Ask the Author: Jason June
What would you like readers to know about you?
That my name is actually a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate but without the hyphen or the Olsen twin! I added June to my name to have an aspect in it that I feel represents my femininity (all the women on my mom’s side of the family were born in June, and they are huge influences for me) because I realized when readers met me as just Jason, their energies and their expectations of me seemed to be geared toward a cisgender guy. So I wanted a name that better reflected my energy and femininity. I also don’t use a last name publicly because I think last names can be used as a representation of power that link us to others as opposed to showcase the singular energies we as individuals put out into the world. I’m starting off deep, LOL! I could go on and on about the significance of names!
Other than that, I write for all ages, and I try to include humor, heart, and queer themes in all of my work!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
JAY’S GAY AGENDA is a contemporary queer rom-com about our titular character who is the only out gay student in his entire rural high school. He’s a Type-A Virgo planner, so while he watches all his heterosexual classmates have all these relationship milestones, he feels left behind and makes a romance to-do list (his Gay Agenda) of all the things he wants to do when he finally meets another boy-who-likes-boys. Soon after the start of the story, his mom gets a promotion that takes him to Seattle in his senior year, and the book follows Jay as he finally gets to cross items off his to-do list. It’s a sex-positive story that explores all the ups and downs and layers added to your life when you’re finally seen by your peers as a romantic and sexual being.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
This was very, very loosely inspired by my life as the only out queer person in my rural high school. I didn’t have a Gay Agenda, but I did have a diary detailing how being the only gay person at school was such a lonely island, and I used that as the seed to this story that’s all about gay joy and love and relationships.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Oh wow, that is so tough! There are so many scenes I like for different reasons, but one thing that stands out is writing the prologue that explains the origins of Jay’s Gay Agenda. It was so fun to get into his voice, to know what items he’d want on the list, and to feel that sense of hope and eagerness to finally get to experience romantic life. Then throughout the novel, I loved changing up the items and editing them depending on which guys expressed interest in him. Jay’s imagination is constantly on overdrive, and it was so great to feel that excitement emanate from him when he realizes he’s about to cross all kinds of items off his agenda.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
The series that started it all for me was the Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate (the name for the writing duo of Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant). I would stand outside the gates of Waldenbooks waiting for them to open so I could get my hands on that month’s installment. This series showed me how you can truly create an escape with words, and from there I knew I wanted to do that for a living.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Find a critique group and be sure it’s full of people who will give you honest and constructive feedback. Folks who won’t just say, “I love you so I love what you write” but rather can say, “I love your work, but this isn’t coming through how I think you want it to yet”. Also find critique partners who know how to tailor their feedback to your voice as opposed to what they would do if they were writing your story.