The Lesfic Book Club had its seventh monthly book discussion on Sunday and Monica McCallan joined us to talk about her novel, Back to the Start. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below!

A couple of notes on the transcript:

  1. If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels on the 3rd Sunday of every month at http://tinyurl.com/lesficlove (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading each month).
  2. Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see the author’s name in bold, while everyone else has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1
Time to get this party started!
So what did everybody think of Back to the Start?

Reader 2
I loved it… i may have read it 10 times in a row

Monica McCallan
^^ That’s going to be a hard answer to beat @Reader 2

Reader 3
damn! I loved it but only the once haha

Reader 4
Haha, same. Good second book, though I have to say her first was my favorite of hers so far

Monica McCallan
Interesting because Back to the Start is more highly rated than my first book!

Reader 3
I’m a sucker for second chances

Reader 1
Monica, is this your second book ever, or second published?

Monica McCallan
Second ever
Well I guess technically second ever and second published…

Reader 2
Holy cow!!!
I love the concept of second chances and old friendships

Reader 5
So I highlighted some things but this part was my favorite.
“To Fallon’s credit, she had been reading Remy like a book since she’d walked into town, and well, Remy felt at this point as if maybe she’d never actually learned to read.”

Reader 3
What’s your process like Monica? (aka. how’d you get so good so quickly!)

Monica McCallan
@Reader 3 I’ve read thousands of romance novels in my lifetime, so I already understood the framework pretty well. I wrote my first book in July of 2017 because I was really frustrated. I was reading this novel that was apparently transposed from a m/m novel to a f/f novel…I didn’t even know that was a thing people did!?
So, I just wrote. I tend to get kind of obsessive about stuff, but I was in a new work situation (working at a company with all men) and had made some life changes, so it was kind of the perfect storm to dive into this thing I’d been wanting to do for a while.

Reader 4
Monica, who are your favorite authors to read? Lesfic and otherwise?

Monica McCallan
I started with a lot of Reader 11 Brayden and Georgia Beers novels, but now I really enjoy reading and supporting a lot of self-published authors!

Reader 2
My favorite quote…”Love. Being around you made my world feel like someone had dipped it in chrome, everything more intense and vivid, both the happy emotions and the sad ones.

Reader 6
What drove you to actually go through with publishing?

Monica McCallan
I figured why not? It wasn’t a confidence thing, more of a “there’s truly nothing to lose by doing this” type attitude. I was curious to see what would happen, and I knew that without feedback I’d never get better. Plus, I wrote it because I was mad at what I had available to read, so it was always meant to be published for others to hopefully enjoy!

Reader 1
And both of your books have done really well right out of the gate, so that’s awesome

Monica McCallan
That honestly took me so much by surprise, but I’m thankful every day for it!

Reader 7
Monica, was it easier or harder the second time around?

Monica McCallan
Not to waffle on the question, but both… I felt a lot more confident in dialogue, pacing, etc in my second novel, but I also worried that it would be poorly received and blow up what tiny brand I’d developed for myself.

Reader 2
Where did you draw inspiration for remy and fallon?

Monica McCallan
I pick up stuff from my life and the lives of people I’ve known and kind of Frankenstein it together for lack of a better term. Remy’s parents being geologists and dragging her around the world is based on a girl I went to college with whose parents were geologists. The town is based on my partner’s hometown. Really, this book was cathartic because I was in the process of moving across the country back to my hometown, and I unfortunately held a lot of Remy’s preconceived notions about where I came from.

Reader 2
Wow that is pretty cool. And since have views of your hometowns evolved?

Monica McCallan
Definitely! They did even before I moved back, but especially for queer people, I know it can be difficult to have high opinions of a place that you felt held you back.

Reader 8
Does the lake cabin have any personal meaning for you?

Monica McCallan
It’s actually across from my house and belongs to my neighbor and one of my best friends growing up! We used to have parties there in high school! It’s a place I still visit, but I didn’t have any huge personal romantic moments there.

Reader 4
Which of the characters you’ve written are more like you?

Monica McCallan
Definitely Remy

Reader 9
What is your writing process like- pantser or plotter?

Monica McCallan
I write an outline for the chapters, but then I kind of fill it in as I go, and I’m always willing to change it if something isn’t working.

Reader 9
word? Docs? scrivener? notes?

Monica McCallan
I prefer Google Doc, but Word is better for editing offline so I’ve transitioned to that. I only use Scrivener at the very end to format for e-book.

Reader 1
I loved how grumpy and sassy Remy could be – very much not a stereotypical romance character.

Monica McCallan
Now I’m regretting admitting she’s the most like me…

Reader 6
I’m exclusively friends with people like that. don’t feel bad, please.

Reader 2
Totally i liked the emotional rollercoaster goin on in her

Reader 4
And her willingness to change her views

Reader 2
I liked that fallon grew wholly as a person and evolved

Reader 9
And, what is your favorite dinosaur?

Monica McCallan
Brontosaurus! I read the Outlander series when I was younger, and I absolutely love the part where she talks about how the Loch Ness monster is actually a pre-historic Brontosaurus dinosaur coming through a time travel opening (I’m sorry if that’s so out of left field if you’ve never read the books). Artistically, I just thought it was such a cool and unique thing to add to the book and that made a lot of sense.

Reader 10
What was the inspiration for this story? For the two main characters in the story? What was the spark that gave life to everything?

Monica McCallan
I wanted to write small town story because I was moving back home from the Bay Area. It was really cathartic. I also selfishly like stories where the characters knew one another once upon a time and reconnect. I don’t do well with books where the characters fall in love over the span of a few days or even weeks, so although this book only happened over about a month, the prior history allowed me to feel like the quick progression was more genuine.

Reader 4
Definitely a departure from your first book though!
They were very different, but in good ways. I like when authors don’t write the same thing all the time. Makes it more enjoyable

Monica McCallan
I think people would believe you if you told them my first and second books were written by different people! I’m glad it worked for you! I feel the same way

Reader 4
What about the other questions you were going to answer from twitter? 2. How do I stay sane amidst the clusterfuck that is the world right now. 3. Favorite pizza topping.

Monica McCallan
Writing really, really helps me stay sane and hanging out with my pups. For pizza toppings, onion if it’s vegetarian, bacon if it’s meat. And you may be able to guess…bacon and onion really takes the cake together for me!Oh also, playing pool. I absolutely love playing pool

Reader 7
Have you ever thought about following up with characters? Like Fallon and Remy part two? Gemma and Harper remix?

Monica McCallan
I’m going to release a bonus chapter for Back to the Start within the next month! I don’t think I’ll revist Gemma and Harper, but never say never…

Reader 10
What part of the book that was your favorite to write?

Monica McCallan
I really like writing the fights! I don’t know what that says about me, but it’s just really, really fun. 

Reader 4
You said your next book is going to be part of a series. Any idea when the first one will be out?

Monica McCallan
It’s almost finished, but I’m not sure about when I’ll publish it. I have another WIP that I’m really into right now, so I may release it first. But I’m confident that I will be releasing another book by EOY.
Perks of being self-published!

Reader 10
What part was the hardest part for you to write?

Monica McCallan
The scenes where they lay their feelings on the line and show their vulnerability.

Reader 2
I loved claires part in being the slap in the face remy needed

Monica McCallan
My second book really focused on tertiary characters to help drive the plot. I’m glad Claire was appreciated, because I sure needed her there too!

Reader 5
Claire was awesome

Reader 4
You have some great side characters. Claire and Smitty in Back to the Start, and Mel was my favorite in Better than a Dream

Reader 2
Smitty … i wanna drink with smitty

Reader 1
Kind of a stand-in father figure wherever needed.

Monica McCallan
For sure. I wanted to do more with him in the book, but there ended up not being a great tie-in. Maybe he’ll pop up in the bonus chapter

Reader 5
I really liked the idea of Fallon taking care of Remy’s grandma

Reader 1
Any chance that you’ll tell Claire’s story at some point in the future? She’s so driven, she must be destined for great things.

Monica McCallan
I mean Claire lives in SF, and the series I’m writing is about three friends who co-found an SF startup, so there’s definitely room for overlap…
She probably won’t get a standalone book just because I’m really, really into writing lesfic
But I know it’s going to be “if you give a mouse a cookie”…if I put Claire in the series, people are going to want Fallon and Remy to make an appearance too

Reader 10
I love how everyone here has fallen in love with Claire. I’m not surprised though. She’s awesome

Monica McCallan
I think once I have a few more books published, I’ll have a much better handle on navigating and inner-weaving the worlds

Reader 11
Do you plan on having physical copies of your books?

Monica McCallan
I’m hoping for the next book! Again, not counting out going back and putting the first two into physical versions, but it’s not something I’m currently allocating bandwidth toward making happening.

Reader 1
Love the SF startup idea – that city is such a totally different world than my life, it will be really cool to read some of your experience there.

Reader 10
Maybe you’ll end up with a big chart like Jae.

Monica McCallan
I mean, one can hope!

Reader 8:
Did you use an editor

Monica McCallan
First book was beta readers, second book was beta readers and an editor. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience with the editor of my second book, so I ended up making a ton of additional changes after I got their feedback since it wasn’t very helpful.

Reader 12
Did you mean for Remy to be such a bitch towards Beth? At least that’s how I read it?Also are you a pool shark?!

Monica McCallan
Yes, she was supposed to be a bitch. I didn’t think people could get over her acting like that toward Fallon in the book at any point (even early on), but I wanted to show that Remy really was emotionally stunted in a lot of ways and didn’t understand the impact of her behavior. Beth was unfortunately collateral damage in moving that forward
I’m not a shark, but it’s probably my favorite hobby!

Reader 2
It was a good way to show that tho

Reader 1
Agreed – it was a huge turning point for her character.

Reader 3
Pool tips for utter newbies?

Monica McCallan
Play sober. I NEVER take that advice though
And neither does Remy…

Reader 7
Pool is meant to be played with a BAC… it’s in the rules

Reader 10
If you were to reincarnate as any animal which animal would you reincarnate as if given a choice? This is knowing you’d be with a loving and caring family and not in some miserable situation.

Monica McCallan
I think any pack animal. Maybe an elephant? Wicked smart, lives for a fairly long time, and protective of its community? Yes please!

Reader 8
I agree elephants are my favorite. The babies are so cute and the women in the family stick together to raise the young. They remember each other after years apart.

Reader 12
How important are events like these in connecting with readers. Do you enjoy or endure?!

Monica McCallan
I love events like this!!!! I’ve been so excited for the past month since my book was selected!

Reader 10
What is something you want to see more of in the writing community, especially the lesfic writing community?

Monica McCallan
I’d love if more people than just lesbians and bi-women read lesfic! Other than that, the community as a whole is extremely supportive, so I hope it continues to be that way and foster emerging writers and fans!

Reader 8
Thank you Monica, for your time and a great book. I just bought your first one and put in in the queue.. Keep up the good work.

Monica McCallan
Can’t wait to share my future work with you all!
Thank you so much for having me today! It’s been a great experience!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s