Transcript: 7. Isla Olsen

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Full episode transcript

Lee: Welcome to episode number seven of the Low Angst Library podcast. Today we have an interview with Isla Olsen.

I’m your resident librarian Lee Blair. This library is your stop for all things light, fluffy, funny, sweet, spicy, and everything in between. I not only publish low angst, queer romances, but I’m a voracious reader of them too.

I created this podcast because I wanted to talk to other authors who write romances with main characters on the LGBTQIA2S+ spectrum so that I could learn what draws them to the lighter side of angst, learn more about their books and they’re writing processes.

I’m excited to share my interview with Isla Olsen. We talked about going from writing young adult fantasy to adult romance, juggling large casts of characters, and writing out of order.

USA Today bestseller Isla Olsen is a romance writer alter ego of a YA fantasy author. She first discovered her love of romantic comedies when after spending all of her work time lost in epic fantasy worlds, she decided she needed something light and fluffy to read in her downtime. She quickly became addicted to authors like Lauren Blakely, Tara Sivec, Rachel Van Dyken and then one day she discovered MM and there was no going back after that.

Isla lives in Melbourne Australia with her giant bed hogging, Rhodesian Ridgeback. She’s a major sports fan. Yes. Rugby is a way better than American football. A chocoholic, loves Chinese food, and is a firm believer that the best music was created way before she was born.

Now, before we jump into this fabulous interview with Isla, I want to share a note about timing. This interview was recorded about five months ago and due to a long string of tech issues and just long tech support times, I’ve been really delayed in getting these episodes finished. So when we start talking about Isla’s upcoming projects, know that the timing is a bit off. So I’ve recorded a brief update at the end to share a bit about what’s going on with her books now, as of March 2023.

All right, onto the interview.

Isla Olsen, thank you so much for hanging out with me in the Low Angst Library. I’m thrilled you’re here.

Isla: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Lee: I love just starting off with asking guests what got you into writing books and romance specifically. It’s always so fun to listen to the different stories of how people got into being author.

Isla: This is kind of a long-winded answer, but I originally started writing young adult fantasy. That I kind of got into, well, I mean, I’ve always been a fan of fantasy books and particularly young adult. Just I find young adult to be a lot more fast paced than adult fantasy and exciting and all of that. But I got into initially writing books because I’ve always been good at writing. I’ve always been interested in that sort of thing. But I never really knew what sort of writing I wanted to do.

And then I was doing a uni course that happened to have a creative writing element and I was really good at it. And I thought, hey, why don’t I give this a go? But it’s sort of one of those things where like, you know, who just decides they’re gonna write a book? Like it’s so unrealistic. At least that was what my thoughts at the time. But I just decided to go for it and I ended up writing a few young adult fantasy books. But it was during my second book or I was writing a series at the time. I was really struggling with motivation and not so much writer’s block. It was just like procrastination and you know, where is the story going? And I decided to just switch things up at that.

At that point, I was reading a lot of romance because I found I was spending so much of my time in these make believe fantasy worlds that in my spare time I just wanted to chill out with something fluffy and light and funny. And particularly something that wasn’t gonna get me hooked in for a five book series, you know, like that was just gonna take one night to read. That’s why I really liked reading romcoms.

So, yeah, because I was sort of struggling with my fantasy books, I just, as a purely writing exercise, I started to write these like romance scenes. Just having a play around with some of the kind of things that I was reading about. And I realized I was good at it and I really enjoyed writing it. So for a little while, I toyed with the idea of, like, trying to do both. I should probably say that my young adult fantasy was not selling well. So that also was something that tempted me into the romance genre because I thought that it might be a bigger seller.

Also at that point in time as well, I was starting to read a lot more MM and I was really interested in that. And obviously, again, I knew that that was such a big market to be a part of. And that’s kind of how I got into writing it. It was purely like I originally started it as an experiment just to see how it would go, and then it just took off. I would love to get back to my fantasy at some point because I have a series that has been left hanging. But at this stage, my romance is just way too profitable for me to give up on that at any point. So that’s sort of how it happened.

Lee: I love that. That’s such a change and a difference. Or like two extremes almost that you’re finding balance with young and then adults spicy, and then fantasy and contemporary romance. That’s really fun.

Isla: Yeah, it was definitely a bit of a surprise when I started telling my friends and family that I’m like, I was like, oh, you know, so I’m writing romance. It’s, it’s gay romance and it’s very sexy. Um, it was definitely, yeah, a little bit of a shock, but once they saw that I was doing so well and so- Like it, it was, yeah. And I was just really enjoying it. I mean, they were supportive to begin with anyway, but they really, really got on board once they saw that I was actually supporting myself with my writing, finally, because I had been struggling for quite a while.

Lee: That’s amazing. And so it sounds like you were needing something lighter for reading. And so is that what drew you to writing, like to the writing side of low angst. That you had started reading lighter romances, or what led you to specifically decide to write on the low angst side?

Isla: Yeah, definitely. I was reading, I mean, I started out reading very low angst romcom MF books. To be honest, I didn’t actually get into romance at all until very recently in terms of where I am in my stage of life. Like I probably would’ve been my late twenties, like I’m currently 35. So definitely up until that point, I was all into young adult. Whether it be fantasy, sci-fi, even young adult romance. That sort of stuff. And I still do quite enjoy those sorts of books, but I just didn’t really-

Probably if I was gonna read a romance, it would be paranormal fantasy kind of stuff. I always sort of didn’t see the appeal of contemporary, its so weird, but I didn’t see the appeal of contemporary romance. I found it kind of boring. But then I got into rom coms and they’re just so funny and so entertaining and exactly what I needed. And so it was authors like Tara Sivec, Lauren Blakely, Rachel Van Dyken. Like those sorts of authors that I could just read a book and laugh and nonstop reading those books that really got me into romcoms in general.

And then I think the first MM book that I read was Him by Elle Kennedy and Serena Bowen. And I just really loved the fact that it was, it, like it was, MM, I hadn’t even- I don’t know why, but I hadn’t really considered reading MM before that, but it was just still, it had that exact same element of like just, you know, the low angst romcom. And I thought, you know what? This would be so fun to write. Something like this. From then on I just kept reading so much of still both MF and MM, but predominantly MM from that point. And when I started writing I just thought, you know, I just want to write books that make me laugh and make other people laugh. I wanna have fun when I’m writing, and so that’s sort of what I did.

Lee: Well, I’m so glad that you did because I adore your books. So, thank goodness you came to that realization. Good.

And I’m curious. So, this is something that I ask everyone I’ve talked to and I find that everyone has a very answer. So what does low angst mean to you?

Isla: Well, my books have like low to no angst in them. A lot of them have very, very little conflict and that’s something that I sort of learnt over time, like after my first few books. I think it was my fifth book that I probably shouldn’t say what the book title is because I don’t wanna give away spoilers to anyone who hasn’t read it. But I got to the end of where the dark moment is supposed to happen. They’re supposed to break up and everything, and, and I’m like, I don’t want them to. I want them to like, resolve this quickly and just move on. And so that’s what I did.

And sometimes it does, like a book does need to have a little dark moment or like they need to break up whatever, because that’s what those characters need. But I don’t shy away from just having things sort themselves out really quickly because I’ve learnt that romance doesn’t need to be that formulaic.

I think in terms of what low angst means, like, yeah, it’s a bit hard to answer because I know there are definitely a lot of other books that I really love. Say for instance, Lucy Lennox, for example, one of my absolute favorites. I think clearly one of most people’s favorites. She’s got some absolutely hilarious books, but often she’s got a little bit of angst in there as well. But it’s not super high, like it, it would be considered low, but compared to my books, probably is a bit on the higher scales.

So, it really does depend on what your kind of threshold is. Yeah, honestly, I think it’s, yeah, like I said, it’s a hard question to answer. Like, what, what does it mean to me? I guess something that’s just gonna make you smile the whole way through.

Lee: It’s true though. It’s really difficult to define. If it feels like it’s similar to spice. People have very different definitions of what is steamy versus not steamy. And it feels like we, all our emotions hit us differently. So what makes us feel those deep emotions from angst, I think it makes sense that that would be a different definition for everyone, because I don’t know-

Isla: Yeah, I, I sort of say like, I do have a couple of books that are a little more angsty. But one of them, Can’t Get you Out of My Bed, I remember when I was promoting that. Like before it actually released, I’m like, okay, so it’s a bit angsty. It’s kind of like CW angst. It’s not HBO angst. That’s how I pitched it to my readers. It’s definitely like on a lower level. But I’m sure there are other people out there who would think CW has super high angst fit. in it.

Lee: I love that. That’s such a good way to think about it.

So you talked about reading a variety. You talked about fantasy and loving YA books and reading male-female and male-male. Do you read while you’re writing or are you an author who has to have those completely separate when you’re in drafting mode, you can’t be reading?

Isla: Yeah, I don’t read as much as I would like to. Particularly compared to before I started writing. Just because I get so addicted and I end up binging. I’ll start being like, oh, I’ll just read a few chapters and then I just binge and next thing I know a whole week has gone. So, yeah, I tend to save up that if I’ve got books that I wanna read, I’ll save it up for if I’ve got a weekend off. Or if I’ve got a holiday obviously coming up when I’m going to America for GRL. So on the long haul flight, I’ll definitely be getting some books ticked off my TBR.

But yeah, I don’t read as much while I’m actually drafting because it does tend to interrupt. Just because I just don’t have that self-restraint that stops me from if I start a book at night, I’ll either keep reading it the entire night and then I’m wrecked for the next day, or I’ll put it down and then the next morning I’ll be like, I’ll just, you know, I’ll read or listen to a little bit during breakfast and then the next thing I know it’s lunchtime. So it’s just, yeah, I just don’t have that kind of self control.

Lee: It’s very similar for me too. I do read a lot when I’m writing, but it’s more, I tell myself like, oh, I’m just trying to soak in the vibes and the energy to just keep me inspired. But when realistically late at night I’m like, oh, just a couple more chapters. And then it’s like, okay, nope, go to bed. But then I’ll wake up and I’m like, okay, it’s time to get up and work out or do chores before the day job. And then, nope, I end up reading until I need to clock in at the day job.

Isla: Yeah, I do find, though, if I’ve got a really good audio book, that tends to be when I get the most work done around the house because I’ll be like, at least I’m doing something useful.

Lee: Yes. That’s such a good point.

Do you have any low angst book recommendations that you’ve read?

Isla: Well, I recently actually, uh, was it was either last weekend or the weekend before? I can’t remember. It’s sort of a bit blurry now. But I read The Magic in Manhattan series by Allie Therin, I think her name is pronounced. That was really good. I really liked that. And the sequel, Proper Scoundrels, was even better and now I need to wait for the next book in that series. But yeah, it’s like a historical. It’s set in the 1920s. So it’s like a fantasy kind of romance. Right up my alley. Really, really enjoyed that. It was just a lot of fun.

Lee: Oh, great recommendation. Thank you. Nice.

Isla: Yeah.

Lee: So moving into talking about your writing and books, I would love to know a bit more about what your writing process is like.

Isla: My writing process is all over the place. So I kind of write books out of order. I’m a bit of a plantser, so I’ll try to plot my books out a little bit. Like I’ll do a bit of a structure of say, you know, I’ll write out all the chapters, list them out in number order, whatever. And then I’ll try to fill in what’s gonna be in that chapter. And obviously things change as the writing process goes on. But then I’ll start at like chapter 15 or chapter 11 or something like that. Like, I rarely, I just write what feels like a good thing to write at the time. ‘Cause if I wanted to write from chapter one, chapter two, et cetera, in order I’d get just completely stuck. Like I just, I need to write whatever I’m just feeling in the need to write out that time. Um, so yeah, it really is a bit of a mess for a while. And then I go back and fill everything in and everything, stuff like that.

But in terms of my day to day process, I’m really trying to get into a much better habit of writing fixed amount of words every day. Writing for a set amount of time because obviously that’s much more healthy thing to do. It keeps you more productive, it keeps you more in tune with the story. But it’s a struggle to do that because you get distracted by other things. And then obviously if you don’t write one day, you wanna make up for it the next day and things like that. So yeah, it’s a bit of a work in progress at the moment to try and get into that proper routine. But yeah, we’ll see how we go. Hopefully by the new year, I’m hoping to be really into a good routine.

Lee: Nice. I hope that works. It’s always nice when it feels like settling and you’re working as you want to be working.

Isla: Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Lee: Where do you get your ideas and your inspiration from for your books?

Isla: A lot of people ask me that and I’m like, I don’t know. No, often, I just chuck a few tropes together and then just sort of see where the story takes me. Sometimes I get inspired by titles. Like I’ll come up with a title and that will help me to come up with the plot of the book. This sort of first happened with Fake it Till We Make Out. I was doing a lot of research about the genre and everything like that.

And I came across this article about how popular fake relationships are, well, the fake relationship trope was. That article was written I think back in 2018 or something like that. And obviously it is still so popular that particular trope. The title of the article was Fake it Till We Make Out, and I was like, that is such a good title. I need to take that. And I was shocked that there’s no other book with that title. I was absolutely shocked. I did a search on Amazon and I was like, okay, I need to write this book before someone else takes this title.

So that’s how that book sort of came around because I just loved that title so much. And often that kind of happens. Like I’ll think of a title, I build the tropes around that. It happened with the Goode Life series because all the titles needed to fit around the names of the characters. So some of them I came up with after I’d started doing the story. But some of them were definitely- I’d come up with the character name and come up with or a title that sort of went with the character name or whatever. That’s why they’ve got such weird names in that series. ‘Cause I was coming up with titles that went with their names. And worked out tropes around that. But yeah, that’s sort of how I did that.

You get inspiration from a lot of different places. Like character inspiration you get maybe from a book or a TV show or something. You might be like, Oh, I’d like to write a character who’s kind of like that, but does this, or, or something like that. Or, I’d like to write a story like this. You know, done this way or whatever. But a lot of the time, if you pile a bunch of tropes together and then sort of put your own spin on it, you’ve got a really good story.

Lee: That’s a great point. And it seems like you are very trope led in some of your ideas. Do you have any favorite tropes to read or write?

Isla: Probably one of my favorites is definitely friends to lovers. I really love that one Because it’s just, it’s really sweet and it gives you so much room for a lot of banter and yeah. And I’ve done it a few different ways. I’ve done it, obviously Fake it Till You Make Out had the fake boyfriend trope as well. And it had the bi-awakening. And with that one, neither of them really knew how they felt about each other until they started fake dating. So it was a little bit different, um, compared to like, say for instance, I had a holiday novella The Ghost of Crushes Past, which is not a huge seller, but it’s, you know, still out there. That one has a character who’s been in love with his best friend forever. And so is it, you know, been able to do that a bit differently.

And then, of course, Hopeless Bromantics, which is two straight guys that are best friends. So you can really like, just mix it up with a lot of different ways to do it. And Rule of Law is another one that’s friends to lovers, but again, another bi-awakening. And one of the friends is a complete commitment-phobe, and then it’s in small town and stuff. So yeah, I like taking the same trope by just adding different elements to it to make it a completely different story.

Lee: That’s so fun. I love that as a reader too where you know you like how an author handles a trope, but you get the variety of it appearing in different ways. I think that’s a really fun reader experience. Like I know I’m going to love how this author does fake relationships or does best friends to lovers, but being able to explore those really differently is great.

Isla: Yeah.

Lee: So, do you have a favorite book or character that you’ve written?

Isla: Probably my favorite, and it’s not really a secret. I’ve been pretty vocal about it. Probably my favorite is Hopeless Bromantics and my favorite character is Brendan, um. But I do have a huge, huge soft spot for P.S. I Loathe You, which just came out this year. That was a lot of fun to write, and it got me out of a bit of a slump that I’d been having. Like I went for close to eight months without releasing a book. And then finally P.S. I Loathe You got me like really, really excited about writing again. So that obviously I really love that.

But, um, yeah, no, if I have a favorite, like one that I’ve sort of, it sounds like really narcissistic to say that you’ve read your books over and over. But Hopeless Bromantics. I’ve read that again and again a lot. Whereas I don’t, and I really read my books that, I mean, I read them after they’re done, obviously, to check them over and everything. And then I’ll generally go back to them again before the audio gets produced just to make sure that everything’s correct. And if I need to change something or fix up a typo or whatever just to make sure the audio’s all in order.

But after that, yeah, I think there’s been a couple of books that I’ve listened to the audio just because for instance, I love Michael Dean’s audio. I love Kale Williams’ audio, so I’ve listened to a couple of their books. But yeah, usually I’m like, I have limited reading time. I’d rather be reading other people’s books. So, um, but Hopeless Bromantics is one that I just really, really love.

Lee: Oh, such a good book. I love it. Also, you talked about P.S. I Loathe You, I love that one too. And then you very recently had another standalone out. So The Best Man Ran Away with the Groom. So you’ve had a couple of standalones out this year. And so you mentioned that P.S. I Loathe You kind of came out because it was to pull you out of a bit of a writing funk. With The Best Man Ran Away from the Groom. Ran away with the groom, not from. Those are two very different stories. With, with that was that sort of like you needed a bit of a palate cleanser because you’ve been doing so much with series or was that like a plot bunny that you just wanted to run with?

Isla: It was definitely a bit of a plot bunny and it was also- so the next book up in all of my series is going to be Sex, Tries and Videotape, which is Finn’s book, the next Love and Luck book, which has been drew out for like two years. So it is finally going to come out. And one of the reasons why that’s been delayed so long. First of all, it’s needed a major rewrite. So I basically scrapped an entire book of that one earlier this year, which is one of the reasons why it was so long between books. Like that was just absolutely an absolutely devastating experience having to scrap an entire book. But it didn’t, it, it just didn’t work.

I was trying to do something that, uh, like I was, I was forcing my characters into something that just didn’t work for them. So that was a real shame. And unfortunately, I just kept going with it. I should have stopped once I realized, you know, I realized like halfway through that it wasn’t working, but I’m like, no, I need to do it. I need to get the book out.

Now though, of course, I’ve learnt my lesson, I know if ever a book isn’t working, just let it go. It’s better to just scrap it and just not, not keep going. So that obviously needs to come out. And that one is an MF book with a transgender female lead character. Which I’m really, really excited about and I know a lot of my readers are excited about, but realistically, it’s not as marketable as an MM book. And unfortunately that’s just a fact.

So I didn’t want to, after such a long break, I didn’t wanna launch my sort of comeback, I guess you could call it with a book that wasn’t gonna be like hugely marketable. So that’s why I chose P.S. I Loathe You as well as the fact that really, like, I was hugely into writing that. It was just such a, you know, I guess you could say it’s like a labor of love. Like I just really, really was excited about writing that. But also it was such a tropey book with so many popular, like, enemies to lovers, their online romance kind of thing. Like it was just a book that I knew that people would really love. And it had all this banter in it.

It was just like, I knew halfway through writing it that I didn’t realize it was gonna be as big as what it was, but I knew that it would sell well at least. So it was bankable. You can sort of, as an author, you can tell when a book is gonna be at least bankable. Definitely was not expecting the success that I had, but very, very glad for it. And then the other thing, like after P.S. I Loathe You, I had this other kind of moment where I was like, oh my God, this book is such, such a hit. I’m not sure that I can now release a book that is not bankable, um, if that makes sense.

Lee: Yeah.

Isla: So, so that’s why, um, I went with, And the Best Man Ran Away with the Groom, sort of, I knew that with that one. Like I knew that it wasn’t, it sounds so ridiculous because it’s like, why would you release a book that you, that you don’t think is gonna be hit? But I knew it wasn’t gonna be such a runaway success as P.S. I Loathe You. I thought it was gonna be like- I mean, it’s been successful. Like it’s had a lot of readers. It’s been probably around the same level of success as my Goode Life series, which is quite good. But P.S. I Loathe You is up there with Love and Luck as, which is, you know, basically huge with me.

And that’s sort of what I wanted, I sort of wanted readers to kinda, you know, they had this really huge high. I kind of wanted them to come down just a little bit so that when Sex, Tries and Videotape comes out, I just wanna kind of manage expectations a little bit. I’m probably overthinking things a bit, but I just, yeah, I just have this fear and I actually discussed it with a trans woman who’s gonna be my sensitivity reader, and she agreed with me that that was a good choice.

So, yeah. I think it’s just one of those things where I really, really hope that Sex, Tries and Videotape is a huge runaway success. It would be so amazing if it is, but I also know that it’s a bit risky. So I, yeah, just just wanna, I wanna manage it well. That’s sort of why I’ve done these two kind of different books, but as this turned out, they’re probably not gonna end up being standalones anyway. Um, I’ve already got a sequel planned for And the Best Man Ran Away with the Groom, and I do have an idea up my sleeve for a potential sequel to P.S. I Loathe You, but they’ll both be next year.

Lee: Oh, that’s exciting. And the way you were kind of setting up the secondary characters in And the Best Man Ran Away with the Groom. I loved that. I was just hoping as a reader like, ooh, please, please do they get a book? So there’s kind of that, that moment as a reader, that was just hoping maybe this won’t be complete standalone.

Isla: I intended it to be a standalone, but then the more I was writing about Allister’s character, I’m like, no, he needs a book. He definitely needs a book. And I want Jack to have a bit of redemption as well.

Lee: Yeah. You set it up so well. By the end, I was like, is there- where’s the pre-order button? I’m ready. I want the next one.

Isla: After, so my experience with the mess up with And the Best man Ran Away with the Groom, I don’t think I’ll be doing preorders for a while. Um, so yeah. But, uh, next year I’ll definitely, um, definitely have a few books out next. I’ve got a lot on the schedule.

Lee: That’s exciting though. And so with this, you build these secondary characters. Like for me as a reader, when I was reading that book and getting to the end, I was ready for a book by, you know, them to be the primary characters. And I think that you’re a master at creating cast of characters in series with offshoot series from those worlds.

Like with the Kelly family and you’ve had so the primary Love and Luck series and your offshoot series with Suits and Sevens and the Royal and Reckless series. And what I love about the Kelly series, or the Kelly family, is they feel so larger than life in the stories. But not only the primary characters, but the secondary characters in the family who don’t get their own books. But then those secondary characters who you then use to kind of offshoot the secondary series.

So in the same with the Goode Life series, all of the secondary characters are super vivid, and I’m curious, what drew you to create a big cast like that. Like is it something where you set out with Love and Luck to say, you know, I’m going to build this huge family and have a huge series. Or did it just sort of happen organically?

Isla: Um, well, it did sort of happen a bit organically. Originally, so the character of Jake, Shay’s cousin, who he’s now the guardian of. He was originally going to like- He was the central character that was gonna have his book. Because obviously I was writing young adult at the time, I was gonna write a young adult gay romance and it was gonna center around Jake. And I sort of thought, wouldn’t it be cool if he came from like this, you know, not great family situation and came into this fun family that was all really accepting. And it wasn’t going to have so many queer brothers or anything.

But I was gonna have, like, I wanted him to kind of go to, yeah, like I don’t wanna say too much of it because he is gonna get a book at some point. So I don’t wanna say too much about that. But yeah, I just sort of thought that would be really cool. But then because I ultimately decided to do a different pen name, I decided to go with the adult series rather than the young adult. And so I twisted everything around and did the focus more on the family and then decided to have Jake come in as a secondary character and he will get his own series.

I have a three book, like a trilogy planned for him at some point. I was originally hoping this year, then I was sort of thinking maybe next year. But to be honest, I just need to be realistic. The days of me, like my 2020 where I got 10 books done in one year, are gone. So, I need to be realistic about how many books I can actually write a year. So we’ll just see. But yeah, eventually he will get his series and yeah. So that’s sort of how that came about.

And originally, like they definitely were not all going to be queer. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love Brendan so much because he was gonna be straight originally. And then, and then I was writing, I was actually in the middle of writing Shay’s book, which is the third one. And I just had this idea to have two straight guys get together. And I decided to make it Brendan’s book. And I thought, okay, well I’ll add that to this series later. Like I’ll do it at the end. And then I’m like, no, I really, I’m really excited. I’ll do it now. So, so I kinda wrote like half of Brendan’s book while I was still running Shay’s book. And so yeah.

Lee: Well that worked out perfect.

Isla: Yeah.

Lee: The Love and Luck series is one of my all time favorites. And there’s something that you did in that that really stuck out to me as a reader of how you had some of the timelines between the books overlapping. Which as an author I can’t even wrap my head around trying to do that with my writing process.

But I remember, I can’t remember which book it was, but I remember And one of the books, there was a party at the bar and there was this a moment where the main character, it- was it Shay’s book maybe? In the background, there was something happening on stage that you in that book you get a reference to it. And then in the next book, it’s happening live. Like those two books are overlapping and I just really love that. So how do you make that happen? Do you plot everything out or when you get to a new book, do you just kind of try to backfill and get them to link up?

Isla: I plot out a little bit. The Love and Luck book, I definitely- Love and Luck books rather. I definitely sort of plotted out, like more of, and that’s probably why I was able to get so many of them done in a short space of time. There’s still a bit of like, there are a few books where there’s a bit of inconsistency, and I’ve had to go back and be like, oh, wait a minute. Um, let’s flip it. But I’m definitely, one of the reasons why I wanted to- Like, I was so determined to stick with Finn’s book the way that I had originally planned is because I had set it up in previous book and I didn’t wanna change it. But I just had to, in the end, I was just like, no, I need to change this.

So, yeah, there’s definitely some like glaring inconsistencies with that story. But, yeah, I think probably I knew that Virtually Screwed and Crazy Little Fling in particular happened at pretty much the same time. So I definitely did a lot of planning of Crazy Little Thing to make sure that everything sort of fit in. but I think as well, I tend to go back to the previous book and be like, okay, where can I put little things in.

And probably the other thing that I had to be aware of was I did a lot of foreshadowing for Aiden’s book in the two books prior. So I think there was a little bit in Brendan’s book and a little bit in Connor’s book. And so I had to be aware of that. And then some things happen in it, so yeah, I guess sometimes I’ll get to writing the main book and I’ll be like, oh god, why did I do this? Because I’m like, oh god, I need to make this work. I’ve set this up now I need to make it work.

And that actually, it was an issue in Three’s a Crown ’cause I had set so much of that book up in the King and Jai, and then I got to writing Three’s a Crown, and that was another one where initially I got halfway through and was like, this isn’t working. I need to rethink this and go back. And even the final product, like I’m happy with it, but I know that it could have been better if I wasn’t constrained by what I had set up in the previous book. So I definitely regret, regret that I had really boxed myself in quite a lot with what I had set up in the previous book. So yeah, sometimes it works out really well. Sometimes it’s like, uh, can be a bit of a nightmare.

Lee: It seems so tough to plan. My series is sort of ending up a little bit like that. Especially the epilogues are after the previous book is happening and tried to do that. And as I try to set it up, it keeps feeling like what you just said. I’m boxing myself in a corner because past me was trying to be clever and set something up in the next book, but then future me when that comes, is like, oh, what did you do? Why why didn’t you do it this way? And I wish I could like hold all of the books and be the type of person so that I could then go through the whole series before publishing and try to fix those inconsistencies, but I can’t. I can’t do it.

Isla: Well, I know that I’m gonna have a lot of issues with Kate’s book. Like that’s gonna take a while because it’s basically- Like, for her book, I’m basically gonna be going back to the start of the series and, and writing like, the whole time. And there’s been some hints about her story, because like originally she wasn’t gonna have a book either. And then she was gonna have a, when I decided to give her a book, it was gonna be an MF book. And now she’s having an MMF book, which, because I had this brainwave and I was like, oh god, why did I give her like, cause I’ve, I’ve hinted it. These things about her and her neighbor and everything. And I’m like, why? Why did I do that? I should, I should have just let that go. Like I should have just, you know, hinted about like that she hated the neighbor but not like that she was together with him because that was just stupid. I should have waited and have her story start like after Finn’s finished. But no, I now have to go back and like put all this stuff in. Yeah. So that’s gonna be a bit of an effort.

Lee: Ugh, but we keep coming back because it’s so fun to create the books.

Isla: Yeah.

Lee: Despite the stresses.

So you’ve talked a bit about upcoming projects, but what can readers get excited about for upcoming projects from you?

Isla: Definitely Sex, Tries and Videotape. That’s my biggest priority. That will be out probably December. I would’ve loved to get it out earlier, but I’m away for a month now for my trip to the US. ‘Cause going from Australia, you don’t just go to the US for five days. You make a trip. So yeah, obviously I’m going to GRL and I’m turning that into a bit of a holiday as well. So yeah, that’s probably going to be my last book of the year. I may possibly get a holiday novella out. I don’t know. It’ll just sort of depend. I’m not putting any pressure on myself to do that, but if it happens, it happens.

After that, the next Suits and Sevens book is definitely high priority. So that will be Deacon’s book. I’m really excited about that. I’ve done a lot of plotting out for that, but haven’t actually written much for it. So hoping to get started on that as soon as I’m finished with Sex, Tries and Videotape. And also, like I mentioned before, there’ll be a sequel to And the Best Man Ran Away with the Groom and there’s gonna be another Wes and Devon book, so yeah, that’ll be next year at some point.

Lee: Oh so much good stuff to look forward to. 2023 is going to be great.

Isla: Yeah. Yeah. Should be, should be pretty good.

Lee: Can you sum up for me what people can expect from an Isla Olsen story?

Isla: A lot of laughs, a lot of steam. Very little conflict. Some crazy shenanigans and people just falling in love with each other and yeah. That’s basically it. My tagline is, uh, I think it’s like low angst, high heat, queer, romantic comedy.

Lee: I love that. That’s a great tagline.

What’s the best way for readers to get in touch with you and learn more about your stories?

Isla: Um, prob. So my Facebook group is Insanely Isla, Isla Olsen, Isla Olsen’s Readers. Be good if I could say my own name. Um, and you can also join my newsletter as well. There’s a link to my newsletter at the back of every book. There’s also a link on my Amazon page and on my website. My website is Those are definitely the best way to stay in touch. All of my information is on my website, so definitely go and check that out.

Lee: Fabulous. And I’ll put links in the show notes. Thank you so much for talking with me today. It was great to get to know you and your books.

Isla: Thank you. It was great to be here.

Lee: I had so much fun chatting with Isla. She also flew a very long distance to attend to the Gay Romance Lit Retreat in October and it was amazing to meet her. I am so glad that she came. As I mentioned earlier, I want to give an update on Isla’s books as some of the info in the interview is a bit outdated. Since we talked, she’s released both Sex, Tries and Videotape and Text Me Up, which are books eight and nine in the Love and Luck series. I’ve got a link to her Amazon page in the show notes

Thanks for joining me in the Low Angst Library. I hope you enjoyed this interview. Is there an author of low angst queer romance that you’d like me to interview? There’s a link in the show notes and on with a guest suggestion form. If you’re an author writing low angst queer romance, there’s a self-suggestion form in the show notes and on the website as well.

A major goal of mine with this podcast is to have guests writing main characters in romance novels who represent identities all over the LGBTQIA2S+ spectrum and your suggestions will help me with that.

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