In the spirit of Halloween, Jeff & Will talk about the new TV series Chucky, which is based on the classic horror movie franchise and features a gay teen as its main character.
Jeff talks with author Sara Dobie Bauer about her new adult, rom-com, horror story This is Not A Horror Movie, which also happens to be this month’s Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection. We talk about where the characters of Emory and Connor came from, as well as all of the horror movie references Sara uses in the story. We also get details on Sara’s love of romance and horror, why it’s important to her to include mental health themes in her book, and what’s coming up next for her.
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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.
- Chucky on USA | SyFy
- Sara Dobie Bauer Interview
- Sara Dobie Bauer: website | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- This is Not a Horror Movie by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon
- Evil Dead on Amazon Prime Video
- Army of Darkness on Amazon Prime Video
- When Harry Met Sally on Amazon Prime Video
- Blake Lockheart on Audible | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Call Me ByYour Name on Amazon Prime Video
- Natasha Snow Designs website
- A Nightmare Before Christmas on Amazon Prime Video
- 30 Days of Night on Amazon Prime Video
- A Nightmare on Elm Street on Amazon Prime Video
- Scream on Amazon Prime Video
- Friday the 13th on Amazon Prime Video
- Magnum PI (1982) on Amazon Prime Video
- The Golden Girls on Hulu
- Stephen King on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Anne Rice on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Bite Somebody by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon | Kobo
- We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon | Kobo
- Dr. Sleep by Stephen King on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Shining by Stephen King on Amazon on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Lucy Lennox on Amazon | Kobo
- Lily Morton on Amazon
- Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon
- Trick ‘r Treat on Amazon Prime Video
- The Shining on Amazon Prime Video
- Cabin in the Woods on Amazon Prime Video
- Fear Street on Netflix
- Goosebumps series by R.L. Stein on Amazon | Kobo
- Necessary Evils series by Onley James on Amazon | Libro.fm
- Witches, Sluts, Feminists by Kristen J. Sollee on Amazon | Kobo
- Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer on Amazon
- A Lord to Love by Sara Dobie Bauer 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, we talk with author Sara Dobie Bauer about this month’s Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection, “This is Not a Horror Movie.”
Will: Welcome to episode 340 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 Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers. It’s great to have you back for another episode.
Will: So before we dive into this week’s author interview, we thought it might be fun to take the opportunity to talk about some of the Halloween themed television that we’ve been partaking of. And most recently that has been the new series airing on USA and SyFy. It’s “Chucky.”
The classic series of movies, featuring an animated doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, now has his very own TV show. And as we’re recording this episode, we’ve only watched the premiere. But boy, I don’t know about you. What’s not to love?
Jeff: Yeah, I certainly liked it. If you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, you know that horror movies are not exactly my thing. And I really have a thing against dolls that move about on their own and talk and stuff cause I have some deep seeded terror from like “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” and some other things back when I was a kid. Chucky somehow has never fully bothered me though and I find more humor in what goes on there then horror.
And this new series, I was hooked from some of the very first promotional material that they had out about it. So far, I’m just really, really into it.
Will: Yeah, it’s true, depending upon your personal feelings about dolls that come to life, this may or may not be your personal thing. I feel Chucky kind of falls into that particular style of horror from the mid- to late-eighties that’s very personality driven. In a way, I think Chucky is very similar to Freddy Krueger, who in their original incarnations and the first movies may have been scary, but as the series progressed, as they become the heroes of their own story, full of violence and snappy quips.
Jeff: Cause Freddy Kruger was one I could always watch too, because I was kinda digging that whole vibe that he gave off. So maybe that is my thing with Chucky, that it’s more of the Freddy Krueger thing, than a doll that came to life.
Will: Yeah. Personally, Chucky doesn’t freak me out. But I am certainly enjoying this particular incarnation in all of its violent outrageousness. The series kicks off with the story of Jake. He’s an awkward gay teen in middle school experiencing all the drama that that entails. And he picks up a vintage Chucky doll at a yard sale and he intends to use it as part of his outsider art.
But as Chucky always seems to do, he worms his way into the hero’s life and people start dying. And I’m 100% on board with this idea. I don’t know about you, but my middle school experience wasn’t ideal. So if a murderous doll came along and said, “Hey, let’s be friends. We’ll take care of all those shitty people who make fun of you.” I’d be like totally on board with that.
Jeff: I think I would be too. That’s our darker side there folks. You think we’re nice guys doing nice things a lot, but we do have that darker side that lurks beneath. But yeah. I mean, what tormented middle schooler’s not going to take the opportunity to perhaps have a doll take care of some of the people that pick on them.
Yeah. I definitely like the vibe that’s going on here. There’s a podcaster involved as well, a middle school student doing a true crime podcast about the city that they live in, which is also kind of a nice little extra thrown into it. And from what we’ve seen, Jake and said podcaster will actually develop a bit of a relationship as this goes on too. So that’s gonna add a nice little young adult romance element to this story as well.
So, yeah, we recommend that you give “Chucky” a go, especially, I mean, hey, it’s Halloween season. It’s time to be watching something spooky, right? As Will mentioned, it is a USA and SyFy show. So you can catch it on either network. Premiere episodes air Tuesdays at 10 Eastern and Pacific on USA.
And speaking of Halloween, let’s get into our interview because it definitely connects to the season. In no time, we have become big fans of Sara Dobie Bauer. As you know, we picked her new adult, romcom horror story for our book club selection this month. Plus, just last episode, you heard Will talk about one of Sara’s historicals that he enjoyed. So, of course we had to talk to her. I had such an amazing time discussing “This is Not a Horror Movie” and finding out exactly how much horror movie knowledge she’s got. Spoiler alert. She didn’t have to do any research for the references she put into that book.
So let’s get into this interview, which is perfect to get you into the mood, to read this month’s book club selection, if you haven’t already, and to prepare for this month’s holiday.
Sara Dobie Bauer Interview
Jeff: Sara, welcome to the podcast. We are so happy to have you here.
Sara: Thank you, happy Halloween season.
Jeff: Yes. Happy Halloween. It’s the perfect time to read “This is Not a Horror Movie,” which, of course, is our Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection for October because Will and I just adored it so, so much. For those who maybe haven’t picked it up yet. Tell everybody what this book is about.
Sara: Well, it’s a love story with romance and comedy and a beach and a monster that I’m not talking about very much because that would be a spoiler.
I think at its core, it’s a love story, and everything is kind of happening around the love story. So Emory and Connor are summertime vacation neighbors, and Emory is younger and always pined after elder Connor, and again, I don’t want to get too spoiler-y, but I will say that a relationship develops and there’s a mystery they have to solve that threatens their lives and the beach and their families and everybody else really.
Jeff: Yeah. I would say it pretty much, could be a global disaster if they don’t stop it.
Sara: It could. Spoiler, spoiler, but yes, you’re right.
But also, I had so much fun doing the comedy. So this is a book that, you know, readers are laughing out loud, and then they’re like screaming, and then they’re sighing. And there’s a lot of emotions I tried to bring forth through the comedy, but also through the horror, because I’m a huge fan of “Evil Dead,” or “Army of Darkness.”
I love horror movies that are comedic. So I kind of tried to do that with this book but also had the love story in there too.
Jeff: And it’s really, it’s a romance, but it’s also really a rom-com. There are elements for sure between Emory and Connor that are just so swoony, rom-comy at the same time.
Sara: I think that was kind of the fun of it was, you know, exploring that because I do love horror movies, but then “When Harry Met Sally,” he’s like one of my favorite movies of all time too.
So, it’s like weaving those worlds together was so fun for me and playing with their dialogue and just the way they relate to each other and the mistake moments. And then, you know, I just had so much fun being with those two boys. It was, really a bummer when I finished the manuscript. I was like, Aw, man. I gotta say bye. This sucks.
Jeff: I was kind of disappointed when I had to end the book. It’s like, wait, I want more. I want more. Cause they’re so good together.
Jeff: You take their shared history that they have from, you know, I think it’s four years of vacationing and all of the kind of feelings they’ve built over that time that then coalesces in this one summer where it’s kind of make or break time because they’re about to go into college and you may or may not summer the same way anymore.
Sara: Yeah. Yeah. I did love doing the backstory because the book technically takes place in the present tense. So you’re like in the moment with Emory; he’s the narrator. You’re with him through everything, but then there are also moments where he revisits previous summers. And that was super fun to, to develop that if this is how they were when Emory was 14, maybe when they first meet and then like, this is how he is at 15, 16, 17, you know, that was so fun to show their growing relationship and show them growing as people.
And then now, finally, this last summer, they get to grow as people in a relationship.
Jeff: Yeah. It was so delightful. And I have to ask, a lot of romances you know, are dual POV, but here, except for the epilogue, we’re always with Emory. How did it come to pass that we didn’t get Connor’s side of things as you went along?
Sara: Well, interestingly, of all the characters I’ve written, male, female, whatever, Emory is the closest one to how I actually am. I am very awkward and kind of, I don’t know, lacking in confidence a lot of the time and kind of nervous. But I love horror movies. I love the books. So every reference he’s making, I didn’t have to look anything up.
That’s just things that I know already. But, it was so easy. But, you know, I think that’s part of why. God, I love Connor, like I love his character, but Emory was me at that age. And so, I didn’t want to take the focus off of him. Maybe the selfish reason. I don’t know, but I was almost like exercising my own demons about my self-worth, my confidence, my body image issues at that same age, at 18.
And so I just put all my heart into him, and his sense of humor is literally just me. Like I’m writing this book, like, this is so funny because it’s just like jokes that I would tell. And my friends have all said that, like you wrote yourself as an 18-year-old gay boy. And I was like, I did, but we had things in common because we both liked men and we both like horror movies.
So it wasn’t that much of a stretch really.
Jeff: Is that, where Emory came from for you? Because he’s so fully formed there on the page and just all of that mix of 18-year-old kind of ganglia still growing into yourself, it just springs right there. So it all kind of tied back to your 18-year-old self.
Sara: Probably more like… I’m still like that now. So I can’t like, I can’t time travel and be, no, I’m all grown up now, and I’m so cool. And suave now. No, no, I’m still really awkward. And my confidence is always like. I’m one of those people that’s like, oh my gosh. I said that thing, and I shouldn’t have said that thing. And now is that person going to hate me? Because I said that thing. And like, I know we all do that, but I still do that. I’m still growing. I’m 39, but I’m still learning how to be a human, like learning how to people basically.
So, I mean, Emory is me at many stages in my life. I would say from, you know, 14 to now, there are aspects of him that I relate to heavily still, and probably always will.
So yeah, that’s part of why I guess he’s still fully formed is because I actually am a human that exists in real life and just trying to put myself a lot into this book, made him, I think, more, just very alive. I was very happy with how he turned out my little Emory boy.
Jeff: And then you add the narration that you got for the audiobook too. Just nailed so much of Emory every step of the way to. I don’t know that you could have asked for a better narrator.
Sara: Okay, so interestingly, the day the book came out, literally the day the book came out, my narrator emailed me, and I was like, first of all, I’m like, how did you read this already? It came out like six hours ago, but he messaged me and it’s like, “Hey, so can I narrate this?” I said “Yeah, send me a sample.” And as soon as I heard a sample, it was just like, Ooh, oh my God, you’re literally Emory like, oh, we have to hang out in real life sometime? And like every comedic delivery, every joke, every awkward moment, it’s like Blake just totally owned it and made it.
He just understood Emory. And I think a lot of the things with Blake also, he went through a lot of the same things that Emory did also. And so he, in his email, it was really cute because he said, “I related to both Emory and Connor at different points in my life.” So that was really fun for him to be able to put himself into it, kind of like I did too. Almost like we’re both exercising some old teenage demons, you know.
Jeff: It’s interesting how you put that. Yeah. Kind of writing all that stuff or performing all that stuff out into the world in that way.
Blake Lockheart is my narrator’s name. I want to give him full love and devotion and credit for his brilliance. And he’s doing a lot of other gay romances right now. He’s narrating like a lot. He’s getting super popular, super fast. And so if you can look up Blake Lockheart definitely check out all the books he’s done as well.
Jeff: We’ll definitely link to those and we’ll definitely check him out because we certainly became fans from this book.
Sara: I know, he’s so good.
Jeff: We need to give Connor, I guess, a little bit of equal time here too. We know where Emory came from. How, how did Connor manifest on the page?
Sara: So I’m a huge “Call Me By Your Name” fan, the movie. And I might write fan fiction about Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. Okay. I totally do. Like, I, like, I read a lot of fan fiction because the movie just meant a lot to me.
The character of Elio in that, Timothée Chalamet’s character, also spoke to me as a bisexual woman. You know, I know, again, I don’t want to like say I understand a bisexual man’s perspective, but as a bisexual woman, I felt for Elio a lot in the movie. And then of course I fell in love with Timothée Chalamet because like, duh, I don’t, I don’t know how you don’t fall in love with him.
Sara: So I like fell in love with him. I followed his career. And so Emory honestly, like physically Emory is based on Timothée Chalamet with his long hair. When his hair was really long.
Jeff: Which you can kinda even get in the book cover.
Sara: I know. My cover artist was like, is this good? I said, yes, perfect.
Jeff: Your cover artist, completely nailed that picture that Connor takes in the book.
Sara: I know.
Minus the red eyes of course, that aren’t at the sky at that moment, but still the beach shot is so perfect.
Natasha Snow is my cover artist and I love using her. She’s so talented and she was super nervous about this cause she’d never done horror before, like a horror cover. And she’s like, I just don’t know if I can do it. And of course she sends me that I was like, nailed it. That’s done, I guess. So, all right.
But anyway, back to Connor, I think he grew out of the character of Oliver in “Call Me By Your Name.” Just in that, you know, I, I wanted the look obviously. I wanted that blonde jock look because it was such a contrast to Emory. So I like having that separation between the two of them. But also I wanted that kind of alpha vibe, but not too much. Like it’s a little alpha. Like Connor is a little alpha and he has his moments where he’s super alpha and those were so much fun to write, the super alpha moments with them. Because Emory’s not having it, of course.
He’s like, no, no, I’m sorry, we’re not doing this. So I think Connor kinda came out of “Call Me By Your Name,” writing fan fiction, and then just picturing a blond beach hunk. And, but also I wanted someone that had a lot of depth to him because Emory, like you said, is a full rounded character. And I couldn’t have Connor just be like a dumb surfer kid.
I needed him to have, first of all, something very much in common with Emory and that as you learn, it isn’t like a spoiler, but Connor wants to make movies and he loves horror movies. And his dream is to direct movies. That’s what he wants to do or maybe cinematography or something.
But that dream has been thwarted for like two years now, I think, by his dad. And so to add that kind of depth, that, that struggle, which is one of my favorite scenes actually is when Emory’s younger, it’s like in the past, and he breaks up a fight between Connor and these other huge guys. And Emory’s like this tiny, like, “NOOO DON’T” he’s a child almost, he’s breaking up this fight. And I love that Connor’s response was, you know, he felt comfortable enough to cry in front of Emory after that cause he was just so upset.
So I, like all those nuances of Connor. I found them to be very important, but it also, what was really important to me also is, I didn’t want any stigma around being gay. And so that was a really fun thing for me with Connor, too, because his dad is like this crazy man. Who’s like Crocodile Dundee walking around with, you know, yelling at everyone, random things. But I wanted it to be clear that when Connor came out, and I don’t want to tell you the full story of how he came out to his dad. Cause it’s…
Jeff: Which is so awesome but yeah, we won’t spoil it here. We can talk about it in the book club episode, but we won’t spoil it here.
Sara: Yeah, exactly, not here, but I wanted it to be clear that both Connor’s parents love him for who he is and both Emory’s parents love him for who he is. And I just didn’t want that.
I didn’t want his to have the have the drama of like, oh, you’re gay and we’re going to judge you. I didn’t want, I just didn’t want that to be part of the book. It was really important for it not to be, cause it just, it would have just not, it wouldn’t have fit the tone of the book.
And there is a certain scene with a certain woman down the beach. I can’t like, I can’t talk about it. but, you know, I also didn’t want it to make like, be like an anti-Christian thing either of like, you know, oh, well the Christians, you know, think we’re going to hell kind of thing. And that’s what Emory has been taught to believe because of his high school experience, where he had kids saying they would pray the gay away and he had to deal with that in high school. So it was nice for me to be able to put a better spin on the Christian population through a character, a beloved character, in this book.
Jeff: Yeah. I really love how you handled that particular character, but even how you used religion at the end too. And some religious people, which is all we’ll say about that. Read the book, folks, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Sara: Exactly, we can’t talk about that.
Jeff: You mentioned this a little bit before too, but I like how you bring in how Emory views his body. That is a lot of where Emory’s caught up and like, why does Connor like me? I don’t look right. He doesn’t perceive himself into what he grew into after his last growth spurt. Despite the fact that pretty much everybody tells him he’s wrong.
Jeff: And I kind of liked that little peek into, I guess I’d call it a little bit of mental health, even.
Jeff: You know, self perception that it worked its way into this rom-com horror story.
Sara: Well, yeah, that’s, always in every book I’ve written is mental illness and mental health, because that’s what I’ve been dealing with since I was 14.
And so like, I mean, when I was 14, I thought I was super ugly and I would write myself really mean notes about how you’re so ugly. Everyone hates you. And that went on for like two years before someone thought maybe we should get her some help. And I luckily did. But I have, you know, I continue to battle depression and anxiety and I always will. They’re not like, it’s not like a cold, you can’t take an antibiotic to cure depression and anxiety. You just have to learn how to take the right medication, if you go that route. Or find the right treatment, or, keep going every day, despite having, you know, many bad days in a row, you have to learn how to deal with your own issues in your own way.
So that’s why every book I’ve ever written has some aspect of mental illness or mental health. Some of them are way, way heavier than other ones. This was more of a sprinkling, but as I knew, this would be kind of. The demographic on this book is huge. Like the age range is huge of the people that have read it. I’ve had teenagers reaching out to me and I’ve had like 60 year old moms reaching out to me. But knowing that teenagers are gonna read it, I thought it was important to include something that a lot of them, boys and girls, can relate to, and that was, that was important to me.
I had a first reader, actually the books dedicated to her, Isabel. Isabel is 15. And she was a first reader and, she’s you know, dealt with her own demons already. And she said, when she was done, she said, she’d never related to a character more than Emory.
And that just was like, oh my God. Like that really, that hit hard and made me realize that this book isn’t just a romcom with a monster. To some people it’s very relatable and emotional. And I like that. I like all the levels, you know?
Jeff: Yeah, cause it really is. I mean, you hit it there with that broad demographic. This could just as easily be a true young adult book, except that both Connor and Emory are both just a little bit older and they’re just barely past 18. But they still connect to that YA side of things quite a bit too, especially in how their romance grows.
And really in the romance side too, it’s really, I like how you showed the care in getting consent, even. You see that dialogue happening between them on what they’re going to do, what they’re not going to do, is this okay with you? and things like that, which is such a great story, really, to present to any audience, but certainly to the younger readers.
Sara: I hope so. Yeah.
Yes. I love that moment when they, this isn’t spoiler either, but they, they do kiss. It’s not a spoiler.
Jeff: It’s a romance. They kiss.
Sara: It’s a Romance. They kiss. But I do love that moment when Connor’s like, you want to go upstairs? And Emory’s like, no, no. It’s way too soon for that. So I liked that moment a lot.
Sara: I think that’s important, especially with this generation that’s growing up to be like, no, it’s too soon. Like, Nope, can’t do that yet.
Jeff: And even more that Connor’s like, okay, we’re not doing that. No pressure, no nothing.
Let’s talk a little bit about some of the horror side of the story. Since we’ve talked about romance a little bit.
Now you already mentioned that you didn’t have to do research for this. There’s certainly your bio that says you’d like to live in a Tim Burton film.
Sara: Yes I would!
Jeff: To start this kind of conversation, which Tim Burton movie or movies, if you’re going to do a mashup, where do you want to be
Sara: “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”
I’d want to literally be Jack Skellington. I was Jack Skellington for Halloween last year. So I’m a little obsessive about that. I actually listened to the soundtrack when I like get ready in the mornings.
Jeff: Oh, that is awesome.
Sara: I’m such a nerd. I love it though, but yeah, I would love to live in “Nightmare Before Christmas” because you have my favorite holidays. You’ve got Halloween and Christmas and you can visit and live in either place. Yeah. That’s the one.
Jeff: That is very cool. I kind of figured it might be that one just for the mashup.
Sara: I thought you might have guessed that already.
Jeff: You had all these references in your head to pick from. How did you really kind of come down to like where Emory would have his focus, like so much Stephen King and then the good movie references to use.
Sara: I think because I love horror movies and I know them so well, and I know the template. I know the rules. I know all the things about making and writing horror. So the references, like I said, I didn’t do research. I also didn’t have to think of the references. It was just like, cause it’s like my normal life. I’d make horror movie references every day, probably. Luckily my brother knows all of them, so I can like communicate with him and not sound like a weirdo.
So I have one person that’s like, oh yeah, no, I get that. I get, that makes sense. So those references just kind of flowed. I mean, just, they just worked for me, like, especially there’s a scene where they go see the sheriff for the first time Emory and Connor and “30 Days of Night” is one of the most horrifying movies I’ve ever seen in my life. And I probably will never watch it again. Like once was fine. Have you seen that one?
Jeff: Oh, no. Just by you saying you see that once and that was enough. I’m pretty sure that’s what I never need to see.
Sara: Okay. Yeah, probably not. But there’s a scene in the movie where they’re trying to find, you know, the authorities and there’s the creaking sounds and just dark.
And so as soon as they went in that sheriff office and they hear a creak, I’m like, well, that’s just like “30 Days of Night.” It just, so it just kind of flowed because it’s like my everyday life talking about horror movies at all times.
Jeff: And that’s really the cool thing that you’ve done. Cause you could tell, I mean that, you know, everything, as we said, just like Emory does because it’s every archetype that I could ever remember, especially out of 80’s horror movies. “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream,” which of course is a little later on, “Friday the 13th” about, you know, the adults who like nothing’s happening here.
The sheriff that very sheriff archetype that we’ve seen a zillion times in horror movies.
Sara: Oh yes. I love that scene on the back patio, when Emory’s talking to his father and he’s like, you want me to be one of the dead kids at the end of a horror movie? Do you? And his dad’s like, all right, fine. Like I know, you know, so. It’s true though the parents never listen, if they just listen, their kids wouldn’t be stabbed in their beds and having nightmares and Freddy Krueger coming to get them and stuff. So.
Jeff: Right. It’s all the parents’ fault.
Sara: Parents listen to your kids when they talk about monsters. They’re real.
Jeff: I love the eighties things that you built in here too, which surprised me a little bit, given that we’re talking about a book that is essentially set now. The reference to Tom Selleck and “Magnum PI.” The references to “Golden Girls” as comfort TV.
Sara: So those are, those are other examples of autobiographical because my friend in college, my roommate in college, if we watched a scary movie, she would have to watch “Golden Girls” before we went to bed. So that’s from directly from my own life.
Jeff: I was impressed, especially with Magnum that Emory and Connor would be like, yep. Tom Selleck, Magnum that the teenagers of the now would know Tom Selleck from then.
Sara: And that might be a part fantasy on my part, just because I get sad thinking about the pop culture we’re losing. And I’m not totally blaming social media, but I am kind of blaming social media, because like you said, when we were kids there wasn’t internet really. Like, you didn’t have a computer in your house.
There were just what was on TV. You weren’t DVR in anything. You just have to watch what’s on TV at the time. Which I’m sure kids today are like what? There wasn’t streaming? Like they have no clue what this was like. So I, I think I brought that in to show how Connor and Emory are still really rounded culturally.
Like they know references from more than the last five years, you know. Like, I needed to do that for myself. Cause even my beloved, dear husband didn’t know who like Jimmy Stewart was or Humphrey Bogart. And I was like.
Jeff: Oh my gosh.
Sara: I know. So I had to like educate him on. And he didn’t know the Beatles at all. And I was like, oh my God, what’s happening in my life right now. But those actors are being lost. I feel like in the current generation. I don’t know if a lot of quote kids would know who either of those actors are now. I don’t know. So I kind of brought that in to be like, hopeful, if like, please look outside your own generation and learn things from older people.
Like, I sound so old when I say that, but I’m like, please learn from your elders, please, you know?
Jeff: Without getting spoilery if we can, how did you come up with the villain for this story?
Sara: Oh God, I can’t answer that non spoiler-y. Oh, I can’t do it. I can’t think of it. This is like a puzzle. Like how do you do this without saying anything? I will say that I made a villain who represents everything Emory is not. And that’s where the villain kind of came from, I think. And that’s important.
Cause I know, like I know there’s the idea of making the relatable villain and arguing that like Michael Corleone, we’re always rooting for him and he’s like murdering people, but he’s, you know, we, we like him.
I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted a villain. So I had a blast just making a villain that Emory would clash with That’s all I can say about that. I think.
Jeff: I think you kind of hit it on the head, although I hadn’t thought about it that way before, there is nothing likable about this villain. They are just a villain. They don’t need a backstory, although you give a little bit of a backstory, but they don’t need that backstory. It just is, and now we have to get rid of the problem.
Sara: Exactly. Yes, we do.
Jeff: How was it for you to really balance the romance beats and the horror beats?
Because one of the things that I liked so much here is that for the most part and maybe all the way through, like the horror didn’t necessarily interrupt a romantic moment. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that as Connor and Emory are on their first date, it’s not interrupted by, oooh, this thing happened and now we’re not able to complete the date.
Jeff: So they got to have their complete moments together and then deal with the horror. But yet it all wraps together in a nice well paced package to kind of propel you along too.
Sara: I think I got lucky a lot of the time honestly. It’s a really educated answer, I know. But it also, I wanted their love story to be in the forefront. I wanted the horror to be the backdrop of it.
I really wanted to show them falling in love with each other. That was my main drive for writing the book. I want to just tell a love story about these two boys who showed up in my head one day and were like blah, blah, blah. And I was like, shoot. Now I have to write a book, I guess.
So I did want that to be in the forefront. And then the horror is always kind of creeping in along the edges, just like a lot of horror movies. Camera angles, kind of. You know, I visualize a lot when I write, I’ll see the scene before I write it. And so, part of that probably is my fixation on film. So with this, it’s the same idea where, you know, you have the weird camera angle, maybe panning over this way. But, they’re still safe over here until the camera keeps getting closer and closer and closer and closer. And then you get to that, you know, kind of the climax. And you’re like, oh, okay.
So our relationship has a foundation, but now like, oh my God, we’re really screwed if we don’t figure something out. And so then the horror kind of takes, takes precedence, but then you still get like, awww, eventually.
I mixed them both, yes. But I did want the love story most prevalent, and the horror was just a great addition and so much fun for me to get to explore and realize just how geeky I actually am.
Jeff: You mentioned you were sad to see the story come to an end. Any chance we get some sequel or two or three or 10 with Emory and Connor.
Sara: Oh God. You’re so bad. I’ve had people. Yes. I’ve had a lot of people ask. I will say it won’t be soon because I do have another book coming out in the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, I’m working on editing another manuscript. So there are at least two books that I have to complete and will be released prior to me, maybe returning to them in college. it’s kind of a conflict for me too though, because I don’t want to write about New York City. No offense to New York City, but they’re both going to college in New York City, and I don’t feel comfortable and confident enough in my knowledge of the city to properly portray it.
This book takes place in a real place called Longboat Key Florida, and I’ve gone there every April for like 20 years for, you know, a couple of weeks. I know everything about Longboat Key. Just like Liz and Emory, you know, the, this brother, sister pair, it’s like another home for them.
And that’s how it is for me too. So developing the world and the setting was super easy because I spent so much time there. And so the idea of falling into to college in New York City doesn’t really appeal to me. So it have to be somehow them coming back. So it might have to be, like, a year, you know, for them to come back to Longboat again and revisit them there and see where their relationship is, you know. No spoilers, but they’re not going to break up. Okay. Cause that would fricking break my heart. And I’m the boss of these characters, so they are frigging staying together forever and ever and ever.
Jeff: Yeah, I figured they had their happy.
Sara: Yes, they have their happy.
Jeff: There’s an eventual marriage and it may be kids and whatever else comes down the line.
Sara: Yeah. They have to, I mean, Emory’s Italian. He has to have some child somehow because Italians are kind of crazy about, about the next generation.
Jeff: The thing that I really liked about how you left it, and I don’t think this is necessarily spoiler either, is that there’s no kind of cliffhanger.
It’s not like a horror movie where it’s like, things are good and we swing and look over there or get this other POV where there’s like, you know, maybe the monster looking at you from over here and we’re really not done.
Even if we’re really not done, as all horror movies are never really done. You didn’t make it an overt thing that’s like, there’s more here that we must visit someday. I appreciated that in case it is a one and done book, which it could be.
Sara: Maybe not. It goes back to that idea of it’s a love story first and foremost. And I want that happily ever after. That’s what I’m always working towards.
Like I scared people before with like my really heavy books that are much more into mental illness and much sadder dealing with tragedy. I’ve had readers like, oh my gosh, is someone going to die? Like I can’t handle it. And I’ll be like, you’ve read everything I’ve ever written. I have never done anything, but a happily ever after. I am comfortable telling everyone that I will never not have a happily ever after, because then I have to emotionally live with what I’ve just done and I want my happy ending dang it.
So , yes, everything’s fine. But there’s also talk of me, maybe adapting it into a screenplay. So that’s a possibility too.
Jeff: I could just imagine as I was reading it and digging it, like, you know, maybe Ryan Murphy gets a hold of this and works a little magic on it.
Sara: I know, and I’ve written a screenplay before. It’s not very fun for me. I really like description. It’s just too concise. I used to be in journalism and I just can’t do concise. I just, blech. I don’t know. It’s not my thing. So screenplays aren’t my favorite to write, but I have written one. So I would like to adapt this one eventually. I did send a copy of the book to Timothée Chalamet just in case.
Sara: You know, just in case he was bored and wanted to make a movie with me or something.
Jeff: Let’s talk about your origin, cause this obviously not your first book. You’ve been publishing for a while. What got you started in writing? You mentioned journalism and obviously at some point, you’ve been writing fiction alongside when you were doing journalism.
Sara: Yeah. I wrote my first novel quote in like eighth grade. I read so much as a kid. I was always reading a book. I was such a little nerd. I had those huge glasses that were like Coke bottles that like made my eyes magnify. Like that was me. I had an eye patch at one point. So I had a cross eye. That was me as a kid.
Super cool, not at all. So I would read books and you know, as we’ve mentioned, I was reading like Stephen King and Anne Rice in sixth grade already. So by the time I was in eighth grade, I thought, oh, I can do this. I’m going to write a book too. And it was a full length book. I looked back and it’s like seventy-five thousand words, like it’s actually a full novel. And then I just kind of continued doing that. I went to Ohio University for college. I started in journalism, realized I hated it and went to creative writing.
Then I was still in journalism after graduation. I got the opportunity to be a sex columnist, which was like the most amazing job ever so much fun and a travel columnist occasionally. I got to travel sometimes.
But then finally, 2015. I’m a publisher picked up my first book called “Bite Somebody.” It’s not my first book that I’ve ever written, obviously. It’s the first book that was good enough to be seen in public. And that came out in 2016 and that’s actually a vampire romance that also takes place in Longboat Key, Florida. So I guess I’ve come full circle with “This Is Not A Horror Movie,” my first book and my last one, I released both take place down there. And then I’m just been publishing ever since.
And It’s a lot of work sometimes I’m not gonna lie. Like the best part of being a writer is writing and then everything else is not that fun. I wish there was a world where I could just sit in my room, like write my stories and they immediately go out and make me money, but that’s not how it works sadly.
I do write, I still write pretty much every day. I still read a ton. I started mentoring, younger writers and I’ve been to conferences and talked about social media. Done all the things. But the favorite thing at the end of the day, it’s always going to be sitting here at this desk and just being by myself and talking to invisible, fictional characters.
Jeff: I hadn’t looked up before to see if Longboat Key happened to be real. So it’s kind of cool that it is, but also in the same way that Stephen King has scared me off of ever going to Maine. Now that you’ve put two books in Longboat Key, I’m pretty sure I’m never going there either.
Sara: You know, ironically, Stephen King has a house down there.
Jeff: Oh, that’s hilarious.
Sara: I know.
Jeff: I mean, not just in Florida, but in Longboat Key.
Sara: Yes. And we always joke that we’re going to go find it. Me and my aunt were like, let’s go find Stephen King. And she’ll be like, I saw him today. I’m like, no, you didn’t. And that’s like our running. We have to find Stephen King someday. I don’t know if he still has it or if he sold it. But yeah, that was a weird coincidence.
Jeff: So has romance always been part of what you want to write? It sounds like horror and those elements also have kind of always been there. They always kind of combined in some way for you?
Sara: No, not necessarily. I mean, romance has always been my fixation that was in that first book I wrote in eighth grade was a romance, but it was also like a civil war thriller.
Which I don’t know how I thought of that when I was like fourteen years old.
Sara: Yeah, I have no idea. So romance has always been very interesting to me. I don’t know if I can like pinpoint why. Maybe because as my Emory self, when I was that awkward, like just nerdy kid, I just wanted someone to love me. And like at the time, no one was because, I mean, my parents, my family was, but I mean, romantically, you know, I just wanted, I wanted someone to come and think I was special.
And so I channeled that into my early writing. And even when I was like a quote adult, I’m still not a real adult, I don’t think. But legally I was an adult. I was still, you know, I still wanted the same thing. I was still searching for love. And so I found it now. Thank God. That’s always been a very important part of me, I guess. And so I love telling stories where characters find love also.
Jeff: And then it sounds like also, as we were talking about before, blending in elements of mental health into those stories too, sometimes quite heavy stories is also kind of one of your trademarks along the way.
Sara: Yeah, always. I mean, ever since “Bite Somebody” there’s always mental health and my book, oh, there’s “We Still Live” is one of my earlier novels and that’s about a college shooting. It’s a gay romance as well, but it’s very much an adult. This is an adult, adult book, but with that, it was another form of exorcism because the romantic interest John, had depression and severe anxiety and PTSD.
For me to be able to write him, allowed me to put those parts of myself into a character. And as he started healing, I felt like I was healing with him. Maybe that’s part of why I like to include the mental health because I have experienced it for so long, I just think it’s something we need to talk about a lot more than we do. I’m glad that celebrities are starting to admit that they like, especially with Simone, the gymnast…
Jeff: Simone Biles.
Sara: Yeah. Like that was very groundbreaking to me as someone who’s been part of the mental illness community and like spoken about it at colleges and mentored teens about cutting and suicide.
That was very important because it was showing that even these amazingly talented, tough people just need to step back sometimes and admit that they need help. I was very sad for her obviously, but she was very groundbreaking in her honesty and that’s what I hope we can do more of that as time goes on.
Jeff: And it’s important to work that into books so people see themselves.
Sara: Yeah. I hope so.
Jeff: And know that they can also come out on the other side as a romantic hero and have their happy, too.
Sara: Exactly. I love it. Yes.
Jeff: Who are some of the authors that inspire stories that you tell? And I suspect that the first one out is going to be Stephen King, and Anne Rice if I had to guess.
Sara: I don’t read them that much anymore. I read “Dr. Sleep,” which is “The Shining” sequel, because I had to because it’s “The Shining” sequel and I’m obsessed with that book and that film. That was fantastic, but that was probably the first thing I’d read by Stephen King in a while, because as I’ve started writing more romance, or as I’ve been immersed in a romance novel culture, I read a lot of romance now, especially gay romance.
So often is like Lucy, Lennox, or Lily Morton are two of my favorites. But there are so many. It’s like, it’s just ridiculous how many good writers there are? And I also am so proud of them because a lot of them are self-publishing and just doing amazing work. And it’s so cool to see that all these creatives are just like coming out of the woodwork and that gay romance has become such a huge market is wonderful to see.
I wrote my first bisexual character in “Abstract Love,” which came out, I don’t know, time anymore because of COVID. It came out like last year, but that was so fun for me because I’ve always written either heterosexual or gay and never bisexual.
And finally, I got to like, put like that part of myself into a book too. That was so fun. So I’m so happy that the LGBTQ community is so represented in romance right now. And especially gay romance is like really, it’s a really big market right now and that’s fricking awesome. I love that.
Jeff: For people who are going to try to maybe get a little bit of a horror movie primer out of “This is Not a Horror Movie.” Any particulars, you would send them down the path of watching first.
Sara: I don’t know if I mentioned this one, but my favorite horror movie is a horror comedy called “Trick or Treat.”
I love that. So, it takes place in Ohio, which is where I live, because everything bad happens in Ohio apparently, or Maine, as you said. But that one’s so atmospheric and it has all different tropes and different monsters and they all connect. It’s like this pulp fiction meets a horror movie, comedy situation. And, Sam, my favorite like evil little character, is in “Trick or Treat.” People should do “Trick or Treat.” this time of year. I always go for atmospheric.
But the king of all horror movies is “The Shining.” That is to me, the most terrifying. Beautifully made. Well acted. The score is exceptional. Like “The Shining” is the gold standard for me. But still I love “Evil Dead.” I love “Army of Darkness,” “Cabin in the Woods,” all of these comedic horror films that are so over the top.
And it’s just wonderful. It’s very relaxing. It’s a weird thing to say about horror movies, but I find them relaxing.
If you want to go old school, I mean, I’m not a Nightmare on Elm Street” fan. But I love “Friday the 13th” because summer camps are just. They’re just inherently creepy, bad ideas. Like, put a bunch of kids in the woods and see what happens. And that’s why I just finished the “Fear Street” trilogy. It’s on Netflix right now. And that was so good because I grew up reading R.L. Stine also in the “Goosebumps” books and “Fear Street.”
So that’s a really great starter to because it’s kind of quote advanced because they, if you don’t know the tropes, you’re going to miss a lot of the like Easter eggs I feel like. Cause they use so many tropes in that trilogy that like if you know, horror you recognize so many of the different aspects that you’ve seen other places that they’re recreating and reinventing and making really scary. And just, oh yeah, that trilogy was so good though. So those are some, I could go on forever with this question. So I’ll stop. That’s a good starting point. I think.
Jeff: So you, as you mentioned, you’re reading a lot. What are some books you’ve read recently that you would actually recommend to our listeners?
Sara: Oh boy. I’ve been kind of dark lately. I don’t know if these are good suggestions or not, but Onley James is a gay romance author and their books, it’s called the “Necessary Evils” series, and there are two. They’re very, stalker-ish, serial killer falls in love with unsuspecting, normal human. But they’re really hot and Onley’s such a great writer. And gosh, I just devoured those. Those are like reading one sitting books. At the same time I’m reading a book right now. This is a ridiculous title, but it’s called “Witches Sluts Feminists”. And it’s non-fiction.
I know isn’t that the craziest title?
Jeff: That’s an amazing title.
Sara: I know, I was like, well, I have to read this, but it’s nonfiction and it’s about female sexuality and how we’ve been kind of ruined by the patriarchy and, you know taught we aren’t supposed to be sexual, we’re supposed to be Donna Reed. And so that’s been a really fun book to read also, but it is non-fiction so it might not be the complete target you know, for your audience, but it feels like an important book for now.
Jeff: Yeah, I was just about to say that it definitely speaks to themes that I think we’re all dealing with right now.
You mentioned a couple of things coming up next. You’re editing a manuscript. You’ve got another book that’s coming out soon. What can you tease us about those?
Sara: Well, the next book that’s being published. I’m with Carnation books, they did my book, “Handsome Death” and my novella “A Lord to love.” so this is my third time working with Carnation books. And the next book coming out with them, it’ll probably come out in the next few months. And it is gay romance with fated mate werewolves that really don’t want to be fated mates, but they don’t really have a choice. That one’s kind of dark because we’re dealing with a double homicide at the beginning of one of the lead characters parents. And so we’re dealing with who killed, you know, these parents, and now these people are fated mates. They don’t even know each other, but they’re going to be together for the rest of their lives. Like what weird pressure would that feel like? And so that’s next. So it’s werewolves and I love the fated mate thing. That’s one of the tropes I enjoy reading about.
So the book I’m currently editing the manuscript is a gay romance with witches in Charleston, South Carolina. And I’m curious to see how it’s going to go, because I wrote this book during my dog’s illness and death. And like I said before, I channel a lot of stuff into my work and I’m really scared of what I’m going to find because I haven’t re-read it yet. So I’m just rereading it for the first time. And I’m really nervous about how much of that experience is going to be waiting for me in the coming pages.
So that won’t come out until at least like probably next summer, I would think.
Jeff: Okay. Two things to look for over to there. Gay romance and witches. I’m very interested about that.
Sara: I love witchy stuff. Yes.
Jeff: I haven’t read many books, period that use witches or warlocks, that kind of thing as like, especially if the romantic hero. So
Sara: Yeah, well, they’re kind of anti-heroes so.
Jeff: Okay, that’s fine too.
Sara: Anti-heroes are so much fun. But yeah, that, that’s, that’ll be a fun one too.
Jeff: How can everybody keep up with you online to find out as these books get ready to come out and any other of the fun things that you’re doing?
Sara: My website is saradobiebauer.com and on my website you can find all my social media, my newsletter sign up and a bunch of freebies that are so fun. There are a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the years and I’m very proud of them. Yeah. If you get those freebies, then you’re immediately signing up for the newsletter.
But yeah, I would love it for everyone come visit me on social media. And, oh, I also had a private group on Facebook called Sara Dobie Bauer’s Sexy Circle. And that’s really where the magic really happens because that’s where I find my beta readers, my early reviewers. I announce everything there and nowhere else.
They’re in the know over in that group. If you want to come visit us there, we’re pretty ridiculous together. We have a really good time.
Jeff: Fantastic. Well, it has been so awesome talking to you. As this episode drops, there’s about two weeks to read. “This Is Not A Horror Movie” before we start discussing it in the book club episode. So pick this up. It’s ideal Halloween reading for sure.
Thank you so much for being with us. This has been so much fun.
Sara: Thanks for having me. It has been so much fun.
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 talked about in this episode.
Jeff: If you’re looking for more to watch this Halloween season, you know already that Sara hooked you up with a whole bunch of ideas on what to watch. Thanks so much to Sara for taking the time to talk, not only horror movies and romance with us, but what she’s got coming up next as well.
I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in her hands to have this, witch gay romance book. I don’t usually read witches, but I am certainly looking forward to what she’s got there. And please Sara, please give us more Emory and Connor. Just like you, I did not want to say goodbye to those characters.
And don’t forget book club episode featuring “This is Not a Horror Movie” will be in your podcast feed Thursday, October 28th.
Will: Coming up next on Monday in episode 341, author Merry Farmer joins us to talk about her new book in her brand new series.
Jeff: It was such a wonderful conversation with Merry talking about historicals. She’s got two degrees in history and so she knows her stuff. And we all know from some of Will’s reviews that she writes excellent gay historicals.
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.