Unveiling the World of ‘The Jaded Boys’: An Interview with Author Mayra De Gracia

In this captivating interview, we delve into the creative journey of Mayra De Gracia, a talented author who has brought the enchanting world of “The Jaded Boys” series to life. From her early days as a budding writer to the inspiration behind her fangirl-centered series, Mayra shares the challenges she faced, the valuable lessons learned, and the profound impact of her work on readers around the globe. Join us as we explore Mayra’s passion for storytelling, her dedication to empowering young girls through pop culture narratives, and her unwavering commitment to crafting heartfelt and relatable stories.

Can you share a bit about your personal journey and how you became involved in writing and creating “The Jaded Boys” series?

I started to write when I was twelve years old. I participated in a contest when I was in sixth grade where kids my age from all parts of the country could write a children’s story. It was the story of a little girl who found a pollera (Panama’s national costume) hidden in a vault that belonged to her grandmother and that all generations of women who came before her wore. I didn’t win, but a girl from my grade won first place, and I thought that if she could do it, I could keep writing as well. 

So a year later, when I went to secondary school and became a fangirl, finding fanfiction changed my entire world. I read them all the time. I didn’t pay attention at school and failed math class several times because I just wanted to write and read.

I had been attending a Catholic school here in Panama my whole life, and teachers disliked unorthodox behaviors. And that included dealing with students like me who spent every waking hour talking about romance books and my favorite singer’s next tour. Teachers are supposed to guide you. Not tell you you’re going to be a failure and ridicule you in front of your entire class. 

All of those people who told me no only challenged me to achieve more and more of my dreams. So with the help of my parents, I left that tumultuous school, finished high school, and kept writing. I wasn’t ready yet to share my work with the world, so I decided to study journalism. Right before my last year of university—and before graduating with honors—I started writing my debut novel and first romantic comedy, JUST BUSINESS. It was published two months before I turned twenty-two.

When I was writing JUST BUSINESS, I knew I wanted to create a literary universe. So that’s how THE JADED BOYS were born. Out of the need to showcase my life as a fangirl and so many others’ as well. Bringing this story to life has brought me the biggest joy of my career so far, and it’s a time capsule of boy band nostalgia, a little bit of my personal life, and a fictional world I’m sure many people can relate to.

What inspired you to write a series centered around the experiences of a fangirl and the impact of pop culture on young girls?

Growing up heavily inspired by artists I admire like Taylor Swift, One Direction, Coldplay, Stevie Nicks, and so many more gave me an urge to find a story that put us fangirls front and center. When I didn’t, I thought I would take matters into my own hands.

Pop culture has always heavily influenced who I am as a person. Whether it is with movies, TV shows, or music, it has given me a sense of purpose to create similar things to the content I love.

I found community in fandoms, found friends for life in fan clubs, and being a fangirl has given me experiences I never thought possible. Like representing my country with an international makeup brand, being on the cover of a magazine, traveling abroad for concerts, becoming the first bestselling romance author in Panama, and so much more. Being a fan taught me how to do things I do now for a living, like social media content creation and writing my own books.

It’s a universal experience I share with so many other girls around the world because I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it and still do on a daily basis. It was just natural and right for me to craft a story heavily inspired by fandom culture because I know the ins and outs like the back of my hand.

Everything fangirls deal with on a daily basis and how much celebrities need dedicated followers for them to emerge and achieve their dreams. Just like fans need them to achieve theirs. Analyzing that symbiotic relationship between fan and artist gave me the idea to build a six book romance series revolving around a band called The Jaded Boys. To try and showcase the impact, importance and dedication of fans in a simple way for easy interpretation.

Could you describe some of the challenges or struggles you faced while working on your books, and how did you overcome them?

I’m a plantser writer. Which means I plan and outline my books, but during the process, when my characters gain a life of their own, things might change in the plot. So that’s always a challenge I struggle with because I think things are going to go a certain way, but the majority of times the storyline is like, “Nope, it’s going to be this way,” so I just go with my gut to just let the story be, and it works. I believe it lets my creativity thrive more.

I’ve also dealt with burnout several times, which has made me go off-grid for a couple of months and stop working on a draft altogether. Since I’m an independent author, I have to do everything myself (like writing, hiring an editor, creating content, promoting my books, and setting up an ARC team). It gets overwhelming and exhausting fast. So what I do to overcome that is to try to take one day at a time and do a little bit of work every day. With patience, you get the hang of things. Staying organized is key for me.

What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout your creative journey, especially in regards to writing and publishing a series?

That I don’t have to rush. Publishing a series takes a lot of work because of continuity. You need to be really careful that a detail you wrote in the first book matches the fourth one. Your readers will wait for a good story if it’s well made. After seeing other indie authors publishing a new book every three months I thought that’s how I needed to be. But I was wrong. Taking valuable time to work on a series is the best thing you can do to strengthen a storyline.

How do you balance your creative work with other aspects of your life, such as family or other responsibilities?

Luckily, I have a lot of family support. I’m twenty-five, with no major responsibilities other than my career. I’m not married nor have kids; I live at home in Panama with my parents and siblings, as it’s typical here. I have a very strong support system that includes my best friends, who help me when I get stuck writing a scene, every time there’s a book fair, or when I have a book presentation. I also have a remote part-time job in digital marketing that allows me to pursue writing full-time. I’m grateful and recognize the privileges I have to focus on my art, and I would never ever take them for granted.

Can you share an inspiring or memorable moment from your experience as an author that has stayed with you?

When I published the first book in the Jaded Boys series [The Boyband Reconnection] in 2022, I was going to attend the International Panamanian Book Fair here just as a guest. I wasn’t planning on doing a presentation or anything, but I still let my followers on Instagram know the day I was going to go. A reader messaged me, telling me she wanted to meet me, so I told her the time I was going to be there and all the details. I was roaming through the bookstores with my best friend when the girl approached me. She had brought Just Business and The Boyband Reconnection for me to sign. She told me that she had wanted to meet me for a long time because Just Business took her out of a depression period, and only my novel was able to cheer her up. I was speechless; I hugged her so tight. She then proceeded to tell me how obsessed she was with the Jaded Boys and how much she could relate to Victoria (the female main character) because she suffers from anxiety just like her.

When we said our goodbyes, I felt my self-doubt, fears, and worries fade away. If I had been able to help someone with my books, then my job was done. And just like her, many girls from all around the world have messaged me, telling me the same thing. Telling them how I brought them back to a happier place in their lives with a story that showcases why fangirls matter.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers or creators who are looking to start their own projects or series?

Read everything you can before writing and do as much research as you can. Writers write what they know, so you must have all the information required to create a compelling narrative. Be patient with yourself and also connect with your readers as much as possible. 

How important has social media and online platforms been in promoting your work and connecting with your audience?

Social media has been my main tool to find my audience. I’m in Panama, and my readers are all over the world. I’ve met and interacted with people from Germany, Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Chile, and Puerto Rico; it’s been the only way my books have reached new borders. I love when they spam me on my DMs about my novels and we can fangirl together over them. I’ve always loved meeting new people, so social media has helped me a lot in that way. It’s also been a key component in connecting with fellow Latina writers and romance authors from every continent. It’s an honor to be supportive of their work and help promote them as well. 

Are there any upcoming projects or developments related to “The Jaded Boys” series that you’d like to share with your fans and followers?

Oh, yes! Book 3, The Boyband Disconnection, released last January and I’m currently working on the Spanish translation. Book 4 is also in the early stages and I can’t wait to dive into that story soon. Book four is titled The Boyband Interconnection.

The Jaded Boys series follows the six members of the popular late 2000’s boyband by the same name. Each interconnected standalone novel follows one of the six members of the band and their love interests. You learn about their ups and downs as a band, failed relationships, friendship secrets, and how they find real love after being under the public’s eye for too long. Filled with pop culture references, original songs, fictitious press, and social media interactions, The Jaded Boys series is a rollercoaster of boyband nostalgia that will make you reminisce about the times you hung posters on your walls.

Lastly, how do you hope your books impact and resonate with readers, especially those who may relate to the themes and experiences explored in your series?

I want them to understand that all of their dreams are achievable and to feel both nostalgic and hopeful! I want my readers to feel inspired and relate to my characters, which is why I write such realistic stories. With mental health representation in them, family issues, music industry abuse, social problems, and emotional scenes. I want them to believe in love because it’s real. And I want them to fight for their dreams. There’s a great deal of importance around dreams in my books, and I strive diligently every day to make mine come true. With hard work, everything is achievable. Even when you’re from a third country like me. Anything is possible.

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Mayra De Gracia (@mayradg) • Instagram photos and videos

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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