In the Absence of Monsters Behind the Scenes
An Interview with Jake Driver
A year ago, this past October, I met saw Jake Driver at Atlanta Pride. He hung out with the other guys, but I really didn’t have much interaction with him. I knew he’d been there because I had a picture of him, but we didn’t talk. A few months later, we struck up a conversation on Twitter, and I really looked at his Twitter avi. I remember actually reaching out to touch the screen, because after years of wondering, I’d finally seen Master Ethan. We became friends over the intervening year, and when I flew down for the RWA National Convention in July of 2013, we had dinner together. Spending a few hours in his company made me realize that I wanted nothing more than to not only continue writing Master Ethan, but I wanted this man on the cover. I had no idea how I’d accomplish either of those tasks, but eventually, it happened. Wilde City approached me about reissuing the series with them, and my good friend Gio Caruso would happen to be in Atlanta for pride. It seemed destined that I’d be able to continue the series with my Master Ethan at the helm.
(Oh, and as an added bonus, his boyfriend was wicked hot and agreed to be in the cover images with him. SCORE)
When I started to put together the tour, I wanted a video interview with Jake because still images really don’t do him justice. He has an amazing personality that comes out so beautifully in person and on video. And I would trust only one person to do that in my stead—Atlanta-based author, and friend, Shae Connor, who adores our Jake as much as I do…
Shae: … and then Atlanta got iced in, and Jake and I were both stuck at home for most of a week. Jake had an eight-hour commute to get home the day the storm hit, which is the day we were going to do the interview. So, the video interview plan had to be put on hold (though we’re working on a plan to replace that), but we got the interview done by email. And now… a few questions and answers with Jake Driver. 🙂
Shae: You’re a nice Southern boy… okay, a little nice, a little naughty. Tell us a little about yourself.
Jake: Well, I was born and raised in Atlanta, so I am a real Georgia peach. We love our transplants (folks that move to Georgia) here, but it’s rare to run into anyone that is actually from here. I grew up just outside of the Atlanta city limits in a neighborhood that still had small town feel, even if I wasn’t walking distance from the town square. I’ve always been very close to my family and in fact most of them lived up and down the street I grew up on. I have traveled some and really can’t think of any other place I would want to live.
That just about covers all the nice. The naughty? I guess I was just born that way. It does come pretty naturally and I’m a firm believer in being honest about what turns you on and turns you off.
Shae: How did you get into working in the adult industry?
Jake: I guess I’d have to say the start of it was becoming friends (outside of the industry) with Charlie Harding. He and his partner Scotty Rage live here in Atlanta and we became fast friends and started talking about it. Atlanta Pride two years ago (2012) I was involved in some events with the incredible Chi Chi Larue and met all kinds of amazing guys. Collin Stone was one of the guys I met and we became very close, very fast. Between Collin and Charlie, introductions were made and before I knew it, I was on a plane to the UK to film for two weeks.
Shae: You and I first met in person during Atlanta Pride back in 2012, and then last summer, when J.P. came into town for the Romance Writers of America convention, you took us out for the best sushi EVER. That’s when J.P. first said to me that you’d be the perfect model for Master Ethan. I read Ethan and Jayden’s story some time back, and she had it totally right.
How did the agreement to appear on the cover of In the Absence of Monsters come about?
Jake: First things first, the sushi place is called Kiku. Anyone in Atlanta should be checking them out!
Second, when J.P. first spoke of Master Ethan and the possibility of me being on the cover of one of her books, I couldn’t even believe it. We had just toured through a store here in Atlanta where her books are, and when she is in town she always makes a stop to sign a few of them in stock. The idea of it was so surreal to me that I think I just filed it away. Who wouldn’t be excited and honored to be on the cover of a book with such an original character.
Of course, knowing how dear the character is to J.P., I was also a bit overwhelmed at being responsible with representing such an important and powerful character, not only to her, but to her fans and future readers alike. When she finally came out with the question and I knew it was for real, I didn’t even hesitate. Her trust in me needed to be followed up with the best I had to give.
Shae: The photo shoot, with amazing photographer Gio Caruso, happened during Pride weekend back in October. Tell us a little about that.
Jake: Gio is the single best photographer I have ever worked with. The atmosphere was relaxed but direct, and there was a weight in the air that I think needed to be.
It was a hot day in Atlanta. The city has moved Pride off until October, so while we are out of sync with the rest of the nation in regards to celebrating Pride week, it helps us escape the scorching heat of Georgia summers to be parading around all day. All the same, I still showed up to the shoot exhausted from the day AND a little sunburned. I had just danced the 2 mile parade route and was bone tired.
With Gio ready and J.P. looking on, it was important to find Ethan in my head very quickly. Again, the mood was heavy with the personality that takes over with such a strong presence as Master Ethan. You know it’s a good shoot though when the author is all smiles and the camera shutter is sounding a lot. All I can say is thank goodness for color correction. You can’t even tell I was sunburned!
Shae: Are you a big reader? What kinds of books do you like to read?
Jake: I love to read. It’s difficult for me, though, I’ll admit. I have some pretty serious ADD, so outside sights and sounds are a distraction. J.P. has shared some tricks with me to help so that I don’t have to take my book into a sensory deprivation tank just to get some quality time in. I love fantasy and sci-fi stuff. I recently picked up a book called The Book of the Dead totally based on outward appearances. I dug in thinking it would be some fantasy stuff about mummies and ancient Egypt. I was so wrong! It was an incredible detective story that turns out to be a series. I’m really excited about continuing that one.
Shae: I know you’ve done some writing of your own, too. Are you still working on that?
Jake: You remembered! I had put it to the side for a while but have been itching to write some again. I have a main character that I’ve been fleshing out for years now. Along with my love of the genre, it will be more sci-fi than anything but the main character will be gay, of course. Write what you know, right? At least to begin with. Maybe I’ll get brave one day like you ladies and step out of what I know.
Shae: J.P. told me to ask about your mother’s pearls.
Jake: Oh, I am so going to get her for this one! LOL!
So, growing up in the South I, of course, have a VERY Southern mother. I have often said she is Scarlett O’Hara, reborn. My mother is a lady, has an easy Southern drawl, and is rarely caught off guard, even by some of the most crude things one could say. She would never be rude to your face, makes excellent use of the phrase “bless your heart,” and shows her displeasure with a single arched eyebrow and “clutches the pearls.” My mother quite literally wears a strand of pearls most of the time, and her hand moves to fidget or touch them when something or someone has displeased her. While it may be an inside joke in the gay community, I have watched my mother do this all my life.
And yes, I may have clutched the pearls a time or two, but I’d never be rude to your face. I’ll just say “bless her heart” after you leave.
In the Absence of Monsters by J.P. Barnaby
Jayden Carter knew the path he wanted his life to take. He wanted to get his Master’s Degree in History and teach. But, when he answered an ad for a roommate and met mysterious doctor, Ethan Bryant, he’s brought into a world he never knew existed and his path changes.
It changes again for Jayden and he leaves Ethan with their friend, Lexi, in tow. Ethan loses himself in a haze of self-destruction and pain. With the help of a childhood friend, Gabriel, Ethan battles the demons of his childhood and finds a way to survive. Gabriel and Jayden wage an epic war for Ethan, but in the end, they may all end up losing.
Adapted from The Forbidden Room and A House of Cards: Deconstructing Ethan
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Award winning romance novelist J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books, including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com