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Pride-iversary: An Interview with Jessika Grewe Glover

Our fourth interview is with Jessika Grewe Glover, the author of Stars Like Gasoline. She tells us not only about this mystery but also her fae fantasy, Another Beast’s Skin, and what inspires her stories.


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Tell us about your newest mystery, Stars Like Gasoline, and what inspired you to write it.


One of my MCs, Oscar, woke me up in the middle of the night with his story. My mom lives in Vero Beach and I’m from Miami, so I wanted to set the story there, in a place I love yet has so many flaws and nuances.



Stars Like Gasoline is a great title! How did you come up with it?


You’ll have to read it! Ok, that was mean. Broad answer is that it has to do with the combustibility of love and loss. Micro and Nano answers are tucked into the nooks and crannies of the story and characters.



Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? Which, if any, did you identify with most and why?


The MCs are: Oscar, who is a 32-year-old investment banker, queer, and trying to heal (mostly through family bonds and inappropriate humor) after the death of Nate, his fiance. Celia, 29, is a curator for the Vero Beach Museum of Art. She moved back to Vero from Boston, purchasing the home of Nate’s mother, who is currently in a nursing home. Celia is described by her family as “Un pie in el otro lado” or having one foot on the other side, which is how she is disturbed by the ghosts in her house. Adrian is a sergeant with the VBPD. He was Nate’s best friend and he and Celia form an attraction. Of all my characters (in all of my books), I find I have a solid kinship with Oscar. Celia is very different to me so she was fun to write (very much like my character, Corraidhín, in Another Beast’s Skin). Oscar masks his pain with humor and staying active. He has emotional and physical scars he wears proudly, yet doesn't talk about. I love him so very much.



Your book also includes ghosts. What initially drew you to the paranormal and how does it impact the story?


I have never not been drawn to the paranormal. I try writing bog-standard fiction (even literary), but my soul wants to include speculative elements. When Oscar's story came to me, I initially was not going to make it paranormal. However, Celia’s character became more and more illuminated to me and it was clear who she was. And she and Oscar are very stubborn, so what they say goes.



Mystery often involves lots of planning. What did your writing process look like throughout? Did you have the full outline to begin with, or did the story develop as you wrote?


I am a plantster. I winged it from the beginning to see what the tone would be and who my characters were. Then I started seeing the blueprint for the story and where I wanted it to eventually be, so I outlined and asked myself questions, and researched, until I could feasibly freestyle it again yet allow the pieces to fall into place. The plot is quite complex, bridging timelines and locations, even genres, so it took a lot of finesse and editing to make sure the threads didn’t snag.



Did you come across any challenges while writing Stars Like Gasoline? How did you overcome them?


I rewrote the beginning six times. Like, complete rewrite. I just couldn't get the first few pages to feel like the rest of the story. This is a common issue I personally have. My critique partner finally said, just drop us into it. Don’t fuss. And it clicked. Apart from that, what I wanted to make absolutely sure of, is that there was nothing in the story which could or would be harmful. My characters are queer and biracial. I had sensitivity reads for both to do my best at catching anything even I would not catch.



One of your MCs, Oscar, is queer. Who are some of your favourite queer characters from other media, and is there any representation you’d like to see more of?


I have queer rep in all my books and definitely would love to see more LGBTQIA+ rep across the board. I want to see more trans rep in media for sure. Favorite queer characters… So, so many. Mina Coffin from Stephanie Kemler’s Bloodborn series (modern gothic romance), I love Ethel Cain’s music, and Perfume Genius has several songs on ALL my book playlists. He’s, well, a genius.



You’re also the author of a fae fantasy, Another Beast’s Skin — tell us what we can expect in this story!


Another Beast’s Skin is the story of Neysa, a foreign exchange market trader who moves back to the UK after her father’s death. There she meets a family of whom we learn to be fae, guarding the Veil between the human and fae realms. Neysa is tasked with helping locate and secure four crystals, in sacred locations around the globe, which, though they protect the Veils, have gone missing, threatening humanity and fae alike. In it we have an MC who is 35, emotionally scarred love interests, fated mates, theory or souls, mythology, several queer characters, including Reynard, my snarky antagonist, whom I adore. ABS and A Braiding of Darkness take place in both the human realm, spanning locations across the world (Turkey, Peru, UK, Germany, France, Los Angeles, and Bulgaria), and Aoifsing of the fae realm. It is snarky, sexy, violent, and a lot deeper than it was marketed.



We’d love a hint about any of your current projects! Are you working on anything that might please or even surprise your readers?


Oh yes! I have been querying my adult dark academia, The Death and Resurrection of Mira Townsend, hoping to get a bite from an agent or publisher. The comps I have used for this book are The Secret History x Frankenstein and A Discovery of Witches x The Maidens. It deals with Mira, a philanthropist who ran a successful foundation for abuse survivors in Turkey and Romania, who is murdered on a trip home to Oxford, then brought back to life.


I am also waiting to get my rights back for my third book in my fantasy series so I can send that out to my editor. ANNNND, a super secret (not so secret) vampire romance, which I will likely write under a pen name and never show my mum. It’s been really fun to write and honestly such a departure from what and how I typically write, that I look forward to it being out in the world.


What I’m really hoping is to get into some author/book conventions this coming year. So far I’m on the waitlist for three! However, I do have a huge book signing event at Barnes and Noble at The Americana on Brand, which is a beautiful store in the heart of Los Angeles. I am hoping I get to meet loads of new readers!


Have any shows, movies, books, or games influenced your own work at all?


I think everything we read or consume influences us. The more we read, the better we write. I am deeply affected by words and art. A well-written line or painting buries itself in my bloodstream, becoming a part of my very nuclear being. I love Deb Harkness, Elizabeth Kostova, Donna Tartt, Erin Morgenstern, and Mary Shelley. I know they have all been muses at different times. Music as well forces out different parts of myself or my characters. In Stars Like Gasoline, there is a song by Jake Owen Celia pretends to hate because in it she sees her plight with Adrian. In Another Beast’s Skin, Neysa’s favourite song is A Letter to Elise by The Cure (my own favourite), and it is alluded to several times, that she is listening to The Airborne Toxic Event and certain songs give Cadeyrn clues about Neysa’s headspace. In The Death and Resurrection of Mira Townsend, I have sprinkled so many references to classical poetry, literature, and music. It is my dream to have someone unearth every single reference. So, if anyone reads this when that book has finally been published, please, please take me up on the challenge. It will make my day!



If you could give any advice to authors set to make their debut, what would it be?


The technical: Read all the fine print. Become part of a writers union.


The mum talk/bestie talk: give yourself grace. Whether you're publishing indie or traditional, publishing is hard. It’s all-consuming. You will make mistakes and be exhausted, and it’s all okay. Allow yourself to feel it all. The good, bad, and glorious. Because, in the end, you are publishing a book and it’s amazing. So if no one else has told you, no matter what goes wrong, no matter how hard those s**tty reviews feel, you’re still incredible. We tend to focus on the small amount of negatives, and not give airtime to the multitudes of positives. Embrace the good. Celebrate your launch!



Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, games, or podcasts you’re enjoying this Pride month? Any recommendations for our audience?


As I mentioned before, I love Stephanie Kemler’s Bloodborn series for books. I’m honestly terrible about keeping up with shows because I’d rather be reading! I love Coffee Fitness Unicorn’s podcast (I was a guest twice). Michelle is a wonderful person and host, and her own memoir just released.


 

Jessika Grewe Glover lives in a secret lair above Los Angeles with her British husband. She is the mum of two exceptional humans and one rescue bulldog, has a slight obsession with history, style, art, vampires, and making chocolate dragons. When not writing, she can be found traveling, eating, looking for alternate realms, and often bantering in song lyrics. She is the author of the Another Beast’s Skin series. Stars Like Gasoline is her first contemporary novel.

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