Kicking off the episode, Jeff highlights a new Kickstarter from Lee Wind, and recommends Cats: The Jellicle Ball on stage at PAC NYC, and baseball romance The Prospects by KT Hoffman.

Then, Xio Axelrod is in conversation with Jeff at an event that was recorded live at Wild Sisters Book Company in Sacramento. Xio talks about her latest book, Girls with Bad Reputations, which features the romance between Kayla and Ty, and set in the world of The Lillys, an all girl rock band working for their big break. Xio discusses her inspirations for the characters, The Lillys music she’s creating, and what’s coming up next for the fictional band.

Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Monday, July 15.

Remember, you can listen and follow the podcast anytime on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube and audio file download.

Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at!

Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.


This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at


Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we’re talking to Xio Axelrod about her latest, “Girls with Bad Reputations.”

Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. Welcome to episode 457 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.

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 don’t forget, you can get book recommendations delivered to your email box with the Rainbow Romance Reader Report. It’s a look at books that are new and coming soon that we’re excited about. Plus, we also have recommendations for you about what we’re currently reading and watching. You can sign up for the Rainbow Romance Reader report at

Now if you listened to the end of the last episode, you know we said that Nora Phoenix and E.M. Lindsey, were scheduled for today. We had to switch that up a bit, and you’ll actually be hearing from Nora and E.M. in a few weeks on July 29th.

Now, before we get to our conversation with Xio, there’s a few things to talk about.

First, back in episode 455, Lee Wind was here talking about his fantastic YA romance thriller, “A Different Kind of Brave.” Lee now has a Kickstarter running for a gorgeous collector’s edition hardback of the book. But even more than the spiffy hardback, Lee’s using the Kickstarter to raise funds to donate at least 350 copies of the paperback to queer and allied teens. And hey, if the Kickstarter is super successful, he can donate even more books. Lee’s teamed up with the wonderful folks at Brave Trails to help deliver the books right into the hands of teens. And with your help, the Kickstarter can empower and entertain young readers with Lee’s globe-trotting, high stakes adventure with the heroic courage of James Bond movies, along with that super sweet ongoing romance, and a great group of queer friends. You could get more details on the Kickstarter, and back it if you’d like, by going to Or you can follow the link in the show notes. You got to act fast though. This Kickstarter only runs until Saturday, July 20th.


Cats: The Jellicle Ball

Jeff: I also want to tell you about a quick trip to New York City that I took so I could see “Cats: The Jellicle Ball” at the Perelman Performing Arts Center, which is a new performing arts venue at the World Trade Center. “Cats: The Jellicle Ball” is a re-imagining of the classic Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that takes the action out of the junkyard and sets it within queer ballroom culture. Now, for those of you who don’t know what that is, I’m not talking about ballroom dancing. This is voguing, and the balls that you find in the documentary “Paris is Burning,” the FX series “Pose,” and the competition series “Legendary.” This means that there’s no performers dressed up as cats. The action moves to the runway, and the Jellicle Ball, which is held at the Russell Hotel and presided over by Old Deuteronomy.

As the show starts, we see performers preparing for the ball, and then the majority of the show is a ball. They managed to restage the story, without changing the songs at all. They do add some additional dance and some spoken word as an MC calls out the categories, delivers the scores, and occasionally has to keep order. The show also pays tribute to ballroom, honoring some of the founding house mothers. But also giving a nod at the end of that tribute, calling out Grizabella as the founding mother of the House of Glamour.

Now I know “Cats” is polarizing. Most either love it or hate it. There’s not much middle ground there. For me, “Cats” has always been a magical show. It’s one of the very first Broadway shows I saw on tour in the 1980s, and since then I’ve seen it more than a dozen times, but always with the standard junkyard staging. Once I heard that this production was happening, I had to make the cross-country trip to see it. It was incredible. It exceeded my already high expectations, and I would see it again in a second if I had the opportunity. It was two and a half hours of absolute queer joy. I can’t tell you just how remarkable the energy was from the performers, and the audience who were just so into everything that was going on. It was absolutely brilliant.

The way the creative team has taken something that’s been consistently done for some 40 years and transformed it so completely but also keeping most of it the same was absolutely incredible. I can only think of two revivals that I’ve seen that have managed to do this kind of transformation, the 2015 Deaf West Theater production of “Spring Awakening” and director Daniel Fish’s take on “Oklahoma” that I saw on Broadway in 2019.

The bringing together of Broadway performers such as the legendary Andre De Shields, and Shereen Pimemtel and Sydney James Harcourt, alongside ballroom icons like Junior Labeija, who also happens to appear in “Paris is Burning,” Robert “Silk” Mason, and “Tempress” Chasity Moore helps to make this production so exciting and vibrant.

If you live near NYC, I highly recommend you get yourself tickets. If you don’t live near the city, and if you have the opportunity to be as impulsive as I was and travel to go see it, I say do it. Regardless of how you feel about “Cats” and its original staging, this one is absolutely worth seeing. It’s currently running through August 11th, and it’s already extended twice, but who knows if it’ll be able to do so again. So, if you can make this part of your summer.

Two more teases for you on “Cats” Rum Tum Tugger. He is so hot. There is no other way to describe him. And, spoiler alert, he’s possibly in a relationship with Mr. Mistoffelees, which was quite exciting to see. Anyway, thanks to the company of “Cats: The Jellicle Ball” and PAC NYC for an incredible night of theater. It was perfect for Pride month and, honestly, a great birthday present that I gave to myself.

The Prospects by KT Hoffman

Jeff: And I’ve got to talk about a book too, “The Prospects” by KT Hoffman. It’s the second baseball romance I’ve read this year so far, so maybe that’s becoming a thing for me. This book is outstanding in every single way.

Now “The Prospects” is about two baseball players playing in the minor leagues in Oregon. Gene is described as an underdog and an optimist and is the first openly trans player in professional baseball. When Gene’s former teammate and current rival, Luis, is traded to his team, it is a massive curve ball for Gene.

KT’s written a stunning enemies to lovers, sports, workplace romance that occasionally has some good forced proximity in there too. Gene’s none too happy when Luis shows up and taking his spot in the batting order and on the field. Luis also seems to want to be anywhere but where he is.

The two have got to figure out how to work together though, one at second base and one at shortstop, because the team needs them to do their jobs well, so that maybe they can have a successful season and get into the playoffs and make a championship run.

Much like Cat Sebastian did with You Should Be So Lucky,” KT makes me care about baseball, which is important since it’s one of the most important things in Gene’s life. His enthusiasm for the game and what it entails is so easy to get caught up in. And then how he has to work with Luis just amplifies it. Being able to work together means they’ve got to work through their past, along with also getting to know each other in the present. And Gene, while being an optimist, is always on the lookout for the worst to happen. He also knows what it means to be the first openly trans player in baseball, and he’s often wondering if that will keep him from getting called up into the majors, no matter how good he plays. He doesn’t want to do anything that might lessen the chance for that call, including falling for Luis.

Now for Luis, he’s anxious about everything. Although the more he is around Gene, he finds that that anxiety actually lessens. These two are so good for each other, even if they don’t want to admit it at times.

KT gives us some amazing support characters too. There’s the coach slash manager trying to get the team to the postseason and her ways to get the best out of the team possible. Then there’s the pitcher who’s facing possibly his last season while also getting ready for some big life changes with his husband. We also get terrific glimpses of Gene and Luis’s families.

Most importantly, KT gives us a sexy, sweet, superb romance that leans a bit into some slow burn territory as these guys figure out how to work together and be together, and then eventually that there might be more for them if they’ll just let it happen. I loved this story so much, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I totally agree with Casey McQuiston’s blurb on the cover, “Sexy, effervescent, and endlessly charming.” This is KT Hoffman’s debut novel, and I cannot wait to read more from him.

All right, now onto our conversation with Xio Axelrod. This is the first of two interviews that we’re gonna be bringing you that were recorded during live events here in our home base of Sacramento. This one was recorded in March at Wild Sisters Book Company while Xio was on tour talking about her latest “Girls with Bad Reputations.” I loved the story of Kayla and Ty so much. It is a perfect book for summertime sexy reading. As always, Xio infuses queerness in her characters in such a wonderful way, which is one of the reasons we’re so excited to bring you this discussion about this terrific rockstar romance. I think you’ll fall for Kayla and Ty and the world of The Lillys just like I did.

Xio Axelrod Interview

Jeff: So, before we get into “Girls with Bad Reputations,” we got to talk a little bit about the first book, where we met The Lillys. So, tell us a little bit about “The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes.”

Xio: Right. So, when I first came up with the idea for the series, Lilly was the first character that came to me, oddly enough, the lead singer. And I just thought it was gonna be a book about her and her life. And I kind of put it aside. And then when I had an opportunity to work with a publisher who really liked the idea of an all-female rock band, we were trying to figure out a way to introduce the reader to the world of The Lillys and not just drop them straight into this like rock nonsense. And I thought, okay, here’s a person who’s a musician. Like it’s in her blood. She loves music. That’s what she’s all about, but she has no interest in being famous at all.

She grew up with a mother who was always chasing fame. To the point where she sends her 12-year-old daughter on her birthday to go live with her father, who she’s never met. She just puts her on a bus and ships her off. So, she’s just really averse to fame. Doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, but she wants to be a working musician.

So, we meet Toni. Her dream is to own a studio and be a hired gun and all this other kinda stuff. And she gets this opportunity to buy into a legendary studio in Philadelphia, but she doesn’t have the cash. So, someone tells her about this audition that’s happening for this band. They need a temporary guitarist because their current guitarist is quote unquote ill.

And Toni’s like do I want to even deal with this nonsense short term? But it’s a crazy amount of money and it’s like the perfect thing that she needs to buy into the studio. So, she decides to audition, and the person that’s sort of not in charge of the audition but has some sway with the band, their manager, is the guy who like left her behind in the small town where she first lands to live with her dad.

He’s like the guy… she gets out of the cab and he’s standing there with a guitar slung over his back, like a couple years older than her, and they kind of bond over music and have this like pact. They’re gonna get out of town together when they turn 18, but he’s a little older and he leaves first and leaves her behind.

So, it’s like, I was telling you before, it’s like a childhood, friends to enemies to friends to lovers, second chance romance.

Jeff: All the hyphens that you’d ever want.

Xio: Yeah. And then all the found family of a band. And you meet the band when they’re just moving out of dive bars into like bigger venues and they just got their record deals. So, you’re really just sort of like dipping your toes in the world of The Lillys.

Jeff: So, Lilly came to your head first. But Lilly didn’t get to be the story of the first book.

Xio: No.

Jeff: How did that happen?

Xio: Soon as I said, okay, there’s gonna be four books. Lilly was like, I’m last. And I was like, but you’re… I’m last.

And I was like, okay. I’m a pantser. If you don’t know what that means, I don’t plot. I do let my stories live in my head, like films, so I can rewind scenes until I get them down and then I write them. So, I just let the characters do what they’re gonna do and say and interact and all kinds of stuff. And I just watch it. And then when something interesting happens, I’ll hit rewind. Oh, that’s a scene, okay. But Lilly insisted that she was the last character.

Jeff: Given that she doesn’t want fame. I’m kind of not surprised.

Xio: No. Toni doesn’t want fame. Lilly is… she’s, like a larger-than-life character. But she’s also very enigmatic. You get to know her little bits of her between book one and book two, she opens up a little bit.

Jeff: Are there any like archetypes in your head, this person’s based on this famous musician out here, or anything that?

Xio: For Toni in book one, I had a very clear idea of who she was, and then I realized that I was basing her loosely on this musician named H.E.R. She’s a multi-instrumentalist, like really driven, really like self-contained, really focused. There’s a video of H.E.R., if you guys have never seen it, on YouTube when she’s 12 or 13 years old on like “Good Morning America,” one of those national morning shows, where her parents bring her on cause she’s like a prodigy. And she sings an Alicia Keys song.

And I forget who the interviewer was, it was like Robin or somebody like that. And they’re like, oh, you’re so cute. what do you want to be when you grow up? She’s well, I’m gonna win some Grammys and I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna be in some films. I’m gonna… and they’re like, okay, little girl. And now she just played the Super Bowl with Usher. She has six Grammys, I think at this point. She was just in “The Color Purple,” like everything that she said she was gonna do.

And that’s kind of how Toni is, except not fame. She doesn’t want the fame, she wants to own like the best studio and be like the best female engineer ever. And like that kind of thing. And then meeting The Lillys, she’s sort of, discovers another path. She can have sort of both. She can control the kind of fame that she has, and I don’t think that’s something that she considered before. Yeah. Before meeting them. But, yeah, so H.E.R. was definitely an archetype for her.

And then Lilly came… I saw a photo of Taylor Momsen, she’s like an actress turned singer, I guess like a rock singer. And she’s sort of sitting on a stack of, I think, amps with one leg up and raccoon eyes and torn fishnet and she just looked like, “say something,” you know what I mean?

I was like, oh that’s… I got to write something. So, I just put that aside and that was Lilly. But that’s the only thing I had that would refer her. And then the other two, I’m still getting to learn. I had to learn who Kayla was. There’s no archetype for her. And Tiff, I’m just getting to know now cause I’m writing her book

Jeff: And we certainly find out more about Seb and Toni in book two.

Xio: Yeah.

Jeff: Just as their story kind of continues alongside everybody else.

Xio: Yeah.

Jeff: So, let’s talk about “Girls with Bad Reputations.” It’s Kayla, the drummer. And Ty, who ends up being their bus driver while they’re out on tour. Where did this come from? Because I just love these two so much from their very first appearance in the pages.

Xio: I do too. So, like, whenever I’m writing… whatever character comes to me first, cause my characters rarely come to me in pairs. Like I never have oh, here are the two love interests or whatever.

It’s like one character has a stronger voice or that’s the story that I see first. And in this case, obviously it was Kayla because she’s the drummer. I didn’t really know all about her background. in book one. I knew that she was from Athens, Georgia, but didn’t live there anymore. I knew that her parents were something, but I didn’t know.

So, as she started telling me her story, I was like, my goodness, like you’ve been through a lot. Like I didn’t know about her brother. I didn’t know any of that. And then my second question is, okay, now I know who you are. Who is the person that you would fall in love with? Or who is the person that would catch your eye?

And Ty walked in the room like fully formed. He just showed up. Him and his Pop-pop just showed up, and I was like, “Oh, okay. Well, I guess it’s you.” But he’s just, he’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. I don’t know where he came from. He is so sweet and so supportive. Not a pushover. Like he’s a cinnamon roll, but he’s also got a really strong backbone. He’s a really good support system for her, which she really needed.

And, on the other hand, she’s a really good support system for him. They see things in each other. They see each other in each other. Like the very first time they meet, there’s one of those like Spider-Man gif moments where they’re like, “Oh yeah, I see you. Like T-shirt and shoes and earrings and kilt.”

There’s a whole thing like they’re both alt, and so they kind of recognize that in each other and, just build from there, which is really cool. But yeah, I love them. I love them so much. They’re one of my favorite couples that I’ve ever written. And Ty, I would die or kill for Ty.

Jeff: He’s so interesting because, and really the way you structured the two of them, like for Kayla, the last thing she wants to really deal with is her family. And she’s very into being as open as she can with the band. Whereas Ty will do anything, say anything, be his full self with his Pop-pop and family,

but is extremely guarded around everybody else. It’s a very interesting opposites moment you’ve set up there for them.

Xio: Yeah. Well, I mean, Kayla… like I said in all of my books found family is a really big theme. And being in music, found family are the people that you end up playing with, especially if you’re in a band you better love those people because you’re gonna spend a lot of time with them. So, she’s finally found a group of people who really love her for who they think she is. And it is her real self, right? Like she’s hiding things from them. But it’s still her idea of her best self she’s giving to them, so she feels really open and free. Whereas Ty,

at home… and even so, there’s a moment in the book where he realizes that he thinks he’s keeping a secret from Pop-pop, but he is not really.

But he feels the most comfortable around him. And I think he was okay in his own skin for the most part, until these bad things happened to him. And then he felt, okay, now I need to shut the doors. I need to put up the walls, or whatever. So, he is very guarded. He gets judged just walking down the street.

Xio: And he just came out of a situation where people were judging him for something that he didn’t do just because of like press coverage or, whispers or whatever it was. So, yeah, he’s very guarded and I think him walking into this situation and being immediately accepted by almost everyone, was really disconcerting for him at first.

And he wasn’t quite sure how to take it. He tried to keep to himself. You guys go do your thing. I’m just gonna stay on the bus and read. And they’re like, you, have credentials, you can come hang out. And he is I don’t want to get in anybody’s way. So, it takes a minute for him to realize he’s found these people.

Jeff: Him losing his shell over time is so wonderful. And especially how Kayla just was like, come on.

Xio: She buys him that like journal or whatever she gives him. She’s it’s like a little olive branch because again, she recognizes something in him that’s in herself. This guardedness, this like weariness. And she’s you’re cool. Like here, here’s something for your collection. He is like, how did you even know that I used the… you know what I mean? He’s just so taken aback by it. And I love that she teases it out of him a little bit. And he does the same thing with her. and it’s, they’re just so sweet.

Jeff: They are. Are we gushing enough about the book? I dunno.

Xio: I mean, it sounds weird because I wrote the thing and I’m like, I love them so much, But yeah….

Jeff: As a pantser, how did Kayla end up and form for you? Because she’s got secrets she’s keeping from the band for a while. She’s got secrets she’s keeping from her family. She’s got all these secrets, and yet she’s also this very fun loving, vivacious, fierce drummer at the same time. So many little counterpoints in herself.

Xio: Yeah. I think a lot of people can relate to… I mean, I can when you’re away from your family, you’re a different person. You behave differently, you speak differently sometimes than you are when you’re with your family. If you grow up, especially in her case, she grows, up in a household where her mom is very, not strict, but exacting.

I think her mother thought she was giving her freedom, but really, she was trying to like mold her into something that she wasn’t. And Kayla, until a certain age was like, okay, I have to dress a certain way. I have to speak a certain way. I have to hide the fact that I love playing the drums. I have to do these things. And then when she’s away from home, when she’s hanging out with her brother and his friends, she’s like, I can just sit here and listen to music, or I can play drums, or I can do whatever. And then when she, goes back home, she’s back in that box.

So, I think getting out of that box, leaving home for her. It was like the best decision she ever made. And so, I think that for her, for me getting to know her. I knew her as the heartbeat of the band, but I didn’t know her background. And when I realized the stuff about her mother writing the books that were based on her, like that could imagine that pressure. Like you’re writing a series of books about a perfect child and then you’re the model for the perfect child and you’re just like, I don’t want to wear this dress. I don’t want to wear these shoes. I don’t want to be this girl. And she was just like, we’ve given you this privilege. You need to take advantage of it, kind of thing.

So yeah, it was interesting getting to know her through that. And then her relationship with her mother was so, such a delicate line to walk, because I didn’t want her mother to be a caricature. But there’s a thing, particularly in marginalized communities, when you’ve achieved a certain amount of success, and you have children where you want that success to continue through them in the way that you want it to continue.

It’s like here’s the path that we’ve created. We’ve laid it out for you, have nothing to struggle about, and you’re going over there, like, why are you doing that? So that was… some of the conversations that didn’t end up in the book were a bit more harsh. But I knew that everything that her mother did for her was out of love.

I think in Toni’s case, her mother didn’t know how to mother and so she just kind of did the basics, make sure she had something to eat maybe and a roof over her head. Whereas Gisele Larrington is like, I’m the perfect mother, you’re the perfect children. We’ve given you everything. We’re caring for you. You have no wants, no worries. But she’s a little bit over the top, a little bit smothering about it. So, it was interesting getting to know that dynamic.

Jeff: Yeah. She’s the ultimate sort of, like, we must protect this image at all costs.

Xio: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: Including with her husband.

Xio: With her husband… and her husband, you know, her… I love Kayla’s dad. He’s a lovely man. But my goodness, like, dude. But I understand. They suffered a loss, like a big loss, right? I think his motivation is just to keep things nice. Keep the peace. Make sure nothing… that the boat doesn’t rock too much.

He rarely sticks his opinion in anywhere, even when it has something to do with him. He’s like whatever your mom wants, let’s just,

Jeff: Yeah. he was interesting. She was planning his retirement for him too, without giving away a spoiler. It’s oh, you’re gonna retire. You’ll do these things.

Xio: This is a perfect opportunity for you to have more stuff on your plate. And he’s like, I really just want to do this other thing. Yeah. Gisele, she’s something.

Jeff: I often wondered what scenes of Kayla’s childhood would’ve been like when the books were being written and she started to see… these are the places my mind goes when I get too involved in things that don’t matter in the story.

Xio: Right? There’s a scene… I remember specifically a scene that got cut. I’m pretty sure it got cut, cause sometimes I don’t remember what’s in the book. Where her mother is… I think she’s just had some success with the books, or the books are really taking off. Not only the children’s books, but like her academic books. And so, she has this big like lavish dinner party for the university elite. And Kayla’s expected to be at the table in whatever pearls. Like her mother, the clothes that her mom would pull out for her, just crazy.

And so, she’s lollygagging upstairs in her room, doesn’t want to come down. Her dad’s like, you know, your mom’s gonna get on you if you don’t come down. So, she comes down and sits at the dinner table and it’s a catered meal kind of thing, and it’s just so over the top. And her mother is talking about her in the third person. Like she’s just and Catherine, her real name, Catherine da da da and blah, blah, blah. And Catherine is honor society and Catherine… and she’s like “I’m right here.” She’s talking over her head and she’s just, the whole thing is just very, very uncomfortable.

But the point of the scene was reiterated in other scenes in the book, so we cut it out. But it was a very formative sort of scene of how the relationship was. And I think she’s about 12 in it or so. And then she’s like can I go now? And just leaves after the presentation is done. She feels like she’s being presented on a platter to these people, like look at her academic success and look at her whatever and look at her…. And she’s, this is your daughter, not your project. and that’s a recurring theme with them.

Jeff: You mentioned cut scenes. Anything else get cut that you’re like, “oh, not that.”

Xio: There were a few love scenes that got cut from the book. There’s a lot of love scenes that got cut from the first one. But there were some that got cut from this book because we were straddling that line between Kayla’s story and the romance. And in the first book, Toni’s story really took over. And so, the romance took sort of a backseat. But in this one, I fought to keep the story’s kind of equal, so you get a lot of Kayla and Ty on the page. But yeah, there were a few scenes where my editor’s this is really hot, but I don’t know if we need it. And I was like…

Jeff: That’s too bad cause their chemistry is so good.

Xio: Ah, yeah. My favorite scene to write with them was the tour bus. Cause I had to do a lot of research about what you can do in a bunk, on a tour bus and… So, it was, that was a funny scene for me.

Jeff: Them fitting themselves into the bunk, and you’ll know it when you read it, because Ty is so big.

Xio: He’s a tall, lanky guy. And it’s funny, it’s like somebody asked me, we were talking about funny scenes, and I don’t write a lot of quote unquote funny scenes. But the one right before that, when Ty is driving and he gets relieved by the relief driver, because you have to drive, I think 10 hours and then you have to take a break.

So, his bunk is right across from Kayla’s, so he’s like tiptoeing back to his bunk and he notices that her little light is on. And she opens her curtain. She’s, “Hey.” He’s “oh, wow. what are you doing?” She’s like, “I’m just laying here thinking.” He was like, “What are you thinking about?” And she was like, “Peeing.” And she was like, “Yeah, you know how when you’re really comfortable, but you have to pee, and you don’t want to move because you’re really comfortable.” And he is like, “Well, don’t let me stop you.” And she’s like “No, I don’t really have to go. I was just thinking about it.” And I was like, I don’t know where that came from, but that’s what I mean by characters gonna write themselves because I don’t know what that is, but yeah. That was my, one of my favorite scenes, to write that from there until the end of that scene. Yeah.

Jeff: Now everybody’s gonna go home and go…

Xio: Where’s that the scene? Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: So, let’s talk about Ty for a little bit. You mentioned that he arrived fully formed. What did you figure out about him as you kind of went through? You’ve hinted at some of the stuff going on for him and the stuff that was in his past that he’s trying to keep, kinda locked up and find a way to go forward. What was it like kind of uncovering him, after he arrived and you’re like, this is the guy for her.

Xio: Right. So, Ty was interesting to write because he had a lot of story. He had a lot of things to say, and I wasn’t quite sure what had happened to him because the very first moment I had with Ty was, he was having a nightmare.

He was having a PTSD moment, and I was like, whoa. I had to get up and walk around the room for a minute cause I was like, I don’t know what I’m writing here. I just started writing. Cause it was like a flashback of a dream or like a moment he had. And I was like, my goodness, what is happening? What kind of book is this going to be?

I was like, this is supposed to be a romance. But I knew that he had gone through something traumatic, but it took a minute for me to figure out what that was. And then once we got there, I was like, okay, how would his grandfather work with him through this? Who would the people around him supporting him? But he’s also really isolated.

So, he doesn’t… he’s not in therapy, like that kind of thing, which he will be going forward. But I was trying to figure out how someone who was so gentle and so kind, who has this horrible thing happened to him, how would he cope with that? He just withdrew into his shell, went to his books and his music, and his Pop-pop. He moved back home with his grandfather and sort of made his grandfather his focus. I need to do everything I can to take care of this man and stuff.

And so, it was really, it was interesting like peeling back the layers of Ty. And then once I got to the soft gooey core of him, I was like, oh, this is a person who’s a lot of strength, but has lost the sight of that. He doesn’t, remember who he is when you first meet him. He had been on this path to become a teacher and he wanted to give back to the community and all this other stuff.

And this derailment has knocked him off course. And so, he’s not quite sure how to get back there, or if he should get back to there, if he’s welcome there. So, it was interesting figuring out who he was.

Jeff: And one of the things that kind of drew me more into him is, not only as you… cause you had this deft way of weaving some mental health things into your characters, there’s also a queerness in him that is never really fully labeled. But you hit on it here and there, so we understand who he is, and Kayla draws an understanding of who he is. I like how it weaves its way through there. It’s not like I’m this or I’m that. Just, here I am.

Xio: Yeah, I think I did that in the first book with Jordan, their attorney.

Jeff: I love Jordan.

Xio: Yeah.

Jeff: He’s so fun.

Xio: If could ever write a novella in this series, it would be for Jordan. Cause he’s just, he’s out there. He’s got lawyer, Jordan. And then he is got like best friends of Seb, Jordan. And they’re two very different people. Jordan’s pretty wild.

But yeah, there’s a scene in the kitchen where he’s talking to Seb and I don’t say anything about Jordan other than that he’s like, “I’m going on a date.” And Seb’s like, “Oh, is it the flight attendant that you met, she was cute.” And he’s like, “No, it’s this guy…” this hockey guy, or something like that. And that’s when you realize that he’s bi or pan or however you want to describe him.

I knew Ty was pan going in, and it wasn’t until the conversation with his grandfather where he’s kinda like, “Oh, I guess that wasn’t a secret,” when that comes out. And he sort of lays it out to Kayla too, that way, like it’s very subtle.

I think he does that to see how people are gonna react. But yeah, I mean this, it’s a facet of who they are. It’s not everything that they are. So, I just want it to be as normalized as possible. In these books. All of my books, almost all of my books, I think, have queer characters. I’ve never been like, this is what we are, and this is why. And it’s always just an aspect of who they are.

Jeff: Yeah. And I just, I mean, from the moment he’s on the page in the kilt, I like this guy.

Xio: Yeah. Yeah. He’s got painted nails and earrings and, I just loved him. He was so much fun. And he does have… there was a, there’s another musician named Moses Sumney who informed Ty’s appearance. There’s a picture of him in a black utility kilt with a black tank top on, and he’s got the short little like locs and he’s got his arms like this and he’s just standing there staring at the camera. And I was like, oh my gosh, it’s Ty. Totally.

Jeff: You did research for the bunk. Were there other aspects of touring? Cause you do have a background in music and touring and all this other stuff. Did you have to figure stuff out for this book, but beyond like how to fit people in a bunk?

Xio: Oh yeah. I had to do a lot of research on drumming because I’m not a drummer. I’ve worked with drummers my whole life. But there’s like languages. Even when I wrote “The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes,” I know a lot about guitar, but I’m not a guitarist and they have like their own language and drummers have their own language.

So, I had to learn about stick grips and like different… I didn’t know what a paradiddle was. I knew what it was when I heard it, but I didn’t know that’s what it was called. So, there was a lot of research about that and the size of kit that Kayla might play and the different types of skins and like symbol. All way too much stuff. But I learned a lot so that I could speak, she could speak through me. And I wouldn’t sound like I didn’t know what I was talking about. The scene in the drum store when she goes to play.

Jeff: It’s brilliant scene. So many good scenes.

Xio: Yeah, there’s fun stuff like that. The tour thing is interesting because I’ve never toured on a bus. I’ve been on tour buses with other artists, but I’ve never toured myself on a bus. So, I’ve never had to been crammed into a tin can. It’s such a small space and you have a lot of people in there at one time, and if you’re on the road, even for six hours, you start to feel it.

You start to feel like, can we stop? Can we just stretch our legs? Or something like that. Everyone’s on top of each other. So yeah, a little bit of that. And then the length of the bus and how many bunks there are and that kind of thing. And the one that has the bedroom in the back and does it mean there’s a shower.

I have so much like research on my laptop that didn’t make it into the book. But I wanted to feel informed. And some of it will come into the rest of the series too cause their tours get bigger and longer and more elaborate.

Jeff: Didn’t make it into the book, but yet it’s there. And that’s one of the things I love about it so much. It’s like there’s the stuff at the drum store, there’s in the recording studio, there’s on onstage at the gigs. And where I feel like I’m there with them. It’s not like a big info dump or anything like that, but it’s like there’s just enough there to fully form out the atmosphere of it.

Xio: That’s such a compliment. No, I, wanted everyone to feel like if you knew nothing about music, you would know what I’m talking about. Or you feel like you’re there. Because Ty is coming into this not knowing anything either. I try, I think I’ve been trying, to give people like little ins in each book.

Toni was the in and the first one. Ty is the in, he knows nothing about music, but he’s standing in the wings at one of the shows and something goes wrong on stage, and someone thinks that he’s one of the crew. They shove something in his hand, they’re like, go fix it. And he’s and he goes out on stage and there’s like thousands of people staring at him.

But yeah, one of those layman moments just to give you like an insight. Or, when they’re in the studio, there’s lots of banter and lingo and stuff going on. And I know when I work with my band, especially if we’re working on new stuff, we just book like three hours and we just jam until something coalesces and they’re like, oh, that sounds good play that again. And are you recording that? Yeah, let’s play that back, that whole thing. So, you feel like you’re part of the process.

Jeff: I love that. Given how long you’ve been in music, you know, for most of your life you’ve had music, you still had to research for this though. So, I like how your already knowledge comes into gaining even more knowledge.

Xio: Yeah. I feel more accomplished as a musician because I had to learn all this stuff. And it’s funny cause like we were in the studio a couple weeks ago to record the new single and I was saying something to my drummer, and he was like, what do you know about that? And I was like, well, I did some research for this book. I know it now. Yeah.

Jeff: And let’s talk about that. You’re actually recording as The Lillys right now.

Xio: Yeah, there’s two songs out now. And the third one just went into pre-save on Spotify. I just put the links up today so that people can pre-save it.

And the original idea for when, for the first book was to have an EP out. I had a whole timeline in my head of like when their music would drop and when the album would be done and all this stuff. And then the pandemic happened and the studio that I’d been using for 10 years shut down permanently. People scattered. All kinds of stuff happened. So, we’ve been doing it sort of piecemeal.

So, we did two singles. There’s a third single. And then I think this summer we’re working on three originals right now, cause the new single is a PJ Harvey cover. But we’re working on three originals and then we’re gonna go into the studio at some point this summer when I’m not writing books and record these songs. And then by the time Lilly’s book comes out, book four, the whole album will be done. Cause that’s like the culmination of the band. They’re like world tour and Grammys and all that kinda stuff.

Jeff: Did you ever envision channeling a book quite like that?

Xio: No. No. Well, I didn’t think I would be writing at all 10 years ago. If you’d asked me if I’d be an author now, I would’ve laughed at you because the only thing I’d written was some “Buffy” fanfic. And then, I accidentally wrote a book while I was on the road with my band in Europe. And it was like over months I was writing on my Tumblr blog and like my 30 followers turned into, I don’t know how many people. It went viral on Twitter.

Like, I had no idea. I was just sort of like letting off steam. And then when I finished, people were like, “Where can I buy this book. I want to buy this book.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And it was a librarian friend of mine who put it on Goodreads. She asked me for a PDF, and I gave it to her, and she put it on Goodreads. She’s like, “You need a cover.” And I was like, “For what?” She’s like, “For the book.” I’m like, “What book?” it was just one of those things. And it was just, friends were like, “You should figure out what to do with this.” Here we are, book 12, 10 years later.

Jeff: That’s amazing.

Xio: It’s bizarre.

Jeff: You and I first talked five years ago. We were trying to figure out if it’s five or six, cause time’s kind of a malleable thing. And to now be here USA Today bestseller and all that.

Xio: Yeah. We talked about the “Frankie and Johnny” series.

Jeff: Yeah.

Xio: Which just got translated into French.

Jeff: Find the “Frankie and Johnny” books. They’re so good. That was my first entree into Xio’s work where those books

There’s so many interesting side characters here. We talked a little bit about Jordan. We’ve talked about Seb a little bit. Not really a side character cause he was the, for me, he was a side…

Xio: He’s a side character in this book.

Jeff: We got to spend at least a few minutes talking about Ty’s grandfather a little bit more than we already have. I just wanted to just, I wanted to sit down and just know him. He needs a novella. I don’t know what on earth you do with a novella for him.

Xio: Maybe a cookbook.

Jeff: Pop-Pop’s cookbook. There you go.

I love how supportive he is of Ty. I love that he wants to maintain his independence. He wants to cook. I envision him on “Bake Off” some point.

Xio: Seriously.

Jeff: Where did he come from and how fully formed was he when he showed up? Because he seems like I’m here and I’m in Ty’s life.

Xio: That’s exactly what happened. They both walked in the door, and I was like, “Oh, hey.” They were a package deal. Pop-pop. I didn’t have a grandfather growing up. My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born. And my paternal grandfather, I never knew him. So maybe this was like some wish fulfillment or something. I don’t know. Like if I ever had a grandfather, I would want him to be like, Pop-pop.

But he’s the only family that Ty has known for the last, 10, 12 years of his life. And helped raise him because Ty’s background is pretty tragic, and he just loves him unconditionally. which is what you want, right? You want that sort of like, “I don’t care who you love, I don’t care what you do with your life.” Like he’s just very, if… you have to hear the audio book.

Jeff: You really do.

Xio: Because the audio… we’ll talk about that. With the audio book, like he’s just, his voice is amazing. But yeah, he just doesn’t care what Ty does as long as he’s happy. Happy and out of trouble. That’s like his only criteria. And so, he gently pushes him in directions and if Ty gives any sort of resistance, he just backs off, okay, it’s your life, but he is like gently guiding him. And just supporting him. And I think the cooking thing, I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know. I just thought it would be funny if you know… this is like his… he’s retired and he’s at home alone and he just starts baking. And like trying to improve the recipes that he sees on these cooking shows. “I could do it better than that.” And then he ends up in a situation where he’s got this like world class kitchen at his disposal. I can’t even imagine what he is gonna do in there, but yeah.

Jeff: He’s gonna become the chef there.

Xio: He really is. Pop-pop. Yeah. He’s got opinions. He’s not afraid to let you know. But he’s a really good guy. Really big heart.

Jeff: He is. And it’s an interesting split again between Kayla’s mom and Ty’s grandfather. Like the very different ways that they work with their family, try to support their family and treat their family. It’s another one of those interesting opposite things that are going on within the book.

Xio: Yeah. And they’re both coming up from places of love. He’s like, let me give you your freedom, as much freedom as I can because of who you are and what you look like. You’re gonna run into obstacles, so let me not be one of them. Whereas Gisele is like, we’ve given you every opportunity and you need to take advantage of it in the way that we, that I want you to.

Jeff: I like how you find those moments in the book too so that you just communicate them, whether it’s how Kayla deals the guy in the music store. Or those occasional moments where, Ty is looked at because of, how he looks. And it’s almost like the queerness that’s just kind of woven in there so that it’s part of the world that they live in, but also not like, “this is the moment we’re having a message” or something like that.

Xio: Yeah. I mean, Kayla is non-gender conforming, right? She, sort of eschews everything that her mother thinks of as femininity.

And I draw a lot for both of them from myself. I mean, people always ask what are the characters that you’ve written that are most like you? Frankie is one. And then these two are the other. Because they… I mean, this is like kind of who… I mean, I’m a little bit dressed up today. I have makeup on and everything. I don’t usually do that. I’m just like a jeans and t-shirts person. I don’t do my nails and that kind of thing. So, when I was growing up it was sort of a little bit of… I remember one time I got a birthday present, it was from my dad and my mom, but it was these like pleated skirts and these blouses with little frills on them. And I just looked at it like, where am I ever gonna wear that? But that was like them trying to tell me… like they gave me something pink cause I was all black. I used to wear all black. Here’s a pink, this looks so good on you. Here’s a peach sweater. And I’m like, you know that’s not me though. Don’t you? Don’t you know who I am?

So., I think that Ty being allowed to be who he is no matter what that is, and Kayla fighting to be who she is and finding people who accept who she is a really big theme in all of my books really. But really in this one especially. They’re both very, very strong individuals. They have individual tastes and they’re similar in taste. And so, when they meet, they’re like, “Oh my God, I love your shoes.” “I love your…” It was like that. But it goes beyond that. It’s like just the way that they view the world and the way that they move about the world.

I mean, I’ve had people judge me for the way that I dress, or my color of my skin. I’ve gone into music situations where people will dismiss me because they think I don’t fit in whatever arena it is, especially in the rock world. So, there’s a lot of that from me in these books.

Jeff: We hinted at the audio book a little bit. You got such amazing voices for Kayla and Ty. Tell us a little bit about them.

Xio: So, Kayla, Tyla Collier, who reads Kayla, is like a Broadway actress. Like she was in the touring company for “Hadestown.” Like she’s done all this stuff. She’s amazing. And Ty, Benjamin Charles reads Ty and he’s also an actor. I think he’s done some Broadway and some off-Broadway. But I read mostly through audio just because at the end of the day I don’t want to stare at another screen, so I listen to a lot of audio. So, I follow narrators to authors sometimes, and then sometimes I’ll discover a narrator.

I’m just like, you haven’t read anything else that I want to read, but I really love your voice. I’m waiting for you to put out something else. And he was one of those people. So, he’s read some really great stuff. So, I somehow wrote this book with Ben’s voice in my head for Ty. So, it has his cadence and everything.

And I didn’t realize it until like we were going through pass pages, and I was like, oh man, I really hope we can get Benjamin Charles to read this. And then the audio company sent me like these actors and actresses to listen to. And there were, Tyla was on the list, but I didn’t know who she was. And then I saw the five male narrators and I was like, I don’t know any of these people, and Ben’s not on this list. So, I wrote them back, and I don’t usually do this, but I was like, “Hey, author request.” And immediately they were like, “He said, yes.” And I was like, “Oh my, God.”

So, when I first… I think I got the final files at like at 10 PM and I stayed up all night listening to the book, cause one, you want to do that, you want to hear it come to life. But also, I was just like, okay. I’m like, “Tyla, you’re great, you’re great.” Where’s Ben? You’re really great. Where’s Ben?” And then as soon as he opened his mouth, I was like, he nailed it. And then we’ve done an interview or two together and I told him that I wrote Ty, cause he loves Ty. I told him that I wrote Ty with his voice and he’s like, “What?” He’s just like one of those oh my God, are you kidding? I’m like, not even joking. He’s you. Yeah. I was so, so lucky.

Xio: And even with “The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes,” I’m friends with Alexander Cendese and so I wrote Seb with his voice in my head. So, I immediately, when we got the contract, I was like, here’s who I want for Seb. Pick whoever else you want. Or send me, send me some auditions to listen to for Toni. But yeah, so I’ve been really, fortunate with my traditionally pub narrators for the most part.

Jeff: If you read via audio, definitely check out Ty. I’ll go search that narrator out now because I could listen to him all day long.

Xio: He’s read for Riley Hart. He’s read for I think Sierra Simone Yeah. he’s, newer. He’s newer. He hasn’t done that much, but the ones that he’s done are really good.

Jeff: Yeah.

You talked about funny scenes in the book. What’s your favorite scene or a favorite scene?

Xio: Ooh, I think right now… cause it changes, right? I think right now it’s the scene when they’re on the bus. And I don’t remember if it’s the first leg or the second leg. I think it’s the second leg of their festival tour and they’re on the bus.

They’re noodling. This is on a bus when you’re on a long stretch, someone inevitably pull out like an acoustic guitar and start like playing and then the drummer’s like do that again. You know what I mean? Like, stuff just happens and they’re doing that, and then the speaker turns on and it’s their song playing.

And they’re like, what’s going on? And Ty’s driving and he’s like “Your song’s on the radio.” And they all, this is the first time they’ve heard their song on like national radio and they all freak out. And it’s such a great moment. Cause I remember the first time I heard my song on the radio. It’s just such a special moment.

And I love building those things into this. Like the first time you play in front of a crowd and they’re singing your lyrics back to you, or the first time you know, someone says, oh my gosh, they recognize you. Or something like that. those will be built in there. But right now, on the bus, when they first hear their song on the radio is my favorite.

Jeff: I like the whole, the last festival that they’re at, and the bookends that happened for them, which all I’ll say about that. Y’all read the book. But that book ending moment is like, mmm-mmm. I got a lot out of that as a reader just experiencing that with them.

Xio: Yeah. Yeah. Cool.

Jeff: So, what can you tell us about what’s next for The Lillys? You mentioned you’re working on book three.

Xio: Yes, I am working on Tiff’s book, which is gonna break me.

Jeff: Oh?

Xio: Tiff’s story is rough. It’s really rough. I had a meeting with my editor last week and we were like, yeah, so we have to be really careful with this one.

It’s gonna be a lot of fun cause there’s a lot of fun stuff happening with the band and there’s a lot of stuff that happens with Tiff in this book that hints to what’s coming, like Peaches features. But also, all of the other threads from the first book and the second book are still weaving through the other two. So, Toni’s mom is coming back into the picture. Candi’s not going away.

Jeff: Well of course not.

Xio: Yeah. The label’s still causing trouble. There’s some good stuff that happens. Their entourage gets bigger. They pull on more people to their team, so they get a bit more of a buffer around them from some of the stuff that happens in this book, for instance.

So yeah, their world is getting bigger and then they have to… which means… when that happens, when you achieve that kind of success, especially rapidly, you need to like close ranks, right? So, they start to close ranks. And that might ruffle a few feathers, but yeah.

Jeff: As a pantser, how much are you trying to think about the arc of the books?

Xio: That’s all I can think about. I can only think about the arc of the band because I don’t know who Tiff’s love interest is right now. And I have no idea who’s gonna catch Lilly’s eye, right? So, like, all I can think about is what’s happening with the band. And then everything else comes along when it, whenever they decide to tell me.

Because it could be really, I had a, I wrote a book once where the character didn’t tell me until halfway through the book, what his name was.

Jeff: That’s difficult.

Xio: And I was like, really dude?

Jeff: Did you just go like bracket name bracket?

Xio: Yeah, it was like John or some John Doe or something like that.

And I was like, “Your name’s gonna be John Doe unless you tell me your name.”

Jeff: Anything else you’re working on alongside this book or is this book all consuming?

Xio: No, I’m working on the follow up to “Love on the Byline,” which is a duet. So that’ll be the last, maybe the last book and we’ll see what they say.

But Bran’s book… “Love on the Byline” was my attempt at writing a rom-com. I can’t write a rom-com. So, it turned in sort of like light romantic suspense, I guess. I don’t know.

Jeff: That’s a turn.

Xio: Yes. Yeah. I can’t, I just can’t do it. I leave it to like Ali Hazelwood and Emily Henry and those guys.

But in the first book there’s two friends, like two best friends. There’s a great bromance. It’s like a wonderful bromance between these two guys. And then another young lady, they’re in college together. She and Ollie, Blake and Ollie are kind of circling each other in college and they’re about to get together, but his best friend throws a wrench in it.

Not on purpose, just something happens. And she’s basically if you can be friends with something like that, then maybe you’re not the person I thought you were. And she bounces, and then they meet later on, and things happen and whatever. So, they get together. But then the second book is Bran’s and Bran is such an interesting character because he… he’s like the jock that everyone is like you, you’re too spoiled, you’re too, like everyone loves you. I hate you for that. Like that kind of a thing in college. And now he’s an A-list actor, so it’s like on a grander scale. So, he’s got a lot of like attitude and self-love that he needs to like, dial it back a little bit, bro.

So, he meets his match in his book. So, I’m having a lot of fun writing his. It’s a, he fell first. So, I’m having a lot of fun writing Bran’s book. It’s a nice contrast with Tiff’s book, which is a little heavy at the moment. So, I get to lighten up with Bran. It’s interesting juggling those two.

Jeff: At least they’re very different.

Xio: They’re very different. Yeah.

Jeff: Shall we take some questions?

And the first question from the audience, so you toured as The Lillys? Like, inspired by your book?

Xio: I haven’t toured as them. I’ve done a couple shows as them. Okay. They’ll be interesting to tour cause my band is all guys, so… On February 6th, when this book came out, I did the thing that I wanted to do with book one was to have a show, right? So, we did a show that night at a venue in Philly called The Fire, which is one of the inspirations for the Electric Unicorn. It’s like a dive bar, like rock venue. But they all wore their Lillys t-shirts cause they were like, “Did you want us to wear like wigs?” I’m like, “No, dude. Just be yourself.

Nobody thinks you’re The Lillys. It’s okay. So, they wore their T-shirts, and we did the three Lillys songs. And we did a lot of like classic female rock, like the Go Go’s and Joan Jett and things like that. It was a lot of fun. We played like 45 minutes and then they were like, when can you come back? And so, we were like, oh, I guess we’re doing this. So, we’re gonna try to do a few more things and work out some of their newer material on the stage cause you really get a feel for the energy of the audience.

Jeff: And there’s a follow up to that. I find it fascinating because a lot of authors are doing playlists to go with books, and you’re like, “no, I write my own.”

Xio: No, I mean, cause I do have playlists. I have a really kickass playlist for this book, and I was… I do playlists for all my books, but for some reason this one really, I dialed in like really hard on it. I think it’s because I consume so much media and a lot of the shows that I watch are really meticulous about their playlists.

And the one that I was watching, I think when we were going through this one was “Heartstopper.” And “Heartstopper’s” music is… Okay, let me dial it back a bit a second. My favorite television show of all time is called “Skam,” right? It’s a Norwegian TV show that no one’s ever heard of. It just, I learned Norwegian so I could watch it., But the thing that they did really well was make music a character on the show. A lot of shows that have come out since then, cause this was like 2017 when it went off the air, have done that and “Heartstopper” does it really well. So, I was like, okay, if I were gonna have a TV show based on this book, what would that look like?

And so those are the songs that are on the playlist for this. But yeah, they include the two Lillys songs and then a lot of other stuff that I’ve been listening to lately. So, but yeah, playlists are awesome. But yeah, I’m, gonna take it one step further and be extra.

Jeff: And another question. Are there any authors that you read that after you’re done reading, you’re amped up to go in and start writing your own stuff?

Xio: Oh my gosh. That’s a great question.

There are a lot of books that I’ve read, or a lot of authors I’ve read where I’m like, man, I wish I’d written this book, right? One of my favorite authors is Sierra Simone. I mentioned her earlier. Sierra has a way of writing, that, I don’t know. Her brain works differently. It just works differently. She’s really good at marrying the divine with the profane. How else to put it, you know what I mean?

Like she has a series called the “Priest” series, and I remember hate reading the first one. Like I got it for 99 cents. And I was like, this is a stupid premise. And I read the book and like it kept me up all night. And I went immediately back to the first page and read it again because I was like, how did you pull me into this world? And then I remember meeting her for the first time at an event and we were just chatting for 10 minutes before I realized who she was. And I was like, wait, you wrote “Priest?” And she’s you read “Priest?” And we had a Spider-Man moment. So, her.

I mean, if I could write with the… I don’t know, the emotional adeptness of Kennedy Ryan. If I could write with the whimsy of Ali Hazelwood. Or if I could write with… I don’t know. I mean, there’s so many people. There’s so many authors that in the 10 years that I’ve been in this business that aren’t writing as much anymore that I wish like TikTok would really jump on them, their back list, like Laura Kaye is one of them. I love that Brittainy C. Cherry is getting, like, her back list is starting to come out, recovered and everything.

There’s just too many. I’m blanking on names, but there’s so many people that I can mention that. Yeah, that I go read immediately. There’s a lot of stuff that came out the same day that this book came out and I was like, no one’s ever gonna hear about this book because these other books are so big.

Ali’s only ever paranormal came out that day, “Bride.” And I was like, really? Today? Today you’re gonna, But yeah, there’s some amazing stuff out there. And that’s one of the things I love about this genre is that there’s something for everyone you know, and so whatever mood you’re in, like I feel like reading vampires or motorcycles or hockey or, you can find it.

Jeff: Y’all have been great. Xio, it’s been fun talking to you again.

Xio: It’s always great talking to you.


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

And thanks again to Xio for the great conversation and for inviting me to be a part of her event at Wild Sisters Book Company. I hope you’ll add “Girls with Bad Reputations” to your TBR, and perhaps, especially, give that audio book a try because you really need to experience Ty’s voice. And I must give a shout out to Wild Sisters Book Company for allowing us to record the event. If you’re ever in Sacramento, make sure to drop by because it is a wonderful store.

All right, I think that’s gonna do it for now. Coming up next on Monday, July 15th, it’s the second of our conversations recorded at live events. This time is TJ Klune recorded at the Sacramento Public Library. You won’t want to miss this as we talk about “Somewhere Beyond the Sea,” which is the forthcoming sequel to “The House in the Cerulean Sea.”

Thank you so much for listening, and I hope that you’ll join us back here again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.

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.