I would like to thank Jay Bell for taking the time to talk to us about his Seasons series. The fourth book Something Like Spring is now available at your favorite eBook retailers. Check out Aniko’s 5* review of Something Like Spring. Jay Bell has also offered you a giveaway, so don’t forget to check that out!
The 4th book in your Seasons series, Something like Spring was recently released. What can you tell us about it?
Spring, like the other books in the series, starts with a young man who we follow into his adult life. The story centers around Jason Grant, who doesn’t have much in the world. He’s in foster care but can’t settle down with any one family, and he’s sort of alienated himself from everyone for the sake of survival. Of course he still longs for friends and family and love. Something Like Spring chronicles that journey. This isn’t as simple as Jason opening his heart and accepting the help offered to him. Life is more complicated than that, so we see him go through a lot. I really enjoyed writing his character, since he can be very “street smart” at times, and yet incredibly naive at others, which made for a interesting dynamic.
I, along with many readers, thought the series was over after Autumn. You had already hit the 3 MCs. So why Spring? Was the series planned from the beginning?
I never intended for these books to become a series. Summer was supposed to be a one-off experiment before I went back to writing fantasy. When I decided to stick with gay romance, I moved on to Kamikaze Boys instead. Only after a lot of prompting from my readers did I see the potential value in Winter, which was intended to be the only other book. The concept for Autumn and Spring came about at the same time. I was joking around with one of my friends about writing two more, and the potential concept behind them stuck with me. Autumn would be about a life coming to an end, and Spring would be about a life struggling to find its start. Only at this point did I envision a series. While writing Autumn, I kept having flashes of scenes from Spring. I’m a terribly nostalgic person, so the chance to have a new character discover an old box in the attic, one filled with memories from the first three books—well, it just gets me feeling all sorts of moody. What I didn’t expect was for Spring to bring so much new potential to the table, which is very exciting, and bodes well for the future.
What challenges did you face writing essentially the same overarching story from 4 points of view?
Because I didn’t plan this from the beginning, there were a couple of key events involving Ben, Tim, and Jace together that were troublesome. This meant having to rewrite the same scene thrice over while trying to keep it fresh. The water park scene was the hardest, especially in Autumn, when revisiting that plot point felt absolutely grueling to me. I’m really pleased with the end result though. Jace’s epiphany saved the day. Spring isn’t burdened by this issue at all, since it only has one revisited scene previously unique to Winter. The other difficulty is keeping dates and ages straight. Autumn starts in 1990 and Spring ends in 2013. That’s twenty-three years of tangled-up events. In don’t know if my readers will ever fact-check me on my dates, but just in case they do, I’ve worked hard to keep everything consistent.
Your husband Andreas provides the covers for all of your books. What’s it like working together creatively?
Wonderful! And sometimes stressful, but only when we first started out. I was a nervous wreck when it came to my debut novel, The Cat in the Cradle. I had a very strong concept in mind regarding… well, just about everything really. That included the cover, so I didn’t allow Andreas much creative freedom. Thankfully I chilled out before Something Like Summer was published. He presented me with a bunch of ideas, and I pretty much shrugged and said it was up to him. The feedback for that cover was extremely positive. It even gets its own fan mail, so that’s how it’s been ever since. We do hash out different ideas, but for the most part my husband does whatever he wants, and I think that’s for the best. I’m no artist. Andreas has been drawing his entire life and has a master’s degree in design, so I’ve learned to shut up and enjoy the pretty pictures.
My introduction to your work was Kamikaze Boys, which, while still addressing serious themes, is a somewhat lighter look at high school love. You then promptly ripped my heart out with Something like Summer. What was the motivation / inspiration behind the Seasons series?
Both Kamikaze Boys and Something Like Summer were my attempts at describing what being gay is like for me. When I sat down to write each one, I was hoping to finally see my life represented by a story. That doesn’t mean either book is autobiographical, but I did want them to represent just how normal being gay can feel. Ironically, the more I attempt to do this, the more I realize just how exceptional being gay has made my life. I’ve been through so many strange experiences that I haven’t touched upon in my books yet, and I’m certain most of them wouldn’t have occurred had I been straight. Then again, life is pretty complicated in general, no matter who you are, and capturing it in a book or on canvas or in a song is difficult. I suppose that’s my motivation. I keep trying to describe life, even if I usually only manage a glimpse of reality.
My readers know I am a huge audio book fan. I would love to see the rest of the seasons series on audio. Any chance of this happening?
I’m very pleased to announce that Something Like Winter is scheduled to be released on audio in just a few months. Brick Shop Audio Books, a professional New York studio, will be handling all of the technical details again. Best of all, Kevin R. Free will be returning to narrate. If you’ve heard the audiobook for Something Like Summer, you know how much life he brings to the story. Kevin has a background in theater that really infuses the characters with personality. This, combined with Brick Shop’s dedication to quality, means that Winter will get the absolute best treatment possible. I can’t wait to see characters like Eric, Marcello, and Ryan brought to life!
I know that the movie for Something Like Summer is in the works. What do you want to tell us about that?
I just finished reading the most recent script, and I’m very excited by how it has evolved. There’s simply not enough screen time to slavishly recreate the book scene for scene. Instead, a number of characters and events have been condensed and combined. This could easily lead to disaster, but Blue Seraph Productions has done a great job of maintaining the heart of the story while offering something new. Don’t worry, all those extra-special moments are still in there, but there’s also completely new material and fresh interpretations to look forward to. Casting is the next stage. Those who want to follow the movie’s progress can now signup for the newsletter at the official site: www.somethinglikesummer.com
Who are some of your literary Heroes? Who do you strive to emulate?
I grew up reading fantasy novels, and of the many authors I’ve read, I repeatedly find myself influenced by Piers Anthony. The characters and conflicts in his books are deliciously ambiguous. There is no archetype of absolute evil. Even in his Incarnations of Immortality series, which featured the devil as the main antagonist, nothing was so cut and dry. The sixth book in that series is written from the devil’s perspective, retelling many events though his eyes. Suddenly, all those bad things the devil did in the previous books had a justified reason. The devil genuinely meant well. One could even say he was a hero. Obviously this is something I’ve done in my own books. Retelling a story from the another perspective and showing that most things are forgivable if one can fully understand why they happened.
So what are you working on and what is next?
I’m going to continue running with the Something Like… series. As you can tell from above, it’s become tradition that the next step is something I never planned. I honestly thought Spring would be the end, but in the process of saying goodbye to so many characters, we meet quite a few new ones. I want to keep going, and a new sub-series will allow me a lot of freedom. I’m not quite ready to announce titles or any details yet, but as always, I’ll try my damnedest to make these new books memorable.
Where can readers find you on the web?
For the big news they can visit my site at www.jaybellbooks.com. I’m most active on Facebook, although Twitter is fun too. I even make the occasional YouTube video. Links to all of that can be found at the address above. I love interacting with my readers, so don’t feel shy!
Anything else you want to share with my readers?
Oh, like show and tell? I love show and tell! Since it’s my birthday in just ten short days (can’t wait!), here’s a photo of a birthday from nearly thirty years ago. As if the ginormous glasses and the rockin’ mullet weren’t enough, check out my T-shirt. It appears to depict a superhero in painfully tight underwear—or maybe it’s just the massive bulge which make them look that way. I don’t remember owning this shirt, but it’s probably what made me gay. Thanks, Mom!
In honor of the announcement that book 2, Something Like Winter, will, indeed, be soon available on audio, Bell would like to offer 1 lucky commenter their own audio copy of Something Like Summer! Not an offer you want to miss.
Contest ends 12 Feb 2014 @ 7pm CST. 18 years or older, 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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