Listening In is a series of author interviews, featuring authors whose works have been transformed into audiobooks! We’re featuring Helena Greer, author of the hotly anticipated queer holiday romance, Season of Love, narrated by Barrie Kreinik and Emily Lawrence.
Helena Greer writes contemporary romance novels that answer the question, what if this beloved trope were gay? She was born in Tucson, and her heart still lives there although she no longer does. After earning a BA in writing and mythology, and a master’s in library science, she spent several years blogging about librarianship before returning to writing creatively. Helena loves cheesy pop culture, cats without tails, and ancient Greek murderesses. For more info, visit HelenaGreer.com.
Please tell us more about Season of Love! Why should we listen to it?
Season of Love is a funny, heartwrenching, swoony book about two people who are trying to figure out how to deal with past trauma and be present in love. It’s also a Jewish, sapphic Hallmark-inspired holiday extravaganza that will make you laugh and cry. The audiobook is especially wonderful, because we have two brilliant narrators who really bring it to life.
Could you please tell us about your career as an author. What first drew you to writing?
I’ve been a writer since I was very young, always planning to have a career that involved writing somehow. When I was younger, I thought I would be a poet and professor of writing. I eventually ended up in librarianship, but I was still a writer in my heart. Eventually, I started writing what I loved to read — romance novels!
We’d love to hear about your writing process. Please elaborate!
I usually start with a concept, like, “Hallmark but gay and Jewish,” or, “childhood best friends who fell in love but now haven’t spoken in years” and then build out from there. What kind of people would find themselves in that situation? I build a Pinterest board to start to get to know the characters, then a playlist, then I start sketching out the basics of the plot. I always severely underwrite, my first draft usually has about half as many words as I’ll eventually need, and then it grows with subsequent drafts. By the end, I’m finding places to make cuts! I usually plan a book out really carefully, and then as the book grows, it reveals itself to me, so it’s often very different from my original outline.
What drew you to Contemporary Romance? When did you know this was a genre you wanted to write?
I’ve been a huge romance reader since graduate school, of all genres. I was drawn to write contemporary romance for this series because I was inspired by Hallmark Christmas movies.
More specifically, Season of Love is a LGBTQ+ Romance. How important is representation within your own writing? What does representation within the Romance genre as a whole mean to you as a reader and writer?
I can’t imagine, in this time when we’re fighting so much homophobia, not writing queer characters. Since Sappho (or maybe even Gilgamesh), queer people and queer stories have been a crucial part of the literary landscape, but we’ve so often had to publish in underground presses, been at risk of imprisonment or death for our writing. Now, we have a place at the traditional publishing table, but publishing queer stories is still an act of resistance. Queer programs at libraries are being threatened with violence, queer books are being banned. As an elder queer, I was lucky to find sapphic books in feminist bookstores, in dusty corners of libraries, and it’s important to me to keep the long history of that intact, so that the next young person can keep finding those books when they need them.
What are some of your favorite romance tropes, and which ones are you most excited to explore in your own writing?
My favorite tropes are second chance and fake dating. My upcoming Carrigan’s book, For Never & Always, is a second chance book, and I hope I get to write fake dating soon!
Where is your favourite place to write?
I write all over the place, but my favorite place is in coffee shops, or on Zoom with friends — anywhere I have some accountability with the other writers in my circle.
Any advice for emerging writers?
Write what sounds fun for you, not what you think will sell. You never know what the market will be like when your book is ready, so write whatever lights you up.
What do you do when you experience writer’s block or reader’s block?
I turn to storytelling that I find inspiring. That’s sometimes books, but sometimes it’s YA movies on Netflix, or podcasts about playing DnD, or YouTube compilations of my favorite couples from old TV shows. It reminds me of the feelings I want to create with my writing.
What has been the most exciting part of having your novel transformed into an audiobook?
As a librarian, I know so many readers of all ages who read best via audio. I knew that if it were in audio, it would be able to reach so many people to whom it might not be accessible in print.
Season of Love has two narrators. Was this an important feature that you wanted for the audiobook?
I had no idea there were going to be two narrators until the producer told me, and I was so thrilled!
Please recommend an audiobook you absolutely adored!
It’s VERY heavy, check the CWs, but Haynes’s prose is incredible, and his voice is so raw as he reads about his own past.
What are you reading (or listening to) right now?
I’m not reading anything right now because I’m on deadline to finish my next book, but the last thing I finished was Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews. I love everything they’ve ever written, and this one was no different!