Thursday, 22 December 2011

Welcome to Jamie Fessenden

Jamie Fessenden probably doesn't even know this but he was one of the first authors I spoke to when I first got published. I'm a bit jealous of his accomplishments. When I grow up I want to be as good as him.

Over to you, Jamie...

When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing forever.  I still have a little picture book I wrote and illustrated in Kindergarten or First Grade, inspired by an episode of the cartoon "Super Friends".  When I was eleven, "Star Wars" became the center of my life, and my younger brother and I began to co-write stories about alien worlds we imagined.  I became "serious" about my intent to be a writer in High School, locking myself in my room for a couple hours a day after school to bang out stories on my typewriter.  I even entered a short story in a national contest and placed in the top 100.  But I had trouble finishing what I started.  It wasn't until I began making microbudget films, based upon screenplays I wrote, that I learned how to manage my time on projects and complete them -- largely because there were other people involved, who would be disappointed, if I didn't get my act together.  My first novel was completed just a few years ago, when I was in my early forties.

What inspires you to write and why?

Often it will be something I read, or a movie I watch.  But I also have a strong modernist streak (if I'm using the term correctly) which leads me to want to distil the essential elements of a genre -- to analyse what I think are the key elements of a story about werewolves, or Vikings, or cyberpunks, or even light Christmas romances -- and then put them together in a way that captures the feel of the genre in the best way I can.  I get very frustrated by, say, a cyberpunk story that doesn't feel like it's cyberpunk; that's missing some of the essentials.  So when I write a story, I'm more concerned with creating the experience readers expect from the genre than creating something wholly original.  The originality, for me, always comes through in the characters.  I put a lot of effort into breathing life into them, and making them react the way real people would in the plot they've been thrust into.  Also, I always have a gay protagonist.  I've spent my entire life reading about straight heroes and heroines and I think it's high time gay characters started being easier for readers to find.

What is the best piece of advice you received before you got published?
Finish the story.  Nothing else matters -- how wonderfully it's written; how badly it's written; how brilliant the idea is -- until the story is finished. 

Do you have any rituals to start your writing day?
I wish I had a writing day.  I have to squeeze writing in wherever it will fit.  On my lunch break; or at work, during a slow time; before bed.  One thing, though:  I am absolutely not a morning person.  I usually wake up and stare blankly at the Internet for an hour, while I drink my coffee.  There's no way I can do anything creative, until I've been awake for a while.

What are you currently writing?
I'm finishing up a high fantasy novel, with gay protagonists, of course.  The first part of a trilogy.  Also, of course.  I think there might be a law against writing a fantasy novel that isn't part of a trilogy, or an epic series.

How do you find your names?
I have favorite names that I use a lot -- Devon, Seth, Trevor, Scott, Thomas, and several others.  Something about those names just resonates with me.  But when I want something new, I just flip through baby name books or websites until something grabs me.  Sometimes I'll pick a name because of the meaning behind it.  In a recent novel about teen suicide, I named the boy who kills himself at the beginning Daniel, because the name means "God is my judge."

What is the most interesting piece of research you’ve done so far?
I'm particularly fond of Viking Age Iceland, and I've spent a considerable time researching that culture and the details of the life of an Icelandic farmer.  I love trying to immerse myself in the minutiae of how their shoes were tied and how skyr tastes and even the fact that they used moss instead of paper in the indoor latrine (called a kamarr).  Trying to piece together holiday observances from the tidbits of information in the Icelandic Sagas is also a fascinating exercise.

Do you include your life experiences in your books?
Definitely.  I used to be a Viking, before I was forced into early retirement by a bad injury to my sword arm.  Beyond that, though, my experiences in High School have certainly found their way into my contemporary stories, and many of the characters in my stories, such as Larry, in "We're Both Straight, Right?", are loosely based upon people I know.

Who is your favourite author and why?
Probably still Robert A. Heinlein, who I discovered as a teen.  His style was very easy to read and engrossing -- particularly, when he wrote in first person.  I know that a lot of people think he was sexist and a bit weird on the subject of homosexuality, but the way I see it, he was born over a hundred years ago, and tried writing strong female characters and men who were willing to hop into bed with another man, when others of his generation wouldn't touch either one.  If he didn't get it exactly right, I'm willing to cut him a little slack.  He was also a nudist, which is way cool.

What do you do to relax?
Settling down in front of the fireplace on a cool Fall or Winter day, with a cup of coffee and a good book, still can't be beat.  But I'm also a computer game addict.

Where can we find you on the web?

BIO:  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. His latest completed work premiered at the Indie Fest 2009 in Los Angeles and also played at the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival two weeks later.
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 currently works as technical support for a computer company in Portsmouth, NH, but fantasizes about someday quitting his day job to be a full-time writer.

BLURB:  Connor is a netrunner: a hacker who ventures into cyberspace to steal data from corporate computers. As he hides out in the slums of Seattle, he’s attacked by a street gang and, incredibly, rescued by one of the members. His rescuer is a man named Luis, who has decided Connor needs his protection.
But instead of providing safety, Luis’s presence wreaks havoc with Connor’s online identity, and they find themselves hunted by a lethal security force. While they attempt to escape the city, Connor finds himself struggling to survive with the most lethal killer ever pitted against the corporations that control the FreeCorp—and he risks losing his heart to the same man.

The gym had sleep capsules in a room off to one side of the locker room. These were “rooms” just big enough for a person to crawl into and sleep. But they were comfortable enough and provided access to the Net, which Connor would need in order to finish the job he’d contracted for. 
But when he swiped his wrist across the reader and the door swung open, he discovered a new drawback to having Luis for his bodyguard.
“Is that big enough for both of us?” the Latino asked, peering into the capsule. 
This took Connor aback. “What? No, not really. Can’t you get your own?”
“I don’t have any money,” Luis reminded him.
Jesus. Just how much was this deal going to end up costing him on a regular basis?
“I suppose I could rent you a capsule,” Connor said, not bothering to hide his annoyance. The capsules were pretty pricey.
“That’s all right,” Luis replied. “I’ll just keep watch out here.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You have to sleep.”
“If I’m locked in another capsule, I might not hear if somebody comes after you.”
“It’s not like I get attacked every time I try to sleep,” Connor protested. But he could see from the look in Luis’s eyes that this argument wouldn’t get him anywhere. Luis had decided that Connor needed to be protected. And that meant not leaving his side, apparently. “So your idea of being my bodyguard is pretty much what other people would call a ‘stalker’?”
“Don’t you think your bodyguard should be nearby whenever you need him?”
“If I have to take a shit, are you going to come into the stall with me?” Connor asked him, irritated. “No, don’t answer that. We’ll save it for a surprise. In the meantime, if you’re going to be like this, you might as well just get in the goddamned capsule with me. They’re big enough for two, if you don’t mind being snug. But leave everything you don’t need in the locker.”
Following his own advice, Connor stripped to his underwear. There certainly wasn’t going to be room in there to undress if Luis was inside with him. The one thing he brought in was his cyber deck.
Luis followed his example and stripped to his underwear, though he insisted on bringing his gun with him into the capsule. Connor prayed neither of them rolled over on it in the night.
It was pretty cramped when they were both inside and the door was locked, but thankfully the capsule had airconditioning. Not that Luis smelled bad. In fact, once he was stretched out beside Connor, his chest at the level of Connor’s face, Connor found that he liked the faint masculine musk Luis seemed to radiate. The scent was clean and held a trace of the generic liquid soap available in the gym shower, but it was unmistakably manly. 
It was impossible for their skin not to touch in this close space, but Luis didn’t seem to care. When Connor glanced up at his face, he found Luis looking at him thoughtfully with those beautiful dark eyes. Not for the first time, Connor wondered whether Luis was gay or straight. So far, he hadn’t given much indication—unless the fact that he had a strong desire to make himself subservient to another man was a sign. 
“Um… just so we’re clear about this,” Connor began, uncertain how exactly to phrase the question, “Are you… expecting sex out of this arrangement?”
Luis shook his head, smiling at his discomfort. “No. Although I did my time giving hand jobs for money, so if you want me to get you off….”
“No,” Connor answered quickly. Luis was certainly not the first guy he’d known who’d resorted to prostitution to get by, so he didn’t fault him for it. But he didn’t want some guy helping him “get off” if the guy wasn’t enjoying it himself. “So you don’t like guys, then?”
Luis shrugged. “I guess I don’t really care one way or another. If I like someone, I’ll fuck them. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female.”
“All right. That’s cool. I generally just like guys, myself.”
“Muy bien.”
That seemed to end the discussion. Connor wasn’t certain if he liked the fact that Luis had left the possibility of sex open. This guy was already complicating his life. If they started fucking around, it would get even more complicated. 
He decided to change the topic. “So if you liked what you were doing down in the L.A. Co-op, why did you come up to the FreeCorp Consortium?”
“Everybody’s starving down there,” Luis answered. “I heard that people were better off up here.”
“If you can get into one of the corporations,” Connor amended. “Otherwise, you’re just a bottom-feeder like the rest of us.”
“So I’ve been learning. Torres and his gang were the best deal I’ve found since I got here.”
“With your fighting skill, you might be able to get into a corporate security company,” Connor said.
Luis smiled at Connor and lowered his head to the pillow they’d be sharing. “I already have a job as a bodyguard.”
“I can’t pay.”
“Just feed me. That’s all I need.”
“And a ‘purpose’?”
“I want someone to protect,” Luis said, his voice beginning to sound sleepy. “I don’t like being the bad guy. Is that wrong?”
Connor sighed. “No, it’s not wrong. But you realize you’re protecting someone who steals and destroys data, don’t you? I’m not exactly a ‘good guy,’ myself.”
There was no response, and Connor glanced up to see that Luis had drifted off. Asleep, there was something innocent and childlike in his beautiful face. Of course, Connor had to remind himself, this was the man he’d just seen cut two men into tiny pieces.  

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