Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Jay Jordan Hawke – Jay Jordan Hawke is the critically acclaimed author of the Two-spirit Chronicles. Book I: Pukawiss the Outcast was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Young Adult Gay Fiction, and Book II: A Scout is Brave won a Rainbow Award for Best Young Adult Gay Fiction. Jay Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek! He teaches high school history and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. His hobbies include camping, movies, reading, and writing. He resides in one of the Great Lakes states. Find out more at: jayjordanhawke.com.
Thanks so much, Jay, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Jay Jordan Hawke: I was an avid reader of speculative fiction growing up, especially in high school. Sci-Fi authors like Jack L. Chalker, James P. Hogan, Douglas Adams, Pierce Anthony, and Isaac Asimov were my childhood idols, and as such I wanted to be like them, I wanted to write. I didn’t really know I was good at it though until my first novel, Pukawiss the Outcast, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards for Best Young Adult Fiction. Still, I have pretty low self-esteem, so even that I forgot. Then its sequel, A Scout is Brave, won a Rainbow Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. So, it’s nice to get some recognition. But if you write young adult gay fiction, and you depend on sales to boost your self-esteem, you’re in the wrong genre.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
JJH: The three novels in my Two-spirit Chronicles are young adult paranormal fantasy. I set everything in the real world, in a real setting (though the names are changed to protect the innocent), but when your protagonist can see the future and manitous talk to him, then at some point it diverges from reality. I try to make it so the reader is so absorbed in the novel that they didn’t even notice the divergence.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JJH: Pukawiss the Outcast was my first published novel. It follows the story of Joshua Iskkoday, your average, every day, fourteen-year-old, gay, half Ojibwe Indian, whose dreams have a habit of coming true—literally. Unfortunately, this is anything but average if you have grown up in a conservative Christian family in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Thankfully, Joshua’s restrictive world comes crashing down on him, as his father runs out, and his mother dumps him off on the reservation to live with his grandfather. There Joshua is immersed in a magical and mystical world, one where his special abilities and his true nature are revered and celebrated.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
JJH: I need two conditions in order to write. First, I can’t be bogged down with my real job. That restricts me to about 1 month each summer to write. Second, I have to be inspired/motivated. When those two conditions align, I write early in the morning, about 6am till about noon each day, until I’m done writing the book. If I don’t finish it within the month I have each summer, I have to put it off till the following summer.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
JJH: That I’m an award-winning author. If anyone knew that, they’d know I write gay young adult fiction, and my life as a teacher would be over. That’s the unfortunate reality for too many gay people, especially if you live in the Midwest.
JSC: Do you write more on the romance side, or the speculative fiction side? Or both? And why?
JJH: I like conversations and ideas and immersing my readers is something less mundane than ordinary life, which is why I was attracted to speculative fiction as a kid. I have a lot of romantic elements in my books, because it’s only human. But those elements aren’t necessarily the point. I’ve also noticed that what is defined as romance, typically means sex. I’m a teacher at heart, so I want my readers to learn something. But I’m not a sex-ed teacher. I’ll leave that to the experts.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
JJH: Haha, I don’t have any pets, but I did write my childhood pet into my latest novel. His name is Pywacky, and he is a beautiful main-coon cat who lived for 22 years! He passed away about a decade ago, and I still miss him dearly. I actually dedicated my latest novel, Onwaachige the Dreamer, to him. I do have a picture of him, but I don’t have a scanner. So in your mind just picture pure unconditional love with lots of beautiful gray fur and emerald green eyes. That’s Pywacky.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
JJH: Definitely a pantster! I don’t have the patience or the time to be a plotter. That’s why I have a subconscious mind. It does all the real work, I just write down what it feeds me.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
JJH: I would love to see the birth of Antinous – November 29 – recognized as a holiday. For those who don’t know, Antinous was the male lover of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, and Antinous died in a tragic accident. Hadrian was so devastated that he declared Antinous a god, and the resulting religion actually rivaled the cult of Christianity for a while. Such a holiday would be a nice reminder of how different the world used to be. I like the idea that god is gay. I would be remiss if I didn’t also include a holiday celebrating Pukawiss as the god of outcasts as well.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
JJH: Right now, I’m simply working on getting through a very difficult school year, with work hours generally between 6:30am till 5pm, often without break, on an average day. After that, we shall see. I have so many great story ideas but rarely the time to put them down on paper.
And now for Jay’s new book: TITLE:
What would you do for the boy you loved? What if to save him you had to abandon him forever?
Fourteen-year-old Joshua Ishkoday faces an impossible decision as a terrifying dream sets him upon a thrilling and treacherous journey of self-exploration through the dangerous vastness of the Wisconsin northwoods. There, along with his best friends, Mokwa and Little Deer, Joshua summons the power to confront his greatest fears. To do so, all he has to do is trust in his dreams. Unfortunately, Joshua discovers that his dreams have been deceiving him thanks to the intrusion of strange creatures. For out in the middle of the forest dwell the enigmatic Memegwesi, bizarre manitous who have a special plan for Joshua. Joshua soon realizes that he has three monsters to battle: the extraordinary creatures haunting his dreams, the dangerous torrential storm brewing in the northwoods, and finally, the greatest demon of all—his homophobic mother.
“Joshua!” the voice called again, this time louder, as if crying out in pain. “Please, help me.”
Joshua sat up, his eyes now wide open. Did it work? He looked around, observing everything in his immediate vicinity, looking for anything that might look dreamlike. He first observed that Mokwa and Little Deer were gone. And Pywacky sat by his legs staring intently at the forest toward the mysterious voice. Am I dreaming? But it didn’t feel like a dream. Most of his dreams took place somewhere else. But this was exactly where he had gone to sleep.
He looked straight up, and saw that the stars were gone, blanketed now by an intense darkness, lit up occasionally by fearsome sheets of lightning. The crickets and frogs suddenly quieted down, and other than the strange voice, he heard no other sounds.
“I don’t have much time left,” the voice cried out to Joshua, now getting softer.
Joshua rotated his head to the left and right, desperately trying to localize the voice. But he couldn’t. All he could tell is that it was coming from deep within the forest, far beyond the village.
“I love you, Joshua,” the voice announced.
Only then did Joshua realize what he should have detected from the very beginning. He knew that voice. He recognized it quite well in fact. It was someone he had thought about on and off throughout the summer, someone with whom he was furious. I love you, Joshua? He reviewed the voice intently, wanting to be sure. But there was no mistaking it.
Publisher: Click Here
Pukawiss the Outcast:
Amazon: Click Here
A Scout is Brave:
Amazon: Click Here
Onwaachige the Dreamer:
Amazon: Click Here
Jay Jordan Hawke is the critically acclaimed author of the Two-spirit Chronicles. Book I: Pukawiss the Outcast was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Young Adult Gay Fiction, and Book II: A Scout is Brave won a Rainbow Award for Best Young Adult Gay Fiction. Jay Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek! He teaches high school history and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. His hobbies include camping, movies, reading, and writing. He resides in one of the Great Lakes states. Find out more at: jayjordanhawke.com.