Interview with Magnolia Robbins

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Who or what inspired Starbound?

My best friend Amanda. After I released Forbidden Melody last year, I kind of had a bit of a frustrating breakdown. It was a lot of work, it took a lot out of me mentally, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. In October, Amanda suggested I write a “nerd book” as she so lovingly put it. This book is really based a lot on our friendship, and is kind of an ode to her. A lot of our inside jokes are in the book, little things that have happened to us. She likes to call me a “nerd” because of all of my hobbies and interests (they’re pretty nerdy, I mean I love playing Dungeons and Dragons, I’m not going to lie…) So, really this book was for her. I went through a lot last year, and finishing this book meant a lot. I’m just happy it’s out there for people to read now.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

In 4thgrade, I wrote a book called “Freddie the Falcon” that got published by my school. I drew the pictures that went with it, and wrote the story. I’ve always had a passion for storytelling ever since I was little. It wasn’t until early college I started really picking it up. I have a mostly-finished draft of a science fiction story that I want to publish at some point as queer fiction. In 2017, my mother-in-law was dying of ovarian cancer and we had a talk in the hospital one day. I’d just quit graduate school after discovering it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I was pretty depressed, for a variety of reasons. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and then told me I should write, because she believed so much in my writing. The day after she passed away, I self-published my first book on Amazon.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Wow! This is a doozy! Haha. Hm, I think if I’d have to pick my favorite, it would have to be Shiloh Pierce from Wildsky. The character was kind of based off of a variety of different people and kind of all melded together. I loved her rugged outdoorsy personality, how passionately she loved Grace, and how dedicated she was to helping her through her mental health struggles. My significant other and I went through a very similar experience when I was going through graduate school as Grace/Shiloh did, so she really mattered a lot to me.

 

I also would have to say Reese, just because I based her a lot off of Amanda, and I love Amanda to pieces.

 

And, I can’t go without saying Juliette Hamilton from Forbidden Melody, because… well, obviously.

 

I totally didn’t give you one person—sorry about that haha.

 

 

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

This is a good question! It’s a very crazy process, sometimes there’s no semblance of order. An idea will come to me and it will start brewing and festering in my head. I try to make an outline. Most of the time I don’t get through it all the way, but I’m happy to say I’m getting better about it. I will try to build as good of an image of characters in my head before I start, so I can picture what might happen to them. Then I throw out a bunch of scene ideas, just as many as I can think of. Once that happens, I try to puzzle piece them together to figure out a good plot.

 

Really though, it’s kind of a magical experience. Somehow things just start coming together once I start going. Definitely not a pantser though, as much as I envy them.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

As I mentioned in a previous question, I get a lot of inspiration from people in my life. Sometimes characters from other books will inspire ideas for me. Like I said, my significant other, Amanda, some of my lesfic friends have all inspired me. My parents, other friends. For Forbidden Melody, Emma was inspired by an America’s Got Talentcontestant named Mandy Harvey, who had the same disorder that Emma did in the book. I get my inspiration from random places.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

Okay. I have two places. It’s hard to choose.

First, is the Salt Lake City Library. Look how gorgeous this place is! It’s 4 stories, they have really nice desks to work at that face the mountains and you can look out at them while you write. There’s windows EVERYWHERE. And a coffee shop inside, so I can get all the coffee I want! The barista’s there love me haha.

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Second, is my home office. I like it a lot because I pimped it out a little this year and got nice big framed photos of my book covers. I also have a giant sloth from Amanda that keeps me company.

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What is your writing process?

I have a daily routine, which usually consists of getting up about 5:30-6am in the morning, even on the weekends. I make a big pot of coffee, take a walk for about 10 minutes, stretch, meditate most days that I can remember to do it, and then I sit down at the computer with my coffee and make a deal with myself—I need to write x amount today and then I can do something I want to do with my life. My goal is usually 2,500 words.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I don’t think my first book was what really changed my writing process. I’ve written 11 books now, 5 novels and 6 novella. I started out writing novellas because I was nervous publishing novels. It was really good practice. I got a review on one of my novellas after I’d been publishing a while saying that they felt like the story could be fleshed out more and have more detail. After that, I decided to write my first official novel. I tried really hard to pay attention and add more details, and work on my craftsmanship. Every book since has been really focusing on one area I can improve each book. It helps a lot. I really thank that reviewer for calling me out, because I might have still been stuck in novella writing mode and not gotten the courage to try something new, if it wasn’t for them.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Hiring a copy editor. 100%

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

The reviews for Wildsky and for Forbidden Melody just exploded my heart. I think the best review/thing I heard was from someone who read Wildsky, who was going through the same experience with graduate school as I did. They said because of the book, and then talking with me after they’d read it, they got the courage to call it quits. I wrote that book specifically for those people who are struggling, because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And that was a really cool moment to be able to support someone else going through the same thing.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. If you haven’t ever read that book, you should read it.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

So, I just released Starbound a few days ago, which is a geeky friends-to-lovers romance about a science-fiction television star and a game store manager (who are BFFs) who fall in love. It’s definitely a very cute and light read, a lot different that Forbidden Melody. I hope my readers won’t be too disappointed that it’s a lot different, but I still think it’s a really cute read!
Early February I’ll be releasing the first novella of a 3 part series called “Essence” that is about a baker and an accountant that have a nice falling-for-each-other kind of story. It’s light and sweet like Starbound, but it’s some of my best writing, in my opinion. All three of the books take place in Vermont, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year. It’s a beautiful state that is underrepresented in literature. The series will be the “Green Mountain Novellas” and they’ll release in February, April, and June (tentatively).

 

How do you take your coffee?

Black or with a little cream! And about 20 cups. Ha!

Interview with debut author Jax Meyer

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Who or what inspired your latest novel Dal Segno?

It all started as a dream, which is a rare experience since having my daughter almost four years ago. In it I was visiting a college and ran into my old music teacher and had this sense of home at seeing her. The dream wasn’t romantic, but that idea of finding home in a person unexpectedly stuck with me for days. I played around with ideas to create a backstory and before long I had the beginning of the book.

Once I had the basic backstory, I focused on building Cam as a character. I knew I was too new at writing to get too adventurous, so I based a lot of her on myself. Her butchness and autism are based very closely on my experiences, but I did this purposely because there’s so little autistic representation in lesfic. And the butch representation is often something I don’t relate to. Ultimately, I wrote a character I wanted to read about.

The rest, including Sharon and Laura’s characters came to life as I wrote, which was the most fascinating experience for me to look back on.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

This is my first novel. It’s the first book I’ve written, with the exception of a story I wrote when I was 12 or 13 about my friends and I being rock stars. I never knew I could be a writer until this book because of the way my autistic brain works. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about myself!

What ultimately got me writing was a subconscious need to, and a lot of support from the other authors I’ve connected with this year over in Slack. This book would not be what it is without the Lesfic Love group, which is why they get a shoutout in the acknowledgments.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I love Cam, but writing Laura was so much fun! I fell in love with her as she developed as a person on the page. I’ve spent the last few months writing the prequel, which means writing Sharon into existence, and I couldn’t begin to choose between them. Both provide Cam just what she needs at that point in her life, but what she needs at 20 is very different from what she needs at 40.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Since I’m still new to writing, I’m don’t have a lot of experience with this. So far, I get a tiny snippet of an idea, then I start brainstorming. I really love Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book to help me get to know the characters, but I don’t actually know that much about them when I start writing. I find my starting point and just write. Their voice begins to develop, the story develops based on their interactions, and I’m just along for the ride.

One thing I think I do well is knowing when something isn’t working. It just feels off to me. Sometimes that means going back and changing a character’s reaction or choice. Sometimes it means scrapping the whole thing like I did with the upcoming A Marine Awakening. That started as a short story, to help build Cam’s backstory. I completely scrapped that when I went to write the actual book though because it just didn’t work. Thankfully I don’t refer to her life with Sharon much, so I didn’t have to worry about consistency very often. Also, thankfully, I’m using the same editor for both books so she’s well aware of Cam’s character and what occurs in Dal Segno.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

I always start with real people for at least one personality quirk so I have something to work with. My autism presents itself in a way that makes understanding people very difficult, which is the exact opposite of my wife. So I will start with a character, in a moment, and often discuss them with her to get a deeper understanding. Once I have that understanding it helps me guide the characters’ development. I also have friends that are great to brainstorm with. Their questions help the character come into focus.

I have noticed that by the middle of the book, the original person the character is based on is hard to find, as the character has come into their own. I’m learning to separate the inspiration for the character from the character more quickly, which allows the character to develop more easily. It truly is a fascinating experience for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer to write in a quiet room, with lots of natural light. However, I wrote about 75% of Dal Segno on my iPhone, many times while working one of my part time jobs. I’m so often on the run that being at home to write is a luxury. Then again, writing with an almost four year old means it’s often not quiet either. It would be a dream to go on a writing retreat in the mountains.

What is your writing process?

Just write. When I get stuck, I reach out for help brainstorming so I can keep writing. I don’t outline, unless I have some key beats I’m aiming for, because I discover so much as I write. I do occasionally write a scene out of order, just to get the words out of my head, but it almost always gets significantly rewritten by the time I reach.

For example, the weekend Cam and Laura first have sex, Laura plays Warm Valley for Cam. That was originally going to be their first kiss earlier in the book. But as I wrote and talked to people about Cam, I realized that she needed to fall into that first kiss. The scene as originally wrote was so much fun to write, but it didn’t work in the story, so it was repurposed.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

When I published, I had no clue whether people would like it or not. As the good reviews came in, I gained confidence. Now I’m committed to being a writer instead of a person who wrote a book. I’m still surprised that it happened, but I love it. This year has been a very difficult year for me personally, but writing has kept me sane and given me an outlet.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

First, I was lucky to be referred to a great, affordable editor by other lesbian romance authors. She turned my draft from something that would have been ok to a book that I’m proud to call mine. She also gave me frequent confidence boosts which made it much easier to hit the publish button. There are a lot of editors out there, but I wanted someone who knew lesbian romance, specifically. She was able to provide a lot of beneficial guidance not just on the story, but the cover design and blurb.

Second, getting a quality cover designer. I found Amanda Walker in a Facebook group and loved her pre-made covers. She worked with me to find the right stock photos, title fonts and colors, and my cover looks really nice. Cover art really makes a difference! She’s rather affordable as well. She can be found at https://www.amandawalkerpa.com/

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I was really insecure about Cam’s autism. Even though it’s based on mine, I worried I didn’t show it well enough. But I received an email from a reader who said they really appreciated that aspect and it was spot on. I’m pretty sure I cried a little.

Recently, Anna at The Lesbian Review covered my book and I couldn’t stop smiling when she said this about my characters. “Meyer’s characters are subtle in their depictions, yet they deliver a powerful impact. It is pure genius.” I can’t describe how it felt to read those words!

I’m still in shock at how much people loved my book. For readers, know that your kind words really do make a difference. I don’t respond to reviews, but know you have my deepest gratitude for reading and enjoying my book.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

There are too many. However, in my upcoming book I do reference Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg as a critical book in my young adulthood. It gave me a reference point for my own butch identity at a time when I really needed terminology. For those who are younger, who always had the internet and gay characters on tv, it’s hard to describe what it’s like growing up in rural Wisconsin, not knowing anyone who was queer, and not having the language for your own identity. I’m not going to say kids have it easier today, because they have pressures I never had to deal with, but I love that they have the language to find themselves earlier.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

A Marine Awakening is being edited now, to release by the end of January if all goes well. The book goes back in time almost exactly 20 years where Cam meets Sharon. We follow their journey as young Marines from meeting, falling for each other, meeting the parents, getting that first tattoo, and ultimately ending at their one year anniversary. We also learn why Sarah gets a free pass to be a loveable pain in Cam’s ass. This book is a lot steamier, so for those wishing Dal Segno had more sex, I think you’ll be satisfied with A Marine Awakening.

Afterwards I have two books on deck, though I’m not sure which will get written first. One will be a co-writing project with my wife, who’s had this story brewing for a year and a half at least, but her neurological issues prevented her from physically writing it. It’s the story of a dancer/choreographer and a writer who are both frustrated with their lives and have a lot of issues to overcome to be together.

The second book is mine, based at the South Pole, which I visited as a young physics student in college. Phoenix decides to run as far away from her life as possible when she realizes she might have fallen for her best friend. So she talks to her aunt who works for a company that employs people at the South Pole. There she meets Ashley, a serious astrophysicist who has no interest in relationships because she’s determined to help colonize Mars someday. This story has naturally come together so I can’t wait to write it.

How do you take your coffee?

Strangely enough, I never was much of a coffee drinker until well into my 30s. I still don’t drink it daily because I develop a tolerance for it quickly. I recently learned I prefer espresso drinks with enough sugar to balance the coffee, and tons of almond milk. Right now, my favorite is the juniper latte at Starbucks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with debut author Lou J Bard

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Who or what inspired your latest novel There’s A Possibility?
Actually, it was a Patrick Dempsey movie called Made of Honor and I loved the plot so much, but of course I wanted to see how you could twist it to be gay. This has been in the back of my mind ever since it came out in 2008. I’m glad it’s finally out of my head and on the pages!

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since as long as I can remember. I think the first time I ever realized fanfiction was a thing, I’d already been writing some for Pokémon! LOL

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Oh wow. I guess I’d have to go with Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter. She was always a badass in my opinion. Youngest Auror of her time AND a Hufflepuff. Fun colored hair. She was my idol when she appeared in the books.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Character sketches! My absolute favorite part of the story is understanding my characters and where they come from, what their purposes are and where I think they’re headed.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Mostly everyday people I live around and myself. I think I put a little piece of me into all of my characters. I try to write what I know.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

If it weren’t for my cat begging for my attention all of the time, I’d saythat it was my living room couch with lots of pillows and blankets and a hot cup of coffee. But I generally find myself at Starbucks to avoid distraction (go figure).

 

What is your writing process?

See the thing. Plot the thing. Write the thing. Get blocked by the thing. Cry over the thing. Write more of the thing. Send the thing to Editor and then cry when it returns looking like a crime scene. Finish polishing the thing. Cry again over the thing because it’s finished. Cry more over the thing when people enjoy the finished product.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I think it made me more aware of how I write, definitely with my use of adverbs and how I use the words “that” and “like” a LOT and how I need to correct it both in my speech and in my writing.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My editor. Claire works miracles with the shite I send her! LOL.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Everything from my readers is memorable. Even if it’s not a stellar review, I am happy that someone took the time to read what I wrote and at least gave it a shot. Of course, I love the great reviews, but I take all of them in stride.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Am I lame if I say Harry Potter? It was the first real set of books I ever fell in love with and have changed the way I look at books for the rest of my life. I may never be as great as Ms. Rowling, but I certainly thank her for giving me the gift of loving the written word and the magical places it can take you.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so what are they about?

My next book is called The Sound of Silenceand it’s about a young woman who has been mute for over half of her life, falling in love with one of her caretakers and her caretaker trying to defend her own emotions against the world that thinks they are wrong.

But that’s as far as I’ll tell 🙂

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How do you take your coffee?

Cream and sugar with a splash of black coffee. Or just a soy caramel macchiato from Starbucks.

 

Lou’s upcoming book The Sound of Silence will be available on Amazon Kindle August 31st. It is available for preorder now by clicking here.

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Interview With Hannah Carmack

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I just finished reading Take Your Medicine by Hannah Carmack , and I have had the opportunity to interview the author about it!

Who or what inspired your latest novella Take Your Medicine?

Originally, the piece was written as a submission for Nine Star Press’ Once Upon a Rainbow anthology, but the editor liked it so much he suggested we release it as a stand-alone! In terms of content, I think Eve’s Bayou and Grey’s Anatomy both had big impacts on it.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I think I’ve been writing my whole life on my own accord, but what really got me writing consistently was Naruto fanfiction! LOL. From there I honed my craft and started writing my own original stuff.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Overall?! Oh man, this is a fun one. I love most of the cast I’m working with for my next project, but from what’s currently released I think it’s gonna be Da Vinci from Seven-Sided Spy. He’s got such a story to tell and there are so many layers to it.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My bed! I feel incredibly comfortable burritoed in a bunch of blankets.

What is your writing process?

For a manuscript I do intense character development first. I’ve got to know the players on the stage before I can really get a plot going. Then, I do a light outline with the story’s general arc. After that, I go wild and write a first draft. I don’t hold back during this draft. I think the first time around it’s important to be as undisciplined as possible to encourage all the best writing. From there it’s editing, revising, rewriting, ad perfecting.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I learned so much about what was wrong with my work that I’ve really improved tenfold, especially with head-hopping and POV switching. Also, adverbs. I’m still learning to knock off the over-usage, but man it used to be bad.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Scrivner! This thing gives me life! It’s so fun to use and it’s a one-time fee.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I think the response to Take Your Medicine really made me realize how lucky I am to be where I am in the time that I am. I have found so many other chronically ill writers just from this one project and we’re all able to connect at the swipe of a lock-screen.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Oh man! THAT’S a big question. Likely The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. At this point I have mentioned this book every time I’m asked questions like this, but I cannot stress how beautiful of a novel it is. I actually have a tattoo based on the cover’s imagery.

Do you have any up-and-coming projects that we should look out for?

Currently I’m working on a project titled Viva La Education! I’m super excited for it. It focuses on a group of queer educators fighting the department of education. I’m not sure on release as it’s still a WIP, but fingers are crossed sometime in the next year or two!

How do you take your coffee?

I don’t! Lol. I used to love getting frappes, but since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis coffee has been on the no-no list.