I’m thrilled to welcome author J.H. Trumble to my blog today! J.H. is the author of the recent release Just Between Us, a book about a relationship rocked by an HIV diagnosis. Just Between Us is part of a trio of interrelated novels, beginning with Don’t Let Me Go and Where You Are. If you have any interest in gay fiction, or emotional reads with tough subjects and great characters, you should pick these up pronto! (Reviews: Just Between Us, Where You Are)
Thanks for chatting with us today, J.H!
Of the three books you’ve written so far, which one was your favorite, or easiest to write? Which character do you enjoy writing the most?
I get asked that question—which is my favorite—a lot. Honestly, Don’t Let Me Go, Where You Are, and Just Between Us were each my favorite as I was writing them. Looking back, though, I don’t think I can choose. The stories each affected me in different ways. Where You Are, however, was definitely the easiest to write. From the start, I had a much clearer picture of what that book was about when than I did with the other two. Just Between Us was, unquestionably, the most difficult. For more than two years I struggled to understand the dynamic between Luke and Curtis.
Each of the books can be read standalone, but they are set in the same world, and with overlapping characters. What would you title the series as a whole?
That’s a great question. I never considered an overarching title. I wish I could think of something really clever here, but I suck at titles, so I’m probably not the best person to ask.
Maybe The Boys in the Band? I don’t know either, but I like the idea of having a catchy title.
The books are published as Adult, though have crossover appeal to YA readers, with the characters in high school/ early college. Who do you consider to be the audience for your books based on feedback from your readers or otherwise?
Younger readers, teenagers, seem to really enjoy the romantic aspects of my novels, but older readers seem to appreciate the more nuanced aspects of the various relationships. In other words, they really get it. They seem to better understand how damaged and fragile Nate is following his assault and how that affects his perception of himself and his actions. They see the bigger picture in the relationship between Robert and Andrew. And they’ve often felt the fear and the sting of rejection that Curtis struggles with. I get a lot of email from older men who tell me I got that just right. Those emails mean more to me than you can imagine.
Do you have a favorite scene in Just Between Us? Or any scene that ended up on the cutting room floor that you’d like to share?
Oh, wow. So many scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. But my favorite ones are still there. I love the volleyball game where Curtis gets a little drunk and wants to “coach” Luke. I love the scenes between Curtis and Jaleel. I love that moment in the mall when Curtis asks Luke if he got the guy’s number, and when Luke says “No, but I think I got yours,” Curtis crushes his knuckles. I love the scene where Luke gets totally pissed and trashes Curtis’s truck—so immature, yet so understandable, in my opinion. I love the scenes in the football stadium at the end of the book. I think it’s fair to say I’m kind of missing them right now.
That scene in the mall where Luke says “No, but I think I got yours” is one my my favorites too.
I love that marching band is featured in your books. What is your relationship to marching band? In my years in marching band I didn’t find any of the musicians very crush worthy. Clearly I was in the wrong bands!
You were definitely in the wrong bands! My son was in his high school marching band and is now marching with The Longhorn Band at The University of Texas. Many of the scenes involving band kids came right from my experiences with the high school band. It was a fun four years. Danial, Luke, and Robert were all based on kids in my son’s band. And they were all just as adorable as I portrayed them.
Music plays a role in your books, and I like that you include book playlists in each novel. Does music inspire you when you write? Where do you discover great music?
Absolutely, music inspires me. Songs help me understand what my characters are feeling and sometimes they suggest plot. I admit to watching VH1’s Top 20 Countdown occasionally, but it’s my teenage daughter who introduced me to much of the music on the JBU playlist. She downloads songs from iTunes and they end up getting synced to my device too. Many of the songs on the JBU playlist—songs by Hedley, Third Eye Blind—first hit my radar that way.
Do you have any YA LGBT book recs for us, or favorite authors to check out?
Can I skip this question? B/c right now, the answer would be no. That sounds terrible, but I read all over the place and I haven’t come across any books recently that have just knocked my socks off.
Readers, do you have any recs for J.H? What do you think about the current crop of YA LGBT books? What do you think is missing in this category?
Please say you are writing more books set in this world you’ve created. Do you have any secondary characters in mind that you’d like to write about? What can readers look forward to next?
I have considered writing a book about Nic Taylor, the guy Robert was dating at the beginning of JBU. And one about Nate and Adam’s daughter Lucy as a teenager. But I also have some other totally unrelated stories I’d like to tell. I haven’t yet settled on my next book, so it will have to be a surprise.
Halloween lightning round:
What do you think Luke and Curtis would dress up as for Halloween?
They wouldn’t dress up. They’d stay home and watch a movie together.
What is your favorite…?
– Halloween candy?
Anything chocolate with nuts
– Scary book?
The Stand by Stephen King
– Scary movie?
That’s a tough one. Movies that used to scare me—Hill House, The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist—just don’t scare me anymore. Hate scares me.
Thanks, J.H. for your thoughtful answers! I look forward to your next book, no matter what you choose to write about.