Author Melissa Brayden on her best-selling lesbian romance novels, and advice for aspiring writers

AE: I really fell hard for your first book, Waiting in the Wings, which is about two actresses. While they become famous eventually, I really love the beginning when they are just two working actors, making their way in the world. Does that harken back to your own experience?

 MB: I think so. I think I really put a lot of myself into that book, and then at the same time, armored those characters with qualities that I wish I had. For example, I’m not a good dancer, so I made sure that main character was an amazing dancer. I kind of got to live vicariously through her in a way, but writing a first book, I think I wanted to put everything into that book that I would want to read. Being a die hard theatre goer as well as practitioner, I wanted to explore that world correctly. I’d read a couple of books that I thought didn’t get it exactly right, so I did my best to be more realistic. But I didn’t want it to take over. I didn’t want the entire book to beat you over the head with that world, but I wanted it to be a backdrop with a lot of texture.

AE: I loved that about it. I was really, really into it.

MB: Yay!

AE: It was actually one of the first romance novels that I’d read. I’d read a couple romance novels and then I saw the cover for Waiting in the Wings and it really drew me in, and it turns out I signed up for a really good story. I credit you with getting me much more into romance novels.

MB: Yay, that’s an excellent compliment, probably one of the best ones you could pay me.

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AE: You live in Texas, but many of your novels take place in New York City. Do you feel a special connection with the city?

MB: I have my own personal love affair with New York. I try to get there as much as I can. There’s been years where I’ve made seven or eight trips to the city from Texas, which can take a toll on your bank account so you have to be careful about those things. I’m down to two or three trips a year, mostly theatre trips, and I’ve considered moving there even, but it’s a really expensive place to live.

AE: You’re telling me. [laughs]

 MB: So I decided that I would just be a frequent visitor, but there is something about New York City that there’s always something happening, no matter what time of day or night. There’s a buzz in the air because something important is always going on. It’s really fun for me to get to write that, but it’s also probably the city that I know second best next to my own. And once again, I don’t have to go too far into research. I know how the streets work and the neighborhoods and their feels, and things like that. It’s just an easy go to. In fact, after the SoHo books, the next book I’m writing is actually another New York City ballet book.

AE: You’ve written six books since 2012…

MB: Have I? Yeah…

AE: How do you find time to do it? I think that’s something that many aspiring writers deal with.

MB: It’s not easy and I think there is something to be said for making it a part of your routine. I started writing when I had a full time job, so it would be a matter of, if I got home at 6:30 in the evening, I might have dinner then sit down to write for an hour and a half. If I could get in, five, six hundred words a day, then eventually those pages were going to start adding up. I think when you first start to write a book, it’s hard because you don’t have a lot of spare time. But an hour and a half are going to go by whether you write five hundred words or not, and at the end, you will have a big stack of pages and a pretty awesome story that wasn’t there before you started. I think once you can get to that point, you remember it and that encouragement keeps you moving forward. Word counts I think help, when you set word counts for yourself.

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AE: What can you tell us about your next novel, Ready or Not?

MB: Ready of Not is the third and final SoHo Loft Romance, and this one tells the story of Mallory, who is the face of the advertising company. She’s kind of the leader among the four friends and she has watched the other girls in the group fall in love and settle down, and she kind of wonders about herself and when her time is going to come.  And there’s this annoying bartender at Showplace, where the girls tend to hang out, that gets under Mallory’s skin in the worst possible way. Sometimes that is the great making of a tension filled romance. Ready or Not is a November release, and I just got the cover out there on social media so people can start looking forward and looking ahead to that book as they finish Just Three Words

You can find Melissa Brayden’s novels in paperback and e-book versions through Bold Strokes Books or Amazon.