Author Interview: Jonathan Penn talks Christmas and writing

Today it’s Jonathan’s turn to talk about his story in the Holiday anthology Boughs of Evergreen and writing and a lot more. He also has a surprise for us. Well, he’ll give you a hint about what it is.

Admittedly, I haven’t read  Jonathan’s story just yet, but after this interview I sure got curious as I’m sure you’ll be.

So give a warm welcome to Jonathan Penn!

jonathanHi Jonathan, welcome to the blog! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi Larissa. Thank you for having me. I’m 52 years old and have lived most of my life in North Carolina, the last 33 years with the man of my dreams. I grew up in the theatre—my mom was an actress and taught drama in the public schools. In my early twenties, I switched gears and went to work with my siblings who were starting a food service business. After a decade of that, I spent the next twenty years in software. The last five years, I’ve been working in healthcare. As curricula vitae go, it’s kind of all over the map. (*wink*)

What inspired you to write your first story?
I was an avid reader in my youth, and then I just stopped. A couple years ago, one of my brothers gave me an e-reader for my birthday. I was thrilled to discover that all the classics are available for free, and I spent that summer reading all of Dickens. Then, I started reading the classic romances, and I was hooked. I tore through every one I could find. I don’t know what rock I’d been living under my whole life, but somehow it never occurred to me that there might be people out there writing gay romances. One day, I inadvertently (*eh-hem*) typed something into my Kindle search box, oh, I don’t know, something like, “gay cowboy,” and, well, you can imagine my surprise! It didn’t take long for me to stumble across the M/M Romance Group at Goodreads, where I started making friends and discovering more and more wonderful M/M authors. Last spring, when their Don’t Read in the Closet writing event came up, I decided to take the plunge, and wrote my first work of fiction, Raising Cade.

You have a story in the holiday Anthology Boughs of Evergreen. How did you come to write a story for this anthology?
Deb McGowan, the publisher of Boughs of Evergreen, was one of the people I had met in the M/M Romance Group. She read Raising Cade, and liked the characters, and asked me if I would write a holiday-themed sequel.

Can you tell us what your story is about?
Sure. Cade Bishop and Alan Troxler have been boyfriends for about eight months. They’re driving from hommeDurham, NC, up to Asheville for Christmas on a two-part mission. When Alan was growing up, his family made an annual trip to see the Buildwell House (I changed the name to avoid any possible unpleasantness) decked out in all its glorious holiday decorations. He hasn’t been for twelve years because he’s been deployed overseas. So, they’re going to renew his tradition. Then, they’re going to Cade’s parents’ house (Cade grew up in Asheville) for Alan to meet Cade’s folks. Alan is very nervous about the meeting, because Cade’s family is wealthy, and Alan comes from humble beginnings. He’s sure he won’t measure up to their expectations. I won’t tell you more than that, because it might spoil things.

Funny question: you are author-napped to a remote island full of holiday themed booby traps and riddles. Name two of your characters you would want with you.
I would absolutely want Alan with me. As a retired Marine, he would know how to keep us alive and safe on a remote island. I hope nobody tells Cade about this interview, because this would break his heart, but my other choice would be Bobby Greenwell. Bobby is the main character in a short story called Turnabout, in the Kickass Anthology, which is coming out in December to raise funds for Eric Arvin and Tj Klune. Bobby is young, and doesn’t have the kind of experience Alan does, but he’s very smart, and he’s intrepid. He’s a man who will never let circumstances get the better of him, so he’d be invaluable for surviving a dire situation.

You are a new author. What are your plans for future books?
I’m working on a revised, expanded version of Raising Cade. The time allowed for writing the original was limited by the schedule for the writing event, so it ended up at about 120 pages, and it really wants to be about twice that. There’s so much that’s missing! Homme for the Holidays, my story in Boughs of Evergreen, is actually Book 3 in the Cade & Alan series. Raising Cade only covers the first six weeks of their relationship. Once the 2nd ed. is done, I have plans for Book 2 (tentatively titled Awakening Alan), which will pick up where Raising Cade left off and carry us through the next six months, up to Christmas.

All proceeds for this anthology will be donated to the LGBTQ organisation The Trevor Project (in the USA). What is so important about this organisation and why donate all the proceeds?
I’m disturbed by the alarming rate of teen suicide, but the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth within that rate is just shocking to me. Something has to be done—someone has to be there for these young people when they reach out, and maybe most important, make sure they know—ahead of time, before they’re in trouble—that someone is there, and cares, and they can reach out and will be heard. This is exactly what The Trevor Project is doing, and why I feel so strongly about supporting their work.

Do you believe Prince Charming or Princess Charming exists? Or only in the books?
I believe that Prince Charming or warty frog is a matter of perspective in the moment. The man I share my life with is absolutely the most perfect, handsome, chivalrous, caring, ideal person ever to walk this planet. He’s also mean and petty, and irritating as hell, and sometimes he doesn’t smell so good. Over the years, I think I’ve gotten better at remembering—in the middle of one of those moments where I seem to be not liking him very much—that he is also all those other things, and that makes the difference, and lets me laugh at myself, and how hopelessly in love I am. In books? I really don’t care for stories where Prince Charming is perfect. If he doesn’t have any flaws, he’s just not interesting to me. I like stories about real men, coping with real difficulties.

What do you find the most fun part about your writing process?
I have fun with all of it! Letting my imagination run wild, just to see where it might take me and the characters, that’s very exhilarating. But I also enjoy the parts that some might consider drudgery. I love it when I have to do research to ensure that I’m accurate in what I’m writing about. Believe it or not, I also have a lot of fun in the editing process. I can argue for hours over whether or not a particular sentence needs a comma in it, and thoroughly enjoy every minute of the argument!

What was the hardest part of writing your story?
No question! The Christmas dinner scene. It just wouldn’t come. For more than a week, every time I’d try to work on it, my four characters would just sit there around the table staring at one another, with nothing to say—except every now and then, when one of them would turn and glower at me for a moment, before staring back down at their plate. Then, a sort of central organizing idea came out of the blue, and everything started flowing again, and it turned out to be a scene I’m quite happy with.


You can find Jonathan at any of the following places:

E-mail |Blog | Amazon | GoodReads | Twitter | FaceBook | Google+

If you are interested in buying Jonathan’s story, you can go to any of the following links:

Amazon | Smashword | Beaten track Publishing

Are you interested in donating to the Trevor Project? Go here for more information:

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