Hi, Jeffery, welcome to The Novel Approach, I’m so glad to have you here today. Before we start the Q&A, why don’t you start out by giving us the Jeffery Self story?
A. This is the first book I’ve had published. I technically wrote my second book before this first one but it doesn’t come out until May. It’s called Straight People: A Spotter’s Guide and is a humor book in the style of a bird watching field guide about straight people from my not straight point of view.
Before all of this I’ve mostly worked as an actor and sometimes writer. I had a sketch comedy show on Logo for a couple years with my friend Cole Escola, and on it we wrote/directed/edited/produced a half hour of REALLY weird comedy all out of my apartment in Manhattan.
Since then I moved to LA and have acted on other people’s TV shows like: 90210, Desperate Housewives, 30 Rock, etc.
Q. Being an actor yourself, how much of Taylor’s struggle could you relate to on a personal level?
A. I’ve never been closeted as an adult, like Taylor, so my struggles aren’t very similar to his. He’s also a world famous, super successful movie star…. another thing I am very much not.
Q. Well, I warned you this one was coming, so I might as well just get it out of the way: What made you decide to take the “50 Shades” erotic phenomenon and tell it with Alex and Taylor?
A. I was fascinated by the whole “Fifty Shades” craze for the way it was making readers, a lot of whom weren’t used to reading erotic fiction, look at sex in very obvious terms. More than anything, however, I was attracted to the romance novel genre and the over the top, exciting, high stakes, sexy, campy world one gets to create.
Alex and Taylor were my immediate idea of a way in. I’m really turned on by a lot of gorgeous A list movie stars (who isn’t?) and I think that everybody loves to imagine that some of the biggest movie stars in the world are secretly gay. So that sense of mystery really appealed to me.
Q. Will you share a little bit about the process of telling the story?
A. I definitely wrote Alex as a version of myself. So I mean half of the book is basically my own personal fantasy of myself and Channing Tatum.
Q. Whatever happened to Josh? (Sorry, Taylor, but I can’t help but wonder.)
A. Josh gets his heart broken but he’ll bounce back. He’s a gorgeous, sweet guy in LA who is ACTUALLY genuine. There are literally like three of those kind of people here.
Q. What’s the best thing that’s happened to Taylor since he made the decision to come out? Is he kind of surprised that it ended up being somewhat non-eventish in terms of your career and how you were accepted?
A. I think more than anything it’s a lesson on forgetting what your hang ups and fears might make you believe. Leaving honestly is a pretty easy way to live, once you actually do it.
Q. How long did it take you to write “50 Shades of Gay”? What were the easiest and hardest parts of the story to tell?
A. I wrote it rather quickly and I think that came from the first person narrative. When you get the character’s voice in your head and you just start telling the story it’s hard to stop.
I’d say the hardest part was letting myself get comfortable with writing the sexy parts, and not immediately saying to myself: “Is this too much?” but instead “this could be hotter”.
Q. What did you ever do with that contract Taylor wanted Alex to sign?
A. They left it somewhere in La La Land.
Q. This question is for Taylor: Do you remember the exact moment you realized you loved Alex and were going to lose him if you didn’t make some changes?
A. When he told me he was moving to New York, I realized it was now or never. I’ve never been one to really over-think something… so, as usual, I just leapt.
Q. Jeffery, if you were to write a few short sentences that would give us an idea of what life is like for Alex and Taylor right now, what would that be?
A. Alex and Taylor move to New York at the end of the book but remain bicoastal. I think more than anything their lives improve for the better as they both finally learn how to ask for what they want and how to tell the truth.
Q. Does Taylor “do romance” now? I mean, you know, besides that whole coming out on national television thing.
A. Defintely. Before Alex, Taylor had never allowed himself to “do romance” before and I think that was a trust thing. Taylor has never been able to trust anyone, for fear of their exposing his secrets or trying to get something out of his fame and stature. With Alex, however, he finally meets a good hearted person who he feels secure with and once that happens, romance comes naturally.
Q. What’s next for you now that you’ve told Alex and Taylor’s story? Do you have any other works-in-progress?
A. My Straight People: A Spotter’s Guide book comes out in May and I’m in a new movie coming out on MTV this spring called Made: Ladies Man. I do NOT play the ladies man ;-)
Q. Would you like to tell everyone where they can find you on the internet?
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions today, Jeffery!