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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

QSR: Jasmine Gower Interview

Hi everyone! We have Jasmine Gower over for an author interview today :D

Q. Tell us a little about your books!

I’ve got two books coming up that I’m very excited about. First is my fantasy romance novella, A Study of Fiber and Demons, which is being published by Less Than Three Press in ebook and paperback on August 9, 2017. It’s a polyamorous enemies-to-lovers story about a group of bitter academics who have spent their whole careers sabotaging each other and find themselves assigned to work together on the same research project studying demon magic.

I also have Moonshine coming in February 2018 from Angry Robot, also in ebook and paperback. Moonshine is set in a fantasy 20s-esque world during a magic prohibition and focuses on Daisy Dell, a young flapper and secret mage who gets a job working in an office for a shady boss.

Q. What made you write the stories you did? What do they mean to you?

I actually went into Fiber and Demons with a specific set of things I wanted to incorporate into the story: a female asexual character, a rivals-to-lovers storyline, and polyamory. I think the main character, Alim, was also inspired by my disappointment in another series I read that featured a queer-coded Arab character that never committed to making his queerness explicit, although I wasn’t really consciously thinking about that when I started writing Fiber and Demons.

Moonshine was more directly informed by things going on in my own life. I had just gotten my first Real Job out of college and was finding that I didn’t really understand the purpose of the work that I was being asked to do, which got me thinking about a character who has similar misgivings about her workplace that turns out to be a front for an illegal magical moonshining operation. (My job just turned out to be generic exploitative capitalists getting me to train my own replacements so they could underpay them even more than they underpaid me. Not quite as fun.) But that was where Daisy’s story in Moonshine came from. Her boss, Andre, has his own storyline that was inspired by my experiences as an aromantic reader looking to see more non-romantic intimate relationships explored and celebrated in fiction.

Q. What are some of your favourite things to read in queer books?

I’m pretty excited for any queer content in books, provided that it doesn’t involve queer people needlessly suffering Because Queer. Some things in particular that I’d really like to see more of, though, are non-binary characters who are human (not aliens, not shapeshifters, etc.), characters that don’t require dedicated romance subplots to establish their orientations (whether it’s because the character is ace/aro or just a gay, bi, or pan person who happens to be single the whole book), and more intersex characters in general.

Q. Got any fun summer reading plans?

I’ve been trying out my local library’s ebook lending for the very first time, which has so far involved getting started on Daniel José Older’s Bone Street Rumba series, so I’m hoping to get all caught up on that. I’m also reading Keith Yatsuhashi’s Kojiki, which I’ve been dying to read since I saw the cover for its sequel, Kokoro. (Kojiki and Kokoro are both published by Angry Robot, and they had just revealed the cover for the second when I started getting into talks with them about publishing Moonshine, and seeing Kokoro's beautiful cover got me really excited to work with Angry Robot for my own book.)

Other than that, I’m really in the mood for some epic high fantasy, but I’ve got so much editing to do this summer that I don’t have a lot of room to add more to my reading list.

Q. Tell us one of your favourite experiences with someone who’s read your book.

My romantic heroes in A Study of Fiber and Demons are not exactly… heroic. They are quite terrible and rude, in fact. After one of my friends finished reading it, the first thing she said to me (in sheer delight) was, “These are the worst characters you’ve ever written.” Interestingly, my editor had a similar reaction. I guess the new rage in romance is embittered middle-aged academics.

Q. I want queer vampires to become a thing in 2020. What is a thing you would love to see in queer books in the future?

I’ll second the call for queer vampires. My favorite series of all time is a vampire-hunting high fantasy, but the queerness of the characters is pretty aggressively subtextual, and that series ended two years ago, anyway. There’s such an extensive (and honestly kind of ugly) history of vampirism as a symbol of queerness, and the advent of Twilight kind of reassigned vampires to heteronormativity just as they were starting to be culturally regarded as sympathetic. I think we’re long overdue to reclaim vampire symbolism, and thankfully I think the vampire oversaturation caused by Twilight and its imitators is starting to wear off and publishers are becoming more open to vampire stories again.

Q. What queer book are you looking forward to?

I’ve been kind of drifting away from YA lately, but I’m pretty excited for the upcoming Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. I’m a sucker for thief-slash-assassin archetypes, as well as genderfluid characters. Admittedly, that second category is one I see a lot less of in fantasy.

Q. What’s something you always want to say in interviews but no one ever asks?

In 2014 I was in a documentary called Gaming In Color, which is about queer gamers. They interviewed me at the premiere GaymerX convention while I was in full cosplay as Anders from Dragon Age II.

Q. Favourite summer drink?

My favorite cocktail is a Honey Jack Lemonade (lemonade with honey whiskey), which is really a summer-specific kind of drink. But I’m also partial to just regular lemonade.

Q. Favourite frozen summer treat?

I’m an Oregonian, so of course I’m partial to Tillamook Dairy’s marionberry pie ice cream.

Jasmine Gower is from Portland, Oregon, where she studied English literature at Portland State University. Jasmine was drawn toward writing years before amidst a childhood of fantasy novels and 90s video games and has a passion for exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and disability through the conventions of speculative fiction and fantasy worldbuilding. Find her at jasminegower.com, on Twitter @Jas_Gower, and on tumblr as jasgower.tumblr.com.

Thank you so much for joining us!



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