Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Editor Interview- Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

1) Both of you have worked together on several novels as well as co-edited the anthology Fool for Love back in 2009 (and of course co-edited the two anthologies being featured this week). How did you two find each other and start writing together? Is it easier or harder writing together as opposed to on your own?

Becky: Timothy and I met in an AOL chat room in 1997. He and I (and our other two writing partners, Jim and another Tim) clicked because we shared the same humor, enjoyed the same books, and liked hearing one another’s real life stories. In time, a suggestion was made that we four should write, in tandem, a fictional story together. It was supposed to be just for us, something fun to do, but when friends started expressing interest in reading what we were writing, then wanted us to write more, we decided to approach it in earnest. When we thought we had a finished novel, we began the long process of finding an agent, and she led us to Kensington.

Timothy: Writing by committee can be difficult, because it can be tricky to get everyone to agree on a plot. Sometimes it's hard for everyone to write a particular character or location the same way. Becky and I rarely seem to have that problem, though. We work well together. It's more difficult for me to write on my own, because I waste a lot of time second-guessing myself. It's also lonely when I don't have someone to bounce ideas off of, or someone to tell me the line I thought was so hysterical is offensive to Baltic women.

Becky: Once Timothy moved to Houston, we also had more time to write together, and that’s when we did our two collaborative novels. A lot of what we write comes out of conversations. One of us says something that makes the other laugh, and we immediately say, “How can we use that?” Like right now, I’m trying to figure out how to work that “Baltic women” line into something.

2) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, a favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?

Timothy: I love jelly beans, but Jelly Belly freaks me out because they've cornered the jelly bean market. It's hard to find jelly beans that aren't Jelly Belly. I remember a time when jelly beans were just jelly beans and not 50 different freaky flavors. Most of them are really nasty, I think. Anyway, when I'm writing, I'll eat anything I have in the house. I used to smoke cigarettes, and I loved to smoke while writing. But I can't do that anymore, which makes it really difficult to write. So now I have a bag of almonds, or sunflower seeds, on my desk at all times so I can snack on something healthy while I write. Otherwise, I'll head downstairs for the potato chips, cookies, and other not so healthy stuff in the house. Right now I'm rewarding myself for finally answering these questions with a Lone Star beer.

Becky: My old process was write, write, write, then stop and read/edit with a cigarette. The cigarette was a reward. Then like Timothy, I quit smoking. Was it only coincidence that about that same time I shifted from writing to editing? I hope so. I’ve written a few things since, but I don’t have any kind of reward system now. I do chew a lot of gum. And I’m addicted to dental floss. Maybe those are my new rewards.

3) Both of you also work with and support Scout's Honor Rescue in Houston as well as Rescued Pets Movement. Can you tell us a little bit about these organizations, and why they're so important?

Timothy: Some friends and I cofounded Rescued Pets Movement Inc. (www.rescuedpetsmovement.org) on September 23, 2013, in an effort to help Houston's pet overpopulation problem. There are an estimated 1.3 homeless pets at large in Houston, so any rescue group trying to find a home for them is important. RPM has partnered with BARC, Houston's city shelter, to transport 50 adoptable pets a week out of the city shelter to rescue organizations in other areas of the country where pet overpopulation isn't such a dire issue. These are dogs and cats who would otherwise be put to sleep because the city's shelter is always at capacity. Since RPM formed, we've saved over 1,100 dogs and cats from being euthanized. I'm really proud to be a part of RPM.

Becky: I was involved with Scout’s Honor only peripherally when Timothy was fostering dogs for them. Because Timothy lives on the same property as my husband Tom and I, we were sort of Timothy’s foster assistants. I think the total number of fosters who came through us was eighteen. They all went to good homes. I’m a strong believer in dog and cat rescue and in adopting from any organization. If you have specific requirements for a pet companion, adopting through a foster program gives you a lot of information about an animal’s temperament and training that could enable you to adopt more successfully.

When Timothy and his friends/associates founded Rescued Pets Movement, I volunteered to help him with his social media responsibilities, mostly by taking photos of the animals being transported and animals who need fostering and adopting. I’ll also do editing and proofreading, as needed.

4) You've both now co-edited three different anthologies. What is the process like, in terms of garnering submissions, selecting stories, and getting it ready for publication? Are there times where you disagree on what stories should go in?

Becky: The first anthology we did was the idea of Greg Herren when he was an editor for Haworth Press. We handpicked writers whose work we’d enjoyed, or aspiring writers we met through their blogs or at literary events. When Haworth was bought and the new owners opted out of publishing fiction, Richard Labonté gave us an introduction to the publishers at Cleis, and they gave our orphaned anthology a new home.

Timothy: Since then, we have to pitch our anthology concept to a publisher and hope they agree to publish it. After we convince the publisher there's no way our anthology could possibly be short stories about teenaged gay vampires coming of age in the year 2442—

Becky: I’d buy that.

Timothy: —we finally sign contracts to publish an anthology of contemporary gay fiction with a romantic theme. From then on, the process has been different almost every time. Often we'll solicit stories from our writer friends and then ask them if they know anyone who might want to submit a story to us. If, after that, we still don't have enough stories that we want to publish, that's when we'll start panicking and sending random emails to writers begging them for a story. Oddly, it works. After we have a large pool of stories to work with, we'll pick the ones we think are the best written and that best match the theme of the anthology. Then we'll edit them and sometimes work with the writer if significant changes need to be made.

Becky: Best Gay Romance 2014 was an open call because we hoped to get stories from new writers as well as writers who’d worked with Richard on earlier anthologies in the series. We received a large number of stories to choose from. Sometimes those choices were hard. Again, we wanted a range, so if one story was too similar to another, we had to make tough calls.

Timothy: I don't think Becky and I have ever disagreed whether or not a story should be in an anthology. If Becky believes in a story, she's usually good at convincing me why it has merit. And vice versa.

Becky: I do encourage writers whose stories are turned down by anyone, not just by us, to keep refining and submitting them. Maybe writers should regard their unpublished work as “foster” stories. Shape them into the best they can be without losing any of their most endearing qualities, then they are more likely to find their forever homes.

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