Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: Multiple award winner and Amazon best-seller under a different pen name, Olivette Devaux is the author behind the Disorderly Elements series. In her Olivette Devaux incarnation, she writes hot, adventure plot driven romance, both LGBT and “straight.” Her books are available mobi, ePub, paper, and audio. Her fictional fight scenes are informed by decades of martial arts training.
Thanks so much, Olivette, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Olivette Devaux: Funny you should ask – I was 12, keeping my grandma company in the kitchen as she was making an apple strudel. She worked the dough as she worked me, wanting to know what happened at school. In the 70’s, in Prague, keeping up on school was crucial.
“We talked about what we want to be, and I want to be a writer,” I said.
“You can’t be a writer,” she said, slamming the dough into the table. “Not under this regime. You’d either be a mouthpiece of the regime, or you’d end up in jail.” She slammed the dough again, raising a cloud of flour. “Probably the latter.”
“But maybe the regime will change,” I prodded with my 12-year old optimism.
“Maybe, but it will take a while. And even so, we are Czech. The Czechs read a lot, but our work doesn’t get translated much. Mostly, we read other works in translation.”
I knew. Many of those were banned and smuggled through a network of friends,
“You’d have to write in French,” Grandma said, rolling out the dough. I watched her stretch it over a flour-covered pillowcase, working it thinner and tbinner. Once she was happy with its almost seethrough quality, she started layering slices of apples from the garden.
“French?” I prodded. “These days?”
“Well…mayber English. Yes, English is the language now. But you cannot write good literature in a language unless you’re fully bilingual. And for that, you’d have to emigrate.”
She was focused on closing the sturudel now, handling the skin-thin dough.
At the word immigrate, her control slipped and the dough tore.
“Don’t be a writer,” she said, irritated now. “Be a chemist like your father.”
I had realized I could write in the early 1990’s. I freelanced as a translator, translating documents from Czech to English. Aside from the usual patents and legal contracts, an occasional stash of old, personal letters crossed my desk. Those were hard. They contained words I had to search out in ancient, dusty dictionaries and they were laden with emotion frozen in time.
I couldn’t just slavishly translate the riveting tale of two Slovak brothers fighting over a fate of a cow in the 1880’s – I had to retell the story. That’s when I realized I could write.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
OD: I write in many genres, avoiding themes that are gratuitously dark. You will find romance and romance cross-genre themes of many kinds. I’ve been writing more non-romantic stuff in the last few years, and I’ve been edging into sci-fi and speculative fiction. Some of those “weird stories” got picked up by Pulphouse Magazine.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
OD: In 1997, I got paid $75 for an article printed in the Black Belt Magazine, where I related my martial arts exploits in the Czech Republic. My fiction didn’t take off until 2012, when a short story got picked up by the “Animal Magnetism” anthology published by Dreamspinner Press. It had to do with horses because I rode at the time. You can get your own free copy here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/vh4m21zbol
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
OD: I switch project and write something else while my subconscious is working things out. That’s on a good day. On a not-so-good day, I’ll cruise YouTube for all kinds of inspirational videos. (No, I will never be a minimalist, but some ideas have merit, LOL!)
JSC: How long have you been writing?
OD: I’ve been lying for fun and profit for 11 years now!
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
OD: Pantser all the way! Plotting is great for technical writing, but I can’t use it for fiction.
JSC: What is the most heartfelt thing a reader has said to you?
OD: Like many writers, I go through an occasional crisis of confidence. At those times I refer back to a letter from a friend who worked as an OR physicial, dealing with accidents nonstop. I felt that her work had more value than mine (well, I still feel that.) She wrote back, saying she couldn’t do her stressful job if she couldn’t unplug when she gets home after a long shift, and read something entirely unrelated, and light, and happy. This is where us creatives, writers and poets and musicians, come in. We help other people recharge, so they can carry on the critical and demanding tasks which keep us all safe and comfortable. Knowing that makes my writing worthwhile.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for Bourbon?
OD: I had a start to a story on my drive for over two years. Somehow, I started to explore describing the world through the eyes or a firefighter who temporarily lost his hearing in an accident. City streets became silent, and dangerous for the lack of the stimuli he was used to. I picked it up again when the full story nudged me. The book is on preorder wide at a lower preorder price. (Those of you on my newsletter will get my store link early.)
JSC: What were your goals and intentions Bourbon, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
OD: My itention was to build on the Happy Hour Inn world in a more complex way than before, and I think I achieved that. This story is the only full novel in a series of long novellas. The plot demanded it.
Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
OD: I do my own covers for this series, and I rebranded them from what they were 2 years ago. When my daugher, who is a crack designer who no longer has the time to do my covers, began to teach me Procreate on the iPad Pro I inherited from her, I got hooked! Manipulating images by pairing good-looking guys and alcoholic drinks started out as a challenge, a training exercise. I realize those were usable images, and they were fun. The frame of the series is a Las Vegas bar owner, who is an alien with ties to Area 51, and who gets called away by his mothership as needed. He created a space were all those who are different can feel safe. His two hearts beat for love, but he seems to excel at playing matchmaker most of all. The rest of the cast are human, and entirely oblivious.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
OD: Two characters come to mind. Slick Martinez, the retired MMA fighter who walked to Vegas from his Native reservation in search of work. He is blind to his own talents, and I’d like to see him blossom. And Susie, the power-lifting Barbie firefighter who gets into a shootout at the end of the book. She has a troubled past, but she had not divulged it yet.
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
OD: I run on coffee! It’s my not-so-secret vice. Even now, as I am recovering from an ankle replacement surgery, I figured out how to make my morning coffee while using a walker, then pour it into a sealed travel cup and transport it to the sofa in my pocket. But this surgery was super exciting, because my spare parts got 3D printed to size! (That means I’m a spaceships, right? RIGHT??).
And now for Olivette’s new book: Bourbon:
When Ryan lost his hearing in an explosion, his world flipped upside down. Surviving a firefighting career in the navy? Check. Growing into an expert in his field? Yep.
And now a stupid prepper took him out of commission…maybe forever.
Walking into a new barber shop on a whim, he felt an instant connection with the new, multifaceted proprietor.
Keenan knew the lone wolf track was hard. Making Ryan’s life easier came naturally. No stranger to injuries from his former MMA fighting career, and with Ryan so easy on the eyes, sweet compassion flowed like honey.
Two tough guys during their own life-roll events, helping each other out, both with an oversized load of baggage.
Families, friends, humor…and Sam, the Happy Hour Inn bartender harboring an unhealthy fascination with Area 51.
Love? Impossible. With lives so tangled, they had no hope.
This novel-length HEA gay romance is the 5th stand-alone story in the Happy Hour Inn series set in Las Vegas.