September is National M/M Month! To celebrate, I’ll be featuring a few extra guests for interviews — and the second special guest to join us is M/M author Zoe Perdita!
Zoe Perdita writes shifter romances with an action/adventure twist. Her books are crawling with assassins, crime bosses and all manner of sexy bad boys. Her new book Omega in the Shadows (Lost Wolves Book One) is out now.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a kid, I made picture books all the time. I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t have the patience to learn how to draw, and I wasn’t very good at it. However, I always liked telling stories in just about any format. I used to write plays and force my friends and sister to perform them. I wrote a ton of fan fiction, tried my hand at film in college (it’s very difficult) and even drawing comics (I still suck at drawing). So the only way I could tell the stories I wanted was by writing them. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I was 21 and wrote my first book that I realized I could be a writer. Then I knew I had to be a writer or go crazy. Now, I’m both.
What do you believe are the foremost obstacles in being a woman writer for your chosen genre (M/M romance)?
I’ve seen some critical views of women who write m/m romance, and I can’t blame them. We are writing about the lives of gay men, and I’m not one – last time I checked. Some people feel like it’s inauthentic to write what we write. True, no matter how much anal sex I have, I’ll never know what it’s like to have a prostate. However, I’m not a shifter either. Or an assassin. Or a cop or a mob boss, but I can write about those things without (most) people being overly critical. I’m a writer, and I make up characters and stories. In my romances, there are two dudes who fall in love instead of a lady and a dude.
When I come up with a story, I think of the characters as humans first and everything else falls into place after that – including their gender and sexuality. I try not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes, but beyond that there is nothing to do besides write the best books I can.
Are any of your characters based on real life people?
Haha! Nope. Some aspects of certain characters are based on certain aspects of people I know. I tried writing a villain based on someone I don’t like and it didn’t work out. I ended up changing it. I feel like a crazy person, but it seems like my characters just pop into my head one day and tell me to write them a story. Then, as I’m writing, their motivations and personality come to life. I do as the voices command.
How many hours a day do you typically spend writing?
I don’t write as long as some people, but I have hand issues from typing too much. Typically, I aim for 4,000 words a day. But I also edit what I wrote the day before in order to get back into the flow of the story. That takes about an hour or two on its own (and part of my word count is added there). The rest of the pure writing time could take anywhere from two to three extra hours. Maybe five to six hours total, I’d guess. Though some days are much better than others. And that doesn’t include my ‘staring out the window, drinking coffee and mentally planning’ time either.
How did you get interested in writing m/m stories and shifters?
The magically wonderful world of slash (or yaoi) fan fiction! It was my first introduction to gay fiction in any way, shape or form, and I was hooked. Read: addicted. Still am. Gundam Wing slash was my cup of tea, if you must know, and I still have a soft spot for it. Then, when I realized there was such a thing as original m/m romance my head exploded. I could write the stories I wanted to write and people would read them? Say what?!?! Awesome!
I got into shifters even before I got into yaoi stuff. Well, actually, I got into paranormal stuff when I was twelve and read Interview with the Vampire. I fell in love with Louis and Lestat and all things dark and beautiful. Then I wrote a bunch of bad werewolf and vampire fan fiction as a teenager. When I found m/m romance and figured out shifters were a big part of it, I went for it and never looked back.
How much of yourself is part of your characters?
Any character that has a sarcastic, snarky sense of humor is all me, like Seth, Elijah and Ben. Not every aspect of their personalities, but the humor is mine. So are any bad puns that a character uses. And every book has some bad puns; I make sure of it! I have a hard time not writing quippy remarks in my books, maybe to a fault. I was raised by a family of snarky people who make jokes about everything – it was like living in a Joss Whedon wet dream – so that was bound to rub off.
What was the hardest scene you’ve ever had to write?
Well, it contains some slight spoilers. It’s in Crash (Westside Wolf Pack 1) when Axel comes home from his lovely summer day with Ben and finds his dad being arrested. Maybe it was the juxtaposition between the last good moment in Axel’s life before everything goes to shit. Or that he knew, deep in his heart, that his dad killed that girl. It was really draining to write, and I felt like a zombie afterwards. However, I skipped eating any brains.
What is your favorite food? How about your favorite color?
I like too many types of food to choose one favorite. But if I had to it might be pizza. Homemade margarita pizza. Easy and delicious. Or saag paneer. Or chocolate cake. Dammit! I love food.
Color wise, if I’m going to wear it, I like pink. I own way too many pink vintage dresses and different shades of pink lipstick. It’s a little ridiculous. But if it’s just a color I like, than orange. It’s bright and makes me happy. In fact, I have an orange fridge.
Your characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
The hardest situation to get out of was probably when I had a stalker in Japan. Yeah. Straight up, I had a stalker. This was back in 2007, and I had only been in Japan for a few months. I lived alone and worked as an ESL teacher.
On a shopping trip to Tokyo, I met a Japanese guy who would not leave me alone. Well, I was young and kind of stupid, but he seemed nice at first. He offered to show me around. I accepted. Then it got weird, and I bolted. Of course, I had already given him my phone number! Why did I do that? Ugh!
Anyway, he didn’t know where I lived, but he called all the time. It got to the point I had to unplug my phone. The police couldn’t do anything. My work wouldn’t get involved, so I had to handle it on my own. This guy hung out at my favorite place in Tokyo and always followed me and harassed me if I went there. Finally, I went on a date with another guy to that particular place, my stalker saw us and backed off. It was a pretty scary six months, overall.
What’s your favorite movie?
I feel like I should say something deep and meaningful, like The Fountain. That is a wonderful film, and I love it, but it’s not my favorite. In reality, it’s a tie between Hot Fuzz and The Princess Bride. They are both funny, endlessly quotable and have big hearts. And can you say bromance? Hell yeah! Also, I guess Buttercup and Wesley have a thing for each other too.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Currently, Free! Eternal Summer! Because, uh, swimming and Nagisa (how adorbs is he? Really!). I love anime and watch way too much of it. Short list (besides Free!): Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, FLCL, Natsume Yuujinchou, Gravitation and Attack on Titan. All coming of age stories, in their own way. Non-anime wise, I’d say Reign. It has a great cast and really strong storylines. Oh, and it doesn’t suffer from characters making dumb decisions because tension. Also, Catherine is amazing. She’s so much fun to watch.
What’s your favorite book?
This is a tough one. I love so many, but the top spot goes to the one I’ve read the most: The Secret Country Trilogy by Pamela Dean. These have been my favorite three books for years and years. I never get enough of them. Really. The books are fantasy YA about a group of kids that get stuck in their own story and have to deal with the consequences of that story going just as they planned (which isn’t always a good thing). The characters are believable and wonderful. It has my biggest fiction crush – Fence the wizard (complete with a bad haircut). Love!
Who’s your favorite character out of your own books?
This answer would change with every new book, I’m sure. At the moment, it’s Simeon Kane from Omega in the Light (Lost Wolves Book Two). He was so different from anyone else I’d ever written that I sort of fell in love. Yeah, he’s kinda crazy (and a little bit scary), but he’s also funny and sad and sees the world in a unique way. He’s hyper aware of everyone else, but has no idea what he’s feeling. Oh, and he has a very good sense of humor that isn’t all snark. How many mildly suicidal assassin wolf shifters do you know? Not many, I’d wager.
How did you come up with the idea for the Lost Wolves series’ world and the split between the humans territory and the shifter territory?
I wanted to start a new series, but I needed a reason not to set it in one of my existing worlds, like Haven City. So I decided to try something new – splitting the world into sections divided between shifters and humans. I usually have shifters hidden from humans, but I decided to try it the other way. What if humans know about shifters and every country deals with them differently? It was like building a whole new playground with a new set of toys. Plus, it’s a great place for assassins to live and work. And there are so many possibilities just simmering with tension since human territory has modern technology and shifter territory doesn’t. Oh, and I wanted to write stories that took place in the past, but it felt too constricting. Now I have the best of both worlds.
Elijah Kane does some pretty bad stuff in Omega in the Shadows. Why did you choose to write about an assassin like him?
I’ve always liked antiheroes and, sometimes, just straight up bad guys. But I don’t want to write the normal kind of books with characters like that. You know, the ones were they get what they deserve. So I thought, well, what if the bad guys are really the heroes now? It’s not a new idea, by any means, but it appeals to me. I like filling my books with amoral assholes and finding ways they can redeem themselves. Elijah was a risk since he does do some pretty shitty things, and he’s an assassin. I questioned everything he did with my beta readers, and he passed their test. Fans seem to like him too (thank goodness!), so I think it all worked out.
Most of your books deal with characters who have heavy, dark pasts. What’s the appeal for you as a writer?
When you start off with happy characters, it’s just not as satisfying. I like stories of redemption and growth. When a character has a terrible backstory, it gives their growth in the book more weight, for me. If you start out with a character with a nice life and no drama, it’s just not as interesting. I like to see how characters overcome their pasts. Oh, and I love the angst. It’s probably a byproduct of my fan fiction days, but angst is my crack. Give me more!
What do you like about writing shifters?
They’re dual nature appeals to me. I like how animalistic and gruff they are. Plus, putting those traits on people is sort of fun. The social dynamic is interesting too, especially with wolves. Although, my characters are usually challenging it because they don’t like the status quo. Also, I like putting shifters in normal situations just to see what would happen.
Is Haven City based on a real place?
Sort of. Superficially, it’s based on Portland, Oregon. But that’s mostly for the names of the streets and the location. I wanted a city with a river and forests around it. Portland fit the bill. Places like Forest Park are real too. Otherwise, it’s more like my twisted version of Gotham – a dark city overflowing with the need for a hero. But Haven doesn’t get Batman, it gets shifters and magic users.
What do you think Elijah would do if you met him in real life? How about Rowan?
Ha! Elijah would kill me. After he found out I’m the one who created his miserable upbringing just because it made a good story, I’d be dead. I hope he wouldn’t torture me first, but you never know. I don’t think Rowan would be much kinder. He might not kill me, but he’d sure as hell be pissed off. Note to self: don’t enter a magical portal into the Lost Wolves’ universe.
Why do you think your books connect with readers?
I wish I knew! I think I write characters people like – maybe characters that are a little unique. I honestly think most of my books are a little bit weird, but maybe that’s just me. I always wonder if readers will like them, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised. I try to put a nice mix of action and humor and angst in each book. Readers, I hope, connect with that.
What is the best thing about writing m/m books?
I get to sit around and think of ways for guys to kiss. Oh, and fall in love, but the kissing usually comes first. I’m a lot more at ease writing m/m romance than I am writing m/f romance, though I have tried it. Maybe it’s my history of slash and yaoi. But it’s what I gravitate toward and enjoy. What’s not to love?
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can sing! I’m not super talented, but I can carry a tune and kick some ass at karaoke. I also sew clothes. Once again, I’m not great at it, but I can do it. My biggest talent, however, is my ability to never give up. I’m determined to do what I want to do, probably to a stupid extent. It’s worked out for me so far.
What’s your favorite part about being a writer?
Everything! I get to work at home in my pajamas and drink coffee while I make up stories. What’s not to love? Also, I get to interact with my awesome fans. It’s crazy to think I even have fans. When did that happen? It’s totally humbling and cool. I can’t believe it.
What influences you as a writer?
Waking up in the morning. Being alive. Honestly, everything influences me. I find hints of ideas in nearly everything I do. So many ideas, in fact, I’ll never be able to write them all. Story-wise, I take a lot of inspiration from anime, manga and Japanese video games. I like the way those stories are set up, usually with a stronger sense of backstory or a more interesting narrative structure.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your fans.
I’m really tall. Like a giant. Okay, I’m actually 6 feet tall, but that’s pretty tall for a lady. And I’ve been this tall since I was 12 years old. Yeah, middle school sucked. Also, I used to live in Japan, which is kind of cool. Right? Yeah. Sort of. Being tall and living in Japan = I got stared at. A lot. But it was a great experience, and I’d love to do it again.
You have several books about omega wolf shifters. What is the appeal for you as a writer?
Because they’re the underdogs. Get it? (Har har). Omegas interest me because they are supposed to be the weakest members of the pack, but that’s rarely the case in my books. I like characters that spit in the face of social norms and do their own thing. Omegas rising above the constructs of their packs is a nice analogy for anyone who doesn’t fit in with what is so narrowly defined as ‘normal.’ Plus, it’s a great source of tension.
What do you like most about the m/m genre?
How amazingly expansive it is. There are m/m books about everything from shifters to sci-fi and fantasy to just normal contemporary stories. But they go beyond that too. There’s yaoi (Japanese comics) and now m/m web comics are getting pretty big (and they’re great!). It’s nice to see something that started out so small explode like this.
Omega in the Shadows involves a lot of travel around Europe. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled?
Every place I’ve been is interesting in its own way. The most amazing – in terms of me thinking I’d never get to go there – is Cambodia. I went to see the Angkor Wat temple complex, and it was really incredible. Words don’t describe it. I got to hang out with monkeys in the jungle. Climb the walls of Angkor Thom. See the banyan trees that grew over some of the temples that have yet to be reclaimed from the jungle. However, the most humbling aspect of everything were the killing fields outside of the capital city. Human bones litter the ground. It’s a place that was witness to horrible atrocities, and it’s hard to walk away from that. That memory sticks with me.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I’m not sure if it’s interesting, but I’m obsessed with vintage stuff. I collect a number of things from the 1920s through the 1960s – mostly clothes, toys, pins and hats. Everything old has a story that new items are missing. I like to imagine where the pieces in my collection came from. Who owned them before me and what they were like. Plus, it’s nice to recycle stuff instead of letting it sit in a landfill.
What’s the most important thing you want to accomplish in your books?
I should say something meaningful like love or acceptance, but if someone is reading gay romance, they’re already accepting. I really want people to have fun when they read my books. Fall in love with the characters and worlds I create, and maybe get something meaningful out of it. A little snippet of social commentary here and there. Oh, and I also hope they laugh. At least once. That’s all.
Thanks for stopping by, Zoe!
If you’d like to learn more about Zoe, or check out some of her books, be sure to click on some of these links: