The guys congratulate the authors who are finalists in the gay romance category for the 2021 Lambda Literary Awards: Adriana Herrera, Lance Ringel, Felice Stevens, Erin Colleen McRae & Racheline Maltese, and Cat Sebastian. They also give kudos to podcast guest L.C. Rosen for his finalist nod in the LGBTQ Young Adult category.
N.R. Walker joins us to talk about her latest book, Bossy. In addition, we discuss Throwing Hearts, which is this month’s Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection, and the continuation of her Imago series that was released earlier this year. She also shares how characters come to her, and the occasionally surprising results. The discussion wraps up with some book recommendations.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- 2021 Lambda Literary Awards Finalists on LambdaLiterary.org
- Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- Flower of Iowa by Lance Ringel on Amazon (ebook on Smashwords)
- The Ghost and Charlie Muir by Felice Stevens on Amazon
- Ink and Ice by Erin Colleen McRae & Racheline Maltese on Amazon
- Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- Pride Month Bonus 3 – Adriana Herrera on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Episode 92 – Cat Sebastian Interview on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Camp by L.C. Rosen on Amazon
- Episode 251 – A Trip to Summer Camp with L.C. Rosen on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- N.R. Walker Interview
- N.R. Walker: website | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- Bossy by N.R. Walker on Amazon
- Throwing Hearts by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- The Great Pottery Throwdown on HBO Max
- Cover Affairs (Lou Harper) website
- Imago series by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobooks also on Libro.fm)
- Imagoes by N.R. Walker on Amazon
- Point of No Return by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- Cronin’s Key series by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobooks also on Libro.fm)
- Lacuna by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- Upside Down by N.R. Walker on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- The Hitman’s Guide series by Alice Winters on Amazon
- The Nevernight Chronicle series by Jay Kristoff on Amazon (audiobooks also on Libro.fm)
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode N.R. Walker joins us to talk about her newest book, “Bossy.”
Jeff: Welcome to episode 296 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Jeff Adams. And with me as always is my co-host and husband Will Knauss.
Will: Hello, rainbow romance readers.
Jeff: Before we get into the interview this week, we want to congratulate the finalists for the 33rd annual Lambda Literary Awards in the gay romance category. Those are “Finding Joy” by Adriana Herrera, “Flower of Iowa” by Lance Ringle, “The Ghost and Charlie Muir” by Felice Stephens, “Ink and Ice” by Erin Colleen McRae & Racheline Maltese and “Two Rogues Make a Right” by Cat Sebastian.
Now, if you’d like to hear more about some of these books, we’ve had some of those authors as guests on their show. Adriana Herrera talked about “Finding Joy” during our June 2020 Pride Festival, she appeared in episode three from that special series. You can also hear from Cat Sebastian back in episode 92.
We also want to give a shout out to LC Rosen. He joined us in episode 251 to talk about the book “Camp,” which is a finalist in the LGBTQ young adult category. We’ll link to all of the Lammy nominees in the show notes. Those awards are going to be taking place on June 1st. Congratulations to everybody who picked up a finalist nomination this week. We look forward to seeing who the winners are in just a couple of months.
Will: Yes, well-deserved kudos to everyone in each of the individual categories.
Jeff: I had such an amazing time talking to NR Walker, especially talking right after we had finished reading “Throwing Hearts” and recording our book club episode for that. Of course, we’re going to talk about that book. She’s also got the brand new book “Bossy,” which has already topped the Amazon gay romance bestseller charts. It certainly looks at one of our favorite scenarios, which is going from hookup to holy crap, now we’re working together. So it was fun to talk to her about that book as well. Let’s get into that interview now.
N.R. Walker Interview
Jeff: N.R., welcome to the show. It is so awesome to have you here.
N.R.: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited.
Jeff: We have so much to talk about, not the least of which is the “Big Gay Fiction Book Club” selection for this month. But we’ll get to “Throwing Hearts” a little later. I want to kick off with what you released earlier this month, which is “Bossy.”
N.R.: Yes, “Bossy.”
Jeff: Tell us all about Michael and Bryson.
N.R.: Okay. They are a fun couple. It’s started out as a friends with benefits, a casual encounter, no names, no details, no complications, which, of course, we all know how that generally ends, usually very complicated. So, it was a fun story, they were good characters to write. Yeah, I just enjoyed doing the less heavier, more fun, romance, then yeah. So, no, it was just good to do something without a great deal of research and a great deal of, you know, without getting bogged down into details. It was just fun.
Jeff: And fun is good these days, we all get a little lightness.
N.R.: I think we do. And not only to read but also to write. The world is so crazy right now, and it’s really quiet, I don’t want to say depressing, but it’s quite… Everything’s closed off right now. So, it’s just good to read and write something that doesn’t draw you down or bog you down too much.
Jeff: I really like a line that you’ve got in the blurb, but it’s actually the last line in the blurb that to me just sets up the whole story, Michael and Bry need to decide just how complicated they want to get.
N.R.: Yes. They do need to decide exactly how complicated things need to get, or how will, how complicated they want things to get. So, yeah, it was good. They know nothing about each other, they don’t even know names, they don’t even learn their first names until about maybe halfway through the book.
N.R.: So, yes. But by then, they are quite enamored with each other. And, yeah, it was just fun. It was a bit of a leap from reality really, it does get complicated when their professional lives collide. And, yeah, they find out names and histories and everything all in one go.
Jeff: I always love those stories where, and, in this case, they were together for a little bit before this happened. But that I’ve had this hookup, I’ve had this connection, but I left it to the side, and then boom, they’re in my workplace.
N.R.: Yes, yes. Literally, literally, that’s what happens. He walks in and he’s meeting a client that’s not his client, the person who was supposed to be meeting him was stuck in traffic. So, he’s walked in and it’s, “I know you,” kind of situation.
Jeff: And that just a little bit.
N.R.: Yeah, and that was good. It’s a lot of fun to write, have good characters.
Jeff: What were your inspiration for these two, for Michael and for Bryson?
N.R.: Oh, I don’t know. A lot of people always asked me about inspiration, and I always find it a little bit difficult. I don’t know. I always just get characters that speak to me or that just form in my head. And Michael spoke to me first. And I just always pictured this long, very sleek, very polished character. And he wasn’t cold, but he was just very, “No, I don’t have time for anything complicated.” And then there was Bryson, who was laid back. He wears the shirts with the vintage band shirts and the expensive boots. He’s the one with all the money. I don’t know. The characters come to me first. It’s not really any inspiration for them, just the voice that started to speak to me, Michael spoke to me first.
Jeff: In that situation, do you have to wait for Michael’s companion to come along? Or do they usually come along in pairs as you discover these characters?
N.R.: Sometimes. Sometimes, and this is probably going to sound funny. If they come to me in pairs, like, you suggest, it’s generally going to be a dual point of view. If they come to me, and it’s just one, it’s normally just a single point of view, yeah. So, it’s funny that you say that, but that’s generally how they come to me. So, yeah.
Jeff: That makes a lot of sense, that you would do dual point of view in those instances.
N.R.: Yeah. And I’ve never thought about it like that. But that is generally what happens, it’s a dual point of view if they both talk, but generally… Yeah. I think a lot of my earlier books was just a single point of view, but then other characters would come in and I would write them through the main character’s eyes, of course, then sometimes the second main character is just as chatty, so he will get his own point of view.
Jeff: Do you have a preference over single or double as you go or is it just really how the story plays out?
N.R.: I don’t really get a say in it, which is sounds really weird, but yeah, I don’t really have a say. What I struggle the most with is probably first person to third person. Most of my stories are first-person, but there have been some which are third-person because I know that there will be scenes or aspects of the story that has to be told from an outside point of view, like from a perspective, not from the main characters. So, I’ve done a few that are third-person perspective, but generally, it’s more first person that I write. So, some I’ve actually started to write in first person and I get no more than half of the first chapter before I realized that it’s wrong and it needed to be in third person, because I knew something later was going to happen, that he couldn’t… It was going to happen to him, probably, so we couldn’t see it from his point of view, if that makes sense.
Jeff: It does. At least you figured it out early. I’ve had books, where I’m like, a third of the way in and realize I need that point of view changing them. That’s just hurtful, at that point.
N.R.: Oh, yeah. It is hurtful.
Jeff: It sounds like you’re very much a discovery writer, pantsing your way along, do you usually have an endpoint in mind early out of the book that you’re headed towards?
N.R.: That’s the only thing that I have. I generally have the final scene or what I call the destination, and then I start at chapter one and start writing. I have a few points of what I would call like milestones or plot points that I know need to happen, but I don’t plan anything else. I don’t outline, I don’t do anything like that. But I know the destination, how they get there is what they tell me as I’m writing.
Jeff: It’s good that you start with the destination. I’ve done the ones where I don’t know where they’re going. I’ve got an idea of a plot and the characters. Usually, I get there, sometimes I don’t. Like, where are you going?
N.R.: I know. I know. And I have written a, well, I guess, a crime thriller. It’s called “Tallowwood.” Anyway, because I am a pantser and I do not outline or plot, I realized that that’s really rather difficult to write crime mystery thrillers without having the intricate details outlined. So, yes, it isn’t always a good thing, I guess. But I’ve never been able to outline or plan or anything, I know where I need to end up and/or where the characters… I know the final scenes. And sometimes it will actually write that first. I will just a feud… Mostly just a conversation or just the end destination, a few lines. But then I always go back to chapter one and just start.
Jeff: And I know other mystery writers and thriller writers who go the pantsing route, and then they talk about having a lot to clean up in the edit because then you’ve got to make sure that mystery holds together.
N.R.: Yes, all of these thread points that you need to pull together to make the whole fabric come together, yeah, it was rather difficult, kind of broke my brain for a while afterwards, I think. I needed to just write something that was just completely carefree and fun after that.
Jeff: Which, of course, makes a lot of sense. You think you’ll ever go back to that genre and give it another go or?
N.R.: Oh, I love it. I love reading it. And I loved writing it. But, oh, it’s a lot. It’s a lot. And I honestly take my hat off to people who write it consistently, and particularly, if they don’t do outlines. For sure, it was a tough one.
Jeff: I was noticing your covers and you talking about “Bossy” just now made me think of this because you talk about, hey, oh, how Michael was very slick and present in just the right way. And I see that here so much with the cover too, it gives that vibe.
Jeff: And then I look at something else like “Throwing Hearts,” and then there again, you’ve really hit the vibe of the pottery studio and the more easygoing nature of that book. You must put a lot of work into these covers to hit that because they don’t all necessarily say, “This isn’t N.R. Walker book, but it really conveys the essence of the story in some ways.”
N.R.: Yeah. And look, honestly, sometimes I will have a cover for a long time before I write the book. So, it allows me to really integrate that image into the story. So, with the cover of “Throwing Hearts,” I had that image. And so it allowed me really to write Merrick into the book from the cover. And same with a “Bossy” cover, I found that… So, he was just that sleek, well-presented, kind of, carefree. I don’t know really quite how to explain that very well. So, I had the cover before I started to write the book, and I do with a lot of mind. For me, I don’t know, cements how the story is told, I guess. I take a fair bit of inspiration maybe from the covers that I do. I make a lot of my own covers, I have some help art, but a lot of them that I actually just make myself, like the “Throwing Hearts” cover, I did that one. Very basic, but fun, and yeah, portrayed what the story was going to be. I hope that the covers show the reader pretty much what the book is going to be like, before they read the blurb or before they get to page one.
Jeff: Yeah. There’s a lot of tone conveyed in the covers, at least for me, for sure. Do you buy the images first before the characters talk to you, and then maybe that helps the characters or the characters and then cover or…?
N.R.: Sometimes if I’m… One of my worst procrastination tools is searching for cover images or looking at premade cover sites. If I just need to not write for a little bit, or if I just need to spend two hours doing something completely mind-numbing, I will just scroll the internet and look for cover images or premade cover sites and that type of thing. And sometimes I bought a cover that will literally sit on my computer for two or three years because I’ve seen the cover and I just think, “Oh my God, I love it.” And then they will start to talk to me, however, long later. So, that actually happened with the “Imago” cover. The very first “Imago” book was the orange butterfly as the bow tie. And I found that as a premade cover, she does a lot of them, cover, it’s “Lou Harper.” And I found it and I just had to have it. I loved it. And I had no idea for a story. I had nothing. And then about two years later, I was actually on a plane in America, I think. And I was just writing down a few plot points or whatever. And an idea came to me about a butterfly. And I thought, “Oh, I’ve got a cover for that.” And so that’s how that came to me. So, I had the cover for a long time. I don’t know whether something in the back of my mind just takes over or I’m not sure. But yeah. So, I tend to have a lot of my covers long before I write the book, which allows me to get the tone right.
Jeff: It would be interesting to do a survey of authors, how many covers we all have sitting around waiting, between either premades or single images that we’ve bought, because I know we’ve got easily, like 20 covers sitting around waiting for an inspiration day because they look so good.
N.R.: Yeah. I literally will probably have hundreds and I’ve spent a fortune. But one day, I’ll probably get to them. But then I tend to… Yeah, sometimes I make my own, or I will have a general idea of what I want and I will put together a mock cover, but I just can’t get it quite right. So, then I will send it to a cover artist and say, “This is what I’m thinking but I can’t nail it.” And they make it pretty.
Jeff: Now you mentioned “Imago.”
Jeff: And you actually came back to that series for the first time since 2017 with the short you released earlier this year. What brought you back?
N.R.: Oh, it was funny. There was a big promotional thing that was going on for the winter, a Winter Wonderland thing. And my friend was going in it and I thought, “Oh maybe I should do that too.” And I said, but I’ve got no idea what I would write about, we’re in the middle of summer. So, she said something about maybe you should revisit a character or whatever. And again, with the butterflies, I was like, “Oh a winter butterfly.” There’s really no such thing as a winter butterfly. They tend to hibernate or they’re not too common. So, I wondered how that would work. But anyway, long story short, it didn’t really apply to the promotion that was… to the guidelines or whatever. And that was my fault. I didn’t read them.
Jeff: Such a rule breaker you are.
N.R.: I know. And I thought, “Oh.” Anyway, so that was completely my fault. But I just thought, “What can I do with it? I’ll just release it for 99 cents and put it out in the world.” And yeah. So, it just came to me really… It was a fleeting conversation with a friend of mine, who just happened to mention something about, “Oh, is there like a winter butterfly or something?” And then that was it. It just kind of sparked and, “Oh, that would be interesting.” And yeah. So, that’s how that came about.
Jeff: That’s awesome. And for people who may not know that series, because it is one of the older ones. Tell us a little bit about “Imago.”
N.R.: Jack and Lawson. They live in Tasmania, which is right down south of Australia. It’s a little island off the south of Australia. And it’s quite cold down there generally. And anyway, one is a butterfly specialist. And so Lawson, he’s very smart. Sometimes he’s too smart for his own good. And then there’s Jack who is like a park ranger. And that is how they meet. Lawson is out on a field expedition to find a butterfly that it’s not supposed to exist, and Jack goes with him. So, yeah, lovely story to write, just another one of those decent guys doing ordinary things. And yeah, nice guys.
Jeff: Yeah. I’d imagine a good amount of butterfly research, perhaps?
N.R.: Oh, yes. I actually went into writing that, thinking I need to write a story with minimal research. And then, literally, two hours later, I think I was researching soil acidity for ants or something, I was like, okay, okay. So, always research, always, no matter what book I write, I have to research something.
Jeff: How do you fit that into the pantsing style that you’ve got? Do you leave yourself blanks to fill in later or do you pause to get the research?
N.R.: Yeah, sometimes I will leave a section in the manuscript, that this needs some research. But generally, I will just start searching things on the internet. And four hours later, I have sections of information that sometimes don’t even end up in the manuscript, sometimes it’s more for the character to understand the character, I guess as to why they do what they do if a butterfly specialist is going to be talking to someone about his field of expertise, then I need to know to make him more three dimensional. There has to be some depth to why he does what he does. So, there’s a lot of the research that doesn’t end up on paper, but hopefully, it shows through the character as a whole, if that makes sense.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely.
N.R.: Yeah, yeah. A lot of research, usually.
Jeff: So, you mentioned nice guys doing nice things, and that’s a great segue over to “Throwing Hearts.” Like I mentioned, that’s our Book Club pick for March. This book delighted Will and I so, so much. Oh, my goodness. You mentioned a little bit that Merrick got more fully formed because of that cover?
Jeff: What can you tell us about where Leo and Merrick sprang from for you?
N.R.: Well, I don’t know. I’d been watching the “Pottery Throw Down.” There is a show called “Pottery Throw Down.”
Jeff: Oh yes.
N.R.: And I love that. But there’s a lot of pottery making on Instagram and Twitter and all of social media and just watching them, it’s just such a physical, I guess, sensual art form. It’s very tactile, and it’s very hands-on. So, yeah, I don’t know. There was no, like, moment, it was just, “Oh, that would be fun.” And it was actually Leo that spoke to me first. And he was just bright and bubbly, and looking for something but didn’t really know what he was looking for. And, of course, he was helping Clyde through the app outreach program of older gay men with trying to keep them involved. There is actually a program like that in Sydney, so I did kind of use that as a foundation of how we would meet Leo, in particular, and Clyde. And then we met Merrick through his art studio.
Jeff: And they’re such a lovely couple. I mean, they talk a lot and I love characters that talk and put their feelings on the table and everything. And, yeah, the pottery stuff, it just all wove together in such a nice tapestry of good feels all the way around. And I love that it was “Pottery Throw Down” that gave you the inspiration. Because “Pottery Throw Down” is why we wanted to read that book.
N.R.: Yeah. Yeah, because I think the new season’s just started, hasn’t it? I haven’t caught up on that yet. But…
Jeff: It’s not over here yet at all. We keep seeing Facebook stuff from the UK about season 4. And it’s like, hurry up and get it over here.
N.R.: I do love that. And I do love that it’s very tactile personal thing. I mean, all art is, I guess. But, yes, seeing them do that is, there was just a lot of fun. And, yeah, again, with the decent guys, nice characters, who deserve good things, doesn’t always have to be about angst and drama, and sometimes it can just be fun. And that’s still valid storytelling. It’s still, books and romance novels don’t need to have heartbreak to be a valid romance story. Or sometimes there’s the conflict that has to happen. It’s not defining as so much, it’s more building, I guess. And, yeah, so with characters, like Leo and Merrick, it was just good to give them a happy-ever-after that was good. And I think more so with them, the conflict or what happened to make them become closer together really was Clyde and Donnie, and seeing their conflict and they’re in the struggle, kind of. But then knowing that Clyde and Donnie were seeing each other, it also made Leo and Merrick realize that it doesn’t need to be complicated, sometimes things can just be good and easy, and it’s only as complicated as you make it, really.
Jeff: Some of their complications, I really enjoyed watching them sort out because most of their conflict was centered around consent a lot of times and what one wanted versus the other and going slow. And I really liked how you worked with consent here because it is such an important factor, how fast each wants to go. And the way it was laid out, I thought was really unique for romance, to see so much talk of consent. I really thought it was kind of refreshing up in and amongst this really light book.
N.R.: Yeah. Yeah. And saying what you want, but also what you need and what is good for you as a person, and not trying to please the other person because you don’t want them to leave you, type thing. I think that’s knowing what you want and what your worth is an important thing to put down on the table when you’re with someone who you think could be the real deal for you. So, yeah. So, that was good.
Jeff: And then, of course, Clyde and Donnie, you gave us two romances for the price of one in here for the most part.
N.R.: Yes. I know.
Jeff: And in Clyde and Donnie, I mean, we don’t see those stories a lot. They’re both in late 60s, early 70s for both of them. Donnie, he’s been very closeted his entire life and Clyde draws him out. It was just the most beautiful thing. Where did those two come from? I think you said Clyde spoke to you first kind of in that situation.
N.R.: Yes. Clyde was always there. He was with Leo from the very beginning. And he was just this grumpy, gruff, cranky old man who was just the biggest softest bear that Leo just adored, and his gruffness was part of his charm. So, getting him out of the house, even though he complained and grumbled the entire time, was a real… I mean, Leo just adores him, so Clyde was always there. I had no idea that Donnie was going to be in the book or that Donnie even existed until we walked into the art studio. And there he was. And Clyde was just literally speechless when he first saw him and I just thought that that was lovely, and it was good too, while Leo and Merrick were over here having their do we, don’t we, how do we make this work? Clyde and Donnie were just like, you know what? We’re just, life’s too short. So, it was good to have that two contrasting perspectives, I guess, that Clyde and Donnie were just… I just loved them.
Jeff: And it also kind of kicked Leo and Merrick along to see that life’s too short kind of thing and did know that Donnie lost a lot of his life being closeted. So, they might as well go for it. It was such a good message all around just to add to that feel-good value of the book again.
N.R.: Yes, yeah. No, it was good. And so they completely took me by surprise Clyde and…
Jeff: I’m so glad they did.
N.R.: Clyde and Donnie. I had no idea when I started that they would be a secondary romance in the book. And it was good and the end scene… I don’t know whether I should give scope of this.
Jeff: Well, we’ll be spoiling it in the Book Club episode. So, you be either you spill it now or we will spoil it then.
N.R.: But to set up that wedding scene, I really wanted to have them being at the church and being really nervous. But it wasn’t Leo and Merrick’s wedding. So, to me, that was… I loved that part as well.
Jeff: I was delighted to see that wedding, that happened as opposed to Leo and Merrick’s. It’s just all-the-more satisfying for me.
N.R.: It was for me too.
Jeff: And I really hope Clyde and Donnie infiltrate your brain again, because I would love, at some point, to see almost their timeline of the same story to know some of the other stuff that was going on. We get some really awesome peaks inside “Throwing Hearts,” but to see more of that for them. So, I have a little campaign here that I want them to talk more to you.
N.R.: When they start to talk, I will definitely listen. But, no, they never spoke to me like main character, so.
Jeff: Fingers crossed.
N.R.: Yes. Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed.
Jeff: So, let’s go back in your history a little bit. What got you started writing?
N.R.: Oh, fanfiction. I started reading fanfiction about 12 years ago. And it was “Twilight” fanfiction. And there were scenes in the books that I didn’t really like or agree with or that I thought were missing. And I actually started to write. Actually, wrote one short, it was about 10,000 words before I even knew what fanfiction was, and I’d never written anything before outside of high school. And I just wanted to write this scene because it wasn’t in the books, and I wanted to see it, I guess. So, I wrote that. And then I found fanfiction and I read, and I read hundreds of thousands of words of millions of words I probably read in about two years. And then I remembered this little piece of writing that I had done, and I thought, “Oh, I could upload that.” So, without knowing what I was doing, or without no one had read it, no one had edited it, no one had even looked at it. But there, stupid me, uploaded it into this fanfiction site, and a lot of people read it, and a lot of people really liked it. And so then I wrote some more and I’ve just kept writing, and then a lot of people kept saying to me, you should write original fiction. But it never really occurred to me to, I was happy doing what I was doing, and it was fun. And I never wanted to write, but then, I had two characters come into my head that had nothing to do with fanfiction, and I thought, oh. So, that was actually the story, “Point of No Return,” and my “Breaking Point” story of Matt and Kira was the very first thing that I wrote. So, that was my first foray into writing original fiction of characters that didn’t belong to somebody else. So, yeah. So, I got into writing through fanfiction, really, by reading it, to begin with.
Jeff: That’s awesome. Is your work still up there somewhere?
N.R.: No, I took it all down.
Jeff: Took it all down.
N.R.: I’ve been modified, just still wondering that now. I’d be horrified. I’d horrified.
Jeff: What were the fandoms you wrote in?
N.R.: I have written in “Twilight,” I have written in “Spartacus” and that’s about it. That’s all that I’ve written in.
N.R.: Yeah, yeah. But I have read an awful lot.
Jeff: What drew you to writing M/M romance and M/M pairings?
N.R.: Again, it was through fanfiction. Someone sent me a link. I was quite involved in the fanfiction fandom, I guess, for the want of a better word, and someone sent me a link to a story. It was called in the “Deep End,” I think. This is literally 12 years ago, saying, “You need to read this. You absolutely have to read this.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” And so I read it. And it was an M/M pairing. And I literally never went back to reading M/F fanfiction after that. It was just a whole new concept for me. I don’t know what drew me into it so much. I think it was more of an equal footing, the characters, I think. It was like damsel in distress, or there’s no one really needed saving, I guess. So, that’s how I got into M/M. Long before I started writing, I was reading M/M pairings.
Jeff: Who are some authors that inspire the kinds of stories you tell?
N.R.: Oh, wow. I don’t really know. I get inspiration from a lot of things. But I think what inspires me most from different authors is just authenticity, I guess. If there’s a genuineness, I guess, to the story, or an originality or something that’s different or something. That’s what draws me and that’s what inspires me. I don’t want to say I write from the heart, because everybody writes from the heart. But just that connection, I think that’s what inspires me the most. It’s not really one or any authors, in particular, I have quite a few favorites. I just think it’s just, yeah, something about a connection, I think that that’s what inspires me more, I think.
Jeff: Do you have favorite themes or tropes that you tend to like to work with?
N.R.: To read? I absolutely love sci-fi, paranormal, thrillers. That’s what I would read all day long. Fantasy? I love it. But to write? Look, I’ve written nearly kind of every sub-genre that you can probably imagine, and I do love writing fantasy. My “Cronin’s Key” series and my book “Lacuna” were some of my proudest work. But again, because I don’t plot or outline or anything, there’s so much world-building that needs to be done properly and thoroughly. And for someone who is a pantser, like myself, that can get a little bit… It breaks my brain, is how I like to say it. So, then I will generally spring back to something contemporary, that is just fun, like “Throwing Hearts,” like “Bossy,” like “Upside Down,” things like that, that are just fun, contemporary, cute romance, “Good guys doing good things” is generally what I come back to after I’ve written something heavier.
Jeff: And I would say “Good guys doing good things” is probably one of your trademarks.
N.R.: Yeah, probably is.
Jeff: Do you have other ones in there, too, that you consistently just story after story put in?
N.R.: I don’t know, you probably have to ask my readers that. I know someone on Twitter, not too long ago said, “Oh my God, that’s N.R. Walker book when they wear jeans with bare feet.” I went, “Oh, yes, well, that’s pretty.”
Jeff: That’s an interesting trademark to have.
N.R.: And they swear a lot. And they generally drink a lot of coffee. So, that’s just the author coming through there.
Jeff: You mentioned that you’ve really written across so many genres. Is there one out there that you still want to do that, you haven’t taken the leap on, yet?
N.R.: I don’t know. I’ve done… I have one sci-fi that I have written, but I have one that I would also like to write and it’s going to be in space, on a different planet, or I don’t really know, I haven’t really got much further than that. But that is something that I would like to write, but maybe later this year or even next year, but it’s definitely going to happen. But that’s, kind of, really about it. There are some that I just couldn’t write because I don’t know enough about. Like, a book about American football, I would have no clue. I barely understand Australian Football, or even hockey, ice hockey. I love it. And I love watching it and I love reading books about ice hockey, but I could never write it because I just don’t… I didn’t grow up in that or I just could not research that authentically enough, I don’t think. Particularly those two because people who do know and understand and leave that football, I thought they would be able to spot me a mile off that I’ve never done that. Do you know what I mean?
Jeff: I want to give you somehow a deep dive education on hockey because I would love to read an N.R. Walker hockey book.
N.R.: I know. And I love ice hockey. I’ve seen two live ice hockey games when I was in America and love it. And I love reading ice hockey romance books, but I just don’t think I could do it justice.
Jeff: What’s something you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners?
N.R.: I’m halfway through Alice Winters, “Hitman’s Bodyguard.”
Jeff: Yeah, “The Hitman” series. Those are good.
N.R.: “The Hitman series.” The second one “How to Survive Through Past Mistakes,” Sorry, Alice Winters, I can’t remember the title, the second one. So, I’m actually listening to them on audiobook, I prefer audios. I get more reading done, I guess, and it saves my eyesight and my hands after I’ve looked at screens and typed all day long. Audiobooks just give me a bit of a break.
Jeff: Yeah, we feel the same way, we do a good portion of our reading on audio these days.
N.R.: Yeah, and I love it. I just love it. So, yes, the Alice Winters, “The Hitman” series. I absolutely love it. I’ve got the third one ready to go. So, I do love them. Jackson and Leland, the two main characters. And her sense of humor is just incredible. Love them. So, another series that I’ve just not long finished reading is the “Nevernight” series by Jay Kristoff. It’s a fantasy series, I should say, where just don’t get too attached to a lot of the characters is probably the best way to say that. But it’s amazing. And I read books like that, that are like “Games of Thrones” or the “Nevernight” series or… and it just makes me feel like I’m sitting at the kiddies table half the time. Do you know what I mean? Because they’re just so brilliant. But I just love them. So, definitely the Jay Kristoff, “Nevernight” trilogy, yeah.
Jeff: Awesome. With “Bossy” just out this month, what do we have to look forward to coming up in the months to come?
N.R.: Okay, so my current work in progress, and I’m really quite behind on my schedule at the moment. So, the next thing I’ll have out after “Bossy,” it has a working title at the moment of “Code Red.” But I don’t know whether that’s going to stay. But generally, what I save my document as I’m typing is just a working title, and it usually gets changed. But anyway, it is about a… Well, he’s in a band. So, I don’t want to say rock band, because it’s not really rock, and it’s not really a boy band because he’s 25. But anyway, he’s a singer and a musician, and he’s a manager who has become pretty much the only person on the planet who we can trust. So, that’s what I’m writing at the moment. It’s a lot of fun.
Jeff: As I see there’s a musician involved and there’s a workplace romance there because of the manager.
N.R.: Yeah, yeah. And there’s…
Jeff: Yeah, I think you can sign me up for it already.
N.R.: The traveling, the world, and because we’re actually on tour at the moment. But yes, the wheels are about to fall off. I have no idea when that is likely to be released. I would have hoped for possibly May, but I think it may even be later than that. Because I’m just so far behind on my writing schedule at the moment. I think at the end of 2020, I know I’ve spoken to a lot of writers and other authors who have just hit a wall, the creativity and it’s hard to be creative and to be productive with everything that’s going on at the moment. Luckily enough, I could push through most of 2020 and I actually managed to write a fair bit and I got a fair few books ahead. And then it came to about November, and December, and January and I could barely write anything. So, I’m a little bit behind but I’m back into writing again.
Jeff: That’s good.
N.R.: So, hopefully, these boys will get their happy-ever-after and everything will be right in the world.
Jeff: I am sure that it will be. You’ll get it there.
N.R.: I will.
Jeff: It’s important to take care of yourself so that you can get them there. So, yeah.
N.R.: Yeah. It’s just taking a lot longer than what I had hoped. But anyway, it’ll get there.
Jeff: So, how can people keep up with you online to know when “Code Red” comes out, what its name might change to, and all the other news that will come out from you?
N.R.: So, I have a Facebook Readers Group, which is where I am probably most active, and I’m also on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve avoided TikTok so far because I don’t have the time that I know I will lose to that if I were to sign up. At the moment I’m trying to not be as present on social media while I’m trying to get this book written, while still being active, it’s quite a fun line to tread.
Jeff: We’ll link to all of that plus the books and everything we talked about in our show notes. N.R., thank you so much for coming and talking. It has been such a delight.
N.R.: Oh, thank you for having me. Thank you for having me.
Will: This episode’s interview transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the interview for yourself, simply head on over to the shownotes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. And don’t forget the shownotes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And you’ll also find links to the vast selection of N.R. Walker books that are available over on Libro.fm, which includes “Throwing Hearts,” the “Imago” series, and many, many, others. Purchasing audiobooks through Libro.fm is a great way to not only get your favorite audio, but to also support a local bookstore of your choice. All you need is the free Libro.fm app, and you’ll be listening to audio books and no time. Listeners of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast can get a two month audiobook membership for the price of one. You can get all the details for that at biggayfictionpodcast.com/librofm.
And thanks to N.R. for joining us. Her pantsing process just really fascinated me. I love hearing how pantsers build their stories. And honestly, she gave me goosebumps when she was talking about how that moment of discovery in “Throwing Hearts” where Clyde kind of found Donnie just standing in the pottery shop, in the same way that she found him there as a character manifesting in that moment. I just loved it and I can’t wait to dig into more N.R. Walker books now that I know even more about how she builds them It’s just fascinating to me.
Will: All right, I think that’s going to do it for this episode. Coming up on Thursday in episode 297 it’s book club time. We hope that you’ll join us for our in depth discussion of “Throwing Hearts.”
Jeff: I love this book. I say that every month in relation to the books that you choose for us to read for book club, but this one in particular was just, you know, we heard N.R. talk about nice guys doing nice things, and that’s exactly what this book is. It was just what I needed to kick off the spring.
Will: Thanks so much for listening until next time, please stay strong, be safe and above all else. Keep turning those pages and keep reading.