Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our light on Jamie Fessenden, our special guest brought to us by our Rainbow Readers LGBTQA Book Club. Jamie will be at the store on Saturday, August 13, speaking and signing from 3:00 – 5:00 PM.
Thank you so much for joining us on our blog, Jamie! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your work? How would you like us to introduce you?
I’m over 50 now, and I’ve been writing stories since I was in Kindergarten. As a teenager, I would come home from school, close myself in my unheated bedroom, and type for hours with a blanket wrapped around myself until dinner. But it wasn’t until I met my husband fifteen years ago that I realized I’d never achieved my goal of being a published author, and it was time to get off my butt and do it. So I submitted two stories to Dreamspinner Press, and within four months, I was published. A few years later, we worked out our budget so I could quit my day job in Tech Support and write full-time. I’ve never been happier.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your writing style? What can you tell us about your novel “Violated”?
I’m a very straightforward person, and I don’t often write with the intention of being poetic or artistic. What I want readers to tell me is that they were so carried along by the story they forgot they were reading. This is often referred to as “transparent” prose—prose that flows along so easily the reader doesn’t trip over it, and doesn’t have to reread a sentence in order to make sense of it.
I write a wide variety of genres—contemporary drama, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery—but one common element is that the main character is always gay or bisexual. (I have one novel with a major character who’s trans, but he isn’t the main character.) Many of my stories are romances, or at least have a romance in them, even if that isn’t the focus. At fifty, I’m no longer really interested in “coming out” stories, though it’s hard to escape that theme entirely. But I’ve tried to deal with other serious issues, including child sexual abuse and suicide. Violated is about a man who is raped by his best friend, and how it destroys the perfect life he’d built for himself and even his sense of identity.
While you’re working, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I usually have music playing. I choose a soundtrack appropriate to what I’m writing and play it on a loop, just so my husband can claim “insanity” at the murder trial. I prefer orchestral music, often film scores. For Violated, I played the lush and rather syrupy James Newton Howard soundtrack to Prince of Tides. When I wrote my YA high fantasy trilogy Dreams of Fire and Gods, it was all of the soundtracks to the Lord of the Rings films, practically for a solid year.
Writers and artists very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
Our dog, Kumar, is our baby. In the summer, I take him out on the porch with me while I write. Though it’s debatable how “helpful” he is, since he gets bored easily and keeps interrupting me to demand walks or treats. Inside, Kumar thinks me being in my office is a perfect opportunity for him to claim our bed as his own, so I don’t see much of him. But the cats insist upon being in my lap.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re working?
Coffee. I’m seriously addicted to it. It is the drink of the gods, and I drink it so often it isn’t unusual for me to have a cup just before bed.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the artistic process? And how do you overcome that?
Focus is my biggest challenge. I’m a little ADHD, so writing for a solid block of time can be a huge challenge. I find myself distracted by any number of things, including the Internet, the dog, the mail coming, hunger….
Sometimes I’ll chat with other writers online, and we’ll decide to spend the next 45 minutes writing. Then we’ll set a timer and go. That works. But it’s not always easy to find other writers in the mood for that. I tend to not push it too hard. I know how my brain works. I’ll suddenly realize I’ve been wasting too much time on Facebook or researching Soviet submarines (for a spy novel I’ve been working on), so I’ll shut it all down, open Word again, and just write for a while. But when my attention starts to wander, I don’t worry about it too much. I give myself word count deadlines—generally 1,000 words a day—and that’s usually enough to keep me moving.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW–though they should totally check here first!)
I publish adult fiction (as in “not YA” rather than “erotica”) under “Jamie Fessenden” and YA novels under the pseudonym “James Erich.” Most of my stuff is published through Dreamspinner Press and its imprints, so I can be found on their site (https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/ ) and DSP Publications (https://www.dsppublications.com/ ). It’s also available on Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Barnes & Noble.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?