We are so excited to have Megan Erickson with us today, on the release day of her latest book Focus On Me, the second book in her In Focus series. Our Alan was the lucky one that got to sit down and chat with the lovely lady herself. Check out what they have to say and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win an E-book of Trust the Focus.
Alan Interviews Megan Erickson
Alan: Hello Megan! Welcome to Sinfully. Firstly, I Just want you to know that I’ve been a huge fan since I first read Trust the Focus. I have worked as a professional photographer at various times throughout my life, and I was so fascinated with the way you brilliantly (and accurately) use the camera metaphor on so many levels. How did you decide to build a whole series on it? Does photography have any particular resonance for you?
Megan: Well, thank you so much Alan, and thanks to Sinfully for having me on the blog. So, about photography – It’s been a hobby of mine for a long time. In high school, I had a 35mm Nikon that I used for photography classes. I also took photography in college, where I studied journalism. I have a Nikon DSLR now that I use far less than I used to. But I love and am a huge fan of photography/photographers myself. I’d love to see you photos, Alan!
Alan: In your newest book, Focus on Me, you (pardon my obvious pun) changed the focus just a bit. The first book was about loss of someone close and a life-long unrequited love that might not be so unrequited. Focus on Me targets mental illness. Again, any special resonance for that topic?
Megan: Well, I’m pretty open that I have anxiety and take medication for it. It’s a scary thing to realize that your mind is sort of… battling you. That your mind isn’t on your side. That’s how anxiety feels for me. I didn’t have control. The character in Focus On Me, Riley, suffers from a different mental illness, one that is very debilitating to him. And I wanted to show a little about how mental illness not only affects the person living with it, but all the people who love that person. I’ve said this before, but Mad Love, the 90s movie, was an inspiration for this book.
Also, I felt very strongly about showing that while love can help us want to get better, it is not a cure for mental illness. Not at all.
Alan: You also cover the stresses and strains of unwanted success and fame, something very different from Trust the Focus, where the main characters were wonderful and special, but nothing meriting world acclaim. It’s such an unusual combination of the demands of fame, severe depression and two men who don’t even know each other, drawing each other out, each supplying something the other doesn’t have, to complete each other. It’s not exactly your standard Gay Romance themes, and it’s why I liked these books so much. How did you get so deeply into the psyche of these men, or are they based on anyone you know or have met? If the male model is based on anyone you met, perhaps you could arrange an introduction?
Megan: Haha! Oh man, if I knew the real Riley, I’d be the first to hug him! Let’s see, I have a friend who is from North Carolina. He has a huge heart and a lovely accent. So that is one of the reasons Colin is from the South. As far as Riley, I drew on my own experiences with mental illness, but really, Riley just… talked to me. And I know it’s weird when authors say that. But I wrote this book very fast, and I cried through several scenes. I was very, very mentally inside this book, so to speak. I think it was just one of those books that I felt compelled to write.
Alan: The “road trip” is another theme that ties both books in the “In Focus” series together. I must admit, I’m not a big fan of road trip books. I sometimes feel like I’m reading a sex tour of exotic locales in some kind of Gay road atlas. But you’ve managed to take what should be mundane, what should be a boring look at the everyday lives of two relatively ordinary young men and imbue them with incredible power and fascination. I couldn’t put either book down. Somehow you crawled right into their heads and their hearts and brought them to life so vividly, that I was rooted to the page. This struck me personally because I’ve always viewed Photography, as an art form, as taking the ordinary, the things we never pay much attention to, the things not obvious, and focusing in tightly on them to expose the extraordinary beauty within. Was this always a conscious part of your metaphor or just something that grew, on its own, as you wrote?
Megan: Thank you so much. I actually don’t read many road trip books either because I’m kind of a homebody. But these books just felt like they needed to be on the road! When writing Trust the Focus, I knew photography would play a large part but it wasn’t until I mostly through writing it that the theme began to take shape, and also, the title.
Alan: Another theme that you get pretty deep into in both Trust the Focus and Focus on Me, at first glance looks very much like a typical and perhaps trite Gay Romance meme, failure to communicate. But in your hands, it was neither typical nor trite, since the communication issues are about big, important things, and were based on people’s ( and particularly gay men’s) fear of rejection, something much deeper than superficial cowardice or a need for self-aggrandizement, but some deep fear in the soul that prevents these men, not from admitting truths to each other, but admitting them to themselves. What is that about and how did you move what, in lesser hands, is a superficial device into the compelling force of your books?
Megan: Again, wow, thank you so much for saying that. Um, so while these books are about gay men, I really tried to make the themes… universal. I think the fear of rejection is huge for all of us, fear of putting ourselves out there, admitting what we really want for fear of it being taken away or that we are judged for it.
And there doesn’t always need to be a huge external reason for keeping things close to our chest. Sure, Justin had a conflict with his mother, but that took a backseat to admitting it himself. To admitting who he was, and who he was in love with. It was a big step for him. He’d kept it a secret for so long, that he was scared of how his life would change.
As far as Riley is concerned, his mental illness isn’t due to some trauma. It’s an imbalance in his brain and frankly, he’s scared. He’s scared to admit that he’s suffering, that he can’t cure this himself. That he’s getting worse, not better.
Alan: As far as I can discover, these will be the first two e-books you’ve published. Yet your books are so assured, unique, elegant and authentic that I can’t help but wonder: 1) What made you decide to write gay fiction after a number of straight romance novels and; 2) did you have to do any serious research to make the switch? So many authors, who write both straight and gay romance, tend to write their gay men as women with different genitals. But you have captured us so spot-on, you portray us so truthfully and powerfully, neither as women or as straight men who “like to fool around”, but as complete, rounded , complex gay men, that it sometimes astonished me how real these characters became for me, and how empathetic. How do you do that, where so many others have failed?
Megan: Alan, you are my favorite person. Haha! Well, interestingly enough, Trust the Focus was a very early book for me. Maybe the second or third book I’d ever written. I had to put it on hold when I received a three-book contract for another series of novels, which are all straight couples.
I read gay romance and I consider myself an ally of the LGBTQ community. Trust the Focus started out as a loose concept of the road trip but the main character wasn’t speaking to me. It hit me one day – oh, he’s GAY. And then the story unfurled. So, to be honest, I didn’t set out to write an LGBTQ romance. Those are the characters that hit me. My brain yelled at me to quit thinking the default was straight.
So, yes I read a lot of gay romance, but I also have a critique partner who is an AMAZING writer. He also happens to be a gay man. So he read Trust the Focus and gave me comments on my representation of gay men.
Just like I’m straight, but it’s not ALL I am, so that’s how I write my gay romances, I guess.
Alan: What’s next? It must be difficult writing in two very distinct genres (straight and gay fiction) and you’re so good at the Gay Romance that we would hate to lose you. Please tell me there’s another book coming soon in your remarkable “In Focus” Series, please! And thank you for so many happy and hopeful endings. You’ve made my day more than once.
Megan: Yes, well I do write gay and straight romances. I write New Adult, and Adult, and also Erotic Romance. As of now, there will be TWO more books in the In Focus series! They will come out in 2016. Let’s see, about the third book, I can tell you that the In Focus series leaves the road and heads to the high seas—on a cruise ship!
Also, I do have an erotic m/m romance coming out in January. It’s called TIED TO TROUBLE and is quite nerdy. It’s part of my Gamers series with Entangled Publishing. The first two books are straight romances, but TIED TO TROUBLE can be read as standalone.
And you’ll never lose me! I’m here to stay because of wonderful sites like this and amazing readers like you.
Focus on Me (In Focus #2)
Publisher ~ Intermix
Published ~ 21st July 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
A sexy new romance from the author of Trust the Focus.
Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.
Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin's Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley's eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn't an option…
With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.
As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.
But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.
Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.
Meet Megan Erickson
My first stories written in crayon-scrawl on loose-leaf notebook paper were about my childhood pet — a deaf cat with dandruff. And after covering real-life dramas as a journalist, I decided I liked writing my own endings better and switched to fiction. My romance novels full of humor and heart are a far cry from those early scribblings about my hygiene-deficient pet.
Megan is gifting to one lucky reader an E-book of Trust the Focus book #1 in the In Focus series. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.