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Author Jamie Dean Talks About Inspiration and Feminism

Jamie Dean is a gay fiction author whose new book “The Story of Jax and Dylan” will be out April 8, 2015.

Tell us a little bit about The Story of Jax and Dylan.

Well, we have Dylan, a bisexual guy who came out a long time ago. And he‘s comfortable with his sexuality, but there was a time in the past when he wasn’t so comfortable, and a thing happened because of it that still haunts him.Facebook affords him the opportunity to do something about it, by allowing him to find Jax, the best friend he loved and lost.

It‘s a great story and I love Dylan. He‘s just such a well-rounded guy. Almost the perfect mix of funny, strong and sensitive. Where’d you come up with him?

I drew a lot of the inspiration for The Story of Jax and Dylan from my own life. Dylan is definitely based on my partner Jay, who up until the last year was a service technician in the automotive industry for many, many years. He actually has a car like the one in the book. It’s not a convertible, but a boy can dream, right? Who knows, one day he may even get it restored the way Dylan has! And Dylan definitely speaks more like Jay does with his “dudes” and “mans”. And chicken fried steak is Jay’s favorite food – I’ve made more of them than I could count, and he always orders that we go out to dinner. I do not make him eat veggie burgers! He is probably… even more butch than Dylan.

And what about Jax. Is he based on someone from your life too?

Jax is more based on me, though there are a lot of differences. I’m the writer who likes to play with his big vocabulary, who doesn’t watch all the popular movies because he‘s too busy reading and writing. I’m not as active asJax is. I should be. Pops is kind of an amalgamation of a few of my friends and Jay definitely doesn’t like some of them. 

I love the brother character, Tom. Is he based on anyone in particular?

Um, physically, I’d say he’s loosely based on Jay’s older brother, but Tom’s personality and their relationship is really based on my younger sister. I sort of raised her growing up. She’s fearless and amazing and I think our relationship definitely shows through in the Dylan/Tom dynamic.

You touch briefly on mental illness in this book. Is that something that’s important to you?

It is. We treat mental illness differently than other illnesses and it creates this weird thing where people are sick but they feel like they can’t talk about it. So if something happens, the people who don’t know they have these problems are often shocked by what‘s going on. My father is mentally ill, which is where the Jackie character comes from. I didn’t delve too deeply into that, but I think it definitely colors Dylan ‘s view of the world as it does mine. My mother raised us alone, so I just imagined a world where she was the one who was mentally ill and the character of Jackie was born.

So, yeah, a lot of the inspiration comes directly out of my life and now you know a lot more about Jamie Dean then you probably thought you ever would!

Is the story itself autobiographical?

Definitely not! I did reconnect with some friends on Facebook that I hadn’t seen in many many years. No love connections obviously because I have Jay, but to me it was a fun idea to play with. And having come to the realization about my sexuality later in life, I felt like I wanted to play around with stereotypes and so-called “gaydar“, that ability of knowing what the other person wants – and having trouble with that – because I am just as socially inept in most cases as Jax

In your bio, you call yourself a feminist. Do you feel that’s reflected in the book?

I hope so? I’m ashamed to say my book doesn’t pass Bechdel, but there are a few female characters, even though they are mostly on the periphery of the story. Both the male leads have female best friends. The only one we really interact with to any degree is Poppy, and a lot of people aren’t going to like her very much, but she‘s a strong woman who knows her own mind and is in control of her life. A lot of people aren’t going to like Melissa, either, even though she hasn’t really done anything wrong and is kind of the victim of Dylan‘s own mistake. And I think that reflects our culture and how skewed everything is. We put the onus on women to meet all these conflicting expectations, to where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

The Story of Jax and Dylan is available for preorder now and will be released on April 8 byDreamspinner Press.