Interview with James Erich
Yet again, I find myself feeling blessed because of the opportunities that YAM LGBT Blogathon has afforded me. I’m always intrigued by the writing process, how authors get their inspiration. As such, it was my pleasure to be able to interview a couple authors for this year’s blogathon. This week, I got a chance to ask James Erich, author of Seidman , a few questions about his thoughts on young adult fiction, his love of Norse mythology, and his duck-hunting best friend.
I’m fascinated by how people get started in their particular genre. What made you first decide to write gay fiction for young adults?
I’ve always loved YA novels, ever since I discovered the Heinlein Juveniles as a teenager. My love of them never dissipated. When it came to writing them, I ran into a slight snag, however: I really don’t enjoy writing stories with straight protagonists. Whenever I try, they end up behaving as if they’re gay, anyway. Fortunately, the publishing industry has changed in recent years and it’s no longer taboo to publish YA stories with gay protagonists.
Did you start writing for young adults before or after you wrote homoerotic fiction for adults?
Before, actually. Seidman was my first novel. It was a year after I’d completed the first draft of it that I decided to try my hand at an adult novel — a Christmas Victorian. I had little experience writing sex scenes at that point, so that part of the story was actually a challenge for me. That story ended up becoming my first published novella.
Which leads me to my next question. How did you first get involved with Harmony Ink?
I had been searching around for a publisher for Seidman for quite a while, but I was having trouble tracking down a YA publisher that carried stories with gay protagonists. There were a few out there, but many didn’t appear to be very active, not having published anything gay for several years. But some writers I knew told me about a new YA imprint starting up which focused on gay stories, so I decided to go for it. I’m very glad I did, because the care they took with my novel was impressive and I’m extremely proud of the final result.
What made you decide to use Norse folklore as the backdrop for this story?
I’ve been fascinated by Norse mythology and Viking Age culture for decades, to the point where I ran out of scholarly works that were easy to find through places like Amazon and had to start ordering them from academic presses in Scandinavia and Iceland. (A very expensive hobby.) My first “date” with my husband was, in fact, inviting him over to my house to work on translating Icelandic sagas. (It doesn’t get more romantic than that!)
But one of the things that struck me, whenever I read stories about the time period, such as the wonderful Strongbow Saga, by Judson Roberts, was that everyone seemed to be telling the same story — the story of a young man becoming a brave, Viking warrior. I started to long for a story that would depict other aspects of their culture, such as the practice of sorcery and what everyday life was like.