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, JD Chambers – JD Chambers wanted at various times to be Indiana Jones, Pat Benatar, and Wonder Woman when she grew up. She never considered writing down the stories she crafted in her head. They provided nothing more than entertainment for long drives or sleepless nights, until one particular story insisted it didn’t want to reside only in her noggin. She hasn’t stopped writing since..
Thanks so much, JD, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How long have you been writing?
JD Chambers: Only with You was my first book – so a little less than a year now. I’ve written stories for my kids, but it was my first fully completed novel. I’d never even written a short story. My high school English teacher used my writing once as an example of bad creative writing, and it took me over twenty years to get up the nerve to try again.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
AUTHORNAME: I don’t make myself work chronologically, so if I’m getting stuck and uninspired by a part of the book, I think about a part that I’ve been excited to write and skip ahead. With this book, I knew it was going to be a slow burn, but I wasn’t exactly sure how or why, and I was anxious to get to the sex scenes. As a result, the other scenes were sticking, so I skipped ahead, and the fun they had with the sex helped inform the rest of their behaviors and how/why they were attracted to each other in the first place.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
JDC: I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. When I start writing a book, I have a vague idea of what paths will lead the characters together, but I never outline. Each of my books has had a major shift – whether it’s a plot direction or conflict that I didn’t anticipate, or the character decided not to act how I thought they were going to – halfway through writing it. I try not to fight the changes. I figure if I find this new path interesting, hopefully the reader will too.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
JDC: I really enjoy finding the beauty in people’s imperfections. To me, what makes people unique is often what I find attractive. In Only Need You, both of my main characters have insecurities – about their bodies, their ages, their experience. Their imperfections and insecurities are what inspire me, but it is also challenging not to fall into stereotypical traps.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JDC: Pretty much everything. When I was really little, I wanted to be a zoo keeper and Wonder Woman. As I got older, I wanted to be a doctor until I realized I’m not good with gross things. And then as a teenager, I wanted to be an archaeologist, a marine biologist, a rock star, a costume designer, and a movie score composer. Not all at the same time, obviously. It wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I added author to the list.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
JDC: Not until my teens was I a voracious reader of fiction. As a child, I loved the library and went there each week, but it was for my own mini-research projects. I went through non-fiction books on just about every subject I could imagine.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
JDC: Star Trek has always felt a little like a hopeful vision of the future. Star Wars is entertaining, but Star Trek has always seemed possible.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why?
JDC: Yes, and mostly because I have kids and I’ve always worried that they could be teased or targeted because of my writing and the kinks depicted. I’m prepared for any pushback I might receive, but my kids shouldn’t have to deal with that because of me.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
JDC: One of the main characters, Ted, is quite wealthy. Yes, we know that he owns his own store, but that is often a scary proposition and isn’t a sign of wealth. We also know he inherited from his grandmother, but are never told how much. Ted is very down-to-earth and practical, and so you’d never guess he had a lot of wealth. But if you look at the actual houses in the neighborhood I put him in, he owns in a multi-million dollar home.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
JDC: I find for the most part that they are fair. The complaints usually have to do with not liking the particular kink that’s included, which I think is totally fair, or not liking my writing style. There’s not much I can do about either, so I don’t let them get to me. But good reviews can make my day. When I read a review and the reviewer doesn’t just rehash the plot, but discusses the characterization in a way that tells me they really got what was going on – nothing feels better than that!
JSC: What are you working on now?
JDC: Right now I’m working on the fourth book of the series, about one of the group of friends, Ben, and Jonathan, Ted’s hard-of-hearing nephew. It’s been challenging because there is lots of signing involved and I want to still convey a normal, everyday situation, even if it is from the POV of someone who can’t hear it. I’m also working on a puppy play novel based on a short story that accompanies Only Need You. Both have been great fun to work on.
And now for JD’s new book: Only need You:
I am still trying to prove that I am not a hot mess. The last thing I want is to attach myself to someone in even greater need of a personalized TED talk than me.”
Kieran Jones is perpetually ten steps behind in life. Whether it’s advice on how-to-gay properly since he was a little late to the coming out party, navigating the dating scene when a casual hook-up is way out of his comfort zone, or his best friend’s boss rescuing him when his car won’t start, Kieran’s life isn’t just a hot mess. It’s a blazing disaster.
“I don’t think I’ve been giving off greater sad sack vibes than normal, but the more time I spend around Kieran, the more I want things that I can’t have.”
Ted Olson may not be the life of the party, but he is steadfast and dependable, and that will have to do. He’s always looking out for others – his employees, his nephew, and the adorable redhead who hangs out at the store and is way too young for him. It has been almost a decade since his last serious relationship, and Ted is tired of being alone.
When a dating app throws Kieran and Ted together on a blind date, they realize a mutual attraction has been lurking behind their growing friendship. But Ted can’t believe someone as young and pretty as Kieran would want a boring, old, video game store owner. And Kieran has never been with a man before and doesn’t trust his own instincts. Both men will have to break free from their insecurities if they want to be what the other needs.
Only Colorado Book 3
Ted – Last August
I’m being steamrolled by an elderly grandma and a redheaded twink.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Hill, but we can’t give away any food products. We aren’t a food vendor. They have special permit requirements,” I say to the older woman holding a plastic container of heart-shaped gingersnaps near my store’s booth at New West Fest. That my long-time employee and brand-new manager Craig inspires this kind of devotion in his friends and neighbors is not surprising, but it is giving me a headache on this warm, August Saturday.
“But it would be a shame for them to go to waste. I’ll help you out, Mrs. Hill,” Kieran, the redhead and other thorn in my side, says. He pops one cookie into his mouth and grabs two more to go. His mouth is still full and I jump back to keep from getting sprayed with crumbs when he asks, “Where do you want my amp?”
Craig points to a spot right in front of the table that sits in the edge of the shade provided by our bright red tent.
“No.” I have to put my foot down. “I know we want to help Craig fix the disaster that he calls a love life, but the whole point of us being here is to promote Game Over. You remember my store? We sell video games? Some of you are employed there and would like to see that continue? That amp blocks people from getting to our booth.”
New West Fest is a music and beer festival in Fort Collins, Colorado that lasts for three days. Friday went off without a hitch, probably because no one was plotting or planning and Craig was subdued by his nerves over today. Today I have cookies and amps and rainbow flags and Craig singing an old song on repeat. I don’t have the world’s greatest singing voice, but anything is better than that. It’s all an elaborate ploy developed by Craig and the Steamrollers (debut track coming soon) to help Craig win back his boyfriend, Zach. I’m not entirely sure what happened between them, but when Craig begged me to let him do this insane plan, he was so pathetic, I relented. I’ve gotten soft in my old – scratch that – middle age.
“I have buttons,” a woman wearing a paint-smattered sundress sings as she stretches over the amp to throw a toaster-sized box onto our vendor table.
“See? Our customers need to be able to actually reachour table.”
Kieran shifts the amp back onto a dolly, causing his bangs to fall into his adorably freckled face. I probably wouldn’t be half so stressed this morning if I wasn’t fighting a constant boner at his sheer presence. When he looks up from the dolly with puppy-dog-round and espresso-warm eyes, I forget to be mad. Hell, I forget everything until he waves a hand in front of my face.
“Where should I place it?”
Right. The amp. The bane of my morning’s existence.
JD Chambers wanted at various times to be Indiana Jones, Pat Benatar, and Wonder Woman when she grew up. She never considered writing down the stories she crafted in her head. They provided nothing more than entertainment for long drives or sleepless nights, until one particular story insisted it didn’t want to reside only in her noggin. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
JD finds unlikely heroes, humans courageous enough to be themselves, and spreadsheets incredibly sexy — the last one much to her husband’s chagrin. Together, they raise three teenagers and the world’s most mellow Chihuahua on the Oregon Coast.