CJane: Hi Renae! Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I appreciate it!
Renae: I see you’ve had a wonderful new New Year’s present – a new release. Congratulations. For those who have been partying too hard, CJane’s new book is called Wild and Precious.
Aspiring writer Brent Granger has good friends and a great job at an arts magazine in DC, but he’s batting zero in the arena of love. Brent begins to get a clue why things aren’t working with women from his strong attraction to his gorgeous, gay, and already attached boss, Graham Stoneford. When he sees a personal ad from a man that quotes his favorite poet, Brent decides to do something wild and answer.
Enter Cody Bellstrom, easygoing bisexual musician, who is happy to initiate Brent in the ways of gay sex. Brent now has a new problem: he realizes he’s gay and no one in his life knows it. Cody tires of hiding their relationship, but Brent finds it challenging to come out to family, friends, and especially to Graham. In the end, Brent must confront the truth of where—and with whom—his heart lies.
**Renae’s eyes light up** Oooh, good story line! What gave you the idea to do this story?
CJane: Wild and Precious came out of a prompt in an m/m writing community, to re-imagine a movie as an m/m romance. The movie I chose was Kissing Jessica Stein. It’s a cute movie about a woman in New York City who tires of trying to find a man and decides to try out being with a woman. She answers a personal ad and meets Helen, with whom she starts a relationship. The relationship doesn’t last, and neither does Jessica’s adventure in same-sex relationships.
In my re-imagining of the story, Brent is Southern and living in Washington, D.C. And I have Brent’s “adventure in gay-ness” evolve into Brent claiming his true sexual identity as a gay man.
The other theme in the movie which I kept in the story is that of having the courage to pursue what you’re passionate about. For Jessica, that was being an artist and for Brent it’s being a writer.
CJane: I think it can happen. Brent was raised in a small town in Kentucky with the traditional conservative and Christian values that are often part of those communities. Everyone attended church and everyone knew each other’s “business.” There wasn’t much room for same-sex exploration in Brent’s younger life and it was easier for him to not deal with it. He had a girlfriend in high school who everyone thought he would marry, and he dated her through most of college. I think Brent was aware of his attraction to men, but was going along with what was expected of him. Why didn’t Brent break free sooner, especially when he moved to the big city? Brent is unassuming in general and rather passive in the area of romance. He was focusing on other things like his writing and his new career, and letting his friends try to figure out his romantic life by setting him up with women. One of the great things in the story is how Brent finally starts to take on his own life and make choices that are scary but more true to who he is.
Renae: In this book, Brent is a writer and Cody a musician. In Aiden’s Journey, Aiden is in theatre and Patrick an actor. In Serpentine Walls the characters are in film. Your other characters are usually actors, artists or musicians. Is this an interest of yours? Do you have acting and music in your background?
CJane: Yes, I acted in school plays in high school, and played piano and sang in choirs through college. I’ve always loved movies and one of my nieces is in film school. I enjoy being on stage and although I didn’t pursue acting as a career, I had a job as a course leader for large groups of people. It felt quite natural being up there in the spotlight. I love creative artists of all kinds.
Renae: Your author blurb says you’re a psychotherapist. What is that?
CJane: Basically a shrink, as in someone who provides mental health therapy. In the U.S. therapy can be provided by a number of professions, and I am a licensed clinical social worker.
CJane: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I said “helps” but then I stopped to think. My fascination with the human psyche does help in understanding character motivations, I think. And Aidan’s Journey, for example, was one big psychological exploration. But not every book has to delve so deep, so now I wonder if it doesn’t hinder me in writing that frothy romantic comedy that I so love to read!
Renae: Serpentine Walls has turned into a series. Is there going to be more in the series?
CJane: Yes. I had no plans at first for Serpentine Walls to become the Serpentine Series, but when I was writing that novel, the character of Aidan was so compelling to me that I wanted to write his story, which became the second novel, Aidan’s Journey. I’m now writing the third novel in the series, which is the story of Jed, another character from Serpentine Walls, and two more spin-offs are planned from that book. One will be the story of Jed’s older brother Kent and Kent’s sexy college roommate Tucker. The other will be the story of Morocco, a transgender female and the cousin of Charlie, Jed’s love interest . I also have a few other characters floating around, such as Lee who was in both Serpentine Walls and Aidan’s Journey. He goes off to work on a cruise ship as an entertainer … love on the high seas!
Renae: With Wild and Precious, is one of your characters wild, and the other precious?
CJane: Not exactly! The title comes from a Mary Oliver poem, The Summer’s Day, which has this great final line: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? The story centers on how Brent answers that question for himself.
Renae: What’s next from you?
CJane: I’m working on the third novel in the Serpentine Series now, with a projected release date of August, and hope to have the fourth one out by the end of this year. As I said, the third novel has Jed Carter from Serpentine Walls as the main character. If you haven’t read Serpentine Walls, Jed is the nice, shy guy that the main character Pete starts a “friends with benefits” relationship with, even though Jed would like more. Readers identified with Jed and I wanted to write a book where he gets his own happy ending.
Renae: How can people contact you?
Renae: Thanks for visiting CJane! It’s been great having you. I wish you luck with your wonderful releases and I can’t wait to get into it.
CJane: Thanks so much, Renae! You asked some interesting questions and it was a pleasure answering them.