Support Big Gay Fiction Podcast on PatreonJeff & Will congratulate Suzanne Brockmann, Jason T. Gaffney, Kevin Held and the team behind the film Out of Body. The film opens Cinema Diverse, the Palm Spring LGBTQ Film Festival on Friday, September 11. Reading Challenge Month on Joyfully Jay is also discussed.

To celebrate the upcoming fifth anniversary of the podcast, we have the second Listener Favorite episode. This week the spotlight is on Lucy Lennox. They guys present four reviews featuring their all-time favorites from the Forever Wilde series: Felix and the PrinceHudson’s Luck, Wilde Love and King Me. Next, they re-visit three of Lucy’s interviews.

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Show Notes

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Jump to Book Reviews

Interview Transcript – Lucy Lennox & Michael Dean

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Interview from Episode 124
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, 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: 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.” 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 is essentially, 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, in two 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.

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.

Interview from GRL 2018
Michael: Meeting in real life for the first time actually.

Lucy: For the first time.

Jeff: Really?

Lucy: This trip, yep.

Jeff: You guys have done so many books together.

Michael: Yeah.

Lucy: We’ve worked together for almost two years.

Jeff: I assume there’s been at least Skype meetings.

Lucy: No.

Michael: No, no.

Lucy: We did talk on the phone once.

Michael: Yeah.

Lucy: Yeah.

Michael: But it’s mostly…it’s a lot of Facebook Messenger in the middle of the day, like, “What’s going on with this part?”

Lucy: Yeah.

Jeff: That’s amazing.

Lucy: Or about other things that have nothing to do with the books.

Jeff: Sure. So, I mean, that leads very nicely into how did the collaboration get going?

Lucy: Yeah. Audio is a big, big hot button for me. I love audio. I’ve always been a listener. And so, I knew that as soon as I put out books that were successful enough that I could just start doing audio, I would do it. So, very quickly after “Borrowing Blue” did well enough, I wanted to get right into it. So, I put it up on ACX for auditions and asked a few of the narrators that I happened to know off the top of my head to send in auditions and I get an audition from this guy that was unsolicited, but I knew I’d listened to an audio of his before, but I just hadn’t remembered, like, right off the top. But, I mean, he nailed the audition. And so, then, I was, like, okay, do I hire the narrator who has the name that I went into this thinking, you know, “This is, like, a dream narrator for me,” or do I hire the guy who actually nailed the audition? And so, I mean, I went back and forth with my family and everything.

Michael: Which, by the way, is how the acting business works.

Lucy: Yeah.

Michael: And sometimes, it goes, like, to the person that nailed the audition and sometimes it goes to the person that they just had in their head anyways and it’s all over the place from, everything, like, movies, TVs, it’s all…you just never know why casting happens and it’s always what the instinct decides to be. And there’s no right or wrong to that. It just is what happens.

Lucy: And we’ve done 17 projects so far together and I still remember the exact scene that he read and the exact way it sounded in his audition and the exact, like, reaction. It still brings a smile to my face because he just nailed it, nailed it.

Jeff: What scene was it?

Lucy: So, in “Borrowing Blue,” there’s a scene where Blue comes running out of the vineyard, and why? He comes running out of the rehearsal dinner that’s in the barrel room and then Tristan comes running out after him and Blue, like, thinks he’s coming out for his dog. “Piper’s over here. She’s fine. She’s right here.” He says, “No, I wasn’t coming after the dog. I was coming after you.” And so, it has Blue and it has Tristan and I think there’s another character in the scene too. And the reason I picked it is because it had several different voices…

Michael: I think Piper maybe was in there too?

Lucy: Piper’s the dog.

Michael: Oh, I mean, Simone.

Lucy: Oh, Simone, Simone.

Michael: Simone, Simone, I’m sorry.

Lucy: Simone.

Michael: This happens.

Lucy: Ginger and Pete, yeah.

Michael: Like, the names go crazy.

Lucy: Ginger and Pete, I think were the ones walking to the vineyard, to the, whatever, the place where the hotel rooms are. The lodge, the lodge.

Michael: There was definitely a female character in that scene too.

Lucy: Okay. Then it was Ginger.

Michael: That’s why, I remembered there was a female character. Yeah, yeah.

Lucy: That was probably Ginger. And, I mean, I listen to it over and over and over again. But then, once we started working together on that, it just very quickly became, like, so easy, so right, so perfect. The combination for his voice acting and my words, I couldn’t really imagine other people doing it, you know? And obviously, just to stick with the same narrator for that series because those are all the same characters and you’re always… And the thing now, like, he could read something in Blue’s voice and, like, that’s Blue’s voice. You know, I’m on book…so there’s eight. Now, there’s, sort of, nine Marian books. And he still…when he narrates Blue’s voice, it’s Blue’s voice. So, that’s really impressive to me. And so, when it got to the point that I started going into the Forever Wilde series, there was no doubt for me that I still wanted to use him for the narration because it was just so successful.

Michael: And there was crossovers coming up.

Lucy: Yeah, and it was a spinoff anyway because it was Nico’s book, yeah. But I did have some books planned that were gonna have some accents, but because I know I want his narration, I would rather write the book differently so that he can narrate it than write it the way that I might normally want to write it, but then he might not be able to nail the narration. So, that’s actually why Charlie in “Hudson’s Luck” is Irish instead of English, because, like, he does Irish.

Michael: She asked what my strong suit was and I was, like, “Well, you’re asking. I could do a good Irish. I could do, like, five different Irish dialects.”

Jeff: I love the Irish in that book, and she made you sing a little bit too.

Lucy: Oh, yeah, that’s right.

Michael: A little bit. Little bit.

Lucy: Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s right, yeah. But that’s same with “Felix and the Prince.” So, “Felix and the Prince,” how am I supposed to ask him to do, “Okay, well, here’s this guy who’s from Monaco. You know, he’s, like, a native French speaker,” and, like, all these variations. So, I deliberately had Felix’s mom be American just so that we had a little bit more leeway to not have the accent work take over the narration so that the story still comes out and it’s not all about the accent. But then, on the Hudson’s, we definitely went in all about the accent.

Michael: Yeah.

Jeff: How’s it been for you getting involved in now two long-running series, not even to mention the crossovers with Sloane?

Michael: Yeah. You know, there’s both sides to it. One the one side, like, a standalone book comes to you and it’s a clean slate. You can pull out anything you wanna do, which has a challenge because you’re creating an entire new vocal world, so that’s a challenge, but there’s also that complete liberation and freedom. So those are the pros and cons to the standalone. With a series, you, kind of, just flip that, you know? So after that first book, you already have that common language that you’ve created for yourself, that vocal world. The same way that you’re creating a universe through the words, you’re creating a universe through sound when you’re doing the audios and you need to be consistent with that throughout.

So, there is that sense of, like, “Okay, well, I already know who all these characters are,” so it takes some of that planning, that preparation work, “Well, we’re picking up where we left off,” so that makes it a little bit easier. But then, it becomes harder because then you have to honor that. You have to have that consistency, and the world just keeps growing and so, you know, you’re sitting there, you know, several books later and you’re, like, “Okay, I’ve gotta remember all of these pieces, you know? And then, as a narrator, I’m also bouncing around with different authors that I work with. So, it might be, you know, I am in Lucy’s world and then three months later is when I come back to it and in the meantime I’ve been in all these other worlds. I do some science fiction books where you’re literally in different worlds, you know? So, you’re flying all over the place and then you have to come back and make sure that you’re consistent and that’s the big challenge there. So, while some of the prep work is easier, it’s that consistency that becomes the challenge in that case.

Jeff: You know, you have all of this information. Do you keep something handy to go, “Well, this is how Blue sounds and this is Blue’s…?”

Michael: Well, I have all of the books I’ve narrated on storage hard drives, which they just keep building up, so that’s a challenge. I’m, like, “Okay, hard drive number three has…” you know? So, as I go back in before I start recording, there is that process of checking in, going back into, “Okay, how did this sound?” And, you know, a lot of times with actors, like, sometimes a character just lives in you and it’s effortless, you know?

Lucy: Yes. Yeah, that’s what I wonder. Yeah.

Michael: So, sometimes, I just, like, “That’s that guy,” and I know it and then other times, I’m, like, “Okay, where in my voice register did Teddy really live? I think I know, but I really need to, like, listen to hear it,” you know? So, it’s different for different characters as well. Like, Aunt Tilly is just, like, I don’t even have to look that up. It’s just, like, you know, it’s right there. It just, blah, and it comes out, you know?

Jeff: So, you, kind of, mentioned Tilly there. Are there other ones that live in you that are just, like, boom?

Michael: Blue usually, I don’t have to look him up. Blue and Tristan, both of them, just sort of, come right out. And also, they were the first in the series, so I think that that’s part of that too, because it’s just, like, boom, you nailed it and then as you’re building off of that. And actually, Nico, I never have to look up.

Lucy: Yeah, really?

Michael: Nico, he just comes right out, you know. It’s like super easy.

Lucy: I love that. I love that.

Michael: You know what, part of it too, it’s personal favorites. Like, I love that Nico sound. He’s actually based on a friend of mine. I never told you this. But, you know, we do this too. But I have this friend, this guy that I used to work with, Richie Miltak. So, Nico isn’t as “ehh” like this guy Richie was, but Richie was this guy that, sort of, talked like this, “Guys, what’s going on?” You know? And I, sort of, like, just softened that to make him Nico, so it, like, comes out really quickly.

Lucy: That’s cool.

Michael: It’s really easy to find.

Lucy: Yeah.

Jeff: Do you find that you hear Michael now when you write these characters because it’s so ingrained?

Lucy: I do. Like, because when I’m writing, obviously he hasn’t narrated it yet, they’re new words with new characters, well, some new characters, but I definitely anticipate how he’s gonna say things, and I tease him about this all the time, but I have been known to put certain phrases in books because I like the way he says it. But I do hear it in his voice, but also, like, I’m way more conscious now of writing, taking into consideration the narration than I used to be. So, there are scenes where I wanna put every single Marian, you know, at the Thanksgiving dinner table and then I’m, like, “He’s gonna kill me.” So, I’ll be, like, “Okay, they’re all still at the table, but only a few people get to…”

Michael: She gets to do that, like, once a year…

Lucy: Yeah, exactly.

Michael: …and I don’t lose it. The second time in a year she does it, I’m like…that’s when the Facebook app opens up and I’m, like, “What are you doing to me?”

Lucy: Yeah, exactly.

Michael: Every single person you’ve ever written is in this scene.

Lucy: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: And then, you get the moment where there’s the Lucy and Sloane cross that happens. There was a narrator panel earlier today and somebody asked the question of, “Do you ever worry about characters even with different authors who sound the same?” And the answer they presented there was, “There are people who just sound the same.” Was that an issue as you were working between Sloane and Lucy’s world where there were people who did sound too close to each other?

Michael: So, one thing, and I actually have talked to other authors about this, because sometimes an author will come to me when we’re doing the first looks on a book, right? I’ve recorded a little bit for them and they’ll say, “You know, I really wanted it to sound like this or this,” or sometimes they’ll even say, like, “Can you make it sound like so and so from this other book?” And I will say, “No, because that’s taken. That’s, like, asking to use the same cover,” you know? And one thing that I’ve talked to them about is, what I’m doing, you know, I have my schedule somewhat planned out. So, I know Lucy’s writing this. I know Sloane’s writing this. I know another author’s coming to me with something. And so, I have an idea. I mean, I don’t always know what the characters are gonna be in some of these books, but I have an idea sometimes.

And what I tell some of the authors that I work with is, “Not only am I plotting your book when I’m doing my prep, but I am plotting all of the things on my schedule within, like, a two or three-month period and trying my best to make all the new characters that I’m creating live somewhere differently as best as I can.” And sometimes, they might sound similar, right, but what’s happening for me when I’m performing internally is unique. And that in itself, even if you’re talking about pitch, I mean, there’s only so many things you can do, pitch, tempo, rhythm. There’s only so many ways you can change your voice. So, on a purely, like, sound frequency level, things may sound similarly, but my hope is that the internal work that I’ve done makes it different and that’s how I approach that. So, I don’t worry so much. I get an idea, like, I mean, how many times…how many different low voice, like, guys can you do? You know, like, there’s only so many ways I can make my voice low. So, what has to change after I find that place in my voice is what’s here and what’s here, you know, and that’s how I work with that.

Jeff: Is there a particular thing that is, kind of, your jam for a character?

Lucy: I try and ask him that all the time. I’m, like, “Well, if you could special order me to write anything that you would love to narrate, what would it be?”

Michael: So, actually, it comes from the male-female books that I’ve done, is L.J. Shen’s book “Sparrow” was, like, a South Boston, Southy, like that, sort of, world. And it was, sort of, that dark mafia place and I live well in that area. And Natasha Knight, also male-female, she writes in that, sort of, place. So, I really, kind of, like, thrive when I get to sync into that and it’s probably just, sort of, my, like, blue collar, growing up in Chicago, like, watching… Like, I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago. I’m a little Italian. So, I think that that’s where, like, sort of, that mafia stuff comes out, you know? Like, those darker characters, which Sloane writes.

Lucy: Yeah, I was gonna say, you’re not getting that with me.

Michael: She writes that. I mean, you just asked, like, a favorite thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t love everything else you’re working on.

Lucy: Right, right, right. Right.

Interview from Big Gay Author Podcast #18
Jeff: Why do you write?

Lucy: Oh gosh, why do I write?

I love it. First of all, now I write because I love it. I’m a voracious reader, and sometimes I can’t find the story that I want to read. And so sometimes I have to write it. But when I first started off writing, I read a couple of really good books that inspired me to start, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

I wanted to write fun, bantery scenes and I wanted to write, schmoopy romantic scenes. And, you know, I never thought I could do it. And now that I can, it’s a little bit addictive. Once you start brainstorming stories, I mean, Leslie and I were talking about stories last night and I was just waiting for her to say, “But, hold on a minute. You’re in the middle of this book. You’re supposed to be writing this book, and you’re also writing these short stories. Like now you’re telling me about this other idea”. I’m like, yeah, and my mom’s friends are always like, where does she come up with all these ideas?

That is never a problem for me. That’s not a problem. So part of it is like, you know, wanting to try out these ideas.

Will: I get the impression from talking to you that it’s not only a creative outlet, but you enjoy all aspects of the creative process, whether that’s drafting or maybe editing or packaging a book up with a great cover, and then the marketing and then getting the book out to readers and talking to them.

Is that, a safe, safe bet?

Lucy: No. It’s not safe to say, first of all, you can take editing and throw it out the door first.

Will: I understand.

Lucy: You can take revising and throw that one out the door. No. I love, brainstorming. I love craft. I love learning how to do that better or learning why something works well. I love coming up with the hook. And thinking about what the dark night of the soul is going to be and what the happy ever after is going to look like. I love writing comedy. There are a lot of aspects to the craft I love. And I, I enjoy the people, so I enjoy being on Facebook with the readers. I enjoy being on Facebook with other authors. I enjoy all of that interaction because that fills my social side of my life and my heart. And I feel like I’m with my people in this community socially. But. I don’t like all of the admin stuff because a lot of it, when you’re indie, a lot of it requires you figuring out. I mentioned this earlier, but you figuring it out on your own, so it requires a lot of self-education and when you’re trying to self-educate on how to market audio, let’s say, that’s not what I want to be spending my time to do.

I love audio, but I want to be listening to it. I want to be writing for it. I even want to be talking to Michael Pauley about it. But, I don’t want to be studying how to market it or, worse yet, troubleshooting it by trying things that fail, because not a lot of us know how to market audio very well.

So in that respect, I would say there’s a lot of admin stuff that I don’t like to do. One of the reasons I have like good assistants in Leslie, but marketing is definitely not my favorite. Finding good cover images. Even though I love the way they turn out, they turn out the way they turn out because I’m an absolute picky jackass about it. You can ask any covered designers ever worked with me. Like I’m super, super, super picky and it’s not over until I’m thrilled with it and think it’s gonna sell like hotcakes. So I don’t like feeling like I’m bothering somebody, but I’m going to keep bothering them until I get it right or until you know, us together gets it right. But that can be contentious because you can go back and forth and back and forth, well beyond where a cover designer thinks this needed to stop, you know, this needed to stop a long time ago.

So yeah, there are definitely parts of it that I love and parts of it that I don’t love, but the people part of it, I love.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s reviews:

Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox. Reviewed by Jeff & Will.
Will: We want to talk about Felix and the Prince. This is the second book in Lucy Lennox’s brand new series. As you can tell from the title, Felix and the Prince is an undercover prince story. So if that is your reader catnip, we both highly recommend this story. It’s Freaking awesome.

And even if secret prince stories, aren’t your thing. Still check this book out. It’s really damn good. We listened to this book in its entirety on our trips back and forth to Sacramento when we were doing some house hunting. A quick shout out to Michael Pauley [Michael Dean] who read this book. He’s a remarkable talent and did a terrific job.

Really quickly we want to cover what Felix and the Prince is all about. It’s about a nice guy named Felix. He is working on his dissertation about stained glass, which seems like utterly random and out of nowhere, but he is really passionate about stained glass. So he goes to this legendary castle, Gadleigh Castle. It’s famous for its stained glass, out there in the middle of nowhere. He goes to this castle to study its stained glass and he ends up sharing his time there with a prickly representative of the government, a guy named Lio.

And of course they butt heads at first. But then they end up butting another things.

Jeff: Well done.

Will: Sorry, that was really, really bad.

Of course, they start out in an enemies to lovers scenario. But once they spend a little more time together, they realize there’s something more there and they of course are really into one another. Then during an unfortunate breach of security protocol, Felix finds out that Lio is not just a representative of the government. He is the soon to be King.

Jeff: He is the government.

Will: And things go a little bonkers from there. This book is really exceptional. The sort of discovery that Lio is a prince is actually the halfway point of the book. There’s a whole lot of other complications that go on, things that deal with each of their background, whether Lio is actually going to except. Because of a family scandal, he’s being forced into the throne and the question of he even really wants to do that and whether he wants to be an out and proud king of country. Also there’s the problem that Felix has with a perfectly legitimate reason for being skiddish about being in a public eye and what dating a king might entail.

So there’s a lot of stuff for them to work through. And I think what this book does is it takes two essentially normal people, even though one of them is a prince, and it throws them into a really strange over the top situation. But I think what the book excels is that is how they understand their journey, and how they explore the difficulties, and their path to true love.

Jeff: Absolutely. what I love so much about this book is how we get each of their backstories told really well. And not info dumpy way. It just naturally, organically kinda plays its way out as it would in any relationship.

Both characters also really grow. Felix is very much the scholarly, wants to be in the corner, sort of person and Lio draws him out. As they get to know each other, Felix draws Lio out and helps him discover, I think, really who he can be as a king and how he could be true to himself and be a king at the same time.

I loved everything about this book. One of the best I’ve read in 2018, for sure. And 2018 is only like six weeks in, but, going even further back, the way that Lucy has built this book, it’s just an extraordinary romance. And yet for as long as it is, and is many stories as it has, it comes all back to that very heartfelt… this could be a Hallmark movie in a lot of ways with the secret prince and the commoner, if you will, who falls for the prince and then finds a way to be with the prince. It hit every button of something that I like in that kind of feel good, you know it’s all gonna work out in the end kind of way.

Good job, Lucy! Make more like this!

Will: Exceptional job.

Hudson’s Luck by Lucy Lennox. Reviewed by Will.
I read the fourth book in the Forever Wilde series called Hudson’s Luck. And this is about Hudson, a financial analyst. At the beginning of the story heads to Ireland and he is assessing a local brew pub for acquisition by his boss. Charlie is part of the family that runs the pub and the brewery there in Ireland. He’s a absolutely gorgeous feisty redhead. Hudson immediately notices him for reasons that he’s not quite sure of at the beginning. He ends up getting drunk that very first night and makes a fool of himself, before he realizes the next day that Charlie is a member of this family.

Charlie is tasked with showing Hudson around the brewery and showing the ins and outs of the family business. Over the course of the few days that he’s in Ireland, they get to know one another. And before Hudson leaves, they end up hooking up.

Up until this point Hudson has never really even considered anything with another man.

Fast forward a little bit to the States. Hudson’s boss is interested in acquiring this brewery. But, instead of buying out the entire thing, Hudson convinces his boss to get a franchise started in the States instead of buying the company outright and leaving the family with nothing.

Now, I should have mentioned that the family business fallen on some hard times and they needed an influx of cash, which is why Hudson was there. But instead of just buying the whole thing, they’re gonna start up this brew pub in the Hobie, Texas, kind of the middle of nowhere.

Once that decision is made, Charlie comes to the States. He’s going to oversee the building of the pub and sort of making sure that it is authentic to the family brand. He stays at the Wilde family ranch and, of course, they strike up their relationship once again and kind of try to get to the heart of what it is that they have together.

Hudson is sort of… not really please stand offish but he’s very hesitant at first because they are essentially in a business relationship. They’re working very closely together to get the brew pub off the ground. And of course, it’s not a fantastic idea to be sleeping with someone you’re working with 24/7. But, they ended up doing it anyway.

What I thought was really interesting about this book is the pace and the story was very relaxed. Because the story takes place over several months what we get is several short chapters that are just sort of glimpses, little snapshots into the moments that Charlie and Hudson share. There’s no real ticking clock element or a whole lot of high drama that’s featured in the other Forever Wilde books. It’s a very slow build. It’s actually very sweet despite the fact that the sex is also super duper hot as always in a Lucy Lennox book. It’s a very sexy book.

Of course, eventually, Hudson and Charlie know that Charlie’s going to have to go back to his family in Ireland. And Hudson is up for a big promotion if he gets this pub and business successfully launched, A family emergency takes Charlie back to his home country, forcing Hudson to board, another transatlantic flight, which he hates, to eventually declare his love.

I really liked this book an awful lot. I felt the tone was a little bit sweeter than some of the other Wilde books. That being said, Jeff and I have recommended each book in this series wholeheartedly and I recommend Hudson’s Luck most definitely.

Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox. Reviewed by Jeff & Will
Will: Liam Wilde and Weston Marion are more commonly referred to as Doc and Grandpa. They’ve been background characters and a grounding presence in each of the stories in Lucy Lennox’s “Forever Wilde” series and their grandchildren have found love in each of the books so far but in “Wilde Love” we finally get the story behind Doc and Grandpa’s decades long affair, starting with them serving together in Vietnam. Their respect and their friendship is literally forged in battle and after the war Liam returns to Hobie, Texas to his wife and children. And when Weston retires from the service it’s with Doc and the Wilde family on their ranch that he sort of reintegrate into civilian life. Weston becomes an indispensable part of the family, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes Liam and Weston depend on one another and eventually realize that the devotion that they share goes far beyond friendship. It’s actually love.

Jeff: I don’t have enough adjectives about this book. In a year that has been so chock full of amazing reads, this book shot to the top of my list. It’s on my all time favorites list and there’s so many reasons why. I mean we’ve watched Doc and Grandpa for so long in the Wilde books.

From the get go I wanted to know these guys’s story and Lucy’s done such an amazing job of taking us back in time. We say this a lot–romance always ends with the happy and you know the happy that Doc and Grandpa have because of the other books. But to go back and see how it started, to see how their friendship forged in Vietnam. The Vietnam scenes were incredible. I can’t imagine the amount of research that Lucy did to make you feel like you were in the trenches with them.

Then to move forward and see them come home and the delicate way that she handled the almost love triangle between Weston, Liam and Liam’s wife and her acceptance of what their friendship was. I think she knew what was actually going on there and how deep that friendship actually ran. I had a hard time just not weeping for these men throughout the entire story. It was just remarkable to me.

Will: Aside from the fact that Lucy always delivers the emotional punch with her books, and this one is certainly no exception. Do you think that with the strong feelings that readers have towards Doc and Grandpa that there was already a built in backlog of emotion. I know I felt very strongly about these two characters before we even got to this particular story. And I think what this particular book does is it not only fills in their backstory. It illuminates what we have felt and inferred before. These are two very strong, very capable, they’re good down to their very core.

Jeff: This book fills in all the blanks that we’ve seen in the previous books because we know that they’re fiercely devoted to their to their children and grandchildren. They are fiercely devoted to fighting for what’s right and making things good even in the face of whatever the crisis is.

And this fills all that and you know how these two became the men that they are both as a couple and separately because you get so much backstory on these two and who they were before they became Doc and Grandpa.

I can’t think of any other book series I’ve seen where somebody is taking characters and gone backwards. There’s always I want to give these two a story and give these two a story but here you had an established story you went backwards and I was still 100 percent invested. I knew what they were doing in the present day and I was still stressed at times over what was happening. It just made me so happy. It really did. And yeah I don’t think Lucy Lennox can do wrong by me ever. But this one in particular. This is what I don’t have to get or decide at GRL and put it up on my shelf of all time great reads.

We’ve got to give a shout out to Michael Pauley too. Michael always does a great job with Lucy’s books but the epilogue to “Wilde Love” brings together every single character from the Wilde and Marian universe and he has to do all of them. And he does an outstanding job.

Will: So if you are looking for an emotional and satisfying, either e-book or audiobook, we highly recommend wild love by Lucy Lennox.

King Me by Lucy Lennox. Reviewed by Jeff & Will.
Jeff: King Me picks up right where Wilde Love left off. Someone has barged into Doc and Grandpa’s wedding weekend to take Kingston Wilde away. His family has no idea that King is a world-renowned art thief, a career he’s been working to end after getting burned by his boyfriend and partner in crime. It’s Dirk Falcon who’s come for King. Falcon’s an agent who let the most notorious art thief getaway (who just happens to be King) and now he needs King’s help to recover a priceless artifact and avert an international incident.

As you can imagine these guys don’t trust each other at all, but off they go around the world with stops in Greece and Hungry. All the great moments of a heist book are here: planning the ops, the distractions, dealing with what goes wrong–because of course things must go wrong at least once. It’s all brilliantly woven together with some incredible plot twists sprinkled in along the way the to keep you guessing just like you want to be.

As usual, Lucy creates great characters. King is unlike any of the Wildes we’ve met so far. He’s got his artistic side, which we’ve seen in others like Felix, but he’s a thief and that doesn’t at all fit the Wilde profile. He’s had an interesting path to the point we meet him in this book too. He’s working to get out of that life but that baggage and history crop up at every turn. In the same way, I wanted Doc and Grandpa’s book, I would love to see King’s past and how he got involved with his original boyfriend, the guy who ultimately became his crime mentor.

Then there’s Falcon. He doesn’t know if he can trust King and yet he has to. It only gets worse for him when he releases he’s falling for King. Falcon’s got to deal with the rest of his team and his bosses and a ton of other things going on with the mission.

Lucy’s does a great job with the heist. It’s a very cinematic read as King, Falcon and the team figure out their plan, work to pull it off and go through all the crazy to get the missing artifact back where it belongs. Lucy doesn’t make it easy for these guys and right down to the very end she kept me guessing exactly how it was going to turn out.

I really love how Lucy explores different sub-genres and tropes with the Wilde books and I can’t wait for the next one. We’ve had a bit of romantic suspense before with His Saint, which used the bodyguard trope beautifully. And now with this terrific heist book, I’d like to see even more in this vein from her.

Will: I really enjoyed this one an awful lot, which surprises nobody. What was really lovely is the way Lucy played with the trust issues. Something that’s usually inherently baked into romantic suspense because there’s action and subterfuge and all that sort of stuff that comes with this particular sub-genre.

I really enjoyed how our two heroes played off one another and constantly kept each other guessing, constantly turning each other on by the slightest little thing. It was all very wonderful and amusing and sexy a lot of fun.

Jeff briefly mentioned Falcon’s team that he assembles in order to undertake this op with King. They’re really interesting, fun well-drawn characters. They’re not just paper dolls that move around the suspense plot. They’re an integral part of the story and they really set up and help our two heroes face the romance that’s blooming between the two of them, inconveniently while their sneaking into houses and trying to steal art and disable security systems and all sorts of crazy high-tech stuff. So, I really, really enjoyed this one an awful lot.

Jeff: I’ll say too on the team. They very much had distinct individual personalities and I can’t remember the kid’s name, but the one who was the nerdy kind of computer operator guy. He had so many little ticks and issues. Not only did I just want to wrap him up in a hug occasionally, but I also really want to see his book. I Don’t know how Lucy pulls that off since he’s not a Wilde and he doesn’t really connect any of the other Wildes, but if you can make it make a series here Lucy, on its own, a spin-off, I would totally be into that.

I also liked how she integrated the other Wildes into this story because you wouldn’t necessarily think that you could do that with the type of story that this is. But in true Lucy form, even once King and Falcon get out of Texas, the other Wildes work their way back into the story and it’s just awesome.

Will: We both really enjoyed Lucy Lennox’s King Me and we highly recommend it.