Will continues his month of “Christmas in July” reading with a review of What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote. Jeff reviews TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries.
E. Davies talks with Jeff about Freedom, the latest book in his F-Word series. They also discuss the Rosavia Royals series and the new Significant Brothers box set. Ed also shares details on a non-fiction book he’s working on.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- Something Like Summer on Amazon Prime Video
- Noah’s Arc on Amazon Prime Video
- Noah’s Arc: The ‘Rona Chronicles on YouTube
- Noah’s Arc Reunion Q&A on YouTube
- What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote on Amazon
- The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune on Amazon (audiobook also on Libro.fm)
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- E. Davies Interview
- E. Davies: website | Ed’s Petals Facebook Group | Instagram | BookBub
- Freedom by E. Davies on Amazon
- F-Word Series by E. Davies on Amazon
- Flaunt by E. Davies on Amazon
- Grind by E. Davies on Amazon
- Riley Brothers series by E. Davies on Amazon
- Barely Regal by E. Davies on Amazon
- Rosavia Royals series on Amazon
- Helen Juliet books narrated by Kieran Flitton on Amazon
- Stella Sterling on Amazon
- Zoe Dawn on Amazon
- Max Rowan on Amazon
- The Men of Hidden Creek Season 1 on Amazon
- Significant Brothers Collection by E. Davies on Amazon
- After series by E. Davies on Amazon
- Tremble by E. Davies on Amazon
- Trope & Identities on E. Davies website
- Forever by E. Davies on Amazon
- Alike As Two Bees by Elin Gregory on Amazon
- Disclosure on Netflix
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Frolic Podcast Network website
Interview Transcript – E. Davies
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Ed welcome to the podcast. It is very good to have you.
Ed: Thank you for having me.
Jeff: We have so much to talk about, cause you’ve got a lot of stuff that’s come out this past spring, and we should start with the most recent thing, which is “Freedom,” the fifth book in “The F-Word” series.
And before we get into that book, tell us a little bit about what the series is about for anyone who may not be familiar.
Ed: I started the series in early 2017 when it was kind of going through a tough time and I wanted to see characters that were reflecting the things that I needed to see out there in the world, but I wasn’t really seeing very often in m/m.
So I wrote “Flaunt,” which was a femme for femme story where a femme cis guy meets trans guy post transition, who wants to explore his femininity now. And they kind of help each other through that process, cause that was exactly what I was working through at the time and then in the process of writing that book, I actually made a found family because they do that in all of my work.
They ended up being like about this group of guys who work at an HIV charity in LA. I kind of saw the chance to continue the story and make it a series. Now the “F-Word” books include a gender fluid character, lots of femme guys, HIV positive guy, one of them has OCD, a pregnant trans man.
So they’re a really diverse cast of characters that I didn’t see very much. And I think it’s become known as my series with trans guys because there’s at least one nonbinary or trans main character in every single book and three of them now have trans men in them.
Jeff: I like that these diverse type of characters come forward in your stories, because as you said, you don’t see as much of that. I think there’s a little more now, but it’s still an evolving sort of character type that we’re seeing in m/m.
Ed: There wasn’t very much in 2017 because, my first trans book was actually July, 2016. And that’s when I wrote “Grind,” which was the last book and my “Riley Brothers” series.
And a lot of people said that was the first trans book they’d read. And I went to look at other trans books and there just wasn’t that much out there. I really kind of wanted to make a little bit of headway and introducing people to the characters, especially, and then at the same time, I was also noticing these other things that I wasn’t really seeing very much.
And I said, well, these are the sorts of people that I have around me in real life. So why wouldn’t they also be in books?
Jeff: Absolutely. To bring that representation forward is great so that everybody kind of sees themselves in a book.
What do you hear from readers as you expose them potentially to these types of characters for the first time because they may not know these people in real life at all.
Ed: Yeah. I think it’s been really validating, I think for me, because I’ve seen such great feedback on them. I think in particular, there’s a lot of parents who read the story and they either have a trans kid, or they have friends, their kids have trans friends or whatnot, and this is something that none of us really grow up being taught. And so they don’t have that language and they want to learn more. And I know like from my parents as well, and from the people I know, one of the biggest worries that a lot of parents of trans kids have is that their kids are not going to be happy or healthy or safe or loved.
Those are like the big four things. I wanted to show characters being all of the above. So I’ve had a lot of tremendous feedback which has been phenomenal, with people saying that they now understand their kids better, their kids friend, and to other people in their life, like in the workplace and their schools or their siblings.
I think it’s really important because over 80% of Americans don’t know that they know a trans person personally, even though I think a lot of people might actually know a trans person, they might not be out to, they might be stealth or they might be closeted and whatnot, so they don’t have someone around them to kind of go, Oh yeah, this is something that’s around me in everyday life. And so people want to seek out the fiction to find out more about it and to get sort of the inside perspective on it. That’s kind of the perspective that I approached writing the series as a whole. And what inspired it, I guess, how
Jeff: do you approach writing characters that are outside of your own life experience with some of those characters?
Ed: The same way I would say with pretty much any book, but with more caution. So starting off by recognizing where my experiences are similar and where they differ, especially when you get some of the bigger privileges that I have. Like my whiteness for example, a lot of black trans people like black trans men and black trans women might have more in common, than white trans men and black trans men do because of that.
Anti-blackness for example. So I have to acknowledge where I’ve had bad experiences that would have been much worse if I didn’t also have these other privileges. I think that it’s a really important first step because a lot of us kind of assume, especially in the queer umbrella that if you’re queer, then you can kind of talk about everything that’s queer and that’s not necessarily the case because we can have really vastly different experiences under the same umbrella. I start off there and then I looked for personal accounts. I talked to friends, I looked for online blogs and that kind of thing. I try not to burden people with the one on one questions. I tried to do that, you know, the initial education myself.
And then if I’m lucky enough to know somebody who fits into one of those groups, I can kind of bring more advanced questions to them. I try not to sort of be like, you know, sit me down and explain all of this to me for free please – emotional labor that people do, and I ended up having to do sometimes in my life.
So I try not to put that on other people. And I asked to try to just get a range of stories, because I know like, from my own marginalizations, for example, like there’s a bunch of different ways that you could tell a trans story, which are all true, and they all fit within the range of a plausible life experience for people, but they might actually contradict each other.
They might go down very vastly different paths. I tried to seek out like a range of voices. Some people will have very different experiences when they base the same thing that other people. And I try to set my story. I don’t know necessarily whether I said it sort of to one end or the other end of the spectrum or what’s going on exactly but I tried to kind of see that things are plausible before I go ahead and write them.
Jeff: What kind of extra time does that add to a book for you to take care of all those items, wherever it falls within your writing process?
Ed: Not that much, actually. Surprisingly, I think because I’ve put a lot of effort into this sort of work in my everyday life, like outside of writing a particular book , I’ve taken a great deal of care over the last maybe five or 10 years since I kind of started to be exposed to more diverse people and outside of the, sort of like, Tiny white, small hometown that I spent some of my teen years in.
I realized how much I didn’t know. And I went and tried to seek out these things. So I’ve got luckily a pretty broad base of knowledge around a bunch of different things now, because I’ve spent so much time in, especially in my late teens, early twenties, kind of seeking people out and listening and trying to figure out the privilege that I have as well as my marginalizations.
When it comes to an individual story, I now have a little bit of a foundation. Like I know where to go to look for more, where I think it takes a lot of time if you’re at the beginning of that process, because you don’t even know the language that you need to know to look up the things that you need to know.
And like that is really slows you down as you try to figure that out
Jeff: Makes sense. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Jeff: So let’s talk a little bit about “Freedom” what’s happening in this book?
Ed: Well, this particular book, I took two characters who kind of seem to have very opposite backgrounds, but they actually ended up kind of having a lot in common.
Both Henry and Jayden need to find freedom in their own way and they help each other do that, which is kind of the underlying message in most of my books really, I think it’s a surprisingly joyful story because it’s an “F-Word” book and that’s one of my messages in the series. So Jayden has agoraphobia and he gets panic attacks, but he’s been in therapy for quite some time and he’s ready to push himself and to kind of take the next step and trying to get into the world. And he’s getting a therapy dog, a service dog, sorry and he’s kind of at a stage in his life where he wants to sort of step out and push himself. And he’s been really relying on his big brother who actually in the beginning of the story pushes him a bit too far without his say so. So he ends up having to make those boundaries clear.
Henry is a wilderness guide who’s post-transition and he hasn’t dated since his final stage bottom surgery. So he’s a little bit nervous about dating .
As a result of where in his life he finds himself, he decided that he wants to come out of stealth mode – he kind of feels like he’s in the closet all over again. Now he wants to live openly as a trans guy, but he’s kind of worried about telling his best friend and his boss who are the people he’s around the most.
So he has to figure out how and when to disclose. Both of them are kind of in the same process of finding freedom, but even it’s in very different ways. I think it’s one of my best books. I’m really proud of it and how it came out. I love that. I finally got to write a character who was post phalloplasty because that it’s really rare.
Bottom surgery in general with trans guys, it’s just not written about much. The two main types, meto and phallo, I’ve already written a post-meto character in “Blunt” but not phallo, so getting to write this was really rewarding, because there are so many myths out there. And so few lived experiences about what it’s actually like day to day.
And so much of the information out there is just dry, surgical statistics, and complication rates and that kind of thing, not the actual experience of what it’s like to live in this body. And so, so many people just don’t think that it’s possible to have a satisfactory result at all. And that’s just not necessarily true.
That’s something that I got caught up in for years and years, because we’re so locked into cis normative ideals about bodies and about what trans people are supposed to want and how we’re pressured into wanting to pass. And there’s just no space for trans people to live. And I wanted to create that space and I wanted a trans guy to have that fantasy as well, because why shouldn’t we get that fantasy too, like we can have the sex life of your dreams and the romantic partner of your dreams and the books don’t necessarily have to be about how there’s always something missing and you know, that kind of thing. That’s I find really disempowering.
Jeff: That’s the power I think of the romance book is you get to write and show characters of all kinds having a full rich life. There are always the problems that show up in a romance book because you’ve got to hit those beats, but they have a full rich life.
Ed: Yeah. And you have more, you have some flexibility on what those beats are exactly. When I started writing the “F-Word” series, I was stealth so that means I was living in my new identity without disclosing my gender history.
It was one of my only outlets to really process what was happening to me. Like not just the everyday experiences of being read as male and perceived as male and learning how to get around in the world as male, especially within the gay male sort of subculture and then the deep stuff, like the compromises that I was having to make, to get the medical treatment I needed. I wanted that to sort of be in the books as this kind of constant background noise that we experience it as, but I didn’t want to exploit those moments for narrative tension, the same way that I’ve seen a lot of cis writer’s do.
I find it really awful when I see the big moments are always, you know, outing or dead naming characters, or, you know, the “Boys Don’t Cry.” God help me. That film. You know, that is sort of where we come from with where that’s our only representation. So I wanted something different. So like stories that lift me up and show the possibilities of gender euphoria and not just dysphoria.
Just show, not just fellow trans people, but also those who know and love us. Like what life is like from the inside, where a lot of stories kind of talk about trans people using the language that we use to describe ourselves to cis people, which necessarily is going to be sort of simplistic sort of 101 sort of relatable to cis people.
And sometimes that language doesn’t actually really reflect how we experience life at all. This is just sort of how we get other people to understand in their own way, where we have such a different sort of tapestry of things going on that we’re worried about. So I want to know books like to have that tapestry of then going on, but not being unrelatable or difficult to understand or what not.
So it’s a ton of work, but it’s really rewarding to get to write those stories from the inside as both a mirror and a window.
Jeff: And I love that analogy. You just did the mirror and the window.
Ed: Yeah. I don’t know where I picked it up. I think it was on Twitter somewhere, but basically it was that diverse stories are either a mirror so that you can see yourself in the story.
Or if you’re not one of the people in the story, it’s a window so that you can see into another life. And I find that so powerful and I want the story to be both a mirror and a window so it takes some crafting to try to make sure that they’re, they don’t alienate one group or another but it’s really worthwhile.
Jeff: It sounds like these might almost be like your favorite series to write because of what it does and the stories that it represents. Not to put words in your mouth.
Ed: Yeah, I think actually, it’s uniquely difficult to write in it because of, I have to be in the right head space and “Freedom” actually started off as a short story two years ago. And I was going to immediately turn it into a novel because I knew that there was the rest of the story to tell, but at that point in my life, I just wasn’t ready to do that. And I was also pre-surgery myself. So I felt like, I didn’t know the things that I needed to know to show, you know, life from the other side yet.
So it was only afterward. And then after I’d kind of dealt with all of the healing and the, any sort of surgery is trauma as well, so I had to kind of deal with all of that, like life effect. And then I sat down and went, now I’m ready to put this book. Like this is, I think this book is something that I could only have written at this very specific moment in my life, but it’s something that I needed to read two years ago. So it feels really important.
Jeff: And now it’ll be there for somebody else to find at the right time.
Is there going to be more “F-Word” in the future, do you think?
Ed: Yeah, I think so. I have several ideas that I really want to pursue. I just don’t know when. I’m I kind of have to wait till I’m in the headspace for each story.
And, but I do want it to keep telling stories about the other aspect I think of the “F-Word” books is not just that it’s showing diverse characters and trans and non binary in particular, but it’s also telling very particular stories about what queer and trans community and found family can look like.
And it’s a sort of more queer community. I think in “F-Word” where it’s more of a gay community in my other books, which is a distinction that it’s a difficult one to explain, but I think it resonates with a lot of queer people out there. I really want to tell more stories, like from that side of the fence of what that looks like, but I just don’t know when yet
Jeff: and hopefully you won’t run out of appropriate f- words.
Ed: I have had that worry, but I have a long list.
Moving over to another recent book that you’ve put out. You were part of the “Rosavia Royals,” a shared universe. And you wrote one called “Barely Regal.” Tell us a little bit about the universe and that book.
Ed: “Rosavia Royals” was such a satisfying series to work on. It was a dream because I’ve always wanted to like develop a fictional European country with its own royal family and it’s dedicated history and culture and like, you know, the favorite foods that everybody’s got and everything, like all of that stuff is just so cool. Getting to do that in conjunction with a bunch of other really cool authors is just phenomenal. Getting to build the family relationships between the different princes is the best.
We created five fictional princes, the oldest to the youngest who were all in line for the Rosavia throne, they’re all brothers. And then each of us took one of the brothers and their book so we had to work really closely together to develop this Royal family and our own characters and crossover characters that we have a lot of secondary characters and locations that show up in all the books because they all happen in the same two weeks leading up to the royal ball in Rosavia. At the royal ball, the oldest prince is expected to announce his engagement, even though he’s kind of a Playboy and the sort of irresponsible royal heir. All the other princes have this idea of him as being this like really flighty and unreliable guy, but he actually kind of got his own story too. And so you get to see his story and him kind of stepping into his responsibility and then all the other guys reacting to their own circumstances.
So for me, I chose “Barely Regal” and it was the moment I saw a book – they actually started as book covers, we bought them as buy premade book covers, and the moment I saw the cover, I was like that one’s mine and I’m ready to go. Yeah. And the title is going to be “Barely Regal” and the book just came out fully formed like that.
I knew that I was going to choose the youngest Prince and make him like the bratty youngest boy, and sort of like, you know, just turned 19 and rebellious and he doesn’t see why his job, which is commander of roses. It just seems like this just made up thing and he doesn’t see why that’s actually important to the royal family and their history.
Anyway. And his valet was the obvious choice, for the daddy that he winds up in a relationship with. So Thom has his own skills he’s because he was used by a more powerful boy before. So he’s quite slow to track. He doesn’t want to get into that stuff situation again. So a lot of the book is that slow evolution of their relationship because they’ve known each other for a decade.
And Thom sort of taming him, but I don’t think you can ever really tame a brat – kind of knowing exactly what he needs and showing him because he can kind of sense what Ren is looking for before Ren even knows himself. So yeah, I’m really proud of the series and what we achieved together and super excited because it’s actually coming out in audio.
It’s already been recorded by Kieran Flitton who recorded Helen Juliet’s royal books, and it’s in review with Audible. So it could be out later this month or next month. It’s up to Audible right now. The review times …
Jeff: It could be anytime now
Ed: this week it could be next month, but I’m really excited because hearing it out loud was just like falling back into that universe all over again. That I have been living for the last… really since February. So it’s kind of, I don’t want to extract myself now. I just want to live in that world.
Jeff: Living in a good royalty could be a lot of fun.
Ed: Yeah, it totally is.
Jeff: So that came together quick. If you’ve been living in it since February, we’re only in June, that sounds like that universe came together really quickly.
Ed: Yeah, we were really lucky because we found the premade covers and both Helen and I, who had previously worked together on “Men of Hidden Creek, ” happened to be awake at that time, happened to spot the covers and messaged each other, going, Oh my God, you know what we need to do? Yes, I know. And so instantly we went, okay.
Shared universe, five authors. Find three other people. And both of us happened to be available, to write books. Like we just tied up our last project at that point, which I think I had just finished up “Freedom” and I’d gotten into the editor and I was going okay, what do I do next?
So we were available to just jump in. And so it was a case of messaging other people and finding out who was available like right now, basically and it was kind of one of those stories aligning situation that we managed to get Stella Sterling, Zoe Dawn, who’s a debut author and then Max Rowan who used to write his Max Hawthorne, but had to change her name, who was in “Men of Hidden Creek.”
So we managed to get her back as well and we just got together, what I feel is the perfect combination of people to each write thoes books At exactly the right moment. And we all just plunged in and we really wanted to make them simultaneously because we beta read each other’s books.
That was really important to us, was working together as we went along to build in all those crossovers, because they’re so very tightly connected.
Jeff: Working over a span of a two week story block in a small European Island, it’s all gonna mesh together just right. That sounds like a lot of story Bible work.
Ed: It was. The story bible was our absolute savior. We started it when, I think I was the first one to start writing, and we started out right then. And kept it updated the entire way through, because there were so many moments of even just going, Oh, I’ve got this thunderstorm happening on this Friday, so you’ve got to make sure that if you’ve got a scene happening on this Friday, there’s a thunderstorm, but you know, like really basic details.
And we also had a phenomenal beta reader, Amy Patel, who works with LesCourt, was our absoltue savior. The first book and really all the books should be dedicated to her because she just kept us on track and she kept track of all of those crossover moments and went, Oh, you know, they’re having this scene happening this day, then the guy could actually be in the background. Like she was so good with all these details. And I think every shared universe needs someone who’s keeping track of that.
Jeff: Yeah. Otherwise it can just like, Oh, I didn’t know you did this over there. This one little moment that becomes, you know, something that’s screwed up somewhere else. Yeah. You need that continuity. .
And wonderful they’re coming out on Audible.
Ed: Yeah, so we got all five of them in various stages of recording. A couple of them already submitted. We’re really hoping to get them out pretty quickly. We’ve been lucky enough to get the audio book to the narrator ahead of time to try and really reduce that gap before the audio comes out.
Jeff: Wonderful. I’m looking forward to that. Cause I want to read these books. I love Royal books and couples and all that stuff. And so I look forward to bingeing them on audio.
Now, speaking of bingeing, you also boxed up “Significant Brothers” and it’s all fully available in a box set of eBooks, as well as audio.
Ed: Yeah, I’m really happy to share that. It’s been a couple of years since those books went live, three years since the first one went live and yeah, I’m one of those collectors who needs to have everything in the same place myself. And it drives me nuts if I can’t and I only ever put “Winter Sweet,” which was the follow up novella out on Amazon, like briefly at a 99 cent thing.
But I’m really funny about putting things out that don’t stand alone and that is a novella about the guys wedding so it doesn’t really stand alone. I didn’t really feel good, like leaving it out there. I’m really happy to collect them all in one place. It’s the entire universe there in one box set.
I wanted to put it in KU for binge reading and on Audible for one credit. And it’s just, I think, a nice place to dive in, especially if you haven’t read my books before. I think it’s a really good introduction to that sort of low angst, feel good, found family, all that kind of stuff that defines my books. You can find it there.
Jeff: So this is like the trademark E. Davies book set.
Ed: Yeah, pretty much like I’ve only ever written. Basically I started, apart from one or two experiments, like pretty much all contemporary m/m romance. I think the E. Davies book is feel-good and low angst. I hear that a lot.
Realistic yet optimistic. Always steamy and the guys always seem to kind of fit together and find this mutually supportive, uplifting way of being together. And even when I try to write angsty books, like my “After” series, “Afterburn,” “Afterglow, “Aftermath,” or “Redemption,” I think those are probably the only books I have that I would call angsty, but they still end up kind of being like the low angst versions of angst.
Jeff: For those who don’t know “Significant Brothers” tell us a little bit about that series so people will know that they need to go pick this up.
Ed: So it’s a series about six guys who were high school, best friends. And the series title is actually one of my favorite parts about it. It’s called “Significant Brothers” because they were all in high school together and they’d all kind of found each other in high school and his crew kids tend to do and flock together. And they tried to go to the prom, except they were told, no, you can’t go to the prom unless you have a female date, you need to have a significant other and they went, Oh, what about significant brothers?
And then that became the little friendship group name that stuck. And they stayed in touch, you know, over the years as they grew up and they found unusual careers. So we’ve got like a pilot and a race car driver, and a zoo keeper, and a park ranger, who used to be an astronaut and all these other kind of really cool careers that have them going up to two, and then they’ve all kind of come back together now in their mid twenties, as they kind of settled down a little bit, the hometown and find love.
And I think it’s a, yeah, it’s a really kind of optimistic, sweet, low angst sort of feel-good light to this universe. Each of the guys, like they always show up in each other’s books, so you kind of end up collecting them. And then by the time you get to book six, you’ve got this huge collection of 12 dudes.
They’re all in the background of each other’s stories, which is really fun. And then the follow-up novella Winter Sweet was about the first brother’s wedding. And the last book in the series is “Tremble” and that actually won the rainbow award for the best bisexual romance, which was fantastic. And, yeah, it’s, I think a really good introduction to all things E. Davies.
Jeff: Now you love working with tropes. You’ve got the trope finder on your website, which we will link people to because I think that is such a great way to categorize books on an author website. Do you have favorite tropes or are you game to play with just anything?
Ed: I would say just anything, because I just love the process of working with tropes and figuring out how to break a story down into tropes.
I really love satisfying those expectations or supporting them and kind of playing with them. I love unusual combinations of the tried and true, like I think ultimately I’m just a total sucker for like the cheesy and the camp and the unapologetic pleasure. Like what some people call it guilty pleasure, but I don’t believe in being guilty about it.
I just believe in being unapologetic about it. I like any trope that really fits into that genre of unapologetic pleasure, feel good, low agnst, I’m happy to work with. So I tend to find like a lot of opposites attract, and a lot of small towns. I think small towns especially lend themselves really well to that found family feeling.
And that’s something that I just everything I wrote ended up having a found family, by the time I’m done the book, whether they mean to or not, it’s kind of one of the foundations of queer life really – found family. So I’m not too quiet that it’s like a quintessential gay romance trope.
I end up having a lot of hookup to lovers as well which has really been true to the experiences that I see around me, like in my friendship groups and stuff as well, that feels like a really realistic thing. I think a lot of the tropes are just inspired by what I see around me in everyday life and what I should aspire to see, like the optimistic, happy endings.
Jeff: What do you think are the two most, I guess I’ll say opposite, tropes that you’ve ever put together and had it work out?
Ed: After like 45 books, you’ve straining my memory here. Hmm. I think “Forever,” which was my trans pregnancy romance, because I wanted to have a closeted sort of out for you-ish story and surprise pregnancy.
And I think just, m/m, in general, wouldn’t expect surprise pregnancy to be a trope, unless you’re within Mpreg. I really wanted to play with that. I wanted it to be, I wanted to show what can actually happen again with sort of realistic trans lives, but I also didn’t want the pregnancy to be forced upon him because, I feel very strongly about that.
And that’s sort of, it could be, a very sort of struggle/trauma porn almost for trans characters and a lot of trans guys wouldn’t feel great about being surprisingly pregnant. So I wanted this to be a character who does actually want to have a child, but he just gets pregnant earlier than he expected.
And he has to kind of rush to get his life together where he thought he had more time. I put that together with the gay-for-you story because the two of them had met before. And it’s just sort of second chances as well because they didn’t hook up the last time they met. But then this time they managed to get to, and then, you know, things happened and they ended up having to deal with them.
And I think that was a really, I think it came together perfectly because those tropes supported each other so well, actually. but they weren’t, I think tropes that you would expect to see together.
Jeff: Right. I mean about the closest you get in m/m to a baby is secret baby, because something happened in the past before the stories started perhaps
Ed: yeah. Or you get like, somebody might have a child already, and you know, they’d gotten divorced or whatnot and they ended up kind of getting into a relationship with someone else. I haven’t really seen a romance that was driven by the main character getting pregnant by the other main character.
And then figuring out, Oh, what do we do about this? I think that is something that happens in every day trans lives and it happened for a very, very long time. It’s nothing new or shocking and you’ve got all these news articles about like the first pregnant trans man. And there’ve been like at least three first pregnant transmen in the UK, according to the headlines, but it’s been happening forever and it’s just not happening in books. So therefore I wrote “Forever.”
Jeff: What got you started in m/m romance?
Ed: Well, I kinda grew up looking for gay books in the bookstore, and I didn’t really know why. I wasn’t sure why I was connecting so strongly to gay men, because I was denied that language to even understand my own identity until I was 20. I was still seeking them out anyway and they just wern’t out there, there were like three books that were out there and that was it. And nothing that really reflected my experiences. So I assumed they didn’t exist and I kind of gave up for looking. And then when I was on Amazon in 2013, I found gay erotica stories and suddenly went, Oh, this is where they’re all hiding on Amazon. Okay. I like sat down immediately that day and I finished an erotic short story that I kind of had half done on my hard drive and published it. And then I did another, and then I did about 40 more. And then I realized I was, I kept writing romances and not erotica and happily-ever-after endings. And that wasn’t what people really wanted from erotica. So I was like, why not switch to romance? And I started to write MM romance novels instead. And now I’m up to about, I think “Barely Regal” is number 45.
Jeff: Congratulations, that’s an awesome number.
Ed: It’s been kind of overwhelming, but also it’s just fantastic to get to live out all of these different lives and tell all these different stories.
I feel really strongly about romance in particular, because it guarantees the happy endings that we’ve been denied for so long. And I want these stories to reflect the life that I’ve experienced in my queer community and the friends around me, but not to sort of get bogged down in those mandatories sad endings and like give people hope and I’m tires of stories where we have to suffer over being gay and trans and we have to like wrestle internally and hate ourselves and go through all of that angst and whatnot. If I see that the damage to that causes and I’m in the community, watching the ripple effect of people hurting people because of all of that stuff. And I’m basically in my personal life and in books I’m done with queer angst.
So I was like, I’m just going to keep writing safe, low angst, happy endings over and over again. And I feel like that’s helping tip the scales in my own tiny way. Just a little bit, the way that I needed them to be.
Jeff: I feel that same way. I want to write the world as I want it to be more than it actually may be.
Have you always been a writer, you mentioned having these stories on your hard drive?
Ed: Yeah, basically since I was like six or seven, I had this like little, Manila notebook and my parents helped me write a story about my beta fish. I illustrated it as well. That was me getting started with short stories. Then I kind of lost touch with it a little bit when I was in university. I was doing an English degree and I had to do all of the literary analysis and all that kind of stuff. And that really took me out of the sort of fun and pleasure of genre fiction and into the more… analyze the color of the curtains style of writing.
And so it took me some time to kind of get out of that mindset agai n . Yeah, I basically, that was right about the same time I graduated in 2013. And then it was that September that I found my first short stories on Amazon. I started to write them and just sort of plunged in and never looked back.
Jeff: Give us a book recommendation. What’s the last book that you read that you’re just crazy about?
Ed: So Elin Gregory, she just re-released “Alike As Two Bees” which is just a little short story historical. so I’m re-reading that later, actually as my treat for like packing up a billion books and shipping them overseas.
But I did buy it because of the title, I’m like, famously I love bees. I was kind of hoping it would be like a beekeeper, but I was actually really happy with what I found instead. There’s this really lovely, gentle historical story and it has all of these gorgeous scenes setting details and really tasty food.
I am a sucker for really tasty food I’ve discovered recently. It really makes it sort of spring to life. But the only thing I’m unhappy about is the fact that it’s like a short story and it’s not this entire series because I wish she would ride a whole series in that world. It is just this lovely little place to live for an afternoon.
Jeff: So what’s coming up next for you?
Ed: Well, actually, funny, you should mention, I’m thinking about a story that involves food. I’m actually writing my first non-romance book, so after the dozens of romance books, it’s this really strange experience. But it’s trans nonfiction.
It’s going to be a while before that’s ready because I’m considering publishing, like traditional publishing. So, it’s going to take some time to get done and shop around and decide if I want to trad publish or self publish and what not. So in the interest of publishing another book this year, I’m putting it back on the backburner again in July and I’m kind of getting back to romance.
I currently have three standalones that are either planned or in progress. I think I’m going to do them before I dive back into series. The first one is another sort of daddy/boy dynamic book. Cause so many people have said how much they enjoyed “Barely Regal.” And I didn’t quite get it out of my system.
I think I still have some more story to tell in that dynamic. That’s the book that’s going to involve both food and daddies, so that seems like a really good combination. I think that’s going to be my next book out, but it probably won’t be until like August, September-ish. Then I’m going to follow that up with a couple more standalones that I’ve been wanting to write, but I’ve been kind of finishing off series for the last year or so.
Jeff: Is there anything you could share more about the nonfiction? You piqued my curiosity there.
Ed: Well, basically, I wanted to write a story about the surgery process that I had been through about the questions that I wanted to know answers to that I couldn’t find answers to anywhere.
I’ve been doing some of that work in my fiction books by kind of giving people fictional representations, but I’ve got all these really interesting stories about this journey to surgery. And like, that’s basically a book about my Dick. It’s how I’ve been describing it to my friends. But it’s also all of these little moments about how it is a huge life changing surgery, but it’s the process you have to go on before you get to that point, that’s the more important thing. And I think that hints at a lot of the stuff I’ve seen, like I recently watched the documentary “Disclosure,” and it was all about, there’s a section about how interviewer’s focused on the surgery as like the big thing about us, but it’s always done from a very cis viewpoint of like this one big thing you go through and that’s what defines you, whether you’re a man or woman, blah, blah, blah. And like my process of going through that shit broke all of those things to smithereens. I kind of wanted to write about the funny side of life, the joyous side of life. The interesting thing that happened, the like the truth is stranger than fiction side of it as well. Showing trans men who are looking at surgery that it’s a huge surgery, but it’s not the scary sort of. It’s not the surgery of the 80’s for the nineties, because a lot of the myths that are persisting now, because of the stuff that used to happen back then, and a lot of policing that kind of happens in what we’re allowed to want and what we feel like this will result in is very transphobic and it’s really steeped in these sentiments of what we’re supposed to want.
And I kind of want to write this like joyful tongue in cheek lighthearted fun book, actually. And yeah, we’ll see how it ends up taking shape, but that’s the general ballpark I’m writing it in. And then if I ended up working with a publishing house, I’ll see how they want me to shape it and we’ll go from there.
Jeff: That’s really excellent that you’re doing that. I mean, I have obviously no lens in that space at all, but just hearing you talk about that, it’s a book you wish you kind of had, it means that there are other people out there who need that book really desperately.
Ed: Absolutely. I mean, it was only like a year ago that I was having the surgery and then like the months leading up to it, I was talking to my boyfriend at the time and saying, how scared I was and how uncertain I was, even though I was sure I wanted to, but I was uncertain about the results and just couldn’t find that many sort of stories about what it was like afterward or whatever to go through it. There’s so much stuff that I had to join these, like secret surgery groups and sort of interpret people’s posts and so much stuff that just didn’t make sense to me until I actually went through the process and went, if someone had warned me about this, I might’ve transfered all my soup tins into Tupperware containers that I can open one handed. Cause I found myself after surgery, not being able to use one arm like wedging the corner of my soup tin in my sink, trying to open it one hand and stuff, like all of the crazy little things, but nobody had really warned me and I didn’t really think about, but I wish that I had been able to and as well, I think the bigger thing, like how is it going to affect your sex life?
Like so many people think oh, well, that’s it like, you just won’t be feel sensation anymore ever. And that’s not true anymore necessarily. The good surgeons out there who have microsurgery teams, you can do wonders and we need to have higher expectations. And we need to like join together as a community to demand those expectations.
Not just kind of accept what’s out there because it’s their only choice. Cause it isn’t anymore. And I feel quite strongly. We should be talking about having high expectations and how we can best maximize aftercare and how to talk to surgeons about what we want because surgeons, like, how do surgeons decide what we want? Like, are they, where do they decide that the ideal dick comes from like, are they watching porn? Is it based on their dick, if you actually think about that, Like, how does that happen? I know from my point of view, I didn’t get to walk in and say, well, this is what I want.
They basically decided what I’m going to be given. So where does that come from? Like how do we have conversations with surgeons? Like about whether the individual is more concerned about “passing” or about standing to pee or about sexual sensation or about like the erectorial device or preserving original anatomy.
Like all of these things are actually options. They’re not mandatory. Like you don’t actually have to go down this very prescribed strict path anymore, but there’s still people who are kind of being pushed down that path because the surgeons they work with or the information sources that they have say, you have to get this, this, this, and this and this.
That’s not true anymore. I want options for all of us. I want us to know what we can get and seek that out.
Jeff: I hope you get this book out soon. Cause I can see it being really important to be out there.
Ed: Yeah, I think it is. So I’m quite passionate about that, but that’s kind of a backburner project again.
Quite difficult to kind of figure out what I want to say, how I want to say it, and how personal I’m going to get because there’s a, you know, everyone’s story involves real life, and other people in their lives, and how much about it I want to include. And all that kind of stuff is difficult to figure out, but I think there’s a lot of value in being vulnerable, even though it does mean being vulnerable on a scale I haven’t been before because in my fiction, there’s that lens or that sort of wall of fiction versus nonfiction.
And everyone understands, you might share a community with the character, but not necessarily all of them, whereas when you’re writing nonfiction like that? That’s your life out there. So it’s very different. I found as soon as I started, like, you sat down to write this, I went, Oh wow. This feels really vulnerable.
And I’ve got a lot to work through in terms of figuring out how to choose my tone for that and how to construct even every individual chapter.
Jeff: I look forward to hearing more about this as you keep going with it. How can people keep up with you online? Learn what fiction comes next, how the nonfiction project is progressing and all that stuff?
Ed: The best way to join my Facebook group, which is called Ed’s Petals, I post flower and bee photos. And I try to keep it like this lovely little low stress bubble. That’s the only place that I’ve really been talking about this nonfiction project and I also post my new releases in sales and stuff in there.
The other place that it’s best to find out more is my newsletter, which is on my website, edaviesbooks.com. That’s where I send out like my freebies and deals and do release alerts and all that kind of stuff. You can subscribe on BookBub and Amazon, but they can be kind of hit and miss on sending out actual notifications and stuff. So my newsletter or the Facebook group is definitely the best place.
Jeff: We’ll link up to all those, plus all the books that we talked about. Ed thank you so much for being here. It has been just wonderful talking to you.
Ed: Thank you. It’s been great talking to you too. Thank you for having me.
Here’s the text of this week’s reviews:
What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote. Reviewed by Will.
Santa’s definitely delivered an ultra-sweet treat for me because I read What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote. Sometimes you just pick up a book and it makes you feel all the feels and gives you all the comfort of a satisfying cup of cocoa.
The story centers on Justin, a nice guy who has just been dumped by his boyfriend. But luckily his best friend, Sean is coming to stay for the holidays. Sean spent the last couple of months backpacking across Europe. He has finally made his way home to London but quickly finds himself wrapped up in a fake boyfriend scheme. It seems Justin’s ex is going to be at the office Christmas party and he doesn’t want to go without a handsome boy on his arm. So they agree to play the happy couple for one evening.
The evening goes wonderfully. Not only does the ex get his comeuppance, but our two heroes discovered that they enjoy pretending to be boyfriends. After celebrating the holiday with Justin’s office mates, they go home and tumble into bed together for the very first time. Now this hookup leaves them very happy and satisfied, but each of them is hesitant to really express how they’ve actually been feeling for quite some time.
So initially they brush it off as a one time thing. But when a snowstorm prevents Justin from going home for the holidays, the two of them end up spending a couple of days cuddled up in his cozy London flat where they’re finally able to admit the feelings that they’ve had for each other, all along.
This story is filled with so much Yuletide happiness. I really loved Justin and Sean so very much. The story is a really interesting combination of super sweet schmoopy holiday goodness, but really hot sexy times as well. These two characters make up for lost time.
This was the perfect sweet read that I really needed right now. If you’re looking for drama or pain or angst, I don’t know what to tell ya. This is not it. But if you’re looking for two nice guys being nice and falling in love, then I highly recommend What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote.
The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. Reviewed by Jeff.
My fanboying over TJ Klune continues with The Extraordinaries. Ever since he mentioned that he was doing a young adult book I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release. The wait is over now and the world now has a gay superhero YA story, with a neurodiverse main character that is filled with everything I expect from a master storyteller like TJ.
Yup, I loved this book. I hated that it was over as fast as it was (even though you can’t exactly call a 13 hour audiobook short).
Nick Bell is obsessed with the Extraordinaries, the superheroes and villains in his town. There’s Shadow Star, the one Nick writes wildly long fanfic about, and Shadow Star’s nemesis Pyro Storm. Nicks’ friends aren’t quite sure what to make of his fixation on these supers but they accept. Nick’s got amazing friends with Seth, who he’s got a major crush on, Owen, who he used to go out with, as well as Jazz and Gibby who are already in a relationship. These friends are tight and it’s exactly the friend group you’d want to have in high school. They’re silly and they watch out for each other and they call you on your shit.
Nick lives with his dad, a police officer with the Nova City PD. Dad isn’t a fan of the Extraordinaries as they tend to cause havoc, even more so lately as their battles get more intense. What exactly the Extraordinaries are doing blew my mind in the best way–and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Meanwhile, Nick and his dad have been figuring out how to live, just the two of them, since Nick’s mom died in a car accident. They do well most days, but some days everything piles up and things get said. It’s an amazing, realistic portrait of a family that’s been upended. They love each other, but some days are simply bad.
Nick really pushes the boundaries too as he starts a new school year and his dad wants better grades, wants Nick to be responsible and on time and do what he’s supposed to do. Which is easy when Nick’s brain races because of ADHD. All of it’s complicated even more when Nick gets it into his head that he wants to become an Extraordinary. To say that his plan to microwave a cricket so it becomes radioactive and he can have a Spider-man like origin story is the least crazy thing he does in this regard should give you some idea of what’s to come.
The Extraordinaries takes many twists and turns. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going to happen, that would get upended–and I love that. TJ wrote a super intelligent, super aware young adult tale. The teenagers are equal part observant and on point and just plain clueless. There are times I’d cheer for what they were doing and other times wish they’d reconsider what they were doing.
Nick goes into the lexicon of my favorite TJ characters, including Joe and Ox, Gus, Linus and Mike. Characters that get me right in the feels. TJ gets deep inside Nick’s head as he tries to figure out what’s going on with the Shadow Star and Pyro Storm, how he can be the person his dad wants him to be, what’s going on with Seth and how badly he wants to kiss him. Nick’s brain won’t stop and that works to his advantage, at least some of the time. How TJ’s captured Nick on the page is, I think, going to really speak to many teens and what they go through–whether they’re neurodiverse or not.
The side characters are all fantastic here too. I particularly liked Nick’s dad who is really doing his best and clearly loves his son. Seth’s guardians are excellent too–and their peanut butter cookies sounded way yummy! Best of all, as TJ has talked about in interviews on this show, there’s no homophobia anywhere. These characters are unabashedly queer and that’s never a thing–which is exactly how it should be.
If audio’s your thing, check out the amazing audiobook voiced by Michael Lesley. His entire performance is exceptional, but I have to call out his portrayal of Nick and everything that goes through that kid’s brain and then spills out of his mouth. Michael added extra punch to the words TJ provided.
I give my highest recommendation to TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaires.