Today I am so pleased to welcome Alexander C. Eberhart to Joyfully Jay. Alexander has come to talk to us as part of the Rainbow Readers Cruise Blog Tour about his latest release, Theoretically Straight. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!

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Alexander: Hello everyone! My name is Alexander C Eberhart, and I’m a queer YA author. I’m so excited to be visiting with Jay today and sharing information about my latest title, THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT, which was released on November 18th, 2023.

As excited as I am to bring my readers my sixth YA title, I’m even more excited because THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT is also the debut novel for my coauthor and best friend, Amy Bailey. Amy has stopped by to share a little bit about themselves and, of course, to talk about Theo, Caleb, and all the great characters you’ll find in THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT.

Hi, Amy! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started on this project?

Amy: Thank you so much! I am so excited to join you! So, a little bit about me… I’m non-binary and bisexual, and my pronouns are she/they. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband Jackson for nine years. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, and I still live about half an hour away from the city. I have two pets who are basically my children: Olive, my nine-year-old tortoiseshell cat, and Ruby, my eight-year-old terrier rescue. I’m a bit of a fandom nerd who’s obsessed with queer media. In fact, my involvement in fandom is what inspired me to start writing fanfiction, which then reignited my passion for writing in general!

The writing project that eventually became THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT began in the summer of 2022. After pumping out nearly 100k words of Our Flag Means Death fanfiction, I was still extremely inspired to keep writing. One day, you [Alex] asked me if I’d be interested in a collaborative project for the two of us to publish together, and I was immediately sold. And now, a year and a half later, here we are!

 

alexander C erberhart rainbow readers cruise badgeAlexander: My first question for you is, how did you get started writing?

Amy: I remember writing short stories as far back as elementary school, and I think I started writing my first “novel” in fifth grade. Of course, I never finished any of my half-baked fiction ideas, but I definitely enjoyed the writing process. When Alex and I became friends in middle school, we dabbled with play-by-post fantasy roleplays (online collaborative storytelling on message boards—yes, we’re old), and I always had at least one of my own stories going on the side. Throughout high school and college, writing for fun took a backseat to academic writing, and then after I joined the workforce, I pretty much dropped writing as a hobby completely. The desire was there, but my creativity was smothered by corporate job after corporate job until eventually I figured my fiction writing days were over.

However, after watching Our Flag Means Death in the spring of 2022, I was inexplicably overcome with inspiration and needed to find a way to channel it. After reading some incredible OFMD fan works out there, I decided to give fanfiction a try. In less than six weeks, I published my first written work on Archive Of Our Own (AO3), which ended up being a 71,500+ word character study. It was the first time I had been inspired to write creatively in over a decade, and all I wanted was to keep writing. So when you [Alex] approached me about co-authoring a queer YA book, I was all in.

 

Alexander: As someone who adores writing as well as reading fanfiction, did you enjoy the freedom of creating your own characters/world? How was writing THEO different than your fanfiction writing process?

Amy: Writing fanfiction and writing original content is vastly different—in more ways than you’d even expect. On the one hand, having the freedom to write your own original story and characters can be easier because the sky’s the limit. You are essentially a god, bending the world and characters within the story to your will, and it can be anything you want it to be. With fanfiction, though, there are clearly defined limits to how far your story can go. If the story is missing key characters or tropes that fans of the canonical IP are looking for, the fanfic will flop. As a consumer of fanfiction myself, I know I have certain expectations of how characters are portrayed, and if a fanfic strays too far from the media that I already know and love, it’s not going to hold my attention for long.

But at the same time, the open-endedness of writing original content can make it much more intimidating. Fanfiction provides writers with a defined framework, which functions as a great starting point for writers to expand on and explore. Writing original content is more work because you don’t have that foundation to build upon, and therefore, you have to do all the heavy lifting to draw readers in and hold their attention.

Another huge difference between writing original content versus fanfiction is the existence of an established audience. Fanfiction authors may be “competing” against other fanfic authors for readership within their fandom, but there’s a level of certainty that fans are seeking out the kind of work you’re doing. With original content, as the author, it’s your job to find your audience and draw them in yourself. With YA Fiction being such a saturated market, finding readership can often be a challenge. However, this established audience can also be a major hindrance to fanfiction writers. No matter how beautiful or captivating a fanfiction may be, it is still fanfiction, and therefore, will likely only be read by those seeking fan works of that particular intellectual property. Those who have never seen the media that the fanfiction is based on will be far less likely to fully appreciate the story on its own. This inevitably limits fanfiction audiences in a way that original content does not.

At the end of the day, every storyteller is different. Personally, I am not the best at world-building, and my imagination isn’t my strongest asset, so I tend to write more character-driven, dialogue-heavy stories. Because of this, fanfiction was a great way for me to stretch my writing muscles and build an audience, and now I have the confidence to write my own original content. However, for writers who prefer the freedom to build everything from scratch and tell their own story, fanfiction may be stifling and limiting.

 

Alexander: We’ve been best friends for nearly twenty years now (YIKES!). Do you think that our friendship affects how we tell a story collaboratively?

Amy: Absolutely! I’ve done many other collaborative writing projects before—professionally, academically, and recreationally—but writing THEO was by far the best experience. For starters, working with you [Alex] on this project never felt like a chore or an obligation. We were both eager to write the story from the start and it was exciting getting to watch where the boys were going. When it comes to collaboration, we already have years of communication experience between us and we know each other so well that we were easily able to avoid the typical awkwardness or miscommunications that come with group projects. We’re not afraid to be critical when necessary because we’re also consistently encouraging and cheering for each other, too. I think we’re also very similar in the way we tell stories, which also helped us a lot during the writing process. And of course, the content of this story in particular is something the two of us are very familiar with—growing up queer in church—so we both drew from our shared experiences to bring this story to life.

 

Alexander: Now that THEO is out in the world, what are you working on next?

Amy: Right now, I’m working on somewhat of a spin-off of THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT that centers on Oliver, one of Theo’s friends. I’m still working on the overall story, but I can say that it will follow Oliver to college where he comes to grips with his asexuality, and may or may not meet someone special to help him through it.

And, of course, more OFMD fanfiction is in the works, too 🙂

 

Alexander: Where can people find you and more of your work? 

Amy: This Linktree will take you to all of my socials and my AO3 account (beware of the 18+ works!), and I will add my website there once I have that up and running:  https://linktr.ee/amy_bailey_ 

In the meantime, Twitter (I refuse to call it “X”) is where I’m the most active, and I will keep everyone posted about any upcoming projects here: @amy_bailey_ 

 

Alexander: This has been so much fun, and I hope that you’ll grab a copy of THEORETICALLY STRAIGHT, available on Kindle Unlimited, as well as through your local bookstore. You can follow me on Instagram @alexanderceberhart, and join my newsletter at alexanderceberhart.com to stay in the loop about upcoming projects!

Till next time,

-Alexander C Eberhart

 

rainbow readers cruise logoThe Rainbow Readers Cruise celebrates the readers and creators of LGBTQ+ fiction and romance. The cruise departs from the Port of Fort Lauderdale on August 19, 2024 and returns August 23, 2024, with stops at Key West and Coco Cay (Celebrity’s private island). Along the way, meet and mingle with some of your favorite LGBTQ+ fiction and romance authors and creators, as well as attend panels, meet and greets, small group social activities, and the Signing at Sea. Plus, the cruise itself, with fabulous destinations, food and drinks, entertainment, and more. You can find all the details about the Rainbow Readers Cruise on our website: https://rainbowreaderscruise.com.


Blurb

Theo Briggs is a rule follower. A decent student in his junior year, an appeasing son, and a lifelong Christian, just trying to make it through high school unscathed… and maybe create a viral video in the process.

Caleb Raynard is a romantic. One of the few out-and-proud kids at Specter High School, Caleb’s dating life has been hellish, to say the least—fraught with misread social cues and embarrassing situations—and Caleb is about ready to call the whole thing off.

But when Theo and Caleb meet in the basement of an old Catholic church that’s rumored to be haunted, an instant and electric connection forms between them. The more time Theo spends around Caleb, the more he suspects that something may have followed him home from that haunted church. But was it a ghost… or something else entirely? It can’t be a crush. Theo is straight, right?

As Theo and Caleb find themselves drawn together at every opportunity, the two must overcome their own hesitations and decide if the feelings they have for one another are stronger than the obstacles set in their way.

Buy Link: Amazon


Bio

Alexander grew up in the Metro Atlanta area, moving from suburb to suburb, always on the outskirts of the city. He has always had a passion for writing, even from a young age. He still lives on the cusp of Atlanta with his husband and their pets.

Alexander has penned six young adult novels, all revolving around the Atlanta area and enjoys bringing an underrepresented setting to life in imaginative and (sometimes) hilarious ways.

When not crafting quality queer fiction, Alexander works for a local service company and enjoys running D&D campaigns for his friends.