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.

In which gay teens fight monsters

I’d hoped to get some writing done today, and shockingly, I did! :O

…but not on the project I was actually hoping to work on. Ah, well. :P I’d been hoping to add to my forever-WIP and gay fantasy epic (TM), Chosen, but instead I unearthed a long-ago begun story and added a few chapters to it.

Said story is tentatively entitled Guardians, and it’s a fun little YA story about teens fighting monsters and trying to stop the end of the world, because that plot hasn’t been done before.

The story, though, is surprisingly engaging, and I can say that because I started writing it long enough ago that it no longer feels like something I wrote. :P The main character, Alisha, is a kickass seventeen-year-old with frizzy hair and a talent for fighting monsters and keeping her narcissistic younger brother out of trouble. Her mother fought monsters back when she was a teenager but now is Retired, and her dad is a researcher who likes punning, Doctor Who, and annoying his children in the most loving way possible.

I have, of course, felt obliged to put as much gay into the story as possible, so Alisha’s older sister has a girlfriend, her brother’s love interest is an awesome trans girl, and Alisha has definite chemistry with nemesis and fellow teen monster-hunter, Belladonna.

Anyway, here’s a quick excerpt from a draft of a scene when Alisha visits Belladonna’s excessively nice house in search of info about this whole ‘end of the world’ thing:

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How could I sneak with this fine physique?

Greetings, friends. Greetings and hello and hello and also greetings.

I find myself with a bit of time to spare this evening, so I thought it was about time I posted an update. So to all those readers who have been weeping bitter tears into their pillows at night wondering when I would return, you may now rest easy. Your prayers have been answered.

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Memoir: June 12, 2009

A short memoir piece of mine about the challenges of being LGBTQ+ in Japan is being featured on the Past-Ten website, an excellent web journal that asks the question, “Where were you on this day ten years ago?” If you feel in need of a short venture into my mental state in 2009, feel free to check it out. :P
 

Chosen and Queer Ladies in Media

Creating this five-minute video somehow took all freaking morning (and beyond), but I’m fairly satisfied with the result, so I suppose all is well. :P In any case! A look at my ongoing LGBTQ+ fantasy series, Chosen, and the general state of queer and powerful ladies in media, accompanied by a great many gifs because a video of just my voice + a black screen would probably be less than scintillating.

“Jump” on Flash Fiction Magazine

I’ve recently had a few short fiction pieces accepted by literary publications, and the first one is live, live, LIVE!

You can now find “Jump,” a short action piece, on Flash Fiction Magazine‘s website, direct link here:

“Jump,” T.J. Baer.

If you read it and find yourself overflowing with love and admiration, feel free to leave a comment. :P

 

On Chosen and queer lady vegans

Greetings, friends. Today I found myself faced with a truly monumental decision: Should I watch The Jeffersons marathon or the Supermarket Sweep marathon?

Sometimes life is hard.

In other news, I’ve been doing some work on Chosen (also knows as the LGBTQ fantasy epic I’ve been chipping away at since approximately the age of the dinosaurs), attempting to inject some more action and awesomeness into the book. It’s going pretty well so far, and I’ve also done another experimental gender-switch and transformed the main love interest, Nicholas, into a female character who is primarily attracted to women. This wasn’t something I planned, but it makes her romance with Kaine (biologically female but male by every other definition) all the more interesting and complex, and also ups the number of main female characters.

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Fighting For the Galaxy Returns!

IT’S BACK.

…on a Saturday, because no calendar tells me what to do, yo.

For the uninitiated, Fighting For the Galaxy is the epic science fiction masterpiece* (*citation needed) composed by my Star Wars-obsessed thirteen-year-old self. It features Commander T.J. Baer and her struggles to defeat evil aliens, save the planet Earth (and the galaxy, one would assume), and have happy kissy times with a violet-eyed boy named Rendar she apparently has heterosexual-type love feelings for. (13-year-old me was still somewhat in denial on that front, alas.)

To read Fighting For the Galaxy from its glorious beginning, you can check out the FFtG main page here: Fighting For the Galaxy: Main Page

In our last installment, T.J., Jess, and Captain Abrigio were forced into the scantily-clad service industry in a fine home on planet Sffonia; Rendar, Mark, and Jen busted out of jail with an exceptional degree of violence and snappy comebacks; and Rendar said, “Damn, damn, DAMN!” because 13-year-old me thought “damn” was the height of swearing, and damn x 3 was bound to be 3x as cool.

Today, we once again visit the alien planet of Sffonia, where T.J. leads a daring escape, Jess makes yet another unfortunate decision that leads to gunfire and general mayhem, and Rendar, Jen, and Mark wander around the city arguing and wasting time. ONWARD TO EPIC SCI-FI!

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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