J.P. Barnaby is best known for her novels Aaron and Enlightened. She is often found writing when not working, producing characters that attract readers. No matter what she will write next, it will be eagerly awaited by her fans.
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
Before I starting writing m/m fiction, I wrote m/f fanfiction in the Twilight fandom. One day, I ran across a little story that everyone was talking about – a story called All I Ever Knew by Manyafandom – and I was hooked. Edward doing Jasper was the sexiest thing I’d ever read. I’ve been writing m/m ever since, first within the fandom and then original fic in a published forum.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
With Miracle-Gro and consistent watering (consistent releases and a consistent, positive online presence), though I think humongous might be bordering a little on fertilizer.
You write under a pseudonym. Why?
I don’t, actually. JP Barnaby is my real name. My co-workers, friends, and family all know what I write so I didn’t feel the need to use a pseudonym.
Has growing up in a small town near Chicago affected the way that you write?
I don’t know, actually. I’m sure it affects my view of the world in some way. If I’d grown up in Atlanta or Birmingham, I may have had a different outlook on life.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
These questions make me wonder if someone feels I should be ashamed of something. I assure you, I’m not. I’m very proud of my work. Every book is crafted as something for me to be proud of. If someone has an issue with my work because it’s about two men – then they have something to be ashamed of, not me.
What is it like to be a member of Mensa? Does it affect how others treat you, or your writing?
LOL the only thing I’ve gotten from being a member of Mensa is a plaque. ☺ It doesn’t affect my writing or how others treat me.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
Why do so many guys like to watch lesbian porn? My guess is – if you like guys, two is better than one. For me personally, it’s a turn on. I like gay porn and I like m/m romance and erotica.
My question is – why wouldn’t they?
What was it like to write a pained character like Aaron? Was there a lot of research needed to write an accurate description of someone suffering with mental trauma?
Aaron woke me from a sound sleep one night, his little voice whispering about monsters in the dark. From that moment on, my life changed. I took a more active role in LGBT teens and sexual abuse charities because no one should ever have to live with what Aaron survived.
I researched treatment for PTSD but as a sexual trauma survivor myself, unfortunately, a lot of his pain came easily for me to translate onto the page.
What are you currently working on?
Normally, I start working on two or three stories at work so I can bounce between them if I get stuck in one. Then, the one who gets me to 25,000 words first wins, and I stick with that until I finish. So, what I’m working on really depends on the voices in my head. They tell me what to do.
I can say that I’m committed to two more Butt anthologies including Butt Babes in Boyland, a Christmas offering and Butt Riders on the Range – both backed by Wilde City Press.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
Once I have a developed idea (more than just a scene in my head), I use screenwriter Michael Hauge’s Story Master diagram and the techniques I learned from him to fill in the scenes along that structure. Usually, I use index cards so I can shuffle their order when necessary. Once I have a strong idea of where the book is going, solid thoughts on tension, and character profiles, I begin writing. It will morph and sculpt itself as I write and may not even resemble the outline I started with.
I do start over at the beginning and tweak with each chapter, so I revise as I go. Generally, when I type that last word, I send it to my beta team who are amazing. They each read for different things, and I compile their feedback into a final draft which is then submitted to the publisher. At that point, I send the manuscript to 10 readers and ask them for feedback that I may incorporate in first edits.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
It depends on the voices, to be honest. Aaron, because of his trauma, took me over two years. I kept having to shelve it to keep my sanity. The Little Boy Lost books took about three months apiece.
What was it like to write the relationship between Brian and Jamie in Enlightened? Did having a secret romance pose a challenge while writing?
I loved Brian and Jamie in Enlightened, their sweet innocence shows the reader everything that is right with the world. Keeping their romance a secret wasn’t an issue – the hardest part of the book to write was the devastating scene at the end where Brian had to watch the boy he loved more than anything being driven out of his life.
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 for those looking to write any kind of novel is only do it if you have a passion for it. If you’re looking to make money, this isn’t the way. Readers can tell when you’re faking it. The first 25% and the last 25% are easy, it’s the 50% in the middle that tests your resilience. If your characters wake you up from a sound sleep and don’t quiet until you’ve written their story – then write their story.
Another thing I would tell someone thinking about writing is – study your craft. You can put all the words you want into a Word document, but without structure, plot, character development, and tension – you won’t have a good story.
My advice for building an audience is:
-Be nice. It’s an online world and you’ll attract more readers with a genuinely good personality than by complaining about everything from your cat to your co-author.
-Post about more than just your book. Yes, be excited about your work, but also talk about other aspects of your life. Readers want to know who you are.
-Go to conferences and other meet-ups. Networking with other authors in your genre will help you cross-promote.
-Host other authors on your blog and blog with other authors. We don’t all have the same audience – this helps introduce you to people who may not know your work. All authors are very welcome to come and blog with me – schedule by emailing my assistant William at JPBarnaby.PA@gmail.com.
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com