Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guest blogger & GIVEAWAY: Jessica Freely, Author of Amaranth & Ash

Good morning and welcome. I'm thrilled to be here on Romance Writers Behaving Badly today!

One question I hear a lot as an author is "Where do your stories come from?" The truth is there's no predicting what will spark a story idea. Sometimes, like with my new release, Amaranth & Ash, the initial inspiration and the book that evolves from it seem to bear no relation to each other. I'll explain in a moment, but first, a few announcements.

-- I'm running a contest here today! If you leave a comment to this post, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of Amaranth & Ash.

-- A short story about young Amaranth during his days as an acolyte at the Temple is available exclusively on my Yahoo! newsletter group:

-- Finally, you can learn more about me and all my books on my website:

Now, to the matter at hand. Amaranth & Ash is a male/transmale erotic fantasy novel and it's available now from Loose Id:

Amaranth is a vasai, born with both male and female characteristics and forbidden from sexual relations with any but the ruling class. Ash is a chel, a member of the underclass. Their unlawful passion ignites a rebellion and transforms their world.

This book began when I went to see The Watchmen with friends. I've always had kind of a thing for actor Jackie Earle Haley. (Yeah, I know, I'm bit odd.) But when I saw his portrayal of Rorschach, especially the scenes where he's unmasked, I was completely captivated. I like redheads. Especially short, wiry, tough as nails redheads that may look beat to hell but can still take apart guys twice their size. Haley as Rorschach was all these things and more. Sigh...

Uh, where was I? Oh yeah! How I came to write Amaranth & Ash. Yep. It all began with Rorshach. LOL. Fortunately, it didn't end there, not by a long shot.

I came home and started writing this... thing. It had a guy named Ash in it and he was the spitting image of Haley as Rorschach but the similarities ended there. Then there was this other person, Amaranth. I know you're not supposed to have two major characters with the same first initials but I couldn't help it. Sometimes these people come with their own names and you can't change the name without changing the character.

Anyway, Amaranth was tall, blond, and desperately disillusioned with his life. Oh, and he had breasts and a penis. I noticed that almost right away. :)

I let the story spin out as it willed and after I had a few scenes written, I decided to start posting the first draft in serial form on my blog. That was utterly terrifying. To this day I blush to remember that first post -- the fragmented language, the over-the-top violence. All evidence of my crime is erased now, but for six months or more, it was up there, for all the world to see.

But as scary as it was to expose my raw writing to the world, it was also extremely liberating. And when the feedback started to come, that was amazing. Hearing from readers who liked what I was doing, warts and all, was incredibly motivating and I powered through that first draft in record time. I had to! People were waiting for the next installment! This was a great way to work and I hope to do it again some time.

I stopped posting installments when I knew I was almost at the climax of the story. I had two reasons. One was that in the first draft, my narratives tend to dissolve at about that point and become even more incoherent than before. Also, by then I knew this was more than just an exercise or a tribute to Haley. It was a book, and I wanted to see it through all the way to publication.

So I finished that first draft and then started revising. Loose Id accepted the book on proposal and I pulled those raw chapters down from my blog. They will never see the light of day again.

It took almost as long to complete the final draft I sent to my editor as it did the first, and since then, my editors and I have polished it even further. It's fascinating to me that a book that turned out to be about love in the midst of class warfare began with my lust for Haley, but that's the wonderful thing about writing. You never know where it's going to take you.

Thanks for listening. Now, here's my question for you: What actor's performance has inspired you, and how?


Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Jessica, congrats on your release. It is fascinating how a story takes on a life of its own and you've described it brilliantly.

There have been a lot of actor's performances that have inspired me. Adrian Paul is at the top of the list. He's a virtuoso at playing heroes in every era of history.

Bobbejean said...

Good afternoon, Jessica. I am always amazed at the writers creative process.

I have been looking forward to reading the complete Amaranth and Ash story since I first found it on your website. I had a really hard time keeping up with the story, and finally decided to wait for it to be completed.

I also really enjoyed Rustbelt, along with both the Awakenings books. I am looking forward to lots more wonderful books!!


Jessica Freely said...

Savanna, Bobbejean, thanks both of you for stopping by!

Savanna -- Adrian Paul is great. Have you seen this pic: He's got a new movie coming out called the Heavy that looks interesting. It's got Christopher Lee in it, one of my favorite bad guy actors.

Bobbejean -- no worries about not keeping up with that first draft. It was... well, a first draft. I'd love to hear what you think of the finished version, and how it's changed from what you read before.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading something about Amaranth and Ash a while back, after I'd read the two Awakenings books. I looked forward to it at the time, and can't wait to dive in :)

Jessica Freely said...

Thanks, I hope you enjoy it!

Jessica Freely said...

The winner of today's contest, by random selection of those who left comments, is danae72. Congratulations! Email me at jessicafreely at gmail dot com to claim your free copy of Amaranth & Ash. :)

Thanks so much everyone who stopped by today and a big hug for those of you who left comments. It's been a pleasure chatting with you.

Savanna Kougar said...

Jessica, thanks, I have seen that pic... and! it's always worth seeing it again... sigh and sexy yum...

Chloe Waits said...

Hi Jessica, I have said it before, but Kevin McKidd in Gunpowder, Treason and Plot, when he says in his Scottish brogue "Ah wantchu naked an' in my bed"
could melt the paint off the walls.

Awesome inspiration!