Lisa: We’re so pleased to have author Jay Northcote dropping by today to celebrate the re-release of his novel, The Little Things. Welcome, Jay, it’s great to have you with us!
Jay: Hi to all the followers of The Novel Approach! It’s lovely to be here again when this was one of the very first blogs to review my work.
Lisa: The Little Things is the first novella you wrote, but it wasn’t your first published work. What made you decide to hold off on publishing it?
Jay: That actually wasn’t my decision, it’s just the way it worked out with the publishing queue at Dreamspinner Press. Although they contracted The Little Things a week before they contracted Nothing Serious, Nothing Serious ended up being published first because it was a novella, so took less time to edit. It worked out pretty well for me in the end because Nothing Serious was more of an m/m crowd pleaser, so it was a great book to launch my career with. The Little Things is a slightly harder sell because it’s less ‘typical’ of the genre.
Lisa: If you could go back to the point you began writing The Little Things and give yourself a bit of advice, based on what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
Jay: That readers usually like you to introduce the second main character a little earlier than I did in this novel! Although it is most definitely a romance, Joel is more of a main character than Liam. The book is all from Joel’s point of view, and he is the character who has the most development. I like the story as it is, and I’m not sure it would have been possible to write it any other way, so I don’t regret writing it. But I’ve definitely learned more about what queer romance readers like in their stories since then.
Lisa: What inspired you to finally sit down and begin writing? Was there a favorite author, book, or event that made you realize ‘now is the time’? If so, what was it?
Jay: It was a combination of factors, I think. I’d been writing fanfiction and had gradually become more confident in myself as a writer. Alongside that I’d seen friends from the fanfiction community move into writing original fiction. Con Riley, N.R. Walker, and Posy Roberts made the leap before me and that was inspiring to see. But mostly it was a friend and beta reader, Michela, who talked me into it. She convinced me that I was ‘good enough’ and gave me loads of support and encouragement.
Lisa: When you have a look back at your earlier work, do you see any significant changes in your writing voice? In what ways would you say your writing has evolved over the years?
Jay: It’s really hard for me to make that judgement. I’m not sure my author voice has changed significantly, but maybe my readers would disagree? I’d actually love to hear what readers think about this. I might have to ask the question in my author group on Facebook!
Lisa: The Romance genre is all about the tropes. What are some of your favorites, and what makes them a favorite—whether writing or reading?
Jay: The themes and tropes that I keep writing (and reading) over and over again are stories of personal and sexual discovery, of coming out, and of self-acceptance. It’s fascinating that I was writing those stories long before I realised that I was going to go through that process myself when I came out as transgender (and queer) in 2016. The subconscious is powerful, and I can’t help wondering whether I was somehow preparing myself by exploring those scenarios in my writing.
Lisa: What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in LGBTQ publishing, and in the genre as a whole?
Jay: The landscape has changed dramatically just in the five years since I’ve been writing and publishing. It’s been sad to see the decline in small and medium sized publishers, but at the same time it’s been amazing seeing the rise of self-publishing. Kindle Unlimited was a game-changer and love it or hate it, I think it’s here to stay.
As a self-publisher myself now, I feel very fortunate to have survived the massive upheavals (so far). The crowded market makes it very challenging for authors to survive. It’s tough staying visible when there are so many new books coming out all the time. It’s great for readers to have lots of choice, but that comes with a price when some established authors can no longer afford to put as much time into writing books as they used to.
Lisa: You have both self- and traditionally published your work over the years—now self-pubbing exclusively, if I’m not mistaken. What made you decide to venture into self-publishing?
Jay: Yes that’s correct. I now self-publish almost exclusively, with the exception of a few translations and three books that are still with Dreamspinner—but those will come back to me soon. I decided to try self-publishing because I wanted to have more control over content and pricing, and because I wanted the larger royalty share that I’d get if I wasn’t giving a cut to a publisher. It was a business decision and one that has paid off for me.
Lisa: I know this is a bit of a tired old question, but I’m going to ask it anyway—do you feel like you have a pinnacle book amongst all of your books? One that you feel particularly proud of and just flat-out love? If so, what is it and what makes it just that little bit special to you?
Jay: I don’t think I can choose just one, that’s so hard! I always used to say Passing Through, but I love The Law of Attraction too, and now Second Chance, my recent release is on that list as well. Second Chance is such a personal story as it’s about a trans man who is a similar age to me. Although it’s not remotely autobiographical, it was inevitably coloured and shaped by some of my own experiences.
Lisa: I’m going to wrap things up with a few non-writing related questions, just for fun:
1.) If you won the lottery, what’s the first completely self-indulgent thing you’d do with the money?
Jay: Probably take a trip somewhere amazing. Or maybe I’d go for a round-the-world trip instead. I love travelling and there are so many places I want to see!
2.) If you could travel back in time, with all your years of experience and wisdom intact, what advice would you give to your teenage self?
Jay: I’m not sure I could give any advice that would be useful without giving spoilers to my past self. And if I ended up telling them too much, it might change the future. Although my life has had some challenges, I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything because I’m happy with where I am now.
3.) If you were to sit down and write your autobiography today, what would the title be?
Jay: A Work in Progress.
Lisa: What a perfect title. I think we can all relate to that. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jay, it’s always great to have you with us!
Jay: Thanks so much for having me here to chat to you, Lisa. I’ve always appreciated the support of The Novel Approach for my books over the years.
Readers, if you’d like to find me in other places here are my links:
About the Book
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make you appreciate what you have
There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter Evie is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.
One cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside-down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.
Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?
Watch for Buy Links Coming Soon!
About the Author
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.
Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.