Madison Parker | Author of Young Adult LGBT Fiction

Q&A

What do you find most attractive about a man? Do you have a “type”?

David by Guzmán LozanoI am most attracted to strong male hands. Michelangelo’s David has the sexiest hands ever. It was a lifelong dream of mine to go to Florence and see that statue in person, a dream that came true for me about five years ago when my husband whisked me away to Italy for our honeymoon. I was completely mesmerized by those hands. David’s physique is my ideal—well-toned but not overly bulky. (I like to think he’s a grower, not a shower.)

As cheesy at it may sound, I actually find myself far more attracted to a someone’s personality than his looks. I love guys who can be silly and make me laugh. People who know me casually think I’m very serious, but at home, I’m actually quite silly and joke around a lot. :-)

Which superpower would you like to have and why?

No! No! by antijoeInvisibility. And no, not for pervy reasons (although that would be fun, too). I’ve done a lot of sightseeing ever since I was a kid, and I always had a burning desire to go places I wasn’t allowed. When we toured historic houses, I always wanted to sneak up the stairs beyond the roped off areas. When we’d tour caverns, I always wanted to veer off path into the no access zones and explore the caves. I like the idea of being able to see into forbidden places.

What one thing would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Bejeweled Deviled Eggs by Janet ParkeI would become a digital artist. I love the process of creating art—always have. I have some raw talent, but not enough to call myself an artist. I’ve always had a passion for art, which I think is funny, because my chosen career path was mathematics. I become absolutely giddy when I find ways to combine the two fields. I’m thinking about writing a non-fiction book this year to showcase lessons I’ve developed over the years that integrate math and art.

If I had the time, I’d love to go back to school (commence with the eye rolling— I already have two Master’s degrees, LOL) and take art classes. I’d love to take the course taught by fractal artist Janet Parke.

If you had a million dollars and had to spend it on yourself in one day, what would you buy?

Cintiq 22HD touchMac daddy computer equipment! I want one of those fancy tablets you can draw on with a digital pen. I’d load up a Starbucks gift card with ten thousand dollars worth of credit so I’d have plenty of chai lattes to sip on while I make art. That’s about 2,500 lattes— one a day for seven years! Okay, okay, you said I had to spend it in ONE day.

So after I bought everything in the Apple store, I’d shop for a house on a scenic piece of land with a yard so big, my dog could run around off leash. It would have a nice, big pool. I’ve recently learned how to swim properly and I love it. I wish I’d joined a swim team when I was in school. It would’ve been the perfect sport for me.

What is your favorite piece of clothing and why?

Ray Lamontagne Concert T-shirtMy Ray Lamontagne concert t-shirt. First of all, nobody sings like Ray. His music goes straight to my soul. Second, the graphic on the front is a peacock with guitars in its feathers. I love peacocks (I even have a peacock tattoo) and I love acoustic guitar. And third, it’s a dusty purple color, which I love. My favourite things all rolled into one. I bought two of those shirts knowing how upset I’d be when the first one eventually wears out.

If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

Lonely Piano by GenBugThis is a tough question to answer. Now that I think about it, all of my major characters tend to have the talents and skills I wish I had. Lucas is a piano prodigy, Zach is a swimming champion, Trish sings like a diva, Donovan has killer looks and a quick wit, Ryan is a serious gamer, and Jamie is a skilled knitter with a funky sense of fashion. Can I have all of that, please? No? Well if I had to choose, I would walk in Lucas’s shoes for the day. He and I share a heart and soul. I love him dearly. I would find a street piano on display in a scenic park and play the heck outta that thing all day long while my beautiful boyfriend sat beside me on the piano bench and gave me sweet boy kisses in between songs.

Do you ever use real life experiences when you write, or is it all from imagination?

Coup de Grâce by bioluminiscencia

I do use my real life experiences when I write, especially some of the more humorous bits. For example, in Play Me, I’m Yours we learn that Lucas used to have an imaginary friend with a very unusual name. I kid you not–I did not make that up! When my son was younger, I caught him talking to an imaginary friend and he very seriously informed me that said friend was named LundoChundoFlundoBundo. I laughed for weeks! I still laugh when I think about it.

What do you like most about writing? What do you like least?

Enlightenment by jDevaunWriting fiction, for me, is a creative release. I like being able to tell stories that have an emotional impact on people. I’m not good at speaking–in fact, I’m very quiet in real life. It’s not that I don’t have much to say, it just takes me a while to get the words out. Writing allows me to take my time and craft my words just so. That being said, what I like least about writing is the amount of time it takes. I’m a slow writer, due in no small part to my need for perfection.

Where did you get the story idea for Play Me, I’m Yours?

Kiss by See-ming LeeThe novel has evolved a great deal from its conception, but the very first scene I thought of was the game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” I had just read several Gay-For-You stories, and was thinking about how unrealistic they were. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a character who was straight and remained straight, but was so compassionate that he offered to give an emotionally wounded boy his first sweet kiss, as one human being to another.” And voila, Alex was born. Although he is a secondary character in the novel, he was the catalyst for the story.

How did you choose your character names in Play Me, I’m Yours?

Male/Female by O de AndradeI spent a lot of time thinking about character names, and yes, I did choose them purposefully. Apart from the major players (Lucas, Alex, Donovan, Zach), all the female characters have masculine surnames, and all the male characters have feminine surnames. Gender identity is an important theme in the novel, as Lucas is constantly ridiculed for being effeminate. I made the choice to construct their names in this manner to highlight the fact that we all have both masculine and feminine qualities. For some the distinction is more blurred than it is for others.

The major players all have names with special meanings:

Lucas Tate (Lucas=light, Tate=he who brings happiness)
Alex Goodman (Alex=defender of the people, Goodman=good man)
Donovan Evers (Donovan=dark warrior, Evers=wild boar)
Zach Teagan (Zach=pure, Teagan=attractive)

What traits do you share with the main character?

Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot by davidyuwebLucas is so much like me in the way that he thinks. He is extremely introverted. He needs time to formulate his words and gather his courage before speaking, and he’s uncomfortable around people he doesn’t know well. He finds it difficult to jump into the flow of conversation in most social settings, but feels comfortable in quieter settings where he can interact with people one-on-one. He’s also quite naive, and although I don’t see myself that way now, I know I was also really naive when I was younger.

Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?

Always Joey by Adelhardt H.Dumb Jock by Jeff ErnoThe two books I read that really inspired me to dream up these characters and tell their story were Always Joey by Adelhardt H. and Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno. These books dealt with issues of having trouble making friends, being the social outcast, and being bullied in school in a way that really touched me.

Where did you get the story idea for Sock it to Me, Santa?

Red Heel Sock Monkey by Sharon DrummondI wanted to write a Christmas story about a gift exchange in which the main character had a change of heart as the day of the exchange drew closer. I like making my characters struggle, so I decided the gifts would have to be handmade and that Ryan wouldn’t be good at crafts. Of course, that meant the object of his affection would have to be a natural craftsman, making it even harder for Ryan to impress Jamie with the gift. I love arts and crafts, but I’m not very good at them. I find it amusing how easy and wonderful projects look in books and magazines, but in reality, mine hardly ever turn out as well as I hope. So much of the humor in the book is really me poking fun at myself.

What traits do you share with the main character?

Halloween by feryswheelAs I mentioned earlier, I’m not very good at crafts. I try! And sometimes I get lucky, but only when I have very specific directions to follow. On a more serious note, I’d say both Ryan and I are very non-confrontational. We’d rather not stand out in a crowd, but go about our business quietly.

Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?

The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters by Amy LaneI love the idea of the confident gay kid who holds his head high while he knits in public. We need more stories about men who knit! I read Amy Lane’s The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters last year, in which the main character loves to knit, and I adored it! She has since written several more books in that series, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet, but look forward to doing so soon.

What made you decide to self-publish?

Timing, mostly. I wrote the book in late October and knew there would be no way to get it published before Christmas if I went with a traditional publisher. I also liked the idea of being able to give away as many free copies as I wanted for promotion. I actually wrote the novel Play Me, I’m Yours well before I wrote Sock it to Me, Santa!, but the short story was published first—it only took about six weeks from start to finish to write/publish the short story.

When you self-publish, do you do it all yourself?

I did a lot of it myself. I designed my own cover and formatted the book for various platforms myself. And of course, I did much of the promoting myself. But I have to give a shout out to my amazing mentor/critique partner, Todd Young, and to my beta readers, Thorny Sterling and Brad Boston.