Jeff & Will kick off the episode reviewing two YA books, Lion’s Legacy by L.C. Rosen and Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee.
Then they bring you a panel discussion that Jeff hosted for a Barnes and Noble NOOKEvent Live featuring authors Gregory Ashe, Josh Lanyon, Layla Reyne, and Felice Stevens. The authors discuss their careers writing queer fiction, as well as how their characters and plots often surprise them as the writing unfolds. They also discussed the joy of bringing back characters in cameos, the challenges of crafting slow burn romances, and they each discuss their recent and upcoming books.
Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Monday, September 25.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Lion’s Legacy by L.C. Rosen
- Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
- Gregory Ashe, Josh Lanyon, Layla Reyne & Felice Stevens Conversation
- Gregory Ashe: website | The Gregorian Order Facebook Group | X (Twitter)
- Josh Lanyon: website | Facebook | X (Twitter)
- Layla Reyne: website | Layla’s Lushes Facebook Group | X (Twitter) | Instagram
- Felice Stevens: website | Felice Stevens’ Breakfast Club Facebook Group | X (Twitter) | Instagram
- Puzzle for Two by Josh Lanyon
- Corpse at Captain’s Seat by Josh Lanyon on Josh Lanyon website
- The Ghost and Charlie Muir by Felice Stevens
- In a New York Minute by Felice Stevens
- On the 2 by Felice Stevens
- King Hunt by Layla Reyne
- The Case-Book of Holloway Holmes (The Adventures of Holloway Holmes Book 4) by Gregory Ashe
- The Face in the Water (Iron on Iron Book 1) by Gregory Ashe
- Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner Book 1) by Lynn Flewelling
- The X Files on Amazon Prime
- Couldn’t Cheat Death (The Paul Monroe Mysteries Book 1) by Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen
- Castle on Hulu
- Pretty Pretty Boys (Hazard and Somerset Book 1) by Gregory Ashe
- Fatal Shadows (The Adrien English Mystery Series) by Josh Lanyon
- Silent Knight (Fog City Book 5) by Layla Reyne
- What We May Be by Layla Reyne
- Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon
- Single Malt (Agents Irish and Whiskey Book 1) by Layla Reyne
- A Walk Through Fire (Through Hell and Back Book 1) by Felice Stevens
- Mainly by Moonlight (Bedknobs and Broomsticks Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
- Bewitched on The Roku Channel
- The Old Wheel (The Adventures of Holloway Holmes Book 2) by Gregory Ashe
- King Slayer (Fog City Book 2) by Layla Reyne
- Running from My Heart (Rock Bottom Book 3) by Felice Stevens
- The Mermaid Murders (The Art of Murder Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
- Murder at Pirates Cove (Secrets and Scrabble Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
- The Same Breath (The Lamb and the Lion Book 1) by Gregory Ashe
- Vampire Diaries on Max
- The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we have a panel discussion featuring four amazing authors of queer fiction.
Will: Welcome to episode 436 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Will, and with me, as always, he’s sitting right there. It’s my co host and husband, Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It is so great to have you here for another episode of the show.
As always, the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. If you’d like more information about what we offer to patrons, including the opportunity to ask questions to our guests, go to patreon.com/BigGayFictionPodcast
Will: Now, before we get to the panel discussion, we wanted to recommend a couple of YA books that we have been reading and enjoying recently.
Jeff: Ah, some good ones here. “Lion’s Legacy” by L. C. Rosen. Oh, I love this book so much. Now, I first read L. C. Rosen with the YA book, “Camp,” which he released in 2020. And I also love the books that he writes as Lev AC Rosen, such as “Lavender House,” which was a stunning mystery from last year. But “Lion’s Legacy,” oooh, this YA just thrilled me so much.
You’ve got 17 year old Tennessee Russo, who’s a bit of a celebrity, actually. He used to go on adventures with his archaeologist father, and those adventures ended up as part of a reality TV show. Now, Ten left that show when he figured out that his father wasn’t actually returning the artifacts that they found to where they rightfully belonged. He was actually essentially selling them off to the highest bidder. Ten and his dad haven’t spoken since that incident had happened.
But a few years later, Dad’s back, asking Ten to come back and go looking for the Rings of the Sacred Band of Thebes, which are steeped in queer history. And that’s something that Ten has always been interested in, because of the importance that queer history holds for him. Now with Ten recently single, due to a cheating boyfriend, he’s ready for a change. And that actually means he’s going to go on another adventure. But why is his dad really asking for him to come back? And why now? Well, that’s some things we’re going to have to deal with along the way here. And they’re questions that Ten doesn’t exactly care to think about, but he does want to find those rings, so that means he is going.
Now this is a great adventure from the very beginning. We start out at the beginning of the book with the adventure where Ten and his dad essentially broke up. And that sets the tone for the adventure that’s to come. Lev’s writing is so stunning in the adventure sequences. It’s very cinematic. You can visualize everything that they’re doing as they go after these artifacts. He also, of course, writes amazing characters. I really love how Ten wrestles with his choices, often making lists in his head to consider how he might approach the problem at hand.
And boy, there are a lot of choices ahead. As you might imagine, finding the rings isn’t going to be easy because there’s also someone else going after them. There’s also this cute boy that he meets along the way who ends up going with Ten and his dad as a translator. And what I love best of all is that Ten is a teen who is super smart and accomplished and capable. But who sometimes is also just a kid who doesn’t have all the adult experience to rely on, and that also means that he’s just a very regular every teenager sometimes who gets in over his head quite a lot.
Oh, and by the way, in case you didn’t know the Sacred Band of Thebes is actually a real thing. The rings aren’t. Lev talks about how he made that up for the book, but the Band actually was. I really love the queer history that is brought forth in this book. As Lev says in his author’s note, “Queer history is always being erased,” and it’s really great to see how he’s integrated some real history into this story.
And I loved Ten so much. And if you like adventures, you should definitely check out “Lion’s Legacy.” And there’s a sequel coming in the spring called “King’s Legacy.” I’ve already pre-ordered that book because I so need it.
This was also especially great to read when I did it because I did it shortly after I finished Robin Knight’s “Fathom’s Five.” So it was really great to go from one type of adventure to another. I think we need more gay adventure books because I really have enjoyed these. I’m glad that, that L.C. Rosen has more on his calendar coming up.
Will: So in addition to that, Jeff and I also have recently read “Fake Dates and Mooncakes” by Sher Lee. This book has been on my particular wish list since it came out around this time last year. And then recently I saw it was on sale and I was like, oh yeah, I want to read that book! So I got it, I read it, and I am kicking myself thoroughly for waiting this long.
Jeff: Yeah, you and me both. It was so good.
Will: So “Fake Dates and Mooncakes” is about a young guy named Dylan, and he wants to enter a mid-autumn mooncake making contest to honor his mom and help keep his aunt’s Brooklyn takeout restaurant open. Theo is a super rich and super hot guy, and he’s got a thing for Dylan. And he also happens to need a date for a big Hamptons wedding. So, the question for these two is, can they survive all of Theo’s family drama and figure out the secret family recipe to the blue snowskin mooncake?
And I’m just going to stop right now and say that if you like food in books, strap in because this story has got sumptuous descriptions of food and wealth, which serve as, you know, a pretty tasty backdrop to Dylan and Theo’s super sweet romance.
So if, like, food and glamour doesn’t automatically get you interested in this story, I also want to mention that the marketing copy on the back of “Fake Dates and Mooncakes” described this as “Heartstopper” meets “Crazy Rich Asians.” And I think that perfectly encapsulates this romance. It’s got soft, nice guy heroes and plenty of queer optimism.
Jeff: I loved it so much. I mean, I was drawn to the cover last year when it came out and like you, it was just floating out there as like something to pick up on the TBR and read. But then you were like, I got this and I read it. I immediately went and made it the next thing that I read. If you love audio books, Joshua Chang as the narrator does an exquisite job with not only Dylan and Theo, but the rest of the cast as well. Just outstanding.
That analogy with “Heartstopper” and “Crazy Rich Asians” is so on the money. Theo and Dylan are their very own versions of Nick and Charlie for sure. They’ve got stuff going on in their lives. A lot of stuff that they’re dealing with. But when they’re around each other, they are just so sweet. Oh, I loved every second of this. I would love, you know, “Heartstopper’s” kind of an ongoing thing. If Sher Lee wants to make this an ongoing thing, I am there for it because I will take more of these two anytime I can get them.
Will: Yeah, I can tell you right now this book is definitely at the top of my favorite reads for 2023.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s on mine too. I’m so glad you read it so that I could go read it.
So let’s get into our panel discussion now. Right at the end of Pride Month, I had the opportunity to moderate a Barnes Noble Nook Event Live, featuring four terrific authors, Gregory Ashe, Josh Lanyon, Layla Reyne, and Felice Stevens. Now in case you missed it when it was a Facebook Live, we are excited to bring this to you here.
We talked about their latest books, what led them to writing books with queer characters, and we get into how they create those characters, including when sometimes those characters go off the rails and surprise them, and how that sometimes changes the way that they have to approach the stories. I think you’re going to hear some things here that will surprise you, because I know I certainly did.
Gregory Ashe, Josh Lanyon, Layla Reyne & Felice Stevens Discussion
Jeff: Welcome to this Nook Event Live. I want to open up this with letting everybody introduce themselves. So Josh, I’m going to throw it over to you first to introduce yourself, tell us what you write and maybe what your latest book is.
Josh: Well, I’m Josh Lanyon. I’ve been writing LGBTQ fiction for about 30 years. So I guess I’m the old guard here. The amazing thing is I’m only 40, so… I started out in mainstream with publishing contracts with Harlequin, Pocket, Berkley. And then I was also writing gay fiction, and to the puzzlement of everyone who knew me.
And I basically focused on that for the last 15 years. I’ve had, probably, I think, 14 translations. I’ve had four Lambda finals. I’ve been doing it a long time. That’s about it. And my latest book is “Puzzle for Two.” That’s a PI novel thingy. And I’m working on “Corpse at Captain’s Seat,” which is the eighth book in my cozy mystery series, “Secrets in Scrabble.”
Jeff: Excellent. Thank you, Josh. Felice. Tell us all about you.
Felice: Oh, sure. I have to follow Josh. Sure. Hi, I’m Felice Stevens. I have been published since 2014. I started out with a small press, Loose Id, and the following year I decided to dip my toes into self-publishing and I never looked back. At this point I have about close to 50 books. I am translated into French, Italian, and German. And I have finaled twice in the Lambdas, won it once for my book, “The Ghost and Charlie Muir” back in 2020. And my latest book is “In a New York Minute,” which is a rock star and public school teacher. I always like to give really opposite type people…
Josh: Such a great title.
Felice: …fall in love. And I have a new release coming in August called “On the Two” about two men who meet on a train, the two train in New York City.
Jeff: I love that title too. Having lived in New York for many years, having a train title is awesome.
Felice: Yeah it’s fun, but you know, it’s hard because I wanted to use that nice little two symbol and can’t because the MTA has copyrighted it. Taking the fun out of it.
Jeff: Layla, coming over to you.
Layla: Yeah. Hi, I’m Layla Reyne. I’ve been writing LGBTQ romance since 2017 was my first release. And this is book 26, I think, that just published and that was “King Hunt” and it is book 3 in the “Perfect Play” trilogy. I tend to write romantic suspense with a little bit of foodie romance sprinkled in there because I’m a foodie and I can’t avoid it. I need those palate cleansers between writing the mysteries. And self-published and wide so all the books are on Barnes and Noble.
Jeff: Excellent. We should say that all of the authors here have books on NOOK and in Barnes and Noble. You can find us right there on that site.
Greg, you’re up.
Greg: Alright, yeah, I’m Greg Ashe. I write primarily LGBTQ mystery, some speculative fiction, horror, urban fantasy. My most recent release was “The Case-Book of Holloway Holmes.” It’s a short story collection to wrap up my kind of love letter to the Sherlock Holmes canon and mythos. And my next book that I have coming out is a crossover, the first in my crossover series. It’s called “The Face in the Water” that comes out in August.
Josh: Crossover of what?
Greg: Oh, it’s a crossover of all the four main couples from my four different big mystery series. So kind of like an Avengers, Justice League… everybody shows up.
Josh: That’s great.
Layla: The tough part of those are is everyone’s age correct and is everyone in the right place. Because I just did that and it was a nightmare.
Greg: Wait, did you say you did do it, Layla? Is that what you said?
Layla: In that last book, it was a team up with a lot of people and I’m getting ready to go into an even bigger team up and it’s… there’s some spreadsheets involved.
Greg: I was just going to say so many spreadsheets.
Jeff: I’m curious, Greg and Layla, since you mentioned that, these big crossovers. Did you have series bibles going into this for your multi-part, multi-series that you had, or is it all spreadsheets? What does that look like to bring everybody together?
Layla: It’s kind of organized in spreadsheets. I wish it was better. But that’s, kind of how it is and going back through and you learn things that you need to know that you then have to go back and put back in as you work along.
Greg: Yeah. Like height, relative height. Does that make sense? Like in one book It’s okay to be like well one’s taller than the other but then you have eight people.
Josh: Yeah, who’s the tallest?
Layla: I know who that is in mine. That one’s easy. But the rest of them I don’t know. Like, Jamie’s the tallest hands down period. Everyone else…
Felice: That’s why you need great editors. My editor will always say no, he had this and this… can’t do that because that was… So they’re very important and pop in with their knowledge.
Jeff: Yeah, especially if you get to work, in this case, with one who works across all of your series, just to keep the continuity going.
I’m curious for each of you, kind of, what prompted you to start writing and featuring LGBTQIA characters in your work? I’m going to go to Felice this time to start off.
Felice: Well, I think living in a city like New York. I’m surrounded by all people. It’s so diverse. That to me it’s just a natural part of my life. I have gay friends, I have gay relatives, and why don’t they deserve the same type of happily ever after that everybody else gets and they weren’t getting it. There was always some tragic ending or they were a side character, the sassy side character, or the silly side character and. I just felt, give these people a chance to be where they deserve to be, with everyone else and getting their own romantic love story.
And whether it ends in marriage, or it ends with children, or it ends just them being together and happy. That’s the ultimate goal, to have people know that they can have these stories. And I get emails from readers, and they’re mostly older gay men who email me and say, “I didn’t have these types of stories when I was growing up and thank you for writing them.” So that always makes me feel good when I get those types of emails. I think I’m doing it right then.
Josh: I’ll just dive in from a historical perspective, which is I always wrote those stories, but they were for myself because I did not see or think there was a market for them. So they were for my own, private, working things out. And then I started out in mainstream, but I was of course reading gay fiction and I still didn’t really think there was a place for me because when I spoke to my agent, she said there was no place. That there was no money in it and that it was kind of not really where we wanted to go with it.
But then I went off on my own and submitted to the Gay Men’s Press in England. And from there I connected with some of these listserves, that really don’t exist anymore, and so I found that there were readers for it. And that, no, there was no money in it, but that wasn’t really why I wanted to write it anyway. And so I connected with Loose Id. I connected with MLR Press, and actually Laura Baumbach was the one who really got me thinking in terms of, well, maybe there is more of a forum than you realize. And maybe there is more of a platform than you realize for this.
And so I began to write it, but coming at it from the perspective of someone who was basically building her career in mainstream. And so I brought, I think, a mainstream sensibility to what had largely come from fan fiction as far as Loose Id and a lot of those early indie presses and found that there really was an audience for it. A much, much more enthusiastic and engaged audience than I would ever believed.
And that was very appealing to connect with these readers who really got it and who were… And it was not at all about the money at that point. It was finding an audience and being able to finally share these stories was just an amazing thing. And for that, I will always be really grateful to those little crazy indie presses that are mostly gone now. Those little tiny ones that gave a voice and a venue for these stories that there really was not. I mean, before I found Gay Men’s Press, I had tried Stonewall. I had tried all the traditional American teeny, tiny, niche presses out there, and there just wasn’t… they just weren’t biting. And then I went overseas and actually did find a publisher for it. So, that’s the historical perspective.
Greg: And thank goodness you did. I mean, that’s awesome. That’s amazing.
Josh: Thank you.
Layla: Now, and I think when I entered the picture, a lot of that was because of Josh. One as a reader, but two having gone to the same publisher where they had made this commitment to LGBTQ romance and more representation. And it was just great. Because I came from the world of fan fiction, right? And so that was where it was.
Josh: Yes, that is where it was.
Layla: Yeah, to take those stories and then actually see them published and out there. And I think what’s been great in the genre is we’ve seen even more growth. What was largely, I would say, m/m romance to start, sapphic romance is getting more and more popular. You’re seeing queer m/f, which deserves representation as well and you’re seeing all sorts of different sort of queer rep and you’re seeing it across ages now too, right? Stories with younger characters, stories with older characters. And that’s just great because everyone can see themselves on the page. And that’s why I love writing it.
Greg: I’ll just jump in and say, growing up, in a very conservative household, I was not comfortable with who I was and writing became a way for me to begin coming out at a much older age than I think most people do. Certainly than people do today. And it makes me… I see the gray in my beard, and it makes me think of Felice talking about these older gentlemen emailing her.
Felice: Oh, they’re much older than you.
Josh: Yeah. I think you’re okay. You’re still a kid.
Greg: That’s right. Yeah. I’ll take it. I’ll take it.
But I mean, as several have mentioned, there’s a dearth of these stories and whether it’s because of your access to them, which was part of the case for me when I was growing up, there wasn’t anything like Kindle, right, and self-publishing, indie publishing. There wasn’t anything being published by mainstream presses, unless you count like “The Nightrunner” series by Lynn Flewelling, you know what I mean? I mean, like there was just so little. And so, it was really a case of write what you want to see, but also writing myself to a place where I knew what I wanted to see. So anyway, I think that’s kind of in line with the question you asked, right? We’re kind of talking about, but yeah, that was kind of my experience.
Jeff: It’s interesting hearing all of you talk because for me, like I started as a reader of the genre and I had been reading serious gay lit for a while. They were serious books that were not romance at all. They often were sadder, but not always.
And then I got around 2008, 2009, I discovered the genre, mostly because of my husband, who was a voracious reader in general of romance because you gotta love the HEA aspect, right? The happily ever after. And it really opened up a world. And then when I started writing it, I wanted, for the most part, to write the world I wanted to see.
So it’s very rare in my books for any of my characters to struggle with being out or being queer or whatever that is because there’s enough struggle in the world and at least what I want to write. And there’s certainly a reason to have those books so that people who are coming out see themselves, but I just wanted a no-angst world in terms of that. There can be plenty of other things going wrong in their life, and in what’s happening, but it’s not the fact that they’re queer.
Felice: But I’ve noticed that there’s a change, there’s been a change, in that type of writing since I first started because in 2013 and 2014 when I was writing, that was the main focus of most gay romance was the struggle of coming out, the parental acknowledgement or disapproval, And that was most of the books that I was reading. And then what I like, and what I love seeing now, is how it’s branched out, like you said. And now we get people living their everyday lives, because they can. They’re married. They’re not married. They’re divorced. It’s wonderful to see. You don’t just have to have these negative stories sometimes.
Jeff: Yeah, I absolutely love that about the genre too and how it’s grown in the… I can’t believe how long it’s been that I’ve been reading it because it’s just a sign of how old I am too.
Josh: You’re still a young whippersnapper.
Jeff: I’m curious what you like to weave into your stories aside the romance, because for most of you here the romance ties into a mystery, a thriller, a something else. What do you like to bring in to make your character’s lives oh, so difficult?
Josh: Well, first and foremost, I am a mystery writer. So the romance is like the icing on the cake, but the mystery is the framework because there is what greater test of your character, but also your potential for being together as a couple than having to solve a mystery or save your life or you know that kind of stress that it puts on a relationship is I think one of the most interesting things.
But I really did come from a mystery writing background. That was always, with the exception of that first Harlequin, but I could never repeat because there were just no dead bodies. I just needed more murder. But I have to have that mystery framework, that suspense, that running for your life, that tension is what I rely on to give the story some punch. Romance on its own has never quite been enough for me, which probably says something about my own marriage. A lot of stress in my life, that’s all.
Greg: That was fantastic. Yeah, I loved it. Yeah. I think I’m in a similar boat. I tend to think of myself and introduce myself as a mystery writer. But I do have a lot of romance heavy subplots and relationship heavy subplots. I think in terms of how I approach a story idea and how I structure it, it’s really more about the mystery that’s driving that there.
I think part of it is I also just don’t read a lot of pure romance. I always say straight romance, and I’m like, I don’t read any straight romance. But, I don’t read a ton of pure romance, and so that’s probably part of why I don’t write it either, so.
Layla: I mean, I’ll blame Mulder and Scully and Mulder and Krycek for where I fall generally of being kind of the romantic suspense. Some of them are more mystery oriented and some are more suspense oriented. And also let’s take any, Chris Nolan movie where they drop you right into action in the first scene. It’s my favorite thing in the world, right? Those opening scenes, those opening attention getters, and I start at 60 miles an hour and go. I love that suspense, thriller, tight, fast pace.
And using that as, like Josh said, as kind of the conflict that the characters have to get through and grow through, not necessarily against each other. Though again, enemies-to-lovers is my favorite and I’m going to blame Mulder and Krycek for that, right? But I love putting that kind of a twist in with the romance and trying to do the balance.
Felice: So I’m the odd one out because I am not the mystery writer, although I do have a mystery series.
Josh: Yes, you have written very good mysteries.
Felice: Yeah, but that was like sort of an homage to my father, who was a huge mystery detective fan and turned me on to the genre. And so I wanted to see if I could do it.
But I’ve written paranormal. But I love the romance. I like the found family. I like a real family, like surrounding the couple and I always bring Judaism into it because that’s who I am. So I always like to have a representation because I never got to see really those types of books when I was growing up. So I always I like to bring them in. Not all my books, but a lot of my books have either two Jewish characters, one Jewish character, or something. And it’s New York so, hey, gotta have a bagel in there somewhere.
Josh: Well, I mean, I love romance and you do it really well. It’s just I’m not that competent. I have to have a really rich plot or there’s just enough story.
Felice: It’s so different when you write a mystery, because I’m not a plotter, and mysteries require some type of plotting.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
Felice: And that’s not me. So, it was a stretch for me when I was doing that series. Number one, to do it over the same couple over a number of books, which I don’t normally do.
Josh: Yeah, that was good. You did a great job with that.
Felice: Thank you. Thank you. And, so, it’s…
Greg: I read those before I knew they were Felice’s. I think I read… were there two out before you told people that it was you?
Felice: Yeah, there were two out. I really didn’t tell anybody except Josh. It was very funny.
Greg: That was so fun to find that out. I was like ah!
Layla: Yeah, same.
Josh: No, you did a great job.
Felice: Thank you, but I just love… I love romance. II’m a romantic. I like to always find the romance in something and the happiness in something. We have enough negativity in the world. It’s just nice to be able to, even if there’s a dead body, to have a nice romance in the end.
Josh: Nothing’s more romantic, really. Nothing’s more romantic than saying I love you over a dead body.
Layla: That was me with all the… with the “X-Files,” with “Castle.” I’m that person going, just kiss! Right? It’s come on! Nine seasons?
Josh: Just do it! You know you want to.
Felice: Come on already!
Felice: Well, slow burn is great. It’s a great thing to write.
Jeff: Slow burn is interesting, and I’m kind of glad you brought that up, because I know for Greg and Layla, and Josh, I’m not sure if you’ve done this too, you stretch your romances out. I think Greg wrote six books of “Hazard and Somerset” before that really clicked in to being they are a couple now, and…
Josh: He’s a sadist.
Layla: Okay, Miss “Adrien English.” Okay.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah. That was different, though. They did it. They just couldn’t stay together.
Jeff: What makes a good slow burn for each of you? Cause you’ve all done it to one degree or another, whether it’s slow burn within a singular book or really stretching it out over four or five, six books.
Beth just said in the comments that slow burn is personified by Hazard and Somerset. I could not agree more. How do you make slow burn work to keep not only the characters interested, but your readers kind of moving along as well.
Josh: Greg, you have to take that.
Greg: I guess I’ll at least jump in and say something. I mean… so Hazard and Somerset, yeah, they don’t… there’s nothing for a number of books. And in other series, there is sex before the relationship, or there’s sex and a relationship, but then it falls apart. So, I guess I feel like there are a lot of ways to go around building that slow burn, whether or not they have physical intimacy in that sense.
But one of the things that kind of drives a slow burn for me is the question of what’s at stake for the two characters in kind of consummating that relationship as a relationship. So for Hazard and Somerset, it’s their past, right? All this unresolved pain between the two of them.
In other series it’s trust, right? Like having trust shattered early on. And so then what’s at stake for them in the rest of the series is, “Am I stupid to trust someone again.” I guess that’s kind of at least a starting place to think about a slow burn. Also I mean, whether or not people have sex on the first date or on a 15th date or whatever, like all relationships are really about building things over time. And I think the more that we map that out for readers in ways that feel authentic to us, the better they respond to it is my feeling.
Layla: Yeah, I would say trust is, for me, that’s what they’re building. Again, like Greg said, whether they are together in the first book or not till the end, or how that rolls through, that it is a matter of them building trust. And every obstacle that they face, and that is another trust building exercise, so to speak.
This case, that case, this family issue, what not. Do we tell our friends because they don’t know we’re together, but we’re all in the same friend group, right? All of that is building trust and how do you work through that as a couple? Or just how do you work your way to a couple?
Felice: A lot of times when I’ve written slow burns, it’s between people who have… it’s like a second chance. And for me, the second chance was they’ve been married before. They’ve lost their spouse or their loved one and they’re ready to take that chance again, but it’s how ready are they. Like, they’re ready in their mind, but are they really ready to actually physically go ahead with it?
And so it’s sort of that dance of one step forward, two steps back. And, like you said, you’re building the trust, but you’re also building the trust within yourself and you’re trying to learn to love again. It’s hard. It’s a hard thing. So that’s usually where I go for with my slow burns.
Josh: And sometimes you want different things, or you think you want different things. I mean, that would be the Jake and Adrien situation, where you have one character who has a certain set of priorities and needs, and the other character who hasn’t even necessarily worked out exactly what he wants beyond these intense feelings for this other person who is largely unattainable to him.
And, sometimes you’re working for that in real life to. We all come into relationships with a different set of goals and expectations and ideas of what we’re going to want. And then making a relationship work is essentially a series of compromises because that is what it takes to live with someone for any length of time is that you are going to have to learn to accept things that maybe early on you thought you wouldn’t accept, or maybe adjust some of your goals to accommodate this other person’s goals.
And that’s really, I think, what almost all of my relationship stories are about. Every relationship is, aside from not getting killed and solving a murder, is learning to accommodate what you think you want, or what you do want with this sudden unexpected love for a person who comes into your life and has a whole different set of goals and needs and making that work and how you do that.
That is where I bring my own life experience into it, which is, how in the world do two different people who love each other but are not very much alike make this work for what you hope is going to be a happily ever after, as Jeff said.
Jeff: I’m curious for each of you, like, how you create the characters that you’re looking for. I think it was Felice said that, you know, trying to create the two most opposite people possible in that one book. How do you approach your characters in general so you’ve got these one or two interesting characters to hang a book on? Give everybody kind of an idea of what your secret sauce might be around that.
Felice: For me, it’s… it… I don’t even know. They just pop into my head. Like I could have a list of characters that I want to write and themes, books that I want to write. And then, like, it’s been for the past, I don’t know, six months or a year, like something just pops into my head and it’s “Oh, I’m going to write that.” And, like my train story, they’re very opposite. I have an older, stuffy, grouchy, hospital executive who meets this younger, and he’s rich, and he meets this younger salesman at Macy’s, on the train who keeps getting in his space and in his face and, kind of upends his world. Or I have the rock star and the public school teacher. So it’s just, I don’t know. They just pop into your head. You make it work, I guess.
Layla: Mine have varied how it’s come along. I would say that was a similar case with Aidan and Jamie. That it was just, they kind of arrived fairly fully formed. But the latest case was… I had Marsh appearing as a side character.
A lot of times I have the side characters and they’re really loud. And it’s well, now you have to have a book. And sometimes they’re really loud with other characters that you don’t plan. That was Nick and Cam. I didn’t see that coming. But in this case… With Marsh, he showed up in “Silent Night,” and then he shows up in “What We May Be” as another secondary, and his story started to come together. And it was, he fell in love with emotionally unavailable men.
So, I had two instances of that, and so his love interest has got to be that. That overcome, right? And so, here comes Levi, who is… single father who lost his wife, and then they’re forced into a marriage of convenience, basically. And so, again, it’s setting up that opposite, and so that they have the tension to work through that. The thing that’s got to test them, basically, one way or another. But that one I crafted. They don’t all come. There’s sometimes they’re not as crafty.
Greg: Yeah, I’m trying to put it into words. Because I think sometimes it is like Felice and Layla described. I mean, sometimes you’re just lucky and your subconscious shows up and gives you this great gift and they’re ready to go. And other times, for me at least, it’s a process of kind of walking around a character, trying to…
Josh: Yeah, discovery, yeah.
Greg: …and the part of that is almost like finding the other thing that’s going to fit with them, right? The other person that’s going to fit with them.
And it’s not always, I mean, I think the more that we can… the more that we step back from the easiest answer of what fits there, and the like most obvious answer, the more interesting and fun it can be. That also means a lot of exploring and discovery, unless your brain shows up and gives you like this great gift.
So, I mean, it just, it’s just kind of like a… it just kind of depends project to project. Yeah, I wish I had a good, solid answer. I certainly have a process I go through if it’s… if the brain doesn’t show up. But if I’m lucky, then I don’t have to go through all of that.
Layla: And it doesn’t necessarily go the way you plan. I’m working on a sapphic romance right now, where I had intended it to be rivals, enemies to lovers. So, I’m like… This is a 48 and a 58 year old woman, like they’re not going to be children about this, right? They’re two professional people and they’re gonna work it out. Which then gave it a different spin that I like a lot better anyways.
Josh: I think sometimes the plot dictates what the characters… if I have a very strong idea of what the plot is that I want to tell the particular type of mystery, then the characters will sometimes… I’ll adjust the characters to what I need for this particular plot. Sometimes the characters come first, and in that case it’s okay, what trouble would… Usually one character will be very crucial, very key in my mind, what will…
Like “Murder Takes the High Road,” I had the idea of this guy who has been dumped. I’d already signed on for this Scottish tour and what would be the person who he might run into that would make sense with the plot I had in mind. And for him where he was in his life, having been completely betrayed and just let down in every possible way, but he’s off on this new adventure.
He’s starting this new, exciting thing in his life. What kind of person should he meet and what would be the potential for that relationship? So it does vary depending on if I have a strong idea of the characters or if I have a strong idea. I think series, it usually starts with the characters, and standalones, it often starts with the plot. So that’s probably the difference in how I work with those particular stories.
Jeff: It’s a great segue to the question that had been started to roll around in my mind. And you’ve just answered it, what tends to come first for you, characters or plot. Or in Josh’s case, it’s kind of the plot if it’s a series, but if it’s a standalone, characters. How does it work for each of you?
Josh: I know I’d like to do more standalones, so that’s one thing that is key in my mind is, I need to do more standalones. But once a character really grabs you, it’s hard not to turn that into a series. And so how do you, I mean, this is my question, how do you start out with… you have a great idea for a standalone, but people really love it? Or you realize that you’re falling in love and you realize that, oh, you’re turning this into a series when you never intended to have a series, kind of a thing? It’s just sometimes it surprises you what happens with these characters who you create sometimes. They end up being more real than you expected. Or, they’re more real to readers than you expected.
Felice: I hate leaving characters behind. I hated it when I was a pure reader. I was one of those readers that would fall for the character and then it would be like, well, why aren’t they showing up again? What happened to them? And I wanna know more. And I even once wrote some authors, I’m like, whatever happened. They must have thought I was out of my mind.
But what I do, because I’ve mostly written standalones for the past two years, is I pop my old characters into their world and it gives me the chance to enjoy bringing back an old character and saying “Oh, what happened to so and so?” Here he is. Let’s find out what’s going on in your life, and dropping a little tidbit. And the readers enjoy it, so they tell me. But yet I don’t have to keep going on and on with the same two characters, my two main characters. So I’ll just pop in a little cameo from this one or that one in my different stories.
Josh: Readers love that, yeah.
Felice: Oh yeah, they love it. And like I said, I love it because I’m like, oh, let me see what so and so’s doing now, like, how does he fit here? And, it works.
Layla: I kind of had the opposite happen to me once where it was a series and then I was… it was supposed to be a series and I was halfway into the book, I was like, no, they’re going to get there happily ever after, right? No, that’s it, right? I think it was older characters. And that just seems to be, again, they’re not going to beat around the bush. They got it. But it’s not to say down the road that, when I want to write an established couple story, that they may not make a reappearance, right? And that’s fun to play with, too. But I agree weaving the other characters in every now and then is fun.
Josh: Readers love it. I mean, I’ve made the mistake, I’ll just confess, of going ahead and writing a sequel to a book I shouldn’t have written a sequel to. But I’ve done it more than once, as I’ve allowed myself to give in to reader pressure. I don’t do it anymore. But it’s very hard, when readers are begging for more and they feel like there’s more you could say, to go against your own instinct. You have a standalone in mind, and if you’ve done your job right, of course readers are going to want more. Hopefully, that’s the truth of every book. But to go against what you have already worked out and know in your heart is a mistake.
And I mean, I’ll just say I’ve made that mistake more than once. And I won’t make it again from now on. I stick to that, this is a standalone. That’s it. This is, yes, I could always tell you more about these characters, but is there really enough there to justify more books? Probably not. If you’ve done your job correctly, probably not. Maybe that was a little too adamant. Feel free to write sequels, I’m not saying that.
Greg: No, I mean, I think like everyone, I have a hard time letting characters go. I mean, thinking about Jeff’s question about what comes first, the character or the plot. I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual plot come first. Sometimes I might have like a, what would you call it? Like a concept, right? Like I had this… certain type of story that I was like and enough elements came to me that I felt the charge of it, you know? I felt like the potential of it and I was excited about it. The characters on the other hand, I think, when those come, like that’s a much clearer sign that’s a project that I can dive into.
I see in our comments, Lisa asked about characters surprising us. And I think I would imagine we’re all going to say yes, but I’ll tell you mine while I’m thinking about it. This is a minor spoiler for “Pretty Pretty Boys,” which is the first “Hazard and Somerset” book. But when I wrote that book, not only was it going to be a standalone, when here we are 18 or 19 books later. But not only was it going to be a standalone, but John Henry Somerset was the killer. He was the bad guy. And so, like, when I came to the end of it, I was like, well, that didn’t, go the way I expect it to.
Josh: That’s that!
Greg: Yeah, so I guess we’re going to go back and do a lot of revision. That was kind of my answer to that. But yeah, I find in any writing I’ve done, I’ve always been a bit frustrated that what I outline doesn’t actually turn into what I produce. Parts of it do, and I’m happy that something came out of my organized brain. But a lot of it doesn’t. And I really tried to embrace that more recently as productive, right? That those moments of, I don’t know, instability or shift or just chaos, whatever you want to call it, can be good things that come out of the writing process. And trusting another part of your brain to do some work that the front part wants to do all of it.
Jeff: Let’s dive in on Lisa’s question a little bit about characters who have completely thrown you for a loop and who do not end up being anything like you thought the person that you were actually crafting. I don’t know that anybody’s going to beat Greg’s story about going from killer to ongoing, continuing character in the series. But, who’s got other, examples for that?
Layla: I think what’s been real interesting for me is I got reversion on my first series. So I’m going back through and editing “Agents Irish and Whiskey.” Cam is not the same person. In that first book, he’s kind of grumpy. And like he’s known for being like this rule following kind of hard you-know-what and it’s whoa that didn’t go that way.
And then I think that the one I love the most is Nick for my stuff because he started out as a romantic foil. But not the bad guy, like Aidan was the bad guy in that situation, right? He didn’t tell the parties what was going on, and everyone hated him, right? Because he was seen in between them, and then I turned it around and he’s my favorite of all my characters, everyone knows that, right? And he just… He now, as I’m editing, I’m like, he somehow is the grumpy comic relief through this whole series, like when you go back and read it, right? And then he’s the one who pops up a lot. And so he completely surprised me, because he was not supposed to be someone who continues to live on in all of this stuff. And he’s my favorite.
Greg: That’s so cool.
Jeff: Are you rewriting Nick at this point? I mean, did you only see that in the revisions? Or did you see it as you were continuing to write those books?
Layla: No, I only saw it in the revisions. Cause I think he lightened up as, even as “Irish and Whiskey” went along. And you got a little bit more of the backstory, but I did not realize in “Single Malt” kind of how, at least at the beginning, cause Aidan thinks he’s, you know, just rules, doesn’t really like working with him. Versus being more intentional about it now that I wrote a character in his last book, Sutton, who similarly has that reputation, but you already see him starting to lighten up. But yeah, as I was reading that, I was like, whoa, that’s not Cam.
Felice: I think when I wrote “A Walk Through Fire,” I mean, Ash is a character, he was supposed to be one of these, tough, unhappy, alpha holes, you know, that type of guy. But he really wasn’t supposed to have such a heavy background and I still remember writing a scene… He’s a cutter and I did not start out the book at all with him having that type of trauma.
And I just remember writing the scene and saying to myself, what did I just write? Like, this was not supposed to happen. And that book… I have had people come up to me and just say they recognize people who they know, in Ash from what he went through… the trauma he went through.
It wrecked me for a little while because it was a total surprise. And like I said, I don’t plot. So, I’m just sitting there, going, running away and I’m sitting there and it just unfolded in front of my eyes. And it was like, oh my God. I sent it to one of my beta readers at that time and she was like, “This is not what I expected, but it really is… it’s who he is.” And, from there, the book just took off in a totally different turn.
Josh: I don’t know if I have exactly… the “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” series, I think it does get down to the characters, but I really thought it would be lighter and funnier than it is. And the characters are a little more serious. And in particular, the John character is a little… like readers really hate him in that first book.
And I mean, you have to have that though, to have any kind of a growth arc, but readers often understand that. And so they kind of, the tendency is they want him to start as the nice guy, but there’s really no story there. So he starts as kind of a complete bastard, really. But the Cosmo character is also very flawed. And so it was not quite as funny or light hearted. It is funny, but it’s not as light hearted and playful as I thought it was going to be. And I think that does get down to the fact that their characters went a little bit darker than I had anticipated. It’s funny how once that starts, it’s hard to stop.
I mean, I would keep trying to rein them in, pull them back, but it just wasn’t happening. I mean, it’s kind of that organic process that once that begins to happen, everything that happens from there sort of makes sense. And so if you try to interfere with it, you’re going to mess up the flow of the story, but it was turning into a story that I hadn’t actually… and I was really picturing sort of a goofy, “Bewitched” sort of meets “McMillan and Wife” kind of fun thing. I mean, there’s maybe a little of that, but it did go a little bit darker than I had anticipated, and that did get down to the characters. And, it’s one of those weird things, like, how? Why? Why? I’m in control, but I’m apparently not.
Jeff: I think we’ve gotten people’s interest around these characters and who are doing these things because now Wendy’s come in with “Has a character surprised you enough where you’ve actually had to step away from the book for a moment to figure out how you were going to deal with what they’ve surprised you with?” Anybody have that happening?
Josh: If only we had that luxury. Ha. It’s called deadlines.
Felice: I did with the Ash character because I wanted… I had to step away from him because it was such a trauma that I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t making light of it and that I really understood what he was going through because that book revolves around foster brothers. And I have a friend who was very into the foster care system. So I knew a lot of stories about foster kids in the system and it’s a very common thing that happens.
So I needed to take a step back since the book went off the rails that way and make sure that I was handling it correctly and not making… not just skimming the surface or not making light of it. But, really making sure that I did it justice to the character and to the people.
Layla: It happened for me for my first book. Not “Single Malt.” It was what I wrote beforehand and we pitched it. It always felt like it was missing something. And it was not the right, quite formulation. It was a love triangle, originally. And I sat on it, I noodled on it. All the characters were in love. That was always the problem. It was not a love triangle. It was a poly, right? And I needed to have learned more, read more, experienced more to be able to write that.
And so come back around, that was 2015, 2014 when I wrote that. And in 2021, I published “What We May Be,” which is the book. And that’s what it always should have been, right? And so yeah, it took that long to get there for the characters and for me as an author. But I’m really happy with where it got.
Greg: Yeah, I would say I know I’ve had moments in books where characters have done things that I didn’t plan for and didn’t know what to do with and I had to like rethink. But the clearest one I can think of recently is at the end of the second “Holloway Holmes” book, I had written two totally different endings because I didn’t know. I had outlined, I shouldn’t say I wrote, I outlined two totally different endings because I just kept going back and forth on what was going to happen.
And I swear to you, it’s the only time that I have not known what was really going to happen in that book until I wrote it, like down to the minute of putting those words on the page. And it was not what I expected, and I had to, kind of like Wendy asked, I had to say “Okay, so now how what am I going to do because I have to write a whole other book after this?” There’s a third book waiting to be written.
So, I mean, the answer is yes, but that’s the only good, concrete moment I can think of for right now to talk about. And I can’t even tell you the specifics because it’s like the end of book two. I can’t even tell you the end.
Jeff: I envisioned a short story that’s like the alternate ending, like the DVD extra.
Greg: Oh, that’d be fun. Yeah, that’d be fun.
Layla: There are three endings to “King Slayer” that I wrote.
Greg: Oh, really?
Layla: It’s so painful, I’m like, oh no. Oh no.
Jeff: So Lisa ended up with a follow up question because Layla admitted that Aidan was her favorite character. She’s curious if the rest of you have favorite characters.
Felice: I have favorite characters, but I don’t think there’s one of all the books that I’ve probably just written too many books at this point. But, I have and they’re usually the same type, I have this guy Ross from “Running from My Heart” who I love, like I want him to be my best friend and just hang out with me and go for coffee. And then I have Malcolm, who’s just snarky and fun and it’s just… I have different favorite characters for different reasons, I guess. But I don’t think I just have one of all.
Layla: Both Nick and Mel, they are the same, like they are the two most competent people in the entire Whiskeyverse. They’re my favorites.
Josh: I mean, I definitely love Adrien English and I mean, it was my first series. And so. I still identify really strongly with the characters and I still think in Adrien’s or Adrien thinks in my voice, I guess. But I really love Jason and Sam from the “Art of Murder” series. So I would say that is probably my current favorite, although I am really fond of Ellery and Jack from “Secrets and Scrabble” for completely different reasons.
Because Sam and Jason, it’s so intense and occasionally tortured, and with Ellery and Jack, it’s so relaxed, and they fit so well, and they’re learning, they teach each other and they learn and it’s a really easy organic process. And, look, Jason and Sam it’s such a hard. It’s so hard for both of them. But they have managed to come as far as they have. So I would say that of all my couples Those are probably kind of my favorites. I don’t know, it is like trying to pick your favorite kid.
Greg: Yeah, I guess, I mean there are certainly some that I connect with maybe more, or like that I feel are more in tune with the things that I worry about, or with my personality. So like Emery Hazard is one of those, and I mean I’ve just spent so much time writing him at this point that it’s hard to have any sort of detachment where it comes to that.
But I also, I mean, I have these other mystery books set in Utah called “The Lamb and the Lion.” That’s the series. And there’s a wildlife veterinarian. I know nothing about wildlife or being a veterinarian, but I really… his kind of emotional intellectual preoccupations are really ones that I’ve struggled with. And so I feel like he’s probably another favorite. Those two are the ones I always think of when people ask that.
Jeff: I want to get Dolorianne’s two questions. Do you remember your very first character you created, not necessarily published, but created, as your first attempt as a writer? What can you tell us about that? Everybody’s going to think now for a second.
Greg: I saw it, so I have an answer, so I’ll jump. So, it’s very easy because it was 7th grade. I was in 7th grade, and it was magic school, and it was just me and my friends with slightly different names. I mean, it was… The teachers were our teachers. It was a great creative work. It was really… but it was fun.
Felice: Yeah. I think I was in fifth grade or sixth grade. It was these two girls, Rima and Charity. And they were explorers. That’s all I remember. Out in the jungle. And I would write stories about them and it was like fantasy and, they became mermaids when they would go to the ocean. And it was very interesting.
Josh: I did a lot of prototypes of Adrien English, but I think Adrien English was the first fully formed character that had any kind of depth or nuance, and I think I had been writing versions of him for years. And then it finally solidified into that particular character. But I don’t think there were really any, not that I can remember, any real defined characters before that.
Layla: Yeah, I think when I was writing fan fiction, I was mostly writing in canon, so those were characters that were already there. I do remember, not shockingly, writing a bartender in an alt AU, I think that was “Vampire Diaries” fan fiction.
But as far as character, Charlie was probably, from “What We May Be,” the first fully formed. And I remember when I wrote her originally, and again, this was back, pitching in 2015, we got a lot of she’s an unlikable heroine, right? She was too strong, too in charge, all of those things, which I then morphed into Mel. Until I got back around to writing Charlie again.
Jeff: And the other question we got, and Josh, I’ll just give you the heads up, I’m coming to you first for this one. You’re all veteran writers at this point is there anything you wish you would have known before publishing your very first book in this genre or any genre?
Josh: No. I mean, I came into really low expectations, so I never expected to earn a living at it. I didn’t expect to ever quit my day job. I didn’t realize how much work it would be once, I mean, we’re literally talking 30 years ago. It was a completely different world. I typed my first manuscript. I was typing manuscripts at age 16 on my dad’s manual typewriter. That’s how long I’ve been at it. So I basically knew nothing and had crazy ideas of how it would all work. And once I did know enough, I knew enough to know that it would be very unlikely that I would be earning a living at it.
And so it is and I was just writing from the heart, I was just writing, I’m so terrible, but I was so enthusiastic. And I was just, manuscript after manuscript. and getting very kind letters back from people who didn’t realize I was 16. Really honestly, no idea. And so it’s astonishing to find myself here having been earning a decent living for the last 20 years at writing.
And finding everything the hard way because honestly, everything I learned was from “Writer’s Market.” I don’t know if you guys remember that book, “Writer’s Market,” where we found all the publishers, we looked up manually. And I mean, it was just, it was such a different world. I went into it knowing very little. And while I know more, I’m constantly out of date because it all moves so fast.
Felice: I think what I did not know is how hard it is to write a good book.
Felice: One of my favorite historical romance authors said, “Writing is easy, but good writing is very hard.” And It’s true. And, it’s very hard and it’s very solitary and it can be very lonely and it can mess with your head if you let it. But, I think it, by this point, I’m sort of set in my way of knowing what I have to do and just doing it. I don’t let the outside voices get to me and you just have to find your place and find your people and make your way that way.
Layla: There’s not one way of doing things. There’s not one way of telling a story. There’s not one way of writing queer romance, even, right? And I feel like, had I listened to that advice a long time ago, I would have been writing, quote, romances, like “Bridges of Madison County,” which, not a romance. I’m like, I don’t ever want my story to end like that, right?
And then, two, within the last few years, broadening what I… writing what makes you happy and not sticking to the one way because that’s what you’re supposed to do kept me writing, right? And being happy and following the gut, so to speak. So yeah, there’s not one way. There’s your way and your way is what will make you happy doing it and putting books out there that folks when they read they know you’re happy doing it.
Greg: All right, so I think kind of maybe one of the things I wish I had known is if you like it there’s at least one other person out there who likes it, right? I mean, you might be writing for a very small audience but if you like it you are not alone. And if you work at it, and you put it out there, you will find other people who like the same kinds of things.
That’s the beauty of self-publishing, or indie publishing, or whatever you want to call it. It’s these niche communities that form around the most unlikely things. And so that’s really empowering. And the other thing I’ll say is… And maybe I’m saying it because I wish I knew it now in a way that I could fully internalize. I know it at an intellectual level, but it’s hard to internalize this. I really do believe that, publishing your stories and getting them in the hands of readers, and if you’re lucky and you work hard, making a living, all of that is amazing and it’s awesome. And I think it’s what everybody who goes into writing as a professional wants.
But to kind of paraphrase, Anne Lamott, George Saunders and Natalie Goldberg and whoever else we can put on that list. Like the idea is that all of that’s nice, but what’s really great is writing and that writing can teach you about your own mind and writing can put you in touch with parts of yourself that you don’t have even words for. It can help you answer questions you don’t even know how to verbalize. And so that yes, go for it. Learn how to buy great covers and be on brand and write sales copy and all the things that you need to know to be professional. But the thing that you’re giving yourself is the experience of having written something, of writing it.
And so that’s really hard for anybody who’s had some success. I think at least for me, it’s hard to remember sometimes because the pressure is on to make the next book really good and to make the next book saleable and all those things. But writing can give us a lot more than that.
Josh: Well, we write for ourselves, but we publish for others, and those are actually two really different things.
Greg: Yeah. That’s a great way to put it.
Josh: You have to be happy with what you’ve written, and that is the most important thing. It’s yeah… the money’s great, and the, hearing from people who are loving the books, that’s all wonderful. But, if you’re not happy with it, it might as well be data entry.
Jeff: So as we wrap up I want you to let people know, besides finding your books at NOOK and at Barnes and Noble, what is the best way to find you online so they can keep up with everything that you’re doing, what’s coming next and all that good stuff. And Greg, I’ll start that off with you.
Greg: Yeah, just an easy good place to start is. It’s www.gregoryashe.com.
Jeff: Excellent. Layla?
Layla: Yep. I am at www.laylareyne.com and that’s @laylareyne on all socials too.
Jeff: Excellent. Felice?
Felice: I’m gonna go with the flow. It’s www.felicestevens.com.
Jeff: And Josh?
Josh: www.joshlanyon.com. And yeah, it has all my social right there.
Jeff: Greg, Josh, Felice, Layla, thank you for being here. Thanks to everybody who has hung out with us and watched.
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 Big Gay Fiction Podcast. We’ve got links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks so much to Gregory, Josh, Felice, and Layla. And an extra thank you to Layla. It was her who recommended me to moderate the panel and I had such a good time with it. And of course, thanks to the Barnes Noble Nook Live team for letting us bring this discussion to you.
It was so fun hearing them talk about their characters and the different processes for writing. It was just like the best panel discussion you could imagine happening at a GRL or something when everybody kind of gets together and just talks off the cuff about stuff. I loved it so much.
And a quick note for those of you who might have been watching the video, C. S. Poe makes a quick appearance during the introductions. Unfortunately, C. S. had some serious internet issues and couldn’t join in for more than that quick appearance of like, Oh, I’m here and then she’s gone. Hopefully she’ll be able to take advantage of another Nook Live sometime in the future.
Will: Alright, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next on Monday, September 25th, Gregory Ashe is going to be back and we’re going to be talking about his epic series crossover event.
Jeff: September is turning out to be Gregory Ashe month here on the podcast. With that “Iron on Iron” crossover, we had to have him back to talk more about how he put this particular event together, including his first ever go at a Kickstarter.
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 frolic.media/podcasts. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.