Today I am so pleased to welcome the amazing Jay Bell to Joyfully Jay. Jay has come to talk to us about his latest release, Something Like Lightning. We are big fans of his Seasons series here and are so excited about the new series! He has also brought along a copy to give away! Please join me in giving Jay a big welcome!
Thanks! It’s always great to be on this site, especially since it’s named in my honor. … It is, right? Right?!
I am so glad you could join us today to talk about Something Like Lightning, your newest release and the first book in the new Storms series. To start us off, can you tell us a bit about the book?
In the simplest terms, Lightning is about a guy who must deal with losing a dream and the struggle of finding another. In more than one way, since sometimes we pin all our expectations on the person we love, other times a certain goal or desire. Losing those things can hurt, but it’s important to remember that there is always hope. New dreams can be forged, and new loves can be found. This takes a lot of strength, but the main character, Kelly Phillips, has that in spades.
Now this book is the start of a new series for you, but there is still a connection to the Seasons world, is that right?
Correct. The main reason for starting a new series (aside from being out of seasons) is that the focus is shifting to a new set of characters. That process began in Spring, which wrapped up Ben and Tim’s story while planting a good many seeds.
So for folks out there who haven’t read the first four books, can they pick up and start with this series (not that they should because the Seasons books are amazing, I’m just sayin’)?
Yes. That’s the short answer. The long answer is that people can probably start with any of the books and be okay. In real life, we’re all going about our business while constantly bumping into other people’s stories. The cashier at the grocery store, the homeless guy begging for change, the grandmother and the little girl sitting on her lap—all have their own story. Some intersect more than others, but there’s no true “reading” order. Even when it comes to generations. You don’t have to know a mother’s story to understand the life of her child, although it certainly adds to it. Likewise with the books. People who have read them all will get more out of each subsequent release, but it isn’t required.
Did you originally intend to continue in this world after the first four books? What made you decide to pick it up again in a new series?
I never meant to write more than Summer. Then I allowed Winter to happen and thought that was the end. Autumn and Spring were sort of a package deal, since I decided it would be crazy to stop at three of the four seasons. I really did imagine that would be it, but it struck me while writing Spring just how broad this world has become. The first three books each start in different states, and most of them begin in different years or decades. Each is about a different supporting character, or when it comes to Spring, a character we hadn’t met at all. This makes me feel the series has no true boundaries, and since I’m having tremendous fun writing these books, I decided to keep on going. At this point, I feel the potential is limitless, so I currently plan on writing Something Like… books until long after everyone gets sick of them and wanders away. Even then I’ll still be sitting somewhere, penning stories about Ben’s and Tim’s mail man or whoever.
So now we are looking at a mostly new set of characters with this series. Is there a chance we will see any of our old favorites as well? Any Ben and Tim sightings maybe?
That’s another perk to remaining in the same world. I love these characters, and not having to say goodbye is a very selfish desire of mine. So yeah, perhaps some future couple on a date will go to dinner theater, and maybe Ben will be up there singing on stage. If I miss any of the guys too much, it’s good to know they aren’t far away.
I don’t think it is exaggerating to say that the Seasons series was a tremendous hit and has sort of a cult-like following with readers. When did you first get the sense that you were onto something special with the series?
I’ve never gotten that sense. Not really. All of my books feel special to me, but I’m guessing it’s that way for most authors. Kind of like how good parents always think their children are the most wonderful. I’ve always been pragmatic though. There are things I love in this world that others can’t stand and vice versa. That’s natural and will be the case with any publication, so my biggest hope was that these books would resonate with a few other people out there. Of course I’m thrilled that so many people seem to enjoy them, but I don’t think it’s healthy to reflect on success too much. I’d rather assume my next release is going to bomb unless I work hard and pour my heart into it. I find that sort of pessimism very motivating, which is funny, because I’m a hopeless optimist in most other aspects of life.
Now that we are onto the second series, what can we expect of the other books? Will it be another set of four? Will they follow the multi-POV style we got in Something Like Summer/Winter/Autumn? And when can we get our grabby hands on them?
The current plan is for all Something Like… books to explore a new point of view, but I’m happy to break that rule if it will benefit a story. As for the Storms series, the only certainty is that Something Like Thunder will be out next year. I do have ideas for a third and maybe even a fourth book in that series, but I need to get there first. Beyond that, all sorts of crazy things are possible. I’ll keep trying to crank out one or two volumes a year. That seems to be the most I can manage.
As always, the cover is gorgeous for this one (done once again by your super talented husband Andreas). What is it like working with Andreas? Is it fun collaborating with him on these books? Do you keep him tied down and force him to draw pictures for you all day?
I would force him to draw animals. And naked guys! Luckily he always draws plenty of both, so I don’t need to tie him down. Actually, maybe that’s not so lucky. 😉 I do love collaborating with Andreas, although we give each other a lot of creative space. When I start a new book, he’ll have only the most general idea of the content. Past that, he never asks any questions. That first draft is an extremely private process for me. After some editing and revising, I’ll bring him in so he can read through and offer feedback. Likewise with the cover. We’ll go out for a few beers and hash out ideas while he scribbles in his sketchbook. Then he’ll work on the cover art for a few weeks without saying a word, or allowing me to see. I never even peek, although I’m always tempted. When the art is near final, he’ll invite me to take a look and ask for feedback. That might not sound very involved, but it’s always exciting getting the first proof print in hand and seeing how our art has come together. We’re really fond of that. Coming together is always great.
Aside from these books, is there anything else you are working on that you want to tell us about?
The Something Like Summer movie is making progress. Casting sessions took place recently and some difficult decisions are being made at the moment. I imagine we’ll get to see Ben and Tim soon, among others. The bad news is that I didn’t get the role of Tim Wyman. They said something about me not having any muscles. Or sex appeal. Go figure!
If readers want to learn more about you or your books, where can they find you?
I’m all up in the Twitter (https://twitter.com/JayBellBooks) and totally down with the Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJayBell). Or if people are into garbled speech and a parade of very bad hairstyles, they can check out my YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/JayBellBooks). You are all eagerly invited to visit my website (http://www.jaybellbooks.com/), where I only post only the important news… if anything about what I do can be considered important. Essential? Is that any better? Both sound arrogant. Um… My web site is where I post the least stupidest news. There! Perfect.
Thanks again Jay so much for stopping by today!
Never stop running. No matter how often life trips you up, or how many times your enemies knock you down, just get up and keep on moving until you find where you belong.
Kelly Phillips has been out of the closet since he was a young teenager, and thanks to the gay youth group he frequents, he has never been short on friends or lovers. But when you have almost everything, it’s hard not to focus on what’s just out of reach: A best friend, who would be Mr. Right if he wasn’t already Mr. Straight. Or that handsome guy at school, who would be easier to wrangle if not for his angel wings. And then there’s the one who might be a perfect fit, maybe even a soulmate… if only he wasn’t convinced he didn’t need anyone at all. Kelly has always been good at running. Now he must learn to chase, which will not only test his endurance, but the durability of his heart as well.
Something Like Lighting is a new beginning in the Something Like… saga, shifting the focus to a fresh set of characters while also revisiting a familiar face or two
Jay has brought a copy of Something Like Lightning (ebook or paperback) to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, October 21st at 11:59 pm EST.
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