Jeff & Will welcome contemporary romance author Emma Alcott, who also writes paranormal romance as Piper Scott. We start off talking about her writing history, including when Piper Scott was a trio of authors working together and what led her to taking that name over. She also discusses why she created Emma Alcott and the kinds of contemporary stories she writes for that pen name, including the Masters of Romance series, which features Bad Boy, a previous Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection. Of course, we find out what’s coming up for both Emma and Piper, and we get a book recommendation too.

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Show Notes

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Will: Coming up on this episode, author Emma Alcott joins us to talk about what’s coming up in her “Masters of Romance” series.

Jeff: Welcome to episode 380 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Jeff, and with me as always is my wonderful co-host and awesome husband. It’s Will.

Will: Hello, rainbow romance reader. We are so glad you could join us for another episode of the show.

Jeff: Now, after we read Emma Alcott’s “Bad Boy” for the Big Gay Fiction Book Club in January, we both knew we just had to have her on the show.

Will: Absolutely had to.

Jeff: Absolutely had to. Emma also writes paranormal romances as Piper Scott, so we have so much to talk about as we discuss why she decided to go with two pen names, the many projects she works on with co-writers. And of course, since we loved “Bad Boy” so much, we chat a lot about that book and the entire “Masters of Romance” series.

Emma Alcott / Piper Scott Interview

Jeff: Welcome to the podcast. It is so great to have you here.

Emma: Thank you for having me. I’m really glad to be here.

Jeff: Some of our listeners may also recognize you from episode 248. You joined us as Piper Scott to talk about a story that appeared in the “Heart2Heart” volume four anthology. So many things that we get to talk about, and I kinda would like to start off talking about your author journey. You started off as part of a trio of writers who wrote under the name, Piper Scott, and then you took that pen name over and went solo. And now you’ve got Emma Alcott also. So, let’s just kind of go back into some of the beginning. What got you started writing?

Emma: That’s a good question. I feel like my trajectory into publishing has been similar to a lot of authors and that I’ve always been a big reader. When I was little, my mom, she would read me bedtime stories and they started off with Disney classics and fairytales and things, you would traditionally associate with childhood. But then she started reading me chapters out of novels. So, we did “The Hobbit” together. We did the “Lord of the Rings.” We did the “Chronicles of Narnia.” And through this exposure to books that a young child typically wouldn’t be read, I developed this like love of story that really stuck with me my whole life.

So, when I started reading on my own, I became quite a precocious reader. I was reading quite an advanced level for my age group. So, at 12 years old I was reading David Eddings “The Belgariad” series, which is a high fantasy series of novels and a sprawling universe. And I was midway through a binge of the series and watching an episode of “The Simpsons,” which sounds a little screwball, but bear with me. So, it was this episode where Lisa and Homer sneak into a museum because Lisa had wanted to see this exhibition. But they had left it to the last minute and the museum was closed and it was shutting down the exhibition. It was the last day, so they weren’t able to go anymore.

So, they break into the museum to see it. And they come across this artifact that archeologists hadn’t been able to identify and by accident, Lisa and Homer discover that it’s a music box. And so, I’m watching the scene unfold. All of a sudden, this idea just pops into my head, and I have to stop everything that I’m doing to go find paper and a pen and a clipboard. And I sit myself down and I put the pen to paper, and I start writing and I just never stopped. And by that, I mean, literally like for a year, I did not stop. Anytime that I had a free second, I was writing. So I was that weird kid at recess sitting against the wall with her clipboard and her pen, writing a story. And this went on, I think, for about a year and a half. And then I finished. And it was a whole honkin’ novel 300 pages handwritten in this little, tiny script, my mom called mousy squash.

Jeff: You should trademark that as a font.

Emma: But it was awful and ridiculous and will never see the light of day. But the important thing is that I did it and finishing it felt so amazing. I felt I was on top of the world. And so, the very next day I started the sequel and I kept writing. And I hit the… I finished the first book before I graduated elementary school, which it sounds bonkers. But it just, it was something that struck me and something that I had to do.

So, the second book I wrote through grade six and into the American equivalent of middle school, it’s a little different. I’m from Quebec, which has a different school system that resembles like the French school system. So, our education doesn’t quite line up, but it was the equivalent of middle school. So, I wrote the sequel. I finished that too. Packed it away. It’s at my mom’s place, like all handwritten. I’m never going to look at it again, but it’s there.

Jeff: I love that you still have it. Even if you’ve never looked at it, that you still have it is awesome.

Emma: Yes. It’s such an important thing to me. I don’t think that I could ever throw it away I had a friend who was actively reading it as I was writing it. And I think she ended up losing like 10 pages or something and it was devastating and so there’s like maybe 10 pages that are missing, but I still have most of it. It’s in the little portfolio in my closet back home.

Yeah, just finishing those two books when I was so young, and those preteen slash teenage years, just it’s stuck with me. And then I didn’t finish any other major projects between the end of that second novel and much later in my life when I became a published author.

But I did a lot of writing for fun on the side. Very geeky and very cringe, but I was a big role player. So, I had a lot of friends online and we would come up with these universes together and build characters and create worlds. I was always very immersed in the craft of writing and doing it for fun. It was something that always filled my time.

Let’s fast forward a little bit. I am heading to college into the creative arts literature and languages program at Dawson college in Montreal. I’m taking creative writing courses. I win the creative writing scholarship. As an aside in Montreal and Quebec, after high school, you graduate early in grade 11, and then you do college, which we call CEGEP, which is a two-year program for pre-university. And then you go to university for three years instead of four. It’s weird, I know, but that’s how it is.

So, in college I won a creative writing scholarship. I had been enrolled in literature courses the whole time. I have taken creative writing courses and I apply for creative writing at Concordia University, and they declined me. It was just this crushing blow I was still writing for fun on the side, but my confidence was kind of shaken and it was a big deal back then for me.

Looking back, I’m a little bit glad that I wasn’t accepted because at higher levels creative writing, courses are really geared toward producing literary books and my interest has always been in genre fiction. So, you know, high fantasy, horror, romance. I kind of wrote across the spectrum, just whatever really appealed to me at the time. In retrospect, I’m glad that I wasn’t accepted, but a big blow to my confidence at the time.

And so, I go to university in literature, not creative writing, and I got my second degree. And I had figured that I would go abroad and teach for couple years and then come back and do my master’s and my PhD, and, become a professor of literature or something. It’s just always been a passion of mine.

But while I was studying, I met my husband who was an American and we decided to get married. And so all of a sudden, I was moving from Canada to the US and going to have a life with someone. And I was like, oh, I can’t really go abroad anymore can I. So, I needed to come up with another plan, something to do with my literature degree, that would sustain me.

And so, one day I was on Reddit, and I don’t remember what the thread was in particular, what the topic was, but in the comments people were talking about making a viable living as an indie author. It surprised me because I had always thought that traditional publishing was the only way that you were ever going to be able to afford to make a living as an author.

But these people were saying otherwise. So, it was a hold the phone moment. And I dove into some research and most of it was on Reddit. And I came across a subreddit called “Erotica Authors” that taught the fundamentals of what you need to do to be a published author on Amazon.

And so, using that subreddit as sort of a learning space. I started publishing a couple short stories to test the waters because there’s more to being an author than just writing, which sounds very strange. But when you’re in the indie sphere you also have to worry about things like cover art and editing and marketing. There’s a ton of different hats that you wear when you’re doing it indie. So, this short pen name was my introduction to what it would take to be published. And I will not share it just as a heads up because it’s very early.

Jeff: You knew I was going to ask!

Emma: It’s very early, and I did things like my own editing, which I do not advise. But it was just me learning how everything works for some low impact stories just to get a feel for what the market was like. And I don’t regret it, but I don’t share it.

Jeff: It’s good to have that place where you can experiment and figure it out to kind of lay your foundation before you move into like, the pen names you’re going to keep.

Emma: It takes a lot of learning. There’s a pretty steep learning curve because you can write, you know, and you should write, the stories of your heart, but then you also have to learn ways to market those stories or make them palatable to readers as well. Because producing, you know, a fiction is about writing what’s in your heart, but then also, writing to an audience. And then you kind of have to learn how to balance that. So, this is my first few stumbling steps towards figuring out that happy balance. But luckily, while I was in that learning phase, I ended up meeting a few people who were at similar points in their careers as I was. You know, newbies who didn’t have much disposable cash and who were still learning the ropes.

And so, we thought the best way to kind of, figure it out was to do it together. So, me and two friends, we decided to write together under the Piper Scott pen name and as newbies, it was a great way for us to get a foothold in the genre because we didn’t have money to afford much. So, when I wrote a book, my two friends would read through it and edit for me. It was just way better than self-editing.

To any newbies out there who are thinking about it, get a friend to read your things because you will overlook your own errors. But their eyes are not, you know, they’re not skipping over the same things that you are. So, the three of us helped each other in order to produce quality fiction, but didn’t cost us as much as, you know, hiring a professional editor might.

And these days, I definitely hire professionals. But at that time, I had no money, and my books weren’t selling very well. So, this was a great way for me to produce fiction that other people would enjoy. And that had some quality to it. And cover art is way less expensive when you’re three people who are sharing the expense.

So, it was great just to be able to share with friends. And then also just volley ideas off each other. We built the series together, and the characters, and we discussed how the books would go. And it’s very great because writing is often… it’s a very lonely activity. You’re in your head a lot. You overthink a lot, but with other people there, they can say, yes, that’s a great idea you should definitely go ahead with that.

So, to any newbies, I definitely recommend finding some friends. Maybe don’t write under the same pen name together. But if you can trade, you know, trade your stories. Do editing for each other. There are ways definitely for new authors without a lot of disposable cash to enter the market and put their best foot forward.

And so that’s kind of how Piper got started. My friends and I we’re all broke, but we really wanted to make this work. So, we worked together to make it happen. And we were always very honest about it being a pen name of three authors working together. So, we didn’t feel that it was deceptive or too bad about that in any way. And after we published our first series, we each wrote one novella. The books didn’t do so great. And my friends were like, well, this is fun and a good learning experience, but I think I’m going to try somewhere else.

So, they left the pen name to me, and I still wanted to write, this omegaverse story that I had in my heart. And I was like, might as well go forward. So, as the solo Piper, I wrote this book and I figured like the three before it, that it would crash and burn and that would be it. So, I had my husband edit it, because I couldn’t afford anything. He also designed the cover. But he is an artist, so it wasn’t as bad as my earlier attempts. And published it. But then it did well. It did really well. I think at its highest it climbed to number three in gay romance, and it was a life-changing experience. I don’t know if I could ever properly describe how incredible it was to go from an obscure author to someone at the top of the charts.

My heart was racing. I felt slightly nauseous, but also so excited. And people started messaging me. Authors started reaching out. I met my current editor because of that book. She messaged me. She was like, “Hey, I spotted a few typos. I don’t know if you want to see them.” I was like please let me correct them. And then we ended up forming a friendship that has lasted six years. It’s been a long time. She still edits for me now. And it’s just been such an incredible journey and all because I pushed forward when I thought the book was going to bomb and it did not. And now here I am, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Jeff: That’s an amazing story. And how, even back when you were writing full books in grade school. That’s a dedication for anybody, but at that age to have the discipline to kind of keep churning that out. And even the forethought, you’re like, all the authors are supposed to be today or it’s like, I finished the book start the next book in the series. It’s like moving from one to the other. Even at that age.

Emma: It was just, I wanted to do it. So that’s what I did.

Jeff: And those original three books you did together. You’ve rereleased those now and bulked them up a little bit and turned them into solo Piper projects now.

Emma: Yes. So, after my friends stepped back from the project, some time passed, and I approached them about buying the rights to their stories since they belonged to those individuals. And so, I bought the rights for those stories back, and then I unpublish them, and I rewrote them entirely. So, I kept core concepts. I kept the core plots and the same characters, but I did a lot of rewriting because I believe at the time it was 2019 and we had originally published the books in 2016. So, I had quite a few years in between to learn more about craft, and reader expectations, and how to make a better book.

So, I unpublished the original ones and rewrote them, not only so that they would all be in my voice. But because I had grown as an author and I thought that it was a kindness for my readers, because I had been such a baby author at the time that your craft just naturally evolves. You know, as you grow as an author.

Jeff: That is awesome. And now as Piper too, you’ve co-written with other authors, as well. How was the co-writing experience as compared to being one third of an author pen name?

Emma: It’s very similar. Which I think is why I’ve, co-written so often, just because it’s something that comes naturally to me.

I find it very similar to you know, my high school and college days. I did a lot of role-playing online, which is, you know, where you’re creating a story and each of you has a distinct character, and usually it’s broken into paragraphs where you like swap between paragraphs. And this is just role-playing, but swap between chapters.

So, it’s pretty intuitive to me and I find it very similar to, you know, writing together on the same pen name. It’s a very collaborative experience and you get to have that same bouncing back and forth of ideas that really helps strengthen your story. I just love co-writing. I think it’s great.

Jeff: And these days as Piper, you’re writing spinoffs in the “Forbidden Desires” series, what keeps you kind of coming back to that universe?

Emma: Well, I find that Emma stories, they do tend to have sometimes difficult life experiences woven into them, where I do talk about, you know, difficult things. But, in Piper I get to explore some different topics and I get to be a little bit more political, just because of the nature of omegaverse where you have like a system that’s divided by these different, like social rankings. So, I get to be a little bit more political about equality in those books. And that’s something that really attracts me to them, because I don’t have to like hit people over the head with it, because it’s built so innately into the omegaverse that it’s easy to explore those themes. And I like slipping little deeper messages into my stories, so I just enjoy it.

Jeff: And what led you to create Emma, and start a whole other pen name that does different stories? Cause you know, Piper’s omegaverse and more paranormal stuff and Emma’s is dealing in the contemporary world.

Emma: Emma’s stories are all contemporary. No omegaverse to be found. And I guess it’s just because… and I’ve seen this term lately pop up on social media, but sometimes you get genre burnout, where if you write something for a very a long time, I started in 2016, and by 2019 writing omegaverse for three years, I was ready to ease off the brakes a little bit and switch gears to something else. So, I decided that to refresh myself that it would be a good change to write a contemporary story with no omegaverse themes. Just to get away, you know, from those same topics. And like I said, it’s a little bit political. So just taking a step back, writing something a little bit fluffier.

So, I was writing the first book in the “Small Town Heart” series, which is “After the Crash.” And I realized that, you know, as Piper Scott people expect omegaverse from me. I’d written at that time for three years, solely omegaverse stories, sometimes with, and sometimes without mpreg. So, there was a sort of expectation built into what a Piper book is. That if I released “After the Crash,” as a Piper book, the kinds of readers who would enjoy that story, contemporary readers, might not pick it up because my name was on it.

And that’s not a bad thing. Like I’m glad that people have an association with Piper to omegaverse because that’s what I train them to associate it with. But it did create a branding problem because all of a sudden, I had this contemporary book that would not have done well on Piper because it was not what I was used to writing.

So that necessitated a new pen name which was Emma. And I’ve been writing contemporary stories as Emma since.

Jeff: Of course, we took our dive on Emma with “Bad Boy,” which is the first book in “Masters of Romance.” And it was also our Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection for January. Oh, we loved Russ and Colton so much.

Emma: Thank you.

Jeff: Let’s start off talking about the series because I love that you’ve set a series with romance writers as among the lead characters in each of the couplings. What was your inspiration for this to actually set a series with a bunch of romance writers?

Emma: So, it was kind of an accident.

Jeff: As the best things often are.

Emma: At the time I was writing what was supposed to be a short story. If you’ve read “Bad Boy” it’s like 120,000 words.

Jeff: It is not a short story.

Emma: Spoiler alert, not a short story. But I was writing this short story for the Winter Wonderland giveaway, and the deal with the giveaway was that the stories submitted to it had to be original and they had to have a winter theme. So I was, thinking, okay, well, what kind of like winter story do I write? And I had decided because one of my favorite tropes is the snowed in together trope that I would write a story set in a cabin in the woods far away, you know, from town.

Jeff: The murder forest.

Emma: The murder forest where two characters get snowed in together. And I thought this was great. And so, I was like okay, great. So, one character lives in this cabin that’s outside of town in a very remote location that would be difficult to commute to and from a job. So, I was like, all right, how is this character going to make a living? And so, I was thinking about it. I was like, well, he has to do some kind of remote work. It has to be something to do with the internet. And then I was like, wait, I know someone who does work through the internet. It’s me! And so, I was like, I can make him a romance author. And the sort of the whole series just exploded from that.

I was like, he has friends online. There are many authors. They all work on the internet together. I can set them across the country. There can be so many different locales that we visit. They all write a different theme and bam, the series was conceived. But it was supposed to be a short story. And that’s a lot of development for, you know, 20,000 words. So, I ended up ditching that short story idea. I wrote something else entirely for the Winter Wonderland giveaway, but it did bring me to the “Masters of Romance” series with, you know, all the authors.

And I think another reason why I love the series idea so much was because I just adore found family dynamics and you know, a lot of our interactions, these days are online. And as a millennial, I am a child of the internet, and all of my friends are online. So, writing series that represent my kind of found family group, it really appeals to me, and it really hits home. So, it was meant to be, I guess.

Jeff: And I love the writers. I mean, just getting introduced to all of them in “Bad Boy.” They’re all so very different. They each have their own unique perspectives because like you said, they each write their own genre of romance. And then Michael Ferraiuolo did such an amazing job giving each of them voice too.

Emma: He is so amazing.

Jeff: It’s one of the best setups to a series I’ve seen because I like all of these people we just learned about. So, give me all of their romances. How much did you know, as you wrote “Bad Boy,” what the six needed to be? Did you project the whole series and who you’re specifically what you needed the sub-genres to be, or did it all kind of just come together as you wrote the first one?

Emma: So, it was a bit of a unique experience because I think I was about… how far was I in? 15,000 or 20,000 words into the book, assuming that it was going to be a short story before I decided oh, this is actually what it is. So, I ended up doing a bit of rewriting at the beginning because there’s a scene where he interacts with, Will, who is my favorite master.

So, I had this, the beginning of this book before I, knew the series idea. And so, when I was trying to figure out what Russ was doing for a living, living in his remote cabin in the woods, it came to me, oh my gosh, he’s a romance writer. Then all these ideas started coming like, oh, he could write bad boy. And then his friends could write, you know, XYZ. And so, I started going over like the possible sub genres that they could write, and characters just started coming to me.

So, I guess the sub-genres came first. And then based off those sub genres, I created authors who would sort of fit the dynamic, the flavor of that sub-genre because every book is based off that author’s specialty. So, like Russ is actually a bad boy in “Bad Boy,” and he writes bad boy romance. Aaron writes sweet small-town romance, and he has a sweet, small town flavored story, even though it’s set in Chicago, it has a small-town feel.

And then the book after, you know, it continues in that sort of progression where each novel borrows elements of the sub-genre to weave into the story to get the author to their happily ever after. I was so excited when I thought of it, I was like, I have to do this, absolutely. And so, creating characters that fit those dynamics. It just formed naturally from there.

Jeff: I’m glad you pointed out Aaron, because the fact that he and people who’ve listened to our episode, know this, trying to tell Russ that he needed to have a small-town moment because he lived near one. I was in stitches about that because of all the people to have a small-town romance, Russ was not going to be the one to do it, bad boy or not.

Emma: Aaron is hilarious. His book is live right now. It’s called “Sweet Thing.” He is a glorious himbo and I love him with all my heart. I have such a special place in my heart for clueless himbo characters. And he is just that to a tee.

Jeff: And I have to ask, you said, Will’s your favorite why’s Will your favorite?

Emma: He is… Okay. So, I loosely based each author in the “Masters of Romance” off of real-life authors. So, Will is my Oscar Wilde. I just adore Oscar Wilde. I just adore him and his charisma, the way it bleeds onto the page. He’s so over the top, he’s so dramatic. He’s after my heart he’s a pleasure to write.

Jeff: That is awesome.

So, I got to come back to “Bad Boy,” Of course. As you were building Russ and Colton and the characters that they were going to become… They are first of all great opposites in so many ways. Practically in every way, they are opposite with the exception of the fact that they both need better family. And Russ has good friends with his fellow masters of romance, but his real life friends aren’t that hot either. And then of course, they’re both stuck in these ruts that they’ve put themselves into.

How did you go about figuring out all of these pieces to make them be the opposites that they are, but then get that beautiful moment where they figure out how to come together and make each other better? Because it was just, it was such a beautiful arc for them.

Emma: Thank you. I’m very flattered to hear that. I feel like it came together as kind of a jigsaw puzzle where I went back and forth between the characters and took the things that they taught me from writing about them and thinking about them to form the other character. So, like I was saying before, I had wanted to write a snowed in together novel or short story, sorry. And so, Russ was going to be out in this cabin in the woods. I’m like, what kind of guy would want to be out in a cabin in the woods? So obviously someone who does not want to interact much with society. So, someone who’s grumpy, you know, someone who has a past, someone who wants to hide away, who’s been hurt, who has something he wants to hide.

And so, I put those pieces together and I was like, you know, this would go really well with a grumpy sunshine dynamic. And so, then I started thinking about Colton in terms of, you know, a sunshiny character, as you know, he didn’t quite turn out to be a traditional sunshine character. But I sort of borrowed pieces of that dynamic to shape him.

And then, when I started writing those first few chapters with the murder forest, I was like, oh okay, this is who this character is. So, he moved sorta from a sunshine dynamic to someone who was timid and who has a big imagination, but it’s too overactive where it starts freaking him out a little bit.

And so, back and forth. I kind of just shaped them in those early chapters. I ended up doing a lot of rewriting to smooth out, but I think that by building one of them off the other, in that way, that I was able to create a great pair where one character was the foil for the other. And they were able to effect change in each other in a really positive and beautiful way.

Jeff: The change arc is really amazing because they both changed in such fundamental ways. I just loved it.

Emma: Thank you I always love to hear that.

Jeff: I have to ask because there are so many great moments that go down between Colton and Russ throughout the book. What’s a favorite for you?

Emma: This was a really indulgent book. At the time I was going through some difficult life circumstances, as I’m sure all of us were in the period of 2020. And so, I was very indulgent. I just let myself write really what I wanted to write without worrying too much about it. So, there are a lot of moments where I’d be like, oh, I love that moment.

But if I had to choose one in particular, I think it would be when Colton discovers that Russ is a romance author and Russ shows him the bookshelf full of books that he’s written in his ten-year career. It’s like a huge bookshelf full of titles. And Colton is just like astonished that this is something that he’s done and that this is something that’s possible.

He doesn’t know that people made, a living off gay romance and it was just such a mind-blowing fact for him. And then they do the dirty on the bookshelf, which was just… Yes, I wanted that so badly, one of those books had to have a scene like that and it was going to be the first one. So that’s probably my favorite part of the book.

Jeff: And they use every bit of that forced proximity that you give them to really explore their sexual chemistry.

Emma: Oh yes.

Jeff: Just so much sex and yet at the same time sex that really drives the plot, each and every time. Because they’re each learning something interesting either about themselves or each other, as you do that. How much did you have to pay attention to that? Because, sex scenes were always supposed to drive the plot, of course, but then you had a lot of sex scenes that needed to drive the plot.

Emma: So, I guess it’s a bit of a loaded question. When I started writing it, it was supposed to be a short story, like I said. So, there was a lot of heat right away. And then when I decided that, no it’s going to be a novel, I was like, but I can’t take these scenes away because they, like you said, they do drive the plot. And so, I was at this place for the novel was already so steamy so early on, on that I felt like if I eased off that it would not be authentic to the characters at that point. So, I was like, all right, I guess we’re writing a steamy book this time. I just, I went for it. And like I said, it was a very indulgent book for me. I was like, you know, you deserve just to not worry about if it’s too much, just go for it. And I’m glad that I did.

I think one of my goals, when I’m writing is to always try to include scenes that push something forward. Like, I, don’t like books that are filler. Even if it’s like a small detail that you learn, I always want to have something in my scenes that you need to read, but that will shape the story going forward. And so, to hear you say that I did that with the sex scenes, because I was a little bit nervous having so many of them that it would miss the mark at some point. But to hear you say that it didn’t, it’s very reassuring. So, thank you.

Jeff: It certainly worked for us to go and see that presented that way. That like each and every time it’s like somebody’s growing, somebody is understanding, something getting a new understanding, whatever that is. And that bookshelf scene, like it was really, really good.

Emma: I love that one.

Jeff: You’ve got a new “Masters of Romance” book coming out in September. What can you tease us a little bit about what we’re going to see there?

Emma: All right. So, I haven’t talked a lot about it, and I think the blurb is just like coming in September or something.

So, there are no details really about.

Jeff: You have been a big old tease on Amazon to this point.

Emma: Yes. Yes. It’s terrible. I’m terrible. I need to stop. So, this book is Lou’s book and I’ve dropped a couple hints here and there throughout the series, but I won’t be, I won’t be coy with you. Lou is the paranormal author in the group. So, he writes shifter romance and I’m very excited. The book will be 100% contemporary. There’s not going to be any magic involved, but it will draw on elements of a traditional paranormal story. So, like, pack dynamics with this small town he lives in.

He’s kind of like the lone wolf character who lives on the outskirts of this town and the protector. He is a retired Alaskan state trooper, and he lives in a very small Alaskan town that you can only access by plane. So, we’re talking like, up there in the wilderness. And he writes romance now he retired after finding success as a romance author. And so, he is very happy writing his novels in solitude in his house on the outskirts of town. He has a good relationship with the townspeople. But he is sort of like an outsider to a degree. He lives on the outskirts.

So, one night, a night just like any other, he wakes up because there’s this thumping at his door. And when you live in the outskirts of Alaska where you can’t get there, except by plane, that’s not great.

So, he gets up, and he knows he should leave it alone, but he’s an ex-state trooper. He’s like, I got this. So, he goes to see what’s happening. And he opens the door. It’s the middle of night. And there is a young man on his doorstep who is bruised and bloodied. And he looks up at Lou and he has just this indignant, glint in his eyes. And he says, “I’m old enough now,” and then he passes out. And that’s how the book begins. And it is very fun.

“Sweet Thing” was a little bit, you know, sweeter as the title implies. So, it was not as steamy as “Bad Boy” was. But this book, I’m hoping will be a little bit steamier, a little bit closer to “Bad Boy.” Again, it’s borrowing some shifter, paranormal dynamics. So, you’re going to have some like, you know, great primal-ish scenes, and then just that like pack feeling where everyone comes in together as a family and supports each other. I think it’s going to be fantastic. I think you’ll love it.

Jeff: I love that ” Bad Boy” is set on the outskirts of a smallish town. What you’ve just described is very small town, Alaska only available by plane. And then you’ve got the middle book, which is about the small-town writer, but takes place mostly in Chicago.

Emma: I love doing little twist like that, and even though it’s set in Chicago, it has sort of like a small-town flavor. There’s like a local bakery where they go to the, like the cafe every day. There are touches where they always speak with the same barista, who’s like friends with one of the main characters. So, you have like that’s sort of like close-knit cast and then Aaron has a big family full of like hunky brothers who are all auto body mechanics. So, like you have all those elements that you play with usually in a small-town setting and I loved inversing that and putting it in Chicago.

Jeff: It’s the big town neighborhood.

Emma: yes.

Jeff: Do you envision a series for the auto body brothers to get to?

Emma: Yes, actually. If you visit the YBBB giveaway, Your Book Boyfriend on Prolific Works, I actually have a novella for the “Tough Stuff Auto Body Mechanics” available. It’s a prequel novella to that series, which I plan to write. I guess 2023. I have so many books still to write, but I do plan to revisit those brothers because they’re so fun. That family is just bonkers in the best way.

Jeff: And just the way you described it, it sounded like the obvious choice of where a whole other series can just jump off from.

Emma: That’s one thing that I’m trying to do, especially with the “Masters of Romance” series, is to write potentials for spinoff series in each book.

So, in “Bad Boy,” you had the dude bros, if you remember, who were following Sawyer, who is Colton’s best friend, around. They actually appear in the prequel to the “Masters of Romance” series, “Side Character,” in greater detail. And so, I would love one day to do a series about them.

I’ve talked about it with my editor. She’s like, oh, I really want the dude bro’s story. I’m like, I know me too. But I have a lot on my dance card at the moment. So maybe one day I’ll circle back to them, but I just love having the option to really springboard from any book in particular, into something new and having that something new be something approachable that any new reader can enter without having to read what came before it. But then it’s all connected in this delicious, like web. You can really sink your teeth into and, you know, jump from place to place and visit. I’m very excited about this series.

Jeff: And of course, you started Emma with a small-town series with “Small Town Hearts.” So apparently you love small towns and I think we all love small towns in our romances. Give folks just a little idea of what is going on in that series.

Emma: Well, “Small Town Hearts” is a series, set on surprisingly, in a bunch of small towns across the US. And they’re all actually in the Midwest, which is where I’ve been living since I came to United States. Two of them are actually set in re-imagining of small towns that I’ve lived in since I’ve been here.

I’m a big, small-town person. I basically want to be like Russ when I grow up. I wanna find my own cabin in the woods like with some wooded property and just live there and write. Like that is my writer dream. So, these books are kind of like my writer dream in bits and pieces.

The “Small Town Hearts” series is my first series and it’s three books long and they are standalone books. So, if one book in particular captures your interest, you can jump in right there and then cycle back to the other ones without spoiling anything, because they don’t have any overlapping plot or overlapping characters. So, go wild, jump in wherever you’d like.

And they all feature, what would I consider to be heroes. Book one has a ex-air force personnel, he was an airborne translator. And then book three has a flight paramedic and also an ex-military man.

So, there are a lot of heroes woven throughout these books. All of them have slightly different tropes that they visit. So, you know, if you like enemies to lovers, I got you. That’s book three. If you like best friends to lovers. Gotcha. That’s book two. And then book one is a lot of things. It’s a billionaire meets his high school sweetheart after they’ve grown up.

It’s a sexual awakening story for Fox who is the airborne translator from the Air Force. And so, he realizes that, oh maybe this guy is, is more than I thought of him in high school. And they have a sweet romance.

Jeff: So much tropey goodness going on there.

Emma: I love tropes. I just think they are delicious. And I want to put as many as I can into my book sandwich.

Jeff: Do you have a favorite?

Emma: Oh, I love mafia books. So good. I love age dynamics, which you will also see in a lot in my books. So, like age gap dynamics. What else? I love snowed in the cabin, as you can see from my huge honking novel.

Jeff: When did we get a mafia book? You haven’t really tackled mafia yet.

Emma: Yes. So, that’s difficult because I feel like neither my Piper brands nor my Emma brand are particularly dark books. And I do feel like mafia necessitates a certain kind of darkness, which I don’t feel is necessarily a good fit for my brand.

So, I’m kind of at war because I really love, you know, darker themed books, but that said I do have an idea for a series. I don’t know if it would be contemporary or paranormal at this point. That would be much darker in theme, and I’m in talks with someone about co-authoring this book with me.

So, I’m thinking maybe if I do a co-author arrangement with someone that it would be enough leeway where my brand and their brand could kind of mingle and then I could get away with writing a little bit darker, but we’ll see.

Jeff: Other than the obvious genre differences, are there other things that you would characterize as differences between your style as Emma and Piper?

Emma: Sure. Particularly because Piper was at the beginning of my career. The books are a little bit different. Some of the books are a little bit darker. And I did say that they weren’t like dark, but I had like a BDSM series. So that’s a little bit like darker, spicier, and it’s not like incredibly angsty, because I don’t really write angsty books. But it does have an element to it that you would not find in an Emma title. So, Piper tends to be a little bit like more provocative, I guess, a touch darker, but I mean, the books are very funny.

And Emma is just, delicious fluff with a sometimes seriousness woven in just to like under the surface where you barely notice it, but it’s still there. I feel like that’s the difference is that sometimes Piper does lean a little bit darker, a little bit more serious, a little bit, you know, spicy or as you know, Emma does have some spicy books too.

Jeff: Now, of course, we talked a little bit about the “Masters of Romance” book coming out in September, anything you can share about what the rest of 2022 looks like for either Emma or Piper.

Emma: In June, I will have a novel debuting in the “Dirty Daddy Pride” anthology. It is a tie into the “Masters of Romance” series. And it will be a prequel book that will feature, Will, who is one of the “Masters of Romance” as a side character.

So, you get to learn a little bit more about his backstory, which is very exciting because as I said, he’s my favorite master. And it’s set five years before the events of “Bad Boy.”

Jeff: Wow.

Emma: So, you get a little sneak peek into who Will is before his book, which will be one of the last ones, because I’m horrible, both to myself and to you.

Jeff: Since you said you loved him so much, I figured his book would come sooner than later.

Emma: I have to like dangle that carrot, right? I’m like, oh, I love this guy so much. I need to keep developing his character all through series. So, he’s nice and rich, by the time I get to his book.

Jeff: Fair enough. But also, kind of mean.

Emma: But it’s mean to me too.

Jeff: True.

Emma: I know readers complain all the time, like, oh, why did you have to put his story last? Cause I like to torture myself as well.

So, I’m sure many people watching this are going to be curious about “Raven,” which is the last book in the “Forbidden Desire” spinoff series. It was originally supposed to come out in January of 2022, but that’s didn’t happen.

It was a difficult year for both my co-author and myself and we just did not get it done. And I wish that we had, I really do wish, that we had. But everyone has been very lovely and understanding about the circumstances. If it’s not already out by the time this episode airs, hopefully not long after that, because we really need to get this book out. At the time that we’re recording, we’re at about 85,000 words, but we still have quite a way to go. So, it’s going to be a chunky book.

So that will be on the way in 2022, for sure. We are writing it, everybody. It is coming, it is underway. I promise it’s just taken a little bit longer than we anticipated.

And then there’s the “Masters of Romance” book coming out, which is “Wild One.” I’m hoping to get another co-write in there. I haven’t actually talked about it. This is not the mafia darker one that I talked about. This is something different. But the author I’m working with on it and I aren’t really talking about publicly yet. This is like a new co-writing partnership and we’re still in the early phases of writing. So, I don’t feel too comfortable disclosing too many details, other than that I really hope that it works out because I’m having so much fun with it. And I think everyone will love it a lot. So, hoping that will come out before 2023.

Jeff: Will that be an Emma or a Piper.

Emma: That will be a Piper. But okay, I’m gonna give you another little spoiler here, because it’s been something I’ve been warring with myself about. Because it’s not an omegaverse title. It is just a paranormal title with no omegaverse in it. I should launch it under a third pen name because, you know, Piper is omegaverse, but I just don’t have the spoons to do so.

So, I’m hoping to slip it in there and that people will embrace it even though it’s not Let’s see, I’m just having a lot of fun with it, and in these times, having books that I can have fun with is what’s important.

Jeff: Absolutely, it needs to be fun right now. I’m a hundred percent with you on that one.

What’s it like co-writing cause you’ve co-written with, if I’m counting right, counting the new partnership you’ve done, I think it’s three now. How are those?

Emma: Technically it would be three. There’s Susi and Virginia Kelly.

Jeff: Those are the two I counted plus the new partnership.

Emma: I was like, who am I forgetting? Oh, no. Plus the new partnership.

And then a little-known fact that is actually publicly accessible, but most people don’t know is that I was also one half of Stella Starling. So, I co-wrote with Aubrey Cullens, who is the other half of Stella Starling. And our schedules just kind of fell out of alignment. So, I also wrote with her.

Jeff: Four. How do you find like working with different partners? Cause everybody’s got to bring their own, how they do things and their writing style and when they write and all that.

Emma: Yeah. I have been very fortunate so far on the co-writing front because everyone I’ve worked with has been very kind and very understanding.

And I know that sometimes it’s not always that way. Sometimes partnerships dissolve and people get kind of ugly. Like when money is involved in the equation, sometimes things go south pretty quick. But everyone I’ve worked with has been just really wonderful and lovely to work with. And there are differences when you write with different people. Everyone has like a different style. And I don’t, I guess I don’t want to talk too much about how other authors work just in case they don’t want to share that. But I too find it to be very like enlightening and freeing in a way, seeing how other people. Approach their craft and their business.

And I’ve learned so much from being with these different partnership arrangements. it’s just been a great time.

Jeff: That’s excellent. Cause I can imagine learning so much from all of those partnerships and what they all bring to the table that can enhance what you’re doing going forward.

Emma: I do recommend that if you have someone that you’re compatible with to give co-writing shot, like, maybe have a contract in place, like don’t let someone screw you over. Cause you never know when a friendship might turn, but I found it such a great learning experience to be able to write with other people.

Jeff: So, as we get towards the wrap-up here, I would love to know something that you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners to pick up.

Emma: This comes with a disclaimer, I have become the biggest Daniel May stan probably in the world. I’m sorry, Misha Horne, it’s me. Daniel is a newer author. I discovered him like half a year ago, I think. Usually, he writes stories that are a little bit more kinky or taboo, so they may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

I love them all. But I would recommend if you’re going to dive into any Daniel May to read the trigger warnings in the blurbs, just to make sure that they’re good for you. But the one book I would recommend of his to like anyone who’d listen to me, is “Blood Sports.” It’s the first book in “The Hanged Man” series and currently the only book, but I’m like on his butt about writing more because I’m so obsessed.

It is a mafia series, and so let me just set the scene for you. So, one, one of the main characters is a retired mob boss. And he’s come back into the scene because he’s heard that there’s this rat in his organization. And he wants to ferret this guy out because he’s concerned about his adult sons. He has three adult sons who are like in the family business. And so, he comes back to figure out what’s going on. And then the second character is a younger character. He’s a stable hand. His name is Tobias and he’s completely oblivious to anything mafia related, just like a normal kid. He ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and learning some things he shouldn’t. And so, this mob boss character kind of like, abducted him, but not in the non-com way. It’s complicated. It’s so good. But they end up in this forced proximity together because Tobias knows something that this mob boss needs.

And so, there’s a little bit suspense, like, who’s the rat? What’s happening? Who is it? Like, are they in danger? And then you have this amazing age gap dynamic of this older mature man with this like fresh face stable boy who is incredibly funny, the books are like hilarious. There are parts where I laughed out loud. Amazing.

And then they have this just like incendiary romance. It is just on fire. I adored it. And I highly recommend it to anyone who will listen to me. I think I talked about it in like three different newsletters of mine. Like I’m just obsessed with this universe and this world. And I really think this book deserves a lot more love than it got. So, check it out. I highly recommended.

Jeff: I will have to check out, Daniel. That’s a new to me name.

Emma: He is fantastic. A great writer.

Jeff: How can people keep up with you to know when all the things about Emma and Piper are happening?

Emma: So probably the easiest way is to head on over to my website, which is And you can subscribe to my newsletter and then I will tell you all the different ways you can follow me when you do that. But if you’re not big on newsletters, that’s okay. I have a Facebook group. You can find it at with the P and the S capitalized. Or you can search for The Playground for Readers of Piper Scott and Emma Alcott on Facebook.

And in there I also have a little directory where you can find other ways to stay in touch, or you can find me on Instagram @PiperScott.MM and in both my group and my Instagram, I post about both Piper and Emma things, because I don’t have enough spoons to do two accounts at this time.

Jeff: That would be a lot. One big master group is perfect because we all know it’s you anyway, these are not secrets.

Emma: No. No. Not secrets at all.

Jeff: So, perfect. Well, thank you so much for being here and talking about Emma and talking about Piper and all these wonderful books, it has been truly wonderful.

Emma: It was lovely.


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 Don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.

And if you’d like even more gay fiction recommendations, Jeff and I put together “Happily Ever After,” a free ebook full of reviews and suggested romance reads. So, whether you’re in the mood for contemporary or historical or holiday romance, we have got you covered. You’ll get it when you sign up for the Rainbow Romance Reader Report, our weekly podcast newsletter. To learn more and to get your free ebook, go to

Jeff: Thanks so much to Emma for spending some time with us. I so much need to get back to the “Masters of Romance” universe. I loved all the writers that we got introduced to in “Bad Boy,” and I want to see all of those guys get their happily ever afters.

Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up on Thursday in episode 381, we kick off Pride month with Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, authors of the classic children’s book “And Tango Makes Three.”

Jeff: It’s been more than 15 years since that book came out, and through those years it is one of the most challenged books at libraries. We talked to Justin and Peter about that book, the current book banning environment, and the response that they made to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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 kinds of stories 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 Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.