We were blessed with the opportunity to interview award winning Gay Romance Author Garrett Reigh.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart. In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains. Join us as we strike a conversation with the popular writer about the thought process involved in the making of her novels and their imaginative universes!
1) Your debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the “2014 Rainbow Book Awards”. The “Roads Series” features the diffident couple Pete Adams and Ash Fagin, who have stuck together despite all odds. Where did you draw from inspiration for this winning series?
With Pete and Ash, for me, the overriding theme was always that there was nothing, no matter what life threw at them, that could drive them apart. They love each other so deeply and unconditionally, and particularly in Ash’s case, there really was no one else out there who could do that for me. Ash couldn’t be with anyone but Pete, and loving Pete gave him a reason to love himself a bit more.
2) “Blue Boy Series” depicts bustling romances between three different couples clamoring for love and attention. Talk to us about these standalone love stories that you have scripted so carefully?
Blue Boy was all about showing the human side of sex work. These boys had lives and loves outside of the studio, but working there gave them all a support network of sorts that they so badly needed, especially, Levi, Sonny, and Kai.
3) Both novels in your “Urban Soul Series” have an intriguing premise. While the 2016 LAMBDA awards novel, Misfits features a polyamorous couple; Strays features two contrast characters falling in love. What did you have in mind while writing these deeply flawed individuals?
All individuals are flawed, it’s what makes us human. And, it’s what makes us loveable. Tom loves Cass because he’s a cockney rascal. Lenny loves Nero because he’s worked so hard to recover from the awful things he suffered as a young man. With these books, I wanted to show that love is imperfect because we are imperfect. And that in itself is perfection.
4) Your “Rented Heart Series” has central characters who seem emotionally unavailable but are vulnerable. Did you feel an emotional connection with any of these characters?
Oh yes. Liam was hardest, I’d say. He was still grieving for his husband, but he seemed to have the world at his feet otherwise, so it was tough to dig deeper and find out what he was truly afraid of. Zac and Jamie just wanted better lives. To be the best humans they could be and to be happy. Marc just needed to fall in love to discover that part of himself he’d been missing the whole time. By the end of the series, those four boys were among my favourites.
5) You won the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with your novel “What Remains”. Scripting a romance with an amnesiac character isn’t an easy task. How did this book materialize?
My husband actually has a brain injury, so a lot of Jodi’s nuances came from him. That shopping trip with Rupert and Jodi trying to buy sausages? I’ve been there, haha. But most of all, I just wanted to show that living in the moment is more important than mourning the past. And, as in Rupert’s case, sometimes love really is enough.
6) You also won the EPIC award in contemporary romance for your military novel “Between Ghosts”. It is a compelling romance between a heartbroken journalist and a veteran commander. What did you have in mind when you created these pairing?
Wow. This book was so challenging to write. Both men had suffered so much pain, it was tough to bring them to a place where they could love each other so much. My main inspiration for this book was to write a story that accurately depicted the SAS and their service in Iraq. Too often in romance novels, soldiers are depicted with such inaccuracy that borders on offensive. I wanted to right that wrong a little.
7) “Darkest Skies Series” is filled with angsty romances that focus on second chances, found family, friends-to-lovers trope. How did you envision this universe?
I wanted this series to be dark and hot and addictive. And I think I succeeded. All three books take the characters to the edge of what they can bear, all the while gifting them enough sexual tension to melt the sun, so I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.
8) Do you have any favorite book, drama or movie that has left an ever lasting impression on your mind?
My favourite book is Junk by Melvin Burgess. It’s dark and unglamorous and uncompromising, and I’ve never forgotten it.
9) Do you enjoy reading MM Romance novels written by your contemporary authors? If yes, then who is your current favorite author and why?
I don’t read much MM romance these days, but when I do, I always reach for Roan Parrish, Riley Hart, Avril Ashton, and Con Riley. Oh, and you can never go wrong with an Annabelle Jacob’s shifter romance.
10) Being a Gay Romance Author yourself, what is your opinion about the current status of LGBTQ representation in books?
When I look back at the genre I started in ten years ago, I’m proud of how far we’ve come.
But there’s so much work left to do. I want to see more bisexual/pansexual romances. I want to see more trans books. I want to see more kindness and compassion, and I want to see authors of colour given the same platform and financial rewards as white authors.
11) What are you working on right now? Talk to us about your future books?
I am just wrapping up my Christmas novel, then I’m starting a brand-new series that should be out early next year. It’s set in a fictional seaside town, and features lots of moody ex soldiers, tattooed fishermen, and guitar playing bikers. I can’t wait.
The BL Xpress would like to express their gratitude to Garrett Leigh, for taking the time to talk with us!