Jamie Fessenden on Writing Characters, Research and his new release Small Town Sonata (author guest blog)

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Small Town Sonata by Jamie Fessenden

Dreamspinner Press

Published August 6th 2019
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jamie Fessenden today, on tour with his latest novel, Small Tour Sonata.  Welcome, Jamie.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Jamie Fessenden:

 

How much of yourself goes into a character? 

A lot. Every major character I write is me in some aspect, flaws and all. Which means my music major and philosophy minor in college often shape their behavior. Minor characters are frequently inspired by friends and family, though I attempt to disguise it.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Perhaps, but the way to avoid that is honesty. The character of Tom in Billy’s Bones was definitely a lot like me in his understanding of psychology and PTSD (both of my parents are psychologists and I’ve worked with clients at my mother’s agency). But he also had my tendency to psychoanalyze friends who don’t appreciate it.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes. I would never make one of the main characters in a romance deliberately hurt animals or children, or slap his partner around. As every therapist and police officer knows, abusers being sorry for what they’ve done and swearing never to do it again doesn’t prevent them from lashing out in the future. I can’t trust a character like that.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Most of my novels involve a large amount of research. I enjoy exploring different cultures and locales, and completely immerse myself in them. Small Town Sonata was an easy one, because I was largely writing about my home town and using my experiences in the music world.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both. I tend to think that HFN will become HEA, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get to HEA in the timeframe of the story.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Thinking, and yes. I am totally disgusted with characters who refuse to listen to reason, especially if they drag arguments out for days, weeks, or months. Tempers flaring is one thing. Refusing to calm down and listen the next day is childish.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney through her YA novels, when I was a teenager, then began reading her adult gothic romances and fell in love with them. From there, I moved on to Mary Stewart and several other romance writers.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

As a teenager, I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney wrote articles for “The Writer” magazine, and our local library had several years’ worth of them in the stacks. I still remember some of her advice, such as when the two main characters meet, there must be an emotional “zing” between them. It can be hostility or intense dislike, but it should never be tepid. As a science fiction reader, I admired Robert A. Heinlein, and loved his clear prose. So I strived to emulate it.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Thanks to failing vision, I rarely read print books these days. eBooks allow me to increase the font size at will, so I prefer them. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on the industry, and from what I’ve seen, eBook sales are still hovering at about 20 percent of the total market. It’s declined a bit, but since those figures often leave out self-published sales, it’s difficult to say what the truth is. And one article claimed 90 percent of romances sold are now eBooks. Personally, I know eBooks are here to stay.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I want striking images, even if they aren’t necessarily “sexy.” If it’s something that would catch my eye, while searching among several other romance covers on Amazon, I’ll generally go with that. The best example is the cover for “Violated,” which is about a man who gets raped and loses everything – his best friend, his partner, his job, his entire sense of who he is. The cover by L.C. Chase is a misty image of sunset on a lake with a man standing in silhouette at the end of the pier. It’s striking and conveys the feeling of isolation perfectly.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I wrote a novel called “By That Sin Fell the Angels” about how a teen suicide impacts a small community. It deals with the vicious way evangelicals often treat members of the LGBTQ community, but I struggled not to make anything cliché or hackneyed. The boy’s father is a pastor and nominally the villain, but he’s a real person struggling with his beliefs, and ultimately the story is about his redemption. That story exhausted me, tapping into my own experiences as a fundamentalist Christian teenager, and I’m very proud of it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently finishing up a ghost story with co-author F.E. Feeley, Jr. and about a third of the way into a novel (possibly another Dreamspun Desires) that takes place on a farm. It’s located outside the town of Springhaven, which features so prominently in “Small Town Sonata.”

 

Blurb:

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Author’s Bio:

Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fancy.

He set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several novels and published his first novella in 2010. That same year, Jamie and Erich married and purchased a house together in the wilds of New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them under the stars.

Blog: https://jamiefessenden.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/349365308959423/

A MelanieM Review: A Cop for Christmas by Jamie Fessenden

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Mason Collier isn’t big on authority figures. When Office Steve Coleman pulls him over and gives him a speeding ticket, he doesn’t react well. He’s even less happy when he discovers the cop lives next door to his parents’ house.

No matter where they turn this holiday season, Steve and Mason keep running into each other, and whenever they talk for more than a minute, they piss each other off. But from wayward dogs to Christmas tree hunts to maple syrup festivals, it proves impossible to avoid each other in the small town.

If Mason can see the good man behind the badge, he might just get a cop for Christmas.

A Cop for Christmas by Jamie Fessenden is a sweet holiday romance, complete with overly energetic young lab and a cringe worthy meet/greet that every young couple loves to relate later on in their relationship.

The author does a lovely job of enveloping us in the atmosphere of the small town, snow, maple syrup and all so it’s very easy to fall in love with it’s inhabitants as we meet them along with Mason as he sees the place his parents call home.  The characters here are all well-crafted, so the loving family dynamics of the Collier family feels real as does the lonely trailer of Officer Steve Coleman next door.

I enjoyed every bit of the journey Mason and Steve take to their HFN ending…we will see more of them and how it plays out in the sequel A Viking for Yule.  There’s  some unexpected suspense, lots of romance, and more.    This is a small town and people who definitely deserve several visits back to see how everyone is settling in, and I’m not just talking about Mason and Steve.

Jamie Fessenden’s holiday stories made an  impact on me this Christmas season.  They are sweet, heartwarming, full of hope, romance, and love that will last past the New Year’s.  Read A Cop for Christmas and then head to A Viking for Yule.  I highly recommend them both!

Cover art by Reese Dante is terrific and works for the story and characters.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 123 pages
Published November 19th 2016
Original TitleA Cop for Christmas
ASINB01NB9811M
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: A Viking For Yule by Jamie Fessenden

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world?

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather.

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

A Viking for Yule by Jamie Fessenden is actually a sequel to the author’s very likable holiday story, A Cop for Christmas.  But honestly, this is the story I absolutely adore.  At the front?  It  absolutely redeems a wishy washy character so bland he threatened to fade into the snow in the first one.  That would be Sam.  Here he become a fully fleshed adult, someone we can finally connect with away from his Gramps.  We get to see the man,  watch how the gift of independence the trip lays upon him enables him to enjoy himself, the places and people, and grow as a person.  It’s not that Sam actually changes but more our acceptance of him and that’s a really great treat.

Next up is Arnar, the man who helps to act as Sam’s guide when Sam’s “Auntie Mame” and her dear friend take the time to make their own schedule.  Arnar, has his own issues having recently broken up with his partner. He’s not entirely happy to be involved with the “tourist” that his “aunt” has brought with her on her visit to see his mom.  I loved Arnar. He’s a man of depth and deep love of his country, a memorable character all around who sees something wonderful in Sam.

However, it’s Christmas time in Iceland and, while freezing, holiday celebrations are everywhere.  Which brings me to the third marvelous element of this story.  The author’s clear love and familiarity with Iceland.

This is as much a love story to Iceland as it is Sam and Arnar’s.  Sam and Arnar travel to many locations in Iceland, ones often famous for their Christmas markets, some for their geographical formations, and others for their religious significance. These travels are folded into the story with an ease that’s remarkable and a fondness that radiates from every scene.  Iceland is truly another main character here and it helps make the story.

Everything about A Viking for Yule is lovely. From the romance, the characters right to the ending, I just loved it.  You will too.  It’s not just for the holidays but one I could read any time of the year.

Cover Art by Reese Dante is perfect for the characters and storyline.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 29th 2017
ASIN B077TLWLZ4

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

Book Blitz and Giveaway for Jamie Fessenden’s A Viking For Yule

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 56,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
A Cop For Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world?

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather.

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first


Author Bio

amie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fantasy.

Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several screenplays and directed a few of them as micro-budget independent films. He then began writing novels and published his first novella in 2010. After nine years together, Jamie and Erich have married and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them on a nightly basis.


Jamie recently left his “day job” as a tech support analyst to be a full-time writer.

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An Ali Audiobook Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden and K.C. Kelly (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Violated audiobook coverDerek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.

This was a very emotional story.  Derek is content with his life if not happy.  When he is violated by his friend he realizes how much he doesn’t like some aspects of his life.  He does everything he can to deal on his own without anyone’s help until he pretty much loses everything except his dog and cabin.  Russ can’t help but tell there is something wrong with his new neighbor and will do anything he can to help Derek and help him move forward.

You can’t help but connect with the characters and feel just how they are.  I could feel how desperate and isolated Derek felt about what happened to him and how hurt Russ is for Derek when he is told the story.  It takes awhile for Derek to fully open up to anyone and begin to move forward in his life after all that has happened.  This story had a great HFN ending a couple years in the future.  It made it more believable because with all that happened there really isn’t any way that everything would suddenly work out, they will always need to work thru their emotions together.

KC Kelly did a very nice job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.

Cover art by LC Chase is perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9 hrs 42 min
Published: March 21, 2016 (ebook first published August 7, 2015)
Edition Language: English

A Mika Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Violated coverDerek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time

This is going to be hard for me to rate, not because of the content of the story but solely based on the execution. I felt this was very much  a one-note novel. I didn’t get a rise out of myself reading this, not one time. Certain parts of the story should demand a certain reaction out of it’s audience, but this did not get one. Reading this story, I feel like the way it was written left it emotionally unavailable. It did not feel authentic at all.  I just felt like I was reading this, and felt completely detached from the story. I reached the end and felt absolutely nothing. I want to thank the author for being bold enough to write about this type of incident. I don’t think people talk about it enough. Going into this I expected turmoil, tears, and just an emotional read and I didn’t get it. I don’t want to say everyone is going to have the same reaction, because they aren’t but it was a straight read through.

The story itself was good. While I liked certain areas of it,  I disliked more than a few of the characters, and the situations that the MC’s found themselves in. The author did a good job on the subject. Its not something we read a lot about in m/m fiction, it had a realistic feeling to it. Derek  reacted like an individual would in this situation to me. A couple of times, I felt myself wanting to throttle him for not speaking up for himself afterwards, but nothing can be done on my time. I applaud Derek for going to work with his attacker everyday and living, surviving, and fighting to get back to himself. This incident brought up Derek’s dislike with himself. I think all the personal issues surrounding his sexuality might have impeded his recovery, but this is only my speculation reading it. Russ was a good guy, and character. I liked Russ with his sister, and I liked Russ with Derek. I did not like Russ on his own. It felt very filler-ish type. Like the author needed some space plugged up so we are just going to put Russ with these random people. I’m saying that not because he needed someone else, I’m saying it like it did not feel real. Where was the connection between Russ and the other two guys? None, I felt zero hints of magic with them. I just think  it added n0thing really except me feeling like it was open space.

Cover Art by L.C. Chase: I liked this cover, very serene feeling. I think Derek had to come to terms with himself before he could love someone else.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Amazon links coming Aug. 7th.

Book Details:

ebook, 256 pages, also in paperback
Expected publication: August 7th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleViolated
ISBN139781634764513
edition languageEnglish