Welcome J Leigh Bailey to my blog today.
Monday Meets Guest: J Leigh Bailey
Thank you, Brynn, for letting me stop by today to help celebrate the release of my upcoming LQBT Young Adult book DO-GOODER (releases September15!).
So, every author gets asked at one time or another, “Where do you get your inspiration?” Answers vary. Partly, most writers are observers, so by watching human interaction, we get a feel for people, and we ask ourselves, “I wonder why they…?” But I’m going to tell you a secret—a lot of writers, me included, get our inspiration from our own lives. Now, you might be asking yourself, what in the world does a thirty-something woman know about being a gay teenage boy who is kidnapped by mercenaries in an African country. Truthfully, not much.
But, I, along with many other authors I know, channel our own experiences and emotions into our books. Sometimes it’s a very subtle thing (Isaiah shares my random phobia about not wanted to walk in grass or water if I can’t see my feet). Sometimes it’s a bigger characteristic. In my New Adult book FIGHT TO FORGIVE (Carina Press, April 2016), one of the characters shares my almost debilitating fear of confrontations. Granted, for that character, I make it a little worse, and make it cause a lot more trouble as a result, but by making him overcome his panic at confrontations, it helped me develop strategies for myself in dealing with conflict. By getting to know him, I was able to step back and address the issue almost clinically. It was about him, after all, and not me. I could be rational about him, while at the same time giving myself an outlet for the anxiety I carried around with me.
I did the same thing with DO-GOODER. Not the external plot. I’ve never been to Cameroon, let alone been kidnapped by mercenaries determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction. But I do have a father I have felt estranged from periodically. And his abandonment (which is what it felt like when I was a teenager) left me with a lot of resentment and anger, things I had trouble expressing. But I was able to make Isaiah face what he saw as his father’s abandonment, and he was able to express his frustration and rage. Writing him was cathartic in ways I didn’t even consider as I wrote the story.
Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t start out writing a book so that I could explore my daddy issues. I was writing an adventure story with romantic elements. It was fun and exciting. It wasn’t meant to be therapy. But in the end, it sort of was. Because I was able to distance myself from my feelings, I could look at the situation objectively. I was able to also get an understanding of Isaiah’s father’s actions (and, in turn, my own father’s actions).
In the end, I suspect an author’s inspiration is 1 part observation, 1 part questioning, 2 parts author emotions and experiences, and 3 parts pure imagination. And, maybe best of all, writing is cheaper than therapy (equally painful, though)!
Do you every pick a book because something about it resonates with your life experiences or emotions? Or do you avoid storylines and characters that hit too close to home? *Commenters will be entered to win a grand prize basket that includes the cookbook The Soul of New Cuisine: A Discover of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson; National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife; Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti; Fun Swag!
I admired Henry’s Zen calm. Sometimes he stood, sometimes he sat, but always he was still. He didn’t fidget or pace or rock in place (all the things I did). He didn’t stare at the water jug, but I’d bet big bucks that he knew exactly how much liquid remained. I looked away from the jug. One glance and my parched mouth and throat tingled with thirst.
“MacGyver.” The name popped out.
Henry looked up, asking his question with the motion of his eyebrows.
“You know, that old eighties TV show?”
“Sorry.” Henry shrugged. “I didn’t watch much television, especially shows that aired more than a decade before I was born.”
I waved that aside. “The show’s about this guy—”
“Let me guess. A guy named MacGyver?”
I rolled my eyes. “Ha-ha. Yes, a guy named MacGyver. He always seemed to be in these crazy situations—I have no idea why—and always managed to get out of them by some clever invention he made out of random stuff on hand. Like, you know, a watch, a fart, and a paper bag, and he creates this explosive device that takes out an entire military bunker, giving him barely enough time to save the girl or the hostages and derail the evil plot or whatever.”
“So you think MacGyver will come and save the day?”
“Don’t be an ass. But we should totally MacGyver this situation.”
“How? We have, literally, the clothes on our backs and a jug of water. I’m not sure even MacGyver could rescue himself or anyone else with so little.”
“That’s not the point. He… he was smart. We may not be able to use our wits”—my wits were well on their way to being scrambled eggs—“to rescue ourselves, but maybe we can figure out what’s going on. What’s in the canisters? Who are these guys? What side are they on? Does it matter what side they’re on? You know, information that might come in handy down the line.”
No good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it, though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.
However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first.
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j leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.
You can find her at:
HTML Link to DO-GOODER book trailer: