Author Lucy Lennox joins the Big Gay Fiction Fest to talk about her holiday romance Forever Wilde in Aster Valley, which features the Marians and the Wildes together in Aster Valley for Christmas. Of course there’s also romance, this time between an Aster Valley baker and one of the newest members of the Marian/Wilde family. Lucy gives us all the details on bringing her three series together, and balancing the family reunion and the budding romance.
This Big Gay Fiction Fest presentation is only available on YouTube.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Lucy Lennox Author Spotlight
- Lucy Lennox: website | Newsletter signup | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
- Forever Wilde in Aster Valley by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Made Marian series by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Forever Wilde series by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Aster Valley series by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Hot as Heller by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- His Saint by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Right as Raine by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Taming Teddy by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- May Archer on Amazon
- King Me by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Flirt by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- NautiCal by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Delivering Dante by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Made Marian Mixtape by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Jocelynn Drake on Amazon
- Keira Andrews on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Merry Measure by Lily Morton on Amazon
- Eli Easton on Amazon
- The Night by May Archer on Amazon
- A Devilish Christmas by Sylvia Violet on Amazon
- Molly Maddox on Amazon
- Tyler & Todd on YouTube
- Say You’ll be Nine by Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- Licking Thicket: Horn of Glory series by Lucy Lennox
- Hitched by Lucy Lennox on Amazon (pre-order until February 1, 2022)
- Thick as Thieves by Lucy Lennox on Amazon (pre-order until March 1, 2022)
- Heart 2 Heart Volume 5 by various authors on Amazon (pre-order until January 31, 2022)
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers. Or should we say rainbow holiday romance readers. It’s great to have you here for this Big Gay Fiction Fest session with Lucy Lennox.
Before we get to that though, let’s take a moment to talk about the things that we want to see in a holiday romance. This is a question we asked each of our guests and we’ve got some definite opinions on this too. So, Will, what are the things that you want to find in a perfect holiday romance?
Will: Well, each year as the holiday time rolls around and we get the opportunity to enjoy these stories, I’m not going to lie, I always look at the page count first. Okay. Actually, it goes in this order. I have to like the cover, then I have to like the blurb and then I’m going to check out the page count. Because, just like the rest of the world, things tend to speed up towards the end of the year and I don’t have time to read a 500 page doorstop.
Jeff: You don’t like 500 page doorstops anyway.
Jeff: That’s another discussion for another day though.
Will: Jeff is telling the truth. So, I think this is the perfect time of year for short stories and novellas. I think for me as a reader, the shorter lengths give me that, little hit of Christmas cheer and that happily ever after that I crave, without having to spend consecutive days or even a week or more on just one story.
So aside from length, when it comes to plot or themes in Christmas and holiday stories, I’m not terribly picky. I don’t necessarily think a story has to focus on holiday traditions in order for it to be a Christmas book. But I do definitely enjoy the return of certain tropes that you all know I love and adore. Because Christmas time is the perfect opportunity for two heroes to get trapped in a snowstorm in a cozy cabin with only one bed. Or, for a beleaguered main character who has to go home to his family for a small town Christmas, and just once would be like to left out of there matchmaking, meddling ways. So, he invites his best friend to come along and pretend to be his boyfriend.
Yes, forced proximity and fake boyfriend. Two of my absolute favorite tropes of all time. We get a veritable Christmastime avalanche of those kinds of stories this time of year. And I am here for all of it.
Jeff: It is definitely the perfect time of year for forced proximity, no doubt about it.
Two of my favorite tropes really play into the season as well with friends to lovers and second chance, because as you have people coming home, or perhaps revisiting some traditions and such, it is the opportunity for friends to get together because maybe you’re home or a second chance with somebody.
And I love it when those themes kind of crop up in the holiday romances and finding the way to the holidays are kind of the bridge to bring these people together. And it will admit that this year I seemed to be really drawn to grumpy/sunshine as well. We’re going to see some of those very themes in some of the sessions that we’ll be having with authors throughout the Fest.
I didn’t know, I could be so intrigued by the sunshiny, I love Christmas person kind of bringing over the person who is more Grinchy. You said that you didn’t need the holiday trappings. There’s some things that I need in my holiday romance. Like I need that moment that maybe we’re out on the street somewhere, looking at the Christmas lights, whether we’re in a bigger city and looking at the lights of a certain part of town that maybe has been decorated, or if we’re in a small town, you know, walking down main street, maybe going to the Christmas tree lighting.
And I would really like a moment if at all possible, because you know, I love a hockey story. So while I don’t need hockey in my holiday romance, I would love for my people to go skating in their holiday romance because skating is the perfect date. You go skating, then you have some hot chocolate, maybe you smooch, you know, at the end of the hot chocolate. There are plenty of possibilities there.
Now let’s get to our talk with Lucy. For this holiday season, she’s given us a huge gift in the form of an epic crossover between the three of her series, as she brings together the Marian family and the Wilde family, and brings them all to Aster Valley.
The result is “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley,” which not only gives us a wonderful romance, but also is the stage for a family reunion for these large families to have a Christmas celebration. As you’ll hear from Lucy, this crossover, wasn’t something she’d planned, and she certainly had some planning and research to do in blending these three series together.
So let’s hear more from Lucy about “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley.”
Featured Author: Lucy Lennox
Jeff: Lucy, welcome. We’re so glad you could join the Big Gay Fiction Fest 2021 holiday celebration.
Lucy: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Jeff: You’ve got a brand new holiday book out for the season. And I can’t wait to read it because it involves some of my favorite characters. Tell us about “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley.”
Lucy: “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley” it started as a spur of the moment idea. I did not have any plan to write this crossover book before probably spring of this year, 2021.
And I was getting ready to publish “Hot as Heller,” book three in my new “Aster Valley” series. And I knew that the next one wasn’t coming out for a long time. From the beginning of June to the beginning of February. And I didn’t want readers to have that long without having a visit to, you know, my world basically.
But my schedule is really full with other writing commitments. And so I knew I couldn’t squeeze in an extra full length novel in there. So I’m like, what kind of fun short story or novella could I do? And I really wanted to write a holiday novella. And so I kind of killed two birds and I’m like, oh, I’ll do a Wilde/Marian Christmas crossover, which I’ve been wanting to do a Wilde/Marian crossover and I’ll set it in Aster Valley so that the “Aster Valley” series has a little shot in the arm part way through the year that can tie readers over between June and February.
So I’ll call it “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley,” and it’ll be this triple crossover and it’ll be a holiday novella and that’ll be great. I seriously like came up with the idea just a few days before I had to load the pre-order for “Hot as Heller,” and I threw it up for pre-order, picked release date, put the pre-order link in the back of the book. And I didn’t know really what the book was about yet. I had a vague sense that I knew which character I had in this world that needed a story, Miller Hobbs. I’ll talk about him in a minute and obviously it was going to be set in my new series world of “Aster Valley,” which is a small fictional town in Colorado, which would make a great setting for a Christmas novella.
And so then I had to decide, you know, I wanted it to be part family reunion, part romance story, because when I put out anything, I’m a romance novelist. So I want there to be a romance story in the story. Even if you’re also getting a family reunion, I want there to be a new romance story.
So the character is Miller Hobbs, and he showed up in my “Forever Wilde” series at the end of a book called “His Saint.” He sort of shows up on the doorstep of our series patriarchs and he says, I’ve found out through a DNA test that my mother who was adopted shares DNA with you, she says to, Grandpa Wilde. And Grandpa is gay has always known he was gay. He would not have fathered a child. He basically realizes that this child must be his sister, Tilly, who he’s been estranged from for decades. It must be Tilly’s child.
So they set out to find Tilly. And the reason why Miller is in a hurry to find this biological mother of his mother is because his mother is dying and he wants to give her this gift of reuniting her with the mother who gave her up for adoption.
When that happened, I knew right away when I wrote that into “His Saint,” that I wanted to know Miller’s story. His name is Miller Hobbs. I wanted to know his story. He’s an only child of an only child and he suddenly thrust into this huge double family, because in the process of this DNA coming to light, we also reunite the Wilde family through Grandpa of the “Forever Wilde” series with the Marian family, from the “Made Marian” series through Aunt Tilly. Turns out that their siblings.
And if that has just spoiled it for anyone, you’re a few years over due and that’s okay. We still love you. Jump in, it’ll be fine. But anyways, so it unites these two giant families. And so in the end of my book “Wilde Love” these two big families reunite, and it’s a nutty scene with all of these couples that I’ve written before and all of these big personalities and all these side characters and it’s crazy.
And on a lark challenged myself to write one scene with all of the Marians and Wildes in the one scene. And I did it. And so that is basically like what this book is. It’s half Marian and Wilde Christmas craziness, and the other half is Miller suddenly finding himself in this giant overwhelming group of big personalities and not knowing where he fits in.
Because he gets overwhelmed if they’re staying at Rockley Lodge, which is the setting that I introduced in the first book, in the “Aster Valley” series “Right as Raine.” The couple from that book end up in this lodge, in this town, the ski lodge. And so they’re hosting this giant family reunion.
And so Miller takes off to get some peace and quiet, and he goes into the small town of Aster Valley to pick up a bakery order, and he ends up seeing this beautiful man through the bakery window who’s dancing to the beat of his own drum as he’s kneading dough. And it’s the story of them falling in love among the families that we’ve come to love over the course of these two series. In the setting of the third series.
So it’s a lot. It’s a lot. But you’re getting to revisit all of these favorite characters from three series and also watch a new couple fall in love. So I hope I’ve done it justice.
Jeff: It sounds a little mind bending in a way to bring in because the Wilde and the Marian families are not small.
Lucy: No. No.
Jeff: And then you add in, you know, the characters you’re going to want to show off from “Aster Valley.” So that’s quite a universe that you’re bringing together as one.
How did you plot this? I mean, certainly obviously Miller and Darius’s story could move along on the romance track, but then you’ve got all the other stuff going on too, to put in and to make it a holiday romance.
Lucy: So the holiday part is I set it during the week of Christmas. And when I first plotted, I actually plotted it in five minutes originally, you know, the best laid plans. So originally I thought, okay, I’m going to alternate chapters. I’m going to have a chapter of the love story, a chapter of the family, you know, catch up with our favorite characters. I plotted it out like that, but then once I started writing it. It didn’t stay that way.
But there were some special challenges in this exactly what you’re asking. Because I can’t assume that the readers remember all of these couples and can keep them apart and remember that Maverick and Beau are the ones that live at Rabbit Island. And that Janie is the one from “Taming Teddy.” So in the process of writing it, I have to put little contextual clues in there to help the reader place who that character is.
And, so that’s challenging because you don’t want it to be an info dump either. So, you know, you might say, Hudson ran his hands through Charlie’s long red hair. And people might go, right. Charlie’s the one he’s Irish, he’s the one with the long red hair. And you might say, Felix you know, says something about stain glass and oh, right, right, right. Felix is the one with the stained glass.
So that was one of the challenges, was trying to re-introduce all of these beloved characters in a way that would help very quickly and naturally set us back in that world and remind us who those people were and why do we care? Why do we care? Who, you know, that these characters are there?
But when I first started writing it, the romance couple Miller and Darius were very two dimensional because there’s so much history and richness in the other characters. You know, these characters have been in book after book. And I know them like the back of my hand and Miller is a brand new guy and Darius, even more Darius, started off when I started writing, he was this generic baker and I’m like this is not working for me. It was too much of a contrast. You know, we’ve got this deep rich cast of characters who we know and love so well. And then we’ve got these two newbies who we don’t care as much. Let’s get back to the ensemble that we love.
So I spent a lot of time once I got into the writing, trying to really get to know those two guys. And in the process of doing that, I naturally tied them to what was going on with the Marians and Wildes, because they both have their own backstory that is relevant, to this big colorful family.
So they both react to this family differently because they have different backgrounds. That sort of, you know, Darius is from a big background. One of his parents is Greek and one of his parents is Black and both of his parents have these huge extended families.
Lots of cousins and grannies and ya-yas and so for him, he’s been around a big colorful family before. And so he’s used to the noise and the people, but Miller is not. And so Darius is sort of like social lube a little bit. And he’s trying to sort of, introduce Miller to the good parts of this big nosy crew. And that was fun.
Once I started digging deeper into their backstories and connecting it, I also fell deeper into Tilly’s story because Tilly is the connection here. Tilly’s the reason Miller is in this family in the first place and Tilly is the one who gathered everybody together in Aster Valley.
And once I started going down that path Some really deep emotions came out in this story. Really surprised me. And so I’ve had a lot of help tweaking that and making that better. May Archer has helped me tremendously, showing me that there was a lot more here than… I originally thought, oh, it’s a fun little holiday novella.
And with her help, it is much, much more. So I’m really excited to share it. Sorry. I know this is super long answer.
Jeff: So exciting though. And if we go back and look at like, you know, the first time you really put the Marians and the Wildes together at the end of “Wilde Love,” and then we got them a little bit more at like the beginning of “King Me” because those two books branched right into one another. But now we really get to have this bigger sit-down moment where we’re not going to have to go off on the heist like we did in “King Me.”
So it’s really exciting. And. I’m thinking there must be at least 20 couples.
Lucy: Oh at least yeah.
Jeff: Are they all coming to Aster Valley? Is that how big this family gathering is? Or did you go, I want these folks to come, but we really can’t deal with these right now.
Lucy: So I have almost all of the actual siblings. So Thomas and Rebecca’s siblings that make up the “Made Marian” books are there with their partners.
And “Forever Wilde” it’s the same, but in “Forever Wilde”, there’s a novella called “Flirt,” that Stevie’s story. And the reason why that’s not an official “Forever Wilde” book or an official entry in the series is he’s not a Wilde and neither is his love interest, Chief Page, the fire chief. So they’re not there because it wouldn’t have made sense to be there in this huge Marian/Wilde reunion.
However because they’re a beloved couple in the series, I mentioned them and I mentioned why they’re not there. And so we still get to see them, you know, sort of, we still get to think about them and know what they’re up to, but they’re not actually there.
And so also “Made Marian” Christmas is another non-Marian, non-Wilde family Noah and Luke. So I did not include them either, but I do refer to them.
I had to do a lot of research into my own books to remind myself whose kids are what age? Who has kids? What does Gina Wilde call Grandpa? You know, like Papa? I couldn’t remember. So like she calls him pop. So like lots of little things like that. And in the process, I’ve made a couple of mistakes that luckily when May was reading through it, she caught them. And I know Leslie, when she reads through it, she’ll probably catch them too.
So I wrote that Cal Wilde and his love interest Worth from “NautiCal” where I think I referred to him as his husband or something, or his older husband Worth something like that. And May’s like, they only just got together like two weeks ago in this timeline, you know, like the way that the books are related to each other. I was like, oh gosh, you’re right.
And then the other thing is Ammon Marian who is the newest adopted Marian from Marian House, he is a boy that AJ saves from sort of a cult type background in “Delivering Dante” and the Marian’s end up over in the background of these books, the Marian’s end up adopting him. So he’s the newest youngest Marian brother.
He gets his happy ever after in “Made Marian Mixtape” and a novella that’s inside of that book. And I love his story so much. It’s a lesser known Marian love story, and I love it so much, but a lot of people don’t like a short story collection or haven’t read it for whatever reason. So they’ve missed out on it. But I went into this thinking all the Marian’s have had their happy ever after. And so I started to write him with his partner and he’s still too young. Like I wrote that later in time to give him his happy ever after, but in this book, he’s not there yet. So that’s been a little difficult because you want to explain all of these things on the front end to the reader.
But I also don’t want the reader to have to read like this, you know, long explanation about why Mark isn’t there, you know, Mark isn’t there because we haven’t met Mark yet. So yeah, it’s, it was a challenge.
Jeff: A little bit of time bending too.
Lucy: Exactly. And, you know, and the thing is like, I’ve probably gotten some things wrong too. And like this, like somethings are like that. And there are some things that have been said in previous books that like, I can’t change, even if they conflict with each other, like it’s the reader just sort of has to say, okay, well, clearly she didn’t know what the heck she was doing when she set out to start putting these series, these different series in the same world. I didn’t know what was going to end up like this. So there are some contradictions in the canon and we just have to sort of like, sprinkle our fingers in the air and say, and that all just works out fine, and we don’t think about it too closely.
Jeff: So as you bring all of these families together in this book, what was your favorite scene to write?
Lucy: Oh, that’s hard. There’s a scene, okay, there’s the scene. I’m trying to figure out how to say it without it being a spoiler, but basically there’s a very emotional scene between Miller and Tilly. Part of the learning that I’ve done on my journey as an author has included the character of Tilly Marian, because in the beginning, when I wrote the “Made Marian” series, and Tilly first turned up to be a little bit of comedic relief, and she was crass. She and her friends were very crass and there were a lot of reviewers who hated Tilly and her friends. And there were a lot of reviewers who loved Tilly and her friends.
What I learned, and this was fairly early on, I learned that if I wrote the next book with Tilly. I was going to upset a lot of readers, and if I wrote the next book without Tilly, I was going to upset a lot of readers. And it was a really fortunate lesson to learn so early on for me, which is that you can not make all of your readers happy with one book. It’s not possible. You will never make all of the readers happy with one book.
And so I had to decide what makes the most sense for me in terms of writing Tilly, and you know, at the most, I would say what makes the most sense for the majority of readers let’s say. But really, you know, if you want to stay true to how you feel like the story needs to be told. And so I had to make a lot of decisions in regards to Tilly. And, in fact I was so affected by that a vitriolic feedback from some readers about the character of Tilly, that when I started “Forever Wilde,” I very deliberately did not have a Tilly-esque type character in that series.
And in fact, I sort of corrected by having our patriarch couple, Doc and Grandpa, because I do love that multi-generational representation and you know, there’s a lot of things you can do there with like mentorship and stuff. But I made them so gentle and so kind and loving that they were basically the opposite of Tilly. I wouldn’t say I over-corrected because I love Doc and Grandpa. I love their characters and I think they were perfect for the series.
But like I said, you know, this was all part of my journey. I, did not know at the time that there was a connection between Doc and Grandpa and Tilly. So later when I discovered that Tilly and Grandpa were related, I realized that for that to be the case, there had to be a pretty serious emotional backstory. And when I started diving into what that was, and I started telling the story, the historical story of Doc and Grandpa falling in love during Vietnam or right after Vietnam, and Tilly’s story started to sort of reveal itself, I started to see, and it actually started a lot earlier. I started to see the real side of Tilly. I started to realize what a mask that humor is. That rowdy, raunchy personality as a front. And so I started to learn so much more about her and I wasn’t expecting to. And so in this book, “Forever Wilde in Aster Valley,” we see a lot of that. And there’s some of that is revealed actually in a short story called “Poker Face” in “Made Marian Mixtape.”
And because I feel like that’s a very valuable little piece of Tilly’s backstory that’s related to this Miller story, I’m actually going to pull that out of “Made Marian Mixtape” and make it free on Bookfunnel for readers to use, to like refresh their memory if they want. You don’t have to enjoy the story.
That’s a sort of a long way of saying that, like, there’s this really pivotal, emotional scene with Tilly about giving Miller’s mother up for adoption and why she’s made some of the decisions that she’s made. It took this story to a very different place than I was expecting. So it’s not quite the light and fluffy holiday novella. It’s got some teeth.
Jeff: But teeth is good.
Lucy: And the teeth are gonna bite your heart out.
Jeff: The holiday occasionally brings the teeth out.
Lucy: It does, and that’s one of the reasons why I loved writing the scene because it’s like, we’re all supposed to be happy and having a wonderful time and Miller is having a very hard time. And I think that’s a very, very human experience. That’s a very common experience, you know. the holidays are like that. They can be a roller coaster, especially when it comes to family and family backstory and family relationships and histories, relationship artifacts.
Jeff: Did you always know with “Aster Valley” that it was in essentially the same universe as “Wilde” and “Marian?” Or did you decide that with this Christmas book idea?
Lucy: No, I in fact set out to not have anything crossover because when I put the “Wilde,” “Forever Wilde” series in the “Marian” world, it created a lot of crazy like challenges and chaos and confusion and fans of “Forever Wilde” now felt like they had to go back and start at the beginning of “Made Marian” to enjoy everything.
So I wanted a clean break. A brand new series that didn’t cross over and “Aster Valley” wasn’t going to have anything to do with “Forever Wilde” or “Made Marian.” But then when I met Pim and Bill, who owned the diner in “Aster Valley.” They have adopted a teenage son named Solo, Solomon, and Solo came from Marian House. That’s just, it’s just his story. that’s where he came from. So it was just a little Easter egg. It’s just a little nod. It wasn’t that the series were crossing over or anything crazy like that. It was just this one little mention.
So yeah, they’re in the same world, but don’t worry about, it’s just little Easter egg. And, then like readers started to also realize that back in “Delivering Dante.” which was my sixth book and I’m now I’ve now written 40 something books, but my sixth book “Delivering Dante,” AJ Flores’s parents live in Aster Valley. And so I never said anything about it. I just put out the “Aster Valley” series and readers started saying, hold up, wait a minute. Cause they would go back and do a reread of the “Made Marian” series and come across and be like, what?
And so now that’s there, like it was sort of, they were in the same world anyway, because I had done that. So, now, here we are.
Jeff: It’s not the first time you’ve done Christmas with this story, certainly. You had “A Very Marian Christmas” back a few years ago. What is it about the season that brings you back occasionally? Cause you mentioned, you know, that you wanted to write a holiday book this year.
Lucy: I think, well, there’s several things. First of all a holiday novella has a lot less pressure on it. So it’s shorter. It’s supposedly, you know, it’s a little bit lighter. It doesn’t carry quite the same heft as a book in your catalog that, you know, like a full length novel, that is a really critical piece of your series. It’s more, you can write it for fun because readers are reading it for fun.
Because I write small town romance, a Christmas novella is just quintessential, small town romance. You can have so much fun with it. There are expected scenes, but there’s also a lot of room that naturally lends itself to humor, which I love to write.
You’re with family, who’s being nosy. You’re with, you know, you’re with family, who’s naturally matchmaking, you know, nosy grannies and aunts and moms and brothers who are, you know, matchmaking or giving you hell for something or giving you gag gifts or making jokes. A lot of times there might be a drunk scene where everybody’s had too much, you know, eggnog or whatever.
And then there’s just, it’s either you get to really, like dive into some heartwarming scenes, decorating the tree, seeing the snow come down, you know, especially when you get to a point in a series like I have with “Made Marian,” “Forever Wilde” we’re there now, some of our couples have babies and small children.
There’s snowball fights and the, and if you don’t have children in your series, you have, you know, new love and especially a whole group of guys, you know, a bunch of boyfriends and husbands and stuff, you know, pelting each other in the face with snowballs. So like there’s a lot of fun to be had there. And you can, you know, all, any like the winter sports, sorry, you know, Southern hemisphere listeners. But, you know, all the winter sports like skiing, and snowboarding, and tubing, and going for a horse carriage sleigh ride, and Christmas tree shopping, and the crackling fire, and snuggling up under a blanket with hot chocolate.
There were all these like super heartwarming scenes that are like really fun to write. And it’s fun to see your characters in that situation, because then you can create their traditions and see how that differs from yours.
Jeff: You just talked about a whole bunch of things that could be in a holiday romance. Are there ones that like you think are the must haves, especially like when you’re reading a book? It’s like I’m reading holiday, I want to see these things in this story.
Lucy: Yeah. Obviously it depends on the holiday, but for me with Christmas I think there has to be some indication of what your family situation is. So you don’t have to be with family. I know like, Like, I’m trying to remember. I have the worst memory but like Jocelynn Drake has some great Christmas stories. And I know in one of hers, the couple are you know, like, I don’t know if they’re trapped, but they’re together in like a holiday rental or a cabin or something.
And so they don’t have family there. But they’re talking about either, and I can’t remember the details, but they’re like missing their family or why they’re not with their family. So it kind of forces you to, to delve into your character’s family situation, which I think is critical in the holiday book. Why are you either with, or not with your family?
And I think in our genre, found family is such a big theme that it’s fun to make that family aspect of a holiday novella or novel unique, with your found family, like, what does it look like? Are we on a rooftop in New York City with elegant place settings and, you know, beautiful floral arrangements and gas heaters, and we’re all dressed up to the nines. Or, are we, in a converted barn in Texas with, country music blasting over the speakers and everybody’s wearing boots and doing square dancing. Like, it’s that heartwarming gathering.
But like I said, you know, even if you’re trapped in a snowy cabin, like your thinking about it or talking about it and how you feel about it. But for me, with Christmas again, the tree or decorations of some kind lights, the tree, something like that is sort of critical. Even if you’re trapped in a cabin, like maybe you find a candle in a drawer and you make your own little thing, or maybe you go outside and you cut evergreen boughs, bows, boughs, prickles, whatever leaves. And so to the decor you know, I love a good mistletoe moment. What else? Yeah, like the, for me, like a snowy night, snow flurries, snow fight or just frigid air, crisp winter air, starry night. What else for me? Food. Food is a biggie in mine.
Jeff: Are you going to give us some food porn in Aster Valley?
Lucy: There is, yes, there is because Darius is a baker and he comes from a Greek family. So his bakery has some Greek treats. And in fact, my Pinterest board for this book is food porn itself. Yeah. And then Mikey, you know, is basically a chef and so he’s catering a lot of the family meals and stuff.
Jeff: Do you have any favorite gay romance holiday stories? Because I know you read a lot.
Lucy: I do read a lot and I have a terrible memory for titles, but I know that like, so Jocelynn Drake has a bunch of great ones. Keira Andrews has a bunch of great ones. “Merry Measure” by Lily Morton and Lily Morton is one of my faves.
Jeff: “Merry Measure” is just out on audio for this season.
Lucy: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. I think Eli Easton also has a bunch of good ones, but if the one title I do know, and I don’t know, I already dropped her name, but May Archer’s “The Night” is one of my absolute favorites because it is just the quintessential holiday gay romance to me. It’s very Hallmarky, Hallmark movie. It is small town. It’s the grumpy one in the sunshine one. It’s nosy towns people and a decorated town square, and a little girl, and I just loved it so much. Loved it so much. I think it’s one of the best books she’s written. Yeah, it’s it is fantastic. So that’s “The Night.”
Jeff: Any particular books that have caught your eye coming out this year? That you’re kind of excited about?
Lucy: I’ve been so busy writing mine that I haven’t been looking at everyone else’s. I know that Sylvia Violet has one coming out in her mob, mafia mob series, which I’m really looking forward to that one. Cause I like that series.
Jeff: I am looking forward to see what mafia Christmas is like.
Lucy: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, she’s in my Zoom sprint group. So I see her almost every day on Zoom. And so we were joking about that because I said something about a Christmas novel, or I can’t remember what, oh, you know, did you write a such and such a scene? And she was like mafia guys don’t do that. And I was like, oh yeah, that’s right. She’s like, she, it was sort of like, you mean break into his house. I was like, oh yeah. Break into his house. You know, instead of like, oh, he shows up with a casserole. No, no, he breaks in with a weapon.
Jeff: What are some of your favorite holiday and Christmas traditions?
Lucy: This is so terrible, cause I’m just like the worst parent ever. But we have a tradition that is different than the way I grew up. I grew up having a big formal Christmas meal on Christmas Day. And first of all, I don’t really, I’m not a big fan of that kind of food. I’m just, I’m not like a Turkey fan. I don’t like a big roast beef. I don’t want any red meat, and I’m picky. So I don’t like all those casseroles and whatever. So my husband and I changed it to a big breakfast in our pajamas with like mimosas and like, an egg casserole and a French toast casserole.
And we eat it in our pajamas after we wrap presents and then that’s it for the day. And you can just forage. And so, in other words, you could stay in your pajamas all day. There’s no getting dressed up or setting a really fancy table and then having to deal with all of that. And I love that. That’s one of my favorite things. I love the fact that it’s just like pajamas all day. And everyone, you know, plays with their things or reads their new books or whatever they have. So that’s like the true answer to that.
But we also have stockings that my grandmother, my paternal grandmother, needle pointed stockings for all of us, with our names at the top and a nice little Christmas scene on them. And they have like a velvet backing and they’re really nice. And my mother started doing the same tradition for my children and my sister’s children. And so we, on Christmas Eve, we hang the stockings. They’ve already been hung. We take them down and we hang them again, but we hang the stockings. And then we set out cookies and milk for Santa.
My kids are like 14 to 19, and we read “The Night Before Christmas” and we do have a more formal dinner on Christmas Eve. And then we go to bed and the next morning, the one thing that’s changing as my kids are getting older, as we get up later and later, we used to get up at the crack of dawn and we opened presents and Santa wrap’s presence at our house. It used to take a while with the toys and stuff to unwrap everything. Cause I would make everybody take turns. But now with teenagers, you know, there’s not nearly as much to unwrap, but it’s fun.
Usually my husband’s mom comes cause she lives here locally and my mom comes, she lives about three hours away. And sometimes my sister is here with her family. One of my sisters is here with her family and I think they’re coming this year and she has a one-year-old. So it’ll be super fun, you know, to be back into the toys. Yeah.
Jeff: Breakfast caught my attention because the big breakfast is a wonderful thing.
Doing a little bit of a flashback. What’s a favorite present you got as a child?
Lucy: So, I was thinking about this earlier because I couldn’t remember any. And then all of a sudden I remembered one that was just the best thing ever. And like still to this day is the best thing ever. I got a Barbie van one year for Christmas and it was called the Barbie van, I think, but it was an RV, a big, long yellow RV with an open top. So you could reach down and set all your Barbies in it. I’m one of three girls we had lots of Barbies and lots of Barbie clothes, lots of Barbie shoes, Barbie, everything. And my best friend lived across the street and down one house. And so I tied a shoe lace I guess that’s all I had. I tied a shoelace to the front windshield frame of the van, like a leash on a dog.
And then I would walk down the hill with the van trailing behind me and walked down the street. With my van to Amy’s house, where we would get all of her Barbie stuff together. And we would have basically a Barbie extravaganza and I’m pretty sure she had the Barbie Dream House with the elevator first. I think my sisters and I got one a few years later, but she had one, so I had the van and she had the house. So when we got all of our stuff together, it was like, incredible.
Jeff: That’s awesome.
Lucy: So, yeah. So it was the Barbie van, for sure. I was old enough to like, I don’t know why my parents ever trusted me to do this cause I’m sure I did it crooked, but like put the decals on myself, you know, sort of like whatever the Barbie van version is of racing stripes on the side. And I’m pretty sure they were crooked.
But so like here’s a little insider information about me. I played Barbies for all along time and I played them with my younger sister who now writes with me as Molly Maddox. And when we were. I mean, she was probably 10. So I was probably 14. My dad lived in a house where our bedrooms were catty-corner to each other, and there was an attic space sort of in the corner behind both of our closets.
And my dad is very DIY and he built little tiny doors in the back of each of our closets that went into this attic space and he sheet rocked the attic space and put a carpet remnant down and he put lights in it. And that was our Barbie room. And it was hidden. You would get there through the back of her closet in the back of mine, we can meet in there.
And that was where all of our mountains and mountains of Barbie stuff was. And we could sit in that little hidden room and play Barbies for hours. And what it was, it was romance stories. We told these romance stories with our Barbies for hours. And it was only recently that I look back on that now, and I see that as storytelling. You know? And I see that the two of us that ended up becoming authors were the two that were attracted to creating these stories with these characters and, you know, thinking through their, romances and their stories and stuff. So that’s fascinating to me, but yeah.
Jeff: I love that, I hope you write that into a book somewhere.
Lucy: That’s what May said when I told her that she’s like, oh gosh, you need to write that. Of course, I think she was picturing, you know, sassy little Lucy with her shoelace leash on the van.
Jeff: There’s whole vision that goes with that too.
Lucy: I am kind of obsessed with RVs now. Cause you know, I’m a big Tyler and Todd fan and so they inspired me to write “Say You’ll Be Nine”, which is basically, you know, the two guys live in an RV and they’re fixing up this house in the woods. It’s very Tyler and Todd. So then after I published that book, my family, Andrew and I took our kids to the grand canyon in a RV.
Jeff: So many behind the scenes going on here and stuff. I love it.
So we’ve had that look back. Let’s look forward. What can you tease us about what’s coming after the Christmas book and getting us into 2022 a little bit.
Lucy: Early January, May Archer and I are releasing our second book in the. “Licking Thicket: Horn of Glory” series, which is called “Hitched.” and it’s centered around a wedding planner and a wedding that this sort of personal security slash spy type guy, Champ, who we met in the first book. Champ sort of has to a little bit go undercover with this wedding planner. It’s set in Licking Thicket and it’s going to be so fun and May and I already plotted it and we’re getting ready to start writing. I think actually I actually started the first chapter this week so I’m really excited about that. More hijinks there. And it’ll be in Licking Thicket, which I think readers will be looking forward to. I think they were a little disappointed that our last book went on a journey.
And then in early February is book four in my “Aster Valley” series called “Thick As Thieves.” I’m really excited about that because it is a best friends to lovers trope, where these guys have been everything to each other, but one of them has always identified as gay and the other one has always identified as straight, and the one who has identified, Parker, who has identified as straight. Julian has always been his ride or die.
That’s his guy, that’s his person. That’s been the most important person in his whole life forever. He was attracted to him at one point in the past, but he was so terrified of messing with like this. This is basically like his brother. He was so terrified of messing with that, that he just sort of wouldn’t allow that to happen. And he sort of got swept up into this relationship with a woman for a little bit more external reasons, like some job politics and things like this. And so he’s on the verge of marrying this woman. Julian is devastated and heartbroken because he’s been in love with his best friend forever.
And I started writing this like over a year ago and I thought it was going to be book one in the “Aster Valley” series. And it just wasn’t the right book to be book one in the series for various reasons. So I had to set it aside, so I can’t wait to pick it back up because I love the dynamic that these two guys have.
And this book has been in my heart now for several books and I just, their relationship is so special and so close. So I’m really excited about that book. And then I have several solos planned next year that I don’t know what they’re going to be yet. And, I keep going back and forth because I have a book five in my head for “Aster Valley.” That is these two skiers that had a massive falling out years ago. And I know their story. So I might write that or I might, I’ve got an idea for a couple of standalones that I’m really excited about too. So I’m not sure yet what I’m doing there.
And then May and I have booked three in the “Horn of Glory” trilogy, which is called “Hacked”, which is a teased couple that were teased in book one and everyone really wants their story and it’s going to be so good. It’s called “Hacked.” So it’ll come out probably in the spring.
And then she and I have written another series called “Honey Bridge,” which is a lot more like her “O’Leary” series and my “Made Marian” and “Forever Wilde” series, little less puns, little less over the top humor. And it’s based around this family feud. And it’s set in a small town in Maine and we’ve already written the first book and I love it so much. She does too, but I love it so much. And it’s killing us not to be able to release it yet, but we’re going to try and write the next two in that in the next, you know, six months or whatever, so that we released them, boom boom, in the fall.
And that way people won’t have to wait, you know, after they get the first one they won’t have to wait. So we’ll see. I’m really excited about that. Like really excited about that. So yeah, that’s what I have.
Jeff: That’s going to be a busy 2022.
Lucy: Super, super busy. Yes. I also have a couple of little random, shorter projects coming out here and there that I’ll have more information about next year
Jeff: And you’re back in “Heart to Heart”, that’s coming out in January too.
Lucy: Yep. I am. I am writing the intro and the outro and the theme is never have I ever, which I’m super excited about. Yeah, that’s going to be really fun. And it’s all of the authors participating have not been in “Heart to Heart” before, except me.
Jeff: I love that so much that I do to all this influx of new people, getting to play in the “Heart to Heart universe.
Lucy: I do too. I’m super, super excited about it. And Leslie Copeland who herds the cats for this project and it was her baby. She came up with the concept. And this is volume five I believe.
Jeff: I think so, yeah.
Lucy: And she is just doing a tremendous job and the tens of thousands of dollars that this project has raised for LGBT charities is just so exciting. The pre-orders are streaming in because I think readers have finally learned that like, if you snooze, you lose with this anthology. So you’ve got to grab it before…
Jeff: we’ve grabbed ours. We’ve pre-ordered already.
Lucy: Yeah, exactly. You got to grab it before it’s gone. So I’m really excited to see what everybody… I’ve heard a few of the story concepts and stuff, but I’m really excited for that coming out as well.
Jeff: For people who want to keep up about things like that, where can they find you online? All those good places, most importantly probably Lucy’s lair.
Lucy: Lucy’s Lair is my Facebook reader group, which I adore. It is a great group to share the passion of reading gay romance with. The readers in there. We have a lot of fun. We recommend books to each other. You don’t have to keep your recommendations just to Lucy books. We just like to share the passion of, you know, reading wonderful stories of gay romance and it’s super funny and fun. I give a lot of personal little things that happen behind the scenes, my little human frailties. So that’s a fun reason to be in there. Also, that’s the place that I tend to make announcements and share covers first and things like that.
But you can also sign up for my newsletter at lucylennox.com/newsletter, and I don’t send it out super often. I mostly send it out when there’s a new release or something super exciting to talk about. And then I am on Instagram. But honestly Lucy’s Lair and the newsletter are the best, and if you don’t like all of that, simply follow me on Amazon. If you read on Amazon.
Jeff: There you go, and we’ll link of course, to all that in the show notes. Lucy, thank you so much for being part of the inaugural Big Gay Fiction Fest, we wish you and your family the happiest of holiday seasons.
Lucy: Thank you. You too.
Jeff: Many, thanks to Lucy for being with us to celebrate the holidays. For any authors, listening, I think she dropped an important piece of truth in there. You can’t make all your readers happy with any one book. I really enjoyed hearing the pro and con feedback she got on Aunt Tilly and how she considered that as she continued to write.
Most of all, I have to say, my favorite part of the interview was hearing about the secret space that Lucy and her sister had to play with their Barbies. How wonderful did that sound? This play space and you know, how they got to it through the secret passage and even more so how all of that play helped to create the storytellers that Lucy and Molly became. I just love that story of so much.
Will: Now be sure to stick around so that you can check out all the other great interviews we’ve got as part of the upcoming sessions of the Big Gay Fiction Fest.