Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jeff.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for the invitation. I appreciate the opportunity and the exposure. About me: I’m a forty-nine year old gay man who lives in southern Michigan and whose passion is writing gay-themed fiction. I’m an author of about fifty published “books,” over half of which are full-length novels. I write in a variety of genres including mm romance, BDSM erotica, gay fiction, paranormal, sci-fi, and young adult.
What inspires your writing?
I think those of us with a passion for writing feel that it’s something within us, a part of our makeup. I feel inspired to write for a variety of reasons and draw specific inspiration from life itself, from movies, books, or other creative endeavors, from songs and videos, from family, friends, and coworkers. I see or hear things that pique my interest and take note, someone should write a story about that.
When did you start writing m/m romance? And why this genre?
I started writing as a means of therapeutic catharsis after I’d lost several close loved ones including my parents, grandmother, and some dear friends. My first stories were posted on an amateur website. Eventually I published one of those stories as a novel, and at the time I didn’t consider it to be “mm romance.” In fact, I’d never heard of that genre. But it was reviewed on some of the mm romance websites. I became familiar with the genre and fell in love with it. I even started a review site with a friend, and since then I’ve read thousands of mm books. I think I’m drawn to that genre for the same reason most other readers enjoy it. I love the formula, the angst. And I adore the happy endings.
Are you a full time author?
Sort of. I worked for years as a store manager in retail grocery and retail convenience stores. I ended up quitting my day job a few years ago to write full time, which I do. But since then I’ve gone back to work part time to supplement my income.
Who is your favorite author?
There are too many to list within m/m and I’d hate to insult anyone. Outside the genre, my all-time favorite author is Anne Rice.
How many books have you written so far?
When everything I have contracted has been published, it will be fifty-five.
Tell us a little about your novel, Life Without Parole.
Life Without Parole is a prison serial consisting of six installments. The story is also available in one large print edition in which all of the ebooks are combined. It is the story of a nineteen year old, Jeremy Banks, who is convicted of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to life without parole in a Michigan prison. While there, he falls in love with another inmate and learns how to survive in an environment quite different than anything he’s ever known.
How long did it take you to complete Life Without Parole? Did you write it freely or plan everything in advance?
I usually do not write out an outline but have one (very flexible) in my head. This story, which was actually the combination of six books, was completed over the course of about seven months.
What inspired you to write Life Without Parole?
I have communicated with prison pen pals over the years. I started doing this after a friend I knew in high school was sentenced to prison. I visited him a few times and learned about the pan pal program. I’ve known several guys who’ve done time and included details I’d learned from my conversations with them.
Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?
Well, I fell in love with these characters while writing. To me, they all seem so real, as if they are separate identities from myself. Of course I love my main character Jeremy most. But other than him, I also adore Shontay, Jeremy’s best friend, a transgender inmate.
How much of yourself did you manifest into your favorite character?
I’ve written so many characters over the years that contain pieces of myself. I don’t really see Jeremy as being like me. Maybe in some ways you could draw parallels, but he truly is an entirely independent creation.
When someone reads Life Without Parole what do you hope they gain from reading it?
Well, let’s hope first and foremost they’re entertained. I’m not striving so much to convey a message as I am to entertain with a compelling story. I hope they’re touched emotionally in a manner similar to what I felt writing it.
What are you working on now?
I just finished a book called Slim Chance. I’ve contracted with Dreamspinner Press, and the book should release next spring. I’m also in the midst of edits for a series of four erotic short stories with Extasy Books. They’re called Bad Boys.
How do you keep your creative “spark” alive?
I’m always looking for story ideas. I read a lot, watch movies, and make lots of time for writing.
Where we can find you on the Internet?
Could you please share your favorite excerpt from Life Without Parole with us?
Trey paced back and forth outside the fence, watching the door where he expected Jeremy to exit. He honestly wasn’t even sure how they’d do it, if a CO would escort him all the way to the gate, or if he and Sam would exit on their own. Trey had never been released from Pitney. He’d been transported in the late evening by van to the county jail.
It felt as if he’d been waiting for hours. Every second that ticked by seemed an eternity. He removed his cell phone to check the time, and when he did, noticed he’d had a missed call. Damn, why hadn’t he seen this sooner? He recognized the number. It was from the same phone Jeremy had used to call him back when Trey was still in the hospital. Jeremy had been trying to call him right about the exact same time Chord and David had showed up at Trey’s job. Maybe he’d gotten news of his release and was trying to let Trey know.
Damn, that reminded him, he’d better call his boss. He dialed his work num-ber and told his supervisor what was going on. Trey didn’t want to lose the job. He loved it, and it was in the same town where Jeremy lived, or where he had lived. Where was he going to go now? Would his family take him back? It didn’t matter. Trey would do whatever he had to in order to make sure Jeremy had a place to live. Maybe they could get their own apartment or something.
When he hung up the phone, he debated going back inside the administration building—the pole barn—and finding a vending machine. He was thirsty, and he’d started to feel chilled in the cool mid-winter temperature. But before he could take a step away from the fence, the door to the other building opened. His breath caught in his throat as his heartbeat quickened. He slid his phone into his jacket pocket and moved closer to the fence, gripping the metal mesh with both hands.
And there he was, fifty feet away, standing on the porch beside Sam holding a box of personal belongings. As Jeremy looked up, he froze as he spotted Trey. Maybe Sam hadn’t mentioned he was there waiting. The box fell from Jeremy’s arms as he descended the steps and began walking briskly down the path.
“Hold up, hold up!” It was Officer Levins. “I have to unlock the gate for you.”
Jeremy seemed not to have even heard him. His pace quickened, morphing to a run. He rushed toward the fence, arms outstretched. “Trey! Trey!” His brilliant blue eyes, wide-opened, were brimming with tears. Trey reached up to the fence, placing his hands against Jeremy’s as they gazed at each other.
“Jeremy . . .”
The officer at last reached the gate and fumbled with his key, unlocking it and pulling it open. Jeremy bolted through the entrance into Trey’s arms. Trey’s heart raced a mile a minute. Oh, to feel him again! To have him right there in the flesh, Jeremy’s body pressing against his, was it even real? Was this really happening or just another dream?
Trey grabbed Jeremy’s face, framing it with his palms, and kissed him deeply. Jeremy gasped into the kiss, responding with fierce, unbridled passion. Moaning and crying simultaneously, he clung to Trey as they kissed. Finally, Trey pulled back far enough to gaze into Jeremy’s eyes once more. “Angel,” he whispered.
Thank you for taking time out, Jeff! Until next time!