For today’s author spotlight, I’m joined by the wonderful Zoe Lee. We chatted going from pantsing to hybrid, bi awakenings, the influence of Tamora Pierce and favourite rereads.
Take it away Zoe..
First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Zoe Lee! When I’m not writing LGBT romance, I love watching tons of movies and TV shows and reading a few books a week! I live in Colorado with my husband and daughter, where it’s sunny three hundred days a year.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I used to be all emotion and all pantsing when I was writing, letting my characters run the show. But since I started publishing in 2016, I’ve learned how to become a little more hybrid, plotting roughly so I don’t write myself into mazes.
Describe your books in only three words.
Smart, sexy and real.
What’s your next book about and when is it coming out?
My next book is Ex-Rivals, coming out in about a month. It’s the third book in my Local Beats series, another standalone. It’s an enemies to lovers, slow burn, second chance about Camdon and his nemesis Julian who shows back up in Chicago after fifteen years. I’m so excited about this; the original incarnation was the first complete draft I ever finished, when I was 19!
Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
I think Hidden Tracks. It’s a MF romance with a bisexual male lead, and the characters have had rich, full lives filled with experiences and music by the time they meet. And after it was done, it was clear it was a natural time to move fully into LGBT romance, which I’ve been writing forever too. Plus, Seth is one of the most intuitive, empathetic characters and everyone should have a best friend or brother or partner like him.
What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
There are too many influences to name! When I was growing up, my parents worked for a jeweler and a painter, so I went to so many gallery openings and art museums. I’ve always been inspired by the raw emotion and skill of artists my whole life. Music also influences me, lyrics and rhythms that make me feel, think, and dance. And the power of the friendships I’ve been lucky enough to have since I was a kid, wanting to make that a cornerstone of my fictional worlds.
What inspired you to start writing?
The quick answer is, reading Tamora Pierce when I was in maybe sixth grade. She has complex female protagonists and even though the books were written for kids, they didn’t gloss over problems adults face. I felt her world so deeply, I started writing to inhabit it more and more. From there, I could never stop!
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
My writing process is a mystery to me, honestly. I have a day job and a kid – plus a husband who’s also my best friend, so we love spending time together – so I snatch minutes and hours where I can. I can never quite figure out how I get it done, since I’m not organized with goals or word trackers.
What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
It’s a toss up if it’s characters or a premise, usually a meet-cute.
What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
All of us have things that only we can say, so I could never write someone else’s book. But I’ve definitely read books and been in awe of the author’s imagination or their lyricism, or the hilarious witty banter or how well they write raunchy fun!
If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Funny, I was just talking about how I think I could happily write bi awakenings forever! My own was a wonderful mixture of “duh” and exhilaration, and from a writing perspective, how romantic is it to think that meeting your soulmate(s) can be so powerful that it changes or reveals something fundamental about you?
What would be your three desert island books?
I have no idea. I’m terrible at picking. I reread The Captive Prince series about once a year, so if that could count as one, I’d include that. As for picking the other two, I hope I get a lot of advanced warning for going to this desert island because it would take so long!
If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
They would all make pretty great movies/TV series, in my oh so humble opinion! Dream casting is so hard though! Especially since I tend to forget how I describe my characters, except for if they have tattoos or long hair, general things like that.
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?
My definitely not secret passion is watching movies and TV shows – I love almost every genre and I love discussing characters and ships and plot holes.
Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I don’t know much about them, but I like the look of the hypsilophodon in drawings.
ZOE LEE writes contemporary romances and has believed everyone will get extraordinary love stories since even before she fell in love. She lives with her family near the mountains in Colorado, where she writes while listening to music, never drinks coffee, reads books in one sitting, and watches too many movies and tv shows. She’s been writing since she was a kid, but luckily she knows how grown-ups work now. Mostly.