Ep 186: “Murder Most Lovely” with Hank Edwards & Deanna Wadsworth
The guys talk about having more books than shelf space and also their upcoming 24th anniversary.
Will reviews An Easter Promise by A E Ryecart. Jeff reviews Play It Again by Aidan Wayne.
Jeff interviews Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth about their collaboration, Murder Most Lovely, the first in the Lacetown Murder Mysteries series. They talk about how they came up with the book, their process for co-writing and what’s still to come in the series. We also find out what’s coming up for each of them in 2019.
Complete shownotes for episode 186 along with a transcript of the interview are at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
Here’s the text of this week’s book reviews:
An Easter Promise by AE Ryecart. Reviewed by Will.
This is the continuing story of Rory and Jack, who we first met in the holiday story, A Kiss Before Christmas.
In that story, Jack finds the homeless Rory huddled on his doorstep and offers him a place to stay. As they learn more about one another, Jack asks Rory to pose as his fake boyfriend when he goes home for the holidays. An unexpectedly severe winter storm prevents them from that trip, but in the few days they’ve been together they’ve fallen in love.
I read A Kiss Before Christmas last year, and I still highly recommend it.
In An Easter Promise, it’s now Spring and our two heroes are finally making the trip to visit Jack’s family in his ancestral manor house in the countryside.
This is a particularly nerve-wracking experience for Rory, whose childhood couldn’t have been more different than Jack’s well-heeled upbringing.
Things go relatively well as Jack shows Rory around the expansive estate, but they then get frosty when Jack’s mom makes it clear that she believes that Rory is after her son’s money.
Gold-digging accusations aside, as a favor to her, Rory steps in as a last-minute contestant in the Best Bake competition at the village festival. Though his brownies were obviously the best, he doesn’t win.
Afterward, Jack announces that he and his culinarily gifted boyfriend are going into business together and are opening a bakery.
This once again raises the suspicion that Rory is only after Jack for his money, causing a major rift in family relations.
Jack tells his mom where she can stick her suspicions, and is ready to return to London, but when Rory takes the family dog for a walk, he gets lost on the moors in a sudden storm. If reading fiction set in the U.K. has taught me anything, it’s that going for a walk on the moors is always a bad idea.
The family organizes a search party and journeys into the dark night to find Rory. He is eventually found, and Jack makes amends with his parents.
Flash forward a few months to the opening of the bakery and the beginning of a new chapter for our romantic heroes.
I really like both of the stories featuring Rory and Jack and sincerely hope that this isn’t the last that we’ll see of them. The opening of the bakery certainly presents several new story possibilities.
A.E. Ryecart, if you’re reading this, I’m a fan and a series set in this world would be greatly appreciated.
I was completely delighted by new-to-me author Aidan Wayne’s Play It Again. Part of what drew me in initially is that part of it relates to what we do here on the podcast. Dovid is a YouTuber alongside his sister Rachel. They run a channel called Don’t Look Now. Among the things they do is review eateries in Seattle for how accessible they are because Dovid is blind. They also interact with their fans, go on trips, open mystery boxes–it’s the full YouTube gambit.
Over in Ireland, Sam runs a Let’s Play channel where he plays a popular videogame. Rachel and Dovid become obsessed with Sam’s channel because of his easy-going, fun delivery. Dovid calls out Sam’s channel in an episode and sends Sam’s subscriber count through the roof and when Sam contacts Dovid to thank him they end up talking frequently.
Dovid and Sam are single–but as I mentioned live on opposite sides of the globe. Neither of them, quite cutely, realizes how flirty they’re being as they message each other. Initially Dovid offers Sam advice on how to manage his new subscribers and ways to grow his channel but as they move beyond that and get to know each other the realization comes that perhaps there’s more there.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read that relies heavily on text messages, instant messenger, email and so on. I loved how these wove into the story. There’s a good deal of, what I’ll call, regular storytelling too, coming from both points of view. Dovid and Sam have quite a lot internal dialogue about their growing predicament. Just getting time to talk on the phone is a challenge with the nine hour difference between them. It doesn’t stop them though from being ridiculously cute and challenging themselves to let this relationship go through its formative stages without being in the same physical location.
Of course, the guys have to get together and that happens when Dovid and Rachel had the chance to do a European tour, which includes Ireland. As much as Dovid and Sam questioned themselves as they did the long distance thing, the jitters ratchet up as they meet. Aidan does a great job of showing the hesitancy–from Dovid wanting everything to be perfect to Sam wondering if he’s worthy of Dovid. Sam comes from a family where he was put down a lot and Dovid goes into protector mode when Sam talks about this, which is incredibly touching and sexy.
For all the exploration they did via email, the time they spend together in Ireland really made me appreciate the romance that Aidan spun even more. They’d bonded so much before, they almost fall into old married couple mode with how they try to take care of each other. Dovid is particularly mindful of Sam’s asexuality and makes sure Sam isn’t doing anything he doesn’t want to do. It’s wonderful to see two such diverse characters finding their happy.
Speaking if the HEA, I’d wondered how it would manifest in a book where the two characters spend probably eighty percent of the book on separate continents. I adored how Aidan brought Sam and Dovid together. I would love to see more in this universe to know how Dovid and Sam are getting on.
Besides the wonderful romance, I loved the attention to detail that Aidan put into showing the work Dovid and Rachel do on their channel. From the talk of creating Patreon campaigns to managing social media and how to interact with the audience, I enjoyed it and I don’t think it’s too much for people who don’t do this kind of thing. Another excellent detail, Dovid and Rachel receive a package from a fan in Michigan–it contained Faygo Red Pop and Mackinac Island fudge, two childhood favorites that made me smile and gave me cravings!
So, in case you haven’t figured it out, I totally recommend Play it Again by Aidan Wayne. I’m also looking forward to their upcoming book, Hitting the Mark, which comes out at the end of May.
This interview transcript is sponsored by Dreamspinner PressDreamspinner Press is proud to publish this week’s guests Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth and their new book Murder Most Lovely. Check it out, and all the new mystery and suspense titles from your favorite authors like Amy Lane, KC Wells, Tara Lain, and Rhys Ford, just to name a few, and find a new favorite author while you’re at it. Go to dreamspinnerpress.com for everything you want in gay romance.
Jeff: Welcome to the podcast, Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth.
Jeff: Thanks for being here.
Hank: Thanks for hosting us.
Jeff: You guys have written a book together…
Deanna: We did.
Jeff: …which is super cool. April 30, which is the day after this comes out, you’re releasing the first book in the “Lacetown Murder Mysteries” called “Murder Most Lovely.” Tell us about this new series. What is the scoop?
Deanna: Who wants to go first?
Hank: Deanna? You go first.
Deanna: Okay, I’ll go first. So like a year ago I went out to dinner with my husband, had some cocktails and at like 11:00 at night after having like wonderful conversations in my brain with myself because I think I’m clever, I messaged Hank, and I said, “Dude, we need to write a book together.” And he’s like, “We should.” And then we did.
Hank: I might have had some cocktails that night too. I can’t remember.
Deanna: You may have.
Hank: Might have.
Deanna: And it was, “Yeah, we should,” kind of moment. And we didn’t really know where it was going.
Hank: We had no idea.
Deanna: What’s that?
Hank: We had no idea, like nothing. That was just the random start of things. “We should do a book.” We didn’t have an idea or anything.
Deanna: It was a completely inane, “Dude, we should write a book together,” kind of moment. And then seriously, the next day, we had some conversations like, “What should it be? Superhero?” And then we just kind of like spitted ideas back and forth. And Hank was like, “We would write the fuck out of a rom-com.” Am I allowed to say fuck?
Jeff: Yes, you are. We’ll put a little explicit logo on the episode and you can cuss as much as you want.
Deanna: So he was like, “We would write the fuck out of a rom-com.” And I’m like, “We would.” And then we’re like, “What should it be?” And we just spitballed ideas back and forth. Like, I mean, literally, like there was probably like 30 or 40, like, things we shot back and forth at each other. And then Hank picked on two of them. And he’s like, “I love the idea of a mortician and a hairdresser.” Then we ran with it.
Hank: Yeah, and we just ran with it. And it just started writing. I mean, we didn’t plan, like, “You take one chapter.” What we did was each of us wrote up a character bio and sent it to each other. And so I wrote up…
Deanna: It was so great.
Hank: You what?
Deanna: It was so great, like blind dates for our character.
Hank: It was. It was really fun. So you had Michael, right, and I had Jazz.
Deanna: Yeah, you made Jazz. So tell us about Jazz.
Hank: So Jazz is very sassy and very snarky. And he’s a talented hairstylist and he’s uprooted his life after separating from his husband, who is a best-selling novelist and mystery novelist. And so he’s moved to this small town on the coast of Lake Michigan in Michigan. And some Michigan love there, Jeff. Yes.
Jeff: I love that.
Hank: Yes, always. And so he’s starting over and he’s just trying to kind of like rebuild and he works at a fun little salon but he’s kind of, he’s 49 but he tells people he’s 41 and…
Deanna: He tell’s people he’s 35, remember?
Hank: And he tries that too.
Deanna: He totally lies about his age. He says he’s 35.
Hank: We had, our editor actually called us up and she was like, “Is this right?” Because he shouldn’t have been around back then. Jazz lies about his age.
Deanna: He’s almost 50 but he says he’s 35.
Hank: Right. So that’s how that started. And then she brought up Michael.
Deanna: Yeah. Hank created Jazz, the hairdresser, which is funny because I actually legitimately am a hairdresser in real life. But when we were talking, Hank had said, “I’ve always wanted to write a hairdresser.” I’m like, “You take the hairdresser. Run with it.” And then I took the mortician, which sounded really great and exciting. And after dozens of Google search, Google decided that I obviously want to be a coroner and mortician and they send me casket ads, but yeah, whatever. So I created a…it was fun because Hank created Jazz, this sassy, almost-50 hairdresser who’s super sarcastic, he’s got long honey blonde hair and super stylish and wears eyeliner and he’s really sassy and he has a big potty mouth.
Hank: Oh, yeah.
Deanna: Oh, he does. And then I didn’t know who Hank was creating when we came upon this conversation. It was very much, “Hey, you pick your guy. I’ll pick my guy. We’ll see what happens. And I made Michael Fleishman who is a 42-year-old, very uptight, very socially awkward Jewish guy who runs the local funeral home and he’s also the county coroner to our fake county…is it Carver County?
Hank: Carver County, yeah.
Deanna: Carver County on Lake Michigan, which is sort of like in somewhere between, I don’t know…
Hank: Like Saugatuck and…
Deanna: Saugatuck and…
Hank: Yeah, Muskegon.
Deanna: Muskegon, somewhere, a fake county in between there and he’s the county coroner. He’s very uptight and super horny and has this like hilarious like sexual imagination but he’s really reserved and he is obsessed with mystery novels. And he goes to a bookstore in Lacetown, which is our fictional town on Lake Michigan, during a literary festival to meet his favorite also author, Russell Withingham, which happens to be Jazz’s husband. They’re separated but they’re not divorced yet.
Hank: And that’s the meet-cute.
Hank: I know, right?
Deanna: Total rom-com, meet and greet during the rain under an umbrella, cute scene. Until Jazz gets his little…I mean, he really worries Michael thinks he’s a bitchy queen and he kind of is. He’s totally the queen.
Hank: He’s really fun to write.
Deanna: It’s so fun.
Jeff: So when you got these characters who are obviously really opposite to each other, you could just hear it in the bios, what was it like to mash them together?
Hank: Oh, man.
Jeff: Sparks had to have flown off the pages.
Hank: Oh, yes, right away. It was really fun. The first chapter is their meet-cute. And we had…I mean, we do a lot of like editing, right? So we’ll write the first pass and we’ll talk about it. We message a lot during the day and stuff like that, talk about where we want to go with things. And then we use Google Docs to write together. Yeah, so that was a lot of fun to just see the whole creation of it and like set up that setting and understand how they were going to meet and how that was going to go and how Michael would be so taken with Jazz at first sight. It was really fun.
Deanna: Totally. Like, “Oh, you’re so handsome. Why is he talking to me?”
Hank: That’s really fun.
Jeff: And of course you’ve got the mystery element in this too. So rom-com mystery, which trying to think, I haven’t necessarily seen that kind of combo a lot because there’s straight up romantic suspense, of course. And then there’s like cozy mystery and maybe this ekes a little towards that with the rom-com–iness. But did you know that this was going to be like something to go for? Or did you just like mash these two elements together and say, “This thing…”
Deanna: We thought about doing like a film noir concept, like a 1940s film. But see, that’s the thing. Like when Hank and I started writing, we didn’t have a direction. We were very much open to anything. And it was sort of like he created Jazz, I created Michael. We knew we wanted a murder. We knew we wanted it to be like…
Hank: We wanted a murder. The murder got pretty gruesome too. I was really shocked.
Deanna: Yeah, we wanted some things but then as we began to write it, it began to have elements of a real murder. So like our sheriff is blustering and funny. And Michael has his kitty cat, the little Mr. Pickles.
Hank: Mr. Pickles.
Deanna: Mr. Pickles, the fat, black-and-white kitty, which my dog is growling at right now.
Jeff: Which we should note, for the people who may not be watching the video, Deanna just held up this stuffed kitty. And you’re going to be giving these away at GRL in a few months.
Deanna: Yes, we have a few couple.
So like when we created the story, I guess maybe other people with their writing collaborations might be different than we were. But Hank and I were not in a competition with each other. We were not like…we just knew we were going to have fun because we like each other and we know each other personally. And we were just like, “Let’s have fun with this.” And there was no like obsessive competition with like, “I don’t like the storyline.” Or, “I like this.” It was just sort of like, “What do you want to do? Okay, that sounds fun.” And we both ran with it. And we ended up developing this city on Lake Michigan and this little town and these little side characters.
Jeff: Let’s talk about the mystery side of it. Who is dead?
Deanna: Oh, yes, the mystery side of it. That’s right. So I’ll talk and then I’ll let Hank talk because I’ve been blabbering too long. So we decided we wanted it to be, like, film noir idea. And then it became like a legitimate murder mystery where there is a dead body and it’s gruesome and it’s creepy and it’s sad. And there’s like some crazy shit happening. And there’s like cops that need to come in. And there’s like a real mystery. And there’s actually a couple side mysteries that are happening over the book arc of the next two novels, novel two of which we will be submitting in the morning. We would have submitted it today but I’m being a typo psycho. I am. I’m a typo psycho.
Hank: She’s finding a lot of good stuff, though. I like the changes. So, yeah. So the murder actually got more gruesome than I was anticipating. We were like, “Let’s go.” “Wait, do we want to go?” “Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do it.” So it’s…do we want to say who it is? I mean, it happens early on. So I don’t think it’s a spoiler, right?
Deanna: Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t we just talk about how creepy the murder is.
Hank: Okay, we’ll just leave it just like that.
Deanna: Not who is murdered.
Hank: Someone’s murdered and maybe their hands are missing.
Deanna: Or chopped off.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Hank: So, yeah, that’s kind of…
Jeff: That’s more gruesome than I expect in a rom-com.
Hank: I know.
Jeff: I’ll say that.
Deanna: Oh, wait ’till you hear about the serial killer. Wait, that was a spoiler. I didn’t say it.
Hank: But in the first book…
Jeff: Is that a spoiler that we’re leaving in or a spoiler that we’re taking out?
Deanna: We’re leaving it in but we’re not gonna respond about it.
Jeff: Fair enough.
Hank: That’s right.
Jeff: A little breaking news there for the podcast that we will not do follow-up questions on. You were saying, Hank, on this murder.
Hank: So yeah, so it was gruesome. And then there’s the discovery. But Michael is kind of, you know, he can’t help but be a little excited about it because it’s his first murder because he’s a small town, county coroner. And the only…
Deanna: He’s not only a mortician. He’s the county coroner too.
Hank: Right. So it’s up to him now to, like, investigate it. He’s never had a murder like this. He’s had a murder but they knew the victim and the attacker. So this is completely new for him. And he reads murder like mystery novels, so he’s really excited about it. So he’s, like, starting to play, like, detective. And then the sheriff is kind of, you know, like all blustering and yelling at him like, “Fleishman. Dilworth.” You know, that’s Jazz’s last name, Jazz Dilworth and he like calls everybody their last name and yells at them. And they’re always a suspect, so, “Don’t leave town.”
Deanna: Everyone is a suspect until Musgrave says they’re not a suspect.
Hank: “Don’t leave town.” Yeah. Sheriff Musgrave.
Jeff: So if I understood correctly, you kind of just created this on the fly.
Jeff: For both the romance and the mystery?
Jeff: How did that play out in like the day-to-day writing? Because I can’t even like imagine having co-written something that there wasn’t more of a plan to it.
Hank [softly]: I know!
Deanna: How did it go?
Hank: Actually it went smoother than I expected.
Deanna: It was so much fun.
Hank: Yeah. And it was a lot of fun because we chatted a lot on Facebook Messenger. And we’d text and we call each other now and then. We’d have conversations, phone conversations, and we’d plan out where we wanted things to go. And then one of us would say, “Okay, I’ll do this and then you can write that.” And then we just kind of took it. And then it was really fun because like you’d go through and you’d read…you know, how you like read through what you’ve written and it’s somebody else has written something new and you’re like, “Wow, this is like a whole new story.” Like you don’t know what you’re reading, you don’t know anything of what to expect. So it was really fun.
Deanna: So awesome because, like, first, I gotta say, writing with Hank Edwards has been a pleasure. Because not only is he a great writer and like stupid funny, like so funny, I can’t even tell you how many times he writes something and I’m just like…laughing. But he and I are not…we’re not competitive individuals. We’re not like jumping into this, like, “Well, this is what I want. This is what I want.” It was so easy, where it was just like we just…Hank created Jazz and then Jazz has this profile that we went with. I created Michael and we had this profile we went with. He and I created an exterior mystery that happened to them.
But because he created such a good profile and I just created such a strong profile, both of us knew who Michael and who Jazz were. And then it was like, “Well, Michael wouldn’t do that,” or, “Jazz wouldn’t say that.” And we didn’t like try to, like, undermine the other person. I don’t know. I just feel really blessed. I love you. I just feel blessed to be able to write a story with someone who is so easy and so fun and our sense of humor is both very similar and darkly twisted and inappropriate, like we both knew when our editor was gonna go, “Mm-mm. No.”
Hank: I told her several times, I’m like, “This is gonna get cut out and you put it in and it’s gonna get cut out. I’m telling you right now.” And she’s like, “I want to leave it in.” I’m like, “Okay, but it’s gonna get cut.” And it did.
Deanna: And I’m like, “They’re not gonna let us use the C-word.” And he’s like, “Maybe they will.” No, they didn’t.
But it was so much…I don’t know. It was just one of those things that were really easy because Hank is so fun to work with. It was just easy. I mean, not that writing and editing is easy. But even as we went through the process, there would be scenes…we each knew where the scene was going to go. We knew what scene was going to happen next. And if it was…because our work…he’s very typical 9:00 to 5:00 work schedule, Monday through Friday, and I am Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 8:00, those four days. So like he would do all the stuff Wednesday through Saturday and then I’d open it up on Sunday, and then I’d do all the stuff Sunday to Tuesday.
And then it wasn’t like we were fixing or changing each other’s work. It was like, “Oh, that’s a great scene.” And then I would add to it. And then he would take my scene and add to it. And it was just like layering and layering cool stuff with what was already funny. So it was like I knew what I was writing on Tuesday. I wrote this whole scene. And then Hank would write the next scene. And when I would get a chance to read on Thursday, he was like, “Oh, what am I going to read? I know what’s gonna happen but how is it gonna happen?” And he is so funny. So funny. And, I mean, it was just so great writing together.
Jeff: So, Hank, for you, what’s kind of your side of that story as you’re like going through and doing your part on the book on your days?
Hank: So it was a lot of fun. Like Deanna said, because I’ve been writing during my lunch hours at work, so like Monday through Friday I’d have like an hour and I usually go and I hide somewhere at the building and I’ll, like, be able to focus and write. And it was really fun to go through Google Docs and be able to accept all those changes because we always do the suggestions, right, so like the track changes so we can see what each other has done. And it’s always so much fun to see. It looks like, you know, like Deanna said, it’s like, “Oh,” it’s like a little present.
You know, like, “There’s something new.” And I go through. But then seeing how she did the layering, I was talking to my husband, Fred, and I was like, you know, it’s like I’m picking up such good ideas about how to layer emotion in. Deanna is awesome at doing that and like pulling out the emotions in a scene and like digging in deeper where it needs to be. You know, that’s something that I’ve always kind of like, you know, I’m always like, “Write the action. Write the action. Write the action.”
Deanna: But that’s what I love about his writing because he will write action that conveys emotion, whereas I would have written a long, drawn-out emotional monologue. And somehow the two just worked so great. I think.
Hank: We are a good blend together like that. So, yeah, it’s really funny and she’s funny and really darkly funny. So it’s been a lot of fun because there’s some stuff where I like write something dark and funny and then, you know, you get the comment. It’s always fun to get that comment like, “LOL. Oh, my God.” And so then like all of a sudden like further down the page, she’s added somebody I’m like, “Oh, my God, you did not just write that.” So it’s really funny.
Deanna: We’re so wrong. We’re so wrong, we’re so right, Hank.
Jeff: Well, I really like the organic method it sounds like you guys had. Because like my brain can’t even begin to process trying to co-write without a plan. But I’ve heard other people do that and it works out great. What, as you got the draft done, what was the revision and also, I guess, making the book seem like it had one voice? What was that like? So was it like two different people at work?
Deanna: Can I respond to this?
Hank: Of course.
Deanna: Okay, so, Hank would send me…well, it was in Google Docs. So we would get scenes together. So I feel like the way it went before anyone else read anything or we got any feedback from editors, from beta readers, or whatever, it was like we had our strong characters decided who they were and what they were and what the mystery was. And he would write a scene and then I would get it and I’m like, “Oh, it’s a good scene. I love where it’s going. Maybe…” Okay, so like I’m not going to give a spoiler, but there’s a scene at the end of Book 1 where the murderer is caught and our two heroes are like in this epic battle fighting them, like the murderer, right?
Okay. So Hank writes that scene and I’m like, “Ah,” and then I go in and I add some fighting, some struggling, and maybe a little dialogue. Hank comes back in, he adds a little more dialogue. He remembers that the gun is on the other side of the room. Whatever the detail is, we both keep adding layers. And I think it comes back to the point that we’re both so invested in our characters and we weren’t, like, competing to try to be the better person.
And I think that’s a lot of it. I mean, I think you can’t co-write a book together if you’re competitive or need center of attention. Hank and I just had so much fun. It would be like, “Oh, yeah. Add that, add that.” And he’s just like “Oh, my God. We’re great. That’s great. You shot him. Oh, I didn’t expect to shoot him. Let’s do that.” Whatever it was and we kept adding these layers and it became so much fun. But in the end, when we would get a scene and it was completed, we would…each of us would go back and read through the whole manuscript and be like, “Oh, we missed that detail.”
And Hank would send that to me. And I’d be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I forgot about that.” And he would add it. Or I would like, even today, we’re actually like one day off submitting Book 2. We were going to submit it today but I am like typo crazy. So I sent the manuscript to my Kindle so I could find any misspellings and typos. And I was like, “Oh, my God. We have a scene where Michael and Jazz are sitting in Michael’s living room with the TV. And in Book 1, he only has a TV in his bedroom. What are we going to do?” And Hank is like, “That’s cool. Good for catching that.” And I feel like that’s kind of how we’ve been like we’ll catch something and go. “Oh, I’m glad you caught that.”
Hank: Yeah. But to your point, Jeff, you said like about planning and writing off the cuff, so the first book, I think, Deanna, you can tell me if I’m wrong. But the first book was really, I mean, it wasn’t easy because writing is hard but it was easier. Book 2, it was more of a struggle I think with writing it.
Deanna: Book 2 was more of a struggle.
Hank: And we had a lot going on. So we have like an overarching mystery, we have another, like, contained mystery.
Hank: So we’ve talked about it and we’re like Book 3, we really need to plan it out more. We’re gonna… Like once we let this book to get out a little bit, we’re going to like start planning Book 3 and then really like…
Deanna: We need a serious luncheon with some planning.
Hank: Yeah, so, absolutely.
Deanna: Book 1 was very organic and natural. And Book 2, I mean, you’ll probably agree, Hank, I think we fell in love with our side characters so much we got distracted with all these sides stories. Even our editor was like, “Why are you talking about that and that?” We’re like…
Hank: “Because we like them.”
Deanna: So we had to cut a lot of scenes and really focus back on the romance, on book 2.
Jeff: DVD extras, deleted scenes.
Hank: DVD extras, exactly.
Jeff: But let’s talk about those side characters a little bit because there’s a whole paragraph of the blurb for Book 1 that details the side characters. Michael’s sassy assistant, Kitty, the grumpy Sheriff Musgrave, Russell’s creepy PR rep, Norbert, Michael’s grandfather who likes his Manhattans strong and his women saucy. And of course, who we’ve already met, Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third.
Hank: Yes. Mm-hmm.
Jeff: So did you guys split those up in the same way that you took Jazz, Hank, and Deanna took Michael? Or did these get created on the fly as you needed them?
Deanna: They were on the fly.
Deanna: We just like…
Hank: We just do, kind of. Yeah.
Deanna: I think I came up with Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third and Hank created Sheriff Musgrave. Because I think when we were talking, Sheriff Musgrave was actually like an old man and Hank made him this whole, like, Ron Perlman kind of character.
Hank: Yes. Very Ron Perlman.
Deanna: He has a lot of attitude. And Kitty, I don’t know where she came from.
Hank: You created Kitty.
Deanna: Did I? Okay, because I imagine her. Do you watch “Blue Blood” with Tom Selleck?
Jeff: I have not.
Deanna: Oh, anyways. His secretary is this voluptuous like blonde chick and I pictured her. And I don’t know who created Grandpa.
Hank: I think we both did.
Deanna: You had Steve.
Hank: Oh, yeah, the handyman.
Deanna: We both made Ezra.
Hank: The apprentice.
Deanna: I don’t know anything about them. That’s not a spoiler at all.
Jeff: That’s very impressive to just kind of create on the fly like that. Two people pantsing would make my head explode, but.
Hank: It was insane. I don’t know how we managed to do it but…
Jeff: I think you had fun with it all the more.
Hank: …we had really good feedback from the editor.
Deanna: We did have so much fun, Jeff.
Deanna: I don’t know how lucky I am. Like a year ago, I sent him a drunk text message that we should write a book together. And we have had the best year.
Jeff: Had it even crossed your minds before the drunk text to do this in some, like, other random moment?
Hank: Never ever really even talked about it? I mean, we see each other GRL. She comes up for Ferndale Pride because she lives about an hour and a half away from me.
Deanna: I’m northwest Ohio, he’s southwest Michigan, so we’ve done some pride festivals together. But in all freaking honesty, the whiskey made me do it, Jeff. I literally texted him, “Hey, full disclosure, I’ve been drinking. We should write a book together.” I do believe, Hank, that was the quote.
Hank: Pretty much. Yeah.
Deanna: And he was like, “We would write the fuck out of a rom-com.” And I was like, “We would.” And then we ran with it. And then that’s that. It was just, like, all fun.
Jeff: And it’s interesting that you’re evolving in Book 2 and probably in Book 3 too. You had the fun moment. Now you kind of have to make everything keep tying together in the next two books.
Hank: Yes. It’s all got to come together now for the third book. Yeah.
Jeff: Because that’s like, yeah, when you have all that tied together stuff, because I’ve been reading a lot of romantic suspense lately where it’s like something that arcs across a trilogy or whatever, and it’s like…it’s exciting.
Deanna: Yeah. Book 2 is tentatively called “Murder Most Deserving,” and it was a lot harder to write than the first book.
Jeff: As fun though, I hope?
Hank: Oh, yeah.
Deanna: Oh yeah, just as fun, but there were moments I feel like we both checked out. And we’ve had this conversation. We know that we checked out because we had decided on a storyline for Michael and Jazz. And then we were like, “This doesn’t feel right.” Because it’s not your book, it also belongs to someone else, you don’t just say, “Oh, that storyline can’t happen,” because two of you decided together so you keep going with it. And then there’s moments where we had to talk and we’re like…where I was like, “I don’t like this.” And he’s like, “Yeah, I don’t like it either.”
And I thought I said I didn’t like it. I’m like, “Maybe you said you didn’t like it. But I didn’t really expect you didn’t like it and I don’t know why we didn’t like it. And I don’t even know why we’re doing it.” And it was like we had…I mean, there was like, there was a couple of moments like that on the story. And there was also like we said in the beginning, we love our side characters too much. And we gave them a lot of screen time they did not deserve, even though we love them. So we had to distract and take a lot of stuff out. Not that we wanted to take it out but it was like why is this thing here? No one cares…
Deanna: …except us. So it was a little different. Like we created this wonderful world and in Book 2 we kind of just went crazy. We, like, went crazy with the Cheez Whiz. It’s like, “I love Sheriff Musgrave. I love Missy.” And we just wrote all these scenes and we’re like… And part of that I will say is my fault because I sent a lot of scenes to Hank before we even plotted the book. I was like, “I wrote this funny scene I’m going to send you.” And he’s like, “I love it.” And we wrote it.
Hank: And I was like opening emails from Oprah. “And you get a storyline, and you get a storyline.”
Jeff: Maybe these could become short stories for these characters if you can’t get them into the book.
Hank: That’s great.
Jeff: So take a moment to brag on each other. And outside of working on this book, what do you like about each other’s work?
Hank: I’ll go.
Jeff: Hank first.
Hank: All right. I love Deanna’s depth of characters. So her books, I think the first one I read of yours was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” And I was like, “Oh, Ichabod. Oh, you naughty boy.” But then I can’t remember in what order then I read them but like “Easy Ryder,” I love that book. That is an awesome book. And I love the time period and I love the characters and I just love all of it and the discovery. That’s a road trip, another…you love the road trip books.
Hank: Apparently. And then “Wrecked” is awesome. It’s really good. But she has a way of just like, you know, pulling up those emotions and really getting into the romance of it and doing an awesome job with it and having the characters. And then the conflict is organic, it’s not, like, fabricated. And it all blends together. She’s got a really good sense of story.
Deanna: That’s so sweet. I feel like, Hank, your dialogue sells your story. You could write a whole book on just dialogue with nothing else and people would buy it and laugh. You’re hilarious and your dialogue is great. And I feel like our styles mesh well because I do write more… I like to write a lot of the internal monologue and the emotion. But I’ll tell you an example, and this is a semi-spoiler in Book 2. But this is what I love about Hank’s writing.
Okay. I’m not gonna tell too much of the story but there is a scene where something really shocking happens for our character, Jazz, the hairdresser. And the scene is in Jazz’s point of view. You’ll know what I’m talking about in a second. So the scene is in Jazz’s point of view and then Michael, our mortician, bursts through the door. And everyone is like, “How did you get here?” And he’s like, “I ran here.” And that sounds like simplistic but the emotional intensity of why Michael would run five blocks to the salon where Jazz works on a mere phone call just conveys so much intensity with three words, “I ran here.”
And that’s what I love about Hank’s writing. I mean, I write the long emotional, internal monologue. And Hank writes that same intense emotional monologue in three words, “I ran here.” And I think, I mean, I’ve always…that’s what I love about his books. But I feel like those two things complement each other in our writing. Like I like to write the long drawn out emotional and he writes that same scene in three words, “I ran here.” And that’s why I love writing with him.
Jeff: Cool. They’re hearting each other for those people not watching the video right now.
Jeff: So you mentioned three towns…three towns, no, three books in the “Lacetown” series are planned. Do you foresee life in the universe beyond those three since you’re having such a good time?
Hank: We talked about it. We’ve discussed it, yeah. We’ve got the trilogy planned and then we’ll see what happens with it.
Deanna: We have at least two in our head.
Jeff: That’s cool.
Deanna: Beyond the three.
Jeff: Now what about separately? What’s coming up next outside of the “Lacetown” series for you both?
Hank: You have something coming up soon, Deanna.
Deanna: Well, I have one thing coming up for sure and hopefully two. I also write young adult fiction just like Hank does under his…is it RG or RD?
Deanna: R.G. Thomas. Hank has a young adult series under RG Thomas. And I have a young adult series, K.D. Worth, which is very different from my Deanna Wadsworth writing. It’s young adults/new adults because my characters are 19 and there are some, I don’t know, level-three sexy moments. So you can’t really…like you know people get funny about young adult that has sexy stuff in it. There’s a strong spiritual element with the main character who was trying to kill himself because of his family sending him to like one of those creepy pray-the-gay away camps. And the moment he kills himself he’s saved by a young teenage Grim Reaper, who decides that he wants to give him a second chance in life. And there’s a sassy foul-mouthed, because no one understands why Deanna would write a character like that, a sassy foul-mouthed angel who helps these boys on their journey. And that story is called “The Grim Life.”
And Book 3, the final series, the final saga in that trilogy “The Lost Souls” is coming out this fall. And I’m really, really excited about that. I mean, a lot of M/M or gay romance, whatever you want to call it, authors know that young adult isn’t where the sales and money are at, sadly, but this is like a really intense…I don’t want to say pet project because that trivializes it, but it’s really a series that means more to me than almost anything I’ve ever written.
Hank: Yeah. You’ve been working on these for what? Like two years now?
Deanna: Yeah, four. It took me two years to write Book 3 because I just emotionally invested in it. There’s a lot of death and questioning of what goes on on the other side and where God sees your soul and all these like intensely hard questions. And to make things harder on myself, I put a school shooting in Book 3 because why not?
Hank: No, why?
Deanna: It’s so emotionally intense that you can’t write it. So that comes out this fall. But I’m hoping my second book in my Pride of the Caribbean Cruise series comes out which is a merman.
Deanna: A merman…
Hank: On a cruise.
Deanna: …on a Caribbean cruise. It’s like I like to be intense or I like to be funny. I can’t be…
Hank: There’s no in between, right.
Jeff: Either end of the spectrum.
Hank: That’s right.
Deanna: That’s what I do. So that’s what’s coming out for me.
Hank: I will be working on the final book of the “Critter Catcher” series, final book for now. It’s tentatively titled “Dread of Night.” So and I’ve got about six chapters written. I’m working on a big pivotal scene also, so I need to just like…now that Book 2 has been sent off for consideration I can like, you know, kind of focus on that because I’m really bad at like jumping between projects too. Like my mind gets stuck in the other characters because while I’m working on this other I’m like, “But wait, what about…?” So, yeah.
Jeff: Cool. All right. What is the…
Hank: There’s other stuff to work on too but that’s the big thing coming up.
Deanna: I love the “Critter Catcher” books. They’re so good. I manipulated Hank into giving me the last book when I was sick last summer. I was like, “Shouldn’t you send it to me? I know that you’re going to submit it for publishing in a month, but I’m really sick.”
Hank: “I need to beta it. I’m sick.” Yeah.
Deanna: Yes. I did do that.
Jeff: And it worked too, right?
Deanna: It worked.
Hank: I did. I sent it. I was good.
Deanna: And it was worth it.
Jeff: So what’s the best way for readers to keep up with you guys online? Let’s start with Hank.
Hank: I have a website. It’s hankedwardsbooks.com. You can also find my young adult fiction at townofsuperstition.com. And I do have those books listed on my Hank Edwards’ website just to make it easier. And then I’m on Facebook. I have a Facebook page. It’s facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks. And I really don’t use…Twitter confuses me. I get really…it’s just this noise. It’s like people yelling at each other. And so I have a Twitter account but I’m not out there much. But I am on Instagram. I usually post pictures of my cats. You know, and that’s @hankedwardsbooks as well.
Jeff: Cool. And Deanna?
Deanna: I’m on Facebook, deannawadsworthauthor. And Instagram, I go by @deannawads. I don’t know why I didn’t finish my last name but I don’t know. Everybody called my grandpa Wadsy. So I should have done Deanna Wadsy but I screwed that up. But I’m on those two. A little on Twitter and a little on Pinterest, all under Deanna Wadsworth. Mostly my most activity is on Instagram or my website, deannawadsworth.com. And that’s it. And you should totally read Hank’s R.G. Thomas books. It’s like Harry Potter but gay with, like, dragons. And little garden gnomes. I fricking love those books. You better write another one after we write our book. After we write our book. You’ve got to.
Hank: Got it.
Jeff: You’ve got your marching orders now, Hank.
Hank: I do. I get them a lot.
Deanna: He doesn’t have a wife, but…
Hank: It’s all right.
Deanna: …I’ll jump in that role.
Hank: She’s my work wife.
Jeff: All right. Well, this has been a blast. We will definitely link up to everything in the show notes that we’ve talked about here. And we wish you the best of success on the “Lacetown Murder Mysteries.”
Hank: Thanks very much, Jeff. It’s been fun.
Deanna: Thank you, Jeff.