We are thrilled to welcome popular Gay Romance Author A.E.Wasp to the BL Xpress.
After time spent raising children, earning several college degrees, and traveling the world with the U.S. State Department, Amy Wasp returned to her first love – writing. A dreamer and an idealist, Amy writes about people finding connection in a world that can seem lonely and magic in a world than can seem all too mundane. She invites readers into her character’s lives and worlds when they are their most vulnerable, their most human, living with the same hopes and fears we all have. 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 worlds!
1) “Soulbonded Series” is an intriguing mix of urban fantasy tied together with horror and paranormal. So many surprising elements in the same storyline. What did you have in mind while scripting this romance?
Starting with the hard questions! I am always surprised that anyone has read these books. They were my first attempt at writing a full-length novel. There is a long convoluted history behind those books. Buckle in.
First, I’ve always loved fantasy of any type: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and ghost stories. I love how all cultures around the world have the same elements in their myths and legends. Fantastical creatures, other worlds, ghosts, witches, gods, magic, and the power of love. Floods, fires, and impossible quests.
I tried for years to write this urban fantasy story that takes place twenty years after these mystical portals opened between our world and other realms. Bad things got through and the people from all the realms banded together to destroy them and close the portals. Closing the portals stranded my versions of elves and dwarves on earth. Twenty years later, the portals seem to be open again.
Despite copious notes, approaching it from various different angles, and thousands of words, I wasn’t able to pull it all together. But the idea and the elements never left my mind.
Then came Buried Desire. I am embarrassed to admit this, but honestly, the idea for it came from a rewatching of Dirty Dancing and the TV Supernatural. (I’m sure it’s blindingly obvious once you know that!) Throw in some research I had been doing on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Roma people, add my love of ghosts, and there you have it. (Sadly the murder in that book is based on an actual tragic case.)
In the writing, as the world of Soulbonded came clearer, the concepts from that unwritten series wouldn’t leave my mind, and I wondered how I could tie them together. I couldn’t leave my boys separated, so after a long road trip through Minnesota, I delved deeply into the culture and myths of the people that settled that part of the U.S. (I call it my ‘rural fantasy.’ Fantasy set more or less in the ‘real’ world, but in a country setting rather than the cities that are the more usual setting.) One of my favorite fantasy elements, the Wild Hunt, fit in perfectly with the world I was creating.
I did have plans for the third book, but financially, I couldn’t afford to write it. Called Stolen Fire, it centers around the stories almost every culture has about how humans acquired fire. In it, Nikolai chases the beings that stole his brother through all the realms of the earth and heavens. In doing so, he tears open the fabric between the worlds, and in doing so, opens the portals that lead to the war in that unwritten book.
One day, I will finish that book and the one I originally set out to write!
2) In “Veterans Affairs Series”, you have created main characters who try desperately to fight their mutual attraction and yet inevitably end falling in love. How did this fictional romance materialize?
Well, they have to fall in love or it isn’t a romance, right? Plus I adore writing people falling in love. I deciding on writing military characters after I spend a year in Kabul, Afghanistan with the U.S. State Department. The stories I heard from the Marines and soldiers and former military personal affected me strongly. Most of the VA books are about the struggles to reintegrate into the civilian world after the horrors of war. These men have struggles but they are finally in a place where they can act on the attractions and love they have had to supress for years. I have to give my veterans happy endings.
3) “Hot Off the Ice Series” has hot hockey players suffering from commitment phobia, struggling past their true feelings. It is one of my favorite book series. How did you conceptualize this storyline?
I don’t think any of my characters struggle from commitment phobia. They all have personal issues and fears that are serious barriers to a relationship. I love hockey. I love watching it and reading it. It is still one of the hardest sports in which to be a gay man. (The woman do not have the same struggles) It’s a very macho world, where the word gay and other, more offense words, are throw around regularly in locker rooms and on the ice.
I wanted to explore the impact of coming out on professional athletes at different phases of their careers. I set in in the NHL, the highest tier of hockey in the US, because it’s exciting, and those guys have the most to lose, financially and professionally, by coming out.
It’s also fun to write about hot, fit men with money falling in love. The hardest one to write was Country Boy. I wanted to treat Paul’s religious beliefs (that I don’t share) with respect and have him keep his faith at the end. I also wanted to try and make readers understand and forgive his apparently homophobic father.
You’ll be happy to know I’m going back to writing hockey! There will be more Hot Off the Ice books in 2022. The first one is tentatively titled College Boy and stars a talented but undisciplined rookie and an reclusive retired player brought in to bring the young hotshot in line. I’m looking forward to watching it.
4) In “Pros & Cons Series”, you have created an invariable universe involving a gang of cons fighting for justice. How much fun did you have writing their stories?
I had so much fun writing the characters and their dialogue and creating the perfect partner for each main character. As a kid, I loved all heist movies and TV shows and anything that involved a found family solving mysteries together. Everything from Robin Hood and Mission: Impossible, to Charlie’s Angels, Ocean’s 11, and, of course, Leverage.
Fun fact, the historical love triangle in Pros & Cons of Desire is based on real life events surrounding the building of Vizcaya, a mansion in Miami, Florida. Diego Suarez, a Columbian man, was the landscape architect for the mansion. He left under mysterious circumstances, admist rumors that he was involved in a love triangle with the owner and the interior designer. He died in 1974.
Leo and Charlie were so much fun to write. And I loved having the space of five books to let their relationship be revealed.
5) You surely love writing horror stories, as in evident from “A Cradle to Grave Mystery Series”. How did this book involving an ex-cop and a psychic materialize?
I do love horror! It is where I starting writing back in the 80s. Like I said, I love ghosts. I’ve always wished I could see and talk to them. And who doesn’t love a skeptic and a believer working together? Friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes to write. I love writing the transition from one to the other.
The setting for that story is actually a rodeo arena down the block from my house. It looks exactly like I’ve described. (Same with Bryce’s farm in City Boy. That is based on an orchard a few miles away) I have another book outlined that takes place in a haunted hotel Deadwood, South Dakota, another location I discovered on a road trip. I go on many, many road trips. Fun fact, Khun Honey is loosely based on a woman I worked with at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Thai ghost stories are some of my absolute favorite ghost stories. I love the way the movies combine humor and scary ghosts.
I also would love to return to this series one day!
6) Do you have any favorite book, drama or movie that has left an ever lasting impression on your mind?
So, so, many. It would be impossible to pick only one. Madeline L’Engle for her philosophy and her exploration of love. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavir Tapestry. His writing is exquisite and I love how he explores the common themes and imagery that show up in myths and legends around the world. (Like I was looking to do in Soulbonded but he does it much, much better.)
Various speculative fantasies of the 70s and 80s. Writers like Harlan Ellison and Norman Spinrad.
I’ve mentioned several contemporary TV shows that influenced me. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
7) Do you enjoy reading MM Romance novels written by your contemporary authors? If yes, then who is your current favorite author and why?
One of my favorite contemporary author is K.J. Charlies. I would read her shopping lists. Her chracters are complex, unique, and fascinating. I want to live in the worlds she creates. Her writing is phenomenal. Her books are fresh and exciting, whether they are paranormal or mainstream historicals. Everyone should read them.
Another author who is an autobuy for me is Gail Carriger. Under this name, she writes the Parasol Protectorate, a series of mostly MF steampunk urban fantasy historical romances that I devour. It’s funny because her books feature male/female romances and shifters, two things I normally avoid. But she makes me love them. Her women are amazing, strong in all kinds of different ways. The world is fascinating, combing fantasy and reality and history in a way I can’t get enough of. Under her G.L. Carringer pen name, she has a contemporary series of MM shifter romances set in San Fransisco, California that I also highly recommend. Where else can you find a female country music superstar who is also an alpha werewolf?
8) Being lesbian yourself, what is your opinion about the current status of LGBTQ representation in books?
It’s so much better than I could have ever imagined. The most exciting thing, to me, is the wide representation in mainstream YA books. I truly believe that allowing young people to see themselves in popular culture – books, movies, tv shows – saves lives. Representation matters so much. I like that we’ve moved beyond the characters sexuality being the main focus of the stories and becoming just another aspect of their personality that of course impacts their lives and stories but doesn’t define it.
The fact that very successful MF romance writers have ventured into writing LGBT+ romances is a great sign. Once people realize they can make money from it, there is no going back!
9) Would you like to share details about your upcoming book releases? Would you be interested in writing lesbian romances anytime in the future?
First upcoming is a short coda to the Pros & Cons series set at Charlie’s mansion in Devon, England. I hadn’t planned on writing it. It just snuck up on me, and I’m having so much fun writing it.
Then, as mentioned above, I’m going back to hockey! I needed a break, but now I have so many characters and storyline rattling around in my head, I have to write them. There will be more Hot Off the Ice books with the Thunder, and I am dying to get back to Beau and Connor from Score and write some books about the Tornado, the ECHL team they now own. It just happens to be part of the Thunder family!
I will probably write some lesbian romances in the future. I have Bryce’s sister and Natalie O’Reilly, both from Hot off the Ice, yelling at me to give them happy endings. The funny thing is, women’s hockey has real life love stories that could have come straight from a romance novel. There are two marriages between players on the Canadian and USA Olympic hockey teams!
I hope those answers weren’t too long! I love writing and will talk about it as often as I can!
The BL Xpress would like to thank A.E. Wasp for taking the time to answer our questions!