An Interview with Jade Astor

Author Image 6Jade Astor is a longtime fan of male/male erotic love stories, and got her start writing paranormal and sci-fi fan fiction back when such publications were still run off on photocopiers, stapled together, and shipped out to other fans in manila envelopes. Years later, she was delighted to find a thriving population of like-minded writers and readers in the e-book community. When she is not writing, Jade enjoys sculpting, tinkering with computers, and training (and retraining) her small herd of unruly but adorable rescued Chihuahuas.

Q: Your heroes in Sehru’s Quest face an unusual conflict: trouble conceiving children. How did you approach the mindset of giving maternal desires and instincts to the opposite sex?

A: I had heard about “mpreg” stories, as male-pregnancy tales are sometimes called, but I have to admit I had never actually read one. I therefore set myself a private challenge to come up with an mpreg tale of my own that would be believable. Obviously, human males relate to their children in ways that have been studied and documented, but here the males are elves, an entirely different species. The world building included a whole new biological and psychological take on male parenting. It was incredibly fun and challenging to develop the series, and I am enjoying it so much that I am still writing in that world.

Q: Sehru’s Quest certainly shows lovers in a realistic light, as they must overcome some of life’s toughest complications together. Was this simply a coincidence of the plot, or was it a conscious effort on your part to create such honest relationships, and if so, why?

A: I feel that the more fantastical the plot and setting (i.e., a medieval elf world where magic works), the more relatable the characters have to be for the reader and the writer both to suspend disbelief. Realistic details, such as one’s family disapproving of one’s chosen mate, or reproductive incompatibilities, are two examples of problems we can all understand, but which can be transformed into something new and interesting by a fantasy setting.

Q: Your books are fantastical and clearly reflect your vivid imagination, with elves, medieval backdrops, and invented species. What is it that draws you to these sorts of fantasy worlds, and is there something specific that inspires them?

A: I guess I have always been a daydreamer in that way—the real world we live in just doesn’t inspire me the way the past or the distant future do. I have also done quite a bit of research on medieval castles and customs, just out of personal interest, so I was able to use this information in the Elven Conceptions series. The medieval world was much more varied and colorful than I ever realized before I started researching and writing about it. I try to bring that old-world charm into my stories.

Q: Are you planning to continue writing of elves and paranormal worlds in future books? Is there a genre you’ve never written before but have always wanted to try?

A: Absolutely! In fact, I am continuing the Elven Conceptions series this summer with a new trilogy that features a new kingdom and new characters (though the sixth book will tie the two series together). If readers respond positively, I am prepared to do a third trilogy, bringing the total to nine books. After that, who knows! Mysteries intrigue me, as do sci-fi settings. I don’t discount any possibility!

Q: Of all your characters so far, which has been the closest to your heart, or the one you most loved to create?

A: That would be hard to say, because I feel all of my characters are part of me and express different facets of my own personality. However, I would have to choose Prince Talek, Regent of Mavra, from Lyrion’s Gift. At first he seems a cold, arrogant ruler who is not above kidnapping Lyrion and forcing him to bear his royal heir. Once I began to explore his family situation and his own insecurities, though, I found myself relating to his choices and his character as though I were Lyrion, who was also struggling to understand his difficult mate. Talek’s redemption and transformation into a loving partner was one of the most satisfying aspects of writing that book.

Q: What’s the most memorable sex scene from one of your books? Why?

A: My historical m/m, Winterwood, featured a hero who had lived his whole life being the proper Victorian gentleman and the dutiful heir to a large estate. When his father dies, he inherits not just the manor, but Thomas, the sexy groundskeeper with a secret. Their first encounter, with Thomas slipping through the window and using Sir Michael’s torn shirt to secure him to the bedposts (with his eager consent, of course) got me totally involved in their love story. I was each of them and both of them at the same time. There’s nothing like Victorian erotica when the characters throw off all that repression and tight clothing and just go wild!

Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?

A: I like an emotionally strong, larger-than-life guy who has issues about opening up his heart until he meets just the right person. I once read that every character in a story should have some kind of a secret, and I have found that a good rule of thumb in creating characters. If the secret is big enough, it can carry the character through a sequel or two as well!

Q: Tell us about your writing routine.

A: Though I work full time, I try to scrounge writing hours whenever I can—either at the beginning of the day or at the very end, as well as the weekends. I have to be strict with myself, no matter how tired I am. In the end, I clear my mind, put the right music on, and then I just plunk myself down and get a minimum of two thousand words into the computer per day. I try not to worry whether it’s good or bad—perfectionism is one of those insidious qualities that holds many writers back. My feeling is that I can always go back and fix it later, as long as there is something there to fix! All my stories and novels eventually go through three drafts. I am not as fast as some writers I know, but as long as I make steady progress I try not focus too much on speed.

Q: Who do you look up to? What are some of their qualities that you strive to possess as well?

A: Mary Renault was one of the pioneers of m/m fiction, which I discovered in my late teens. Her novels were serious explorations of same-sex relationships in a time when the subject was taboo. She got around this by setting her excellent books in Ancient Greece, but in her own life she was also out and proud and lived openly with another woman. While all this was going on, she managed to write a large number of incredible novels, and was still writing well into old age. Legend has it that she died at her desk on a cruise ship with a pen in her hand. I can’t help but admire that kind of devotion to the craft!

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

A: When I was about eight years old, I was fast asleep in the middle of the night when I was (apparently) awakened by what sounded like a powerful storm wind whistling through my room. A few minutes later I heard a disembodied female voice chanting in some sort of foreign language. I was so terrified I froze there under the covers and lay completely still, unable to scream or move. Even now, some forty years later, I can remember what that weird voice sounded like and how it felt to be paralyzed with fear.

Of course, now that I am an adult and have read lots of research on supposed paranormal phenomena, I am pretty sure that I had what is called a hypnopompic illusion, which is a particularly vivid dream that occurs during the borderline between wake and sleep and does indeed cause bodily paralysis (since the body is technically asleep while the mind is not). I don’t believe that I heard a ghost or anything, but that experience certainly has stayed with me, and perhaps helped stir my interest in writing paranormal stories for most of my life!