Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm Jay. I'm a bisexual trans woman from New England, and a speculative fiction writer and fan. My current, largest project is Heresiarch, a horror-fantasy web serial about witchcraft and other such things.
What made you decide to become a writer? Was it always your passion?
It was and it wasn't. Originally, I was actually planning on becoming some kind of engineer like my grandfather, with writing being a passion that I could pursue on the side. Eventually, though, I found out that I was really bad at higher-level math, and that meant that writing became my main gig.
What's your writing process like? Any rituals you'd want to share? Pantser/plotter?
Procrastination is the main part of the process. The rest is pacing back and forth until good dialogue comes to me and listening to Noah Caldwell-Gervais. For some reason, his voice is just soothing, and his writing about American landscapes and horror has inspired me more than once.
He's one of those rare cultural critics that seems genuinely humble in his critique, actually capable of recognizing the lines separating the intent of works and what they are as experiences, and how he's biased within that.
As for the plan, there's always a plan. I need to get from A to B to C. If Q happens along the way, that's just collateral.
Are you working on a WIP right now? Fill us in!
I'm working on two other stories besides Heresiarch - "Contact Lens" and "Sargasso and Cheap Cigarettes." Contact Lens is a sci-fi story about a seismologist accidentally discovering a very intelligent alien, and having to figure out how to communicate with it on the fly without the help of the resident xenobiologist.
Sargasso and Cheap Cigarettes is a weird fantasy / nautical horror piece about a haunted ocean, but I can't tell you much more about it besides that right now without ruining it. Hopefully they'll be finished and published somewhere soon!
Do you have any books/authors that you would recommend to others?
Cormac McCarthy is the big one right now! I'd strongly suggest reading Blood Meridian. It's such an uncompromising view of the American West but simultaneously such a beautifully written novel. I've been slowly going through his other work, bit by bit.
I've also recently picked up Siddartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of Maladies, which is a nonfiction book about the history of the treatment of cancer, which is just a deeply fascinating and inspiring read.
Lastly, if you're looking to make horror - or read it - I'd highly recommend anything by Clive Barker. You really can't go wrong with him in most cases, but with a new Hellraiser movie coming out soon, you could consider picking up The Hellbound Heart, which is the story that the original story is based on.
Why do you write what you do? Do you have a goal, is it for fun, or otherwise?
Listen, if I tried to do anything else, I'd go crazy. Writing is what I enjoy even when it's agonizing. Besides that, I suppose I'd like to make a little money off of it‚ but that's more of a practical consideration than anything. It's something that's gotten me through some of the tough and awful parts of my life, and I'm in debt to it for that.
Please feel free to use this space to talk about anything you'd like: passions, current events, your life or otherwise:
2021 and 2022 have been some long goddamn years. Between the pandemic, personal issues and a lot of messy things that have happened in my life, it's been rough. All the same, writing has really been saving me from the worst mental effects of it. It's a way of focusing myself, recentering myself - and I'm better for it.
In a time when LGBT+ people are more and more hemmed in, facing more and more political challenges in spite of all the progress we've made, it can feel futile to try to make art about it. In a time when we're seeing ever increasing political pressure in general, in an era of such intense capitalism and hustle culture and so on, it can feel futile to write about love.
All the same, I think I have to write about these things - what am I doing otherwise? I can't just sit on my ass about it. I certainly don't have the constitution of a soldier or the purity of a propagandist or the sanity of a political theorist - but I can tell a story, and I can try to get people to understand what I am and who I am and what I think ought to be done, and that's really all I can ask for.
Is there anything rad you'd like to promote?
Heresiarch is my main thing right now. It's an ongoing horror fantasy web serial with elements of romance as well. I don't want to spoil too much, but if you're a fan of secondary world fantasy, conlangs, witches, vampires, gothic horror, bisexuality and other such things, I would say it's for you. If that's all you need, you can read it now up to the most recent chapter entirely for free, and also join the Discord server where you can discuss it with the fanbase and get reminders for updates.
If you really want to support me, you can also find a link to my Patreon on my site, where you can give me some help monetarily. It's not necessary - I don't give out any special privileges for support - but it is really, truly appreciated.
If you need a little more prompting, I can give a little more of a complete summary:
The Church of the Sepulcher stands wide and tall over the Great Channel, triumphant and unconquered by its many enemies. After a decades-long struggle for the freedom and independence from a cruel and dangerous monarchy, Koletya looks to be its newest experiment. Now the Kolet government works in a tenuous dance with the Church as the Inquisition helps ensure the religious obedience of its new subjects and hunts the witches that commit crimes on Kolet land. Sworn to the Saints and married to the Church, the Inquisitors are a feared and respected few. Ana Metremte is one such Inquisitor – or a witch-hunter, to most. A representative and right hand to the Church of the Sepulcher, and a faithful servant of the Saints and of the Godhead. Still, she has her secrets – and when she has a fateful encounter with a witch, all of what she’s built unravels. Meanwhile, her partner is saddled with her own horrific duties and obligations as she begins to investigate the grander plans afoot in an aching, bloodied country.That's the back of the book summary. I think giving away any more would spoil too much for me. You'll have to read it if you want to find out more. 😉