imageI was excited to get a chance to talk to Stephanie Tyler, a contemporary romance author who has just acknowledged being the m/m author S.E. Jakes.

She began writing as Stephanie Tyler at Harlequin Blaze in 2007. She wrote several very successful books featuring Navy Seals.

Also in 2007, with Larissa Ione, she began writing as Sydney Croft, creating paranormal erotic romance for Random House. Stephanie Tyler, the contemporary author, moved to Random House and began writing single titles there in 2008. In 2011, she moved to NAL and is on her third series with them.

In 2011, she went to Samhain and put out three books m/m as SE Jakes. She didn’t do any publicity for this new persona. Those books were quite successful. It was “exciting” to her she could reinvent herself. She continued to write as Stephanie Tyler. SE Jakes self-published one book and then moved over to Riptide. Since then, SE Jakes has done five books with Riptide. All total, by the end of 2014, there will be 18 SE Jakes books published.

This year she wanted to be able to go to conferences as SE Jakes. She felt being two people was becoming too big a secret to keep. So, in early May of this year, she decided, right before RT, to come out as SE Jakes.

It’s been a great experience for her. Other writers have approached her and told her that her experience has inspired them. Plus, she loves that if one of her names fades, she can be another one of her personas.

I thought it would be fun for her to answer the three questions I’ve been asking authors here at RT as both SE Jakes AND Stephanie Tyler. The three questions are:

What’s the most interesting piece of information you’ve ever uncovered in doing research for one of your books?

What is the most startling thing anyone’s ever said to you when they found out you wrote romance?

Which of your characters would you most like to go to lunch with? Why?

SE Jakes

I came up with a plot for the Hell or Highwater books. A month after it came out, Sarah Franz sent me an article that showed me that the plot really exists. It was so eerie–I felt as though I had “created” a technology that turned out to be real.

In the real world, you definitely get looks. There are people who think it’s so cool. There are people who say “Oh, your husband is a lucky man.” Or they think it’s my life in the books. I definitely run the gamut. The person who does my hair thinks it’s really cool. (This answer works for both SE Jakes and Stephanie Tyler.)

Prophet from the Hell or Highwater series. He’s the first character I’ve ever done more than one book on. I hear him so clearly. He’s always with me; I might as well have lunch with him

Stephanie Tyler

My first single title was called Hard to Hold. The hero was named Jake–that’s where the name SE Jakes came from. I needed him to be able to sneak into the military at age 15. For some reason it was imperative that he could do this and I didn’t know why. I was at a family picnic, talking to my uncle about my grandfather who had died ten years before I was born. My uncle said, “Well you know, he snuck into the Navy at 15 by changing his birth certificate.” It was an a-ha moment and made me glad I’d been so insistent.

Jake, Nick, and Chris from my first trilogy, the Hold trilogy. They are characters who had been with me for a very long time. They are a lot of fun. I have these wild boys who show up in my head–they had terrible childhoods, all abused. I’d pick them.