Today I am so happy to welcome Jay Northcote to the blog. Jay is here to talk more about his upcoming release, Watching and Wanting, which releases on January 20th. Jay is answering a few questions about the book and the Housemates series. So you guys are getting a Jay and Jay interview today! Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Huge thank you to Jay for inviting me to the blog today to talk a little about the Housemates series. Jay sent me some prompt questions, so I’ve done my best to answer them here.
Tell us a little about the series and the connections between the books
The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.
When I set out to write the first book of the series, Helping Hand, I wasn’t sure if it would turn into a series, but I went into it hoping that it would. I’m not the sort of author who plans several books ahead of time. But I liked the idea of writing a series of connected stories, and I thought a rental house, populated mostly with students, would be an ideal setting for that. It allows for characters to come and go, thereby providing me with a stream of new characters, who might end up getting their own stories eventually.
In Helping Hand, I created Josh as a secondary character and he went on to have his story told in Like a Lover. And then Practice Makes Perfect introduced two new main characters but had the previous couples featured as side characters.
In Watching and Wanting, we return to Shawn who is seen as a minor (and not very nice) character in the earlier books. Shawn was never supposed to have his own story, but readers kept asking for it. And their questions about him got me thinking about Shawn and why he was such an arsehole. Turns out he’s bi and in deep denial about his attraction to guys. In Watching and Wanting he finally confronts those desires, with the help of a new housemate, Jude.
Where do you see the series going?
As I said above, I’m not one of those authors who plan very far ahead. My brain doesn’t work like that, and I tend to follow my muse. I have no idea how many more Housemates books there will be. Maybe when I run out of coloured bands for the covers? (kidding). But I’m currently writing Starting from Scratch (Housemates #5), which is likely to be released March/April 2017 if all goes well. Starting from Scratch will feature a trans guy as a main character so I’m excited (and a little nervous) about that.
The “coming out” theme runs through a number of these books in terms of the guys coming to terms with their sexuality. Do you think that their age is a factor in that at all?
Definitely. At least one character in each pairing is ‘new adult’ age, so early twenties or thereabouts. It’s a time of experimentation and self-discovery and that definitely influences the type of story in this series. That’s not to say that we don’t continue learning about ourselves way past that point, but for a lot of people that new adult, “coming of age” phase is a very significant stage in figuring yourself out.
Coming out/self-discovery stories are some of my favourites to write, probably because I came out relatively late in life myself as transgender. So although I’m sadly very far from being a young adult myself, I like to think I can identify with that confusing and sometimes painful process of digging down to reveal the truth about yourself.
In several of the stories there are other secrets (cam boy, escort, secret hookups, etc). How does that play into the series?
I find the characters’ interactions and the relationship development fascinating when they are initially caught up in non-romantic sexual situations. In the Housemates series the characters are often using those things as an excuse to explore their sexuality. But then, of course, it quickly becomes more than ‘just sex’ and develops into a romantic relationship. I find those stories really fun to write.
I also chose those jobs/situations because they gave me a great opportunity to write fun, different sex scenes. I like writing that kind of angsty sex with lots of emotion, where the characters are conflicted about what they are doing and have a lot of baggage to deal with.
Watching Jude’s cam show stirs desires Shawn’s always denied…
Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.
Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.
Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.