The BL Xpress had the opportunity to interview popular Gay Romance Author and “2019 Lambda Literary Award Finalist” Christina Lee.
Christina has worked as a clinical social worker and a special education teacher and while very rewarding, they still didn’t feel like an exact fit. It wasn’t until she began writing a weekly column for the local newspaper that the bells went off in her head. She could finally draw from her real-life experiences to write fiction—and she has never looked back. Christina writes romance in different sub-genres, mostly with LGBTQ characters, not only because she’s part of the community, but because representation matters!
1) Your “Roadmap to Your Heart Series” clearly has characters that have a hard time trying to accept their attraction for each other. What did you have in mind while writing about them and whose your personal favorite?
The Roadmap series is a spin off from the book called Kickflip. There was a motorcycle gang in the background and once finished with the book, one of the characters nicknamed “Smoke” kept talking in my ear, and telling me his story. Funny how that happens. That was how the first book, “The Darkest Flame”, came to be. But it was the president of the motorcycle club named Malachi who was this largest than life figure and he ended up being one of my favorite characters to finally write. His book is called “The Faintest Spark”. The other favorite character from the series is a gay teen with epilepsy just finding himself in the book “The Deepest Blue”, and I loved giving him his own book as an adult to end the series in The Sweetest Goodbye.
2) “Free Fall Series” was your first collaboration with Riley Hart (writing as Nyrae Dawn). Each novel features a couple with conflicted emotions. How did both of you create this universe together?
We started talking online and became author friends and decided to try our hand at writing a book together. The first book in that series is called Touch the Sky and is about a college age guy suffering from bipolar disorder and we loved writing it because mental health is something close to both of our hearts. In the third book, we wrote a demisexual character named Ezra and it was important to us to have that representation as well.
3) “Heartsville Series” first book deals with a threesome couple and second book focuses on a grieving widower looking for a second chance at happiness. How did you envision this storyline?
This was the series I cowrote with Felice Stevens. We decided that we wanted to focus on a poly relationship in Last Call and though it was fun, it was also challenging too because we wanted to make sure all three personalities were represented and the relationship was strong for them together as a threesome—especially since the complaint some readers have is that they feel one character always gets left out. So we tried hard to make their relationship strong but also realistic, hoping to depict the struggles that a real poly relationship might have, but also the rewards and benefits. We loved the setting we created so much that we decided to write a second book in the same town about a heart transplant recipient who finds the donor’s husband. Both books were emotional and meaningful to us in their own way.
4) “Under My Skin Series” features a premise where one of the characters is entirely vulnerable and is inexplicably drawn to his better half. How did you visualize these characters?
This series revolves around a dog grooming business and the characters who work there and eventually find their true loves. It was challenging to write because some of the character’s backgrounds were heart-breaking. The first two books (Regret and Reawaken) ended up being pretty angsty which made for some awesome hurt/comfort trope setups. The last book, Redeem, takes the two jerky ex-boyfriends from the other books and give them their HEA together. That was very satisfying to write—like the ultimate redemption story.
5) You have built your “So This is Christmas Series” world on “Opposites Attract” trope. How different are these couples from each other and how much fun did you have writing their stories?
The trope I concentrated on for those books was actually more “brother’s best friend” and they are filled with sweet and steamy holiday goodness. But yes, the differences between the love interests also made for some interesting banter. They were a pleasure to write.
6) Your second collaboration with Riley Hart “Forbidden Love Series”, is loosely based on a certain treasured fairy tale. How did this fictional fairy tale romance materialize?
We saw a gorgeous cover for a gay fairy tale (which ended up becoming Ever After), fell in love with it, and decided to write a book loosely based on Cinderella. Then we came up with a concept for the second book, Forever Moore, based on Snow White and the Huntsman. Both books were so refreshing to write because they take place in a different time period in made up worlds and gave us a little break from writing contemporary.
7) “Easton U Pirates Series” features hot jocks (who might be closeted) and share undeniable attraction. What drew you to this campus romance?
I took a sport I know well, baseball, and decided to write a fun book surrounding a college team—also keeping in mind that it can be really tough for athletes to come out in a sometimes toxically masculine environment. But I was striving for fun and light and (mostly) accepting this time around. The first is called Bat Boy and is about the team captain and the coach’s son and was so swoony and sweet to write. It was only supposed to be one book, but the character named Maclain would not leave me alone and I had to write his book too—called Home Plate—though his story is a bit angstier because of his background. He also became one of my favorite characters ever.
8) Pretty boys wearing makeup and having an independent attitude sound intriguing. Your third collaboration with Riley Hart “Boys in Makeup Series” is certainly one of my favorites. What is so special these boys, that you wanted to share their life experiences?
Thanks! We decided we wanted to write about mostly confident and fun-loving guys who loved wearing makeup and worked in a gay bar. All three books ended up being “opposites attract” and we really enjoyed writing the setting and the characters. It’s a mostly light-hearted series and we had fun with the cover images, the makeup concept, and the banter between the characters.
9) How is the experience of collaborating with author Riley Hart? How do you make it work so effortlessly?
I think in order to cowrite with an author it helps not only to be friends but also to have similar styles and visions for your books. Plus, be a fan of each other’s work. There’s a lot of time spent before actually writing the book choosing characters and deciding their conflicts and motivations and then ironing out some plot points for the storyline. Then the way we work (every co-author team works differently) is we each take a character and take turns passing chapters back and forth to each other in order to move the story along. We also give each other permission to go into each other’s chapters and change the dialog to make it fits our character. It’s a lot of fun and makes the writing process less “solo” for a while, which is a nice break in routine.
10) What is your opinion about the current status of LGBTQ representation in Gay novels? Do you feel that the MM Romance genre is adequately representing them?
I think that it has come a long way and now the romance genre has grown so much that there is a book out there for everyone to see themselves represented and that is a good thing. Sure, some book might miss the mark but by and large authors are sensitive to the population they are writing about and take the time to try and get it right. Having said that, there also is no one right lgbtq+ experience, but paying attention to stereotypes and sensitive language goes a long way in helping readers see themselves on the page—or at least become a better ally to the community.
11) Would you like to share details about your upcoming book releases?
I haven’t actually given many details about my next book except to say it will be released this summer. It takes place in a different time period, in a made up “magical” world, in a gay brothel, and it was exactly the kind of book I needed to write at this time.
Thanks for having me! XO
The BL Xpress would like to thank Christina Lee for this opportunity!