Jeff & Will remind everyone that the May Book Club episode, featuring Clare London’s Romancing the Rough Diamond, premieres on Tuesday, May 26. Jeff also reveals the guests who are part of the podcast’s Pride month celebration.
The guys review the new documentary What Women Want: Gay Romance before documentarian Charlie David shares his thoughts on the film and what it was like to assemble it from all the footage he shot at GayRomLit in Alberquque last year. Charlie also has details about his new series, Avocado Toast, which also recently debuted.
Jesi Lea Ryan joins Jeff for a conversation about her books Surreal Estate and Love Magic where she talks about the inspiration for those stories, some of which come from her own life. Jesi also shares what got her started writing as well as what’s coming up next for her.
Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, PlayerFM, YouTube and audio file download.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- Charlie David
- Charlie David: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- What Women Want: Gay Romance on Amazon Prime Video | Vimeo
- Avocado Toast: The Series website
- Avocado Toast on Amazon Prime Video | Vimeo
- Jesi Lea Ryan
- Jesi Lea Ryan: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan on Amazon
- Love Magic by Jesi Lea Ryan on Amazon
- Arcadia series by Jesi Lea Ryan on Amazon
- Bad Valentine series by various authors on Amazon
- Jordan Castillo Price on Amazon
- Dev Bentham on Amazon
- Clare London on Amazon
- Sleep with Me Podcast
- Alice Winters on Amazon
- Tal Bauer on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Frolic Podcast Network website
Interview Transcript – Charlie David
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Charlie, welcome back to the podcast. It’s good to have you here.
Charlie: Thank you so much, Jeff. I always love seeing your face and catching up
Jeff: We have such a joyous thing to talk about on this particular occasion because the documentary that you shot at GayRomLit last year, just got released for everyone to see. I have to say, we loved it. It brought such happy joy that you captured the event and the genre in such a beautiful way. What was it like to you from going from being at the event to having this finished film?
Charlie: Well, I think that word joy really encapsulates it, and we can’t help but reflect what is already there when we bring cameras into a space, right?
We’re just the mirrors to what is present. And so that’s not something that I can create as a documentarian. It’s, it’s just the people that are there and the, the joy that that they are holding in, being in each other’s presence. I feel like it’s so evident at something like GayRomLit.
Many of these people spend a lot of their, money and they’re taking vacation time and stuff to sometimes stepping away from family and work and other commitments to come to this event once a year and come year after year. So I think that’s a real testament to the, the organizers and what an awesome gathering of likeminded people that it is.
Jeff: When we spoke in Albuquerque. You had barely shot any film. You were starting to gather the very first pieces of it. You weren’t sure what your story was going to be when we spoke. What do you think the story turned into.
Charlie: that’s such a great question cause it is very much exactly where I was. Coming into this I just had the question that I think a large audience outside of this space would have, right? And that is, why is this genre predominantly populated by readers, writers, publishers consumers of gay fiction that happened to be female bodied and I think for, for people outside of our community, that can be a big question mark. Like kind of like a “huh?” moment. And so in this time of a lot of conversation around things like own voices, the importance that people are telling stories that they have experience in. I thought it would be interesting to go and search this out.
I think what I thought that I would come into contact with a more divisive voices about that, and it really wasn’t. I really had my eyes opened even wider. My heart opened in a big way to just see the love, the passion, the commitment to the craft of writing and storytelling that this community has, and that there was definitely never any malicious intent or feeling of taking over taking away somebody else’s lunch as it were is not what’s happening. That just felt really good for me as somebody who’s involved in this community to also meet more people and have that really reinforced.
Jeff: Was there anything in all the stories that you heard and whether they were in the documentary or not, because you certainly talked to a lot of people that weekend, that surprised you or was like, hey, wow, that’s cool.
Charlie: Absolutely. And I think we chatted about before I started shooting as it were and while we were in Albuquerque together, the fact that or a one hour doc, I’ll often film 20, 25 sometimes up to 40 hours of interviews and footage and stuff. Then the big challenge is whittling that down and finding the narrative within it. You know, what turns into be 45 minutes, for a TV hour once you’ve put the commercial space in.
And so there was also, like you said, some awesome conversations that we did together with like BA Tortuga and Julia and other people that I was so immersed in in the moment. And then trying to find a way to wedge it into the final was really challenging. But I think a story like theirs which I view as a real… it’s a love story. It’s this beautiful, beautiful love story of these two women who met through romance writing and now share their life together and continue to do that. I found to be incredibly moving.
Or someone like Carol Lynne, who’s one of the organizers. She has such a moving narrative to me about how this genre and writing for this genre really allowed her to get out of a relationship, a marriage, that was not a healthy or healthful place for her. And to get to a place where she was standing on her own and, and created a career for herself out of something that she loves. And those are just two quick examples.
Another one would be, Sam York who is in this precarious position of still writing as Sarah York part of the time because that’s the audience that he’s cultivated. And yet Sam has transitioned and so in this space of own voices another really interesting person to talk to, right, about writing gay romance as a trans man who is still married to his partner. who through that whole journey didn’t question, didn’t like walk away when, as a wife Sarah decided to write gay romance. And then through the transition, and as Sam is continuing. So I think there was lots of wonderful, beautiful, heart clenching moments for me of discovery and story sharing.
Jeff: It was interesting to me that the subjects that you picked for the documentary could almost all have been a documentary in and of themselves. I don’t envy your task of having to put all of it together into one package.
Charlie: Absolutely. That’s the thing. Like Darryl Banner and his mom Sue. That’s another super cool story of this young gay guy who writes gay romance. And his mom is his, not only like champion, but really best friend. That friendship is so evident when you hang out with them and chat with them. I mean Sue is an editor on all of Darryl’s work. She proofreads everything because she was an avid romance reader before. And I just think what a cool relationship that is because as we know, sometimes romance takes a turn into some pretty erotic chapters. So the thought of having your mom read and correct is pretty wild to me.
Jeff: Yeah. I can’t imagine that myself.
I know the documentary has just barely come out. Have you had reaction back?
Charlie: We’re starting to see some reviews popping up on, Amazon and on Vimeo, and we’ll be doing a rollout on some more platforms in the coming month as well. So far they’ve been really positive. And what’s also nice to see is it’s also coming from people who haven’t been to a GayRomLit yet, and they’re looking and going oh my gosh what an exciting, safe, joyful place. And they’re looking in and, fingers crossed, that we’ll be able to attend one in the future.
I feel like that’s such a cool thing because it’s, it’s allowing people to potentially find their tribe, right? And find it in a way that’s also moving from online into real life because there were so many people that I met while in Albuquerque that that just reiterated again and again how those friendships were so important in their lives. That this was something that they looked forward to all year to reconnecting and to share the joy of reading that they may not be able to share with other people in their life
For I think many of them it’s almost like reading gay romance might be something that they’re doing in the closet as it were. And this event allows them to be themselves, to come out and to share that joy of this genre.
Jeff: Yeah. So well said. So glad that you undertook this. I was excited, last fall, what I knew you were doing it and having seen the finished product, it’s just wonderful that it’s out there.
Charlie: Yeah. Thank you. I’m super excited too. It’s really fun to share work like this because it’s like an author writing a book. It’s something that you craft a lot on your own, beyond when the cameras are rolling, you go and you spend a lot of time in the edit and finding those stories. It is very much a small team effort at that point that often takes months. So getting it to the point where it’s ready to share is wonderful.
Jeff: The other thing we talked about while you were in Albuquerque was you were just getting ready to start production on a show called “Avocado Toast,” which has also just dropped. Remind everybody what that’s about.
Charlie: “Avocado Toast: The Series” is about millennials and their baby boomer parents and kind of navigating the conversations around sex and relationships. And to me, I’m so excited about it because number one, we’re highlighting women’s stories in their fifties and early sixties and showing them in a way that like these moms still have active relationship, full hearted stories, sex lives. And sometimes I think women beyond a certain age, really get relegated to kind of like grandma role in film and television. and, and I want to celebrate women who are 50, 60, and, and beyond and shine a light on their very rich stories.
And then the other end of the spectrum is their millennial children and what they’re going through. And the, one of the main storylines there is, one of the women coming out as bisexual. And so I think with this series, we’re really trying to focus on. Putting the be back in LGBT because I feel like it is, again, an area of media where there’s not a lot of content because for a long time that B has really been dismissed as a non sexuality that it’s like, well, you just haven’t figured it out yet. You’re on the train from straight to gay and you just haven’t like fully committed or whatever. Tackling something that is careful not to have bi erasure, to really acknowledge that, was important. I’m really proud of it. I think it’s, it’s hilarious and heartwarming.
There’s lots of really beautiful moments and it’s bite size. It’s 10 episodes of 10 to 15 minutes. So lots of people have been bingeing it and we just launched on Monday on, Amazon Prime and Vimeo and Tello Films and High Ball and more and more platforms to come. So yeah, it’s been nice to be able to share work at this time.
Jeff: And comedy. I think everybody needs some good comedy these days.
Charlie: Absolutely. Yeah. A little bit of escapism is great.
Jeff: Well, I appreciate you so much coming by and talking to us about these two projects. Congratulations on them both.
Remind people where they can keep track of you online so they can find new projects as they come to light.
Charlie: Yeah. On Facebook, Charlie, David on Twitter, Charlie, David, Instagram, mr Charlie, David, and then my website is Charlie david.com and avocado toast. The series has a website too, and that’s avocado toast, the series.com.
Jeff: Fantastic. Well, thank you again for spending a few minutes and I hope these projects, find their audiences far and wide.
Charlie: Thank you so much, Jeff. Really appreciate the time to come on and catch up and chat about these.
Interview Transcript – Jesi Lea Ryan
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Jesi welcome to the podcast. We’re so happy to have you here.
Jesi: Thanks for having me.
Jeff: I have read a couple of your books over the last few months since “Love Magic,” first came out in the “Bad Valentine” series, but much more recently “Surreal Estate.” And I loved that book so much and I really wanted to get you here to talk to us about it because you’ve released that and “Love Magic” both recently on audio.
Tell us a little bit about “Surreal Estate,” what it’s about and how you came up with this wonderful story.
Jesi: So I kinda have like a local writers’ group, we were meeting pretty regularly and sometimes as any conversation with writers go, we just start like talking, brainstorming, weird stuff.
And so we started this conversation about bullshit superpowers. Like, superpowers, like if you had, that would be like, sort of useless, like the talent of always having ink in your pen. Like, Oh wow, I have a superpower, but what do I do with it? And so the idea came to me is, what if I was a psychic with an affinity for houses, but I’m homeless, you know?
So it was sort of like that irony kind of thing. And then, we were like, just shouting ideas out about it, and I’m like what if he fell in love with a house flipper? And I don’t know, it was just, it was kind of like a comedic sort of feel. But when I went home and started actually writing it, it did not come out as a comedy at all.
That’s not how the characters spoke to me at all. That’s where it originally came from. So the story is about a young man who is down on his luck and he’s homeless and he has an affinity for spaces. So if you think of that saying, if these walls could talk? It’s that sort of idea.
Emotions that people have inside of a room, imprint on the space itself. And so that’s kind of where the idea came from. So this young man, Sasha is able to go into homes. Usually it’s more common with homes, and maybe see visions of the past or feel feelings that are in those spaces,
So he is squatting in an old abandoned house when it is purchased on a foreclosure sale by a house flipper who is Nick. So that’s how Sasha and Nick get together.
Jeff: And they’re such a delightful pair. I mean, one of the things that I liked right away about Nick is that he didn’t just throw Sasha out. He thought about it, but then he didn’t. It’s just, there’s such a sweet kindness that runs between these two.
Jesi: What I wanted to bring across there is that at different parts of our lives, we can be down on our luck and sometimes it just takes a little kindness from somebody else to get us back on our feet. I grew up in a pretty poor family.
We weren’t homeless by any means. My mom did her best to take care of us and stuff, but we were, we were pretty poor. I have a soft spot for people who are in rough situations and so the character that I relate to most in this is Nick. I would like to think that I would have, like I in good conscience couldn’t have put Sasha out right away.
You know what I mean? Like I would have, that would have been me, that would have been me trying to figure out, okay, how do I help this person? I also didn’t want there to be a power dynamic between somebody with a bunch of money who’s sweeping into make Sasha’s life better or whatever.
I needed Nick to have a financially insecure situation also.
Jeff: And he certainly did. To have the mob kind of funding his flip just threw another interesting layer on top of the story. You added some interesting stuff into Nick’s character as well, because he really discovers his bisexuality in this story.
Jesi: Yeah. Nick is 39, and it was important to me to show a character who is having a bisexual awakening for the first time at an older age.
And, because for me, sexuality is something that is fluid. It can grow and change. I know, certainly for me, that’s been my case. I’m 44 years old and I’ve always been in relationships with cis men. But two years ago, my husband came out to me as trans. So now I have a wife.
And when someone transitions, it doesn’t, it doesn’t change your sexuality just because your spouse transitioned. You have to sort of come to terms with how your sexual attraction is. Not everybody can make a marriage work when there’s a transition involved.
But, I’ve always sort of had bisexual tendencies, if even from a young age, but I guess I sorta thought if I was always with men, it didn’t matter. Like, I didn’t want to come out as bisexual. It felt inauthentic to come out as bisexual when I had never been with a woman before. That makes sense.
Like, I’m going to lose my card or something and I know that’s my own hang up, but with my wife transitioning and she is very much a girly girl in every way that I’ve had to come to terms with what my attractions are. So I do consider myself pansexual now. I would have been about 42 when that happened.
So I relate to Nick a lot in that way. It was important for me to show that it wasn’t out of the blue. This wasn’t like a, I’m only digging one person kind of thing. I made sure to show that he’d always sort of had bisexual tendencies though, just in his head. I also wanted to tell a story where somebody came out that was positive.
Nick wasn’t ashamed of it. His family was supportive. It just felt good to tell that kind of story in a story that’s so heavy like “Surreal Estate” is to have that one element go very smoothly was important to me.
Jeff: I really liked how you treated it as not gay for you, as you mentioned, because that is not my favorite trope out there in the world.
You did give Nick those, I won’t say tough internal conversations, but he did work his way through it, and he did come out to his family and he was, he was a little skittish about that. So it all played very real world to me and you didn’t gloss it over, which I thought was quite wonderful.
Jesi: Yeah. That was my goal. I mean, yes, it is nerve wracking. The first time I told my mother that my spouse who I had been married to for 16 years at that point, was now transitioning to be female, and I am perfectly cool with that because I’m pansexual too that was a hard conversation even though I was well into adulthood.
So, but it was fine.
Jeff: Did you set up Nick this way because of what you were going through at the time or did these two things just kind of happen to connect at the right moment?
Jesi: You know, out of all the characters I relate the most to Nick. Nick is my personality. I’m impulsive and a risk taker.
And lot of things about Nick reminds me of myself. And so, I did purposely write Nick to have like a bisexual awakening cause I just thought it was important to show that. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it now on my books or anything like that.
Jeff: all the stuff that you did with, with the house flip and even how the houses spoke to Sasha did you set up your own magic? Cause it was really a fascinating aspect of the book, how the houses spoke to him.
Jesi: I have a young adult series that I wrote, the “Arcadia” series. And that was a series that revolved around psychics. So I’ve already, I’ve sort of been in like a psychic mind frame for probably 10 years now. This was the first time I wrote somebody with this type of talent, but, this was kinda my own invention.
But, I do have a thing about visiting psychics, which is, well, I mean, I’m pretty agnostic in just about every way. I don’t really believe, I don’t think this is a real thing, but maybe it is. It’s maybe it is. And, so I’m known to visit lots of psychics. I’ve had past life regression.
I’ve had, you know, tarot, numerology, astrology. I’ve done all of that. And most of my experiences have been laughably bad. I have not found very many psychics that had much of a talent at all. But there was one that I 100% believe that he knew things, his name was Paul.
I don’t know his last name. I can’t remember it anymore. I had his business card at one time, but, he had given a reading to my mother. I dragged her along to a psychic fair, which is a thing I do. She got a reading from this guy and it was so scary. Spot on. It was just shocking. The level of detail he got into was just shocking.
So the next time the psychic fair came in town, I made sure to go see him specifically. And he again gave me a really phenomenal reading. So I don’t know, are psychics real? I have no idea. But this guy seemed to really, really know what he’s doing.
Jeff: That’s very cool. I mean, you’ve got some of the in person interaction to kind of feed the books a little bit.
And I love what you did with the house too, because the houses actually occasionally pushed back on Nick. There’s a little bit of life in the house and that was very interesting to see how all that played into the story.
Jesi: Yeah. I wanted to, I tried to walk a line. The house is sentient but it doesn’t talk to him. It’s not like he can have conversations with the house necessarily. The house is a character in the book in a way.
Jeff: So another one of your stories that is on its way to audio–might be out by the time we get this on the air is “Love Magic,” which was your entry in the “Bad Valentine” set and again, we deal with a little bit of paranormal magic, things going on in this story. Tell us about this. This was such a super cute entry in that series.
Jesi: So, Jordan Castillo Price, Dev Bentham and Clare London and I thought it would be fun to take one line – we had the same first line, “Nothing good ever came of a Valentine,” and write a story based on that, just like see where it would take us. And the only rule we had is, that it had to be a short. The audio book for Love magic is only an hour long. So it’s just, it’s a short, it’s a short story. A short installment and it had to involve paranormal somehow.
So that was the only thing that we had. And so, the four of us just started going on this Valentine story. And that was really fun. So, Love Magic is about a musician who is performing in a park one day and this magician comes over and starts performing with him. And it’s a love story between him and this magician.
And it’s kind of like every day they go on as a disaster. So I don’t really want to talk too much about it is a short story. So it’s hard. Talk about without giving spoilers away. I don’t know when it’s actually, it could release any time. It’s been sitting in review for a long, long time.
But, hopefully it comes out very shortly.
Jeff: This was so cute, especially their disasters. You like magic, paranormal a lot in your storytelling because of course, Arcadia was also dealt in some of these themes. What is it about that that attracts you to using it in your stories?
Jesi: So, I like paranormal. I like to read it. It’s not all I read, but I like it. And, I like the way you can break boundaries with it. As much as I like to read about vampires and things like that, I mean, we all know vampires aren’t real and werewolves aren’t real and stuff like that. But like, there’s this thing with psychics, like, yeah, it’s not real, but maybe it is. Maybe, you know?
And so I always try to write my psychics in a way that it could be real. That it, there’s a scientific explanation for it. Like, you guys don’t know this, cause I didn’t put it on the page, but I have a reason for all of this in the back of my mind of how this all fits and how it works logically.
For me it’s genetic, but, I like the idea of psychics because you can do a lot of different stuff. Like the talking to houses. You can pretty much do anything with a psychic power. Like in “Love Magic” my magician is telekinetic.
I’m just attracted to psychics cause there’s so many different things. I feel like if you’re writing like vampires, there’s like rules you have to follow. And if you don’t follow those rules, like you suffer from vampire fans everywhere. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to deal with vampire politics in my real life.
Jeff: I totally understand. And that was what I liked so much about “Surreal Estate.” You built these guys to be so in the real world with Sasha just having this little tweak. I told you before we hit record, that I wanted to give them an HGTV show cause I would totally watch that. Them flipping houses and Sasha being able to sort out what’s wrong with the house or even if it’s not flip, go in and redecorate and then help them figure out how to make the house happier with the people who are in it. There’s so many options there.
Do we get to see any of these characters come back in future stories? Do you see additional things in the “Surreal Estate” world?
Jesi: So here’s the thing. I was about halfway through writing the follow-up to “Surreal Estate,” which was going to be another story with a different couple, but Sasha and Nick were characters in it.
I got about halfway through it and I hated it, that happens to me. At the halfway hate point. I always get to that. I had another story idea that was really hitting me hard in my head and I couldn’t shake it.
So while I’m struggling to write this follow up book to “Surreal Estate.” This other idea just won’t go away. So, finally I just decided I’m going to set this book aside and write this other story, even though it’s completely not what I should be working on it. It obviously wants to be told now and it’s very different from anything I’ve ever written. In fact, I might even put it out under a different pen name cause it’s there’s no paranormal in it at all.
I’m deciding about that. I don’t like the idea of a new pen name, but it’s a really deeply personal story to me. I’m probably about three quarters of the way through writing it now. I don’t know when it’s going to be finished. I don’t work well with deadlines. I’m a slow writer.
So, we’ll see. We’ll see. But I do have a plan for this “Surreal Estate” universe. I planned three books, so we’ll see if they come out.
Jeff: Okay. And now you’ve got me super intrigued for this other thing that’s not paranormal at all.
So besides the magic, paranormal, kind of playing into your stories, do you have favorite tropes that you’re attracted to working with?
Jesi: I have tropes that I hate. I don’t like tropes with a big imbalance of power. So you won’t see me writing billionaires who are scooping up just graduated college people, and something like that.
Or, like I don’t mind an office romance, but is it? But like, it has to be done really, really delicately for it to be something that I like, so I would never write it. So I don’t like power imbalances. I don’t like billionaires because I feel like when your characters have too many resources, you’re taking the tension out of the story.
I like to write people who are broke. I relate to being broke. So, I like to see stuff like that. I like to see people who are good communicators. So the misunderstanding trope, I’m not into that at all. Nothing will make me put down a book faster than the whole plot could be wrapped up with a phone call. So those are the plots I really avoid or the tropes I really avoid.
It was really important for me to write a bisexual awakening story for “Surreal Estate” and for Nick because it was very personal to me. I probably won’t do that again. It’s not going to be like my signature that’s in all of my books.
Jeff: I liked that you went with the flip of that question. I may have to ask actually ask that. That side of it more often.
Jesi: Way more irritated with books then.
Jeff: Well, and according to your bio, you read like 200 books a year, which is a big wow. Because I’m lucky to get through like 70 or so.
Jesi: I have an illness. I’m a book hoarder. I own, I think, in the neighborhood of 3000 paper books. I probably have that on my Kindle and I think 2000 audios. So, I’m a hoarder of books. I never borrow a book from somebody cause it won’t leave my house again. I pretty much read everything. I go in stages where I’ll be on a Russian novel phase and I’ll read all the classic Russian novels, or I’m in a paranormal phase or I’m in a sci-fi phase or whatever.
So, I just read a lot and I like audiobooks and that helps me increase my book count. because now not only am I reading after work, but I’m reading during work, which is always great.
Jeff: Yeah. Audiobooks once I got really into them, but it was such a godsend to get my overall reading way up, but like double really. Cause I always have an audio and an ebook or a paperback going at the same time.
Jesi: Yeah. I usually have two audios going at the same time. I have, I like to listen to nonfiction before bed. I’m an insomniac, so I have like a whole, I have a whole thing, a whole ritual around going to bed at night.
I’ve got a couple of podcasts. The “Sleep with Me” podcast. This guy reads or he doesn’t read, he just rambles on. He tells these long boring stories with no plot. So it’s enough to keep your head listening. But like if you fall asleep, you’re not gonna miss anything cause there’s no beginning, middle, or end of these stories.
So I like to listen to him. And then I also like will listen to like, different nonfiction books at night when I’m falling asleep. Basically it can’t have a plot and then I have something that I’m reading during the day that, you know, whatever it is, usually fiction, I’m more of a fiction person than non-fiction.
Jeff: What got you started writing. Was it all the reading that you were doing that got you going?
Jesi: I’ve always been a huge reader. My mother was a voracious reader also, so I learned from the best, when I was eight I wrote a story that was turned into a children’s book. So like. I mean, it wasn’t, it’s not that impressive.
There was only a couple of copies made, but like, because I did this book I was in, it was like in local dentist offices and stuff for kids to read. because I did this, they sent me to this young writer’s conference. so I got to go to this conference at the college
So I always thought writing was cool and it was, but I actually, through high school and stuff, I always assumed that I would go into music. I used to sing and I used to like theater and things like that, so I thought that was the direction I was going to go. But, when I went to college, I ended up just really loving my writing classes. And so I ended up majoring in creative writing and literature.
Jeff: I’ve got to ask how you came to write M/M romance?
Jesi: So, it’s what I read. Like I was on an m/m kick on my reading and my best friend is a pretty popular, m/m writer.
And, she and I would brainstorm a lot together. We do, we have like a local, we have like a Skype conversation, like every month to sort of brainstorm out our stories and stuff like that. I was really struggling with a book that I hated, which happens sometimes. And she just said, why don’t you just write M/M because that’s what you read, that’s what you like.
And yeah. Okay. I’ll give it a shot. And so, that’s when I wrote “Surreal Estate.”
Jeff: That’s awesome. Any particular authors influence your author career and, have helped you power forward as you’ve gotten going in the genre?
Jesi: Jordan Castillo Price is my friend. And I am completely in awe of her writing. I love everything that she’s written. I started as a fan when I met her and we live locally to each other, so we got to be friends. Her books just speak to me. I love her use of paranormal elements. I love her characterization. She also hates the same tropes I do. So she doesn’t use those true tropes. So her characters are always broke. So I love that.
Some other authors that I really, really enjoy in the m/m world are Alice Winters. I love her use of comedy. It’s genius. It’s genius. It’s spot on. Tal Bauer is another one that I really love. Tal Bauer is an auto buy for me. His “Executive Office” series was just phenomenal. So I like Jordan for the paranormal, Alice for the comedy, and Tal for the explosions.
Jeff: Can you imagine like all three combined into one?
Jesi: Oh my gosh. That would be amazing. That’d be amazing.
Jeff: Now you hinted at this non paranormal that you’re working on. Is there anything else floating around in your head that you want to tease this about?
Jesi: Well, the not paranormal. One that I’m writing right now is about a young man just graduated high school who was raised in a religious cult and he is leaving the cult. Well, he’s being escorted out of the cult, basically because he’s gay.
It’s a deeply personal thing for me cause it was one that I was involved with, a cult that I was involved with, in a former life a long time ago. And I finally feel like it is time for me to write that story. I feel separated enough from it that I’ve been out for 18 years. I feel separated enough that now’s the time to write that story.
It’s going really well. I mean, it’s flowing really well. I’m sort of at that point where I hate it, but I think I can push through. I don’t have a title for it yet.
Jeff: This is the second one we’ve talked about that’s got autobiographical elements as well. Has that always kind of been the case in your work where that sort of real life for you feeds in?
Jesi: Oh, yeah. Even with like, like Sasha’s mother is a drug addict and my father is a drug addict, so I could relate to Sasha on that element too. So, yeah, I would say a lot of the, especially the really emotional pieces of my book are stuff that I’ve experienced before or are related to me somehow.
I think it’s important to, you know, they always say in like writing class, which I don’t agree with fully, but they always say, write what you know. And for me it’s not write what you know, cause I don’t know any psychics that you know, or vampires or whatever, but it’s write what you can emotionally connect to. And I think if you can, as an author, can emotionally connect to the story that’s being told, then it’s going to come across as authentic.
Jeff: Well said.
What is the best way for everyone to keep up with you online to see when these next books come out and when “Love Magic” does come out.
Jesi: Yeah. I am on Twitter, at @Jesilea, all one word. And that’s spelled “Jesi Lea” and I’m on Facebook and I don’t have a personal Facebook so my Facebook is pretty much just me. So you can look me up on there and I’m on Instagram, although I have like very few followers and all I do is post pictures of like my cat. But you’re welcome to follow me if you’d like.
Jeff: Fantastic. We will put links to all of that in the show notes along with the books that we talked about. Thank you so much for coming and talking to us about both “Surreal Estate” and “Love Magic.”
Jesi: Thank you.