About the Author:
Jeffrey Ricker’s first novel, Detours, was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books. His second novel, The Unwanted, will be published by Bold Strokes in 2014. His writing has appeared in the anthologies Paws and Reflect, Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction, Blood Sacraments, Men of the Mean Streets, Speaking Out, Raising Hell, The Dirty Diner, Night Shadows: Queer Horror, and others. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he is pursuing an MFA at the University of British Columbia.
(Hi! Thanks for doing this, by the way.)
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
It’s a little of both. For the first 50 pages or so, I’m a total pantser. (That is, I write by the seat of my pants.) Once I get to that point, I can more or less tell if the story has legs. That’s when I sit down and start writing a plan. It’s not a formal outline so much as a general roadmap. It leaves room for taking the scenic route along the way.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Not really. Since I’m the one making them up, they’ll pretty much do whatever I tell them to.
What drew you to the M/M genre in particular?
Well, I’m gay, so....
Do you write in other genres besides M/M?
I do! I’ve written mainstream contemporary fiction, some horror, and I’m working on a science fiction novel at the moment. A lot of gay short fiction I’ve written has also been a mashup with another genre: noir, horror, science fiction, and so on.
What is your favourite food?
It’s a tossup between chocolate and cheese.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a reformed night owl who occasionally backslides, but for the most part I’m a diehard morning person. I’m up by six every day and my idea of sleeping in on the weekends is 7am.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
Mars. Frankly, I just want to get off this planet sometimes.
Do distant places feature in your books?
My answer to the above question might give away the answer a little. I’ve written a short story that takes place on Mars and another that takes place on a planet at the edge of colonized space. The Unwanted starts in St. Louis and ends in an Amazon homeland outside of regular space and time.
Do you listen to music while writing?
I love listening to music, but when I’m writing, I really need either indistinct background noise (cafés do well for this, as long as there’s not that one person whose voice you just can’t tune out) or silence. I do get inspired by music, though, so when I’m working on a long project like a book, I usually end up putting together an iTunes playlist of songs that put me in the frame of mind to work on that project.
The Unwanted is a YA fantasy about a teenager who discovers that the mother he always thought was dead is actually alive—and she’s an Amazon. Naturally, complications ensue. I didn’t set out to write a YA specifically, but I read a lot of it, so I suppose it’s inevitable that my own writing interests would veer in that direction. Plus, when I was a teenager back in the ’80s, there weren’t a lot of options when I looked hesitantly for books with queer characters my age that I could relate to. On top of that, I loved reading fantasy and science fiction, and finding a book in those genres with queer characters just wasn’t happening. The Unwanted is the sort of thing I wanted to read when I was a teenager.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
That editors are the best people in the world. (And I don’t just say that because in my secret double life I’ve also been a copy editor.) Seriously, editors will tell you when your story is going off the rails, they’ll ask you questions designed to help you find your way back, and a good copy editor will keep you from making yourself look like an idiot. (I say this as an admitted idiot.)
Is there anything you would do differently?
Not a thing.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I think of influence in terms of inspiration, and I can be inspired by just about anything or anyone—the last great book I finished, random bits of conversation, things I read in passing, eavesdropping. I just tend to jot them down to have them on hand for future reference. I've also written stories based on parameters in calls for submission. I try not to limit myself. One thing I’ve learned from my editor and mentor, Greg Herren: as long as it’s a topic or a genre I’m interested in, I’ll give it a go. And if I say to myself, “Oh, I can't write that; I've never tried,” I try to follow it up with, “Well then, how do you know?”
Basically, I believe in putting the Muse on staff and making him keep regular hours.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Don’t listen too much to the advice given by other writers. :) Just write, don’t stop writing, and you’ll figure out what works for you.
What are three words that describe you?
Grumpy, contrary, snarky
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
My favourite book, hands down, is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I won’t say that my writing resembles his (because I wouldn’t want to insult his memory), but this book and its writer are what inspired me to want to write.
List of previous books if any
Detours, which was published in 2011, also by Bold Strokes Books.
Any places readers can find you on the web:
Lord, I’ve left a trail of self-promoting carnage all over the web. Here are the ones where I’m most active:
Red Room: http://redroom.com/member/jeffrey-ricker/
Genre: Gay YA fantasy
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Date of Publication: March 18, 2014
Number of pages: 264
Word Count: 91,556
Cover Artist: Sheri
Indiebound | Amazon | BN | Indigo
Jamie Thomas has enough trouble on his hands trying to get through junior year of high school without being pulverized by Billy Stratton, his bully and tormentor. But the mother he was always told was dead is actually alive—and she’s an Amazon!
Sixteen years after she left him on his father’s doorstep, she’s back and needs Jamie’s help. A curse has caused the ancient tribe of warrior women to give birth to nothing but boys, dooming them to extinction—until prophecy reveals that salvation lies with one of the offspring they abandoned.
Putting his life on the line, Jamie must find the courage to confront the wrath of an angry god to save a society that rejected him.
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