Today, I'd like to welcome J.P. Barnaby to my blog! Please keep reading to learn more about her in an exciting interview! (I feel a little like Christian Slater in An Interview with a Vampire LOL). Never conducted an interview before. So cool!
Welcome J.P., can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Hi, JR. Well, I’m a proud Dreamspinner Press author with 9 titles for them to date. With the exception of Mastering the Ride, my protagonists are usually not old enough to drink, though most do anyway. They are scared and broken boys looking for a place in life, that I truly enjoy helping them find.
As for me, I’m a software developer in Chicago who majored in Physics and has little idea how I ended up with even one published novel, much less several. I’m a single woman with not so much as a cat who spends an inordinate amount of time reading and writing about other people’s lives. Oh—and the weirdest part about me, I don’t watch television. I haven’t since I started writing in 2009, so I miss more than a few pop culture references.
When did you start writing m/m romance and why were you drawn to it?
I started writing within the m/m/f romance genre (in 2009), and moved to strictly m/m with the Little Boy Lost series released in March 2011. Writing in general is therapy for me. I take everything in my head that I want to get out, and write complex, broken characters. I like gay romance specifically because the thought of two men making love is incredibly hot to me. Making men vulnerable, emotionally and physically open to each other, that is a great story. I also have a lot of gay friends who identify with characters from my books, and I find that to be very fulfilling.
Do you write full time?
I don’t, actually. My full time career is in software development, writing financial applications for a firm in Chicago. While I love writing as a way to relieve stress from my day job, I doubt I’ll ever be able to make it a full-time occupation.
How long did it take you to get published? Was your book/novella accepted on the first submission or did you have to submit to more than one place before it was accepted?
My first two books, The Forbidden Room and A House of Cards are self-published. The Little Boy Lost series with Dreamspinner Press was contracted in a single contract and released in three month intervals while I continued to write the series. It was contracted on the first submission.
What event(s) in your life helped you to decide to become a writer?
To be honest, I’d never considered a career in writing. In college, I’d majored in Physics. I loved math and science, not words. A lover of the Harry Potter series, I’d read every single book and was looking for more when my teenage cousin sent me to the Twilight series. She begged and cajoled me to read it, touting that it was much better than Harry Potter. It wasn’t, but it did get me interested in Fanfiction—trying to find that elusive sex scene which faded to black in Breaking Dawn. So, I started writing it.
Eventually, those who read it convinced me to publish—and here I am.
Are you the type of writer who edits as they go along or do you finish and then go back to the beginning to start the 'polishing' process?
Editing is an ongoing process for me. Because I write in small chunks during my commute to and from work, I usually go back and read a bit before I start working. While I go back and read, I polish. When I’m finished, my first draft is generally (after being worked over by Rowan Speedwell) what gets sent to the publisher.
Do you write from experience or are you the type who researches a subject until you feel you know it inside and out?
A lot of what I write is from experience, but when I do have to research, I make sure I know what I’m writing about. For example, I’ve been a submissive for fifteen years so I understand the thought process behind submission. However, I’ve never been a part of fire flogging, so I worked with Dire Callahan, the head of Steel Mill Media and Drake Jaden who have done fire flogging on film to get the detail, safety information, and perspective needed for the scene.
How do you come up with the title of your works? Is it during the writing process, before, after? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants when you start a new piece?
My titles generally come to me within the first few chapters. In the case of Aaron – no title seemed adequate. I couldn’t find a 3-4 word title to describe his pain, so it simply remained Aaron.
Painting Fire on the Air came about from images I saw of fire flogging done by Derek da Silva, and others by Tony Buff and Chris Yosef. It was beautiful, and the phrase struck me as I traced the delicate lines of the fiery wings on my computer screen.
How much of yourself do you incorporate in your characters? Is it intentional or does it come out subconsciously? Do you ever use people in your life for inspiration?
More than a few of my characters are me. I incorporate quite a bit of myself into them. For example, Master Ethan from The Forbidden Room series exemplified the questions I had about my own sexuality in the face of childhood sexual abuse. Brian from the Little Boy Lost series was my high school self. He spent so much time as an outcast that when he finally found love, he held on with both hands and refused to let go.
What do you hope your reader feels or experiences as they read your work?
Affected. I want people to be able to remember the names of my characters, to feel what they feel long after the reader reads the last page. I want someone to read Aaron, and not be able to get him out of their head, just like I can’t get Zach Tyler out of my head from Finding Zach. I dream about him. I want people to dream about Aaron, and Brian, and Ben, and all of my other characters.
Since your first publication, has there been any surprises or funny/interesting stories you'd like to share?
I went to GRL 2011 in NOLA – it was my very first public appearance, and I was terrified. Through sheer force of will, I made myself stand in the lobby and hand out bookmarks just to start getting my name out there. I walked up to a small, friendly-looking group of people and handed each of them bookmarks. One of the guys in the group threw his arms around me and told me how great it was to see me.
I had no idea who he was.
However, I have to tell you that I will now never ever forget the name Damon Suede. ;)
What are you currently working on?
I have one adult and two YA books in progress. The adult book is Spencer, a sequel to the novel Aaron. The first YA novel in progress is being co-written with Michael Murphy and is about a boy imprisoned in an ex-gay therapy institution. The second is a sci-fi book about parallel universes.
How do you overcome writer's block?
Generally, I work on more than one project at a time—that way, when I get stuck on one project, I can work on another.
Do you like to read as well as write? What types of books do you enjoy? Do you ever find yourself incorporating pieces of books you've read into your stories?
Like most authors, I’ve always loved to read. Over the last three years since I started publishing within the MM genre, I mostly read from it. My favorite authors within the genre are Davitt & Snow, Cameron Dane, Kele Moon, Lisa Henry, and of course my friend Rowan Speedwell.
I have a shelf on Goodreads that contains all of my favorite books that I recommend: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3166396-j-p-barnaby?format=html&shelf=__books-i-recommend
Outside of the genre, I was never much of a romance fan. Swooning pirates never really did it for me. Mostly I like the Harry Potter series, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King.
I also read a LOT of writing books.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Life – plain and simple. Plausibility and realism are incredibly important to me in my work. If I am writing about gay porn stars, I’ll sit and talk to a few to make sure I’m representing them fairly and accurately. If my character sustains an injury, I’ll discuss symptoms, treatment, and long term effects with a physician.
Essentially, though, my inspiration comes from the characters themselves. They come to me and whisper things in the dark, I simply write them down.
Any special projects coming out soon that we should watch for?
Several. J In the summer and fall, I will have four YA novels coming out through Harmony Ink – more on this announcement will come closer to the release. Michael Murphy and I are working on a collaborative young adult novel which we also plan to submit through Harmony Ink. For JP Barnaby, I recently submitted a fantastic BDSM novel in the Aaron series called Painting Fire on the Air with beautiful cover models Drake Jaden (http://www.twitter.com/DrakeJadenXXX) and Phillip Aubrey (http://www.twitter.com/PhillipAubreyx). The book is about Benjamin Martin, older brother to the fallen Juliette.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to play with gay porn stars.
Please tell everyone where to find you on the internet.
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.