Author on the Couch: J.D. Lexx
Today I’m conducting a session with…J.D. Lexx!
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
J.D.: Well, there was that time I was born… Oh, but you probably mean something more recent! I know it probably sounds trivial but I will always remember one day in third grade during creative writing class. I had just moved to a new school and had no idea what this was about. I didn’t take it seriously. I was unprepared. I figured I would just wing it. I mean, what was the worst that could happen, right? I didn’t realize until the last minute that it was common practice to read our stories out loud to the class. So there I stood in front of a live audience—a jury of my peers, as it were—embarrassed and humiliated by the lackluster work I felt I had produced and now had to read aloud, which always makes bad things even worse. I remember feeling so exposed, so disappointed in myself. At that age, it doesn’t take much to crush you.
Alas, I muddled through, but I never shook off the burn of that feeling. From that moment on, I committed not only to do a better job, at everything, but also to write the best damn stories that class had ever heard. Before long, people were insisting that I go first and the class would break into cheers when my name was finally called. I loved that feeling so much. Not because it fed any ego but because it gave a sense of purpose. Whatever I’ve done since, and I have done a bit of everything, I always make sure to reflect back on what it feels like to know I haven’t done enough. In a way, I think that day has driven me ever since to a level of ambition some people simply don’t understand. I don’t need to be the best. But I do need to be the best me that I can be.I don’t need to be the best. But I do need to be the best me that I can be. @JDLexx #amwriting @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: It’s amazing how those childhood experiences make ripples throughout our entire lives.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
J.D.: If I have to pick just one, I’m going to have to go with obsessive tenacity. It’s a double-edged sword but without a little OCD, I’m not sure a person can be an author in the truest sense of the word. I see a lot of contemporary writers out there who seem to gravitate toward volume over quality and that really breaks my heart. I mean, anybody can write a first draft. But a lot of the time, the magic is in the minutiae and that can get lost so easily in the mad dash to publish.
It’s how we approach the details that act as an author’s fingerprint or signature. The style of our humor and the way we turn a phrase is what sets each of us apart from everyone else. I think when someone commits to the preparation, does all the research, and lets go of the safety rope in order to dive fully into a story, the reader sees that in the finished work. And that’s when all the obsessing and dissecting truly becomes worth it. That’s when you build those lasting bonds....the magic is in the minutiae and that can get lost so easily in the mad dash to publish. @JDLexx #amwriting @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: I couldn’t agree more! My personal writing mantra is quality over quantity. And quality takes time–for me and you anyway!
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
J.D.: Probably the same one that helps me, honestly. I can be a graduate level perfectionist and sometimes that trait paralyzes me before I begin. Deep down, I know each new story will take on a life of its own if only I get it started, but now and then my head and heart are on different pages and one wants everything perfect before the first word gets written. I think some view it as simple stubbornness but I like to see it as chiseling away the layers until the right story reveals itself.
Me: Perfectionism is a double edged sword.
What was your high point as a writer?
J.D.: That would probably be the day I picked up a pen with genuine creative intent after so long away. Although writing has technically been a large part of my career from the start, I think I filed away the creative side for years while honing the technical aspects. But in the end, it always rang hollow receiving praise on my ability to draft a pleading. I never saw any challenge in it. It was always so…functional. So when I woke up one day and decided to dust off my imagination and get back to the kind of writing that friends and family had always begged me to do, those first words—hard as they were to craft—felt euphoric and so full of endless potential. I haven’t looked back since, and I hope I never do....those first words felt euphoric and so full of endless potential. @JDLexx #amwriting Click To Tweet
What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path?
J.D.: I have come to see writing as a series of low points between peaks of sheer elation. I’ll often feel crappy about my writing when I begin a new project, and then thrilled when it nears completion. And then I’ll feel low again after it’s finished and I’m not sure what to dive into next. So I can’t point to any particular moment, really. I’ve actually been very fortunate in the warm reception I have always received. I couldn’t be more grateful. Even when I’ve transitioned from style to style, I’ve felt more enthusiasm and excitement than remorse.
In truth, I think writing at a professional level reveals a lot about us as people. Not only through the words we write but in how we handle the process. In some ways, rejection is the nature of art. If you haven’t felt that fear as a writer or painter or musician then you haven’t pushed yourself nearly hard enough. The question is, how do you use it to fuel yourself?I have come to see writing as a series of low points between peaks of sheer elation. @JDLexx #amwriting Click To Tweet If you haven’t felt that fear as a writer or painter or musician then you haven’t pushed yourself nearly hard enough. @JDLexx #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: So true–>Low points between peaks of elation.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
J.D.: This one is pretty easy. Writing told me so. I’ve pursued other ventures throughout my life but writing was always more a part of my general being than something to be pursued. As such, I guess I spent a long time overlooking the obvious. I never “wanted” to be a writer, nor have I ever wished otherwise. It simply…is. And I think many others would agree.
Of course that isn’t always enough, is it? But when you accumulate life experience on a daily basis and allow yourself to see the world in all its shades of color, life itself becomes a constantly ongoing education. Read between the lines of a good book and you can tell how much the author has lived versus how much they’ve Googled.Read between the lines of a good book and you can tell how much the author has lived versus how much they’ve Googled. @JDLexx #amwriting @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: There is no substitute for life experience.
How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others?
J.D.: As I said earlier, rejections happen. Without them, there’d be no need to improve one’s writing or revisit their work. No striving to be better tomorrow than today. Each of us who have pushed, only to be pushed back, look in the mirror at some point and ask ourselves how badly we want this. If a writer has never endured the rejections then perhaps they’ve never faced that moment of soul-searching and they will never truly know how deep their determination runs.
As for reviews, I learned first to take them with a grain of salt and then not to read them at all. I appreciate every single one and the fact that people take the time to leave them. It’s human nature though, isn’t it, to look past the 100 good reviews and single in on that bad one. I would advise any new author who is just starting out to temper their enthusiasm when seeing a five-star review and shake off the sucker punch of the one-star reviews. What matters is engagement and the connections you make through your words. A lot of people have a lot of agendas. If a criticism is consistent and widespread, do yourself the favor of considering whether the public is right. If the praise and adulation are effusive, do yourself the even bigger favor of keeping the ego in check. Just keep doing what you’re doing, with a personal vow never to stop improving, and you’ll be just fine.I would advise any new author who is just starting out to temper their enthusiasm when seeing a five-star review and shake off the sucker punch of the one-star reviews. @JDLexx @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet Rejections happen. Without them, there’d be no need to improve one’s writing. @JDLexx #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: Tell me about your romantic suspense, Malediction.
Some devote a lifetime to the endless pursuit of love. Others spend even longer trying to outrun it. Between the shimmering lights of Paris and New Orleans’ commercialized sin, author J.D. Lexx embarks on his latest hunt. Once content to walk blindly in the light, these days he prowls a different world, one of shadow and sensuality where flesh yields to the probing hungers of fantasy. Driven by painful reminders of opportunity left unseized, he roams, tirelessly seeking the next in a growing collection of Crimson Confessions.
Yet these tales of conquest and seduction which have brought such notoriety are merely bait for a more transcendent prey. The one he truly stalks is infinitely more elusive, and lethal in her charms. To win her over, and write the happy ending to this unfinished story, an infamous collector of secrets must now lay his own bare for all to see. Chasing a trail of enticing exploits stretching from Sin City to Prague, every stop leads him back to the beginning…and one step closer to her.
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release, Manhattan Memiors, Volume Two.
And so our game evolved. The skirts rose higher. The necklines plunged lower. And the standoff grew more rigid by the day.
Could I have caved at any moment? Taken by force all the treasures that she flaunted? Dropped her over my desk one sordid late night and not allowed her up again until she wore my mark inside and out? Possibly. Hell, maybe even likely. But to do so would breach the very trust her flirtation placed in me. More than that, it would undermine an entire code I’d come to live by, whether she knew it existed or not. Taunts and temptations aside, she had to give herself freely. That’s simply how these things worked. Only then could I rightly decide what to do with her. Should I overstep my bounds even slightly and cave to her defiant provocations, my advantage would fall from absolute to nonexistent in the virtual blink of an eye.
The more nuanced our dynamic became with time, the more confident I grew that this girl had waded in over her head. If correct, that placed an even greater responsibility on my shoulders, one of patience beyond the norms of human capacity. After all, any man can fold under the weight of his desire and mislabel his weakness as dominance. I’ve never had anything but contempt for that kind. They’re ogres and bullies, all of them, cavemen undeserving of any seat in a gentleman’s game.
And so I let her play, applying the gentlest encouragement until my prey wandered right into my web. Along the way, she seized every opportunity to torment me, testing the outer limits of my resolve like a child pushing the boundaries of no.
When I look back on the stories I’ve had published, more than anything I take pride in the ability to dig deeper than the surface and truly humanize my characters. They’re friends and family to me in a way. And like any good dysfunctional family, even their issues have issues. I love this passage because of the way I feel it shows the fragile balance of the dance between a naturally dominant hunter and his prospective prey. The way every move or refusal to move has motive and intent behind it. It hints at a complexity of emotion beneath the actions on their surface.
After all, true control can never be taken before it is willingly given. Every relationship is an exchange, not a power grab. Kind of like life, really.
After all, true control can never be taken before it is willingly given. Every relationship is an exchange, not a power grab. Kind of like life, really. @JDLexx @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! Stayed tuned for SAVING MERCY. Book 1 in the new Fatal Truth Series.