I’ve got a treat here today! J. Emery is easily my favourite discovered author of 2018 so far, and I have them here for a guest post on the blog, talking about character interactions and connections in the two amazing short stories they’ve self published this year.
I’ll be honest, I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to talk about for this guest post. I initially thought about discussing asexuality in romance since I’m releasing an ace romance this month, but there are others that could probably cover that better. It’s a big, broad topic and even though I am ace I don’t think I’m qualified. So I decided to talk about something I’m a little more comfortable with:
How much I love writing the different connections between characters and how they develop. That’s also something that features highly in my two latest stories.
This year I decided to focus on writing a little smaller. Novels can be a monumental effort and sometimes it’s overwhelming to take on such a big project when life is already busy enough so I’ve been working on novellas instead and, my one notable exception, a short romance story which I released earlier this year called An Offering of Plums. With the shorter length there isn’t really time for big dramatic plot arcs or complicated worldbuilding, which is fine with me.
As much as I love the possibilities of fantasy my heart has always been with the characters. Exploring how they interact with their world, what builds a friendship or leads to love, that’s everything I love about writing. It’s been wonderful to let myself dig into that and tell the kind of stories that I always worried were too quiet or too unusual.
Em, the main character of Help Wanted, is a student in her first year at a college for magic. She’s still adapting to college life and trying to pass her classes when she has her first brush with attraction (in the form of Phineas, her coworker) and has to reevaluate a lot of the things she thought she understood about herself. She also has to decide what kind of relationship, if any, she wants with Phineas.
And though Help Wanted is a romance, I wanted to make sure that Em’s friends were very present in her life. When Em has problems, she turns to them for help and comfort and they do the same with her. They banter. And sometimes they aggravate each other too because that’s what friends do. Throughout, the friendship is given just as much weight as the romantic aspect of the story because they’re both equally important in her
life. The romantic relationship in the book wouldn’t even work without the support of her friend base. Knowing that her friends will be there for her is part of what makes Em feel safe exploring her identity and her potential relationship with Phineas.
The relationship in An Offering of Plums on the other hand is built around learning to trust again after a betrayal and the many small steps that it can take. Sometimes the steps are obvious. And other times the path is circuitous and includes eating fruit in the company of people who make you feel peaceful even though you can’t explain why. Because sometimes relationships are like that too.