Diverse Author Spotlight is a post series here on Book Deviant where I’ll introduce and interview a marginalized author! You can read the rest on this page!
J. Emery is slowly writing their way through every fantasy trope imaginable. And if they can make it weirder and queerer while they do, that’s even better as far as they’re concerned.
They spend their free time watching anime, gaming, and drinking large quantities of tea. Occasionally all at the same time. They have also been known to document their ridiculous levels of terror while watching horror movies on twitter as
mixeduppainter. Sometimes they even discuss upcoming projects. @
They have also written and self-published two queer stories: An Offering of Plums and Help Wanted.
J. Emery uses they/them or she/her pronouns.
As usual, I will be AC in bold and J. Emery with be JE.
AC: Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! To start, can you tell us more about yourself and writing?
JE: I always struggle a little bit with how to answer this one. Among other things I was (very briefly) a working artist which is how I got the name I use on twitter now, but I’m also a single parent, a pan ace, and a writer.
I began writing fiction at a very early age. It was something I naturally gravitated to even before I realized that it was a job that people had. I spent a lot of time reading and making up new stories to entertain myself. I had problems with insomnia from a pretty young age too so I would lie in bed and tell myself really elaborate stories while I waited to fall asleep. The habit stuck. And now when I have something big on my mind, I start writing a new story so I can funnel all of those feelings into something constructive. It relaxes me. That’s probably why I have so many works in progress though. I need to work on finishing some of them soon.
AC: How many do you have going now, if you don’t mind me asking? Any coming out in the foreseeable future?
JE: Right now I think I’m at around a dozen unfinished first drafts of varying lengths. Most are novels but I wrote a lot of novellas last year too. They’re starting to overtake the novels. I have a very loose system where I pick at stories for a year or three and then finish things in batches when the stack gets too big to handle anymore.
Thanks to that I have an m/m fantasy romance novel coming out sometime later this year (no release date yet) with Less Than Three Press. I’m also querying a few books, including my shady vampire hunter series and an art themed contemporary romance, and trying to get my snowed in vampire romance self published in the next few months too. Hopefully at least some of those will be available soon. And then I’ll probably be buried under a fresh pile of works in progress.
AC: Thinking in terms of representation, what’s important for you to include in your stories? Why?
JE: I don’t think I know how to write a book without at least one ace character anymore. They sneak in, usually as main characters, no matter what my original plans might be. That’s what happened with the shady vampire hunter book. I didn’t know much about him until suddenly he decided he was demisexual and I couldn’t change his mind even if I’d wanted to. I mostly draw from my own personal experience first though so all my stories have fairly high numbers of pan characters, chronic pain, anxiety, and I’m slowly inching into having more explicitly biracial characters.
I write the kind of rep I would like, in the genres that I love, and hopefully other people enjoy them too.
AC: I don’t know about you, but when I read asexual representation in popular, more mainstream published works, I usually end up being disappointed. How do you feel about current/popular asexual rep, and what are some ways you think help support the ace community? Do you think your written asexual rep has helped others?
JE: Honestly, I haven’t read a lot of the traditionally published ace rep since much of it tends to fall into contemporary YA which is not a genre I read as much. I’m also very much not a teen anymore so my opinions on how good it is or isn’t should be taken with a grain of salt. But whether adult or YA, I don’t feel much of a connection to the traditionally published ace rep I have read. Maybe it’s from being grey ace, which is less frequently depicted. Most ace rep I’ve come across is with characters who have no sexual attraction and aesthetic attraction is rarely mentioned. That’s a big one for me. The nuances of the different types of attraction and how they interact is one of my favorite subjects and I wish more traditionally published books dug into that and examined it in a real way.
Either way it’s very different from my own experience and even though I’ve enjoyed many of the books in other ways, as ace rep they’re not for me. It’s wonderful to see all the ace rep that’s becoming available though, both indie and traditional, and I’m excited to support everyone who is writing it and talking about it. The continued discussions of what it means to be ace are my happy place.
I really don’t know if any of the ace (or other) rep that I’ve written has helped anyone. I hope so. Most of my work is fantasy so it’s a lot of fun on a personal level just to make more space for aces in the genre, but if someone else is appreciating that effort, that’s a definite bonus.
AC: Is there a reason you write fantasy? Would you ever consider writing in another genre–if so, which and why?
JE: I think I’ve attempted to write in just about every genre except sci-fi (which I have no sense for unless you count post-apocalyptic) and horror (which I stopped writing after I scared myself one time too many) so I’m definitely open to other genres but fantasy is where I’m happiest. I grew up reading fantasy and the genre conventions feel comfortable. Plus I can adjust my worldbuilding to suit whatever type of story and aesthetic I want. That’s one of my favorite parts. Exploring all the possibilities. Coming up with worlds that no one ever thought of before. And if I want to make the world super queer, I don’t have to justify it. I just write it that way. It’s freeing.
I’m a HUGE fan of cozy mysteries though so if I had to choose another genre that would probably be it. I’ve read so many cozy mystery series over the years and the format has always appealed to me, especially since it allows for slow buildup of character interactions over multiple books. I build all my stories out of the characters and their personalities and I keep writing just to see what they do and how they do it. Where they clash. What makes a friendship or a romantic relationship work or fall apart. So I would love to weave some of that into a multiple book mystery series someday.
AC: What are three books or authors that you’d recommend to readers? Feel free to recommend more if you have them!
JE: I won’t lie, this question killed me a little. I’m such a slow reader! So whenever I try to recommend things it’s always books that came out years ago and I only recently got to.
I absolutely loved Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen. It was so good. Dark because it deals with stalking, but it was handled really well and felt extremely true. I got a nice surprise when the book discussed asexuality a little too. I really hadn’t expected that.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo was one of my favorite books from last year so I have to include that here too. It made me cry which hardly ever happens.
And I’m probably becoming predictable but I’m going to say Sea Foam and Silence by Lynn E. O’Connacht for my last recommendation. As usual. It has one of the nicest most comfortable representations of touch aversion that I’ve ever read. That meant a lot to me.
AC: Thank you so much for being on the blog!
Thanks for stopping by!
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