the blog I am interviewing the awesome JA Rock. JA is the author of two great
books, By His Rules and Wacky Wednesday. If you haven’t read
them yet, why not? What’s wrong with you?
live in Alabama. Tell me three things that most people don’t know about
Alabama. (Most people, not me, because I know nothing about Alabama except you
can go there with a banjo on your knee. Although probably not if you’re walking,
because I imagine it would be some sort of tripping hazard.)
The first thing every Alabama
child learns is how to walk properly with a banjo on his or her knee. Well,
after how to spit tobacco.
Most of what I know from my
limited experience with Alabama is what everyone knows: cockroaches, heat,
football. But one thing people might not know is that the sales tax—at least in
my area—is 9%. I about crap myself every time I go to the grocery store and see
Also, Great Danes are huge here
(haha, they’re huge everywhere). Popular, I should say.
And finally, the sale of sex toys
is illegal in Alabama. It’s also illegal in Georgia and Mississippi, so you
can’t even cross borders and smuggle vibrators back. Once you get to Tennessee,
though, you can buy all the edible panties you want. I’ve heard rumours that if
you need a dildo for medical reasons in Alabama, you can get permission from
your doctor to have one.
Holy crap. That's a doctor's visit I'd love to eavesdrop on. Let’s
talk crazy animals and the way they crawl into a novel and won’t go away again.
In Wacky Wednesday you introduced us
to Allen Ginspurr. In The Island I
had the brainless yellow Labrador who eats expensive things. Co-incidence? No.
So, is your IRL pet Professor Anne Studebaker the craziest animal you’ve ever
had, or are there crazier animals in your mysterious past?
Oh my god, this answer could go
on forever. Professor Anne Studebaker is actually far and away the most well
behaved, intelligent, and relaxed pet I’ve ever had. I know it doesn’t sound
like that when I list the things she’s chewed, but occasional couch-eating is
her only vice. The craziest pet I had was Pete, a cross-eyed, snaggle-toothed,
bow-legged, completely psychotic Chihuahua I rescued from a shelter when I was
sixteen. I also kept rats until recently. They make amazing pets – smarter than
most dogs I know and easier to care for. Craybill, Jesse’s rat in my upcoming Calling the Show, is based on my beloved
Kate. Can we get a shot of baby Kate?
THAT WAS MY GIRL! Five weeks old
in that picture. Best rat ever.
The yellow lab, Molly, in The Island made me smile so much. I love
putting pets in novels. I’ve never had a cat, but Allen Ginspurr is loosely
based on my kitty niece, Ruth Bader Ginspurr.
By His Rules was the
first book I’d read with a theme of Domestic Discipline. It’s not a lifestyle
that I know much about, and By His Rules
was a fascinating insight. At times I felt as off kilter as Aiden: Wait, Keaton’s spanking him, and it’s not to get off? What sort of feedback did
you get from readers regarding the DD relationship of Aiden and Keaton?
One of the best things I can hear
is that By His Rules gave someone a
better understanding of DD. DD’s a misunderstood, underrepresented, and often
maligned lifestyle, so anytime someone says, “I didn’t get DD, but now I sort
of do,” or “I didn’t think I could like a book about DD, but this one worked
for me,” I feel relieved. But there are still plenty of responses along the
lines of “This is just not my thing.” Some people wonder about how the DD
relationship is going to work for Aiden and Keaton in the long run, when Aiden
seems to need a lot of pain, but Keaton doesn’t appear to have much of a BDSM
interest beyond DD. I guess my short answer is that Aiden might not be so much
a masochist as someone who uses his high pain threshold as a substitute for
true surrender. By the end of the book, he’s learning that he’ll get more out
of embracing his submissive role in his relationship than he will out of
seeking intense physical pain. Because DD’s not about pain; it’s about the
security provided by a loving, mutually respectful partnership with clearly
there’s Wacky Wednesday, the book
that added “fuck weasel” to my vocabulary. What I enjoyed so much about Wacky
Wednesday was the energy. It was a fun ride the whole way though. What really
impressed me was the alternating First Person POV from Jayk and Amon. I fell in
love with Jayk in the first chapter, and thought that I couldn’t possibly like
Amon as much. And then I did. Which makes this a really unfair question: Jayk
or Amon, who’s your favourite? And who was easier to write?
Ooh, Sophie’s Choice here. I’ll
admit, I had a blast writing Jayk and worried that readers wouldn’t like Amon.
I mean, it’s not fair, right? Brats have so much fun, and control-freak tops
like Amon get stuck being the party poopers. And Jayk was easier to write—or at
least, it didn’t take me as long to get a bead on him as it did on Amon. But I
love Amon. I’m working on a sequel now—which may or may not ever see the light
of day—and am discovering that Amon has a lot of untapped comic potential. Not
just as a foil to Jayk, but in his own right.
Yay! Sequel squee!
loved how matter-of-factly Jayk embraced waking up in Amon’s body, and just
decided to go about Amon’s daily business. Did you ever have in mind an explanation
for the body swap -- you know, wished on a star, crossed your fingers, or stood
on a leprechaun or something -- or did you know from the beginning that it was
something you wouldn’t try to explain?
Stood on a leprechaun? Is that a
thing? I want to try it.
My thinking from the beginning
was that I wouldn’t explain the swap, and Jayk’s this-is-freakin’-awesome
attitude would let the readers know that the how isn’t so important. But then I got a comment when the book was
nearing the end of the editing process that readers were going to wonder how the
swap happened. This sent me into a panic. I talked to my editor, who was like,
“Relax. Some people may wonder, but it probably won’t bother most of them.” But
then she had this awesome idea that maybe Luciana Diamente, the Dom whose
dungeon party Jayk and Amon attend, had caused the swap—like she was some kind
of badass BDSM fairy godmother. I loved the idea, so my editor and I spent a
whole evening e-mailing back and forth, trying to work in a hint that it was
Luciana, and the book was already overdue at proofs. We finally got something
that kind of worked, but I e-mailed her the next morning and was like, “You’re gonna
hate me…but can we just go back to the original no-explanation version?” It was
just too big a change to finagle in a short an amount of time, and even though
the idea of BDSM fairy godmothers is pretty much the coolest thing ever, it
might have raised more questions than it answered.
I think it was probably the right decision as well, but now I wish there were such things as BDSM fairly godmothers. You shall go to the ball...stretcher. Too much?
speaking of Wacky Wednesday, a while ago on your blog you said, and I
and paste: “I've already been...not arrested, but publicly embarrassed while doing
"research" for Wacky Wednesday. I might have to lay low a while.” You
also promised you’d share all the sordid details. Well, we’re waiting… *taps
weeks ago in a guest post I mentioned that I love writing brats because I’m
nothing like them—I’m too cautious, always think things through, etc.
uh…maybe Jayk and I have more in common than I thought.
I wrote the scene in WW where Jayk’s
tie gets caught in Amon’s wheelie chair, I started wondering how feasible that
was. Like, would the wheels of a chair really gobble up a tie that easily? And
I know, there’s plenty that’s unfeasible about the book, LIKE THE WHOLE BODY
SWAP PREMISE, but for some reason I fixated on the wheelie chair.
the time, I was a TA in a room that had a wheelie chair. So one day I dismissed
my students ten minutes early, wrapped my backpack strap around my neck to
simulate a tie, crouched down and ran the wheels over the dangling strap.
I didn’t think through was what would happen if it turned out the WW scene was totally feasible.
enough, my backpack strap got caught in the chair wheels, and I couldn’t get it
out. It wasn’t tied too tight around my neck, to I was able to slip my head
out. But that backpack wasn’t going anywhere. The door opened, and the
instructor for the next class came in, saw me on the floor, and stopped. I
looked up and smiled and said, “I’ll just be another minute.”
finally yanked the strap free, but wow…Jayk, I feel you, buddy. Wheelie chairs
are a menace to society. And let it never be said that my work is not
You've clearly suffered for your art. What can
you tell me about your upcoming release Calling
The Show? Tell me more about Jess and Sim, and hula hoops. Seriously,
here’s the place for the blurb…right here:
Senior stage manager Jesse Ferelit and sophomore light board operator
Simon Whedon meet while crewing a college theater production. Jesse hates
everything about Sim, from his lack of theater experience, to his obsession
with LGBTQ politics, to his infatuation with, of all things, Hula hoops. Well,
he doesn't hate everything. He doesn't mind Sim's eyes, or hair, or his
surprising ability to be cool in a crisis. But Jesse is graduating in just a
few months, and if there's one thing he does not have time for, it's a
Sim knows exactly what he likes: civil rights, the circus, and sex. And he
knows what he likes about Jesse. In the control booth, Jesse is exactly Sim's
type—a natural leader, collected and confident. But outside the booth, he seems
reclusive, acerbic and uptight—hardly Sim's type at all. Is a relationship with
Jesse a real possibility, just a fantasy, or a hopelessly lost cause?
When Sim offers to teach Jesse how to Hula hoop as a way to relax and loosen
up, the lessons ease the two men into an unexpected shared world of sex, kink,
friendship, and eventually love.
Calling the Show is my little weirdo baby—a story about two
college boys who bond over Hula hooping and discover that
they maybe also kinda like BDSM. It’s part of Loose Id’s July Pick Your
Pleasure series, and I’m so glad my “Ooh! Ooh, can I do one about spanking and
Hula hooping?” plea was not immediately rejected, because this was a lot of fun
Well, who's going to say no to a spanking/hula hooping combo? Intriguing offers like that don't come every day! Not to me, anyway, but I could be hanging out in the wrong places.
you’re marooned on a tropical island -- a nice one, not one I’d invent -- with
Keaton, Aiden, Amon and Jayk. Who takes charge, you or one of the boys?
HAHA! I am in charge of all the
boys. Though I probably take Amon aside every so often, ask him what to do,
then shoo him away, clap my hands and yell, “OKAY EVERYONE, LISTEN UP! HERE’S
WHAT WE’RE DOING.” I trust Keaton, too, but I think Keaton might be too
relaxedly good-natured about the situation to help us actually get off the island.
Amon would be properly horrified and would force us to build a boat or
I’m really glad it’s not an
island you’d invent—no offense.
None taken! After a
month surviving on coconut water and reef fish, who breaks down first?
Amon and Keaton might seem the
most physically capable of roughing it, but Keaton’s a stickler for balanced
meals, and Amon loves staying in shape—which is hard to do on just reef fish. I
think Keaton snaps first, because he’s not just worried about himself getting
the requisite amount of B12, but also about Aiden. Amon goes next—he’s got
piles of paperwork back home, and just the thought of not being able to do it
gives him an aneurysm. That leaves the brats and me.
Jayk eats something poisonous
almost immediately while Amon’s back is turned, but somehow everything turns
out okay for him. Still, after that, he’s ready to go home. The only coconut
water he wants to drink is that Rihanna stuff.
Aiden’s not much of an eater, so
he’s used to running on empty. He probably does all right until he engages in
some reckless act of self-sabotage.
I freak out at first because I
have to go from being vegan to braining fish, but because I’m the only woman I
feel I have something to prove, so I act like a total badass. I sit there
dipping my raw reef fish in coconut water and biting off their heads and
smirking at the boys.
seen Survivor. Alliances are made to be broken, right? You’re the fifth wheel.
Who do you get on your side, and how?
I get Jayk. Because no matter how
disastrous things get, he’s gonna make it through unscathed. And he’s gonna
have fun doing it. I get him on my side my singing Bruce Springsteen with him.
His not terribly accurate but charmingly enthusiastic impression of the Boss in
WW miiiiight be based on my own. We
do the harmonies on “Thunder Road” and suddenly he’s my best friend. We steal
the boat Amon’s building, name it The
Brat Mobile, and take off—until we realize we have no idea where we’re
going. We yell for Amon, but he’s too busy with his new ally, a volleyball that
you vote off the island first and why?
Dude, Keaton, you’re awesome, but
you’re too reliant on the food pyramid, and we can’t have more than one top on
the island. Plus you’re an artist—what are you gonna do, paint the boat? Make a
really good sandcastle? You are the weakest link—goodbye.
I guess by that logic, none of us
is particularly useful.
Nobody’s gonna vote me off,
right? Boys, you love me too much. Yeah?
you’re finally rescued several years later and write a screenplay about
everything that happened on the island, do you pitch it as a romantic comedy,
an inspirational story about friends overcoming adversity together, or
something that should be released at Halloween?
I pitch it as a gritty indie film
with a soundtrack by a band called something like The Rickety Clouds, whose
lyrics all sound like they were taken from magnetic refrigerator poetry. The
character based on me has lots of witty one-liners and hides a damaged soul
beneath a quirky exterior. There are many lingering, backlit shots of the guys
nude and exchanging meaningful glances. Critics call it “Powerful…and
Nice. It'll win awards at Cannes. What’s
the title of your movie, and do I have to be over eighteen to see it?
Are you kidding? Me on an island
with those four? It’s rated NC-17, baby. The unrated director’s cut comes out eventually
on DVD but Netflix refuses to stock it. The only cable channel you can see it
on is Cinemax After Dark.
The title is something really
obscure and pretentious, like The Moon
And, in a
less silly vein, is there anything you’re currently working on that you’d like
to talk about?
A long, dark project with AU elements.
It’s bizarre after Wacky Wednesday and
Calling the Show to go back to the
dark stuff. Which is maybe why I keep secretly working on the WW sequel. So much fun.
much JA for answering my questions!
Thanks for the best questions
You all saw that date back in the middle of those questions, right? July 17 for Calling the Show!
You can find out more on JA Rock's blog.