Jayci Lee lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. Semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator, Jayci now writes full-time. She loves food, wine, and traveling—and so do her characters.
This week, we’re excited to catch up with #OwnVoices romance novelist Jayci Lee, author of A Sweet Mess (Macmillan Publishers), a delectable romcom involving a small town baker, a celebrity food critic, a one night stand, and a big misunderstanding over a “Frankencake.” In addition to giving us the lowdown on why it was so important for her to feature Asian-American characters in her novels, Jayci also shared some inspirational advice for aspiring writers, what surprised her most about getting published, and her favorite page turner. —Maxine Shen
Arséne Lupin, Gentleman Burglar has been well known throughout Europe for quite some time. It was a big hit when it arrived in print in the early twentieth century and has since inspired multiple spinoffs in the form of comics, television shows, and movies across the world. Still, Lupin didn’t enter the main stage here in the USA until the eponymous Netflix show began making waves. –Lukas Harnisch-Weidauer
The main character of the show, Assane Diop, carries a heavily stickied copy of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Burglar. Diop models himself off the book’s protagonist, an incredibly talented burglar with the sensible charm and elegance of a French aristocrat. But Diop is the son of a Senegalese immigrant falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Diop uses the tactics of disguise and thievery displayed by Lupin to gather evidence through blackmail, espionage, and negotiation in an effort to exonerate his father. I enjoyed the show thoroughly. It’s a perfect foil to the detective thrillers that crowd TV, displaying an overtly criminal character on a quest for good. While waiting for Part II of the series to be released, I decided to dig into the stories that the show pays homage to.
Schnelle is a queer, disabled author of horror and speculative sci-fi. She lives in a beautiful, stark desert landscape, and her writings tend to reflect that background.
We spoke with JL Schnelle about her horror story, [An Acceptable Loss], which was published in Enter the Apocalypse by TANSTAAFL Press. We discussed her experience with short stories, her writing practices, and her toolkit for dealing with writer’s block. —Katsumi Sterling
Party of Two is a modern-day romance with a political twist. Olivia, the career-focused lawyer, is not looking to date. So when a hot stranger starts engaging with her on which desserts are better, Olivia obliges him. That is, until she finds out he’s Max Powell, the hot senator from California. But unbeknownst to her, Max isn’t giving up without a fight and after Max sends a cake to her office, Olivia is hooked. – Camia Rhodes
But Max isn’t just passionate about desserts, he’s also passionate about criminal justice reform and is currently working to pass a bill in Congress. Olivia admires that about him. He’s also sweet, charming, a good listener, and an even better kisser. Olivia can be herself around him and doesn’t have to hide her intelligence and what she does for a living (even though she lied that night at the bar). But Olivia knows that his life is always on full display, and dating him would put her life on display as well. She just wants to keep things casual, but on their second date, Max lets it slip that he is looking for a girlfriend, and she only has one week to think about how she feels about him.
Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a California girl at heart. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals and embraced reading as an escape. After the best blind date ever, she married a guy named Brian. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. Born at Dawn is the first book in a planned trilogy.
We connected with California based writer, Christina Davis, who recently self published her first novel, Born at Dawn, the first in her planned Da’Valia Trilogy. Davis has been working on this upper YA Fantasy Adventure for more than a decade. She shared her inspiration, motivation, and all the details involved in promoting her five-star book as a first-time author.
April Hunt is the author of the ongoing Alpha Security and Steele Ops romantic suspense series and is hard at work on the first installment of her upcoming paranormal rom-com Supernatural Singles series. April lives in Virginia with her college sweetheart husband, two young children, and a cat who thinks she’s a human-dog hybrid.
Romantic suspense author April Hunt joins us this week to share advice on networking, writing your way out of a plot corner, and how she knows when her manuscript is ready to be sent off.
Shannon Richard is still looking for her Mr. Right, but in the meantime, writes love stories to indulge her overactive imagination. She has no shame about the amount of reality TV she indulges in, listens to entirely too many podcasts, and firmly believes that a glass of wine should always be filled to the top.
Join us for Part 2 of our interview with contemporary romance novelist Shannon Richard (read Part 1 here), Shannon reveals what led to her taking a breather from a break-neck novel-writing pace and how she’s getting back into the groove. She also tips us off about authors that inspired her to write, and what her favorite “page-turners” are. —Maxine Shen
How have you been able to maintain your writing discipline while also holding down a day job?
Okay, so, here is the thing: my discipline in the last couple of years has dropped off. A lot. And has maybe been nonexistent at some points. I think I went so hard into writing at the beginning that I burned myself out. There were years where I lived in this dark little writer’s cave and I’d barely come out into the sunshine. I’d work my day job Monday-Friday, getting a few hundred words in here or there where I could during the week. When I’d get off work for the weekend, my only stop was the grocery store before I’d get home and immediately go into writer’s mode. I wouldn’t leave all weekend. I’d spend the whole time just trying to get words on the page. I had a deadline that I had to meet, and I’d tell myself over and over that once this book was done I’d have a life again. The problem was, I was always on deadline. There was always a book that needed to be written.
Shannon Richard grew up in the Panhandle of Florida as the baby sister of two overly protective, but loving, brothers. She was raised by a more-than-somewhat-eccentric mother, a self-proclaimed vocabularist who showed her how to get lost in a book, and a father who passed on his love for coffee and really loud music. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s in English literature and still lives in Tallahassee, FL with her adorable rescue dog, Teddy (not that she’s biased or anything).
We were excited to sit down with contemporary romance novelist Shannon Richard, author of the County Roads series (Forever Yours), and pick her brain about her interest in reading and writing romance novels. In Part 1 of our interview, the Florida-based writer, she revealed how she got her start writing contemporary romance novels, where she draws inspiration for her eight (and counting!) novels, and the real-life moment that led to her writing the manuscript for her first novel, Undone.
Check back in next Friday for Part 2, when we find out how Shannon balances working full-time, writing and pitching new novels, and what books inspired her! —Maxine Shen
Warren Dotson is an Emerson College graduate. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, raised in Greenville, Mississippi and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Warren always had a spirit for being creative.
Warren wrote New Light to create a new narrative in magic, one that includes POC Mages. He wanted to give POCs a chance to see themselves as something other than the background characters in magical narratives.
We spoke with Emerson’s own Warren Dotson about his upcoming science-fiction novel, New Light (New Degree Press, April 2021). He shared with us about the book that changed his life, the best advice he’s ever received, and his experiences in the world of hybrid publishing. – Katsumi Sterling
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.
We spoke with Anne Barwell, a gay and lesbian SFF and historical fiction author about her recent novel, Shadowboxing (Lacedragon 2020). We discussed her experience with co-authors, self-publishing, and in-depth historical research. – Katsumi Sterling