Q&A with David Santino, a.k.a. "dev"
We're halfway through #ChickLitLove week. To review, Monday's post was a Q&A with our beloved Andi, and yesterday, to celebrate the official launch of She Has Your Eyes (and it was a fabulous day), I posted the first three pages of the novel.
Today you'll hear from David, our beloved escort-turned-art dealer. Questions were provided by Tracie Banister, author of Blame it on the Fame and In Need of Therapy.
Enjoy. He even surprised me on a few of these.
Celebrity you've been told you look like: Early on I was told that I looked like a young Chris Noth (aka Mr. Big, for those not in the know). This crazy author chick says it’s in my smile. Apparently I have a nice smile.
Naughty food you like to indulge in: Reese’s peanut butter cups. Although how can anything so simply and delectably perfect be naughty? (Then again… insert your own innuendo.)
What you wear to bed: Depends on the time of year. Pajama bottoms and a long-sleeved thermal tee in the winter; boxers and a t-shirt in the fall and spring; and boxers only in the summer. I’m not a sleep-in-the-nude kind of guy. At least not on a regular basis… (I’m going to regret answering this question, aren’t I.)
Favorite body part of the opposite sex: The torso. Does that count as a body part? Basically from the breasts to the pelvis. Maybe I’ve taken too many figure drawing classes, but to me that entire section is the essence of femininity. Ruebens and the Italians especially made it appealing. The curves, the flesh, the lines and shape… yes.
How many people you've said "I love you" to: It’s not about how many that makes an “I love you” so meaningful for me, but the person(s) to whom I said it, and the depth of that love. I told my father I loved him before he died. It was the only time I’d ever said it to him in my adolescent or adult life. Maybe I’d said it as a child—I don’t remember. I certainly hadn’t felt love for him in a long time, so my telling him was a big thing, a genuine moment. And he told me he loved me too. I’ve carried that around with me ever since. And then there’s Andi. My greatest regret was not telling Andi I loved her the moment I admitted to myself that I did. I was too afraid to back then, and by the time I did it was too late. Thank God for second chances. I don’t take such things for granted anymore. My heart can’t afford it. And now, with Wylie…
Relationship deal-breaker: I think Andi would have to murder someone at this point, we’ve been through so much together. Either that, or if she forbid me from eating Reese’s peanut butter cups. Yes, that one is definitely a deal-breaker.
Your first kiss - How old were you? Did you instigate it?: Twelve, I think. Sixth grade. Two girls in my class read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, and decided to throw a party with Spin the Bottle and that other one where you go in the closet and make out with someone. (I never read the book; I only heard from two other girls that there was a party-kissing scene.) I got paired up with Kimberly Someone. It was an OK kiss for me, I guess. I have little memory of it other than the "closet" being a creepy crawl space under the basement stairs and my not knowing that I was supposed to French kiss her. I would've tried to cop a feel, but she held both my hands when she kissed me. She also didn’t seem to mind that my tongue stayed where it was. Besides, she smelled like punch. That I remember.
She managed to slip a Valentine heart into my coat pocket, lunch box, class desk, you name it, every day for the rest of the term. That, it turns out, was just as creepy as the crawl space under the basement stairs.
My second kiss, however, was a thing of beauty, as was she. I'm keeping that one to myself.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? If so, describe: I like art everywhere except on people’s bodies. Don’t know why, but I just never got into it. Andi’s not really into tats either, so what’s the point of my getting one other than to turn her on?
Favorite alcoholic drink: I go through phases—vodka cranberry, amaretto and orange juice, just about any kind of microbrew (although Sam Adams makes a lot of good beer)… Andi has the equivalent of lactose intolerance with alcohol, and her husband was killed by a drunk driver, so we don’t have much of it around the house unless we have company.
Describe your dream girl: Have you met Andi? If she’s a dream, then may I never wake up.
Tomorrow: Meet Maggie (Andi's best friend)
Friday: No blog post, but
Several weeks ago, I was invited by Amazon Publishing author Anne Charnock to answer some questions about my current work in progress and a little about my writing process. She gave me a set of questions to answer (you can see her answers here). This post is already long overdue, so without further delay...
1) What are you working on?
My loyal readers know I never talk about my works-in-progress! To do so would be akin to constantly opening the oven door while the cookies are baking.
I will say this, however: My NaNoWriMo manuscript is simmering (slightly off from the metaphor above, although we're at least still in the cooking theme). Recently my developmental editor reported that she saw a tweet from an author who bragged about self-publishing his NaNoWriMo novel days after finishing it. We both gasped--the horror! It's not a strategy either of us recommends. Even writers who carefully outline and edit-as-they-go-along need to put their manuscript away fro a bit, or at least give it to beta-readers and editors before uploading it directly to Kindle. My manuscript is nowhere near publication-ready. And I needed to step away from it, to let it simmer for awhile so that when I return to it, I will do so with fresh eyes.
So what am I doing in the meantime? Well, there's always something to work on. Or think about...
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I'm marketed as a chick lit author, and I'm involved with #ChickLitChat on Twitter weekly (or whenever I can). However, I try to stay away from some of the more stereotypical trappings of the genre--pink book covers, cocktails ending in "-tini," and leading men named Chad or Kyle. I prefer to brand myself, and my writing, as "commercial women's fiction" (that said, I'm sometimes surprised by the number of male readers I have, especially of my novel Faking It).
No matter what I write, my goal is not to fit into a particular genre as much as it is to tell a good story with strong characters and rich dialogue. I want to make you laugh, or think, or tear up, but I also want the story and characters to stay with you well beyond THE END.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I always write the novel I want to read. That's my starting and finishing point every time. I don't know of any other way to make it work.
4) How does your writing process work?
Typically I'm what Nathan Bransford calls "an improvisational writer." That is to say, when I write a first draft, I pour everything onto the page, not worrying about whether it's good or bad, knowing I'll get to the shaping and molding and refining and polishing in the revision stage. I may start with a few notes, some snippets of dialogue, a description here and there, but that's all. No outline. Outlining and plotting just don't work for me--however, when I'm well into the revision stage, I may draft an outline to assist me with organization and arrangement, pacing, and making sure the timeline of the story is accurate.
After a first draft is "finished," I set it aside and let it simmer (see above). When I'm ready to look at it again, I print it out, go to a coffeeshop, and start reading, pen in hand. I make all kinds of notes, start crossing things out, filling things in, and ask a lot of questions, as if the manuscript belongs to one of my students or a fellow writer. I especially "talk to the text."
Once that's done, I get into the blood, sweat, and tears of writing: revision. Namely, re-writing, re-reading, repeat. I continue to develop the story, the characters, the style (word choice, etc.), and cut out every word that's not needed. At this point I'll start showing it to people (beta readers) and ask them for their feedback as well.
When I'm ready to called it "finished" again, I send it to my publisher (with fingers crossed). If/when they accept it, the process of re-reading and re-writing starts in all over again with my developmental editor, copyeditors, proofreaders, etc. (The same happens if I self-publish.)
5) What is your latest novel?
Please check out She Has Your Eyes, available for pre-order and scheduled for release on February 11, 2014. It's the continuing story of Faking It (currently on sale for 99 cents on Kindle) and Ordinary World. Of the three, I think She Has Your Eyes is my favorite. I hadn't planned to write a third Andi/David novel, but these things take on a life of their own.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.