Our guest today is Jacob Flores.
B: Let’s start out with just a little bit about you.
J: First, I want to thank Brynn for letting me be a guest on her blog. I always enjoy visiting new parts of the Internet, and this place is pretty spectacular. Especially all the pictures of naked men on the wall. Woof!
But as for me, I’m a pretty simple lad. I grew up in the barrio of San Antonio, where I dreamed of becoming either Wonder Woman or Sandy from Grease. Naturally, I knew I was different because of that. While other boys wanted to strip Wonder Woman and Sandy of their clothes and ravage them, I simply wanted to wear their outfits. What can I say? I wanted my milkshake to bring all the boys to my yard at a very young age.
What have I got to show for that? A man who loves me, three kids, two dogs, and a writing career. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
B: How long have you been writing? And do you write in any other genres besides m/m?
J: I’ve actually been writing since I was a child. I started with comic books and then progressed to writing horror novels. Horror was my favorite genre to read as an adolescent and young adult. I could get lost for hours in them. Honestly, horror was what first sparked my interest in getting published. Then, I discovered the m/m genre. What do I love more than horror? Men! After that, I was hooked. The only other genre I’d ever contemplate writing would be a horror novel. And in a way I already have. The Gifted One combined the two genres. There were demons trying to kill the two male love interests, and there were some pretty scary parts. One reviewer even said it was a combination of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and m/m romance, and I was thrilled by the comparison. Plus, it was pretty fun to write.
B: Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
J: It’s actually from personal experience. My husband and I have been visiting Provincetown, Massachusetts, for the last eight years. When I started contemplating my next project, my husband suggested I write about Provincetown, and as I started planning out a story, I realized I had a whole farm full of plot bunnies just waiting to be harvested. In fact, they had reproduced so much that there were too many for just one book and The Provincetown Series was born. I could have probably written more than just four books. That’s how many stories P-town inspired!
As for When Love Takes Over, which is the first book of the series, that idea came about because I wanted to write a story about two complete opposites falling in love with each other. And who could be more opposite from each other than a sex-crazed porn star and a shy, bumbling author? The story told itself.
B: Tell us something interesting that’s not in the blurb.
J: Hmm. That’s a hard question. How about the many outdoor public sex scenes in the book? There’s sex on the dance floor and on the beach. Provincetown is a sexually charged atmosphere, and the book captures that. However, the story isn’t just about sex. It’s about two people who find each other despite the many sexual obstacles that might stand in their way.
B: Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written? Why is he/she your favorite?
J: Oh my goodness. Talk about a hard question! It’s like asking me to publically declare my favorite child. But for you, Brynn, I shall try. Honestly, I think my favorite character right now is Van from When Love Takes Over. Sure, he’s a sex crazed power bottom, but there’s a hurt little boy underneath who’s just trying to be recognized and loved. I think that’s what makes Van so endearing to me and perhaps for the reader. He has faults. Who doesn’t? But those faults stem from his attempts to rectify the pain he’s suffered in his life. I think that vulnerability makes him my favorite.
B: What’s your favorite scene from all your books?
J: Again with the tough questions! Are you trying to kill me here? I think one of my favorite scenes is when Zach and Van first meet at the leather shop. It’s an innocent scene that is also sexually charged. The two characters are so opposite from each other, but when they see each other bam! They are smitten. But that’s not the only reason it’s one of my favorites. What happens at the leather shop is actually a real life experience. It’s something my husband and I experienced while we were visiting P-town. I enjoyed being able to share such a hilarious moment in my life with the readers.
B: What’s your favorite part of the writing process? What’s your least favorite?
J: My favorite part is the discovery of a plot bunny. Getting a new idea makes me giddy. When the plot bunny hops into my brain, I nurture it, feeding it whatever it needs to grow. It’s really an exciting time for me. I get completely focused and my fingers just fly across the keyboard as I create the world and the characters that I will be writing about.
My least favorite is actually a lot harder to answer. I thoroughly enjoy each part of the writing process from that plot bunny to the final edits. But if I had to choose, I guess it would be the editing part of the process. Not because it’s not important but because it can be so time consuming and difficult.
B: Do you outline or plan your stories first or make up the plot as you go along?
J: Strangely enough, that has actually changed. I used to plot out my novels. That’s what I did for Moral Authority and 3. I had the story mapped out from beginning to end. Naturally, things changed here and there with the plot, but I knew where I was going for the majority of the time. For The Gifted One and When Love Takes Over, as well as the rest of the books in the series, I’ve been making it up as I go. For someone as OCD as me, handing over the reigns to my muse was terrifying, but those stories had a life of their own. I’ve got to admit that I enjoyed that. I liked letting the characters take me where they want to go. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to plotting out my novels. It’s been great to fly by the seat of my pants, which is not like me at all!
B: Do you use a computer exclusively when writing, or do you write some by hand too?
J: This is the easiest question so far. I do all my writing on my computer. Even my note taking. It’s just easier (and faster) to compose that way. It’s also easier to organize my notes. It takes too long to write everything out. Plus my handwriting is that of a serial killer, so it’s also less challenging to read what I type than what I write.
B: If you could write anything, with no constraints on genre and a guarantee of publication, what would it be?
J: I would write a horror novel. I enjoy scaring people. Just ask those I know and love. I’m constantly pulling pranks or jumping out of a dark room to scare them. I like crafting a story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats and biting their nails. That’s great fun to me. That may make me weird, but I embrace it freely!
B: How do you decide where to set your books?
J: I base them in locales I’m familiar with. That’s why my books have been set in Texas or in Provincetown. I think in order for me to make the setting as realistic as possible, I need to know the settings intimately. My next series will be set in Key West. I’ve just come back from my first trip there, and I have a good feel for it now. Maybe I should plan my next book in Hawaii. Who doesn’t want to go there? I know I do!
B: How do you decide the time period for your books?
J: I prefer contemporary or futuristic settings. I’m more comfortable with the here-and-now or creating my own world. To operate in the past is not my cup of tea. I just don’t think I could do a historical novel justice.
B: Do you base any of your characters on real people?
J: Most of my characters are infused with the personalities of people I know. Just like I do with the setting of my books, I base my characters on people I’m familiar with. Usually, though, a character is an amalgamation of the people I know. Justin and Spencer from 3, for example, were a mixture of my husband’s personality and mine. In a way, both of us were both of them. Doing that helps me make the characters as real as possible for the reader.
B: What are you working on now? Will you share a little with us?
J: I’m actually working on the last book of The Provincetown Series. It’s called When Love Comes to Town. It’s about reformed horn dog Brody O’Shea. He’s looking for love, but he’s going about it wrong. Who hasn’t known someone like that? Brody thinks he knows what he’s looking for in a man, but when he meets Eric Vasquez, his expectations are turned upside down.
Here’s a snippet. But keep in mind that it’s a work in progress!
Brody O’Shea logged off his phone and ran around his apartment to do a quick clean up. He only had about fifteen minutes before Dan showed up, and he wanted the place to be presentable. Why the fuck didn’t he just pick up his shit instead of leaving it strewn all over the damn place?
He bolted toward his pile of dirty clothes in the corner of his bedroom. He tossed them into the closet and shut the door. What next? His unmade bed, the stack of paper plates sitting on the coffee table in the living room, or the pods of water bottles that littered almost every surface of his apartment?
Fuck! This place was a pigsty. No, it was worse than that. No self-respecting pig would deign to step foot in this place. What had happened to him? He’d always made sure things were in their proper place before, but ever since he moved to Provincetown, he’d given up on housekeeping.
Why was that?
Irene, who stopped by last week, claimed he had poor life management skills, when she eyed his growing stack of audition manuscripts he’d been reading and for which he’d never actually auditioned. She even threatened to turn him in as a hoarder. They were supposed to be on the road to being friends again. So much for that! After her comment, he escorted her out the front door. He could manage his life just fine. He’d been doing so for almost thirty years. His general state of chaos was a relatively new problem, but it was one he couldn’t find the solution to.
No matter how hard he might try to pick up after himself, he grew bored and instead jumped on his computer or phone to see if he had any bites on the many social dating sites he subscribed to. Yes, it had recently become an obsession, logging onto Cyber, Manhunt, Scruff, Growlr, Mister, or any of the other apps that clogged up his phone and laptop. But what if he missed the message from the Mister Right he’d been waiting to find?
Okay, now he was starting to sound like his mother. That was a frightening thought. She’d always believed that she needed a man to make her complete. That was probably why she’d been divorced four times. Well, that and the fact that she was a drug addicted, alcoholic, fame-obsessed has-been, who’d been unable to recreate the brief success she enjoyed in the 90s with her grunge band, Square.
But he wasn’t like his mother. Trying to find happiness in heroin, booze, or men. He wasn’t like his father either. Who seemed only concerned with women or work. He’d worked hard over the years to be someone better than either Joy or Patrick O’Shea. Sure, he’d not been in a real relationship since college, and he had managed to screw that one up out of fear. Who could blame him? He’d never seen a real relationship, and he had no clue what love was about.
But then he came here. To Provincetown.
B: Feel free to talk about anything you want your readers to know about you, your book, anything at all.
J: Before I go, I want to thank Brynn for having me here. I really appreciate it.
And I’d like readers to know that the second book of The Provincetown Series, Chasing the Sun, is a spin-off of When Love Takes Over. It will be out in October/November. It tells the story of Gil Kelly, the father of Zach from WLTO, and his search for love. It’s a really touching story about love, forgiveness, and redemption.
B: Thanks for being my guest, now it’s time to plug your work –
Zach Kelly’s life is a shambles. His boyfriend of three years dumped him, and his writing career is going nowhere. On a whim, he heads to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to nurse his broken heart and figure out his next step. He’s expecting to find rest and relaxation on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Instead, Zach meets a hunky porn star during a chance encounter at a leather shop he mistakes as a place to buy a belt that is definitely not for whipping.
Van Pierce is smitten when shy and inexperienced Zach crashes through a shelf of fetish gear. Though Van’s got an insatiable appetite for men on and off the set, his porn persona, Hart Throb, hides a broken heart. He’s struggling to find the reality the porno set doesn’t offer, and Zach is fighting to find the fantasy that will set his writing on fire. The odd goofball and the suave beefcake may either find love amid Provincetown’s colorful pageantry where summer never seems to end—or more heartbreak than either can imagine.
Zach blinked back his tears and swallowed the lump in his throat.
“I’m sorry,” Ben said after a few moments. His voice broke the silence like an exploding cannon. “I truly am.”
Although the words were apologetic, the tone expressed no such emotion. Ben sounded irritated, like he often did when Zach proved too dense for Ben’s liking.
He had to get the hell out of there. Now.
Zach stood up from the bed and crossed to the closet. He reached inside, grabbing his suitcase from the floor and his backpack from the chair that sat to the left. He placed both on the carpet just outside the closet door.
Ben said nothing. He simply watched in silence, but the arch to Ben’s eyebrow told Zach Ben was interested in what he planned on taking with him. What he wanted to take was the big screen television or the expensive leather couch they bought a few months ago, but none of those things would fit in his luggage. Ben’s head would. If he could stuff the oversized melon filled with Ben’s own high opinion of himself into his backpack.
But instead of acting out or saying the awful things that crossed his mind, Zach kept mum like the lame ass loser he was. He also only reached for the items that were his, not anything they’d purchased together.
He shoved a couple pair of jeans in his duffel bag. He then lifted out his suit jacket, the one Ben had bought for him to wear on their last trip to New York. The trip that Ben had planned because Zach sucked at making travel arrangements and packing appropriate attire. The one trip Ben had allowed him to be cruise director for hadn’t gone over well. He had booked accommodations not to Ben’s liking and then didn’t bring clothes worthy of dining or clubbing. Ben had been mortified and shanghaied all future travel plans after that debacle.
That was why Ben purchased the suit. He wanted Zach to look the way Ben expected him to.
Before he could stop himself, he turned around, suit jacket in hand and asked, “Should I?” Then, realizing what he’d done, he put the jacket back. Even now, after Ben had kicked him to the curb, he fell back on asking Ben if he should or shouldn’t do something. He needed help. Or a lobotomy. Yeah, an ice pick shoved into his eye just might do the trick.
“Just take the jacket,” Ben blurted. “It’s yours!”
Zach didn’t answer. He tore some of his favorite shirts off the hangers and tossed them into the open suitcase. He then yanked open his assigned drawer in their dresser and emptied the contents on top of the balled up shirts.
While he tossed his underwear into the disorganized mess, he watched Ben’s blank expression change. He was no longer indifferent. The absolute mess he was making of his belongings and the fact that he wasn’t taking any of the nice clothes Ben had purchased over the years evidently pissed him off. Ben’s face burned red, and his hands clenched into fists.
“You’re making a mess!” Ben shouted as he crossed over to the closet. “And you’re not even taking the good stuff.” He carefully removed the button-down shirts from some Italian designer Zach couldn’t remember. Ben then began folding them and placing them into a nice, even pile on top of the chest of drawers. “You might as well take them,” he told Zach. “Lord knows, I can’t fit into them. I’m far too lithe for your clothes.”
If Zach had a bat in his hand, Ben’s head would be a bloody red spot on the wall.
“I don’t want them,” Zach told Ben.
Ben didn’t listen. He continued folding the shirts into perfect little squares. When he was done, he headed for the open suitcase. He stood over it, eying its contents. No doubt trying to decide how best to reorganize the clothes until it met Ben’s approval.
When he bent down to begin the process, Zach snapped. He yanked the suitcase out of Ben’s reach, spilling his clothes onto the bedroom carpet. “Don’t touch my shit.”
“I agree,” Ben replied with a crooked smile. “Your clothes are shit. That’s why I want you to take the nice ones.”
Zach couldn’t respond. His throat once again closed shut. He swept the pile of tumbled clothes back into his open suitcase and zipped it shut. He then headed for his desk. On it rested his laptop, which sat next to the Out magazine he had been reading this morning, the one that had all those entrancing pictures of a place called Provincetown at the back of the magazine. He’d wanted to discuss possibly vacationing there with Ben. In fact, daydreaming about it kept him from writing, but now, the sight of the magazine and the vacation they would never have together punched him in the stomach.
He scooped up his laptop and placed it in his backpack. He turned to leave, but he just couldn’t leave the magazine behind. So he rolled it up, stuck it in the back pocket of his shorts, and headed for his suitcase.
With it in hand, he exited the bedroom, the one where he and Ben had planned the future they would no longer have. He then left the apartment without a word and with a shattered heart.
He had no idea where he would now live, but right now that didn’t matter. He had a plan.
He was going to Provincetown.
Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.
Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his husband, Bruce, their three children, and two dogs, who represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.
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