Jeff & Will talk about the past week, including their wedding anniversary and Jeff beginning a writing masterclass.

The guys also talk about the upcoming slate of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies featuring out actors. The movies The Hustle and A Simple Favor are discussed. Jeff reviews How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. Will reviews The Unexpected Heiress by Frank W. Butterfield and Anticipating Temptation by Silvia Violet.

Jeff talks to Hailey Turner about the latest in her Soulbound series, A Crown of Iron and Silver, along with the origins of the series and her love of mythology. In addition, they discuss the Metahuman Files series, her origins as a writer and what’s still to come.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, SpotifyStitcherPlayerFMYouTube and audio file download.

Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode:

Jump to Book Reviews

Interview Transcript – Hailey Turner

This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.


Jeff: Thanks for coming to the podcast, Hailey. It’s wonderful to have you here.

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

Jeff: It is our pleasure. We’ve heard so much from our contributor Lisa over at The Novel Approach about the ‘Soulbound’ books. She raves about them on the show all the time. I know she’s looking forward to this new book. So let’s dive in and talk about the series for folks who may be unfamiliar with ‘Soulbound.’

Hailey: ‘Soulbound’ is an urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot and it’s set in a world where magic is known. I have Gods who walk the earth and my main character is a mage who is in desperate need of a vacation. I haven’t given him one yet. So…

Jeff: Three books in and he’s still looking for the vacation.

Hailey: He still needs one. He’s still not getting one. It’s more like the classic Urban fantasies that were really big in the early 2000s. That’s kind of the style of the series versus I know paranormal shifter stories are very big in gay romance.

But here it’s a little different than that, but it’s still within kind of fantastical elements genre.

Jeff: Now, the third book ‘A Crown of Iron and Silver’ is coming out on Tuesday, September 10th. So right around the corner – what’s going on for this guy in the third book besides, of course, not getting that vacation.

Hailey: Well, I have a different pantheon of gods in every book, so in ‘A Ferry of Bones and Gold’ I started with Greek gods because I feel like pretty much everybody knows the Greek gods and those are easy to draw readers into it. Also in ‘Near and Nigh’, I brought in some Aztec myths, folklore death saints, and some native mythology in ‘A Crown of Iron and Silver.’

I’m introducing gods and goddesses from the Celtic myths. So those have various different origin stories. It’s kind of kind of pulling from different ones. So I’ve got some from Ireland, Scotland and Wales in order to tell this latest story and I’m really excited to kind of play around with them. I’m hoping that the readers were like my take on the fae and everything. So I’m interested to see how people will receive it.

Jeff: I told Lisa that we were going to be talking with you. She was really curious about your creative process and how you choose your characters because you do have so many of these mythologies in play in these books.

Hailey: I am a plotter. I can’t pants to save my life. So when I start a series, I know the beginning. I know the middle. I know the end. I know what needs to happen in every book in order to kind of push me along to the final climatic battle that will happen. So I know every single character that needs to come on page takes me a bit to kind of flesh them out because some of them I won’t touch until I actually get to that book.

The main ones I’ll know right from the beginning. But when I start a series I will pretty much have every single person that needs to have screen time pretty much decided on what their name will be, their background, how important they will be, if they’ll be secondary or main, So they don’t kind of appear without reason in my story.

So there’s no surprises for the characters that come up except for the readers when they’re reading it.

Jeff: Did you have a history and love with the gods and goddesses that you’re plucking out and using in your books?

Hailey: Oh, I love mythology. That’s one of the things that I would just read as a kid and I’ve always kind of been a fan of History.

I can’t really read any non-fiction books for histories, but I would watch a lot of documentaries. I just find some of the non-fiction really dry. And as a kid and a teenager that didn’t quite hold my attention as much as some of the fantasy books that I would read, but I love mythology and I love creation myths.

So I’ve always wanted to write something that kind of just draws on the general background that you find in pretty much every civilization on the planet. Like everybody has a creation myth within their people, so I thought that was really interesting, to just kind of pull from all of these Mythos and just you know, what if they were actually real?

Jeff: Given your background of liking mythology, did you have to do a lot of research to prepare for these books or was it something you kind of just knew because of what you’ve looked at over time?

Hailey: Some of the details. I still did a lot of research. I wanted to make sure that I had names right, locations right, because it’s been years since I’ve read some of the stories, but for every book I would still do a lot of research and I try and be respectful with some of the mix that I put into the stories because for some of them, you know, these are people’s religions still today.

So I want to be respectful and in the fact that I’m writing a fantasy story, but some of the characters that I’m using aren’t necessarily characters. They’re drawn from a form of religion. So I try and be respectful about that even though I kind of really want to bring more of an awareness to people who might not have heard of them.

Jeff: What inspired this overall series for you with ‘Soulbound’ and what’s its own origin story?

Hailey: I started a version of it way long ago when I was in college and I’ve kind of worked on bits and pieces and different versions of it over the years and I was never really happy with it. So I put it to the side and then I’d come back to it and I’d put it to the side and then I would come back to it.

And eventually it turned into what it is today. It took a long time to get there, but I’m very happy with where it is now versus how it’s started and some of the paths that I took it.

Jeff: You noted before that you’re a big plotter and you plot out your series. As you do that, do you still find, as you start a new book, that you’re making adjustments or have you held pretty true to the vision you had when you first plotted this out.

Hailey: Oh, there are adjustments. There are certain characters sometimes where I think I’m doing one version and then it turns out like, no it’s better if I do it this way. It’s kind of, I call it kind of subconscious writing. I don’t realize that I’m doing it until I hit a wall and realize, oh wait, I laid some of these details down and, oh I can fix it this way.

It’s not static. I have an outline, but I will deviate from the outline. It will be better for the story. I’m not wedded to it per se, it’s not going to be in cement. This is what it is because there are certain things that I might write in one book that I can kind of jump off into the next book which will alter the plot a little bit but usually in a good way.

I very rarely find myself being written into a corner, which I’m thankful about because the series is very detail-oriented. So if I got stuck in a corner now I’d be kind of in trouble.

Jeff: I could see how that could happen with so much of your own character’s backstory you’ve written plus you’ve got the mythologies that you’re working with.

Is there a little freedom though because you’re working in kind of an alternate reality?

Hailey: Yeah. It’s kind of interesting because it’s basically a what-if sort of situation. You know, what if magic was real? What if you had supernatural creatures that lived and grew up throughout history alongside humans?

So it’s kind of taking what magic would be legal? What magic would not be legal? How would discrimination work between different species, some who have obviously way more strength or power than Humanity like a regular human would? So it was just kind of drawn out of – what can you do with all of this when you shove it all into one world and kind of have to coexist?

Jeff: Lisa was curious, why did you choose an alternate New York rather than any other city or creating an entire alternate city of some kind?

Hailey: I love cities. I live in the city now. I’m a city girl. I like being surrounded by just a ton of people, different languages, different food.

You just kind of get a microcosm of the world when you’re in a really big city and everybody pretty much knows New York city. So I thought, okay, if I’m going to set a book in a big city, I’ll probably do New York. So I’ve been there several times and I love it. New York is the city that everybody kind of knows it’s kind of like London, or Tokyo, or Paris, Buenos Aires is just you know, a big city that everybody knows, so I thought it would be easier and it actually is easier to use a known city as a backdrop to rather than create my own because then it’s like, if I create my own city and I want it to be exactly where New York City is why not just use, New York.

Jeff: That’s a good point. Why reinvent the wheel essentially?

Hailey: It’s actually easier to write a story within you know a city that already exists in a world that already has the rules set down than it is to try and make up a new city, because then you have to do maps and then you have to like… What kind of government are they going to have and that’s a lot of detail that kind of gives me a headache some days.

Jeff: I can understand that. You’ve already got enough going on with your rules of magic and how you’re using the gods and goddesses and all that other stuff going on.

Hailey: I love details like that. I’m super detail oriented and I love it. But I know that the reader is not going to be as interested in it as I would so it doesn’t really make it into the story and it was easier with just a regular old New York City, but like I could just throw everybody there and I don’t have to explain the city.

Jeff: Exactly. What’s still to come for ‘Soulbound’ in the future?

Hailey: The series is set for seven books. I have it all planned out. I’m hoping that I can maybe get two books per year out until the series is done, but it depends on my day job and it depends on my arm because my arm is kind of hurting so I don’t want to rush the books.

There’s just so much involved with them and I want to do it justice for the story but also for the fans. I never know when the book is going to release until I finish writing it and then I can give a vague idea when I can actually set a release date and then work my way towards getting through all the editing process and the promo process and making the fans happy when I announced the release date.

Jeff: Now, you’ve got another series which is a Sci-Fi military one called the ‘Metahumans’ series. Tell us a little bit about that.

Hailey: Oh, I like to describe it as kind of like a sexy gay ‘X-Men’ series. I know that sounds really silly. But I love comics. I grew up reading and collecting comics as a kid. I unfortunately don’t own very many comics these days because I’ve moved a lot and it’s a lot easier to move without a ton of books.

Unfortunately ‘Metahumans’ is set in the near future. Pretty sure it’s not like 250 years in the future. I say pretty sure because it’s been a couple years since the first book came out. I kind of extrapolated with the whole climate crisis going on. So it’s set on Earth. It’s our Earth set in the future, but it’s kind of been ravaged by climate change.

So there’s less population, but they’re still kind of some space-faring stuff going on. There’s classist issues between the Haves and Have Nots, but there’s also an issue of terrorism in the book in regards to the splice chemical that turns people into these metahumans.

So it’s basically about a team who’s been turned into metahumans and they have to go after the bad guys.

Jeff: And gay ‘X-Men, ‘ how could you not want that?

Hailey: Exactly.

Jeff: What is it that attracts you to the Sci-Fi military and urban fantasy genre.

Hailey: I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction ever since I was kid. I can remember that’s what I wanted watch on TV.

That’s what I wanted to read. I would always want to read the Science Fiction and Fantasy books at my local library that I wasn’t quite old enough to read and I remember my dad had to actually go and write permission for me to check those books out. But I’ve always just loved the fantastical ideas behind it.

As for the military aspect, I never personally served, but a lot of my family members have and my grandfather survived D-Day during World War Two. So the military has been in the background of my life and I’ve known several vets over the years. I’m not a big fan of the military decisions our country has made in my lifetime and our past, but for an author point of view using the military as a story option is, you know, it’s something that you can build around and I found it useful in the sort of story that I wanted to tell with metahumans.

Jeff: Who are some of the authors who’ve influenced what you’re writing these days?

Hailey: I always say this, but it’s always true. Tamora Pierce. She doesn’t write urban fantasy and she doesn’t write sci-fi. It’s like medieval young adult fantasy, but I read her books when I was a kid and they’ve been a huge influence in my reading and my writing. All of her protagonists are female, but it was always just like, strong girls who were going on these quests and everything.

She’s just a really lovely author person. I like David Weber for kind of the Space Opera military sci-fi. That’s a very long series though. I’m not caught up with like the last five books, but those two specifically I think for just sci-fi and for fantasy at the moment are really the ones that I can remember reading and having had a strong influence from.

Jeff: And your bio says you started writing as a child. What got you started and what was fueling your imagination at the time?

Hailey: Wanting to read books that I couldn’t find. When I couldn’t find them, I was just like, I’ll just write my own. Full disclosure, my writing as a child was probably terrible.

Like I was seven when I started, so you can imagine how just bad and just yeah, not professional, but it was fun . I learned a lot over the years in writing. I learned, you know, it’s a good form of focus. It’s a good form of finding and using words, being detail-oriented, writing has helped me in my day job, there’s a lot that you can pull from it and I’m grateful that my dad never said it wasn’t something that I shouldn’t do.

So I’m very grateful for that because I know some people don’t have that opportunity to have a supportive parent.

Jeff: That’s very true. And it’s super great. When you hear that somebody just kept encouraging the creative flow,

Hailey: Yeah, my family’s always been very supportive of my writing.

So that’s great. When I told them that I was writing gay romance. My dad was more surprised that it was romance than it was gay. He’s like wait, are you still writing the ones with the explosions? I’m like, yes, Dad. They still have explosions.

Jeff: That’s awesome. And what did bring you into telling gay romance stories?

Hailey: Kind of Harkens back to you know, not. Seeing anything out there at the time that I wanted to read. So growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area the queer community is obviously been very huge here and living in San Francisco. That’s just kind of its here. But fantasy, I didn’t really see very much of it growing up where the main character would be gay, or bi, or pan, or any of the other, you know orientations within the community.

So I wanted to just kind of bring that out in the fantasy genre, and since fantasy is what I love to write – decided to just go for Broke with it.

Jeff: Do you see yourself branching out into other fantasy sci-fi sort of subgenres along the way?

Hailey: Oh, yeah. Yeah fantasy and science fiction and all of the sub genres underneath that. I love to read. I love to write but my brain doesn’t work on multiple projects at once. I have to have just one book that I’m writing and one series and when that is done, then I can move on to the next one.

Otherwise, it’s just it’s very, very difficult for me to try and finish something like currently between ‘Soulbound’ right now. I’m trying to get out novellas in the “Metahuman” ones, but sometimes it takes a very long time for me to get it out and other times it can come fairly quickly, but it’s still one project at one time.

So unfortunately, I’ve got other stories in the back of my head that I want to tell but I can’t really dedicate time to it until after ‘Soulbound’ is finished.

Jeff: And in terms of your reading does while you’re working on the urban fantasy of ‘Soulbound’ does that mean you try not to read similar books?

Hailey: I have a policy where if I’m writing, if I’m currently actively writing, I try not to read stories in the same genre so that I don’t I have this fear that I’m going to, you know through osmosis or something, absorb another author’s ideas or characters. So I try not to read. I know that sounds silly, but I try not to read when I’m writing at least the book within my genre, although I have a hard time trying to find time to read to begin with because my day job is super busy.

So when I come home, it’s do I write, or do I read, and usually the writing wins out.

Jeff: And I’m sure your fans are very happy to hear.

Hailey: I hope so. I’m just lucky.

Jeff: So, I think given what we’ve talked about I can imagine that the answer for this, but what is coming up next for you?

Hailey: I’m working on ‘Soulbound’ for right now.

I know the title, but unfortunately, I cannot disclose it. So I’m continuing Patrick’s and Geno’s march to the end. I know that sounds really ominous, but it’s not I promise. He’s going to bleed.

Jeff: Well the march to the end just gets like, you know, like we talked about get the poor guy a vacation at the end of book seven.

Hailey: My lips are sealed.

Jeff: Yes. We don’t want to give up any spoilers here for sure. So, how can people keep up with you online to get all the news and see the title when it’s time to release it.

Hailey: The best way is my Facebook readers group, which is Haley’s Hellions. Barring that, it would be on Instagram. Those are really the only two platforms that I’m active on.

I just I don’t have very much time to spend on any of the other social media platforms. So I don’t have a Twitter. I do have a newsletter. You can find it on my website, which is haileyturner.com. You can find everything there actually. But for the most part the readers group is really where I’m mostly interactive with the fans because it’s easier for me to peruse as I’m on my break or something at work.

Jeff: Very cool. Well, we wish you the best of success with the release of “A Crown of Iron and Silver” and look forward to seeing the rest of the series as it comes out over the over the coming years.

Hailey: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s podcast and book reviews:

How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. Reviewed by Jeff.
When I talked with Julian Winters in episode 185, he described How to Be Remy Cameron like this: “It’s kinda an exploration of what labels mean to us, but it also has a great family dynamic. A couple of secret mystery parts I can’t tell you about but there’s a lot of guessing games going on in it. And of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have like a dorky romance in there.”

It’s all of those things and so much more.

Reading this reminded me of meeting Simon Spier back in a certain 2015 novel. Remy figuring out who he was bounced me between laughing, crying, gasping and just about every other emotion in the book. Julian showed a tremendous grasp of writing teens in his debut with Running with Lions but he’s leveled up beyond expectations with Remy Cameron.

So the quote from Julian gave you the basics on the book, but let me dive in a bit more for you. Remy is a super popular guy. He’s out, proud, founded his school’s GSA, he’s one of five black students at school and he’s adopted. Basically everybody likes him and his confidence gets him far. He’s endured a breakup and now he’s got a crush on someone new. Where he starts to falter though is that he’s tasked to write an essay about how he defines himself. It’s crucial for his AP course because he wants to impress the teacher who holds the key to a recommendation for Emory. The essay sends him into a tailspin that he doesn’t even know how to adequately discuss with his friends or family.

It’s hard to breakdown what I love about this book because I love it all. I can’t remember the last time I’ve highlighted so many passages in a book so I can return to them later. The story takes offers an unfiltered look at how high school works. Remy notes that his school is progressive in many ways: a female quarterback and a Latinx junior class president but then there’s the flipside where Remy, even though he came out freshman year, is GSA president and has a large circle of friends and acquaintances, draws the whispering kind of attention if he wears a rainbow pride shirt to school. Remy is very aware of how his race and his being adopted plays into his everyday life–even to the point that he notes he was wanted by one guy simply because he’s black and that race can be a deciding factor of being desired or rejected before anything else is considered. It’s these kinds of truths laid out that makes the book soar.

Remy’s not the only smart, witty teen in this book either. When it comes to talking race, sexuality and labels, his friend Brook wisely says, “Don’t let others take pride in who you are–your race, sexuality, whatever–away from you. They didn’t give it you; they have no right to snatch it away.”

Besides the essay to write, Remy’s got other stuff going on to–major life revelations and a crazy mystery at school too. It all piles on to the point of an inevitable meltdown. This particular section with how Remy’s family responds is tremendous. If everyone had this kind of parents the world would be a better place. Have the tissues handy for this sequence because I guarantee all the possible feels.

I really love how Julian combined all the elements here–coming of age, dealing with labels, managing friendships that are growing/changing, a super sweet romance (his characterization of it as dorky was spot on), the mystery shenanigans at school and discovering a ton about yourself. This could’ve easily become a mess of too much story, but Julian keeps it tied together and centered on the terrific character of Remy Cameron. Remy’s voice is strong too with the book written in first person, present tense, just like Simon was. The story has a right now immediacy that’s perfect.

So, yes, in case you can’t tell, I highly recommend How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. The paperback is on the way to me so I can put it on my shelf of all-time favorites, right alongside Simon. I’m excited that Julian’s announced “The Summer of Everything” is coming for August 2020…I’ll be pre-ordering that as soon as it’s available!

The Unexpected Heiress by Frank W. Butterfield. Reviewed by Will.
The Unexpected Heiress by Frank Butterfield is the very first book in the Nick Williams Mystery Series. There are 30 books in this series and that’s just incredible. I really, really enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. The story is a little bit on the short side but boy does it pack a punch. It sets the stage for all of the adventures to come.

The story kicks off with Nick Williams, a P.I. in San Francisco circa the early 1950s. He just so happens to be the richest homosexual in San Francisco and the first case he gets is when a lawyer friends of his asks Nick to look into who helped a Hollywood star keep his name out of the papers when there was a raid at a local bar. That’s sort of a traditional detective story set up.

But that’s not actually what the whole book’s about.

This particular case leads to the formation of some friendships and alliances that will play out in later books. The actual case that Nick Williams is investigating is the mysterious death of his sister.

She dies in a car accident and when he looks into that he discovers that she had far more money than anyone else previously thought. Hence the unexpected heiress. It’s his job to find out who knew about the money and why they would want to kill her.

Gosh this book is so good. So many terrific characters. Nick Williams is amazing. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.

Anticipating Temptation by Silvia Violet. Reviewed by Will.
Anticipating Temptation is the third book in Sylvia Violet’s Anticipation series. Once again we return to the mountain town of Anticipation and this story focuses on Rob, the handsome new bisexual in town. He buys a ranch and he needs someone to cook and look after the house, essentially a housekeeper. Enter Marty. He works at the local bakery and he’s a character that we’d been introduced to in previous books. He decides to go ahead and take this summer job working for Rob because he needs the money. He’s trying to build a new catering business for the town of Anticipation.

There’s instant attraction between Rob and Marty. And so the first part of the book is a should we or shouldn’t we sort of classic boss/employee relationship kind of thing. Eventually they give in to their passions. As it turns out Rob likes to take charge in the bedroom and Marty does not have a problem with that at all. The rest of this book explores Sylvia Violet’s unique twist on daddy kink and the billionaire romance trope. It’s really wonderful as the story progresses. Marty has to learn how to trust. Rob has to realize that money actually can’t solve everything.

When it comes to billionaire romances it’s usually all about the financial disparity–one character has a lot of money and power and one of them doesn’t–and it’s about how they navigate those differences. In this book Marty is having financial problems, specifically he needs investment to get his catering business off the ground and start his new life. Rob just wants to like give him the money because, like duh, that’s going to solve everything. He needs to come to realize that Marty doesn’t necessarily just need the money. He needs to understand that Marty has to be able to stand on his own two feet and that there are other ways that they can achieve that together as a couple. I really enjoyed that aspect also.

Marty’s evil abusive ex-boyfriend shows up but he does not need saving. Marty takes care of things all by himself. So I really enjoyed that character growth and character arc as well.

I’ve read all three of these books in the Anticipation series and I’ve loved every single one because I like the way Sylvia takes traditional romance tropes and cranks the heat level up to eleven. It makes them a whole lot of fun. So it’s no surprise that I highly recommend Anticipating Temptation.