We are very happy to welcome Jacob Z. Flores to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Flores’ latest novel Please Remember Me is available on Dreamspinner Press.
Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hardass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.
Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his daughter. They both represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.
Connect with Jacob:
Jodi: Thank you, Jacob, for stopping by the blog today. It is a pleasure to ask you some questions about your writing and your latest book, Please Remember Me. When did you begin your writing career, and why did you choose to write in the romance genre?
Jacob: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
I officially started my writing career in 2011, when I wrote Moral Authority. I had wanted to be an author for most of my life. I used to write comic books at my grandmother’s table for crying out loud! So it has always been in my blood, but when it came time for me to choose my major in college, I chose a more practical field. Because you can do anything with an English degree, right?
In 2011 something snapped inside me. The desire to write that had always burned like a raging inferno re-ignited, and I wrote Moral Authority, my dystopian novel. After that, I couldn’t stop the ideas that flooded my head, so I scoured the Internet looking for publishing houses, agents, anything that would accept me.
That was when I found the m/m genre and Dreamspinner Press. I couldn’t believe there was actually an industry out there that catered to the characters I enjoyed writing. Once I found DSP, I read some of their books and tried my hand at it, and I’ve been here ever since.
Jodi: Do you plan out your books completely before you begin writing, or do you have more of a go-with-the-flow style of writing?
Jacob: I’m a complete pantser, which is strange because I used to be a devout plotter. That changed somewhere after my fourth book. I don’t know why really. I used to create elaborate character sketches and detailed plot outlines, so I knew every stop that my characters were going to take. When I started the Provincetown Series, those boys didn’t want to be tied down by an outline. Now handcuffs. That was another story, but an outline? They didn’t like that at all. To appease them and my muse, I just let them take control. I still do the character sketches and create a blurb to give myself a general sense of direction, but after that I’m merely the vessel for my characters. They use me as they please, and I’m pretty happy with the arrangement. Some of my characters are pretty hot!
Jodi: You write both standalone and series books. Do you have a preference?
Jacob: Wow! That’s a great question, and one I’ve never thought about before. Standalones are a lot easier to write because you don’t have to consider what happens to the characters or the plot after the final word is typed. In a series, you have tons more planning to do. What happens in book one affects books two through four.
But you spend more time with the characters in a series. You get to know them better, more intimately because you are fleshing them out over time.
So I guess my answer is a series just because I get to spend more time in their worlds.
Jodi: That being said, is Please Remember Me going to remain a standalone book, or will this turn into a series? Will Darren, Mitch, or, perhaps, Wyatt have his story told?
Jacob: Please Remember Me is a standalone. As much as I love the secondary characters, the story has been told. I want Santi and Hank to remain the sole focus of that world. I think they deserve it after what I put them through.
Jodi: This is a great book, and I literally could not put it down. In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to have a box of tissues handy. What was the inspiration for this story?
Jacob: Thank you so much for saying that. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. And hey, maybe I should talk to Elizabeth about selling the book with a package of Kleenex as a box set.
As for the inspiration, that would be my boyfriend. Once the plot bunny hopped into my brain, I asked myself: “what would you do if Mike couldn’t remember you? After everything you have been through, how would that feel?” And that is where I told the story from. I have to admit that man truly inspired me!
Jodi: There are a lot of myths about amnesia. Did you have to do research about the condition?
Jacob: Oh, most definitely. There are so many different types of amnesia. I had to choose the right one for the story I wanted to tell. I also wanted to make sure I got not only the accident that caused it and the prognosis correct, but also how it affects everyone in that individual’s life. I learned that the story is not really about the person who lost his memories; it’s primarily the tale of the one who is forgotten. That’s where the pain truly lies.
Jodi: Santi Herrera is an amazingly strong person. He is drawn to Hank from the first time he sees him, and he is not prepared to break their connection, despite the enormous fracture to the relationship. Tell us a little about Santi’s background.
Jacob: Well, Santi lost his parents when he was in college. They were his lifelines, his anchors to the world. When they died, Santi was set adrift. Succeeding in life became his only beacon, and he used that to prove to his parents that everything they had done for him had been worth it. So before Santi meets Hank, he has no interest in relationships. He’s married to his job because that’s all he can see. Well at least until he glimpses the tall, tattooed, tanned hunk. His instant attraction and then connection to Hank is the first real emotional bond he has developed with another person since his parents.
Jodi: Jill is Santi’s best friend and his only real family. She is a bit over-the-top, which is probably why she is so likeable. How did the two of them meet?
Jacob: A bit over-the-top? She’s so over-the-top she can’t even see the top from her vantage point! And that’s why I love her too. That’s why I’m glad you asked this question since I don’t cover it in the book. Jill worked at a hair salon where Santi came in for his weekly haircut. His usual stylist was out sick, and Jill was the only one open. He sat in her chair and though he gave her specific instructions on what he wanted, she did her own thing. Because as she told him, “You don’t even know what you want.” From that moment on, they were inseparable.
Jodi: Hank, Mitch and Darren have formed a strong brotherly bond, which Santi has a bit of a struggle breaking into. Can you tell us a little about Mitch and Darren’s background?
Jacob: Mitch had a rough childhood like Hank. His family kicked him out for being gay, and that’s where he and Hank met—on the streets of San Diego. Since then, Mitch works hard at being independent. He put himself through beauty school and opened up his own salon “Diva’s.” For Mitch, making it on his own and keeping the family he’s formed with Hank and Darren are the most important to him. Mitch never reconnected with his family the way Hank has, and that’s one reason he hold on so tightly to them.
Darren didn’t have a problematic family life. He actually came from a family who loved him, but was just as dysfunctional as everyone else’s. His big problem is he lacks self-confidence. When he first came to southern California, he was told by many guys he tried to date that he would never be a “SoCal gay,” and that destroyed his self-confidence. That’s why he holes up in the house, earning him the nickname Grandma. The only people he opens up to are Mitch and Hank. Without them, Darren would have no one.
Jodi: Of course that brings us to the theme of family, which is strong in this book, despite the fact that the family bonds that have been created are a bit nontraditional. Do you have a message for your readers?
Jacob: I actually have two. The first is that family is who and what we make it. There is no right or wrong. The people we love and who matter the most to us are our family, and we should do everything we can to include them in our lives.
The second is a lot harder. Our family makes mistakes. Sometimes they hurt us terribly, but they are still the only family we have. If circumstances allow for reconciliation, it’s better to take it and heal the wound than live forever with the pain.
Jodi: It is hard for readers not to fall in love with Hank. He is so strong and vulnerable. It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to lose four years of one’s life. It was heartbreaking to read about his turmoil and confusion, especially since the story is being told from Santi’s point of view. Was Hank’s character challenging to develop?
Jacob: Yeah, it’s pretty near impossible to not let Hank into your heart. Santi found that out real quick!
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult to develop Hank’s character because everything he says and does is basically how my boyfriend would react. All I had to imagine was Mike in the situation, and what he would do or say became what Hank did or said.
Jodi: As I mentioned, this book is written in first person point of view from Santi’s perspective, until the epilogue. The first person point of view makes it easy for the reader to fall into the story and Santi’s life. Was it difficult to show Hank’s perspective through Santi’s eyes?
Jacob: Now that was somewhat of a struggle. This is basically Santi’s story, but Hank had to be a visible and strong presence. His voice (before and after the accident) had to come through. Otherwise, the reader wouldn’t get why this was so painful for Santi. Before the accident, it was a lot easier to do that because Hank just told Santi how he felt or showed it to him in the way he touched him. After the accident, it was an absence of those words and caresses that communicated a lot of where Hank stood.
Jodi: I don’t want to give too much away, but I do need to ask … Why is Karl so surprised when he sees Santi?
Jacob: Haha! Because Santi is so short compared to both Hank and Karl and considering Hank’s preference in the bedroom, Karl didn’t quite get how Santi could do what Hank really liked.
Jodi: What is your next project?
Jacob: I’m actually embarking on a pretty big one. I’m writing a paranormal romance series that will likely be seven books. Yes, I know I’m crazy, but I’ve been enjoying creating this world. The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge is the name of the series, and the books will follow the lives of Mason, Thad, and Warren, on their paths to love and the incredible obstacles and enemies that stand in their way.
There are warlocks, witches, wizards, vampyren, fae, shifters, and so many more characters. It’s quite a world I’m building, and I’m doing my best to add a little twist to each other. The first book Spell Bound releases later this year, and I’m in the middle of writing the second book Blood Tied, which will hopefully release at the end of this year.
Thank you again for having me here. It has been a pleasure.
Successful lawyer Santi Herrera couldn’t be happier with the direction his life is taking. Not only is he on track to becoming a partner in his law firm, but he’s planning his wedding to Hank Burton, a south Texas contractor who has made a name for himself despite his humble beginnings. The introverted lone wolf Santi and the friendly, outgoing Hank complement each other perfectly. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, they were hooked, and as far as Santi and Hank are concerned, a happily ever after is their destiny.
But fate deals them a devastating new hand.
A construction accident leaves Hank with severe head trauma and brings him precariously close to death. When he finally awakens, Hank doesn’t remember Santi or the love they shared for the past three years. Santi faces the greatest challenge of his life. Can he respark a flame his lover can’t recall? And can he stop the diverging paths that fickle fate charts between them?
Santi has faith in the love he and Hank shared and in the words his father once spoke to him: “It’s never too late to fall in love. All over again.”
The Please Remember Me Giveaway Contest
I’m hosting two different giveaways. At each stop of my tour, one lucky winner will receive a free e-copy of any book from my backlist.
At the end of my tour, I’ll be giving away a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.
Good luck to everyone and thanks for stopping and visiting with me today.
And I urge readers to visit me at any or all of my social media sites:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores,Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142501.Jacob_Z_Flores