My last guest on my interview/give-away theme is Jeff Erno (except for perhaps a surprise interview). Jeff has written 10+ books and has quickly become a m/m readers’ favorite with his ability to push the boundaries in his stories, as well as bringing out strong emotionality in both his characters and readers. Jeff has a new book, Second Chances, coming out on January 1, 2012.
Welcome, Jeff. I hope you find my questions both stimulating and interesting, and have a little fun at the same time.
1. How did you get started writing m/m romance? Did you always want to be a writer?
It had been my lifelong dream to write and publish a novel. I fell in love with reading when I was in elementary school and started writing short stories when I was in junior high. After graduating high school, my life took a different direction. I spent several years caring for family members who were ill, and then suddenly I was alone. It was the lowest point in my life, and I turned to the only thing I knew to do in order to cope with the grief. I wrote … and wrote… and wrote. I had a very dear friend named Jason who was the world to me. He helped me through the darkness, and he ordered me to make a list of reasons to live. My bucket list. He told me to include everything I wanted to do before I die. I came up with 20 things, the first of which was to get my Bachelor’s degree. Number two was to publish one of my stories as a novel. Number three was learn a foreign language. I became obsessed with the list and started knocking items off. I now have my degree, speak fluent Spanish, and have published ten novels. Jason passed away three years ago to cancer.
2. What were your early influences either in this genre or any other?
The first stories that I shared with others were erotic stories that I posted on the nifty archive. There has only been one other author I’m aware of who started out like this, and that author was Bobby Michaels. Before I became aware of mm fiction I read a lot of gay fiction. David Leavitt, Armistead Maupin, K.M. Soehnlein, Christopher Rice… the list is long. I also read a lot of mainstream fiction.
3. What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Writer’s block. I’ve read several interviews with authors who claim that writer’s block is not real. They say it is just laziness or a lack of research. They’re full of shit, in my opinion. Writer’s block is very real. Writing is not like doing the laundry. You can’t decide when you wake up in the morning that you are going to complete X number of words and then just sit down and write them. Some days you will be able to write 20 thousand words and other days not a one. This is frustrating to me, but it’s the nature of art.
4. Does any one of your books hold a special place in your heart more so than the others?
It’s difficult for me to think of my stories as commodities. Although I love and appreciate my readers, I’m not thinking about what they want while I’m writing. I’m not thinking about what will sell and what won’t sell. That’s the job of a publisher. My writing comes from my heart, and I don’t write anything that doesn’t have meaning to me. My sincerest hope is that readers will relate to my stories and will buy them because their hearts have been touched or because they’ve been entertained or aroused. I could go through my entire backlist and tell you why each one of my books holds a special place in my heart. Probably if I had to choose just one, it would be Trust Me. Several of the experiences that the central character, Shawn, goes through were taken directly from my own life.
5. Tell us a little about your new release, Second Chances. Is it part of a series or a stand-alone?
Second Chances is a sci-fi thriller. Billionaire insurance mogul Harold Wainwright is dying of cancer when offered an opportunity to live again. His consciousness is transferred to the mind of an 18 year old and he gets a chance to live life again. In his previous life, Harold had rejected love and romance and had lived with a focus upon monetary success. Now he has a new identity—that of Jesse Warren—and he must decide if he is going to do things differently this time.
6. Do you have any writing quirks? (ie computer has to be facing a certain way, cup of coffee on the left, certain music playing, etc)
I can’t have music playing or the television on when I’m writing. When I’m very focused on a particular manuscript, I hole up in a room without distraction and concentrate only on the story. I do drink a lot of coffee and tea—always have a beverage.
7. Is there any theme you haven’t written yet that you really want to, a subject or sub-genre – paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.?
I now have an electronic notebook where I record story ideas. The notebook contains several tabs which each represent a different, unwritten story. When the ideas come to me, I sketch out a synopsis and record it in the notebook. Many of these story ideas are vastly different than anything I have written so far. I plan to do a futuristic/dystopian story, a paranormal, and lots more BDSM.
8. You’ve written some emotionally charged books that deal with very current issues affecting gay men and teens. Do you find that you put a lot of yourself in your books – your experiences, things you’ve seen – or is fiction just fiction?
Without exception, all of my stories have been inspired by events, people, or experiences of my own life. While writing Trust Me, I drew from childhood experiences, with Dumb Jock I revisited my teen years, for Puppy Love I used experiences from a very real D/s relationship I was in for four years, and the Landlord was inspired by feelings and fantasies I had while renting an apartment from a really hot, young landlord. I recently wrote a guest blog where I explained that the issue of bullying is important to me because of my own experiences being bullied, and this is why I wrote Bullied.
9. What’s next on your plate? What are you working on?
In February, Extasy Books will be releasing the first book of a series I’ve titled The Men’s Room. Book one is called Twinsational, and it is the story of twin go-go dancers who work at a New Orleans night club. The remainder of the series will highlight characters from that same bar. Book Two is called Cocktails and is a work in progress. The focus will be the relationship of the bartenders at the Men’s Room. I expect the series to be a minimum of six books.
10. Finally – a few quick choices:
a. Coffee or tea – iced tea
b. Dog or cat – cat (Gandolf)
c. Beach or mountains - beach
d. Pecs or abs - pecs
e. Smile or eyes - smile
f. Cowboys or rockstars – cowboys, no contest!
g. Who would win in a fight – vampires or werewolves? And why. – Vampires. Haven’t you read the Twilight series??
Jeff has generously offered up a IOU for a copy of his new release, “Second Chances,” due out on January 1, to one lucky commenter. BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT.
CONTEST WILL RUN FROM WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21 TO THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22.
Be sure to check out Jeff’s website Jeff Erno for all his latest news.
Second Chances (blurb)
Harold Wainwright is dying. At seventy-nine, stricken with cancer, the billionaire insurance mogul has much to regret. In his youth he rejected his only true love, Jacob, because the young artist was distracting him from the pursuit of wealth and success. Now Harold is alone, rich beyond his wildest dreams … and his life is over.
Doctor Timothy Drayton has found a way to prolong human life. He has created a computer chip that can be implanted into the human brain, allowing consciousness to be transferred from a dying patient into the mind of a donor subject.
Jesse Warren is eighteen years old. He’s a track star, model student, and the typical all-American kid. Then tragedy strikes. After a terrible accident, Jesse is pronounced brain dead. His devastated family is ecstatic when Dr. Drayton offers a “new treatment” for brain injury. Convinced that God has sent a miracle, the Warrens are overjoyed when their son wakes from his coma. They hope he will eventually recover from amnesia.
But the real Jesse is gone, his consciousness replaced by Harold Wainwright’s. Will Harold make the same mistakes this time around? Or will he take advantage of this rare second chance to find the love that was missing from his former life?