Italian book blogger Francesca interviewed me in June 2022 and we talked about my upcoming sapphic romance Just a Touch Away, my favorite characters and tropes, and my favorite LGBTQ movie. The interview is available in Italian on the Book Lover blog.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Jae (she/her), and I write romance novels between women. I have written novels in most subgenres of romance, including contemporary romance, historical romance, and paranormal romance. My twenty-third novel will be published in August.
I live in Germany, but write my books in English.
What’s your writing routine?
I turn the Internet off because it’s a huge distraction, put some music on, and then start to write. I’m a very slow writer because I revise and work with beta readers as I go, but it results in a pretty clean first draft.
I try to write 2.000 words every day, and that sometimes takes me the entire day. I usually try to start writing in the morning, before I do anything else, but I’m a night owl by nature so I also get a lot of my writing done at 2 a.m.
Do you have a favorite snack while writing?
Most of the time, I don’t snack while I’m writing because my hands need to be on the keyboard. If I do eat while writing, I try for something healthy such as carrot sticks. But every once in a while, I bribe myself with peanut M&Ms.
What about your favorite spot, and one you could never see yourself write in?
Writing in a café by the ocean would be nice right about now. I also love writing in my office, which has an L-shaped desk with a huge screen that helps with my bad eyesight. I’m also very productive when writing on the train. When I used to work as a psychologist, I took the train to work nearly every day, and several of my novels have been written on the train.
A place I could never write in: Any place where people keep interacting with me and waiting for me to reply…or trying to read over my shoulder.
What is your favorite character of yours and why?
After twenty-three novels, it’s impossible to pick just one. My favorites are probably Denny from Wrong Number, Right Woman–I love that she’s a shy butch, and her love of family is heart-warming. I also really love Lana from Just for Show because she’s so comfortable in her own skin. And I love Luke from Backwards to Oregon because she’s so honorable and soft-hearted, no matter how tough she acts.
And which one was the hardest to write and why?
The most difficult novel to write was definitely Just Physical. It’s the third book in the Hollywood series, and it’s about Jill, an actress who has Multiple Sclerosis and who’s convinced she would end up a burden for any partner, so she doesn’t want a relationship. Doing her emotional journey justice and getting it right took several revisions. I ended up scrapping the first three chapters and rewriting the entire book several times, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
Any writer knows that reading is fundamental. So what are you reading right now?
I’m actually re-reading one of my own books right now, Just for Show. Before that, I finished Faux Pas by Lily Seabrooke, a fake-relationship romance with a main character who’s a complete mess but utterly adorable. Next on my reading list is No Strings by Lucy Bexley.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
Creating characters! I develop a character profile with their family background, past relationships, education, hobbies, childhood, etc., for both main characters before I start writing, and then I enjoy getting to know them even better during the writing process. I want my characters to be realistic and likable so readers can relate to them.
Do you prefer writing novels or short stories? And which ones do you prefer to read yourself?
Short stories can be fun to write, but I prefer novels before it gives me more time and space to develop the characters and their relationship. Often when I’m setting out to write a short story, the characters capture my attention and the story grows into a novel. That’s what happened with Departure from the Script too. It started out as a short story for a Valentine’s Day anthology.
Who are other Lesfic authors you look up to?
There are so many whose writing I enjoy: Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Ann McMan, Gerri Hill, Haley Cass, and many, many more.
Then there are also the pioneers of lesbian and sapphic fiction who wrote and published their books at a time when there was hardly any fiction about women who love women out there, especially not books with a happy ending. So I also look up to and am grateful for pioneers such as Ann Bannon, Katherine V. Forrest, Lee Lynch, Karin Kallmaker, and others.
What did you feel like when you found out for the first time that one of your works would be translated in another language? Do you keep copies of those editions?
I was really excited! The reason I joined my publisher, Ylva Publishing, was because it’s an international publishing house and I could make my books available to readers in English, German (my native language), and some of them also in Portuguese, Italian, French, and Korean.
While I can’t read all of those languages, I keep a copy of each book in another language on my shelf in my office.
What is your favorite trope? And one you dislike?
My favorite trope is fake-relationship romances. What I enjoy about fake relationships is seeing two total strangers…and sometimes even people who don’t like each other…get into hilarious situations where they have to pretend to be in love and then slowly come to realize that their feelings aren’t so fake anymore.
I’m not so fond of second chance romances in which the characters used to be a couple years ago but split up for some reason and now get back together. I always feel like I’m missing out on half of the story (what happened in the past).
Do you have a favorite LGBTQ+ movie?
Probably Saving Face. But I have to say I enjoy LGBTQ+ TV shows much more than most movies because there’s more space for character development–it’s the same reason why I prefer novels over short stories. I just watched Gentleman Jack, Severance, and First Kill, and right now I’m watching For All Mankind, all of which have LGBT+ characters.
Can you tell us if any of your other books will be translated into Italian?
I’m not sure about my novels because translations are expensive, and the publishing house also has to pay for an editor, so most translations don’t even cover their costs. But I do have a short story coming out in Italian hopefully later this year. The English Title is Whining and Dining, and it’s a friends-to-lovers romance. The English version is available for free here.
Can you give us a hint on what you’re working on right now?
I’m translating my upcoming romance novel Just a Touch Away into German. It’s an opposites-attract romance between a professional cuddler and an aloof ice queen who inherit an apartment building together, but there’s a catch: to inherit, they have to live together for ninety-two days. The English version will be available everywhere on August 24.