New and Debut: Jude Sierra00:00
1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
Well I’m a 34 year old mother of two young boys. I’ve been married for about a billion years (ok, actually 11), and I’m halfway through a Masters in Writing and Rhetoric. I’m currently applying for PhD programs, so my head is consistently exploding. Pretty usual stuff!
I began writing as a poet, and I transitioned into writing long form fiction in 2007 when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time. I still write poetry, but I’m an incredibly slow, nitpicky, and obsessive poet. Fiction suits me in many ways – and the poetic side of me comes out a lot in my lyrical style.
I think I love romance because we get to really explore some human complexity but still have happy endings, still provide escape and joy for readers. As an avid reader, I can say there’s nothing like romance for me. It’s like homecoming, it’s comfort and I need that. I think there are aspects of writing romance that are really challenging and exciting as a writer. For example, writing complicated or flawed characters falling in love or redirecting their lives. I love writing sex, I’ll be honest. Not just because….sexy. But also sex scenes provide such great ground for character exploration and work for a writer. Everything I put into a sex scene has some sort of purpose for me; it’s never gratuitous. Though, again….sexy. Love that.
2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?
How much time and patience do we all have? Just kidding. I’ll try to limit myself to romance genre right now. I have a few books I’ll go back to over and over – I’m a re-reader, particularly when I’m stressed out. Small Wonders by Courtney Lux is a fabulous book. Her main character starts so prickly and complicated and difficult, but watching his journey is so incredibly satisfying. His backstory is painful, which makes the ending of the book so special.
I am currently obsessed with Roan Parrish, Avon Gale, and Santino Hassel + Megan Erickson’s work. They’ve each crafted series (Middle of Somewhere for Parrish, Scoring Chances for Gale, and Cyber Love for Hassel and Erickson) that I’ve read multiple times.
I’ll admit I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. I’m actually re-reading them now (although, what a time to be re-reading these particular books!). And if you haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, please do so. The blurb for the first book sounds insane, but these books are fantastic. I’m a huge YA/NA reader, as you can probably tell.
3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda and Sharon Olds. All poets, right? But really, these are poets who influenced my love for the written word, and inspired me to craft my particular voice and style. As far as novelists go, I have to credit Diana Gabaldon as a huge inspiration – I hope to one day achieve even a quarter of what she does with her storytelling and prose.
4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?
Oh man, a little of everything? I tend to flummox my publisher because I write what moves me, so I’m all over the place. I would say that in general I write contemporary romance. Idlewild, my current release is definitely contemporary with touches of coming of age (with the age difference in the characters, it had to work that way). I am a big fan of NA, and my next book will probably fall into a NA contemporary category.
5. Please, introduce your latest release
My current book is called Idlewild. It’s set in Detroit, and it’s a contemporary. I love Detroit – I and my family have ties here that go back a few generations, and I really wanted to write a positive and realistic story set there. Detroit sets a complex backdrop for our characters, who come from very different backgrounds, to learn about each other and themselves.
Our main characters are Asher, who is a widower trying to keep the restaurant he started with his late husband alive. The book starts with him going for one last Hail Mary plan to do so, firing his staff and hiring a new staff to get a fresh start. One of the waiters he hires is Tyler, who is fresh out of college. Tyler is a very interesting man – he’s a little lost, but he’s incredibly charismatic. Despite having no restaurant experience, Asher hires him. They make a great team, and as they work together more and more, Tyler begins to take on a bigger role in helping Asher save Idlewild.
Idlewild brings them together, offers Tyler an opportunity to find his place and to take steps to really find himself and his happiness. As his relationship with Asher goes from friendship to intimate, they both have a lot to navigate – not just Tyler’s arc, but Asher realizing he has to confront grief and loss he’s been telling himself he’s over. There’s a lot of lovely discovery between them, and the city plays a big role in this.
Asher Schenck and his husband John opened their downtown gastro pub in the midst of Detroit’s revival. Now, five years after John’s sudden death, Asher is determined to pull off a revival of his own. In a last ditch attempt to bring Idlewild back to life, he fires everyone and hires a new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. Tyler is a cheery balm on Asher’s soul, and their relationship quickly shifts from business to friendship. When they fall for each other, it is not the differences of race or class that challenge their love, but the ghosts and expectations of their respective pasts. Will they remain stuck, or move toward a life neither of them has allowed himself to dream about?
Author Bio and Links
Jude Sierra first began writing poetry as a child in her home country of Brazil. Still a student of the form, she began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007, and in 2011 began writing in online communities, where her stories have thousands of readers. Her previous novels include Hush (2015) and What It Takes (2016), which received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.
Today when Asher greets him, he seems more present. Tyler knew this place was in dire straits, but if he needed confirmation, the harried expression on Asher’s face when they first met was it.
Although his clothes hint that he’s tried to put himself together, his hair is a mess. It’s longish, with a hint of curls and is the kind of tousled only some men can pull off. Though deep brown, Tyler can see some gray at the temples. Asher has dark eyes and sports the shadow of a beard. Despite the pallor of his skin that indicates he hasn’t gotten sun in a long time and his slightly sloppy appearance, Tyler can’t help but notice how handsome he is. He’s taller than Tyler by a few inches—most men are. He has no idea how old Asher is—it would hardly be polite to ask—but he thinks maybe in his thirties. That’s hardly old, but it’s older than he; that’s never been an attraction. But, it’s working right now. Tyler swallows and smiles.
“So,” Asher starts. He sits at the same table. It’s just as covered in paperwork. “What are your thoughts about working here?”
“Are…” Tyler eyes him. “Are you hiring me?”
“I am strongly considering it.” Asher doesn’t smile but his eyes are friendly.
“It would be great to work here,” Tyler says. “Really. This building has a vibe.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Something here feels right.” He wonders if he’s making a fool of himself. Tyler sometimes can sense the energy of a person or place. It’s nothing he seeks—but some people and places he’s encountered just feel right.
Empty, Idlewild brims with potential. It’s a building with great bones, long but narrow, with high groin-vaulted ceilings and a bar that curves down the length of the front-of-house floor. Cream-colored wainscoting lines the bottom of the walls—he sees it running up the stairs to the second floor—and the walls are a rich deep red that’s brightened and warmed by an eclectic assortment of antique lighting fixtures. Wide wooden steps with carved spindles lead to the second floor seating area. The dark wood and walls are offset by light through the large glass window.
“Well, I hope so.” Asher looks around, then shrugs. “Or that I can make something of it.”
“Just you?” Tyler asks. “That sounds exhausting.”
Asher tilts his head with a tiny smile quirking his lips.
“Well, if you wanna take a chance on me, which I recommend, I want to help you with that.” Tyler smiles as warmly as he can and is gratified when Asher’s eyes catch his. They share a second of eye contact that leaves Tyler short of breath. He looks away quickly.