An Interview With M/M Romance Author Thom Collins

Spring has arrived and with it, a flurry of activity that includes presenting to the Helliwell Book Club in May, taking part in Pride events in Orangeville in June, a new release in August (Mann Hunt), and attending the Gay Romance Literature Conference as an author in October. There will be lots of details on those activities in the upcoming newsletters, but THIS month I want to feature another author I greatly admire who lives in County Durham in England and has eighteen published titles. I hope you will enjoy reading about his work, and hopefully it will inspire you to check out some of his books. It’s my pleasure to present an interview with Thom Collins.

What was it that inspired you to start writing M/M romance books?

I’ve always written gay stories under different pen names, all the way back to the mid-1990s when I wrote erotic stories for gay porn magazines and paperback anthologies. I must admit I was very young then. I consider myself a genre writer, so I was never going to write huge literary novels like Alan Hollinghurst (though I wish I could). When I decided to write something more romantic, the M/M genre really appealed. And there are a lot of sub-genres to explore within the romance field, so the possibilities are pretty much endless.

What is the book you are most proud of and why?

I’m quite proud of all of my books. I had so many unfinished manuscripts in the past, that I now appreciate what an achievement it is to complete a novel, but the book I have a real soft spot is Anthem of the Dark. It’s the second book in my Anthem Trilogy. When I wrote the first book, I had a few scribbled notes of where I would take the characters next, but I didn’t really know for sure. So, it was daunting and a big challenge to continue the storyline, but it all came together. It’s one of those books that almost wrote itself. Also, most of my stories are set in fictional locations, but that one was set in Blackpool in the northwest of England, a place I adore. And the supporting characters are some of my all-time favourites. I keep meaning to bring some of them back but haven’t found the right story for them yet.

What is the thing you find hardest to write?

It’s not the writing I find hard, but everything that comes after it – the second and third drafts, edits and most of all promotion. Researching, outlining, planning and writing the first draft are when I’m most at ease. I love all of that stuff but the rest of it is a real chore.

When you write your novels, do you have a set process or does each book dictate its own process?

I’m a creature of habit so I tackle every book in the same way. I’m old school and have a notebook that I take everywhere, and I use that to jot down ideas, names, titles, scenes – all quite random stuff. When I’m ready to begin a new novel, I start with a project book and that’s where I work out the settings, character bios, and a chapter by chapter outline. All in long hand. From there I type up a full story outline and once I’m happy with the flow, pace and revelations, I’m ready to begin.

I once read an interview with Stephen King where he said he likes to complete his first draft in a single season – about 4 months and that’s a timeline that I’ve found works well. I write from the start to the end and never look back to edit while I’m working, and I always write in 1000 word bursts. Once I’ve got a complete first draft, then the hard work begins. Because I try to have a tight outline to begin with, my second and third drafts are usually just to improve grammar and maybe flesh out a few scenes or characters. Thankfully I’ve never had to do any major structural fixes or rewrites. All writers have their own process. The idea of an exploratory draft or pantsing fills me with anxiety, but we all find a way that works best for us.

What are your biggest artistic influences, or what artists in any art form or genre offer inspiration when you are writing?

That’s a tough one. I’m inspired all the time by other writers, by movies, music and TV. At the minute I’ve just written the first book in a new series for 2024 which I would describe as an erotic thriller, so I’ve been watching a lot of neo noir movies from the 1980s and 90s like Cruising, Body Heat, Dressed to Kill, Sea of Love and Basic Instinct for inspiration. I also listen to music while I’m writing. For fun, upbeat scenes, it’s pop, dance and disco, and if it’s a thriller scene I like to listen to movie soundtracks to set the mood. I listen to a lot of vinyl records and can usually time it to complete around a thousand words by the time I’ve played both sides of a record.

I know you are a big fan of horror. Do you have a favourite horror film and why?

That’s another tough one. I don’t have one favourite but as my birthday is 31st October I’ll go with Halloween – the 1978 version, definitely not the 2018 one. But I can’t get enough of horror films. I’ve probably watched every piece of crap Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ have to offer. I know they’re most likely going to be terrible before I begin but if it’s a choice between a cheap horror film or a huge budget Marvel blockbuster, the horror will win every time. In amongst all the rubbish, there are still plenty of gems to be found.

What piece of advice would you give to another writer based on your experiences?

For anyone starting, the best advice is to finish what you’re working on. Writing a novel takes a long time and you’ll be distracted by new ideas all the time. Don’t give in to the temptation of starting something else. Make a note of your new idea but stick with what you’re currently writing until you finish. No one will ever read an incomplete book. And I definitely speak from experience, I’ve got folders and files full of them.

When is your next release coming out? (or you can also talk about your most recent release).

My most recent release Deep Waters is the third novel in my Jagged Shores series. It’s a romantic suspense set on the northeast coast of England. Christian is a writer looking for inspiration. He hires Harry, a handsome young boat operator, to take him along the coast. The guys soon become embroiled in a murder mystery when they rescue a wounded man from the sea. The Jagged Shores books are a series of loosely linked standalones set in the coastal town of Nyemouth. Expect lots of passion, suspense and intrigue. I grew up in that area of Northumberland and this series is so much fun to write.

The fourth book Cold Day Dawning comes out in August and I’m currently working on the characters and storyline for book five. This is the exciting part when even I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. If readers want to find out more about your writing, what is the best way to find out all of your news?

You can follow me by clicking on any of the links below.





Published by peterefenton

Peter Fenton is a playwright and author living in Toronto, Canada.

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