Writer’s Ink: Anne Harris/Jessica Freely
Michigan author Anne Harris, aka Jessica Freely, has spent more than fifteen years searching for a home for her latest novel, All the Colors of Love [Amazon | B&N]. But before we get into that, let’s hear about that frisky-looking devil tattoo…
My tattoo is a doodle of a little dancing devil I’ve been scribbling since I was in fifth grade. I got it when a good friend learned to tattoo and she desperately wanted to get ink in me. I’d never planned on having a tattoo, and was a bit skeptical, so I made sure to get something that was uniquely mine, and to get it on a part of my body I wouldn’t see all the time. As it turned out, however, I love it. Sometimes I do forget it’s there and it’s always a nice surprise when I glimpse it again. I’ve thought about getting more tattoos but I’ve never followed through on it. I may wind up being one of those rare folks with just one.
Anne/Jessica asked if she could talk a little about All the Colors of Love, which is a YA gay science fiction romance about Harry, the son of a supervillain. Harry veers between suicide attempts and futile plans to kill his abusive father.
Colors is a sequel to her first novel, The Nature of Smoke. It’s also the first gay romance she ever wrote, and changed the course of her career.
In her words:
I wrote the first draft around 2000 or so, when I was still firmly ensconced in traditional NY publishing. My mother had just passed and my dad was dying and I needed something to lift me up, so I gave myself permission to write anything I wanted. That turned out to be Colors and writing it was more fun and freeing than anything I’d ever done before. I was as surprised as anyone else, especially since working with these characters felt like invisible shackles had been taken off my wrists and for the first time I could just write.
I knew I had to pursue it.
Unfortunately, at that time there was no commercial market for gay romance, let alone a gay YA science fiction book written by a woman. My sf editor wanted me to make the characters straight and my agent convinced me to write Libyrinth instead, which I did, but I wrote Colors too, and I started the long search for a market. When one finally did develop, it was for gay erotic romance, not YA. I set Colors aside again and went on to published over 15 short stories, novels, and novellas (many of them sf/f) in that genre. Fortunately, markets change and now some publishers are taking non-erotic gay romance and several have started YA imprints. Finally, fifteen years after I first started this journey, Colors is out in the world. To say I’m pleased to share it with readers is a vast understatement.
September 1, 2014 @ 12:06 am
How times have changed. Now agents are ACTIVELY looking for LGBT books! Congratulations on your success.
And I’m sorry to be the one to mention that the links to the bookstores seem to be for a completely different book. Which also looks interesting, but I don’t think it’s the one you had in mind! 😉
September 1, 2014 @ 1:10 am
I’m so glad there’s stuff like this being published now. I’ve been looking for books like this for some time now. I do like a great deal of diversity in characters, and I don’t always want to read erotica, so I will definitely check this one out.
Jim C. Hines
September 1, 2014 @ 9:57 am
Sigh. I seem to be messing that up more often these days. Links should be fixed now. Thanks!
September 8, 2014 @ 12:48 am
Link to Amazon is actually to “Throne of the Crescent Moon” by Saladin Ahmed…
Jim C. Hines
September 8, 2014 @ 7:56 am
Jes – I fixed that link a week ago, and it’s going to the right book for me. I’m not sure how you’d still be getting to Throne…