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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Interview with Jae, author of BACKWARDS TO OREGON and JUST A TOUCH AWAY


I am truly honored to be able to introduce today's interview with Jae! Jae is easily one of my favorite sapphic authors and I was thrilled when she accepted to do this interview with me!

In this interview we talked about Chemistry Lessons, some of Jae's favorite scenes that she's written, and Jae's upcoming book Bachelorette Number Twelve.

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer and what inspired/encouraged you to take that leap?
I can't even remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer, from the moment I first started writing at 10 or 11. Even earlier than that. As a little kid, I made up stories in my mind to help me fall asleep. I just didn't always think it would be possible to write for a living, especially once I realized I'm a lesbian and what I really want to write is sapphic romance.

My biggest encouragement were my best friends, especially my roommate. I'm more of a careful person who doesn't like to take huge risks. My roomie nudged, prodded, and encouraged me until I took that scary step and quit my day job to write full-time. Looking back, it was the best decision of my life.

I love the idea of making up stories to help you fall asleep! I'm definitely glad that your roommate nudged you into taking that chance! I definitely get it being scary, but sometimes the scary things give you the best outcomes!

What's your favorite part of writing?
Creating the characters and slowly building the trust between them. People have always fascinated me-their strengths and their flaws and how their pasts shape them. That's why I became a psychologist, and it's also a big part of why I became a writer. My favorite parts of every book are always the scenes in which the characters make themselves vulnerable to each other for the first time.

Ahh, that makes a lot of sense. Especially with you having been a psychologist! Those are always some of the most amazing parts of your books, when the characters are being vulnerable. It's always touching and sweet.

Do you have a set writing process or a favorite place to write?
Back when I was still working as a psychologist, I did a lot of my writing on the train. Nowadays, I write mostly in my office. I have a huge L-shaped desk with a giant monitor to accommodate my low vision and a deliciously noisy mechanical keyboard. I put on my headphones, turn on some music, open Scrivener, and hope the magic happens.

I honestly can't imagine writing on the train. I think I'd be too worried about someone being nosey and reading over my shoulder. I love that set-up though! The music and the mechanical keyboard, it all sounds like the perfect place to write!

What was your inspiration for the book Chemistry Lessons? (Question courtesy of my friend who adores this book!)
My inspiration for Chemistry Lessons was two-fold: The first was my love of slow-burn romances-I enjoy taking my time developing the relationship between the characters and letting my readers witness them getting to know each other and slowly opening up to each other. A friends-to-lovers romance is really the ultimate slow-burn romance. No one can accuse Ky and Regan of jumping into a relationship too fast! It took them 25 years to realize the perfect partner has been right in front of them all this time.

The other inspiration was to challenge myself. A friends-to-lovers romance is very different from any other type of romance. In most romances, the book begins with two strangers meeting, and readers can get to know the characters as the characters get to know each other. In a friends-to-lovers romance, the characters have already established a relationship long before we meet them. As a writer, that confronted me with new challenges: How do I take them from best friends who hang out on the couch wearing baggy sweatpants and no bra to lovers? Where does that spark of attraction suddenly come from? How do they navigate that unexpected aspect of their relationship without losing their special friendship? It was really interesting to explore all of that.

Slow-burns are amazing! And you're right, friends-to-lovers is the ultimate slow-burn romance! That's really interesting though! I never really took into account how making them go from friends to lovers would be a challenge! I'm even more impressed now with anyone who can write it well. And you did a great job at writing Ky and Regan going from being friends to being more!

You've written 23 novels (I'm pretty sure I counted right). Are there any specific scenes that you've written that stand out as being a personal favorite?
You did count correctly-I'm working on novel number 24 right now.

There are so many favorite scenes. I have several in each and every one of my books. To name just a few:
  • The doormat war scenes and the cuddle scenes in Just a Touch Away. Winter’s and Hannah’s clashing personalities were so much fun to write!
  • Rae slowly opening up to Steph in The Roommate Arrangement, allowing Steph to see her without her prosthetic eye in.
  • Denny and Eliza’s first in-person meeting in Wrong Number, Right Woman.
  • Holly and Leo’s first kiss up on the roof in Perfect Rhythm.
  • Luke’s interactions with three-year-old Amy in Backwards to Oregon, when Luke had no clue how to act around children. Or around women, for that matter.
  • The Twinkie incident scene in Bachelorette Number Twelve (my work-in-progress).

I always know when scenes are good! And these are all scenes that I distinctly remember! I can remember the emotions from them and the way that they made me feel. I can't wait to Bachelorette Number Twelve and figure out what the Twinkie incident scene is!

What was the hardest book you've ever written and why?
Just Physical! It tells the story of Jill, who's probably my spunkiest character, but she also has MS and decided she doesn't want to become a burden to a potential partner down the road, so she won't get involved with anyone. Getting her emotional journey right wasn't easy. I cut the first chapter and rewrote the rest of the book completely not once but twice until I felt I had done her justice. But I think it was worth it. I've had readers who live with MS comment on how believable Jill's story is and how seen they felt. That makes all the extra-work and time I put into it so worth it.

I absolutely love Just Physical!! Jill is an amazing character and I always thought that you wrote her story so well! I'm thoroughly impressed and glad that you stuck through two rewrites of this book until it was done the way you wanted it to be!

How much research do you typically need to do for one of your books?
I always do way more research than I need, and I always pick topics or character backgrounds that require a ton of research. I love learning new things. For my latest novel, Just a Touch Away, I spent a total of 135 hours on research, mostly into the fascinating topic of professional cuddling.

The amount of research I do depends on the book. Historical romances require most research. I spent nine months researching the Oregon Trail and life in the Old West for Backwards to Oregon, and I spent two years (on and off) to do research into the complexities of the asexual spectrum for Perfect Rhythm.

The least research I ever did for a book was for Paper Love. It's set in my hometown, Freiburg in Germany, and Anja is a fountain pen geek, which she gets from me, so the amount of research I had to do was very limited.

I also love learning things so I can definitely see how that would lead to a lot more extra research than is needed. I'm gobsmacked by how much research you did for Backwards to Oregon! I definitely think it shows! That book is beautifully written and always felt so real!

How do you celebrate when you finish writing/editing one of your books?
I have two traditions: I celebrate with one of my two favorite desserts-ice cream and/or cheesecake, and I always buy a new fountain pen. Since I put a lot of time into researching, plotting, writing, editing, and revising my books, I want to commemorate finishing each of them.

YES! Both those traditions sound amazing! I could actually go for some cheesecake and/or ice cream right now! I definitely encourage commemorating each book you finish! That's a lot of work and it deserves to be celebrated.

I'm very, very excited about the book you have coming out later this year. Is there anything you can share about that book?
I'm really looking forward to sharing it with readers too! The (working) title is Bachelorette Number Twelve. It's an enemies-to-lovers medical romance between Regina, an aloof emergency room doctor, and Ellie, a warm-hearted nurse. They constantly clash at work.

But then Regina lets herself be talked into participating in a singles auction for a good cause, and Ellie accidentally bids on her-and wins a date package. So now they're forced to spend time together outside of work, and while they still think the other is infuriating, it's starting to dawn on them that maybe they don't hate each other quite as much as they thought.

Yes!!! I am totally hyped up for this book! And really curious how you accidentally bid on someone. I've never been to an auction, is this common??

When you're not writing or working, what do you like to do?
Reading is still my biggest hobby. I discovered audiobooks a few years ago, so I go back and forth between reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks to give my eyes a break. Currently, I'm listening to Stars Collide by Rachel Lacey.

I enjoy fountain pens, inks, and other geeky things. I also love board games and Carrom, spending time by the ocean (or any body of water, really), and trying new dishes (eating, not cooking).

I really want to read Stars Collide! It sounds like such a good book and I've enjoyed Rachel Lacey's writing before! I also had to look up what Carrom is because I've never heard of it before. Looks like an interesting game! And same on the food, I love the eating part not so much the cooking aspect of it!

All of my deepest and dearest gratitude to Jae for agreeing to take part in this interview! And my thanks to everyone who read this interview! Check out some of Jae's books, she's written several different types so I'm sure you can find something to enjoy. I personally recommend Backwards to Oregon, Wrong Number, Right Woman or Just Physical!

If you like what I do, consider giving me a follow on my social media or consider sharing or donating my GCLS GoFundMe. I appreciate any help or shares that I can get! Every little bit matters. Thank you for reading!!

You can find Jae on their website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her Facebook Group.

You can buy Jae's books from Ylva Publishing, Audible, and Bookshop (ignore the about the author section).

If you can't buy her books but you still want to read them, consider requesting them to your local library or suggesting them on Overdrive!

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