I recently read Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert, a gay romance featuring two dorky guys on the way to a card-game competition [it's as awesome as it sounds and out June 2020], and went down a deep hole into LGBTQ romances that I never
wanted to escape from. It led me straight to an advanced reader copy of Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall.
Boyfriend Material, out July 2020, is the story of Luc O'Donnell, a self-loathing young man famous simply because of a rockstar father who doesn't acknowledge him. When the media catches images of Luc that threaten his position at the only place that would hire him to begin with, he's forced to fake date the prim and proper Oliver
Blackwood to get his image back into acceptable territory. They agree to keep things casual and totally manufactured until things settle down and they can go back to loathing one another, but the whole thing goes on a little too long until the fake-dating starts to feel an awful lot like real-dating and shit... do they actually like each other?
I began the rom-com somewhat reluctantly (I've been burned by far too many romantic comedies in my time). Three pages in and I was texting my friend (no joke, look at my text that I painstakingly screenshot, emailed to myself, and uploaded to the right) about how positively in love with it I was.
Now, everyone knows I'm a speed-reader--if I've got nothing to do for a day I can easily get through three books if I don't eat, shower, or engage with my husband--but I just couldn't speed read through this masterpiece. I needed to take my time and savor it. And then I kept reading and started DMing poor Alexis Hall about how much I adored his books and probably terrified him, so I made myself stop. But then I finished the book and immediately DMed him begging him to let me interview him for this Author Spotlight.
And he said yes.
And he didn't change his mind. Phew.
So, enjoy this interview with someone whose About Me info on his website made me actually laugh out loud.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: So, first let me start by apologizing for my insane mid-book messages sent to your Instagram account. I was very worked up from all the angst and did not act in a manner befitting a respectable blogger. Anyways, moving on, I always like to start my interviews by asking about the topic I care about most... your writing process. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you use any software or is a regular old word document more your style? Do you write your books from start to finish or bounce around? And, finally, what items do you absolutely need by your side when you're writing?
Alexis Hall: Please don't apologise. I was thrilled to hear you enjoyed the book. And thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your blog.
But I'm afraid I'm going to start this the way I tend to start most questions about the writing processes, which is by saying "Well, I don't really believe in..." The think is, though, I don't really believe in the whole pantser versus plotter distinction. Most basically, it's not like some writers plan out every single detail of a book in advance and others just make it all up as they go along: it's a spectrum like most things. More complicatedly, writing a book is actually quite a fiddly process with more steps than people tend to give it credit for. When I write a book, I'll tend ot have a good idea of hot it's going to end, and some sense of how I'm going to get there, but I'll realise halfway through (or more depressingly 90% of the way through) that what I originally had in mind doesn't quite work. Even more commonly, I'll get a book back from an editor and they'll tell me something needs fixing and that will change the book quite significantly. So I think what I'm saying is that everybody is a bit of a plotter, and a bit of a pantser, and which you're being depends on what you're doing.
In terms of writing software, I mostly just use word processors. I"m a little bit suspicious of anything that tries to get money out of people on the promise that it'll help them write a better book. So, yes, I don't use special writing software, or have a special writing laptop, or a special writing ritual I do. I just very much believe that writing is something anyone can have have a go at if they want to, and I don't want to discourage that.
The only thing I'm pretty rigid about is that I always write my books from start to finish, and I honestly can't imagine how you'd do it differently. I do know, of course, that plenty of people do, and do so very successfully, but I have a hard time reading book two of a series first never mind writing a book starting from chapter seven.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Alexis Hall is a pen name you've chosen for professional reasons. Do you friends and family know that you write romance? If they do, do they read your work? What is the general reaction when people discover that you write romance novels? And, along that note, are people often shocked to discover that you are a guy?
Alexis Hall: I'm just very lowkey about this stuff--so I don't really talk about it with anyone. I think it's a British thing.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Has anyone ever told you that the way you talk (or, rather, write) is completely hypnotizing? This is less of a question and more of a compliment framed as a question so as not to overwhelm you.
Alexis Hall: I'm glad my reputation for being unable to accept a compliment has preceded me. And, true to form, I really don't know what to say to this. Apart from "gosh, thank you very much" and "no, no one ever has."
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Have you always written romance or did you start off in another genre?
Alexis Hall: I've always written a mix of genres: I write contemporary romance, historical romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and anything else that takes my fancy really.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: I gotta know, favorite authors?
Alexis Hall: I'm really bad at picking my favoutie anything to be honest so here's an undifferentiated list of authors that I like across genres: Laura Kinsale, KJ Charles, Kris Ripper, Sonali Dev, Jenny Holiday, Emma Newman, Terry Pratchett, Nalini Singh, Hallie Rubenhold, Maria Doria Russell, Sofka Zinovieff, Mary Renault, Beverly Jenkins, Sandra Schwab, Edward St. Aubyn, Daphne du Maurier, Clive Barker, Charlotte Stein, Loretta Chase, Rose Lerner--umm, which is to say, like a lot of different writers.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: In your upcoming release, the main characters--the enigmatic, sarcastic Luc and stuffy, reliable Oliver--enter into a fake-dating relationship in order to fool the media and some judgmental rich people. Are there any celebrities you pictured while writing?
Alexis Hall: In this specific case, no. The book was intended to have a bit of a late-1990s Richard Curtis romcom vibe but, y'know, queerer. So it's sort of loosely inspired by that kind of world, that kind of humour and those kind of characters. I mean, I guess I pictured Alex (Luc's incredibly posh co-worker) as looking and sounding like a young Hugh Bonneville, but that's about as far as I got.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: We all know how much I am obsessed with Boyfriend Material. I'll scream it from the rooftops. That said, anyone can read a blurb and get the gist of your upcoming romantic comedy, but in your own words, why should we read Boyfriend Material, out July 2020?
Alexis Hall: I'm way too British to hype my own books. I guess I'd say you should read it if you want to read it? And if you don't, then... I don't know...buy a copy for a friend, maybe?
Thanks again to Alexis Hall for his participation in the madness that it this blog.