How did you start writing erotica?
I’d flailed around publishing novels under my own name that never really went anywhere, and then Aubrey Watt did an AMA on Reddit about being a M/M smut writer, back in October 2012. I was fascinated by that, especially with the amount of money she was making! I wrote up “Good Cop Bad Boy,” my first M/M story, and mailed it off to her, asking her to take a look at it and tell me if I had a future in the biz. She said HELL YEAH you do! So that was my start…when Amazon started blocking/banning a lot of erotica, I moved into writing novels.
What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
Apollo’s Curse is my best book, maybe the best I’ll ever write. It’s a “writer’s novel” that has limited appeal to people who aren’t interested in self-publishing or the way a writer thinks. It’s a romance about romance, basically. I had such a rep as the “dirty sexin’ guy” that I set myself the challenge of writing a novel like the old Harlequins, the ones that ended with a kiss on the last page. Of course, sex sells, so this book didn’t, but…I love it. I’m immensely proud of it. It’s like a Russian nesting box, there are stories within stories. There are three fairy tales in it that I’d love to have illustrated and put out as a separate book. Also, this is the only one of my books that my mom has read, since it’s the only one with no sexin’, and she loved it.
What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
Kora Knight is the very best at doing MM sex. Her dialogue, her action, it’s great.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My bank balance! Seriously, it’s sort of random. The news will inspire me sometimes, give me a crazy “what if” scenario. Given the Circumstances came out of a news story about pro baseball player Ryan Braun getting busted for performance enhancing drugs, and they talked about his now damaged friendship with straight arrow quarterback Aaron Roders, and I had this “heh heh” idea – what if they were more than friends, what if they were gay lovers? And I was off to the races with the plot.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Well, I use these Adlens adjustable glasses when I’m on the computer, and I haven’t snapped off the adjusters – they’re like Frankenstein bolts on the sides of the glasses. So I look like a mad scientist when I’m writing, I’m sure.
Where’s your favourite place to write?
I’ve got my office set up just the way I like it. My Emperor Palpatine chair, my music, the lighting, everything’s just as it should be.
Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
I’d say Brian from Given the Circumstances. We have a lot in common – emotionally absent fathers, lots of raw talent and a hard time not just coasting on that, a thundering desire for love that comes out in all the wrong ways sometimes.
Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
I told my mom when I got my first Amazon deposit, which was like $275 in November 2012, that I was “Brad Vance” and I was writing gay erotica. I didn’t have a job, and was frantic for money, and I had to let her know I was making some, some way. She just paused, and said, “Well…sure are a lot of weirdos out there.”
What was your ideal career when you were a child?
You’re lookin’ at it! Really, there wasn’t anything else I ever wanted to do.
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
Coffee helps. The right music. Some mornings are tough, the well is just empty, in which case I won’t force it. Better 0 words than 1000 crappy ones.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Well, it wasn’t a writing tip, per se, but something I’ve learned to apply to my career. David Foster Wallace had a line in Infinite Jest, it was advice to tennis players about their careers. Talking about their tour rankings, he said, “Learn to care and not to care. They mean the rankings to help you determine where you are, not who you are.” That really affected me, because I’d let so much of my self-esteem get caught up in my sales rankings. If my book wasn’t selling, I was a failure, a bad person, etc. Remembering that where I was in my career wasn’t who I was.
If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?
I rarely get it, TBH. Usually it’s caused by depression or fatigue or discouragement at sales or success. It’s always something caused by an external factor that I have to address before I can get back in the groove again. There’s always a cause, it doesn’t just happen one morning that I get up and mysteriously can’t write.
If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
Hmm, well, for a hot date, I’d pick Sam from the Sam and Derek stories. He’s always been my favorite dude, the one of my characters I most wanted to do it with myself. And for conversation I’d pick Jesse Winchester from the Game Players books. He’s so charming and funny and brilliant.
Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
If it was living or dead, I’d say David Foster Wallace. He’s the greatest writer of the 20th century, but he committed suicide in 2008 after a lifetime of major clinical depression. Alive, right now I’d say Bernard Cornwell, because he writes such splendid action-adventure stories, and that’s what I’m looking to branch into next.
What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I have to say “gay for you.” I know, but there’s something about seeing that straight dude exploring his gay side that just does it for me.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m focusing on audiobooks right now, and my editing business (https://bradvanceerotica.wordpress.com/brad-vance-editorial-services/ ). I’m doing some ghostwriting and freelancing, and trying to get my financial head back above water. A novel is a four month investment in time that, right now, I literally can’t afford. Once I can stabilize my finances, I’ll be finishing up the Marc and Jesse trilogy.
What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
(Answers to these are pretty much bundled up with “What’s your favorite of your books”)
Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…
When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.
And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.
One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…
Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.
It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.
Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.
He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.
There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?
Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.
But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.
The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.
“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…
“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.
Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…
And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.
No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.
Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.
Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”
That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.
Meet the Author
Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”