In the Spotlight with Bayou Book Junkie ~ Author Edie Danford
Hi Edie Danford and welcome to Bayou Book Junkie. Edie has been writing YA/NA LGBTQIA tales since April 2015, when Uncovering Ray, book 1 in the Ellery College series came out and on November 3, 2016 she debuts her first adult MM tale, Tru Smoke, book 1 in her Ember Peak series. Here at BBJ, we’re fans of both series, and lucky for us, Edie will have book 2, Tru Burn, out on December 7, 2016, followed by Tru Flame on February 14, 2017 – yay!!!!!!!!
BBJ: Please tell us all about yourself, Edie, what started you off on your writing journey and why you chose to start with NA/YA in the LGBTQIA romance genre, followed by adult MM romance?
Edie: I’m one of those people who began reading romance young. When I was around ten or twelve, my mom told me which paperback rack in the romance section of the library would be okay to try, and I proceeded to read every Barbara Cartland and Avalon medical romance available—don’t know why, but those were the two offerings on that particular rack!
After becoming a genuine fan, I told my mom that someday I wanted to be the person who wrote the cool, catchy descriptions on the book covers. Interestingly, I didn’t seriously think about writing the stuff inside the covers—maybe Barbara Cartland’s picture, complete with jewels, furs, and precious lapdogs--made me feel as though that would never happen? :-)
Well, my first profession turned out to be librarian—so I got to be the one in charge of those library racks!
It wasn’t until I moved to gorgeous Vermont with my husband and two young kids, that I explored the idea of writing. In 2006, I saw a publishing call for erotic romance, and after a few rounds on the chopping block (my first book was 500 pages long—eep!), I got published using a super-sekrit pen name that I will never, ever reveal (actually, I’d probably cave quickly under almost any form of torture :-)). I ended up taking a few years off for various reasons, and I worked on a couple projects that didn’t come to fruition.
The book I finally completed, and that roused me to feel brave again about writing (and, really, so many other things), was Uncovering Ray, the first book in my Ellery College series. I’ve always lived in college/university towns and I find the ebb and flow of college life, along with the choices and decisions that come up in our late teens and early twenties, to be really inspiring and rich with emotion.
The idea for a Western series has been kicking around for years. My in-laws live in one of the most romantic and sublime places imaginable—just a few miles from Rocky Mountain National Park—and every visit to Colorado spurs story ideas. Don’t know how many times I’ve been driving a scenic road and wondered: Who lives behind that cool-as-heck ranch sign and up that winding drive into the mountains?
BBJ: So, you like jackalopes. Jackalopes. Yes, this one had to be googled (leading to hodags, Big Foot, snallygaster, Beast of Busco, White River Monster…!) Why Jackalopes?
Edie: LOL! Snallygasters and Beasts of Busco? Those are new ones on me. (Makes note to google later.) I love urban myths, country myths, tall tales, fantastic creatures (esp of the variety that you might actually see if you pay close attention!) —and, really, most things that you might find homages to in kitschy souvenir stores and truckstops. I took a lot of road trips in college and in my twenties, and I think it was probably in Wyoming that I fell for jackalopes. I also collected postcards, and there are some classic jackalope postcards, for sure. In fact, as I type, there is a jackalope from Jackson Hole staring at me from his spot on the wall. Hmmm—why do his eyes look so glassy?
BBJ: And, are you a pantster or a plotter Edie, and how long on average does it take you to write a book? What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Edie: I’m basically a pantster. I do make outlines, but almost always diverge from them in hilariously dramatic ways. Some books I’ve written relatively quickly (in 3-4 months?), some books have taken more than a year. The most difficult part of writing for me lately is tuning out the noise from social media and the business side of publishing—which can, for me, be rousing & inspiring, but can often be distracting and anxiety-producing (lots of times I simply have to turn it off, so that’s why I’m not very prolific on Facebook, twitter, etc.).
BBJ: So each of the books in the Ellery College series is a standalone, and yet you’ve written about Jones and Tru as a mini-series. Why, not that we’re complaining?! Also, you say that each book ends in a HFN, but having read book 1, it feels as if the leads’ HEA has started. Hmm. Could that mean you’ve got something amazingly romantic planned for book 3, which comes out on Valentine’s Day? Please?
Edie: There have been so many romances I’ve read where I’ve longed to know what happens after “The End,” regardless of how amazeballs that last “I love you” was, or how satisfying the fade-to-black happened to be. So Ember Peak addresses this sort of longing I’ve often had to find out “what happens next”. I guess by strict definition (is there a strict definition?) the trilogy encompasses one long journey to an HEA—so the first two books might be HFN and the last is the official HEA? :-) By using those labels, I was mostly trying to reassure readers that there weren’t cliffhangers, and that there would be some kind of a satisfying resolution in each book. :-)
A few years back, I started a version of Tru and Jones based on a plot point that will now be a part of Tru Flame (book 3). But the further I got into that initial manuscript, the more I realized that I wanted to delve into the story that happened before Tru and Jones make the big choice they have to make in book 3. I wanted to explore how their relationship evolved—how did they actually become a couple? How did they figure out they could actually be together as lovers or maybe something more? Then, when I went back and started writing from the beginning of their relationship, it turned out I had a lot to say about how things went down. And I realized it would make the most sense to break their saga into three parts.
And, yes, I always have something amazingly romantic planned for my books! :-)
BBJ: Tell us what inspired the Tru series and characters? Can you define that certain je ne sais quoi that already has us impatient for the rest of the series, that makes them so unique and special to you? And, how did you manage to write Tru so that readers (mostly likely) won’t hate (or possibly want to smack) him for how he called the shots? (Confession time: I did, for about 5 seconds, want to smack him for not accepting Jones’s love and devotion!)
Edie: I grew up watching classic Western movies, and I think those definitely stoked a few story-telling flames in my writer’s soul. And, as I mentioned, I cut my reader’s teeth on old-school romance. Over the years, I’ve read thousands of romances from every subgenre I could get my hands on, and, one thing I know for sure, we romance readers love our tropes! After writing a few Ellery College books—which were on the angsty side and allowed me to explore twists on standard tropes—Tru and Jones gave me the chance to have some trope-a-licious fun. So in this series I’ve got cowboys, billionaires, May-December romance, friends-to-lovers, secretary-boss (sorta-kinda), and the basic strong-and-silent-type alpha hero.
Of course, I’m me, so even when I’m trying to be trope-a-licious, I tend to be a little quirky. My critique partner Annabeth Albert (who excels at writing beta heroes) and I often laugh about how even when I set out to write a big-time alpha-dominated scene, my characters end up kissing.
So maybe that’s how I managed with Tru? His default mode is almost always kissing. He thinks it, even when he feels he can’t act on it. And he genuinely, deeply loves Jones. I really tried to show that love on the page.
BBJ: What’s your fave scent on a guy, and fave perfume?
Edie: I’ve lived in rural Vermont for the last 11 years. So I’m going with woodsmoke, fresh-cut hay, and maple as fave scents and perfumes.
BBJ: Describe a typical day in your life, Edie, and what you do to relax.
Edie: I get my boys off to school, I walk my dogs, and then I write, edit, and/or library. Baking and cooking and dog-hiking and kid-homeworking and rehabbing my dilapidated antique house are all necessities in my typical day, but they’re also relaxing for the most part, and I tend to do that stuff with my husband, who always makes me laugh. But reading and watching old movies are the ultimate ways for me to relax.
BBJ: Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, the author’s name, reviews or something else?
Edie: All the things you mention can for sure capture my attention, but I always read a sample before buying. And I’m willing to sample books that might not have the most amazing covers, blurbs, reviews—there might be just one of those elements in place that triggers an impulse to try. Voice and characterization are the most important factors for me, and I have to read at least a few pages before I can get a sense of that. I also work as a copy editor, so clean copy excites me as well (but it totally doesn’t have to be perfect—perfection is too damn hard to achieve)!
BBJ: Can you see yourself collaborating with any other authors?
Edie: Sure. Don’t know who or how it might work, but I’d consider it for the right project.
BBJ: Name the top 5 things on your bucket list.
Edie: Well, I don’t have a bucket list, tbh. But if I did, I think things that might make my top 5 would be: 1) to drive a 69 Dodge Charger very fast (I don’t want to tie myself down to a specific speed because I might freak once I hit about 110 mph); 2) visit St. Peter’s Basilica; 3) pet a bear (I stole that one from my son’s list); 4) learn to surf; and 5) do a cross-country trek with the fam, an Airstream, and absolutely no schedule.
BBJ: Where can readers interact with you in person in 2017?
Edie: At this point I don’t have plans to go to any conferences or signings in 2017. But that might change! If so, I’ll let folks know via Facebook and my site.
BBJ: Do your friends and family know you write about LGBTQIA characters? Are you open about it, or is it a secret entrusted to a few?
Edie: I’m open about it. The diversity and creativity of my friends and family has always been an inspiration, motivation, and support.
BBJ: Who’s your rock, Edie? That one person who always has your back, who’s always there for you?
Edie: My husband.
BBJ: And now, the quick-fire round:
Matt Bomer or Tom Hiddleston?
Tom Hiddleston (although I was kinda baffled by Hiddleswift—gah).
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Hanging on a Maine beach & flying a kite on a sunny day in September (so dogs can be with us) with family & friends while eating lobster rolls and drinking icy beer.
Eat in or dine out?
What makes you happiest, and saddest?
Love makes me happiest. Bigotry makes me saddest.Finally, what’s your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is homemade caramel.