In Conversation With Rachel Lacey
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Bites feed when I found a Bite from Rachel Lacey. Rachel was an author I knew by name—I had seen her books and added more than one to my TBR but hadn’t yet read her. The Bite, An Anonymous Encounter, was from the third book in her Midnight in Manhattan series, and I was immediately hooked. So much so that I clicked through immediately to buy the book and read it right then and there. That is not something I do often—or at all, to be honest.
Piper and Chloe’s story, Come Away With Me, resonated with me in many ways. Aside from being one of only a handful of F/F books I’ve read, the story of long-distance love between two very different women was sprinkled with mature communication, deep past hurts that needed healing, and sweet and steamy moments that just felt right.
When I was finished, I reached out to Rachel to ask if I could pepper her with some questions, about Come Away with Me, her other books, writing lesbian fiction in a world that doesn’t always recognize its potential and more, and happily she said yes. Here is the end result, enjoy!
I have to start with Come Away with Me because I loved it so very much. Can you tell me how the story of Piper and Chloe formed, and if it was one you always planned to write or one that was prompted by the earlier books?
It’s funny you ask, because Come Away with Me has kind of an unusual story of how it came to be! I’d had an idea in the back of my mind for years where a flight attendant walks into a bar in a city far from home and makes an unexpected connection with someone, but she was only in town for the night. I had no idea where the story went from there, but that idea for a meet-cute just wouldn’t leave me alone.
When we went into lockdown last spring, I was about to write the third book in my Midnight in Manhattan series, but for various reasons, the book I had planned to write was just not the right book to release during a pandemic. I wanted an escape, and I thought readers might too. Then I remembered my idea about the flight attendant in the bar, and since my Midnight in Manhattan series centers around a gay bar, it all came together. I outlined the new plot in just a few days, and Piper and Chloe’s story was born!
Piper is a celebrity recovering from a heartbreaking trauma. How hard was it to balance her (rightful) fears and the time she’d need to recover, and the need to ensure her character grew within the parameters of the story?
One of the most important things for me with Piper was to ensure that her anxiety is part of who she is. Anxiety is personal to me as it affects several members of my family, and I didn’t want it to be something about her that needed to be “fixed.” She’s always dealt with it, but more recently, she’s become confined to her apartment because she’s been having these awful panic attacks, so the story really focused on her learning to manage her panic attacks to get her quality of life back, and part of that was her learning to let go of her fear of panicking in public, which was hard for her as a celebrity.
Being the third book in the series, Come Away with Me is clearly not the first F/F book you’ve written—indeed you have five under your belt now. What first inspired you to write in this arena?
Actually, reading and writing f/f romance was part of my journey into exploring and understanding my bisexuality, so my f/f books are especially near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to write (and read) more!
Was/is it difficult to switch from M/F to F/F, and do you plan to continue to write both gender pairings—or possibly expand across other LGBTQIA identities?
In some ways, it was harder than I expected, because m/f and f/f romance really have separate readerships, so I ended up in a weird in between place for about a year where I had lost most of my original readers and hadn’t found a new readership yet. It was a really lonely and scary place to be, but I absolutely love where it’s led me.
I’ll probably write more m/f at some point in the future, but for now, all of my upcoming books will be f/f, because those are the stories I’m passionate about right now. As for writing other LGBTQIA pairings, I definitely want to include as much diversity in my books as possible, but m/f and f/f are the only pairings I can write authentically, so I’d rather support #OwnVoices authors who are already writing those other stories.
LGBTQIA fiction is increasingly important in a world that still struggles with bigotry and homophobia. If you could tell a reader with perhaps some misgivings about reading queer romance why you think they should give it a try, what would you say?
One of my favorite things about reading is the chance to expand my horizons, to read about people whose experiences are different than my own. And not to be cliché, but love is love! If you enjoy reading romance, the experience is the same no matter the gender of the romantic leads. You’ll still experience the full range of emotions while you’re reading – the rush of excitement when the couple is about to kiss for the first time, the laughter and tears along the way, and all the feels when they profess their love at the end of the story. Give our stories a chance – you won’t be sorry.
Pivoting a little, your most recent release, Hideaway, is part of Sarina Bowen’s True North world. Did the experience of writing in someone else’s fictional universe change how you approached your story?
Oh my gosh, so much! Writing in a shared world was a whole new experience for me. It was challenging but also so fun. First of all, I had to make sure I was true to Sarina’s world and the locations and characters that she’d created. But the real fun started when I got to collaborate with the other authors writing in the series. Several of us used each other’s characters in our books, and we were constantly sending character information and snippets of scenes back and forth to check with each other. For example, the vet who saved my heroine’s puppy in Hideaway is the hero of Jay Hogan’s Unguarded. All of the books can be read as standalones, but it you read them all, you’ll get these fun little surprises when a familiar face pops up!
I know you’re a part of a charity anthology that released this week, and I’d love to know more about it. Can you tell me about your contribution, who you worked with, and how you came to be involved in it?
I am, and I’m so excited about it! Love is All is an annual romance collaboration with proceeds benefitting an LGBT charity. It’s spearheaded by Susan Scott Shelley and Xio Axelrod, and this year they invited me to participate.
My story is called Off the Rails, and it’s a f/f contemporary romance with a super awkward meet-cute on a train, headboard banging fake sex, and whales (yes, real ones!) Needless to say, it was a lot of fun to write, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the anthology.
The proceeds from Love is All: Volume 4 are to go toward the National Center for Transgender Equality. Tell us about what they do, and why you chose them.
The National Center for Transgender Equality advocates to change policies and increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. With the recent attacks on the transgender community and the rise of anti-trans legislation in the US, it seemed so important to throw our support behind such a timely and important cause.
We love to do what we call “Bite-Sized” interviews here at Book+Main, so I’m going to hit you with a few quick questions so we can get to know you a little better, okay?
I’m ready! 🙂
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl, all the way!
Do you have a go-to snack while you’re writing a book, and if so, what is it?
I usually do, and it changes every so often. Right now, I’m snacking on goldfish crackers and green olives (so random, I know!)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
I have two, and they’re both from the incomparable Nora Roberts. The first is that the only thing an author can’t fix is a blank page. Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect! You’ll fix it later. And the second is that there’s no right or wrong way to write. Everyone’s process is different, and that’s okay!
All-time favorite movie or tv show?
Oh God! That’s really hard, because I feel like my favorites change all the time haha. But in terms of the series I’ve watched the most times all the way through, probably the X Files.
What is your favorite must have self-care item or ritual?
A hot bath with Epsom salts, essential oils, and my Kindle.
Has your idea of success changed over the years, either professionally or personally?
Oh, for sure. When I first started writing, I dreamed of things like seeing my book on store shelves or hitting a bestseller list, but I’ve gotten more practical over the years. These days, I just want to earn a living writing books, because really, what’s more important than that?
One last thing before we wrap things up, because we’re all about finding books for readers and readers for books—can you give us some F/F romance recommendations? What should we all be reading?
Yes! I could talk about f/f romance all day haha. Okay, if you love ice queens and super smart women with the absolute wittiest dialogue, try Lee Winter. My favorite of her books is Hotel Queens. Melissa Brayden is another must read if you love sizzling chemistry and all the feels. I recommend starting with Eyes like Those or Kiss the Girl. Love royalty? Try Alyssa Cole’s How to Find a Princess. A few of my other recent favorites are Sheryn Munir’s Falling into Place and Lily Seabrooke’s Reach the Stars.
Love is All: Volume 4
Release Date: June 8, 2021
This fourth volume of Love Is All includes seven brand new works from Jeff Adams, Xio Axelrod, Meg Bonney, Rachel Lacey, Chantal Mer, R.L. Merrill, Connor Peterson, Susan Scott Shelley, and Sophia Soames. They celebrate the universal human right that is to love and be loved. Special foreword by Annabeth Albert.
All proceeds from the anthology will go toward the defense of Trans Rights.
Rachel Lacey is an award-winning contemporary romance author and semi-reformed travel junkie. She’s been climbed by a monkey on a mountain in Japan, gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and camped out overnight in New York City for a chance to be an extra in a movie.
These days, the majority of her adventures take place on the pages of the books she writes. She lives in warm and sunny North Carolina with her family and a variety of rescue pets.
Beth Cranford was born and raised in Australia, but followed her heart (and her husband) to the United States in her late 20s. As the mother of two kids, she’s learned that you can turn anything into a song and that slime does not belong in carpeted areas (or polite society). You can most often find her with her Kindle in hand, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, or spending way too many hours playing Animal Crossing.
Follow her @BethCranford on B+M Bites.
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