Hi there, welcome to another episode of Writing with Pride. If this is your first issue, Writing with Pride is a Pride Month feature of #OwnVoice authors. We've had some amazing authors stopping by and today we continue with a feature of author Shane K. Morton. In case you haven't had the pleasure of interacting with Shane, he's just about the sweetest and one of the most likable person you'll encounter with a love for his husband that will put a smile on your face.
Let's discover how our 'Ginger in the City' #OwnVoice author Shane keeps romance alive in his own life and his books.
GIANNI: Hi Shane,
Welcome to Writing with Pride! It’s so great having you to share about yourself and your work as an #OwnVoice author in the M/M romance genre. I’m quite looking forward to learning more about you, and I’m sure the readers are too.
SHANE Thank you, Gianni ! I am very pleased to be here and I am honored you asked me to do this.
GIANNI: Let’s start off with your pronouns. Which pronouns do you prefer to use?
SHANE: He and Him.
GIANNI: What’s your favorite apparel to wear around the house?
SHANE: Uh… Pajama bottoms and an old t-shirt that you can see through! However, my husband makes me get dressed everyday! LOL! So most days, since I live in Los Angeles, I wear shorts and a t-shirt. I am a huuuuge geek and have way too many super-hero and indie band t-shirts.
GIANNI: Haha, yay for amazing partners! What’s one of the most daring things you’ve ever done?
SHANE: Daring? I’m really not that daring! Not anymore, anyway. LOL! Sometimes, I feel as if I am the biggest scaredy cat in the world. Things scare me more than ever, now. When I was younger I used to be much more fearless, now I overthink everything and imagine all the ways it could possibly kill me!
I guess the most daring thing I’ve done, was spend a summer travelling around with the band Phish from venue to venue with a group of young hippies (Myself included) I had a wild summer! Glad I survived it.
GIANNI: That sounds like a fun time. What’s the most interesting job that you’ve ever had?
SHANE: Hmmm… I have had a few. I’ve worked in the performing arts my entire life, except for a few summer jobs in high school. I spent a summer as a library assistant, a janitor and a horrible summer at the sheriff’s station helping with filing. I preferred the janitor job, actually.
I guess the job that was the most interesting was being a director/choreographer for a couple of musical theatre national tours. I really enjoyed that almost more than performing. I directed eight of these shows over the course of 3 years and it was fun and challenging.
As an actor, I have performed in all 50 states and 3 countries. I have seen almost all of the national parks because of these tours, which was a very cool experience. I have worked in some of the best and worst theatres in this country.
I even worked in an outdoor space where we had a skunk upstage us all in Wisconsin as it made its way down the center aisle during the crucifixion of Jesus when we were performing Godspell. That is something I will never forget. The audience parted in a biblical way!
GIANNI: How long have you and your husband been together?
SHANE: We have been together 19 years and married for 5. He is amazing and I am the luckiest man in the world. I have no idea how he puts up with me!
GIANNI: Aww, that's sweet. Readers love a good meet cute so tell me, how did you two meet and how did you know that he was the one?
SHANE: We met at an audition for Shakespeare’s R&J, a 4 man telling of the Romeo and Juliet story set in a Catholic school. Both of us had to kiss every other actor at the audition but we didn’t kiss each other. I went home and told my best friends that I had just met the cutest guy and I hoped we would both get cast in the show.
We did, and we were dating by the end of rehearsals. We shared so much in common. Favorite movie, Books, TV Shows… We made each other laugh, a lot. And we were both super attracted to each other, of course. He’s very handsome. I knew on our first date that he was the one.
Sidenote- we played the two straight guys in the show. I find that amusing. I am hella gay.
GIANNI: Definitely a story for the books. Have you ever used any of your experiences with your husband in your books?
SHANE: LOL! Noooooo… He would kill me. We are sacred and I don’t share that. But there is a lot of my past and truth in quite a few of my novels and characters. There’s always something, since I write stories about people like me. At least one of the characters shares something with me.
GIANNI: What’s date night like with you?
SHANE: I LOVE dinner and a movie! Jody (the hubby) and I have some favorite spots to eat at, and then we go see a film. Both of us are massive movie fans and we see at least one a week if not two, unless we are going to the theatre. Date night used to be A LOT different for us when we were younger! LOL! We rarely go out to the bars or clubs anymore and when we do it's because we have a group of friends forcing us to. We have become total home-bodies. My favorite thing in the world is to snuggle on the couch and watch TV with him and the pup.
GIANNI: What’s the title of the first M/M romance book you published and what inspired you to write it in the first place?
SHANE: My first book was The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing, and it was written during my first NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). I have written my entire life, but what I had been focusing on for years was being a playwright/lyricist and screenwriter. This was my first attempt at writing a novel and I re-wrote it for almost 3 years.
It was a story of me in college, told through a paranormal lens. A young student, who happens to be a drag queen, failing his way into success and true love. A lot of the things in the book actually happened to me. It is very revealing! LOL!
GIANNI: How has your vision as an author changed, if any at all, since publishing that first book?
SHANE: Everything has changed. Writing that first book was cathartic. I had been carrying around a lot of that baggage for almost two decades. My next 2 novels were very similar, extremely autobiographical in a lot of ways. It took me those 3 books to branch out of my baggage and start writing stories that weren’t so raw. TWOCH (Trouble) was a MM romance, but the next two straddled that line. Private Waterloos is more of a coming of age story and Year Of The Cock is an experimental Romance told in a way I’ve never seen anyone else do.
Now, I write much more to market. I had to grow and learn in a lot of ways. It wasn’t until I started becoming friends with other authors in the genre, for me to even understand what ‘To Market’ was. I had never even done a takeover or had an author group. I was fumbling blindly with those 3 books, and now I have a grip on what it actually is I am doing. I also write a lot faster. I was putting out 1 book a year for my first 3 years.
GIANNI: Sometimes as writers, we get consumed by our own writing. How do you balance your writing with your relationship and everything else that you have going on in your life?
SHANE: What is balance?
LOl! Ok… I succeed and fail daily with this. I also work a full time job in a major performing arts space. So I work at least 40 hours a week. Sorry, kids, I do not live the glamorous life! I have to schedule my writing into my week. The hubby and I make our plans for the coming week on Sunday night, so I can make sure to get my writing hours in. I usually write for an hour in the morning, usually broad sketches, and then at night I flesh those out, after we have dinner and watch an hour of television. On the weekends is when it can get hairy. I like to write for at least 4 hours a day on the weekend, and sometimes plans and life derail me. I love sitting up at night and writing though. It’s a time that’s for me.
GIANNI: Ah, yes, writing at night is the absolute best. It's interesting you and your hubby actually come together on a specific day to make plans. That's so organized. What can readers expect to find in a Shane Morton’s book?
SHANE: Some kind of happy ending, for sure. Even in my dark romance books written under Sean Azinsalt, the HEA is there even if it is really messed up.
I like to write snark and characters that make you question things. I enjoy painting outside the lines and do not believe that life is black and white, we exist in shades of grey. That’s where things are interesting and honest.
However, my Point Pleasant Series is Hallmark with a gay twist. I wrote those books because as a gay man, I never saw myself in the holiday films they perpetuate. And I love them. They are candy and easy to swallow, and I wanted my piece of the pie. So I created this series. What people can expect here is the Hallmark Holiday Movie tropes, flipped gay, with humor, and a very neatly wrapped HEA!
GIANNI: i have to say the Hallmark flavor really made me take note of that series. The covers are also very attractive. Very to market. Which of your characters did you have the most fun writing and why?
SHANE: Without a doubt, my favorite character has appeared in two of my books and is getting ready to appear in a third. Ursula Moolay is the baddest ass drag queen in the world. She made her first appearance in The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing as a very big supporting character and moved over to her own book in Fault Lines. She loves a mystery, has amazing wigs and is the nicest human being I have ever met. (She was modeled after my own drag mother, Raven Ravelle, whose original drag name was… Ursula Moolay.) You have to be a strong self-assured woman to have that name, and she is. I am working on a sequel to Fault Lines for 2021 that will continue her story. I love her and the way she has been exploring what identity means to her. By the way, my drag mom is a huge fan of her stories!
GIANNI: You mentioned being involved in the performing arts above, tell us a little bit about that.
SHANE: I’ve been acting ever since theatre saved my life in high school. I was a sad and lonely kid who hated everyone, including myself and if it wasn’t for theatre I’m scared about who I might have become. I was a theatre and vocal music major and ran to NYC as soon as college was over. I have been on national tours and have performed in all 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico and Germany. I have high kicked my way across theatres, theme parks and cabaret spaces. When I moved to LA, I started focusing on writing and directing film. Now, I only do one man shows or sing at charity events. I miss performing every now and then, but I do not miss being a theatre gypsy. A life on the road is hard and I prefer my ass sitting on the couch with my husband.
GIANNI: You have a show called Ginger in the City. Tell us what that is all about.
SHANE: It is a one man show I have toured. I sing fabulous songs and tell stories about my past loves and the horrible choices I made, ending with meeting my husband and finding my own happy ever after. It is a journey of a young ginger who learns from his mistakes and comes out on the other side of them stronger and wiser. There’s a lot of comedy, of course, but I also dig deep and share the things that I wish I could forget. It was my way of taking power over them and stopping those demons from controlling me. I LOVE it! There’s quite a few videos on youtube! LOL!
GIANNI: Many authors in general tend to stay away from politics, but our genre is inherently political. What does the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that federal law forbids job discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status mean to you?
SHANE: It’s everything. I was so scared of being a gay man when I was growing up. It was a completely different world where it felt like the government and society were out to get you. I have marched for AIDS, while I watched those I love wither away. I have fought for gay marriage so I could have the same protections as straight people with the man I love.
It’s a new world, and I feel blessed to have lived through those times and seen the world grow to accept us as human beings with the same desires and needs as everyone else. It’s incredibly fucked up to think back and remember how scary it all was. I hope young people today remember that the rights they have were hard won.
However, it is not over. There are still many battles to be fought, so make your voices heard. The other side makes sure they are loud and obnoxious and always have been. We still have a long way to go for our trans brothers and sisters, and in many states adoption is still being fought over. Join us! Civil rights, as we can see right now, is a never ending fight. But we have to stand together.
OK... Off my soap box.
GIANNI: That's true. We're still such a long way from having equal rights and eliminating discrimination to LGBTGIA+ individuals. How important is it to you that as a gay man you have a medium to write and share your #OwnVoice stories?
SHANE: Very. But I couldn’t write anything else. This is what I know and these are the only stories I want to tell. Honestly, I never thought of gay romance, until I was writing it, you know. I was just writing books that were about the things I understood and they happened to have a romantic element to them. Genre was elusive. But I am proud of our genre and the authors I am friends with.
GIANNI: Your husband is also a writer, and looking to release his first book soon. How are you helping him as an author with the start of his journey?
SHANE: Sore subject! LOL! He is doing things his way, and I cannot help him too much. He writes YA and I know nothing about self-publishing that genre, so we have been listening to the advice of people who do and I am being as supportive as I can. Honestly, he is twice the writer I am. I think he is brilliant and always has been. He’s been writing these books for years and has finally decided it’s time for him to do something with them. They are true original works of art and I am so proud. Can you tell I am madly in love with him, almost 20 years later?
GIANNI: Oh gosh, the way you talk about him have me smiling so hard. I love talking to people who appreciate their partners so much. Do you have a writing routine together or do you keep your work separate? How do you both help each other as authors?
SHANE: We do not write at the same time. He finds it hard to write while he’s teaching throughout the year and only writes during the summer and winter break. I write daily.
The one thing we offer to each other is unconditional support. Writing is like another lover when you are really in it and when I have a deadline I am struggling with and have to lengthen my hours, he understands. I am the same way when he gets into his work. As artists we know, the art has to come when it does, and nothing should stand in its way.
He also is the title whisperer for me. He has helped me title about half my books.
GIANNI: What are you most likely to do on the weekends?
SHANE: When we are not housebound? We go on a date. Usually we do dinner and a show. The show could be a movie or theatre. We go to a LOT of theatre, opera and dance during the year, since it’s my job. We also like to lounge and clean. Hang by the pool with a very strong cocktail. Sometimes we escape to Palm Springs. That’s our happy place. I can’t wait to go back! LOL!
GIANNI: What are the ingredients that make relationship last (book or otherwise)?
SHANE: Honesty, respect and trust. We are each other's best friends and whenever we have something that we want to share with someone, we are the ones we WANT to share it with first. We keep each other on our toes, constantly with our discussions and we know how to disagree even though we agree most of the time.
HEA is real, but most of the time they are hard and they take work. I wish we saw more of that in our pop culture. I think TV does this better than almost any other medium because they have such a long shelf life.
Sometimes, especially my Sean Azinsalt, darker books, I struggle with giving the characters that HEA or HFN. The darkness calls and I always make sure those books get the HEA twist that audiences can’t see coming.
GIANNI: What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
SHANE: Point Pleasant #6- Another Opening Another Showmance comes out at the end of June. There will be 3 more Point Pleasant books this year.
The sequel to Bluegrass Boys- Sweet Tea and Sympathy releases in July.
Sean Azinsalt has a book coming out in the Grim Delights series based on Rapunzel with a dark serial killer twist.
My novelization of my Ginger In The City short stories will be coming out too at the end of the summer.
2021 is going to be a massive year for me if I can accomplish everything I want. I have a collaboration with some author friends that has me very excited!
GIANNI: Speaking of collabs, do you see yourself doing one with your husband in the future?
SHANE: We have written screenplays together and actually wrote a TV pilot together that we pitched for a couple years. It got really close to being made… So close yet so far away. We have talked about turning it into a book series. We will see. We write in completely different genres, so… the struggle is real!
We have been kicking around a dystopian YA series, so it’s a possibility. We just work so differently now and we haven’t found a way for it to work yet. Or the time...
GIANNI: Where can readers keep in touch with you?
SHANE: My Facebook group-Shane’s Sweet & Salty Readers
GIANNI: Thanks so much for doing this feature, Shane. This was really engaging. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
SHANE: Thank you, Gianni for having me! This was fun! LOVE! You know I am a fan!