Interview with DeJay

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Interview with DeJay

Post by Lilien on Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:59 pm

Interview with DeJay. Author of "Redemption“, "Strangers“ and upcoming "Sisters“. Owner of Lesbian Fiction Press and ''Big Boss'' of Lesbian Playground Forum.


by Lilien Hoffman, April 2014.


Most authors are asked when did they start writing and did they always want to be an author. But my question is; what made you write your first story? What was going through your head when you decided to sit down and write your first words with the intention of sharing them?

I came to writing late in life and it wasn’t something I set out to do. I was already retired and had just recently discovered Lesbian romances. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, always carrying a book for those spare moments in a day. I tend to read mysteries and romances. A good romance will always lure me away from what I should be doing. Especially when there’s a real plot thrown in the mix. One day I just started thinking about a story in my head, and the next thing I knew I had written three books all in a matter of months. Of course none of them were ever published, and they shouldn’t have been. They were god awful. But I learned a great many lessons from writing them. And a wonderfully kind woman at Bella Books, Becky Arbogast, sent me my first rejection notice. I keep it on my wall to remind me how far I’ve come. The nice thing is, it wasn’t a standard form letter and Ms. Arbogast made suggestions that allowed me to learn and grow. At her behest, I found an online forum that did critiques. Boy did those women teach me everything I didn’t know about writing. But they also showed me, that what I wanted to write wasn’t being done at the time. I wanted to write about real issues near to my heart.


You have several stories behind yourself, both short stories and novels. Can you describe to us how you felt the first time your story got accepted by a publisher?

The first story I sold was a short story to Bedazzeled Ink. It was called “Who’s In Charge”. The night I received the email from Carrie at Bedazzeled Ink, I thought she had made a mistake. I emailed her back to be sure she hadn’t. Even after we signed the contract for the story to be printed in their October 2008 issue of Khimairal Ink, I didn’t dare tell anyone for fear they would change their minds. Then Carrie made an announcement on the forum I was part of, I finally realized it was real and I had managed to publish something. The feeling was euphoric.


In your novels, you deal with some very hard themes. Serious and challenging issues. Murder, domestic violence, you even have mention of a date rape, homelessness, single parenting, religion. These are some very serious and demanding themes. Why choose to deal with these topics and how much experience to these matters did you had in your real life?

Honestly all these issues are happening around us every day. When I wrote Redemption, I did a lot of research about domestic violence. I was shocked to find that in a group of 100 people at least 65 would know of someone or know someone who knew someone that had been hurt by DV. Of those 65 people at least 30 will have a family member or themselves be a victim of the DV. Of those 30 people 5 will likely die, and 15 will go back to their abuser. Those are shocking statistics, but they’re the reality of DV. Murder is real, we see it every day. Again most of us know someone who’s been murdered during our lifetime. Date rape is currently an epidemic in this country. Young men drugging girls and forcing them to have sex. And to prove what big men they are, they video it and post it on the web. Girls, young women are committing suicide because of what has happened to them. We see it every day in the news or we know a victim personally. People living on the streets has become a sad reflection of our times. Homelessness of entire families due to the recession and economic conditions. Jobs being sent elsewhere or Corporations only hiring part time employees at minimum wage to avoid offering medical coverage. These subjects are real and they’re happening daily. I want to make people think about that without lecturing the reader. That’s why I turn the issues into romances. Hopefully I can make the reader, laugh, cry, think and still get their HEA in the end.

After Strangers came out, one of the nicest things a reader ever said to me, “The book also made me think about the issues homeless people face. The animosity they come across and their fight for survival.”  Here’s proof I touched one woman, that makes me proud.


A number of authors of lesbian romance fiction write their stories with a certain stereotypical love plot, filled with drama, minor challenges in life. Love-hate relationship which blossoms into a sexual relationship which ends up with I love you and a Happy Ever After Ending. And these books sell. Lots of people love reading things which take their minds off real life issues, for at least those several hours while they are reading the book.  On the other hand you, as we mentioned above, deal with much more challenging themes, real life issues.  Do you think you could potentially lose a reader because of the themes you are writing about?

Absolutely. I even lost out on an editor because she did not want to read about Domestic Violence.  I don’t write the popular stuff, that’s a fact. However, I believe there are enough discerning readers out there that want to read about strong women who overcome life’s obstacles.  Let’s face it, no matter the plot, all my stories show women who have been dealt some horrific blows in life and have all come back to conquer them. Every single person over 18 has had to deal with issues and hopefully they’ve won out. I just happen to write about difficult matters, hopefully from all sides and the survival.


You write in first person. Some believe that First Person writing should be reserved for auto-biography or essays while some believe that First Person gives reader an easy and intimate way to connect to the POV character which is in your case always the main character.  I believe that first person POV in fiction could have a downside of neglecting the secondary character, their feelings, and their point of view and could lead to single-eye view of the situation. So I have two questions here. First; why did you opt for First Person POV? And my second question; How do you manage to keep all your characters equally involved?

The easy answer is first person POV is simple. You don’t have to worry about pronouns, etc. In Redemption, because I wanted the reader to feel the pain of loss, and the joy of new love, the anxiety of loving again, I kept it first person, present tense POV. I think that worked for everything Mac was going through. As for keeping the other character’s equally involved, I did it through conversation each one had with Mac.  Nothing could happen outside of Mac’s view, therefore, every character interacted with Mac.  In Strangers I changed it up and switched to third person POV in this case only Murphy’s. Believe it or not I had a hard time with this POV. Also that story was told in past tense, another issue for this author, but I did it. Lastly I’m finally stretching my wings and trying for two POV’s in Sisters. The main character will be first person POV and the other main character will be in third person POV. Hopefully the reader will easily be able to distinguish between them.

My old critique group had a penchant for complaining about info dumps. That to catch the reader up, a lot of authors do info dumps of the character’s life so the reader understands. I found that a simple conversation can accomplish the same thing and hopefully be entertaining in the process. But only the reader can make that determination in the end.


In all your novels you have a child characters. In “Redemption” they are age 5 and 7, in “Strangers” age 13 and 16 and in “Sisters” age 4. How difficult is to write a child character and where do you seek inspiration for them?


Actually kids are my favorite to write. They’re so easy for the most part. To separate the two in Redemption, I gave Kylie a lisp, he was the youngest and it fit. His sister, Kaitlin was the serious one and untrusting, but kids are kids.  In Strangers I had to work harder, I actually took some traits from a friend’s daughter and based Jesse on the real life girl.  Jesse was a 16 years old discovering her own sexual identity amid some difficult life lessons, the loss of her father, mother and the family home. Her kid sister was easy, everyone I know complains about their kid sisters, so I made Brianna annoying and super chatty. Most people loved Brianna because she never shut up.  In Sister’s, Anastasia is just four and I love that age frame. They’re just becoming real little human being, in my opinion,  at this age. They now have likes and dislikes, they’re mobile for the most part and endearing.  Again, children are easy, and I’m lucky in that friends share their kid’s stories with me. I just take the best parts and turn them into characters.

How much do your main protagonists resemble you and how much are they fictional?

I think every one of my characters has some part of me in their fictional makeup, and I could only wish I had some of their qualities in mine. That’s the great thing about fiction , it’s made up. So yes, I’ll confess I do open doors for women like Mac does, I’ve even been yelled at for it. And like Murphy, I have a potty mouth for sure, and a short fuse. My new character Maddison doesn’t like sharing things, feelings, or thoughts. She doesn’t trust easily and she’s awful at conversation. Again all qualities she got from me.  But then there’s their good qualities that I picked from friends or people I know in real life. Mac loves to give back to her community. She donates her money and her time, I have a couple friends that do the same and each of them provided part of Mac’s identity.  Murphy is an angry, hard individual, life on the streets as a teen forms her personality like nothing else could have, so yes, she’s most like me since we share that experience. But I did pull from others that I knew, Murphy believes in god just not the Catholic church’s god. She forgives when wronged and tries to look at both sides of an issue. Maddison loves with all her heart, and she’s willing to put everything on the line for love. A lot of people say they love you, but it’s just an expression for most, it’s not for Maddison. She loves deeply and truly.


Let’s talk steamy stuff. How often do your adult characters get space in your books for a sex scenes?

I try to make sex a part of my stories, but I have to be comfortable that it fits the plot. I’m the only author I know that published an erotic story that contains no sex, and yet the story was published twice.  In Redemption I reverted to erotic dreams to show sex early in the book, there was no other way to do it. My characters barely knew each other. The next sex scene came at the end of the book. I realize that some readers like more sex, but I can’t force it when I don’t believe the story warrants it.  In Strangers there’s more sexual encounters between the characters because Murphy has been pursuing Victoria almost from the start of the book. They have hot sex a number of times, but not always described in detail.  In Sisters I was again dealing with two strangers stranded together due to circumstances.  The attraction had to build, the sex earned.  My next book I’m already having a hard time figuring out if I can provide the required sex scene, since in my humble opinion the story does not warrant it. We’ll see what happens when it’s done.

I often hear authors say: "I did my 2K words today! Super! Tomorrow’s plan is another 2k.”  Do you have a word count goal for everyday? Do you limit yourself by numbers?

I admire authors who can force themselves to sit down and write a set number of words per day. I wish I could do it.  I’m more a by the seat of your pants type writer. I also write the first and last scene of each book, then work my way from there. It’s how my mind works and I’m forced to go with it. I do try to write every day, some days I can write 10K words, others I’m just editing what was already written and thinking about what comes next.

Last year you decided to become an Indy publisher. You are now owner of “Lesbian Fiction Press”. That is quite a huge step. As an independent publisher/author how much more work do you have?  What does it take for you to publish your book?

I love the challenge of taking a story idea, developing the plot, finishing the book and then making it ready for publication. I’m a hands on person and I want to be able to give input into every aspect of my books. Yes, I understand that most people call that a control freak.  I also pay top notch people to help with the parts I can’t do on my own. Editors are super important, so I hire the best and I’m proud of the end result. Graphic Artists, like yourself are so important to providing the finished product.  Many readers choose a book based on the cover art, I’ve done it myself, so I need captivating covers, and it’s paid off for me.

As for the extra work, after three grueling months of learning how to format a book for press, I could sit back and be super proud of the end product. I love that feeling.


What are the benefits and what are the downsides of doing it “all-by-yourself”?

The benefits are mentioned above, I control almost everything. I write the book, I prepare it my way for publication, I get a say in the artwork and I bow to most suggestions by an erudite editor.  The down side for this author is the PR work involved. I miss a number of opportunities that might otherwise have benefitted me, but there are only so many hours in a day and when winter hits, I’m housebound due to snow for days at a time, which can prevent me from being available for more public readings.

Is that something you would recommend to other writers?

Every writer has their own way of doing things and their own expectations of what they want. I need to have my hands in every aspect of a book. I have an image in my head of what the cover should be, and I won’t settle for less. I want the formatting done a certain way, it takes longer, but the finished product is more appetizing to this author. Not every author is as demanding or has the time to do it themselves. Most of the lesfic authors I know are younger than me and have full time jobs, a publishing house is perfect for them. I will always be grateful to Regal Crest for the opportunities I was afforded, but in the end I needed something different. Different strokes and all that.


You and your wife are together for more than 3 decades. Congratulations! That is one awesome number.  How do you manage to balance your family time and writing time when the writing muse overtakes your brain? Do you have any ritual when it comes to writing time?

My wife is one of the nicest, most easy going woman I know. She understands that writing is important to me, even if she does feel that I’ve killed her in every book I’ve ever published. This is true, just ask her.  I spend mornings with her, we catch up and then I go to my office to work. Most days I can spend hours up there working and writing without interruptions. Then there are the times when she insists we need to clean house, or decorate for the holidays or whatever. Those days are all hers. It’s a give and take relationship and I’ve learned a long time ago, a happy wife does equal a happy life.


When you are not writing, what do you do in your spare time?

I walk my dog 3 miles every morning, weather permitting. I wash and wax our three vehicles. I love detailing a car, I take pride in the end result and while I’m physically working on the car or truck or RV, I’m plotting my stories in my head.  Physical labor for me equals time to mentally write my next scene. I’ve been known to stop what I’m doing to write down an entire chapter. And of course we travel in our RV every year. It’s a great way to see the sights and Abby is with us all the time.


Do you remember what your first book was? And what was the first lesbian book which you read?

The first book I remember reading was an Agatha Christi paperback someone threw in the trash. I kept that book for years and re-read many times. I now proudly own every one of her books. As for the first Lesbian book I read, I do remember and I thank the author every chance I get. It was Accidental Love by BL Miller. I’ve read that book numerous times and it still makes me happy.


Can you imagine yourself as a Sci-Fi writer?

No. My mind just does not work that way. I admire authors who can imagine what isn’t known and create worlds and devices that have yet to be invented, I can’t do it.


Which book or story was most difficult to write?

Each book was difficult to write for me. Redemption went through five revisions over two years’ time before it made it to print. Strangers for some reason went through almost without issue in a matter of months, but the story itself hit close to home and therefore I had to explore areas of my life that I had blocked from my mind in order to bring it to life. Sisters has been nagging at me for years, but I only sat down to actually write the story six months ago. It’s a work in progress at this point, but I hope to publish it very soon.


And the previous question brings me to the next one; which character was most difficult to write?

Renee McVee was the hardest character to write. She was the step mother in Redemption, I had to make people hate her and what she did to the kids and then pull her back from the abyss to save her. She went through many revisions, but I’m happy with the end product. As Mac told Sarah toward the end of the book, Mac was Renee and that’s why Mac helped Renee.


“Sisters” is coming at the beginning of this summer. What are your plans after “Sisters”? Is there any new book we can look forward to? And if there is, can you reveal any juicy details?

Without giving away the plot, my next book will be “Lockdown”. You’ll revisit all the characters from Redemption but twenty years later.  I often hear readers say they want to see older characters. Lockdown will provide something for everyone. Mac and Emily are in their sixties and dealing with health issues and everyday life for an older person. The kids, both Emily’s and Sarah’s are grown with families of their own and see their lives now. We’ll meet a couple new friends and of course it will be a romance in the end

Black or White?

Black.

Scotch or Beer?

Scotch for sure.

Jeep or Bike?

Both.

Pants or Skirt?

Jeans.

One last thing. Imagine you are standing on top of the mountain and the whole world can hear you. You have only 10 words to use, to tell them whatever you want. No cheating, no more than 10, no less than 10. What would it be?

Life is short, break the rules, love truly and deeply.  I’m all about breaking the rules, dontcha know. ;-)


Yes, you are. Yes you are!

Thank you very much for taking time to answer my questions. I am looking forward to your next novels.


More informations about DeJay and her books you can find on:

www.lesbianfictionpress.com

www.dejaynovl.org
avatar
Lilien
Moderator
Moderator

Posts : 516
Join date : 2013-02-08
Age : 104
Location : Germany

http://lilienhoffman.wix.com/graphicdesign

Back to top Go down

Re: Interview with DeJay

Post by ElaineB on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:19 am

What an awesome interview!  Clapping 

_________________
“Writing is not a matter of time, but a matter of space. If you don’t keep space in your head for writing, you won’t write even if you have the time.” --Katerina Stoykova-Klemer
avatar
ElaineB
Moderator
Moderator

Posts : 658
Join date : 2013-03-05
Location : Massachusetts

Back to top Go down

Re: Interview with DeJay

Post by Sacchi on Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:48 pm

That's a wonderful look at DeJay and her work. Well done all around.
avatar
Sacchi
Part-time Poster
Part-time Poster

Posts : 67
Join date : 2013-04-11
Age : 74
Location : Western MA

http://sacchi-green.blogspot.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Interview with DeJay

Post by Deej on Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:22 pm

Thanks ladies.  Rose 

_________________
Sh t happens, deal with it.
avatar
Deej
Admin
Admin

Posts : 843
Join date : 2013-02-08
Location : Witch's Tit, PA

http://www.dejaynovl.org

Back to top Go down

Re: Interview with DeJay

Post by Athena on Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:19 pm

Very interesting interview. Thanks Deej for letting us get to know you and your writing a bit better. Smile
avatar
Athena
Getting the Hang of Things
Getting the Hang of Things

Posts : 455
Join date : 2013-03-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Interview with DeJay

Post by Deej on Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:23 pm

lt was fun, I hope more of the ladies do one.  OK 

_________________
Sh t happens, deal with it.
avatar
Deej
Admin
Admin

Posts : 843
Join date : 2013-02-08
Location : Witch's Tit, PA

http://www.dejaynovl.org

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum