Jeff & Will kick off the episode with updates on writing and that they both registered for GayRomLit. They also talk about a listener email they got.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are discussed, especially the representation from openly gay athletes Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy.

The Book2Pod service was unveiled last week, offering to create computer-read books in podcast format.  Jeff submitted a sample of his book, Dancing for Him, so listeners can sample a book as read by computer. The 100 second sample is below the video. Jeff & Will encourage listeners to leave their thoughts about the concept in the comments on the shownotes.

Lisa from The Novel Approach recommends books by Andrea Speed, Jordan Castillo Price and Harper Fox.

The guys review the Heart2Heart charity anthology as well as Lucy Lennox’s Felix and the Prince.

Lucy returns to the show to talk about Felix, what’s coming up next in the Forever Wilde series and lots more.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play MusicStitcherPlayerFMYouTube and audio file download.

Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode:

Interview Transcript – Lucy Lennox

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Will: So, Lucy, Jeff and I recently finished “Felix and the Prince.” Loved it to pieces. And we wanted to talk to you a few minutes about, sort of, the origin of this particular series. You had an incredibly successful series that you wrapped up not too long ago. What made you jump into this particular setting and, sort of, family of characters?

Lucy: That’s a really good question. I don’t say that the Made Marian series is really over because there are a lot of things that I still wanna do with it. But obviously, we ran through the brothers that were available, our six brothers that were available, and so, after that, I actually had lots of different ideas for a new series that were based on…one was based on a group of friends from college who started a technology company together and the technology company hit it big, and where all of them ended up and their stories.

And I couldn’t quite get that where I wanted it. I started a couple of books in that series and it wasn’t feeling right. And then, I thought I was gonna write a bodyguard series and I started that and that wasn’t quite working right. So, I started thinking about, okay, if you try and get back into that mindset that you were in before you’ve ever published your first book, of writing just for you, writing the book that you wanna write regardless of what the market wants, regardless of what judgment you might get, what would you really wanna write? And I wanted to write another family. The problem is you get judged when you write a family full of gay men because it’s unrealistic. I mean, it is unrealistic and I put that in the beginning of the first book of the series. It’s, like, this is dedicated to all of you who are willing to put up with me for doing this because I know it’s unrealistic, but what if it wasn’t, you know? What if, you know, the heteronormative world allows us to have these default huge families full of really interesting characters? And it’s not fair that we don’t also get those big families full of characters, you know, in the LGBT community. So, it was a wish of mine, you know, to be able to explore that some more. And I loved that family aspect in the Made Marian series and I wanted to capture some of that magic again, but I wanted to do it in a little bit of a different way.

So, having said that, obviously, I didn’t do it in a complete vacuum of not having feedback from my first series because so much of what people loved about Made Marian series was the family, the large family, the silliness that comes from a large, crazy family, but also, a lot of people loved the old ladies, you know, the silly old lady trio. And I never really intended for them to be such a big part of the series and I never really intended them to be quite so raunchy, but, you know, some characters just do what they wanna do regardless of what the author plans. So, I didn’t really want to have that same thing. You know, I didn’t wanna try and recreate the Aunt Tilly trio in the new series, but I did want to explore some of the more serious reactions that came out of having that group, especially Granny and Irene, who were, you know, a senior citizen couple, a gay couple who were…I found it fascinating, and I’m gonna come back around to my point here in a minute, but I found it fascinating that, thinking about, when you look at the long lifespan of a gay couple, by the time they get to the ages that we’re talking about and how many different periods in our culture’s time they’ve lived through… I mean, obviously, you have the AIDS epidemic. For Grandpa and Doc who I’ve introduced in this new series, it goes back to, they were born in the ’40s. No, they were born in the ’30s and ’40s. And so, there’s so much history. So much of how they lived their life in regards to their sexuality has had to change over all of these decades as our culture has changed, as our government has changed, as the country’s perceptions have changed, and I realize that I wanted to explore that a little bit more. So, not the humor side of having this older couple who’s gay but the emotional side of it, the challenges, the coming to terms with how society is shifting even though the two of you have been in your relationship for a long time.

So, having said that, when I started this new series, this patriarch couple, sort of, appeared with Grandpa and Doc and I realized that I have a huge family, but Grandpa and Doc are at the top of it, and so I’m really looking forward to writing their story as well. So, they take a big role in each of the books in terms of being, and you guys and I talked before the interview started about Grandpa and Doc being, sort of, the mentor to this younger generation. Not only showing them the courage to live out loud, the courage to be with who you wanna be with, but also that steadfast, committed relationship that some of the wild kids don’t have that. Like, Felix specifically didn’t have parents who were married and committed, but he ended up getting raised by Doc and Grandpa who were that very, sort of, traditional…you know, Grandpa was a rancher and Doc was a doctor, and they live in a small town, and they lived on their ranch in a farmhouse with a big kitchen and family dinner, and making chili and all of these things. So, that’s, kind of, what I wanted to explore.

So, having said that though, I love tropes. I’m a super trope-y reader. I love seeing…you could just see… The book I always use as an example is a book called “On the Island,” I think, and it’s a MF contemporary romance. We’re stranded on a deserted island, okay, and there’s an age difference, which is not usually my thing, but in that one… So, I read it a few years ago and I remember talking to my sister, who’s also an author, about it at the time and she said, “Yeah, give me any stranded on a deserted island, one-click. I don’t need to read the blurb. I don’t need to know about the characters. You just tell me there’s a couple stranded on a deserted island and I want it.”

Jeff: Will, it’s all about forced proximity.

Lucy: Yes, yes. And he needs to love her. It’s, like, you name it. Like, for me, stranded in a cabin in Alaska was a big one for me. An airplane crash would also be a big…which I’ve tried. I’ve started one of those. They’re harder than they look to write. But “The Martian” also, which I posted about recently, I love “The Martian,” the book and the movie. And my sister and I were, like, “You could write 10 more Martians with different versions of Mark Watney’s challenges and we’d read it.” So, I’m really drawn to those and so that’s where Felix’s book came from, the royal, because the MF contemporary romance can go to town on a royal…hidden royal stories, you know, “Oh, I’ve always wanted my prince,” but we don’t have a ton of that in gay romance at all yet. I mean, there are definitely some.

So, I decided, sort of, midway through last year, I definitely wanted to write a royal story and I wrote it, and right before it came out, of course, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got engaged, so that was great timing for me because, you know, got everybody excited about it again. And I know that Riley Hart and, is it Riley and Christina together, have a prince…I hope I’m not getting that wrong…have a prince book coming out, and I know there are a couple of other people. So, it’s gonna be really exciting because they’re evergreen tropes. I mean, we’re always gonna love those stories, but right now, it’s particularly exciting, I think. So, that’s how I decided to write the royal romance.

And then, “Facing West,” the first book in the series, I knew from Made Marian, of all of the side characters that came out of Made Marian, the one I wanted to tell his story was Nico, Griff’s best friend from “Grounding Griffin,” and I didn’t know what his story was. But when I started thinking about why he ended up on the streets, which is how he met Griff, I had to figure out how he ended up on the streets and that’s where I, sort of, went into his story. So, it’s not really…I mean, I guess you could consider it a spinoff, the Forever Wilde series of the Made Marian series, but you don’t have to have read Made Marian at all. And I try to write each book so that you don’t have to have read any of the previous books.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s so cool.

Lucy: So, for sure, Felix… Yeah.

Jeff: So far for Felix because he’s got book one in progress. I haven’t read book one and I’m having no issue with Felix at all. That just took off and went. I’m so excited you said you’re gonna write the story of Grandpa and Doc at some point because I’m interested in where that is, and I don’t think we see that a lot in gay romance where you’d get the story of how these two men now, who are, you know, senior citizens, started, so I can’t wait to see that.

Lucy: Well, I’m really excited. I know what the story is in my head and I’m really excited to write it because I’ve had several readers email me speculating or I’ve even had a reader emailing saying, “This can’t be right,” you know, “They can’t have these children.” And I’m, like, “You don’t know yet. Just give me some time to tell their story and then you’ll learn how this all came to be with this family.” In fact, it might’ve been in the same, I can’t remember, it might’ve been in the scene you guys were talking about earlier where, I think it’s Grandpa, explains a little bit of how they’re Doc’s children. Doc had a wife. But I can’t wait to tell their story. But that story is gonna take some work on my part. I think one of the challenges for me to write Grandpa and Doc’s story is that my voice is very, I don’t know what the right word is, colloquial or slang. I’m a big F bomb dropper. I used a lot of, just, you know, current language in my voice and that’s not gonna play if you’re, you know, writing a story that’s taking place in the ’60s or ’50s or ’70s, in these different eras in Doc and Grandpa’s past. So, it’s definitely gonna be a labor of love for me to get that story out and make sure that it’s right before I release it, but I’m really excited, and I get asked about it all the time.

Will: I’m, kind of, curious about the setting for “Felix and the Prince.” The first book in the Wilde series i s essentially, it’s a small-town romance for the most part. But then, “Felix and the Prince” is set on, you know, the other side of the world in this castle in the middle of nowhere and then they’re surrounded by stained glass. It’s almost, like, a gothic fairytale that they’re, like, living right in the middle of. So, I was wondering, what were your thoughts about setting two books in the same series, like, in two, you know, incredibly different places?

Lucy: That’s a really good question because when I started the Forever Wilde series, I really thought that it was going to be set in a small town for the most part. Some of the siblings live in Dallas and so I knew that if I wanted a more urban, which…you know, like, for instance, if I wanted to write the CEO and his assistant type setup, that might need to be something that happened in a bigger city, so I had Dallas there for that. You know, I hope he’s close enough.

But when you write in a hidden royal story, you either have to have the royal come, which we’ve read plenty and seen movies where the royal comes and you don’t recognize them and they’re in this tiny town. But when Felix, sort of, revealed himself to me as a character at the end of “Facing West,” he was this shy academic sitting in the corner of Doc and Grandpa’s kitchen. And the character that I wanted to pit against a prince would be to create the conflict, is a character who couldn’t be in view of the paparazzi for some reason, because a prince is all paparazzi. And so, in order to keep them apart, I needed a reason why. Otherwise, you fall in love with the prince and you live happily ever after. Yay. Nobody wants to read that book. So, I needed it to be somebody who was, like, “I love you to death, but I can’t live in view of the paparazzi.” And so, what would cause him to be that way? Number one, he’s super shy. He’s an academic. But then, we find out that his mother is this, sort of, selfish megastar who abandoned him to pursue her Hollywood career and, sort of, trots him out whenever she has a movie release because it makes her seem a little bit more approachable to the media maybe. And so, that’s when I realized that, wow, if he is in the process of actively running away from the paparazzi when he meets the prince, that sets up that conflict because he’s hiding in a real world version of one of his textbooks by going to that castle in pursuit of the stained glass knowledge. And so, he can have this little temporary fairytale while he’s there, but then what happens?

And obviously, there are so many issues involved in the idea of a gay king that, you know, I could’ve written a whole another book much more about that. But again, those are some of the decisions that you have to make along the way when you remind yourself, “Okay, I’m not writing a treatise about gay royalty. I’m writing a romance novel and this story is about these two people.” But yeah, I mean, the stained glass thing, I can’t even remember where that…I wanted him to be super geeky, something really archaic almost that, like, not only was his nose in a textbook but they were dusty old textbooks. Like, not on a computer, but that he was, like, in a cubicle in the back of some ancient library studying something archaic. And for some reason, stained glass came up in my head and that’s when I thought, “Okay, that’s the perfect combination to get him to a castle.”

And then, the other thing, to answer your question, is when you think about writing a trope-y romance, you’ve gotta deliver on the promise of that trope, so you have a royal romance. Well, there are certain scenes you wanna see in a royal romance. You wanna see them having to learn etiquette, and I didn’t quite get as much of that in there as I wanted. You wanna see the coronation or the big ball. Especially in a gay romance, how are you gonna have that big ball moment where they can’t dance together in front of everybody? But that’s another big scene, you know, the promise. And the makeover scene, that’s another, you know, where the princess gets…you know, the everyday girl gets fitted for the gown, you know? And so, to do that in this, kind of, story, there are certain scenes you wanna see, and to me, a hidden room in a castle was one of those scenes. Does that answer your question?

Will: Yes, it does. So good. We love “Felix and the Prince” so much. We highly recommend everyone to check it out.

Lucy: Thanks.

Will: So, of course, the next question I’m gonna ask is, when is the next Wilde book coming out?

Lucy: Good question. Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Body and Soul,” my next release with Sloane Kennedy. It comes out very soon. The official release date is Tuesday, but we may push the button a little early because we have the anthology coming out on Wednesday also. And then, I have already started writing Otto’s story. Otto is the firefighter. We meet him in “Felix and the Prince.” I think there’s reference to him in “Facing West,” just, sort of, “Oh, yeah, my brother Otto and Saint are in the military.”

But Otto’s story is a childhood best friend’s story that was heavily inspired by Leslie Copeland, my beloved beta reader. She heard a song that was about childhood best friends turned soulmates and she said, “You’ve gotta write a story like this.” So, basically, I’m writing it right now and I’m hoping to release it in mid-March, but I have learned not to make promises because you never know how the book is gonna come out.

I wrote “Delivering Dante” last year. It came out in early May. And I wrote the whole book. I wasn’t happy with it. Tried to fix it, revised it, spent a lot of time on it. Still wasn’t happy with it. Sent it to Leslie to beta read. Had my sister read it. Both of them were, like, “Yeah, it’s fine.” I’m, like, “Yeah, it’s fine,” thing and started from scratch and wrote the whole thing again. So, you never know when that’s gonna happen. And at the pace that we go with self-publishing, I mean, I published 10 books in my first year of publishing and that is just a crazy pace. And so, I can give you, you know, like, a mid-March, I hope. Mid-March if it goes well. If all goes well, mid-March.

Jeff: Fingers crossed.

Will: Whenever it comes out.

Lucy: So, if Otto and Walker speak to me speak to me, if Otto and Walker speak to me…and so far it’s going well.

Will: Fantastic. Good to hear. Well, thank you, Lucy, for joining us on the show and filling us in on this fantastic new series.

Lucy: Awesome, thank you.