TaSTy Lady Nikki K’s interview of author Layla Wolfe
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Layla Wolfe, the Bestselling author of the Bare Bones MC series, The Bent Zealots MC series and the soon to be released Assassins of Youth MC series. I have to tell you, she is quite interesting and a real hoot. I was given an ARC of her up coming book Through A Glass, Darkly, book one of her new series Assassins of Youth MC and as usual, I loved it, but it made me want to know more about Layla. So, I wrote up some questions that I wanted to know the answers to and she graciously agreed to answer, honestly and without filter. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did putting it together. Don’t forget to check out Layla’s website and social media pages to find out what she’s got coming up. To receive a free eCopy of Bare Bones Book 1, join her mailing list. (I warn you, these books are like a drug, once you read one, you have to have them all.)
TaSTy: Layla, according to Amazon, you have 29 books written under Karen Mercury and 13 as Layla Wolfe. Why did you begin to write under a pen name? Was it just to change the genre?
Layla: Thanks for having me here, Tanya and Nikki! I did write three historical fiction novels for Medallion Press, then 26 erotic romances for Siren Publishing. I wanted to spread my wings and get more latitude. For instance, Siren has a great deal of rules, strictures you need to adhere to. That’s their brand and that’s how readers know what to expect from them.
But after awhile, I wanted to branch out. For instance, at Medallion, a heroine can’t have a bad girl background. My heroines—the life I’ve lived and the women I’ve known—well, let’s say none of us have been terribly goody two shoes. The heroine in The Bare Bones MC #1, Maddy, was basically me. I raised myself when my negligent mother made me live in the hills. I took a lot of Maddy’s background straight from my own. I wouldn’t know much about cheerleading squads. But I sure knew how to roll a killer doobie.
TaSTy: Why Motorcycle books? What attracted you to the genre?
Layla: See above, LOL. I was writing CEO billionaires, yet I was more familiar with bad boys who fought, stole, and got arrested for robbing banks. It was a natural fit. As a teen, I’d write thinly veiled soap opera dramas about my friends and associates. They just basically sat around blasting the Stones, toking up, playing pool, and jamming it down the highway on their choppers. Still, they were just stick people. They weren’t fleshed out.
I’ll never forget the day I found my “voice.” I was probably stoned, but I went on and on about this fight scene between two thugs. One greaser slammed the other into the fridge, and Cheerios rained down on his head. They rolled on the floor over the box of ice cream one had been eating. It was like I could finally see them move, feel the anger, and laugh my ass off at the slapstick quality. Because that’s what always happened around me. Guys would tussle and fight with each other, and it rarely turned serious. Until it did.
I just rewrote the Cheerios scene, BTW, in “Through a Glass, Darkly”!
TaSTy: I was introduced to you with the first book in the Bent Zealots series and am now working my way through the Bare Bones series. Throughout all of the books I have read in both series, there is always an element of BDSM. Do you incorporate BDSM because you feel it ties in well with the biker lifestyle or is BDSM something you are personally interested in?
Layla: Good question—I never stopped to wonder about that! I don’t read much other fiction, so I don’t know what others do. I’ve been in the lifestyle for 25, 30 years.
TaSTy: A number of your storylines include characters being involved in the gem and mineral trade and geology. I find this to be a very interesting vocation. Where did the idea come from?>>
Layla: I got hugely into amateur mineralogy several years back. I drove down to Tucson for the fabled annual Gem & Mineral show, and continued on to Bisbee. Dr. David Garske found me glued to his mineral storefront window one morning like a kid in a candy shop. He said I knew more than most of his graduate students! That was the biggest compliment I ever received.
But yeah, it’s sort of a natural fit for manly guys in the Southwest.
TaSTy: Another common thread through the books in all three series is reading. You portray many of your main characters as being well read, often self-educated and for all intents and purposes highly intelligent. Was it a conscious effort on your part to show that even the rough and tumble biker can be an intellectual?
Layla: I’d say so. When I first decided to write MC, I read a few of them. It seemed like it was fuckin’ this, and fuckin’ that, but where I come from, guys would be walking around in threadbare jeans and a leather jacket with a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Manchild in the Promised Land sticking out of their back pocket. Being poor or on the streets, neglected by parents, didn’t necessarily mean you couldn’t read or only spoke in monosyllables. Some of the smartest guys I’ve ever known came from that era of my life. They might be strung out on drugs, but they sure liked their Kurt Vonnegut, you know?
TaSTy: Going back to the Bent Zealots series, how on earth do you come up with the idea to write about Gay bikers? I mean, it’s genius in its unorthodox nature.
Layla: I assumed there were a bunch of them already! I went poking around, and of course I found the glorious and glamorous K.A. Merikan. I can’t say enough good things about their books. I think there were a couple of others. But there is really piss poor else, isn’t there? I know homosexuality isn’t general accepted in the biker world. I’ll grant you that. It’s a highly hetero, Cro-Magnon existence with a very concise set of rules to conform to.
I think I portray that. That’s why—and a lot of people took offense at this—I use unacceptable language, like when a closeted hero will call a gay hero a “fag.” Some people didn’t understand I was trying to show the frustrations and prejudices of closeted gay men, where a lot of gay bashing actually is the bubbling up of thwarted desire. In the gritty, tough biker world, a closeted guy would have an even harder time breaking down the steel wall of bigotry. They wouldn’t live the first thirty years of their lives in the macho, swaggering, hard-hitting MC atmosphere without this enormous cross to bear, the inner secret of their homosexuality.
TaSTy: The topic of religion has popped up here and there, most recently in the soon to be released ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’. What precipitates these often hot button storylines?
Layla: My mother is a disciple of the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh. Just occurred to me, it sounds like I’m making this up, but I couldn’t make this shit up, LOL! Remember him? He set up shop in eastern Oregon and pretty soon was plotting to murder the nearby town council. My sisters and I make ruthless fun of it, but that’s because we had to suffer the indignities. I’m pretty sure the only reason my mother didn’t move to Oregon was because the Baghwan would take away her TV.
TaSTy: As a fan of your books and a person who enjoys your writing style, I would like to know a little about Layla the writer. How long have you been writing?
Layla: I taught myself to read and at age 5 because I knew I wanted to be a writer. I knew innately there was some weird kind of power in putting marks onto paper, having someone on the other side of the planet read them, and automatically be inside your world. I must’ve craved power, because in first grade I was tutoring kids to read.
TaSTy: What is your educational background?
Layla: My mother kicked me to the curb when I was fifteen, but luckily I had one of those “alternative” high schools that allowed you to work fulltime and do school work at night and still graduate. We got math credit for balancing our checkbooks, and PE was Frisbee and cribbage. Music Appreciation was listening to Grateful Dead discs. One time, everyone piled in a school bus and drove down to Baja. Another time, we vision quested in the area of Nevada that would become known for Burning Man. We were well-known as “a bunch of hippi freaks.” A slur for which our lesbian biker chicks would punch your lights out!
I don’t think that sort of institution would fly past the school board these days. Just sayin’. Most of us are dead now, or in jail.
TaSTy: Aside from Archery, what do you do to relax or have fun?
Layla: I work seven days a week, so that’s pretty much it. I find joy in things, like being with my Newfoundland dog. I’ll take her swimming in the bay. But I can’t really say I “do” much of anything else. What a dullard! I just went on my first archery tournament and I scored halfway up the woman’s board! Not bad for a dilettante!
TaSTy: You often reference other writers in your books. Who would you say is your favorite writer and why?
Layla: Henry Miller of course! Ford Illuminati’s favorite writer. My mother had a bunch of HM’s books on her shelf, so I’d delve into them for lack of anything else to read. At first I read only the sex scenes, natch. Then I’d read a bit before, and a bit after. Soon I was like “Fuck it, let’s just read the whole thing.” I’m an HM scholar now. I’ve got editions and artwork I’ve promised to the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. One of the highlights of my life was driving there and seeing Emil White out in the garden. My (then) husband was all ‘Fuck it, this is someone’s house, let’s go!”
TaSTy: Have any of the storylines been particularly hard for you to write? Did the subject matter bother you on a personal level?
Layla: Probably Book One of The Bare Bones, where I was basically laying myself bare on an emotional level and writing about my precarious, fucked-up youth. I didn’t have a stepbrother like Ford (unfortunately—I think I must’ve longed for someone like that to share the misery with me).
TaSTy: Whose story can we expect next?
Layla: Book 2, A Leap In The Dark¸ will tell the story of a Lost Boy, Levon, who has been running a male brothel up in Bountiful. He’s going to clash with Mahalia Warrior’s sister, Oaklyn, a nurse. Oaklyn gets sent in to inspect the Lost Boys for VD before taking them in as new Assassins Prospects, and she clashes with this scum-sucking loser she sees as profiting off the boys. Of course, he’s only done what he can to survive, and he’s actually saved a lot of other Lost Boys from the streets. So there are two people fighting to stand up for what they believe in.
They all move into Avalanche and instantly clash with the Mayor, a polyg who—as we mentioned earlier—has a deep, dark longing for male flesh. He latches onto Levon. He knows Levon’s past, and isn’t above using it for blackmail. The tagline is “Kiss Slowly. Play Hard.”
TaSTy: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Layla: That promo is going to be about 40-60% of the game, even if you’re with an established publisher. Allot that time in your schedule (and pocketbook). You have to be a talented writer but on the other hand you have to be a talented secretary as well.
TaSTy: What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing a book? (coming up with a fresh new story, new characters, promotion, etc)
Layla: The characters are the easiest—they just write themselves. I’d say promotion is the hardest because it goes against what we don’t understand. We’re writers, god dammit—we’re not people who are especially good at promoting or putting ourselves out there. We tend to be people with low self-esteem who like to hide in rooms, and the last thing we want to do is put our ego on the line, put it out there for people to bash.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>WARNING: Through A Glass, Darkly Spoiler questions beyond this point.
TaSTy: Even though Gideon has been exiled to Cornucopia, Papa Ewey still promotes him to be Prez of the Avalanche chapter of the Assassins of Youth. Why?
Layla: I think Papa Ewey (one of my fave biker names!) exiled Gideon out of anger of course, at busting him making time with his Old Lady. Yet he knew Gideon had talents with mining and gun running, so he sent him out there. It was a good way to get rid of Gideon and at the same time rake some benjamins from the Russian lady trade with the fundies.
TaSTy: Was Breakiron sent with Gideon with the sole intention of Gideon ending him?
Layla: You know, that idea never crossed my mind! You should be the writer. Papa Ewey did seem to take it with a grain of salt, although I mentioned several times that Breakiron was fairly expendable and not well-regarded.
TaSTy: Although I love all of the books in all of the series, I think Through the Glass, Darkly is my favorite. I found the storyline to be very exciting and topical. The characters have depth and as always, I love your writing style. Thank you for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.
Layla: Thanks for inviting me to your blog!!
Layla and her pup Myshkin (I love this dog, if Layla needs a pupsitter,I am her gal)
Bestselling author Layla Wolfe likes to bring you alpha males–sometimes two at a time–and the kick-ass women who love them. Her BARE BONES MC series explores the dark, disturbing life of the biker club in Arizona. Her spinoff series THE BENT ZEALOTS MC is a gritty MM saga. She is currently at work on Book One of THE ASSASSINS OF YOUTH MC, another spinoff set in Utah.
Layla Wolfe is the pen name of multi-published erotic romance author Karen Mercury.
A Leap In The Dark, March 2016
Through A Glass, Darkly available December 21, 2015
Layla Wolfe’s Stalker Links:
Layla’s Website – Join Layla’s mailing list to get a free eCopy of Bare Bones book 1
Layla on Pintrest
Layla on Facebook
Layla on Twitter
Layla on Goodreads
Layla on Amazon