Jaime Reese is best known for her The Men of Halfway House series. She has a way of writing emotional characters that draw readers in. No matter what story comes next, the pages will fly!
What got you interested in writing m/m fiction?
The relationships, the romance, and the genre. I love the depth of emotion and complexity of the relationships. My first encounter with M/M was with Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Within her M/F series was a gay character who caught my attention far more than the main characters of the story. I anxiously waited for his book in the series and wanted him to have his happily ever after.
How did you begin your career and how did you grow your fan base to be so humongous?
I’m not sure I would categorize my writing thus far as a career, but will admit I truly enjoy it. I wrote my first book as a challenge/dare. I had an idea for a series but didn’t think I could actually do it but finally caved and gave it a try. I’m so glad I did.
I think humongous is very generous. LOL I will say that I am completely blown away by how many people have chosen one of my stories to read. I’m truly honored and humbled. The success of the series has been a blessing. I think my stories do a better job of marketing me than I can possibly do on my own.
What is it like to create broken heroes in your stories? Are they difficult to write?
Nerve-racking, emotional, and time consuming. For me, there’s a certain level of emotional complexity to a broken hero. With that, I’m always concerned I don’t do them enough justice so it takes me a bit longer to write these particular characters since I go over them numerous times. Sometimes, it’s the small nuances of their behavior that reveal far more than their dialog. I want the characters to feel real. I want the reader to be able to experience their emotions and cheer for them as they take their journey toward a much deserved happy ending.
Who is the LAST person you’d want to discover you write m/m fiction and how do you think they’d respond?
I could answer that but it would make it too easy to blackmail me later. 🙂
I’m a very private person by nature and this extends to my writing and cover art work as well—for both the M/M and M/F genres. It’s the reason I use a pen name for both my stories and my art. I’m not ashamed of what I write nor do I feel I should be required to defend it should someone object. My husband knows what I do and is supportive. And if my mom were alive today, she’d be my beta reader.
What was the most interesting part of writing Julian Capeletti?
The most interesting (and challenging) part of writing Julian is that much of his personality comes through via his actions rather than his dialogue. He’s a complex character appearing simple and strong. However, underneath his what you see is what you get façade, he’s vulnerable. His character develops as the story and his relationship with Matt progresses. For Julian, A Better Man is the discovery of emotions he’s never experienced when finally given a chance to love, and be loved, by someone who is both patient and understanding.
Why do you think so many women love to read m/m?
I can’t speak for all women, but I can tell you what I love about gay romance. I love the dynamics in M/M relationships. Men have strong personalities and are often guarded. When you put two of them together, the result is usually a highly charged mix of emotions which, to me, adds to the relationship and makes you want to cheer for them and their happily ever after.
What inspired you to write A Better Man?
Julian – he inspired both A Better Man and the idea for the series.
The Men of Halfway House is a series about men who have been dealt a crappy hand in life for one reason or another, whether by their own doing or as a result of circumstance. They are often broken or misunderstood. But through it all, they remain resilient and patiently wait for that rare second chance.
A Better Man tells the story of Matt and Julian and their slow building romance as they work together to renovate the halfway house over a year. They are two completely different men from very different backgrounds, yet they are alike in so many ways. They learn that, together, they are strong enough to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown their way.
I wanted the opportunity to give Julian his second chance in life while allowing Matt to finally find his chosen path in life. Matt’s compassion and patience is exactly what Julian needs to get his happy ending – and Matt receives the same in return. They discover they are strong enough to get through life’s stumbling blocks as a couple, and each hurdle they overcome brings them closer together. What they learn by being together drives them to run the halfway house and help and encourage those who cross their path.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the next two books. I hint at two relationships in A Hunted Man. Book 3 will be Cole’s story. He’s quite a handful. LOL I have a few other things in mind and a story I started some time ago but never finished, but I want to wrap up the next book in the series before I dive into something else.
Tell me about your writing process from idea to finished draft? Do you rewrite to death? Do you outline?
I start with a general idea – how two characters will meet and their conflict. I then need to have a crystal clear definition of each character. Aside from their names and physical traits, I need to have a handle on their personalities, quirks, mannerisms. For some, they are so clear to me I can tell you what their voice sounds like, how they laugh. I can even tell you what cologne they wear. 🙂 For A Better Man, I knew exactly how Julian looked in my mind, the sound of his voice, the way he half smiled – every detail – before I wrote the first word.
Once I have the characters clearly defined, I need a general outline of how I want the story to unfold. I don’t need every last detail and the story often changes along the way, but I need a general guide. I don’t write down a formal outline, so I refer to it as my ‘visual map’. Sometimes, there are scenes that will come up I hadn’t planned, or I’ll write a scene that is smacking me until I get it down, but overall, I plan a general path to the story. If I need to do research, I usually do most of it at this point, then additional research as the story progresses.
Once I start writing, I don’t have a set method I use. I try to write the story as it unfolds but I can easily write a scene out of order if I want to make sure I get it written the way it’s played in my head. I can write scenes in full detail at my first attempt, or just the general points then go back and add to it. It all depends on how it flows at the time I write it. If it flows, I go with it and don’t try to slow down the process by overthinking that first draft.
I’m obsessive with edits and story flow. I will re-read everything multiple times. I will move paragraphs, scenes, entire chapters if I have to. I have no issue with removing something if it’s not flowing well in the story during a re-read. In A Hunted Man, I removed 15K words and two scenes. I didn’t think they were required to maintain the integrity of the story. I tweak endlessly—streamlining descriptions, adding character quirks, personality and emotional elements. I will re-read newly written text a few hours after I’ve written it and again the next morning. I will often re-read random sections of the book to make sure it flows from one section to the next. Then, before I send it off to my editor, I will not touch the manuscript for at least one week then I will re-read the entire book from beginning to end to check for continuity and story flow. I’ll make any last minute edits until I’m comfortable with the final draft, then I’ll send it off to my editor.
How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
It all depends on how much time I’m able to allocate to writing. I write when I’m inspired or when I have a little breathing room with my cover art schedule. If I had to guess, I would say it takes me about five to six months to write a book because of my schedule restrictions (not including editing time).
What was it like to write the relationship between Cameron Pierce and Hunter Donovan?
Complicated. LOL But I always found myself smiling with them. I felt their connection, their electricity, and passion. It was a constant push and pull between them. Together, they complement each other but it took time to get to that point with tons of emotional highs and lows. So I wanted to take my time to write them, to try to capture every nuance of their relationship.
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?
If you’re thinking about writing, stop thinking about it and just do it. You will always find an excuse to put it off. Write what you love—it will come through on the page. Pick up a few books about writing and editing. Not enough to stifle the creative process, but just enough to learn about the common mistakes and how to avoid them. Your editor will thank you. 🙂
Embrace social media. It’s a great place to meet and interact with readers.
Most importantly, be yourself and respectful of others.