The guys shout out the upcoming charity anthology Love Is All, which features several m/m authors (including Jeff) and benefits the National Center for Transgender Equality. Jeff discusses his experience of listening live as audiobook narrator Kirt Graves records the Codename: Winger series for its release the summer.
Will talks about Hudson Lin’s new book Hard Sell and then Jeff interviews Lin, who gives us the scoop on the new book, and her plans for continuing the Jade Harbour Capital series. She also shares how she got started writing, her love of scenes involving food and why romance is the best genre. We also learn about her World of Stories podcast and the Queers of Colour website.
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. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- 2021 Pride Cards Info on Big Gay Fiction Podcast Patreon
- Love is All anthology by various authors: Universal Book Link (pre-order until June 8, 2021)
- Tracker Hacker by Jeff Adams: Universal Book Link (pre-order until June 1, 2021)
- Schooled by Jeff Adams: Universal Book Link (pre-order until June 15, 2021)
- Kirt Graves on Discord
- Hudson Lin Interview
- Hudson Lin: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Hard Sell by Hudson Lin on Amazon | Kobo
- Dynasty on Amazon Prime Video
- Suits on Amazon Prime Video
- Going Public by Hudson Lin on Amazon | Kobo (pre-order until March 29, 2022)
- Fly with Me by Hudson Lin on Amazon
- Triad by ‘Nathan Burgoine on Amazon | Kobo
- Tanya Chris on Amazon | Kobo
- World of Stories Podcast
- Queer of Colour
- Midlife Crisis by Audra North on Amazon | Kobo
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Take Me Home (Coffee House Short Story #2) by Hudson Lin on Amazon
- “The Revolutionary Nature of Romance” By Hudson Lin on Frolic
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, author Hudson Lin gives us the “Hard Sell” on her new book.
Will: Welcome episode 311 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast. The show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Will Knauss and with me as always is my co-host and husband, Mr. Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello everybody.
Will: Welcome back rainbow romance readers. We are so glad that you could join us for another week, another brand new episode of the show.
Jeff: A little bit of news before we get into this week’s interview. This past week, the cover reveal for the fourth edition of the “Love is All” anthology took place. Everybody it’s a super cute cover. You will just adore it when you see it. Now, this charity anthology is spearheaded by author Xio Axelrod. And this year, in addition to Xio, the collection will include stories from author, Meg Bonney, Rachel Lacey, Susan Scott Shelley who’s writing along with Chantal Mer, R.L. Merrill, Connor Peterson, and Sophia Soames. And I am so super honored to have been asked to join this group for this year as well. As if all that weren’t enough and Annabeth Albert is penning a special forward to open the edition. Now this year’s anthology will be available for a limited time beginning June 8th, and it will be widely available. So you’ll be able to pick it up wherever you get eBooks. All the proceeds from this year’s edition are going to go to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Mark your calendars as well because we’re planning a Big Gay Fiction Live to celebrate the release of “Love is All” on June 8th. We’ll have more details on that for you in next week’s show.
Will: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to this. It’s a wonderful cause and a chance to read some brand new fiction by some really amazing authors. Yourself included, Mr. Man.
Jeff: Awww. Very sweet of you to say.
So I am getting ready for the release of my “Codename” Winger” series, starting on June 1st with book one “Tracker Hacker.” Longtime listeners may recall that my “Codename: Winger” series is the adventures of a high school hockey player who also happens to be a covert agent as he tries to balance his… we’ll call it his real life as a student and a boyfriend and all the things that the teenager does, along with being an agent who often ends up in some pretty dangerous situations. I’m really excited that this series is coming back. It starts releasing, as I mentioned on June 1st, and all four books will be out over the course of about eight weeks.
One of the things that I’m just loving this time out is that the whole series is going to have audio and Kirt Graves, who I think it’s no big surprise to anyone is one of my very favorite audiobook narrators out there, especially for some of the work he’s done on the books of TJ Klune, is doing the audio for the “Winger” series.
I’ve had the opportunity already to hear the entire book for “Tracker Hacker.” Which I have to say I’m just so over the moon about. This past week he started doing book two in this series, which is titled “Schooled.” He actually does his recordings many times, at least when he can, when the author approves it and there are no spoilers, he will do the recordings live on Discord. So I’ve had a couple of chances this week, as I go through my day, to have an earbud in my ear with Kirt reading to me. It has been so incredible to, honestly, not only hear my book come to life, which I’m just enchanted by more than I can really describe, but to have the opportunity to essentially listen to and watch Kirt do his work. As the producer for this podcast, I’m playing around with audio all the time, and to watch him do things in Adobe Audition, which I also use, on how he corrects his mistakes and how he analyzes the audio, and just listening to him, do his process as he shifts the voices of the characters on the fly, pauses for a moment to reassess how he performs something, or honestly, frankly, it’s good to know that he can flub up reading, just like we can as we sometimes as we read the things that we do here on the show.
So I’ll drop a link in the show notes to Kirt’s Discord. He makes that public to everybody. And if you have the opportunity sometime, maybe join in and listen to him do some readings. I’ll have links also for the upcoming “Codename: Winger” books. And if you want to check out some YA thrillers those will be there starting June 1st.
Now, appropriately as we get ready to get into the interview, you’ve actually read this week’s book.
Will reviews Hard Sell by Hudson Lin
Will: Yeah. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Hudson Lin’s new book, “Hard Sell,” which, by the way, is hitting store shelves on May 25th. It’s the story of Danny and at the opening of the story he like confidently strides into the offices of a tech company looking to buy it out. But instead, he finds himself face to face with Tobin, the younger brother of his best friend. It seems that they shared an amazing night together several years ago, but haven’t really seen each other since then. And despite being on opposite ends of this business deal, they start things up once again.
Living on opposite sides of the country, they’re really struggling to make the long distance relationship thing work. And when they meet up for a weekend of business and pleasure at Calgary Stampede, things fall apart in a really big way. Oh my God. It is such a mess.
So the two of them, they have to navigate the intense pressures of their work lives and the relationship that they’re keeping secret from friends and family. And we all know keeping those kinds of secrets. It never ends up going well.
Jeff: No, and it really never works out either.
Will: And the two of them even have to deal with a health scare brought on by an extreme case of job burnout. The road to their happily ever after is a rocky one, but for Danny and Tobin, it is hard-fought and it’s definitely deserved.
Now in addition to getting a chance to read an early copy of this book, we also had the pleasure of sitting down with author Hudson Lin to talk about how her own career in high finance inspired the characters in this particular book.
Jeff: Yes. I had such a wonderful time talking with Lin. You’ll hear some of my thoughts about this book as we actually go through the interview as well. I really enjoyed it. This book actually kicks off the “Jade Harbour Capital” series. So not only do we find out about this book and the series, we also discuss a couple of other incredible projects that she works on.
Hudson Lin Interview
Jeff: Lin, welcome to the podcast. It is so wonderful to have you here.
Lin: Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be on the show.
Jeff: I’m so excited to dig in to “Hard Sell” with you. These characters are so wonderful. The book is just out this week. Tell everybody what “Hard Sell’s” about.
Lin: Sure. Well, “Hard Sell” is a contemporary m/m romance about Danny – and Danny is a private equity investor. He’s at the top of his game. He is really, really successful, but he’s looking for something a little bit more than just work 24/7.
And that’s when his best friend’s little brother Tobin walks back into his life. And Danny and Tobin had a one-night stand seven years ago. And then haven’t really had any contact since then, but now Tobin is all grown up and he’s really smoking hot and impossible to ignore, and they are on opposite sides of this business deal.
And then they’ve got sparks flying in the boardroom and then in the bedroom, obviously. So they’ve got to figure out how to navigate their careers and their families to find their happily ever after.
Jeff: Which I’m sure they do because it’s a romance. So, there’s no spoiler there.
Lin: They definitely do. I can guarantee that.
Jeff: What inspired the characters of Danny and Tobin for you?
Lin: Well, I used to work in finance. I was in that world that Danny lived in, where we’re hopping on planes all the time. We’re meeting up with folks in random cities all the time and it sounds like fun because I tell my friends like, Oh, look at this fancy hotel I got to stay in for work.
But it gets really, really grueling to be in a different city every week. And the glamor wears off very, very quickly when I get stuck in a random city overnight that I wasn’t expecting to and I’ve got to scramble for a hotel room. I don’t have a change of clothes. I don’t have a toothbrush.
And It gets pretty grueling. So that’s kind of where Danny is at the beginning of the book – his friends think that he’s got this really glamorous lifestyle, but it’s very lonely actually to be on the road usually by himself. So, he’s got all the money and all the success on the outside looks great, but none of it is really making him happy.
That’s kind of where I started with a story and this idea of he’s alone, but he’s looking for family, he’s looking for stability. He’s looking for the other things in life besides that success that a lot of business people look for. So that’s where I started. And then it kind of took off from there.
Jeff: And how about for Tobin? Where did he come from?
Lin: That’s a really good question. He kind of just materialized.
Jeff: Those are the best.
Lin: Right. Tobin is the baby of a family and he kind of gets overlooked a lot as like, Oh, he’s just the baby. And so it starts from that point, cause I had the idea of the trope of the best friends sibling, or the best friend’s kid brother.
And so if you, as the baby, what types of things would he do to try to prove himself, to try to stand out and try to break out of the protective bubble of his family? And it kinda just took off from there. Yeah.
Jeff: You’ve got a couple of my favorite tropes sitting inside this book. You’ve got that one night stand that all of a sudden manifests itself into a working relationship… surprise – but then there’s that element of second chance too, since Danny and Tobin have hung on to that, what one night stand was for years. Were those relationship dynamics fun to write or a challenge to write, or maybe something in between?
Lin: I think that it was fun. Definitely. I especially loved writing Tobin because he has that bit of a chip on the shoulder. As the baby of the family, as someone who wants to prove that he’s adult enough to be taken seriously, he’s always trying to push boundaries and he’s always trying to see what he can get away with.
And that’s very much not like me. And so, it was fun to sort of step outside of what I would normally do and try to embody someone who’s so different. It was tricky to find that balance between these two people who are interested in each other and have a history, but can set aside some of the complications of having a romantic history to still be friends like in the moment, and still figure out ways to work together and to enjoy each other’s company.
Cause I find sometimes that can be really tricky when there’s a lot of baggage involved. But you know, the characters kind of speak for themselves a lot of times. And so, they figured out a way to do it.
Jeff: What I like so much about them too, from the very beginning, where they’re essentially thrown into an awkward meeting because of this jerk boss who we won’t go too much into, but the guy who runs this tech firm is just a jerk.
Even in their first reconnection, I envisioned them as becoming a power couple. I could see them becoming the people who are on the cover of the book, which reads very power couple. It reminded me of, like the eighties show Dynasty or even its reboot. And I think you mentioned you were thinking of things like ‘Suits’ with that cover.
And I loved how it just resonated so early there in the book of how, you could see what they could become. Was that kind of the intention or was it just happenstance that it, those initial interactions worked out that way?
Lin: I think that was partly the intention. Danny is someone who is, again, very successful in his career.
He has a reputation within the industry, as someone who gets the job done – as someone who you shouldn’t mess around with. And so I wanted him to project that, he’s in control of the situation and he’s in control of the meeting. And even though there is this unexpected encounter with his childhood crush, with his former lover, he’s still able to overcome the unexpected things that happen in life and maintain control of the situation. And then obviously, at least in my perspective, with someone who has such a strong personality, I felt like Tobin also needed to have a strong personality to be able to match up with that and not just get bulldozed. So, yeah, I definitely also see them as this power couple, of people who know how to go after the things that they want and figure out ways to make it happen.
Jeff: You mentioned you came out of the finance world and there’s also a tech company kind of sitting at the heart of this as potentially what Danny’s trying to invest in. What was your research like to get those things right? Cause it certainly pops even early on. I’ve worked in offices like that with the ping pong table and the food and everything. And it’s like, I’ve been here. I know this place.
Lin: Yeah. Well, like I said, I worked in finance and I worked in private equity and so the world that Danny is in, was the world that I worked in. Now, obviously I was nowhere near Danny’s level of success and income or anything like that. But I got to see a lot of what those offices look like and my company, it’s a finance company, but they’re like boutique and they like to sell themselves as like really trending hip. So we had a ping pong table in our office and we often had food in our office as well. So, that side of things, it was entirely a hundred percent from my own experience. The tech side is. with working in private equity, come across a lot of other industries that intersect with finance.
I also had exposure to various tech companies as well, and was able to sort of see into that world. So, from that kind of exposure and then just a lot of googling and digging online was sort of the extent of the research.
Jeff: That was a big flashback, like, Oh yeah, I’ve been there and I’m glad I’m not there anymore.
Lin: Yeah. I’m glad I’m not in finance anymore either. And I’m really glad that I’m not because it’s a tough industry to be in. It’s definitely challenging.
Jeff: What was your favorite scene to write for Danny and Tobin?
Lin: Oh, that’s a really, really hard question because there were so many that were a lot of fun to write.
I would have to say that anything that had food in it was fun to write. I’m a huge foodie so anyone who follows me online knows that I’m all about food all the time. And so, whenever I got to write scenes with food in it, it’s fun cause I get to think up the things that would be delicious for the characters to eat and that I want to eat.
And then I also get really hungry and then I get to go eat. But I find that when there’s food involved, there’s like a level of intimacy that comes with sharing a meal with somebody and it can also say a lot about how the characters are feeling or like what kind of the dynamic of the relationship is like, based off of what they’re eating.
Like, are they going to really fancy restaurant or are they ordering pizza? I feel like it tells, it gives a lot to the story, kind of like subtle hints of what’s going on. And at what point in the relationship they’re in.
Jeff: And I usually love the talk that happens over the food, you’re one-on-one, a waiter made drop by and bug you occasionally, but you get those moments to have a conversation because it’s like a break in action, if you will. And I love characters who talk – one of my favorite things when you have these deep, meaningful conversations between characters.
Lin: Yeah. And I love how, when you’re in a restaurant and from, I guess like a storytelling or writing point of view, you can have the waiter show up and interrupt them at like an awkward spot or like to break the tension and things like that.
I like using things like that as a writing technique or a storytelling technique to increase the tension or to diffuse the tension or like watching somebody else eat can either be really awkward or again, really intimate. I love using that as well. This like one character is watching the other one eat is like, I guess it could go either way. But usually, I try to make it into more like intimate central moment.
Jeff: Now “Hard Sell” is the first book in the “Jade Harbour Capital” series. “Going Public” is coming out spring of next year in 2022. What can you tease us about what we’ll find there?
Lin: Yeah. So “Going Public” is Ray’s story. And Ray is introduced in “Hard Sell,” and he’s a partner at Jade Harbour. He’s like the problem solver of the company, essentially, whenever there’s something tricky that’s happening and other people don’t know how to fix it, he goes in and he helps solve the problem.
So in “Going Public” Ray falls in love with his assistant Elvin. And Elvin has had a huge crush on Ray for years and years, but he’s never done anything about it because it’s his boss. But in “Going Public,” they’re working on a really difficult project and Ray’s problem-solving tactics are sometimes questionable and this time they land him in trouble with the law and Elvin can’t bail him out.
So then over the course of trying to figure out how to get themselves out of the situation they obviously, they fall in love.
Jeff: As one does when you’re having a big problem, fall in love on the side too, just to complicate it some more.
Lin: Of course, of course.
Jeff: Is there more planned for this series or is it just going to be the two?
Lin: Well, I actually have a short story that’s also within the Jade Harbour universe, it’s coming out in June on the Harlequin website as part of their online reads, it’s called “Closing the Deal.” And it’s about two other characters. Both employed at Jade Harbour. One is Mike, who is the legal counsel at the firm. And the other one is Eddie, who is the controller in the accounting department at the firm. And it’s an office romance. And because it’s a short story, it’s really nice and sweet and it gives you more insight into how Jade Harbour as a firm operates. And so that’s coming out in June. Other than that, I do have other ideas for the series, but it’s a little too early to say whether those will come to fruition.
So we’ll see.
Jeff: That’s exciting that right after “Hard Sell,” we can dive right into a short story and get a little bit more.
Lin: Yes, definitely.
Jeff: What drew you to wanting to tell this story of the people who work at Jade Harbour and the people that they’re falling in love with?
Lin: Like I said, I worked in finance and reading a lot of m/m romance with years. I never really saw too many stories or series set in that kind of environment. There’s a lot of small-town romances. There’s a lot of other sub genres, but I didn’t see that many that were very like, business and corporate heavy – that really leaned into that kind of scene or that type of environment.
And because I had that background, I felt comfortable in and really developing that environment and really developing that kind of universe. Because when people think of like offices and boardrooms, it’s kind of dry, it can kind of feel boring. They’re just like having meeting, after meeting, after meetings and yeah, that’s a lot of what working in corporate world is it’s just like tons of meetings, but there can also, I feel like a lot of subtle drama that happens.
And definitely in my experience in finance, some of the things that happen are kind of blow your mind of like, this is really what happens in the world. And a lot of people don’t realize some of the really out there shenanigans that happen in the corporate world and for someone who was in the industry that would have just been normal, but for anyone else at the industry, they would not believe it if I told them.
So, yeah, I wanted to tap into that and really explore how people in that environment can, deal with all these ups and downs and yeah. Fall in love.
Jeff: Since you were so immersed in that world, did you have moments where you had to pull back how much you were telling? Like, for example, I write sports romance a lot. I’m like how much hockey do I actually put in this book?
Lin: Yeah, definitely. I definitely had to, and my editor at Carina was very much like, I’m not sure what you mean by that. And I was like, yeah, I should just edit that out because it’s not necessarily important for the story. It’s just important for me as someone who knows what happened.
I definitely find that it’s hard when you know it so well. Even with “Going Public,” which I’m working on right now. I’m trying to like, figure out how to work some of these problems that the characters are going through. And I’m like, well, I could do this, but I can’t because the finance world has all these checks and balances to make sure that people don’t do bad things, but I have to make them do bad things and get away with it somehow.
So, it’s definitely having to sort of suspend some of my knowledge to be like, we have to suspend our disbelief.
Jeff: It’s fiction.
Lin: It’s fiction. People aren’t going to notice.
Jeff: What got you started writing?
Lin: I’ve always loved writing. I think it was in grade one when we had a class project and we all had to write short stories and then our teacher bound them into little books.
I don’t think I have that anymore. And I don’t remember what my story was about, but I’ve always just been scribbling, little stories and scenes everywhere. And my old computers are just filled with half-finished stories and half-finished scenes. But in 2015, I was living in Hong Kong for a few months, and I didn’t know very many people there.
So, most of my free time was just spent writing and I ended up posting some of those stories online and got really good comments from my readers. And some of them said that I should try publishing, which at the time felt so impossible. You’re just like a baby writer and the publishing world feels so big and so foreign. But it had always been a dream of mine to get a book published. So in 2017, I sort of decided just to give it a shot and to try to query and submit to different places. And I was really lucky to have some books picked up. So here I am.
Jeff: You make it sound so easy.
Lin: It’s definitely not easy, but I think that if someone is really passionate about writing and really wants to do it, then you just keep at it.
And you just get lucky sometimes and it happens.
Jeff: That’s very, very true. What sent you down the path of m/m romance?
Lin: I actually write all sorts of pairings. And it kinda just so happens that the m/m ones have gotten picked up more than the others. So, I have an m/f book called “Fly with Me” and the hero there is bisexual. And that’s available on Amazon and I’ve got several f/f short stories that have been sitting around ready to publish. I just haven’t found the right time to publish them. So hopefully they’ll come out at some point soon. But I write queer romances with all sorts of pairings and all sorts of sexualities.
And I want to continue writing all different kinds of pairings, and polyamory pairings as well. So yeah, I wouldn’t consider myself just an m/m romance writer, but more across the LGBTQ spectrum.
Jeff: I guess the better question too, would have been what sent you down the path of romance among all of the genres that are available?
Lin: Oh my God, romance is the best genre. It’s the best genre out of all of them. I’m really, really passionate about the happily ever after. And the idea, especially for queer folks, especially for people of color, that they deserve a happily ever after. I think that can be really revolutionary thoughts in sort of society at large, this idea that anyone, regardless of what they look like, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of what their background is – that they deserve to be in happy relationships, regardless of what those relationships look like.
It could be the traditional marriage with children, or it could be some other kind of partnership or it could be in a polyamory relationship. Because everyone’s definition of what makes them happy, can be different. And everyone deserves to find that happiness and that’s something I’m really, really passionate about. And something that… really romance is the only guarantee that the characters in the story get to be happy at the end. And so, yeah, that’s my biggest thing is like, I want to write characters that find happiness at the end of the story. And I think in romance generally, that’s with a romantic partner. But I also think that even when you have a romantic partner that can look different for different people. I want to explore and showcase all those different kinds of HEAs.
Jeff: It’s one of the things I love about your cover and the story of “Hard Sell” because somebody is going to see that in Barnes and Noble, or some other bookstore, and it’s going to resonate with them because it might be a story that they want for themselves. Or they’re going to see a friend of theirs and go this story, or it’s putting a different cover and a different story out there than everything else that’s already on those shelves. And that’s going to be powerful for the people that find it.
Lin: Yeah, thanks. I really appreciate that because that’s definitely what I was going for. So I’m glad that it speaks to that kind of intention.
Jeff: Who are some authors that inspire stories that you write?
Lin: Yeah. So one of my favorite authors is ‘Nathan Burgoine, he’s a Canadian author based in Ottawa. And he writes stories that are so unapologetically queer. He’s really big into the idea of found family and his characters always have a group of people around them, whether it’s biological family or whether it’s chosen family to support and create that community. I really love ‘Nathan’s “Triad” series which isn’t technically romance.
It’s more speculative fiction. But it’s a really cool twist on the vampires and demons and wizards. It’s set in Canada in Ottawa, which I felt really connected with because I’m in Toronto and I’ve been to Ottawa before. It’s really, really queer. And it’s just a fun way of imagining how characters and especially these kinds of supernatural characters can interact with each other. So he’s amazing anyone who’s into queer fiction, into speculative fiction, definitely look up ‘Nathan Burgoine.
And another favorite author of mine is Tanya Chris. And she writes contemporary romance and also erotic romance. I love her characters because they’re so realistic in a way that I find really relatable. The themes in her stories are very feminist in nature. And her characters, even though mostly they’re m/m romance, the characters are very compassionate and very sort of reasonable in a way that sometimes fictional characters aren’t. But I just love that they seem like real people that I could meet walking down the street.
And then they get put in these situations that seem kind of outlandish, but then they react in ways that I’m like, yes, I would react to that way too. I find them super relatable. So, she’s another one of my really favorite authors.
Jeff: And what do you think the trademarks of a Hudson Lin story are?
Lin: Lots of food. Like I mentioned if I can make people hungry while they’re reading, I feel like I’ve done my job. There’s also a lot of planes in a lot of my stories. So, most of my characters hop on a plane at some point in the story. So then, and my stories ended up being very international in nature.
I’ve got a story set in Hong Kong. I’ve got stories set in New York, a little bit in Kenya, all over Europe, all over Canada. So yeah, I love travel and I think that just naturally flows into my stories and you’ll probably need some tissues at some point, because I’ve been told that I make readers cry, which, I’m all about that. I will embrace that. I like that idea. So, you might want to grab some tissues?
Jeff: Good to know cause I’m definitely a crier within books, so I like to be moved in that way. And it’s not always the moment you would expect. I have some, where it’s like just a random thing.
Lin: Yeah. I definitely, when I start getting teary-eyed, I’m just like, Oh, this is going to be a good book.
Jeff: So obviously so far, there’s a lot of queer romance going on. Sounds like most of its contemporary, is there a genre, theme or trope that you want to try one day, but you just haven’t taken the leap on yet?
Lin: Yeah. I keep wanting to write something that’s paranormal or speculative fiction. So maybe with like shifters or something set in the future – science fiction-y.
But it’s so out there, I feel like compared to contemporary, cause like contemporary for me, I just look outside and I can figure out the world, but when you get into made up universes, it’s just like, I got to make up all the rules of how this universe works and it feels so daunting.
I haven’t done it yet, but at some point I would like to venture into that world.
Jeff: Okay. That’s going to be exciting out there one day.
You’ve got other projects besides writing queer romance, and you’re a podcaster as well. Tell us a little bit about the “World of Stories” podcast.
Lin: I started “World of Stories” with a friend of mine in 2018, and it’s a podcast about how stories shape our lives. And we talk about books and movies and TV shows that have diversity in them, or don’t have diversity in them, because sometimes they don’t. And then, we kind of take that from there, we’re in our second season right now.
And we’re exploring how the pandemic has changed everything about the way we live, the way we work, the way we have relationships. And we’re grounding that in the various stories that we’re reading or the media that we’re consuming. A lot of the discussions revolve around things like social justice and inequities and homophobia and transphobia and the patriarchy and capitalism.
So, we talked about what does labor and productivity look like in a pandemic? What does rest look like in a pandemic? What do friendships look like in a pandemic? And we’ve also been able to interview some really cool people, just sort of normal everyday people in our lives, our friends, to see how they’ve been dealing and coping with the pandemic.
And it’s been very cathartic in a sense to be able to kind of vent frustrations a little bit, but also to think about how we might be able to use this moment in history to change the world or at least change our own lives for the better. So, if anyone is interested in listening to that podcast, it’s available on all of the podcasting apps.
Jeff: It’s quite the big topic to tackle. And it’s so great to see it coming from writers inside our genre, to deep dive into something that’s impacted everybody. And will continue to do so. How do you even decide what topics you’re going to tackle in an episode, because there seems like there’s just so many vying for attention?
Lin: Oh yeah. There really are. A lot of it is just the things that Margaret, my co-host and I have been dealing with ourselves. And so, we’re both working from home these days. And so obviously work is a huge thing. And then from there, how do we separate work life versus personal life?
Because when you’re working from home, it’s very hard to separate those two things. So that’s kind of where we started with the season. And then as we are reading books or watching TV or like things happening in the news, that’s kind of where we draw our inspiration from. And so, we have like a huge, huge list of topics and we had to like to fill in various things that we’re seeing in our day to day lives. And once we sort of hit a critical mass of like, okay, there’s lots of talk about with this particular topic. Let’s try to dive in. Let’s try to pinpoint one angle to talk about friendship, for example. And how do you have friends in a pandemic when we’re all in lockdown?
At least in Toronto, we’ve been in lockdown since forever and we can’t actually see anybody. So how do we maintain those friendships? And then it’s like, what is actually a friendship? What does that mean when you, you can’t see each other on a regular basis? So it’s big, but we’re drawing a lot from our own experiences and the things that affect us.
And we’re hoping that if it’s affecting us, then it’s probably affecting a lot of other people as well.
Jeff: The other project that just really drew my attention and I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of reading a number of them is the Queer of Colour site. So many incredible stories there and ones that need to be out there so that people understand more. You always see that that meme, the idea of you don’t know somebody else’s story, so you should tread kindly. You’re really uncovering amazing stories on that site. How did you come to start that?
Lin: At the beginning of 2020, I got involved with the project called Open Secrets and it was based in Toronto. And the goal of the project was to explore the untold stories of Toronto’s LGBTQ community.
And the tricky thing with that project was it was limited scope. It had a set deadline and it had limited resources for what it could do, but I felt that its mission was so important that it needed to be expanded. It needed to tell all of the stories that are untold and there’s no way it could have done that within the scope of that project.
So that’s when I decided to take that idea and sort of run with it. And that became Queer of Colour. And I interview queer people of color, mostly in Toronto, because that’s where I am. And they’re just normal everyday people. And we talk about their identities within the queer community. We talk about how their families came to be in Canada.
We talk about their work and their hopes for the future and some of the struggles that they’ve encountered and the lessons that they’ve learned along the way. And I’ve been really, really blessed to have these conversations with the storytellers who have been so generous with their time and with their stories.
Like you said, some of them are super personal. And I think that a lot of them are people who understand the power of storytelling and they understand how necessary it is to have these stories in the world for others to read and to know, because sharing that kind of vulnerability is what builds community. It helps to inspire people. It helps to empower them to go for the things that they want to go for in life. And I think most importantly, it helps people know that they’re not alone. That there could be a young person who’s from an immigrant family who is struggling with their gender identity or their sexual identity.
And they feel like they’re the only person in the world who’s ever been in that situation, but they’re not. There’s plenty of people who have gone through similar questioning and struggles. And so to be able to read those stories and to feel like, okay, well, other people have made it through this, so maybe I can make it through this as well is super, super important.
I feel like I haven’t really had to do too much. I’ve just sort of asked people, like, tell me about your family. Tell me about how you fit into the LGBTQ community. And then it’s all these stories just come out. And so, I feel really blessed to be able to work on that project.
Jeff: It’s wonderful to see projects like that out in the world and, being actively sought to get these stories and tell them, especially in the times we live in right now, in the middle of 2021 with everything going on.
Lin: I know
Jeff: It’s really great to see stories like that because it sheds a light on who some of these things impact. We really don’t think about too much because we don’t necessarily know these people.
Lin: Yeah, definitely
Jeff: Kudos to you for doing that.
Lin: Thank you.
Jeff: What would you say to somebody who had a germ of an idea like you had and then trying to execute it? Because there’s having the idea, then executing on it. What was that like for you to kind of go from, I want to do this, to doing it? And what advice might you give to people who want to take a similar path on a project?
Lin: It’s terrifying. I understand that where the hesitation comes from. I had this idea and I sat on it for a really long time before doing anything about it.
And I think at the end of the day, you kinda just have to do it. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it, but ultimately, I found that I just had to sort of suck it up and do it. And even though I wasn’t sure the kind of reception that I would get, or if anyone would want to talk to me, I just had to go out there and ask and say like, this is my idea… does anyone want to work with me on it?
I think when you’re very clear about your intentions of, this is what I’m hoping to achieve with this project, then people can see that and they understand that and they’re willing to work with you. So even with like the storytellers, a lot of them were like Guinea pigs, basically when I had to feel like I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing, but I’m going to give it a shot.
And they were all just super kind and very understanding that like, this is a new thing. We’re not sure where it’s going to go, but let’s give it a try because the goal of the project is something that they see value in. So, like for example, a lot of the interviews I had were done last year and it took me six months, eight months, 10 months, by the time that the stories actually made it onto the website. And I went back to the storytellers and was like, I’m so sorry. It took me so long to like, actually get this up. And they’re all like, yeah, no problem. And were just happy to be a part of it. And so, yeah, a lot of it is, is just sucking it up and being like, it’s okay if it doesn’t work, it’s okay if it fails, but I’m going to give it a shot and see what happens.
Jeff: That’s awesome. These inspire me to see these, and I hope it inspires some of our listeners as well to take the leap and do a project and bring it out into the world.
Lin: Yeah, for sure.
Jeff: As we move towards wrapping up, what’s a book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our listeners to put onto their TBR.
Lin: So, the thing is that I have not been reading a lot of romance lately with the pandemic. It’s just been so hard to dive into a book. And I know that some other people have used fiction and romance as a way of escape, but for me, it just like, it just wasn’t working for some reason. So, I’ve been actually reading a lot of nonfiction.
But one of the m/m romances I’ve read recently is ” Midlife Crisis” by Audra North. It’s been out for a while now. But it’s about a middle-aged man who is coming out finally after having been married for many years, has two adult children, and his wife passes away. And so, then he finally finds the courage to explore his sexuality. And it was one of those books where I started tearing up in the middle of the book and by the end I was balling. So again, to me, that’s a sign of a really good book. So that’s “Midlife Crisis” by Audra North.
And then a nonfiction book that I’ve really enjoyed recently is called “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo and for anyone who’s interested in social justice and a lot of the issues that have been coming up in the news recently. I found that this is a really, really good book. It talks about racism and it confronts head-on some of the really uncomfortable feelings that can come out of talking about something as divisive as racism, but she does it with a lot of humor and she does it in a way that’s not judgemental.
And so, I think it’s for anyone who cares about those types of issues. It was a really good book, both in terms of confronting personal biases, but also how to talk to other people about these issues in a way that’s productive and not just argumentative. So that’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo.
Jeff: Two really excellent picks there. Thank you for those. So, we’ve talked a few things that are coming up. There’s “Going Public” in the spring of 2022. There’s the short story coming in the universe in June. Anything you could share about what comes through the rest of 2021?
Lin: I mentioned that I’ve got the two f/f short stories that I’m hoping that I can publish by the end of the year.
One of them is a part of my “Coffee House” short stories. I’ve got a number of short stories set in Toronto coffee houses. And this one is another one in that series, featuring two owners of coffee houses that have previously been featured in the short stories. And they’ve got a rivalry going on and they’re both trying to fundraise for a charity event.
And so, they’ve got a rivalry fundraising thing going. And then the other f/f short story is about a dragon boat team where it’s the captain of the dragon boat team and a new recruit on the dragon boat team. And as they’re practicing and racing, they ended up falling in love. So hopefully those two will be out by the end of the year.
There’s “Going Public.” There’s “Closing the Deal,” that’ll be online. And then to be honest, I have a lot of ideas. But I don’t know what I’m going to be working on next. I think it’s one of those, like I just gotta get to the end of one project and then figure out what I’m going to do next. I don’t know. It’s a wait and see, it’ll be a surprise.
Jeff: But sometimes those are the most fun when they’re the surprise.
Lin: Yeah, exactly.
Jeff: So how can people keep up with you online to find out what all of these things do start to come out.
Lin: Yeah. So my website is hudsonlin.com and from there you can reach everything. On social media, I’m on the Twitter and Facebook and Instagram at HudsonLinWrites it’s the same handle for all three. And then if people are curious about Worlds of Stories, they can visit worldofstories.org for all of the episodes. And then if they’re curious about Queer of Colour, then they can go to queerofcolur.ca and that’s color with a U because I’m Canadian.
Jeff: Well Lin, thank you so much for being with us. This has been wonderful. We wish you all of this success as”Hard Sell” releases this week, and with all these other projects too, it’s been really a delight.
Lin: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been wonderful chatting with you.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the shownotes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. And as always, the shownotes page has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks again to Lin for taking the time to talk with us about “Hard Sell” and her other incredible projects. As I said, during our conversation, the Queer of Colour website and the “World of Stories” podcast are such great and important projects to put into the world. And I’m so glad that she’s doing that. I highly encourage everyone to check those out, as well as grabbing this new book.
I also want to encourage you to read the article that Lin wrote for the Frolic website. It’s called “The Revolutionary Nature of Romance” and it is such a terrific read. I want to give you my favorite quote, “Romance challenges the validity of the mainstream narrative that paints the lives of marginalized folks as dire and defeated. Romance says, ‘sure, life can suck, but we are not defined by how much it sucks.’ Romance empowers us to take control of our own stories, to be the hero, and to find an ending that is the fulfillment of our wildest dreams.” Definitely everybody check that out. It is a wonderful, wonderful piece. And thanks to Lin for writing that and putting it out into the world. And you’ll find a link to it in the show notes.
Will: All right, everyone I think that’s going to do it for now. Coming up on Thursday in episode 312. It’s the May Big Gay Fiction Book Club episode, featuring our discussion of Ari McKay’s “Breaking Bonds.”
Jeff: I’m loving the “Walker Boys” series so so much. And this one was like the perfect springtime read as we go off to this rustic resort.
Will: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time everyone, please stay strong, be safe and above all else keep turning those pages and keep reading
Jeff: Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Our original theme music is composed by Daryl Banner.