If E.L. Doctorow was on point when he said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,” J. R. LENK is a self-confessed pretty boy severely in need of a psychological once-over.
Cursed by a height barely scraping five foot five, he is a culture connoisseur. He’s a sucker for overcast skies and the smell of books, particularly good old-fashioned horror and gothic thrillers, à la Rice or Michael Cox. He enjoys a lot of things from movies about castrati to smoking cigarettes on the roof of his house, to classy sweaters and wayward glances, to successful sex hair and hobo chic. He’s an old soul with a little bit of a potty-mouth and a friends with benefits relationship with Red Bull and Microsoft Word that goes hand-in-hand with his love for Vivaldi and alternative rock in equal parts.
J. R. has been penning stories of the M/M or bisexual persuasion for years. He’s known to sometimes spontaneously burst into song, go off on twenty-minute tangents, and quote Sherlock Holmes (usually assuming the Robert Downey Jr. interpretation).
He currently lives near Pike’s Peak with his family and his one and only better half, but Seattle is his hometown and he finds himself inexplicably thinking about the West Coast every day. Visit J. R. on Twitter at http://twitter.com/prettyboysays/ or on Tumblr at http://mainliningsunsets.tumblr.com/.
Is Collide your first novel?
You know, it’s funny. Collide is far from my first novel. It’s actually my third, out of about… six or seven now? Ha ha! One day I just sort of had one of those rare light bulb moments, when it hit me that I could make money off my writing. I’d been writing for fun for a good 8 or 9 years up until that point, but that was the moment I really forced myself to persevere through to the end of an ambitious project. And from there it’s just been a blast.
What inspired you to write Collide?
Hmm… The first two full-scale novels I wrote are actually gothic historicals, a resurrection of elegant Victorian-era vampires and their gory, grim creep factor, so deviating from that to write Collide was really a leap off the high dive for me. I don’t entirely remember what sparked the flame for Collide, but I think it had something to do with itching for a new idea and taking a 3-year old idea (albeit in “fanfiction” form from soooo long ago!) and deciding to experiment and see what happened if I made it “real fiction”. It became something so much more than I’d ever envisioned, and while it’s far from the way I write now, and rather whimsical as I feel most (even serious) YAs are, I could never be the writer I am now if I hadn’t written Collide.
According to your biography, you were eighteen when Collide was published. Is Collide much like your experience of High School?
Yes! I was 17 when I finished Collide, but 18 when I sent it to Harmony Ink Press. Yeah, I would definitely have to say that there are some scenarios in Collide that come from little pieces of personal experience… Though I’d have to say I was more a Jesse than a Hazard, in some senses. Watch out.
Do you plan on making writing a career, or do you have other career plans?
Oh, yes. Writing is and has been a passion of mine for years and years and years. A love for the arts is in my blood, and I’ve always been told to make a career out of the things you love rather than get stuck in “a job”—so I hope to make a career of the things that make up my life, a trifecta of writing, acting, and modeling.
How long does it usually take you to write a novel?
This definitely varies, ha ha! The first two novels I wrote took me a month each, while Collide didn’t take much longer because it was something of a transition, having written a good chunk a few years ago only to rewrite and transform a little. The other three novels I’ve written in the last few months have been about the same, a month of actual pedal-to-the-metal, can’t-stop-thinking-about-it writing, getting up early and working hard during most free time, and then casual editing between that and sending it off somewhere.
Do you have a favorite genre?
I would have to say my favorite genre, hands down, is paranormal. I love ghost stories. I love vampires (although I am not really a Twilight fan). I love horror. I cut my teeth on Stephen King and from there progressed to more gothic paranormal stories, but they definitely have to be written a certain way for me to get into them. I also really adore historicals.
However, I do like contemporary! I like raw, edgy, tragicomic kind of stuff. And sex. I enjoy sex from subtle hints to erotica to all-out smut.
How would you describe your experiences working as an author with Harmony Ink Press?
Mm, my experience working with Harmony Ink Press has been nothing but a blast. Not once did I ever feel like a “newb”, or ignorant in any way. And trust me, I asked maaaany questions, ha ha! It was really fun, though, working with a small publishing company like them because it’s a lot more… down-to-earth for lack of a better phrase, as I’m sure a lot of the authors and editors working at Harmony Ink Press are into the same things I am outside of m/m.
What advice would you give novice writers looking to break into the YA M/M Romance genre?
Advice I would give to novice writers looking to break into the YA M/M Romance genre is to just write what you’d want to read. You’d be surprised how many people want to read it, too.
Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.
For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.