Today I am so pleased to welcome Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood to Joyfully Jay. Ryan and Joshua are here to talk about their new release, What He Really Needs. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
Josh and Ryan have written some questions and answers to share!
When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?
RYAN: We began writing No Brief Affair in mid-2017, after we got home from our honeymoon. We were so incredibly proud of our romance that we wanted to honor and celebrate it. A lot of our own story is in that book.
JOSH: That’s right. There’s a lot of fiction, to be sure, but much of it is either true or closely related to real events.
Do you have a writing schedule, or do you just write when you can find the time?
RYAN: We both write whenever we can. For me, that’s usually in the evenings after work or on weekends.
JOSH: I only work part-time now, so I usually spend part of my days off writing so Ry can react to it when he gets home. After that, he writes, and I react to his things the next day.
Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out of it?
JOSH: We come up with a story line, followed by a bullet point outline.
RYAN: For a while, we tried to make a storyboard, but that didn’t work because the way we write is pretty fluid. We know where the story is going but we don’t always know exactly how it’s going to get there.
JOSH: Each of us takes primary charge of one of the main characters. A lot of times, we surprise each other with what our characters say and do.
RYAN: We listen to a lot of music, definitely. We try to find music that our characters would listen to.
JOSH: It inspires us, gets us inside the characters’ heads. We use pictures, too. After we write the main characters for a chapter or two and get their descriptions set, we look for two models who fit our vision. Once we find them, we use their photos to keep our vision consistent throughout the book.
How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?
JOSH: The biggest resource we draw on is our own experience—us as gay men, places we’ve been, people we’ve known, situations we’ve been in or had close friends be in. Between us, we know a lot of people. They are probably our most valuable resource.
RYAN: After we come up with a story line, we talk to people we know and put out feelers for information. One time, we even took a trip solely to be sure we had some details right about a location.
JOSH: Of course, there’s always Google, but you have to take internet research with a grain of salt because it’s not always right. That’s why we like to rely on our own experiences, and those of people we know. If we write only from Google, it doesn’t ring true.
RYAN: As for voice, we’re gay men, and we write gay men. Between ourselves and people we know, we don’t feel like we have much difficulty in that area.
Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.
JOSH: The new book, What He Really Needs, tells the story of a love that needs a second chance to be realized. One of the main characters is gay, and the other has always identified as straight, so there are a lot of first times in the book. Denial gives way to realization and desire, and the men try to find out if they can build a genuine relationship.
RYAN: We’re working on a book now with two main characters who were introduced in earlier books. Only the first two of our books are a series, but all the books have crossover of characters and situations. The main characters differ, but they all exist within a “universe” we’ve created. We don’t plan to keep this up forever, but at least for the rest of 2020, until we get our current list of main characters into stable relationships. Then we’ll try something else.
JOSH: Happy-ever-afters, folks. There always has to be a happy-ever-after in a Ryan and Josh book!
Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?
RYAN: The most important thing would be to start with what you know. After you get a book under your belt without having to learn a whole new corpus of information, you’ll be in a better position to branch out.
JOSH: Follow your heart. Don’t worry about what you think you’re “supposed” to do. You’re telling your own story and developing your own style. When you get an editor, they’ll help you knock your book into shape, but a good editor would never try to rob you of your style. The only way to develop your own voice is to go with your heart at first.
If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?
JOSH: I’ve always been fascinated by the 1940s. It was a horrible time, with World War II, but it’s amazing how so much of the world came together to fight for what was right. We can never appreciate enough what all the brave people who served in the military did, and what the rest of the people did to support them. I also am fascinated by the culture of that time. The music is still cool today, and a lot of the novels from the 1940s are amazingly good. It would be interesting to live in that world for a few days.
RYAN: I’d probably like to go forward a couple hundred years. I’m interested in climate change and environmental issues, and it would be fascinating—hopefully not heartbreaking—to see how the world eventually deals with that. I’m also a technology geek, and I would be totally stoked to get a glimpse of what the future has in store. Think how much technology has improved in the last fifty years. It’s hard to imagine what it might be like two hundred years from now.
We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us, right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter between two characters, not your own, who would they be?
JOSH: It’s a hard call, but I’d say Jay Bell’s Ben Bentley and Tim Wyman. They fascinate me for some reason, and they’re hot guys.
RYAN: For me, it would be Noah Steele’s Alex Hayes and Beckett Benson. Those guys rock. They’re hot, smart, and totally into each other.
If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?
JOSH: Salad ingredients. We eat a lot of salads for quick, nutritious meals.
RYAN: Olives, for martinis after a hard day in the office or in court.
JOSH: Steaks. Ryan loves steak, so I always keep some on hand.
What is your favorite snack while you write?
RYAN: Has to be a tie between roasted almonds or Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce.
JOSH: Jalapeño Cheese Cheetos. I’m also a big chips and salsa guy.
Sometimes, it takes a second chance to get things right.
Cayo Suárez, who is gay, and Ben Roth, an admitted Oblivious Straight Guy, were roommates in law school, but two years after graduating, they have lost touch. After an accidental meeting, Cayo invites Ben to stay with him while Ben looks for his own apartment. There’s only one complication, but it’s a big one—Cayo has been in love with Ben since they met.
What begins as a heartwarming reunion of old friends heats up quickly, and Ben starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he always thought he was. Cayo and Ben reconnect in a most unexpected way, but their jobs complicate things. Cayo works for low-income people at Legal Assistance, and Ben works for the man.
When Ben and Cayo become involved in a controversial case, powerful people with a lot to lose seize control of the situation. They want to bend the case’s outcome to their own nefarious ends, and they’ll destroy anyone who tries to stand up to them. Will Cayo and Ben find a way to save Ben’s career, and their budding relationship, before it’s too late?
What He Really Needs is an action-packed book full of warmth and humor, a first-time bisexual awakening, a healthy dose of suspense, steamy sexy times, and an extraordinarily happy ending.
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.
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