VODKA O’CLOCK 2020-07:

Jeremy Holt

VOC logo AMBER LOVE 12-OCT-2020 My work is supported by the generous backers at Patreon.com/amberunmasked who appreciate my reviews and my stories; and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Download this episode of Vodka O’Clock on iTunes, Stitcher, or listen here. Older shows have been archived and are available only on AmberUnmasked.com.

JEREMY HOLT is a non-binary author whose most recent works include Virtually Yours, Before Houdini, After Houdini, and Skip to the End. They graduated with a B.F.A. in Sound Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2005, and lived in Brooklyn for five years before relocating to Vermont. An original art page from their book After Houdini was acquired by The Houdini Museum of NYC, where it now hangs in its permanent collection. And they are repped by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

We’re here to gush about Virtually Yours which is easily one of my favorite things of 2020. This is a Comixology Original GN about Max and Eva and their friends as a support system which was so gracefully worked into the plot. It’s a romantic-comedy among the best Nora Ephron films. Jeremy was joined by talented team of Adam Wollet and Elizabeth Beals on letters and art respectively.

Content Warning: Max is in this awful relationship with his wife where they have their divorce papers sitting on the table but they’re still behaving like a couple. This part of Max’s personality shows that he’s submissive to her. There actually is domestic abuse in this in flashbacks and it doesn’t take over the story. It’s there to allow readers to get to know Max and why he’s leery of real relationships. It’s adds depth since Max is a black man and his wife is white as a larger sign of systemic racist and oppression. Jeremy revealed his personal experience as an abused person in a marriage where no one thought it was possible since he presented as male.

Max is a former child star who was famous because of a Christmas movie like Home Alone called the Christmas Loop. He hates his parents for getting him in that. Max gets a job essentially acting. He’s a fake boyfriend for the service Virtually Yours. He’s pretending to be a white man named Adam with a generic profile that becomes the most popular on the app.

Max’s story arc does give him a happy career ending as well as he finds a role that he feels passionate about. Eva is also leading a double life. She’s a writer trying to break into the blog industry. She pitches her real life activity of getting a fake boyfriend to get her parents off her back as a column for a website. It takes off with readership. Max and Eva don’t know that they are fake dating each other for a long time.

We discussed the sexuality of the characters and what’s open to reader interpretation. It’s possible that Eva is asexual; Jeremy created Eva to be focused on her career and not interested in relationships at this point in her life. Katie, her best friend, is a lesbian who works at Beauty Bar.

The dating life on the internet now includes layers of protection and Jeremy took it even further. Since the profiles need to be fake people to pose as romantic interests, there’s an additional layer of the profile photos being completely artificial. There’s technology now that can take multiple faces and bodies and make an artificial amalgam — essentially a completely fake person.

Jeremy went through the many layers of the process of creating the Virtually Yours story. It all started many years ago and went through a ton of versions and edits. We discussed the reason for changing the main characters from white people to people of color. There’s a lot of diversity in the characters that Elizabeth designed. During the pitch process, Elizabeth Beals had already drawn some pages which gave the pitch more attention; but still it went through multiple leads on who would publish it ultimately which is Comixology Originals.

Jeremy and I caught up on how we’ve changed with our relationship to the comic book industry and the comic convention scene. Besides the pandemic, both of us had basically stopped attending conventions. Jeremy shared that he’s in therapy and practicing meditation and mindfulness. If you’re interested in my own guided meditations, they are on Insight Timer.

If you like Virtually Yours, check out:

Insider Art, 270-page anthology available on Gumroad

Upload, an Amazon Prime TV series

Someone Great, on Netflix by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

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