MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JANICE JARRELL!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name is Janice Jarrell and I write contemporary gay romance novels. I’m a retired grandmother and I live in Seattle, Washington.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The focus of Love’s Magic is the serious problem of assault on a large university campus which is explored through the lives of four men who are all victims of assault in one form or another throughout their lives. Each of these men experiences the problem differently. Each react to it differently. And ultimately, they discover that they need each other’s friendship and support in order to find the solutions and the healing they seek.
The sequel, Love’s Trials which will be released TODAY, follows Colin and Joshua’s relationship, two of the men we met in Love’s Magic.
Here’s the blurb:
After half a lifetime spent in short-term liaisons that allowed no intimacy, charismatic Irish police officer, Colin Campbell, found the love of his life. Dark-eyed, steady Joshua Abrams burned through Colin’s emotional barriers and taught him to look at life through new eyes, eyes that made room for the love and closeness he had always denied himself. Deeply in love and completely happy, their life together remains idyllic and their fiery passion for each other seems limitless.
They survive the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ riots, though not without scars. But later that month Colin’s position with the campus police force places him in charge of an informant program designed to crack a dangerous drug ring. Fully aware of the risks, he swears to Joshua that he will oversee the program without becoming directly involved. But Colin’s promise shatters when he becomes the only thing standing between a young Nigerian exchange student and a deadly drug lord.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I’ve been writing gay romance since I was twelve years old, only back then it wasn’t called ‘gay romance’. I was living on a farm in rural Michigan and there, it had no name at all. It was the fifty’s, and it was worth your life to admit to being gay, let alone confess to being a girl who constantly fantasized about relationships between gay men. Hell, I didn’t even know what a homosexual was. I lived on a farm out in the sticks in a tiny Michigan village and I’d never, to my knowledge, even heard the word. I just knew I loved the thought of boy on boy romance. I just knew that there was something hot going on between Tom Corbett and his Space Cadets and all those guys on ‘Combat’.
Naïve as I was, I still recognized that I’d better not say anything to anyone about my weird-ass proclivities. And I didn’t. For many, many years I scribbled out my ‘gay romance’ fantasies then immediately ripped them up. For many, many years. I believed there had to be something wrong with me to be so obsessively fascinated by the idea of men loving men.
Fast forward to 1999 and the dawning of the Internet. I still hadn’t shared my love for gay romance with another living soul, and I remained convinced that there had to be something wrong with me because of my passion for gay love. I knew no one else, at that time, who shared my passion for gay passion.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered Kirk/Spock slash! I had, of course, known there was a passionate romantic link between those two. Who didn’t? But discovering the slash community, beginning with the Kirk/Spock fandom, was like a lightning strike to my mind and heart. My god! There were other women who felt as I did! And not only were they were actively writing the kind of stories I’d been ripping up for years, they were admired for doing so!
For the next twenty years I wrote slash fanfiction, mainly in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ fandom. Overall, I wrote over 337 stories, some as short as 100 words (a drabble) some as long as a series which was over 119,012 words. I enjoy writing my stories. I enjoyed the feedback I received from my readers. It was a creative release I’d been searching for my entire life and I blessed the Internet for leading me to this artistic oasis for my spirit.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did extensive research for both Love’s Magic AND Love’s Trials. Love’s Magic required researching assault on university campuses, university politics, police procedures, Title IX procedures and much more. A lot of it was researched on Google. I also did interviews with police officers, college professors, and assault victims.
The research for Love’s Trials involved a different kind of research. Much of it focused on procedures for dealing with the kind of physical, emotional, and psychological injuries which are a huge part of the book’s story. I don’t want to give away too much but I interviewed retired police officers, doctors, physical therapists, and psychologists, in addition to the extensive research I did on the internet.
Can you tell me about your Series?
The Revolutionary Heart series explores the lives of several gay men who live and work in Charlottesville, VA, many of them at the University of Virginia. These men are dynamic, unique, and each have a very special story to tell.
These are men whose hearts are in revolt either from dark echoes from their past which still enslave them, or from limitations in their present that they have to struggle to move beyond.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I think the new release, Love’s Trials, is my favorite so far, only because I was able to be much more focused in my writing. Love’s Magic focused on two gay couples and the ways their lives entwined because of the catastrophic events they were forced to endure.
Love’s Trials focuses almost entirely on one couple, Colin and Joshua, making the story that much more intense and detailed. I love their relationship and I love putting them through the kind of trials they experience in this novel. It’s a test of their character like none other on Earth.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
The inspiration for Love’s Magic flowed out of personal experience and my desire to explore that experience through my characters. The four main characters in Love’s magic had to deal with assault and abuse, each in their own unique way, and no one of them handles it quite the way the others do. Each of these four men are stumbling toward their own healing but before they could find that healing they needed they each had to learn to see it through each other’s eyes.
The inspiration for Love’s Trials was my desire to deeply explore Colin and Joshua’s relationship through the kind of adversity that can, and often does, tear relationships apart. I wanted to test the strength of their love and commitment to each other by putting them through some of the most deadly trials it’s possible to experience. I wanted to follow them through every step of that process, the anger, the pain, the pride and arrogance, the aftermath that nearly destroys them to discover who these two men are when this journey reaches its final destination. I don’t think my readers will be disappointed.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Actually, no. But in writing Love’s Magic I fell so in love with Colin and Joshua that I just HAD to move forward with their story in Love’s Trials. And I’m glad I did. They are SUCH rich characters, so multi-dimensional, that continuing their story through the trials that they face in my latest book was a very rewarding experience.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I’m retired so I don’t really have a work day. I write every day, sitting in my recliner/rocker with my laptop… well, on my lap. I don’t play music when I write or have any other distractions going on. And since I’m retired I’m able to write for as long as the muse is with me. I don’t set a writing goal. I fear that doing so would pressure me to write simply to wrack up numbers. I write what I am moved to write emotionally and spiritually. If it’s 3000 words, fine. If it’s 300 words, fine. I don’t want to force it just to meet some external goal.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I do!! I’m currently working on the sequel to Love’s Trials entitled Love’s Glory. This one may be more of a novella and, once again, follows Colin and Joshua’s relationship. But this time it takes them into happy territory. Oh, they’ll have their ups and down, but for the most part Love’s Glory will be pure, schmoopy romance with a ton of happy moments and a ton of romantic sex. After what I put them through in Love’s Trials, those boys needed a break.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I researched the meaning of every single one of my character names. Joshua, for instance, means “Jehovah is generous. Jehovah saves.” In the long run I knew that Joshua was a man who would channel his need for healing into helping others. Josh gives of himself even when he receives nothing in return. The Urban Dictionary says about Joshua “His heart is beautiful, and only very few people have touched it. But he touches the hearts of many and doesn’t even know it.” I think this statement beautifully illustrates his relationship with Colin.
Where do your ideas come from?
Mostly my ideas come from personal experiences, either my own of those of persons close to me. Life is filled with experiences both good and bad. Exploring the different ways in which we all approach those events and deal with them… and I mean in ways both healthy and unhealthy, is fertile ground for plot ideas.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I want to try to write a gay Sci Fi novel! In fact, I’m discussing a possible Gay Sci Fi plot in collaboration with my grandson, which should be fun!!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The writing isn’t hard. I’ve been writing all my life and I love doing it. What’s HARD is the rat-race of promoting your work AFTER it’s published. That I find very hard and occasionally very frustrating.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Oh I LOVE doing book trailers! I’m rather a Photoshop geek and am fairly accomplished at putting together promotional videos for my work. You can find them all here:
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Moving from writing fan fiction where my writing was only a reflection of someone else’s ideas into building my own world and characters. At 74, moving into that kind of new creative arena is an accomplishment I’m proud of!
What’s the best thing about being an author?
The wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Fellow authors, bloggers, fans of my work. It has broadened my world considerably and I love it! Plus, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of writing characters and a story that you love and seeing other people love it too! It’s a shared experience that just can’t be equaled!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still alive I hope!! Still walking all over Washington State, and still writing.
Have you always liked to write?
I started writing while I was in grade school. In fact I wrote gay romance back then, but as I’ve said it wasn’t CALLED that. I’ve always written. Always kept journals.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just write! But find your own space in this world. I wasted too much of my time and talent writing other people’s idea. Find your own space… find what give you joy. As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss!”
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
LOL! I’m done doing anything for a living. I’m retired. I worked in education for thirty years before then. When I’m not writing, I read, knit, crochet, weave, and I’m part of a walking club and travel all over the country with my best friend doing walks. I have a full life, even outside of the writing aspect.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Sure I read them! I doubt there are many authors who don’t. And I always respond by thanking the reviewer. I thank them whether the review was good, bad, or indifferent. I’ve learned a lot from folks who found fault with my writing. Reviews are the life blood of any author’s success. I’m grateful for every single one of them… even the bad ones. Not everyone is going to like your work. Hell, even Stephen King gets bad reviews. I try to learn from them.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
The promotion that you have to do after your book is published. It’s so time consuming that it eats into the time I’d LIKE to spend writing. And, I really hate how much emphasis is put on reviews, particularly on Amazon. I know it’s all necessary, but it does get frustrating.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to Love’s Trials called Love’s Glory. And it’ll be just what it sounds like… a schmoopy romance romp.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Sure!! Here’s an excerpt from Love’s Glory:
“Aw fuck,” Colin muttered, gazing after Joshua as he strode toward the car. He sighed and turned back to David and Nate. “Sorry, guys. I guess I screwed up.”
“You sure as hell did,” Nate agreed, a smile curling his lips. “But I have to tell you, that was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.” He grinned and nudged Colin’s shoulder. “You are absolutely badass!”
David took Nate’s hand. “Yeah, well I wouldn’t say that in front of Josh. All he could see was another trip to the trauma room!”
“Davy, there was no way that could’ve turned into a trip to the trauma room! I had it covered! I am trained to handle that kind of situation!”
“Tell it to your fiancée,” David said, tilting his head toward Joshua who was leaning against the car with his arms crossed, glowering.
“Yeeeeah,” Colin drawled out as they approached the car. He stepped forward and gripped Joshua’s arm. “Josh, I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not!” Joshua shot back, wrenching his arm from Colin’s grasp. “You’re not one bit sorry! I saw your face when you turned around, Colin. That’s the happiest I’ve seen you in months! I could power this city for a year on the adrenaline dump you got from busting those two fucking teenagers!”
- That’s WASN’T schmoopy and romantic. But they have to have a squabble now and then! And I love it when Joshua gets all up in Colin’s grill. He’s NOT usually the volatile one so it doesn’t happen often.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I only write contemporary gay romance. That’s really all I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid. I can’t see changing genres now… not at my age! LOL!
Where did your love of books come from?
My mother taught me to read before I started grade school. By the time I was in 5th grade I was reading at a college level and the teachers had to develop a reading program specifically for me because I read the class text book in a day. I read voraciously even since then. So my love of books is a gift from my mother.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author. I love all his works, particularly ‘Lord of the Rings’, a book which changed my life.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Oh god. It just HAS to be Colin. He’s my favorite character and also unquestionably my most annoying character, both in Love’s Magic AND in Love’s Trials which is coming out on October 12th.
I adored that feisty Irishman from the moment he sprang, full grown, from my brain. Cocky, arrogant, and utterly contemptuous of romance in any form, he was a hand full from day-one. He didn’t seem to GET that I wanted him to fall in love with Joshua I tried to corral him, entice him, yank and pull him. But still he resisted. Every word I wrote to try to lead him down love’s rosy path ended up sounding hollow and dishonest. It wasn’t Colin’s voice and I knew it. I had to try again because what I’d written was just wrong.
I had to stop writing and listen to what my fiercely independent Irishman was trying to tell me. I had to stop putting words in his mouth and let him speak. And believe me when he did, he had a lot to say. I discovered that this alpha-male Irish cop wanted to fall in love with Joshua, and in fact needed to fall in love with him. But the many layers of defense that he’d built up around his heart was a roaring whirlpool that drowned out that need.
He is not a one-dimensional character and at first I didn’t get that. His resistance to love and intimacy was multi-layered and breaking down one of those layers offered no guarantee that a completely different issue wouldn’t raise its head and slam the door to Colin’s heart shut tight. In other words, he’s a pistol. But a damned lovable one. I feel sure Joshua thinks so too. He is GREAT fun to write!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I don’t think it does either. If anything it relaxes me. I’ve been writing for so much of my life that it’s just a normal part of my life experience now.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Bad news from my children or grandchildren can pretty much shut me down. But, I usually get past it quickly.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’d have to say I’m original because when I first started writing my own characters in my own word I had no idea what my readers wanted or expected. I just wrote what I wanted to write… what I love. I followed my bliss. And I think it worked out well.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a lot of friends who are authors, both of original character work and of fan fiction. Their feedback about my work is an immense help to me. But an even bigger help has been their guidance as I entered and began to try to understand the promotional world which follows publication. I had no CLUE what that world was about and my author friends have been amazing guides in that regard.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
“Keep On Steppin’!”
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
The question? What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you as a result of your writing.
Answer: I received a death threat while writing fan fiction from someone who didn’t approve of my pairing. It doesn’t get any weirder than that!!
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Facebook Reader’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JanJarrellsReaders/
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2MeKhcL
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
It was absolutely my pleasure!!