I want to extend a special thanks to AJ Rose for stoping by to talk with me today. Beverley and I recently had the privilege to review his latest release, Queers, so be sure to check out the review as well.
B: You recently released Queers. What can you tell us about it?
AJ: Queers is 18 months of my heart and soul on the page. It’s the biggest cast of characters I’ve ever attempted, and it was the most stubborn of stories, with the characters taking me down paths I never expected. It’s also one of the stories I’m most proud of, and I hope the readers like it.
B: What part of a new story comes to you first? Characters? Plot? A scene? A theme? Or does it vary from book to book?
AJ: It varies. Sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation, or a mood I get from a song or photo. Sometimes it’s a plot twist. When they hit, I look like a mental patient, pacing, mumbling to myself, making frantic notes on the scribe app on my cell phone… It’s not always pretty, nor does every idea see the light of day.
B: Is there a sub-genre of story (like fantasy or BDSM) that you haven’t written but would like to try? Conversely, which sub-genre is your favorite to write?
AJ: I want to try all the stories, all the plots, and all the things. Except historical. I can’t seem to get into them. I grew up reading Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. Being an m/m writer, we’re sort of pigeonholed into the romance genre, but I would love to break that mold and write a story that happens to have a gay couple that doesn’t require a set of plot points for their relationship. I’d love to explore horror more, but I’m not sure there’s a market for it in our current group of readers, and I don’t know if horror readers are up for m/m. We’re making strides, but still have a way to go.
B: What authors, inside and outside of the m/m genre, do you most admire?
AJ: Edmond Manning, hands down. His prose is so beautiful, his descriptions so unique and dead-on that I re-read them and wish I could write half as well. Jordan Castillo Price, for her amazing plots. PsyCop remains one of my first and most favorite series in m/m, and I’m more than excited for Mnevermind 2 coming out Feb 19th. Heidi Cullinan gets people’s behavior like no one’s business and I have yet to read a story of hers that hasn’t sucked me in. I’ve offered Amy Lane my yarn stash if she’d write a sequel to The Locker Room, and it’s been over a year since I’ve read A Solid Core of Alpha by her and I still think about it.
Outside the genre, I’ve been into The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and I just bought the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Since The Hunger Games, I’ve found myself more interested in YA than anything else.
B: From where did the inspiration for Queers come?
AJ: I saw a YouTube video about grief and loss and it touched me so deeply that I wanted to take the poor guy in the video and find out what it would be like for him sometime in his future. Would he love again? What would it take for him to risk losing someone? And Brad and Duff were born. From there, Duff’s friends Garrett and Jackson, and Brad’s friend Moonshine came into being, and they were such strong voices, and their stories begged so adamantly to be told, that I had difficulty keeping them from overtaking the original story. After a few months struggling with trying to relegate them to secondary characters, I gave up and let them go where they needed to go. Eventually, Garrett’s story began to eclipse Brad and Duff, and I realized the real path of Queers wasn’t the relationship between one couple, but that between all the characters, and the plot from there took off.
B: Queers is an ensemble cast. Which, if any, characteristic of each character do you see most in yourself?
AJ: There’s a little piece of me in all my characters, no matter how hard I try to keep it from getting personal. I shut down just like Brad when I’m pushed. I will cutabitch if someone messes with my friends, like Moonshine. I’ve been self-absorbed beyond belief like Garrett. I can be loyal to the point where it’s not healthy for me, like Jackson. Jennica is my wide-eyed optimism. Drake represents my sometimes catty nature. But all the characters are human, fuck up, hurt people without meaning to, make people laugh and do their best by each other, and I like to think that like them, I can learn from my mistakes.
B: So often in musician books, the star is a guitarist and/or lead singer. Why piano? What is Duff’s favorite song to perform?
AJ: I took 9 years of piano lessons as a kid, and it’s still to this day, one of my favorite ways to unwind. But more practically, I knew I could speak about music in piano terms with very little research, so it fit something I’m already passionate about and put it in context I was already familiar with. I knew I could write it authentically.
Duff’s favorite song is “Let Me Love You” of course.
B: What is your favorite way to relax?
AJ: Reading, knitting, or watching movies. Sometimes, just lying down with a good playlist on my iPod and letting the music carry me away. I also want to practice meditation to deal with the stresses of two full time careers, but I haven’t had time to study it recently. Now that Queers is out, I plan to dive into that.
B: Okay we can’t have a musician book without musical inspiration. Can you share some of the songs from your Queers playlist?
AJ: Oh yes. Music was a huge part of my writing this book, from helping me find the right headspace to finding songs that fit the characters.
Kodaline – All I Want
OneRepublic – Something I Need, I Lived, Counting Stars
Secondhand Serenade – Never Too Late
3 Part – Read All About It
Brandon Flowers – Only the Young
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive, Demons
Ben Cocks – So Cold (this one was on loop during the last several scenes)
Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light It Up)
Eli Lieb – Try (Pink cover)
Great Big World – Say Something
Adam Lambert – Strut
Lana Del Rey – Young and Beautiful
One Direction – You & I
Black Veil Brides – In the End
Pink with Nate Reuss – Just Give Me a Reason
Rise Against – Make it Stop
Skillet – Whispers in the Dark
Ron Pope – Everything, Let Me Go, Atlanta
Red – Pieces
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition
Muse – Madness
There’s more, but that’s a big chunk of it.
B: What’s the best thing you’ve ever had someone say about one of your books in an email or review?
AJ: That my story made them think long after they finished reading.
B: Okay so I know you killed yourself getting Queers out the door by 31 Jan. So, are you taking a break or diving back in? If the later, what is next?
AJ: I’ve said I want to take a break, but the writing itch doesn’t always obey. I’m already twitching to get started on the trilogy I’m writing next, to which Queers is a prequel. But for the last couple days, I’ve read, watched movies, eaten out a couple times, gone to see Jack Ryan (mmm Chris Pine), and got my Power Exchange tattoos. I think a few more days of this will be nice, but then, back to work.
B: Where can readers find you on the web?
AJ: My blog is http://andrewjrose.wordpress.com
Twitter is @_AJRose
Tumblr is http://ajrosewrites.tumblr.com
Facebook (where I am the majority of the time) is http://www.facebook.com/aj.rose.5473 and my author page there, http://www.facebook.com/ajrosefiction
About the Author
It began with a Halloween themed short story assignment from a second grade teacher, and from then on, AJ Rose fell head over heels in love with writing. Even an active social life through school, learning to play the piano in a passable imitation of proficient, and a daring cross country move couldn’t stop the tall tales about imaginary people that refused to be ignored. With college experiences came a change in perspective to romance and passion. A propensity to slash favorite TV characters brought AJ to today, writing mostly M/M for publication. But don’t be surprised if the occasional ghost still pops up.
Where to Buy
AJ Rose has kindly offered 1 lucky commenter their very own copy of this epic novel. But in order to be entered to win, you must answer 1 simple question…
“Name a song that takes you back instantly to another time, and what that memory entails.”
Contest ends 11 Feb 2014 @ 11:59pm CST. 18 or older, etc, etc.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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