Friday, September 25, 2009

Free-wheeling with AM Riley


My guest today is AM Riley. Riley has been writing paranormals and murder mysteries with gay and lesbian characters for five years. She’s been published with Changeling Press, Torquere Press, Loose ID and will soon publish two contemporary gay murder mysteries with MLR Press.

She just released a ‘gay biker vice cop turns vampire’ m/m romance with Loose Id last month called “Immortality is the Suck”.
The blurb reads:
“Undercover Vice cop and former ATF agent, Adam Bertoni, has had a lot of bad nights, but this one takes the proverbial cake. First, a drug deal goes sour. Then, his ex-partner and sometimes fuck-buddy, Peter, gets to watch him bleed to death.
Adam doesn’t know which ticks him off more. That somebody set him up, or that he woke up undead.
Finding his death at the center of a sting that involves Outlaw Motorcycle gangs, the Mexican Mafia, and a lot of missing cash. Adam races to find the killer and clear his name. Because Peter may put up with a lot of Adam’s B.S., but he’ll never have relations with a suspect.
Former informants are dropping like flies. The gamut of Los Angeles lowlifes are sprouting fangs and super-human powers. And, Adam has to face a lot of things he’s been avoiding for a long time.
Immortality is just something he hadn’t planned on.”

With a blurb like that I was dying to know more about the author and the story behind the story so, here’s AM Riley free-wheeling about her writing and her life, which for Riley is really the same thing.
* * * * * *

The story behind the story:
How I came up with the vampire character for Immortality is the Suck is a good question.
I know a marine who became a cop, though not a vice cop. He retired and is now a writer. Anyway, he’s a vampire freak. So’m I and so is a co-worker. Short story long, my buddy came to visit when I was working graveyard on a show with my co-worker. A ghastly cable TV thing, as it happens, and we took frequent breaks to alleviate our despair. That night we started talking vampires. Then arguing vampires. It was a hysterical conversation and my friend the marine is always saying things are the suck. So, I said, “ Immortality is the suck.” And he said, ‘Yeah you should write that.’ And there you have it. It’s his fault.

The main character looks and sounds like my friend the ex-marine. I’ve always thought he’d make a great vampire.

The circumstances that led to the book opening actually happened, though, minus the vampire element. (At least, I don’t think there was a vampire element) The DEA and ATF busted over eighty Mongol’s last October here in Los Angeles, after a lengthy undercover operation involving several agents. My protagonist is my version of one of those agents.

The life:

I live in Los Angeles and I write paranormal as well as mysteries. Interestingly, I think, there are no characters in my books that aren’t people I know or have known. If they seem extreme or bizarre, that’s because most people are pretty danged strange if you bother to listen. Even my vampires are people I know (with fangs).

I write lesbian fiction as well, but most of the people who read my m/m books aren’t interested in lesbian romance or murder mysteries. I’ve been unsure about where to publicize my lesbian fiction, so I guess it will end up on my site, side by side with the other stuff I write.

Lets see... went to Art School, degree in Art History and Lit. That’s where I learned that there is no wrong way to make art. The only thing you can do wrong is copy someone else (there is a difference between copying and emulating. The key is authenticity.) I got into the film industry to pay the bills and sort of fell in love with an editing bay. All those lights and bopping needles and dials in a dark room! Four or more monitors humming away in digital harmony. It’s like the inside of a techno brain!

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a long, long time. Before I worked in the film industry, (over ten years now. Gad.) I held the gamut of weird minimum wage jobs. I know people who have lived on the streets; I speak Calo -- it's a sort of slangy bastardized Spanish that you hear in Los Angeles. It's so common that you see it on the main broadcasting networks cop shows -- and a sort of bastardized Portuguese which I learned entirely hanging out in the dance clubs. ;~D

My best friend when I first moved here was a member of Avatar and I still have a soft spot for the old leathermen, even though they were sexist bastards sometimes. I wrote “The Elegant Corpse” because of him. I sent it to him to read and he sent it back with grammar corrections. : )

I think gender is the last frontier and that rape is a hate crime. I am first and foremost a feminist. I am currently writing a murder mystery featuring a transgendered PI, based on a truly inspiring individual who has been kind enough to talk to me about the political and personal aspects of being transgendered. I aspire to write anyone so that the reader can relate and root for him/her.

I am a single parent. My daughter rocks. I love pit bulls and so I am also in the midst of a murder mystery that features the horrific dog fighting industry that victimizes them. This one is paranormal.

Paranormal stories feel very much like Aesops fables to me. Or the Greek Myths. That larger than life, or just slightly surreal flavor makes them perfect vehicles for over-the-top moralizing. So I love writing them.

I have two books currently in edits at MLR Press -- “Death by Misfortune” which plays with a murder in the midst of a film production -- and “Son of a Gun” in which I kill off the fictionalized version of a few ex-relatives from Texas.

You can find AM on her website:

I want to thank AM Riley for sharing with me today. It isn't only her daughter who rocks. I think she does, too!


P.A.Brown said...

I can personally attest that Immortality is the Suck is a great book. I was lucky enough to read an early version of it, and it only got better since then. This is not your typical vampire story and it sure beats out Twilight or True Blood for sexiness. You can't miss if you pick up this book.

Jeanne said...

Thanks, for stopping by, Pat.
Riley's books are so gritty. And coming from an LA writer, you gotta know Riley's the real deal.

Stephanie said...

I don't generally go looking for vampire fiction, but maybe if more of it was like Riley's I would. I love the realism--read IITS and you feel like you know what it's like to live on the streets of LA. Riley's characters don't sparkle, they sweat and bleed and have hot, nasty grind-it-out sex. They transport me to another place and time, but it's one I recognize, and that's the mark of a gifted writer.

Jeanne said...

One of the great things about writing about paranormal characters like vamps, werewolves, etc. is that you can do so many things with them.
Get your source like folklore legends and then do your own twists. There's no right or wrong, you just have to be consistent in your own world.
Riley's tread's that place that is so close to reality you can believe it.

H said...

*bother, my comment was swallowed!*

In an odd, to me, coincidence, I have The Elegant Corpse in my shopping cart right now. I noted IITS for the TBB when I first saw it in the upcoming releases at LI and am a reader of m/m who definitely likes murder-mystery/crime/something added to the mix. Cross-genre (or perhaps more accurately, cross-sub-genre) fiction is my favourite - more depth, less tell and more show and by nuance, I think, making for a richer read (being addicted to SF/SFF since a young age, world-building counts *g*). For me, one of the appeals of murder-mystery stories fits in perfectly with why I read m/m romance and SF/SFF (and used to read "regular" romance), that journey-to-the-destination thing, where the happy ending is the solution to crime/puzzle, just as the HEA (or HFN)is the conclusion to the romance form.

AM Riley said...

Thank you Pat and Stephanie. And the mysterious 'H'.

I always wanted to be a letter, but 'Q' is taken, and I know a 'Z'. There's 'Mr. T'.

And thank you for breaking my blogging cherry, Jeanne.


H said...

I don't know how to change myself from being "H" - no doubt the answer is in my gmail/google preferences somewhere (although I like the idea of being mysterious *g*).

AM Riley said...

that's so funny.

never change 'H'. You are what you are.

Jeanne said...

AM, you have no idea the extent of the duble take I did when I saw "blogging cherry'! ;~D

Hope I made the first time a good one!;~D

I so think your stories would make fantastic TV.

jecthree said...

Hi - I'm a huge fan and thought I had read everything A.M. Riley has written until I read in this interview that she was published at Changeling Press. Changeling Press, however, does not have her on its author list. Does Ms. Riley publish under another name? I'd be anxious to pick up anything I've missed.

Sharon M.Bidwell said...

I love your description of how you came up with the idea for Immortality is the Suck. I always used to laugh when I heard of writers who hated it when readers asked where do you get your ideas...until it happened to me. It can be a bit of a stumper. Anywhere and everywhere is the true, simple answer but it's difficult to explain sometimes how something came together so that you get that 'click' in your head and realise you have a story. Yours was a fun example.

Chris said...

And now the mysterious AM Riley is not quite as mysterious to me! I'm a big fan of your gritty, not always comfortable to read style. :)