Q: What inspired you to write JERKBAIT?
A: I wrote a short story originally after listening to Sigur Ros’s “Ny Batteri” on repeat for a long time. Years later, I thought it might make a good novel and it turned into a semi-autobiographical piece that I absolutely needed to write to cope with a lot of my inner demons and loss. Since then, it fortunately changed a lot so it’s not so autobiographical. Still the same heart, but something that wasn’t about me (I’m pretty private about some things in my life although most people think I’m open since I love to talk/write a lot! But if you actually look at my tweets, said talking is pretty generic!).
Q: Sports culture (especially hockey) is still largely homophobic. How do the characters in JERKBAIT deal with these issues?
A: There are a lot of characters in JERKBAIT because of the hockey team, and they deal with homophobia in different ways. I’d been wondering about the correlation between homophobia in sports at the junior level (aka the kids who will turn pro) versus professional leagues. The rate of homophobia seems to drop drastically once someone makes the highest level. I suspect many of the junior players are homophobic due to knowing there aren’t enough jobs–at this time, only 210 players can get drafted each year from around the world. That’s really not a lot considering in the NHL itself, there are about 690 players (barring injuries and call ups, including the healthy scratches and back up goalie). So… there’s not a lot of work. I suspect players do anything to eliminate the competition at the younger levels.
So in JERKBAIT, we have a lot of responses that revolve around pro sports.
Robbie feels he’s not able to come out because of that pressure and the things he’d have to face. He’s not ashamed of being gay, he doesn’t hate himself for being gay, but he knows the way he’ll be treated on his way to the top will be incredibly difficult, especially as he’s on the fringe of possibly being a first rounder, where most of those kids do end up in the NHL.
Tristan wants Robbie to do his passion but even in the novel encourages Robbie to quit because of that sort of pressure.
Durrell is absolutely, 100% cool with it, probably because he faces some racism as the only black player on the team (although, fortunately, more people of color are playing in the NHL thanks to some amazing superstars such as Jerome Iginla, P.K. Subban, and (within the next five years) Seth Jones.
Raiden… is complicated… which is why I like him so much although I won’t say more because spoilers. Characters like Beau, Janek, and Smitty are hard to read.
Any of the acting kids (Heather, Keisha, Craig) really don’t see the big deal because in their world it’s very accepted.
Q: Are you a pantser or a plotter when it comes to writing?
A: Total pantser. I cried when my editor, McKelle George, said I needed to do a loose outline. I cried when I wrote the outline and cried when I got the email back because my outline was total crap. I am SO bad at outlining because I believe 100% in letting the story dictate itself and figuring out problems later.
If I learned how to plan, though, honestly it’d probably save me a lot of time.
Q: What advice would you give to teens struggling with their sexuality?
A: Talk to someone. There are guidance counselors, online forums, organizations, hotlines (which, by the way, are confidential). PLEASE talk to someone. There are ways to get help. There are people. We hear things like, “It gets better,” and some of you might roll your eyes saying, “it’s not getting better.” I understand that! But talking to someone who’s an expert can help immensely. You’ll learn not just how to cope with social situations but how to be safe, how to be loved.
Q: If you are comfortable to share, what are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a YA sorta psychological thriller-y… something… sort of retelling with a bi male protag that deals with unusual hobbies. Out of context, that sounds super lame, but I’m really, REALLY superstitious.