How's the month treated you? Can you believe we're already at almost halfway through 2022?! As my school year draws to a close, and I think about the changes my graduating senior and soon to be junior are going through, I know all the drama of teen stories is REAL! What did you think of this month's story? Share your thoughts below after you read Jacob's answers to the interview questions.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Definitely vanilla! While chocolate is a good flavor, sometimes it can just be a little much. Vanilla is always a solid choice!
If you were an animal, what would you be?
That’s an easy one; an African elephant! Ever since the age of 10, I have been obsessed with African elephants. They are my absolute favorite animal, and I may or may not have a growing collection of stuffed animal elephants…
What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know?
While I was open about the fact that “A Marching Band Story” was the first story I have ever written, I only alluded to how deeply important this story was for me. I am now a senior in college, and I only came out to myself and my friends four years ago when I was a first-year student at college. I have created stories in my imagination to escape from the harsh reality of the world around me for as long as I can remember, but after reading a story written by veteran author Ronyx, I decided to write my own story after I finished my first year of college. I had no idea what this had in store for me. In writing this story I have learned so much about myself and have been able to process emotions and feelings I once thought too complex and difficult to even begin to understand. Writing this story changed the very course of my life, and to know that my words might do the same for others is honestly still mind-blowing.
What brought you to GA?
Another easy question: Ronyx. Ronyx (The Mustard Jar) was the person that brought me to GA. As I said before, it was reading his story, “Dancing on a Star” that pushed me to write my own story, which I slowly published as I wrote it on a less prestigious platform with which I was most familiar. After I received a lot of positive feedback, I worked up the courage to reach out to Ronyx and thank him for influencing my life, and to my surprise and excitement, he answered back. We talked back and forth until he eventually asked to read my story, which was honestly a little nerve-racking. After he read my story, Ronyx, my gay author hero, said I should publish my story on GA right away as he thought it to be the perfect platform for my writing, and the rest is history!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
This might sound cliché, but everything about writing this story was both much harder than I thought it would be and much easier at the same time. I have been creating stories for years, but to actually write one was a very different task. Probably the most challenging aspect was to nail down a plot that made sense while having a good pace that kept readers engaged. When I would create stories in my head, the plot could be much looser, but when writing, I found it important to have a solid storyboard, and that was difficult to follow at times. In addition, writing scenes of intimacy were very difficult for me. Before they were just my fantasies, but now they had to be written in a way that conveyed all the sensuality and emotions my characters were feeling, and that was no small feat.
What’s the first thing you do when you start to write a story?
The first thing I do when I start to write a story is to go for a walk. I find that I am the most creative when I am walking amongst the sounds of nature and humanity. I then essentially let my imagination run wild, and soon enough I will settle on a plot and characters that I enjoy and begin to build my story.
What do you think makes your story stand out compared to other “similar” teen stories?
I set three goals for myself when writing this story, and I believe it is these that help my story stand out. First and foremost, I wanted my characters to accurately portray what it is like to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in a heteronormative society. This looks very different for each person, so I tried to represent a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences while always making sure my characters were as realistic and relatable as possible. Second, I did not want this story to be driven by sex. Those stories have their place and time, but for the story I wanted to write, I wanted it to be a goal that the romance was driven by the friendship and the plot and only enhanced by the sex when it felt right. Finally, this story had to be true to the person I am continually becoming. Writing this story was an act of self-therapy for me, and as such, I made sure that every word I wrote I was comfortable with and proud of.
Did you research band or do you have personal experience with it?
Fantastic question; I have SO much personal experience with band! I was your stereotypical band geek throughout middle and high school, joining every band imaginable and then some. I am still in band in college, although it is not my priority now. Every year for five years I went on a trip with my marching band and even took a trip to New Orleans with my jazz band. As I have said to others, this story is partially based on fact. My senior year marching band trip was in fact to Canada for the Calgary Stampede Parade, and we did spend an entire day at Banff National Park, but that is where the similarities end. This story was an exploration of what could have been if only I had been more comfortable and confident, accepting who I was just a little earlier in life. Fun fact: I am writing this while on a tour in Spain with my college band!
Can you sum up A Marching Band Story in one sentence?
A whirl-wind teenage marching band romance that provides insight into the messiness that is true love.
Will you share any of your current or upcoming story plans with readers?
Now, this is a question I get a lot! To be completely honest, I am unsure of my current plans for upcoming stories. I have plenty more stories to tell, and I have even gotten some great suggestions for several sequel ideas to “A Marching Band Story”, but writing my first story was truly an act of spontaneity. I did it on a whim, and I had no idea how important this tory would become for me and so many others. Many have told me I have too much to say not to continue writing, and I think I can at least agree with that!