For this week’s Author Spotlight, I’m joined by the amazing Roan Parrish. We talked character driven stories, writing books with strong convictions, being a passionate reader, and diving into new hobbies during the pandemic!
Over to you Roan…
First things first, please introduce yourself!
I’m Roan Parrish and I write queer romance and horror! I live in West Philadelphia with my sweet old lady cat, Dorian Gray, and I love to cook, garden, make things, go to estate sales, and explore abandoned buildings.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I’m definitely a character-driven writer, and I love the specialized vocabularies of different hobbies, careers, and places. I love writing dialogue, so a lot of my characters fall in love through talking.
Describe your books in only three words.
Lyrical, emotional, honest.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
My latest book is The Lights On Knockbridge Lane (Garnet Run #3). Adam is a single dad who has just moved to Garnet Run, Wyoming with his daughter Gus, after his divorce. When they arrive on Knockbridge Lane before Christmas, all the neighbors warn Adam about the weird neighbor on the corner—Wes never goes out during the day, gets strange deliveries, and has been seen skulking around at all hours of the night. Naturally, the occupants of Knockbridge Lane have decided he’s a vampire or some other creature of the night. So imagine Adam’s surprise when he answers the door to find that same Wes outside, returning Gus, who has just broken into his basement to see his lizards. But it turns out Wes isn’t a vampire or any other supernatural creature. He’s an inventor who prefers to stay out of sight. But he has a soft spot for Gus’ curiosity and fascination with science and his animals, so they begin to spend more time together. Little by little, Adam realizes that Wes is a warm, generous soul who just needs love to come out of his shell. As Adam tries to make Gus’ Christmas wish of having the most lights ever on their house, Adam and Wes realize that they’re meant to be a family.
Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
Invitation to the Blues and Rend. They both feature characters with complicated psychologies and challenging mental health issues that are really important to me.
What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
I’ve always been a passionate reader, so there have been so so many books that have influenced not just my writing specifically, but my worldview and outlook in general, which have in turn influenced my writing. I definitely write things that I would like to read, so my own reading tastes have been super formative.
Equally important are my strong convictions that everyone deserves love and to build the life they desire with the people they love. So often, queer people, people with mental health issues, non-white people, and people with disabilities are denied the basic access to the things they require to cultivate love and the life they desire. I write books with the strong political message that this denial is wrong and I seek to correct it on the pages in the hopes that people might see themselves there and feel buoyed as well as feel inspired to advocate for those rights on behalf of others.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved writing and I’ve written my whole life in some way—terrible poetry as a child, better poetry later on, then academic writing. I like it all. But I wrote my first romance novel as a gift for a friend. I sent it to her chapter by chapter because she kept asking for more—I didn’t even realize it was a book I was writing until I was about halfway done 🙂
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
I try to have writing be the first thing I do in the morning (after feeding the cat and making coffee). The more input I encounter, the more muddled my brain feels, so writing before I do anything else helps me focus.
My process always starts with characters and settings popping into my mind. Then, as I’m thinking about them over the weeks or months that follow, little things start to stick to those characters in my mind—a hobby, a breakup, a memory, a style of speech. Once enough things are adhered to each to give them clear psychologies character, a conflict that would keep them apart usually presents itself, and I go from there.
What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Definitely the characters. I don’t care very much about plot in romance novels—as a reader, if I love the characters, I’d happily read about them falling in love while saving the world from an invasion of deadly chicken monsters or while drinking coffee at a diner.
What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
I’ve been dreaming of a series that I want to write for years and years but I’ve been too scared of failing to do it yet. That’s what I wish I’d written (and what I hope I’ll write).
If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I could never write only one trope for the rest of my life. I love variety and I get bored of repetition. I do like the challenge of interpreting the same trope in different ways, but I think I’d only have two or three books in me of the same trope.
What would be your three desert island books?
I’d like one book about how to survive on a desert island, one book I’ve never read but that the circumstances of being on that island would make my new favorite book, and one long, complicated, character-packed series that I could read over and over and always find new things in.
If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
I really want the Garnet Run series to be made into a TV series. It would be so cool, because they could do all the books together, since it takes place in a small town. There are great set pieces, like the hardware store, the cat shelter, the art deco movie theater … it’d be awesome! As for who I would cast, hmmmm … from Better Than People, Ben Whishaw as Simon and Tom Hardy as Jack; from Best Laid Plans, Robert Sheehan as Rye and Matt Bomer as Charlie; from The Lights on Knockbridge Lane, Wentworth Miller as Wes and Elliot Page as Adam.
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?
During the pandemic I’ve developed a number of new hobbies! Birdwatching, which has been utterly delightful; papermaking, which I used to do and have gotten back into; whittling, which is awesome and has almost led to cutting off multiple fingers. Then there are the hobbies I’ve had for a while, like baking, cooking, refinishing furniture, and antiquing. I love hobbies 😀
Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I’m quite taken with the pterodactyl!
ROAN PARRISH lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.