1:48 PM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest

Jessica Freely

CONTEST: Jessica will give a free copy of HERO to one of the commenter’s on this post, to be selected randomly. Good luck!

AL: Hi Jessica Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Jessica: You're welcome Ann. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of new friends this week!

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Jessica: I just got an iPhone! It's my first smart phone and I'm nuts about it. I'm downloading apps like a mad thing. My favorite one so far is the Altered States brainwave app. It uses sound frequencies to induce brainwave patterns associated with deep relaxation. It's great. I'm also listening to music, Facebooking, surfing the web. This thing does everything but the laundry, I swear.

AL: Tell us about your new or an upcoming release.

Jessica: Loose Id recently reprinted the first three m/m erotic romance stories I ever wrote: HERO, STAY, and SCARS. They were originally published by Torquere in 2008 and had since gone out of print. Since the stories follow the same two characters (David and Seth) over a short span of time, we combined them into a single volume, entitled HERO. It covers the first few days of David and Seth's relationship. It's a prequel to RUST BELT, another David and Seth book I published with Loose Id around this time last year.

AL: What other works are you deep into?

Jessica: More David and Seth, actually. Apparently I can't get enough of these guys. I'm writing a book for Loose Id's "Almost Christmas" holiday theme about how David and Seth's lives have changed since HERO and RUST BELT took place. It's called OUT OF THE BOX and the blurb goes: A year ago they were so wrapped up in each other they didn't even notice it was Christmas. Now, this could David and Seth's last holiday together unless they both learn to think outside of the box.

OUT OF THE BOX is due to my editor by Oct. 1. Which means I really should be working on it RIGHT NOW.

AL: On Blog Bites we have all genres of romance/erotica authors that “Spotlight”. Tell me, what got you jumping feet first into m/m love tales?

Jessica: It was an awful year. My mom had recently passed and my father was dying. So much was happening that I had no control over, I took control in the one area available -- my writing. I gave myself permission to write something for the pure joy of it, with no regard to market considerations or anything else.

And what I found myself writing was a sequel to my very first science fiction novel, The Nature of Smoke. Only this time the story was about Antonin, who'd been just a boy in the first book. Now he was a teenager and he was gay. And he had this roommate at boarding school who was a total behavior case, only it turned out the kid had an abusive father, and he was gay too. Antonin and Harry became friends, and then fell in love. And then Harry's nightmare of a father started manipulating everyone in sight, and Harry wound up tied to a sink in the basement of his father's compound, and Antonin had to go rescue him.

I'd been writing fiction for about fifteen years at this point, and I'd published three science fiction novels with Tor, but I had never before experienced such joy in the act of writing as I did working on that book, which I eventually entitled ALL THE COLORS OF LOVE. I didn't know anything about m/m or slash or yaoi at that time. My passion for this romance between these two young men utterly blindsided me and I was pretty sure I was losing my mind.

But the feeling was just too strong to ignore. So I finished the book and workshopped it and pitched it to my editor and my agent... and faced universal discouragement on all fronts. At first I was heartbroken. I felt like I'd finally found what I was meant to be doing all along, only to be told I wasn't allowed. Well, I decided to hell with that!

I ignored my writer's group, fired my agent, and started looking for alternative markets, which eventually led me to erotic romance epublishing. I still have not published ALL THE COLORS OF LOVE, but the feelings of freedom and joy I experienced with that first book are with me every time I write an m/m story. I love this genre.

AL: On your website you say, “I post market news, updates on new developments in e-publishing technologies, and speculate about what nowadays appears to be the ever-shifting nature of the publishing industry in general.” In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest change in the publishing industry?

Jessica: Well, it seems obvious to say digital publishing, but it's true. E-books are revolutionizing publishing, from the way we buy and read books, to the way authors, agents, and publishers do business. It's much easier now for authors to connect with readers directly. And if you develop a following, you can do well in a niche market. There are ways around the gatekeepers now. My own story makes a good case in point. Print publishing doesn't do m/m romance, but epublishing, where low overhead and instant world-wide distribution make it profitable to publish all kinds of books, has found it to be very successful. Now I'm doing the work I love, and my audience is growing, and I couldn't be happier.

AL: How do you decide upon your settings? What about the names of characters? Do you ever change either mid-stream into a story?

Jessica: The David and Seth books all take place in my hometown, Detroit, but technically, I could have set it in any big city. I choose Detroit because I love my city and I wanted to write about it. The story is informed by issues that we struggle with here, like poverty, unemployment, and a diminishing population base. In the Rust Belt books, I get to think about solutions to these problems and it gives me hope for the future.

It's important that a character gets the right name. Sometimes, I know immediately. Like with David. Other times, I'm not sure and I have to think about what sounds right. The wrong name can send a character in the wrong direction for me. I once had to change a character's name, because it was Helene, and I simply couldn't imagine someone named Helene doing the sneaky kinds of things I needed that character to do.

AL: Now, let’s get personal. What’s the best movie you've seen recently?

Jessica: I seldom see movies anymore. I think the last one that really stuck with me was the new Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. What a slashfest that was! Yummy. But these days Steve (my hub) and I watch a lot of television series. We rent them on Netflix and we'll watch several episodes in a row. We just finished watching the third season of Breaking Bad and now we're into Dexter. Both are riveting shows about people you hope you'll never meet in real life. But the writing -- especially in Dexter -- is top notch and the stories are so much more complex and involving than what can be done in a two-hour film. I think the analogy of novels vs. short stories is applicable. Not that there's anything wrong with short stories. I just prefer the richness of a novel. Personal taste.

AL: If you could have any car in the world; would it be a slow rider, or one that the wind has to hurry just to keep up with you?

Jessica: Oh that's easy. I like to step on the gas and feel something happen right away. ;) My previous car was a Pontiac Grand Am with a six-cylinder engine. That was a good car. Now I'm driving a Ford Escape Hybrid, which is only a four cylinder, but with the electric motor assisting, it drives like a six. I love it.

AL: What were you like as a kid?

Jessica: I had some friends, but I definitely spent a lot of time in my own little world, making up stories. I was a weird, brainy kid with a lot of imaginary playmates. Not all that different from how I am as an adult, actually. LOL

AL: Where would you like to travel if you had the chance?

Jessica: There are a lot of places I'd like to visit. India, Venice, Barcelona... But I'm a homebody. It's like pulling teeth to get me to travel. I don't know why, really, because when I do, it's always a great experience. I'm fortunate in that I've been to some wonderful places: Japan, Belize, China. Amazing experiences. But I love Michigan most of all, and that's where I tend to stay.

AL: What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?

Jessica: My main goal right now is to earn enough with my writing to meet my half of the household expenses. Then I will feel like a real pro. I'm not there yet, but I've been very pleased to see my sales grow over the last couple of years and I'm optimistic that I can achieve my aim.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Jessica: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

AL: Thanks so much for joining us, Jessica.

Jessica: Thank you for having me, Ann. You've really made me feel at home.

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Jessica please visit:

Blog: http://friskbiskit.com
Newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jessicafreely/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jessicafreely

FEATURED TITLE: HERO

Blurb:

David is lonely, bored, and a virgin. He lives through books, but fears life is passing him by. Then one night he's attacked by a gang and rescued by a real-life hero. Sexy, mysterious Seth seems to have stepped right off the pages of an adventure novel. Yet he has no place to call home. When David invites him in, a thank you dinner escalates into passion, and Seth makes all David's pent-up fantasies come true.

Seth wants nothing more than to spend the rest of his life loving and protecting David, but his brutal past makes that impossible. Just being around Seth puts David at risk and Seth will stop at nothing to keep him safe, even if it means breaking his heart.

David is determined to keep Seth off the streets and in his bed, but all is not as it seems. Seth has terrible scars he won't talk about, and sometimes, he wakes up in the night screaming. When David discovers Seth is linked to a murder, he's determined to learn the truth, but he may find out more than he wants to know. How far is David willing to go, to rescue his hero?

Excerpt:

Before he even really woke up, Seth knew he wasn’t sleeping rough. For one thing, he was warm. It was November. He couldn’t be warm in November unless he was back in—No! His heart pounded. How in the hell had he wound up back in that place? He’d sworn he’d die before he went back.

Frantic, Seth threw off the oblivious comfort of sleep and sat up. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. Books. So many books lining the walls on every side of the tiny room. He was in a bed with clean, soft sheets. Beside him, the cutest little blond dude he’d ever seen was sacked out, lost to the world, face open and innocent and breathtaking. David. Oh. Right. Seth’s heart rate slowed, and he sank back down on the mattress. He was at David’s place.

Gingerly, not wanting to wake him, Seth sidled closer to David so that the lengths of their bodies touched. David sighed and turned slightly, draping a warm arm across Seth’s chest. Seth’s morning erection pulsed back to life after that initial rude awakening and pressed into David’s hip. David smiled in his sleep.

Seth felt overwhelmed by the feelings he had looking at David: love, protectiveness, lust, admiration, gratitude. David was kind, intelligent, generous, loving—everything Seth always thought he must be, ever since that first day when David had given him his leftover Thai noodles. The fact that Seth had been able to save David from getting gang-raped last night—that was… Well, he knew David was grateful, but what David didn’t understand was that being able to do that for him was the best, most useful thing Seth had ever done in his life. It made his existence no longer pointless.

The last twelve hours here with David were the best Seth had ever known. It would be over soon, he realized. David would wake up, and then he’d have to go to his job, and Seth would have to go back to living on the streets. At least he’d have the memory of this night to keep him warm.

And maybe they could get in a morning fuck before this interlude came to an end. The recollection of the things they’d done together last night made Seth’s groin tighten and his head swim. And he noticed that David’s own morning woody was poking him in the thigh. Seth couldn’t help it. He ran a hand down between their bodies and caressed David’s silken length.

“Mmm,” David murmured and opened those big brown eyes of his. He smiled at Seth and leaned in toward the caress. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” said Seth, continuing to stroke David’s erection. David tilted his head up and brushed his lips against Seth’s. That was all the encouragement Seth needed to capture David’s mouth in a bruising kiss. He poured all of himself into that kiss, wanting to leave as much of himself here with David as possible. David moaned into his mouth, and Seth flexed his hips, rubbing his cock against David’s belly. The feeling of David’s warm, soft skin was tantalizing, even better than the clean sheets.

David shifted, and their cocks rubbed against each other. Oh God. The feeling was electric. Seth whimpered and tried to keep control. He wanted to make it last. But David reached behind and grabbed Seth’s ass cheeks, holding him firmly against him as their cocks bucked together.

“Seth, you’re so wonderful.”

David was the wonderful one. Seth felt tears coming again like they had the night before, and he turned his head to kiss and bite David’s neck. Nuzzling the damp flesh, he reveled in David’s sweet smell. He didn’t want it to be over. And he couldn’t stop.

As if sensing how close Seth was, David released his death grip on his ass and scooted his own hips back, breaking contact. He turned his head a fraction of an inch so his mouth was at Seth’s ear, and he whispered, “Seth, finish what you started last night.”

Those words went straight from Seth’s ear to his cock. Seth willed himself to calm down. He felt like he could come right now with just the lightest touch, and David wanted Seth to take him. But David was a virgin....

#

They collapsed in a heap on the bed, and for a while neither of them made a sound except for their ragged breathing. It was really hard to know what to say after something like that. It had been…

There were no words.

Seth had never experienced anything like that before in his life. The sex he’d had in the past had been wildly varied, but never anything better than furtive, mutual release. What he’d just done with David—it was…

There was no point in trying to put a name on it. It was in a category all by itself.

Now they lay side by side, sticky and spent, catching their breath, waiting for the room to stop spinning. After a long, blissful silence, David sighed and moved his hand to Seth’s back, stroking him.

Oh. No…

He couldn’t bear David’s revulsion, not now. Seth rolled onto his back, pretending the movement was just part of a stretch as he reached his arms up over his head and arched his spine. Maybe David hadn’t noticed his scars.

But there was no getting anything past David. He lay on his side looking at Seth, his head propped on one hand, that little crease of determination appearing between his brows. “Someone did that to you.”

Seth froze, suddenly remembering David’s hands on his back last night, stroking him. He’d been in such a daze after that first orgasm, it hadn’t even sunk in. But now… He couldn’t move, couldn’t get up, couldn’t do anything but stare at David and shake his head. “Did…?”

“Those scars,” said David, his face grave. “They’re from a whip, or something like it.”

Well, that was it, then. Hot shame poured through Seth, and he looked down at the rumpled sheet between them. How stupid of him. It would have been over soon, anyway. But he’d wanted…he’d wanted David to think he was attractive. He’d wanted David to remember him as the guy who’d made him shout and writhe in passion and release. Not as the ugly, damaged wreck that he in fact was.

Seth was even more appalled with himself when his vision went blurry. Tears. Again. Wonderful. Way to follow up the best fuck of your life, asshole.

“Hey,” said David. And then Seth felt David’s arms around him, pulling his hot, wet face into the crook of David’s neck and then…then stroking his back. Tracing the scars there with featherlight touches. “It’s okay.”

Seth shook his head. He tried to break away, but David held him tight.

“Listen to me, Seth. Just listen. I’m not going to ask you what happened. I don’t care. I just want you to know that I will never, ever do anything like that to you. Do you understand?”

Seth tried to parse the words. They made no sense.

“I might accidentally hurt your feelings by saying or doing something stupid,” David went on, his hands still gently stroking up and down Seth’s ruined back, “but I’ll never intentionally hurt you.”

There was a pause during which Seth continued to sort through what David was telling him and became more and more confused.

“And if I ever find the person who did that to you, I’ll kill them.” David’s voice was quiet, sincere, 100 percent believable, and suddenly the rest of it clicked into place.

Seth lay there still and stunned in David’s arms as reality reconfigured itself into something he had never believed possible. David wasn’t rejecting him, wasn’t grilling him for details or trying to figure out what he had done to deserve those marks. He was taking Seth’s part without question or hesitation. And he wasn’t repulsed by Seth’s disfiguration. He touched those marks gently, caressed them. Nothing Seth knew about the world supported any of this, and gravity was due to fail any second now.

Seth put his arms around David and hung on.

REMEMBER: Jessica will give a free copy of HERO to one of the commenter’s on this post, to be selected randomly. Good luck!

10 comments:

Eva S said...

Thanks for the great interview! Loved reading the excerpt and I'd really like to read more.

eva.silkka at gmail.com

Jessica Freely said...

Thanks Eva!

Victoria Janssen said...

Great interview!

Katie said...

Have to agree with Jessica about the advantages of epublishing - I got into reading m/m romance/erotica a couple of years ago, and Jessica's work was recommended to me through a friend. I'm sure I wouldn't have had the opportunity to read her work, or many of the other authors I've come to love, if I had to wait for mainstream print publishers to catch on to the popularity of m/m fiction. Looking forward to more stories from the world of "Rust Belt" and "Hero"!

chrysalis1975 said...

what a fabulous interview! I just got off work, and I'm settling down to read it, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jessica Freely! Her books are wonderful :)

Tame

tameadams@yahoo.com

Jessica Freely said...

Wow. You all are giving me a swelled head! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. M/M readers are awesome and you guys are the best.

So now that you know more about me, I want to know more about you.

Steve and i just watched the comedy Extract and it had the most adorable character in it. A wannabe male escort. He was cute and sweet and really, really dumb and I found myself thinking I just have to use him in a story some day.

So what kinds of characters make you jump at a book and push it to the top of your TBR list?

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed the interview and the excerpt. I can't wait to read this.

Thanks,
Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Jessica Freely said...

Great Tracey, glad you liked it!

Jessica Freely said...

Just wanted to say thanks to Ann for having me on her blog this week. And the winner of the contest is... Tracey!

Tracey, contact me at jessicafreely at gmail dot com to claim your prize -- a free copy of Hero. Let me know what format you prefer, and I'll send it right along!

Finally, all of you have made me feel so welcome this week. You guys rock!

joder said...

I'm so sorry about all the hardships you've had to go through, but I'm glad it's made you stronger and helped create such an amazing sounding story. I'm a big fan of the m/m genre and I love the sound of your book! Sexy and yet highly emotional really draws me to it. I'm really hoping I win!

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com