Thank you for taking some down time and spending it with us. Let’s start this off with a beverage. We have coffee, tea, some sort of juice (I think it’s been in here a few weeks) and soda. What would you like?
Coffee, please. With almond milk. I assume you have virtual almond milk to go with the virtual coffee. 😉
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure, though a little is harder than a lot. LOL. I’m a middle-aged woman from the Detroit area (born and raised) and I write gay romance and young adult fiction. I can’t resist a wounded hero. In fact, as a reader and a writer, my favorite stories are of soul mates finding redemption in each other’s arms. I’m married to the love of my life in a beautiful relationship based on mutual goofiness. We don’t have kids, we have a rat terrier named Ruthie and a cat name Hector who outweighs Ruthie by about ten pounds. In addition to writing, I’m an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program.
When you received news that your manuscript had been accepted what were the first words that fell from your mouth?
Ah. Well, the particular story we’re featuring today is self-published. But I can tell you what fun it was when I first wrote it for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Stuff Your Stocking free fiction event. This was the first one they ever did, and it was all brand new. I was very taken with the image of an angel with black wings, kneeling in the nude, his hands bound in front of him. The story was one of those lovely ones that comes out all in one piece, and the feedback I got from readers was just wonderful. I’m very pleased to be offering it now as a standalone short story — my holiday gift to readers.
What forces brought you over to the MM Genre and what made you want to write it?
Oh my goodness. You have no idea what a loaded question that is. Okay, here’s how it happened:
Around about 2000, 2001, things were rough for me. My mother passed away very suddenly and my father was dying. I was 36. By that time, I’d been writing for about fifteen years and I had three science fiction novels out with Tor. Every single one of them had been a bitter struggle to get words on the page. I realized I needed to something to help myself cope, so I gave myself permission to forget all about market considerations and just write something that made me happy.
I was as surprised as anyone else when that turned out to be a young adult gay romance. It poured out of me. It was like weights had been lifted from my fingers, and I was free. This wasn’t like any other writing I’d ever done. It was FUN. The whole thing may have started out as a lark, but I knew there was no going back for me.
So I pitched the book to my editor and the first words out of his mouth were, do they have to be gay? Well, I said yes, they did, and then we both decided that he would not be the right editor for this book. Then, my agent refused to represent the book, and I fired him. Basically, over a period of several years where I finished up projects I was already contracted for, I walked away from my mainstream publishing career and threw myself into the gay romance genre, and that’s why I’m here today.
Oh, and that first book? Well, since it was a YA, I couldn’t place it for years, but it finally came out from Harmony Ink last September. It’s called All the Colors of Love, and I’m very proud of it.
Would you care for some cookies? We have chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal with or without raisins and a package of mystery ones. We have cake too. Your choice.
How many hours a day do you spending writing?
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
Usually what happens is that I start writing and anything I’m not sure about I use little <brackets> for as a place-holder. So for example if the characters need to find a book but I’m not sure what that book is yet, I’ll write <book>. This works great until about halfway through the story, when all those <>s pile up and everything gets so vague I can’t continue. Then I start over from the beginning and do the second pass, which usually gets me about three quarters of the way through. That’s the point in the process where I realize I have something terribly out of whack and a lot of things need to be reorganized. The fourth pass is the hardest. That’s where I rework a lot of what I’ve already done and finally come up with my ending. And then I send it out to beta readers and more things change in revisions. LOL. I’m a revision junkie!
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I don’t outline much. I need a destination, but I like to let the story unfold of it’s own will, which may be why I rewrite so much, but I’ve just never been able to make myself write to an outline.
Of your characters do you have a favorite and why?
I couldn’t possibly pick just one. I love them all. As you can see, we go through a lot together. 🙂
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I used to. Gay romance was the cure for that. 🙂
Do you have a particular spot in your house that you call your comfy zone? (The place where you write.)
I actually have an office in the house. It’s painted yellow and I have a huge bulleting board covered with all kinds of pictures I’ve found over the years, like a collage. I stare at it when I’m trying to figure things out.
When you’re in the mindset to write, do you put a sign up that warns others not to disturb you while at work?
Nothing that formal. Though I am known to wave my poor husband away if I’m really in the middle of something.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
Oh. Um. Naughty and peculiar, I think. I love absurdity, extremes, and transgression, but there also has to be an underlying kindness in it. I deplore cruelty of any kind. I love the work of Kevin Smith, the Marx Brothers, and Will Ferrell. I love it when a comedian adopts a completely absurd premise and commits to it 100%. For example, the holiday film Elf is one of my favorites. It’s ridiculous, but no matter how out there it gets, nobody ever breaks character or backs down from the central premise of a man raised as one of Santa’s elves.
What is the most frequently asked Jessica Freely question?
How tall are you? I’m 4′ 10,” just so you know. 😉
What are you working on now?
I’m currently drafting the ending of the sequel to my transgender class warfare science fiction romance, Amaranth & Ash. No title yet, but the hero in this one was the villain in the last, which is a lot of fun.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I find it important to get out of the writing mindset regularly. I take Ruthie to the dog park or for a walk, or I cook something. Doing physical things that have nothing to do with writing is healthy for me. Sometimes I play with music apps like Garage Band or Ocarina as a way to exercise other parts of my brain.
The other thing that I find important is to read as much of other people’s work as I can, especially writers who have better skills in some areas than I do. The stuff I mentioned about is for resting the writing mind, but the reading feeds it.
What kind of books do you like to read outside of the MM Genre?
I like fantasy and science fiction. I’m a big Lois McMaster Bujold fan. And I read some mainstream fiction and classics too. I loved Life of Pi and I’m a bit Charles Dickens fan. I could go on and on: Alice Walker, Michael Chabon, Alexander McCall Smith…
Pick one: Scientist, Astronaut, Retail, or Horse Trainer-
Horse Trainer. I love animals, and sometimes, when I’m frustrated with a project, I wish I’d gone into something like that or dog training. I actually did work at a doggy day care for a little while. I loved it.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love being outdoors, particularly in nature. In fact I’m pretty sure this is my first incarnation as a human being. LOL. Being in the woods or out on a lake replenishes me in a way I can’t really put into words. So I like to take Ruthie to our local dog park, which has a wooded off-leash area, and I go kayaking when I can. I’m very fortunate to live in Michigan, which has so many beautiful lakes and forests to enjoy.
Of course I also enjoy other more civilized pursuits: reading, gay porn, old-school table-top RPGs…
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Yes. Look for Unbound, the third story in the Freedom Series, coming out around the end of January.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Jessica Freely Online:
Website & Blog: http://jessicafreely.com
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/jessicafreely
It was a pleasure having you here with us today.