Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eli James Summers, Author of The Winter Experience

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Today we are interviewing Eli James Summers about his gay romance novel "The Winter Experience."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m not really the most fascinating person, even if I do pretend I am. I’m a normal homebody gay male. I enjoy spending my time writing, watching netflix or having an impromptu dance party at work. I’m currently working three jobs and saving up money so I can go back to school and get a degree in something that peeks my interest. Right now, that looks like it might be accounting. If I could write for a living, that would be something amazing. I love writing, so that could be something that makes absolutely everything awesome. For now, I’ll let my dreams live on while I work with numbers. Although, if I can have my five year old dream of being a police car, that would be pretty sweet; I won’t even lie. I’ve always had a crazy imagination.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
Mattie Hawkins moves from a small town to a much larger city where he meets Morgan Winters, whom he falls in love with. They set out on a journey of love, self-acceptance and cute romanticness. Although like life itself, sometimes things don’t turn out exactly the way you intended it to.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Probably other hopeless romantic gay boys. I also feel like fangirls of gay love would also feel the love in this book.

What inspired you to write a story about two teenage boys navigating romance and growing up together?

I’ve written a few stories that have had the main character as adults, seeing as that’s where I am in my life. But I wanted to do something fun and so I decided to have characters that were younger in age, when you didn’t really have to worry about normal household things like bills, having a job or having a family.

One of the protagonists, Mattie Hawkins, moves to Saskatoon and experiences a very different environment from what he was used to before. How does his experience at Saskatoon differ from where he lived before?

Eli James Summers, gay fiction author, gay romance author, lgbt fiction author
Author Eli James Summers.
Well, the biggest difference would definitely be that he met Morgan Winters *laughs*. He went from a very unproductive community, one that judges based on something as simple as sexuality to a community that embraces his differences and loves him exactly for who he is. It sort of happened to me when I went from elementary to high school. 

Describe the protagonists, Mattie and Morgan.
Opposites would be the simple answer. Mattie is the serious, get-to-work and make the money kind of guy. He did have a lot more fun after meeting Morgan but he is the cynical one, the one that would much rather just go day by day getting the best marks he could and getting some super serious job somewhere in the corporate world. Morgan is care-free, he just lives each day like it’s the last. He’s not worried about people or their opinions or really what happens tomorrow, he’s a very for the day kind of guy.

Were you able to draw from your own high school experience in writing this book?

My high school experience was nothing like this book, I don’t know where these ideas came from. In high school, I ended up being the school’s clown, always putting on a show for everything. Most high schools have their “cliques,” where people hang out with other people like themselves. I never had a clique, I just hung out with everyone. I liked something about everyone.

Who was your favorite character to write?

It’s very hard to pick your “favourite” character as an author, they are all your favourite because they are all your babies. Each one of my characters has given me something to think about, given me somewhere to go and think about where they need to be. If I was to choose one of my favourite characters, I would have to say Julian Coufe, the best friend of the main character who wasn’t actually meant to be a main character. He was supposed to just kind of be there, but then I saw the spark between him and Jenny and I knew I had something special, he just grew in my heart and he just seemed so amazing to write.

Tell us a bit about your creative process, from initial idea to finished manuscript.

I’m a hot mess, that’s probably how you could describe my “creative process”. I don’t really have one, an idea springs into my head and I just run with it. *laughs*

How long have you been writing?

I wrote poems and short stories for school when I was thirteen, but when I turned seventeen it really took off for me. I had been watching “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” for a few years and I loved vampires and monsters and the whole idea of there being one girl in all the world to pretty much save it. So, that’s where my first ever novel idea came from. I guess you could say I’ve been a writer for 12 years.

How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you first started?

Grammar! *laughs*. I’ve learnt how to make my emotions and the creative thoughts I have in my head come out much better. My dialogue has also had an uplift. When going back and reading those stories I had back in the day to today, you can totally see the huge difference a few creative writing classes can make.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

David Levithan is one of the biggest. His book, “Boy Meets Boy” was so well written but it didn’t bog you down with all the writing. It was light and fluffy, a really beautiful thing. It inspired me to leave some things to the reader’s imagination.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?

Ebooks have given indie authors something they never had before; a voice. It’s become a market for authors who might not have the means or type of book publishers are looking for to get published in their own ways. I also look at the environmental aspect of ebooks, it’s much better for the environment to have books on an electronic device then in paper format. I am definitely pro-ebook.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?

I would like to have a steady income coming in from writing, not be world famous or anything but I would like to have a good fanbase. I’m not really into fame and fortune, but if this does happen by some weird creative force, I don’t think I would complain. I’d be able to support the LGBT community with donations a lot better!

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

Writer’s Block is absolutely the worst thing an author can have happen to them. Here you are, having a great time writing the best book in the world one minute and then the next, BAM! You’re sitting there with a blank word document, wondering if you might be able to actually put words down on the page. It’s a terrible thing. Other than that, I love writing. It’s freedom of expression for me, I couldn’t ask for more.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?

Music, that is the one greatest piece of advice I can give someone. If I’m ever in a pickle and don’t know what to write, I just turn off the computer and listen to music, sometimes it can get the juices flowing and words out of your head. If I’m having trouble writing, I also just go for a walk or do something else. The worst thing you can do when having Writer’s Block is to force words out, the story will be terrible if you do. Don’t ever give yourself a deadline, you’ll never reach it.

Do you write with a computer, typewriter, or pen and paper? Why do you use this tool?

I use a computer, it’s just easier to change ideas and whatnot. Sometimes I write a chapter and re-read it to see what I like about it and I can’t find a thing. It’s much easier to just backspace the whole thing them rip out the paper and start again. Plus, again it is better for the environment then throwing paper out everywhere. *laughs* I’m an environmentalist author, have you ever heard of that before? I think I might be a new breed.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

I’m currently working on the third book of the Seasons Experience Collection, which would be “The Fall Experience” but I do have other ideas floating around, so it could be something completely different.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

If you’re looking for cute romance, boys falling in love with other boys and the journey they go through when they do fall in love, this is the book for you. It’s a cute, fluffy story about life, love and loss.

As a special for those reading this interview, you can get a free copy of “The Winter Experience” by going to the designated book page (right here) and putting in the coupon code, MM95J on checkout. This is only available on smashwords, so you must have an account with them.

An excerpt from Book #1 of the Seasons Experience Collection:

I looked down at the photographs pinned throughout the scrapbook. I ran my fingers throughout the pages, remembering everything about the boy in the pictures. I never thought in a million years Morgan Winters and I would have ever started something as exciting as we did. From the tennis practices to the video game sessions in our underwear, I was in love with every part of his life. I loved every minute I spent with him, and I never wanted to leave his side no matter what.
I looked down to see the first picture we ever took together…  it was the first day of high school. Everyone was nervous to meet new people, start at a new school, and get new teachers, but Morgan seemed cool and collected with his camera in hand and a smile on his face. He had no worries. He wasn't interested in the future. He was only interested in what was happening right now, in the present.
It was a cool September day, and summer had left us behind as fall moved in quickly. It had gone from the blistering heat of the summer sun to the cool air of fall. I had a sweater hugged tightly to my body, and my fingers were getting slightly cold as I walked through the courtyard to the main doors. I looked up at the seven story building, not knowing how the hell this was a school and not an apartment block. I turned around to say goodbye to the open air of the world and say hello to the cramped hallways of Levitt High School. Sighing, I turned on my heels and went to open the door, only to touch the hand of someone beside me.
I quickly pulled away and turned to who the hand belonged to, and my heart stopped right there. I could feel my breath hitch, and my lungs wanted to burst. The boy standing beside me was gorgeous, well at least gorgeous in my eyes. His mousy brown hair clung tightly to the sides of his face, and he was wearing some ripped up skinny jeans and a red band tee-shirt. A small hoodie clung to his figure as headphones bounced with his movements. I found myself staring at this boy as a small smile danced across the thin lips of his face.
"S-sorry. I'm n-new here." I cursed at myself for stuttering. That's not how I normally talk, but I found it hard to find words with this boy staring at me. I quickly moved backwards, letting him open the door, but he just stood there and stared at me, that beautiful smile never leaving his face.
"It's all good. So you're in grade 10 are you? I'm in grade 12, so this will be my last year at Levitt." The way he talked seemed so effortless like he wasn't scared of anything. I was jealous. I wanted to be as carefree as that, but here I was, staring at this boy and trying to think of something cool to say.
"Oh. Out with the old and in with the new." I caught myself, and red started to form on my cheeks as his smile started to grow. "I mean, not that you're old. You're only in grade 12, but you know... I'm new to this school, and you're about to leave and that I guess makes you old. Not old as in grandpa old, because why would you be in school if you were as old as a grandpa? Why would you even be alive, y'know? Not saying nobody’s grandpa is alive..." I was rambling, and I really hated when this started happening. God dammit I probably sounded like an idiot.
"You're cute, did you know that? Here, I'm on the yearbook committee, let's get a picture of the new and the old, shall we?"
Without any further words, he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and put the camera in front of our faces.  He quickly snapped a picture before I even had time to fix my hair. I stood there with a dumbfounded look on my face, trying to think of what to say next, "Do I get a copy of that?"
The smirk returned to his lips, "What are you going to do with it? Masturbate to my beautiful face?"
I was now all shades of red, trying my best to not giggle or something really stupid. I looked up at him, and I saw his eyes, they were dancing and glistening with amusement. I wanted so badly to look into his eyes as I kissed his lips and put my hand through his hair. It was at that moment, I think I fell in love with Morgan Winters. I think it was that moment that I wanted nothing more than to be with him every day of my life, until the end of my life.
"Hey, Morgan, who's the new kid?" I heard a boisterous and deep voice call from behind us, and I turned to see another boy jogging to us. I turned back to Morgan, who was not going to be taken away from me by one of his friends. What if I never got to see him ever again? Well, of course, I would see him, because we go to the same school, but would this be the last time I was ever able to talk to him? I didn't think I would ever get this close to him again.
"I never did get your name, kid. I'm Morgan Winters. You are?"
I thought for a second, trying to think of a cool name, but decided on my own, "Mattie."
"Well, I'll see you later, Mattie."
He walked into the school, and I suddenly realized I never answered him. I swung open the door and yelled inside, "I'll only do that if you want me to, Morgan." I saw him turn around, the same devilish smirk on his face."I'll have one by the end of the day for you. Maybe I'll have to print an extra copy for you."
More Information
Visit Eli James Summers' author website
Check out "The Winter Experience" web page
Eli James Summers' wattpad
Follow Eli James Summers on Twitter

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