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An Interview with J.A. Rock | Ember Leigh Romance

It is my intense and somewhat inappropriate pleasure to invite J.A. Rock to my blog. She is not only a revered Loose Id and Riptide BDSM Author, she also has won awards in the non-fiction sphere and recently published her first sci-spec novel under her real name. She also happens to be my soul mate, and my best friend from adolescence.

Welcome to my blog. Do you like it?

It looks like you understand the Internet better than I do. Which has always been true. When we were thirteen, your Geocities page was much nicer than mine.

Also thank you for being the first person to ever use the word “revered” to describe me.


I coded that Geocities page from scratch, thankyouverymuch. When we were in 5th grade standing in line waiting to go to lunch, did it ever occur to you that we’d be interviewing each other for our romance blogs?

Yes. I believe I turned to you and said, “I can’t wait until we interview each other nearly two decades from now about our erotica,” and also, “I hope they have Bosco Sticks today.”


Personally, I was a fan of the limp French fries. Now, you dedicated your second novel to me. I really appreciated that. Just so you know, you got ‘Jaded’ dedicated to you. How do you feel about that?

Like the mathlete who just got elected prom queen.


Will you dedicate another novel to me? Please?

I would, but I’m in a bit of a pickle right now. My cowriter, Lisa Henry, keeps accidentally naming characters in our books after members of my family, so all of my dedications are currently taken up with apologies to the real life people who may be hurt by this.


I’ll pretend like that answer secretly means ‘yes, Ember, the next one is yours’. We’ve talked plenty about our views on romance authorship, but there’s a question that begs repeating: At any point in your life did you think you’d become a full-time romance author?

Nope. For all the times we joked about it, it never occurred to me it was a genre I would pursue.


What is your version of a freaking great romance novel? Don’t hold back.

Two people with numerous flaws and most of the major mental disorders embark on a troubled relationship wherein they’re not entirely sure they even like each other but become dependent on the fusion of their quirky worldviews to achieve some small measure of stability and self-confidence. They have a ton of kinky sex, mostly anal, surprise themselves with the sheer number of costumes and props they are able to incorporate; they dominate, submit, are inexorably drawn into some borderline farcical caper, struggle with their feelings of self doubt and with the psychological scars left by their families, and ultimately decide that their affection for each other has brought them to a better place.


Hmm, that seems a little vague, I’m not quite sure I understand where you’re going with that.

You know my desires are wildly unspecific.


What is it about the romance world that you wish you could change?

Hmm. The romance world is so diverse now that it really seems like no matter what niche you’re craving as an author or reader, you can find it. But I have said before that I would like to see a redefinition of “happy ending.” I think it’s absolutely possible to have a love story where the characters don’t end up together. Where they go their separate ways, and that’s the happiest ending for both of them. I don’t like the idea that love is invalidated if it turns out not to be permanent or monogamous or cohabitive.


Isn’t that HFN? And if not, what would you name this new genre of romance, so that potential readers knew what to look for in Amazon when seeking validating, non-cohabitive, happy ending stories not necessarily reinforcing the societally acceptable version of monogamy?

HFN still means they end up together, at least on the page. But you as the author or reader are allowed to imagine that in the future they touch and go their separate ways. I believe what I’m thinking of is called “romantic fiction.” But I guess I’d like it all to be called romance, you know? Like, the definition of happy ending could depend on the characters, not on a genre requirement. I know there are lots of romance novels that are polyamorous or that don’t end with the protagonists living together. But I think the message we still receive from romance is, as Gloria Estefan once said, “real love will last forever.” But I don’t see why a love story, even one that ends with one lover moving away, or freezing to death in the Atlantic, or saying, “You know what, I think we’re better as friends” can’t still be a romance.

It sounds like my version should be called “cynicism.” But I don’t mean it that way!

A few publishers now have “bittersweet endings” as a subcategory. So we’re getting there.


So tell us, what are you currently working on?

My cowriter and I will release ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE in June. We’re calling it a psychological thriller rather than a romance, since the relationship is not at the forefront of the story. It’s mostly about kidnapping and daddy issues. You can read more here. We’re also working our way through a list of other projects, including a zombie thing I’m pretty excited about.

On my own, I’m working on a f/f retelling of the Minotaur legend and a m/m novella about a futuristic sex carnival.


I’m excited about all of these things, mostly because I think you’re a phenomenal writer, but also because I love bragging about you. You’ve been with me since I first started writing Jaded when I was like, 18 years old, which is absurd to think about. What was your favorite part about our editing meetings in the library?

Going to Ming’s Garden afterward for eggrolls. Seriously, I loved our editing meetings because we were so determined and ambitious, yet so naïve. It was way fun to try to figure out the publishing world together. And look how much better we’ve gotten at writing queries after all those examples we read in Writer’s Market! I think we are now officially Ember Goodquery and J.A. Successfulpitch.


When you first read Jaded, were you appalled by the number of showers Isabella was taking?

Hahaha! You know, I never even thought about it until your editor pointed it out. I love clean people, so it just seemed completely normal to me. But also, there’s THE shower scene in that book—which eclipses any other showers Isabella takes. You know the one.


…..Actually, I don’t. Can you elaborate?

Ember, please. I’m blushing just thinking about it.


Has it been particularly painful to be the designated reader for your Vanilla, Hetero, Non-Spanking Romance Author friend? I mean, pretty much everything we write about is directly opposite. Except the fact that we both write about humans, although sometimes you don’t even do that.

It’s not painful at all—and maybe that’s the problem! *knee slaps* No, I love reading your stuff. The world of nonkinky sex is very exotic to me. And even though you know how turned off I am by alpha males, your characters are still compelling enough that I like to read about them, even if I wouldn’t date them. One night stand with Luke, though? Quite possibly.


What is your favorite memory of us as authors together? Note to audience: At this point, you should imagine us skipping hand in hand through a grassy field of flowers blossoming with adjectives and nouns.

Um, obviously the time we were 16 and tried to get pen names registered at the post office so we’d be able to receive fan mail, and the worker looked at us like we were crazy and let us write our pen names on a sticky note and assured us we were now “registered.”


I think we did something right because I’ve been getting royalty checks under that name for years. Unless those are just credit card offers… Anyway, you were the first person to introduce me to what BDSM was – and I don’t mean that you spanked me or anything, but rather, that you explained it fully to me, and allowed me to grasp the shades and permutations and manifestations that exist. Thanks for that. I feel like I have a richer appreciation for the lifestyle. Even though I’ll never participate.

Never say never. *sends large, handsome dom to kidnap you and take you to a secret dungeon and introduce you to unforetold pleasures.*

*also spanks you.*


You first interviewed me in January of 2012 back when I had a different pseudonym and Jaded was still in its awkward adolescence. It was thrilling in general, but especially the game we played called Romance Title Fill-In-The-Blank. It’s your turn, Rock. GO!

Reclaiming Her ___Foreclosed Home___________

The Billionaire’s ___Hip Replacement____________

____Watersports_________________ on a Wednesday Night

__Crouching________ Falafel, ____Hidden_______ Bedouin

Freedom Is__n’t Free____________

__________(make up your own!) The Swim Coach’s Secret Drawer 2: Blood in the Water______________


Speed Round!!

Long nails or short? Short, duh.

Coffee or yerba mate? Mate.

Whip or school paddle? Whip.

Graber or Gerber? You’re disgusting.

Cream Cheese or Cheddar Cheese? I hate you.

Steak or Pork? Seriously, what is wrong with you?

Your Mom or Yr Mom? Yrs.

Dangling Participle or Too Many Adverbs? Dangling.

Real or Not? I am, and always will be, real.


This has been a thrilling interview, wouldn’t you say? It’s practically journalism. Thanks for letting me probe the ethers of your brainskull. And thanks for being my friend for nigh on two decades. You are such a special, important person in my life. And totally my favorite. 

Thanks for the probing. This was so fun! And you know I love you more intensely than has ever been appropriate.