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, Jaylee James – Jaylee is a demi-bisexual, bigender writer and editor from Kansas City with bright blue hair. When not writing, e spends far too much time on twitter (@thewritingj) and cuddling er dogs. More of er work can be found at JayleeJames.com.
Thanks so much, Jaylee, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Jaylee James: Obnoxiously so. I would get a stack of 10-15 books every day at the library and read them all, then beg my mom to take me back. She eventually got me a library card with a 50 book limit on it so I could get enough books to last me, reducing our library trips to one per week.
The best story, though, was when my grandparents came to stay with us for a week when I was 16. My grandpa cornered me as I was trying to leave the house, demanding to know what boy I was sneaking out to go see. “No teenager goes to the library as often as you do. There’s a boy, isn’t there? Who is he??” My mom had to talk him down and explain what a nerd I was so he would let me leave.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
JJ: I have always written, ever since I was a kid. I had notebooks full of stories, most of which didn’t make any sense. Really, nothing has changed. I’m still waiting to discover I’m good at it.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
JJ: One of my writing mentors in college talked often about “making the muse come to you” by setting up rituals for yourself that put yourself in an inspired mood. He had numerous tips and tricks to set up your writing space and do routines that made you feel magical and writerly, whatever that feels like to you.
So I have a metal bowl in my writing nook, and every time before I start writing, I burn old handwritten drafts, or that day’s writing practice, or a quote about writing. I burn it and breathe in the smoke so that I’m literally surrounded and filled with words before I start writing.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
JJ: I tend to value strong character voice over description, and my style changes with who is telling the story. Overall, probably humorous and easy-to-read with occasional throat punches?
JSC: What’s your greatest weakness as a writer?
JJ: Actually finishing drafts. I am so flighty when it comes to completing things. I get distracted by new ideas and off and away I go, brainstorming and outlining and… not finishing what I was currently working on.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JJ: I was ten years old, circa 1998ish, and it was a serialized story for the Neopian Times, about cartoon animals having adventures with dark magic. It was called “Revenge!” (You can actually still read it: http://ntindex.com/nt-data.php?Auth=Gzusgirl) Haha, unless that doesn’t count as “published.” In which case, it would be my short story The Last Guardian in the solarpunk dragon anthology Wings of Renewal. 😉
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JJ: An astronaut. When my dreams became more realistic at the grown-up age of 11, I went with teacher, because they had all the power. I became neither of these things, haha.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
JJ: There’s lots of staring at the screen in anguish and complaining on twitter. I get halfway through pieces, then abandon them for other projects. Years later, I come back and read it, like… oh hey! I remember this. It’s not half bad! I work on it for a while until I forget it again. Unless there’s a deadline, and then I magically summon the strength to complete everything in time.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
JJ: One day I tried to convince my husband to go outside and pee on the ground so I could observe and take notes for a description. He absolutely refused. Unfortunately
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
JJ: I have two online projects right now. One is a serialized story of queer polyamorous dating adventures, called Polycule. The other is called Spectrum, a LGBTQ+ #OwnVoices flash fic Patreon. They update on alternating Wednesdays.
And now for Jaylee’s new book: A Quiet Night In:
In this urban fantasy short story, Jo, a chubby, nonbinary asexual college kid, just wants to spend the evening shelving books at their work-study library job. They don’t want their best friend trying to hook them up with blind dates, and they certainly don’t want to unleash a demon from a magical prison. But these things happen whether Jo wants them to or not.
Jaylee James is a demi-bisexual, bigender writer and editor from Kansas City with bright blue hair. When not writing, e spends far too much time on twitter (@thewritingj) and cuddling er dogs. More of er work can be found at JayleeJames.com.