Friday Featured Author – Janice Jarrell

My name is Janice Jarrell. I am a retired grandmother who lives in Seattle, WA. I’ve been writing gay romance since I was twelve years old, only back then it wasn’t called ‘gay romance’. In fact, it had no name at all. It was the fifty’s, and it was worth your life to admit to being gay, let alone confess to being a girl who constantly fantasized about relationships between gay men. Hell, I didn’t even know what a homosexual was. I just knew that there was something hot going on between Tom Corbett and his Space Cadets and all those guys on ‘Combat’.

I wrote slash fanfiction for 30 years under the username Rakshi, composing over 300 stories, mostly in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ fandom. It was the creative release I’d been searching for my entire life and I blessed the Internet for leading me to this artistic oasis for my spirit. But eventually I grew tired of writing other people’s characters in other people’s worlds.

Love’s Magic was my very first step into writing my own characters. I will always be grateful the slash fanfiction community for nurturing the budding author until she was ready to blossom into a fully realized novelist. It’s been an amazing thing to watch the gay community’s growth over these past twenty years. My own journey has echoed theirs in many ways, and I’m grateful to all those gay activists who fought to give the gay community the rights and privileges they always deserved.

I’m also grateful to the gay romance community, readers, authors, publishers and promoters, who are making these, my retirement years, the most creative ones of my life.

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How many books to your series?
There are actually three that have been published and one which I give away as a free download. Love’s Magic, Revolutionary Heart, Book One was my very first sojourn into writing and publishing my own work. It features two gay couples as the main characters and explores the subject of assault on a major American university from the perspective of these four unique men. I’m thrilled to announce that Love’s Magic will be released in audio format this Spring, narrated by Cliff Miller.Magic Spells, book 1.5, is a novella of twelve short stories from the Love’s Magic universe, featuring Colin and Joshua.

Magic Spells is a novella of twelve short stories featuring charismatic, freedom-loving Irish police Sergeant, Colin Campbell and quiet, Jewish psychologist, Joshua Abrams. It is a smoking hot glimpse into Colin and Joshua’s romance, following their story from the time they first meet to the time of Love’s Magic’s dramatic climax. In this book you get an intimate and deeply personal glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of two intensely passionate and single-mindedly devoted men.

Love’s Trials, book two, continues Colin and Joshua’s story as the happily ever after they found in Love’s Magic is threatened by an ordeal which very nearly destroys them. Colin, a University of Virginia campus police Sergeant throws himself in front of a bullet meant for a student and nearly dies. Days of agonized uncertainty for Joshua turn to joy when Colin turns the corner and begins to recover, but the real trial lies ahead which Colin has to cope with the disabilities forced on him by his injuries. Will his pride and Joshua’s fear of confronting him do what a drug lord’s bullet could not? Or will they find the magic which once bound their hearts together.

I am currently working on Book three, Love’s Glory, which will be published this Spring.

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers grasp?

Both Love’s Magic and Love’s Trials carry what I feel are important messages, ones I hope resonate with my readers. I was asked by someone who read Love’s Magic why I tackled the subject of campus assault in my manuscript. They commented that the subject matter seemed tricky and further added that writing a book which featured TWO unique gay couples seemed like dangerous territory for a first-time novelist. In fact that one aspect of Love’s Magic has drawn more attention than almost any other, which rather surprised me.

I can only say this. As someone who has been an assault victim I felt the subject needed discussion. And since I was attempting to offer as many viewpoints as possible on how victims and the persons close to them experience and deal with such a dreadful ordeal, I needed the perspective of both my couples in order to best explore the full range of possibilities.

But Love’s Magic is also a love story. These four men have each found someone who has become… or is becoming… the most important person in their lives. For David and Nate, it’s an already established relationship that gets rocked to its core when Nate is attacked. For Colin and Joshua, it’s working their way past some incredibly high, deep emotional barricades, particularly in Colin’s case, which make finding and keeping that relationship damn near impossible. And all of these issues revolve around the personal experience each of them has had with some form of abuse.

The four main characters in Love’s magic had to deal with assault and abuse, each in their own unique way, and no one of them handles it quite the way the others do. Each of these four men are stumbling toward their own healing and eventually share the best of what they’ve learned along the way with the other three. I needed every single one of these men in order to tell the story that needed to be told. Each of them saw the issue from a different perspective. But before they could find the healing they needed they each had to learn to see it through each other’s eyes.

Love’s Trials offers a different message. I knew I wanted to write a story that featured Colin as a law enforcement officer. I knew I wanted to challenge this big, Irish cop in ways he’d never been challenged before. I wanted my research on this subject to be as detailed as it could get, so I went to the source. I talked with a retired police officer and explained the entire premise of the book to him.

He told me that for tough, alpha-males, as many police officers tend to be, becoming immobilized and helpless through sudden injury is a shattering experience emotionally and psychologically. They are placed in the position of being cared for by the people they most want to protect. Of having those loved ones seen them as powerless which, for these injured officers is an ego-crushing experience. He also said that the book should feature the devastating consequences of such an experience on the people closest to the injured officer. Even a man as well schooled in psychology as Joshua certainly is, forgets everything he ever learned about healthy behavior when faced with actually living the experience of having the man he loves critically injured, nearly die, and then suffer the humiliation of being disabled… perhaps permanently.

No one is behaving ‘normally’ under this set of circumstances. I wanted to write a book that explored what happens to these professionals when their lives are altered in ways they were never trained to handle.

5 Things people wouldn’t know about you.

1. I had my own television show for twelve years. It was a metaphysical, talk show called ‘Reflections’ which featured astrologers, psychics, tarot card readers, anyone who worked in the metaphysical arts.

2. I read tarot cards for a living for fifteen years.

3. I have three grandsons, one of whom is autistic and one of whom identifies as pan-gender.

4. My editor, Cathy, is also my best friend.

5. My best friend and I frequently cos-play Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins at cons across the country. We’ve been doing it for years and we love it.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write what I love. I write what makes me happy. For the thirty years I spent writing fanfiction, the ONLY thing I cared about was what my readers wanted. Now I want every book I write to be an open and honest reflection of my values, my principles, my personal integrity. That matters a lot more to me than sales or reviews.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I’m seventy-five years old. At my age everything I do is a spiritual practice. I wouldn’t waste time on it otherwise. I knit, crochet, and weave and those are also spiritual practices. In all of these endeavors I’m trying to leave something of myself behind… something that I hope is valuable and lasting. Something that carries a part of my spirit within it.

What was your hardest scene to write?

The scenes both at Joshua’s office and at the hospital after Colin was shot. The voice of Joshua’s darkest fears warned him not to hope, certain that he’d never hear Colin say his name again. While at the same time the voice of his faith urged him not to surrender to despair, that his love could protect Colin from the abyss. He walked a razor thin edge between sanity and madness as Colin fought for his life and it was terribly hard to write.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It takes me at least a year to write one book. I’m not in a hurry. I don’t have a word-count that I must meet every day. I write when the voice calls to me and I write for as long as I hear that call. I love my characters. I love my books. I feel they offer something both to my readers and to myself that is way too valuable and precious to rush.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

STOP writing in other people’s worlds and build your own!

What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

I don’t write about historical figures, but I have written about historical events. In Love’s Trials I write extensively about the ‘Unite the Right’ protests that took place in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017.

Colin, as a Sergeant with the University of Virginia campus police force, was involved in that conflict as a professional law enforcement officer whose duty was to keep the. But at the same time, because he is deeply in love with a Jewish man whose ethnic heritage he both honors and respects. He could not remain indifferent to the vile anti-Semitic tone of the ‘Unite the Right’ protestors.

Joshua, as a man of Jewish heritage, would experience this incident on an intensely personal level, both because the involvement of the neo-Nazi’s awakened deeply-held historical and family memories and because the man he loves is involved in every aspect of this conflict, a conflict which places him in constant danger.

The ethics for me involved meticulous research. Reading every single article I could find from that day, drawing out a timeline that was as detailed and accurate as I could make it. That day was momentous, both for my characters and for our country. I did not want to make a mistake. I wanted to get it right.

What do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd?

I think that characters are the heart and soul of any book. My goal was to write my characters with as much love, passion and integrity as was humanly possible. They aren’t perfect men. They have flaws and they make mistakes. But no one could ever question their integrity or the passion with which they live their lives both as individuals and as couples.

A few words about your book

Even a couple who are very much in love can experience trials which shatter their relationship nearly beyond repair. Trials which inflict such devastating consequences that nothing they’ve ever experienced can prepare them for it. This is this kind of trial that Colin and Joshua are forced to face. When a tough, alpha-male police officer finds himself unable to even get to the toilet by himself, the humiliation and blow to his pride can be devastating, causing him to strike out even the one he loves the most.

It is a book which gives voice not only to the pain of bodily injury but to the aftereffects such an ordeal brings to every aspect of life… no matter who you are or what you do for a living. It also speaks to the courage and determination with which these two men faced their personal nightmare and the undefeatable love which carried them to victory and healing.

It’s not a love story about perfect men. This dark night of the soul was caused as much by pride and weakness as by circumstances. But when you take this journey with Colin and Joshua you can’t help but be uplifted by their courage and inspired by their defiant refusal to allow any trial – even one as dark as deepest night – to destroy the love they share.

Give us a little insight into your main characters.

Colin Campbell, tough, independent, Irish cop, had never considered even the possibility of a committed relationship before he met Joshua Abrams. Colin is a complex, multi-dimensional man whose fear of love, intimacy, and commitment flowed from childhood memories too painful to discuss and too deeply ingrained in his psyche to ever forget. Colin is the cop. He deals with criminal assault on a daily basis as the man charged with finding and arresting the perpetrators of these crimes. But it also is a deeply personal issue for him for reasons which he will discuss with no one. There is pain buried deep within Colin that no one sees, feelings he has suppressed for most of his life. And when Joshua cracks open his heart everything comes pouring out, and not all of it is good. When he faces his own mortality and in Love’s Trials and comes to a full realization of his own vulnerability, he shakes him to his core. Lost in feelings of humiliation and inadequacy he shuts out the one person who stand most ready to offer love and understanding. Colin nearly breaks in two before finally realizing that it isn’t his injury that weakened him… it’s his own pride and ego.

Joshua Abrams is a gentle, introverted Jewish psychologist who, as a Title IX consultant, is tasked with helping Colin solve assault cases at the University of Virginia. Joshua was abused as a child, physically assaulted by a drunken father who broke Joshua’s arm when he was eight. He knows what it’s like to be locked in a dark closet and left alone for hours with no food, no light, no help. He became a Doctor of Psychology in order to help others who had suffered as he had, but also to find his own healing. He could see more easily into Colin’s heart than he could into his own. And in helping the man he loved find healing, he also found healing within himself. In Love’s Trials he finally comes to realize that refusing to confront Colin’s negative behaviors is not a sign of support, but of his own fear of rejection and abandonment.

The Blurb

Colin and Joshua faced the most harrowing ordeal of their lives with strength and courage. Believing they’d survived their trial, they looked forward to a future filled with happiness only to discover that the worst was yet to come. Sometimes surviving is the toughest trial of all.

After half a lifetime spent in short-term liaisons that allowed no intimacy, charismatic Irish police officer, Colin Campbell, found the love of his life. Dark-eyed, steady Joshua Abrams burned through Colin’s emotional barriers and taught him to look at life through new eyes, eyes that made room for the love and closeness he had always denied himself. Deeply in love and completely happy, their life together remains idyllic and their fiery passion for each other seems limitless.

They survive the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ riots, though not without scars. But later that month Colin’s position with the campus police force places him in charge of an informant program designed to crack a dangerous drug ring. Fully aware of the risks, he swears to Joshua that he will oversee the program without becoming directly involved. But Colin’s promise shatters when he becomes the only thing standing between a young Nigerian exchange student and a deadly drug lord.

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“Josh, please!” Colin begged, his voice wrung with pain. “You know I’d never hurt you!”

Disoriented and bleeding, Joshua lurched toward his lover. He knew his injuries weren’t Colin’s fault, but his lover’s rejection and the shock of his fall had stripped away the last vestige of his self-control.

“You’ve done nothing BUT hurt me!” he raged, then jerked away from David’s grip, ignoring the blood streaming down his face. “Every single day I reach out to you and every single day you reject me! I can’t offer to pick up a dish towel without suggesting that you’re weak and pathetic.”

“Josh, I’m sorry!” Colin cried. “I love you.” He tried to take Joshua’s arm but Joshua ripped it from his grasp.

“Love me?” Joshua cried. He stumbled forward, the blood on his face mingling with his tears. “You barely know I’m alive! You don’t care how lonely I am! You don’t care about my pain! You don’t care about anything but yourself!”

David tried to drag him backwards, fumbling to staunch the blood pouring from his forehead. “Come on, Josh! Come on! You’re bleeding!”

“You don’t need comfort!” Joshua exploded, spitting out his words through clenched teeth. “You don’t need support. And God knows you don’t need me! But this is my life too, you self-centered prick! My life, too! And I’m sick of being treated like I don’t exist!” He swiped the blood from his eyes then wheeled toward David who pressed the towel to his forehead and tugged him toward the door.

“Josh, come on,” David said. “We need to get you to the ER. Trent, stay here with Colin.”

Trent nodded and grabbed Colin’s arm as he moved to follow them. “Colin, no! Let him go. Let him go for now.”

“Josh, wait!” Colin cried, trying to jerk away from Trent.

“Stay here!” David snapped, as he moved Joshua onto the porch. “He needs a break, and so do you. I’ll call you later.”

Colin slumped to the couch, moaning, his hair fisted in his two hands. “I didn’t do this! I didn’t, Trent! I’d never hurt Josh!”

“I know you didn’t push him. I saw what happened. He tripped. But as far as you saying you’d never hurt him—”

“God,” Colin moaned, “Josh…”

“—the fact that you didn’t push him doesn’t make you any less responsible.”

Colin lifted his head and stared into Trent’s eyes.

“Your shit attitudes and behaviors put the two of you at the top of those stairs in the first place and you damn well know it.”

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Friday Featured Author – Janice Jarrell

Written by Divine Magazine

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