Lynn Stark lives with her husband in Ohio, which is in the midwestern section of the United States. While writing and reading are her first passions, she makes time to do a little traveling when time and schedules allow and loves to meet new people. One of her dreams is to find a place that has some of that special magic her fictional town of Silver has.
Q: Cowboys and Pearls adds yet another new combination of partners (M/M/M/M ménage including twins) to the stable of relationships already taking place in Silver. Is it a conscious decision to add new relationship structures and dynamics to the town, or do these characters simply come to you as they are?
A: Yes. One of the things I have followed from the beginning about the town of Silver was the diversity of relationships there. I wanted to create something that was more than what we know or what the average person sees as normal. To the people of Silver a gay or lesbian couple is no more out of place or unwanted than a heterosexual couple. They live there, they create families, and they contribute to solidifying the structure of Silver’s unique society. There are also the ménage relationships that have their own dynamics.
Though I don’t purposely introduce a character into a story to be given their own later, if I like something about that person and their history, they will nag at me until I create their love story. Nick Walker and the twins, Teddy and Wesley Kimura, were introduced in a previous story. There was virtually no backstory and no dialogue in it for the brothers, and I had fun working with them in their own story. They were lively and interesting in my mind, and I wanted to put that into words. I added Breck Gordon because he threw himself into the story early on and gives the ménage love story more depth. My characters do surprising things at times. Breck refused to remain the minor character he was initially meant to be. He loved the Teddy and Wesley too much.
Q: Cowboys and Pearls contains a minor character, Albert, who for much of the novel seems to be one of Silver’s only intolerant residents. His bad attitude is ultimately resolved in an interesting way. Generally speaking, how do you like to see your characters deal with intolerance when they encounter it?
A: Albert wasn’t so much a hater, but a man becoming angrier and more bitter as time went on and he hadn’t found anyone he could connect with. To be fair, Teddy and Wesley did like to throw a little fuel on that fire, countering Albert’s rudeness with their own.
Most of the residents of Silver are people who were born and raised there. Some residents are transplants for various reasons, not the least of which is wanting a place where they can live openly as themselves. Though there are a few people who don’t approve of the lifestyles enjoyed there, bigotry is simply not tolerated. There have been times in my own past when I have told people they need to shut up and learn about people, get to know an individual, before they pass judgment. Ignorance is such a terrible thing. However, I would never condone violence on either side as a solution, with the exception of self-defense and that may be addressed in a future story.
Q: Wesley and Teddy, the twin fashion designers in Cowboys and Pearls, have unique fashion senses that call for everything from extra glitter at all times to lime-green cowboy boots. They should be adding a little flair to the town of Silver for the foreseeable future. Is fashion design an interest of yours?
A: I’ve always loved fashion, though I’ve never formally studied it. When I was a child my parents purchased a series of encyclopedia-type books about American history. I would look at the clothing people wore and that was the beginning. There’s nothing like yards of brilliantly colored silk, or tight white breeches, to bring to life the fantasy of the past. Since I have written regency and medieval-period romances, one of my favorite research topics for them is the clothing, whether it’s for a lady or a gentleman, or the most common laborer.
It was fun dressing Teddy and Wesley. Their wild, playful natures fueled it, of course. What’s more fun for a night out than glitter in spiked hair? Or a touch of color streaked through it or on the ends? And the clothes, well, they were bold risk takers in the way they dressed, which made it all the better. Two things the twins would never wear, however, are sweatpants and flip-flops (at least not in public).
Q: The town of Silver is certainly special for its tolerance of all romantic arrangements, but it’s also recognized within the world of the series as a hot spot for tourism and a center of growth. Is Silver based on any particular town or combination of towns in real life, or is it more of a dream community for you?
A: Silver is a special place and I suppose it is a dream, a place where I would be very happy living. It’s not based on any particular town. It has bits and pieces of places where great skiing would be accessible during the winter, as well as ranching and farming for those living outside of it. The area would offer fishing, camping, and dude ranches. I didn’t want it to be a town that was all closed up on itself, where few outsiders came in, where there was a limit to the personalities. I wanted it open in all ways. Closing it off would only breed the omnipresent small-mindedness that led to the creation of it in the first place.
Silver was founded by gay men in the nineteenth century who were searching for a place where they could be who they were, without hatred and ridicule. They went to the edge of civilization, utilizing the location they chose on a river, and the natural resources, to secure their future. Over time some of these men became very successful in business and decided they needed heirs to pass their wealth on to. It was from this need that the unconventional relationships began. Certainly not all of the founding men of Silver took wives and fathered children. Some, instead, lived openly with lovers and partners. But of those who did marry, their families survived and thrived, the generations expanding in Silver.
In the end, Silver shouldn’t be a fictional place, it should be an “every” place.
Q: Out of all the lines you’ve written (so far!), which is your favorite?
A: In Cowboys and Pearls it would be when Teddy and Wesley Kimura were sitting in the park in the center of Silver, nursing wounded hearts, when Breck Gordon followed them from the Silver Edge, a members-only sex club.
One line from Breck was, “I’m willing to wait. I want you guys to know you mean more to me than sex.” To me that says it all about the quality of some people. Sex is fun. But it’s even more fun when there’s love and trust involved.
Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you that might surprise us.
A: While writing is the thing I love to do most to express myself, wood carving is next. Discovering what is hidden within the wood can be wonderful. I’d like to say I do exciting things like BASE jumping, but I don’t. Getting married, raising a family, and writing are the three loves of my life. For some it would be boring. For me it’s the best.
Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?
A: Even if it’s not recognized at first, my heroes have to be strong. They have to come through for those depending upon them when it counts the most. They must also be honest in the end, learning from lessons they are given through life. No one is perfect, and my heroes all have flaws. There has to be something about the man or men that will make you want to live their lives with them for a short time. They have to be men you would want to have as a friend and lover.
I would never make a hero out of someone who is abusive. There is nothing remotely sexy, romantic, or loving about a person who hurts another verbally, physically, or emotionally. They need to be recognized for what they are, and their victims need to realize that their abusers don’t love them on any level. In my stories this foul kind of person, whether male or female, will not be dealt with lightly. Fortunately as a writer I can gain some satisfaction this way.
Q: When you start a series, do you plan all the books and heroes out beforehand or do you make them up as you go along?
A: When I began writing the first book, knowing it would be a ménage, the idea for this open-minded town of Silver developed in my head. It just grew from there. Most of what I write is spontaneous, though if I get an idea of a direction I might want to go, I will make notes and whisper my ideas to those characters involved. Otherwise, they lead me along the way and I follow quite willingly.
Q: One of your books is going to be adapted into a film. Which one? And who plays the main characters?
A: Cowboys and Pearls would be a lot of fun. Deciding who would play the main characters is a tough one. Smart, talented, and very obviously sexy, Matt Bomer would be my Nick Walker, the dark, handsome, and wealthy rancher. For Breck Gordon, I’d have to find someone big and rather rough around the edges, someone who looked as though he could work on a farm and not pass out. I’d choose Joe Manganiello because he looks like he could do the job and because there is still a sensitive quality about him. Though identical twins Teddy and Wesley Kimura are Japanese-American, I found a Japanese singer named Tachibana Keita who possesses the striking beauty they have.