Authors Macy Blake and Charlie Cochet join us to talk about Shifter Scoundrels. Macy and Charlie discuss how their friendship led them to spending a couple of years building out a world that is a mix of regency and modern, and how that turned into a series that they co-wrote. We also find out about their individual new series, Macy’s Christmas Sprites and Charlie’s Runaway Grooms.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Macy Blake website | Macy’s Moonlighters Facebook Group
- Charlie Cochet website | Donuts, Dog Tags, and Daydreams Facebook Group
- Notorious by Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake on Amazon
- Coastal Magic Convention website
- Hell or High Water by Charlie Cochet on Amazon
- Amanda Quick on Amazon
- Bridgerton on Netflix
- Julie Garwood on Amazon
- Natasha Snow website
- THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet on Amazon
- The Chosen One series by Macy Blake on Amazon
- Dangerous by Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake on Amazon (pre-order until January 10, 2023)
- Nyall (Christmas Sprites Book 1) by Macy Blake on Amazon (pre-order until December 1, 2022)
- Sleight of Hand by Charlie Cochet on Amazon
- Aisle Be There by Charlie Cochet on Amazon (pre-order until January 24, 2023)
- Four Kings Security Series by Charlie Cochet on Amazon
- Gone But Not Forgotten (TIN Book 1) by Charlie Cochet on Amazon
- Hailey Turner on Amazon
- Alice Winters on Amazon
- Lily Morton on Amazon
- Lucy Lennox on Amazon
- May Archer on Amazon
- Mary Calmes on Amazon
- Louisa Masters on Amazon
- Kiki Burrelli on Amazon
- Kiki Clark on Amazon
- Onley James on Amazon
- K.M. Neuhold on Amazon
- Nora Phoenix on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode, “Bridgerton” meets paranormal romance as we talk with authors Macy Blake and Charlie Cochet about their “Shifter Scoundrels” series.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 404 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Jeff, and with me as always as my co-host and husband, Will.
Will: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. We are so glad that you could join us for another episode of the show.
Jeff: And we’re gonna get right into this super fun interview. I had such a wonderful time talking with Macy Blake and Charlie Cochet. Of course, these two have written so many shifter stories that readers cannot get enough of, and now they’re writing them together with the “Shifter Scoundrels” series. The first book came out back in August, but Macy and Charlie have been working on building out this world for a couple of years now. Hearing how it all came together and how they approached writing this series was absolutely fascinating. Plus, we’re gonna hear about the “Christmas Sprites” series that Macy’s releasing next month, as well as Charlie’s new contemporary romance series, and what’s planned for them both in 2023.
Macy Blake & Charlie Cochet Interview
Jeff: Macy and Charlie, welcome to the podcast. It’s great to have you both back to the show and together on the show for the first time ever.
Macy: It’s fun to be and we’ve missed you. We haven’t seen you in a long time.
Jeff: It has been a while, stupid pandemic.
Macy: I know. I know.
Jeff: So excited to talk to you two because you’re co-writing now, which is so exciting. And of course, you’ve been on the show before. A lot of people know you’ve been friends for forever, but what exactly is the Macy and Charlie origin story? I think we all want to know.
Macy: I dunno. She blames me because…okay, here’s the truth. I might possibly have fan-girled her to an extent that some might find inappropriate. Not inappropriate. That’s not the word.
Macy: Aggressive. I aggressively fan-girled her.
Charlie: Like, when you say inappropriate, like you jumped out of the bathroom stall while I was in it.
Macy: I like, poked my head over and I was like, “Hi, Charlie.”
Coastal Magic, which you’re familiar with, it’s an event you’ve attended. I found out that Charlie lived in Florida, and I basically begged, pleaded, cried maybe a few tears, and just basically convinced her to come and meet a bunch of us authors, and just see what it was about because she had never been to an event before. So, convinced her finally, it took some convincing but got her to come. And then it was weird because it was like, then the moment we met, we had known each other forever. It was one of those things.
Charlie: Yeah, it was like when we were just like, “Oh, it’s been, how many months has it been since we’ve been friends?” And it’s like, wait, has it only been like three…
Macy: It’s been like three weeks. That’s crazy.
Charlie: Like, I feel like forever.
Macy: Yeah, we immediately started having like Skype lunches together, and we would help each other with writing stuff and just like, then suddenly it was like, months had turned into years and then we were just kind of inseparable, so. And then I moved to Florida so I could be closer to her.
Charlie: Yes. I used to drive up to hang out with them on the weekends and then they moved closer.
Macy: We moved closer.
Charlie: So, now we’re just a few minutes away.
Jeff: I was gonna say, now you’re so close, you could actually be in the same space while we’re doing this interview.
Macy: Yeah. Well, we see each other now, I mean, weekly, several times a week usually. And we still talk on Skype too.
Charlie: Yeah, every day, every morning.
Macy: Yeah. Most mornings, yeah.
Charlie: Our puppies go to the same daycare. I feel like we’re parents that meet up at our babies’ schools to pick up the children.
Jeff: That’s adorable. Going to pick up and drop off together.
Macy: Yeah. Yeah, we do. It’s funny.
Charlie: It’s so true.
Macy: And sometimes I’ll pick hers up and sometimes she’ll pick mine up and, yeah, it’s a whole thing.
Jeff: And I love that it started at Coastal because what a nice event to have, like as an on ramp. For somebody who’s never done an event, I feel like Coastal’s a very nice chill thing to do as a first event.
Charlie: Yeah. It was so great because I hadn’t done any conferences really. So, I was really nervous, and it was so laid back and chill and everyone was so nice. It was such a great experience and I think that really helped me…
Macy: Come out of her shell.
Charlie: Yeah, and start doing some of the other bigger conferences because it was so nice. It was such a good experience.
Macy: She’s very shy.
Charlie: I am.
Macy: I don’t let her be though. I forced her.
Jeff: I was gonna say, I don’t know shy Charlie, but I met both of you sometime after that Coastal event, so you had time to work on her.
Macy: I have had time to work on her.
Jeff: I have to ask, what was the book of Charlie’s that turned you into a fan-girl?
Macy: Oh, “Hell & High Water.”
Jeff: Where it starts for so many people. Yeah.
Macy: Yeah. Well, and as a paranormal writer myself, I was just like, the genius of her setup, it was something that I had never read before and I thought of a lot of ways to set up paranormal universes and something like that had never even crossed my mind for some reason. And so, I just got so wrapped up in the characters and how funny Dex is. And so, I knew reading it that our senses of humor were very much the same and that our taste in music would be very much the same. So, it was really…we knew, yeah. A number of times, I mean, this is sort of a random aside, but so her favorite band is Journey and we have all sorts of running jokes because like, no matter where we are, a Journey song comes on, like it’s crazy.
But one time when I still lived up in Jacksonville, I was sitting there working, I had Pandora on and a Journey song came on and she wasn’t supposed to be at my house for like an hour. And I called her and I was like, “Where are you?” And she was like, “I’m at the gate.” I knew she was there because Journey came on. It was hysterical. It’s like every time.
Charlie: It’s spooky.
Macy: It is spooky.
Charlie: Like there are times when I open up, I’m writing something of Dex and like the first song that comes on is “Don’t Stop Believin,” Journey. Just like…
Macy: It’s wild.
Jeff: So, if anybody ever does a movie of your lives, they’re gonna have to clear all the Journey songs.
Macy: I know, yeah.
Jeff: Just for that movie.
Macy: It’s true. It’s true.
Jeff: How did this friendship evolve into becoming collaborators? Because you each have large back lists, but now suddenly you’re collaborators, how did that come about? Because that’s a whole different turn on the relationship that was there.
Charlie: I can feel her staring at me.
Macy: I know. I know you feel it. I mean, I’ll start and then she can finish. There was this thing called a pandemic and then…
Charlie: In case you hadn’t heard.
Macy: In case you were new.
Charlie: Okay. I’m not sure where you want me to take the story.
Macy: Wherever you want.
Charlie: So, we’d sort of thrown it out there over the years or just like, oh, you know, because we have such similar sense of humors and was like, “Oh, we should probably write a book together one day,” but it wasn’t really like a solid thing. And then we kept talking about it more. And then with the pandemic and everything that happened, I had to take a break from writing. And when I finally felt like I wanted to try and get back to it, when I felt I was in a place that I can get back to writing, you know, she’s like, “Maybe this is a really good time for us to do a collab together and see what happens.”
Because we’d been talking about this world for a while now. It wasn’t like we were just starting from scratch. We’d been chatting about it for ages. And I was like, “I think that’s a great idea,” because I can’t think of anything that would make me feel better than writing a book with my best friend. And we were just like, “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, we’ll see.” Because she’d collaborated before. I’d never done a collab, so I had no idea. I was just like, “I’m warning you. There is a slight possibility, I might be a bit of a control freak on this. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Macy: And I was like, “No. You? Really?” I was stunned. Like, absolutely stunned. Shocked and appalled really.
Charlie: Yeah. I was so stunned.
Macy: But yeah, I knew that it would take some of the pressure off of her and that’s really what I wanted. But I also, I love her brain, which is like, she’s so creative and funny and like, she’s helped me with so many things in my worlds. I’ve helped her with so many things in hers that we sort of, we think the same but very different. I kind of felt like it would be a really solid partnership just because if we were stuck, we had such different strengths that we could really pull each other through it, and that’s actually the way it ended up working out. It was kind of amazing how it kind of flowed.
Charlie: Yeah. It really went like so much better than I thought because…
Macy: And you really weren’t like a control freak about it, which was really funny. There was certain things that she would “put her foot down on,” I don’t know. There was air quotes there for anybody listening. There was no real like…it was always like a back and forth discussion that would either end up in a compromise or she would convince me or I would convince her. You know, it was never complicated, like when we were at a stuck point. That was pretty incredible, so.
Charlie: Yeah. We’re just really good at playing off each other and it worked really well.
Jeff: Had collaboration crossed your mind previously, Charlie? Because I mean obviously, Macy had collaborated with others, but it’s all new for you.
Charlie: I had thought about it. I just, because I’ve never done it before, I was nervous because I’m so very, not strict, but I have very specific way of how I write things. I’m not explaining that well at all. I’m a bit controlling. A control freak.
Macy: I was gonna say, you explained it earlier really well.
Charlie: But with my writing, especially if it was like with someone who I didn’t know well, like, I wouldn’t want somebody changing my words, but like, she never did that to me and I never did that to her. We always made comments in it or we tweaked things. Like, I had no problem with her tweaking what I wrote and the same for her. But after that experience, I know now what the process is and kind of if it’s done right between the authors, how it flows really well. So, I think that’s…
Macy: And I don’t think the way we ended up writing “Notorious” either one of us would be able to do with anyone else because we were literally finishing each other’s sentences. I would get to a point there and I would just be like, “Okay, so I got the scene, but it’s not funny and it was supposed to be funny. So, it’s there, but it’s not the way we talked about it. I don’t know. You go read it.” And then she would go in and like change like three things and suddenly it was really funny and kind of vice versa. It would be the same for me. She would be like, “Ah, it’s not there.” And it’s just really hard to do that for somebody when you don’t know each other as well as we know each other. You know, there was…
Charlie: Because we didn’t like divide up the characters. We didn’t divide up the chapters like, “Oh you write this character and I’ll write this character.” We both wrote everything and then, like if it was one of her chapters, I would go back in and read through it, and make tweaks and stuff. And so, our voices really melded together to the point where we’d read something and we’re just like, “Did you write this or did I write this, because I can’t remember.” And there would be times where like I’d write the chapter and I’m just like, there’s something missing. It’s almost there, but there’s something missing and I can’t see it. I can’t figure out what it is. So, then she went through that chapter and like she added paragraphs and I’m like, “That’s perfect. That’s exactly what it needed.”
Macy: It was amazing how well it worked. And like, seriously, there were times when I would just be like, “I am done. I’m done. I’m not doing anymore. It’s yours.” And I would like legit leave it with a half sentence finished. Like, it would just be an incomplete sentence and I would be like, “I’m done.” And then she would just pick it up and keep going. So, I don’t know, I think it would be hard to do that with somebody else because they would be like, “Finish your sentence.” Although she probably said that too.
Jeff: The first book in the series came out this past August. Tell everyone about the “Shifter Scoundrels” series, in general, and what is happening there?
Charlie: Well, we’d both grown up reading regency romance and historical romance. It was my favorite kind of romance to read when I was growing up. Amanda Quick is still one of my favorite historical romance authors. I still have books from when I was in college. When we were talking about collaborating, we were just like, “Well, obviously, we’re gonna write paranormal because we both have paranormal readers and we both love writing paranormal.” And then we’re like, but we wanted to do something a little bit different. She’s like, “What can we do?” And then we started talking about the books that we enjoyed reading and historical came up and regency and we’re like, “What if we did like a mashup of like, historical, but modern, and shifters?”
Macy: And we had decided that, funnily enough, we were already had the world built, characters, some plotting done, and all of that when the first season of “Bridgerton” came out. And so, it just was like, “Oh yeah, this is…”
Charlie: We’re on the right track.
Macy: We’re on the right track with this because the vibe in that was very much what we were going for, but we definitely wanted it set in the modern day. Like, we knew we wanted it modern. So, we just had fun with it. And we drew on a lot of those books. She was Amanda Quick. I loved Julie Garwood. So, I read some Amanda Quick and she read some Julie Garwood and we would just like throw ideas back and forth of what kinds of characters we liked, and how we could kind of make that work.
Like, what would a shifter duke be like? What would that be? And so, then we would just like, spend hours talking about that stuff, you know. So, it was…
Charlie: What would a historical shifter society look like? And how can we explain the fact that we have this regency/historical world in the modern world…
Macy: And how can we make it work?
Charlie: Yeah. How can we make it work?
Macy: And it was lots of hours and hours long, phone calls. Like, we go on a vacation together, so. We go on writing retreats together. So, it’s a very long drive where we go to the retreat. So, the whole time one of us or the other of us would be taking notes, and we would just be like brainstorming. And so, we did that for a few years before we even like decided officially we were gonna collaborate. We were just having fun creating this random world that we weren’t sure we would ever write, to be honest with you, so.
Jeff: I love the very distinctive way that you frame “Notorious,” modern day “Bridgerton” with shifter royalty. I mean, that is everything you need to know in like half a dozen words.
Jeff: Who do we meet in “Notorious?” Tell us a little bit about that book.
Charlie: Well, in “Notorious,” we meet Cas, who is our high-society, roguish earl. He’s the guy that everybody knows, the charmer, and he’s at all the parties. And we meet Saphir, who is our former captain of the guard. And he’s a very stoic, serious…
Macy: Responsible is a good word.
Charlie: …responsible guy. And they get thrown together and they both have their secrets.
Macy: Yep. They’re both keeping big secrets and they…
Charlie: They’re both keeping big secrets.
Macy: …get matched by the lionesses who are like the head ladies in the time. They decide they would be the perfect match for each other. So, it’s a lot of fun seeing well, they’re both there and they’re both doing their own mischief, but they have to make appearances.
Charlie: They both have their own agendas.
Macy: They’re both there for their own reasons.
Charlie: But they’ve gotta somehow make it work. A lot of intrigue, danger.
Macy: Intrigue, mystery.
Charlie: And excitement.
Macy: And fancy costumes.
Charlie: Fancy costumes. Yeah. Fancy costumes.
Jeff: Well, if you’re matching it up to “Bridgeton,” there have to be fancy costumes.
Charlie: They have to be fancy. We had a lot of fun with the…
Macy: We did.
Charlie: We have a whole Pinterest board.
Macy: Yeah. It was crazy. And I would be like, “Wait, which outfit was he wearing at this ball?” We would have to like…yeah, it was a lot of fun. Because we also tried to put them in sort of historical clothes, but also with a modern twist. So, it was, again, the whole thing of like trying to find the perfect vibe even in our heads, so that we could describe it to readers. And it felt historical, but there were modern twists. Like, cell phones were a big thing, and he would be getting text messages on his watch. And so, we were able to incorporate some of that technology into…
Charlie: But it was fun trying to blend that into the historical where it wasn’t jarring, where it kind of made sense and meshed with the historical. That was fun. It’s just like, “Okay, well if we’ve got cell phones, how do we introduce that and make it so it’s not like this…”
Macy: Disruptive of the world. Yeah.
Jeff: And the cover captures this great too with “Notorious.” You get that vibe.
Macy: Natasha Snow is a goddess. Like…
Charlie: She did an amazing job.
Macy: …she nailed that cover.
Charlie: Like, perfect.
Macy: So, when we first saw it, we were just like, “Yes, that.”
Jeff: I’m excited to see the next book cover when you do reveal it for what’s coming out later, just to see what that, the next is going to look like.
Macy: Yeah. It’s amazing.
Charlie: Yeah, it is.
Jeff: Of course, it is.
We got several questions from our Patreon community…
Macy: Oh, awesome.
Jeff: …when they found out we were talking to you two. And Rhonda’s curious what specifically inspired the dragon society and using that, following those regency, the morays of that era, and what was it about the dragons that kind of pulled you in that direction to have it set up that way?
Charlie: When we decided we were gonna write paranormal, we were like, “What haven’t either of us really written a lot of?” I mean, she’d done dragons before, but it was in a kind of ensemble cast. And I hadn’t written dragons before, so we were just like, “Maybe we should have some fun with dragons.” And our original idea sort of just completely turned into something else.
Macy: It was gonna be all dragons, for the first like five minutes, I think.
Charlie: Yeah. And then suddenly, you know, a fox popped up and we’re like, “I guess we’re not doing all dragons.” And I mean, if you’re gonna have a king of a shifter society, like, what kind of shifter is more regal than this powerful dragon that’s been around since the dawn of time.
Macy: But yeah, that’s really it. It came about that because neither one of us had ever written a dragon society. Like she said, I have written dragons characters that were involved in other aspects of the world, but we had never written a dragon society. Of course, we didn’t end up writing exactly a dragon society, but yes.
Charlie: We still ended up writing something that neither of us had written before.
Macy: Had ever really done, yeah. So, that was really our ultimate goal.
Jeff: As you create a world like this, is there research that you do to capture some of it, or is it just like the opportunity to just make it all up?
Charlie: It’s a little of both.
Macy: I was gonna say yes.
Charlie: Because it’s paranormal and because it’s historical, there’s a lot of rules that need to be established, but we’re both very familiar with paranormal world rules. So, it was just a matter of talking those through. And some of them didn’t come up until we got to certain points and we’re like, “Oh, we haven’t really decided what we’re gonna do with this. Like, what’s the rule on this?” But there was research involved for the historical part of it, the names for things, the wardrobes, the hierarchy in the society. So, there was a lot of research involved. Yes.
Macy: How titles are used was a big thing. We made some executive decisions in the book that we used a lot more capitalization than would normally be used. And we did that intentionally because, again, we wanted to show that this world was slightly different. And it was just little touches like that, that we tried to put in, so that, if you didn’t see the difference, if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t notice. But if you did know, you would say, “There’s something’s slightly different about this.” It was just a lot of little things like that. But yeah, there was a ton of research on the historical, and then how we could take that and make it modern, and make it make sense.
Jeff: That’s really cool how, even though you’re writing modern, you’re still rooting it in the research behind regency, instead of just creating it and just kind of building the world completely from scratch. That’s cool.
Charlie: Because it made sense to us. Because if we have this dragon king who based the society on a time period that he fell in love with and preferred, then a lot of the rules and the way it’s set up would match that time period.
Macy: And because the regency period was really a reaction to the French Revolution and that excess that had gone on, when you think of like how Marie Antoinette dressed and how a lot of that stuff that was going on. And then it was like, whoa, that was all when she made her hair into a boat and everything. And so, then you go into the regency, which there’s a lot more, I think, elegance and…
Charlie: Yeah, simplicity.
Macy: Simplicity and things. And so, we really wanted to capture that aspect of it. But there are so many rules, and we loved the idea of shifters that are bound by rules set by their king. They honor those rules, and sometimes they like, tiptoe across them a little bit .
Charlie: And then we have our guard who’s just like, “Rules? What rules?”
Macy: “Rules? I don’t need no stinking rules.” So, anyway.
Jeff: So, a couple of our patrons and myself are really interested in process around this and coming together to do this. And you’ve hinted at and talked a little bit about some of the process, but tell us more. You’ve done all this stuff to build the world, but when it came time to get serious about writing “Notorious,” how did that plotting work? How did the writing get kind of split up a little bit? And those couple of questions come from Mary, from our Patreon group.
Charlie: We talk through the chapters first. I mean, we sort of plot overall the story arc and that, but we would plot out chapters, so we knew what we were gonna be writing and then we sort of alternated chapters, but then we both wrote in those chapters as well.
Macy: It was a really weird process. Like, again, I don’t think that that our process is for most co-authors, but again, like, she would start a scene and let’s say like real life. So, I’m an early morning writer and so if I’m getting up early and I start writing in Chapter 1, and then by 10:00 I’ve been writing for two or three hours and I need a break, well, she’s sitting down at her desk getting ready to start writing between 8:00 and 9:00.
So, by the time she’s gotten through stuff, I can just turn it over and no matter where I’ve left off, she can just pick it up and keep going, and then in the afternoon when I would get my second wind or I would finish whatever else I was doing, she would throw it back to me. So, it was a really, like, organic process just based on our time. We were both really busy as we were writing this book. And so, it would just be that.
Charlie: I think when we first started, we used Google Docs. So, we were both online while we were writing things. So, then we would like, message each other back and forth with questions and you know.
Macy: “Come check this scene. Come check this paragraph.”
Charlie: Yeah. You know, if I’m writing a scene and I need a location for it, I’d like, find a location and like, send it to her and be like, “What do you think of this?” And she’d be like, “Yep. Sure.” And then keep going. Yeah.
Macy: And then we would pin it and then we would link it. Our poor editor. But that’s really the way we did it. I mean, we did divide the chapters up where they would be assigned as we went along, but again, like she would get to the point where she would be like, “I don’t wanna write anymore of this right now.” So, I would be like, “Well, let’s swap.” And we would just swap chapters for a while. Like, it was just really…
Charlie: Yeah. Like, if we got stuck, and just like, I don’t know where this is going or like, this is not going in the direction that I imagined it was gonna go.
Macy: Or that we discussed, you know.
Charlie: Or we discussed. Yeah. Yeah.
Macy: So, and like I said, it just really just ended up being a pretty organic process for us. I mean, it surprised me because when I’ve collaborated before, it was very much a different structure. It was more, this is my chapter or this is my scene, this is yours. You would proof something, but you wouldn’t really go in and like, add your flavor to it. But we didn’t do that. That wasn’t what we did, so, it was fun.
Charlie: We added our flavors all over the place.
Jeff: Terry adds to the process questions with a couple of them. And, you know, you talk through the plot as you prepared to write, how much did your plot end up kind of changing as you went? Did it become more of a discovery writing process or did the plot kind of hang together as you went?
Charlie: No, the plot kind of, it went as how we plotted it. I think because it’s a series and because of the story arc and what happens in the next book and that kind of thing, we stuck to the plot. We plotted it out thinking ahead.
Macy: I mean, I would say, again, if you look at our early draft notes for what the world was gonna be, that changed a lot. But the closer we got, like, when we would take those pages and pages of notes that we had taken, and ideas and we would just like brain dump everything, and we would pluck what we really liked and keep it.
And so, by the time we got to the point where we were sitting down to write, we had a certain number of books that we have sort of planned out, we know the series arc, we know certain character arcs, we know different things like that. So, we don’t have a lot of wiggle room to change because we literally spent two or three years just sort of having fun creating this world and then fine tuning it. So, I think that our plot at that point, it wouldn’t have survived if we had changed it.
Jeff: I think that not most co-writers go into it with is that, couple of years of just planning the world just because that happened to be what you were doing at the time, and how that must make things sort of easier that you’ve got that big foundation to start from.
Macy: It does. But both of us have done that in our series in the past. So, you know, the amount of research this woman has for the “THIRDS” series, which I have had the pleasure to see, is impressive. And I did the same for my “Chosen” universe. Like, it was researched for several years before I started writing it. So, I think that was just our process too, is that sort of…
Charlie: I think that’s why we mesh so well as well, because we’re both percolators. Like, we get an idea and it just like hangs out in the back of our brain for like ages, and we just like slowly collect things for it. And it’s like, “This is not a project for now, but I got this wiggle worm in my head, I need to get it down and then just put it aside for later.” So, next thing it’s like when the time comes for that project, it’s like, “Oh well I’ve got all this already figured out because I started it two, three years ago.”
Macy: You had time to think about it and think things through, which a lot of times in the kind of the fast-paced world that we write in, you don’t really have that luxury. But I think when you’re world-building a new world, I mean, for me, I couldn’t do it if I didn’t let it slow cook first. There’s no way. I have to like…
Charlie: There’s too many pieces.
Macy: Yeah. I have to gather all the ingredients and start mixing things up, and then taste test. And like, I could take that analogy for years, but it’s really, for us, the way we write, I think it’s making sure that you have a lot of that research and the detail to pull from. I didn’t realize how alike we were about that until…
Charlie: We’re like the person that like, you read a book and you end up using like three sentences of the research from it.
Macy: Yep. Yep. You have a notebook that’s like an inch and a half thick and you’re like, well, I highlighted that one line and used it, so. But we know so much about both of our worlds. Like, the stuff that she knows about the “THIRDS,” the things that we know about the “Notorious” characters, we know their…so much more about them than we could ever share, and that’s part of the fun for us, I think.
Jeff: Terry was also curious, like how did you have to perhaps adjust your normal writing processes to then co-write?
Charlie: Well, I can’t work on more than one thing at a time. I’ve tried it before, and I’ve come to the conclusion that’s just not how my brain works. My focus can’t be split like that. And I think that’s why previously I was just like, “I can’t co-write because I’m writing this book in this series and I can’t work on that at the same time, even though it’s something else.” So, I finally got to the point where I was just like, “Okay, if this is gonna happen, I’m just gonna have to put it in my schedule as a book, as a release,” because I can’t work on something else.
Jeff: That’s a talent. I can’t work on more than one thing either because it’s just like my brain can’t do it. Even if they’re very divergent things.
Macy: Well, it’s the thinking thing. It’s the percolating thing. So, when I need to do some more percolating on a project, I switch to something else. So, I usually have two things going. And because I write in one universe, I mean, it makes it a little easier. It’s harder actually, for me, to like, percolate “Dangerous,” for example, because it’s not part of my “Chosen” universe, but because I had a lot of things already pre-outlined and pre-done, it made it a little easier.
But, yeah, switching back and forth is a challenge. But I think when I need time to think, I have learned, give myself time to think because otherwise the product is not…I have to give myself the time I need to think. And sometimes that means, oh, I’ll go open this other doc and work in it for a while, and oh, yeah, it drives her crazy. She’ll be like, “What are you doing?” And I’ll be like, “Oh, well, I was writing in this and then I wrote a little bit in this, and I was doing some outlining in this.” And she was, like, “How does your brain work? I don’t get it.” I don’t get it either. Yeah.
Jeff: Was there anything about how the partnership worked that surprised either of you?
Macy: How easy it was.
Charlie: Yeah, I thought that because it was our first collaboration and because it was a new world, that it was gonna be a lot harder to get into a groove. And by like Chapter 2, we’d already kind of nailed down our process, and what worked and what didn’t work, like early on.
Macy: Yeah. I think the first time, because we had written some scenes, some like starter scenes, basically, so we could get an idea of the flavor and the language and stuff. And I remember we went back and were looking at one of those and I was like, “Did I write this or did you write this?” Like, we really couldn’t remember or you couldn’t tell. And I think that was when I knew that we had something because I was like, “Did you write this part or did I write this part?”
Charlie: Yeah, I could not remember.
Macy: And like, you can’t tell. Because people keep asking us, “Oh, did you write Cas? Did you write Saphir?”
Macy: I mean, there isn’t a character that wasn’t written by both of us and smoothed out by both of us. So, there would be some things like, you know, I would go to her and say, “I don’t understand why Cas said this because, to me, that sounds like this.” And she would be like, “Oh, but this.” And we’d be like, “Oh, right, okay. Yeah.” And we would tweak or whatever, but there was never like ownership over a character or anything like that. It was like if she had a question on something I wrote, she would ask me. She would tweak things to make them funnier, usually.
Charlie: I think we each had characters that we…
Macy: We did have our favorites.
Charlie: I mean, we had fun writing all of it, but there were definitely characters that we loved to write. I loved writing Beau.
Macy: I was gonna say, yeah.
Charlie: He wasn’t even like supposed to be a…
Macy: Yeah, he didn’t exist. And then all of a sudden…
Charlie: I’m just like, “I love him.”
Macy: She did love him. So, there was like, there’s parts in there where I would be like, “Oh no, there’s a Beau.” Beau’s gotta be in this scene. And I would sort of like half draft it and then I’d be like, “Hey, there’s some Beau stuff, you wanna come write it?” And she’d be like, “Yes.”
Jeff: Sounds like Beau is the actor who drops into a show supposedly for one episode and then hangs around for the entire season?
Macy: Yeah. Yeah. He was.
Charlie: Yes. Legit. He was just supposed to have like a little scene, and I was writing and I was like, “Oh, no.”
Macy: The moment I read it, not even kidding you, I called her and I was like, “Okay.” That was the only time that we changed our original plan was because I knew the moment I read him for the first time, I was like, “You’re kidding me, this character is part of this world now and he’s big and he’s gonna be bigger.” And she was like, “I know. I love him.” Like, it was just so funny. And then she’s like, “Yeah, I’m just gonna write this like throwaway character, for this one scene.” And I was like, “Okay, you know, as you do.”
Charlie: You’d think I’d like, know better by now. Like, I can’t just like write a random character.
Macy: Neither one of us can write a random character who…
Charlie: Especially if we plan it that way, we specifically go, “We need this guy in the background.” But the moment he speaks we’re like, “Oh, man.” Like, I guess, he’s getting a book.
Macy: It’s true. That was exactly my response. I was like, “Really?”
Jeff: I always like to find out in general what favorite scenes in books are. And usually with collaborators, it’s like, what’s the favorite scene that the other wrote? But in this case, I don’t think you can delineate those.
Macy: Right. You can’t.
Jeff: For each of you, what’s a favorite scene in the book?
Charlie: Oh, there’s a few of them. But the one that pops into my head is the scene with the…
Macy: The arbor? The gazebo?
Charlie: Yeah, the gazebo.
Macy: Yeah, that one. That’s a good one. That’s a good one.
Charlie: Just like, a shock. You decapitated Artemis.
Macy: You decapitated Artemis.
Macy: That one’s good. I think…
Charlie: There’s a few. For different reasons.
Macy: Mine is a total spoiler. So, I’ll just say Christmas and the way that played out was, I thought was really powerful and a real turning point in the book for the characters. And I really like the way that turned out. So, I’ll say that little segment, especially the end part. No spoilers. But, yeah, the way the Christmas part ended I think was a favorite of mine.
Charlie: I love just any scene where like Cas and Saphir have their little battle of wits. That’s always like my favorite where it’s just like, who’s gonna…
Macy: Who’s gonna win?
Charlie: Who’s gonna win?
Jeff: Cool. So, people who’ve read already, gazebo, Christmas. Those of you who will read, when you get there, you’ll know.
Macy: You’ll know. You will know.
Jeff: So, book two’s coming out in January, kicking off the new year. What could you tease us about “Dangerous?” As they look at each other going, hmm.
Macy: No, I mean, I think we did tease it at the end of the “Notorious,” so we have a disgruntled duke, who is the main character, and we are introducing our first human character into the world. So, we knew that a lot of people would ask questions about the humans in this world and how did humans work with this world, and this book is gonna be where a lot of that is explained. I’m ridiculously excited for readers to read it. It’s a totally different tone, totally different setup.
Charlie: She’s very excited about writing Jason.
Macy: I am. So, Jason…
Charlie: She’s been talking about Jason for months.
Macy: Yeah, it’s that character that when you come up with him you’re like, “I really like this person,” and then…
Charlie: I’m excited about the duke.
Macy: I know.
Charlie: I mean …
Macy: Well, of course, you’re excited about the duke. He’s cranky, he’s irritable, he’s like, wounded, so he needs a lot of that.
Charlie: Yeah, he’s a big strong shifter. There’s a lot of pain.
Macy: Oh yeah, poor bunny. Aww. It’s different, but…
Charlie: Because it didn’t really make sense in the first book to have like explanations about humans and how humans saw things and interacted and all that. So, we’re just like, well, obviously, in the book with the human, that makes more sense to have his point of view, and how he sees things, and his perspective, and all that.
Macy: Yeah. Because there was so much to build. We did get some readers that were like, “How does this work?” We’re like, “Just hold on, we’ll get…”
Charlie: We’ll get there.
Macy: We’ve already got 85,000 words. We got to stop somewhere.
Jeff: How far do you envision this series going?
Macy: I plead the fifth.
Charlie: Okay. See the thing is, here’s the thing, we always, both of us, even in our individual writing worlds, always say, “I think I’m gonna write this three-book series,” and then it turns into a 12-book series with spinoffs. And so, you know…
Macy: The answer is…
Charlie: More than one.
Macy: More than one.
Jeff: More than one. Well, more than two.
Charlie: More than two.
Macy: We could officially say three, but yeah. No we have a lot of thoughts for future, but we’ll just see. And it is making time and it’s having the opportunity to work together and taking that. So, I mean, that’s a big part of it too, especially because she can’t work on multiple projects. It’s really us making sure that we’ve got everything ready for the project so that when she has that spot in her schedule for us, that we’re ready to go. And so, we end up doing a lot of talking and plotting, like individual chapter and character plotting, and stuff like that.
For a good book, all of that has to happen because once we have to start writing, we have a very limited time to get the book done so that she can be back on track with her individual schedules. So, that’s our current challenge.
Charlie: Because, you know, if I wasn’t writing in like five different series that would probably help things.
Macy: No comments.
Jeff: Let’s talk more about the future. And I’m gonna start with Macy here because I kind of have to. This episode’s going out in November, holiday season, I know there are Christmas books.
Macy: There are Christmas books.
Jeff: I’ve had the sneaky peek of the covers and, oh my God. Tell us about your Christmas series please.
Macy: Oh yeah, at the point that we’re recording this, and no one knows that this exists, other than a few people plus a couple people outside of this room, but it has been a very closely guarded secret. But I wanted to write “Christmas Sprites.” I’ve written sprites in my world before and they’re basically chaos magic, but in a charming way. So, I wanted to do something light and fun, as breather from all the heaviness that I’ve been writing in my world lately. And so, I’m writing a town where these Christmas sprites live and because the magic in my universe is broken, their Christmas magic is broken. And so, things are a little chaotic in the town where they live.
And so, they’re gonna be very much like Hallmark Christmas movie, but paranormal and chaotic, chaos magic with Christmas. So, it’s gonna be a ton of fun. They’re very much funny and you don’t have to have read anything else to read these books. They’re completely standalone. I just wanted something fun and I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas series and when this came into my head and I was like, “If all of your magic is messed up in the world, then what would happen if…” and it was off. So, yeah, I’ve been working on these secretly for about a year now. So, yeah, that’ll be coming out in December.
Jeff: As a Hallmark movie junkie, I cannot wait to see what happens with broken magic in a Hallmark movie.
Macy: Yeah. And again, it’s like when you say, “If you put a paranormal in a Hallmark movie, what do you get at Christmas?” Like, you know. So, yeah, that’s what’s next, for me.
Jeff: And Charlie, how about for you? What’s coming up through the end of this year into next year?
Charlie: Well, despite the fact that like I’m forbidden to start new series, I’m starting a new series. Well, most of my readers know because it was teased at the end of “Sleight of Hand.” But the “Runaway Grooms” is what I’m working on. “Aisle Be There,” which is the first book and it’s a romantic comedy series. I wanted to write something that was just fun. Fun and funny and lots of romance. So, I’m working on that right now and hope to release it toward the end of the year, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Macy: I’ve helped with some of the stuff on it. It’s awesome. I’m loving it.
Jeff: Well, I have to imagine that you two help each other all the time. Proximity, close friendship, collaborators.
Macy: Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I can’t imagine either one of us being able to do it at this point without the other, like we’re that sort of intertwined.
Charlie: It just makes such a big difference to like, when I get stuck and I can’t see what the problem is, and I just like call her up and I’m like, “Okay, I’m stuck. This is what I’ve got. This is where I need to get, and I’m just not seeing it.” Then she just like throws everything at me until my brain is like, “Oh, what if I do this?”
Macy: And it’s like I legit throw like the kitchen sink of ideas at her, and we’re normally on Skype, until I see like she gets like this like, and I’m like, “Ah, was it something I said?”
Jeff: That lightbulb moment.
Macy: And then I just sit back, and she starts scribbling. For me, it’s more, I think, where she talks me through like, just keeping me going because I get a tendency to just get really bogged down. And so, she helps me just like, “Come on, let’s do it. Come on, let’s keep going.” And so, I think that when I’m like, I call her and whine about, “I don’t wanna write. I don’t wanna do it.” Then she’s like, “But don’t you wanna do this? And remember you were gonna write this and remember how fun it was gonna be.” And then I’m like, “Oh, I did wanna do that. Oh, I better finish this chapter so I can get to it.” You know, so it’s…
Charlie: And ask her, “What’s your word count?”
Macy: What’s the word count?
Charlie: “Where are we at?”
Macy: Yeah. So, there’s been a lot of that lately.
Together: “What’s your word count?”
Jeff: And Charlie, we’ve got a question from Dee, eager to know if there’s any news about anything in the “THIRDS” universe.
Charlie: Yeah. So, the “THIRDS” universe is always, I mean, I don’t know when there’ll be a time where I won’t be working on it. But the “THIRDS” universe is so vast. And again, it’s one of those things where I have like all these ideas for things in there where she’s just like, “No.”
Jeff: I think this is why you’re not supposed to start new series.
Macy: I’m just gonna sit here and sip my water.
Charlie: Because the series, like spinoff series potentials, is unlimited. But because I can’t work on more than one thing at a time, there’s a limit to what I can work on. So, right now, I’m either working on something that’s in the “Kings” world or something that’s in the “THIRDS” world, and there will be more “TIN” books happening, there will be more “THIRDS” stuff happening.
There’s just only so much that I can write at a time because I’m not a fast writer, and I’m also recovering from burnout, and I’m trying to get back to a place where I can have a steady release schedule again. And I’m excited about writing again and getting back into things and I have been writing, so I’m just working on whatever feels right at the moment. So, like I can’t say, well, after “Aisle Be There,” I’m gonna work on “TIN” or I’m gonna work on another “Kings” book or something, because it’s just what feels right for me at the time.
Macy: And I’m just gonna interject. Dee, I get it, as a person who also, remember, this started because of fan-girling. There’s a lot that has been percolated, I can promise you that. There’s a lot of “THIRDS” that is still on the table, that that beautiful brain is working on. But what I have learned with my bestie over here is that if you give her time, what you will get will blow your mind. And if you rush it, and if we make her rush it, it will not be…
Charlie: It won’t happen.
Macy: …it’ll lose that spark that makes it special. And so, that’s never… The times like…because she’s tried to write things, force herself to do it. And I know this because, and honestly, it’s just been not good. And so, it’s like when we talk about it and I’ll read it and we’re just like, “You’re not there. You’re not ready. It hasn’t cooked enough yet.” But there is a lot that is still there that is percolating, and I think that once it finishes that, you’re gonna be really happy with what you get. Because I know some of it and I know that it’s…
Charlie: I would never rush a book and I would never want to release a book in the “THIRDS” universe that I didn’t feel lived up to that world. Like, I wouldn’t wanna do it a disservice. I love that world as much as a lot of readers.
Macy: It’s not as much as we do so.
Charlie: Unless I feel, and I’m very…
Macy: Adamant, yes.
Charlie: Well, and I’m very self-critical. So, unless I feel that it is right, I won’t release it, I won’t. Remember I rewrote that first chapter of “Gone but Not Forgotten” like 10 times, and then I was just like, I stopped. I stopped and I had to put it on hold, and it was on hold for like a year, but I wasn’t going to work on it until it was right.
Jeff: That’s what all books need is just that percolate time.
Jeff: I’m curious to know what’s been exciting you that you’ve been reading lately?
Charlie: The funny thing is that despite the fact that I write a lot of paranormal, I read a lot of contemporary gay romance, so most of what I read is contemporary gay. I mean, I love like Hailey Turner’s worlds like “Spellbound,” I love that series. And Alice Winters and her paranormal. I mean, there’s several. I do read paranormal. There’s several series. I have a lot of books to catch up on because I sort of fell back on my reading. So, now I’m at the point of just like where I have like all these amazing books and I’m just like, “But what do I start with? Do I start with Lily Morton? Do I start with Lucy? Wait, do I start with May?” Like, I don’t even know which book to pick up first because the list is long. There’s so many good authors.
I mean, Mary Calmes, there’s like, I’ve got like her books. I mean, there’s just authors that I know that when I pick up their book I’m just gonna love it and enjoy it. Just like as soon as they come out I hoard them and then like go on a reading binge.
Macy: So, I’ve been reading a lot of research books for upcoming projects, which shall not be named. So, I’ve been really focusing on reading a lot of non-fiction because I’m in research mode and I have been for a few months now. But I love Louisa Masters. She’s a great paranormal author. But yeah, Alice Winters, I really like her sense of humor. The Kikis, I love both of the Kikis. I’ve not read Onley James yet, but I have been told…
Charlie: Yes. I’ve had rave reviews from friends.
Macy: Yes. Rave reviews.
Charlie: So, that’s definitely on the list.
Macy: Kyleen. I love Kyleen.
Charlie: That’s definitely on the list.
Macy: Nora Phoenix.
Charlie: It’s a long list.
Macy: I could keep going all night. I just don’t have specific books. I don’t really recommend specific books usually. But I like to recommend authors that I love though.
Jeff: Absolutely. You listed off a whole bunch of good ones there.
Macy: Yeah, we have…
Charlie: Legit auto-buys. Like, when Lily Morton comes out with a book, I don’t care what it is, I just buy it.
Macy: She doesn’t even like, read it.
Charlie: I don’t read the blurb. I just like, I get her newsletter or on Facebook, she’s like, “I got a new release.” I’m like, buy it, if I haven’t already preordered it, which I probably have.
Macy: Yeah, it’s tough. There’s so many, you know. But yeah, there’s amazing authors that are in our genre. We’re really lucky.
Jeff: So, how could everybody keep up with you two online to know more about the collaboration and more about your individual books? Where do we find you?
Charlie: I am on Facebook a lot, probably more than I should be. My Facebook group, which is just, you could just search my name on Facebook and it’ll come up. But yeah, I’m active in my Facebook group. I have a lot of like little fun things going on in the group. That’s probably…
Macy: The best place.
Charlie: ..the best place. I mean, I have all the usual social media places, Pinterest and Instagram and stuff, but my Facebook group is where I’m most active. And readers, they ask questions, they post memes, you know, we’ll do little teasers in there. We’ve got now going on the Daily Files, which is a weekly sort of dear diary from Dex and the guys.
Macy: Dex shenanigans.
Charlie: Yeah. Which is a lot of fun, and I think the readers are having fun with it.
Macy: Same with me. I’m mostly like, if you wanna actually like find me, my Facebook group, Macy’s Moonlighters, like that’s the place where I go. I don’t go on social media a lot because it’s not great for my mental health. So, it’s one of those things where I go into my group because I know it’s my safe space. And so, I try to really interact a lot with my readers in there. And like Charlie said, I post exclusive content to my group and also my newsletter. If you really wanna stay in touch with what’s coming up, I keep my newsletter pretty up to date with what I’m working on, teasers, and all of that stuff.
Jeff: Thank you both so much for coming to talk about “Shifter Scoundrels.” This has been such a fun time.
Macy: Oh, good. Yeah.
Jeff: Can’t wait to see more, and happy holidays. We could say that. This is airing in November. Happy holidays.
Macy: We could say that, yes. Happy Christmas Sprites!
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at BigGayFictionPodcast.com. The show notes page has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: That was so fun. I hope you all enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. I am so looking forward to Macy’s “Christmas Sprites.” She and I have had a few conversations about Hallmark Christmas movies recently, and I cannot wait to see this Hallmark style set up in a world with broken magic.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next in episode 405, we’ll be focusing on the Happily Ever After Collective, a new way that lovers of romance can get exclusive books.
Jeff: This is a new Patreon based way to get books every single month featuring a specific trope. It launched in July and we absolutely love it. We’re gonna be talking with the collective’s organizer, romance author Avery Flynn, as well as two authors who’ve released books through the Collective Rien Gray and Sera Taíno.
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself, we want to thank you so much for listening and we hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.