Hi Charlie Winters and welcome to Bayou Book Junkie. Charlie débuted onto the MM scene in May 2015 with the absolute tearjerker, Fin & Matt and his (unrelated) follow-up novel, Nate & Casey, came out this summer. Charlie doesn’t at present have a website or seem to do a lot of social media, and we’re ashamed to say that our famed nosing hasn’t come up with much about him. 😢 So, we’re dying to find out what’s coming next and when, as we’re sure we’ve heard rumours that he’s just got started on a new book – right Charlie?
BBJ: Please tell BBJ readers about yourself and how you started writing, and please, do feel free to tell ALL, because we’re fans
Charlie: Well, I’ve always written (studied creative writing in college), but it wasn’t until I started to edge onto my fortieth birthday that I told myself that I was going to write—and finish!—a novel. I wanted to take on something bigger, you know? I’d written shorts and poetry, but I’d never come close to tackling something like an actual novel. With the encouragement of my best friend, I sat down and just… started. I bounced a few ideas off of him and started sending him chapters over email—the feedback he gave was incredible… and so fucking supportive—I ended up finishing it in less than six months.
BBJ: Tell us a little about your day job, please, Charlie and where the writing fits in.
Charlie: I work in the tax department of a CPA firm by day. As far as the writing goes, I fit it in where I can. Evenings mostly—hence the year gap between my two books. During tax season, I work seventy-five hours a week for four months straight, so it’s a real challenge to make time for what I love.
BBJ: What’s the best way for readers and fans to interact with you and where do you hang out most online? And, IRL? Are you into clubs? Pubs? Partying? Intimate trattoria-style eateries? Cosy evenings in?
Charlie: I do have a little bit of a social media phobia, it’s true. I am on Twitter and Facebook; however, I guess I feel like if I don’t have anything to say that day that doesn’t pertain to my writing, I’m not much of a “sharer.” I don’t post selfies or share what I ate for dinner because I guess that’s just not the person I am. I’m actually envious of other writers who tweet fifty times a day and wish I had more of a presence, but (*shrugs*) I guess I can’t force what’s not comfortable for me. If readers do write to me on my Facebook page, I always take the time to respond—same with Twitter.
As for “real life,” I’m definitely not into clubs, but I do like a good pub. I have a tight knit group of friends and a great big covered patio at my house, so a lot of nights are spent out there.
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BBJ: Could you tell us, please, how Fin and Matt came to you, and why THAT ending, one that had us absolutely bawling our eyes out?
Charlie: Man, that ending will be the death of me. People HATE me for it. But, listen, here’s the thing. When I wrote it, I couldn’t see it any other way… does that make sense? Every time I tried to take it in another direction, it just went sappy and felt forced. Ultimately, it always went back… there.
I wish I could say that I have regrets or that I would redo it if I could to change some of the two-star reviews (and a few one-stars) to four-stars or whatever, but it wouldn’t be worth it to change something from a real-life experience to a fairy tale. Yeah, I know people read books to escape and get a happily-ever-after, but I’ve also heard from readers who have experienced the opposite effect with it and said that it was one of the only gay romance books they’d read that stayed with them. They remembered that book. I guess that’s all we, as writers, can ask for.
BBJ: Does your hubs read any of your books, and is he…ahem…creatively involved in your writing process? Does he help you with any types of…research? 😉
Charlie: He’s involved in pretty much every aspect of the process (he’s also my manager). But… if you are asking if the sex scenes I write are based on our love life, I would actually say no. I don’t know if other writers would agree, but sex scenes are probably the hardest parts of romance books to write. I actually avoid them. When I am coming up on a scene, I’ll get a cup of coffee… walk around for a bit… make a phone call—it’s brutal. Sex in real life is spontaneous and fucking awesome. But, writing about sex is planned… so, sometimes you have to rely on the spontaneity of the internet (wink).
BBJ: How would you feel, Charlie, if we said that we absolutely loved Fin & Matt, and that it’s a Keeper, but a bit like the movie, Titanic, it’s one we can’t re-read often?
Charlie: I would say that’s just fine. You said the magic words: absolutely loved. That’s all I can ask for.
BBJ: Tell us what some of your special holiday traditions are.
Charlie: Ooof, the holidays? I wish I had a cool answer, but we are starting a new tradition by packing up and sitting on the beach over Christmas. It is actually going to be a bit of a writing holiday. Taking my laptop and hoping to get my current project closer to wrap.
BBJ: Which would trust more when considering buying a book, Charlie – a 5* review that’s quite bland/inoffensive/generic-ish or overly effusive or a 3* review that’s more detailed and critically constructive?
Charlie: I guess it depends. I used to look at reviews at the beginning and now I don’t… at all. I’ve never seen a single review for Nate & Casey. The reviews for books can sometimes be so twisted and/or give away so much that you can feel like you’ve already read the book before you have. Books by my favourite authors that I find absolutely brilliant have one-star reviews, you know? There are dicks out there EVERYWHERE with a laptop.
BBJ: Name 3 things that you never, ever leave home without.
Charlie: (I feel like an asshole for saying my cell, but) my cell, my Kindle, my beats (headphones).
BBJ: Having read Nate & Casey, towards the end, we wondered if there was perhaps the tiniest bit of RL in this? A hint of yours and hubs’ romance, perhaps? Was your romance the stuff of novels?
Charlie: Well, there’s always a bit of us in there. We’re both music fans and we met at a bar (the now defunct Patio) where this psychobilly band was playing. He asked for my number at the end of the night and put it in his pocket (no cell phones back then). Once he got home, he realized he’d lost it. He went back to the bar and searched for almost an hour until he found it on the floor near the stage.
Later on, I asked him, “What would you have done if you wouldn’t have found it?”
He just said, “I would have come back and looked for you every night.”
BBJ: Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, the author, reviews, social media/hype or something else? Please answer in ranking order, with your top consideration first, feeling free to drop anything that doesn’t count!
Charlie: Author first, I guess. I have my favourites. Cover is really important though—if a cover makes me feel like taking a shower afterward, that’s not necessarily a good thing—usually I avoid those books. I tend to lean toward romance more than pure raunch, so once I’ve read a book that I like by an author, I generally go back and peruse their past catalogues or recommendations based on that author. Like I said before, reviews can be a factor, but for me—eh—not so much.
BBJ: What about the US makes you happiest/proudest? And the same question about your own life?
Charlie: I guess I would have to say that I’m proudest of the life I’ve built. The places we’ve traveled to are beautiful, even breathtaking, but I always get a rush coming home. I love the city we live in and the crazy house we’ve built full of art and chaos and love. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
BBJ: So when can we expect another read from you, Charlie, please? Could we perhaps have a little hint or few, seeing we’re such good buds now? Pretty please?
Charlie: I’m actually working on two projects right now. I started a book before Nate & Casey that I struggled with an ending for, so I shelved it—I planned to pick it up after N&C wrapped, but instead started yet another project. I’ve written about 23K so far on it (about a third of the way done), but it feels really good so far. A little dark, but… as you know, I like it a little dark. I have a title, but I’m keeping a few things to myself at this point—my goal is to release in the spring.
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BBJ: And now, the quick-fire round:
Favourite scent on a guy? Viktor&Rolf’s Spicebomb.
Who’s the more romantic, you or hubs, and why? He is, I’d say. I write about it, but he’s a doer. He’s thoughtful, which is the best type of romantic. If I’m working a thirteen-hour day, he’ll pick up my car to take it for an oil change because he knows I don’t have the time. When I’m writing and in my office for hours at a time, he’ll pop in to rub/kiss my neck and refresh my coffee. It’s romance in the simplest terms. It’s doesn’t have to be fancy dinners or weekend getaways.
Describe yourself in one word. Spirited.
What’s your signature dish? Old-skool pot roast and potatoes.
Finally, what’s the best bit of fan mail you’ve ever had? A letter from a woman talking about Fin&Matt. She said that she came from a family of two fathers and that she was their only daughter. She told me that she cried throughout the entire book, feeling like it was the story of their family. That felt pretty great.
Thanks for popping in, Charlie, and please let us know when your next book is nearing completion, because we’ve turned over a new leaf and are trying to curb our
stalking nosing. 😉