Kris Bryant interviews Elle Spencer:
I like to jump on Amazon and check out the Top 100 Lesbian Romances every so often, especially right before I have a book coming out. I kept seeing the book Casting Lacey pop up for several months at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. Thousands of lesbians couldn’t be wrong, so I bought it and read it. It was fantastic. Then I was, like, who is Elle Spencer? There was very little information about her and even though I can respect that people want to be private, I also like a challenge. A mutual friend knew her and filled me in on the basics. Yes, she’s real. Yes, she’s that good. Yes, she’s super nice. Next thing I knew, Bold Strokes Books introduced Elle Spencer as a new writer, and I was stoked. I was very happy to welcome Elle into our family. Casting Lacey is not only very successful, but it was a 2018 Goldie finalist. I’m almost done reading her newest release, The Road to Madison, and I know it will be a smash hit. It checks so many different boxes that every reader will love it.
Hello, Elle. Thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to chat for a bit. Why did you go from self-publishing to working with Bold Strokes Books?
I self-published my first two books—the novella Forget Her Not and the full-length novel Casting Lacey. Both of them did really well, but when the opportunity to sign with Bold Strokes Books presented itself, I jumped at the chance. It felt like the right fit for me. Turns out, it was. I’ve gotten a ton of support and I’m surrounded by people who challenge me to grow as a writer.
On the ClexaCon panel in Las Vegas, Love Between the (Book) Covers, I found out that you wrote a ton of fanfic before you ever thought about writing a novella or a full-length manuscript. Tell us how you made the transition from fanfic to your own brand.
My own brand. That’s awesome. I never think of it that way, but I should start. Then I can say things like, “I can’t do the dishes because it’s not really part of my brand.”
As for fanfic, that’s really been an awesome gift to the world, hasn’t it? For aspiring writers, it’s a great starting point. You have access to a dedicated, passionate audience. You have characters that are already beloved that you can build your stories around. For me, it was a very free and open space for expression. That isn’t to say that fanfic readers aren’t tough on the writers sometimes. Like I said, they’re passionate about their fandoms and they care deeply about what you, as a writer, choose to do with their favorite characters.
At the same time I was writing fanfic, I was also writing some original stories too, just for myself, never planning to publish them. But with a little (okay a lot) of encouragement from my wife, I eventually mustered up the courage to self-publish Forget Her Not. The rest is history.
What’s your favorite part about writing? Is it the research? Building the relationship?
Definitely building the relationship. I’m such a romantic, but I also love the gray areas of life. It’s not always an easy road. And sometimes it’s not a road at all. Sometimes it’s a roller-coaster ride on the way to a HEA. One of those upside-down roller coasters. With a corkscrew turn. And no seat belts.
Are you one of those cruel writers who likes to keep couples apart or do you try everything to help them discover one another?
Cruel may be too strong a word, but I do love my angst. Okay, fine. Some people have called me cruel. It’s just that I love exploring what gets in the way of two people being together. I’m as interested in the things people don’t say as I am in what they do say. And I’m fascinated by choices people make that aren’t in their own best interests. My characters have a lot working against them—sometimes it’s internal and sometimes it’s external, but there are demons either way. It’s obviously more drama-filled than real life, thank God, but there’s still some truth to it. Everyone’s got baggage and things they need to work through to find happiness. That’s how it is for my characters too.
I like to work my previous book titles into my current WIP. My editor rolls her eyes, but you can find most of my titles in most of my books. What’s one little thing that you do that you are waiting for a reader to find? Like an Easter egg of sorts?
I did put a couple of Easter eggs in my first two books. Only someone who’s read my previous fanfic would recognize them. Also, my wife is a huge New York Yankees fan and my best friend is a big Red Sox fan. So you might see a baseball reference here or there in my books.
I’ve known you for almost a year now and I have to say, it’s been a real treat watching you slowly come out of your shell. How are you handling the switch from complete privacy to being in the spotlight more as a BSB writer?
Aw, thanks. It’s been quite a ride! Attending events as a BSB author and having the opportunity to meet readers and to connect with them in person has been an amazing experience. It’s their support that fuels me to keep going on those days when the words are slow to come. Writing has brought so many great things into my life and BSB is no different. I feel very blessed.
And I think you’re right about coming out of my shell. I was definitely nervous at first. I was so used to living in anonymity that the idea of putting myself out there was totally nerve racking. I guess I just thought there’d be pressure to be a certain way or something. But you know how they say 99 percent of the things you worry about never happen? It turns out I really didn’t have anything to worry about. Except reading a sex scene out loud in front of people. That’s still horrifying to me. Please don’t make me do it.
You have the best, most supportive wife in the world. How has she helped you deal with the writing world—the good, the bad, and the ugly?
I do! She's amazing and I know how lucky I am. She helps me every step of the way, and I absolutely would not be where I am today without her steady encouragement and constant love and support. She’s actually a business writer, so we talk through ideas a lot, as well as the occasional grammar question. Neither one of us will ever remember the difference between lay and lie though. But hey, at least we’ve found each other and we can live together in blissful ignorance.
How are you handling your success?
When I self-published my first book, I wasn't sure anyone would want to read it. It took seven days for that first review to show up on Amazon. Seven. Long. Days. And now, I just feel so grateful for every reader who purchases one of my books. I know it’s a lot to ask people to invest their money and their time. I don't take that for granted.
If you could do this all over again, what would you change? What would you keep the same?
I don’t think I’d change anything. Every phase of this writing journey has prepared me for the next, and I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be, with the right people surrounding me at this point in my life. #noregrets
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I love this question so much because we just moved to Palm Springs, CA, full-time. I love our new house, even though I’m currently living in renovation hell. But seriously, this is where I want to be, in this house, living this life, with an awesome woman I get to call Mrs. Elle Spencer. Or if you prefer, Elle Spencer’s Wife.
What is one thing that nobody knows about you?
My toolbox is my prized possession. And I’ve recently realized that I am in serious need of a tool belt.
What is a special talent you have—non-book related?
Keeping this strictly PG ;-), I can assemble anything from IKEA in record time, no leftover pieces.
- Favorite food? Breakfast cereal
- Favorite alcoholic beverage? Lemon Drop
- Favorite board game? I’m more of a puzzle girl.
- Favorite slot machine? My game is video poker, but I do love me some Dragon Link.
- Favorite body part on a woman? Do I have to choose? In that case, I choose lips.
- Favorite color? Blue
- Favorite movie? Star Wars
- Kris Bryant the author, or Kris Bryant the baseball player? That's a softball question. See what I did there? Kris Bryant the author, all season long.
Thank you, Elle, for spending time with us so we got to know you a little bit better!