The Sapphic Book Review

Interview with Jae

May 20, 2022 Laura Green Season 1 Episode 15
The Sapphic Book Review
Interview with Jae
Show Notes Transcript

Jae joins me to chat about her new book, Just A Touch Away, Luke and Nora, travel, chemistry, her favorite couples and much more.
Find links to purchase Jae's books on her website:Jae, author of lesbian romance novels (jae-fiction.com)

Join my Patreon for as little as $5 a month to hear your favorite authors playing would you rather: Sapphic Book Review is creating Bonus fun with lesfic authors | Patreon

Buy Me A Coffee at: sapphiclaura is If you enjoy my podcast please consider buying me a coffee. Thank you! (buymeacoffee.com)

To purchase Jae's favorite reads of the year: Breaking Character by Lee Winter: Breaking Character - Kindle edition by Winter, Lee. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Those Who Wait by Haley Cass: Those Who Wait - Kindle edition by Cass, Haley. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

If I Don't Ask by E.J. Noyes: If I Don't Ask - Kindle edition by Noyes, E. J. . Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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Laura:

Hi, I'm Laura green, and this is a sapphic book review podcast, the show where I talk with the best authors in sapphic fiction. I hope that you learn something new each week about your favorite authors, and get some book suggestions along the way. Thanks so much for listening, and be sure to subscribe. Welcome to the sapphic book review podcast. Today's guest is not only one of the most successful writers in our community, she is also one of our finest ambassadors. Jae, welcome, and thanks for joining me.

Jae:

Thank you so much for having me.

Laura:

In your upcoming release, the lead character is a professional cuddler tell us a little more about Just a Touch Away. And would you ever consider a career as a professional cuddler?

Jae:

Yeah, Just a Touch Away, which I just sent off to the editor not even two days ago. So it's very exciting. It's a forced proximity enemies to lovers romance between a woman who is working as a professional cuddler, and the other main character is an aloof, ice queen character who works as a marketing consultant. So they couldn't be more different if they tried. And they inherit a building together. But there's a catch. In order to inherit, they have to share the top floor apartment for 92 days.

Laura:

That's a random number.

Jae:

I can't spoil it, but there's a reason for that exact number.

Laura:

I can't wait for it. It sounds very interesting.. Would you ever be a professional cuddler?

Jae:

I don't think so. But first of all, I think I already found my dream job, which is working as a full time writer, and it fits my personality perfectly. And while I love cuddling, I restrict it to very few people in my life. If you do it professionally, you have to be able to share physical affection with all of your clients. And so ideally, they would be a little bit more extroverted than I am. Otherwise it becomes very draining very fast. So I leave that to other people. I think my main character Hannah is perfect for the job.

Laura:

Just a Touch Away is novel number 23. If I told you when you published your first book, Backwards to Oregon that you would have written 23 books, what would you have sa?

Jae:

backwoods Oregon was first published 15 years ago, because before I joined Ylva, nine years ago, I was with another publisher l book. So the first edition was published. Nearly not quite, but nearly 15 years ago, I think I wouldn't have been surprised to hear that I would go on to write 23 more novels, because I've always been a writer from the age of 10, or even earlier than that. And I've always written and never stopped. So Backwards already wasn't the first book I've ever written. Just the first one I published. What would have surprised me was if you've told me I would publish 23 novels and in English, which is not my native language, and to go on doing it full time and making a living from writing and publishing sapphic romances, that would have been an amazing part for me, because I never really believed that that would be possible.

Laura:

That has to be amazing to be able to do something you love so much full time.

Jae:

Yeah, it's like I feel everyday like I'm living a dream. It's not always easy, but it's always fantastic.

Laura:

The first book of yours that I read was Conflict of Interest, Aiden and Dawn remain one of my favorite couples. Do you have any plans to write more police procedurals in the future?

Jae:

One day, I do want to write the third novel in the Portland Police Bureau series, because I think especially about Aiden and Dawn, there's still so much to tell, they still have a lot of growing to do as people individually, but also as a couple. But I feel that book, the first one, Conflict of Interest, I wrote it 16 years ago, was the first book I ever wrote in English. And it wasn't the first published but the first I wrote, and back then it feels like completely different world or my awareness. Maybe the world wasn't so different. But my awareness of the world, I think, like a lot of people and when I say people, I mean, white people. We weren't as aware of the problems within the police force back then. I mean, TV, movies, TV shows certainly didn't portray it back then. The police were always the good guys. Not saying they're all the bad guys, but certainly there is a problem and a systemic problem like racism, and abuse of power. And I feel like how do you write nowadays that now that we are aware of the problems? How do you write a novel about a police officer without even touching on it? It's something that feels unrealistic to me and I feel like as writers we have a responsibility to not ignore the problem. But on the other hand, how do you tackle such a big and heavy topic like racism, and all the other systemic problems, especially in a romance novel that already touches on other really heavy themes like rape, without burdening the romance novels so much that no one wants to read it because they want to escape their own problems and not read about all the things that are going on out in the world. So I think it's going to be a challenge to find the right balance between being realistic and not ignoring existing problems, but also portraying them in a way that doesn't feel completely hopeless. And I will tackle that challenge. But I want to do with justice. And at the moment, when there's so much going on in the world, the pandemic is not quite over yet. And there's a war right next door in The Ukraine. So I feel it's not the right time for me to tackle that book.

Laura:

Yeah, there's a lot of other things going on. And when you wrote Conflict of Interest, not everyone had a smartphone, but now when the instant police brutality occurs, it's being live streamed and it can't be ignored, because the evidence is right there for all of us to witness.

Jae:

Exactly. Yeah.

Laura:

So if you do write that book, will my girlfriend Kade be in it?

Jae:

Yeah, definitely. Kade and of course, Del need to be part of it, too.

Laura:

She's one of my favorite characters, I have a little crush on her. In chemistry lessons, Kylie and Regan, best friend since kindergarten go on three dates to prove they have no chemistry. My chemistry grades in school are not something to brag about. Did you get good grades in chemistry?

Jae:

Yeah, I got a A in chemistry, but it was not my favorite subject at all. In Germany, we had the opportunity to choose three scientific subjects and to drop the one after one year and I dropped chemistry. Yeah, mainly because I didn't like the teacher. So I picked chemistry for chemistry lessons, because I mean, it was the obvious choice. But Regan is based actually on my biology teacher, who was just fantastically cool teacher, and she always went the extra mile for her students. And so she was the inspiration for Regan even though she taught biology or not chemistry.

Laura:

Did she have a thing with the woman who worked at the lunchroom?

Jae:

No but a lot of students and I don't exclude myself had a crush on her.

Laura:

So for someone who hasn't read any of your books, what are the three books that you feel really encompass who you are as a writer, and are the best to introduce readers to your work?

Jae:

This is a fantastically phrased question. After 23 books, it's really hard to pick. But I would say if you ask my readers, I think they would go with Backwards to Oregon. That's the favorite of so many. And that's kind of astonishing, because it's historical romance. And even people who don't normally enjoy historical romances, or books with a Western setting loved it. It's basically a marriage of convenience between a single mother who is forced to work as a sex worker. And Luke, is hard to describe, because it's set in 1851. And they didn't have the terms that we now have to describe our gender identity. Some of my readers read her as a butch woman, some as a trans man, and others read her as being non binary. And I certainly think being non binary might be a good fit for her because she doesn't identify with the women of her time, but also not quite with the men around her. So it kind of would fit that she is outside of the gender binary, and Luke and Nora story just resonated with so many readers, that it just blew me away and really encouraged me to keep writing and publishing in English. So I think Backwards to Oregon would be my first choice. What else? Oh, maybe Damage Control, which is part of the Hollywood series second book in the series, but you can also start with it. It's a long book, it's 140,000 words, which means it's almost twice the size of the average romance novel. It's a real slow burn. And it's a romance between a famous actress who thinks she's straight and wants to convince the world she's straight. But then she ends up falling in love with her female PR agent. So yeah, I think that would be my second choice. There's a lot of banter between the characters. And I think that's representative of my style really well. What else? Oh, yeah, maybe Just For Show, which is a fake relationship romance. And yeah, I really love fake relationships. And what's typical to my writing style. is that the two characters are very different. They are basically an opposites attract couple. Claire is a very by the book perfectionist therapist and Lana is chaotic, messy laid back. So yeah, not very successful in her job. So they are really fun couple with a lot of hilarious scenes. And I think that also represents my books really well.

Laura:

Those are all good choices and three my favorites.

Jae:

Cool.

Laura:

I love so many of your books, obviously, it's impossible to talk about all of them. But the Hollywood series has a special place in my heart. I've told you before how much it means to me as someone who has lived with MS for 20 years to see a character like Jill. why did you decide to write a book with a character who suffers from MS?

Jae:

I feel like I didn't really make a real decision. It was more Jill decided it for me. I think in general, a lot of the time sapphic romance and romance novel in general, they they don't really represent real people or real life, they are often a little bit too centered on perfect characters who are all in their 20s, maybe 30s. With perfect health , perfect jobs, perfect finances, perfect looks, perfect lives, everything is perfect. And that certainly is not always a good representation of the people who I see in my life or myself. And so I set out to be more realistic and more inclusive in my novels and even in the Hollywood series where you think well, they are celebrities. They're actresses. Of course they are beautiful, but I feel like even my Hollywood series is not very glamorous. There's two people you can relate to. And Jill started out as a supporting character in the second book of the Hollywood series Damage Control. She is a colleague and best friend of Grace. But she is not really successful yet in her acting career. And she has MS. And she is very stubborn and very proud. And she has decided that she won't have a relationship because she has MS. And when I first created her for Damage Control, she was just a supporting character. But she was a scene stealer.

Laura:

she is,

Jae:

yeah, she just stole the scene every time. I think it's mostly because she has a very snarky sense of humor. And it's part of her coping strategy. And she's not afraid to tell you what she thinks. And so she told me, I need my own book and have a happy ending. And I think that's part of the message of that book that you don't have to be perfect or have perfect life or perfect health to be able to have a happy ending.

Laura:

I just love that book so much. You've written some of the best couples in sapphic romance. Who are your three favorite couples from your books? I know, it's like picking your favorite child.

Jae:

It's even harder than the question about picking three books because it feels like, well, but what about them, you feel like you're betraying the rest of the characters.

Laura:

I know, I just I'm really causing a lot of problems for

Jae:

I will get in trouble later. But if you force me to you. pick, I would say Luke and Nora, for sure from Backwards to Oregon. And I think what is so special about them is that they have given up on love, they think it's not for them, and they will never find it and they're not even looking for it anymore. And so when they find it with each other, it's so special to see them slowly open up to each other and learn to trust because they need to enable to in order to survive the Oregon trail and and that's so special about that relationship. The second couple, I think I would go with Holly and Leo from Perfect Rhythm, book one in the Fair Oaks series, because Holly is asexual and we still don't have enough representation of a spectrum characters. And so their relationship is very, very intimate. But it's not based on sexual attraction because Holly as an asexual character doesn't experience that. And the third one, I think I would go with Denny and Eliza from Wrong Number, Right Woman a more recent one of my novels, but also very popular with readers. And they are just such a sweet couple. Denny is a very shy butch woman, which I think you don't see that often in fiction, but she has love handles and is not very confident about her looks or herself in general. But Eliza just loves her exactly the way she isn't the other way around. And it's the kind of low angst story that I really needed to write during the pandemic.

Laura:

Yeah, Denny is the best. I wish she could make me some of those pants of hers. Before you became a full time writer and editor, you worked as a psychologist. Once again, I'm going to cause you stress. What three characters of yours could

Jae:

That's a super great question. I've never been asked use the most therapy? that one. But it was an easy one to answer. Actually, I think I would start with Dawn, who interestingly from Conflict of interest and she is a psychotherapist herself. And psychotherapist sometimes tend to think they don't need therapy, but Dawn definitely does. She is a rape survivor. And also she went through other trauma in her life. She lost her father and her brother to violent crime. So I definitely think yeah, she needs therapy. And her now wife, Aiden, she definitely needs therapy too, because she's the product of rape. Her mother has been raped, and she still harbors a lot of shame and guilt and self worth issues. And I think in order for them to be able to move forward with the relationship and maybe think about having children. She definitely needs a couple of years in therapy too.

Laura:

that could be a new book, where they both go to therapy.

Jae:

definitely would I mean, maybe one of them a few years later, but definitely, I feel like at least one of them would still be in therapy. Yeah. And probably Aiden Yeah, I think Dawn has better coping strategies in general. And the third one, it was kind of a toss up between Lana from Just for Show. But I think I tend to go more with Rae from The Roommate Arrangement. She works security in a comedy club. But she used to be a police officer. And in a shooting, she lost one eye and lost her work partner. And she still has a lot of survivor's guilt, and feels like she should have been able to stop stop it from happening. And yeah, she's never been in therapy. So I think she's a good third choice, You can write a book a series of books, featuring a therapist who could just see all of your characters. Yeah, I definitely could.

Laura:

You could put an acknowledgement for me in there.

Jae:

Yeah, for giving me the idea.

Laura:

Now that the world is starting to open up again, what are a few places you'd like to visit,

Jae:

Where to start, I haven't traveled in the last like two or nearly three years at all, because I live with an immunocompromised roommate. And we used to spend every winter like at least three weeks somewhere at the ocean. So I really missed that. And I want to go back to that. Maybe this year, or maybe next year, I will see. And one place I definitely want to revisit is Croatia. When I was growing up, we spent every summer there and it's really beautiful somewhere at the Adriatic Sea. That is one place. And a place that I definitely want to see the future but not in winter, is Iceland. That would have to be a summer vacation. And hopefully next year, I want to go back to the US to revisit to visit a lot of my friends from the US and maybe go to the GCLS conference in Denver.

Laura:

Yeah, that'd be nice. I'll see you there because I may go next year.

Jae:

That's great.

Laura:

What hidden talents do you have that would surprise us?

Jae:

Oh, I feel like all my talents are more out in the open. So I'm not sure I have any hidden ones. I feel like my talents wouldn't surprise people that much. But what tends to surprise them is always the stuff that I can't do or that I do very badly. People always think I can do everything for some reason. And then they're surprised when there are areas where I'm completely incompetent. Like my sense of navigation, or orientation is awful. I struggled recognizing faces and I think both has to do with having a Aphantasia like the character in my upcoming book, Just a Touch Away. And oh, my singing is horrible.

Laura:

Oh, let's test it right now. Sing me a song.

Jae:

Nope. No. Your ears would bleed. My roommate says I sing like a nightingale. But the problem is the nightingale has a very bad case of laryngitis. Trust me is the reason I'm not a singer. Oh, but I just sort of have a hidden talent that surprises most people. I'm not sure if it's hidden talent. But something that surprises people is that I'm really good with numbers, statistics. And I'm a spreadsheet geek. And that for some reason really surprises people. And I think it's because most creative people tend to not have a hat for business and they are word people not numbers people. And before I went to university, I got my qualification that enables Germans to go to university at a business school. And so I feel like I have a head for business and a head for words. And that's the only thing I can think of that would surprise a lot of people.

Laura:

Okay, well, one of these days when you feel up to it, I think you should just come back and sing for me and I will be the judge of whether you sound really bad.

Jae:

No, let me be the charge of it and save your ears. It's really horrible. I I love music, but I think I leave the singing to someone else.

Laura:

Okay. I know how you like to explore your city of Freeburg. Germany, if you were going on a day of exploration, what snacks are you taking, because I know you like snacks too.

Jae:

I wouldn't take any of them because the fun is to get them into city, I would just for lunch, I would stop somewhere where they have one of my favorite foods of all time, which is a vegetarian ukca. It's a Turkish dish or kind of Turkish German German immigrants who emigrated to Germany and I think 50s invented it. And it's basically a very thin flatbread, and you can put whatever you want on it, but I am a vegetarian. So I have mine with lettuce, tomatoes, corn, carrots, cucumber. Oh, and the most important is a yogurt, garlic dressing that you put on top. And then you wrap it up, like kind of like a burrito or a wrap. And then you either eat it in the restaurant or at the outside patient, or you take it to go so you can take it with you and continue your excursion. It's like a fast food, but it's a healthy fast food. Yeah, it's so good. And if you can still eat anything afterwards, which is actually unlikely, but maybe after a couple more hours of exploring the city, I would either have ice cream, go to junk food, or have a piece of cheesecake, which is my favorite cake and they have a really good one at the farmers market.

Laura:

Sounds good. I'm so hungry. What have been your favorite Sapphic books you've read so far this year?

Jae:

This year, I've done a lotbetter than the previous years with my reading. I made a resolution to read more just for fun. And I've participated in my reading challenge that I'm running this year to sapphic book bingo. And my book bingo card is I think I've marked just three more squares to fill. And I think my favorite so far, maybe two or three Breaking character by the Winter. So I've been catching up on all the Winter books, that one was my favorite of hers. And When You Least Expect It by Haley Cass. And right now I just started it yesterday, but it might become one of my top three of the year is If You Don't Ask by E.J. Noyes So it's kind of the mirror story of Ask, Tell, which is one of my all time favorites. So I think these three.

Laura:

I just started the audiobook as it just came out today. And I've already read it twice on my Kindle

Jae:

I might get it and maybe switch to the audiobook because I've switched to audio a lot because I have low vision and after a day looking at the computer screen writing, it's really good to just close my eyes and listen to a book

Laura:

and Abby Craden can't go wrong there.

Jae:

Yeah, true.

Laura:

Well, Jae, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. This really was an honor. And I appreciate it so much.

Jae:

I appreciate it, too. And it's a pleasure.

Laura:

Thanks so much for listening. And thanks again to Jayefor joining me today. You can find links to purchase Jae's books on her website, jae-fiction.com, where you can also download the Sapphic book bingo reading challenge. If you enjoy this podcast, you can buy me a coffee at buymea coffee.com/sapphiclaura, or join my patreon at patreon.com/sapphicbookreviewpod where you can listen to your favorite authors playing Would You Rather. Here's a sample of this week's with Jae. And until next time, happy reading would you rather go to a karaoke bar with Annie and drew from something in the wine? Or Denny and Eliza from wrong number right woman?

Jae:

I would go with Denny and Eliza because I think it's very likely that Denny and I would sneak out because we are both shy. And we would never sing in public.

Laura:

Oh, that's funny. I would go with Drew because I have a little crush. Would you rather own your own boat or your own plane?

Jae:

It's tough. My first instinct is to go with the boat because I love water and I love the ocean. But then again, we're still kind of in a pandemic and this thought of just being by myself on a plane. I mean, it's a private jet, I assume.

Laura:

Yes, of course.

Jae:

Oh, and then maybe I also have my own pilot, you know, like in Turbulence by E.J. Noyes. Yeah, I think I think I'll go with that one. Yeah, I take the plane.

Laura:

Yeah. Especially if you can get Audrey to show up and fly around.

Jae:

Yeah.