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Justin Jimenez has loved his partner, Spencer Harrison, for ten years. He’ll do anything for him—including bury his feelings for a man he met while he and Spencer were separated last year. Justin never planned to fall in love, and he certainly never planned to tell Spencer about it—but when a phone call wakes them in the middle of the night to inform Justin that his former lover, Dutch Keller, has been in an accident, he doesn’t have a choice.
Justin’s revelation shatters the fragile relationship he and Spencer were trying to rebuild. The weight of his guilt—both for hurting Spencer and for leaving a heartbroken Dutch to find solace in a bottle—crushes him. But what Justin doesn’t know is that Spencer and Dutch guard an explosive secret of their own. All three men are tangled in a communal web of lies, and unless they find the events in their lives that ultimately led them to friendship, passion, and betrayal, they won’t see the love at the heart of the pain.
Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.
Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his husband, Bruce, their three children, and two dogs, who represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.
You can follow Jacob’s musings on his blog at http://jacobzflores.com or become a part of his social media network by visiting http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2
Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Great question. Character names and titles are pretty important to me. For the main characters, their names have to sound good together, as if not just the characters as people belong together but so do the names, like Romeo and Juliet or Bo and Hope, for soap opera fans. When I’m naming a character, I choose a name that is significant to the character’s personality. I sometimes consult my Character Naming Sourcebook and research various names until I find one that matches the character’s personality. If I’m using a nickname, I choose one that captures the essence of the character.
Book titles are just as important. I want the title to reflect the theme of the book. For example, my upcoming m/m/m novel slated for release by Dreamspinner in September/October is titled 3. While the title may be simple, it also reflects the inherent complexities and conflict in a relationship between three men. Most of us are familiar with how difficult a relationship between two individuals is. When you add one more to the mix, the struggles magnify exponentially.
Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: 3 is set in San Antonio, Texas. I chose San Antonio because it is my hometown, and I feel quite comfortable there. I typically choose locales based on my familiarity with them. I want the reader to get a good sense of the setting, so in order for it to be real for my readers, it has to be crystal clear to me. I aim for as much verisimilitude as possible in terms of setting.
Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: It really depends on the character and the story. After I create character sketches for each character, I create a plot outline that provides me the direction I need to move the characters from exposition to the novel’s climax and finally to its ultimate conclusion. Once I have a general idea of where I want the characters to go, I let their interactions dictate how I get there. For example, I had envisioned a different ending for 3, but by the time I got to the last third of the novel, I knew my original ending wouldn’t work. The characters had evolved past my original ending. I think if I would have concluded it the way I had first envisioned it, the reader would have felt the ending to be disingenuous.
Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: As a gay man, it’s very satisfying. I get to share with the world what a gay relationship is really like. While it may involve two men (or sometimes three), trying to find love, it makes the struggle universal. All of us want love. The only real difference is that some men prefer that happily ever after with another man.
Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Right now, no. I’m still new to the genre to have such a fan base. If I were ever lucky enough to have such devoted followers, I would take their considerations into mind. In fact, when I wrote my episode of Boxer Falls, which is a “gaytime serial” on Goodreads, I took the wishes of the fans into consideration. They love Oz and Quinn as characters, so I made sure those two characters were spotlighted. I even nudged Oz and Quinn’s relationship along a few steps in the process.
Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: The ideal relationship would be that the readers loved everything the author wrote. LOL! But I know that’s not going to be the case. You can’t please everyone, but I hope that the readers would be invested enough in my book to understand the choices the characters made. On the same token, authors wouldn’t be successful without our wonderful readers. The relationship needs to be symbiotic, a successful joining of creative minds traveling together on a wonderful journey.
Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Like I said before, I’m still new, so I don’t have many reviews. However, I did self-publish a novel titled Moral Authority. I got some great reviews on that book. It’s a dystopian tale reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four with a gay twist. But the reviews that offered some constructive criticism made me re-think certain approaches to plot and character development. Sometimes, what we as authors think will work may not resonate with some readers. It’s the author’s job to make the book resonate with as many readers as possible, in my opinion. So, while constructive reviews may be hard to read at times, I use them as learning tools.
Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: For 3, I would have to say that Dutch is the sexiest. First of all, physically, Dutch is the most impressive. He’s a tall muscle bear with crystal blue eyes. His presence is intimidating, but his character is kind and gentle, at least until he’s pushed too far. Then, watch out! Those characters whose physical strength is tempered by their kind hearts always melt my butter.
Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: This is a scene from 3, where two of the main characters, Justin and Spencer are having a three-way with their best friend Tyler.
“Fuck me,” Tyler moaned. He took Spencer’s cock out of his mouth and looked back at Justin with pleading, wild eyes. “Fuck me hard!”
“Beg for it,” Justin demanded. “Beg for me to fuck your man pussy.”
“Fuck me,” Tyler begged. “Fuck my pussy like the whore I am.”
–From 3 by Jacob Z. Flores
Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Actually, Dreamspinner just accepted my paranormal romance tentatively titled The Gifted One, which should be out in March/April.
Here’s a blurb:
Though Matt sees himself as an ordinary man loved by the family who adopted him, he is unaware that he is the Gifted One. His unknown blood lineage makes him a seventh son of a seventh son. Within him rests the unlocked potential of a positive force for good. His promise as the Gifted One grants him special favors from heaven in the form of his own personal savior, the Archangel Gabriel, but it also marks Matt for death from the wicked, who attempt to kill him every year on his birthday.
Being the Gifted One and dodging demonic attacks aren’t Matt’s only problems. He has fallen in love with the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by heaven to protect him. Gabriel returns Matt’s love, defying divine law and placing them both in danger from demons and angels alike. Heaven fears that Matt and Gabriel’s union will result in an evil similar to that of a fallen band of angels called The Watchers.
Can Matt survive the rising ancient evils that have hounded him since birth? Will heaven allow Matt and Gabriel’s love to exist? Or will both heaven and hell turn being the Gifted One into a curse?
An Excerpt from 3
“Watch your step,” Justin told him. His eyes were as refreshing as a coastal breeze on a scorching day, and their brown hue reminded him of the cool, packed sand that lay between the ocean’s edge and the sandy beach. When his family went on a summer vacation that involved a beach, that is where he stayed—at the water’s edge. While his brother and sister swam in the ocean and his parents lay out on their beach blankets, he sat in the cool, wet sand, thrusting his toes into the velvety folds.
He felt safe, as if by sinking his toes into the sand the earth had somehow claimed him as its own, grounding him and giving him the companionship he lacked in his family or at school.
When he gazed into Justin’s eyes, as he looked back to make sure Spencer didn’t trip over any one of the inebriated patrons in the small stairwell, he felt transported back to that beach, toes in the sand and connected to another life force much greater than his own.
Going past the small series of stairs that led to a walkway, they skirted the packed dance floor where the gays were getting down to Cher’s “Believe.”
Justin surprised Spencer by pulling him onto the dance floor, where they joined their gay brethren in their fevered adoration of the ultimate gay icon.
Rarely, if ever, did Spencer dance at the clubs. He preferred observing the standard mating ritual as the dance partners gyrated on the floor with the express purpose of gauging each other’s sexual prowess through thrusting hips to the syncopated beat.
He found the custom distasteful, yet here he was grinding in sync with Justin, whose hands rested on Spencer’s hips and whose crotch was currently scraping against his ass.
What has gotten into you? his mind asked him. Since when do you engage in such immature and improper activities? You’re practically copulating on the dance floor?
I know, Spencer returned. It feels great!