10 Questions: Riley Long
Welcome to 10 Questions! Each month, we’re going to talk to a different member of Passionate Ink and ask them 10 questions about their writing and interests.
Riley, before we get started on our 10 questions, tell us a little about yourself.
RL: I’m a wife and mother living a quiet life in Virginia, with my husband, son, and a very rude Pit Bull puppy. I pass my evenings writing, reading, and watching bad television (or not-so-bad television). For fun, I participate in NaNoWriMo and Gish, and read with my book club, the BAMFs. The craziest thing I’ve ever done involves whipped cream, a bathing suit, and strangers. And I’ve got a new MM adult erotic romance trilogy coming out this fall!
1. How fun! Okay, first question: What’s the first book that made you cry?
RL: Oh man. Where the Red Fern Grows is the first one I remember crying over. I distinctly remember being home alone, sitting in my favorite chair in the afternoon sun, and reading the end, and my mom called the house to check in. I was weeping. She was very concerned.
2. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
RL: I DO write under a pseudonym. I come from a very conservative background, and for a long time I was living in a super tiny town and teaching elementary school while I wrote at night. I didn’t want my mother to get the vapors or for me to lose my day job, so I picked a new name. It was very empowering and freeing!
3. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
RL: I’m friends with Marie Cole, who’s an MF romance writer of all sub-genres. She’s taught me so much about her writing and publishing process and encourages me to be a better writer every day. We meet once a week to write together and bounce ideas off of one another, and we have a blast doing it.
4. Do you want each of your books to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
As a writer and a reader, I prefer standalones! That said, Marie convinced me to write a series because readers love them, and I have to say, it’s kind of cool having a connection between each book. I do sometimes sneak Easter eggs into my books, though—for example, the bar and the band that are important in Falling Apart are both mentioned in passing in one or more of my other standalones.
5. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
RL: Write the series. Don’t put off book 2, finish Billy and Ryder’s story (from Falling Apart) before you do anything else. Otherwise it’ll never get done.
6. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
RL: I just became so much more aware. Before my first book was published, I wrote for fun—my eyes only! (Don’t we all start out that way?) But once I handed my manuscript to an editor and basically said “Help, please,” my attention was drawn to all of the sloppy, inexperienced things I was doing. Those were totally rookie mistakes, and it didn’t mean my writing was bad, just that I had a lot to learn.
7. How do you select the names of your characters?
RL: Ha! This is my favorite writing technique question to answer, because my answer is always so mundane. I always start with an age of the character. Once I know how old he is, I pull up the Social Security name database, and look at the top 1,000 names for that year. Then I read through until one speaks to me. That’s it!
8. What’s been your hardest scene to write?
My first sex scene was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I was writing what eventually became Falling Apart for someone I had a crush on, so I really wanted to impress her. I was traveling for work, and I had taken my personal laptop along because she challenged me to write MM erotica. I was so nervous that I parked myself in an airport bar with a few rum and Cokes and wrote until my flight started boarding. I remember that I kept checking over my shoulder and also trying not to make eye contact with the (hot!) bartender because I was afraid someone would just know what I was writing.
9. Does your family support your career as a writer?
RL: Yes and no. My extended family doesn’t know what I write. They know I like to write, but I’ve never “come out” as published or writing MM or even writing anything remotely “adult.” My my immediate family—my husband and my son—respect and support that I write as a job, not just something to pass the time.
10. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
RL: I manage to hammer out a first draft in a month or two. Then it takes me several months of beta reads, critiques, and edits to get it ready for the public.
Thank you, Riley! It was great talking with you.
Check out Riley’s web site: rileylongwrites.com.
We look forward to talking with more PI members in the months ahead. If you’d like to participate in 10 Questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.