I’m so excited to have as my guest today award-winning, multi-published author Keta Diablo. Keta writes historical, paranormal, and gay fiction. Today she shares with us her sources of inspiration, her thoughts on self publishing, and why she feels complimented that her characters have been called “politically incorrect.”
ELIZABETH SHORE: Welcome, Keta! We’re so happy to have you with us today. To start off the questions, let’s talk about your writing. I admire how prolific you are and even more so because you write successfully in three different genres – paranormal, historical, and gay fiction. Makes my head spin! How do you keep them all straight, and what inspires you to write in one genre versus another?
KETA DIABLO: First, thank you for hosting me Lady Smut. Happy to be here. I really don’t write in that many genres. Most of the time, I write historical romance and often add paranormal elements. For instance, Where The Rain Is Made is a historical novel with paranormal elements of raven shifters and time travel. The same with Decadent Deceptions, which is a historical novel with romantic suspense and mystery elements. (Decadent Deceptions on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/109E4WI ). And again, Sojourn With a Stranger, a Gothic historical novel with ghosts and voodoo (here on Kindle: http://amzn.to/15cDs3l ). I could list more of my historical novels, but I think you get the picture. My books are heavily slanted toward historical.
When it comes to writing gay fiction, again I prefer historical novels such as The Sin Eater’s Prince, a vampire/werewolf novel (more information here on Kindle: http://amzn.to/YFGDg9 ) But I have, on occasion, written contemporary gay fiction (Crossroads series, four novellas). I seldom read contemporary fiction whether it’s GLBT or heterosexual because I’m not overly fond of it. Like most authors, we tend to write what we enjoy reading.
You asked about that inspires me to write in one genre versus the other. I’m inspired by dreams and often articles on the Internet (think historical true-life stories). I do watch trends in the market, but seldom write according to ‘what’s hot right now.’ We all know how popular YA books have been in the last year or so, yet I’ve yet to write in that genre. A new genre taking hold is the ‘baby boomer’ books, and again, I don’t see myself writing in that genre. While I think trends matter when it comes to sales, I probably wouldn’t write in a genre I know nothing about or wouldn’t care to research. I have to like the time period I’m writing about most of the time and I don’t find the present all that interesting (lol).
ELIZABETH: I also find it interesting that you’ve chosen to have all of your books, no matter the genre, published under Keta Diablo. Could you talk about why you don’t use a different name for your various genres.
KETA: You find it interesting? Is that the same as strange? (another laugh). Rather, more like I find it strange authors use different names for genres and have often wondered why they go to all that trouble? It’s a lot of work to maintain multiple web sites, blogs and separate author names. And, of course, I wonder if that isn’t placing writers in a box. I mean, we keep hearing it’s “All About the Story” right? Why can’t an author who writes adult urban fantasy also write YA? If he/she is a good story teller and/or a good writer, why would they want a different name for every genre they write? Readers already know her as Jane Doe so doesn’t it make sense if they switch genres, readers will buy Jane Doe’s new urban fantasy? That’s one great thing about self-publishing: many of the boundaries and restrictions made and instituted by publishing houses/agents/editors have been breached. I say, “It’s about time.”
ELIZABETH: Hear hear! I agree wholeheartedly. And speaking of self publishing leads me right to my next question. You’ve been published by several different publishers, but I know you’re proud to publish independently as well. Why has it been important for you to go the independent route?
KETA: Oh, gosh, you should read the posts on several of the self-publishing forums I belong to. Traditional authors are leaving publishing houses by droves and their reasons all fall into the same categories, i.e., low royalties, poor record-keeping, restrictions on cover art, blurbs, content and heavily-weighted contracts slanted toward publishers. Many authors say there were expected to write formulaic romance – you know, boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl make up and live happily-ever-after. Boring, boring, and thank goodness writers have found the courage to go it alone without all the restrictions and expectations that have been in place for decades. If you think about it, the large publishing houses have controlled what people read for years. They decided what books and authors to publish. Now with self-publishing, readers are choosing what they want to read. Again, it’s about time. I’m not against all publishers. Some are legitimate and supportive, but of course, they all want a large cut of your royalties – most of the time more than what the author makes. Until they bring royalty rates up to at least 50-50, I don’t see myself not self-pubbing. I have been solicited by a reputable NY agent to write a sequel to one of my books. I’d have to think long and hard before doing that – weigh the good with the bad, the benefits with the negatives before I proceeded down that road.
ELIZABETH: Your books are deliciously spicy hot, but then you throw me for a curve and recently publish Sky Tinted Water, a sweet romance. What gives? Is Keta Diablo cooling off?
KETA: Cooling off? As in heat level? Not at all. I wrote Sky Tinted Water (more information here: http://amzn.to/15eANpB ) several years ago. I never saw the book as erotic while I was writing or pictured the characters as hot and steamy during the scenes. Not that they don’t have sex, they do, but sex doesn’t have to be explicit in order for the story to be compelling. If it’s truly about ‘the story’ then descriptive sex isn’t always needed. I like to think the plot or story line carries most of the weight in a novel. Sex scenes are an added bonus, but not needed in every book. Some readers love erotica and erotic romance, while others frequently say they skip over all the sex scenes and care more about the character’s journey. Again, if one writes to please the market, you’re doing your readers a disservice. I write the characters the way I see them in my head, with flaws and warts, however I see them. Most of the time that includes hot sex, but there’s nothing wrong with leaving sex out of the story. One reviewer once said, “Diablo loves to write the politically incorrect characters.” I take that as a compliment. I don’t write with the idea in mind that readers MUST fall in love with my characters. Many they won’t like, and again, I take that as a sign of doing my job. Writing cookie-cutter characters is not real life or realistic. Humans are not all gorgeous and perfect so why should we try to make them that way in every book? I mean this is fiction, but not dream-world fiction. Getting back to Sky Tinted Water, the book was lengthy at 110,000 words so I split it in two. The sequel SKY DANCE will be out by June, sans sex scenes.
ELIZABETH: Fantastic! We’ll look forward to that for sure. Moving on, I’d like to talk about your gay fiction series, Crossroads, which has garnered a lot of positive acclaim and reviews. Your main hero, Frank McGuire, is one tough alpha male but he’s sure got a soft spot for his lover, Rand. I imagine it’s been a fascinating journey for you as a writer to grow with these characters.
KETA: I had enormous fun writing about Frank (talk about a jerk) and Rand. These were some of my early books into the world of gay fiction. Frank is one of those characters I alluded to above – he’s an ex-cop with a lot of baggage, including a bad attitude. Frank is not likeable in the first novella and that was no accident on my part. The point is, Frank is not a hopeless case. He is redeemable and changes and grows by the end of the series through his relationship with Rand. I wrote Frank as I saw him with a chip on his shoulder and a few fetishes tucked into his pocket. I knew he would be a very controversial character, and I love him to death, major faults included.
ELIZABETH: It really does make him an incredibly memorable and fascinating character. In addition to all the positive reviews for the series, some readers objected to the non-consensual sex element in Book 1. I’d love your comment on that.
KETA: Oh, yes, well nothing we can do about people taking objection to a book or a character. Number one, there is an enormous warning (in red) on all the Crossroad novellas stating: EXPLICIT SEX AND LANGUAGE. I don’t know what more I can do to alert readers the books walk on the raw side. Second, I have to chuckle at all the controversy over the “non-consensual sex.” Good grief – can we say double standard? In my early teens, I gobbled up Rosemary Rogers’ and Kathleen Woodiwiss’ bodice rippers like millions of other women. They aren’t called bodice rippers for nothing. We’re talking rape in every book, i.e., The Wolf and the Dove, The Flame and the Flower, Sweet Savage Love and all the sequels to SSL. Why weren’t these people calling foul then? Non-consensual sex has been predominant in books for decades and suddenly people are offended? I don’t get it. Third, some people think when authors write about taboo topics that means the author approves or condones that conduct. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can’t speak for other writers, but again, I write the characters as I see them. And, I’m sorry, but with Frank’s tragic background and his long-time passion for Rand what did people think they’d do in the book – shake hands? Bad things happen in life, including non-consensual sex. Should we pretend they don’t? People have many facets to their persona, not all are admirable. Does that mean they don’t have good qualities too? My advice to those who are easily offended is to read the warnings that come with books. If you are at all squeamish about these things, don’t purchase the book.
I learned long ago authors will never please everyone, no matter what they write or how they construct their characters — the book is too short, the book is too long, the characters are boring, the characters do unacceptable things, there’s too much sex, there isn’t enough sex. I love my readers and have been extremely lucky (as you mentioned) with reviewers, but in all honesty, I have to write for me. If I don’t, I’ll go nuts. I seldom read my reviews and most certainly don’t search for them. I do get notified by review sites when they’ve written a review and I’m profoundly thankful and grateful that many like my books. But if they don’t, they don’t and I can’t change that.
ELIZABETH: I love your candor and honesty so thank you for that, Keta. Finally, what do we have to look forward to next from you?
KETA: Thank you for asking. HIS ALONE was just released, proof Keta Diablo hasn’t cooled off. It’s a hot, sizzling novella available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. I’m working on a historical/paranormal called BREATH OF LIGHT and an erotic romance series in the western historical genre. Follow my blog if you’d like to know when they release: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
And again, thanks for hosting me, Lady Smut!
ELIZABETH: Such a pleasure having you. Thanks, Keta.