Spiced Kisses is author Charlie Novak’s first Christmas novel, and it’s also the third book in her Kiss Me series. Charlie gives us the scoop on the new book, and what led her to taking the plunge and writing a holiday story.
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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.
- Charlie Novak Author Spotlight
- Charlie Novak: website | Newsletter Signup | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- Spiced Kisses by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- Kiss Me series by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- Summer Kisses by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- “Fairytale in New York” by The Pogues on YouTube
- “Wombling Merry Christmas” by The Wombles on YouTube
- Merry Measure by Lily Morton on Amazon
- Merry Cherry Christmas by Keira Andrews on Amazon
- The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Libro.fm
- The Christmas Setup on Lifetime | Amazon Prime Video
- Muppets Christmas Carol on Disney+ | Amazon Prime Video
- Supernatural on Netflix
- Breakaway by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- Wheels Up by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Off Base by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Rule Breaker by Lily Morton on Amazon
- Lane Hayes on Amazon
- Forever Love series by Charlie Novak on Amazon
- Finding Finn by Charlie Novak on Amazon (pre-order until February 24, 2022)
- Always Eli by Charlie Novak on Amazon
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Ready for some holiday charm rainbow romance readers? Author Charlie Novak will be joining us in just a moment to talk about “Spiced Kisses,” which is her very first Christmas book.
But before we talk to Charlie, let’s answer another of the questions that we’ve been asking our guests on the Big Gay Fiction Fest. What’s a favorite present you got as a child? And, surprisingly across 20 plus years that I’ve been hanging out with you, I don’t know what your favorite holiday present might’ve been as a child.
Will: Okay. So, Jeff and I are gentlemen of a certain age.
Jeff: Meaning that we’re old.
Will: And when I was growing up, I was a “Star Wars” kid, which meant that every birthday and every Christmas, I always asked for the latest “Star Wars” toy and I collected all the action figures and play sets over many, many years. So I have fond memories about those each holiday season. But when you asked this question, something came to mind that I hadn’t thought of in a long time.
In middle school and high school, I basically stopped reading because, you know, when you’re assigned stuff that you’re not interested in…
Jeff: There’s nothing worse
Will: the passion tends to fade. So I wasn’t a big reader during those years, but I did watch a lot of TV and my love of classic movies was also born out of that time. And part of my love for movies and self-education came from Leonard Maltin’s yearly movie guides. Now some of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
Jeff: This was before the internet.
Will: Let me learn you a few things, Jeff and I grew up in a time where the internet didn’t exist. And when I say that, it’s really, it’s even hard for me to imagine because nowadays when the internet goes out, life just tends to stop. But back in the day, we didn’t have that. If we wanted to know something, we had to find a reference book or an encyclopedia. And each year movie reviewer and Hollywood historian, Leonard Maltin would release his annual movie guide. And these were big, chunky, thick paperbacks, like eight or nine hundred pages.
And every year, I would get the new edition as a stocking stuffer. And God, I would just pour over those and read them for hours and hours, learning about all these amazing movies and classic Hollywood movie stars. Being fascinated by movies that had won Academy Awards. And even more fascinated by the movies that got like a half star. Cause you know, I had to check those out. My love of cult and camp cinema was also born there.
So I look back fondly on receiving those books every year. They meant a lot to me.
Jeff: That’s very cool, and good reference for when you needed to go to the local video store to.
Will: Oh, God yeah.
Jeff: So for me, the mindblowing Christmas that I had was long about 1975 or 76. So my love of sci-fi was born pre-“Star Wars” because I would have afterschool time that was made up of reruns of “Lost in Space,” “Star Trek” the original series, and “Ultraman.”
Will: Oh, me too. Those are the best afternoons.
Jeff: On some UHF channel.
Will: Oh, the best.
Jeff: But then also, right before “Star Wars” came out was “Space: 1999,” which we usually had on a weekend afternoon. And there was one Christmas, I got the “Star Trek” playset, the bridge that had the little twirly transporter on it, and a couple of action figures. I had Kirk and Spock and McCoy. And I think Uhura was part of that too. Or maybe I got Uhura later. But I also got the “Space: 1999” command center playset and the big ass Eagle, that was available.
I got both of these in the same Christmas, and it was pretty mindblowing for my eight year old self to find all of this under the Christmas tree. And it was still a time when Santa Claus was kind of the idea too. So there was not much under the tree when I went to bed, but then there was a whole bunch of stuff under the tree when I got up.
And it was pretty epic because I used to have the Enterprise come to the moon, tried to rescue the moon. In my vision they could tow the moon. That was ludicrous, but possible in my little childhood imagination. I would recreate the shows. So I’d have the playset out while I was watching the TV show and everything. So that was a whole thing for me to have those playsets.
Ahhh. And I’ve wished I’d kept them. Oy. They didn’t even make the move from Michigan to Alabama, like a couple of years later. So that was just, I don’t know what I was thinking or what I allowed to have happen, that those toys didn’t make the transition. But, you know, there you go.
And of course, we’re going to find out from Charlie in just a few minutes what her favorite present growing up was as well. So we’re going to dive in and find out all about “Spiced Kisses,” and what led Charlie to doing a Christmas book to tell the romance between Ben and Ianto from her “Kiss Me” series. And in addition, since this is the very first time that we’ve ever talked with Charlie, we’re going to get a little bit on her backstory as well and find out what got her started writing.
Featured Author: Charlie Novak
Jeff: Charlie, welcome to the Big Gay Fiction Fest. We’re so excited you joined us to celebrate the holidays this year.
Charlie: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here, to celebrate with you and to take part in Big Gay Fiction Fest. Thank you so much for having me.
Jeff: Ah, we’re so glad you could be here. You’ve got a brand new book out this season called “Spiced Kisses.” Tell us a little bit about that and how it actually fits in to your “Kiss Me” series.
Charlie: Yeah. So, “Spiced Kisses” is my very first sort of Christmas holiday novel, and it’s just come out. So it’s the third book in the “Kiss Me” series, but you can read it as a standalone. If you haven’t read any of the other books, I have actually put a cast list in the front of this one. So you can find out who everybody is. So it’s the third book in the series, which centers around a kind of pub/restaurant called Pear Tree.
And this is the book for Ben, who is the kind of slightly beleaguered general manager of the restaurant. He’s one of the co-owners. If you’ve read the other books, you’ll have met him because he’s the best friend of Aaron, who’s the sort of very snarky sweary head chef. And, so a lot of people really wanted Ben to get a book and I did as well. So I figured it was time for him to get his happily ever after. And I decided to torment him by setting it around Christmas, because if you’ve ever worked in like retail or hospitality, you know, the holidays are nightmare. So what better time for him to find love than at Christmas when he’s really busy and stressed.
Jeff: Nothing like just adding a little bit more on to the stress.
Charlie: Oh yeah, and the fact that I also broke his collarbone is also a little bit of extra stress for him. Cause…
Jeff: That’s just extra mean.
Charlie: Well, I figured he needed a catalyst to actually get some help, for somebody else to come and help him. So breaking his collarbone was a very sensible option because Ben is a little bit of a workaholic, and so he’s just determined to do everything himself. And he has this very, very long to do list of things to do before Christmas, you know, everything from like payroll, but also decorations coming out and organizing everything and table plans and packed restaurant every night.
So, he ends up breaking his collarbone and the guy who breaks it is a guy called Ianto. He’s a Welsh personal trainer. He loves Christmas. So he steps in to help. He’s like, well, I’ll come and give you a hand. I’ll drive you around and I’ll, you know, come and help you out so that you don’t have to bother all the rest of the staff. And so they kind of set off on an epic to do list of sort of Christmas shenanigans and sort of get to fall in love in the process.
Jeff: What’s Ben’s thought on Christmas? Does he like the holiday or is it like, Ooh, this is like the worst time of year because of the restaurants. I’m already stressed or.
Charlie: You know that like gif that everybody uses of Théoden from “Lord of the Rings?” So it’s just like from the Battle of Helm’s Deep. “And so it begins.” That is exactly Ben’s attitude to Christmas. He hates it. He really doesn’t like Christmas. He thinks it’s very stressful. He’s never really been a Christmas person. And he thinks it’s just kind of very commercial and kind of overrated. Yeah. He’s not here for Christmas at all. He just rather skip December and get to January.
Jeff: This is one of my favorite, I guess essentially Christmas tropes. I mean, really what you have here is the sunshine and grumpy, but taking it into the holiday season, you’ve got the person who’s all about Christmas, gently dragging the person over to Christmas. I just love reading those stories.
Charlie: I love it so much.
And it was so fun to write because you kind of get Ianto who’s he’s so happy. He’s so excited for Christmas. And he describes his kind of style is very like kitschy over the top Christmas. That’s the sort of thing he really loves. We’ve got poor Ben, who’s just like, ah, No, please. No, no more. Why me!
And you got the rest of the cost of the Pear Tree around it. You’ve got all the staff as well, who are maybe sneakily in the background trying to get involved because they think Ben should have a boyfriend for Christmas. And if you’ve read the series, you’ll know exactly who the instigator of that is like without even realizing it. So, yeah, there’s also like some shenanigans for the rest of the staff going on as well.
Jeff: Why wouldn’t you want your boss to have a happy Christmas?
Jeff: What was your favorite scene to write in the book?
Charlie: Oh that’s pretty tricky. I. Cause I really enjoyed like getting to plant some like Christmas shenanigans for them.
One thing that was really fun was quite early on in the book. They go to get the decorations out and they put these kind of vintage style, like garlands that Ben has made a couple years ago and they get them out of storage and they’ve been chewed by mice, which is a little bit based on some experiences that I had. My mom had some homemade Christmas garlands, and we would get them out the garage one year and like all the ribbons and the plastic fruit and flowers had just been shredded.
So they then have to go on a quest to find more ribbon and like then try and remake these garlands. And you’ve got like Ianto who has no idea how to tie a ribbon, bow or anything with two of them just like sat in the pub with what turns out to be a Christmas grottos worth of stuff that they’ve acquired, just trying to remake few garlands. And it was just really fun, kind of fun scene to write.
And then there was one that comes a lot later and it’s much of a softer moment. Ben and Ianto are at the pub quite late at night, just kind of sorting something out and Ben goes, let’s get some table cloths and he hears Ianto singing Christmas carols in Welsh.
And it was just like one of those really soft moments where it’s just like, he just stands in the corridor and he’s just listening to the man he is falling in love with singing these like really soft Christmas carols in Welsh. So I had a Welsh grandfather and sort of Welsh carols. I just think they’re absolutely beautiful. So it was just a really nice, nice little moment to include.
Jeff: Oh, that sounds just magical. Those are the things that I love too in Christmas stories. Just those little quiet, small moments, whether it’s two people, maybe, you know, somebody getting to listen in like that or having that moment to maybe bake something or cook something or just to sit out, watching the snow fall or whatever it is. It’s those quiet little things in a holiday romance.
Charlie: Yes. Yeah, and I got to put some of those moments as well, cause there were a few minor disasters that happened. Just a few. So got some loads of little cozy moments as well.
Jeff: What do you consider some of the must have elements in a holiday romance?
Charlie: Well, definitely need like those cozy moments whether that is doing some baking together or whether you’re kind of snowed in and watching the snow or, you know, sitting in front of a fire, or even just like, sat on a sofa, drinking hot chocolate or some other beverage and, eating sweets or mince pies or something, and just kind of being together, those kind of soft moments.
I do really love the kind of that, you know, grumpy, sunshine hates Christmas versus Christmas. For me, that’s absolutely something I just like need this. I need this. And I really, you know, kind of really the, cheesy kind of wonderful tropes of like people reconnecting or like we’ve got like friends to lovers, or like childhood or second chance or something, or like, even things like brother’s best friend or something, where you meet people. And it’s just, you know, two people who maybe know each other already, in whatever capacity, realizing that they have feelings and they’ve got that little bit of Christmas magic to kind of help them along in that romance. And that’s something that I absolutely love putting in a Christmas romance.
And I love it if it snows, because snow in England is a bit hit and miss. We tend to get it more in January, February. And I really liked the idea of snow and I like looking at it and then like for about 12 hours and then I’m like, no, no, it’s, I’m done with this now, it can go.
Jeff: Yeah. If it stays for longer than about a day, it’s like it has overstayed its welcome and the magic is over.
Charlie: So that’s why I like snow in holiday romances, cause it’s like that perfect amount of snow and it all looks beautiful, but then, you know, I don’t have to deal with it.
Jeff: But your characters do. And sometimes that’s fun.
Jeff: What made this the year for you to take the leap on a holiday romance?
Charlie: I always wanted to write one. It was something that was niggling in the back of my head. Like I really wanted to write one, especially because I read some really good ones last year and it’s like, oh, I really want to write one of these.
And I wrote the second book in the series, “Summer Kisses,” which was Josh and Aaron’s book earlier in the year. And then I was debating what to do with Ben. It all kind of fit really nicely into place. I was like, well, this story would make a really lovely Christmas romance. And I think this was the perfect time for me to kind of give it a go and I had plenty of time to do it. So, it will kind of fit naturally and it’s like, yep, let’s give it a, let’s give it a go. See how I get on.
Was a little bit weird writing it in August you know, playing like Christmas music in my headphones. It’s like blaring sunshine outside or, at some point, I was on holiday in Cornwall. So it’s like the end of August and I’m sat on my laptop, outside our little accommodation and you know, warm, very warm weather, in shorts, writing people being snowed in somewhere.
Jeff: Yeah, cause you’re never writing the Christmas books in the Christmas season, unless you’re writing very much ahead in your schedule.
Charlie: Yeah, there was definitely a little bit odd. You know, let like, oh, playing “Fairytale of New York,” or “Wombling Merry Christmas,” or something. Again, it’s like it’s sunshine and I’m baking.
Jeff: Because there was some heat wave in England this year, too. So depending on when you were writing, you could have been like significantly warm.
Charlie: Yeah, I definitely melted a little bit and especially my office in house gets very, very hot in the summer. Air conditioning is not a thing in the UK at all. So I was little bit roasting to death. So I had all my fans on and I’m like, oh, try to imagine what it’s like when it’s freezing. And I hate it.
Jeff: You mentioned, that you kind of got the spark to write this story because of some of the holiday romantics you read last year. What are some of your favorite gay romance, holiday stories?
Charlie: I loved, loved, loved “Merry Measure” by Lily Morton is one of my favorites from last year. I picked it up and I just absolutely devoured it. Lily one of my favorite, like gay romance authors. So it was such a, just warm, fuzzy, friendly one. And it was really nice cause I actually live not too far from East Midlands Airport, which is the airport mentioned at the beginning of the book. Cause like I have never seen this mentioned in a book before that was really fun.
And I really liked Keira Andrews “Merry Cherry Christmas” as well. That was so cute. Just like all the fuzzy warm vibes. It’s like, ah, this is, it makes me want to go to Canada and I love it so much.
Jeff: You would definitely maybe have a white Christmas in Canada.
Charlie: Yeah. I would definitely have a white Christmas and I think after two days I’d be like, this is very cold and I don’t like it anymore.
Jeff: Are there any holiday romances you’re looking to this year because there’s so many coming out.
Charlie: Oh my gosh, there are. I’m really excited for Annabeth Albert’ s “The Geek Who Saved Christmas.” And I love the cover of that. It just looks so gorgeous.
And Kyleen Neuhold’s “Operation Meet the Parents,” little novella that’s coming out. I think that looks so cute as well. And I just read them all. Whatever I see out. Yeah. That will do me, I do love kind of just, I get in the mood at Christmas. I just wanna like get into December. I just want to binge read as many as I can get hold of.
Jeff: Are you somebody who only reads holiday romance in the holiday season, or will you track those over into the new year or pick one up randomly in the year?
Charlie: Sometimes I will pick them up randomly in the middle of the year, because I just want that kind of cozy feeling of Christmas, especially if I’ve had a bad day, I’m just like, I know this going to make me feel really cozy.
And like the thing sometimes I have a couple of Christmas movies recorded. So sometimes I’m just like, I just want this one. I’ve watched “The Christmas Setup,” which last year, it was just randomly on a channel one afternoon, cause we don’t kind of get a lot of the Hallmark movies. But I had managed to record it. So I have watched that several times this year. So definitely I do pick up like holiday romances a couple of times a year, just when I want something a little bit cozier.
Jeff: Yeah. “The Christmas Setup” was absolutely one of our favorites from last year.
Looking at your own family, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions that you have in the season?
Charlie: These days I have a very, very small family, so it’s just really nice for us to all get together and just chill out and hang out together and just, you know, eat so much food.
My mom feeds for a small army. There’s not many of us. This is like usually about four of us, four or five of us. And, my mum feeds an army. You know, we go home like three days later. She’s like, oh yeah, let me just pack you up a hamper of food. So that’s always, you know, something that’s really lovely just to get to all hang out together and eat a lot of food and play board games.
We play very vicious games of Scrabble. I am absolutely terrible at Scrabble. For someone who works with words, I am appalling at Scrabble. Not great. And we just always play board games and we’ll watch movies.
And one thing we always do is on Christmas Eve, we’ll sit down and we usually eat like some pasta and we all watch the “Muppet’s Christmas Carol” together. And we can all quote it every single line word, for word, for word, for word. And most of us do like, I will be sat there next to my sister and she, and I will just riff off each other. And just back to back like say half the lines to each other.
Jeff: That’s awesome. And that is a classic movie for the holiday season. It’s so good.
Charlie: So good. I love Michael Cain in it so much.
Jeff: Going back to your childhood, what was the favorite present that you got for Christmas one year?
Charlie: So I can’t always remember specifics, but when I was little, I, I loved horses and I still, I still do. I’m a horse girl. One day I’ll have horses again. And, this specific brand of toy horses called Julips that I really loved. And one of the favorite things to get was more like toy horses to play with, and like, I think one year I got like some stables. Another year I got little like wooden horse box so I could take them to competitions and, you know, play out like big epic events on my bedroom floor. So like getting model horses was always something, that made me very, very happy, because I’ve always loved horse. And I still have all of my Julips. They are in my attic somewhere, just in a box because I don’t want to get rid of them. I don’t know what I want to do with them, but I still have them all because they’re very precious and it’s just really nice to keep them.
Jeff: There are some things you just don’t get rid of. It’s awesome that you kept them, cause often I know, as I grew up, there are things I got rid of as I moved, in my twenties and stuff, but now I’m in my fifties. I’m like, oh, I wish I had that still.
Charlie: I am terrible. I keep a lot of stuff. Our attic is full because I can’t decide what I want to keep and get rid off because I’m like, oh, I may need this one day. I may want this one day. And I probably will never, use it or look at it again, but I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I don’t actually know what is in half the boxes as well. Which I will not admit to, because then I will have to go through them and try and work out what to get rid of. I’m just like, nah, you know, it’s fine. Just keep the boxes taped off and they can just move from house to house to house. It’ll be fine .
Jeff: It just means one day you’ll have a big treasure hunt kind of moment opening those boxes up one day.
Let’s talk a little bit about your origin story and what got you started as a writer. What was the impetus for that?
Charlie: So I have written on and off ever since I was a kid. I’ve always loved reading ever since I was a very, very small child and I absolutely devoured books. So it was kind of natural for me to kind of make up stories and to want to live in imaginary worlds.
And when I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with my friends. We wrote a lot of fan fiction. We created our own like different verses for like shows, like a lot of animes and manga that we read. We would make OCs. We would make very complicated, like secondary worlds for different characters to inhabit.
And that was just like what we did for fun. That was just all of the time. So I guess my background is very fan fiction. It’s kind of where I did a lot of my writing. And, then I did stop for a couple of years because, I was at university and then I kind of came out and the kind of dropped off it. And then I got back into writing fan fiction when I started watching “Supernatural” in my mid twenties. I’d seen a lot of “Supernatural” stuff on Pinterest, actually. I was like scrolling through Pinterest and there’d been a lot of “Supernatural” stuff coming over to Pinterest I was like, oh, this show looks, looks kind of fun. So I want to start watching this.
And this was probably when they were quite a lot of seasons of “Supernatural,” so I had a lot to catch up on. And I just absolutely loved it. So I got back into writing fan fiction and that’s kind of where I started writing romance and it was the first kind of chance I had to write romance and I was like, oh, I really liked this. And I just, I wrote all of the time.
And then someone I knew introduced me to m/m romance novels. I was like, oh my God. It’s like fan fiction but books. I heard there was a Kindle app and it was on my phone and I had a million books to read and the more I started reading, the more like, I really, really wanted to start telling stories of my own.
It just became something that I couldn’t resist doing, and I’d always wanted to be a writer and I’d always wanted to write something original outside of fan fiction. And I always thought it was going to be science fiction or fantasy because that’s where a lot my original, my background is and reading. That’s why I read a lot of as a teenager as well. I read a lot of up to that point, but I couldn’t ever get any like fantasy stories out. I would write a page and then I get bored of it.
So I had this idea for a romance and I just sat down one day because it wouldn’t go away. I was like, look, I just sit down and write the first page, because I could guarantee to myself, by the time I got to the bottom of the first page, I would get 500 words in I’d get stuck.
That book is “Breakaway”. It didn’t go as my first romance, and it took me about six months to write it, but it wouldn’t go away and I wrote the first 500 words and I didn’t want to stop. And it just kept going. And it was the first time I’d ever managed to write anything original of a serious length. And that was it. I was just off. And then here we are.
Like I am writing book number 12 at the moment, and that’s a little bit weird. I still can’t quite get my head around that. So from like just dabbling in fan fiction and writing whatever fun, random stuff I could think of, to getting too write, original romance novels.
it still blows my mind. Like I just can’t quite get my head around it. But I’m very, very happy. It’s getting to bring a lifelong dream in to reality and into life. And I get to like, yay. I write books. This is so cool.
Jeff: I love how you had that moment of, trying to go down that fantasy route and then all of a sudden it’s like romance broke down the barrier of your writing and just off you’ve went.
Jeff: What was it, do you think about romance that, not only did you start to discover that and really, read and write more of it with fan fiction, but like really kind of unlocked it for you for the writing?
Charlie: I think for me, it was fan fiction and romance especially gave me an escape. It was comforting. It was for me, low angst. There was going to be a guaranteed happy ending. I didn’t have to write anybody’s suffering. There wasn’t any suffering. And it was just happy and warm. And I was going through a bit of a difficult period, especially in terms of mental health and having something warm and safe and kind of comforting and guaranteed.
I think allowed me to kind of just escape and I just adore what romance gives me in that way. And I love, love, love, getting to play with so many interesting characters, and I don’t have to… I guess I don’t want to say, not come up with complex plots because I do think a lot about the plots of my books. But, I do definitely get to focus more on the characters and I get to kind of watch them grow as people and I get to see them kind of work through different situations. And I can put them in fun situations. I get to be like, oh, let’s turn up at this hotel, but it’s busy and oh no, you have to share a room. And I think it’s all stuff that I had really loved growing up. And I looked back at some of the fan fiction that we wrote as teenagers and there was a lot of romance elements to it.
But I just think at the time, I hadn’t really clicked, and then I started reading romance and I started writing romance and it was just like, I had found the place that I belonged. It’s the genre that is right for me. It was just absolutely perfect and wonderful. And I I’m so happy to be able to call romance my home.
Jeff: As you started reading m/m and then starting to come in and write it. Who are some of the authors who kind of inspired the stories that you wanted to tell?
Charlie: Some of the first people I read were really inspiring to me. Annabeth Albert like, “Wheels Up” and “Off Base” and that series. I was kind of reading it as it came out and I just absolutely adored that.
Lily Morton’s “Rule Breaker”. So that was one of the first ones I read. And it was just when “Rule Breaker” was out. It was the first time I’d read any British-set romance that was like contemporary and modern. And it kind of opened up that kind of possibility of being able to write British-set romances, which was something I hadn’t really considered before because up until that point, I was like, oh, I don’t know whether I could do that because I’ve never really read much set in the UK.
And so reading that book, it was like, oh, this is so cool. Cause like I can like culturally, I recognize a lot of this, like in terms of Britishness. And I remember discussing with somebody I knew kind of whether she would write any more books and I remember getting so excited when my friend told me that Jude was getting a book, which is the second one in that series.
So that was really inspirational to me. And it just being able to sort of pick up lots of different books and styles and kind of be able to read so widely across a genre. And it was just absolutely just magical, like to be able to connect with all of these books that I do remember those two series. They’ve just been seared into my brain as like some of the real, like defining moments though. I was like, oh, you know, I just love these characters. And it’s still quite weird to me that I have gotten to talk to both these authors and meet them. I’m like, oh wow, this is really cool. I know these people.
Jeff: It’s a good community for sure. Both the readers and the writers. It’s a lovely community to be part of, for sure.
Charlie: It really is. And I am sure that I am very dorky and very fan girly when I meet people in real life. And it’s very embarrassing. I mean, the first author event I did was Shimmer in February of 2020. I only had two books out and I had a little table and I sat next to Lane Hayes and I was like, oh, hey, hey, be cool. Try and be cool. I’m not cool. So I apologize. I have apologize to several authors who I’ve met for the first time. I’m like, I’m sorry. I was so dorky and fan girly over you. And it was probably very embarrassing for both of us.
And I know in the future, I’ll probably meet some authors who I consider friends and I get to meet them in person like, oh my God, this is so cool. I get to meet you in real life. I’m just going to go over her now.
Jeff: Right there with you. I have I’ve absolutely been in those scenarios where it’s like, oh my God, this person’s right here in front of me or next to me or whatever. It’s exciting, and I don’t know. I think as I would hope that the authors are like, feel the warmth and feel the love.
Charlie: I hope so. I hope so. I hope if I get really embarrassing, they’ll just, you know, forgive me for being really cringy fan girl
Jeff: Over the dozen books that you’ve written, what would you say are the trademarks of a Charlie Novak story?
Charlie: I think they are all pretty fluffy, and fun, and pretty low angst. I have one that’s a little bit, maybe more angsty or deals with a couple more serious issues, but in general, they’re pretty fun, fluffy. They’re quite funny. Apparently I’ve been told they’re quite funny. I think I’m funny, but in real life, a lot of people have told me I’m not funny. So I’m glad that people think my books are funny. That makes me feel better. There pretty heartwarming. They’re very sexy and British. They’re all very British. You’ll find that like all my characters are British and we’ve done the occasional sojourn to like, little places abroad and had a couple of different characters coming in, but all my protagonist are British as well also something that as quite a hallmark, they’re quite fun, British and quirky in that way.
Jeff: Love that. It’s one of my favorite things is, is to visit Britain through books and see that romance play out. And especially if I do the audio books, just to have that nice warm British accent in my ears as I get to enjoy the story.
Charlie: It’s been really nice to me because I got to bring some of the places that I know that are very special to me to other people.
So some of my series are set in Lincoln, which is a city that I grew up near. It’s one of the cities I went to university in. It’s somewhere I lived for a long time and it’s quite a small city, and I get to bring that and show other people how beautiful it is through books and like, come visit this beautiful city. I love it so much.
Jeff: What can you share about what’s coming up for readers after we get past the holidays. What can you tease us about 2022?
Charlie: So I have a kind of secret project coming out on the 1st of January. So you’ll have to kind of keep your eyes peeled for that one.
But beyond that, I have the second book in my “Forever Love” series, “Finding Finn,” which is coming out at the end of February. So it’s a sort of in the same series as “Always Eli”, which came out in September. It’s the sort of, one of the other brothers in that series, his name is Finn and he’s kind of quite shy and awkward, and it’s quite sort of friends to lovers with kind of a little bit of forced proximity. And I’m really enjoying playing around with the idea of it’s always the quiet ones, cause they’ve always got a couple of little tricks up their sleeve. So that’s coming in February and then there will be a third book in the series after that one.
And next summer, I starting a brand new series, which I’m so excited about because it gets to do all the fun things that I really wanted for a long time. And I’m not going to tease too much cause I’m still coming up with the plans, but I will say British seaside town, which is something I wanted to play around with for awhile. I had the series idea back in August when we went to the beach for the first time in ages and I love the beach. It’s somewhere that’s very calming and somewhere I love being, I was like, oh, I want to write some seaside romances. So I have a kind of new series planned for the summer of 22. So lots of exciting things happening.
Jeff: That’s awesome. More Christmas romance in the offing sometime do you think?
Charlie: Maybe, yeah, I think it would be quite fun to write another one. See how things pan out and see where the books lead and what ideas I have. Cause I think it would be really fun to potentially write another one in the future.
Jeff: I was thinking a seaside Christmas could be really nice, not to just put ideas in your head.
Charlie: It could be really fun, you know, especially cause seaside Christmases can be a little bit different, a little bit more like stormy, but you know, lots of spending time inside, you know, all cozy and snug together. So that could be really fun.
Jeff: And how could people keep up with you online to know about the secret January project and everything else as it rolls out in 2022?
Charlie: Yeah, so the best ways to find me, you can go to my website, which is charlienovak.com. And then you can also sign up for my newsletter. I send a newsletter out every single month and it’s usually got like cover reveals, new releases, lots of, kind of, fun extras as well. You can find me on Instagram. I like Instagram a lot and just @charlienwrites. But if you just put in Charlie Novak that you will find me.
I also have a Facebook reader’s group, which is called Charlie’s Angels because I absolutely couldn’t resist. And you can find me in there, where I, again, you’ll get kind of day-to-day ramblings and musings and lots giveaways and we have guest authors in and, and things like that as well. So, those are the three best places to find me online and I share lots of cool stuff. And there’s also dog pictures. If you like cute dogs, I have a sort of sausage dog called Biscuit, and she’s very cute and I share a lot of photos of her being adorable. So this like extra bonus come for the books, but also the cute dog as well.
Jeff: Fantastic. We will link to all of that stuff in the show notes that will go along with this Charlie, thank you so much for being part of our very first Big Gay Fiction Fest. It has been so wonderful talking to you and we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.
Charlie: Thank you so much for having me and I hope you have an absolutely wonderful holiday season as is everybody watching.
Jeff: And thanks so much to Charlie for being part of the Big Gay Fiction Fest. Something we actually talked about before I clicked the record button for the interview is that she had the very same headphones that Annabeth Albert did. I’m sure you’ve noticed that if you’ve already watched Annabeth’s session with us. It turns out Charlie had seen a video Annabeth had done and loved those headphones so much that she went out and bought some for herself too. So it was a little bit of unexpected continuity between the sessions that we have here on the Big Gay Fiction Fest.
Will: I also think it was really sweet that Charlie gave a shout out to “The Christmas Setup.” It was just a happy coincidence that she mentioned this movie that we all seem to have fallen in love with, and hopefully through our shared love that we’ve convinced you to give “The Christmas Setup” a try if you haven’t watched it already.
Now stay tuned, as they used to say in the olden days, because we’ve got more Big Gay Fiction Fest to come.