Hi, Jacob, and welcome to The Novel Approach! I’m so thrilled and honored to have you here today! ::claps/fanfare:: And how fun is it for me to be able to say I’ve met you?! Really a lot, trust me. So, why don’t we just jump right into things by having you tell us a little bit about yourself—keep it clean. Or not. We’re all adults here. ::winkwink:: :-)
Before I begin, Lisa, I want to thank you for having me here. It’s truly an honor! Also, it was great to meet you in Albuquerque during GRL. You’re such a beautiful person, inside and out! The dinners and our conversations, both serious and silly, were a blast. We definitely need to have standing dinner plans in Atlanta. If we don’t, I’ll pout, and you don’t want to see me pout. Just ask Bruce. :-)
As for information about me, I have to admit that I lead a pretty regular (meaning boring) life. My husband and I have three wonderful kids. They keep us fairly busy as any parent knows. When we aren’t chauffeuring children to dance or soccer, we’re helping with homework or teenage angst. I swear, sometimes their problems rival what most of us read in our favorite m/m books! But they keep us going, and we love them to pieces.
We live in a small Texas town named Victoria. It’s pretty conservative, but we’ve been surprised by how welcoming everyone has been of our relationship and our family. Still, we are planning on leaving Victoria once the kids are out of the house and settling some place that isn’t quite as red of a state as Texas. Where we end up isn’t set in stone, but we love Provincetown, Massachusetts, so that’s definitely at the top of the list.
Right now, I teach college English, but I wait for the day when I can write full time. While I enjoy my job and my students, nothing inspires more professionally than writing.
But enough about my boring life, let’s get to your questions, which I’m certain will be far more fun!
Q. When did you begin writing creatively, and who was your inspiration?
I actually started writing comic books as a child. Wonder Woman was always my favorite character, and it wasn’t just because of her red high heel boots and star-spangled bathing suit, which I secretly wanted to wear, or her kick ass accessories. I mean, what little gay boy didn’t want those bracelets and tiara? And that golden lariat that forced people to obey? Um, yeah! I totally wanted that too! There were a few boys I secretly wanted to force to do my bidding.
But I digress…Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yes, Wonder Woman.
She was a strong woman, and being raised by strong women, I naturally gravitated to her. I guess that officially makes Wonder Woman my first inspiration! How gay is that? :-)
Oh well, we are what we eat!
Q. How did you come up with the idea for 3?
I actually got the idea for 3 a few years before I wrote it. When my husband and I vacationed for the first time in Provincetown, we met a man who was a part of a trio. We wondered just how the heck a relationship like that started. It wasn’t something we had actually run into before, so we had lots of questions but were too shy to actually ask them at the time. 3 is my attempt at answering how such a relationship might begin.
3 isn’t a typical ménage book, where there’s tons of sex and a lighthearted jaunt through life. While there are most definitely some pretty hot sex scenes, the book deals with three men and how they cope with the changing dynamics of their lives and their hearts. It chronicles their missteps and their pain, but also their desire to try and rectify what they have broken.
Q. How long did it take you to write the story?
From start to finish, it took me about three or four months. I had difficulty figuring out how to organize the novel, which resulted in several restarts. I wanted to tell the story through all three men’s perspectives while at the same time moving the reader through a span of a decade. I wanted the story to be as believable as possible so that the reader understood why the men made the decisions they made. That was crucial for me. Readers needed to see their strengths and their flaws; otherwise, it wasn’t going to work.
Q. How long did it take for Dreamspinner to accept the story?
Dreamspinner accepted the manuscript about 6-8 weeks after I submitted it. OMG, that was a glorious day! I remember jumping up and down and dancing like it was 1999! Luckily, no one was home, so no one else saw me act the fool! Although even if they had, no one in my family would have batted an eyelash. I act stupid. A lot!
Q. What made you decide to write a ménage story, anyway?
I wanted to show the complex dynamic of an m/m/m relationship as well as dispel some common misconceptions about trios. Some people think that a relationship involving three people is based either solely on sex or a result of people incapable of choosing one person over another. In many instances, that’s not the case. While sex is a part of any adult relationship, I’ve learned that relationships can sometimes grow to include more than one person. It’s just a natural progression some relationships take.
I’ve met some trios and have personal experience in seeing how this has occurred. I wanted to capture the essence of that journey.
Q. What do you think would be the most difficult part of a ménage relationship to navigate?
That’s easy—the jealousy! In a traditional m/m, m/f, or f/f relationship, you have two hearts dedicated to each other, and it’s a lot easier to know where you stand in that relationship. When you have a committed relationship between three people, knowing where you stand becomes more problematic.
If you happen to be the third forming a relationship with an already established couple, you’ve got to wonder just where you will fit it? Will I be made to constantly feel like the third wheel or will the relationship become more of an equilateral triangle? If you happen to be in the couple, you have to wonder: why are we adding this third person into our relationship? What was wrong with just the two of us?
The answers to that require a lot of soul searching and communication.
Q. Was there one character more than any other who was most difficult for you to write?
Dutch was probably the hardest to write because he was the one coming into the already established relationship. I knew readers might not like him because of his affair with Justin and the secret he keeps with Spencer. I had to do my best to keep him both likeable and relatable for the reader.
Q. Are they any characters in the book who resemble you or someone you know?
I think many authors insert themselves and people they know into their books. It helps add to the believability of the characters. Justin and Spencer are fashioned after my husband and me. I inserted parts of our characters into both of them, so in a way Justin and Spencer contain the best and worst of the two of us.
Q. Are sex scenes difficult to write? (I’ve always been mildly to rabidly curious about this. ^_^)
They are difficult to write.
First of all, there’s the research. To get in the mood, I watch one gay porn scene after another. It gets quite tedious really, and my hand usually ends up cramping from all the…typing. Yeah, that’s it, the typing. Once the research part is complete, I sometimes force my husband to try some of the positions I imagine. It’s really for academic purposes as I tell him, and he’s such a good sport! After all, if I want someone to bend a certain way, I have to make sure that it’ll work.
Once that’s done comes the writing, which sometimes makes me sweat more than the actual research. I try my best to capture every sensory detail. I want my readers to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel what’s going on, so it’s as believable as possible.
What can I say? I’m dedicated to my craft.
Q. Which part of a book do you think is most difficult to write: Fleshing out a compelling beginning, finding just the right balance for the middle, or coming up with the perfect ending?
The perfect ending. I can start a novel without a problem and usually coast all the way up to the climax (no pun intended), but I find the endings the most difficult. I put my characters through a lot, and sometimes coming up with a reasonable resolution to their conflict is difficult. Most stories don’t end the way I first envisioned them. I know 3 didn’t!
Q. What’s your favorite part of being a published author?
The fame and fortune! The paparazzi! The throngs of men wanting me to sign their jockstraps!
Wait, I’m obviously confusing myself with someone else!
Seriously, though, the best part is that I have satisfied a long time dream of mine. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I first started reading. For me, it’s an accomplishment I’ll never grow tired of, no matter how many books I might end up publishing before I die.
Q. If you could offer one word of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Persistence is key to getting published. There are only a handful of authors who have been published based on their first submission. Most of us go through tons of rejection letters before we get that one acceptance letter that changes our lives. To be an author, you can’t let rejection stop you. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move one.
Q. If you could trade lives with any one fictional character, just for a day, who would it be and why?
My friends won’t be surprised by my answer, but those of you who don’t know me well enough will think my answer is crazy. I would want to trade lives with Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley from Alien.
I absolutely love that movie and am a BIG TIME horror fan! I think it would be fantastic to experience the movie from her perspective—the discovery of the alien, the fight to stay alive, and then being alone on the ship with just the alien. My God, that’s just so absolutely terrifying! But if given the chance, I would love to experience it while at the same time knowing that I was going to survive in the end.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you live by?
It’s nothing fancy or truly enlightening, but I live according to honesty. I hid who I was for a long time out of fear and I’ve witnessed first hand how truly destructive deception can be. Living life honestly is really the only way I know how to live. I can handle the truth, and I expect it from those I’ve chosen to surround myself with. I don’t really know what to do with lies or liars anymore. I just don’t have the time for such nonsense.
Q. Have you ever read something and thought, damn, I wish I’d written that? If so, what was it?
Does Alien count? Have I told you how much I LOVE that movie?
Okay, okay. I’ll choose something else. I really wished I had written The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It’s a book that was really the first of its kind. Cisneros tells the story of a young girl growing up in the barrio (a poor, mostly Hispanic neighborhood) and discovering herself and her own voice. Until I read the novella in college, I had never actually heard a story similar to mine, where the people I knew and the environment I lived in was actually the subject of a book.
I found that novel truly groundbreaking!
Q. If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?
That’s easy. Jesus.
So many people these days speak for him and for God that I would love to hear what he has to say. I think many people who think they know him and who he hates would be surprised as to what the truth really was.
Q. Where’s your favorite place to write?
On my over-sized comfy chair. It’s quite plush and makes me happy and my butt not so sore from the hours I spend in it!
Q. How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
I don’t have a sense of humor. I’m really quite dry and bland.
Okay, that’s so not me! I have a weird sense of humor. I find shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken quite hilarious.
Ooh piece of candy! Ooh piece of candy!
People who love Family Guy will get that reference. If you’ve never seen that episode, look it up!
Q. Do you have news of any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?
Right now, I’m working on a series set in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Provincetown is such a magical place. It can definitely bring people together, but it also has its pitfalls and can drive people apart. It’s an m/m romance gold mine, really. I plan to write a series of books that captures the essence of the town, on what makes it so special to me, and the power it has to alter relationships.
Q. Where can we find you on the internet?
Q. Would you be willing to share an excerpt from 3 with us?
I would love to!
“I think someone’s growing chicken wings,” Xavier said, clucking like a chicken.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Justin asked as his mind once again returned to the present. The DJ was spinning the latest mix of “We Like to Party” by the Vengaboys, and the gays were tearing it up on the dance floor. “And I’m no chicken.”
“Then go pick him up.”
“Pick who up?” Justin asked, aggravated. “Are you blind to how many people are here?”
Xavier laughed and took another gulp of his beer. “I’ll give you one minute to do it before I go get him and bring him to you. Which, as you know, is a penalty, punishable by—”
“Two tequila shots, I know,” Justin said, cutting him off. “Will you just point him out to me? And be more specific than ‘walking through the door’.”
“He’s the Mexican leaning against the wall on the right.”
“Really?” Justin asked. “Mexican is being specific? We live in San An-fucking-tonio!”
Xavier laughed like a fifth grader at recess, something he did whenever he teased Justin, which meant he heard the snicker on a daily basis. “He’s wearing a black muscle shirt and acid-wash jeans. Thick black hair. He’s also wearing a puka shell necklace that all the fags are wearing these days.”
Justin scanned the crowd and saw him, leaning against the far wall with a pink Cape Cod in his hand. He was muscular and rugged, and way out of Justin’s league. Well-sculpted arms and shoulders framed the black shirt. Even at a relaxed stance, his biceps and triceps were clearly defined. Justin hated him for that. He had been working on his arms for months and had yet to develop such muscle tone.
The muscle shirt also clung to his body as if the fabric was wet, and it revealed an absence of love handles on his tightly packed form. Small, perky nipples poked out from the cloth, and the shirt’s fabric ended about an inch before the jeans began. A treasure trail of hair started at his navel and disappeared beneath the waistband of the jeans. Just below the waistband was a package ready to be delivered.
“Do you see Puka Shell Boy?” Xavier asked.
“Yup,” was all Justin could say.
“Then go get him.”
Justin swallowed hard. This wasn’t going to end well. The image of a B-52 going down in flames flashed before him.
Then he noticed Puka Shell Boy’s friend.
His friend was a few inches taller than both Puka Shell Boy and Justin. If he had to guess, he would put him at almost six feet tall. Sandy-blond hair lay perfectly manicured and parted to the left. Longer strands of hair curled inward at his cheekbones and lightly kissed the most unbelievable alabaster skin Justin had ever seen. His skin looked smoother than silk, as if a sculptor had spent hours chiseling the precious stone into perfection. Draping his skin was a green short-sleeve button-down, neatly tucked into his dark-blue denim jeans. The shirt was fitted but not painted on him like Puka Shell Boy. His lean body resembled a dedicated runner and was neither waifish nor frail.
Then Justin noticed his eyes. Dark-green tinted eyes decorated his features, magically cutting through the dimly lit bar and outshining the sparkling disco ball. They weren’t a green he had seen before. He had seen light green and even olive green eyes, but these eyes looked to be made of jade. They were a deeper, richer green hue than he had ever seen before in his life. They looked exotic and expensive, found only in jewelry from a faraway Asian country like China or Japan.
They were breathtaking. Justin didn’t understand how people were walking by him and not staring into those eyes. He could stare at them for the rest of the night.
“What’s the matter with you?” Xavier asked. “You’re standing there with your mouth open like a fucking retard.”
“He’s so beautiful.”
“No shit!” Xavier exclaimed. “Think of him as my New Year’s present to you. You just have to close the deal.” Xavier put his arm around Justin’s neck, Xavier’s sign of friendship and love. “By the end of the night, Puka Shell Boy will be on his back looking up at you, or you know, looking down at you on your back.” Xavier then pushed Justin forward. “Now, hurry up. It’s almost midnight.”
Justin didn’t know what came over him. All it took was a simple shove, and he was crossing the room toward the stranger with the perfect skin and the amazing green eyes. He felt drawn to him, as if he were caught in an unbreakable gravitational field.
Puka Shell Boy noticed Justin coming first. He elbowed his green-eyed friend and flashed a disinterested grin, most likely thinking Justin was coming to talk to him. He wasn’t. Puka Shell Boy no longer existed in his world.
As he approached, the crowds around him got louder. Apparently, the stroke of midnight was approaching. Someone was speaking on a microphone, most likely the drag queen hostess for the night’s festivities, but he couldn’t make out what she was saying. All he could see were the green eyes and the white skin pulling at him like the moon pulls on the ocean.
“Ten, nine, eight…”
Closer still he drew, passing by couples with their arms around each other, preparing for their New Year’s kiss.
“… seven, six, five, four…”
Six feet from the most beautiful man he had ever seen, Justin found he was holding his breath. He had to remind himself to breathe for fear that he would pass out only a few feet away from his intended. Up close, his eyes were more radiant than from across the room. Flecks of gold glinted within the green irises.
“… three, two…”
Then he was standing before him. Puka Shell Boy leaned next to his friend, amazed that he wasn’t the object of Justin’s attention. He whispered something in his friend’s ear, but his friend wasn’t paying attention. He, too, was staring straight at Justin.
“… one ….”
Justin reached up and put his left hand around the green-eyed beauty’s neck. Pulling his head toward him, Justin crossed the remainder of the distance.
Their lips met, and the world suddenly came crashing back to life. Noisemakers exploded throughout the club. People were yelling “Happy New Year,” and confetti and glitter were tossed about. The DJ began playing “Auld Lang Syne.”
Through the noise, the revelry, and the singing, the two never stopped kissing. Their tongues jostled in each other’s mouths as they each inhaled the other’s hot passionate breaths.
Never had Justin been more excited about a new year.
Thanks again very much for being here today, Jacob! I hope this is only just the beginning of a long and lovely writing career for you! :-)
Thank you again for having me, Lisa. I can’t wait till we meet again in Atlanta. We have to find some way to top “caca” and “butt carrots” as topics of conversation! **Inserting snort/laugh here!**
**How about the chance to win an autographed copy of Jacob’s book? Sounds great, right? Well, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and you’ll automatically be entered to win. Contest is open to all fans until 11:59pm Pacific Time (2:59am Eastern) on November 15, 2012. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by Jacob for prize delivery. Good luck!!