April 11, 2010

YogaGal's interview with DefinatelyStaying

Note: The Original Fic 'Little Boy Lost: Enlightened' is now available on Amazon.com, please take a minute to go and review if you loved the story.

author website: http://jpbarnaby.com/

Straddling the line of fanfic and real life publishing is tricky, yet DefinatelyStaying aka J.P. Barnaby, does it seamlessly. She began flexing her writing fingers with Twilight Fanfic, gathering a large and faithful following and took the leap from there into publishing her own, original work. 

In addition to the various original publications available for purchase, DefinatelyStaying continues to write fanfic as well - publishing the occasional contest entry or fic. Both her original fiction and fanfiction are written in a way that grips you from the start as a reader, making you want to stick around to find out what happens with her characters. Whether it's Jayden and Ethan from The Forbidden Room, or Edward/Jasper from Fractured, you find yourself becoming invested not only in the lot, but in the characters - a mark of a great author.

DefinatelyStaying is known not only for her fabulously steamy and creative slash, but also for her fics that delve into the world of BDSM. I've always dabbled on the fringe of the BDSM fics that have been out there, but something drew me into DefinatelyStaying's fics immediately, despite my own timidness with the subject matter. She handles the subject matter with respect and honesty, which makes for both an enjoyable and informative read. It was a great pleasure to sit down and interview DefinatelyStaying and to pick her brain not only about fanfic, but also about her foray into the publishing world.


Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Sit down, get comfy and let's do this thang ;)

1. I'll start out with the burning question us fellow addicts always wonder...what brought you to Twilight? To Fanfic?
My now nearly 17 year old cousin brought me to Twilight. She knew that I was a consummate Harry Potter fan, and practically begged me to read Twilight. I told her I wasn’t really into the whole Vampire thing, and she said that it was just a love story that happened to have Vampires and Werewolves in it. (Werewolves too??? Ugh). So, to shut her up, I downloaded the first book from audible.com and gave it a listen. By the end of the week, I had finished all four books. (This was just after Breaking Dawn had come out and the hype was back in full frenzy)

What brought me to Twilight fanfic is the same as what brought a lot of other people to Twilight fanfic – the shutdown of crazy vampire sex in Breaking Dawn. I’d waited four damn books to see how that would play out, and of course, it didn’t. So, having been a Potter fan, I knew that there was such a thing as Fanfiction, but had never read any. I did a google search and found Fanfiction.net and was amazed at the depth and talent of the stories that I found.

2. Were you always a slash fan or did you dabble in canon/'regular' AH fics first?
I don’t write exclusively slash, I’ve just been on a kick lately – exploring vulnerability in people, men in particular, fascinates and excites me. It’s probably why I’m also drawn to BDSM. But yes, my first real story with any measure of success, Next Weekend, centered around Edward and Bella living out different sexual fantasies. There is no real structure to the story, and no plot, but the sex is fun. I’ve also done Bella/Jasper in A Need for Redemption – and about 20 one-shots with various pairing and groupings.

3. I want to start with your current fic, Fractured, that stemmed from a one shot for "For the Love of Jasper" contest. It would be hard to discuss this fic without revealing a key twist of the plot, so I'll just put up a SPOILER ALERT and suggest to anyone who hasn't yet read this fic, to do so and perhaps skip to the next question. I'd love to know how you came up for the concept behind Fractured.
That’s kind of a funny story, actually. The concept for Fractured came about from a tweet sent to one of the judges who’d asked me to write something for the contest. I asked her if she wanted “Domsper” or “Subsper” or “Bisper” or maybe …. “Bipolarsper”. Bipolar disorders aren’t related to Dissociative Identity Disorder, but it just gave me that mental connection and made me realize that I had never seen a story where Edward and Jasper were multiple personalities of each other. So, I sat down and wrote Fractured one afternoon.

4. You're best known for your fanfic The Forbidden Room, which you've since transformed into your own, published novel. Would you talk a bit about how that process went?
The Forbidden Room came about because I wanted to do a BDSM fic that was a little different than the ones currently being posted. Not different in that it was Edward/Jasper and not Edward/Bella, but different in that I tried to explore the different facets, the different sides and reasoning that people had for incorporating BDSM into their lives. It was also an exploration of how that choice affects other areas of their lives.

When I started the story, I never thought it would become as popular as it did. Not only was it a harder core BDSM than my audience had seen, but it was also M/M, M/F, and M/M/F with no real romantic aspects. Love couldn’t be involved because during The Forbidden Room, Jayden had not yet come to terms with his sexuality and Ethan did not have the ability to cope with that type of relationship.

The suggestion to publish came, not from a fan, but from a colleague at work. We had talked about the success of the story, and its fans, and she suggested that I look into getting the book published. I checked through the submission guidelines for several publishers of M/M erotic fiction and found that most of them either weren’t looking for a first time author series, or required that the book have a “happily ever after”. As most people who read my work know, I’m more interested in realism than a happy ending, so I set the idea on a shelf for a while.

A few months later, on the advice of one of my friends, I bought an M/M erotic book based on a father/son pairing from Amazon and read it. I was fascinated that a book of that subject matter could get through a publisher, so I looked to see who the publisher was and saw that the book was self-published through Lulu.com. I did a lot of research on different self-publishing avenues before deciding on CreateSpace which is an Amazon partner. The rest was relatively easy. The cover model, Casey St. Clair is a stocker at a local store. I asked him if he wanted to be on the cover of my book, and he agreed so I arranged for a photographer friend to do a session with him. They came up with the now recognizable cover shot for the book. I put together the front and back covers, formatted the interior and published it. Afterwards, I converted the file to a Kindle format and posted it on Amazon as well.

I’ve run into a few hurdles along the way, but with the help of some very talented friends, we were able to work through them. Getting the book edited and free of errors is a time consuming process that requires a real gift. For that, I have to thank Touchstone67 who takes the time to go through the books with a fine tooth comb telling me what I should cut, what I should expand on, what makes sense, and what doesn’t. She fixes my grammar and tensing, and really makes it a book worth reading. Dark Absynthe and Joba Rules (who started helping with Enlightened) go through the books a second and third time checking for grammar and punctuation issues. With Enlightened, I also enlisted the help of Serena Yates (http://www.serenayates.com) and her beta just to make everything perfect.

Another hurdle to those wanting to self-publish their former fanfiction is the fandom itself. There was considerable backlash against those of us who to chose to remove our stories from fanfiction, especially for the purpose of publishing. They felt that it was an insult to pull a story that had been posted for free and suddenly charge for it. While I appreciate their perspectives on the issue, my goal in publishing has always been for my work to reach a larger audience. The money from the books is used in furtherance of that goal and is spent in supporting JPBarnaby.com, advertising, research, and other various publishing expenses.

Finally, one of the biggest problems I have in self-publishing is marketing. For those that don’t know me, I’m really a socially awkward computer geek. So, bucking up and asking people to review the books, or buy the books, or interview me for a blog so I can promote the books is hard for me. I’ve enlisted the help of another friend to help me in these endeavors, kind of like a managing or marketing agent. Hopefully, this will free up a lot of the time that I’m currently spending on marketing and promotion, and allow me more time for writing. Because we all want to know what happens with Brian and Jamie right?!?

5. Had you written/published anything before working on The Forbidden Room?
I have written other fanfiction, but The Forbidden Room was the first thing I’ve ever published. A second novel, Enlightened (Little Boy Lost #1) has also been published.

6. What are you currently working on right now (non fanfic yet still "slash")?
One of the things that helps to break writer’s block for me is working on stories simultaneously. I currently have four stories that I am actively working on:
1. Fractured (FanFiction)
2. Community Service (the third book in The Forbidden Room series which will be a free eBook available from JPBarnaby.com done for the Support Stacie auction)
3. Abandoned – the second book in the Little Boy Lost series
4. An as of yet untitled novel about a boy, Aaron, dealing with PTSD who is trying to cope with life during his first year of college. Having been brutalized, and a witness to the murder of his best friend, just getting through each day is a struggle until he meets Spencer. Born deaf, Spencer seems to be the perfect project partner for Aaron because they both prefer to communicate through non-verbal means (IM, email, texting), and because they both understand what it’s like to have to depend on other people in order to survive. The question is, can Spencer help to reach the man, so broken by life and help him to heal?

7. You've recently written a handful of one shots for various contests. Which of them is your favorite and why?
That is a very interesting question. I think there are a few that I favor more than others. Boom Shakalaka was a really fun one to write, and it took Edward out of the spotlight for once allowing Jasper and Emmett a chance to play. Dressing for the Corner Office was probably one of my favorites because I have always found Edward Cullen to be portrayed, even in the original series as fairly self-absorbed. This story took him down a notch pretty nicely. Unthinkable was interesting because you never saw the ending coming, and the concept of Edward and Jasper switched at birth was another one that I hadn’t seen. Finally, probably my favorite one-shot of all time is Rights of the Fallen because, judging by the reviews, it got people to really think about what it means to deny a segment of the population the rights inherent to everyone else. Maybe when the topic of marriage equality comes up on their own ballot people will take the time to think about how to vote, and that means a lot to me.

8. When you write your fics, who do you picture as your Edward and Jasper? Or are they different depending on the fic/one shot?
For one shots, I don’t really think about it too much, but for longer stories I do generally find images of the characters which helps in their descriptions. My writing is stored in Microsoft One Note 2007 so it’s really easy to load character images, detailed character descriptions and bios, research clips, ideas, scenes, timelines, or anything else I feel is pertinent to the story. I try not to focus on prominent or popular figures, but will look through google images or fotolia for pictures of characters.

9. What's the hardest part about writing slash in your opinion? The best part?
The hardest part about writing slash is that I’m not a guy. It’s difficult to write completely out of your element like that, and I’m not talking about the sex. I don’t believe in writing male gay characters as women with penises, it’s something I try to actively avoid. I have a lot of gay male friends, and they are just as male, and macho in some ways as any straight man.

The best part about writing slash is that I get to put a positive face, a recognizable face, a beloved face on being gay. I’ve had a lot of reviews from people telling me that because of my stories they now think differently about the LGBT community. Being the “B” in the LGBT rainbow, that means a hell of a lot to me. Oh, and I’m still looking for an accountant, but I think it also means that I get to write my porn off of my taxes as a research expense! ;)

10. Let's talk about your writing style for a bit. Do you do anything special while writing a chapter like listen to special music or do you need total silence? Do you eat an entire bag of M&Ms or drink heavily? Perhaps peruse the Corbin Fisher website? *winks*
Heh. Yeah, I will totally admit to listening to Corbin Fisher scenes while I write. I am a total audiophile, and if I’m writing just a vanilla slash scene, I will definitely listen while I write because it turns me on. The more into it I am, the better the scene turns out. If I’m writing a BDSM scene, I’ll generally watch BoundGods for a while before hand to set the stage. Other than that, I write anywhere and everywhere, music, silence, whatever. I take my laptop on my commute, and carry an expanding file fill of index cards. Whenever I have an idea for a story or a scene within a story, I’ll write it out and file it.
My friends thought I was crazy when I told them that with this last book – Aaron doesn’t like the computer. I had to write out everything by hand because when I look at the screen, I get nothing. He also talks to me in third person, where all of my other writings have been first person. It’s like the story is already there, his story, and I’m just the messenger.

Finally, there are two things that I learned from the great Stephen King. The first is to write every single day, no matter what you’re working on. Set a word goal, and hit it every day. My word goal is 2000/day. The second is not to be ashamed of what you write – you’re not wasting your talent by writing what inspires you.

11. Time for random FF questions. What's your biggest FF pet peeve?
Well, of course I could say the drama, but since I don’t participate in it anymore, it doesn’t really bother me as much. So, I would have to say all the –wards and -spers. That makes me crazy for some reason.

12. What do you LOVE to see in FF that you read?
Surprise and viability. One of the things I hate most in anything that I read is knowing what’s going to happen every step of the way, or knowing how it’s going to end within the first three chapters. What’s the point of reading, if you know how it’s going to end, and how you’re going to get there? Viability is another big thing for me, if I don’t think something could really happen (even if it’s sci-fi or paranormal) then I lose interest. I read a book once about a rape victim who was starting a new relationship, and just jumped in with both feet, totally fine with their sexual relationship. I don’t find that plausible, and it bugged me, so I stopped reading and didn’t read anything else by that author. There was another book where a kid on the streets was taken in by guy and started calling him dad within the first few weeks – that isn’t going to happen either.

13. If you could have 15 minutes with any Edward- FF or SMs - which one would you choose and what would you do?
Sorry Edward, this one is all Jasper’s. I would want Jasper from Lillie Cullen’s A Lesson in Release, and I would want him for a hell of a lot longer than 15 minutes. If he wasn’t available, I’d certainly take Jasper from either Midnight Margaritas or A Need for Redemption.

14. If you could ask any Twilight Cast member a question who would you ask and what would your question be?
Uhhhhhmmmm… I’m not a big fan of the films, or the cast of the films for that matter. I’d have to say that I’d ask for autographs for a few of my friends who are big fans. Or… I might ask Taylor if he was gay because I totally get that vibe.

and lastly...
15. Do you have any slashy rec's for us that you think others *must* check out?
I can give you a LIST of stories that I think you should check out. Of course my favorite slashy story is gone now. *sob* I miss Beautiful Figment’s What I Failed to Realize so much.
If you’re looking particularly for slash recs – check out the TwiSlash blog at http://twislash.blogspot.com. Whitlock’sGirl and Naelany work hard to bring top quality recs, I rope in slash authors to tell us what they’re reading, and Dark Absynthe puts up pretty naked pictures.

Thanks SO much for allowing me the pleasure of interviewing you!!


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