J. P. Barnaby Interview
I am delighted to be speaking with J. P. Barnaby
today. Thanks for chatting with us today and welcome to FAR!
Hi guys! Thank you so much for hosting a stop on the blog tour. I’m really excited to be on FAR today. You were one of my very first reviews back when I self-published the very first Little Boy Lost novel, and I really appreciate your continued support throughout the series now that it’s found a home with Dreamspinner Press.
I for one would love to hear about when you first started to write and what guided you to the M/M realm?
I started writing around 2008 within the Twilight fanfiction realm. Like others, I’d read the series and waited four Goddamned books for them to have sex only to see a YA fade-to-black. From being a fan of the Harry Potter series, I’d heard of fanfiction, but I’d never read it. Well, I found a plethora of sexually explicit alternatives to Stephenie Meyer’s original work.
Soon after, I saw a post announcing a contest for a “Dirty Talking Edward”, and thought, what the hell? That first story, Next Weekend, was simply a collection of sexual fantasies, each more graphic than the next. It had absolutely no plot, but got pretty popular just from the wonderfully explicit fantasies, which ranged from pegging to bondage to voyeurism. In that story, I tried out some of my ideas for other things including a scene between Edward and Jasper which just ignited my muse.
I wrote a lot of short little stories trying different things, finding my own style, working through my issues as a writer, and finally sat down to do something more serious. I wrote The Forbidden Room and A House of Cards as fanfiction only to give them a home. The characters Master Ethan and his boy Jayden had nothing in common with the original work except the names so I could post it on that site and see what kind of reaction I got. It became so popular that my fans encouraged me to publish it. So, I told them to .pdf it if they wanted to keep it, and I did just that. The Forbidden Room was published in December of 2009 and is still selling. A House of Cards is probably my best book to date.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is probably a cliché, but I get my inspiration from everywhere. The Forbidden Room came from my desire to experiment with gay BDSM. Lexi was my comfort zone. As a female submissive, I knew exactly what her role was in the relationship, but I had to do a lot of research on male Doms and male subs in order to make it work.
The Little Boy Lost series was inspired by my fascination with the gay porn industry. I wanted to know what life was like for the boys that lived on that side of the camera. It’s no secret that I gained a lot more from my associations with adult models than simple knowledge about the industry. I made some really great friends, and ended up with a few truly incredible covers.
For Papi, I thought of the ending first, and then wrote the story backwards. That story is such a landmine for people who read it. Guys and other authors love it while women tend to hate it. I love to take chances in my work. To think of the least likely thing that could happen and then explore it. I also like to take other author’s work, especially books that I hate, and write it the way I think it should go. Aaron came about from a book that I read in which a male rape victim just happily jumped into bed with someone. As a victim of sexual violence, I can tell you that is not going to happen—so I wrote it my way.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I learned in writing my books was that I have a life. Honestly, before I started writing, attending events, talking to people on twitter, and promoting the series, I didn’t really have much of a social life. Shy to a fault, I spent a lot of time reading. The biggest shock this change has brought to my life is that I could have a social life, lots of friends, and travel the country to see people who want to see me.
Oh…and that I have the attention span to finish not only one entire novel, but 12 published pieces. That was downright stunning.
What satisfies you about your writing?
Writing is my therapy. I take all of my questions about myself, my stress, my loves, my hates, my joys, my pains, and my sorrow and pour it into my characters. Master Ethan from the Forbidden Room series (especially in A House of Cards) and Brian McAllister from the Little Boy Lost series are me. They have my quirks, my insecurities, my questions, and my fears.
I think what satisfies me most, however, are the emails that I get from guys around the country who identify with Brian and Jamie from Little Boy Lost. It kills me that boys have to go through what my Brian and Jamie did, and that guys can identify so closely with them as a result. I pray that those boys who are coming into adulthood and feel so lost and alone because of their sexuality can see that they aren’t alone.
What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted and when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
My very first novel acceptance was for SIX novels, only two of which had been written, so my primary feeling at that point was overwhelmed. In order to get Enlightened and Abandoned to the readers faster, I agreed to have the subsequent books to Dreamspinner Press at three month intervals. Three months to write, edit, revise, and submit a sixty thousand word novel written outside of my full time career as a software developer. It was daunting.
Seeing the first novel on Dreamspinner’s coming soon list was incredible.
Seeing the LAST novel on Dreamspinner’s coming soon list was indescribable.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A notebook and a pen wherever they go—period, no exceptions.
Tools that are a must-have for me:
- OneNote 2010 - This is where I keep all of my research, my notes, my ideas, and my character profiles. It’s like my book lexicon. Time lines, physical descriptions, and all of the other details that an author needs to keep at their fingertips.
- Word 2010 - I’ve tried a dozen different word processors and I am a Microsoft girl all the way. My day job is software development, and I program in Microsoft products, so I’m intimately familiar with the interfaces.
- Dropbox – As an IT professional, I can tell you that there is nothing more important than backing up your computer. I use Dropbox to synchronize my files to the internet and share them with my team. I never have to worry about getting previous versions, losing work, or losing important files pertaining to the novel.
- MasterWriter 2.0 - One thing that I don’t like about Microsoft Word is the internal thesaurus. It’s less than helpful. There is a little piece of MasterWriter that I use extensively that’s like a thesaurus on steroids.
- My whiteboard – I have a 4’ x 6’ whiteboard on the wall of my office that I love to use to flowchart ideas.
- Twitter – I have found some of my best research resources, pre-readers, and encouragement on the planet from Twitter. It’s an immediate and interactive way to stay in touch with the people who read your books.
- My beta/pre-reading team – My team consists of a critique partner, a professional paid editor, and anywhere from 10-12 readers (both male and female). Rowan Speedwell (my critique partner) and Jen (my editor) begin working with me and reading when I am about halfway through a book. The pre-reader team gets it about the same time I send it to the publisher so I can get feedback in time for the edits. I find that their insight and questions are invaluable to me.
If someone asked you how to become a published author what are the most important things you would tell them?
The most important thing that you need to have in order to be a published author is patience. Patience for yourself to get the book written, patience with the process of getting your book published, patience for reviews (good and bad), patience with people who tell you they can write it better than you, patience for your family and friends who don’t understand why you’re sitting with your laptop at their kid’s birthday party because you have a deadline.
Yes, the most important thing you need as a published author is patience.
What is the most important thing someone told you that helped you in your career?
Early on in the Little Boy Lost series, a gay adult model read the books out to date and told me it was like I was writing his life. The books were that real to him. In that moment, I gained confidence as a writer, and it enabled me to finish the series without influence from outside sources.
While writing, how does the story develop for you? Do you go from start to finish or create scenes as they come to you?
I’m a complete “pantser” writer, and I hardly ever write chronologically. I had scenes written from the last book while I worked on the second. Whenever a scene comes to me, I sketch it out. I keep these sketches in OneNote, and eventually string them together and transition them into a coherent story.
Do you have specific system that helps you in your writing?
I do a majority of my writing on my commute to and from work while listening to my iPhone to drown out external noise. Then I start the process and write until I’m about halfway through the book before I start soliciting input from my editor and critique partner. Finally, once the book is finished, I send it out to my pre-reading team and solicit feedback from them. Having a deadline helps me to keep focused, and I love creative days when I can write several thousand words in a sitting.
I have been reading the Little Boy Lost
series from the start and I for one would love to know what is in store for your readers in the final book of the series Sacrificed
Sacrificed is the culmination of a dream for me and an epic journey for Brian and Jamie. You can expect to see Jamie grow in Brian’s absence, Jamie getting closer to his father, and the boys coming together to support Jamie as he works to beat his addiction.
Are you planning anything more for Jamie and Brian in the future?
I have two things planned for the Little Boy Lost series – the first is a short story from Brian and Jamie’s wedding night which will be available as a download for the GayRomLit retreat in Albuquerque this coming October. It will be a joint promotional venture with the upcoming adult site Anteros Media, who will be launching with 18 of my short stories in their arsenal. The second thing I have battering around in my head is a spin-off story about Alex, his life before the boarding house, and more detail on how he and Micah got together. I have several books ahead of that in my queue however, so it will be a while before I start working on it.
Is there anything else you would like to add today?
I recently signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for a beautiful new story about a sweet boy named Aaron with PTSD. The planned release date is sometime in October.
The other thing I would like to add to all of those who read my work – thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time to read my stories. Thank you for all of the love on Twitter. Thank you for reviewing, promoting, and telling your friends about Brian and Jamie and the Little Boy Lost series—your support has been instrumental to its success.
J.P. Barnaby’s website is here
and you can find directions to all of her books and blog site there. Ms. Barnaby can be found on Twitter
Thank you for joining us and giving your readers a look into your world. I am waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of Little Boy Lost
. I have enjoyed reading your many stories with characters that come to life for the reader. Again, thank you for your time.
Interviewed by: Teresa