For this final Author Spotlight of Big Gay Fiction Fest: Pride 2022 we welcome Beth Bolden. Beth gives us the scoop on her new Miami Piranhas series, and why she loves sports romances so much. Beth also shares how her love of analysis helps her fiction writing, the pros and cons of setting her books in one big universe, and how her writing has evolved over the years. Of course, since this is a Pride month episode, we also hear what Pride means to her and how that comes through in her stories.

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Show Notes

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Will: Coming up on the special Pride month Fiction Fest episode, Beth Bolden joins us for an author spotlight.

Jeff: Welcome to episode 386 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 co-host and husband, Will.

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

Jeff: For our final author spotlight of the Big Gay Fiction Fest, we are joined by Beth Bolden. Beth’s latest series is set around one of her favorite sports, football. And with this series, she’s actually setting it with a football team that she created back in 2017’s “The Rainbow Clause.” We talk about the “Miami Piranhas” series, and how her series all interconnect. Plus, we’ll talk about her absolute love of analysis and how that helps her with her writing.

Author Spotlight: Beth Bolden

Jeff: Beth, welcome to the Big Gay Fiction Fest. It is so wonderful to have you join us.

Beth: I’m so excited to be here. I’m excited to talk with you and talk about my books and really just talk because I love the talk. Because you wouldn’t have guessed that from writing 30 books?

Jeff: Well, writing is a certain kind of talking, right?

Beth: It absolutely is. I just can’t shut up. So that’s what you’re in for.

Jeff: Let’s get right in and start to hear your story. And you know, before we get to talking about “Miami Piranhas,” which is the new thing. Let’s go back a little bit and talk about your path to becoming a writer. What got you started?

Beth: So I guess I kind of always thought I was a writer. I wrote some really horrible, lame stuff in high school and then I went to college. And I majored in English Lit. And I always… I kind of got to that point where I thought that I could only write nonfiction. So we’d write like, you know, analysis essays, which is like, totally my jam, because I’m very strategic and I really think about, like, “How does this work with this? And how do we unpack this other thing? How does this impact this other part of the book?”

So I wrote a lot of nonfiction like that. And I didn’t take any fiction classes, because, of course, I went to university and genre fiction, not allowed, so. And I was a romance reader from like, a pretty young age. So after college, I actually fell into fanfiction and I was like, “Oh, hey, I really liked reading this. I wonder if I could write some of it?” And it was a really good, low stress, low pressure way to kind of explore like, “Can I write fiction?” And it turned out, the answer is, yes, I can write fiction. So I did that for a little bit. And then I started working on my first book, which I published in 2014. So I did start writing a male/female, kind of like romantic comedy sort of things. So I published two of those in 2014. And I took a break.

What people were publishing at that point was just not really my jam, like I really liked, like, beta heroes. And I wasn’t really big into like, the whole alpha-hole thing. So I kind of got frustrated, and I was like, well, I’ll just take some time off. So I took some time off and then when I came back in 2017, that’s when I came out with “Rainbow Clause,” which I can’t believe it’s been five years since that book came out.

Jeff: Time flies.

Beth: It really does. So yeah, that came out in 2017. And the irony is, I started with a sports romance. So that’s always been something I love reading. And I always wanted to do kind of justice to sports romance. And so I did that. And then kind of almost immediately, I pivoted, and started writing food books. And so I did that for a really long time. And now I’m kind of coming back to the sports romance, which is absolutely my first love. And I’m super excited about this new series.

Jeff: You mentioned in college you were doing a lot of analysis of fiction and, you know, digging into why things happen, how it happens, how it all relates. How do you bring that forward to what you’re writing now and maybe the analysis that you do? Even as you read something, does your analysis brain just kind of take off and run with it? How do you use that to your advantage, now that you are an author?

Beth: I think the thing that I really use it for, honestly, is writing a satisfying book. So I find it personally very satisfying when things come very full circle. And we kind of get to see a very satisfying comparison between where our characters were at the beginning of the book versus where they are at the end. And I really love those scenes that tie it all together, you know, and bring it all echoing things that happened at the beginning, and weaving those threads together in a really seamless way. And I wasn’t great at that when I started but, you know, you get better when you practice.

And I feel like that’s something that I really, really have taken from that and have learned how to develop it and lean into it and deliver that like really satisfying read to my readers because that’s what I’m looking for when I pick up a book, is I really wanna feel like just that sense of, not accomplishment as a reader when you finish a book but like, you just feel very satisfied. Like that was the answer to the question I didn’t know I needed to ask when I finish a book.

Jeff: Yeah, nothing is worse than getting through a book and feeling like, “Mm-hmm.” You’ve got to have a better reaction than just, “Mm-hmm.”

Beth: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so, I mean, that’s I think one of my strengths and I think that’s definitely something I took from that analysis and all that, you know, comparing and contrasting things over the years. I mean, we studied great literature and it’s great for a reason. I mean, some of it was kind of…some of them were absolutely duds. Like D. H. Lawrence, I don’t understand why that’s such a big deal. We read like two D. H. Lawrence books and I was like, “This guy is terrible.” But I mean, obviously other stuff. Like we studied, you know, the romance poets. We studied Jane Austen, and then we studied, you know, the Brontes and Henry James, and I learned so much from those.

Jeff: And it’s a key point to that not all books are for all people, even if they’re classics.

Beth: That’s right. That’s right.

Jeff: What is it about sports romance? You mentioned, of course, that that first, you know, m/m book was sports and now you’re circling back to sports. What is it about the sports romance that just does it for you?

Beth: So, you know, I’m actually asking myself this question a lot. Since this fantastic interview with this…she’s actually a doctor of psychology where she talks about the things that kind of set our pleasure centers alight when we’re reading a book, and one of them, it’s called danger. But the thing about…and I think this obviously hits romantic suspense, right? Is that feeling of the character is in danger and are they gonna be saved? And my mom was actually talking to me about this the other day, she was like, “I really just like it when there’s a savior in a book.” And I actually think this translates really well to sports romance, because obviously, no one’s in physical danger. I mean, I guess you could say, technically, they’re, you know, hitting each other really hard sometimes.

So it’s a battle between two forces, good, your team, and evil, the other team. And, you know, there’s just something fundamental about that, that I love, like this triumph over adversity, having a savior. And of course, the savior always has to be the player, you know, that’s your main character. You know, they do something amazing. And, you know, the thing that I love about that is that it doesn’t just happen in fiction, it happens in real life. Like, you can watch like a sporting event and like, you can see it happen in real life, like that people can be a hero, you know, on the field, or on the court, or on the diamond.

And, you know, that’s what really resonates with me. And, you know, I’m gonna be honest, I wrote a bunch of sports romances with where I got all the sports wrong. That kind of frosts me. I’m a huge football fan. I’m also a baseball fan. But my husband and I both love football, we bet watching a football game. So I really know a lot about football. And if I get confused or something, or I’ll be like, “I’m not sure this works,” like I’ll ask his opinion.

So that’s like, something I really love to do is also take things from real life. Like something happens in real life sports, like in football, and I’ll be like, “I’m gonna borrow that.” Because truth is stranger than fiction. So you’ll see little nuggets of like truth, kind of tucked in all in my books. And I will usually in the author notes at the end like talk about like… sometimes I’ll link to articles and yeah. The second book in the “The Riptide” series, “Rough Contact,” which is about a kicker. It’s about this competition that Chicago Bears had for kickers. It was a wild competition. They brought in like 15 kickers, it was absolutely insane. And I read this article, and I was like, “I have to turn this into a book.” And so I did.

And I actually linked to the article at the end of the book, because I was… Even though I didn’t make it as like, intense as it was in in real life, I was convinced no one was gonna believe that that was actually something that could happen. Because it was so crazy, like grown men being completely delusional. I find that really fascinating. I think it’s a great study of human nature.

Jeff: And what better way to get that across than in fiction? You know, the whole truth is stranger than fiction kind of thing, just like you said.

I have to ask, given your love of sports romances, what is perhaps, you know, one of your favorites or a couple of favorite sports romances that you’ve got that you would like, recommend to the listeners that if they’re wanting to get some of your idea of the best of the best sports romance?

Beth: Oh, that’s really hard. I really love Rachel Reid’s hockey series that she writes.

Jeff: Yeah, “Game Changers.” Love that.

Beth: I read…I really love… Sarina Bowen writes some really good sports romances I love her. She is like one of my… I don’t have a lot of time for reading anymore but when she publishes a book, I always buy it and I always read it. Because I think her sports, her hockey romances are really good. And she also wrote a whole series that took place in like a college that was like one of her earliest series. That was just absolutely fantastic and yeah. Those are really well done. Because, I mean, the most interesting thing about a book to me is the character. So the sports has to tell me something about the character.

Jeff: Yeah, sports, I think, is one of the few things where somebody’s job could really say so much about their character, because there’s so much of their character and in their sportsmanship that you can really convey and make some really interesting characters out of that.

Beth: Yeah, don’t write a sports romance where the characters are not actually athletes. So I did that once. I wrote a book. My last m/f book was about people that went to the Olympics who weren’t Olympians. And turns out that’s a really bad idea. It’s a good book, but like no one read it. And afterwards, I was like, “That was one of those things that just…that was an idea that did not pan out.”

Beth: So they go to like, go the games and stuff…

Jeff: It happens to everybody.

Beth: … but they’re not actually athletes. So don’t do that. That’s like just free advice I’m giving everyone right there.

Jeff: In the years that you’ve been writing, what do you think you’ve set up as being the trademarks of a Beth Bolden book?

Beth: So that’s a really easy question, an emotional journey. So I don’t like to use the word angst because I think that lots of people have different definitions of angst. I usually consider angst like kind of a situation where you start up here and then you kind of dive down into like this kind of bad, ugly place and we take time, like coming out, right? My books, I like to have them feel uplifting. And so we start here and we go up. So I wouldn’t say that they started like the worst, or the darkest place usually, my books, but there is a situation and there is an emotional arc. But you never feel like things are really dire, or things are terrible, or I’m gonna sit here and cry. Though when people tell me that they cry when they read my books, I’m always really surprised.

But I think that a hallmark of a Beth Bolden book is like an uplifting, emotional journey. I think my books are funny, but not like, in a ha ha slapstick way, but I’m gonna be sarcastic and sly. My mother calls it sly humor. I think she probably got tired of me directing it at her. I see her…what else? Usually characters that really shouldn’t be together. I like to set myself challenges, you know, 30 books. I’m like, “Oh, you know, we haven’t tried this before. We’re gonna make things hard on you, and see if you can work your way out of that.” So usually, there are two characters that, really, those are the last people that should be falling in love and then they do.

Jeff: As you set those challenges for yourself, are you plotting all that out as you go or are you a pantser that kind of just, you know, lets it sort out however the characters take care of it in the moment?

Beth: I think I’m more of a plantser. So I have to have something written down. Now when I say an outline, I mean, it’s like, bare bones, like, maybe like a one page in Word, okay? And usually I only, like really plot out the first half. If I don’t have anything written down, I can’t really get started. But then I start the book, and I completely ignore the outline, like 9 times out of 10.

Sometimes I’ll go and revisit it if I get stuck and I’ll be, “Oh, yeah, that’s what I was gonna do.” But yeah, I pretty much let them talk to me. They do what they want. Sometimes they really piss me off. Heath Harris in “The Rivalry” I was writing the book and he had some issues already. And I’m sitting there just sitting there right in the beginning. and he just comes out with a sentence, this thought that’s like, “I’ve never been attracted to anybody before.” And I was like, “Don’t do this to me. Don’t make things harder.” And of course, that book ended up being really long. Also, my most successful book. People just love that book, and they really connect to it. But yeah, that was one of those things where I was like, “We did not need to go there, dude. Come on.” But I did not know that before we started and it just appeared like he said it to me and I was like, “Okay, that’s what we’re doing. That’s what we’re gonna do.”

Jeff: I have to say you surprised me with that answer.

Beth: It makes me kind of sound schizophrenia. But that’s okay.

Jeff: You surprised me with that answer, because I figured with the analysis side of your brain, you would have plotted more.

Beth: I have tried, genuinely, but I feel like if I really over plot a book, I get really bored. I feel like I’ve already written it. My friend Jackie always likes to say, she’s like…because we’re both really high in the strategic strength. And she says, “It’s kind of like we’re trying to solve a puzzle.” And she says, “If the puzzle pieces are all laid out, we know exactly where they’re supposed to go, then we were done with that.”

Jeff: Ah, that’s an interesting way to look at it. I like that.

Beth: Yeah, yeah. So that’s definitely… I usually know, like the meet-cute in the beginning. I know, like the trope that we’re gonna use. I know the setup. I know the inciting incident. And then things get kind of hairy from there.

Jeff: Which just makes it more fun to kind of write the whole book to see where it goes.

Beth: That’s right. That’s right. But by the time I hit the middle, like, I consider it like a roller coaster, like by 60% of the way, I’ve woven all these threads, and we’re on the downward slope. That’s usually when it gets really easy for me, but like the middle 20% to 50%, that’s the hairy time. That’s usually when I’m like, “I don’t know how to write a book. I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Jeff: And then it all falls back together again magically.

Beth: And then it always works. It’s amazing. It’s a miracle.

Jeff: Other than the shift from the male/female books over to male/male books, how would you say your stories have changed since you began, you know, both from 2014 to when you restarted in ’17, and then ’17 going forward?

Beth: Well, I don’t have saggy middles anymore. My middles were really saggy. My very first book, this was the problem, was like, it was a baseball romance. The baseball season is pretty fricking long. It’s a 162 games. It goes from February until October. And when I started writing the book, I didn’t see that this was gonna be a problem. But it was the problem. And you know, and so I was like, “I don’t know what to do?” Like, “What am I supposed to do in the middle?” And it just went on forever and ever.

And so I’ve learned to be really more strategic about those choices that I’m making, like, in my new series, so the whole four book series in the “Piranhas” series takes place over an entire season. So each book is like four or five games. And there’s an overarching, like, you know, the games of the football season plot but each one has like a satisfying like goal they’re trying to reach like, hey, we would like to like not lose every game. Or we’d like to try to win the division or we’re gonna be in the wildcard, you know, go to the playoffs. You know, here we have this really big rival we’re gonna play.

So like there’s like kind of signposts there. But like dividing it up that way really alleviated like the timeline problems for me. And I could tell a really exciting story without worrying about having to stretch it out eight months. Because that’s rough.

Jeff: I love that. I may borrow that the next time I get a sports romance going that I kind of needed to arc the season, split it up across the books instead of jamming it all in one.

Beth: I mean, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. Well, so I did that in 2014 right? And then when I wrote “Rivalry,” I made that same mistake, because it had been like six years, I had forgotten that lesson. And then I was like, “This is terrible. Why does anyone do this?” So I was like, “Nevermind, we’re not doing that again. Never again.” So that was how I came up with this idea. And you’re actually free to borrow it. I don’t know how successful it’s gonna be, I don’t know how people are gonna react to it. But so far, you know, I think that it’s gonna work. And it’s really great because it’s like four or five weeks is like perfect time.

Jeff: Yep. Oh, I love that. I love that. I’ve got that now in my brain for future books of my own.

You released quite a few books in 2020, 2021, even while the world was on fire. How did you keep your creative well filled so that you were in the mind space to be able to generate the books?

Beth: So I’m super, well, in some cases really lucky, in some cases, kind of cursed. So I was talking about how I’m really high strategic. I’m also really high achiever. My achiever is number three, which basically means that I’m like that type A plus personality that everyone hates. I’ve never missed a deadline. I write better when I get close to a deadline. I don’t freeze. I actually get more creative. And the thing that I love doing is working. And so when everything was burning down, I was like, “Oh, work, I love work.” And I would just work.

So, you know, my ideal time for a book is 45 days. First draft, every day… Like I don’t you usually work on weekends now, but 45 days is perfect, because that is just enough time without me feeling overly pressured but I also don’t get bored because I get bored. So I would just, you know, keep pushing on. And I also was lucky enough that at the beginning of the pandemic, like, April, maybe 2020, my good friend, DJ Jamison and I, we started a writing sprint group. And we would get up, like the five or six of us, we’d get up every morning, and we would come to our office and we would write together every morning. And we still do, and it’s been like, I don’t know, almost two years.

So, I mean, the truth is that we were able to keep ourselves honest. To keep ourselves moving forward. And, you know, that really made a huge difference. But frankly, I’d probably do it myself anyway, because that’s just how I’m constructed. It’s annoying. I mean, there’s also like really good things that come with it, but it also kind of sucks. So it’s one of those strengths that like everyone says that they want it. And then if they had it, they’d be like, “This is a horrible way to exist.”

Jeff: It served you well in this instance.

Beth: It really did. I’ve never missed a deadline. I’ve never even come close to missing a deadline. Like, that’s an amazing thing. Like I was like, really like, thinking about that the other day, I was like, “God, how is that possible?” But it’s true. So I’m really lucky that way.

And yeah, I had a lot of big plans for 2020 and then also for 2021. And I was really pleased to be able to pull them all out and publish those books. And yeah, I’m trying to, like be better about it and be like, “In 2022 I’m only gonna publish five, and three novellas.” But my husband’s like, “Doesn’t that really count as six?” And I’m like, “It’s better kind of. Word choice is everything.”

Jeff: Yeah, words matter.

How long is your typical book word-wise, out of curiosity?

Beth: So like a regular, straight, contemporary romance, like one of my food books, those are all about 80,000 words. Football, because those have a much stronger B plot they’re usually, like 85 plus, some of them are more like 90, just because there’s a lot of extra other stuff that’s going on. Like it’s not just the romance, there’s all this other, you know, character development in the game, plotting and all that stuff. So yeah, those are usually longer. “Playing for Keeps,” which is the first one in this series is about 85,000.

Jeff: That’s really tremendous. You can knock out that first draft of that size of a book in 45 days. That’s epic. I strive for that.

Beth: Thank you. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Jeff: I would see it more as a blessing right now, to be able to do that.

Let’s talk about “Miami Piranhas,” the brand new series that you’ve got going. Tell us about the characters we’re gonna meet and and what’s gonna happen across this series.

Beth: So when I first conceived the series, I was like, “I really wanna write a football series.” There’s actually a series. So I had written “Rivalry,” and I wrote it as a standalone. Then I wrote the next book as a standalone. And by book three, I was kind of like, “Well, this is a series now,” but it was the last book. So I really hadn’t planned it as a series. And I was also getting feedback from people about my “Food Truck Warriors” series, how much they loved the found family community aspect. And I was like, “Wouldn’t it be great if I combine those two things, football and that kind of found family community?”

And I thought, “Well, I have this team, the Miami Piranhas, which, you know, flashing back to the “Rainbow Clause”, my first gay romance release. That was his team, Colin O’Connor, who’s the quarterback in that book, that was his team. Now, at this point, we’ve gotten quite a few years forward and he’s won a Super Bowl and he’s retired. I mentioned it in one of the other sports books.

So I’m like, I have this team, who’s literally in what we would call the rebuilding years, right? They’ve lost their Hall of Fame quarterback. So I was like, I conceived of a team that last year was really bad. I was like, We’ll say they won a game, okay? So they completely clean house. They have this brand new coach, they’ve hired this coach. And as I think I find this absolutely fascinating are the characters in real life sports and real life football. I’m like addicted to sports documentaries, because the characters are like, like we say, “They’re larger than life.” Like I couldn’t invent these people.

So what I wanted was a super successful college coach who’s never coached in the NFL, but who’s kind of that weird, idiosyncratic southern guy who you know eats his grass off his field. And he’s just an odd duck. So I came up with Asa Dawson. So he is my college coach. So this is his first year coaching in the NFL, he takes over this team that’s lost almost every game the year before. No one has any expectations. So this is kind of…they’re like the ultimate underdogs. And he’s kind of like rolling the dice and chancing his whole reputation on this, right? Because, you know, he was great in college, he’s won tons of national championships, but he’s never really, you know, hung with the big dogs. So that’s kind of what the book is about.

And the first book in the series “Playing for Keeps,” we meet his son, who is…I believe his title is special assistant to the head coach. So he’s never played football but he is a brilliant analytical genius. So he’s one of those people that like, analyzes plays and analyzes film and takes things apart and puts them back together in different ways. But you know, he’s really great at what he does. But, of course, there’s all these like, rumors and whispers, of nepotism that follow him because he works for his dad.

And he came out of the closet when he was 16. And his father being who his father was, a famous southern college football coach. Of course, everyone expected things to go really south. But Asa’s not like that at all. And he like immediately supported Beau. And so there’s that whole kind of storyline going to, you know, who is this coach, and then there’s all the players. And the first book is Beau’s book and one of my defensive players named Sebastian Howard. And we also have the quarterback go in there somewhere.

And the second book is about an offensive lineman and the kicker, because I discovered when I wrote a kicker book that those guys are fascinating. Like, you wouldn’t think that they are, but like, I read so much stuff about kickers and like the mental capacity you need to go out and do that because everyone forgets the kicker until the kicker is there and has to make a kick. And so I was like, “Oh, I have to write another kicker.” And I was gonna write a punter, but my friend Jackie was like, “Yeah, I’m stopping you there. That’s my line, we draw it at the punter.” And I was like, “Listen, I really wanted to write a series that touched on like, all these different kinds of aspects of a football team.”

So, you know, we have like someone in the coaching staff. There is going to be reporter later on in the season. And so that’s kind of like my found family community is many of the books, our players and players as well. So yeah, I could like talk about this for like 100 years, so.

Jeff: How many books are you projecting for this?

Beth: So I did write the prequel novella, which is in the Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend giveaway on Prolific Works for free. So that’s called “Playing Dirty.” So that’s kind of like book point five that takes place in the preseason. And then there’ll be four books, and there will be a surprise book in there that I’m not really revealing it, who it is or what it is. But so five total full lengths, and then the prequel novella.

Jeff: What’s their cadence to come out, monthly, every other month, or?

Beth: So “Playing for Keeps” is already out, as of May 11th. And then the next one will come out at the end of July. And then the book three in September, and the secret book will be out sometime in November, and then there’ll be the last one, will come out in January.

Jeff: Right around Super Bowl time.

Beth: Yeah. Look at me. I’m so smart. And oh but it worked out really well. So yeah, I was like, this is one of those things… Especially because the season spans the whole series, I was like, we need to write these all in a row and just, you know, get them out so people can read them.

Jeff: Yeah, I’ve seen that so often now with authors, even if they’ve got multiple series going, they’ll really do a push to get a book or two out or even complete the series before they go somewhere else so that they have a whole bunch of things in place so that you don’t have to wait a long time.

Beth: Right, I spent the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 basically finishing everything that I had left. So I finished the “Food Truck Warriors.” The sixth book came out in January. I wrote the follow up to my fantasy book that came out in March. And like the deck was completely clear, I had no hanging threads, no hanging chads. It was all ready to go. And I have so many people asking me like, “What are you gonna do next after Piranhas?” And I’m like, “Man, I’m like booked till January 2023. I don’t know what I’m doing with that.”

Jeff: I will make sure then to not ask you that question.

Beth: There so many thing I wanna do. I wanna write like a paranormal series. Like, I might wanna write another series about the Piranhas. Like, make it like season one, and then we have season two, like I don’t know. It just really depends on where my mind ends up taking me. But for right now, I’m like, knee deep in Piranhas right now, not in the really terrible sense that they’re gonna chew my legs to death, but…

Jeff: Well, I hope not.

Beth: …metaphorically eat.

Jeff: You mentioned the fantasy series. And then you just now talked about, you know, maybe wanting to write paranormal. You’ve done so much contemporary overall. Do you wanna kind of branch out into some other areas, whether it’s paranormal or, you know, some other romance sub-genre?

Beth: No, I mean, I wrote the first fantasy because I was feeling a little burnt out on contemporary and I didn’t ever expect anyone to read it. And then everyone…and they loved it. And it was like my third best selling book. And I was like, “Well, I guess that means I should write another one.” So I did. I’d like to write a paranormal. I mean, everyone was so supportive when I wrote those fantasy, and their high fantasy, which is not usually like something that people I find read, like, tend to go for. I love it. My friend was like, “Oh, you should write like a paranormal set in, like contemporary and like…” I don’t know. I might, I really, really don’t know, I have to have the right kind of idea. That’s really how everything starts, is the right idea. I have to be excited about it. I have to really feel called to write it. So it’ll just depend. Maybe I’ll be really tired of writing football books by that point. I don’t know.

Jeff: I don’t know, your love of football, I would be surprised if that was the case. We’ll see.

Beth: They’re kind of exhausting honestly, though. They are very, I mean, this one wasn’t as bad. When I wrote “Rivalry,” I think I cried more than when I wrote any other book, like it was so frustrating. It ended up being really worth it but I hated that book so much when I was writing it. At one point, I condensed some stuff together, and I realized I was almost done. And I realized I had somehow deleted the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And let me tell you, I probably could have gotten away with it if it was any other time, except between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And I was like, “Well, shit what am I gonna do?” Like, I had a complete meltdown. Total, like, sobbing mess. Like, “This whole book is terrible. I’m gonna throw it away. I’ll never…” Yeah, so but thankfully, this last one has been an awesome experience to write. Really dividing the season up between books, a huge difference.

Jeff: Absolutely. Yeah.

Beth: And I’m incredibly excited to write the next one. Like it’s one of those where I’m, like, supposed to take a week off and I’m like, oh, let’s start early. So that’s usually a good sign. So we’ll see. I guess that’s really the answer. We’ll see.

Jeff: The Piranhas, of course, you mentioned, you know, date back to your first m/m book. And if I’ve researched correctly, it looks like your contemporaries all take place in one big shared universe. What led you to making that choice that everything would become interconnected?

Beth: Because I was crazy. No, really, that’s not the answer. The answer is, is it was something that I really enjoyed as a reader, first and foremost, like, if I was reading a book and someone… You know, I have my authors, that are like, if someone crops up from another book, I’m always like, “Oh, hey, I get to see them again.” Like, it’s like meeting an old friend. And we get to see how they’re doing. And, you know, and also, you know, it just feels like a waste to me because I’m like, “I need…” Like, the first time that happened, I was like, “Oh, I need…” I don’t remember what I needed, a character that did X job. And I was like, “Well, I have a character that did X job. Why would I make another character that does X job if I already have this character that already exists?”

And then after that, it was like, you know, interconnectedness in some ways. I actually didn’t want… I went to some effort and I put a reading order together on my website. It’s up there. I think it makes sense of things and that I have the series organized and then there’s like optional books you can read that kind of gives like, sort of a heads up. I mean, they’re not required reading, but it kind of gives you an idea. You know, the other thing is, the more football books I wrote, I didn’t want every single football book I wrote to be like, “And this person is coming out of the closet for the first time, they’re the first NFL player to be out of the…”

I mean, that’s a fine storyline to tell, but I didn’t wanna tell that one over and over and over again, because there’s only so many ways you can tell that story. So setting all these books in the same universe where Colin O’Connor already came out of the closet 10 years ago, and there’s a handful of players that are out in the NFL, more than a handful, there’s a handful on every team, meant that it was no longer such a fraught thing. And also it expanded the stories I could tell. And I mean, really, it expanded the stories that I could tell.

So every story didn’t have to be that, “Oh, if anyone finds out I’m the first person,” you know. I was like, I just don’t wanna tell that story like constantly. Like I like the football books that I write. Obviously, there’s always gonna be this tension between toxic masculinity in football and a person’s sexuality. There’s no way around that, because that’s just the facts of how things are. But I wanna tell other stories. I wanna tell stories about like, you know, what if I accidentally fall in love with the coach’s son, and, you know, he’s gonna kill me.

Like, I mean, there is a facet of that in there, and that he’s not out of the closet at that point when he has those feelings. But when he decides that he’s just gonna live his life how he wants to, it’s not like a huge, monumental, the new story of the century, right?

Jeff: Right. Somebody thought he had that distinction.

Beth: Yeah. So that was really why I was like… So we basically start all my football books with, “Colin O’Connor came out of the closet 10 years ago. Here’s the book if you want to read it.” So that was kind of how I came to that conclusion was this, I just didn’t wanna tell that story over again.

Jeff: Your first answer was, of course, that you’re crazy.

Beth: Yeah.

Jeff: But kind of going with that answer a little bit, I have to imagine there’s challenges too in having everything connected together. Do you have like a giant series Bible at hand or?

Beth: My PA, bless her heart, I love her so much. I could not do what I do without her. I actually got to the point where… I mean, you write… I’m at 30 books now. You write 30 books, you start kind of trying to use the same name again, even though you already use that name. Sometimes I’ll get to like, you know, page 30, and I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m using the same name I used in this other book.” Like, they feel like a different person to me and so I don’t… So the first thing she did was like, “Okay, we’re gonna make a list of every name and every book that you can’t use anymore.” So when I start naming characters, I go and look at that list and I’m like, “Okay, these are all off limits.”

She also will put some information in about those people. I just did this thing where I made, like, all these like player cards, almost like playing cards, but like, intro, bio things. I had to go and figure out where it was like, you know, name, you know, when they went to college, what team they played on. And like the college thing was, like, trying to find some of the older ones. I was like, “Where did I say that he went to college? I don’t know.”

And then I’d be, like, searching in the draft, like, oh, you know, college university. None of those come up. And I’m like, “Oh,” so I’m like sitting there running through every college I can think of, that I could have, like, named, yeah. So I really need a better system, is really what I’m saying. But maybe we’ll have Isabela do that. Because she’s awesome and she could do more if I let her.

Jeff: She’s just been volunteered.

Beth: She’s game for anything. So we’re good.

Jeff: So you do have the big list on the site that, you know…the reading order for those who want to tackle from that direction? Is that where people should start? First book on that list? Or for those who might be coming to you for their first time to start reading, is there something that you would say, you know, “Really start here and then branch from there?” Or is it that first book in the list?

Beth: What are you interested in? Like if you’re wanting to read food books, I would really suggest you start with… Like I get this question all the time. “I wanna read “Food Truck Warriors,” do I need to read “Kitchen Gods,” first? And I’m like, “Well, yes and no,” I mean, but that’s like asking someone to like read 10 books. What I recommend is the optional pre-book for the “Food Truck Warriors.” So you can read that book and then you can read “Food Truck Warriors.”

I really suggest starting with “Rivalry,” because that’s, I think, my best written book, even though it made me wanna tear my hair out. So that’s like, pretty much a complete standalone because it was conceived as a complete standalone. It’s not really my fault it became a series, it just happened. I tripped and fell and it was like, “Here’s another book.”

And then those three in “The Riptide” series. It’s all about the Los Angeles Riptide. It’s the “Rivalry,” “Rough Contact,” and then the “Red Zone.” And they’re all like standalone, you can read them. And then actually one of those characters crosses over into “Food Truck Warriors,” because I couldn’t help myself. He was like the perfect guy to end up with a food truck owner. And so that happened. Oops. I really just can’t control it.

But the great thing is the “Piranhas” series is another great entry point. Because other than that, you know, the fact that Colin O’Connor came out of the closet 10 years ago, you don’t have to have read anything else. So you can read this the prequel novella, which I said is free, 40,000 free words. Or you don’t have to and you can just start with the first book, and that’s totally fine too. Or you can go back and read “Rainbow Clause,” first. That’s an option as well. But there’s lots of entry points there, I think. Maybe too many.

Jeff: It’s good to have multiple choices.

Beth: I think so. I don’t ever like to put myself into a corner.

Jeff: So Big Gay Fiction Fest is taking place during Pride month. And I’d love to know from you like what does Pride mean to you?

Beth: So, I was thinking about this question. And the thing about it is that Pride means to me that we’re allowed to celebrate who we really are. Like, we’re allowed to be honest with ourselves and with others about who we are and then we’re allowed to celebrate that. And I also like to think that we’re allowed to celebrate, no matter what the circumstances around your life are.

Like, I’m one of those weird people that didn’t discover that I was bisexual until I was 30. And I actually had someone telling me, “Oh, that’s not possible.” And I was like, “Well, oh, contraire.” And that’s the thing I love about the conversation about sexuality, is it’s fluid, and it’s ever changing. And, you know, we learn so much from other people and their stories. And that’s the thing I love about pride is that people feel compelled to share those stories and to celebrate their stories. And that’s really what I try to do in my books, of course, is celebrate, you know, people’s identities.

Which is probably why I have a lot of like bisexual awakenings in my books.

Jeff: And I was gonna ask how that kind of manifests itself in your stories. And I like what you just said right there that you’re highlighting these stories and these kinds of stories?

Beth: Yeah, I mean, I really like telling that story. I mean, I’ve told it in a lot of different ways. But that’s a lot of times, like, what I fall back on is because, one, that’s what I know. I don’t always necessarily think we have to write what we know. But I have a lot of feelings on the subject, and writing them down, and writing them out, and expressing them. And I get a lot of people that email me and say, “Hey, you know, your books really affected me and I felt really strongly about this part.”

And I’m like, “Hey, you know, that’s great, because I feel the same way.” And it’s a wonderful way to connect with people. I mean, that’s really what pride is, is that a way to connect in a way to celebrate, like, our identity.

Jeff: As we wrap up here, I’d love to know what your hopes are about what readers take away from your stories.

Beth: You know, I really love that the greatest compliment I can always get is it took me to a place that was different than what my life is. You know, we never know where our readers are, like what struggles they’re going through. And every time someone says, you know, “You took me to a different place for a couple of hours.” Like that’s like the highest compliment that I can possibly receive. So I mean, really, all I’m trying to do is write stories that readers connect with, and that take them on an emotional journey and maybe tell them something about the world they live in or about themselves. Because I feel like every book I write tells me something about me when I write it.

Jeff: I love that you get that from your own stories, that you also discover something new, which I think is a really awesome, you know, moment for a writer to be like, “Hmm, I just wrote this, but then I also learned something from it too.”

Beth: I mean, the thing is, we’re always learning and growing, if we stop, then that’s the moment that we give up. And like, I’m like, the most determined, stubborn person in the entire world. And so, like, I could never just be like, you know, that’s like the moment when I would stop writing if I stopped learning. I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop learning from my own work and from other people’s work.

Jeff: That’s awesome. Beth, what’s the best way for people to keep up with you online so they can do follow the releases of “Miami Piranhas” but also, once we get into 2023 to know, you know, what the future does look like.

Beth: So I’m always in my readers group, which is Beth’s Boldest on Facebook. I’m also on Instagram, bethboldenauthor. I post a lot of pictures of my cat, who’s very cute. He’s sorry he couldn’t be here tonight. He usually likes to like, you know, parade in front of the monitor constantly. But I figured that your readers really didn’t wanna see my cat’s butthole constantly. So we locked him out. So Instagram, bethboldenauthor, I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter, though I don’t really tweet that often. I really tweet only… If you’re looking for just to find out when I have a release, Twitter is great, because pretty much that’s the only time I tweet. But I’m on Instagram a lot, and Facebook.

And you can also find me at, which is where you will find the reading order as well as all information on all my books. And there’s a place to sign up for the newsletter as well if you’re interested in that and follow me on BookBub. So that would probably be the best place to go first.

Jeff: Fantastic. Beth, thank you so much for being here and hanging out with us on the Big Gay Fiction Fest. It’s been so much fun.

Beth: Yeah, it was so great. Thank you so much for having me.


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, head on over to the show notes page for this episode at The show notes page also has links to everything that we talked about in this episode.

If you’d like even more gay fiction recommendations, Jeff and I have put together “Happily Ever After,” a free ebook full of reviews and suggested romance reads. 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 Beth for joining us. I’ll be reviewing “Playing for Keeps” in an upcoming episode. Now you all know, I love hockey. It’s really my only sport. And my knowledge of football I have to say is quite minimal, but Beth wrote football so well that I actually cared about what was happening on the field just as much as I cared about that romance. Well done, Beth.

Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up on Thursday in episode 387, we’ve got one more panel for you as we focus on cozy mysteries.

Jeff: We’ll be joined by Michael Craft, Frank Anthony Polito, and S.C. Wynne. And we’re going to have a great chat about their latest cozy mysteries and why they write in the genre.

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 that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.

Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.