Welcome to the third day of Sapphic Fiction February! It’s almost the weekend, so you’re all being treated to an interview with Rien Gray! Rien is the author of hot, twisting LGBTQ+ romances, such as the Fatal Fidelity series, the most recent of which is Love Burns Bright (pictured). But that’s not the only exciting thing happening today… today is also Rien’s birthday! (Don’t tell them I told you… just scoot over to their Twitter to wish them a happy birthday, okay?) And enjoy this interview!
Introduce yourself, Rien! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
Hello, I'm Rien! I'm a queer, nonbinary author primarily focused on F/F and F/NB (sapphic) romance in several subgenres - noir, romantic suspense, paranormal, and fantasy. My 2nd publishing anniversary was back on January 18th, and in those two years I've managed to write eight novellas and a novel, which I'm very proud of.
Happy belated publishing anniversary! What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
I couldn't find the exact thing I wanted to read. I've been a fan of noir fiction and movies since I was a kid, but traditional noir either kills or runs off the femme fatales, and it tends to be a very cishet genre. So I decided to write a book where the femme fatale in question hooks up with a nonbinary assassin to handle her abusive husband. That became Love Kills Twice, which eventually became my four book Fatal Fidelity series.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I'm a deep, meticulous planner. I have full chapter outlines, start to finish, for every story I work on, and these outlines are intended to meet my characters beat for beat. Character develops plot and plot develops character until everything meshes where I want it to be. My initial raw ideas tend to pop out of nowhere, but it takes a lot of refinement until reaching any kind of workable story.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
Micah, the butch werewolf love interest in my book Her Wolf in the Wild. Her stoicism hides a lot of old pain and frustration, but her pride gets in the way of actually working through that trauma because she takes the weight of others' expectations onto her shoulders. Being vulnerable with the people you care about is hard!
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
Not until recently, but when I finished the very end of my last book in the Fatal Fidelity series, I was hit by the realization that this was the last time I'd probably be writing a couple I'd focused on and cared about for four whole books. That got me!
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
A lot of my friends, yes, which is very kind of them.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
One of the hard parts about writing trans and nonbinary protagonists is there aren't a lot of well-known actors to choose from for a facecast, but Shu Qi would be great as Justine Zhang, who is one of my leads in Love Kills Twice.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
I cycle between weightlifting, reading, and playing video games. Exercise in particular helps clear my head if I'm stuck writing something and need to recalibrate what I'm focusing on.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
Never let the well run dry. When I first started out, I used to try and squeeze every last possible word out of my brain at a time, and it was leaving me so exhausted and burned out I wasn't finishing stories. Now I pause at points where I know exactly what's going to happen next, so I can dive right in the next time I start, rather than having to overwork myself at the beginning to get going.
How about in general life?
Nothing is wasted. Every skill, interest, diversion, job, and so forth can be valuable for the future, even if it doesn't look like it at the time. Doing the best with what you have and pursuing what passions you can will help you win out in the end.
What is a motto you live by?
No matter what, there's always a way through.
How can people connect with you?
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
A French dip. Hot comfort food invented in SoCal (which is where I was born).
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, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!
Happy birthday Rien!