Today I am so pleased to welcome B.J. Sheppard to Joyfully Jay. B.J. has come to talk to us about his latest release, Always Have, Always Will. He has also brought along a great giveaway to share. Please join me in giving B.J. a big welcome!
To celebrate the release of my first Wilde City Press release, I have been gathering some questions to answer to get everyone a bit more familiar with me as an author, and to let you know about my inspirations, how I write and my process in developing a book, as well as any news of upcoming releases coming out this year. So here we go…
Q: When did you first start writing?
A: Well, I always loved to write. I remember being really young and writing some rather comedic poetry about a cat. I’ve always written in one form or another. Poetry has always been a big love of mine, and from my late teens, I started writing music as well, producing full songs as a means of catharsis to get me over the hump that was my mental teenage hormones. From there, it was reviews, and that gave me the confidence to start writing books. So, as of 14 months ago I started putting my stories out there for people to read, and have not looked back.
Q: Why write? What does the act of putting a story on paper do for you? Why embrace such a fickle career?
A: Writing allows me to still the voices in my creative brain, get them down on the page and let them go elsewhere. I’m like a pressure cooker – leave it long enough and I’ll just explode. So getting these stories out is really a necessary thing for me to do. It lets me put the crazy from inside my brain into a different medium and let it go. I rarely read a story back after its been published, unless I’m writing a sequel, so the act of writing is freeing, liberating me and clearing out some space for new ideas. As for the fickle career, well, money isn’t everything. I have two day jobs that support me financially. I just do it for the love. Of course, one day I would love to write full time, but I’m in no hurry. I’d rather have low stakes and do it for the enjoyment than worry about the financial gain of writing stories I love to write.
Q: What do you do as a ‘day job’?
A: In the spirit of the ‘struggling artist’ cliché, I work as a waiter for most of the week in a trendy little eatery. I also do design work for a registered charity for the deaf. My weeks are pretty full, so I have little time for much else besides work and writing, but I love what I do, so it’s all good.
Q: You recently released your first horror novel, Suburban Legend. First, will there be a sequel? Second, do you plan to write more stories in the horror genre?
A: Alas, yes. Halloween 2015 will see the release of Suburban Legend 2: Terror at Tanner’s Point. Urban Legends always terrified me growing up, and I read a lot of Goosebumps and Point Horror books, particularly by RL Stine, and so I’ve always been attracted to horror. SL was a test to see if I could pull it off, and mostly it’s met some great feedback, so I’ll be carrying on writing horror. Alongside that, I’ll be releasing the first in a series of hardboiled crime stories, set in the fictional Grimm City, Texas. The first is about to head out for editing, and I’m hoping to get it out early this year. Crime also allows a great horror crossover, so it’s something I really love. I enjoy reading crime too, so it’s great to write something I enjoy reading as well.
Q: Which do you find more cathartic to write? Humor pieces such as Rainbow Connection or more serious like Always Have, Always Will?
A: I like to write serious books more than comedy, just because it allows me to get more creative and flowery with my words. Not everyone likes that style of writing, but I feel more accomplished writing it. But comedy is great fun to write. It pours out easily and feels less like work. I think if I balance everything nicely, it all helps me to maintain a good outcome as far as my stories go.
Q: Will there be more instalments to Rainbow Connection?
A: Oh, of course. I can’t just leave it hanging there. Volume II will be my next project, with Volume III capping off the series in 2016.
Q: Do you base your characters on anyone you know?
A: Not as such. Some of my friends make cameos in my stories. My self-publishing editor, Tina, makes a regular appearance through email in the Rainbow Connection stories. I’m also awful at coming up with names, so I use the names of people I know. All the characters in AHAW were named after friends and housemates I went to uni with. It was just me being lazy.
Q: Who is your favorite girl in the world?
A: Well, I have three. Firstly, my mother. She’s the strongest, bravest, most awesome woman I have ever known. She supports me whole heartedly and makes me laugh all the time. I don’t know what I’d do without her. Secondly, my editor Tina. She’s like a big sister to me and is always helping and propping me up and giving me her time and energy. Without her, I don’t know if I’d even be doing this. Finally, my sister, because she had a baby who is the most adorable thing in the world. She is literally the light of my life, and having my sister and her family near makes it easier to accept that I don’t have kids of my own yet, even though I really want them.
Q: How did it feel when you got the acceptance from Wilde City for Always Have, Always Will? Where were you when you found out? Who was the first person you told?
A: Getting AHAW accepted was a struggle. It got turned down initially because it wasn’t considered to have a HEA – something I don’t agree with if you read the story properly. Then it got picked up, but the company who signed it went under shortly after, and it never saw release. I was getting ready to self publish it, when I heard the news that Ethan and Geoff at WCP wanted to sign it and it was really surreal. Not only was it my first story, it was getting signed to a publishing house that had loads of my favourite authors signed there. I didn’t believe it at first, but now it’s out, I’m finally seeing it. As for where I was and who I told, it was the middle of the night and everyone I knew was in bed asleep, so I emailed Lisa and Tina at TNA in the States, and then went to bed and got up early to tell everyone else. It was such a great day, and it gave me such confidence to keep writing. On the day of release of AHAW, I also received a contract for a novel I have written, which WCP will be publishing in late 2015, hopefully just in time for the UK Meet.
Q: Would you like to share an excerpt from Always Have, Always Will?
A: Of course!
There was something I forgot to say.
Your hand was sweating in mine, and for the first time since you’d started declining, I realized just how much you’d begun to waste away. Your eyes were sunk so far back into your skull I could barely see them, the dark circles shading them making you look like a skeleton in a wig. I noticed bones poking out from under your shirt that had previously been covered in a light amount of fat and lean muscle, and as the doctor sat down in his chair avoiding eye contact, my stomach threatened to fall out of my ass. This was bad. I couldn’t have imagined how bad.
The doctor was a middle-aged dough boy, one hamburger away from a coronary, and for the first time in many years, I felt like the healthiest person in the room. It was like the universe was trying to tell me something. You practically never saw an unfit doctor, and here this guy was, ominously overweight, the complete antithesis of you, slowly wasting away at my side. You had always been the strong one, and gripping your hand as it threatened to disintegrate in my own, I could not deny I was terrified. I would have to be the strong one now. Dr Dough Boy coughed, clearing phlegm from his throat, like what he was about to say was too important to disturb with a bodily function, skirting papers round his desk like a caricature of a secretary on their first day at a new office. I wanted to punch the guy because my irrational mind told me he was hiding something that was both the most important thing in the world and the thing that nightmares were made of. When he opened his mouth to talk, the urge to punch him increased tenfold. His voice was nasally and childish, and he had no place delivering the blow that was about to shatter our world forever.
When our friends would ask us what the prognosis was, I’d be unable to tell them. My mind froze in that second, and nothing the doctor said would ever be repeated from my lips, in part because I couldn’t understand a fucking word he was saying. Only one word resonated. Cancer. We’d later find out it was terminal, end-stage cancer that had infiltrated every organ and tissue in your body, so much so that under a full body scan you’d light up in neon, looking more like a Christmas tree than the man I loved. I was squeezing your hand so hard that you yelped, and when I looked across at you, I noticed you were crying. I couldn’t cry, couldn’t move.
Your voice broke me out of the shock, and I turned to look at you again. Your eyes were wild as you leaned slightly forward, screaming out with each tiny movement that you wanted the doctor to help you, to save you.
“How long?” you whispered, your hand beginning to drip with sweat in my own.
The doctor looked down at his papers, uncomfortable lines etching themselves deeper at the corners of his eyes. It was a grimace, one I prayed to any God who was listening, didn’t mean what I thought it did. He took in a deep breath, regained his composure before locking his eyes with yours.
“It’s metastasized. The progression is extensive, so if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say two months.” The breath caught in my lungs, like all the oxygen had been leached from the room, but I didn’t make a sound, couldn’t break the spell of silence that clung to the tiny office like fog. “Tops.” It felt like a knife in my heart.
Imagine losing everything you ever loved in the blink of an eye. For Clayton Palmer, that terrible fate has just become a reality as he buries his lover, Gregg, after a brief and futile battle with cancer. Now, in the house in which they shared their love for all those years, Clay’s own life is slowly fading. In a war with his ailing body, Clay reminisces over the life they shared. Knowing time is running out, memories of their joy and sadness come to him; vignettes forming a road map back to the man he always loved; always has and always will.
Buy Links: Wilde City Press, Amazon, ARe
My name is BJ Sheppard and all at once I found myself an author. Such a strange sensation to actually feel you deserve the thing you had aspired to for many years. After all, all it took was computer access and an inner world that reads like a Sheryl Crow song to pound the keys and translate my crazy ideas onto the page. I feel like I could have business cards printed. Maybe wear a black roll neck and perch my glasses on the tip of my nose. I could drink whisky and smoke a cigar and do all those really stereotypical things I imagine all writers do. Perhaps I could get laid a little more? This is not the end. Nor the beginning. Hell, it isn’t even about me. My boys write themselves; I really don’t have that much say in the matter. As long as my characters need a voice, I have two chubby typing fingers and a need to please— watch this space: there is more to come.
B.J. has brought a copy of Always Have, Always Will to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Monday, January 12th at 11:59 pm EST.
There is also a tour wide giveaway. You can enter by following the Rafflecopter link below.
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