Hi CJane, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi there! Thank you for giving me a chance to share my newest book, Sex, Love, and Videogames, the third novel in the Serpentine Series. Each book is a standalone but the series has recurring characters. Sex, Love, and Videogames is the story of Jed Carter, who we first met in Serpentine Walls, and Charlie Ambrose, a new character to the series.
1) Describe your book to us.
Sex, Love, and Videogames in the third book in the Serpentine Series but can be read as a stand-alone. It is a new adult, contemporary story set in part at the University of Virginia and in part in an African American community in Charlottesville. The two main characters come from different worlds: Jed Carter is white, belongs to a fraternity, and plays on the university rugby team. Charlie Ambrose is biracial, a townie, and an artist. But both of them are shy and both of them long for an intimate connection that is real. A secondary plot centers on Charlie’s cousin Morocco. She’s trans and part of the book deals with her struggles to live true to herself in the face of transphobia and misunderstanding from her family and the world in general.
2) Have you ever read something that made you think differently about your genre? Can you tell us what it was?
The more I read in the m/m genre, the more I discover the possibilities for what kind of stories can be told. There are the pure romance writers who give us delight and comfort reads. I don’t need to name them because they’re the most popular in the genre. But then there’s a writer like Suki Fleet, who deals with dark subject matter but writes so exquisitely that I’m left shaking my head at the beauty of the prose. There are writers like Jordan Hawk and Kim Fielding who manage to make me love paranormal characters and show that a satisfying romance can occur in the strangest of circumstances. And writers like Michael Rupured who writes historical m/m fiction which entertains as much as it enlightens. And L.C. Chase taught me so much about the rodeo in her rodeo trilogy that when I went to one in real life, I actually knew what was going on!
3) Tell us about your character’s family life?
Charlie Ambrose is the child of an African American father, Lamont, and a white mother, Alicia. Lamont died when Charlie was six and Charlie has been raised in his father’s large extended family, which is presided over by its matriarch, Granny Myrt. Charlie’s mother, Alicia, doesn’t fit in with the Ambroses, but she loves Charlie and stays in Charlottesville for him. The Ambrose family is tight. As befits a Southern family, they’re “in each other’s business” while at the same time not mentioning uncomfortable subjects (like the fact that Charlie is gay and his cousin Morocco is trans). Charlie and Morocco are best friends and look out for each other. Charlie is pretty lucky with the amount of love he’s experienced from his family.
Jed Carter also has a loving family. He is the child of Leo and Meg Carter and was raised with one older brother, Kent, in a DC suburb called Centreville. Kent is extroverted and a natural leader, so Jed has grown up in his shadow. Kent expects Jed to follow his lead in all aspects of life and one of Jed’s struggles as he comes of age is to break away from Kent’s influence and become his own person. His parents are loving and accepting. Jed’s coming out process is easy with them and not so easy with Kent.
4) Compare yourself to your main character.
Both Charlie and Jed are shy introverts, which describes me as a child and teen. I started coming out of my shell in my late teens and early twenties, which is exactly what happens to Charlie and Jed. I also relate to them in their desire for true connection and a relationship that is “real.” Otherwise, I’m not very like them. Sports was never my thing and my sisters who have played Pictionary with me can tell you I’m a terrible artist.
5) Describe your past week as a type of landscape or a weather forecast.
Gathering storm clouds on the horizon, only because I had so much to accomplish. I’m in edits for two new releases, doing the Sex, Love, and Videogames blog tour, and preparing to go to Gay Romance NW meet in Seattle. At the same time, I’m working almost fulltime at my real-life job, last Wednesday was my son’s 20th birthday, and yesterday we attended a funeral for the husband of a good friend. No wonder I’m beginning to get a cold.
However, I can see the sun beginning to peek out from behind the clouds. I love my life, as busy as it is. And I’m jazzed to be going to Seattle this coming week and spending time with m/m writers and readers.
Shy guy Jed Carter has always felt invisible next to his charismatic older brother, Kent. Kent’s master plan for Jed is simple: University of Virginia, business, sports, and ladies’ man. None of it is Jed, except for playing on the rugby team, which he joins in defiance of soccer-loving Kent. Jed comes out in his sophomore year and starts seeing Pete, an attractive junior, who uses him for sex and videogames. Jed wants more—in life and in love—and starts making his own plans. First on the list: getting to know Charlie, the handsome guy working at the local videogame arcade.
Charlie Ambrose has always felt like an oddball, and not just for his tendency to stutter. Being gay sets him apart from his African-American community, and as a “townie,” he doesn’t fit in with the college crowd. Charlie’s inspiration is his cousin, Morocco, who’s transgender and doesn’t give a fig about fitting in. Art is Charlie’s passion, and when a local videogame designer discovers him, Charlie’s living a dream. The only thing he’s missing is love. But the last person Charlie expects to find it with is a cute, white U.Va. rugby player named Jed.
“Okay, warm up laps!” Beau led the rugby team in a slow circuit around the perimeter of Mad Bowl. After a few laps, he stopped and had them do stretching exercises.
The other team did their warming up, and when they moved to take positions, Jed noticed a pair of people standing on the sidelines. His breathing stopped for a second. Charlie stood, hands in his pockets, shifting from foot to foot, while Morocco, a vision in a pink track suit, set up a camp chair (apt name, that) and sat down. Morocco saw Jed looking and waved. Charlie turned and gave a small wave himself, and Jed waved back, heart beating faster.
“Who’re they?” Bud asked, squinting over at them.
“Um, Charlie’s a guy who works at Lucky’s. In the gaming area. And the other is his cousin.”
“Um, well, about that….” Jed cut himself off because the referee blew the whistle. Time to play ball and hope he did well in front of those two.
The game proved the usual testosterone-fest, with lots of grunting and body contact. When Jed scored some points, Morocco produced pom poms that matched her outfit and waved them wildly.
At the break, Jed ran over to them for a minute to say hi—fuck what the rest of the team thought.
“Jed, child, my word!” Morocco fanned her chest. “Y’all are such manly men! Rugby is going to be my new obsession, I just know it!”
“I like it. My mom never let me play contact sports in high school, so I kinda love ramming into people.” Jed felt his cheeks flame at what he had said. Crap-a-doodle.
But Morocco laughed and Charlie faked a cough so he could smile behind his fist.
“So, hey, thanks for coming. I gotta go back now.”
Charlie nodded as Morocco said, “We’ll see you after the game.” She picked up her pom poms. “Wa-hoo-wa!”
When the team huddled before the second half, a homophobe named Welburn said with a sneer, “Who are those freaks on the sidelines?”
Another guy laughed. “Yeah. I thought all the he-shes lived in San Francisco.”
“What’re you talking about?” Bud peered over toward Charlie and Morocco. “That girl?”
Welburn spit on the ground. “That girl is no she. She’s a he. What the hell are they doing here?”
Beau raised his voice. “Hey, concentrate, guys. We need to win this game.”
Jed held up a hand to stop Beau from continuing. “Before we do that, you all need to know that those are some friends of mine. So shut your fucking faces before I shut them for you.” He leveled a lethal glare at Welburn and his compatriot.
Fueled by his anger, Jed played an amazing second half, and the team pulled out a victory on the strength of his points alone. After their team high five, he trotted over to Charlie and Morocco. Charlie smiled broadly while Morocco jumped up and down. “Jed, Jed, Jed! Wa-hoo-wa! Thass right!”
“Okay, okay.” Jed couldn’t help laughing at Morocco’s outrageous enthusiasm. “Thanks for coming to the game.”
“It was fun. I’m glad we came.” Charlie took a step back, seemingly surprised to have gotten two stutter-free sentences out.
“I’m glad too.” They gazed tentatively at each other, and Morocco suddenly got busy folding up the camp chair.
Where can you buy the book?
About the author:
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.