Jeff & Will welcome Steven Salvatore to discuss his new book The Boyfriend Subscription, which is a queer retelling of Pretty Woman. Steven talks about the inspirations he took from the Julia Roberts film, why he’s started writing adult romance after several young adult titles, plus we get some hints about what’s coming in the sequel. Steven also shares some reading recommendations to add to your TBR.

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Show Notes

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Jeff: Coming up on this episode, Steven Salvatore is here to tell us all about “The Boyfriend Subscription.”

Will: Welcome to episode 450 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, is my co-host and husband, Jeff.

Jeff: Hello, rainbow Romance Reader. Welcome to another episode of the show. I can’t believe you just said 450. That’s pretty amazing. We’ve been doing this for a while.

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

Book Review: The Boyfriend Subscription by Steven Salvatore

Will: Before we get to our conversation with Steven, I think you should tell us what you thought about “The Boyfriend Subscription.”

Jeff: Yes. As you might imagine, having loved Steven’s YA books, I was head over heels for his first adult romance. “The Boyfriend Subscription” is a wonderful fake dating, opposites attract romance, that, as you’ll hear Steven talk about in a few minutes, is a retelling, of a sort, of “Pretty Woman.”

Cole is a successful entrepreneur behind the VERSTL app, which allows sex workers and consumers to form connections. He’s working to take the app mainstream and he’s wooing investors. Teddy, on the other hand, is reeling from a divorce and losing his business. He’s on the verge of packing up and leaving New York for good.

But in a chance meeting at Teddy’s favorite dive bar, Cole and Teddy meet. And before the night’s over, Teddy’s agreed to spend a week as Cole’s fake date. Teddy can help Cole project a more traditional image as he entertains some investors. Plus, if Cole brings a date to his sister’s wedding, his parents will not pester him about not having someone in his life.

Of course, fake dating never works out like it’s supposed to. Cole has rules. No kissing, and no falling in love, and those go out the window faster than Cole would’ve liked. Teddy too was just in this to make enough money to recover from bankruptcy and maybe not have to move after all. With the feels come all sorts of extra scrutiny as people in Cole’s organization try to figure out exactly who Teddy is and what’s in his background, including how bad his ex screwed him over, because they’re convinced that Teddy is just in this to take Cole for even more money. Teddy’s best friend, on the other hand, is also wondering what Cole’s real motives are. It gets deliciously messy at the sister’s wedding, as so many of these things kind of come to bear all of a sudden on the couple.

This is a super fun, super sexy book that is full of tropey goodness with a great dose of “Pretty Woman” fun. I read an advanced copy of this not too long after I happened to revisit “Pretty Woman” by seeing the Broadway musical on its recent tour, and so it was so fun seeing how Steven made so many elements of the film work in this story.

Steven also gives us some great supporting characters with Cole’s sister Mallory, who is very happy to tell her brother that he needs to focus a little less on work and finding himself a partner in life. Teddy’s friend Kit is also no nonsense about protecting her bestie, but she’s also always down for a good time.

I hope you’ll add this wonderful book to your spring reading list. “The Boyfriend Subscription” from Steven Salvatore is not to be missed.

Now let’s get to my conversation with Steven so you’ll get all the details about Teddy and Cole and why “Pretty Woman” is the inspiration for their tale. We also find out why he wanted to start writing adult romance and what his favorite scenes were to write. Steven also shares details on his next book, which happens to get its inspiration from another Julia Roberts movie, and he’s got some great recommendations for you too.

Steven Salvatore Interview

Jeff: Steven, welcome back to the show. It’s great to have you here. It’s been a few years.

Steven: Thank you so much for having me, Jeff. I can’t believe it’s been that long and I’m so happy to be back.

Jeff: I’m excited we “The Boyfriend Subscription.” I love this book so much. Cole and Teddy just really stole my heart. And you also used fake dating, and we’ll talk more about that too, because it’s one of my favorite things.

Steven: Love a fake dating trope.

Jeff: Tell everybody in your own words what “The Boyfriend Subscription” is about.

Steven: So “The Boyfriend Subscription” is really my gay ass take on “Pretty Woman.” And “Pretty Woman” has been one of my favorite movies since I was in high school, and one of my best friends introduced me to it. I had always wondered like, oh, what, what would a gay version of “Pretty Woman” look like? And the older I got, and now especially within the last five years or so with OnlyFans, and Twitter, and every gay male posting everything in every online forum. And then, figuring out how to monetize that. I just sort of started to think there’s an idea here, and I can combine that with “Pretty Woman” so that I can kind of turn it on its head. And now it’s the sex worker who has all of the money and power in the relationship.

But because it’s a male/male romance, there aren’t any archetypes really to play with, like heterosexual archetypes. So, what if they’re both, in some way, kind of the sex worker? And so that was kind of fun for me to play around with and build their characters off of that fun little role play I was thinking about in my head.

Jeff: It is an interesting spin and I, as you said it, I kind of thought about that a little bit because I hadn’t really focused on the fact that they’re both, in a way, sex workers in this story. For one of them, it is their job. It is the company that they built because it’s sort of an OnlyFans meets kind of Grindr sort of thing. Sort of, the way I looked at it.

Steven: Yeah. Exactly. It’s like a Grindr, OnlyFans, in some ways, like sort of a situation. So yeah, there was a lot of kind of taking what I knew from just like, gay culture and playing around with that. And then thinking about Teddy, who is not a sex worker by trade or occupation, but in a way kind of finds himself in that position in that whole like fake dating trope.

Jeff: What was it about “Pretty Woman” that captured you so much as a teenager, and then to bring it forward into your storytelling?

Steven: I mean, I have to give all credit to Julia Roberts because I think she is just… she’s magnetic and the gravitas that she brought to that role. That movie came out in 1990, I want to say. So, I mean, listen, I was four years old in 1990, so I didn’t know anything about anything. I was probably watching Disney Channel.

But as I got older and contextualizing her character in that movie it was, for the time, pretty forward thinking in regards to women in sex work. And the amount of respect and power that she demanded, and demanded in that role, I thought, felt pretty groundbreaking.

And I remember watching that as a teenager just being like, yes, go Vivian. Like, I just, I don’t know. I was drawn to her as a character. And that always stuck with me. And then like every other movie that she’s been in, her characters always tend to stick with me.

Jeff: And you give such a nice nod to Vivian by making that Cole’s last name also.

Steven: Yes. Well, it’s interesting because as you’re reading “The Boyfriend Subscription,” Cole’s legal name is Vivian, which is obviously like Vivian Ward from “Pretty Woman.” But when he changes his name to kind of separate himself from his family and his family name, he takes his first name and makes it his last name. And then comes up with a brand new first name to go by. So, I thought that kind of history was interesting to incorporate into the character of Cole.

Jeff: How was it to play with all the “Pretty Woman” tropes and ideas but bring that into the 21st century because it’s been, as you just noted, like 30 plus years since that movie hit. And so, there’s so much, to evolve and bring up to date now.

Steven: It was really fun and mostly because I had an excuse to watch the movie and rewatch it and it’s always interesting to watch something with an eye for analysis. And not just like a I’m going to sit down with some popcorn and just play something and enjoy it. But rather like, okay, I can enjoy this, but I’m also going to look at it with a very critical eye, and then kind of dissect the story structure along with it. And as I’m doing that thinking, okay, what can I use here? And then what’s outdated? What doesn’t really work in this context?

Two of the most iconic scenes from “Pretty Woman,” right, is when she’s in the high-end boutique, right? And the salesperson kind of looks at her and turns her away, right? And she’s like, big mistake. Huge. And she kind of comes back and the salesperson eats her words. And then the other is when Richard Gere’s character gives her the necklace and snaps the necklace case shut and she’s laughing.

And I was like, okay, well these two scenes don’t totally work in this context because if Teddy is the Vivian Ward character, and he doesn’t have a lot of money and he’s going to a high-end store, he’s not going to go to the store dressed like a hooker and get turned away, right? So, I have to figure out how exactly I’m going to play that scene.

And so, for me it was like, okay, well it’s going to be… well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but like Teddy runs into his ex-husband in that department store. And his ex-husband has a new fiancé. So, you kind of get the drama of that scene a little bit played out where Teddy feels like he’s just kind of been tossed to the side.

So, picking from what’s underneath all of that. Like why did Julia Roberts’ character get tossed out? Is it because how she was dressed and how might she have felt in that moment? And picked that emotion up and kind of played with it using the characters that I created.

Jeff: And these characters are interesting too because on top of all the “Pretty Woman” stuff that you’ve given them, they both have a lot of things going on with family. Cole, as you mentioned, is kind of separated from his, and Teddy’s been going through a lot with his divorce and things that have happened with his now ex’s family.

They both have interesting friends going on who are like trying to protect them, but not always in exactly to their best interests. So, you’ve piled on a lot of interesting things here too. What was your process to bring all of these elements together to create your characters?

Steven: Oof. That’s a really good question, and it was really just like, how do I… kind of like how I approach any story. Like how do I make these characters rich, round, fulfilling characters for readers? And like, okay, I got to build out not only their backstory, but who they have in their lives.

And like one of my favorite characters in the book is Teddy’s best friend Kit. And if people are familiar with “Pretty Woman,” Vivian’s best friend in “Pretty “Woman’s” name is Kit. So, I’m like, I’m going to take that. I’m just going to plop that name right into the story. But in this story, she is a black lesbian who is in a triad, and she’s afraid of commitment, and moving in with her two girlfriends.

And so, like I wanted to kind of play with that, and what kind of dynamic that would create in the narrative, and how can I bring this triad into the story in some ways? Like, obviously it’s not the spotlight. But I wanted to make the side characters as rich as I possibly could.

And one of my other favorite characters, Cole’s sister Mallory. In the initial drafting process, she came in very late in the story. Part of the reason why the fake dating trope comes in is Cole needs a date so that he can keep his family at bay because he hasn’t seen his family in like 10 years. And so, he thinks with a date it’ll be a distraction, and nobody will bother him, and nobody will like uncover his secrets. And so, it’s a whole, like, convoluted thing.

But in the first draft or the first, I think, two drafts, Mallory was not really a main side character at all. In my revision process, I brought her into the very beginning. That was like some of the feedback that both my agent and my editor gave. We need Cole to be a little bit more empathetic because in my initial drafts he was very cold and kind of hardened. He was very much like anti-love which is different than how Cole ends up in this. Like, he’s still very much like, I’m keeping myself emotionally distanced. I’m not getting involved. I don’t kiss. I don’t want a boyfriend, I don’t want love. But in my initial version, he was very like vehemently anti-love, which I thought created an interesting juxtaposition given the types of services he was providing on the app that he created that sort of like hinged on intimacy. But I needed to soften him up and so Mallory was the way to do that.

Jeff: It’s interesting with Mallory because she softens him and then Teddy kind of comes in to finish the softening a little bit as it goes. I really felt that Mallory too kind of grounded Cole a little bit from all the chaos of the business and what he’s trying to do with that, and what’s going on with the family and everything. She was just that soothing kind of influence that he could talk to periodically to be like, this is okay, and it will be okay.

Steven: Yeah. And I love that you used that word, soothing, because that was kind of what it is exactly what I was going for. Like, I made her, and by proxy Cole, like obsessed with crystals and healing. And, they’re always holding crystals and it’s just like this quirky little thing that like, you know, wealthy white women love. And wealthy white gays also love a crystal or two. And, not that I’m a wealthy by any means, but I love a crystal.

So like, I’m just going to make this part of their characterization and connect them together because in a lot of ways I think they’re different characters, Mallory and Cole. But I think in a lot of ways, they do make sense as siblings. Just their pathways diverge a little bit. But they ultimately both want to make their dad proud, and they want to be a good child, which I think is a very relatable thing.

Jeff: How much research did you have to do to get the various aspects of Teddy and Cole’s world that they inhabit right? Because there’s a lot of stuff going on there between them that just isn’t like, knowledge you could just maybe have in your head potentially.

Steven: Absolutely. I definitely did a lot of research on OnlyFans and, like, gay OnlyFans sex workers and performers. And I definitely did a lot of work researching plants because Teddy is a plant daddy. And he owns his, well, he owned, his own nursery, and he was also an author where he wrote about plants and his experience. And so, I cannot keep a fake succulent alive, so I had to do a lot of research on just like how to take care of plants like baseline and then like building from there.

So that was fun. And it’s not necessarily something that I can, or have been able to put into practice, because I just keep killing plants. So, I’m hoping I got my details correct. But yeah, I can’t say that I put any of that into actual practice.

Jeff: And it’s interesting how that comes into play too, especially for Teddy because his plant knowledge sort of ingratiates him a little bit into Cole’s family because he can talk to Cole’s parents and his sister about plants and maybe their gardens and things like that.

Steven: And I think that’s kind of the interesting thing about human connection is like if you find one window in, all of a sudden, like everything else kind of opens up. So, like for Teddy, I think because of the nature of his divorce in the book and like that whole backstory, aside from Kit, like he really does feel very alone.

And he is not from New York, but he is living in New York, so he has no family, except for Kit, his best friend. And so, when he meets Cole’s family and there is that kind of in, and they immediately welcome him in, I think it echoes a lot of like real world kind of situations.

I don’t know. I think when I met the man that I’m dating right now, my boyfriend’s family… I think it’s very strange to meet the family for the first time, which is something that I hadn’t done in ages because my ex-husband, I was with him for 12 years. And so, it seemed like so long ago from the last time I met somebody’s family.

And just kind of like thinking about that process and then how it, in a way, echoed Teddy’s, just by like finding something, finding a window, and then being able to talk and then all of a sudden everything kind of takes off from there. And you just have that like, oh, I know these people and I like these people and I love these people already.

And it all happens very quickly, I think. And I think that also happens too, when like the connection is genuine and like… Obviously Cole and Teddy’s story happens in a matter of days. So, yeah, they do fall for each other rather quickly considering, but that’s why it’s fiction. I do think that it happened so organically in the book, like Teddy taking to Cole’s family because Teddy and Cole have a genuine connection. Even if neither one of them are like, thinking about it in those terms at that time, because of the whole fake dating of it all.

Jeff: They were so not realizing how much feels that their fake dating had created until so near the end. It was just amazing to watch it. The light bulbs kind of go off for them, like, wait a minute.

Steven: Yeah. That was an interesting thing to think about too, because I do think that gay relationships do tend to materialize and progress differently than heterosexual or opposite sex relationships. From my experience alone, like you can meet somebody and develop feels. It doesn’t mean feelings but feels very quickly. And whether or not that continues obviously depends on whether both people are in the same place and all of that.

But I do think that there is that recognition of feels rather quickly. That kind of creates a little bit more of a separation between “Boyfriend Subscription” and “Pretty Woman,” even though again, “Pretty Woman” only takes place across a matter of days. And they fall from each other very quickly. So maybe, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Jeff: Well, rom-coms in particular, and I mean, a lot of romances have a very tight time clock. Few days, couple weeks, maybe a month. But it does happen, I mean, fairly quickly, just because otherwise you’re going to write a really long book that goes on for a really long time.

Steven: Yes, exactly. Or if you’re having a book that, you’re just getting these vignettes and it takes place over a matter of months or years and you’re just getting little, tiny windows into pieces of the relationship, which, I think definitely works in a much more literary context than your typical kind of romance setting type of context.

Jeff: What’s a favorite scene of yours from this book?

Steven: Oh, I really, there’s so many. I know that sounds ridiculous because I’m the writer. I should be able to pick something, or I should be like, no, I love everything equally. But I do. I think some of my favorite scenes are definitely the sex scenes. I quite enjoyed…

Jeff: It’s very spicy and awesome, yes.

Steven: I definitely ramped it up a little bit and then had to cut back a little bit because maybe I was a little too far. So I was like, I need to rein it in. But some of those scenes were some of the most fun to write because it was like, I can let go and they’re so into each other. And once they acknowledge secretly that they are into each other, and they can kind of let go sexually.

I think the writing feels very fluid. Like every time I go back and reread it, I’m like, these are some really fluid sex scenes. And in some ways like, sure, graphic, steamy, spicy but also very beautifully written if I do so, so myself.

But I also love the scene where they kiss for the first time. And I also love their first meeting, when they… towards the kind of middle or beginning-ish of the book. I’m trying to remember what the hell I wrote when they are at the steps of The Met and Teddy realizes that Cole is wearing a leather harness. And so that scene is one of my favorites. It’s like one of the ones that stuck out to me because I had that visual in my head when I first started writing it. Like that’s where things are really going to take off and there’s going to be a harness involved.

Jeff: I could just envision that like written on the outline somewhere. This is where it takes off and there’s a harness in this scene somewhere.

Steven: Someone wears a harness and maybe both of them end up wearing a harness. Who knows?

Jeff: I love The Met thing because it was such, I think, a traditional idea of what New York glamor is. There’s like the events that happened, but then there are some, like The Met, that just feels very glamorous and important and for Teddy to get to go to that with Cole. It was just like, aw, it was almost like a “Pretty Woman” moment, but not pulled from that movie. They had other glamorous things that they did there.

Steven: Exactly. Yeah. That was something that I was really trying to look at like, okay, what are some iconic New York City locations. And then what are the ones that are really going to work for me in this book? And what feels maybe either too contemporary or what feels outdated and just going back and forth and trying to figure out,

Okay the book doesn’t only take place in New York City it does go a little bit outside the city into Westchester. But I wanted it to feel very recognizable, but not necessarily something like cheesy and touristy, I guess, even though obviously there are millions of tourists who go to The Met. It just it really, like you said, it just felt more like classic New York for me.

Jeff: We were talking before I hit the record button on this interview about the book, and you told me that there was a lot left on the cutting room floor. Something like 20,000 words got removed out of this book, which, you know, that’s not insignificant. What’s something favorite from the cutting room floor?

Steven: So, the original backstory for Teddy’s character, his ex-husband, there was a lot of like, really beautiful backstory about him, and his relationship with his ex, and how he met his ex, and how his ex encouraged his love of plants and, helped him to kind of open up his nursery. And in the original draft, the ex-husband dies. And it was…

Jeff: That’s a much different spin on things.

Steven: Very different. Very different. And actually, in the original manuscript, Teddy had two exs. He had one nice ex who was this, kind of like, supportive whatever. And then he had kind of the dick ex. And the dick ex ended up staying in the book and the nice dead ex ultimately got the chop. And I kind of took some of the characteristics and some of the backstory to and blended it together as best I could. But there were a lot of flashback chapters specifically around Teddy and there were a couple of flashback chapters of Cole that ended up getting mostly chopped. There were some, a little bit of like Cole and Teddy backstory that you get kind of interpolated into the present day narrative.

But yeah, that was… I hated losing all that backstory, but I do think that it made much more sense story-wise for Teddy to have one main ex instead of two that readers had to keep track of. Especially because one of them dies. So like, where’s that going to go? I don’t know. It was one of those threads that could easily get cut, but not so easily because it ended up being many words and many pages that I had to get rid of.

Jeff: Well, certainly if you were a Hallmark movie, I mean, there’s dead exs in those things all the time. Dead exs and dead families. So, you certainly picked up a trope that is often used in rom-coms and romance movies.

Steven: I mean, yeah, sometimes it’s like, all right, I got to pick my tropes. I got to see which tropes are actually worth exploring. And this was something that like, I was… I wanted to write a tropey romance because I think so much of what writers write relies on tropes and things that are recognizable and it provides a sense of comfort to readers because it relies on a lot of these Hallmark storytelling techniques.

But I don’t think that I’d necessarily, like in any of the previous books that I wrote, I don’t think I set out going, I’m going to use this trope. But with this, I was like, I’m going to use this trope. We are going to dive into fake dating and we’re going to get into all of that. And I think it was something where I had to figure out, okay what’s going to work here? What isn’t going to work here? Some things obviously didn’t end up panning out and some things did.

Jeff: We talked about, briefly there the Hallmark storytelling, but it’s also very much Harlequin storytelling.

“The Boyfriend Subscription” is part of Harlequin’s new Afterglow line, and they’re certainly looking for tropey stories.

Steven: Yeah which, worked out in my favor because, you know, I didn’t know, when this manuscript sold to Harlequin, it sold under the intent of they’re starting this new line in January of 2024. But back then, like nobody knew about it. When “Boyfriend Subscription” sold, nobody knew that there was going to be a new line. It wasn’t public yet, didn’t even have a name. And so I didn’t write the book with that in mind. I wrote it like, we’re going to write it and we’re going to try to sell it. And my agent loved it, so she’s like, all right, let’s go. We’re going to try to sell this. And so, it just so happened that this new line was materializing and it ended up being a perfect, beautiful match and I couldn’t be happier because my editors absolutely fabulous.

Jeff: And this is your first adult romance after three YA books. What made it time to go in the direction of the adult romance?

Steven: I think that, okay. Well, let… I’ll give you more of an honest answer. My first three YAs “Can’t Take That Away, “And They Lived,” and “No Perfect Places,” I really wrote those as a way to heal my younger self. And there’s so much of me in the main characters of those books. Things that I went through personally, experiences that I had and just okay, I need to pat little Steven on the back and be like you’re okay. You’re going to be okay. Let’s write, a thousand pages worth of therapy between these three books and he’ll be fine at the end of it.

And so, by the time “No Perfect Places” had sold, I’ll say I was kind of getting to this place of, I don’t know that I have more young adult stories in me because ultimately what I set out to do was… I’d always wanted to be a writer. I always wanted to be a storyteller. I always wanted to publish books. But with writing YA, it was like, I’m writing these books for me and I’m trying to heal my inner trauma. And so, I did that. Then it was like, all right, well now I have a whole shit ton of adult trauma to go through. Let’s get into that.

I started writing “The Boyfriend Subscription,” really, as my marriage was winding down. And there was a lot of strife with that, a lot of inner conflict. And so, I took on the role of Teddy in that and was exploring who I was through Teddy, but not even all that much. I kind of used “The Boyfriend Subscription” as an escape and be like, all right, we’re going to take this movie that I’ve always loved. We’re going to make it really tropey. We’re going to try to make it as fun as possible, but still have some depth in there and still explore some concepts that like are top of mind for me right now because of whatever’s going on with me personally. But make it gay, make it fun, make it spicy.

So, I think a lot of what I’ll end up writing adult-wise after my Harlequin books might end up being a little darker, a little more exploring some of the perils of being an adult gay.

Jeff: Do you see some of those, like darker romance or just darker like genres and sub genres?

Steven: I think so, I do. Right now I have one more contracted book for Harlequin that’s coming out in summer of 2025, I think. And that’s going to be a romance straight up, just like “Boyfriend Subscription.” But I’m also working on what I’m calling my divorce book and just kind of exploring the end of a marriage.

I guess like a reverse romance, like what happens when people are fighting, when maybe one person’s fighting to save a marriage and another person isn’t, and kind of letting it fall apart. How do you rectify that? So, I wouldn’t say necessarily like straight up romance. But there’s always, I think there’s always going to be something in everything that I write that does have that nod to romance, if it’s straight up romance or something a little bit more gen fic.

Jeff: Can you tease us anything about the 2025 Harlequin one and what it may be?

Steven: I don’t know if I can give the title, even though it does have a title and it’s very reminiscent of “The Boyfriend Subscription.” So, it’s three words. It’s falling in line. So like, when you see it, you’ll be like, oh, okay, that kind of makes sense. It kind of goes together.

Jeff: I feel like we should play charades now.

Steven: I know, right? All right. First word is “the” and I think what I can say is it is about a side character in “The Boyfriend Subscription” who becomes main character in this next book. So, for anybody out there who has read or wants to read “The Boyfriend Subscription,” or is reading, you’ll meet Cole’s ex Nico right towards the beginning of “The Boyfriend Subscription.” And so we’re going to get his story in the next book. It’s going to be like a reality show, dating slash marriage competition type of a thing. So that is… I don’t even know if I can say that, but that’s what I’m saying.

Jeff: I’ll tell Harlequin I forced it out of you.

Steven: Maybe my editor will be listening, and they’ll email me being like, oh my God.

Jeff: I love that it’s connected because like any good romance, that means we’re going to get a little bit of how Teddy and Cole are doing in there too because I really envision them as turning into this really cool power couple.

Steven: I kind of do too. And you’ll know, the way I have it, the way it’s planned out is you’ll know pretty soon into the next book what ends up happening with Cole and Teddy.

Jeff: Nice.

So, in addition to all the writing that you do, you also run Queerative Writers and here’s where you’re working with queer writers. You offer courses and editorial services. Tell us a little more about that and how you started that up.

Steven: So, it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. And I am I teach college writing. I’ve taught college writing since 2012. And it’s something that I went to school for. It’s been my career. I know how to teach writing. I ran a writing department. But I also am feeling like maybe, perhaps my career in higher education is winding down. Mostly because it’s just… there’s a lot of… it’s just a lot of bureaucratic shit. And I’m finding that I’m teaching creative writing less and less. And I don’t know if it’s just not getting offered as much.

But my heart lies with creative writing. So, I decided to create my own business, Queerative Writers, where I run online virtual creative writing workshops. It’s geared toward queer writers, aspiring writers. But anybody can take a course. There was nothing out there that was specifically geared toward queer ,LGBTQ+ aspiring writers. And I do think that from my experience in writing courses as a student in grad school, there’s a real difference in how writing is perceived by straight het teachers and other straight cis het students in the class when you’re being workshopped, and your work is being read by everybody, because the queer experience is a hell of a lot different. Sure, there’s a lot of crossover. There’s a lot of similarities, like the world for me is the world for you and you. But we experience an additional layer of shit. And we see things through a different lens. And a lot of that does come out in the writing.

Like it’s no secret that I don’t write my books for straight cis het people, I write them with gay readers in mind. I hope that everybody reads my stuff but I’m writing it for queer readers. And so, I wanted to create a safe space for writers to explore themselves, explore their work in a space where they’re not going to be judged through a cis het lens.

Jeff: Hopefully some of the writers and aspiring writers that we have in our audience will go check out the offerings that you have going on there.

Steven: That’d be wonderful. I took a little bit of a break but I’m looking to get some courses up and running in the next couple of months because I’m on deadline for lots of stuff right now, and I’m teaching a full-time course load, so I’m like, oh my God, I have no time to also teach virtually. And so, I’m trying to do a little bit of a balance. So, I’m hoping that I can eventually step away from higher ed and focus more on Queerative Writers.

Jeff: That’d be awesome. Yeah, it definitely fills a niche that I don’t think anybody else is in, or if they are they’re keeping it hidden to themselves at the moment.

Of course, we love to get recommendations on the show. What are you reading or watching that our listeners should check out? If you’ve actually got time to do any of that between everything else you just mentioned

Steven: I mean, my reading has gone downhill because I’ve haven’t had much time. But I will say there are a couple of books that are coming out this year that I’m obsessed with. So, in the YA space Matthew Hubbard, he’s a debut author, and his book “The Last Boyfriend’s Rules for Revenge.” It feels very like “Mean Girls” but gay and without the bitchy main characters. The main characters are so lovable. That book comes out I’m pretty sure it’s end of April. But that book is so, so, so good, and I can’t wait for people to get their hands on it.

And in the adult space Nicolas DiDomizio his third book is coming out from SourceBooks Casablanca “Nearlywed,” which is about a gay engaged couple who takes an early-moon before the wedding. And the main character is like a chaotic millennial who writes for a Buzzfeed type of publication. And his fiancé is a gen X doctor. So, there’s a little bit of an age difference there. And the way they live their lives, like the main character is very, very visible online and his fiancé is not at all. And so, a lot of relationship testing stuff happens while they’re on their early moon and it’s like, are they right for each other? Will they make it to their wedding?

It was a beautiful book and there’s so much exploration of, I think, what a lot of like gay relationships are, or have experienced, and a lot of, like, the tests of that. So, I can’t recommend that book enough. I just read it. I mean, Nick is one of my closest friends. I’ve known him for closing it on 11 years now. But I hadn’t gotten a chance to read “Nearlywed” until over New Year’s when I was away visiting family. And I finally got to sit down with it, and I was just blown away by it. It’s so freaking good.

Jeff: It’s always amazing to see your friends just do amazing work.

Steven: Yes, yes. It’s incredible. It’s, it really is a wonderful thing.

Jeff: And we talked a little bit about your new Harlequin coming in 2025. What else is coming up for you? You said you were working on two books. What else have you got?

Steven: Yeah. So also coming out in 2025, I don’t know exactly when just yet, I want to say like also summer of 2025. So, I might have two books out summer 2025, like within a very close proximity which gives me a lot of anxiety because that means I’m going to be very tired. But my next YA, “Lemon at First Sight,” is coming out and it’s very loosely inspired by “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Continuing the theme of my love of Julia Roberts where the main character, Fielder Lemon, is going to his older cousin’s destination wedding in Amalfi, Italy. And he finds out that his cousin is marrying his ex-boyfriend’s older sister.

So, his ex-boyfriend, who he considered the love of his life is going to be there. And so, he kind of plots to, or schemes to, try to win back his ex. But then his ex shows up with a new boyfriend. So, we’re trying to win back love in, in a beautiful Italian setting in a lemon grove in, in the Amalfi coast. I’m currently drafting it right now, and I am obsessed with it. It’s fun and I think it’s going to piss people off and it’s going to, other people are going to love it, but I love it. So that’s all I can ask.

Jeff: I’m looking forward to seeing how you translate “My Best Friend’s Wedding” into a YA setting.

Steven: Yes, there is no, obviously, marriage pact of like, if we’re both 28, we’ll get and not married, we’ll get married. Obviously, that’s one of those things that had to that had to fall by the wayside. So that’s where the loosely inspired by “My Best Friend’s Wedding” comes into play.

Jeff: What else are you eyeing in the Julia Roberts library to translate and to adapt later? Anything else on your radar?

Steven: I mean, I did have a little bit of a brief romance with “Runaway Bride.” So that could be interesting. Obviously, that would be very much adult. There’s no way you could do that in the YA space. But there, I mean, I could do… there’s so much. There’s so much, honestly.

Okay. My fav… one of my favorite Julia Roberts movies, which I feel like doesn’t get as much attention is “Stepmom.” Do you remember “Stepmom” with Susan Sarandon? That movie makes me ugly cry. Obviously that would not be in the romance space at all. But taking on themes like that. Parental relationships, and I don’t know. It hit me at a very young age, that movie and maybe because I had a stepmom. So, maybe something there. But I don’t know anything. There’s so much. So I could write with Julia Roberts in mind. If she wants to hire me to write a script for her, an original. I’m all on board, so in case she’s listening, hi, I’m here.

Jeff: And if she’s listening, I’d like to know that because that’d be pretty cool too.

Steven: I’ll write something on spec, just like hit me up. Someone get Julia Roberts’s agent on the phone.

Jeff: There you go. Somewhere out there in our listenership, let’s hook these two together.

Steven: She could have a gay son. It could be like a… she could, I don’t know. She could play like the scheming mom trying to break up her gay son’s toxic wedding relationship. I don’t know. I’m just spit-balling here in case she’s listening, but.

Jeff: All ideas here are Steven’s property.

What is the best way for people to keep up with you online, so they know when all this stuff is coming out?

Steven: I would say definitely Instagram at StevenSalvatoreBooks. I am technically, I guess, on Twitter slash X, but I have not been on it since late or probably middle of last year. Probably around the time that it switched to X, I was like, I’m outta here. I am on TikTok. It’s, I think my handle is StevenSalvatoreBooks. I should probably know that. But it’s linked on my Instagrams.

So, Instagram. I’m very active on TikTok, I just scroll late at night. I’m not one of those authors who is posting themselves on TikTok because I don’t know how to do that. And I feel like I would look very bad if I did try. But you could still follow me there. That’d be nice.

You could get onto my newsletter, which I’ve only promised to blast out when I have a book coming out so people can buy my books.

Jeff: Cool. We will link up to all of that in the show notes along with all the books and other stuff that we talked about. Steven, thank you so much for being here and talking to us about “The Boyfriend Subscription.” I can’t wait for people to get that in their hands and start reading it.

Steven: Thank you so much for having me, Jeff. I appreciate it. Love the pod, love… this was an amazing conversation. I’m so happy and I’m so glad you liked “The Boyfriend Subscription.”


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 We’ve got links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.

Jeff: Thanks so much to Steven for coming to talk to us about “The Boyfriend Subscription.” I already loved his YA books and now I am a big fan of his adult romances too. I’m super excited for everything he’s got coming up and if you’re in the mood for some fake dating “Pretty Woman” style, I hope you’ll pick up “The Boyfriend Subscription” and give it a try.

Will: Okay, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next, on Monday, April 8th, we’re going to find out about a new romantic suspense series called “Accidentally Undercover.”

Jeff: That’s right. “Accidentally Undercover” is a multi-author series that focuses on ordinary people who get caught up with spies, assassin, and other undercover types. We’re going to be joined by the series creators, Layla Reyne and Alison Temple, along with Cari Z, who has a book in this series, and they’re going to tell us everything about it.

Will: Jeff and I, 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 Original theme music by Daryl Banner.