I know Jay from my old Livejournal days, but I didn’t know that she had been busily writing exactly the sort of books that I love to read. Seriously? Elves! Elven private investigators. Queer main characters? Right there in the middle of the Venn diagram with me, where m/m romance, Fantasy/Mystery and adventure overlaps. How did I not know about this before? I’m very excited therefore to be able to hand over to her:
Hi! I’m Jay. I write a mixture of fantasy, m/m romance and crime. Seems like an odd combination? Well, most of my stories were originally written for my own entertainment and those are three genres I enjoy so it seemed reasonable to try putting them together. I have always told myself stories and I wanted to share them with a wider audience than my immediate friends.
I decided to self publish because my initial works were the wrong length or the wrong genre for publishers and because I was anxious to retain control over various aspects of the publication process. I use friends, met through online writing groups, as beta readers, editors and proof readers and trust them to do a good job. As an ex-English teacher I think I’m competent to judge their work but I know I shouldn’t trust myself to do my own editing – you read what you think you wrote!
I design my own covers, using photography (which is a hobby) and photoshopping techniques. I’m pleased with the results. I wanted to get away from the kind of cover that has the hero or heroine as the focus, and give a taste of the ‘world’ I was writing about. That’s partly to let my readers use their own imagination when picturing my characters and partly because I enjoy world building and hope it’s a strong aspect of my stories. I often dislike covers that have a sultry looking model, male or female, representing the main character – I want both more and less from a cover.
I also do my own formatting which is perhaps the hardest part of the entire self-publishing adventure. I ‘practised’ on three novella length publications before embarking on formatting my novels but I have to tell you it doesn’t get any easier. I love writing, don’t mind rewrites, and hate formatting!
I’m aware that self publishing means a hard slog self marketing, but from what I can gather, this is becoming more and more true of mainstream publishing. And that’s why I’m so glad of the opportunity to talk to more people about my books.
My main novels are a series centred round a female detective-in-training. She’s an elf, on a world where humans and elves live in comparative harmony. Genef has two ‘side-kicks’ in time-honoured crime novel tradition. One is a young dragon, accidentally imprinted on her at his hatching, and the other is her gay brother, Fel. Scratch, the dragon, enables us to see Genef’s world through the eyes of a child though as the series progresses he is growing up – fast. Fel provides the romance interest (nothing explicit) for the series but his adventures are a sub-plot and the main story arc concerns Genef’s training and her gradual acquisition of the magical skills that give the series its name – The Skilled Investigators.
The first volume, The Scroll, deals with Genef’s acceptance into the guild of investigators and the successful though sad conclusion to her first murder case. She must leave home to live and work in the capital but in volume two, The Market, she has to travel overseas to unravel the theft of some royal jewels. There she becomes embroiled in further troubles involving murder and kidnapping which threaten her brother and her dragon. The third book, The Crown, sees her travelling again, to track down an important piece of royal jewellery that was not retrieved in The Market. This story has Scratch as a teenage dragon, acting alone for the first time and in some chapters becoming the focus of the narrative. This third book is written and is currently being edited. The first two are available on Amazon, and, for people who have an e-reader other than Kindle, on Smashwords.
There are six books planned altogether. Genef will return to the capital to investigate a murder nearby, then cross the border to a human kingdom in an undercover disguise. Finally, in the last book, she will return to her family home where yet another case awaits her and the possibility of romance, though her personal affairs will remain sidelined and merely a hope for the future. Fel, on the other hand, will find happiness within the series.
The books are mainstream and are hard to categorise. As I said, a mixture of genres! In a sense they follow a coming of age arc but are not specifically directed at a young adult market.
A couple of years ago I published two novellas and a book of short stories. These are all primarily m/m romance with some explicit passages. Whilst definitely ‘adult’ they are not really erotica. ‘The Lord of Shalott’ turns Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ on its head and explores the idea of the curse being the fact that the heir to Shalott was a boy who enjoyed wearing female clothing and was attracted to men. ‘Silkskin and the Forest People’ also twists legend. The basic tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is transferred to mediaeval Africa and the princess becomes a Zimbabwean prince. ‘Three Legends’ has an m/m version of a Northumbrian legend, an entirely invented ‘legend’ and a modern fairy story about a time thief.
You can find these via my author pages on Amazon and Smashwords. Because the books are ‘adult’ anyone looking on Smashwords should make sure the adult filter is off.
You can read more about my books and my writing on my WordPress site. I’d be delighted to answer questions or just chat, about my writing or about self publishing, there or on Facebook.
Thanks for reading, and many thanks to Alex for hosting me!
Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.