Today my Author Spotlight guest is the fabulous Layla Reyne who’s here to talk about her adrenaline-fueled romances, being a foodie and how her Southern family, and love of car chases, influenced her writing.
So, over to you Layla…
First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m Layla. I’m a multi-published, hybrid author of romantic suspense and contemporary romance. I’m also a full-time juggler, balancing writing with two other day jobs, a scientist husband, three dogs, and a ton of cookbooks I dive into on the regular. Originally from North Carolina, I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area now, never too far from the coast and still a die-hard Tar Heel fan.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I love a good twisty plot, complicated characters, unresolved sexual tension, and big found families. That cocktail translates to books – often trilogies – that are more plot heavy with a side of slow burn romance. And lots of spin-off potential!
Describe your books in only three words.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on several projects. Helena’s and Holt’s books in the Fog City series – Queen’s Ransom and Silent Knight – plus a few secret projects, including a fun mystery romp with one of my favorite side characters, another sexy foodie romance, and a very long overdue wedding short.
Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
I can’t just pick one! But I can pick two!
Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing 2) in the romantic suspense column. When Cam first appeared on page in Single Malt, I immediately wanted to tell his story and dive into the mystery of his missing sister and how it drove him to the FBI. Six books later, I finally got to tell that story, and Craft Brew fires on all cylinders – the mystery, the suspense, the angst, the family drama, the Jamie-Cam and Aidan-Nic bromances, and the cementing of the relationship between Cam and Nic.
Dine With Me in the contemporary romance column. It’s the book of my heart, I’ve been to all those places featured in the book (or the place the fictional ones are based on), I adore the supportive supporting cast (that was so important to me in this book given the other conflicts the MCs are already dealing with), and I really love the journey the Miller and Clancy take together.
What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Two things, I’d say. Growing up in a Southern family, that oral history tradition was strong. So many stories get handed down and told over and over, like how my grandpa’s birth certificate, which his mother kept in the family bible, got eaten by one of the goats who got in the house. Or like how relatives used to smuggle moonshine down from the mountains in Christmas trees. The other thing would be television and movies, especially when it comes to my romantic suspense leanings. I’m an action tv/movie junkie. The more tangled the plot the better, the more car chases the better, and when you throw in a heavy dose of UST, I’m a goner. I love those high stakes, high tension situations.
What inspired you to start writing?
I always gravitated toward writing, to those courses and competitions in school, but it was my twelfth grade English teacher who pushed me further. We had to assemble a writing portfolio over the course of the year, and I strived to fill it with top notch pieces, including an epilogue for To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. My first piece of fanfiction that launched a ton more fanfics that led to a shelf of my own books.
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
LOL, this question always makes me laugh. My other day jobs have to come first because those are the jobs that pay my bills. They also give me the flexibility to write what I want – more LGBTQ+ pairings, trilogies, cliffhangers – so I’m cool with that trade off. But it means I don’t have a typical “writing day.” When I do steal time for words, a book usually goes like so for me: dialogue layer first with some minimal scene blocking, followed by a fill layer with more detailed movements and emotions, followed by another pass where I really tease out the emotions and romance and pick up the detail stuff I might have skipped over. Finally, before it goes to betas and editors, time permitting, I like to do a clean up pass from the last chapter to the first, which helps with consistency, spotting dropped plot threads, and just generally giving later chapters fresh eyes.
What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Totally varies for me. For Irish and Whiskey, it was pretty simultaneous. For Trouble Brewing, those characters came first (in AIW). For Changing Lanes, that was a plot first situation, as I wanted to feature the Olympics and a sport that isn’t usually front and center in romance. For Dine With Me and Variable Onset, I started with the tropes, road trip romance and fake marriage, respectively. And for Fog City, it all started with a photo (the couple shot on A New Empire) I saw on Wander Aguiar’s photography site. Within a week, I had the characters sketched and the entire trilogy plotted out.
What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
There’s not one, because any book I love that much, I love it for that author’s voice. I wouldn’t want to tell it in mine; I wouldn’t love it as much.
If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Enemies to lovers.
What would be your three desert island books?
For Real by Alexis Hall, Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley, and I’m gonna cheat and say the The Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat.
If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Single Malt, because then that would kick off the entire Whiskey Verse, which would then lead into Fog City, and it would be an awesome series to feature the Bay Area. As for casting, the major Whiskey Verse casting would be Gabriel Macht as Aidan, Armie Hammer as Jamie, Tom Ellis as Danny, Gina Torres as Mel, Anna Kendrick as Lauren, Daniel Gillies as Cam, and Richard Armitage as Nic.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
If you’ve read my books or checked out my social media feeds, it’s not so much a secret that I’m a huge foodie. Cooking up food and mixing cocktails are right behind writing in things I love to do.
Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
Velociraptor. I love that it looks kind of innocent and then BAM!
LAYLA REYNE is the author of the Fog City, Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance.