Josh Lanyon has been producing bestselling, award-winning books for over a decade, and still, when it comes to mainstream readers, few know of this mega-talented author with legions of loyal fans. Conduct an Internet search for “Josh Lanyon” and you will see page after page of listings, be they books, interviews, blogs, and even a few drops of Josh’s name just to try and wrangle readers to an article Josh knew nothing about. That’s the notoriety and recognition associated with this particular author.
Josh writes some of the finest mystery, suspense, and adventure stories on the market today, lives in LA, and is absolutely devoted to his family. He is also a genius at marketing who readily shares tips with anyone willing to listen, explores every option of providing his stories to readers (including audio books), and isn’t afraid to venture into joint projects or dabble in subgenres he hasn’t tried yet.
Author Josh debuted in 2000 with the novel “Fatal Shadows,” which, due to reader response, became the first book in the Adrien English mystery series. What drew readers was the author’s now trademark ability to combine suspense, drama, mystery, and even touches of terror with a charming dose of humor and a subplot of romance.
When I decided to check out Josh’s storytelling ability, with so many books to choose from, I went to Josh’s Facebook page and asked his fans what book I should start with. The overwhelming majority said, “Come Unto These Yellow Sands,” the story of a professor caught between a youth who might be a murderer and his police chief lover bent on enforcing the law, no matter how convoluted the truth can become at times. It’s a magnificent story that left me confused as to why the author isn’t a household name. We can only hope that changes in the near future.
Now Josh has released “In Sunshine or in Shadow,” a compilation of emotionally powerful short
Q) You keep your family and private life out of the limelight. Why is maintaining a high level of privacy so important to you?
A) I truly want readers to focus on the stories and not me. The work is what matters. I’ve achieved a sort of celebrity along the way, but more than anything it makes me uneasy and a little anxious. I appreciate my readers and I love interacting with them, but I do feel like there needs to be some kind of firebreak between the real life me and the author persona of Josh Lanyon. I don’t want “Josh Lanyon” getting in the way of my real life obligations and responsibilities.
Q) “Fatal Shadows” was considered a book written for gay audiences. You have said your writing has shifted to focusing on female readers of male/male romance. What changes in style did you make to accommodate female readers?
A) This is such a perilous question! And of course what was true in publishing for a gay audience thirteen years ago isn’t necessarily relevant now. For me the crucial difference was that M/M was by definition romance fiction, and so the emphasis had to be on the relationship and the romance. The first story I wrote for the M/M market was The Dark Horse, and there is a fair bit of explicit but yet romanticized sex, a lot of emphasis and exploration about feelings and emotions. There’s a little bit of a mystery, but it’s mostly backdrop. Whereas with Fatal Shadows, the emphasis was on the mystery and about the sexual identity of the two main characters. So we had Adrien English who, though gay, was a protagonist that straight readers could easily relate to -- that was important to me -- and we also had Jake Riordan who hates himself for being gay. That series is as much about Jake’s journey to come to terms with who he is, as it is Adrien solving various murders.
Q) Good writing is good writing and yours is amongst the best I’ve read. Why do you believe your books haven’t found their way to mainstream readers yet?
A) Thank you, David. That’s very kind. To answer your question: for the same reason that books featuring racial and ethnic minorities don’t tend to do as well as books featuring Caucasian protagonists. We’ve experienced -- and continue to experience -- encouraging political and social gains, but GLBT people remain a minority, and publishers are in the business of making money. It is all about the bottom line. A mainstream publisher needs to hit different profit margins from an indie or specialty publisher. So what constitutes a huge hit in my little publishing realm does not necessarily look viable to a legacy publisher looking to move 40,000 units of any given romance novel.
That said, there are encouraging signs that mainstream romance publishers are beginning to look at the possibilities of M/M Romance. I won’t deny that I’m excited about the potential for all of us.
Q) You’re currently involved in bringing a number of your books to audio format. Do you foresee a day when audio may surpass ‘written’ books in sales?
A) No. I don’t see audio ever surpassing visual reading mediums. I think it will always be supplemental to the written experience. But I also see the market for audio growing steadily. I think more and more readers will discover what a delight audio can be -- how much it can enhance their enjoyment, especially of favorite stories. It’s a way of experiencing the work almost as though for the first time, and that’s really a lot of fun.
Q) How do you view Josh Lanyon the author vs Josh Lanyon the person?
A) Ha! Well, as I’m sure you yourself know, we try to be our witty, smartest, personable selves when we’re on line. Social media is a stage, and we’re on that stage trying to sell our author brand. But off stage, I’m your typical writerly type. I’m quiet, introspective, and largely preoccupied with the voices in my head. I’m impatient with interruptions and I’m often oblivious to what’s going on around me. But I will say that I’ve learned two important lessons along the way. To be of any use as a writer, you have to have something to write about. That means getting out in the real world and interacting with real people. And, most important, we are defined by our relationships with others. As much as I want my work to last and be remembered, being there for the people I love and who love me, must always come first. Time is fleeting and second chances are rare.
Q) Any parting thoughts for fans and readers yet to pick up one of your books?
A) For my fans, thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your loyalty. And for readers hesitating about trying my work…one of the most common things I hear from first time readers is how different my stories are from whatever they were expecting. So I guess what I would say is, whatever is keeping you from trying my stories, it’s probably not true!
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net