Author,  Interview

Winter Writer Interview: JR Gershen-Siegel

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We’re here today with Janet, who is a freelancer with one published work and several more to come in the future. Speaking of which, she writes about the future, also alternate versions of the past. I’ve had the privilege of beta reading some of her work. Here’s a bit more about her.

D.P.- What’s your favorite thing to cook?
J.G.- I love to cook Thanksgiving, and it’s actually been a few years since I’ve done it on the real turkey day (I’ve been going to my folks’) so it ends up being late December holiday fare. I do the whole nine yards – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green veg (usually asparagus or broccoli), salad, fruit. We usually don’t do the big dessert as that’s enough already! Oh and I make bread but it’s in the machine. Does that count?

D.P.- Tell us about the coolest writing-related thing to happen for you recently.
J.G.- My coolest recent writing-related thing happened while podcasting. I am one half of a podcast called Semantic Shenanigans. We discuss how law, society, scholarship, and fandom all collide. Because of the kerfuffle about the new Dr. Who being – oh my God! – not a man, we wanted someone on who knew Who (that’s hard to say, but you know what I mean). I then recalled a cousin of mine has a podcast, Who Back When, where they review new and classic Dr. Who. We got in touch and had him on, all the way from Oxford. We had a lovely time of it and then at the last 10 minutes or so, he said, “And I also wanted to talk about this compelling book I recently read. It’s called Untrustworthy.” I hadn’t known that he had so much as read it! So that was cool, as he truly had enjoyed it and wants to talk to me about in person but we need to get on the same continent as he’s from Sweden and currently lives in Oxford.
Check out the video below!

D.P.- If I only had time to read one of your works, which one should it be?
J.G.- If you only had time to read one work, egad, it kind of depends on what you like as I tend to dabble in a lot of different things.
Untrustworthy is dystopian sci fi in the LGBTQ vein; The Obolonk Murders (a trilogy) is a near-future detective story, taking place about 50 years from the present day; The Enigman Cave is space opera where we are something like 500 years from now; The Real Hub of the Universe (it’ll be a trilogy, but only books 1 and 2 have been written so far) is Victorian sci fi – best described as corsets and ray guns; and this year’s NaNoWriMo novel, Mettle, is another dystopian story but this time it’s humans in the very near future (as in 3 years from now). Or if you prefer comedy, there’s Revved Up on Wattpad; it’s kind of a domestic suburban black comedy. Plus I have a number of short stories and there’s fan fiction galore.
I think Real Hub is probably my best writing so far (it’s too early to tell with Mettle), so I’d suggest that one.

D.P.- Tell us about a time when you almost gave up on a project but decided to keep going anyway.
J.G.-   A time I almost gave up – the Obolonks were dormant for years. I had written about two chapters, maybe three, on a forum and then just crashed and burned. This was 2003 if I recall correctly. Then I was hunting for a story for 2014 NaNoWriMo and realized I could work on them so I finished up the first book and wrote the second as that year’s project. Then the third was written in early 2015. One reason why I picked it up again is because a fellow forum denizen (he was the first person who ever reviewed Untrustworthy) PM’d me and asked me what had happened to the Obolonks. Which was so odd to me; I didn’t realize there was not only a readership but also a demand for my work and people who were waiting for me to finish.

D.P.- Have you ever been so inspired by a noun (person, place, or thing) that you finagled it into your story?
J.G.- A noun? How interesting. I guess the way I can best answer this is that I have, except for in Untrustworthy and Revved Up, a few massive Easter eggs:

  • The city of Boston – it’s the main setting for the ObolonksReal Hub, and Mettle, and the main character in Enigman is from there. Mettle mostly takes place on my street although the place names are being changed.
  • Somebody named Shapiro  – he’s a detective in Obolonks and the female main character’s best pal; it’s the surname of the main character in Enigman; the surname of a never-seen character in Real Hub; and it’ll be a maiden name in Mettle. Shapiro isn’t even a family name!
  • Somebody’s Jewish – Detective Shapiro in Obolonks; same with Captain Shapiro in Enigman; some never-seen characters in Real Hub; and in Mettle it’s Noah Braverman and his mother, Eleanor Shapiro Braverman.
  • Plus there’s often something from my life from the time which creeps in. In Obolonks, key story elements happen on the Appalachian Trail, including places I hiked when I was a teenager; Enigman has a ton of character names for people I went to high school with (with their permission, of course); Real Hub has a lot of scenes around Beacon Hill in areas where I’ve walked; and Mettle doesn’t just take place on my street. There’s also a marital fight about credit cards, and I currently work in business credit.

So those are the things that keep creeping in but I do that as a regular thing now.

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Thanks for reading my interview with Janet! You can find Untrustworthy here on Amazon.
You can follow her on FacebookTwitter, and her website.

D.R. Perry lives in Rhode Island and attends Dragon Con each year. She is also a member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA).

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