This week’s interviewee is Lynn Galli, one of the pioneer indie authors of lesbian fiction. Lynn is the author of the popular Virginia Clan series and the Aspen Friends series, and she also penned several standalone romances.
Lynn has a wonderful sense of humor that shines through in her books as well as in her interview answers, and she did something fun and unexpected with this interview too: she interviewed me right back! Those will be the parts of the interview in blue, so you can more easily keep track of who’s saying what.
Lynn also has another surprise for you: She’s offering her novella Out of Order for free for a few days, so don’t miss the link at the end of this post.
But first, on to the interview!
Welcome, Lynn. Please tell us a little about Out of Order, the book you are offering for free today.
It’s a light-hearted romance novella set among the inner workings of a municipality with a little bribery scandal tossed in. No angsty insecurities, drama-filled misunderstandings, or unresolved issues with tempting exes, just a lively and real connection between two independent women who weren’t looking for love.
Out of Order started out as a short story. What made you decide to expand on Lindsay’s story?
Demanding, impatient, unsatisfied readers (not that there’s anything wrong with them!). Lindsay’s short was part of an anthology I published with Willa and Quinn’s romantic start. Readers badgered and asked for more of Willa and Quinn (because I’d stupidly hinted their short story was part of an unpublished book.) So, my spineless self relented and rewrote much of the unpublished book to give Willa and Quinn stalkers their due. That left Lindsay and Suzanne out on their own in an ocean of now blank pages no longer filling out their anthology. I had to do right by them, too.
Your latest novel, Speak Low, is set in Scotland. Have you ever been to Scotland? If you have, what impressed you most? If you haven’t, what kind of research did you do to get the setting right?
Haven’t been there yet, but I’m hoping to visit this fall. (Of course, I said the same thing last fall and ended up going to a destination wedding instead. A. Destination. Wedding. Who does that to their family or friends? And why? Really, why? A wedding that costs you money to attend? For a cynic like me, that’s just wrong, and yet, I had to go to avoid being considered an asshole if I didn’t. Anyway, I spent my vacation time last year on that. This year, no one I know is getting married, so fingers crossed that I’ll get to choose my own vacation.
For research on Edinburgh, Google maps is a horribly invasive but useful tool to get a glimpse of street views. Mix in several (or several dozen if that doesn’t make me sound too nerdy) fiction books set in Scotland, including Val McDermid’s addictively disturbing cold case series, and add all the BBC, ITV, and STV shows set in Scotland, and you can get a pretty good feel for the place. Plus, the story’s main backdrop is a university campus. They tend to be pretty universal throughout the world. I hope I did the country justice.
Question for Jae: Did you travel any part of the Oregon Trail before writing your gem, Backwards to Oregon? You brought the terrain and feel of the journey to life without having traveled it in a wagon.
Jae: Actually, I wrote Backwards to Oregon before I ever set foot in the US. I have visited the end of the Oregon Trail in 2014, but when I did my research, I relied on nonfiction books, old newspapers, documentaries, maps, and cookbooks from the 1850s. The most useful research material were diaries from emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail and the letters they sent east to their loved ones. They included fascinating details about life in covered wagons and the dangers of the long journey west.
Which of your books would you say is your biggest success and why?
Probably Wasted Heart because it’s my first. After writing manuscripts in the suspense and mystery genres for many years and trying to get noticed by mainstream publishers, Wasted Heart was my second attempt at a romance. My first attempt resulted in a complicated and unsatisfying contract negotiation with a lesfic publisher. If I hadn’t written another romance while going through that, I might have abandoned the whole publishing endeavor. Seeing WH in print, on sale, and knowing it was being read by someone other than me, it felt like a decent accomplishment.
You’ve been one of the pioneers of self-publishing in the lesbian fiction community. How has indie publishing changed since you started out?
Pioneer sounds so weighty, especially since I never intended to self-publish, much less start an indie publishing company. In 2006, there weren’t many writers going out on their own in this genre. Hell, there weren’t many lesfic titles available back then either. E-books were virtually nonexistent and only available through the publisher’s website. Kindle, Apple books, Smashwords, Kobo, and Google books didn’t launch for another couple years, and most offered lousy royalties to start. (Is this beginning to sound like one of those I-had-to-walk-ten-miles-a-day-through-four-feet-of-snow-to-get-to-school kind of story? Well, too bad, suffer through it.) As for the indie publishing industry, it didn’t exist. If you wanted to self-publish, most writers chose either vanity presses or POD publishers because ISBNs were not sold individually, cover making and interior formatting software was pricey, and distribution options were limited without being attached to a publishing company. It took another few years before those resources were available and cost-effective, which allowed authors to break away from the POD package model to publish independently.
Today, self-published authors can find a range of affordable services with POD publishers. Indie authors who want more flexibility can form their own publishing companies with reasonable startup expenses. Or many in our genre forgo print publishing and choose digital-only distributors/retailers for their titles. For writers who have the ability to promote their own titles, which is necessary whether or not you publish on your own, taking the self/indie publishing route is often more lucrative than choosing a publishing house. Going through the publishing process independently isn’t for everyone, but it can be very satisfying.
In regard to sales, more than half of the lesbian fiction books on Amazon’s Top 100 are self or indie published these days. When I started, you could count on one hand the number of self-published titles available, and maybe one made it onto the Top 100. Probably the biggest change in indie publishing is how it’s greatly responsible for allowing a wider variety of authors to offer more content in all genres, not just ours.
You have a fantastic, smart-ass sense of humor. (Yes, that’s a compliment). Readers, if you haven’t already, check out this hilarious Q&A on Lynn’s website. Lynn, which of your characters is most like you in the sense of humor department?
Thank you for that. Smart-ass is my default setting, but I’ve found it’s not always appreciated and certainly not 24/7, which is why none of my characters are anywhere near as snarky or flippant as my Q&A responses. With the Q&A, I get to select only the questions to which I can provide a smart-ass reply before posting. You can’t really do that in everyday life; although it might be fun to tell someone, “Nope, I can’t think of a humorous response to that, so move along, peasant. I will not be conversing with you today.”
If I had to pin someone with the smart-ass label, I’d go with either Molly from Life Rewired, who is both funny and has a nice sense of humor, or Vega from Clichéd Love, whose humor is more biting due to the premise of the book. My sense of humor isn’t as good natured as Molly’s, nor as sharpened as Vega’s. It’s somewhere in between.
Any fun facts you care to share about yourself?
Well, let me think. I’ve never climbed Mount Everest, played ice hockey in Madison Square Garden, herded llamas or alpacas, made a wallet out of duct tape, escaped from a straight jacket while dangling upside down over a water tank, broken up a drug-smuggling ring at the border, caught a fish with my bare hands, attempted to follow Julia Child’s recipe for beef bourguignon, or competed in anything with the word “extreme” in its title. However, I have climbed Lombard Street, played basketball at Key Arena, herded cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and small children, used duct tape to seal a leaky pipe, gotten out of a jacuzzi wearing a clingy swim suit, inadvertently broken up a drug deal being conducted by a neighbor, caught a foul ball with my bare hands, watched Meryl Streep play Julia Child, and feel the word “extreme” is overused when it comes to competitions. Oh, and I write, which is not so much a fun fact as it is a boring fact that produces something fun.
If your friends and family got a call telling them you were arrested, with no further explanation, what would they assume you had done?
Oh, wicked question, Jae. I should so lie to keep readers from thinking less of me, but as you can probably tell by my Q&A, most of my family and friends would not be surprised to learn I’d done any number of things to get myself arrested. I think their first assumption would be I’d mouthed off to the point that an officer would have no choice but to cuff me to get me to stop with the smart-ass commentary. After that, a wide range of possibilities would come to mind, including but not limited to: money laundering for anyone other than my drug-dealing, former neighbor, siphoning funds from an alt-right SuperPAC to organizations like Planned Parenthood and HRC, stealing a cat from a cat hording neighbor, hacking the website of a certain fast-food chicken place to rename all of their sandwiches to something overtly gay-themed, selling birth control pills on the sly to the employees of another world-ruining craft corporation that somehow won a Supreme Court case to allow them to follow their religious beliefs despite being a public corporation and not a person, or hauling off and smacking any number of irksome people who, well, irk me. I cannot confirm nor deny my participation in any of these allegedly criminal activities for which I may or may not have been arrested at any time over the past year, year and a half.
Question for Jae: What about you? You seem like you have a bit of devious in you.
Jae: I think my family and friends would assume I got arrested because of some accidental stupidity on my part, not so much because of some clever scheme. I have a horrible (or rather non-existent) sense of orientation, so they would probably think I got myself in trouble by accidentally entering a no-access area of an airport or something like that.
What types of books do you like to read? Any favorites you can recommend?
Mysteries are my favorite and have been since I was a kid. Paranormal, thrillers, suspense, romance, and fantasy for fiction. History is my addiction of choice for nonfiction. You can’t go wrong with anything by Kim Harrison, Donald E. Westlake, Lisa Scottoline, Helen Harper, MaryJanice Davidson, Thomas Perry, Matthew Reilly, and Zoë Sharp.
Top of my list in lesfic are Gun Brooke, D. Jackson Leigh, and Jae, and I’m not just saying that because it’s your interview. I don’t even bother reading the descriptions before purchasing your books. Others I like are A.E. Radley, AJ Adair, Cara Malone, G Benson, Georgia Beers, Jenny Frame, Melissa Brayden, Nell Stark, Rachel Spangler, Ronica Black, Tracey Richardson, and VK Powell just to name a few, or a dozen. Oh, and I just discovered Lee Winter by reading a four-book series of which she was one of the authors. I liked it so much I promptly bought all her others. Stumbling across an author through a random connection to another book or because of an excellent narrator opening my ears to other author’s audiobooks is a wonderful treasure hunt.
When’s your next book coming out, and what are you working on right now?
That’s probably the best thing about being an indie publisher, no deadlines, just pressure from readers. I hope to have something out in late summer, but no guarantees. Unfortunately, I have a RJ, which often gets in the way of finishing books. Usually summers are light on the work schedule, but recently, special projects get thrown my way and tangle up all my free time.
Currently, three unfinished manuscripts are sitting on my laptop. A paranormal mystery is slowly being transformed into a paranormal romance but keeps getting pushed to the side for other stories that pop into my head. Half of a new Aspen book taunts me every time I sit down to write, but I can’t seem to jump back into it. For now, I’m trying to concentrate on finishing the next in the Scottish Charm series. We’ll see how long that holds my attention.
Question for Jae: What are you working on right now, and do you jump around from story to story like I do?
Jae: Isn’t it interesting how differently authors work? I prefer to focus on one set of characters at a time and to really dive deep into their personalities and backstories, so I never work on several books at the same time. Well, other than having several books in different production stages, that is. At the moment, I’m celebrating the release of my latest romance, Not the Marrying Kind, and working on the first draft of a romance novel titled The Roommate Agreement. It’s about Steph, Claire’s comedian sister from Just for Show.
Where can your readers find out more about you and your books?
My house or my workplace. Stop by anytime. That won’t be weird or creepy or stalkerish at all. Most of my readers know I’m an open book, like having my picture taken, adore posting all my comings and goings online, and cherish sharing every personal thing about myself on every social media platform. For new readers, the best bet is to check out my website for the latest (or any) news about me and my books.
Thanks, Jae, this has been fun. I can now add to my list of fun facts about myself: I enjoy interviews with Jae.
Get your free copy of Out of Order by Lynn Galli
Lynn is offering her novella Out of Order for free for a few days!
The book will be free on Amazon only until Monday, April 22, 2019, 11:59 p.m. PDT, so make sure you download it right away.
Oh, and while you’re on Amazon: You might want to pre-order my brand-new romance Not the Marrying Kind, which tells the story of Ashley, a small-town florist who falls in love with an easygoing 6-foot baker while they work a lesbian wedding together.
Happy reading, everyone!