First Chapters Q&A with Jes Layton

Jes Layton is a geek with a hat, who writes about, draws, and discusses queer-nerdy things.  Born on Gulidjan land, now living on Wurundjeri, Jes is the Administration Officer for the UNESCO Melbourne City of Literature Office and the Administration and Marketing Coordinator for Express Media.  Jes was an Oustanding LGBTQIA+ Short Stories Award recipient in 2018.

Jes will be reading at First Chapters on Friday 5 April from her short story Chemical Expressions which will be featured in Underdog #LOVEOzYA Short Stories.
1. Brunswick Bound has asked you to read a piece from your published work.  Tell us what we can expect from the piece you have chosen?
A short piece with quite a bit of science stuffed inside. Specifically, something where emotion and science mix.
2. How would you describe the kind of books that you write?
I mostly write speculative fiction in contemporary settings with a sprinkling of complicated platonic and family relationships—my main interest is always; how can I make this character sound as though they have their own voice?
3. What was the first book that you read (or had read to you) that left an impression on you?
Probably atypical, but the Ologies series (specifically Dragonology) is the book series that really got me to start taking what I was reading out from my head and the walls of my room into the real world. This would eventually lead to my love of fanfiction, and from that, my desire to write my own stories. I found the series so bewitching, and although that is very different from what I write, that similar thrill and immersion is something I strive for in my own work.
I was very lucky to grow up in two households entirely supportive of my reading habit, and while I was read to from an early age, the reading I was doing myself has probably left the largest impression upon me.
4. Do you believe that books should answer life’s big questions?
I don’t subscribe to the idea that books must specifically ‘do’ anything. Really I find the most interesting books are the ones that; rather than answering questions, raise more nuanced, individual, messy ones.
5. Do you have any writing quirks?
When I sit down to write a scene, I always write all my dialogue out first, like a script. Dialogue is the back bone to my fiction, which is possibly why my characters tend be on the talkative side.
6.  What is your favourite word or phrase?
At the moment I’ve got Abraham DeLacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley, stuck in my head. Which is the name of the main protagonist in The Aristocats (1970) 
7. What have you found most surprising about publishing a book?
Honestly the length of time it takes from signing the contract to the actual book being a thing out in the world. I knew the publishing process was a long one, but it feels very different when I look back to before when my piece was first selected and now.
8. What is the question that you hope never to be asked in an author Q&A?
There was a question I overheard at an event of another fellow #LoveOzYA author which went along the lines of ‘why are all your characters queer? Did you write them as straight characters first and then make just them queer for diversity’s sake?’
I like to think the type of people attracted to my writing would know better than to ask this kind of question.
9. What question do you hope you will be asked and why?
Honestly any! But I particularly love getting into the nitty gritty of a piece. I put a lot of thought into character and maintaining character voice with different techniques, especially for third person perspective. I admit I’d be a bit stoked if someone was to ask/comment on this!
10. Which author that you have read do you think should be better known or more widely read?
CB Lee I think is an underrated author of the Sidekick Squad series, which is a really fun sci-fi series about future dystopian superheros and found family. Y’know, all that good stuff.

You can find out more about First Chapters on the Brunswick Bound Website.


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