Jeff shares the news that the first three audiobooks for his Codename: Winger young adult series, narrated by Kirt Graves, are now available everywhere.
The hockey romances Heated Rivalry and Role Model, both by Rachel Reid, are reviewed by Jeff before Rachel joins us to talk about the Game Changers series. She shares what got her started writing the series, how she decides the type of guy to pair her hockey players with, and what’s still to come for the next book in the series. Rachel also discusses how writing about hockey when she was 12 set her on the path to becoming the author she is today. We also get some excellent book recs too.
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. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Codename: Winger series by Jeff Adams on Amazon | Audible | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Episode 315 – Giving YA Characters a Voice with Kirt Graves on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Rachel Reid Interview
- Rachel Reid: website | Twitter | Instagram
- Game Changers series by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Role Model by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- You Can Play Project website
- Game Changer by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Tough Guy by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Common Goal by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Game Changers series playlists on RachelReidWrites.com
- Gordon Korman on Amazon | Kobo
- Cat Sebastian on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Alexis Hall on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- KJ Charles on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Layla Reyne on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Alison Temple on Amazon | Kobo
- Allie Therin on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Jenn Burke on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Sam Burns on Amazon
- W.M. Fawkes on Amazon
- Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- King’s Man by Sally Malcolm on Amazon
- 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.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, author Rachel Reid joins us to talk about the latest book in her “Game Changers” hockey romance series.
Will: Welcome to episode 329 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Will and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Mr. Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers it is wonderful to have you back for another episode of the podcast.
Will: We’ve got lots of hockey to talk about in this episode and you’ve got some exciting news about a certain YA hero.
Jeff: I do and it even connects to our hockey theme. Three of the four of my “Codename: Winger” audio books are finally everywhere wide. “Tracker Hacker,” “Schooled” and “Audio Assault” have all made their way into Audible. They’re also available from all of the other audio book outlets. I am so thrilled with the way these books have turned out in audio format.
Now we talked to Kirt Graves, who is the narrator for these books, back at episode 315 about his work on this series. And if you didn’t catch that, you should definitely go back and give it a listen, because it was a wonderful conversation with Kirt, and at the end of that episode, you can actually hear the prologue and the first chapter from “Tracker Hacker” to get a little sample of what those books are like.
When we recorded that episode, he had done the first two books and I gush a little bit in that episode with him about his work. I absolutely adore how he took Theo on such a journey as he did these books. You can hear Theo mature through Kirt’s voice across the four books. Even though they’re my stories, frankly, Kirt made me cry more than once in these books because he just hits the emotional tones so very well.
So I’m thrilled that these are starting to be available everywhere. You could also pick them up on my website, direct for me for a cheaper price as well. And you can do that at JeffAdamsWrites.com. Simply click the Shop button, and you’ll be able to see all the books and audio books that are available, and those all be delivered to you via BookFunnel. So I hope you’ll check out these books now that they’re available wherever you want to pick up an audio book and given listen to Kirt’s wonderful work on this series.
Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid
Jeff: Before we get into our conversation with Rachel, I actually want to review a couple of the books from the “Game Changers” series. Now, it doesn’t seem possible that you have to go back to episode 169, which happens to be the final episode of 2018 to find my review of Rachel Reid’s “Game Changer,” which I absolutely adored.
And as I prepared to talk with Rachel for this week’s episode, I came back to the series and read the second book, which is “Heated Rivalry.” And I absolutely kicked myself for not reading it sooner. This enemies-to-lovers, years-long, slow burn romance is absolutely incredible and has vaulted onto the list of my all time favorite hockey romance books.
Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov are two of hockey’s best players and the rivalry between them has long roots going back to when they squared off in a game, when they were still teenagers before the NHL draft brought them both into the big leagues. The NHL was happy to continue to stoke the fire of the rivalry too, as were the guys. They wanted to win. They wanted to score the most goals. They wanted the awards. They pushed each other to new heights in their career.
What they hadn’t expected is to end up in any kind of off ice relationship. Even a friendship didn’t seem possible for these two, yet they ended up in a situation where they can’t help hooking up whenever they’re in the same city. For Shane, this is new territory. He’s only been with women before, but he suspected he might be bi or maybe gay. For Ilya, he’s definitely bi, but the more he’s with Shane, the less satisfied he is with anyone else.
Aside from being equally competitive, Shane and Ilya are complete opposites, antagonizing each other at every turn. Shane is nice, always nice, but still finds a way with that niceness to push Ilya’s buttons. Ilya is happy to rock the boat and get under people’s skin and Shane doesn’t understand that. And boy, if there was ever an instance of opposites attract it’s these two. Rachel does an incredible job of getting these two together and for each meetup, forcing the two to realize more and more what they mean to each other while at the same time, setting up the difficulties of if and how they might come out and what that could mean, even though the NHL has an out player with Scott Hunter, who does make appearances in this book.
Alongside their growing relationship, Shannon Ilya grapple with their rising success and status in the league and how that spills into their personal lives. Rest assured, at each turn they’re measuring themselves against the other while also balancing how their success affects other friends, family, and relationships. And in that area, they also could not be more opposite either, because Shane has a wonderful family whereas for Ilya, he is mostly looked at as a bank by his family.
In this story told over multiple years, and by my count, it was seven or maybe eight, Rachel keeps the story moving, never letting it feel like it’s taking too long. And while there is a lot of sex, since these two are usually together when hooking up. Each one of those hookups are very distinct and drive the emotional plot forward. There are some really standout moments for me too, including when Ilya says, “I love you” without actually saying “I love you.” And if you’ve read the book, you know exactly the scene I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, you definitely will understand it when you read it. One of my other favorite moments happens to be one that Rachel is going to talk about because it was one of her favorite moments. And I’m going to let her tell you about that one in the interview in a few minutes.
Shane and Ilya absolutely crackle on the page, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever loved enemies-to-lovers so much. It was fun to see how even when they were truly falling for each other, that there was still antagonism there, even as it kind of softened a little bit into just good natured barbs. Yes, there are some moments that make you hold your breath on if they can keep their secrets until the right time and in one particularly oops moment, they kind of don’t.
The book ends as a happy for now, but it’s a great happy for now. Or at least it was for me because I loved what Shane and Ilya had in mind for their future.
Role Model by Rachel Reid
And speaking of future, let’s jump forward to the brand new book in this series with “Role Model,” which is book five. It only took the opening chapters for me to be absolutely in love with hockey player Troy and social media manager Harris. I will say that I have not read books three and four in this series, so I don’t have the history that some readers will have with Troy. So I immediately cheered for what he did just before this book started.
Troy has landed in Ottawa to play for the Centaurs, which by the way, I think is a really kick ass hockey name totally separate from anything else going on. He got traded from Toronto because he called out Dallas Kent, Toronto’s star player and Troy’s former best friend, because he believes the anonymous complaints that have come out accusing Dallas of sexual harassment.
On top of that, just before that incident with Dallas, Troy got dumped by his secret boyfriend of two years. Of course, Troy can’t discuss his love life because he can’t face coming out. And since its reputation has been one of a not nice guy, his new Ottawa teammates, aren’t exactly excited by his arrival. At least the team captain Ilya Rozanov is friendly and welcomes him. And yes, I may have squeed a bit to find Ilya in here as the captain, because it’s a chance to see what was going on with him.
Social media manager Harris has to be welcoming to the new guy. In fact, Harris is pretty much welcoming and friendly to everyone. His bubbly demeanor came right off the page as a ray of sunshine and I absolutely love him. He’s unapologetically exactly who he is, out, proud, happy, determined to live his life to the fullest. Everyone should be as happy in life and in their job as he is. Harris is thrilled that Troy is on the team, not only because he’s had a crush on him for a very long time, but also for the stand he took in supported the women who accused Kent.
As much as Troy is inside his head, as he arrives in Ottawa and his first day with the team, he has a bit smitten with Harris. Not only is Harris attractive, although not exactly. Troy’s regular type. He’s also thrilled to find an openly gay man embraced and befriended by this team.
As much as Troy may try to keep himself to himself, keep his head down and play good hockey, he can’t ignore Harris and the efforts he makes to be kind and friendly. Initially it’s about showing Troy around Ottawa, but the more time they spend together, whether it’s doing work for the team or hanging out, Troy can’t help but fall more in like, and eventually a lot more, with Harris. These two end up in such a super cute give and take with each other that it gave me all the feels multiple times.
The redemption arc for Troy is very strong in this book. While he has a certain rep in the league, he’s doing everything he can to change. He doesn’t want to be thought of as anything like Dallas Kent, and he’s disgusted with himself that he behaved the way that he did in an effort to be liked and to fit in. His growth through the story is so wonderful and adds a great dimension alongside the romance. Troy’s got good people around him in Ottawa, and he realizes that more and more through the story. Rachel did such a great job of balancing these two facets of the story. I really can’t speak highly enough of it.
And I’d be remiss not to spend a moment on Ilya. It’s wonderful to see how he’s evolved since the end of “Heated Rivalry,” including showing more of his big heart. There are moments with him and a puppy who becomes the team’s unofficial mascot that are crazy cute. There’s also a moment where he and Shane meet up on the ice, which is loaded with some great chemistry that we get to view through Troy’s eyes. There are other moments in the book featuring Ilya that resonated so much with me having read the previous book. You’ll hear shortly from Rachel about what’s coming up next for Shane and Ilya and I am so psyched for that.
Meanwhile back here with “Role Model.” I love the story that Rachel told. It’s a great romance for Troy and Harris, and it’s an incredible story of Troy finding himself and becoming a much better version of himself as he realizes fully how terrible his past has been and how good his future can be.
I highly recommend both “Heated Rivalry” and “Role Model” and I know that sooner than later, I’m going to be going back to pick up books three and four in this series so that I can read these other stories. I have so very much become a huge fan of Rachel’s.
So let’s get to that conversation with Rachel. She talks with us about what got her started writing the “Game Changers” series, her long-standing love of the game, and her fascination with the players. We also talk about book six, plus we even get a little sneak peek of what might come after that.
Rachel Reid Interview
Jeff: Rachel, welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to have you here.
Rachel: I am super excited to be here. This is a huge honor.
Jeff: I totally thrilled to have you here to talk about “Game Changers.” I enjoyed the books when I started reading them in 2018 and you’ve just released the fifth book with “Role Model.” Before we get into the latest, take us back and tell us about the series and what got it started for you?
Rachel: It’s sort of like a write what, you know, thing, cause I just had all this useless hockey knowledge in my head and I wanted to use it for something. I’ve just had like lifelong love of hockey, but more than that, a lifelong fascination with hockey players, just the weird way that they are.
But yeah, hockey is also a super problematic thing to like, especially men’s NHL hockey. So I think my ideas kind of came together as my own way of dealing with my love of hockey in a way that makes it a little bit more palatable for myself. So I’m kind of trying to create a more optimistic, nicer version of the NHL for myself with, player led change, which I think actually just last week, the first contracted at NHL player came out as gay, which is amazing. That still didn’t seem anything close to that was going to happen when I wrote “Game Changer,” but I guess it was just I dunno, a super happy idea of what it might be like if a really big star came out.
That was the starting idea for me, just what would be my ideal version of that happening.
Jeff: And it’s interesting it’s really taken this long for hockey too. That has just happened in this month that we’re recording in July, even though the, You Can Play Project started in hockey and has been around for a little more than a decade now.
Rachel: Yeah. And you know, I think all the teams have pride nights now.
Jeff: I think so, yeah.
Rachel: You know, I’ve seen NHL players say that the culture is so toxic, even from a very young age that it would drive a lot queer kids out before they even got to the level where scouts might be looking at them. That’s definitely a big part of the problem.
Jeff: And hopefully that will finally start to pivot now.
Rachel: Yeah, I hope so. I’m really excited that Luke Prokop, is his name, came out. It’s really exciting. It’s brave, it’s been really well received. Hopefully there will be player led change. The young players will do it.
Jeff: Now, I know you live in Canada, so hockey runs in the blood there, but what pulled you into the sport?
Rachel: I always have this fascination with hockey players. They’re super conditioned to be hockey players. And I’m not trying to generalize here cause I’m sure some of them are a little bit different, but I’ve been following it my whole life.
NHL players are super conservative. I don’t mean politically necessarily, although a lot of them probably are, but, they conform in a way where they’re not really comfortable talking about anything that’s not hockey, and it’s like they’re condition like soldiers. They’re all very similar interests. And when they are interviewed, they all basically say the same things and they sound very much the same. I always was aware of that and there was something that kinda interested me in why the culture is that way. You don’t even really see that with other sports.
There’s a lot more individualism in other sports. I enjoyed the sport for what it was in the same way that so many Canadians love it and just loved cheering for a team and to complain about bad calls or whatever. But I also had this fascination with the culture around it, and the way the hockey players behave and talk. From probably the time I was a teenager, I got really into that.
I think I was writing my first hockey fiction when I was 12 or 13. Taking stabs at writing novels about hockey players, because…
Jeff: That’s cool.
Rachel: It just really interests me.
Jeff: Early storytelling in terms of hockey. I like that. Tell us it’s a little bit about “Role Model” and Troy and social media manager Harris.
Rachel: Yeah, so Troy’s a really minor character that first appeared in “Tough Guy” the third book, as kind of one of two players on the team that were giving the main character, that one Ryan Price, a hard time. So he’s kind of a bad guy, but he’s not really on the page enough to really be firmly established as a bad guy. He just seems not great. He has another small appearance in “Common Goal” and now he has his own book.
So the book kind of starts with him. Just before the book begins, a bunch of stuff happens. So this does not actually happen on the page. He’s best friends with Dallas Kent on the Toronto team, who is the villain in the books. He’s a, just a horrible person. He is not a redeemable character. People have asked if he’s getting his own book. No. He’s terrible.
Kind of two things happen that kind of ruin Troy’s life. And one is that a bunch of women anonymously post detailed accounts of being sexually assaulted by Dallas Kent online. And Troy believes that they’re all true, but he seems to be the only one who does. And then also Troy has been secretly dating a guy for two years. Troy’s very deeply in the closet, but has been in the secret relationship for two years with an actor in Vancouver, who dumps in the same week that he finds out all this stuff about his best friend.
So these two things happen at once. It causes him to kind of snap at practice and he calls out his friend, very loudly, and it’s captured on video and it goes viral. So Troy gets traded to Ottawa and that’s where the book begins. So Troy is basically rock bottom, but no one can know about it. No one knows about that boyfriend part, about how he’s dealing with this kind of heartbreak. And then mostly people just think he’s maybe a slightly, less bad version of his friend. So they’re not really, super welcoming. So yeah, that’s where he is. He’s just pretty miserable. He’s generally a pretty glum guy anyway, he doesn’t smile much.
But, Harris is the team’s social media manager in Ottawa. And he is the polar opposite. He is all sunshine. He’s openly gay. He’s very confident, very loud, very chatty. And he’s pretty determined to make Troy smile. That’s what the book’s about. It’s kinda just redemption arc, grumpy sunshine trope.
Jeff: Those are always fun. Those characters who are just determined to get a smile out of somebody it’s come on, you can do it. It’s in there somewhere.
Now only once in the series so far have you paired hockey player with hockey player and otherwise you’ve got the social media guy with the new book and you’ve had musicians and smoothie makers and grad students. How do you decide what profession makes for the one to pair with the hockey player?
Rachel: Yeah, I think mostly I don’t do two hockey players too often because I just want to write about, at least half the book, about something that’s not hockey. But it would’ve been way easier to just have two teammates because they’d be together all the time. Cause the challenge with hockey romances is that the NHL players always going to be away or busy, but if their teammates they’d be together, so that would be easier.
I think, the first one just followed kind of, it was a coffee shop romance, except it was a smoothie shop. And I just kind of liked the idea of Scott Hunter, the hockey player, having a lucky smoothie that he kept going for.
Jeff: Really highlighting that whole superstition thing that most hockey players if not all hockey players have to an extreme.
Rachel: Yeah, cause I really wanted it to be this kind of just a super wealthy celebrity guy and then just a guy working a minimum wage job, and I had to figure out a reason why their lives would come together.
And then for “Tough Guy” I just really wanted the complete opposite of Ryan who is a hockey enforcer. And so I came up with this musician character. And I liked the idea of him being somebody that Ryan had met as a teenager when he billeted with his family playing junior hockey and that yeah, that Fabian, the other guy just didn’t fit in with his hockey loving family at all. And didn’t care about hockey at all.
He was a super talented musician and very artistic. And I liked that he was kind of on his own path to stardom in that book. I kind of wanted one character to be on the way out of his hockey career while the other one’s music career is taking off. So I think that’s why, yeah. I chose an artistic profession for him.
And then Harris being social media, that’s the closest I’ve gotten to teammate. I just wanted somebody who could around all the time. So I thought that would be a good way to do it.
Jeff: Given your long history with hockey, is there anything in these books that relate to hockey that you actually have to research at this point? Or is it just all in your head?
Rachel: There’s some things, I wish I could just talk to an NHL player just to ask some really basic questions, about how do you get to the plane? Or what’s the team breakfast situation like?
I do try to find out little details to get it as realistic as possible. Usually that means kind of doing deep dives into videos that maybe were posted a long time ago. Maybe the player has something on their own Instagram or the social media person did,
I remember for a “Tough Guy,” I had to research what the penalty box assistant actually does. Cause I wanted to be clear about that. And then I thought that would be an amazing job. I wish I was a penalty box assistant. You basically just get to watch a hockey game.
Jeff: I always worry about them if somebody comes in just to raging mad and there’s this big defenseman coming after you, and you’re the only other person in that really tiny little box.
Rachel: Yeah. I think most of what our research has really tiny details that no one’s going to care about anyway, but I just want them to be right. I still get people, hockey fanatics, who are, this is wrong. I tried. Or sometimes I change things. It’s too boring or confusing to explain.
Jeff: Yeah, you got to make it good for everybody. The people who are not hockey enthusiasts too.
Rachel: Like I give some of the players roommates, even if they’re at a level where they probably wouldn’t have roommates, just because it’s better for the story. Or like for the all-star game, I’m not going to explain that it’s supposed to be like four-on-four, whatever it is, instead of who cares
Jeff: Some of those things, they changed the format so often you who knows what it’s going to be any giving moment.
Rachel: For the All star game, you can just make it up. Yeah.
Jeff: Now you’re getting ready for your first sequel as you come back to Shane and Ilya from “Heated Rivalry.” Did you always have that in mind? Because the book, as you’ve noted on your blog, doesn’t end with an explicit HEA and that it’s more of a happy for now just given where that book ended.
Rachel: Yeah. I always hoped I’d get to write the sequel. I tried to write the first one in a way that if it never happened, it might be satisfying enough.
And I also knew there were more books in the series, so I could at least check in with those guys and give readers a hint of what’s going on after. And then I also thought I could write short stories, little epilogue short stories or stories set in the future. But I did hope that I could write a sequel, but it is awkward to have a sequel in a series of standalones.
So what I tried to do is make all of the books sort of spiritual sequels to each other. So “Common Goal” is kind of a sequel to “Game Changer,” it’s set in the same city, same team. “Role Model” is a sequel to “Tough Guy”. And then this will be the sequel to “Heated Rivalry.” But it’s a full on sequel, same couple, same everything.
So I’m really glad I’m getting the chance to write it. It’s really satisfying to be able to give them a much bigger happy ending.
Jeff: I have to imagine it might be kind of fun to be back with them cause they’re such antagonist pair against each other, even where they leave off at the end of that book, they’re still scraping against each other a little bit because it’s their thing.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s definitely a big part of their relationship even now into the future. They’re definitely still very competitive, antagonistic. And they’re still sneaking around. So those elements from the first book are still there. If that’s what people liked about them in the first one. That still exists. But yeah, I find the challenge with a contemporary romance sequel with the same couples how do you keep that relationship interesting? Because they are together and they’re very much in love.
There has to be these kinds of external conflicts. So there’s a bit of that and they still have to figure out how to have their relationship public. They have to come out and people need to deal with it. So that’s what this will be about mostly
Jeff: Can’t wait, cause I became such a Shane and Ilya fan. Enemies to lovers is a hit or miss with me. But these two, I don’t know. It was just so perfect. And following it over so many years, cause you really had the extended timeline in that book. With, seven, eight years in there that just kept flying by because they only get to meet up whether they’re in the same town.
Rachel: Yeah. It’s sort of a story told through sex scenes. I honestly wasn’t sure how that book would be received. I didn’t even think the publisher would take it. I just thought the fact that it is largely sex scenes and it doesn’t have a definite happy ending. It doesn’t have a black moment. It doesn’t have a lot of things, but I think I kind of just wrote it for me, it’s definitely the most popular book of the series. So, it all worked out. I’m really glad because I really enjoy writing those characters.
Jeff: Looking across the five books you’ve got out there now in this series, do you have a favorite moment that you’ve written in amongst the five that it’s this scene right here is one that I’m super proud of or something like that?
Rachel: Yeah, the one that comes to mind first is probably when in “Heated Rivalry” not to spoil too much, but there’s a scene where Ilya is going through and Shane calls him and it’s kind of the first time they’ve talked on the phone and Ilya’s really upset, but also kind of too tired and emotional too put his thoughts into English words. So Shane just tells him to say everything in Russian and he’ll just listen, even though he doesn’t understand. And I don’t know, I really liked that scene personally. I think it was a nice moment that elevated their relationship in a way that was kind of weird and specific to them
Jeff: Weird, but yet absolutely drew them closer together because neither one of them had to do that. And it was so sweet. Yeah. It was one of those moments that made me go awwww, among many in that book.
Rachel: I’m not a super emotional person. So if I can write something that, that makes me feel something, that’s a memorable scene for me.
Jeff: Looking beyond book six, do you envision more in “Game Changers” to keep it going?
Rachel: I don’t know. I’m kind of writing this one with this being the final book. It makes sense to me, but there are few scattered characters that kind of interest me that could have books. I just kind of really like to take a break from hockey romance after this one, just because hockey’s really bumming me out lately. And I just kinda liked to write about really just anything else. Maybe not millionaires and not fit people just to switch it up. So I think I would not say definitely no. I’d like to take a break.
My contract still has one more book for Carina after “The Long Game,” but it can be anything I want. It doesn’t have to be another “Game Changers” book, so I might try to do something else. And then, I might come back to it or I might start a spin off series or something or a whole new hockey romance.
Jeff: I was going to ask, cause it’s all been hockey so far that we’ve seen with, with Rachel Reid and so it was going to be interesting to hear if you were going to maybe start to mix it up a little bit with something else. So I’m intrigued to see what now what you do with that last book to Carina, is it going to be hockey or will it be, who knows?
Rachel: Most of the ideas I have are not hockey.
Jeff: Okay. I’m excited to see what comes of that.
So one of the things I’ve seen a lot with the current “Game Changer” books is there’s a playlist for everyone one of them. Where do the playlist come from? And do you have a playlist in mind as you sit down to write or does it kinda manifest itself as your writing.
Rachel: It’s kind of both. It’s usually the first step in starting a new book for me is I make the playlist. It changes a lot as I’m writing the book. This is the only way I’m Quintin Tarantino. I make the playlist first and then I start to write. I get inspired by music and I think it’s fun little playlist. And I to listen to it a lot when I’m writing. Not while I’m actually writing. Maybe in the car or when I’m walking around or something. I’ll listen to that playlist, just to think. Usually if I’m writing, I have to listen to classical music or something. Then when the book is done, I like to share the playlist just in case people want to have the official soundtrack.
Jeff: It was interesting to see the playlist for the books that I’ve read. I’m like, well, that’s an interesting song to have in that book.
Rachel: They’re all over the place.
Jeff: A little bit, but I like eclectic. All the playlist that I’ve ever done are wildly eclectic. So it was kind of fun to see, and then I get to thinking about how does that song connect and how does that song connect? So it’s kind of fun to turn, to match things up to the emotions inside.
Rachel: I have half a blog post written where I was explaining the “Heated Rivalry” playlist, song by song. And then I just got bored of writing. Maybe I should go back and try to finish that just to give people an idea of why the playlist is so all over the place.
Jeff: So let’s talk about your origin story and how you got started writing. You mentioned that you’ve got hockey fiction that goes back to when you were 12, when did you become a storyteller?
Rachel: I don’t know. When I was a kid in the eighties, I was obsessed with this Canadian author named Gordon Korman, who was a big deal up here at like children’s author mainly, but he published his first book when he was 14 and it was a huge hit. He wrote it as a school project and it was a monster hit here in Canada. It was a novel. And then he ended up publishing five books before he graduated from high school. And he’s still a big name here. He’s written something like 90 books at this point. But I was really obsessed with him, as a goal. I was like, oh, maybe I’ll publish a book when I’m 14. I did not. But it definitely was like I’m going to do it. But anyway, I wrote a lot as a kid, but just, largely unfinished things or, Ninja Turtles fan fiction or whatever, but definitely a lot of hockey related stuff too.
And then when I was older, I discovered fan fiction, internet fan fiction. I didn’t write a lot of it, but I’ve read a lot of it, but I wrote a little bit of it. So I dabbled a bit in that. Just every few years something would come along that would get me writing again, but I never really thought I’d write a whole book.
Jeff: What changed that? To get you to start a book, finish a book and take the leap even to submit a book.
Rachel: I was working on “Game Changer” for a while and then there were more LGBTQ romances happening. But I just wasn’t sure if there was a big demand from publishers for them or anything, or if it’d be something I could self publish or how work. I just didn’t, I didn’t know much about publishing. I still don’t know much about publishing.
But, yeah, so I guess when I finished it, people told me I should try to publish it. And so I was, okay. I really wasn’t sure how to go about doing that. And somebody told me about Carina, so that was one of the places I submitted. But yeah, I was clueless, but I was just, like, I mean, I I’ll try. It ended up working out. I got revise and resubmit, which my tip is revise and resubmit. If you get that cause it’ll work.
Jeff: What led you down the path of writing romance and romance with LGBTQ character?
Rachel: For me the romance plot line in anything has always been my favorite things, whether it’s a movie or a TV show or comic books or video games or anything. The romance storyline is what hooks me. Obviously I was why not read things that are entirely romance story lines and why not write those things? That’s what got me into romance.
And then I think even when I was really young, I was just really excited whenever there was anything that even hinted at any LGBTQ romance on a show or movie or anything at all, because there was not a lot when I was growing up in the eighties and nineties. There’s not really all that much of it now, but it was, even just a heated glance or something would just be, so exciting to me just to see that, I don’t know that possibility, of queer romance in a story.
So I think, I don’t know, that’s maybe why I’ve always kind of been drawn to it. But I like all romance.
But yeah, this particular story idea I had, for the “Game Changer” series, that just happened to be about men in love with each other. I definitely read a lot of LGBTQ romance probably more than any, anything else.
Jeff: Who are some of the authors who inspire the kinds of stories you tell.
Rachel: My big three favorite authors are Cat Sebastian, Alexis Hall, and KJ Charles, which I think probably a lot of people would say would name those three. But there’s really good reason for it. I look at their books and I’m like, there’s not a wasted sentence, you know? Like, that’s the goal. I feel that’s kind of this benchmark I want to hit. It’s just really well-crafted stories.
I also, I really love Charlie Adhara’s “Big Bad Wolf” series for Carina. And I dunno, I just really liked anyone who’s funny and creates interesting, sexy characters, Alison Temple, Allie Therin, Jenn Burke. I like Layla Reyne a lot. Adriana Herrera. Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes. They write together sometimes and they write separately as well. I like both of them. Tanya Chris. I don’t know. Lots of people. I do humor a lot. That usually stands out to me.
Jeff: And what do you think the trademarks of what your story are that makes a Rachel Reid story, a Rachel Reid story.
Rachel: Exhibitionist masturbation.
Jeff: The most interesting answer we’ve ever had when we’ve asked that question.
Rachel: It might be one thing. I hope humor. I hope that my love of writing dialogue comes through. And also, I don’t know, men being kind of stupid. .
Jeff: And you listed off a whole bunch of authors there, but is there a particular book that you’ve read recently that you would actually recommend to our readers to pick up?
Rachel: Yeah, I really loved Alexis Hall’s new one “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.” I just thought it was so funny and the love interest is adorable. And I think it’s fantastic bisexual rep. It’s a male, female romance, but it’s very queer. And I really loved that. It’s a love triangle, but it’s a woman who both of the love interests are men. But it’s fantastic. It’s just so much fun. And it’s the first of a new series. I’m looking forward to more of that.
And Cat Sebastian’s a new one, “The Queer Principles Of Kit Webb,” it’s also basically perfect. But I felt Sally Malcolm’s “King’s Man” is really good that one’s self published so I’ll give that a shout out, cause it’s not, it doesn’t get the marketing push that the others two do, but that’s a really great gripping historical romance about two colonial American ex lovers who are separated and reunite and England. One’s an exile trader and the other’s a spy and it’s really good.
Jeff: Ooh, I haven’t heard of that one. The other two are very high on my list, but now you’ve given me a third to go after too.
So we’ve talked a little bit about, what might be coming after that “Heated Rivalry” sequel, anything in particular more you want to share about what might be in the future?
Rachel: I’m hoping to take a bit of a break after this one, because been going pretty hard the last few years. But, yeah, I’m hoping to do some books set in Nova Scotia where I live, because I think it would be a really great setting for a romance series maybe. So that’s one thing I’m thinking about.
But yeah, mostly I’m just hoping that, you know, that I’ll get “The Long Game” done and everybody will be very happy with it. Cause I know a lot of, people have been sending me their requests for it, which is really nice, but I don’t know if they’re all going to get in. I’ll do my best,
Jeff: I can only imagine what people might be asking for to get jammed into this book.
Rachel: I mean, most of it’s reasonable, some of it’s not, I’m definitely considering everyone’s suggestions cause really this book is for the fans of the first one. There’s no other reason for it to exist. I want it to be satisfying for everyone who liked the first book and for me I’m definitely, I want it to be good. I want it to be how I want it to be. So, yeah. But I also want it to come out on time.
Jeff: Looking forward to it.
Rachel: Sometime in 2022, I think tentatively spring. But I don’t know.
Jeff: What’s the best way for folks to keep up with you online so they can know when this book comes out, future books?
Rachel: Probably Twitter, which is @akaRachelReid. I tell myself every day I’m going to leave Twitter and I’d never do it, so you may as well find me on there. I’m on Instagram too under @rachelreidwrites, all one word. Those are the two places. I am not very online. I did not have a Facebook group. I don’t have a mailing list. Yeah, I’m just not very online. So you can find me though, those two places. I’m probably ranting about hockey on Twitter.
Jeff: It’s a good thing to rant about.
Jeff: So we’ll link up to those social media places. We’ll link up to all the books and authors that we talked about. Rachel, it’s been so wonderful talking to you best of luck with the release of “Role Model” and looking forward to seeing what comes next in the series.
Rachel: Thank you.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. And don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve discussed in this episode.
Jeff: On the show notes page, you’ll also find links to audio books that are available from Libro.fm Rachel’s entire “Game Changers” series, and for that matter my “Codename: Winger” series are all available on Libro.fm, the place that when you buy an audio book, you’re actually supporting a local bookstore of your choice, which of course is such a wonderful thing to do. Listeners to the Big Gay Fiction Podcast can pick up a two month audio book membership for the price of one. To get more details on that offer and take advantage of it, simply go to biggayfictionpodcast.com/librofm.
And thanks again to Rachel for joining us. It was so wonderful talking with someone who is as into the game as she is. I am definitely looking forward to her future books.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next on Monday in episode 330, we’ll have a preview of some of the books that are coming out in the month of September.
Jeff: It is another jam packed month of books so you’re not going to want to miss this to start adding to your TBR for fall.
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself we want to thank you so much for listening, and we hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.