Interview with debut author Jax Meyer

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Who or what inspired your latest novel Dal Segno?

It all started as a dream, which is a rare experience since having my daughter almost four years ago. In it I was visiting a college and ran into my old music teacher and had this sense of home at seeing her. The dream wasn’t romantic, but that idea of finding home in a person unexpectedly stuck with me for days. I played around with ideas to create a backstory and before long I had the beginning of the book.

Once I had the basic backstory, I focused on building Cam as a character. I knew I was too new at writing to get too adventurous, so I based a lot of her on myself. Her butchness and autism are based very closely on my experiences, but I did this purposely because there’s so little autistic representation in lesfic. And the butch representation is often something I don’t relate to. Ultimately, I wrote a character I wanted to read about.

The rest, including Sharon and Laura’s characters came to life as I wrote, which was the most fascinating experience for me to look back on.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

This is my first novel. It’s the first book I’ve written, with the exception of a story I wrote when I was 12 or 13 about my friends and I being rock stars. I never knew I could be a writer until this book because of the way my autistic brain works. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about myself!

What ultimately got me writing was a subconscious need to, and a lot of support from the other authors I’ve connected with this year over in Slack. This book would not be what it is without the Lesfic Love group, which is why they get a shoutout in the acknowledgments.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I love Cam, but writing Laura was so much fun! I fell in love with her as she developed as a person on the page. I’ve spent the last few months writing the prequel, which means writing Sharon into existence, and I couldn’t begin to choose between them. Both provide Cam just what she needs at that point in her life, but what she needs at 20 is very different from what she needs at 40.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Since I’m still new to writing, I’m don’t have a lot of experience with this. So far, I get a tiny snippet of an idea, then I start brainstorming. I really love Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book to help me get to know the characters, but I don’t actually know that much about them when I start writing. I find my starting point and just write. Their voice begins to develop, the story develops based on their interactions, and I’m just along for the ride.

One thing I think I do well is knowing when something isn’t working. It just feels off to me. Sometimes that means going back and changing a character’s reaction or choice. Sometimes it means scrapping the whole thing like I did with the upcoming A Marine Awakening. That started as a short story, to help build Cam’s backstory. I completely scrapped that when I went to write the actual book though because it just didn’t work. Thankfully I don’t refer to her life with Sharon much, so I didn’t have to worry about consistency very often. Also, thankfully, I’m using the same editor for both books so she’s well aware of Cam’s character and what occurs in Dal Segno.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

I always start with real people for at least one personality quirk so I have something to work with. My autism presents itself in a way that makes understanding people very difficult, which is the exact opposite of my wife. So I will start with a character, in a moment, and often discuss them with her to get a deeper understanding. Once I have that understanding it helps me guide the characters’ development. I also have friends that are great to brainstorm with. Their questions help the character come into focus.

I have noticed that by the middle of the book, the original person the character is based on is hard to find, as the character has come into their own. I’m learning to separate the inspiration for the character from the character more quickly, which allows the character to develop more easily. It truly is a fascinating experience for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer to write in a quiet room, with lots of natural light. However, I wrote about 75% of Dal Segno on my iPhone, many times while working one of my part time jobs. I’m so often on the run that being at home to write is a luxury. Then again, writing with an almost four year old means it’s often not quiet either. It would be a dream to go on a writing retreat in the mountains.

What is your writing process?

Just write. When I get stuck, I reach out for help brainstorming so I can keep writing. I don’t outline, unless I have some key beats I’m aiming for, because I discover so much as I write. I do occasionally write a scene out of order, just to get the words out of my head, but it almost always gets significantly rewritten by the time I reach.

For example, the weekend Cam and Laura first have sex, Laura plays Warm Valley for Cam. That was originally going to be their first kiss earlier in the book. But as I wrote and talked to people about Cam, I realized that she needed to fall into that first kiss. The scene as originally wrote was so much fun to write, but it didn’t work in the story, so it was repurposed.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

When I published, I had no clue whether people would like it or not. As the good reviews came in, I gained confidence. Now I’m committed to being a writer instead of a person who wrote a book. I’m still surprised that it happened, but I love it. This year has been a very difficult year for me personally, but writing has kept me sane and given me an outlet.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

First, I was lucky to be referred to a great, affordable editor by other lesbian romance authors. She turned my draft from something that would have been ok to a book that I’m proud to call mine. She also gave me frequent confidence boosts which made it much easier to hit the publish button. There are a lot of editors out there, but I wanted someone who knew lesbian romance, specifically. She was able to provide a lot of beneficial guidance not just on the story, but the cover design and blurb.

Second, getting a quality cover designer. I found Amanda Walker in a Facebook group and loved her pre-made covers. She worked with me to find the right stock photos, title fonts and colors, and my cover looks really nice. Cover art really makes a difference! She’s rather affordable as well. She can be found at https://www.amandawalkerpa.com/

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I was really insecure about Cam’s autism. Even though it’s based on mine, I worried I didn’t show it well enough. But I received an email from a reader who said they really appreciated that aspect and it was spot on. I’m pretty sure I cried a little.

Recently, Anna at The Lesbian Review covered my book and I couldn’t stop smiling when she said this about my characters. “Meyer’s characters are subtle in their depictions, yet they deliver a powerful impact. It is pure genius.” I can’t describe how it felt to read those words!

I’m still in shock at how much people loved my book. For readers, know that your kind words really do make a difference. I don’t respond to reviews, but know you have my deepest gratitude for reading and enjoying my book.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

There are too many. However, in my upcoming book I do reference Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg as a critical book in my young adulthood. It gave me a reference point for my own butch identity at a time when I really needed terminology. For those who are younger, who always had the internet and gay characters on tv, it’s hard to describe what it’s like growing up in rural Wisconsin, not knowing anyone who was queer, and not having the language for your own identity. I’m not going to say kids have it easier today, because they have pressures I never had to deal with, but I love that they have the language to find themselves earlier.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

A Marine Awakening is being edited now, to release by the end of January if all goes well. The book goes back in time almost exactly 20 years where Cam meets Sharon. We follow their journey as young Marines from meeting, falling for each other, meeting the parents, getting that first tattoo, and ultimately ending at their one year anniversary. We also learn why Sarah gets a free pass to be a loveable pain in Cam’s ass. This book is a lot steamier, so for those wishing Dal Segno had more sex, I think you’ll be satisfied with A Marine Awakening.

Afterwards I have two books on deck, though I’m not sure which will get written first. One will be a co-writing project with my wife, who’s had this story brewing for a year and a half at least, but her neurological issues prevented her from physically writing it. It’s the story of a dancer/choreographer and a writer who are both frustrated with their lives and have a lot of issues to overcome to be together.

The second book is mine, based at the South Pole, which I visited as a young physics student in college. Phoenix decides to run as far away from her life as possible when she realizes she might have fallen for her best friend. So she talks to her aunt who works for a company that employs people at the South Pole. There she meets Ashley, a serious astrophysicist who has no interest in relationships because she’s determined to help colonize Mars someday. This story has naturally come together so I can’t wait to write it.

How do you take your coffee?

Strangely enough, I never was much of a coffee drinker until well into my 30s. I still don’t drink it daily because I develop a tolerance for it quickly. I recently learned I prefer espresso drinks with enough sugar to balance the coffee, and tons of almond milk. Right now, my favorite is the juniper latte at Starbucks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: melzie88

Secondary education major specializing in English, book blogger, puppy mom.

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