Have you ever re-read a book until it fell apart? (YA reading level or above) Which book and why?
Only the first copy I bought and only because I'd had it for almost fifteen years before it died. When I replaced it, I got a library bound copy (stronger spine!). Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones has been my favorite book since I was thirteen. (It's YA fantasy). It has everything a good book should: a great heroine, a hero who starts out as kind of a jerk but evolves into somebody worth caring about, a couple of really awful bad guys, oh yeah, and lots of mythology (which for me is always a bonus.
Have you ever gone someplace or done something exclusively as research for a story? Where/what?
Frequently, although nowhere exotic. I'll walk through neighborhoods I'm writing about or visit restaurants I want my characters to go to. It's one reason I prefer to set my stories in my home town (Detroit, MI). Not ever book is set here, but it's a lot easier to do research when the locations are in your backyard.
Later on this year, I'm going back to the Ohio Renaissance Festival because I have a character who works there (I worked it nineteen years ago and I'm sure lots has changed.)
What was the best piece of writing advice you've gotten?
Write the story the way it needs to be written.
You can't write for the trends or because of what you think is going to be poplar. You have to write the story that's in your heart and soul. That doesn't mean you should never take advice or listen to people, it just means that if you don't love what you're doing, it's going to show in the final product.
Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.
But after a chance encounter with lost delivery truck driver, Daniel Englewood, Pasha starts to question all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.