✨ Interview ✨
When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?
When I was eleven years old, I was a big fan of the third season of the Digimon anime, especially two of the main characters—who were both boys. When the season finally ended, I was disappointed those two characters didn’t, essentially, walk off into the sunset holding hands. So I took a bunch of loose-leaf paper and wrote a 118-page story about them with the ending I wanted.
Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?
I honestly don’t know. I wish I had a better answer than that, but there it is. I didn’t grow up reading or watching anything that prominently featured gay characters. I didn’t start that until well after I’d begun to write it. My only guess is that I liked boys, so seeing two boys together was just better somehow.
Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?
I am definitely a plotter and utilize an outline. I’ve tried flying by the seat of my pants, and though it was a fun experience, it ultimately was not for me. Typically, an idea for a story will hit me. Vague at best. After I mull it over for a few days and it begins to flesh out, I’ll start making notes in Scrivener, do research, flesh out those characters, figure out the plot, all that good stuff. My outline comes after all that, and then I write the story. I usually don’t seek out inspirational pictures or music, but sometimes when I’m doing research, I’ll find something that just fits a character or scene perfectly.
“How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”
With a proud grin and a “Why yes, I am. I write dark and thrilling gay fiction. You should find me online.”
What does your family think of your writing?
Having such a big immediate family means that I get quite the variety of opinions about my writing. I think “supportive” is the main one, followed closely by “indifference.” There are a few family members who are super enthusiastic about my writing, and a couple who are confused that I’m not a millionaire since I’m a published author.
What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?
Creating the title, hands down. Bane of my writing life.
If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?
A beautiful Mediterranean-style resort in Napa Valley overlooking a vineyard. It would be sunny, but not too hot, and there would be a pool and a space for me to write comfortably on the deck while I sip local wine and eat fruit. It would be quiet and peaceful, so I’d have to bring one person along to distract me when writer’s block hits.
If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?
I would timeskip five years forward to find out if I married the man I love, if I had kids(!), have I visited any of the countries I’ve been dreaming of visiting forever, and did I hit the New York Times bestselling list.
Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.
I am currently working on the first book in my first ever series! It’s an action/adventure series featuring the son of a mafia boss, some hit men, sexy accents, a trouble magnet, and danger. Steaminess abounds. I plan to have the first draft complete before the end of the year. Hopefully, early next year I’ll have a release date.
Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?
I would say to not take forever learning so much of the craft that you forget to write. Just do it. Write your story. Get it on page. The best way to learn is by doing. Then you can go back and analyze that story for mishaps. Editing your stories and others’ stories will be your best teachers and give you the confidence to maybe, eventually, publish, too.
by Jessamyn St. Claire
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Length: Novel / 73,577 Words / 266 Pages
Genres/Tropes: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Gay Fiction, LGBTQIA+, M/M, Hurt/Comfort
College senior, Jacob Dawson, moved to California to rekindle a previous relationship from several years past. When he meets and befriends Nate, a beautiful man who hides all his pain and baggage behind a pair of oceanic blue eyes and exuberant smile, Jacob is dragged completely into his life. Just when things are going smoothly between them, a man from Nate’s past returns, a sadist who is hell-bent on mentally and emotionally breaking Nate once more. Jacob must do whatever it takes to save him, even if that means stepping out of his comfort zone and facing his ultimate fear to do so.
He looks like California.
Jacob couldn’t help the wayward thought as he ogled the gorgeous young man behind him in line. The tall—a bit over six feet—lean-muscled guy had tawny skin for miles. His midlength hair held a blend of gold-and-copper lowlights, and his hooded eyes were the color of the ocean. Dressed in a fitted graphic tee, cargo shorts, and flip-flops, the guy resembled an actor on vacation. Except why would an actor be on vacation in Fresno?
The current object of his adoration looked him in the eye with a playful grin, showcasing perfect white teeth. Of course. Everything about him would be flawless. Jacob wondered what other parts of him were as out of this world.
“Excuse me, sir.”
As if snapped from a trance, Jacob turned toward the cashier who wore a pinched expression on her face as she held out his bag. His face grew hot. “Thanks,” he mumbled, snatching his food and shuffling toward the door.
On his way out, Mr. Perfect averted his gaze, one elegant hand on his mouth to cover a laugh.
Jacob cursed himself as he hurried out of Chipotle toward his car. How could he have gotten caught up pining for a complete stranger? He never did stuff like that. Jacob sighed into the mild breeze, absentmindedly stroking his throat. It’d been way too long since he’d last fooled around. Not since he’d moved to California four years ago. And he didn’t plan on going that route either, no matter the temptation.
Jacob froze with his key halfway into the driver’s side door. He turned his head to the side to see the perfect blond rushing toward him. Jacob’s stomach fluttered. “What?”
“Sorry for staring back there. I got nostalgic seeing your hat.”
Jacob touched the bill of his Bulldogs cap, having forgotten he’d put the hat on today. “You like the Bulldogs?” he asked in a voice so low, he cringed.
“Oh yeah, I’m a huge fan. Fresno State was my alma mater. Are you a student there?”
Jacob didn’t respond. He set his bag and bottles inside his car.
“I’m Nate,” the guy continued. “Nathan, actually, but no one calls me that. What’s your name?”
“I’m late, so I need to get going.”
“Oh. Okay.” Nate’s shoulders dropped at Jacob’s rejection, yet he tried to hide his obvious disappointment behind a grin. “Well, hope you have a good day. Go Bulldogs.”
Jacob gave him a tight nod as he slid into the driver’s seat and started his car. Nate jogged back to the restaurant. When he disappeared inside, Jacob lowered his head onto the steering wheel. He didn’t know if he was doing the right thing or being a first-class idiot for turning away something like that.
Chipotle sat right in front of Fresno State, so it only took Jacob a moment to drive to the English department building. By the time he got to Professor Drake’s class, the older male had been surrounded by stacks of paper he’d printed out for grading purposes. Unloading his backpack, Jacob joined him at his desk and handed him the salad and water he’d bought. “Morning.”
Professor Drake flopped into his chair, regarding him with grateful blue-gray eyes.
It always amazed Jacob how young and handsome the English professor was. He had to be in his early thirties with short chestnut hair and deep-set eyes. Tall with distinct European features but a Mediterranean skin tone. No one had managed to guess what his family ancestry was. Jacob had been working for him as his teaching assistant for the better part of the school year, and he still hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask him. “You just get here?”
Professor Drake shook his head as he opened the bag. “I’ve been here since five. I printed all these out.”
“I see.” Jacob attained a red pen so he could relieve his boss. “How much have you gotten through already?”
Professor Drake pointed to the larger stack sitting to his right before taking out the salad, made the way he preferred with sofritas, guacamole, cheese, and a special honey vinaigrette Chipotle does so well. “Spring break is coming up. I overheard some of the students talking about making the trip to the beach. You’ll be joining them, won’t you?”
At the mention of the word “beach” Jacob couldn’t help but wince. “No way,” he said, the bitterness evident in his tone.
Jacob avoided Professor Drake’s curious gaze, fidgeting with the pen in his hand. “I kinda have this thing with swimming. When I was a kid, I nearly drowned in the ocean, so I’ve never liked to swim.” He took a quick breath. “I don’t like to talk about the incident since it makes me want a cigarette.”
Professor Drake patted his shoulder before he took a bite of his salad. His expression held no mocking or revulsion, which Jacob was glad for. People always mocked him or laughed whenever he told them his fear of swimming. Or they said stupid stuff like, “Brah, we’re, like, in California. How can you not, like, swim in California??”
“Don’t do that.” Professor Drake’s deep, educated voice yanked him from his ruminations.
“Smoking. It’s a disgusting habit that ruins lives.”
Jacob tilted his head to the side. It sounded like he spoke from personal experience. “You weren’t a smoker, were you?”
“No, but my father was. He died of lung cancer.”
“Sorry to hear.”
Professor Drake didn’t respond, but Jacob didn’t miss the subtle tightening around his eyes and the tic in his jaw. Awkwardness filled the room. Jacob drummed his fingers across the paper he’d yet to look at. “So, what plans do you have for spring break, Professor?”
Professor Drake’s face softened. He appeared so much more handsome like that. “I think I’ll spend more time with my dog. Take him somewhere nice.”
“You have a dog? I didn’t know that.”
“Two of them.” He smirked. “Though one refuses to acknowledge me as his master. He’s not housebroken yet.”
“How long have you had him?”
“About a year now.”
“A whole year?” Jacob clamped his lips shut, trying to hide the embarrassment on behalf of Professor Drake, but the taunting grin made its way up his face anyway.
Professor Drake gave him a blank stare. “Is that funny to you?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh. It’s just, if it hasn’t happened by now, it probably won’t ever.”
“I’m afraid of that.” Professor Drake shoved the coated leafy greens into his full, perfect mouth.
Unwittingly, Jacob focused his gaze elsewhere as he thought about Nate. He had perfect full lips too. “Well, I know how that feels. I have two orange tabbies, Ross and Bagel. In my house, they’re the masters, and my parents and I are their willing slaves.”
The corner of Professor Drake’s lips turned up. “Ross and Bagel?”
“I didn’t name them, trust me.”
“Well, since you’re not home, I suppose I can take Ross’s and Bagel’s place and order you to get to work.”
Jacob gave him a sheepish grin as he pulled the stack of papers closer to him. “Yes, sir.”
Nate couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off his face.
Earlier, upon noting his cheerier-than-usual attitude, his coworkers had played twenty-one questions, trying to figure out the why and possibly the who. Yet Nate remained mum all day.
It wasn’t anybody’s business, and besides, he didn’t need to come off like a sap, gushing over the fact some complete stranger—albeit a cute one—had stared at him in line at Chipotle.
Nate’s ears grew hot at the memory. It’d been so embarrassing at first. Stuff like that never happened to him.
Of course, he got catcalls all the time. From women. No guy ever gawked at him the way the college kid had. If they did, it amounted to nothing more than a subtle once-over before going about their way or trying to hook up.
There was something endearing about the kid finding him so attractive that he’d forgotten everything around him. It certainly wasn’t a blow to the ego either.
At any rate, Nate was ready to burst by the time he parked his car in the lot of the 1920s-style bungalow he called home.
KFC bag in hand, Nate opened the back door and skipped to the third bedroom, aka his best friend’s “office.” All the lights were off, the rooms quiet except for the muted heavy metal and serious moaning that grew louder the closer Nate got to the door. He leaned against the doorframe and knocked. “Kai, I’m home. I bought dinner.”
“Just a second,” came the strained, accented response.
Nate shook his head, pretending not to listen to his best friend’s loud moans. When everything went quiet several heartbeats later, Nate mumbled, “Finally.”
The door cracked open, and Kai stepped out, dressed only in black track pants, his pale skin flushed. Bits of damp black hair clung to his pierced face. Despite his smeared guyliner, Kai’s Euro-Asian features and dark-gray slanted eyes were beautiful. He gave Nate a questioning look while folding his arms across his lean-muscled chest.
“I’m home,” Nate repeated.
“I bought dinner.” He held up the large KFC bag for Kai to see.
“Let’s watch a movie together while we eat.”
“Let me grab a shirt.”
As Kai disappeared into his office, Nate headed for the living room, turning on the lights as he went. He hated the house being too dark. After hooking up the DVD player, Nate put on The Green Hornet, one of his favorite action/comedy movies. He’d set out the food and hit Play when Kai joined him, dressed and lighting a cigarette.
The pungent scent of mint and smoke filled the space as he exhaled a deep breath. “You’re in a good mood.”
Nate scooted over on the spotless white sofa so Kai would sit beside him. He bit down on a grin, trying not to let his exuberance show, but his face hurt with the effort. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He took a huge bite of the crispy chicken breast.
“You’re dying of laughter on the inside. I can see it.”
Nate snorted. “Sure, you can.”
“Talk before I make you.”
“You know, it’s hard to take your threat seriously with that British accent of yours.” Nate shook his head with disbelief. After all these years, Kai still retained his native accent and speech. He found it badass most of the time, but there were times when Nate wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it. “You sound like a villain in a James Bond movie.”
“First of all, it’s an English accent.” Without warning, Kai flicked cigarette ashes onto Nate’s hand.
Nate hissed and dropped his chicken onto the dark wooden coffee table. “Son of a—”
“Second, you met someone, didn’t you?”
The rising anger faded away as Nate ruminated about the guy from earlier. In his oversized sweats and hat, most people would have considered him unremarkable. Not Nate. With his big, light-brown eyes and youthful face, Nate thought of him as pretty damn adorable. Not to mention, he blushed well, a plus in his book. A slow smile crept along his face. “I met a guy this morning.”
“Go on.” Kai stubbed out his cig to pile a plate with chicken and mashed potatoes.
“So, this guy was standing in front of me in line, right? And for some reason, he happened to look back. That’s when he noticed me. He just kept staring, mouth wide open, barely blinking. So frickin’ cute, dude. I felt bad for him cause people were looking and laughing, and the cashier got pissed.”
“Did he say something?”
Nate shook his head. “He was so embarrassed, he grabbed his food and left in a hurry. But I followed him.”
Kai stopped midbite and arched a pierced brow at him. “You did? That’s not usually your MO.”
Nate shrugged and averted his gaze, taking a bite out of a buttery biscuit. He didn’t have a clue what compelled him to go after the guy like he did either. He never chased guys. Especially given his past with men. “He seemed like a pretty cool kid. He’s a student at Fresno State and was repping the Bulldogs. Plus, he likes Chipotle, which is a huge deal. I mean, it’s Chipotle.”
“I can’t believe you chatted up someone,” Kai mumbled. “When do you plan on seeing him again?”
“I didn’t get his number. He looked really busy.”
“Did you at least get his name?”
Nate shook his head before biting into the chicken. “He was in a hurry.”
Kai regarded him a moment, no telling what went on in his skull. Sitting there under his analytical scrutiny made Nate restless. “What?”
“Thinking it’s just as well that you didn’t. You would have pushed him away like the others.”
About the Author
Jessamyn St. Claire is an up-and-coming author of gay fiction who loves to explore dark and psychological themes in her stories. She lives with her family in the South, and is currently on a journey to becoming a bestseller.
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