June 2021 Romance Rx and more!

Interview with author Fiona Zedde, anime recommendations, and a capybara for the road...

Alyssalaneous

“Bitingly funny…Cole makes virtuoso use of the familiar rhythms of a romance arc. Joyful and absolutely perfect.”

The majority of this novel isn't about what happens when Makeda gets to Ibarania, it's about the journey, particularly her relationship with Bez as they learn to trust, communicate and give in to their attraction for each other. This is a charming novel and readers who love the forced proximity trope and deeply drawn characters will especially love this one.

  • And Weekend Reader interviewed me, and did a Royals zodiac!

Romance RX - recs from my TBR

Drag Me Up - R.M. Virtues - Queer (m/f) Black Hades/Persephone retelling, aka everything I could ever ask for in a book!

Cold Case, True Crime - Denise Wheatley - Romantic suspense with a true crime blogger heroine thrown into danger while digging into an unsolved murder…

The Hellion’s Waltz - Olivia Waite - Queer! Historical!! Heist!!!

Also!

Since consistency is not my jam and I’m not sure what next month will hold on the newsletter energy reserves front, be on the lookout for these two July books, which I had the opportunity to read (or start reading) ahead of time and have enjoyed so much. Both of them have this sense of…emotional nourishment. A gentleness in how the characters are handled in a world that is not at all gentle that just seeps into the bones of the reader and fortifies you. They’re what I needed right now and possibly what many of you are looking for too.

LAST GUARD might be my favorite Psy Changeling Trinity book yet, which is SOMETHING given how much I love the other books.

The Calyx Charm is book 3 of Petersen’s fantasy romance series, and also my favorite so far! Her writing is lush, lyrical, and as magic as the world of The Sacred Dark series.

Anime Recommendation

Sonny Boy (2021) | Tatami Galaxy (2010)

I recently watched the first episode of Sonny Boy, a surreal and intriguing of an anime, and really enjoyed it! It reminds me of a show called Tatami Galaxy, by one of my favorite writer/directors, Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Ping Pong, Devilman Crybaby, and, of course, Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!, which I recommended in previous newsletter). If you enjoy extratemporal twists, psychological suspense, and mind-bending media, check out Tatami Galaxy and then catch up on Sonny Boy.

GWG Interview: Fiona Zedde

Hi Fiona! Thanks for joining us at GWG! Before we get into your books, can you tell the Lunettes a little about yourself ?

Thank you for inviting me over! It’s nice to chat with you, even if you are starting me off with the hardest question. Okay, let’s see… I am a Jamaican-born Aquarius currently living in Spain. My passions are cheese, travel, and cooking, and I’ve published more than 40 novels, short stories, and novellas.

You've been writing lesbian romance for over a decade now, in multiple subgenres! Can you tell us about your path to publishing and how f/f romance publishing has changed over the years?

I found my way to publishing through erotica. My first sale was a short story in a Best Lesbian Erotica collection. Getting that story out there gave me the courage to finish my first book, Bliss, and send it off to some agents. The agency I eventually signed with sold my book within a couple of months and everything took off from there.

Since then, the f/f romance publishing landscape has changed a lot. At least to me. Around that time, Naiad Press was the main publisher putting out f/f romance and there were no large publishers that I knew of that were publishing these books. Over the years since, Naiad has gone away and other small, queer publishers have appeared on the landscape—Bella Books, Bold Strokes Books, Bywater Books, Ninestar Press, Ylva Publishing, to name a few. And with the shift in society’s acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community, more large houses are publishing f/f romance while many authors are self-publishing their novels with great success. It’s fantastic to see these stories - especially ones with BIPOC main characters - gain more visibility.

Your latest release, House of Agnes, straddles the line between enemies to lovers romance and thriller. Can you tell the Lunettes, especially those looking for higher head f/f romance, what the book is about?

House of Agnes is a love story between a ruthless madam and a somewhat naïve reporter trying to destroy her. There is absolutely intrigue, thrills, and surprises, but I also have some of my personal favorite romance tropes at play - ice queen, age gap, and fun with masks. Sexy times pop up every once in a while too.

You also write m/f romance, as Lindsay Evans. Can you tell the Lunettes about those books, and writing under two different names?

My Lindsay Evans alter-ego writes sweet and spicy romance between strong women and the sexy men who can’t get enough of them. These books are Harlequin/Mills & Boon romances except for two - my historical novella called A Delicate Affair and Seducing the Stripper, a story about an older woman and a younger man. So far, Lindsay has about fourteen novels and novellas with more to come next year.

Writing under two names has been fun and even freeing in some ways. I can explore storylines and character types under one name that I feel I wouldn’t be able to with the other.

Because comic nerdiness is our jam at GWG, we of course have to talk about your superheroine f/f romances, The Mercy Chronicles (The Power of Mercy/A Lover's Mercy). Can you share what it's about, and what it was like writing superpowers + romance?

The Mercy Chronicles is a collection of two books about the superhero, Mercy. The first book, The Power of Mercy, introduces Mercy’s love interest and her own intense super-powered family that sometimes tries to kill her.

The second book, A Lover’s Mercy, dives deeper into Mercy’s relationship with Xóchitl, a woman who would make a really great villain. Because I was basically raised on romance novels, I couldn’t resist making Mercy’s turbulent enemies-to-lovers romance be as important as her fight against evil and against her family’s foolery. The marriage of action + romance just felt natural to me.

In addition to writing fiction, you're an avid world traveler and share your travels in a blog. Have you always loved traveling? Can you share what it's like living in Spain?

The travel bug bit me hard through the books I read as a child growing up in Jamaica. After my first flight from the Caribbean to the United States, that bug burrowed under my skin and never left.

Living in Spain has been a big change from everywhere else I’ve been for any period of time. I walk a lot more than I would if I were still living in the States. And I consume a shocking amount of Spanish cheese, wine, and olives. I’m also enjoying learning more of the language, traipsing along cobblestones streets, and exploring hidden villages with their random castles and centuries-old churches.

The only minus (aside from missing family and friends) is the adjustment I’ve had to make moving here from Atlanta where beautiful Blackness and queerness and smiles of greeting abound.

Can you share one or two recent reads that you've enjoyed?

Although I really shouldn’t be reading right now with so many deadlines breathing down my neck, I just finished The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris. It was so, so good. The book weaves magic, hard realities, history, and powerful prose to create one of the best novels I’ve read in a while. I’ve also been devouring everything by Nalini Singh. Her debut thriller A Madness of Sunshine has deepened my thirst for all things New Zealand, and now I’m chewing my nails off waiting for her new book to get here in October.

Do you have a specific fandom that you're a part of, or a nerdy hobby you'd like to share?

I wish I had a cool answer for this question but nope. While I love reading Old Guard, Hannibal and (new) Star Trek fan fiction, I wouldn’t say I’m part of any particular fandom. My hobbies are cooking and baking, and one of my travel goals is to swim (or at least dip a toe) in every ocean/sea in the world. Sadly, I don’t think any of these are nerdy enough.

9) What are you working on, or what should we be on the lookout for from you?

Right now, I’m fleshing out Stud Like Her, the follow up novel to my surprise hit Femme Like Her that came out last December. It’s the second in a planned trio of books that dives into the pain and perils of allowing other people to define who we are and how we love. Hopefully, the books are a little bit funny too.

Where can readers follow you online to keep up with new releases and, when travel becomes safe and possible again, your travels?

You can find me online on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as @fionazedde. My website is www.FionaZedde.com, and my travel blog, which often ends up going off on food tangents, is RoundTheWorldGyal.Wordpress.com. Come follow me on all the social medias!

Going Through It

I don’t need to list everything going on—I think we can all agree that the world continues to be overwhelming in countless ways. Even the act of moving toward a post-vaccination world can be really difficult as we start to feel all of the things we’ve been trying to avoid. I made a comprehensive mental health guide in the April 2020 newsletter, but thought I’d again share some Affirmation Pod with Josie Ong episodes that might be useful. She has a calming, voice, and covers all kinds of topics, and taking a few minutes to listen can be a great mood booster.

https://www.affirmationpod.com/357-learning-to-socialize-again/

https://www.affirmationpod.com/346-feeling-alive/

Capybara Corner

Semi-related: I can’t remember if I shared this here, but if you missed it back in March, I did an interview with The Quiet Pond book blog. Definitely check out their blog if you haven’t yet!

They were wonderful, and even asked me if there was any particular animal I wanted to be drawn as for my visit to the pond. I think you already know which animal I chose…