We are thrilled to welcome popular Gay Romance Author Anyta Sunday to the BL Xpress.
Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories about characters that slowly fall in love. Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries. Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Join us in this fun conversation as Anyta talks to us about the thought process involved in the making of her novels and upcoming book releases.
1) Congratulations on your latest release “Sagittarius Saves Libra”. I’m a huge fan of your “Signs of Love Series”. What did you have in mind when you decided to use zodiac signs as the base element for this book series?
Oh God, I am such a Leo! At first this series was going to all be all about those lions basking in their spotlight and how they might change depending on the sign they ended up with. Haha. But then I finished the first book and felt it would be waaaay more interesting to explore all the signs and how they interact together, so I decided the series needed at least six books to showcase all the quirks of the zodiacs.
2) Who is your favorite couple from this book series? Did you feel an emotional connection with any of these characters?
Ekkk, I love all my boys, so I’m not allowed favourites! Lol. I should say that the character most like me is probably Reid from Cancer Ships Aquarius. But that emotion is combined with all the laziness of a certain Leo !!
Every pairing has given me so much joy. Truly so much fun playing with the traits of these signs.
3) Your obvious love for the said trope is evident in the “Enemies to Lovers Series”. How much fun did you have visualizing the animosity and subsequent surrender to their feelings?
‘And subsequent surrender.’ Gosh, love the emotion that elicits right there. The thing about “Enemies to Lovers” trope that grips me is how inherently slow-burn the development of the relationship is. Characters going through hurdles and changing bit by bit, showing through actions where they are emotionally . . . and that moment where it tips . . . This is what I love most about reading and writing. That is some of my favourite stuff.
4) “Love and Family Series” is based on your favorite theme of friends to lovers, bi-awakening tropes? Why are you drawn to such subjects? What do you have in mind when you normally conceptualize a storyline or characters?
The “Love and Family” series lets me explore different types of love relationships. Those of friends, siblings, parents. Alongside the primary romantic relationship, I get to explore the intricacies of how that love fits alongside other commitments and responsibilities. Possibly rather therapeutic. I have quite a crazy family set up, and I tend to explore my own feelings through my characters.
5) “Love Inscribed Series” had vulnerable characters falling for individuals who are their complete opposite. Where did you draw inspiration for these stories?
There are so many unique people in the world, so many with varying backgrounds and internal/external challenges and I love to see everyone getting their much deserved happily ever afters. Inspiration comes from all around. In particular, there is someone who I grew up around that had shared traits with Liam, and I always wondered what if… and I played with that idea when I wrote “Liam Davis & The Raven”. I love a good redemption story, too, and always knew when I wrote the first book that Marc Jillson would inevitably end up with Hunter. So that eventually became book two. Don’t ask about book three, (Tyler Bentley & The Jock), I’m really sad about it. It’s a book I would love to write, but there are currently too many hurdles.
6) In “How to Love Series”, we have characters who are dead set on fighting their emotions for each other and yet they inevitably end up falling in love? Is that the reason for the title of this series?
Haha, yeah. This series appears to be all about having fun, but underlying those laughs is a much weightier goal for the characters as they learn to open themselves up to love.
7) “True Love Series” has intriguing characters that are afraid of falling in love? How did you envision these deeply flawed individuals?
I’ve always struggled with skin issues and growing up, getting teased, hating that part of myself, they are powerful emotions. In “True Colours”, I wanted to explore this insecurity, and I wanted to write a redemption story with a romance that, wasn’t skin deep.
8) You choose forbidden love as the main theme for “Rock” and “Nest”. How did this fictional romance materialize?
Forbidden love has a similar slow-burn quality to it that enemies to lovers has, and I enjoy exploring the inner struggles of characters who are fighting against their feelings because they believe them wrong, and slowly learning that love has no boundaries. Rock (step-brothers) in particular has a lot of interesting broken family elements to it that I experienced growing up. This book came from the heart, there is so much me in it.
9) “Love, Austen Series” is another of my favorites. This entire book series is a modern gay retelling of Jane Austen’s classics. How did you come up with this idea? What made you click?
I’ve always loved Jane Austen’s stories! I grew up with the BBC period dramas and they were well watched, and then I read the original source and I found the books just as fascinating. I was chatting with my editor, who is also a big fan, and somehow we got talking about what if Jane Austen’s classics had same-sex romance arcs? What if they were contemporized? It all spiralled from there. It was a passion project, and I’m proud that I retold all six of her core works. Also, the art included in those stories from Lauren Dombromski is incredible. It was a fun project!
10) Do you have any favorite book, drama or movie that has left an ever-lasting impression on your mind?
Too many. Growing up Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women. These were stories that made me want to write. But as I started reading more boy love books, I have a huge appreciation for so many talented authors and that leads to the next question.
11) Do you enjoy reading MM Romance novels written by your contemporary authors? If yes, then who is your current favorite author and why?
Okay, there are lots of authors that are truly talented and inspiring! Sometimes I like to read fun fake boyfriend tropes, other times more emotional tear-jerkers. Currently my favourite reads are epic romance/fantasy translations from Meng Xi Shi, Priest, and Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. These are EPIC slow burns, and I am alllll for it.
12) So, we heard that you are a huge fan of the BL genre? What sort of shows/movies have you watched? Share your experiences?
OMG, YES. I started with Yuri on Ice anime, then jumped to Heaven’s Official Blessing, and then The Untamed live action series and I have been on the bandwagon ever since! My cover artist Natasha Snow (she’s amazing!) is also a big fan and wrote a wooonderful list of must see Asian BL series, and I’ve been going through this list, watching and squee-ing with joy! I’ve recently devoured and looooved: Bad Buddy Series, Cutie Pie, A Tale of a Thousand Stars, Manner of Death . Love them so hard. I’ve just jumped to some more anime and am checking out Drowning Sorrows in Raging Fire right now. Ahhh, so many amazing things to watch. Also, I looove slow burn BL so if anyone has more recommendations, please let me know!!!
13) What is your opinion about the current status of LGBTQ representation in books? Do you feel that the MM Romance genre is adequately representing them?
I think more and more diverse books are being written and it’s incredible to see the wealth of “Happily Ever Afters” there are in the genre. How much things have changed from a decade ago. I am so proud and it’s wonderful to be a part of this writing community.
14) Would you like to share details about your upcoming book releases?
“Sagittarius Saves Libra” has just released. This is romance with a whole lot of merry mix-ups. Our Sagittarius boy Jason swaps lives with his twin brother and ends up in a small Australian town where he encounters fun and frightening things. Likes snakes, like spiders. Like the connection he has with his all-too-perceptive cop neighbor, Sergeant Owen Stirling. (Yikes. It surely won’t be long before he’s in cuffs.)
I hope to have another release in November, what exactly that will be yet I can’t say, something fun for Christmas, I expect.
In the meanwhile, I’m working on another light-hearted/rom-com series set in a seaside town in New Zealand. Similar in style to “Signs of Love”, but whereas Signs explored a lot of clueless characters, these books will (er, probably have a lot of clueless) but will have a focus on cheeky/hilariously arrogant characters. I’m having fun so far! I hope to put them out in succession early next year.
Thank you so much for chatting with me! I wish you all many happy reads!
The BL Xpress would like to thank Anyta Sunday for taking the time to answer our questions!