Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Jamie Fessenden for taking the time to talk with us today about his backlist. He has asked to feature his Itineris Press (Dreamspinner) title By That Sin Fell the Angels. Prism recently reviewed By That Sin Fell the Angels. You can find the review here.
Interview with Jamie Fessenden:
We are here today to talk about By That Sin Fell the Angels. What can you tell us about it?
It’s the story of a suicide — the gay son of a small-town pastor — and how that suicide tears the town apart. He forces them to confront their personal demons and to turn on one another.
Tell us more about Terry, Jonah, Eric, and Rev Thompson?
When the reverend discovers the truth — that his son was gay, and committed suicide because of it — he searches for someone to blame. He targets Terry, the gay music teacher in the high school. Terry is an unassuming man who wants nothing more than to do his job and be left alone, but now he has to rise up and defend not only himself, but gay students like Jonah and Eric, who are caught in the middle of this battle.
What about By That Sin Fell the Angels makes you the most proud?
It was important to me that I make Rev. Thompson intelligent and well-spoken. I didn’t want a cartoon villain spouting tired, bigotted cliches, and I didn’t want Terry to be a wise-cracking gay man responding with equally tired cliches and winning arguments with a fierce snap of his fingers. We’ve all heard the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” nonsense, and we all know by now that telling a fundamentalist about the passages in Leviticus pertaining to shellfish and mixed materials in clothing isn’t going to make him crumble. Isaac has an answer for anything Terry can throw at him. I wanted him to be persuasive and formidable, and I think I accomplished that.
If you could change one thing in By That Sin Fell the Angels what would it be and why?
I would make it more subtle, if I could. The symbolism is a bit thick. It’s difficult to write a story like this without hammering the reader over the head with the message. I tried to step back and let the characters tell the story, rather than expound upon my points, but it’s always possible to polish a bit more and take another step back.
Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for By That Sin Fell the Angels?
It was inspired by the time I spent attending the Assembly of God church in New Mexico and Texas when I was a teenager. I was only beginning to get a glimmer of my sexuality then, and I was in severe denial. I felt that the people in the church were my friends, until one day the pastor gave an absolutely horrid, hate-filled sermon about “homosexuals,” talking about gays as if they were alien beings from outside the church. I don’t think it even occurred to her that someone in the church who loved Jesus could be gay. Yet that was me she was accusing of being the enemy. And that’s the point of the novel — that the horrible, evil homosexual boogie man turns out to be the beautiful, innocent boy who wanted nothing more than to love the Lord and become a pastor himself. So where does that leave them?
Will we be hearing more from this group in the future?
I think they’ve said their piece. But I may revisit the town of Crystal Falls, Maine in future stories, and perhaps we’ll bump into them as secondary characters and see what became of them.
Anything else you want to tell us about By That Sin Fell the Angels?
Another element I considered important to the story was that, by the end, the characters may have changed their beliefs regarding whether or not being gay was “evil,” but they would not have radically changed their religious beliefs. The Christians are still Christian, the atheists are still atheist. No one loses faith; no one is converted. I don’t think that’s necessary, in order for people to learn compassion for each other.
What do you want to tell us about some of your other titles?
I enjoy tackling difficult subjects and trying to approach them from a fresh angle. In “Billy’s Bones,” I tried to paint a realistic portrait of a man suffering from severe sexual abuse as a child, and in “Murderous Requiem,” I delved into the occult belief, popular in the Renaissance, that music could heal or harm the physical body. In my YA novel, “Seidman” (written under my pseudonym, James Erich), I wanted to show the world of the Vikings from a different vantage point — that of the soothsayers who operated on the fringe of their society, rather than the warriors we’re more familiar with.
Rapid Fire Time
- Tea of Coffee? Coffee
- Sausage or Hamburger? Hamburger (preferably a cheeseburger)
- Handcuffs or Rope? Rope
- Australia or England? New Zealand
- Sweet or Savory? Sweet
- Fire or Ice? Fire
- Porsche or Prius? Porsche
- Red or White? Red
What are you working on? What is next?
“Violated” is the story of a man who appears to have it all — financial security, a fiance, a dog, the cabin by the lake he’s always dreamed of — but has it all ripped away from him when his supervisor rapes him on a business trip. It’s proving a difficult story to write, because I don’t want to pull my punches. Rape is devastating, and there are no magic band-aids, no easy fixes to make it all better again.
Title: By That Sin Fell the Angels
Author: Jamie Fessenden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction
It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.
At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.
Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.
About the Author:
Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several screenplays and directed a few of them as micro-budget independent films. He then began writing novels and published his first novella in 2010.
After nine years together, Jamie and Erich have married and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them on a nightly basis. Jamie recently left his “day job” as a tech support analyst to be a full-time writer.
Visit Jamie: http://jamiefessenden.wordpress.com/
Jamie Fessenden has kindly offered a backlist title for 1 lucky commenter
Locally held contests will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CDT. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.
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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