Jane Jensen aka Eli Easton
Since I started publishing m/m romance in April 2013, my "Eli Easton" has been a name without a face and without a background. At times I wanted to be able to talk about the other parts of my life on my blog or twitter or with my goodreads friends. But I kept Eli separate from my 'real life' identity, as many m/m romance authors do.
In my case, it wasn't about my family, employer, or community disapproving. It was simply that I had another professional persona with its own audience and projects in the works. I didn't want assumptions made about my other work, or for it to be colored by m/m romance glasses, or, indeed, for that brand to get garbled or dissed for reasons not associated with the work itself.
But recently I decided to just be open about it all so I could talk about anything anywhere.
In real life, I have been a long-time computer game designer writing under the name of Jane Jensen. I got my big break in game design in 1989 when I was hired by Sierra Online, a popular maker of adventure games like King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. With Sierra I got the chance to create my own game series, a paranormal mystery series called Gabriel Knight. There were 3 GK games, 2 novelizations, and a host of other work done under Jane Jensen, including two original novels.
Millennium Rising aka Judgement Day came out in 1999 from Del Rey and Dante's Equation from Del Rey in 2003. My other games include Dying for Daylight (done with Charlaine Harris), three Agatha Christie hidden object games, three Women's Murder Club games (with James Patterson), Gray Matter (my own original story) and, recently, Moebius: Empire Rising.
I've had many wonderful professional experiences working in games, including the joy of casting voice-over actors and listening to them read my dialogue, working on a live film production (for GK2), travelling to research story lines, meeting fans, and working with great artists, engineers, and producers. It was also the ideal place to hone my writing skills, particularly dialogue since there are acres of that in my games.
Why do I write m/m romance? Because I love reading it. I began reading the m/m genre during a particularly stressful period in 2012, and it was my magic bullet in terms of relaxation and escape. I love writing books, but I'd given up on it after Dante's Equation in 2003--a hugely ambitious book that took three years to write and was a disappointment to me critically and sales wise.
While I've enjoyed reading m/f romance since I was a teen, I never was very good at writing it. I'm drawn to the idea of how two people meet and decide to spend their lives together--the give and take of personalities and relationship dynamics. But I find it challenging to write a typical man/woman relationship. I think it's because I've always rather sucked at writing very feminine characters. My own personality has many traits that would be considered masculine, and I've never been one for pink and lace. I think we are all a balance of masculine and feminine in our deepest selves in ways that go beyond gender and sexual identity. It's possible to be a woman with masculine personality traits who loves men (that is, not a lesbian), just as you can be a man with 'feminine' qualities who is nonetheless straight. We need a name for those categories, please!
I dipped my toe back into the water in 2011 writing a few stories for submission to m/m anthologies. By now, I've published 10+ stories in m/m including the novel The Mating of Michael, which was released in Jun 2014. I've gotten a lot of pleasure from writing in this genre, and encouragement from some very lovely people who enjoy reading it.
One thing is clear: being Eli Easton has given me back my pure fiction writing--my confidence in it and my productivity. And I'm grateful for that.
I also want to say that I have no embarrassment about what I write. I am a full supporter of gay rights, including the right to marry. So to me, romance is romance, no matter what the gender is of the protagonists. And as a life-long reader of romance, I know the pleasure it brings people. Unlike horror and mystery (both of which I've written), at the core romance is about passion and love, not fear. Plus, there's always a happy ending. And sometimes, we just fucking need a happy ending.
I plan to continue to write m/m romance as Eli Easton. I will also likely continue to write for games. There are also some "Jane Jensen" books in the pipeline. I recently sold an Amish-themed murder mystery called "Kingdom Come" to Berkely and it will be released on the "Prime Crime" line under Jane Jensen. Now that I'm 'out' I'll be freer to talk about any and all projects as news pops up.
If you like games at all, you might want to check out one of my recent titles. Both of these have a free 1 chapter demo.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary remake -- an all new HD remake of my first big game. This is the first game in a paranormal mystery series with some similarities to Supernatural or X-Files. Also on Steam and GOG.
Moebius: Empire Rising -- A Dan Brown-ish conspiracy thriller involving a new theory of space and time. Includes a slashy bromance that will develop over the series.
That's it for this confession. I will be at Romantic Times convention next year in Dallas in May and also the Rainbow Con in Tampa in July. Hope to meet some more of you there!