Six Authors over six days who have all contributed to the Boughs of Evergreen Anthology.
ABOUT BOUGHS OF EVERGREEN
Boughs of Evergreen is a two-volume collection of short stories celebrating the holiday season in all its diversity. Penned by authors from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, these are tales of the young and the not-so-young from many different walks of life.
Themes of family, friendship and romance take readers on a journey through some of the major holidays, both past and present, including Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Eid, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas and New Year. In each we find at the very least hope, and often love, peace and happiness.
Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization [USA] providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. For more information, visit: www.thetrevorproject.org.
Today our interview is with Jonathan Penn
Jonathan grew up in The South. While new to the world of writing, he has been inventing tales for at least fifty years. He was probably also making stuff up during the two years prior to that but, as this was his pre-verbal period, there’s no evidence one way or the other.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
If you look up Obsessive-Compulsive Anal-Retentive Personality Disorder in Webster’s, there’s a picture of me. I begin with a vague outline of everything, and then start filling it in. Then, I tend to work both from the beginning forward, and from the end backward. I hear “pansters” talk about how they work—my favorite author sits down with her characters in mind and a general idea of the story, and then she just starts typing. I keep telling myself I should try it sometime, but it’s just too scary. I guess I’m a bit of a control freak?
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Gay men in love, pushy? Are you kidding me? (*LOL*) Actually, I love the times when they’re yelling and waving to get my attention and trying to convince me to tell it their way. It’s the other times that make me crazy—when they just sit there staring at me in stony silence, and all I can do is stare back. Well? Anything? Argh!!!
What drew you to the M/M genre in particular?
I’m a gay man, so discovering this genre—the only form of media other than porn where I’d encountered characters who were like me, and were portrayed in a positive light—felt a lot like coming home. I’ve never looked back.
Do you write in other genres besides M/M?
Not so far. I’d like to write The Great American Novel someday, but then, who wouldn’t?
What is your favourite food?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a creature of the night.
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I’d love to go back to Hawaii. We were there for two weeks a few years ago and seriously considered attempting to make arrangements by phone for the sale of our house and belongings back home so we could just stay forever. All of Europe is also on my bucket list, but Ireland in particular as that’s my ancestral home. I also have a fascination with Japan, but I turn chicken when I think about actually going there.
Do distant places feature in your books?
So far, only in a peripheral way. In Raising Cade, Alan is a retired Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those experiences in distant places formed him into the man he is today, but the places themselves aren’t actually featured. I would very much like to write stories set in far-off lands, because I believe that to really capture the essence of a place it’s best to spend time there, and I adore travel!
Do you listen to music while writing?
Definitely! One part of the extensive planning I mentioned before is doing an in-depth interview with each of my characters. I find out what kind of music they like, and then I have that playing in the background when I’m writing their scene. Of course, sometimes, they argue over the remote, and it can get a bit messy.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
Well… there’s a link at the end of this interview to my very latest release, Turnabout, that came out last week, but I’m really here today to talk about the one from three weeks ago, Homme for the Holidays. It’s a short story sequel to my first novella, Raising Cade. I wrote the novella as part of the annual Don’t Read in the Closet writing event at the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. Deb McGowan, the publisher of Boughs of Evergreen, read it and liked it enough to ask if I’d consider writing a holiday short with the same characters. I had mixed feelings for about a minute, until she mentioned it would be a fundraiser for The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org), and then I jumped right on the bandwagon. I’m delighted for the opportunity to support their crucial work in crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth aged 13-24.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
I’ve learned to ignore the little voice that seems to enjoy telling me I’m not good enough and I can’t do this. Well, not ignore so much—that never works—more like pat him on the head and say, “There, there, Dear. We shall see.” I’ve also learned more grammar in the last nine months than I did in fourteen years of school… probably because now, it matters! (*LOL*) I’ve learned a lot by studying the works of authors I love, but maybe almost as much by reading works I dislike, and analyzing why I don’t like them. So far, I’ve only worked with two publishers. They were as different as night and day, but both effective in producing results. I think my biggest lesson has been to set aside “personalities” and work to build healthy relationships.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Yes, I would have started thirty years sooner if I’d had any idea there was a way to face ridiculously difficult challenges and at the same time have more fun than I’d ever imagined possible!
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
To some extent, everything I’ve ever seen, heard, read, thought, smelled (*LOL* you get the picture) comes into play when I’m writing. The things that seem to leave the most lasting impressions on my mind are those it classifies as “clever,” so writings by the likes of Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, David Sedaris, Gore Vidal, Thornton Wilder, Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, Armistead Maupin, Harvey Fierstein, and Oscar Wilde have all been influential. Oh! Gosh! I just noticed… they’re all gay men… Hmm… I think that might have something to do with it as well.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
As a newbie on the scene, I’m in no position to pontificate. I will say that what was most helpful as I was starting out was the encouragement and support of old friends combined with the kind and generous assistance of new friends who were already doing what I wanted to do.
What are three words that describe you?
Cheerful, garrulous, and insecure.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
My favorite author is Kaje Harper. My favorite book is Into This River I Drown by Tj Klune.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book:
Cade Bishop is finally on the mend from a traumatic event that happened almost five years ago. That healing didn't really start until last April, when he met Alan Troxler.
Alan has problems of his own, but he's noticed over the last eight months that the more time he shares with Cade, the more easily he's able to put his troubles to rest.
They're traveling together to Asheville, North Carolina to renew a Christmas tradition that was an important part of Alan's past, and to introduce him to Cade's parents—one of the few worries he hasn't been able to let go.
List of previous books:
Raising Cade http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Cade-Alan-Book-ebook/dp/B00P8LRRRK
Turnabout (from the Kickass Anthology for Eric Arvin) amazon.com/Kickass-Anthology-Keira-Andrews-ebook/dp/B00QU9GBXK
Websites/places readers can find you on the web:
One lucky winner will win all six stories
Matthias Williamson — Holidays with Drum and Bell!
Amelia Mann — Always Have, Always Will
Debbie McGowan — A Midnight Clear
Jonathan Penn — Homme for the Holidays
K.C. Faelan — A Little Christmas Magic
Ofelia Gränd — From All of Us to All of You
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