TJ Talks to TJ: A Totally Normal Author Interview

Greetings, friends, and thank you for joining us. My name is TJ, and today I’m going to be interviewing…*checks notes*…TJ.

TJ: Thank you for having me, TJ.

TJ: It’s my pleasure, TJ.

TJ: Do you think this format might end up being somewhat confusing and/or irritating for readers?

TJ: Most likely. Well, let’s begin! So, TJ, first of all, why don’t you tell us something incredibly fascinating about yourself. No pressure.

TJ: Uhh… Well, I was a three-time Scrabble champion in elementary school, and I used to be able to do a round-off back handspring without killing myself in the process. Is that fascinating?

TJ: Eh. Let’s move on. Tell us about your books.

TJ: Sure thing. My first book came out way back in 2007, and it’s a gay romance called Talking About Fungus because I didn’t listen to the repeated pleas of my writer friends and change the title to something that did not bring to mind venereal disease.

TJ: Good call on that one.

TJ: My second book, Following Grandpa Jess, came out in 2013 and involves no fungus of any kind. While it was marketed as a gay romance, it’s really more of a family story with a gay romance in the midst of it, and I find it far less cringey to look back on than TAF.

TJ: TAF being…

TJ: Talking About Venereal Disease.

TJ: Gotcha. Well, this is all very fascinating. Why don’t you tell us now about the projects you’re working on currently? Our reader(s) desperately want(s) to know more about them, I’m sure.

TJ: Well, the one I’ve been focusing on lately is Guardians, a YA LGBTQ+ fantasy/action novel in which queer teens fight to save the world from an invasion of dimension-hopping body snatchers. The book is actually in its final editing phase, though I’m sure I’ll wake up at 3 AM some night with the realization of a massive plot hole that will require me to deconstruct the entire story and build it back up again from scratch. For now, though, it’s pretty much finished – huzzah!

TJ: Huzzah indeed. And why do you think Guardians is worth our reader(s) caring about even the slightest tiny bit?

TJ: Well, it’s a pretty fun adventure, for one thing, and really one of my goals in writing it was to set a story in my hometown in Western Pennsylvania (one of the whitest, straightest places on Earth) and then fill it with queer people and people of color. So that is what I have done. :D

TJ: Well, it sounds like our reader(s) will have a gay old time reading it.

TJ: I hope they do, TJ. I hope they do.

TJ: And your other project, TJ?

TJ: My other project is Chosen, a queer fantasy epic I’ve been working on for the past 7,000,000 years [citation needed]. I’ve actually finished it a bunch of times and then scrapped it and started over, because I enjoy rolling boulders up and down hills for eternity, apparently.

TJ: Wonderfully obscure reference, thank you.

TJ: You’re welcome.

TJ: Well, I think we’ve just about run out of time, so why don’t you tell our reader(s) where they can find you on social media, buy your books, etc.

TJ: Well, if you want to buy my books, you can head over to the Books page and buy-buy-buy away, and if you want to find me on social media, I’m @TJBaerAuthor over on Twitter.

TJ: Glorious. Well, thank you so much for being here with us today, TJ.

TJ: I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, TJ, but you’re welcome, and thank you for having me.

TJ: Wonderful.

TJ: Indeed.

On Chosen, Writing, and Doing What I Please

Kaine’s kickass mother Hema, pictured here instead of Kaine because she’s far easier to draw in doodle form. :P

Long-time visitors will recall that I’ve been working on an LGBTQ+ fantasy novel called Chosen for approximately the last 17,000 years. Its main character, Kaine Ikarra, is a fifteen-year-old transgender boy who is struggling with magic, identity, and the fact that most of the people around town want very much to kill him. It’s tough being fifteen, man.

As I’ve mentioned before, this story started out during my teen years as a cookie-cutter White Dudes Doing Cool Stuff In A Fantasy Setting book, but it’s since evolved into a series that features mostly LGBT people of color doing even cooler stuff in a fantasy setting. Since this is a fantasy world entirely of my imagining, I can do what I want with it, such as making the dominant religion a pantheon of gods and goddesses, many of whom are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc., and this thus makes LGBT folks entirely normal and unstigmatized in this world. Likewise, the inclusion of a female chief goddess (and various other awesome females in the pantheon) encourages more gender equality, which means that gender roles in this society are far more equal, and that gives me the opportunity to have kickass ladies all over the place and not have that be at all weird.

The latest I Can Do What I Want aspect of the story has involved my going through the book and subtly altering what everyone is eating so they subscribe to a more plant-based diet. It’s not something you see often in fantasy books, I’m willing to bet, but given my own commitment to avoiding meat and animal products, I figured…why not? WHY NOT HAVE THEM ALL BE VEGAN. MUWAHAHAHAHA I’m drunk with godly writing power.

So. Chosen now features a transgender, pansexual, vegan person-of-color as its main character, and I am quite pleased about that. :D

If you’re sick and you know it, put your head gently down on the desk and sigh

It’s been a rough freaking week, you guys.

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Migraines, lack of sleep, a rebelling stomach, and general feeling-awful-all-over has led to some decidedly unpleasant days at work, though I find it encouraging that I’ve managed to make it to Friday morning without once vomiting all over my keyboard. Small victories, my friends. Small victories. Continue reading

Which concerns my LGBT fantasy epic

I thought I’d mosey on over to the blogosphere with some updates, as I find myself with a startling surplus of both time and brain cells this morning. I’m sure this is a condition too beautiful to last, so let’s get right to the updates before I return to my usual state of Morning Pudding-Brain.

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First off, my thrilling revamp of Book I of Chosen continues, and is actually going surprisingly well. There’s still a vast gap of nothingness where three or four vital middle chapters should go, but I’m very much enjoying adding in setting and culture details and doing everything I can to diversify and gay-ify the Chosen world. Continue reading

Which is full of writing talk and piss-poor doodles

So, aside from working, sleeping, eating, binge-watching The Graham Norton Show, and falling head-over-heels in love with Thomas Brodie-Sangster lookalike girls on trains, I’ve also been doing a great deal of writing as of late.

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Just like this, but less green.

Some of that writing has been strictly for my own amusement (such as the twelve-page tale I wrote about a trip my friends and I took to a Japanese barbecue restaurant, which I for some reason felt the need to transform into a Dragonlance/Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure), but the rest of it has been me working on my LGBT fantasy epic, Chosen. Continue reading

Chosen: Book II dream cast is shiny and pretty and shiny

Greetings, my eager readers! After another lengthy period of blog neglect, I have returned!

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Okay, fair enough.

Anyway, I’ve been hard at work on Chosen: Book II, and have written (and subsequently deleted) many new and interesting scenes! I’ve also used time when I should’ve been writing to do the all-important hunt for a Book II dream cast, and I’m pleased to announce that said cast has now officially been assembled. Behold!

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A run-down of the characters, for those who might’ve missed the other 17,000 posts here regarding Chosen: Continue reading

Nervous breakdown, now with gifs

Greetings, friends. As I’m sure you’ve all been desperately wondering what I’ve been up to as of late, I’ve come here today to alleviate your suffering via a gif-filled blog post. Hurrah!

To summarize the past month in the most succinct way possible:

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It’s been, to put it lightly, a bit of a crazy month, with financial troubles, medical madness, random altercations with crazy people on public transportation, sleep deprivation due to summer heat and a very loud and bored feline roommate, and, of course, the requisite entropy-fueled destruction of my personal belongings. Continue reading

In which I am a crotchety old lady

A few bits of news:

1. The site header has finally been redone!

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The new header features: (a) a more up-to-date photo of The Author (as well as The Author’s Hair), (b) pictures that are actually lined up properly, and (c) some of The Author’s bad art (and one piece of good art by someone who is not The Author). Hooray!

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For those unfamiliar with the subjects of the drawings seen here, they’re all characters from Chosen. Left-to-right, we see Mr. Defrin, Kaine, Nicholas, Darek, and (suspiciously well-drawn) Hema.

2. Speaking of Chosen, for anyone who didn’t get the chance to read the sneak peak of the first few chapters, you can still do so here:

https://tjbaer.com/2015/06/12/a-sneak-peak-at-chosen-book-i/

For the uninitiated, Chosen is the first volume of my upcoming LGBT fantasy series, which I mention on this blog approximately every .25 seconds. I’ve actually made some changes to the first few chapters over the last few days, as well as adding in some new material to the “sneak peak” post above, so even if you’ve already had a look at it, now might be a good time to go have one more. Ya know. If you want to.

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3. For those who are unaware, the Chicago Blackhawks recently won the Stanley Cup, which is apparently kind of a big deal. To celebrate, they had a parade, a huge stadium event, and a general all-day avalanche of merrymaking downtown today.

As one of the few people in Chicago who doesn’t give any damns at all about professional sports, I found myself surrounded for much of the day by happy, chattering masses of people in Blackhawks jerseys, who got progressively happier, louder, and drunker as the day went on.

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Artist’s rendering. Strange how so many Blackhawks fans seem to be tiny and bald.

I’m thrilled that so many people were so very happy today, but as I’m a crotchety old lady who dislikes crowds, noise, youngins, and  especially crowds of noisy youngins, today was something of an exercise in self-control. And, I’m pleased to say, I managed to get through the entire day without once waving my cane over my head and shouting for everyone to keep it down / keep off my lawn, so I consider it a victory.

Incidentally, I seem to have a unique combination of traits that make me the absolute antithesis of other Chicagoans: I don’t care about sports, I prefer thin-crust pizza, and I always, always put ketchup on hot dogs (an offense punishable by death within the Chicago city limits).

What can I say? I’m just a rebel. A crotchety old lady rebel.

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Seen above: Me.


 

Edit: Apparently, this marks my 100th post on this blog! Wow and hooray and woot!

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I suggest we celebrate by having everyone immediately go and mail me one hundred $1 bills. Or, because I am exceptionally kindhearted, I will also accept $100 in any denomination of your choice. <3

“Chosen” art from several billion years ago

This blog is currently at 93 followers, meaning that we may soon hit 100! And while that may seem like a laughably small number to the J.K. Rowlings of the world, for the T.J. Baers, it’s most definitely cause for celebration.

As such, I’ve gone digging in my Big Box-o-Stuff, and I’ve unearthed some retro Chosen fanart for your viewing (dis)pleasure. BEHOLD!

Continue reading

Blonderbatch and a decided lack of gay

After a month of watching the dust gather on my blog, I HAVE RETURNED.

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Well, sort of. I’m sure I’ll be back to haitus-ing before long, though I don’t want you to blame yourselves, dear readers. My absence has nothing at all do with my love for you, which grows deeper and stronger and mushier by the day.

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Actually, my lack of updating is a good thing, as I’ve been using my non-trolling-tumblr-for-gifs time to WRITE!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hard at work on the second book of Chosen, which has actually turned out to be a prequel about Mr. Lucas Defrin, Nicholas’ father and Kaine’s teacher and mentor.

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(Portrayed in the movie-of-my-mind by Blond Benedict Cumberbatch, or Blonderbatch, as he shall henceforth be known.)

Said prequel takes place when Lucas is 13 or so and the Fael War is still raging on. He and his family are living in a small town in the Borderlands, as far from the fighting as it’s possible to be, but nowhere is really safe for Lucas because of that whole glowing-mark-on-chest, strange-powers-condemned-by-holy-text thing.

Lucas keeps pretty much to himself, afraid that he won’t be able to hide his powers if he spends time with people, but when he sees a girl being attacked by a group of bullies, he knows he has no choice but to fling his scrawny-gangly self into the fray and use his powers to save her. (Despite the fact that she was doing a pretty decent job of kicking ass before he showed up, but eh, whatever.)

Said girl turns out to be Hema (also known as Kaine’s mother from Book I), and she and Lucas form a friendship which would be called “unlikely” if I weren’t trying to avoid the use of obvious clichés in this mini-summary.

Anyway, writing about the two of them (and Kaine’s dad, who shows up in there as well) is great fun, and working on a story that takes place more than 20 years prior to the events of Book I means I’m actually figuring a lot of things out re: the world and how it came to be as it is in Kaine’s time. And as it turns out, actually knowing stuff like that? Kind of helpful.

One odd thing, though: All the main characters in this prequel will eventually end up in male/female romantic relationships. There’ll be LGBT side characters, of course (and I’m thinking Lucas might have a male love interest at some point before he meets Elisabeth, his eventual wife), but the main relationships are all straight. (!)

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I’m not at all used to writing straight couples, and it’s weirding me out a bit. I shall attempt to be strong, however, and console myself with the fact that Nicholas and Kaine are so very, very gay, and that will perhaps make the burden easier to bear.

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Anyway. Until next time, friends~~~