Pride Nights at Queen’s welcomes Maxime Jaz, a fellow Hungary-dweller, author of queer stories. Read our chat to find out more about Fall, Maxime’s debut novel, her adventurous life, her journey to self-publishing and more.
Maxime is an author who writes about guys falling in love in various places and times. Although the books could be labelled as MM romance laced with erotica, they do not fit a single genre, and are filled with drama, and sometimes darkness. Maxime likes to explore complex emotions, the journey to self-discovery, and living a life true to oneself, and their characters often struggle before finding happiness. Maxime often incorporates elements of their Hungarian and French origins in their works. In their free time, Maxime likes to spend time with their family, ride their horse, or walk their dog on hikes. Maxime writes next to a fulfilling career in international education.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Thanks! I’ll have a mug of coffee with milk and sweetener. I’m Maxime, a queer M/M romance author, although I guess this could be my blanket genre for the many different genres I dabble into. I self-published my first book „Fall” in March 2021 and I’m looking forward to self-publishing many more.
My „day” career is into edtech and education, I have a high responsibility full-time job as a manager at an educational firm but I also had spent 22 years teaching and being a senior leader in international schools.
I am trilingual (French, English, Hungarian) and have some German and Latin, so my books typically have the multilingual element in there at some point.
I love horse riding and horses, hiking with my dog and kids, and reading. I also do acrobatic pole dancing which has become vital for me.
My love for coffee has to be mentioned, as it pervades into my books. Same for not drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or smoking. You will inevitably find that my MCs will at some point quit these habits, or not have them at all to start with.
So yeah, I keep pretty busy, I guess.
Wow. Busy indeed. I know that you live in Hungary now, so I’m really bound to ask you about this. How did you find your way here and why Hungary? How do you find living in a foreign country? What is/was the most challenging?
I am in fact Hungarian born, so this is my „home country”, although I like to think of the world as my home. I have a French school education though, having lived in Africa in my childhood years, and then later in France where I also became a citizen. So I am a weird mix of both, and all my languages. I came back to Hungary for a job opportunity and been living here for 11 years now. The most challenging for me to live here is that I don’t relate anymore to the Christian traditional values that the government is trumpeting everywhere. I am done with religion for life, and living as queer has added an extra layer of challenge during these anti-LGBTQ times here.
It must have been great to experience so many cultures over the years! As for Hungary… I was born and raised here, I don’t consider myself as queer, and I’m proud of my nationality, but I have to say, I’m not happy to see how things are in this country these days. It’s sad and heartbreaking and also infuriating. I’m not religious and I hate that the government tries to push those „Christian values” on me.
You recently released your first novel, Fall. And we’ll be back to it in a bit, but first, let me ask you about your path becoming an author. Was it something you always wanted to do? Where your passion comes from?
It started young, scribbling and drawing in notebooks, writing Star Wars fanfic when I was still in primary school, poems and short stories when I was a teenager. I was an avid reader from the time I could read, and read countless books. The passion for stories started there, then playing DnD had added an extra layer of inspiration.
Then, I went to university and the urge to write stopped, save for the compulsory writings for classes. I am not sure why. Maybe I was still searching for myself and trying to figure out who I really was. The dream stayed though, deep inside, to have a book out one day. Then I became a teacher and started focusing on my students’ writings. It is only later on, a couple of years ago, that a vision came of a man ascending a spiral staircase with his cape floating behind him. I wrote it down, then the scene flowed on, and my fantasy WIP was born. Just like that, I started writing again, and then became determined to write and get a book out. I knew nothing about self-publishing, or publishing, but kept writing as the scenes came. Then other ideas sprang into my head, and I just wrote them too. That slumbering passion had been rekindled, and it couldn’t be stopped. I have several WIPs in various stages of completion. I tend to follow my „brain muse” and just start writing something new when the „movie” starts playing in my head.
I can relate to this. I’ve been the same growing up, then university brought a stop to writing and now I’m at this „maybe one day I’ll get back to it” state. Anyway. We are not talking about me. Self-publishing sure can be a landmine. What was the hardest part to figure out?
How to do it! I read a lot of articles about it, watched tutorials, and informed myself also on traditional publishing, just to gage which one would suit me best. I decided to go for self-publishing. This is what suits me, my personality (I like being in control of my things and my life in general), and my writing. I write long books which don’t follow the traditional trends. I would most probably never compromise on anything for my stories to fit a mould. I am also past the age to have somebody tell me if my stories are „publishable”. Well, they are, right? I have this wonderful opportunity of getting my stories to my readers, as soon as I see it fit. It is hard work, but so worth it! That being said, the most difficult part was to figure everything out, from formatting to marketing, and it is still a learning process. It took me a year to publish „Fall” after I finished it, so I didn’t rush it. There was also this overwhelming feeling of knowing that I was about to publish it, and the dread of messing it up. I didn’t do any of the typical pre-release „marketing” things either, like sending ARCs out, asking bloggers to read it and write about it, asking „friends” to read it and leave reviews prior to release date. I just simply couldn’t fit all this in next to my full-time job and other commitments. But considering all this, it got to readers who truly appreciated it. They are not numerous, but knowing that some of them are waiting for my next book is worth everything.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
I have scenes which will start playing in my head. I could be anywhere, doing anything, and a scene will appear, typically the beginning of a book. I am an overthinker and my brain is constantly on fire, something I learnt to rein in over the years, but I tend to daydream a lot and just stare into my head.
Nature can be very inspiring, a picture (my latest WIP was triggered by a photo I saw on a fellow author’s instagram (Dan Fitzgerald) for example. But I also have a passion for Ancient Rome which inspired my trilogy (which started of as a short-story…). I tend to also be inspired by real life events and people I’ve encountered. Discussions can also be the starting point of a story… and yes, maybe a deal with my „muse devil”. 😀
Let’s go back to Fall. It features an M/M romance. Is there any reason why you chose exploring same sex male relationships? What makes it personal to you?
I think it has to do with who I am and how I am learning to define myself, although this was not a conscious decision when I started writing.
When I was growing up, I had always wanted to be a boy (I’m AFAB- unsure though if this is the right term), but obviously, in post-communist Hungary you had no other word for that than being labelled a „tomboy”. Anything remotely related to being queer (a non-existent word at that time) was a sin and was rejected, especially by my traditional family who were highly homophobic. So, it stayed in role plays, DnD sessions, video games, where I could always be a man without facing any issues. It is much later on that I began to explore my sexuality and realized I was probably bi. But even in my same sex relationships, I was „the man” (unsure again if I’m phrasing this right). In my job, I quickly climbed the ladder and started getting leadership positions, getting on also much better with my „male” colleagues. In many psychological tests, I got as a result that I have a „male” brain. I read extensively on the topic and came out as genderfluid because this might be closest to who I think I am. It’s still work in progress. Much as it may sound weird, I had a discussion with a gay friend once and he said: if you’d be a guy, you’d be a gay guy. He’s right. 😀 That’s why I told my husband he’s in luck!
Haha! It’s a bit uncanny, but I have similar experiences in a way. I’ve been a tomboy myself and always got on with guys better. But I never really dig deeper than thinking occasionally „I should have been born as a boy” and then dismissing it. I’m pretty sure my parents would have freaked out if I ever expressed any of this. Post-communist Hungary indeed… *Cough* Please go on!
Anyway, the background drive behind exploring same sex male relationships comes from this. That I believe I am, in a way, also in a same sex male relationship, even if we are „hetero passing” with my husband. I relate to this type of relationship much stronger than to a hetero one, or one with a woman (although I am attracted to women, but on a much lighter level).
My characters also came to me in my initial scenes as gay men. It was important to me to portray that men can love and are worthy of love.That they have deep emotions and are sometimes vulnerable. That they can be a mess. I am but the humble scribe of my characters and will follow their lead, so what you read in my books is a huge pantsing of everything they are and what they are doing. I don’t build them, or the stories, they just flow out like a big movie and I write down what I see. And although I read M/M romance, I am not sure my books totally fit the genre. I don’t write for a market (and there’s nothing wrong with writing for a market at all), and don’t follow a „recipe”, I just write my own stories the way they birth in my head. I had just about finished „Fall” when I joined the writing community on twitter and immediately had huge doubts after having read posts about what and how you should write. Like, who’s going to read a 542 pages book of two men struggling for their love? Doug has a muscled body due to being an acrobat, but Jake certainly doesn’t… Oh, my, there’s an age-gap there… I could go on. But then, I sort of dismissed everything and pushed it out (it took me almost a year to publish it) and hoped for my readers to find me, which has happened, fortunately. Probably not on a massive scale, but the feedback I got pushes me forward. I am also convinced I’m not going to put half-naked men on my covers, even if the book might potentially sell better, because „Fall” is not about „uber sexy super perfect guys with their chiseled jaw and abs”. It’s first and foremost ordinary people falling in love. Even if for each other, they are perfect in every sense of the word. You could actually say this for all my books.
I like the sound of all that! Ha! Twitter can be either awesome or pretty toxic, but I’m glad you found your crowd there!
What you would say the main message of Fall is? If there is any.
Live your true life and stop living a life of lies. Stop lying to yourself first and foremost. This was not an intended message at all, but it came back from my beta reader, the way he perceived it, and it’s true.
And of course, love wins. This is the message in all my books.
Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why?
It is Doug from „Fall”. He is my character of the heart, despite loving all my characters, Doug has the most of me, both in terms of personality and the way he sees life. His love of animals and horses, love of freedom and nature, love of books, his kindness and devotion to his family, and also his big soft loving heart. I have put more of myslef in him than any other characters, probably also involuntarily sometimes.
If you had to have a tattoo based on your book what would it look like?
Good question! I don’t have any tattoos, but it could possibly be the two hands on the book cover. I was also contemplating getting the main message of my books tattooed on me in Latin.
As a fan of tattoos, I’d say go for it!
If you were a character in a book (yours, or any other of your choice), how would you be described? What would be your theme song?
This is a tough one. I might be the insufferable, strong introvert leader who is quick to judge and has always a sarcastic and snarky comment, but deep inside, they are soft-hearted and longing to be loved, even if they have no real clue how to accept that love. Add to that a raging sex-drive and we’re probably close to the truth.
Hard to choose a theme song, but I’ll go with Madonna’s „Human Nature” because „I’m not sorry” if I speak my mind. I’m also done apologizing for who I am.
Which fictional character and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum?
Many of my writing community twitter friends (not infering they belong to an asylum but us authors have that small craziness that is needed to create our stories). Bjorn, Krystle, Dan, Emmaline, AmaraLyn, Marcia, Chase, Maria,Kyra… to cite just a few (there are so many of them!). If I had to choose fictional characters, I’d live with my Romans. According to my beta reader, they all belong in an asylum anyway!
No worries, Bjorn, Krystle and Dan are already residents here. You’ll be in good company! 😀
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you to have one book – what would you choose?
’Zorba the Greek’ by Nikos Kazantzakis. No matter how many times you read it, you always find something new in that book.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Just leave me a coffee machine. 😊
If you’d like to get in contact with Maxime Jaz, you can find her on social media:
Check out Maxime’s M/M Romance novel, Fall
Follow the Asylum’s 2021 Pride event here!