Money, sex, image…and love. Those are the key themes in Milwaukee writer Dave Thome’s debut romance novel Fast Lane. Wait a minute! you say. He’s a romance writer? But isn’t he a guy? Yes. And yes. Dave is also a journalist, a screenwriter, a hubby, and father of two. But lately he is working to make his mark as a guy who gets it, who gets what women want…what they want when they read, that is.
Dave published Fast Lane, as an e-book for the Kindle as well as in paperback, available through Amazon. He recently granted me an email interview. I thought you might enjoy hearing what a guy who writes romance novels has to say about…well, romance!
MCW: You are the author of Fast Lane, a romance novel. What ever possessed you – a guy – to write a romance novel?
DAVE: My wife, Mary Jo, and I have been self-employed as writers since 1999. At the end of 2009 we had our worst quarter ever: Only one client had work. Mary Jo knows a woman who writes erotic romances, which is the fastest-growing segment of romance, so she decided she’d try to write one during the downtime. I thought that if she could, I should, too. It turned out neither of us could. I laughed every time I tried to write a sex scene in the contemporary erotic romance style—which is the style of Penthouse Forum, but I liked the story and characters in Fast Lane and continued as a more traditional romantic comedy with romantic sex scenes.
I’d had some experience writing female characters; about half of the twenty screenplays I wrote before I turned to novels had female leads. No one ever said anything bad about those characters. Besides—who says men aren’t romantic?
MCW: What kind of reaction are you getting to Fast Lane?
DAVE: Women who read it love it because the heroine, Lara, is strong even though she has doubts about her looks and her upbringing. The quirky side characters also have gotten rave reviews. Some readers have suggested I turn Fast Lane into a series, so I’m going to do that.
MCW: What were the challenges that you faced writing Fast Lane?
DAVE: In a screenplay, you don’t have to worry about details, like what someone’s wearing. In a novel, apparently women readers want to know what everyone’s wearing all the time. I had to get used to that—and that meant knowing stuff about what women call their clothes and doing research about what they wear and where they wear it. I still don’t understand the difference between a sheath dress and shift or the rules about when it’s OK to refer to panties as panties (as opposed to “underwear”), but I have extensive notes and beta readers to help me.
MCW: Will you write another romance?
DAVE: I didn’t think I would write another romance, but I like the characters of Fast Lane enough to proceed with a trilogy. I’ve got most of the planning of the whole arc of Lara and Clay’s story, and expand significantly on two characters, Sushma and Tiffany, in books two and three.
Beyond that, who knows? Three years a go I would not have predicted I would write any romances.
MCW: Do you consider yourself to be a romantic guy?
DAVE: You could ask Mary Jo that, and she’d say yes. I’m also kind of a regular guy—I watch football and Pawn Stars and cuss and wear ratty sweatshirts and have a chair that only I’m allowed to use. For some reason, I think that stuff is also romantic. Kind of.
MCW: What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your wife? (Or anybody else, for that matter.)
DAVE: I gave Mary Jo bib overalls on the first Christmas after we met. That may not sound romantic, but it was 1979, she always wore bib overalls and she looked hot in them. But, if you want something more traditional, we rolled down the hill together behind the journalism school a couple of weeks after we met while at Marquette University. There’s a law school there now. Bummer.
MCW: What do you do when you are not writing romance novels?
DAVE: I write a column about car technology that appears in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel every week. Don’t ask me to fix your car; I don’t know how. Otherwise, I’ve written twenty screenplays and plan to turn them into novellas or put them up for sale as screenplays.
MCW: What do you do when you are not writing?
DAVE: There’s lots of TV I have to keep up on: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report every night, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Storage Wars, Mythbusters and Ancient Aliens. God forbid I should miss an episode of Ancient Aliens. Don’t worry about me. I also exercise every day. And cook dinner.
MCW: What do you like to read?
DAVE: I’m a slow reader because I like to read with a cup of tea or an Edy’s Frozen Fruit Bar between my exercise for the day and cooking supper. At least half of what I read is nonfiction, and that’s usually science or theology.
When I read fiction I’m all over the board. I read all of the Harry Potter books and The Hunger Games trilogy.
MCW: What keeps you going as a romantic guy?
DAVE: I guess if you’re a romantic guy you’re a romantic guy. I don’t think I can try to not be romantic.
MCW: What do you most want readers to know about you?
DAVE: I believe what I write in my screenplays, novels and blog. Women and men are equal. Not always the same, but still equal. Maybe not always physically—but there are female athletes who could kick my ass in just about any sport. Oh, yeah…and babies and menstruation. I’m glad I didn’t have to go through those things, because I’m not up to them physically. So, yeah…equal.
MCW: What are you working on now, or what do you plan to publish next?
DAVE: I started turning [my movie script] See You in Hell into a novella before I started outlining the Fast Lane sequels, and I’m gonna finish what I started. Hopefully, that won’t take too long, because I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to tackle a series.
MCW: Is there anything I missed?
DAVE: My blood type is A positive. That should cover just about everything, right?
My thanks to Dave Thome for sharing his experiences with romance, reading, and writing FastLane.
To get more of Dave's wit and humor, check out his blog Man Writing a Romance. Readers interested in taking his novel for a spin can find it on Amazon.