Author Spotlight: Lee Blair


Lee Blair

For my latest Author Spotlight I’m joined by the fabulous Lee Blair. We talked about finding her niche in low angst, working on multiple projects at once, running a podcast, and starting new hobbies as a hobby!

Take it away Lee…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hiya! I’m Lee – a word gremlin who lives in Oregon with my two ginger cats. I’ve been writing romance since 2005, but it took 17 years before I finally made publishing happen. I ultimately found a fabulous corner in the romance world of writing low angst queer romance. My debut came out in January 2022, and now I have six books out with several more to come this year. When I’m not writing, I’m hosting my Low Angst Library podcast, reading, or starting craft projects. Note: I didn’t specify finishing them. That’s a different hobby, just like reading books and buying books are different hobbies. 😉

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I like to describe my books as low angst and filled with sweet, heat, found family, laughs, and shenanigans. I want readers to expect my books to be a delightful escape from the stress of real life and leave you with some laughs and a happy sigh at the end. For my Christmas stories, I write those as Hallmark vibes with steam.

Describe your books in only three words.
Aww + lol + bowchicka

What are you working on right now?
I’m a busy bee working on several fun projects right now. The first to come out is an expansion of my Perfect Blend novella, which was part of the fabulous MM Class of 2021-22 group giveaway you organized last year 🙂 That’ll be out in late July.

I’m also working on book 3 in my Tap That Brewery series. This series is about four best friends who run a brewery together. I’m also working on some Christmas romance goodness. In addition to my books, I’ve been working on screenplays for TV Christmas movies (Hallmark style scripts) too. 

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
24 Dares of Christmas! This was my first (of hopefully many) queer Christmas romances. Hundreds of hours of watching Hallmark Christmas movies finally paid off, haha! I started trying to come up with my Christmas book idea in fall 2021 so I would have something ready for fall 2022. It took me months to come up with an idea I was excited about, and I still remember the moment it popped in my head because I was so stoked. The premise involves an advent of dares instead of days to help one of the main characters reconnect with his love for Christmas. Tons of festive fun to be had! It’s also set in the small town where my brewery books are, which is fun because I’m getting to grow that world.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Discovering that low angst romance is a thing and that it’s okay to write it has been the single most influential thing for my writing. When I decided I wanted to start writing romance back in 2005, I joined the Romance Writers of America. It’s a very craft and professional development focused organization, and I was taught that conflict (and often a break-up) is central to reader expectations.

But then I got involved in the Schitt’s Creek fanfiction space after writing original stuff for many years. It was a surprise to see people specifically asking for low or high angst stories. I hadn’t even considered thinking of stories in that way before. After writing fan fiction in that fandom, I pivoted into writing queer romance and saw that there was an established niche and market specifically for low angst. I grabbed onto that with both hands and legs. Embracing low angst has completely changed my writing, my reading, my ideas, and the joy I get from it. I love it!

What inspired you to start writing?
I think I’ve always been a writer. Periodically my mom uncovers short stories I wrote as a kid that are surprisingly dark and morbid. I’m a woman of extremes, what can I say? My day job career involves a lot of short form nonfiction writing, but I hadn’t really thought about trying to write fiction professionally back in my school days.

That all changed after I graduated from college and desperately wanted to read some book I chose and wasn’t assigned in class. I read a ton of vampire fiction and accidentally came across a funny vampire romance that I didn’t know was a romance. I’d never read a romance novel before and certainly never encountered funny vampires. I swear, back then it wasn’t as common as it is now! It was mostly Ann Rice-esque broody vamps.

After I googled the author of the book I was reading (A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister), I discovered it was a romance novel. That forced me to realize I had some bias against what I assumed romance was, and I quickly worked through that BS and decided romance was where I wanted to be with reading and writing. I immediately started reading and writing as much romance as I could, and I haven’t looked back.

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
My process has changed a lot over the years, and I am just now finally feeling like I’m getting a handle on what works for me. It took a lot of painful trial and error (and failing to finish drafting a full novel for over 10 years) to realize that I’m a discovery writer. To me that means I know some bits of the story before I start writing, but the bulk of it comes to me as I’m actively working on the story.

I try to loosely figure out what’s going to happen over the next few chapters. Then when I’m ready to start writing, I’ll do a more detailed outline of what I want to happen in a chapter to help keep me on track. Then I dictate that chapter and eventually clean up the dictation. I do a bit of editing as I clean up the dictations and sometimes will do a revision pass of a chunk of the book before I start writing the next big chunk. But mostly I do my revisions in big passes once the book is complete. Then beta readers take a look and give me feedback before I send it to the paid editors.

I also learned last year that I do really well when I’m working on multiple books at the same time—especially when they’re in the drafting stage. That lets me write on one book until I run out of ideas, then I can let my brain percolate on what comes next while I go to another project and write on it until I run out of ideas there. Then back and forth until something eventually gets finished.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Definitely the plot. Sometimes I wish I were a character-based brainstormer, but it’s always story concepts or events or scenarios that come first. Then I brainstorm characters who would be most impacted by that plot or who might conflict with it or thrive in it.

For example with my Tap That Brewery series, I came up with the idea of guys running a brewery together before I came up with the individual characters. I knew I wanted a workplace-based series about a tight-knit group of friends, and it took me a while to settle on a brewery as that setting. Then I started thinking about what kinds of personas would be fun to have in a friend group, and I developed the guys from there.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
Oooh this is a tough one! There are soooo many authors who write low angst queer contemporary romance that I absolutely ADORE! I read so voraciously that individual books often don’t stick with me as much as the vibe of an author or series or group of characters does. But I’m an absolute sucker for tight-knit friend groups as a reader. When teasing is a love language, I’m all in. Just like in your Heather Bay series. I looooove those books!

The first two series that jumped out in my mind when I read this question—in thinking of series I wished I’d written (or series I’d love readers to be like, “if you love this series, you’ll also like Lee Blair’s books!”)—were K.M. Neuhold’s Four Bears Construction series and A.J. Truman’s Single Dads Club series. The friendships, the humor, the romance, the heat. Absolute catnip for me as a reader and the vibe I’m trying to create with my stories.

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Secret online identity! It’s a tough call between that and fake relationship, but I have to go with the online identity. There’s no universally accepted name for that trope, but it’s basically when people know each other in an online space and also know each other in real life, but don’t know that the online person is the real life person. The whole You’ve Got Mail thing. I LOVE THAT! The moment one of them realizes who the other(s) is? Gimme, gimme! I think I also adore the idea of meeting someone online and being your truest self, them falling for you, and being even happier about it when they meet you in person. Swoon!

What would be your three desert island books?
I am the absolute most boring person alive because I would pick three books from my emergency preparedness stash, haha! Okay, two books from that stash and one romance because entertainment would be critical. Hmm, let’s go with:
1. The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Distaster (because I imagine my medical anxiety would probably follow me to the deserted island, boo!)
2. Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival (I’m a sucker for hacks, what can I say?)
3. Caulky by K.M. Neuhold—book 1 of the Four Bears Construction series (because it has a secret online identity, a tight-knit friend group, lots of laughs, and a main character similar to my age)

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
24 Dares of Christmas! I would loooooooove to see that as a holiday movie on TV or a streaming service. I’m going to cast from the roster of often used Hallmark leading men because I believe in manifestation! Haha!

For Reed, the overworked marketer who’s lost touch with Christmas? I’d cast Jonathan Bennett. I looooove him and legit cried happy tears when he finally got to play a gay man as a leading character in a Hallmark romance last year. It was such a big deal to see a romance focused on a queer couple—not as a side romance or an ensemble romance of an existing queer couple. But a true romance focused on them. I can totally picture him as the overworked guy learning to let loose and love Christmas again.

For Warren, the Christmas-loving guy who helps Reed work through his advent of dares? I’d cast Tyler Hynes. He’s one of my fave Hallmark guys. It would be super fun to watch him get into the shenanigans that Warren does in the book. Warren has a Christmas wardrobe for the month of December. For personal reasons, I just need to see Tyler rocking that vibe. 

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 biggest hobby is starting new hobbies, haha! But seriously. I juggle a lot of interests and they tend to vary seasonally. Right now my non-day job and writing job hours are filled with gardening, crocheting, hand embroidering, reading, watching/listening to true crime stuff, and thinking about how I should prioritize cleaning (but not doing it).

I love taking classes too! I recently moved to a large city and have access to tons more now. I recently did ceramics, pole dancing, and am still doing yoga. Trying to get into a stained glass course too.

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I can’t believe I never thought about this until now! Thanks for the opportunity to pick one. To help me with this, I did the best thing I could think of: I googled “help me pick a favorite dinosaur.” I found a very official test from the Natural History Museum in London. The results indicate that my favorite dinosaur should be a Crylophosaurus. I guess it was the first meat-eating dinosaur found in Antarctica and that sounds pretty rad.

Thank you so much for letting me hang out, Charlie! It’s been so fun!

Lee Blair is a queer author and screenwriter from Oregon who writes low angst, funny, contemporary romance. She’s currently writing sweet and steamy MM romances set in a fictional small town she’d love to live in. She’s constantly amused by the antics of her two ginger cats, considers daydreaming about future trips to Scotland a part-time job, and is obsessed with Schitt’s Creek to an alarming degree.

For more information on Lee and her work you can visit her website, where you can sign up for her newsletter, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, BookBub, TikTok, and Amazon. You can also join her Facebook reader group, Lee Blair’s Buddies, for more news and updates.