|J.P. as part of the No Hate on Prop 8 campaign.|
J.P. Barnaby describes herself and a small town girl who majored in Physics while enjoying the bragging rights as a member of MENSA. This software writer for a Chicago based firm has more than meets the eye. For the past three years, J.P. has been doing a different type of writing. The kind that might quicken the pulse and punish the prudish as she makes a name for herself as an author with a specialty in the exploration of gay relationships and bondage. A surprise to her friends and family and even herself, she was kind enough to submit to some questions and open herself up to This Peculiar Life NYC. Here she reveals a special preview of her writing while including her take on love, sexuality, and the appeal of men flogging each another on Xtube.
This Peculiar Life NYC: How many books have you written?
J.P. Barnaby: I have 12 published pieces – 3 short stories, 1 novella, and 8 novels. The novels break into two separate series: The Forbidden Room series (M/M/F and M/M BDSM romance) and the Little Boy Lost series which is about two teenage boys trying to keep their relationship together against insurmountable odds [in] backwater Alabama.
T.P.L. NYC: You specialize in gay erotic fiction. What is it about this genre that appeals to you?
J.P.B: What inspires me to write gay erotic fiction is the same thing that inspires me to watch gay erotic videos – the idea of two men making themselves open and vulnerable to each other is erotic to me. Also, I’m a complete audiophile, and listening to excited men turns me on.
T.P.L. NYC: Who and what are some of your favorite authors and things to read?
J.P.B.: From my own genre, I love the works on J. M. Snyder, Zathyn Priest … and Davitt & Snow. Other authors you’ll find in abundance on my Kindle include: J. K. Rowling, Stephen King… and Dean Koontz. I like to read fast-paced, character driven stories with well-developed [entertaining] ideas.
T.P.L. NYC: How long have you been writing?
J.P.B.: I wrote the Forbidden Room series in 2009, and began its publication in December of that year.
T.P.L. NYC: Do you write anything else besides erotic fiction? If so, what genre/titles are they?
J.P.B.: I have been asked by several publishers to write Young Adult fiction, which I am developing. I also have been toying with the idea of heterosexual contemporary romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. All of my work to date is gay romance with strong erotic elements.
T.P.L. NYC: There is an emerging community of women who enjoy gay erotic material. What do you think the appeal of gay relationships is to heterosexual women? Just how many women do you feel like gay adult material?
J.P.B.: A majority of the authors who write gay romance are women—gay, straight, or bisexual. I can only speak for myself as a bisexual woman, but my question to you is, what is the appeal of men who love lesbian porn? The unfamiliar? Two women instead of one? The taboo nature? I can only imagine that the answers by other women would be similar.
T.P.L. NYC: Growing up, girls and women used to say that men liked to watch two women have sex, but that they did not like watching two men have sex. How do you respond to something like this? Are women hiding their true feelings, or do you think that it is true for most women?
J.P.B.: I think that each of us has our own sense of what we find erotic. Also, in our society, women are discouraged from watching erotic material, though men have no such restrictions. It could be that these women don’t feel comfortable sharing that type of intimate secret, that they haven’t actually watched two men make love, or that they genuinely aren’t interested in the subject. But a majority of the authors and readers of gay romance are women, so clearly there are some of us that do enjoy watching or reading about that type of relationship.
T.P.L. NYC: Do you feel women gravitate to gay erotic content because adult entertainment markets so much of its heterosexual entertainment to men? Or do you feel that there is an unconscious fear or displeasure for women to see themselves portrayed as just an object in traditional erotic entertainment? Do you think women can also be equal to men when it comes to eroticizing the opposite gender?
J.P.B.: I think straight porn is boring. The women are fake, their reactions (which I have experience with as a woman) are fake, and I can only stand to listen to “oh yeah baby give it to me” so many times before I start looking for something else. My preferred porn is gay bondage, again because of the vulnerability which I find a total turn on. But, do I see porn as objectifying women? No. Just as I don’t see gay porn as objectifying men.
T.P.L. NYC: What do you feel women really like in erotic content?
J.P.B: I think, just like men, it depends on the woman. I like watching men get tied up. I like the sounds they make. I like their facial expressions. That is my preference. But I know women who watch gay porn who don’t like that kind of content. I know women who watch straight porn or lesbian porn. I think the commonality is that they’re looking for something to excite and inspire them.
T.P.L. NYC: I’ve heard that many heterosexual women write this material and it appeals to many heterosexual female readers. Do you feel that erotic content for women and gay men is the same, or do you think that they are different? Or explain what makes them similar or different?
J.P.B.: I have quite a few male readers, and actually – most of them read for the story more than the sexual content. They get excited by my words and the scenes I invoke in their minds, but what these men have told me they truly enjoy about my books is that they closely identify with my characters. I don’t write porn with a story around it. I write a compelling story with erotic scenes.
T.P.L. NYC: When did you first discover that you liked the idea of men being sexual with one another?
J.P.B.: I started reading fan fiction [or] slash in 2008. A few of the girls that wrote it also talked about sites they’d go to online to research and watch men having sex. So, one night, I peeked at X-Tube to see what they were talking about. I’ve been watching ever since. I do generally prefer gay content over straight content when I read, because women in romance novels are portrayed as someone who needs to be saved. I’m not one of those women.
T.P.L. NYC: Do you write about any other types of sexualities aside from gay ones?
J.P.B.: My Forbidden Room series is ménage with heterosexual, homosexual, and group scenes. Sometimes I write heterosexual short stories, and I have written a few lesbian scenes into longer works.
T.P.L. NYC: You have some adult performers that pose for your book covers, tell me a bit about the process of how you book them for a cover?
J.P.B.: My first adult model cover came about because of an off-hand comment I made on Twitter. I mentioned that I would love to have Trent Diesel on the cover and he tweeted back asking me why I couldn’t. He set up a photo shoot with a photographer and sent me images to choose. With Parker Perry’s [cover]…he’d seen the Trent Diesel cover and admired it, so I asked him. He agreed and hooked me up with a studio to license an image. Both models received a framed print of the cover, and I’ve passed out nearly a thousand bookmarks with their images, names, and twitter addresses to help promote their careers. After that, models began volunteering.
|(c) J.P. Barnaby|
T.P.L. NYC: After meeting men who are essentially a fantasy, what are they like in reality?
J.P.B.: Honestly, these guys are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Most of them aren’t the least bit pretentious or arrogant. I spend [weekends] at [their] houses … and I’ve talked to [them] and they keep me laughing. They’re just fun-loving boys with an interesting job.
T.P.L. NYC: I have heard that there are lesbians who enjoy gay male porn. What do you think the appeal of this is to lesbians? Why not enjoy lesbian porn?
J.P.B.: Since I’m not a lesbian, I can’t really speak intelligently about the question.
T.P.L. NYC: You are also a software writer; does anyone at your day job know or mind that you write this type of material?
J.P.B.: My penname is actually my name, so I don’t keep any secrets to my sexuality or my writing genre. Some people know that I write others know that I write romance, and most know that I write gay romance.
T.P.L. NYC: What is it like being a member of Mensa? Do they ever have gatherings for you guys to meet? Do you ever tell them what you write about?
J.P.B.: Pretty much, all I’ve ever gotten from being a member of Mensa is a plaque and bragging rights. J They do have meetings, and they also have different chapters including a few for erotic writers.
T.P.L. NYC: How do your friends and family respond to your writing?
J.P.B.: My friends and family are supportive. My mother wishes I’d write something she could read, and most of my other family just describe me as a “romance author”, but no one has been critical. They know me well enough to know that I believe in the genre of gay romance, just as I believe in marriage equality and the fight against bullying our GLBT kids.
T.P.L. NYC: Of all the books you have written, which one do you think is the fan favorite?
J.P.B: My bestselling book to date has been Mastering the Ride, but I think that has more to do with the beautiful man on the cover than the content. The cover model for that book is Trent Diesel, and the image is gorgeous.
T.P.L. NYC: Of your own work, which story, book, or characters do you like the best?
J.P.B.: My very favorite character is Master Ethan from the Forbidden Room series, specifically A House of Cards. He is autobiographical, and through him I explored a lot of questions I had about my own sexuality and other events in my life. He has all of my quirks, mannerisms, and social oddities.
T.P.L. NYC: What are your writing preferences? Do you use an outline or just write organically? How long does it take you to write a book? What is your process like?
J.P.B.: I write completely from the seat of my pants. I do a character biography so I’ll know how he will react in any situation, but other than that, I just close my eyes and let it flow. It generally takes me between three and six months to complete a novel and submit it for publication.
My process is very simple – I write the entire first draft and submit it to my personal editor for review. I develop a second draft which then goes to a group of pre-readers (female and male including some of my new model friends). I respond to their feedback and then send the completed manuscript to a publisher with a cover letter and synopsis for review. If I’ve been invited to submit to that publisher, I’ll send it to the editor that asked me to work with them.
Once I have a solid release date, I license the cover image I plan to use and send it to my graphic artist who creates not only a gorgeous cover, but also coordinating bookmarks for promotion.
T.P.L. NYC: How did you pitch this to a publisher? What was it like seeing your work published for the first time?
J.P.B.: The Little Boy Lost series was difficult for me to pitch because the main character was 16 when the book started and both boys were 17 the first time they made love. Most publishers within my genre will not work with a manuscript that has characters under 18. So, I queried them first to make sure they’d even consider the novel and they asked me to submit an entire package for all 6 books in the series. They contracted the whole set.
The first time I held The Forbidden Room in my hands, or even more powerfully when I signed my name to a six book publishing contract – these moments were truly beyond words. I recently finished the Little Boy Lost series, and typing those final words were like nothing I’d imagined.
T.P.L. NYC: It seems that you like to write and read a lot about the concept of love. How do you see love now?
J.P.B.: I don’t know that I see love any differently. I write about fictionalized love, granted a realistic as I can make it, but still they aren’t real people. They are characters, players upon a stage which I can put through any number of calamities, but real relationships aren’t guaranteed a happily ever after.
T.P.L. NYC: I have read many horror stories about women who have married men who later turned out to be gay. How would you feel about being in a relationship with a bisexual man? Do you think you are more into the fantasy, or would not mind it in your real life?
J.P.B.: I would LOVE to have a relationship with a bisexual man. That would be like the very best of both worlds. A guy I get to watch having sex with other men who is also attracted to me. SCORE.
|(c) J.P. Barnaby|
T.P.L. NYC: Since this is a blog about peculiar things, tell me what is the most peculiar thing you have ever written about?
J.P.B.: In a short story called Lessons Learned that I wrote as a free download for the Rainbow Book Fair in New York, I wrote about docking which I found to be rather interesting. For those who are unaware, docking is the act of putting a penis tip inside the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis for the purpose of masturbation. I’d never heard of the practice before a fan requested that I write about it.
Currently, I’m also researching the subject of fire flogging for an upcoming novel. I found that to be a fascinating subject as well.
T.P.L. NYC: You have visited New York City, tell me what is the most peculiar thing you have seen while here?
J.P.B.: I have been to New York City twice – once in October for Hustlaball at Club Rebel and the second time I went to the Black Party Expo. What haven’t I seen? At Hustlaball, [people] had sex on stage both with each other and a bat. In the VIP room upstairs I sat down on a couch with friends – soon after a guy sat down next to me just as his partner dropped to his knees before him. At the Black Party Expo, they had a pie hole eating contest. I’m sure they were probably getting crust out of their bottoms for hours. Then we look over to watch three guys having sex on a prop bed at one of the booths. New York was an experience for me.
T.P.L. NYC: You interview and work with a lot of people in the adult industry. Did you have any apprehensions getting into such an industry? What is it like being a writer in the industry?
J.P.B.: Initially, I started talking to some of the models while researching the industry for the Little Boy Lost series in which both protagonists become models. It wasn’t enough for me to watch the pretty videos that everyone sees. I wanted to know what things were like behind the scenes and the guys I spoke to helped me with that. I found out some things that I never would have thought of as detailing for the novels. For example, a porn scene can take up to 8 or 10 hours for those 20 minutes of video that you see. The guys almost never orgasm at the same time and so they will wipe off the first guy and put silicone lube in place of the semen as they wait for the second guy to reach his peak.
T.P.L. NYC: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
J.P.B.: I currently have several works in process. I like to work on more than one book at a time so that when I get stuck on one, I’m always moving forward with something. The one that is nearest to my heart, however, is Aaron:
The boy’s heart slammed against his ribs as his sheets bound him, wrapping tendrils of cotton around his arms and legs. Hot breath exploded from his lungs in sharp bursts as he fought against their hold. He tried, and failed, to keep the blinding fear at bay. As his arms pulled free of his nocturnal bindings, he searched the dark corners of his room, and several minutes passed before the fear burned off into white-hot rage. Two years had passed since the attack, but night after night his dreams continued to torture him. It’s a wonder he ever slept. Even with the regimen of pills his so-called doctors forced on him, he just felt like a walking corpse.
The description fit so well because everything inside him had died.
Forcing back the wave of nausea that plagued him every morning when the drugs wore off, he pushed back the blankets. Peering between the heavy blue curtains, he focused on the sky outside. Each of his days were full of repetition and habit, some far stranger than others. For example, the weird game of Russian Roulette he played with himself each morning dictated that if the sky was blue and the sun was shining, he could find it within himself to brave just one more day. If, however, he saw a dark and ominous sky, he would roll to his side, face the wall, and pull the covers up over his head. Invariably, his mother would come in to check on him, wanting nothing more than the kiss his forehead or smooth sleep disheveled hair, but she never did. Instead, she tried not to mourn the loss of her son, but to embrace the broken disfigured boy left in his place.
The sun’s harsh rays caused him to squint as he gazed through the gap in the curtains, so he forced himself to get up. Grabbing his clothes, the boy shuffled into the bathroom to start his daily routine. Everything in his life revolved around routine. Every mood, every activity, seemingly every thought was closely monitored and controlled through the drugs, because anything unexpected in his day was liable to cause a melt-down. For once, he’d like to get through a day without being nearly incapacitated by fear and pain, and once again be a fully functioning human being.
At eighteen, his life was over.
Fans and new readers can learn more about J.P. Barnaby at her website www.jpbarnaby.com.
|(c) J.P. Barnaby|