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Eliza Lentzski: A Sapphic Fiction February Interview

Eliza ‘Ice Cream’ Lentzski – which is what I may accidentally call her forever now I’ve seen what she says in this interview – is a multi-talented and very accomplished author with more than twenty books (and lots of fanfiction) out in the world. I was delighted when she agreed to let me interview her, and I’m sure you’ll love reading what she’s got to say. So take it away, Eliza…

Tell us a little more about you! Who are you and what do you do?

I am an upper midwesterner living in New England. My wife and I have been together for 19 years, and we have a cat, Charley, who (like other lesbians' cats, I'm sure) is the center of our universe.

I'm a self-published author who has written over twenty sapphic romance novels, including the Winter Jacket and Don't Call Me Hero series. I have a PhD in American history, but I don't make people call me Doctor. My "day job" is historian, and I write fiction in my free time (whatever that is).

How did you become an author?

Like a lot of other self-published authors, I got my start writing fanfiction. I used to write epically long stories based on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy + Faith romance stories) back when all we had was queer subtext on our TV screens. I would turn a single, longing look between two women into an 100,000+ word fanfic.

But I loved to write even before my fanfic days. I was the beneficiary of really lovely middle school teachers who encouraged me to write and would help me "publish" my stories with cover art and book bindings back when computers ran on DOS and our dox matrix printers used perforated paper with holes on the edges.

After I got my PhD in 2011, the job market was pretty dismal. I didn't want to give up on my dream job of being a historian, but I also needed money. I had a sizable readership in the fanfic world who encouraged me to start self-publishing. Those readers graciously followed me from fanfic to original sapphic stories, and, starting with my third novel, Winter Jacket, I realized this might be something I could really do.

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

This is an impossible question for an author--like asking a parent to identify their favorite child.

I tend to write in the first person, and many of my main characters are anxious messes like I am in real life. They have complicated relationships with their parents and with their hometowns from which they're often estranged. My favorite character I've ever written is Sam from Apophis: A Love Story for the End of the World. It's a bit of a deep cut since I'm mostly known for my two series--Winter Jacket and Don't Call Me Hero. I love Elle & Hunter, and I love Cassidy & Julia (it's hard to write multi-book series about characters you don't love), but Sam was the first character I wrote who felt the most me.

When I first started writing I was too intimidated to put personal information into a story. Sometimes I wasn't even comfortable saying in what city the story took place. There's a line in Apophis that kills me even to this day. Sam is in her childhood bedroom, looking through a photo album of her and her old high school friends, and she describes herself like this: I looked like I usually did in photographs--uncomfortable, trying to look at ease, trying to fit in, but just glad to have been included.

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

Thankfully this isn't anything I have an issue with. I certainly come across scenes that are more challenging to work out than others, so if that's the case I'll step away and come back to it at a later time. Taking a shower or going for a walk usually helps me work out the pacing or the resolution for a tricky scene.

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

For me, the hardest part is simply finding enough time to write, period. This isn't my full time job. I publish about a book a year, which is a pretty slow pace compared to many other indie writers. But my day job can be intellectually challenging, so I'm often faced with brain drain when I do find time to write. Or if I'm reading for fun, I sometimes feel guilty that I could be writing instead. Finding that work/life/writing balance is a perennial challenge.

And how about the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of writing is hearing and interacting with readers. The world is a very different place today than when I started publishing over a decade ago. The emails from readers who were closeted and found solace in my stories came a lot more frequently back then, but it's still super rewarding hearing from readers today who see themselves reflected in one of my books.

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

Gosh, this is a hard one. I tend to not listen to people's advice, especially when they doubt I can make something happen. For example, my parents were skeptical of me majoring in history when I was an undergrad. They told me the shortest book ever written was "Job Opportunities for History Majors." Now I'm doing what I love (history) for a living. Others were skeptical when I first started writing, too, and kind of dismissed it as a fun little hobby versus something I could do as a legitimate career. Twenty novels later, I'm a best-selling sapphic romance novelist.

If I had to pick one piece of advice I wish I would have listened to, is maybe one I wish had come earlier in life. And that's to enjoy the journey and not just the outcome. My life has always been very goal oriented, and sometimes that's led to putting my blinders on and working, working, working until I've achieved that goal. When I was in graduate school and just starting to date my now-wife, she continually reminded me to enjoy the journey rather than work myself to death trying to achieve a far off goal. I did eventually listen to her, but I wish I'd gotten that advice earlier in my life.

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

This is going to be a dinner party because I'm an introvert whose social battery is easily drained.

I'm going to invite Cassidy Miller & Julia Desjardin from my Don't Call Me Hero series and they're going to sit next to Magdalene Nox & Sam (Milena McKay, Headmistress series) so Julia and Magdalene can talk about red bottom shoes and how insufferable everyone else is.

I'd also like Spencer Sutton & Charlotte Thompson (Haley Cass, Those Who Wait) at the dinner table with Elsie & Jones (Lucy Bexley, No Strings) and Sydney MacKenzie & Beatrice Russell (Emily Banting, Broken Beyond Repair). It's basically a dinner party of my favorite ice queens and their quirky, adorkable partners.

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

I want to shout out the sapphic indie community in general. Some unsavory things happen in the wider book writing world--and that's not to say we're immune from that weirdness--but in general you see a lot of support and lifting each other up. We get excited about each others' new releases and shout from the mountain tops about our favorite series or characters. One author's success doesn't take away from another author. There's room for us all.

How can people connect with you?

X/Twitter/Bluesky/Threads/Instagram: @ElizaLentzski

Facebook: @ElizaLentzski 

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

Ice cream is actually my middle name: Eliza "Ice Cream" Lentzski. My Go-To ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip, but I also have a weakness for moose tracks or Mackinac Island fudge ice cream.

I'm a pretty simple girl when it comes to toppings because I like the ice cream to be the star of the show, but I do like marshmallows on my ice cream. It's a weird quirky thing, but I like when they get a little hard or a little stale from the ice cream being so cold.

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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