Why the Hell Do I Do This?
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for authors in the M/M romance genre. On the heels of the GayRomLit announcement of a “must-have” author list came the pronouncement of a drastic decline in the quality of published M/M romantic fiction by JesseWave. For a while, I must admit, I considered trading in my dented author hard hat for a reader’s hat, one that might be more comfortable, and maybe even a better fit. With a demanding career, family, friends, and fitness on top of books, promotion, and publication, I had to ask myself – why the hell do I still do this?
I never had aspirations to become an author. In college, I majored in Physics and now write computer code for a living. It’s a far cry from those schooled in the art of storytelling. The whole thing started with a contest and blossomed from there. Eventually, I took that very short contest entry and added chapter after chapter of sexual fantasies. The story had no plot and no character development – nothing but sex. At the time, I knew nothing of structure, active voice, or even point of view. As I grew and my writing improved, it started to become more personal. Instead of using cardboard characters, I wrote about me. A House of Cards became my first critical success and I received a lot of feedback from readers about their own sexual abuse recovery and how they questioned their sexuality. With the Little Boy Lost series, my first traditionally published work, I poured out my feelings of loneliness and rejection—my desperate need to be accepted. Brian’s leap of faith at the end of Abandoned signified my own jump into the literary waters of publishers, reviewers, and all the other nuances of being an author. In my most recent release, Aaron is my seven-year-old self trying to cope with things no child should ever have to deal with. These books are everything that I am.
So, when I look back and ask myself why I persevere as people critique my soul, my only answer is that without me, guys like Ethan, Jamie, and Aaron wouldn’t have a voice. Their stories would never be told because they’re my stories too. My books are my journal and my therapy, but judging by my Amazon and Goodreads ratings, I have to think that they are reaching people. I receive emails, like this one, from sexual abuse victims who find hope and healing:
“I just finished House of Cards and I needed to email you and give you my utmost gratitude for writing this horrifyingly amazing story. Oxymoron I know, but how I feel. After I send this I am going to curl up with my pillow in my arms in the corner of bed against the wall and try to close the gaping wounds that your ending started to heal. […] Your story made me feel less alone and that maybe one day I too can find myself and my HEA.”
I also get emails from guys who identify with Brian and Jamie:
“Your books give young gay guys hope and strength to be who they are. I know if I would have read your books when I was a 19 year old, pre-out guy, I wouldn’t have tried to kill myself. Your book gave me hope that a regular guy like me from nowhere could find a guy and be happy. Maybe go through shit up to his ears and still come out on top.”
These are the people I write for. Emails like these are worth every challenge, every review, and every ego that I face. I make my dreams come true every day through my writing—both on page and in life because it teaches me that I am strong.
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.
Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.
With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?
Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.
About the Author:
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
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