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Carrie Byrd: A Sapphic Fiction February Interview


Like wife, like wife!


Those of you who followed last year’s Sapphic Fiction February will remember I interviewed Roslyn Sinclair. This year, I have interviewed her wife, the lovely Carrie Byrd! Carrie’s debut novel (Loser of the Year) is out this summer, and what better way to plug the hell out of it than with an interview?


So take it away, Carrie! Tell us more about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

Put “former theatre kid,” “recovering perfectionist,” “constantly restless,” and “fires first, aims second” into a blender, then hit the liquify button—you’ll get something like me. I’m just as happy on a stage or halfway up a hiking trail as I am in front of a Google doc. In my day job, I’m an English professor. Outside work, I spend most of my time obsessively scrolling TikTok, yelling at the Philadelphia Eagles, volunteering for a local non-profit, playing video games, and traveling as much as possible.


My debut novel, Loser of the Year, is forthcoming from Ylva Publishing this summer! It’s an enemies-to-lovers sapphic romance about an unsuccessful actress who returns to her hometown to teach high school theater, immediately clashing with the school’s arrogant soccer coach.


How did you become an author?

I’ve written fanfiction on and off for a long time, but didn’t make the leap to original fiction until the summer of 2022, when my wife suggested I write a book to stave off a brain slump. It worked like nothing’s ever worked before! Writing the first draft took a full year, and even though it was hard work it was also one of the most exhilarating and joyful experiences I’ve ever had. It’s taken me a while to get here, but some ways, I think I’ve been fermenting this stage of my life since childhood. My kid self would be thrilled to know her adult self delivered on her biggest dream!


Who’s your favourite character that you’ve ever written?

With only one book completed (and a second in progress), my choices are limited, but I have a feeling the answer will be the same even after I’ve published more! I’m a little bit feral over Jillian Reed, the egotistical and deeply-wounded soccer coach in Loser of the Year. She’s not someone I’d want to know in real life, but in fiction, I find her fascinating. All that pride and fire is a way for Jillian to distract everyone from the suffering self she isn’t ready to let anyone see. She was so much fun to write, too. Jillian has a very distinct voice—a way of speaking that’s specific to only her—and from the beginning, she was in my ear, telling me exactly who she was.


Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

For me, writer’s block is my brain’s way of telling me I haven’t found the right way to approach a scene or character. If I’m sitting at my laptop struggling for the right words, then usually I’m going in a direction that doesn’t work for the book. When that happens, I go on a long walk, or take a shower, or ask my wife to talk through it through with me. One or more of those tactics always works!


What do you consider to be the hardest part of writing?

In general, I sweat way too much over word choice! My browser history is embarrassingly full of visits to thesaurus.com. Every word has to feel right, and yes, this is part of the reason why it took me a year to write a draft.


More specifically, it’s really challenging for me to effectively communicate a character’s inner journey when the novel doesn’t provide their POV. Loser of the Year had to be written from a single POV for reasons the plot eventually makes clear, and the character whose perspective we don’t get undergoes some pretty major emotional changes. By far the hardest part of writing the book was making sure readers had some organic access to that character’s process and growth.


And how about the most rewarding?

The feeling that comes with knowing you’ve delivered on what you set out to accomplish. Sometimes I’ll wrestle with a scene for ages because something’s been lost in translation between my brain and the page, but when I do figure it out? Nothing like it. One really pivotal scene in Loser of the Year worried me before I wrote it—I had performance anxiety from feeling like I had to stick the landing—but when I did get to that scene, the words spilled onto the page in exactly the way I wanted. I’m still riding on that high!


What is one piece of advice you wish you had listened to, either in life or with regards to being an author?

It took me until my mid-thirties to figure this out, but I wish I’d known earlier that it isn’t worthwhile to chase after relationships. In romance, in friendships, in family—give your time and energy only when it’s reciprocated enthusiastically. Life is so much more fulfilling when you value yourself enough to choose people who choose you back.


You’re putting together a party. Which characters from the Sapphic Fiction genre would you invite?

I’d throw a party just for the partners of ice queens! Guests would consist of characters like Jules Moretti in Truth and Measure / Above All Things, Maddie Grey (The Brutal Truth), Sam Threadneedle (The Headmistress), and Lola Osbourne (House of Agnes). They’d get a chance to do some sapphic processing with each other about the challenges—and delights—of being with powerful women who struggle to let others know them. And if I played my cards right, I just might be able to get some of these women’s partners to help fund the party. Vivian Carlisle’s money alone would help make it a night to remember!


Is there anyone you’d like to highlight, while you’re here?

Everyone should be aware of Macon Leigh, who is one of the most insightful, talented, and generous people in the sapphic romance community. Along with the fabulous Liz Grey, Macon co-hosts one of my favorite podcasts, Strictly Sapphic—a must-listen for anyone who loves sapphic romance. Her book The Flight Risk was the best sapphic novel I read in 2023, hands down. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!


How can people connect with you?

My website, carriebyrd.com, has more information on my upcoming book, some blog posts, and a little more about me! For socials, I’m mostly active on Twitter (@byrdwrites), but I drop in on Bluesky (@byrdwrites.bsky.social), Instagram and Threads (both @byrdwrites) too. I’ve also got a Facebook account that I really should use more often.


Finally a light-hearted one. What ice cream flavours and toppings would you put together in your ultimate sundae?

I’m a purist. Give me rich French vanilla ice cream (vanilla isn’t boring if it’s good quality!), a absolutely massive amount of hot fudge—real fudge, not syrup!—and a dab of whipped cream, with a maraschino cherry on top. All the other ingredients that end up in sundaes just distract from the perfect delight of cold, sweet ice cream hardening that hot fudge against your tongue, and when I started writing this sentence I absolutely did not intend for it to sound this suggestive.


If that's a taste of what we're getting in Loser Of The Year, then sign me up...


If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, The Summer We’ve Had is available now, and Love You However is coming on March 22nd!



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