First, let me take a moment to say welcome and thank you for being here today! It’s always a pleasure to have guests in the hot seat…erm, I mean interview chair! Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about your new book.
Half the World Away is a reasonably nice story (no blood!) about a couple boys from either end of the world wondering about how they’re gonna make it work. I figured everybody needed something a little lighter from me after Sins of Another. I like the concept of distance and what distance really means when it comes to relationships (something I’ll be blogging about later on in the blog tour, hint hint!)
Is there an underlying theme in your stories?
My first instinct is to say no, there’s not. But the more I write, the more I see there kind of is. As I mentioned, I seem to have a tendency to explore the concept of distance in relationships. Sometimes the distance is physical/geographic and sometimes it’s emotional or personality distance. And there’s all sorts of reasons for those distances too, whether it’s the effect of a possessed antique, a revenge kidnapping, or 10,000 miles of earth in the way.
What drew you to write M/M fiction? What sub-genres do you enjoy the most?
I think part of the reason is that I have always been an ally and advocate to the LGBT community. I’ve seen beauty and community and commitment and struggle and sadness in all kinds of relationships, not just in straight relationships. Every story deserves to be told, to me that’s a big part of the definition of equality.
Would you categorize your stories as romance, erotica, or something else? Why?
I usually tell people what I write is romantic fiction. Romance has a less-than-stellar connotation (people usually think of those formulaic pulps with Fabio and some willowy thing in the drugstore rack. I feel that my stories are fiction first, with a core of romance.
“They” tell us that writers should write what they know—do you think that’s true? Why/why not?
I hope it’s not! Considering some of the things that happen to Padrig in Sins of Another, I am fairly sure that’s an example of breaking that rule to bits. Now, I should say that particularly for Sins once I got to redrafting stages I had done some academic research in HIV prevention, so there’s some “writing what I know” there. Drugs and kidnappings, however, I assure you I have no firsthand knowledge of, fortunately! I do think that statement tends to be taken a little more fundamentally than it’s meant to be, though, and I would define it more as putting in the due research. There are few things worse than reading something that someone obviously didn’t put much research effort into.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process? (the spark, the research, character oultines…?)
I love getting to know the characters, not necessarily even through outlines but just through the process of storytelling. They’re all so unique and have such depth. Sometimes I find out things about my own characters halfway through a story that seriously seem to just be “revealed” without any plotting effort on my part. They really can become very real.
Do you listen to music while you write, prefer absolute silence, run off to the coffee shop…? If you do listen to music, can you name a few songs off your playlist?
Oh my, I like it quiet as can be! And I prefer solitude when I do it too. I do often find musical connections within my stories, but those tend to come about when I’m not writing, like during commute or gym time. I might hear a song and think, “oh, so-and-so would love this song!” I’ve never really understood how people work in coffee shops, but I hear about it and see it all the time.
What do you do to get in the mood to write, especially when you don’t feel like it?
Coffee helps. I’ve never been a morning coffee drinker, I prefer tea in the morning, but sometimes by late afternoon I’m ready for a couple cups of java (well, there’s usually so much flavored stuff in mine that it is really just slightly coffee-flavored, but the caffeine is the trick anyway). Otherwise, it can help to just make myself write at least one sentence. Sometimes I’ll sit down with something and just can’t think what comes next. Putting anything at all next at least breaks that barrier before it turns into a mental wall (and you can always go back and edit it – and probably will anyway!)
City boy/girl or Country Mouse? Why?
City all the way. When I go to rural places I tend to find myself thinking, “What do people do here?” I’m most comfortable when I have a lot of options, and the city has a lot more options. I’m also impatient and hate the idea of it taken half an hour to get to anything (city traffic doesn’t apply because I can walk to most anything!)
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? (hobbies, time with friends?)
Writing tends to be the thing I do with whatever free time I’ve got. A labor of love. However, I do also love salsa dancing (when I’m in active mode) or just enjoying an afternoon out for shopping and coffee (when I want to keep it chill but still need to get out of the house).
What’s your dream job (besides being an author!)?
I’m currently in grad school, going for a Master’s of Social Work in Social Administration. When I’m not so exhausted from that, I’ll start talking about doing PhD research. I mentioned I’ve done some academic work in HIV prevention and policy. I loved it and I love being an advocate for the LGBT community (I also consider my writing to be a form of advocacy, so yay!)
It’s the Zombie Apocalypse and you can take three of your characters along with you to help you and your family get to safety. Which characters would you take and why?
In case anyone didn’t know, Pittsburgh is the Zombie Capital of the World, so this is a great question! The first character who comes to mind is a minor character from Possession, Marcus – not to be confused with Marcus from Sins of Another. The character in Possession is a metalworker and has a small blast furnace in his backyard. That could be quite handy in zombie apocalypse situations. And I would definitely want Elliot from Half the World Away on hand. He’s from the Australian bush, he could definitely manage zombies! Finally, I’d want Krist from Sins. Because he’s crazy.
Of the stories you’ve written, which is your favorite? Which would you recommend to a new reader and why?
Well, Sins of Another is a strong favorite of mine, because it’s a deep, intense story. But for that reason, I usually recommend new readers of my work start out with something a little lighter. Possession is spooky, but nowhere near as angsty. My newest one, Half the World Away, is probably the “lightest” I’ve done so far. Start with that so you don’t think I’m a complete whacko!
What’s next on the horizon for you? WIPs, writing goals, personal goals…?
Right now I’m working on something not entirely dissimilar from Half the World Away, it’s a story about a couple of guys who don’t have quite so much physical distance but still might have some personality distances to bridge. Josh and Ben have been quite cooperative (when I have the time to work with them!) and I hope they stay that way!
Photographer Dade Faber keeps hoping for assignments on a big city beat, but time and again he’s sent into the wild. This time, he’s half the world away from London shooting the Australian bush. When Dade is nearly attacked by a crocodile, it leads to a shouting match with Elliot Harris, who owns Dade’s hotel. Elliot is both hot and persuasive, and when he offers to play tour guide, Dade accepts. After a week spent mostly together in the bush, Dade begins to fall for Elliott. The attraction is mutual, and when circumstances lead both men to London, they find they have much in common. But can their romance bridge the 10,000 miles between London and the Australian bush?
Jessica Skye Davies has been a writer since her first works were “published” in her grandparents’ living room and written in crayon. She is a lifelong native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she has been active in the community, including serving as library director on the executive board of a local GLBT community center. Outside of writing, Jessica has a wide range of interests and hobbies: from Mozart in a music hall to punk in pubs, from Shakespeare to Vonnegut, from salsa dancing the night away to afternoon coffee in the square to kicking back with a good movie. She loves meeting new people and exploring new places, always open to whatever elements might inspire her next writing project.
Half the World Away: