Jeff opens the show recommending three books, the seventh Love is All anthology, The Bump by Sidney Karger, and One and Done by Frederick Smith.

Frederick then talks about One and Done and the inspirations behind Taylor and Dustin, and this workplace, enemies-to-lovers romance. He also shares how the romance reading, and attending virtual author events during the pandemic helped prepare him to write this story. In addition, Frederick discussed Juneteenth, Pride, and has some great book recommendations.

Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Monday, July 1.

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Show Notes

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Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we’re talking to Frederick Smith about his new workplace romance, “One and Done.”

Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. Welcome to episode 456 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Jeff and it’s great to have you here for another episode of the show and we hope you’re having a fantastic Pride month.

As always, this 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

And as we get started, I wanna remind you that you can join my community on Ream. It’s where you can follow me for the latest updates on my writing and other fun things. There are also some exclusive short stories there that you can read for free when you follow me. Plus, it’s the place to get exclusive access to my works in progress. I’m getting closer to finishing a friends-to-lovers story featuring a pro hockey player reconnecting with his childhood best friend who’s now a ballet dancer. This story actually brings together my “Hockey Hearts” series and my “On Stage” series, creating one big universe. There’s already a couple of dozen chapters there, and I post new ones every Monday. You could be among the first to read this story before it comes out later this year. If you wanna follow me, head on over to

Now, in the last episode, I mentioned that I was gonna be in conversation with TJ Klune at the Sacramento Public Library. I can tell you now that it was such a wonderful event. Some 300 people were there to hear TJ talk about “Somewhere Beyond the Sea,” why he writes, Pride Month, and a whole lot more. You can find some pictures from the event on my social media and on the podcast social media, and I’ll link up to those places in the show notes if you wanna check that out. Plus, you’ll be able to hear the conversation for yourself right here on the podcast in episode 459, which will drop on July 29th.

Love is All anthology

And as Pride month continues, I do want to shout out the latest edition of the “Love is All” anthology. Earlier this month, the seventh edition came out featuring authors A.D. Ellis, Chantal Mer, Gabbi Grey, Lee Blair, Piper Malone, R.L. Merrill, Skylar M. Cates, Sophia Soames, Susan Scott Shelley, and the anthology’s creator, Xio Axelrod. It’s such an amazing lineup of authors. This year’s edition benefits Trans Equality, which is an organization dedicated to protecting and empowering transgender individuals. Please go over and pick up this terrific anthology and support this very worthwhile organization. Remember, as with all the past editions, “Love is All” is only available for a limited time, so make sure you go pick up your ebook or paperback today.

The Bump by Sidney Karger

I’ve had some terrific pride month reading, and that has included Sidney Karger’s latest “The Bump.” Now as I get into talking about this really delightful book, I do wanna say that I feel it’s miscategorized. I see it in romance and rom-com categories, and I really don’t think it belongs there. Wyatt and Biz have been together for several years as this story begins, and it centers on them taking a road trip to attend the birth of their first child, which they’re having via surrogacy. The story also doesn’t follow romance beats, so I’m really not sure why it’s been dropped into those categories.

But what I can say is that if you pick this book up, you are gonna have a terrific read. The story is about these two guys who very much love each other, navigating their insecurities about becoming dads. For Wyatt, his dad divorced his mom when he was young, leaving his mom to support the family, which was him and his brother. Meanwhile, Biz has had a terrific family life and actually worries that he’s not gonna be able to live up to his father’s example. Beyond that, Wyatt and Biz are grappling with some of the differences between them that preparing for fatherhood has actually brought to the surface, such as Wyatt’s desire to plan everything to the minute, and Biz’s desire to be much more carefree.

I love these two so much. Even as they’re preparing for the baby, you could tell that they belong together even when things are difficult or they’re not quite on the same page for things. The road trip is such a great format for this story as they initially planned to visit some of their favorite queer places, like Provincetown and Palm Springs, and stop at a friend’s wedding along the way. It gives them some great, really essentially, forced proximity time together. There’s some curve balls for them too. They end up having to visit Wyatt’s family, which then leads to a trip to Biz’s family. They also endure some stormy weather, some car trouble, a sick dog. I don’t wanna say too much about any of these things because part of the fun is reading as all of this unfolds.

The trip and everyone they meet along the way really help them get ready for what’s ahead for them. I really love how Sidney subverted some of my expectations along the way too, with many of the things that they did not quite going like I thought they would, which of course only makes it better. The family visits were also incredible, really examining how the perception of parents can change over time and how we also have to handle our parents getting older. Most of all I love that, and here’s a spoiler alert, Wyatt and Biz don’t break up at any point in this story. I was braced for that as a possibility and it never came, and I’m very happy that it never came. Without giving the details, I will say that this book ends happy, which I think is important to note since I started by saying that I didn’t think this book should be called a romance.

I enjoyed everything about this book and the trip it took me on getting to know Wyatt and Biz as they crossed the country to become dads. I really hope you’ll add this to your TBR for such a wonderful story.

One and Done by Frederick Smith

And before we get into the interview, let me take a moment to talk about Frederick Smith’s “One and Done.” I love this workplace, enemies-to-lovers romance, so, so much. It is full of so much tropey goodness. Taylor and Dustin are so wonderful, and I love them from the very first moments of their meet cute, that kind of ended up into more of a meet hate at the end. You’ll see that when you pick up the book and check out the first couple chapters, how that meet cute kind of went awry in kind of the funniest ways possible. And it really only got better when Dustin turned out to be the person that Taylor was gonna be working closely with over the next several weeks on Taylor’s University accreditation project.

Fred tells a wonderful story as these guys get to know each other, which eventually gets them into the friend zone, but then eventually lands them squarely in the moving from friends on into lovers. It’s not easy for them as they want to really stay on the down low because of work. They don’t want any signs of impropriety in the accreditation process. But also, as they realize that while they have a lot of opposites in their personalities, they’ve got a lot of commonalities too. Plus, their families and the found family elements that are in the book are simply outstanding as they always are with Fred’s books.

You’ll hear a lot more from me what I liked about “One and Done” as Fred and I chat, but I want to emphasize that this book should absolutely be on your summer reading TBR, because it was absolutely terrific.

And let’s get into that interview with Frederick Smith. Of course, I had a great time talking to him about “One and Done.” This conversation was really interesting too because Fred talks about how, despite having written a number of books, this was really the first one where he felt he really understood what it meant to write a romance Along the way, we also talk about Juneteenth, Pride, and Fred’s got book recommendations too.

Frederick Smith Interview

Fred, welcome back to the podcast. It’s so exciting to have you here with us again.

Frederick: Thank you. So glad to be back here. It’s been a minute.

Jeff: It has been. I can’t believe it’s like five years since we met up the first time at the Lavender Library in Sacramento to talk about that first book you co-wrote with Chaz. And now here we are again with a book that you’ve written as a solo author.

Frederick: Yeah, that was fun. Yeah, I think that might’ve been Chaz’s and my first event for “In Case You Forgot.” And now I’m excited to be back again talking about “One and Done.”

Jeff: Oh, “One and Done.” You just had my heart with Taylor and Dustin so much. My goodness.

Frederick: Really?

Jeff: Yes. Tell us in your own words what this workplace romance is all about.

Frederick: Oh, my goodness. So, my elevator pitch is, “One and Done” is a black, queer, higher ed, Bay Area romance novel. It’s set in San Francisco and in Oakland and in other areas in Northern California. And it focuses on two characters, Dr. Taylor, James and Dustin McMillan. Who have a random meetup on a Sunday fun day in the Castro District.

And it’s not the best meetup, but it’s kind of cute. It’s kind of flirty. It’s kind of punchy. But they have no idea that later on they were going to end up working together on a project that’s gonna keep them in close proximity for the next several months. And so, although, it starts out as this really punchy, back and forth, I don’t like you, we don’t get along with each other.

They end up going through the trials and tribulations of falling for each other, discovering who each other is, and realizing the humanity in each other. It’s set in a higher education setting as I shared before. And so, really excited to illuminate that part of the book and everything.

And I’m also excited just to highlight different areas of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Oakland and, some of the found family elements that I’ll talk through later, like in terms of, some of the, drag performers, the non-binary people in the novel, the bartenders, all that kind of stuff.

And so, I hope that through “One and Done” I’ve, shared a contemporary look at life in San Francisco for these two characters who happen to be black, who happen to be gay, who happen to be over 35, 40, and who happen to find each other and happen to find some sort of connection with each other.

Jeff: I love the meet cute that they have. I mean, it starts as a meet cute, but then it kind of veers off until, as you kind of noted, not the best initial introduction cause they kind of weave through everything hanging out in the bar and telling each other things, not telling each other things. And then wham, welcome to Monday morning and here we are together in the workplace.

Frederick: Absolutely. Yeah, they had no idea. And I think that opening scene kind of is reminiscent of like when two people randomly meet in a bar or at a book club or anything like that, where you know, you kind of share tidbits of yourself, but not the full tidbits because you don’t know if it’s gonna go anywhere.

And so, they kind of banter back and forth, which I loved writing the kind of dialogue that was like the banter between Dustin and Taylor. And so, yeah, there were some things and some aspects of that meet cute, where they left it kind of off the page and off of the conversation with each other because that’s kind of reminiscent of real life. It’s not like people are gonna tell every single detail of their life story or go through all the encyclopedia of their life and everything. And so, some things are left out, which leaves some of the characters kind of feeling like, why is this person not so honest and upfront about their life?

But I think that’s reminiscent of how we, how many of us can be when we have to be cautious about our lives and our identities and about what people will Google about us and things like that. And so, these two characters, they’re a little bit older, wiser, so they’re kind of thinking about how they navigate through this meet cute in the bar in Castro.

Jeff: I really like how it kept coming back to that moment for them for so long through the book as they figure out, well you didn’t quite tell me that and I kind of assumed this about you, but now I see the reality of your life. And they kept peeling back those layers that all related back to that very first afternoon at the bar.

Frederick: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s like when we are getting to know someone. It’s like you might see something on the surface. And these two characters definitely saw something in the surface in each other. Taylor in Dustin, Dustin in Taylor. But then as they both got to know each other better, a little bit of the onion peeled back. Or with the found family and the family around them, they would hear more details about each other’s lives and like, hmmph, you didn’t tell me that. Why didn’t you tell me that? And so, again, I, think that’s really reminiscent of like how life happens. And then you just have to figure out, now that I know this information, what do I do with it? How do I make a choice? Am I gonna make a choice of judgment and hold it against someone? Or am I gonna make a choice of, okay, no one has to tell me everything in the first five minutes that we meet. And just take it as a learning opportunity to continue to know each other. And so, I’m really glad and grateful that at different points in the novel, Taylor and Dustin decide to take a route where they’re gonna look at this as a learning opportunity to get to know each other.

Although, I think one of the characters does hold a little bit of, I don’t wanna say resentment, but a little bit of, okay, I remember that first time when you weren’t truthful about this. Or, what’s that term? A lie of omission, where maybe it’s not quite a lie, but it’s like the person didn’t tell you something upfront.

Yeah, I just think that’s interesting. I think that’s how life happens as we all decide what to share and disclose and what not to share and disclose with the people that we’re getting to know whether it’s friends or even if it’s potential romantic partners.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Now you work in higher education in San Francisco.

Frederick: Yeah.

Jeff: How much of this is like inspired by your experiences or even might be your own kind of personal story a little bit?

Frederick: Okay, so, yes. I work in higher education. I work at one of the large universities in the city of San Francisco, and I love my profession. I love my day job working in higher ed. And then I love my kind of romance novel writing at night and in the pre-dawn hours before I come to campus and everything.

So, what I will tell you is, what inspired me thinking about the conflict or the premise of this novel is… So, for those who have not read “One and Done” yet, or who would picking it up, kind of the workplace scenario that brings them together is this process called university accreditation.

And that’s where universities, like every eight to 10 years have this accreditation board that makes sure that everything they’re doing academically, socially, is on the up and up for students and providing the best service for students and best learning opportunities, et cetera.

So, let’s go back to maybe four years ago when I first moved to San Francisco. I was on a deep sub, sub, sub subcommittee of an accreditation team. So, this is not me. I never led an accreditation process. But I was in one of these subcommittee meetings with like a reviewer was asking us all these tough questions about the work we do, about what the university does to fulfill its mission, and things like that.

And I was low key, kind of annoyed, but I was like, thank goodness I don’t have to work with this person every day. Like I’m just in a sub, sub, subcommittee that’s working towards this accreditation. But I was like, at the same time, I was like, while I’m annoyed by the questions they’re asking, he, he happened to be a he, I was like, but he’s also kind of attractive.

What would happen if two people were pulled together into that kind of a setting? And so that first got the wheels turning around Dustin and Taylor and what the kind of workplace romance setting could be. And that’s eventually what evolved in “One and Done” is they’re doing something that’s very similar.

On the other hand, what I will share too around higher education is we’re going through some tough times in higher education. There’s lots of questions from people of multiple communities about the value of higher education. Is it worth it? Can I go get a job at one of these online retailer stores that pays me like $500 an hour, that’s an exaggeration. And not have to go to college. And we’re also getting a lot of conversations politically around the value of higher education too, whether or not elements of truth telling, books, libraries, all that kind of stuff.

And so, all those elements kind of fed into me thinking about this particular novel. And so, yeah, so some tangential experiences, not my own, but there are some questions I do think about being a higher ed professional. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance novel set in higher education. And so, I was like, let me be one of the first, and if someone knows of another one, please let me know.

Jeff: Digging into the workplace of higher ed, you’re certainly the only one that I can think of that’s there. And it was interesting too, because you just fed in little bits about what the accreditation was like and the things that go on in that atmosphere. There’s a little side plot about another professor in that university system who gets in trouble for things that go on there that kind of reminiscent about what we read in the headlines.

Frederick: Absolutely. So many things that happen in the headlines are true and happen in higher ed settings. And so, I was really excited because that also kind of pushed the story forward. That incident that happened with a university president at another campus, it pushed the story forward for these two characters both in positive and not so positive ways. And so, I was really excited to bring those elements into “One and Done.”

Jeff: What was kind of your process to put all this together? This is a very tropey romance. you’ve got the workplace setting. You’ve got a little bit of forced proximity that happens for a little bit of it. They’re very much opposite in a lot of ways, Taylor and Dustin. And then you also weave in all these other elements of the city and their communities and family. How did all that kind of come together for you? Were you outlining or was it just kinda writing and see how it all kind of sorted itself out in the first draft?

Frederick: Yeah, so, great question. So, over the course of the pandemic, I totally fell in love with just the romance genre in general. As we were forced to be inside for a couple of years and many events went online. I attended, virtually, tons of events by romance novelists, both queer and straight, of all identities and everything. And I came across this one book during one of the workshops that I watched called “Romancing the Beat” by Gwen Hayes. And I loved it. So quick. It’s so easy. Anyone who’s aspiring to write romance novels should pick it up and take a look at it.

And as I was watching these events, it made me realize that romance readers expect a certain number of beats to be hit, a number of plot points to be hit. It’s almost like a formula. And I see that in a good way, not in a bad way. And so that book, “Romancing the Beat,” really helped me think about the idea of outlining. Outlining really helped me in this novel process. And actually, with one of my previous novels too.

So, I’ll tie these two stories together. I work in higher ed. Recently, I took on a position that has way more responsibility than I ever had in my life. So, my writing time diminished. So, I didn’t have the time to pants, like when you just kind of write whatever comes to your head. And so, I was like, for me to be focused with my writing time, I have to outline so that I know the beats that are supposed to happen in terms of romance novel writing. But then also just in terms of my time in general to know where the story is going, to really focus my time so that when I sit down and write, I kind of know what I’m writing to and toward and for and about.

And so that was really helpful for me with this novel, was having an outline. I kept a copy of this huge post-it with like 30 little baby post-it notes on it in my bedroom wall and in my office wall at my work. So that in between breaks at work, I could kind of take a look at it and go, okay, this is where the story is headed. When I was at home after work, I would write toward it. And so that really helped me. And then also just as I learned and watched more events with romance novelists, learning more about the importance of tropes and what romance readers like, expect, and what do I even as a reader who consumes a lot, what do I like?

And so, in this novel we have, the forced proximity, the workplace romance. There’s a road trip. There was an only one bed trope. And so, I really relied on the use of a lot of tropes that people would either like, or identify with, or expect to see in romance novels.

And then, as I have consumed more and more post pandemic, there’s certain tropes that I really look forward to and that I like.

Jeff: So, what are some of your favorites?

Frederick: So, my favorite, I love second chance romance. And kind of like reunion romance. I like forced proximity when people are forced to be together.

I also like it when it’s kind of like a friends-to-lovers aspect too. Maybe that mirrors my own personal life as well, but I really enjoyed friends to lovers, when people are around each other for a lot and they’re just being themselves and then there’s this a-ha moment when it’s like, oh, I like you. But I’m not supposed to like you. Or I kind of wanna like you, and things like that. I think that’s so exciting to read in novels and sometimes to experience in real life.

Jeff: We are so alike, you and I. I love those two.

Frederick: Yes. And also, that whole slow burn aspect too, especially when it comes to either friends to lovers or even workplace romance is like that. That slow burn that, that slow building towards something. Because to me, I think that both in real life and in fiction, that’s what matters and that’s what brings a lot of meaning to people.

And that’s when, I would like to think, that people will feel that the romance is real when it’s just a slow burn and they’re just slowly peeling the layers away in each other.

Jeff: Over the course of the pandemic, who are some of your favorite authors that you, started picking up and have become one click buys for you now?

Frederick: Okay, so, I remember during pandemic there was this author, and not was, is. Alyssa Cole hosted a ton of online events. I forgot the name of the bookstore. It’s a black owned bookstore on the East coast. And she would bring in a lot of authors like Farrah Rochon and Rebekah Weatherspoon, and many others. Those are people who I’ve grown to love and read. Adriana Herrera, who would participate in some of the events that pulled together. Talia Hibbert, et cetera. And then from there, I was one of those people, we were stuck at home, nothing to do, I ordered so many books that are sitting on my nightstand, and on my dressers, and next to my bed, piles of books that I’ve purchased. Some of whom I’ve read, some of whom I’ve not read.

But those are some of the people that really kind of, grew my interest in the whole romance genre. There’s a lot of people I read right now. Like I love Kennedy Ryan books. Kennedy Ryan, who’s kind of like the current queen of romance. Current queen of Black romance novels, emotionally romance novels and things like that.

I just love the genre of romance because I think that, whether it was pandemic or post pandemic, I think there’s this element of hope. This element of love. I really appreciate the happy ever after, and even the happy for now, but especially the happy ever afters. I think that adds to like the fantasy, and the hope, and the desire, and the belief that things can either be better, get better, there’s something to aspire to. And so those are some of the things that really endear me to the romance genre.

And I wish more people… And I am not ashamed to tell people at work, my student groups that I go to, my faculty and administrator groups, I’m like, I read romance. I write romance. I’m not ashamed of it. And you all know romance keeps the doors open for all of publishing, even your academic books, because people love them and read them.

And it’s kind of a shame that sometimes reading romance has to be kind of closeted. Well, we know there’s a lot of elements to that. It started out as primarily a women’s driven genre. We know we live in a society that doesn’t always value the perspectives or presence of women. And so, to know that women drive an industry, that drives the publishing industry, it can be a lot of dissonance there for people. And so, I just love romance. I’m not ashamed of it. I let people know and hopefully I’ve brought some of my colleagues and friends to the genre to wanna read more.

Jeff: I love that. I love that you get to talk about it in your workplace like that. What you mentioned as you were talking about the giant post-it with the smaller post-its on it, that you’ve got one on the wall of your office. What kind of reaction does that get from coworkers, from students who are coming in.

Frederick: They’re like, what are you doing? What are you working on? Like that doesn’t look like your to-do list for work. And I’m like, no, because on the side, outside of higher ed, I write novels. I write romance novels. And I share with them my process of the fact that I can tend to be very busy. I can tend to have a very scheduled life. And so, for me to stay on top of my writing I have to keep this kind of an outline as a reminder of what I’m working toward and where the project is going. But I think that can be helpful for anyone in life who’s a songwriter, who wants to write plays, who wants to do anything, whether it’s creative or not creative,

I think in my opinion, having some kind of an outline and something to work forward is really important and it keeps people out of their heads and really focused on what’s next. And so, that has changed a lot for me in my writing process over the years. When I first started writing, my first novel came out in 2005 when I was just a baby, when I had first moved to Los Angeles.

And then it was just, I was in a creative writing class at UCLA, and I was just writing just for class assignments. Not knowing it would turn into a publishing career. But now, because of where I am in my life now, I have to outline. I have to have something, that guides my work.

Jeff: I just love that it’s on the wall. That just makes me so happy somehow to know that your colleagues get to see that.

Frederick: Yes.

Jeff: Something that I find very consistent in your work that I’ve read is family and community. It’s such a strong role throughout and we see some very different circumstances and scenarios for Taylor and Dustin. I’m kind of curious what you hope readers take away from those aspects of the story and what you’ve presented there.

Frederick: Absolutely. So, I think that sometimes there can tend to be a stereotype or a belief that, like for some black people who happen to be queer or queer people who happen to be black, that their families just disown them, throw them out, toss ’em to the streets and things like that. And while that can be an experience for some people in all communities, in my novels, it’s pretty consistent that the people who I write about… no, lemme take that back.

There are a range of people, range of characters who have a range of experiences from strong family support to kind of, distant or we don’t accept who you are, but you’re still part of the periphery and everything. And so, whether it’s “One and Done” or any of my other novels, I like that aspect of having that family connection, whether it’s the by birth, by blood, family.

Then also I love the aspects, which I think that many people can relate to, is that idea of found family. So, the people who you adopt or who adopt you as their play brother or their play sister, or the auntie, or the father of the friend group and things like that.

And so, in “One and Done” especially, it’s really important. So, the character of Taylor James comes from a pretty strong family unit where the family knows and has known his identity as someone who’s queer for the longest time. And readers will come to see how the characters of Taylor and Markel l become family with each other through Taylor’s family.

But then the encounter with Dustin, the other romantic lead in “One and Done,” is very contrast in a way to the growing up experience of Taylor. So, Dustin’s family dynamic is quite different than Taylor’s. Dustin grew up in a life of struggle. In a life of not having much. In a life of not having the family support that maybe he would’ve wanted or desired.

And he sees this in this love interest in Taylor. He sees Taylor’s family loving him wholly and fully and kind of not a life of struggle. And so, I think that created a sense of tension, and want, and desire, and not desire between the two characters. But it also fits into this whole idea that the character of Dustin also was someone who felt like he needed to move away, all over the US to different jobs, different schools, et cetera. Because in a sense he was running away from who he was or what he thinks he didn’t have in his hometown in Oakland and in the Bay Area.

And so, I think that speaks a lot to some experience that I’ve heard and seen from queer people who have left, whether it’s a big town or a small town, and gone to larger cities or gone to places that are considered gay meccas or gayborhoods and things like that. Where they go somewhere for acceptance of found family, new friends, new identity.

And I think that this whole idea of reinvention is something that is prevalent among queer people who I meet and know who either have left someplace to create a new life for themselves, to be who they are fully. And I think that’s the aspect of found family, and even family, that I wanted to explore in “One and Done.”

And I hope that is inspiring for people who read to see that whether they’re in a circumstance where they’re not happy, that they can recreate themselves maybe somewhere else. Or even if they have a group that’s around them, they can always find new people, different people to be with as well.

And I think that those aspects are prevalent in “One and Done.” And just important to me as a person, and as a person who writes as well. I think that the found family piece is just a theme I have found among many queer people I’ve met, whether it’s in San Francisco, LA, or any other place in the US.

I’ve never lived in a small town, so I don’t know what it’s like to have left a small town to go someplace larger. But I, can identify with the idea of leaving home to go find oneself. And so, I think that these characters, kind of exhibit that, the opposites in terms of their experiences.

And then all the supporting characters have their own stories around family as well. And the community they build in this bar called Beaux in Castro. And the little family they create, which is so heartwarming to me. And were some of my favorite moments when I would see these characters together in this bar, just getting together just because.

Jeff: I loved with the family from Beaux, that you gave them a moment to close the bar down and go have like a family dinner celebration moment. And we get to go there because Taylor’s kind of like part of that family, even though he doesn’t work at the bar. And it was so wonderful to see that because I think so often, we think about the bar as just a workplace but here’s this really tight bar family and the drag performers and everybody coming together to just be with each other and have a dinner.

Frederick: Absolutely. So let me break out a fiction writing Fred into Fred, Fred, the personal person. So, I have recently moved to the Bay Area, to San Francisco. I’ve been here for five years. Of course I was inside for two years, didn’t have any friends. But once outside opened up, one of the first groups of people who I met were bartenders.

Now, I’m, because of my work, I’m not out 5, 6, 7 nights a week. But I like to go to an occasional happy hour after work cause some days, we need it after the work days we have in higher education. But it’s through the people who I’ve met who work in bars, especially during these happy hour shifts.

So, in San Francisco, for people who aren’t familiar, a lot of the bars in the Castro area, which is considered the LGBTQ area of San Francisco. All of the whole city’s very queer friendly. But Castro has a lot of bars. Between the hours of like four and seven they have happy hours. You can get two for ones. You just go and talk and meet with people and everything.

So, I ended up meeting quite a few people just sitting, having a drink after work. But what was really endearing to me were the bar staff. And that just fascinated me, just watching how they worked, how they worked together, knowing that even within the Castro, even though they’re competing bars, so to speak, and I’m putting competing in quotes, they’re all kind of one big family. Like they call themselves, we’re the service industry. We’re in the industry.

They know who works at what bar, during what shift. When they’re off, they go support each other. They tip each other very well. And so just watching all that kind of etiquette and behind the scenes part of the real relationships that people who work in bars have with each other. It really got me thinking a lot about, kind of the setting for “One and Done” and just thinking about… There’s a character named Markell who is a bartender who has a close relationship with Taylor, the main character. And just looking at those dynamics between, someone who works in a bar and the comradery.

That scene that you referenced when they actually got to shut down where they worked at, Beaux, which is the name of a real place in San Francisco. And that they got to shut down the bar for a night and go celebrate at another place.

I think it was set at this place called The Mix, which is another real place in the Castro area. I think just kind of speaks to the humanity of the people. I think sometimes when we go to places, we just see… Some people can have the tendency to see servers as servers and they’re just doing their job. And they don’t see the humanity in them. And they don’t see that they’re humans with hobbies and likes and dislikes and everything.

And so, having immersed myself in this whole idea of knowing people during the happy hour shifts and really wanting to understand like kind of the lives of the people who work in these establishments, really helped me to add some authenticity to some of the supporting characters who were part of “One and Done.”

I think in the future, I would love to write a… I’m trying to think through this whole idea of writing a romance novel that’s just either set among queer bartenders in a queer neighborhood. Cause we know it happens. We know the drama does happen. But I just gotta think through how I would work that through and a story that would be fulfilling both for me and for the readers. And give humanity to the people who work in places.

But I always tell people, and I’ve learned, that our servers rely on the tips. And so, we have to be good tippers when we go out, which is a joke that happens a lot in the first chapter of “One and Done.”

Jeff: Yes, it does.

Frederick: Dustin quips about Taylor’s tipping habits and only giving like a dollar to a drag queen. And I know he jokes about how expensive it is and kind of drag queens can’t survive on a dollar tip and everything.

Jeff: Yeah. It’s one of those nice moments where there’s more about that to come later in the book as more gets uncovered about Taylor. It was interesting too, and I’m glad you kind of circled back to that a little bit, because one of the things that I noticed too with the family, in the same way Taylor and Justin have to keep revisiting their assumptions and perceptions of each other, that even happens with their families too.

I’m not gonna go too much into spoiler territory there. But there are things that they learn about their own families they didn’t know that changes perception for them as this goes on. And I love that you kind of brought that into that setting of the book as well.

Frederick: Absolutely. So, how do I wanna say it? So, I am a person who has lost both of their parents recently. And I think that, through this process of both loss and grief and continue to live on with life, I have learned to have a lot more grace for experiences I’ve had while growing up that maybe I didn’t understand as a kid or as a teenager or even as a younger adult.

But as an adult there are things where I’m like, “Oh, wow. Now I know why my mom or dad needed to sit in the car after work and not want to come in the house for 30 minutes and just sit in the driveway.” Or, not realizing that the people who raised us had lives before we were born that many of us don’t even investigate know or understand.

And so, I think that whole process really helped me write in about these two main characters, but in other characters. How do they develop empathy for the lives of the people who raised them and who they grew up with? And, not in an accusatory way, but just in more of “Oh, okay, now I get it.” Or “Oh, I didn’t know that they had this interest or this hobby, or did these things for the neighborhood, and things like that.” And so, I think that oftentimes, as we grow and mature, I think it gives us opportunity to reflect back and look back. And not always assume blame or take a position of blame, but really take a position of, “okay, the people who raised us did the best they could with the best they had.”

And hopefully if they get to learn more and learn better, they can do better. But that’s also a role that we can all take as well.

One thing I like to tell people and talk to people, and I’m gonna put it in the context of hazing, although this is not a hazing conversation. But like one thing I often tell people, where I hear like, people say, “Well, when I was coming up as a graduate assistant, my professor did this to me and that to me, and I went through these things and everything.” And I often say just because it was hard for you then doesn’t mean you have to make it hard for people now.

And I think that’s all our roles. Whether we are queer, whether we call ourselves mature or whatever is it, just because we went through it doesn’t mean the people that we live with, work with, have to go through it too. That we have a responsibility to make life better for future generations. So just because someone did X, Y, Z to you doesn’t mean you have to repeat the pattern and do it with people who are around us.

And so, I think that’s one of the things that, you know hopefully comes across in “One and Done” as well, is this idea of both forgiveness, but also reflection and thinking through that people do the best they can with what they have, and we’re all learning, and we’re all developing.

Jeff: It’s in so many aspects of the book, kind of that message.

Frederick: I just want people to know it is a fun book.

Jeff: Oh, it really, yeah.

Frederick: It totally is a fun book.

Jeff: Like, I could not put it down. I’m like, I need to keep going. This is so good. I can’t get away from these two. I need to keep reading. And part of that is the moment you inject with the character of Wes Jenkins. So, we’ve gotta talk about him for just a moment. I think all of us have worked with somebody like him or certainly know somebody like him. What made him the perfect antagonist for Taylor and Dustin, and where did he come from for you as you created this book?

Frederick: All right. So, first of all, I hope that everyone will read “One and Done” and they will understand who Wes Jenkins is. So, I’ll kind of give it in non-spoilerish ways. And I’ll give it in the context of if we are working and if we’re in a workplace, there might be that one person who either knows or does not know how annoying they are. And maybe the troublemaker, the trouble stirrer. The one that throws people under the bus. The one who runs and tells a supervisor everything. And that is Wes Jenkins, who wanted a position that Taylor is in in the book, but did not get it. And so, holds onto a sense of resentment. And that resentment turns into just all sorts of trying to sabotage the main character Taylor’s professional life. But then some aspects of Taylor’s personal life as well, this character, Wes Jenkins attempts to do.

I loved writing Wes Jenkins because that’s so unlike me in the workplace and in life. I try to be so easy and I’m so not difficult at my work life and at work. And I think to why people like me and not like in a pushover, like easy way, but just in a I know that people have stuff going on in their lives and so why make it more difficult in the workplace? People come to do their work, they wanna go home.

But this character, Wes Jenkins, was just driven to be a thorn in the side of Taylor James. And then eventually driven to be a thorn in the side of many other people in a novel as well.

Where did Wes Jenkins come from? Well, the first thing that came to mind was, I just love that last name Jenkins. I don’t know why. One of my favorite authors, Beverly Jenkins, has the name. Jenkins, of course. But there’s also a soap opera character named Diane Jenkins on “The Young and the Restless.” So, I just love this last name, Jenkins. I was like, okay, I have to write a character with a last name Jenkins.

And then I was like, okay, what’s a good name that goes together? I went through a whole bunch of names. Wes looked like it worked together well. And then I just kind of flushed out that Wes was this person who had some unhappiness in his own personal and professional life as well.

And that is what he used as kind of a defense mechanism to be mean to everyone around him and be a thorn in everyone’s side. And so, my words of wisdom to people as you read the novel and as you reflect on your own work life, is don’t be a Wes Jenkins. And if you are a Wes Jenkins, find a way to remedy yourself. Because it’s okay not to have control in the workplace, and it’s okay to be nice to the people you work with.

But Wes Jenkins was so much fun to write. I just thought about every kind of annoying coworker or person I’ve known in life, and I was like, lemme just throw everything, into the pot with Wes Jenkins. I think a perfect antagonist because, one, a polar opposite of Taylor who, as described in the novel, really just wanted to be good to the people around him. Wanted to do good work for the fictional university.

And then just to have someone who did not have Taylor’s best interests at heart, but for Dustin to see through it and to really kind of, have that be part of the love story between Dustin and Taylor, of Dustin telling Taylor, “Hey, I’m gonna need you to kind of strengthen up a little bit and see what this person is doing to your life.”

And I know you wanna be nice to everyone, but this person does not have your best interest at heart. That’s what a good partner does. And so, as they were falling more and more for each other, I started thinking a lot about what is the support that partners give to each other, when they’re at home about their workplace or about the other interests in their lives.

And that’s what I think made this writing process so interesting was these are mature characters and it’s not just thinking about what they look like on the surface, but it was also about how do I grow to be a partner with this person? And those are things that partners do is they ask about workdays, and who’s annoying you, and who’s supporting you, and how can I help you be better in your work? And they make observations, and they offer advice without imposing it.

That’s one of the aspects I really loved about Taylor and Dustin. And I think that Wes was a perfect person to kinda bring out that aspect of their coming together in the novel.

But he was so unlikable, like, ooh, so unlikable. And it’s so funny because one of the early reviews that came in said they love a good character that they can hate. And I was like, yay. I guess I’d done my job with Wes Jenkins.

Jeff: Wes could have totally been like an antagonist out of like some eighties nighttime soap.

Frederick: I love it.

Jeff: And I think you’ve got some perfect merchandising opportunities. If you’re, if you want like a T-shirt or a mug that just says, “Don’t be a Wes Jenkins.”

Frederick: Hey, I should trademark that.

Jeff: Take it. Take it. Use it.

So, you said that Wes Jenkins was great to write, but is he part of like what your favorite scene is, or does your favorite scene sit somewhere else in the book?

Frederick: Oh wow. Okay. So, there’s a couple of scenes, and I’m gonna try to describe them in non-spoilerish ways. There is a scene kind of, early in the book when, after Taylor and Dustin kind of let their guards down and they first start to kind of open up to each other about who they are. How they were brought up. How they look at life. I really enjoyed those aspects and especially around some of the nature scenes that I’ll say that pull them together as their self-disclosing aspects of their lives. That I really enjoyed because the whole time I was writing this, again, these characters are over 35, over 40. I was like, these are mature characters. They’re not just gonna be looking at superficial, you wear this kind of clothes. Although one of the characters does kind of have a superficial, materialistic stance on life that he grew into.

But I was always thinking about these are mature people, so, I would like to think that mature people are gonna ask the kind of questions. The kind of deep questions as they formulate them in the novel, that are gonna really give each other information about who each other is. So those scenes were really exciting to me.

And then toward the, I would say almost the end of the book, there is a scene, I’ll just say it takes place at an area called Lake Merritt in Oakland. And I don’t wanna spoil anything, but I just call it a coming together scene where so many ribbons tie up and in a beautiful way that as I was writing it, I was grinning to myself. I was like, oh my God, this is so cute. This is like the perfect kind of wrap up.

But as I was going through the whole editing process and rereading it again, I was in tears the whole time. I was like, “Oh my God, this is so beautiful.” And I, might’ve put a social media post up on one of the sites where you give your quick thoughts. I think I said, every time I read this scene, I just wanna cry and I wanna laugh and I wanna smile out loud at the same time.

And so, yes, this Lake Merritt scene at a restaurant just really was one of my favorites because it just brought together so many aspects of the novel that made it satisfying to me as an author.

Jeff: Yeah, the end of the book is just everything. I mean, you pull all the emotion and push all the emotional buttons, so, well. I finished the book on an airplane coming back from a business trip, and you made me cry on the airplane.

Frederick: Cry. No way.

Jeff: Little bit of tears going on, and it’s not because it’s necessarily sad. I wanna be clear to come back to the point that we talked about earlier. This is a fun book. It’s just, it pushed so many emotions and the things that go on in the last, let’s say 20-ish percent of the book, it just all comes together in such that satisfying, emotional way. It’s like, ahhh, that really nice. And the emotional outlet was, it was everything it needed to be. And it was a nice thing for a Friday morning flight home.

Frederick: Oh, that makes me Oh that makes me so happy to hear. As a writer, as a creative, and I know you are a creator and you write novels as well, we never know how our work is gonna be received by people. I’m not always thinking about what are people gonna think, but then there’s this little part in my head where I’m like, what are people gonna think? What are people gonna feel? What are they gonna experience? And so that really makes me feel good. It makes me wanna cry right now when I hear how you experience the novel and that part of it. And on an airplane at that too.

And I think I’d like to say, as I reread and as I was editing, I think I had those same tears of joy and smiles of joy at the same time with the ending. Because one, I mean, I think this goes back to the whole premise of romance novels and romance writing in the beginning, is that people want a happily ever after or a happy for now.

And I hate it took me so many novels to really figure out this formula and everything. But my other novels are great, I gotta say. But I, think here I really knocked it out the park in terms of hitting all the beats in terms of really thinking through what will be a satisfying, emotionally charged way to end the novel that gives the reader an opportunity to really feel like, I can rest that Taylor and Dustin are gonna be okay in the future and even right now.

And yeah. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Jeff: I see them being a really good power couple in their circle and in the higher ed community. And I mean power couple in just the best way possible.

Frederick: Absolutely I do too. And I’m like, well, I, can’t write another love story with them because I don’t wanna break them up and get them back together again for a second chance. But I think there’s so many great peripheral characters and side characters that something could be built upon as well.

And so hopefully when people read, they can think I think there’s so many potential jump off points for this world that’s in “One and Done” that could have a potential for either a connected novel or… I don’t wanna say sequel. cause I don’t know if I’m a series person but connected. Maybe there’s someone who jumps off.

Jeff: You could have all this connected story thing going on. Cause that gives you the chance too, to revisit them and just see what they’re up to. And I love that in a romance novel.

Frederick: Yes, yes.

Jeff: So, I wanna shift gears just a little bit. Juneteenth is coming up just a couple days after this episode comes out. And I’m curious, what’s top of your mind as the US commemorates the day this year.

Frederick: Yeah. So, I am so happy that more and more people are learning about Juneteenth as a holiday and as a significant part of US history. So, for those who don’t know, Juneteenth commemorate a day when people who were… So, one we know there was this Emancipation Proclamation documentation when people who were enslaved, they were free. But two years later, the enslaved people in Texas did not know they were free and discovered they were free. Juneteenth came about to celebrate just the knowledge of we’ve been free for two years and didn’t know it.

And so, I love the fact that more and more people are learning about the history of Juneteenth and its significance in the United States. And I’m really excited that more and more people and cities, states are recognizing it, giving people a day off because many people had already been taking Juneteenth off without it being made official by everyone.

And so, I’m really excited that more and more people are understanding, learning that knocking on wood, that it doesn’t get appropriated and turn into a big department store holiday, so to speak and everything. And that people really do look at the significance in terms of the history, but also spend time with friends and family or take some time just getting to, just even Google, read, research and understand what Juneteenth is. And whether or not people identify as part of the black community that was formally enslaved or wanna learn more, I think this is a great learning opportunity for people.

Jeff: And you’re actually participating in a symposium this year around Juneteenth as well.

Frederick: Yeah, so the system I work for, the Cal State University system, and every two years… so one, it is a holiday for the whole university system. So, the Cal State system does give all the employees and students that day off. But as a system, the Cal State system does every two years, a Juneteenth symposium that brings together people from all 23 of the CSU campuses to explore through different workshops, through different symposium speakers, et cetera, what is the impact of the Cal State System on black students, black staff, black faculty. And I’m really excited to have been invited to be part of the symposium.

We have a system that kind of puts its word and money and mouth all kind of united together in terms of recognizing the significance of the holiday.

Jeff: And of course it’s also Pride month.

Frederick: And it’s pride month too. Oh, my goodness. All these holidays coming into one and all these festive moments coming into one. I’m really excited. This is my second novel that has come out during a pride month. My other wow, “In Case You Forgot” came out on Pride Month in June 2019. And so, it’s always exciting to have a novel that comes out during this month.

But then I think that it’s just important for, whether people identify as part of the queer community or even as an ally or just want to learn, I think it’s important, just in terms of, giving people the opportunity to be who they are, to name who they are, to identify who they are and how they want to be identified.

And of course, the festivities are nice. I do have to give a plug to this one book that I think that every queer person should read, and it’s called “One-Dimensional Queer” by Dr. Roderick Ferguson. And for people who wanna understand kind of the history of not only how Pride came about, but how it got co-opted from more of a political movement to more of the kind of party movement.

This book, “One-Dimensional Queer” is a great kind of quick academic read to learn more about looking at that transition from the political aspects of pride to the kind of what we now see as kind of the party aspects. I say however you want to celebrate, celebrate, whether it’s a book, whether it’s going to a party and a bash. However you celebrate pride, I think is just so important in how you want to do it.

Jeff: I’d love to know like what pride is meaning to you in 2024, kind of where we are today.

Frederick: Yeah, so, one, what I will share is that, as much as I enjoy Pride and festivals and going out and meeting people and things like that, I think that our pride also has to be directed toward the political as well. We know that there are some very challenging elections coming up. I don’t want to tell people how to vote and who to vote for, but just being registered to vote I think is so important and can speak to the pride we have for ourselves.

And then just really paying attention, not only to the national elections and the national leaders who are running, but those local elections can make such a difference, especially for queer communities. And so, if we can kind of direct some of that pride we have for the fun to some of the politics happening in the local level, whether it’s school boards, library boards, the people who run the neighborhood PTA and things like that. We have to get involved there and show that we exist, show that we’re part of the community, show that our young people are part of the community, and that we are going to defend and speak up for, and advocate for our queer youth, our queer elders in those local spaces.

I think that’s where we have to be visible in terms of showing our pride and then hopefully that will reflect in an election that will serve all of our communities well when that happens nationally. But yeah, I think it’s important for us to show our pride on the local level even on our university campuses, making sure that we’re visible if we’re comfortable, but also speaking up for policies and practices that will make sure we’re not invisibilized, that our literature can remain on the shelves, that there’s clubs and organizations and people who are looking out for our good.

And then if it even strikes us, maybe taking our own pride to maybe think about running for something and to be a leader on the local level. That’s a way I think all of us can show our pride if we are so drawn to do that.

Jeff: Yeah, I absolutely agree. The local level is so important. I mean, it’s always important for elections, but even more so this year.

And you’re out and about quite a bit this Pride season I know. Before this interview drops, you’re gonna have been at Sacramento Pride. You and I are gonna be talking at A Seat at the Table Books about “One and Done.” So, you’re out there doing all kinds of things this Pride season.

Frederick: Yeah, Pride season and beyond. In early August, I’ll be attending what’s called the Steamy Lit Con. And so, these are romance writers from all genres of romance coming together in early August in Anaheim, California.

And then on the horizon in May 2025, I’ll be attending an event called Queers and Quills. That’s in Portland. I think, debut year there. And again, dozens of queer authors or authors of queer lit coming into Portland in May 2025.

And then I’ll be attending the Black Romance Book Festival. It’ll be its first time happening in Atlanta, Georgia. Again, that’s May, 2025.

And then, here and there, if people wanna follow me on social media, they can find out about different bookstore events, festivals and things that pop up. It’s a lot to name and a lot still in the works, but I do know the lit cons are a great place for people who are readers to come together and just kind of see everyone at one time. So, I’m excited about those events.

Jeff: I’m excited about how many you’re gonna go out there and get to do, especially on this book that is so romance tropey heavy.

Frederick: Oh, I’m excited and I’m nervous, but I’m just excited to, to meet readers and meet other authors too. I think that our sense of community is so important and kind of going back to your question about some of the online events during pandemic, I think that created a sense of community for romance readers, romance writers. And so, although I’ll be there as a fanboy of so many other authors, also that we’re in community with each other and I think that love that we have for each other and that support we have for each other, just speaks volumes.

Jeff: Absolutely. So, as we wrap up, we gotta get those recommendations that we hinted at earlier. What are you reading or watching these days that our listeners should be checking out?

Frederick: I wish I had time for tv. I don’t do a lot of TV watching or movie watching. Although I did love the film “Origin” by Ava DuVernay that came out early in 2024.

But I think summer 2024, there’s some great novels. I’m looking forward to “The 7-10 Split” by Karmen Lee. There’s a book called “Second Night Stand.” It’s by a pair of women who are married, Fay and Karelia Stetz-Waters that I’m looking forward to. “A Little Kissing Between Friends” by Chencia C. Higgins. “The Prince of Palisades” by Julian Winters, who I think might have been on your show before. And then there’s this emerging writer named Jeffrey Davenport has a new novel out called “Meet Me in the Sky” that I’m looking forward to.

But I’ll, what I’ll also share is I, know we all love to kind of promote the new books that are coming out, and thank you for doing it. I think it’s so important. But I want us all to kind of think about looking back. There’s this one writer whose catalog I wanna revisit totally. And his name is E. Lynn Harris. He wrote a lot of novels about black queer characters in the South. And most of his novels were written in the nineties and two thousands. And I have to say that those novels kinda were my support system growing up. And even though I had to sneak and read them, the novels of E. Lynn Harris, so like, “Invisible Life,” “Just as I Am.” I hope that people will maybe go to their libraries or, find them online and read E. Lynn Harris.

But there’s some others like Rashid Darden, Fiona Zedde, Sheree L. Greer, Keith Boykin. These are some authors who I look forward to, who I call, kind of like the old school, the OGs, so to speak. But those new books that I shared earlier, I highly recommend them and I’m looking forward to reading and diving into

Jeff: I love that you highlight, as you say, the OG authors, because if you haven’t read it before, it is new to you even if it was put out in the 1990s. And it sometimes it’s good to go back and revisit stuff that you’ve read before too.

Frederick: Absolutely. I agree.

Jeff: So, what is the best way for people to keep up with you online to know all the appearances you’ve got going on, and perhaps most importantly, know what’s coming up next for you?

Frederick: Okay, so the two places I’ll share is my website is, or I’m on most social media under FSmith827. And those are the numbers. Eight, two, seven. That’s like my birthday, August 27th. But at FSmith827 or or you can just type in Frederick Smith “One and Done” novel, you’ll find something that has my current and past information.

Jeff: Perfect. We’ll Link up to all that stuff in their show notes, make sure everybody can get to it. And Fred, it’s been so good talking to you about this novel. I can’t wait for people to get “One and Done” in their hands and get to experience Taylor and Dustin’s story.

Frederick: Thank you so much for having me.


Jeff: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, check out the show notes page for this episode at And of course, we’ve got links to everything that we talked about in this episode.

Thanks so much to Fred for being here to talk about “One and Done.” I really hope he does create some new stories in this world because I would love to go back and visit these characters anytime.

All right. I think that will do it for now. Coming up next on Monday, July 1st, Nora Phoenix and E.M. Lindsey are gonna be here to talk about “Creek,” which is the first time these two have co-written together. We’re gonna get the scoop on this first book in their “Honorably Discharged” series.

Thank you so much for listening and spending a little bit more of Pride month right here. And I hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.

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