L.J. LaBarthe is a French-Australian woman, who was born during the Witching Hour, just after midnight. From this auspicious beginning, she went on to write a prize-winning short story about Humpty Dumpty wearing an Aussie hat complete with corks dangling from it when she was six years old. From there, she wrote for her high school yearbook, her university newspaper, and, from her early teens to her twenties, produced a fanzine about the local punk rock music scene. She loves music of all kinds and was once a classical pianist; she loves languages and speaks French and English and a teeny-tiny smattering of Mandarin Chinese, which she hopes to relearn properly very soon. She enjoys TV, film, travel, cooking, eating out, abandoned places, urbex, history, and researching.
L.J. loves to read complicated plots and hopes to do complex plot lines justice in her own writing. She writes paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary Australian stories, usually m/m romance and featuring m/m erotica.
L.J. lives in the city of Adelaide, and is owned by her cat.
This Weeks Featured Author
What inspires you to write?
Everything. Music, books, TV shows, conversations, dreams—you name it.
Are you plot or character driven?
A bit of both, I think. Though it's usually a scene that pops into my head, and inspires a plot bunny before a character does.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind?
I do, and it depends on my mood and the scene I'm writing. I tend to listen to hard rock or punk, sometimes I listen to classical piano. Some of my favourite artists are The Damned, Therapy?, 30 Seconds to Mars, Avenged Sevenfold, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Tool, Yoo Seung Jun, Nine Inch Nails, Muse, Nightwish, and local Adelaide bands.
Tell us about the different types of characters you like to write about? Why are these types so appealing to you?
I seem to be drawn to write characters that have a tendency towards playful banter and teasing. In life, people don't just talk about the serious things, or be stilted with each other, and the more intimate one's friends are, the more relaxed those conversations are going to be. And, because laughter is really the best medicine, being able to laugh with each other, at each other, to have those secret little in-jokes, is, I think really important. So I like to try to put that intimate camaraderie into my characters' lives and their relationships.
I'm also fond of sarcasm, so there's always at least one character who is the King/Queen of Sarcasm. And when I was young, I was painfully shy and found it difficult to talk to people, so I generally have at least one character who has that sort of difficulty and resorts to either silence or formality or one-word answers. Shyness is such a big thing, I think, and so many of us experience it, I think it's something that everyone can relate to on some level.
My characters are flawed but they try their best to do the right thing. Except for the truly evil characters, they're just plain evil. Mostly, however, my characters are all in the gray zone of morality.
Is there a particular genre you prefer to write?
I love writing paranormal—angels, demons, shifters, mythological creatures of any kind. I was raised on Greek and Roman myths and fairy tales, so they're sort of in my blood! I also love writing historicals, particularly medieval or set in the Byzantine Empire. I would love to write a spy novel, but I'm not confident enough to do that. One day, though! Fantasy or lite-Science Fiction, definitely. Australian stories, as I am Australian and I do like writing about life here, even if it includes an angel or two, or it's a historical set in 1920!
Do you have a favourite character from your books?
I love them all, but I'd be lying if I said none of them were favourites. In "The Archangel Chronicles," I love the Archangels, Shateiel, Agrat, the Archdemons, Lucifer, Lilith and my shifter kids the most. I realize that sounds like a long list, but there's a LOT of characters in those books!
In my historical, "City of Jade," Gallienus of Constantinople and Misahuen of Gyeongju are my favourites. I really loved writing their story and I felt quite upset and bereft when it was over. I also really loved writing the Lady Tahirah and her sons and two of the caravan guards, Ahmad and Yusuf.
What are your favourite genres to read from?
Fantasy. I love fantasy novels. I probably read more fantasy than any other genre. I also read crime fiction, usually books my mum recommends me, as she's the crime novel afficiondo of the family! I tend to glaze over hard sci-fi, as the technobabble goes right over my head, I'm sad to say. Biographies are another favourite. Some of these are M/M, some aren't.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Two of my ultimate favourites actually are script writers more than novel writers—J. Michael Straczynski and Steven DeKnight. I find their ability to plot long, intricate arcs of storytelling that transform a TV script into something like a serial visual novel to be incredible. DeKnight's use of language particularly just blows me away, and both writers have created some of the most interesting characters and story lines I've ever seen. Both of them also included GLBT characters as well as het, and have not treated those characters as anything 'unusual', rather with the same respect and compassion that het couples under extreme situations, often shared with the GBLT couples, experience.
I also find DeKnight's method of dealing with homophobes bluntly refreshing—one of his tweets on the subject actually made me a bit teary. He said, "Yeah, all somepeople see is gayness. All I see is love." Straczynski dealt with this in much the same fashion on Usenet, back in pre-social media days. A quote from him, states, "Let me put this assimply as I can...in the year 2258, nobody *cares* about your sexualorientation. It doesn't come up. No one makes an issue out of it. There are nodiscussions, no proclamations, no inquiries, no "how will theyreact?" It's like being left-handed or right-handed; no one really caresone way or another." So these authors have had a tremendous impact for me and, I have no doubt, for others.
For those wondering what these two men wrote/write, J. Michael Straczynski has written for TV (including animation), theatre, and film and he has written novels, comics, short stories and non-fiction. Stephen DeKnight has written for TV and comics.
For novels, though, the list is as long as my arm, and we'd be here all week!
What are your comfort reads when you are sick or feeling low?
I default to the books by David Eddings. "The Belgariad" and "The Mallorean" got me through a lot of difficult times as a teenager, so they're my comfort food for the brain. Also "Creatures of Light and Dark" by Roger Zelazny or "Demian" by Herman Hesse or the "Dragonriders of Pern" series by Anne McCaffrey. But mostly David Eddings.
Night or Day? Night.
Coffee or Tea? Tea.
Leather or Lace? Leather. I think I'll be a punk rock "princess" for life.
Pajama movie night or Cocktails at the bar? Pajama movie night!
Formal or Casual? Casual.
City Of Jade
1131, The Silk Road.
Gallienus of Constantinople, a scarred soldier who used to work the city gates, enters a new phase of his life when he meets and falls in love with Misahuen of Gyeongju. But prejudice of same-sex relationships dominates Byzantine society, and both the Emperor and the Church denounce such love. Should Misahuen and Gallienus be discovered, the punishment is castration or death. Fearing he’ll lose Misahuen, Gallienus decides to go with Misahuen when he leaves the city forever.
A former farmer, Misahuen fled war-torn Korea and journeyed to Constantinople with a merchant caravan. He didn’t expect to take such an interest in a wounded soldier at journey’s end. But he understands the danger, so he and Gallienus join another caravan as guardsmen and begin a two-thousand-mile trip along the Silk Road. Now all they have to do is persevere to their final destination without the truth of their relationship being discovered and killed because of it… or by the other dangers along the Road.