Jake Biondi spends his time working on his Boystown series. The second book was recently published and readers are excitedly awaiting the next novel.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
I have always been a huge fan of Charles Dickens’ novels. As you probably know, they were released in serialized form, one installment each month or week, depending on the magazine. In a way, Dickens was the first writer of soap operas. I also loved the primetime soaps of the 1980s –Dynasty, Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest — as well as today’s serials such as Revenge andNashville. So it was my enjoyment of all these serialized stories that inspired me to write a continuing story. Thus, BOYSTOWN was born. I thought it was time for a contemporary drama with gay characters at the center of the story lines.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
BOYSTOWN has an interesting history. I began BOYSTOWN last June as an online story and intended to release one “episode” online per month, each ending in a cliffhanger. The story became so popular and the reading audience became so large that people began to email me from all over the country demanding to know what happened to their favorite characters and wanting the episodes to be released faster. I was excited by the huge audience response and began to release the episodes more quickly. By last November, I had released 10 episodes and had thousands of readers nationwide and overseas.
Then someone suggested that I publish the first 10 episodes as a book rather than leaving it online. So I did. The book was released in mid-November and is selling very well locally and nationally. In the meantime, I continued to write additional episodes and episodes 11-20 were just released in book form on July 7. The BOYSTOWN series has received a lot of good press not only locally but nationally as well. You can find links to most of the articles in the “press” section of my website:
All of this has happened very quickly and the interest level is high and very positive. As you can imagine, it’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time.
What made you fall in love with Chicago, and write about it?
I have lived in Chicago my entire life — except for my four years of college at Notre Dame in Indiana. As a child, I loved visiting downtown Chicago, especially during the holiday season. There’s nothing like it. I have lived in the Boystown neighborhood for 20 years and love its diversity and social scene. It’s constantly growing and evolving, As far as I’m concerned, Chicago is the best city in the country, which is why I try to make the city of Chicago itself a central “character” in the BOYSTOWN books.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
I don’t think about that. The way I see it, if someone finds out I’m writing m/m fiction, it’s because they are a fan. So it’s all good!
What inspired you to create your Boystown series?
Like I said, I am a huge fan of continuing serials such as Dickens’ novels and TV shows. I just thought it was time for a fantastic continuing drama with gay characters at its core. And so BOYSTOWN was born…
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I think women tend to be better readers than men. They are more willing to try different genres and read “outside the box” a bit. Clearly, BOYSTOWN has a great male fan base as well — but women were fans first.
What was it like writing Cole O’Brien and his relationship with Derek Mancini?
Cole and Derek are some of my favorite characters to write. I am so happy with the fans’ response to Cole — they love him. Derek is getting mixed reviews from the fans. Some people love him, others hate him. Some people want “Dole” (Derek + Cole) to be a successful couple while others want Derek to stand by Joyelle. Who will Derek end up with? Readers will have to “stay tuned.”
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I have the main story lines in mind before I begin writing. However, fans’ comments and suggestions often alter the course of events in the plotlines. For me, the best part of writing BOYSTOWN in the interaction with the readers. I encourage them to get in touch with me and share their comments, questions, and suggestions. BOSYTOWN is one of those rare stories that readers can actually influence with their feedback.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
I write each episode on its own. Once I have written 10 epsiodes, I publish them as a book. So “Season One” covers episodes 1 – 10, “Season Two” covers episodes 11 – 12, etc.
What or who inspired Jacqueline Morgan?
Because I want the BOYSTOWN series to have a broad audience appeal, I thought it would be important to create some interesting female characters as well as male characters. Jacqueline is one of those characters. She’s bright, loving, caring, and savvy. She really develops in “Season Two” and we’ll see if she survives to be around in “Season Three.”
What advice do you have for those thinking about writing gay romance and what advice do you have for those who are trying to build an audience from scratch?
My advice is to go for it. Unfortunately or fortunately, the marketing aspect of writing is just as important as the writing itself. You have to be willing to stick yourself out there and dedicate a great deal of time to publicizing your work. Certainly, the internet makes that easier, but it is still very time-consuming. But, like everything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.