Transcript: 11. Chloe Archer

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Full episode transcript

Chloe Archer

Lee: Welcome to episode #11 of the Low Angst Library podcast. Today, we have an interview with Chloe Archer.

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 queer spectrum so that I could learn what draws them to the lighter side of angst, more about their books and their writing processes.

I have been super busy lately working on book three of my Tap That Brewery series. I am having so much fun making Ty fall in love. It’s always fun to watch the commitment-phobic ones falls so hard. Muahahaha. I hope that in an episode or two from now, I’ll be able to finally share that I have reached that a beautiful milestone of having the first draft completely done.

Also last June, I released an novella as part of the MM class of 2021-22 giveaway. I wrote the story about Dave. He’s the guy who owns the coffee shop in my fictional small town of Dahlia Springs. He or his coffee shop basically will pop up in every single book that’s set in the town. So I really wanted him to have his own story.

As part of that giveaway, we were given a word count limit. Me being me. Of course, I initially drafted above that word count limit and had to edit it down. But there’s been some things that I really want to revisit with that story. For a while, I really wanted to expand it into a full length novel. But I just don’t think that my brain works that way. And my writing process. Once a story’s told it’s really hard for me to revisit it, which makes revisions really fun. But I also just have too many new book ideas that I want to work on. So I don’t think I’ll be able to revisit and make it a full length book.

So I found a middle ground. I am going to add a few chapters of moments that I just didn’t have the space to have in that first version because of our totally understandable word count limit. So I’m going to add a couple chapters to it and then I’ll be releasing it on Amazon.

And I’m really hoping to somehow magically make this happen next month in June for Pride month because the book is actually set during Pride month and has an amateur drag show element to it. So I feel like next month would be the perfect time to release the slightly expanded version. I’ll keep you posted. But in the meantime, let’s move on to the real reason you’re here.

I’m super excited to share my interview with Chloe Archer. We talked about pop culture references in books, making sci-fi books widely accessible, and how her epic debut year has been going.

Chloe Archer writes MM sci-fi and paranormal romcoms with laugh out loud humor, because she’s all about bringing the funny-sexy back. Oh yeah. She currently calls Minnesota home, but has lived abroad in places like Montreal, Edinburgh, and Tokyo. She’s also hoping to relocate to Scotland permanently one day if the stars align. You and me both Chloe. Chloe is a fur mama to two adorable Yorkies, Jasper and Teddy, and she loves them in a crazy dog mama kind of way. When she isn’t busy writing, she enjoys visiting friends and family, traveling, reading, binge watching movies and TV shows and practicing her karaoke skills, which we talk about in this episode. She does a mean cover of Pat Benatar and Cher, or so she’s been told.

All right onto the interview.

Chloe Archer, thank you so much for being here. I’m so thrilled to talk with you.

Chloe: Likewise. Thank you so much for having me.

Lee: I really love to just jump in and find out first off, what got you into writing books and writing romance specifically?

Chloe: Oh my gosh. Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, actually, um, since I was quite young, ’cause I was an avid reader from a pretty early age. But, you know, I grew up in a time where I kind of chronically had adults tell me, oh no being an author is not a viable career path. And this includes teachers and other people.

This was in the days where trad publishing was really the only option. And so it was and still is incredibly difficult to break into that and make a sustainable career. So I wrote off and on. I wrote my first novella in seventh grade, which is probably the closest I’ve ever come to writing fan fiction. It was very much a book off of like Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara series ’cause I was a huge fantasy reader.

And then I didn’t really write on paper or on computer anything again until I was in my early twenties, around 22. I would say though that I always kind of have been writing stories in my head because it’s kind of how I entertain myself. But I wrote a novel, my first novel, which will never see the publishing light of day. I wrote when I was 22. I’ve learned a lot since then. But it was at the height of urban fantasy was hitting really hot in the early 2000s. And you know, this was like the beginning of the Patricia Briggs’s series with Mercy Thompson and like Anita Blake in the early really good days and like. You know, Kim Harrison’s witch series and all that kind of stuff. And I was really into urban fantasy, and I wrote my own urban fantasy novel. It was not great. It had an interesting concept. I will say that the story was interesting, but I made a lot of those first time writer errors of lots of telling instead of showing, way too many dialogue tags, adverbs, all that kind of stuff, right?

Um, but, you know, I, I shopped it around with some agents. Had a couple who had interest, got some samples, but then it kind of fizzled out and never went anywhere. And at 22, I think when your ego’s a little bit less firmly established in some respects, I just kind of was like, oh, I mustn’t have what it takes to do this, right? And so I sort of thought, well, you know, maybe I’ll try again one day, but I focused instead on grad school ’cause I was in grad school at that time.

Once I started realizing that self-publishing was an option, I really started thinking like, ah, I really should come back to that dream that I’d had. But you know how life can sometimes make you make excuses, put things on the back burner. I did that for a long time. I had a very busy day job. Still do. Um, and then really what happened was the pandemic. I think like for many people was really life changing in terms of also really reassessing where you’re at in life and what you want, what your goals and dreams are.

And in the midst of me having that kind of existential awakening, right? Um, my aunt died, during the pandemic and she and I were really close for many, many years. And she had only been retired for two years.

Lee: Oh.

Chloe: Only 57. It was ironically enough, it wasn’t COVID, it was an accident. Um, it was just a unexpected, tragic accident and she passed away and I was just like really shocked because she was so young and she didn’t really get to enjoy, you know, and do the things she thought she was gonna do in her retirement. And it really kind of like, for all the sadness that I brought, it really lit a fire under my ass, so to speak, to kind of, you know, I don’t wanna have regrets, and you just never know how much time you have.

And so I really encourage anyone listening, you know, if you have a dream to be a writer or to do something else, right? Like, don’t let yourself keep making excuses. Like really try and go for it because life is short and you just never know what’s gonna happen. And yeah, for me it was one of those like, I wanna make sure I’ve done some of the things I really wanna do.

And so it got me started and I haven’t really looked back. I did struggle a little bit at first because what I’d found actually one of my big holdups for writing for many years was that I cannot write very well by composing in a Word or similar document. Um, part of this has to do with my academic training and my day job that I have just this internal editor critic that wants to pick apart everything that I write. And so what happens is like two steps forward, one step back is kind of how I write when I type. And I just made such slow progress. It was really frustrating. And I would sometimes go back and like re-edit the same chapter like 12 times, you know? And I just wouldn’t be ever satisfied.

And what I found liberating and freeing was, um, in the summer of 2021 when I attended, Inkers Con, uh, their virtual conference, I discovered dictation as an option for writing. And I’d never really heard about it before. But I thought, well, you know, I was stuck on what I was trying to write, but I was still going for it. And I was like, okay, I’m just gonna try this dictation thing. Maybe it’ll help me get past a block I have.

And oh my gosh, I was like, I took to dictation like a duck to water. Like, it was just immediately a natural fit for me. Like the first time I dictated 20 minutes straight, like I just dictated. And I thought, oh my God, this is the easiest thing in the world. Why isn’t everybody doing dictation? Um, I have since learned, however, that it is not so natural for everyone. Um, but for me it really is. And so I, I know we’ll talk about, you know, uh, probably writing process a little later, but for me, I primarily dictate my first draft now.

Um, uh, okay, so the second half of the question, sorry, I’m super talky. The second half of your question was about sort of how I got into romance. Um, well, I actually came to romance a little later than some. I only discovered romance novels in college. Um, before that though, I had really gravitated to lots of other genres that had romantic subplots. Mysteries with the romantic subplot, fantasy with the romantic subplot. And even some of those, like I grew up with those like Christopher Pike, you know, widely books and stuff like that and a lot of them would have like a little romantic subplot element to them.

So I discovered romance novels in college and read pretty voraciously at first, but I think that like many people, you start out often in het romance ’cause that’s where the largest percentage of books are and they’re in bookstores and all of that kind of stuff. But I found that as a queer person, I didn’t always fully connect with them in the ways that I wanted. There was something sort of missing. I sometimes got a little tired of what I felt were slightly repetitive or non-variable representations of masculinity. That they were all really similar.

I sort of started moving away from romance and then that’s when I discovered Japanese Yaoi and boys love manga. And I was like, oh, okay what is this? This is amazing. This is fun. Um, and then I started like looking for novels, discovered lesbian romance novels and read a bunch of those. And then I discovered, um, I don’t know if anybody in your audience will remember any of these, ’cause I’m older. But in the very early 2000s, this was when Amazon, it was what called Create Space or something like that.

There were these two guys who were married, Scott Pomfret and Scott Whittier, and they went by Scott and Scott. And they wrote this series called Romentics. And it was supposed to be like the first gay Harlequin series.

Lee: Oh wow,

Chloe: And they were entitle. You can’t get ’em now. Like they’re, oh, like they’re probably collectors items, honestly, I have several of them, but they were print on demand only. Like there wasn’t even ebook that I remember. Um, and I was like, oh, wow, this is amazing. And then from there I sort of fell into finding other authors. And then once I got sucked into MM, I knew that if I wrote something, that was where it was going to be because that’s probably about 90% of what I read.

Lee: Nice. You’ve had quite a journey to get here. I love all the twists and turns.

Chloe: There are some benefits to age, you know, you have some experience under your belt and Yeah. Yeah.

Lee: Yeah, and it’s just such a good feeling. We have kind of similar timelines and we’ve talked about this a little bit before, but that when you like starting in het romance and all those things, and then just finally discovering that place where you feel comfortable and how that just unlocks so much, I feel like, in your creativity and your comfort and your ideas. And I’m just so glad that that’s happened for you.

Chloe: Yeah, thanks. Me too.

Lee: Well, so we know what drew you to writing and romance? What about low angst stories?

Chloe: Hmm. Well, um, I’ve learned over the years that I am fundamentally a mood reader. And so most of the time, not always, but most of the time I’m looking for stories that are gonna make me feel good, right? So I’m looking often for more fun, upbeat stories. Ones that aren’t gonna like, really amp up my anxiety.

Lee: Yeah.

Chloe: Um, I mean, I love a good mystery. I like suspense and stuff, but I struggle to read really dark stuff, particularly anything that has on page abuse. Particularly sexual abuse of any kind, you know, that kind of stuff. Just really takes me out of what I want to be reading. Not to yuck anyone’s yum at all. I totally understand why other people find sometimes that kind of stuff cathartic, but for me it unfortunately affects my anxiety in bad ways. So I usually aim for things that are going to really give me the mood that I’m looking for.

And in a sort of parallel fashion, I found I’m largely a mood writer as well. So if I am writing something that’s really fun and funny and engaging, like it is a really kind of, that’s my catharsis, I guess you could say. That really helps me, especially since we live in a time and in a world where I think we’re constantly kind of inundated with more bad news than good news, and so I often need that kind of outlet or escape, and so I gravitate more toward that.

Now I’ve certainly had story ideas for things or that I’ve attempted writing certain things that are a little bit less low angst. Definitely not dark, but might have some more gravitas to it. I’ve never finished any of those though, so I don’t know. I mean, and if I ever did, I would probably publish them under a different pen name because they just wouldn’t really fit with my current brand.

But for me at least, for my Chloe Archer pen name, this is where I get to play with all the happy, fun stuff and see where it takes me. Because I wanna follow characters and experience all kinds of fun stuff with them. I like zany adventures and shenanigans and stuff, but I don’t really wanna have like a lot of communication difficulties between a couple, which I think most low angst doesn’t have that, right? Oftentimes if the couple has some kind of obstacle or barrier, it’s external, might be other people, et cetera. But for them they usually, I find can, um, you know, are, are communicative adults who can work through any kind of issues they may have and just not do things like push each other away or like walk out the door in a huff or stuff like that. And I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in real relationships, but girl, I like to read me romance as fantasy.

Lee: Same.

Chloe: Not reality. And so that’s what I like about sometimes low angst is that you don’t have to deal always with some of the less pleasant parts of like real relationships.

Lee: I cannot agree more. I’ve had this conversation with a couple of authors who like misunderstanding and those communication troubles. They like that element of realism, but what I say to them is exactly what you just said. For me, part of the fantasy of romance is the communication porn. Because I can’t do that well in real life and so I want to immerse myself in a world where characters are braver and stronger than I can be at any given moment.

Chloe: Right, right. And I’ll, I’ll just be honest, as a queer woman in her early forties, I’ve hit that no fucks to give kind of, beat of my life. And so I just get irritated by that level of like sometimes miscommunication where you’re just sort of like, ugh, you know? And honestly it will sometimes in a story make me stop reading the book. Like, that’s just, um, that’s just me as a reader, uh, that sometimes I’ll hit a frustration point where I’m like, okay, you’ve pulled me too much out of the story with this, and I’m gonna have to go find something else that’s gonna meet my mood need, you know?

Lee: Well with low angst you talked about how part of what low angst is to you, is that kind of that higher communication level. What else does low angst mean to you?

Chloe: Well, like I said, usually it means that a couple, once they get together, what they’re dealing with is more external. And often even in the process of courtship or, you know, falling in love, it’s, it’s not often like a lot of internal angst that they’re dealing with. I mean, they might have some difficult past or other things, but they’ve done things like therapy and, you know, like, I mean, like, you know, where they worked on themselves, I guess you could say.

I think that for me it’s something that doesn’t, for me at least, amp up anxiety in bad ways. That tends to be- Major triggers for me tend to be the miscommunication thing, but more specifically also like on page trauma or abuse, particularly sexual abuse of any kind. Those I appreciate content warnings for and so I think that that’s important. I think a lot of low angst doesn’t have a lot of content warnings perhaps in that regard.

Um, I do think that the MCs and like a low angst, um, even if they’re facing or dealing with some kind of mystery or action or even suspense, right? They get through it all without any really dark or negative repercussions. I guess those are some of the things that I would associate with low angst. I mean, as many people on the podcast have said before, I think it’s highly subjective in terms of how you would label a book.

Like for me, I consider for instance, like Lily Morton’s books to be fairly low angst. Sometimes they have miscommunications, but they’re not ethically frustrating ones to me, but some readers might not find her work super low angst. Maybe it’s medium angst. I don’t, I don’t know. May I think it’s kind of a spectrum or continuum that, um, you know, some authors I would or wouldn’t place within that kind of category.

Lee: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Well, let’s talk about your writing process, because you talked about dictation. So what else makes up the magic of a Chloe Archer book?

Chloe: Oh my gosh. Um, kind of like my journey to writing. It’s involved. Um, so for other writers who are familiar with the Clifton strengths, which Becca Syme-

Lee: Yes, yes.

Chloe: Right. Um, I am a number one futuristic. So I found in that I’m about 80% a discovery writer and 20% a planner. But what I plan is largely big into the future. Like I will conceive of a series and imagine, oh, it has this many books and here’s the main arc of the series, and here’s kind of, you know, where each book like might generally fit. Beyond that, though, I don’t do extensive planning, I guess you could say.

So like I have multiple series like mapped out that I’ll probably work on for the next, at least five years, right? In terms of, that’s where my initial kind of starting goes. And then it becomes a matter of like, okay, which series am I gonna be working on when? I do gravitate towards series. I do not seem to be a much of a standalone planner. For whatever reason, my mind wants to go to world building and like imagining, you know, multiple- And part of this probably relates to the fact I read series too. I don’t read a ton of standalones. I like to be able to return to a world multiple times if I like it.

I typically start by daydreaming and brainstorming. I have been a daydreamer since I was in like kindergarten and I used to get in trouble in school all the time for it ’cause I wouldn’t be paying attention. But I’d be like imagining I was going on epic adventures and you know, fun stuff like that, because it was much more interesting than like learning cursive handwriting or whatever.

Lee: Yes.

Chloe: Like, um, uh, but a lot of this kinda daydreaming, brainstorming process for me now happens often when I’m walking my dogs. Like something about the exercise and like being outside, it tends to get those creative juices flow.

Then I typically, because I am of a certain generation here, uh, Gen Xer holla, um, but like I hand-write initial notes on paper with pen or pencil. Just that works to stick in my head a lot more. So I do that typically with character planning and stuff like that. Those are really the things I flesh out most and I’ll come up with a concept essentially.

But once I have the main characters kind of figured out. I may not know who any of the side characters are yet. They’ll just wander in eventually. What I do is I look to try to see the beginning and the end of a book. Um, and that’s where I start. Once I have the beginning and I have the end, where I wanna get, um, I usually write the first chapter via dictation. And then after that I may map out using, like Post-it notes, the next couple of chapters where I think they may go. Then I’ll dictate them and then I’ll do the same thing again. Like, where do I think the next few chapters will go?

But I can’t plan out a whole book, I have discovered. I’ve done it once or twice. And what I’ve found is, it’s very similar to kind of like what the famous film director Alfred Hitchcock talked about, right? He was an intricate storyboarder, so he planned out every shot in a film and put it on paper before he ever filmed it. And then he said the most boring part of the process then was filming the movie. Right? He’d already seen it all. He’d already seen it all. He’d already envisioned it. And like, so he didn’t actually necessarily love the filmmaking process.

And I found that I have the same thing with writing, where it’s like, oh, well now I know everything that happens and now I don’t wanna write this anymore. Like I wanna do something else. Right? And so for me, I kind of need to have like excitement and surprises along the way. Things that I don’t expect are going to happen now. Every now and again, I will get often ideas for things that I think are really funny and I’m like, okay, so somewhere this is gonna happen. I don’t know where, but I’ll have a Post-it note somewhere in this book. This thing will happen, or so and so will say this at a particular point. So I’ll sometimes get those little nuggets, but otherwise I finish a draft mostly through that, dictate a few chapters, plan a few, dictate, plan a few, and then get to the end.

And then after that I do a, then I’ll edit on the computer and for whatever reason, I can do it at that point without the same kind of hangup when I’m trying to write from a blank page. And then it goes to my betas, get their feedback and do another edit. Then it goes to my editor and I go back and kind of go through, and then it goes to the proofer and then formatting and print.

Lee: Nice. Our process is so similar with the dictation.

Chloe: Really?

Lee: And then like a few chapters at a time. I’m the same way, like that discovery. When I’ve tried to plot out a book, it’s told. And the Clifton Strengths the same thing have helped me understand and like lean into that part of my process because I feel like, especially with you and I starting in like the early two thousands, a lot of the rhetoric at that time for writers was you have to sit down every day and write. You need to plot your books. You need to be efficient. Real writers do X, Y, Z and it’s hard to lean into the ways that you’re different as an author.

Chloe: Yeah, I, and I think that, um, I mean, I do, what I think a lot of people have talked about more recently too, is that, uh, just because you might be a discovery writer, it doesn’t mean that you’re not planning or, you know. It, it, it means that sometimes you’re figuring out your organizational structure at the end, right?

That discovery process might be really instrumental to you, kind of, you just go about it in a different way to make the pieces all fit into a cohesive whole. It’s just, I am not organized enough and actually kind of get hives at like super organization for these kinds of things from the get go. So like, you know, I know many people love Plottr and like. No, no hate on the Plottr lovers, but I went into that app to check it out and ran away, like screaming in my mind, like, no, no. I just could not. No, it was, it was way too much.

And I find that like, that much information all in one space is overwhelming to my brain. And then it can put me into a almost ADHD, like, I’m stuck and I can’t do. With all of this. So it’s easier for me if I, I let my discovery self kind of go.

Um, I also keep a lot of crap in my head, right? Which is good and bad in the sense that like, oh, I know some things about these future books, and I know which couple, and I know certain scenes and various things that I’ve, I’ve thought out. Some of them I’ve written down, not all of them. I really should be better about that. But, you know, I’m also still fairly new at this, and so I figure, you know, we hone our process as we go in the same way that we hone our craft, right? And I think that, uh, it may vary for some people from book to book certain books process might work best, others could be radically different.

And if you keep yourself open to that and not try to force yourself into a box where you’re doing the same thing every time, especially if it isn’t working, um, that’s where you can really ensure you have greater success and productivity.

Lee: Yeah, I completely agree. Completely.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your stories?

Chloe: Apart from my own weird brain. Um, no, seriously, I live in my head a lot. Um, I was that kid who would round everyone up and I’d be like, okay. I have this elaborate story and this quest we’re gonna go on and you are this character and you are that character. Like, this is before I even knew what Dungeons and Dragons was, right? And like, you know, and like I’d have this whole thing, like intricate thing, like in my mind that it’s like, okay, this is what we’re gonna do. Um, the other kids were not so excited. So then they would all run off to go like, just ride their bike. And I’d be like, well, fine. You know, and I’d go read my book.

I get a lot just from various things I’ve read over the years where they’ve like given me an idea of like, ooh. But what if this was tweaked and it was like this instead, right? Um, so certainly I think from my reading history, but also as any of my readers know, totally pop culture because I love movies, TV shows, all that jazz.

I make lots of references to them in my stories. And I think that because, and part of this also relates to sort of like my day job and stuff that, you know, film is definitely a medium that I really gravitate toward a lot. Film is also a medium that has historically not been super diverse and inclusive when it comes to at least Hollywood big budget productions and stuff.

I think it’s getting better, but there’s a reason why people write fanfic and stuff for certainly franchises that they’ve wanted to see more LGBTQ representation or BIPOC representation or, you know, that kind of thing. Uh, I never actually wrote fan fiction, but I was like, no, but like, what if I took this concept from this and turned it into something else, right? And that’s how I think I often get started with an idea.

I’m also, because I’m a mood reader and writer, I’m one of those oddballs in writing who is like super inspired by music and will dictate to music in the background. I know a lot of people can’t write whether typing or dictating while listening to music, but I can. And so I will often select songs that have a particular kind of mood or tone to fit what I’m writing because they affect my mood.

Like, dude, if I’m gonna sit and listen to some Radiohead jams, I’m probably not gonna write the super happy low angst. Don’t get me wrong, I love Radiohead, but like they would give me ideas for a story that would be very different. Right? Um, so instead I listen to more kind of upbeat types of stuff when I’m writing for this pen name. And like, I had a reader ask me recently something about music and I was telling them that like, for whatever reason I discovered in my Tentacular Tale series, I consistently listened to seventies funk music when I’m writing it.

It just seems to get the characters like moving in my brain. It is an iteration of music, like long before River was ever born or, you know, but it, it’s just one of those things where like, it’s just this kinda like, it’s kinda fun, quirky type of music, funk music. Like, it’s got its own kind of, I don’t know, um, je ne sais quoi as they say. And it, it really, it really gets, uh, the characters in that series going. So like 98% of the time, that’s what I’ll listen to. So that’s-

Lee: I’ll be listening to that when I read book three. Yep.

Chloe: Yes, I know. I had a, I had a, a, a reader ask something and I was like, ooh, I should maybe put up a playlist of like the, you know, like Earth, Wind and Fire songs and some, like Rick James and all that kind of stuff. I’ve been listening James Brown, like that. It’s, yeah. Yeah.

Lee: I love that so much. And having read the first two books, that vibe like, you’re right, it’s, it’s not like it’s set in that era by any means, but it you saying that for some reason, that just clicks like, yep. I am not surprised. It just feels right.

Chloe: Yeah. Right. I mean, you know, I mean there’s obviously some seventies illusions in there to like Tom Jones and other, um, but yeah it just, for whatever reason, it was the spark that ignited for the series in terms of inspiration. Yeah.

Lee: I love that so much. And so you published book one of this series last September, and so we’re recording at the end of April and you’re about to release book three. How has your debut year been going?

Chloe: Oh my god. Uh, yeah, I mean it’s like super hard to believe that. Um, well it hasn’t even been a year yet. Um, yeah, so the first book came out in September and it’s been a whirlwind, but in the very best of ways really. I have been really overwhelmed by the amount of reader love and support that I’ve gotten as a new author. And so grateful for the people who took a chance on me, ’cause I know there’s so much stuff out there, so many possibilities.

And for some people, the idea of like, tentacle what? You know, it they, you know, and I think, unfortunately, I think sometimes tentacle stories get a bad rap in the sense that I think that there perhaps is a problematically disproportionate number of like erotica stories that one can find on Amazon with that trope, right? Uh, but you know, I wanted something that actually had a plot. And had like really interesting characters and stuff. And so I’m grateful for all the people who, who took a chance on that. And I’ve had many who are like, you know, I, I wasn’t really sure about tentacles.

But this is like also my great opportunity to just say readers I know I, as an author, absolutely love to hear from you when you enjoy my stories. Don’t ever feel shy about sending a message, because personally I do feel like it’s the lifeblood of many an author to get those kinds of positive reinforcement. Because, you know, you’re writing sometimes pretty solitarily. You might have a writer group, but like really creating this work is you 98% of the time.

And when you send it off into the world, it’s really helpful to hear from people when they found it and it resonated with them. It certainly inspires and motivates me to keep writing and to keep putting more stuff out there. I know some readers are like, oh, I don’t wanna bother. It’s not a bother, like, I don’t know an author I’ve ever met who hasn’t been delighted. Sometimes it’s literally like the highlight of the day to get a really wonderful message like that. Yeah, so I mean, it’s been going great. Book two came out in, um, I.

Lee: Is it late December?

Chloe: December? December, end of December. And I also had a little Christmas novella that also came out in December. Book one was nominated for an MM Goodreads award for best debut novel. I didn’t win, but it was totally an honor to be nominated for such a major award right out the gate. It did win- Book one did win the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award for best LGBT Sci-Fi Fantasy. It’s kind of like a long name, but essentially LGBT Sci-Fi Fantasy of 2022. I was over the moon about that. That was really exciting.

Also, I think one of the coolest things apart from hearing from readers has been getting messages from authors who’ve read books in the series and really enjoyed it. Like I never expected to get that, I think, right out the gate. And, um, it’s just been again, like squee, you know, exciting when you’re like, you know who I am. Oh my God. But, um, and you know, many of them have like also even gone on to do things like graciously extend invitations to participate in some really cool projects. A few I’ll probably talk about later.

My first audiobook came out this year too. For book one, narrated by the always stellar and amazing Greg Boudreaux. I knew I wanted to work with him from really early on and he just nailed like the characters and the humor in my story. And he’s going to be narrating book two as well, and that’ll be coming out later this summer. And I’m really pumped about that.

And then I have GRL ahead and I’ll be going as an author for the first time thinking about maybe Euro Pride Con in 2024. And of course, lots more writing is coming down the pipeline too. So it’s been a whirlwind, like I said, but a really great one. And I’m super happy.

Lee: I’m so glad. It’s been really fun to watch. I just love seeing people chatting and every time the books pop up in book rec groups and-

Chloe: Right. I mean, I think we all feel like that about our writer friends, right? It’s, I, I mean, I, I do think that the MM genre, more than almost any other that I’ve seen, really emphasizes uplifting each other, right? That I think we recognize that success for one of us also means success for the rest of us, right? In the sense that we’re still a growing genre. We’re bringing in new readers. We have ways to help each other gain visibility, share readership, and all of that. And I think that, you know, I think the sky’s still the limit with MM. I think we’ve like barely touched the tip of the iceberg of where this subgenre could go in the next 10 or 15 years. And I’m fully on board for that adventure.

Lee: Yes. Love that. Also love hearing your futuristic talk about that.

Chloe: Yeah.

Lee: Well, your Tentacular Tales is just so imaginative and the world building is, I don’t even know how to describe it. It is just so fun. Can you talk about how you came up with, with this, with the world, the characters? Like, just tell us about that.

Chloe: Right. Um, so, so my new tagline sort of for the series is Men in Black meets The Princess Bride, but hella gay and with tentacles essentially. Um, it embodies a similar kind of, um, ethos, I guess. I wanted to write something funny, right? And for the longest time, I don’t know why, I thought I couldn’t write humor. Even though all of my friends were like, you tell the funniest stories, like you’ve gotta write, you know, something like this. And I was like, uh, but my humor’s on the quirky kind of side. I don’t know.

But I thought, when the pandemic was happening and kinda what we talked about before, I was at this point where I was feeling really kind of low and lonely. Many of us probably felt that way and I wanted something that was gonna be, laugh out loud funny to read, but also super campy and kind of geeky. And I just wasn’t really finding a book that embodied all that I was looking for. And so I decided that’s where I need to start. I need to start by writing the book that I really wanted and needed to read when I was feeling crappy, right?

And so I’d always loved, well, I’m a big sci-fi geek, obviously. You can’t write what I write the way I write it without being part of the fandom, right? But I’d also really always had a special soft spot in my heart for sci-fi comedies, like hybrid films and stuff. Uh, Space Balls, Galaxy Quest, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I wanted something like that, but MM romance as well.

And the first thing that came to mind for me was like, what about like a sci-fi nerd who believes in aliens actually meeting one on Earth, right? Because I knew I didn’t really wanna do for this series what’s pretty common in a lot of sci-fi romance, which is the alien abduction narrative, right?

It’s not to say I won’t write one someday. But this series, I didn’t wanna do that. Instead I was like, oh my God, how funny would it be if aliens were living on earth and trying to fit in? And that’s what made me think a bit about like, what I had enjoyed about the M_en in Black_ films, uh, particularly the first one is I, I had really always enjoyed the bits about the aliens trying to kind of like integrate into human society. And I thought, okay, this could lend itself to all kinds of sort of comedic fabulousness.

And that’s when River entered my brain. I liken it to, for the folks who are old enough to remember the Tasmanian Devil in Looney Tunes, who kinda like, you know, like whirlwinds in right? And just like, hello, I’m here. That was kinda what happened with River. Uh, and he would not stop talking in my head, right? And I was just like, I mean it was just like trying to like get down on paper. Oh my God, oh my God. Like what is this guy doing?

And Kai, however, took longer to envision for me. I knew he was gonna be a little bit more of the kind Agent K kind of stoic and a little grumpy and stern type of figure, right? Who like takes his responsibilities all seriously. But then I started thinking, okay, but he needs to, so he’s an alien of some kind, so I need something about him that’s different.

Also, I was like underneath his like tough exterior here. He’s actually this really, he’s got this very soft, vulnerable side to him. He just doesn’t like to show it always ’cause he’s been hurt in the past and other things like that. And I thought, well, what could more symbolically represent that? That’s when I got the weird idea for the tentacles.

Lee: But it works. It works.

Chloe: Well, thank you. I, you know, at first I was like, no, this is too silly. But I kept kinda trying to theorize other ideas and I just kept, my brain just kept going back to this. And then I had this mental picture of him and his like, tentacles that often don’t obey him. Right. Um, and, and that’s how that kind of happened.

The side characters, I didn’t know who any of them were gonna be except for Uncle Benji. He came into my head also pretty quickly with River, ’cause I knew River was going to be an orphan character. Um, and I knew that he was still comparatively young, like 22 and he had not yet really kind of gone out into the world on his own. He was staying with his guardian. And I was like, why would he still be with this Guardian? And then Uncle Benji came into existence and you know, kind of grew from there.

But the other side characters literally, I swear sometimes it’s just like all of a sudden, poof, they pop into my head and then it’s like, oh God. And, uh, sorry Greg, but they just keep coming. Like, I have so many of them at this point that I’m like, oh my gosh. Um, because partly of the world that I’ve built, like meeting these different alien characters at various points is sort of a necessity by virtue of what River does for his new job now. Uh, and so yeah, that’s kind of how it all came together in a rather convoluted way, but.

Lee: That is so fun just to hear how that did come about. And I never considered the phrasing that you used hybrid, some of the hybrid stories like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because that’s exactly what your book feels like. And what I really appreciate this series for is it’s so accessible to people who might not have experience with sci-fi media, but it’s so, it’s accessible for people who don’t have that experience. But I can imagine that it’s a blast for people who do.

So for me reading it, I haven’t read or watched much sci-fi, so there were references that went over my head, which was fine because people who do get the references are gonna love that. But there are so many pop culture references outside of sci-fi that I just was really immersed in. And I felt like with it being set on Earth, it’s just such a great series that seems like it could work for anyone. It could work for the people who are super into sci-fi who are just gonna eat up all of the references. And it super works for people who might be new to sci-fi or new to tentacles and kind of want to branch out a little bit with the familiarity of Earth, but then getting that taste.

Uh, so I really appreciate how that exists. Like it just is accessible for everyone. So were you really intentional? Was that a goal of trying to make it accessible or was that just how the story came out in terms of you wanting to make it set on Earth and it just happened to be something that could work for so many people?

Chloe: Uh, it was mostly intentional in the sense that, um, I ideally wanna reach as broad of a market as I can while staying true to my kind of vision for the story. I knew that I wanted still my first and foremost audience, like this is a bit of a love letter to my fellow sci-fi geeks out there. And I get many messages from some of them who are just like, and they love like spotting, like, oh, and this and this.

Lee: I love that.

Chloe: And sometimes they remind me ones of like, oh, I forgot to put that in there. You know, stuff like that. And so like, that’s, that’s always really great. Um, but you know, I include other pop culture references, so I try to have a little bit for, for everybody. Um, and you know, not everybody’s perhaps into the pop culture references. I certainly have some folks who have not been, but you can’t make everybody happy, essentially. I wanted to kind of, um, ensure that there was gonna be enough humor for everyone to enjoy, possibly inspire some people to go check out some sci-fi stuff, depending.

Every time I include a reference, I have a little stop moment where I’m like, hmm, how many people are gonna get this? Like, cause you know, sometimes River has ideas about including something that’s way more heavy duty sci-fi minutia, where I’m like, no, they don’t, they’re not gonna get that one, right? But we could talk about this other thing, right? And so, yeah, I mean, I do try to make it, uh, as reasonably accessible as I can, and I, I feel like I’ve been relatively successful. I’ve had quite a few people who’ve written who are like, I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I gave this a chance and I loved it. And I didn’t know all the references, but I was still able to enjoy it all. So I think that was really what I was aiming for with it. Mm-hmm.

Lee: I love that. I’d like seen references to that because at first, when I hadn’t read it yet, I’d seen people say like, oh, I haven’t read much sci-fi yet and I still really enjoyed that. So intellectually I got that, but then when I read them I was like, oh, I get it. Because there is, there’s just so much pop culture, but then like, just imagining you can totally visualize these aliens descending upon Vegas. And like, it-

Chloe: What better place, right?

Lee: Right, exactly. And I, oh my God, I love how you weave in the Vegasness of that setting with the a- Like, I’m not gonna give away any spoilers, but it just cracks me up because every time that comes up it’s like, well, it’s Vegas, so yeah, of course that’s gonna work. You’re like, yes.

Chloe: Yes. Yes. You know, there, there is a logic to River’s crazy ideas sometimes, you know, like he’s, he’s really, yeah. He gets it. More actually than the aliens do sometimes. Uh, which is also fun as a conceit in, in the narrative for me.

Lee: Well, uh, this is, I feel like this is a tough question, but I have a feeling I might know the answer to it given what you said so far. In your series, who’s been your favorite character to write?

Chloe: Oh, I mean, hands down it’s River. I mean, I love all of the characters and many of them are incredibly fun to write. And again, you know, for me to enjoy the writing process, I have to, like my characters that I’m writing. Even the bad guys and some of them are not entirely bad, right? Um, have their own likability. And then the, the ones that are really bad, I just make really awful ’cause they are. Um, and so, um, but River, River makes me laugh out loud when I’m writing. Like sometimes the things that he says or does, I’m like, Where did that come from? Like, they’re not things I would ever do personally in real life. Maybe it’s some hidden unconscious part of my brain. I don’t know.

But like River, yeah, he just absolutely cracks me up. Um, and you know, for him, he really views the world through these sci-fi tv and movie tinted glasses, right? He makes sense of the world through the stuff that he loves. And like that kind of infuses so much of where aspects of the story go that he’ll constantly be like, oh, that’s like this, you know, because that’s how he can make sense of certain things in his life. And it, uh, I think is rather charming about him. And so he just entertains me to no end. It’s gonna be really hard to eventually say goodbye to.

Lee: Oh, I bet. I bet. I can’t even imagine because he’s such a personality. Oh.

Chloe: Yes.

Lee: Yeah.

Chloe: Yes. I’ve had several readers write to me and sort of say, I need a River in my life. I’m like, don’t we all, you know?

Lee: I love that idea, and I’m also terrified of that idea.

Chloe: Little bit.

Lee: Well, this next question is a bit of a departure, but it’s just something I’m super curious about. You currently live in the US and you’ve lived in several other countries, and I know you love to travel. I am very envious that you’ve lived in Scotland. How have your international experiences influenced your writing?

Chloe: Oh, probably in more ways than I realize. Um, I mean, I think that living in other countries for any period of time broadens your worldview, right? It’s really easy to get a very narrow or confined understanding of the world if you always stay in the same place and you never leave, right? I grew up in a household where we moved every three to four years growing up for my dad’s job. So I don’t actually have one specific home location, like where I grew up. I grew up all over kind of thing.

And so when I went away to college and other stuff, like I was keen to go see more of the rest of the world. Scotland was probably one of my favorites, and I would actually really love to eventually move back there and have a, a wee little cottage somewhere, you know, like, I mean, it, it would be lovely. Um, I, I really, I really do love Scotland and, and, uh, the Scots. And I have a lot of family originally from the UK ’cause my dad and his parents were all born in England and they emigrated after World War II, like when my dad was quite young.

But, uh, and Japan, I, you know, I Japan, I went to teach English there between my master’s and my PhD program. And I knew nothing hardly at all about Japan. Apart from I’d seen some anime before and this was before anime was super big. ‘Cause this is like, mm, 2001 essentially. Um, I’d seen a little bit in college from some friends and I was like, well this is kind of cool and this opportunity came my way and I was like, you know what, why not?

And so I went for a year and it was a real- That was very much a kind of, when you go and live in a foreign country, it does have a lot of that stranger in a strange land kind of feeling. But I never felt that more than when I went to Japan the first time. Partly because of the language barrier for sure. But like also a place like Tokyo, which is where I was at, there’s so much stimuli. It’s really hard to process ’cause you’ve got just so many people, so many signs, so many TV screens, so many, I mean, everything all at once. It’s like, it’s amazing. But it can be really overwhelming.

But I think, you know, some of those kinds of experiences have helped me think in my series about alien species coming to earth and having similar feelings, right? And how would they kind of adapt and like, how can River be culturally sensitive in trying to learn and become friends with these different aliens and stuff like that. So I do think that it’s probably helped me a little bit in that.

When I was in Japan, I also developed a love for karaoke. Uh, and I’m a big karaoke nerd and folks who’ve read my series know that one of my side characters is an alien who calls himself Tom Jones and is also a wannabe Tom Jones impersonator. And he has a portable karaoke machine that he brings around with him to social events. Um, yeah, ask me how I know about those machines. I might have one. Um.

Lee: Can’t believe you haven’t brought it to GRL or didn’t bring it last year.

Chloe: I know! It’s kinda hard to bring on the plane. Uh, maybe if I drove, if GRL is ever somewhere I could drive, uh, I would bring that. But yeah, I think that, um, just if you have an opportunity to travel or to live or study abroad, I highly recommend it because I think it really does enhance your worldview.

It makes you appreciate things about your home country and your hometown and stuff like that, that you may not have appreciated as much before doing it. And I think I can give you a lot of insights into things you wanna write, characters you might wanna write, more diverse characters from other places, things like that.

Lee: That’s great. I love that. Oh, Scotland. Ah.

Chloe: It’s, it’s a great place.

Lee: it really is. Well, speaking of karaoke machines and GRL or the Gay Romance Lit retreat. So you mentioned earlier that you’ll be attending as a Spotlight author this year, and you’ve been going there as a reader for years. What does it feel like to finally be going as an official, officially as an author?

Chloe: Girl. Um, no. I have been going to GRL as a reader since 2014, which was the year they were in Chicago. Um, and I was such a little wallflower that year ’cause I went alone and I didn’t know anybody and I was just like, I, I discovered it like last minute. Like I was doing, searching for more gay romance novels. ‘Cause in 2014 availability was still a little- You had to search a little bit. And I stumbled across the Gay Rom Lit website and I was like, what is this? And then I thought, oh my God, they’re having a convention. It was in Chicago and it was within driving distance for me.

And I messaged the organizer ’cause I wanted to see if they still had tickets available ’cause registration had been open a while. They’d had a cap, I think, that year on like the number of attendees and so they put me on a wait list. And then like a month or two before it was gonna happen, they had an opening and I got in and I went and it was really life-changing going to GRL. That first year there really kind of lit a spark in me in terms of wanting to be an author. It only took me eight years to make it happen, but, you know, whatever.

I would say, you know, I, I did really kind of have this sort of like feeling when I was there that like, I had felt more at home there than almost anywhere I’d ever been with like so many people before. And then this moment happened where they did this massive like giveaway at the party one night. And it was like this basket full of all this stuff and a Kindle Paperwhite, which I still have. It’s still my Kindle is the one I won at GRL in 2014.

Um, but like many of my friends know, I have horrible luck when it comes to like, anything whether it’s a raffle or bingo or anything. I, I rarely win those kinds of things. I just don’t have a lucky gene for it. But that year I won the basket and I was like, this has gotta be a sign, right? In my head that’s what I was thinking.

But, um, no. So I think this year, this has been a long time coming. I’ve really wanted, especially the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed attending, but I’ve been like really itching to be there as an author. So I’m likely to be channeling a little bit of River while I’m there. I’m potentially like a firecracker, ready to explode with like noise and excitement at GRL. I’ll have to try to control myself.

But no, I can’t wait to see, you know, and meet some of my readers, some of whom I’ve, you know, known, uh, through Facebook and stuff, but also authors I’ve gotten friendly with online over the last year, uh, that I haven’t had a chance to kind of interact with in person. I think it’s gonna be amazing and I’m really pumped for it.

Lee: Oh, I’m so excited to watch it happen in action. That’ll be so fun.

Chloe: Oh man. I’m likely to be like Vanna White at the table. Come one, come all. I may put on a performance. You just never know.

Lee: Oh my gosh, you, you bring the karaoke thing to your GRL table.

Well, you mentioned this earlier also, you have a fabulous and fun show called Tea, Tentacles and Talk: Cozy Conversations about LGBTQ+ romance, which I had so much fun being a guest on in December. It was so much fun. Can you tell the readers about this wonderful show?

Chloe: Oh, I would love to. Um, so it’s, I call it a podcast, but it’s technically probably more of a vidcast. I do record video while we do it, and we have a channel on YouTube and a Facebook group. So if people are interested in checking that out, um, hopefully we can put the link in the show notes.

Um, but, you know, I honestly kind of started it for a whole, for a couple of different reasons. One is that I am a huge podcast listener myself and as both a reader and a writer. And I was a little disappointed that there were so few that were focusing on LGBTQ+ romance. There’ve been a few over the years, but some of them have kind of like went on hiatus or sort of disappeared or, you know, things like that.

And some of them, you know, are kind of like, they may focus only on a certain kind of category or categories in LGBTQ romance. And I wanted something that could be kind of broad, more broadly conceived, where we could focus on almost any kind of LGBTQ romance, but have a cozy conversation while we do it, right? ‘Cause I’m all about that. Like I don’t want to make it sort of stressful for the author. I want it to be something fun where they can show their enthusiasm for what they work for, uh, or are working on for their readers and for other authors.

Um, and you know, selfishly, I also really kind of wanted to build more connections within the LGBTQ+ writing community. And I wanted to have an opportunity to talk with authors and other people who I really admire and appreciate. And, you know, so far the podcast has only really interviewed authors. I’m only doing one episode a month, and we started in November.

But looking ahead to 2024, I wanna start, um, ’cause I mentioned in my description that I wanna include other people like audiobook, narrators, um, and I know John Solo is interested in coming on my show to reciprocate after I was on Talk with the Beard with him. Um, and I would also really love to bring in like, some cover artists and talk about the kind of work they do as well. I wanna kind of broaden it out, but we have had on newer authors like yourself, like, uh, Beck Grey. But we’ve also had more established people who’ve been around for a while like Meghan Maslow, E.J. Russell, Sam Burns. And I just finished interviewing Kiki Clarke. So that’s gonna be going up soon.

And then this summer I’ve got like an amazing list. I’m gonna be interviewing, uh, Jennifer Cody, Anna Kensing, who’s a fellow tentacle writer. Woo, uh, Meredith Davidson-King. And I’m gonna have a joint interview in August with Macy Blake and Charlie Cochet. Uh, so that’s gonna be really fun. I plan to keep doing this for as long as possible ’cause I get a lot out of talking with these fellow authors and I think writing can be so solitary sometimes. And you know, we do meet up at GRL but that’s only once a year. And this is a way I, I feel like I can keep being continually connected with other people in the genre.

Lee: Yeah. Oh, I love that so much. It’s such a fun show.

Chloe: Yes, it really is. I try to make it though that way anyway.

Lee: Well, I would love to know a bit about your reading habits. So you’ve talked a little bit about your reading, and you talked about already that you prefer to read low angst because of being a mood reader and the anxiety, which absolutely the same. I’m curious, do you read while you’re actively drafting or do you find that that influences, or do you kind of need to take breaks from reading?

Chloe: I sometimes read while I’m writing. It may depend on what stage I’m at in the process. Um, really honestly, I have noticed the volume of books I read has gone down since I started writing. I think a lot of this, however, can be attributed to the fact that I still have a full-time day job and I’m writing. And so with the schedule that I, you know, I have a fairly packed schedule with the writing at the moment, and I am not a short writer. Uh, my, my free time is a lot less, so I, I have not had, uh, quite as much time on my hands to read as much. I find I have been gravitating a little bit more to audio while I’m writing just because it gives my eyes a break. I wear glasses and I have to use my computer a lot for my day job as well as, you know, when I’m editing writing. And so the last thing I usually feel like doing is like having to squint at a book. By the time my eyes are tired, you know, at the end of the day. And so often if I need that kind of break, uh, I’ll, I’ll listen to an audiobook instead.

I do have an Audible account and so I regularly get audiobooks there. Um, I will read go to authors if they have a new book out that I’m really excited about. Um, if I’m not like, crunch time on deadline, like, ooh, gotta get this to my editor tomorrow, you know? But once I get it to the editor or something, I’ll pick it up because those are ones that I usually don’t wanna miss.

But more exploratory reading, I guess where I might be looking to try out a new author or a book I’ve heard about, but I haven’t read anything from this, uh, person before. Or it might be different from what they’re usually writing then I may wait on that. I certainly have some books that have been in my Kindle Unlimited queue for a while where I’m like, oh, gotta have that. I’ve gotta go back and, and read that.

I also, when I’m writing, I will sometimes take time to read new books that have taken off and are doing really well, especially if they’re in a category that I write. That’s just what I consider to be smart market research where I’m like, okay, what is this author doing that readers are really enjoying? I’ll often look at some of the reviews and stuff too, to kind of see. I mean, I wanna keep my finger on the pulse of what readers want. And I aim to try to give a bit of like what I enjoy writing with what people wanna read as well.

And so I will also do this to a lesser extent. I will occasionally read some het romances if I spot new trends I think will migrate over into MM ’cause I wanna get a sense of what’s making these books popular and think about ways that I can translate that into MM that would be really fun to write that hasn’t necessarily been done.

And so an example of this would be actually, uh, a new series that I have coming out or starting this summer, which is gonna be a cozy MM monster romance series called Monsters Hollow. And I, you know, had seen the monster romance trend in het romance taking off. I’d checked out a couple of books, watched a number of BookTok TikTok videos and stuff. I personally wasn’t super excited about the really dark ones ’cause I’m not a dark romance reader, but I soon discovered there were quite a few het romance authors that were doing fluffier, funnier romcom style monster romances. And I thought I would love to do that in MM.

I don’t think there are a ton of people who have, uh, ventured into that kind of terrain yet. And so I used kind of that reading to help me think about how might I envision doing something similar so that readers in MM could also have, they could have the dark stuff that- I mean, there’s amazing people who are writing darker monster romance. I know Lily Mayne is absolutely huge. But some readers might want the lighter stuff too. And like, you can have funny. I mean, what is not funny about a monster? Like something like, you know, I mean, there’s lots of ways that you can kind of tease out really cute, sweet humor, uh, and have a more low angst read with a monster romance. And so that’s what I’m gonna aim to do with that series. And I’m, I’m excited about debuting it this summer.

Lee: Oh, that’s so fun. I love that.

Um, what are your favorite tropes to write and read?

Chloe: Oh my gosh. Well, I’m still kind of discovering the writing side of what tropes I like. Uh, I like to read a number of them. Probably my number one is of course, grumpy/sunshine, which, I use in my own series. Uh, I just find that the, and like a close second would be opposites attract, right? A kind of like where there is this fascinating juxtaposition between the two characters, but it works, right? Um, and then they can complement each other in ways that, um, like they have attributes that the other does not. And so they bring out sometimes the best in each other and can help support each other in the places that they need. That I find really fun to read and write.

I also love a good May/December romance, and I have a little bit of that planned for obviously the Benji and Mal romance, which will be book five. And man, I get lots of questions about that one, but I love a good, I love a good May/December. Um, I like certain types of forced proximity, but I have a particular kink for partners in a job of some kind, right? Like that they’ve been forced to work together. Like, I don’t know, it’s a mage and his familiar and like they didn’t plan that they were gonna be, but now they’re stuck and they’ve gotta make it work. Or they’re FBI agents who’ve been paired together and they have to support each other and they fall in love while they’re doing it.

You know? I love that. That is seriously one of my like crack reading kinds of things. Love it, love it, love it. Um, I like some hurt/comfort, but not too angsty, you know? I also have a fondness for a good second chance romance. Um, now there’s certain things I don’t, I don’t really wanna coming back from cheating romance. Those ones, I can’t, those are hard for me to kind of really, I’ve read one or two that have convinced me, but like, okay, you did a good job on this, but most of the time I don’t want that. But like, they’ve maybe had that, like they were younger and they hadn’t done their work on their selves and they had a miscommunication and it broke them up, but I didn’t have to read about it.

Lee: Right.

Chloe: Now they’ve come into contact with each other again, and like they’re gonna overcome. Now they’re wiser, smarter. They’ve done the therapy, they’ve done the work or whatever. Then I like a, a good second chance romance like that. Um, I also have a soft spot for it has to be done right. And I think it’s, it’s, it can be, I actually might like to write one of these, like in a really campy, funny, general hospital kind of way, but an amnesia story. I like a good amnesia story where they don’t remember. Like, what was that movie from years ago? Mrs. Winter Born?

Lee: I haven’t seen that.

Chloe: Where? Okay, it’s with Brendan Fraser and Ricki Lake, like this is, I’m, I’m still dating myself here, like very early 2000s or late 90s or something like that. But I think it’s based on a previous movie. But she basically is on the train with this wealthy guy’s brother. And they don’t know each other, but the wealthy guy’s brother and his fiancee are on this train coming to go visit family. And it has an accident and the brother and the fiancee are killed. But this other woman who’s on the train takes the identity of the fiancee and pretends she’s her.

And so she’s brought into the family ’cause she’s like poor and she’s single and she’s pregnant and she doesn’t know what she’s gonna do. And she sees this as like some kind of opportunity to kind of help herself or whatever. And so she pretends that she’s like the four and the family welcomes her in and everything. And then she falls in love with the brother and like, all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, you know, um, that is not an amnesia story. No. I’m so sorry.

Lee: But it’s like While You Were Sleeping, like I totally get that though.

Chloe: Little bit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. But like, but amnesia also kind of comes into mistaken identity, uh, categories, sometimes the same. But those, I, I like that. I like that trope too.

Lee: That is such a fun list. I really love learning about people’s favorite tropes. It just is like a fun insight into their brain.

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

Chloe: Um, yes. I mean, many of these are not gonna be like super, super new. Um, I adore AJ Sherwood’s The Tribulations of Ross Young Supernat PA, which she originally released as kind of a serial through her newsletter and then has since compiled in a book. And I just devoured that one. I absolutely loved the concept. I thought the humor was great. Um, and it’s paranormal, but low angst and some really great comedy. Um, I think Louisa Masters paranormal series are always a good bet. Um, also lots of great humor in those.

Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly’s dragon series I, I think it’s called Forbidden Desires. It’s the one with the dragons and the eggs and stuff like that. It’s got such a quirky, offbeat concept, but it’s executed so well and it’s quite funny, uh, and, and entertaining. I really like that. Uh, for paranormal.

I don’t read a ton of contemporary, but I really loved, uh, a Kira Andrews is kind of a go-to for me, and I particularly still really love Honeymoon for One is still probably my favorite one from her in recent years. And then NR Walker, I love her Thomas Elkin series. May/December. Um, and it’s also very low angst. And also she’s got this really sweet, I’m forgetting the name of it, but it’s an, it’s one about, uh, an asexual character falling in love, and it’s the sweetest thing and it’s super low angst as well.

And then for the sci-fi fans, I’m gonna recommend, um, probably my favorite sci-fi MM series of all time, which is Lyn Gala’s Claimings series. Um, which in my opinion is fairly low angst. Liam and Ondry are, once they get together, they are like a rock solid couple and they have fun adventures and stuff together, but they are just, they’re, I love them as a couple. And she also has a really cute, uh, series called, um, Earth Fathers Are Weird. Uh, I think first book and the second book is like, Earth Husbands are Odd and it is just, it’s really cute. And that one is a tentacle one. That’s an alien that is not a humanoid alien. So if that’s not your jam, I wouldn’t go there. But, but the Claiming series is, um, maybe a little bit more accessible depending on, on the reader, but those would probably be the ones that come to mind right now.

Lee: Awesome. Thank you for that list. I love new book recommendations. Fun.

So you teased a little bit out already, but what can people expect or get excited about in terms of upcoming projects from you?

Chloe: Oh my gosh. Well, hopefully so much. I have a lot happening right now. So, as you mentioned before, book three, When a Man Loves An Alien, is coming out May 26, and I’m super excited. It’s a pretty action packed installment in the series, and there’s some exciting new revelations that come out and lots of fun stuff.

Um, I am gonna be part of the Prolific Works. Mm, class of 2022-23 giveaway that Charlie Novak is organizing again this year. And I’m gonna have a free novella, uh, this will be in early June, I think. For like a week or a week and a half they’ll be available. Uh, and this is going to be a free prequel story to my new Monsters Hollow series. Uh, that series is gonna be, uh, one that’s based on interconnected standalones rather than a continuing series like the Tentacular Tales. So that story’s gonna be The Bogeyman and the School Teacher. And it’s super cute, really fun, uh, and it can get everybody, give them a little taste of what to expect when in August the first full novel in that series comes out. And that’s gonna be The Orc and the Manny aka a male nanny. And it’s like I said a cozy MM monster romance. Oh, and shout out to the fabulous Natasha Snow, who’s doing the covers. And yeah, the cover’s amazing.

Uh, book two is gonna be coming out in audio in early June, providing the Audible gods are with us, you know, in terms of the time it takes them to get things actually posted for people once you upload. But early July for that. And then, oh my goodness, um, in. Uh, so the pre-order will have gone up as of April 30. I’m gonna be a contributing author to a fated mate’s charity anthology being organized by Kiki Clarke. That will be out in October and I’m gonna be doing a short story for that. Um, I’m working on it. But anyway, it’ll be somewhere between eight and 30,000 words. Knowing me, it’ll probably be close to 30,000 words, but it’s gonna be a demon fat ed mates story.

And there’s so many cool participants in this collection. Kiki Clarke, Louisa Masters, Kelly Fox, AJ Sherwood, Meghan Maslow, and many others. And so it’s gonna be a really exciting one coming out in October. And I believe the charities that we are supporting are like, uh, Transgender Legal fund and I’m forgetting the second one, but it’ll be up in the pre-order information.

And then in November I have a secret Christmas novella project. I can’t say too much about but you can expect that in late November. And then fingers crossed, maybe book four in December. I’m not sure yet. I’m trying to map out as realistically as possible what I think I can get done. I’m having to figure it out soon ’cause I’ve got pre-orders to like put in the back of things if I’m gonna do it or not.

And then possibly audio for book three may still come out this year if book two earns out fast enough based on what I paid to have it made. So we’ll see and then more stuff already planned for 2024, including two shared world novels that will be coming. And so I’ll be able to say more about that closer to time.

Lee: So much exciting stuff. Oh my gosh.

Chloe: Yes.

Lee: I love it.

Chloe: I’m pumped. Yeah, it’s gonna be fun.

Lee: Fun and busy.

Chloe: For sure.

Lee: Well, to sum up, can you tell readers what they can expect from a Chloe Archer story?

Chloe: Well, I think my logo says it best. I’m all about bringing funny sexy back. That’s, that’s really kinda where my general jam goes. But primarily I write sci-fi and paranormal romcoms that are MM. I don’t really write any kind of traditional contemporary. I don’t know that that’s really in my wheelhouse. I mean, I’ll never say never, but for me, I really gravitate to places where I can do fun, quirky world building and do offbeat stuff with that.

My sci-fi series is definitely my most OTT kind of zany, campy, brand level of humor that I can go to. But my upcoming Monster Hollow series will be a little bit less over the top, but very cute and funny as well.

In my stories, readers can expect strong communication between MCs because like I said, that’s something I really value. They may have differences in like their viewpoints, but they can talk through them is really what’s critical here for me. You’ll also always get a happily ever after by the end of the series at least. Although you may have to take a happy for now until I get there with individual novels, but I don’t ever leave the characters in major jeopardy. Like the MCs are always okay at the end. It’s just something they’re working on or something they’re trying to figure out or deal with more broadly maybe unresolved and you know, things are still happening that you’ve gotta wait till the next book for.

So I wouldn’t really call, I don’t personally consider them cliffhangers. If anything they might be a mini cliffhanger, but it’s really more about the series arc than about the main characters. So you don’t ever have to worry about them. Uh, and that’s kind of, I would say maybe the gist of what they can expect from me, but I’m always gonna be a slightly offbeat, unconventional writer ’cause I tend to write to the beat of my own drum.

Lee: Thank you for that. Can you tell readers the best way to get in touch and learn more about your stories and your awesome show?

Chloe: Sure. Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, please join my newsletter and we’ll put a link in the show notes, but this is where you can find out all the latest news about me. Hear some of my weird and funny stories. Occasionally I have pictures of my dogs. I’ll do cover reveals there as well. And you get free stories ’cause that’s where I give out free stories, side stories, and others essentially for folks who join the newsletter. And so far I’m really only releasing that newsletter once a month, so I’m not gonna super duper clog up your inbox. Once a month unless it’s a release month and then you may get one or two more from me for the release stuff. But otherwise, um, that’s kind of how that rolls.

Readers can also follow my Facebook page or join and or join my Facebook reader group, which is called Chloe’s Cosmos. I also have a website, although I’m not as great as I should be about getting it updated. Sometimes it’s just my web designer who’s doing it for free for me is not always available. But I try to update it when I can. And then I’m on Instagram. I’m there fairly regularly and interact with, especially if you’re a reviewer and stuff like that. I’ll chat with you there.

I’m on TikTok. Um, but I have not yet ventured into the, like, filming myself in a video. I don’t know if I’m gonna go that route or not. Um, ’cause I’m goofy as hell. But, but, uh, I, I do some promotion stuff there and, uh, you know, you can find me. And if you’re a BookTok reviewer and want to get a copy of a book to review on BookTok, you know, you can reach out to me there too.

Lee: Fabulous. Thank you so much. It was so much fun to talk with you and just learn more about the magic behind all of the books. Thanks for being here.

Chloe: Oh, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. And I know I’m super chatty, like I could talk all day, so I appreciate you putting up with my long-winded stories here.

Lee: I love it. It’s been fun.

Chloe: It really has. Thank you so much.

Lee: I had so much fun talking with Chloe!

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.

And 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 that represent identities all over the queer spectrum. So your suggestions will really help me with that.

And if you’d like to financially support the podcast to help offset the costs of hosting, editing software and transcription for accessibility, you can buy me a coffee. The link is in the show notes.

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Until next time, keep reading.

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