbian?” The answer is quite simple… absolutely nothing. But I am human, and I understand emotion. People are people, and love is love; it shouldn’t matter if it is a man and a women, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or any other combination. We all share the same emotions and that is what I write and it translates across the rainbow.
Geonn: It wasn’t exactly a plan. I was trying to write Stargate SG-1 fanfiction (side note, I’m now a paid short story writer for the official Stargate novel company, with two stories and a novel to my credit). It wasn’t working, and I wasn’t figuring out how to make it work, so I just focused on the female characters. Sam and Janet were my favorites, so I thought I’d write about them and let everything else come later. That seemed to work, so I just kept focusing on them and, when I switched to original stories, I had enough of an audience that I decided to stick with a predominantly female cast.
If you’re comfortable answering this, are you married? And to whom? Any little ones?
Geonn: Nope, sadly single. Not even dating anyone. #available
Erik: I have been married to the woman my fans affectionately know as Super Edit-y Person, for the past 26 years or so. Two spawn… one boy, one girl, and both are now adults and joyously evil and sarcastic like their parental units.
Me: Geonn, who knows? Maybe this interview will help you find the woman of your dreams, and Erik… I love that you call your kids spawn. And sarcastic. Your house must be a fun place.
Do you write full-time, or do you still have to keep a day job?
Erik: I had a full-time job as a web services manager (Fancy speak for webmaster) for 15 years when I started writing. By the time I had 12 books out at the end of the first year, I was able to quit my full time job to be a professional author. I write 2 hours a day and promote my books on social media for 2 hours a day, five days a week. Writing 2,000 words a day I am able to keep a one book a month release schedule with my books.
Geonn: I can just barely manage it on my writing. I do have a Patreon that helps out (https://www.patreon.com/GeonnCannon) and occasionally I’ll open up commissioned stories to help pad the bank account just a little bit.
Me: I’m envious of both of you. I’m still writing part-time and working a day job to pay bills and such.
Do you have any pets who help you write?
Geonn: I used to have a cat named Sahara, but she passed a few years ago. There’s now a stray named Smoky who was abandoned by the neighbors when they moved who seems to have adopted me.
Erik: I have too many of those kitten-shaped creatures who find it a joy to stomp all over the mouse and keyboard as I write. My dogs are more respectful and only stomp on my keyboard and send emails to my mom in the middle of the night when I am not working.
But my biggest helper is my imaginary pet platypus, Frank, who interacts with my fans and creates general mayhem and mischief as he steals my chocolate éclairs or give my books away to readers at random.
I have to confess, I’ve not yet read books by either of you. What’s your favorite genre to write – Romance? Paranormal? Mystery? For those who aren’t familiar with your work, which of your books would you recommend they start with?
Erik: My heavy hitters in both popularity and emotion are my lesbian romance books like the Music of the Soul, and London Harmony series, but my favorite genre to write in is urban fantasy or dystopian. My Urban Fairytales have had half of the seven books so far become number one international bestsellers online, and the rest hit the top five bestseller rank. So if you like a modern twist on old myths, then that is the series for you. My favorite labor of love hands down is my Techromancy Scrolls series which is a dystopian fantasy series that has a little of everything, knights, magic, Gypsies, and steampunkish tech being slowly developed. It is my most successful series… and the third book, Masquerade should be out in mid December, 2016.
Geonn: I like telling people that I write novels about women who just happen to be lesbians. There is usually a romantic element – girl meets girl, falls in love – but the main focus is on what the situation is. A cop who is battling demons, a fugitive on the run for a crime she didn’t commit, a contract killer training a protégé. There aren’t enough stories out there featuring women in the lead role, so I like adding to those numbers. It just so happens that they tend to fall in love with each other at the same time.
I would recommend The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary. It’s the one novel I feel strongest about, and the one that came out feeling completely and wholly like what I wanted it to be when I started writing. I’ve written over thirty novels but, if there was some cataclysm and history was changed so I’d only written one, I’d want it to be that one.
Me: Those sound like great reads, guys!
There has been some controversy in the past about men writing lesbian fiction, but that was mostly because those men hid their true identities from readers, something neither of you has done. Have you had any negative reaction from readers?
Geonn: I won’t say “never.” There have been a few times where people say they moved my book to the bottom of their to-read pile or put off reading it because they knew it was written by a man. I absolutely understand that instinct. But for the most part I hear from people who took a chance and said they were pleasantly surprised. A lot of those comments come in the form of reviews, which helps a lot. And winning the Goldie on my second novel was a huge stepping-stone for me. It gave my name a bit of an asterisk (in the good way) so people know this isn’t just some guy who decided to write some smut.
Erik: I have not had a negative reaction yet from anyone in the LGBTQ community who has actually taken the time to read my books. I have many reviews stating that a reader was hesitant to try my books because I was a male but then after reading one, were pleasantly surprised and went on to buy all the books in the series they tried. I have seen negative responses on various LGBTQ boards who assume that because I am male that I am writing smut bordering on porn to satisfy my own sick fantasies. Obviously those people have never read one of my books or they would know that none of my books have anything even bordering on erotica as I write about romance, emotions, and character reactions, and leave any of the other stuff to their imaginations. I always fade to black at intimate scenes. I have no intention of ever trying to hide who I am, so I write under my own name and let people know up front who and what I am. 🙂
Do you have lesbian friends or beta readers to tell you that you “got it right?”
Erik: YES! Wooo! **runs around super fast in tiny circles** I heart my beta readers and LGBTQ friends so much! I am constantly running things by them to make sure I have things right. I have found out that even in each arena, whether it be gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, or whatever, that there is a huge spectrum in each segment. So where five people may say I hit the nail on the head, there will be one or two who say I don’t understand. That is to be expected no matter what I write, so I go with what the majority tells me since no writer can please everyone.
Geonn: This is a hard question to answer without sounding like a brag! But yes, there have been a lot of comments from fans along these lines. There have even been reviews that say I write lesbian sex better than some women, which is very humbling. I do my best to make it erotic without slipping into porn.
Geonn, I know you’ve entered your books for the Goldies (Golden Crown Literary Awards), and have won, but I’m not sure I’ve seen yours entered, Erik. Have either of you ever attended one of the conferences? Any plans to attend in the future?
Geonn: I haven’t attended! Part of it is the funds to travel, taking the whole week off from writing to attend, etc, which doesn’t make it feasible. Plus I feel the GCLS Conference is a place for LGBT men and women to celebrate each other and, as a straight man, I would feel like I’m intruding on their space. I want to note that NO ONE has ever implied this or made me feel this way. I’ve been invited, I’ve been assured I would be welcome, but I need to get there myself before I would feel comfortable.
Erik: I’m still relatively new at this writing thing to be honest, I haven’t even been writing for 4 years yet, and I don’t even know how to enter books for any awards or if people have to nominate you. I have submitted to contests for inclusion into anthologies and have won quite a few of those. I haven’t been able to travel to any of the events as I am in the middle of nowhere, Spokane, WA, so there are never any near me. And until recently haven’t been able to afford to travel. That may change soon as my sales keep trending upward the deeper my backlist gets. I would simply love to attend events and conferences.
Me: As a relatively new attendee of the GCLS conference myself, I would like to extend an open invitation to both of you to attend if you ever can. The literature is the thing we focus on, and you would both be most welcome! And Erik, I e-mailed you the GCLS Awards criteria link.
Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
Erik: From absolutely everywhere. I may say something to my wife, or hear a song lyric, or hear a line from a movie or TV episode which sparks a single scene in my mind and I will write an entire book just to incorporate that one key scene into it. One of my latest inspirations came from me saying one single solitary word while being silly, and my mind latched onto it like a platypus gobbling a chocolate éclair. I formed a whole book series idea around the word. So really… anywhere my sarcastic mind can pull inspiration from, my imagination will run with it.
Geonn: A few weeks ago, my neighbors left a pair of sneakers on their front porch. I got a story idea from that. Radiation Canary grew out of a Brandi Carlile song called “The Story,” which was sent to me by a fan who said I should write a book about a rock star. Bits and pieces come from everywhere. I think there was a Neil Gaiman quote about how being able to take that inspiration and form it into stories was what separated writers from productive human beings. 😉
Me: Geonn, I love that quote from Neil Gaiman. Erik… we need to have a talk about the chocolate éclairs. You’re making me hungry!
What are you working on currently?
Geonn: I’m working on NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. Every November, people sign up to write a 50,000 word manuscript. I wrote my first novel-length story and my first published novel for them, so I like joining in every year. This year I’m writing the third installment of my Trafalgar & Boone series, Trafalgar & Boone and the Books of Breathing.
Erik: Right now I am working on the third book in my Techromancey Scrolls series, Masquerade. Knights, magic, and technology. I am also just finished a short story, Fixit, which just released last week, to feed my hungry fans since my Techromancey books take longer to write than my normal novels since they are twice as long. I am also working on a presentation for the free workshops I run to help out local aspiring authors and help them to self publish their books. The workshop is called, “Ok, I wrote a book… now what?” I hold them at the public libraries in the area.
Is there anything readers don’t know about you that you’d like to share?
Erik: My primary language is sarcasm, my secondary is English so don’t expect me to follow all the rules of writing. I’m a storyteller not an English major. I also have a full wood shop where I build wooden sleds and toys. I run triathlons with my friends, our team name is “Please Resuscitate”. And my imaginary platypus, Frank, is currently holding my éclairs hostage until I finish my next book, so please smuggle me chocolate pastries when he isn’t looking.
Geonn: A lot of readers seem to think authors don’t want to hear from them, or they don’t need to leave reviews. Reviews are vital! Amazon, Goodreads, wherever you want to leave an honest review to help other people find our books is so important. And if you happen to see me on Facebook or Twitter, don’t be shy about leaving a comment. I love to hear from my readers.
Erik & Geonn, thank you both so much for participating in this little interview. It was great getting to know a bit more about both of you!
Folks, to contact Erik, you find him on Facebook, or on his web site: http://www.erikschubach.com
You can find his books HERE
And Geonn can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And his books can be found HERE