Jo shrugged. “Seems dangerous. You’re not being paid to break up fights between conservative media hosts.” She looked up and groaned as she saw Sarah Tremblay making her way toward her. “Just when the fight was getting good.”
Simon straightened up in his seat as Sarah swept into position beside Jo. “This is not the way people should behave at an event like this. It’s supposed to be a joyous occasion, where people give the bride the material she’ll need in her new life as a wife. Not some kind of spectacle for the enjoyment of others.” She sniffed and cast her gaze pointedly at guests who had their phones out, recording the action.
Jo hated the thought of agreeing with Sarah Tremblay about anything, but she couldn’t argue either. “It’s a little bit like watching daytime television.”
Sarah stared as hotel security swooped in and separated the fighting women. The one who’d been kneed in the face was going to need an ambulance. “This is what comes from an overly permissive culture,” she said after a moment. “This is why I fight so hard.”
Jo rolled her eyes. And of course it all comes down to this. “So we can all enjoy a live action version of the Jerry Springer Show?”
Sarah curled her lip. “Do you honestly think any of this would have happened if you hadn’t showed your face here today?”
Jo lowered her eyes and laughed. “Sarah, I don’t even know those women. Any of those women. The great part of being a pariah at things like this is that no one can say they did anything because of me.”
Sarah grabbed onto Jo’s wrist with one claw-like hand. “You come walking in here with all of those tattoos exposed. That alone lowers the tone. It tells people, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter what you do.’ And with you flaunting your sin all over the place, disobeying your mother, giving your body to anyone who wants it, wallowing in the sin of Sodom and Gomorra without shame, everyone knows who you are. They know what you do.
“They think to themselves, If she can get away with that, then I don’t have to worry about what I do. I don’t have to live a clean and wholesome life. I don’t have to behave myself in public. And then we get what we had here today.”
“Wow. You get all that from a couple of tattoos and a complete failure at reading the Bible.” Jo snorted. Her hands shook, but they were hiding under the table so it didn’t matter. “Did you miss the part about motes and beams and all that? Or the Samaritan woman? I’m, like, ninety percent sure that those people would have fought even if I’d stayed on tour.”
“You should have stayed on tour. No one wants you here.” Sarah narrowed her eyes at Jo. “If even your own mother can’t stand to look at you, why should the rest of us be troubled with your presence?”
Jo shrugged. “Take it up with Tom. Much as I love hanging out here and being harangued about my sex life, I’d rather be out there with my band mates touring.”
Sarah recoiled, nose in the air. “I can see I’m not going to get anywhere with you. Just stay away from my daughter.”
Jo blinked for a second. Was Sarah really worried about Valeria’s virtue around her? If she was, that must mean she had a reason to be. Maybe there was hope after all. As for the rest of it …
She curled her lips into a wolfish smile and stood up. As Simon stood up beside her, she dropped a hand onto Sarah’s shoulder. “Oh, Sarah. I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to lead you on. I’m not great with subtle hints. If you wanted to ‘get somewhere’ with me, you should have been more direct. If you want, I can help you find someone who might be looking for someone a little more like you, though.” She walked out of the shower, smiling.
About J.V. Speyer:
J. V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house with more animals than people.
J. V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game. She’s learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.
Interview with J.V. Speyer
- Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from the book, the secret in their past. Well, we know that Jo, one of the main characters, is out because her girlfriend at the time outed her. I didn’t go into the details at the time, because of space concerns and because this is Jo’s story with Valeria, not with her ex. It’s only relevant because of how that outing affects Jo now.
Jo joined Whirlwind, her band, at a young age. The band got a lot of traction early on, and she was only eighteen when her girlfriend outed her. The thing is, the girlfriend didn’t out her for any kind of good reason. It wasn’t because she was madly in love or made a mistake. She wanted to ride Jo’s coattails to fame and fortune. So Jo lost her family’s love and support because of her ex’s selfishness.
I know there were activists back in the 80s and early 90s who believed that outing celebrities was necessary to help erase the stigma around LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly men, and to help fight HIV/AIDS. I’m not passing judgement on that – I think there probably were harsh consequences for people who were outed, and there may have been people who were outed by mistake, but there was a crisis and it’s not for me to sit here and pass judgement on people fighting for their lives.
This aspect of Jo’s story was in response to recent legislation in some states that would require educators and medical practitioners to out children to their families, regardless of how their families would respond to the news. There are consequences to these types of disclosures.
- What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life? Heh. There were a few different inspirations for Whirlwind. One was, obviously, the call for submissions. My publisher, JMS Books, wanted stories with characters who were opposites in some way. I already had a story like that outlined, and so I sat down and finished it.
The story came about because my daughter, who is now eight, wanted me to write her a book about women. Well, more specifically, she wanted me to write her a book with “no kissing, no romance, and if there are any boys in it the girls have to punch them all and send them all to an island or something.” Well, a book with no romance and no kissing isn’t going to work very well for a romance writer, but we were able to compromise on a book in which no one would kiss any boys. I outlined the story, and I put it aside in favor of other projects until the time was right.
- What’s your writing process? Tears, coffee, typing. Seriously, though. I’ll start with an idea, or a prompt, or a deadline. With Midnight, my first published book, I started with a song. That was “Sometime Around Midnight.” Then I sat down in Evernote and wrote out all of the ideas I had around that initial kernel of a story.
Then I opened up Scrivener. I created character sheets I could reference while I wrote. I knew it would be a novella, so I had a target word count and an approximate number of words per chapter. I outlined basically what I wanted to see happen in each chapter, and then I got to work.
- What is your writing Kryptonite? For a long time, it was contemporary romance. When it comes to my own entertainment, I like a lot of action. I’d go so far as to say I like violence. This is especially true in television – I know, I know, I’m what’s wrong with America.
Anyway, I like to include a lot of action in my writing as well. I like fight scenes, chase scenes, shootouts. There’s room for that in sci-fi romance, paranormal romance, fantasy romance. If you have a fight sequence in contemporary romance you’ve taken it from a nice fluffy tale of two people falling in love to a horrifying tale of domestic violence and literally no one is happy.
I’m getting better about it, though. I don’t have to switch out of the file and go write violent fan fiction or something, just to get it out of my system.
I’d say right now, I have difficulty writing humor. And my absolute Kryptonite is m/f romance. I’ll write it as a ghost, if someone pays me, but I’m never satisfied with it and I find myself shouting at the screen when I do. The Spouse laughs at me the whole time, because I’m sitting there typing according to the outline I’ve got saying, “You don’t belong with him, you belong with that woman over there, but I have to put you with him because I’m being paid to even though the script says he has to be an ass…” It’s sad really. I should probably work on that.
- Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them. This has been kind of a Thing in romance lately. Um. It’s a sensitive topic.
I grew up in an extremely diverse city, Syracuse NY. I also grew up on a steady diet of speculative fiction, and I eventually stopped reading sci-fi for a long time because the lack of diversity bothered me. It more than “bothered me,” it was creepy to me. Where I come from, if everyone looks *the same* there are serious problems and lethal gene factors start to come into play. I had no idea where, in all of these future societies, all the normal people were.
Then I moved to Boston, and I figured out that most of the rest of the US didn’t grow up the way I did. People were writing their “normal,” and it probably wasn’t even conscious.
I write my normal, although if I’m writing in a contemporary setting I will tailor it to the area. Whirlwind is set at a wedding thrown by an ultra-conservative pundit for her daughter. It’s a mayonnaise jar, because Sarah filled the guest list with people who made her comfortable. Rites of Spring is more diverse, because it’s set in an area with a diverse population.
- Star Trek or Star Wars? Why? Star Wars. I want to go off and give you some kind of sententious claptrap about how Star Wars is character driven and uses classical tropes to deliver an Odyssey for the modern era, and I wouldn’t be lying. It’s the national epic for the modern West.
I grew up with both, and I enjoyed original Trek. I got pretty disenchanted with Star Wars when they released the prequels (then I made my saving throw and managed to disbelieve that they ever happened!).
With the new trilogy, and the supplemental stories? I’m hooked all over again. I love what they’ve done with the original cast – they’ve allowed them to be human. They’re flawed, but still heroes. Princess Leia is still a goddess, of course.
And then they released Rogue One. Jyn Erso is the love of my life. I’m going to marry her. We’re going to run away and we’re going to live in a little starship, blasting Imperials out of the sky and drinking martinis.
So in the end, it’s got nothing to do with Star Wars being a modern Homeric epic, and nothing to do with Star Trek being a little too utopian to knock Star Wars out of the top spot (while still being awesome.) In the end, Star Wars is better because Star Wars has Jyn Erso, and Star Trek does not.
Where to find J.V. Speyer: