Lauren Gallagher, a.k.a. L.A. Witt, enjoys writing unorthodox love stories. The Best Laid Plans is no exception - a menage romance that explores complex themes such as religion, surrogacy and insecurities. As our Author of the Day, Gallagher tells us about the inspiration behind her work, reveals her secret skills and talks about how she goes about creating characters that readers deeply care for.
Please give us a short introduction to what Best Laid Plans is about.
Gabe and Shahid have been repeatedly turned down for an adoption, not because they're gay but because Shahid is Muslim. When their friend Kendra sees that they're at their wit's end, she offers to carry a baby for them. The arrangement brings to the surface Shahid's uneasiness about his bisexual husband, but that's only the beginning of things getting complicated.
What inspired you to write a menage romance?
I love writing menage romances. They're out of the ordinary, but threeway relationships can be healthier and more functional than people realize. Things get exponentially more complex, of course, but it can definitely work, and it's fun to explore.
This is a very unorthodox love story and you call yourself an "abnormal romance writer." What is it about the unexpected that draws you?
I like to explore unusual stories. Especially because I write so much, I need to mix things up to keep it interesting for myself.
Your book also explores deep issues such as sexuality, surrogacy, religion and insecurities in marriage and relationships. Why did you find these themes important to write about?
I particularly like incorporating religion into my stories because I think it's an enormous part of some people's lives. Religion can be just as significant in the lives of queer people as it is for straight people, though it can create no shortage of tension and conflict. So, much like threeway relationships...it's fun to explore. I also like exploring things that cause problems for real people, like religion, surrogacy, and insecurities, because I think readers can relate to that.
Your readers seem to deeply care about each of our characters. How did you manage to bring them to life?
I try to make them as down to earth as possible. Sometimes they're in a larger than life role (movie stars, special forces), but I aim to make my characters as much like real people as I can. Special forces guys still get scared. Movie stars still have insecurities. Billionaires can have social anxiety. Porn stars get leg cramps. And of course, the same goes for normal people. I give them regular jobs with annoying coworkers, friends who aren't perfect, families with issues, etc. So basically - I just try to write about normal people and make them as three-dimensional as possible.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I've been a professional photographer and have ridden horses competitively. I am also a terrible cook and an awful housekeeper.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve a clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
Well, deadlines. lol Okay, seriously, I want to tell stories. I get bitten by plot bunnies all the time, and need to write the stories or they won't shut up and get out of my head.
Was there a particular character whose voice you found it easiest to write in?
Not really. Some are more difficult than others, but their voices usually come through pretty clearly.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
Probably Isaac in Lead Me Not, my gay Christian romance (written as Ann Gallagher). He's a pastor for an extremely homophobic church, and it was really hard to get into the head of someone who preaches that kind of thing.
In your mind, what happens to the characters after you write their final chapters?
Do they continue to "live on" in your imagination? -- They do, yes. And I have to know that my characters can go on with the monotony of a relationship. Like, can I envision these two bickering about taking out the trash, chatting about their days while they go through the mail, drinking beer while watching TV, etc. Can they really make it work? And yeah, even after I finish writing the story, I do think about them.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Favorite writing spot, best time of the day to write etc.?
I either write on my sofa or in my office. My hours depend on my husband's work schedule. Right now he's on nights, so I get up around noon, start writing around 1, and usually finish by 9 or 10. When he's on days, I'll get up around 9 and work until 5 or 6. Sometimes I need a change of scenery, so I'll go out and write in a restaurant or at a park or a beach. I can't really write in restaurants here in Spain because it's kind of....not frowned upon, but people do look at me strangely if I'm working while eating. So I just go to the beach!
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a not-yet-titled book in the Bluewater Bay series right now, as well as the next Anchor Point book, Going Overboard. Cari Z and I are co-writing the fourth Bad Behavior book right now (and it's SO ADORABLE, which the boys kind of deserve after three books of hell).
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I write hetero, bisexual, and lesbian romances as Lauren Gallagher, but most of my work is male/male romance, written as L.A. Witt. I also write science fiction (Lori A. Witt) and sweeter stuff like Christian romance, asexual romance, and young adult (Ann Gallagher).