Feb. 16, 2022

Expanding romance with Rien Gray

Expanding romance with Rien Gray

A trope-alicious episode!

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Strip down and get comfy, because Rien Gray is on the mic and we have a whole lot to talk about. We dive into how writing mobile romance games were Rien’s gateway into the romance world, writing non-binary and f/f romance, and why representation matters. Plus, we talk about how they wrote the MC romance that I’ve been dying to read! Also, did you know there’s a Leather Archives Museum in Chicago? Me neither! 

And, in a first for the podcast, I make Rien pre-blush!


But wait, there’s more! I read a gorgeous steamy scene from their debut novella Love Kills Twice. This ep’s epic! 

Connect with Rien online:
Twitter: riengray 

Website: https://www.riengray.com/

And grab a copy of Love Kills Twice and Her Wolf in the Wild


Elle 0:01
Rien gray is a queer non binary author devoted to writing female, female and female non non binary romance. They love reworking classic tropes in new ways and adding a splash of heat to all of their works. Splash they say. Rien started as a poet, but now shifts between short fiction and longer prose, although their stories are always about how love transforms us, Rien, welcome to Steam Scenes. I am so excited that you're here.

Rien 0:29
Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm really excited to be here. So thank you so much for inviting me. I saw what your podcast was about newsmedia like, oh, no, that's for me. I have to, I have to ask. Thank you so much for having me. I'm like, I'm

Elle 0:43
really excited. Okay, um, okay, I'm gonna do like a spoiler alert. Love Kills Twice is the same scene. It's from your book. This team teen. Let's go back. Try this again. The same scene you sent is from your book, Love Kills Twice and it is one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever read.

Rien 1:01
Thank you so much. It's very flattering.

Elle 1:03
It's gonna light your cheeks up now.

Rien 1:07
Thank you the pre the pre blush.

Elle 1:11
So okay, when did you realize that you wanted to become a writer.

Rien 1:16
So it was it was really young. I didn't even I guess conceive of it. As a writer. This is funny. I love telling this story because it always cracks people up. But when I was really young, my I had to go on these big road trips between California and Arizona. To go see my my grandparents. And whenever we would drive back is my grandmother would be like, Hey, kiddo, tell me a story. Just in the car. It because this was you know, a while ago, I didn't have you know, no cell phone, no video game. No, nothing to entertain us on this, you know, this, this drive all the way up to Sedona and back.

Elle 1:49
No portable DVDs.

Rien 1:52
Yeah, so you know, she just be like, tell me a story. And I just start coming up with stuff. And. And she was always very, very encouraging of that. And as I got older, like she sent me to like a writing camp and a bunch of things like that. So I started very young. And which was funny. This was before digital publishing was huge. So as I was growing up as a teenager and trying to be more mature, I was like, Well, you know, track traditional publishing is really hard. You know, people don't do it all the time. Maybe I'll never be able to, like get a book published, but but I was telling my own stuff. So I started writing and stuff in notebooks. And like, I told myself, Okay, I'm gonna I'm gonna write my first book. By the time I'm 18. I did it was awful. I'm glad to see the light of day to excavate that at any point, or no, no, no, but but it was 88,000 words. And I did finish it before I turned 18. Amazing. So it was it? I I don't know if I still have it. But I used to have a very battered paper copy of it. It was it was terrible. But But I proved to myself that I could write.

Elle 2:58
That's, that's actually an amazing feat. I mean, I think like kudos to anybody who can finish a novel, period. Full stop, because it's fucking hard. Yeah.

Rien 3:11
I'm proud. I'm proud of HP honestly, for just being like, I'm gonna finish it. Because even though like looking back at it, I'm like, Oh, wow, the well, I know a lot more about writing now than I did when I did this. But like, just the motivation and like the push to do that at such a young age, like kudos. youngmee you really, really put it out there.

Elle 3:31
So wait, what now? What genre was this end? I mean, what genre? Oh, okay. What is pan RC? You were like you knew that you were going to be like from an early age. You were like Romans? Yeah. Damn. Were you reading romance at the time?

Rien 3:48
So my mom loved rom coms. She was super into the movies. Like a lot of the movies that came out stuff growing up, she would always take me with her to the movie theater. So I grew up exposed to a lot of rom coms, but it was actually my stepmother who she would read the old like the clinch cover stuff. Yeah, like the classic. You know, a lot of Highlander kind of romances, and she would read them, but she would have so many of them is that they would end up in the back of the car.

Elle 4:14
Oh, okay. So that Chuck it in the back?

Rien 4:17
Yeah, so we'd be on like a drive or something because I grew up in Southern California and you're on the highway? Yeah. 20 years every time you get the car. And I so I ended up reading some of those but my first like romance that I read by myself was actually like a ya it was an FF romance. It was called any on my mind. Oh, which was the came out in 82. Oh, which but but it's actually i i younger than that, but it had been apparently it has never been out of print. Since it was published really about Yeah, it's about two girls in New York who fall in love with each other and the thing is, is like I'm reading this and like not in like Late 90s. And in and I was surprised that like, it ends well for them. It's a happy ending. It's like a really early case of like a happy ending for like, two girls falling in love and this and this and it like, immediately like, it gave me so many feelings. I came out of the closet a couple years after that, but at the time, I was just like not, I was just like, wow, this means a lot to me. I don't know why, though.

Elle 5:21
Oh, that's fantastic. I'm very curious. How did you stumble on that? Library? Just at the library? Very cool. Yeah, very cool. Okay, well, to diverge for a quick second use. You actually started? I don't know, professionally writing with poetry.

Rien 5:38
Yes. Okay. I wasn't, I wasn't, I was pretty young. Actually. I was in middle school in high school is that I, my teachers were encouraging me, I entered a poetry contest, I got a couple things published. There was one published through like a, like an Ivy League publication, which was cool. And then there was like a formal book that they did collecting, like best poems of the year and stuff like that. So I had like, a little bit of publishing experience there growing up. And but I wasn't really happy with any of it. I don't know why, but it was very, like, it was just like, I liked writing poetry, but like getting that published. I like it wasn't. I was just like, I guess that's cool. But for some reason, teenage we had no interest in pursuing that as a career.

Elle 6:24
Hard career to pursue to I mean, yeah, like, you know, nobody that multimillionaire poet down the street like, yeah, no.

Rien 6:34
I was, I was raised to, like, I was raised to have a fairly like, practical mindset about like, careers and jobs and stuff like that. So I was like, oh, it's, you know, it's cool that I got this, but you know, I didn't think it was gonna gonna go anywhere. So I still did it as like a hobby for enjoyment. But where I started expanding into pros, as I kept reading these books that I just like, it, like, changed my life, you know, would I just read it and like, just be left with this sense of like, you know, this is beautiful. This is brilliant. How do people make these things? And I started, I was so slow. I started with short stories, because I was used to writing really, really, really short.

Elle 7:09
Yeah. Well, I mean, say for the 88,000 word novel that you wrote, again,

Rien 7:16
I got there, though. This was this was when I'm like, 14,15. And I'm like, so I worked two short stories. And I was like, okay, it worked out. I did short stories. And then I would get longer than I was just like, Okay, I'm going to try a book. And that's what I finally got to that point. I was 18. So it was just this this like, slow, like, Okay, I finished a short story. Okay, I finished a chapter. And I slowly worked myself up to be able to like run, but it used to be hard. It used to be hard for me to do multiple pages, because I was so used to like a poem where it's like one or two pages, and just focusing on individual words and syllables. That getting to something that was 10s of 1000s of words felt so overwhelming. So I'm curious,

Elle 7:55
because I mean, we will get into it with your scene. But I think that your word choice was very considered in your steamy scene. And so I'm wondering, does that I'm assuming, and I meant, you know, so this is a grand assumption and you can be like, at wrong. Your that sort of care is has carried over?

Rien 8:16
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I honestly think that that's the best thing that poetry has given me is that is for is not just word choice, but like cadence and rhythm.

Elle 8:24
Yeah, yes, yes. Yes. Yeah, I can definitely see that,

Rien 8:27
you know, like the variance and how like, one sentence flows into another because I'm so used to having to do that for every single line. Yeah, and that's a lot for what I do for my editing process actually, is, though, you know, I'll throw my stuff on the page and be going as a lot of my editing is just like, it's trying to get the rhythm of the sentence down and tweaking word choice until it feels exactly what it's supposed to be. I do think a lot of that came from, from starting out with poetry where every word matters.

Elle 8:53
Yeah, it was it was really clear, because as I kept reading it and sort of highlighting all of this stuff, and I was like Jesus, like I can see where the poetry background sort of comes in. Because it's, it's really, really exquisite. Absolutely gorgeous. Was like, thank you so much. So okay, 80,000 word, no, no aside. What what was, what was the first book that you wrote?

Rien 9:23
Yeah, that that it was very much just like kind of a first prove yourself draft it. But I for a long time. Well, so I'm in college, okay. And I'm majoring in Media Design. And I thought at that point that I was just going to go into, I don't know, I was just looking for some kind of stable career. Mom told me to study what I wanted. And I went with that and I was like, Okay, I'll figure something out. Well, halfway through my degree, I got a job as a scriptwriter for mobile games romantic mobile games.

Elle 9:53
Ah, I applied for one. They didn't take me. No,

Rien 9:57
no Ever Need a wreck in the future? I've written so many.

Elle 10:03
Oh real okay, we Okay, we're gonna go down a little rabbit hole in a second, but finish telling me this.

Rien 10:10
Well, a friend of mine was doing it and she was really happy with it and she said, hey, my company is looking for another scriptwriter. Do you want to give it a shot? I was like, Why write stories? I don't write scripts, you know? And she's just like, Yeah, but you're a good writer. Just give it a shot. I was like, Okay, sure. And so I sent in a script, that script ended up being the test script they use for like, three years. To like, compare other writers to when they apply.

Elle 10:34
Holy shit. Oh, my God, I'm like, oh, yeah, no wonder you didn't get the job.

Rien 10:42
But no, but it was it was I mean, it was as much of a surprise to me. And I ended up doing that I for five years, I wrote 30 seasons of content. Wow. So now came like, out of college, like, uh, well, you know,

Elle 10:56
that's your job out of college. That's actually a really cool job. Because I know, when it popped up in my feed, I don't even remember where I found it. I was like, Oh, I would like to do that. And I made it to, um, as far as like, submitting like, you know, I had to like, go play, I write a script for a game, you know, they gave me some parameters. And I for and I wrote a script for existing game, and they were like, yeah, thanks for playing this like, oh,

Rien 11:22
honestly, I wouldn't feel bad about it. Because the amount of competition you're against is surreal. I'm sure. I'm sure. There are many, many, many people who want to get into writing games at all, much less romance specifically, it's actually it's actually kind of it's the competition, the industry is pretty brutal. So I would not knock yourself for that at all.

Elle 11:42
And so you were writing romance stories for the game was like, hooked into romance. So with, with the was, was it steamy? Or no, cuz I don't think they get steamy or do that.

Rien 11:54
So that's the interesting thing about that you want to talk about so there's something it's really important is that Apple in particular does not like you to have sexually explicit content on the app that's hosted on their platform. What if they're really clever readers?

Elle 12:11
So what do you do? The

Rien 12:13
answer is you get as close as you possibly can. Ah, man, like, so I would definitely say that their CV is I wrote many sex scenes, it was just that in many cases, we had to be very careful about their specific words. You couldn't use one thing that's really interesting. You couldn't write safe sex because the word condom

Elle 12:35
would lag. Ah, what are we teaching the children?

Rien 12:39
Yeah, really interesting. I think we have a really interesting case. And the same with dental dam. I had a friend scene and it was just like, No, you can't put that in there.

Elle 12:49
Oh, my God, my senior year in college, I took a public relations course. And I did we were supposed to give a speech. And I was kind of like, I don't want to give a speech. Like I'm just like, I just want to get my credits and get the fuck out. Right. So I did a speech on how to use a dental dam.

Rien 13:06
That's incredible. I see what I would wager is you had the most interesting speech

Elle 13:12
I did. And everybody laughed through the whole thing. It was actually great fun. And my professor bless he was sat in the corner shaking his head.

Rien 13:23
I think he chose the best option.

Elle 13:24
Well, thank you. It was like I was the lone theatre person and a sea full of comms majors. And my professor was actually the managing director of the theater. So he knew me quite well. And he just sat in the corner shaking his head, and he's like, Oh,

Rien 13:43
you wouldn't have been able to put your speech on. Because which is a weird thing. Like you have readers that want sex, you have that want sexual content, like the app is rated 17 Plus, okay, you know, that, like they shouldn't be playing it if they're underage. And yet, Apple's just like, nope. So you but what the result ends up being is that we do have sex scenes is what people want, but you can never be protected. Oh, my God, which is it's just like that's, is that what we want to get across? Okay.

Elle 14:17
All right, thanks, Apple.

Rien 14:20
Yeah, so it's, it's just very specific terms. Like the one we always got in trouble with with using inside in the inappropriate and in the context, we weren't supposed to. Which is an explicit word in and of itself. But it's just like, just going deep inside her. Nope. Take that note, take the

Elle 14:44
inside flag. Like if you're like, Hey, I'm going inside for a cup of coffee. Who wants one would would inside just be flagging? Or did they have algorithms that were able to pick up like, Oh, they're going inside?

Rien 14:56
So the thing is, is we had like editors and producers who would read our scripts So they would manually read it first. Okay, so if it was a normal one, we just check it. But as soon as they got to the sexy and they were like a fine tooth comb being like, you know, we have a list of words you can and can't use. And the problem is is very all the time. There are definitely like some scenes that are far more like the one there is a single strap on CD. One I love there's because the editor, I guess, missed what was going on there.

Elle 15:31
Like asleep at the wheel.

Rien 15:33
So it got published. And the fans loved it. And they had to like after the fact like suddenly edit the content down because they didn't want it to get reported. But it did. But but so there's the one there's the one strap, let's say that like slipped past the which to be fair, like we're talking like, dozens of episodes of content, right? And many, many seasons, right? It's hilarious, but one of them just like somebody was, you know, it was probably a Friday night and they're like, Yeah, okay, yeah, sure. Yeah. Put it out there the next day. Wait, she did what

Elle 16:10
was fantastic. How was it? Okay, so were you on time constraints for writing these scenes? Did that were you like, Okay, here's your here's what we need. And you have whatever, three weeks to do it, or?

Rien 16:23
Oh, yeah, absolutely. The app updated three times a week. Whoa, yeah. It's not that I had content, because we had many, many characters and different writers at the same time. But like, it was very, like, I had a pretty strict two week schedule for knocking out scripts. Wow. And yeah, this kind

Elle 16:41
of sounds like an MFA. To be honest with you. I, you know, like you're, it's, I mean, it's a very different form of writing, you know, I was attracted to it, because like I said, I started in theater, and I started as a playwright, and just sort of moved into novels simply because the only way you can have a career in theatre is because of critics. And I had a day job working with the critics. And I was like, Oh, cool. I don't want these people to. Absolutely not. And so I wouldn't either. Like, I was like, Oh, no. Um, but but there's still that part of me, like, you know, like, when I write my dialogue comes out so quick, and I can just, I could go pages and pages and pages and pages of dialogue, and not put any expository anything in there and be happy as a clam. But you know, that's no fun to read.

Rien 17:35
But yeah, I mean, it makes sense, though, like, say, like an FFA, because for me, the I didn't realize that at the time, but because I was writing these romances and like learning the structure, and like what characters people liked, and what tropes people liked. And it was such a quick schedule is I, it was like a crash course. Yeah, becoming very, very good. And writing romance, because again, people would react in real time. It's not like publishing where you write a book, and you get it to a publisher. And then two years later, there's a paperback and you know, like, it is literally, I would write it, and two weeks later, people would be reading it and giving me their opinions.

Elle 18:10
That's kind of amazing. And you could pivot based on what the readers or players, I guess, I guess we'll call them players. Yeah, either. Yeah. Would would sort of respond to

Rien 18:23
Yeah, because we would get like, we would especially like, at the end of the season, people could leave reviews, and they would tell us like, what they liked and what they didn't, it would be great to see them them guessing what happened next and be like, yes, we have that planned, or, nope, not that. But, uh, we use that feedback all the time. And the results was, I mean, a lot of the stories I wrote ended up being very successful, which was a big deal to me, because what I what I didn't say when I was writing the scripts is all of these scripts were LGBTQ characters. That was not true of the whole app. Okay, the app initially just started out, it's just MF, that's it. Okay. And it was my friend who had gotten me out of the script. She wrote the very, very first FF route for the company, period. And it did well and they're like, Hmm, maybe there's a market here and all of us in the corner. Yes. There's the market.

Elle 19:16
That yeah, I you know, it's so funny, because I actually see that in theater a lot. Um, you know, ahead of the 2020 year career doing publicity, and it was and I can probably count on one hand the number of shows that I wrote for, you know, a lesbian audience were female female. And, and but you know, I can I have no, I can't even tell you how many gay plays I've worked on or straight lately, you know, just Yeah, but it but there was absolutely nothing in the market for lesbian women, or, you know, non binary. It was it's really extraordinary how there was absolutely nothing written for them.

Rien 19:57
Yeah, I mean, and that was what I experienced growing up and What I what I, the biggest thing for me with this story is I wrote their first ever non binary love interest, which is quite possibly, I haven't been able to ever independently confirm this. So please keep that in mind. Okay, what? Possibly the first non binary love interest in a professionally published video game? Wow. Yeah, I've never been able to independent I've checked, and it seems pretty likely. But like, that's like, that is like described that way. And, you know, is like openly that way published by a studio. It was it was a huge endeavor, like it took a year to get approved through management, because they kept being like, I don't know. And we just were just like, please, like, at least let us give us a shot. And they released and they were number one on the rankings for quite a while. Which was, which was extremely satisfying. Of course, I open it led to them opening the doors, all of a sudden, they're like, there is a market, we're going to cater to the market. Yeah,

Elle 20:55
yeah. See, that's the thing, like, you know, these they want these big companies or whatever, the people with the money. They want to see, is there a market for this? And and if there is there, they're like, Okay, let's do this. And I, you know,

Rien 21:12
becomes kind of a catch 22, right. It's, like, if you've never done it is there like, well, you can't prove that there's the market. I'm like, I can tell you that every single person I know thinks there is. But like, you know it, but they have no proof. Because again, it's like, in my case, when I was writing the first I had nothing, there was nothing that I could show that all I could show them is like, the the thing is with this character is that they're the characters boss, the main protagonist boss in the game we were doing and they were always non binary. So it was cool to just have them as a character. And people just kept being like, Wow, they're so dreamy, they're so this and that. I'm just like, please, you can tell, at least in the reviews that they're interested. So what we did what we did, this was so sneaky. So we decided that the plot was going to be that the boss had always been into them, like into her for a long time. But it just kept it quiet, to be professional, didn't want to ever cross that line, etc, etc. But in another route, got jealous and ends up almost kissing her. And we had an image for it, an image of them pressing her up against the wall and about to kiss her and people lost their goddamn minds.

Elle 22:22
You have a conch moment.

Rien 22:24
We gave them that in a route, like another route, just to be like, what's this reaction gonna be? And their response was chaos, just like what this but like their own story. I don't want it to get in the way of the other, but one that was finally enough for management to be like, Okay, well, we'll give it a shot. And then it did very well. But it was, um, it was this like, 20 step process to convince them that yes, please, people will buy this.

Elle 22:50
That's wonderful. Well, I will. I mean, you're on the Vanguard, and I don't how does that feel?

Rien 22:56
Oh, I I wish I wasn't. Yeah, it's hard because I wouldn't be like, I'm so grateful for people who have given me opportunities for for publishing. And for my work and everything. I don't want to sound ungrateful because I am. I'm deeply grateful. I'm very honored that people trust me with this. Every time I get a review from somebody being like, I've never seen a character like this before, thank you for doing this. Like, it means the world to me, in every way, but also, it's just, it's it's so hard. You're always always always pushing back against the status quo. And it you you wish, you know, what am I do? There's more and more I see more and more non binary authors getting published every day. You know, I see you know, people pushing for inclusion, you get many, many people right now we're working really hard to open that up. But it is it is really hard to be at the front of the pack. Yeah, I

Elle 23:48
don't you know, it's I am. And the thing is, like you had mentioned with Annie on my mind, and 1982 You were like, Oh my God. Oh, like this is for me, like this is written for me that you know, and I think that that is so important representation matters. It really does

Rien 24:08
well, in the the big representation that matters to me because there's there's actually quite a bit now and this is this is very good to be clear. In ya. There's quite a bit of representation now. They're they're really going on with like, with with trans characters and characters of color and you know, gender, disability, all of these things. You're seeing people pushing the gap there all the time, and that's fantastic. But the thing is for me is that's good. There's a lot less on the adult fiction front, which is that's where I'm that's why I focus my work where I do, okay, because I want it I want it yes teenagers who are realizing who they are absolutely need representation. There are also people like myself that Are you, are you 30 years old and just now thinking about your gender. Or maybe you've been maybe you've been out for 10 years and you don't necessarily want to read About a 15 year old, you want to see you want I want an adult lesbian who has her life together and falls in love. You know, I want you want the gay action hero. Yeah, all of these like you want these these tropes that have basically been denied to LGBTQ folks for decades. You want to see yourself in that. So is what just like I absolutely love all the work that people are doing in ya, it very much feels not for me, I'm too old for it.

Elle 25:28
I'm like, Yeah, I haven't picked up a YA in a really long time because I'm too old for it, you know? And but it's great to know that, you know, the next generation the kids coming up have that representation. At least that's sort of a step. Why do you think adult has been so slow to pick it up?

Rien 25:45
I mean, a lot of it is, is I've been told for 10 years. That FF has no market despite the fact that it

Elle 25:55
it does that sounds familiar? I that's what I heard. Yeah.

Rien 25:59
I really like agents. I really think that agents and publishing houses and a lot of people that have been in this industry for a while have really internalized it. Okay, they you know, they see that you know, their stuff like why and stuff like love Simon and other things like that do well, and they're like, oh, yeah, you know this Yeah, the teenagers love this. That's cool. But when it comes to adults, they're very often there's a reticence like there's people are pushing more and more you have like really, it's not it's not a romance but it's it's very lesbian centered book, you have like cool sci fi like Gideon, the ninth that Tamsin mirror released that is, like, sent like almost the whole cast just queer women. That's really cool. It's a big, you know, like sci fi epic, and, you know, New York Times bestseller, you know, break the charts, book. And that's great. So we're seeing that now. And these books are coming out now. But it's, it's slow, right? It's such a small percent. I mean, I go looking for like new lesbian and trans and non binary fiction to read all the time. And I see a lot of the same books recommended to me that were recommended to me three years ago. Yeah,

Elle 27:04
I mean, it's, it's happening, but it's happening very, very slowly.

Rien 27:09
The dice, no, no, no, go ahead. I was just gonna say but but I really think publishers are starting to go to bat there. I was just gonna shut out Karina Harlequin, who's who's publishing this. I do have an FF paranormal coming out. Is that for that they are have been going out of their way, especially recently to back like queer writers and translators. They had like two trans women released romances this year. Names and made Peterson which is like the first like, it's Harlequin. Hey, you know, Harlequin backing, you know, yeah, remixes for trans women and marketing them in which are written by trans women, which is an important part. And like, that's fantastic. And, you know, they picked up my FF book and told me that you know, and they saw a future in it, they, you know, which is great, because I know there's tons and tons of shifter books out there, but I still have the hardest time finding lesbian ones.

Elle 28:02
So now is this are you talking about the the Hands of God MC?

Rien 28:06
Oh, yeah, yeah. Look it Yeah, the book is Her Wolf in the Wild. That's it. Sorry. Okay. Yeah. Okay. But the the the motorcycle club isn't it is the house of God.

Elle 28:16
I gotta tell you, this sounded awesome. Because I was like, Oh, my God, shifter plus MC.

Rien 28:24
hilarious, because that's what my editor said. I was like, What? No, when she when she's like, she's like, I wanted to get this because using a motorcycle club as a disguise for a werewolf pack is brilliant. Yeah. And I was just like, in in there tons of fun, which I, you you mentioned to be leading up to this that you were interested in the MC stuff. Yes. So the cool thing is the reason I wrote MC stuff, and maybe a lot of people don't know that. So I'm in Chicago. Currently. There's a museum called the leather archives, which is on the history of like, queer culture and leather and kink. Oh, I have no idea. It's one of the only it's like the only museum of its kind in the United States. And essentially, yeah, and it's four blocks from my house. Amazing. Okay. And white right now, but they've had this display before. They have a massive, like full room display of the like, 50 6070 year long history of gay motorcycle clubs.

Elle 29:25
That's tremendous. And this

Rien 29:27
is the thing. This has been true for decades, but a lot of people think and mind you I'm not knocking it. I watched the show too, and enjoyed it. A lot of people think of motorcycle clubs as the Sons of Anarchy. Yeah, very. Like it's it's just white men. Yeah. And that that's it that's motorcycles and then maybe that sometimes by race, like there's like they have the Mayans, you know like right the mind, man.

Elle 29:47
Yeah. Yeah. But the thing

Rien 29:49
is in real life, many many motorcycle clubs are completely composed of K people. There's dozens like these clubs have their own patches, their invests their own rules. and this has been true for a very, very long time and gets left out of the conversation. So me, I love biker stuff. I love shifter stuff. And I'm like, there's a history here that doesn't get talked about, I'm gonna put them together.

Elle 30:11
That's phenomenal. Now, did you also know, this is the thing that sort of a couple years ago, I read this article, and I think it was New Orleans, like New Orleans magazine, or like, one of the, or like, whatever the magazine is for the city of New Orleans. And they talked about a female biker gang, like club, Female MC out of there. And then like, a couple years later, the New York Times picked it up. And I would, I was reading about them. And I was like, damn, I would love to write like a MC but like, really twist that trope?

Rien 30:41
Yeah, and you can like, it's not just I mean, of course, you can do anything you want with fiction, you could do it even if there wasn't a historical right, but the thing is to notice that there is right he's like, these people exist, these women exist. These you know, these there are like, the very first gay motorcycle club the centers, they still exist. Damn. 1954 I think is when they were founded. Oh, wow. Like, there are still patch patch wearing center writers in this day and age. That so late. Really cool. Yeah. So like, this isn't even ancient history like this is this is currently true. But again, because people don't have access to like, you know, the museum or the and this is the thing is, bikers are notorious for not wanting to grant interviews, or like, have people write down things about what they do, for obvious reasons. Yeah. That's the thing is just like, it's hard to find the history, the people, the history that people know is the most notorious like the Hells Angels and such. Because, you know, they cause they, they have caused enough chaos and had enough public eye that everybody knows what they are. But a lot of these other clubs have just kind of quietly existed for decades, and nobody knows about it.

Elle 31:49
That is so cool. And is there any oral history out there from on them or anything?

Rien 31:54
I mean, a lot of it is you just have to kind of be in the community. I mean, like, the only the, like, the only place I know, that has that big archive is specifically

Elle 32:04
because I was gonna say, This is so cool. Like it would Oh, it would really suck to lose it to sort of like, you know, just be one of those things that just gets lost in history because nobody's, you know, been able to take it down, like take down this these stories, you know, to be

Rien 32:18
fair that the museum tries they do have written down like oral history, like I interviewed people and they've written it down and like, you know, archived it, because Laurel Museum, and they care about that a lot. But in terms of like, white exposure, it's like there's, there's a limit to how much you know, you would have to like, I'm not even sure how you would like archive it for the rest of the planet. Definitely.

Elle 32:38
That's really cool. I had absolutely no idea that that existed and the whole background. That's amazing.

Rien 32:45
Yeah, so So my crossover is one it was it's two things one, queer biker culture. I want more people to know about it, think about it. And hey, it can be hot to bikers or hot. That's why the MC was popular for a reason. And also, the biggest thing for me is that I have always loved shifters growing up. There's almost never any werewolves that are women. Yes. True. Yeah. Because it there are in some places like I have read some but in terms of like percentage, if we're talking like gender split there. In when I was growing up as a teenager it was women are vampires and men are werewolves. Hmm. Women are, you know, which, which makes sense. Okay, so women have to be a mortally beautiful. Predatory bloodsuckers. I see where this is going

Elle 33:36
to make sense now. Yeah.

Rien 33:39
And then men are allowed to be in this fictional context. brutal, violent, very muscular carry, you have some like, you have some like, kind of like what is expected of like physical, like what is expected of like, some of these physical sex is like refracted in these paranormal tropes, right? So women aren't supposed to be 200 pounds of like, you know, muscle and covered in fur. So even in a fictional context, it's just very, very rare. I actually specifically remember the very first one I read. It was MF, but it was it was blood and chocolate. When I was growing up, and it was a wonder to me, because not only was the main character female werewolf, she actually ditched the human guys. She was interested in and decided to be with the werewolf, werewolf guy at the end, because she didn't want to give up her power for him. And I was like, damn,

Elle 34:32
wow. Wow, that never happened. That

Rien 34:37
never happened. It was a total shock to me that like she had like the standard like love triangle thing going on. And instead of that, she she realized he's like, she's like you're afraid of who I am and will never accept how powerful I am. So I'm going to be with my own kind. And I was like, I'm like 14, I'm like, well, for a long time, that was like the only one of the only cases where I could Find where well it was a woman I loved watching the underworld movie series growing up like, oh, yeah, Beckinsale Yeah, that's serious. Yeah. And me being like, wow, she's really pretty. It's like me, have you figured anything out yet? But is that every single werewolf in that series as a man? There's like, there's like, you're

Elle 35:23
absolutely right.

Rien 35:25
And in so like, in growing up, so the like, I don't know, it's always been something that was just like, I want werewolves who are women who can express themselves. It's also a thing for me, being non binary, like, shifters are transformative, you are literally transforming your body back and forth. You have two different bodies, you have people that trust you differently, depending on what body you're in. Yeah. Like it's, you know, it's a very, like, it's a very like trans trope, as it were, so to be like, putting them together. That made total sense. So So I mean, and also on top of that is Mica who's the love interest in the book in the world is not just a lesbian and not just a werewolf, but she's Butch. Because yeah, which was a big deal, too. Because again, there's there's not a lot of mainstream, which lesbians, right? So like putting that together, you know, all of that was like a big deal for me. It was also just really fun to write. You get all the fun tropes of werewolves and bikers. You could just go like

Elle 36:24
stoked for this book to come out. I'm like, fucking October Yeah. I'm like I'm like dying to read

Rien 36:33
but it was funny because one thing you asked me is like how I went view you mentioned before we did this interview is like why I went from romantic suspense. Yeah, shifters Yeah. So I'm still the assassin series is still going okay. I love kills places. The first book, Love Bleeds Deep came out earlier this year. I'm working on Love Burns Bright right now, which is the third one, okay. Is but honestly it's that two things. One, I wanted a slight change of pace. The romantic suspense series is very dark. It is is very serious. It's like it draws from a lot of noir tropes. There is a lot of murder, there is a lot of trauma. There is you know, it it is inherently a romance at its core, because, you know, that's what I love to write. But it you know, I wanted something a bit different. And this is this is funny considering what I said before for market. I also knew I would be more likely to get a bigger publisher if I wrote FF over FnB. And I was right because Harlequin bought the book.

Elle 37:36
Oh my god, this is crazy. This is so cool. This is so cool. I'm laying your career is kind of like how you're carving it out is really extraordinary to me. And I'm absolutely in awe. This is really amazing stuff.

Rien 37:49
Yeah, like I'm very happy that Ninestar they're the ones that that are that are backing my assassin books. Like it's like, you know, I absolutely I love small presses do a lot of work. And I'm very grateful that they looked at something like a F/NB romantic suspense with a, you know, an assassin protagonist and what Yeah, no, we love it. And, and, you know, because like, you know, like, I knew what I knew when I was writing the book that it was nice, but I was writing it. Because I wanted something like it to exist. That was like a dark, heavy story, but had you know, that had a non binary love interest that was like, you know, the attractive killer in a suit. That 10,000 movies, you know, everybody loves John Wick. Is, is so I wanted to tell that and you know, so I was very grateful to find a home for it. And I will I will finish out the story there. But it was also a thing that I have a mentor who who mentored me through to romance stuff is that she's just like your writing, which was very fun. And she's like your writing is brilliant, but a lot of agents and a lot of publishers are not going to know how to sell a character like this. Not because the work is bad, but because again, there's no frame of reference,

Elle 38:57
right? This is such a new, you know, it's kind of like a new frontier here. And so how do they package it? How do they sell it? Yeah,

Rien 39:07
and a lot of the times if they don't know how to sell it they'll say no, regardless of Yeah, even if they like the story or like the writing Yeah, I think so. So

Elle 39:14
yeah, I think that's a point to to really drive home especially to people who are chasing you know Trad publishing and are frustrated because they can't get a deal is that it doesn't mean your work isn't good. It just means that they think they can't sell it for whatever reason.

Rien 39:31
Which for part of me for you know, Her Wolf in the Wild is not only was it a story I want to write because yeah, you lady worlds Yeah, bikers is I was just like, do you know what's always popular shifters MCs will put them together. And then that's

Elle 39:48
Well, I mean, there is kind of a bit of that. And I feel like in a way like because of your kind of, you know, wild MFA accidental MFA through writing for games. You were kind of taught that early on, and you're also taught what tropes, you know, the readers are responding to. So I'm curious like, what is what tropes are they responding to apart from bikers and werewolves?

Rien 40:15
So I mean, a lot of it is I have I have definitely seen more which this is a change in trend because for a long time, a lot of queer romance was like, people were looking for the like the very like the very like sweet romance kind of closed door like contemporary kind of straightforward low conflict stuff. A lot more people now are looking for dark romance and very explicit romance that has been pushed that so that's that's becoming more of a thing. Monsters are huge in general, not just shifters, like actual like No, no monsters full on a full on Aliens. minutters. Like a lot of that is like, people are kind of trying to break out of the mold. They're really notice. Yeah, I've seen a lot of a lot of people looking for something that's a little I think it helps them there's a lot of like really popular stuff with like Greek mythology and everything going on, right? A lot of media, and people are like, wait a minute, there's lots of other monsters that we haven't written romances about. I'm over thinking

Elle 41:11
about all the pearl cultures and how many times Amazon's gonna chuck that book.

Rien 41:19
I actually there's a there's an anthology I submitted a story to I don't know whether or not I've gotten in yet, but but they specifically said we do want monsters but noted that they have to be bipedal. And it's like they're like, we're telling you to write monsters. But But Amazon if they don't have two legs, Amazon will get us in trouble.

Elle 41:39
You're flagged for beast reality and that Yeah, and that's the end of it. Yeah.

Rien 41:42
Even if it's like a completely sentience adult creature, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Yeah. Yeah. So it's, it's, it'll be interesting seeing how this trend like results because you know, we may see another kind of wave of bands from Amazon and we'll see if people persist I hope not though, because a lot of the stories are very creative. Like I you know, I see like lots of romances that they use like the dark themes and monsters and stuff like that to explore real world things like dealing with trauma and anxiety and you know, the damage of past relationships and like a lot of things that I think romance and Jacqueline as a genre excels at the reason I think it appeals to people is that not only because love wins, and that's a it's a big deal for the HPA is always such a big deal. But because, you know, you're going to get to that could end you can get down there and explore all the emotional mess and pull it out. And in reading that reading that reading somebody's going through that and exploring it and coming through on the other side feels good.

Elle 42:45
So what why do you love romance? Is that why?

Rien 42:49
It's a big gap, it's a big part of it. And you know, some of it is representation is seeing people like myself and my friends be loved and be protagonists be in control of their lives. And and especially because if you are queer you are punished for who you love. That is That is how society treats it. So to to look at that and go no love overcomes this feels powerful. Yeah, it's something to it's something to hold on to. And in see that, like, you know, we can get past the end and inspires other people i i With with my games, there would be reviews that would break my heart that would be like, I'm not out to my parents, but I have this app on my phone and getting to play. This makes me feel okay.

Elle 43:36
Oh, my, that must be an extraordinary thing to hear or read. Yeah. Obviously reading the review. Yes.

Rien 43:42
But yeah, like, but you know, when people have sent me dozens of, you know, messages and stuff of the IRS being like, you know, thank you for writing this character. Thank you for doing this. You know, I finally saw myself in something. And like, I have to keep doing that. And again, what I like about romances is I there's always every two weeks on Twitter, there's some war about, you know, should romance heaven Hga. And it's like, yes.

Elle 44:05
Yeah, it should. If it doesn't have an ATA it's not romance.

Rien 44:08
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And the reason to me that I love that requirement is I can tell like, again, you know, the assessment, like the assessor books, again, are very, very dark, but nobody reading it ever has to fear that it's gonna end with Oh, Campbell's dead, right. And now they're all dead. Yeah. Like, they never have to fear that. It gives them a space to engage with, like deep serious emotions, you know, everything from you know, can be something like forbidden sex, to violence to all all these other things and enjoy that. No, they're going to come out of the other side of it. Okay. That that comfort space that that ha That's guaranteed. Like that's, it's such a huge thing to me. It's why it's why I pretty much only write romance.

Elle 44:49
If you would not. Are you tempted to go into another genre? Or like, No, you're happy here.

Rien 44:54
So I did write a horror novella. I submitted it, it's it's I submitted it to traditional publisher, I haven't heard anything yet it's in a big queue. But I did write a horror book that also has a non binary protagonist because I wanted to deal with the flip side of that identity, which is like, body horror, and, like dealing with, you know how that feels and how society treats you and that if you feel like a monster, what are you really so which which is, you know, is very serious and very dark, which hilarious, there is a romance in there because they, they have a happy relationship with their girlfriend, that it's just that she's the only person that treats them that way. So I did write a horror book, and I really enjoyed it. And it got a lot of feelings out. And it felt like the only one I needed to write.

Elle 45:38
I really want to read that too. Like, I'm like, okay, just line up all your shit. And now, like, Oh, my God, I want to read that. Yeah.

Rien 45:48
It's so funny, whatever, whatever people are, like, pitch, you know, pitch your book to me, like, you know, you meet up with other writers. We have a group here in Chicago that are Chicago Romance Writers, and we meet on like, Sundays, and chat about our stuff that whenever there's somebody new, it's like, okay, you know, tell me what you do. And everyone's just like, oh, yeah, my new one is like push biker werewolf. And it's just like, what you put all of those together.

Elle 46:11
To me, please.

Rien 46:13
Just I appreciate that the pitch is short and sweet.

Elle 46:18
You've got the elevator pitch down like this. Great. That's all you need to say. And people are like more more.

Rien 46:23
But I mean, it encourages me inspires me because I feel like I write a lot of stuff that could be considered niche or be could be considered as not having a market and yet yeah, I tell it to people in there immediately interested?

Elle 46:34
Well, you know, I think what's really interesting is we've sort of seen an explosion of male male books that are being read by, you know, the traditional romance reader, which means, you know, middle aged white straight away, you know, and so I think that um, so I, I'm wondering if that is now going to open up to, you know, books about non that non Venner binary characters or female female relationships. I'm wondering if that is open, you know, opening up because I will tell you right now, I have a female female book that I'm dying FF book I'm dying to write and listening. It's a spin off on my rockstar series that is going to be taking place in I'm totally giving a lot away, because this has shown up in my rockstar book that takes place in a tattoo parlor. So

Rien 47:24
oh, I left. I have many tattoos on audio, but that makes that makes my heart happy.

Elle 47:32
Okay, God, okay, good. So, so I have like, you know, the tattoo. I don't know, is that is that is that a thing? Like, I know, we have like Rockstar, we have MC but tattoo.

Rien 47:42
So I think so. Because in fanfic, I know a really popular trope is the tattoo shop AU, which gives you an excuse to like, have all your characters in the same space and get like tattoos, like symbols with meaning and stuff like that. Like, I do think a lot of people think tattoo artists are sexy. Okay,

Elle 47:59
because that's where, yeah, so I was like, I don't even know if this is a trope, but Okay, we're gonna do I

Rien 48:03
definitely, I definitely think there's something there. Okay, cool. Few.

Elle 48:07
So I'm good. But I'm also very, very aware that of own voices and okay, maybe this isn't my story to tell, you know, like, that's, that's also partly what's holding me back that and the fact that I'm still in the middle of the Rock Star Series.

Rien 48:21
I mean, honestly, with that, I mean, I think it's, a lot of it is, you know, sensitivity readers, like for example, the protagonist of her wolf in the wild is biracial. Okay, she's half Mexican. I am not half Mexican. i But Harlock when asked and provided me a sensitivity reader who to specifically look over, you know, how she's treated as a Latina and everything like that, and went over that and I got a great letter back from the sensitivity reader, the SP to change some things that were you know, and I was just like, Yeah, well, that makes sense. And like, I was really satisfied with the result like it is entirely possible, you know, and like somebody who, who's actually it's actually their voice looked at it and was paid to look at it right and give feedback and that that makes a huge difference. I feel much better about it because I know that somebody has looked I mean, obviously one person doesn't speak for an entire community right of course but but it helps a lot that I know it went through that step right.

Elle 49:18
Because I Yeah, cuz I know like I struggled with like I want to be sure that I am inclusive and I want to be sure that I am you know, reflective of the world that we live in and it's not you know, it's not all white, all straight. All you know, this all that it is it is very diverse. But then I also am like, Yeah, but don't get it wrong. You know? Yeah,

Rien 49:43
sensitivity readers of things. And like the thing we're always in my head is knowing is that if I get a book published like that, is that I should be looking for writers of that voice to also boost and push into the spotlight, right? Because if you're a little that gets the deal. It's your responsibility after that point to look down the ladder and help somebody else out. Right. And to me is I think if you're, you know, aware of that and sensitivity reason things like that is that's, that's, that's how we improve. That's how we improve representation across the board.

Elle 50:17
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Just amazing. Um, let me see, let's I don't know, okay, you know, I want to know, famous, I haven't asked this in a long time, favorite steamy moment in literature.

Rien 50:32
Okay, so I have no idea if anybody's brought these books up before on your show. So the kushiel start conceals legacy by Jacqueline Carey. They are epic fantasy books. However, the protagonist is a bisexual sex worker who she's born and the God of pain looks like, as she's born. He's her chosen. Like, like she she takes on his mantle as the goddess, she's a sacred masochist, basically. And this entire book series, the culture, like sex work is legalized. And then there's like, there's like 12 houses, like there's different people have different like, traits and specialties and stuff like that. And it's just very commonplace. And in fact, there can often be a very high rank and make quite a bit of money. If you're, you're good at what you do. And the protagonist is is one of these characters. But the thing is that she's she's being raised in this household and everything like that. And there's this older woman in Melisande, who the moment she sees her Phaedra is the name of the protagonist. It's just in love. It's like, it's this immediate, just like, Oh, my God. Jacqueline Carey draws out that tension for like, 250 pages before Melisande buys her for a night.

Elle 51:47
Amazing. Robot burn.

Rien 51:50
Yeah. And in this, this is we're talking about years are passing in the narrative, like, I think it's like four or five years. Oh, and she's been like, teasing her this whole time. And then finally buys her for a night on this, like very for this, like very big party. And, uh, shows her off in this in this gorgeous dress. It's high. It's a high kink book. So she's like, on a leash and this other thing, and then brings Phaedra back to her, her bedroom alone. And they do this like very intense scene, there's like, there's pain, and there's all these things going on. And for the very first time Phaedra gives her safe word. Because Melisandre asks for it says Give it to me, I've know you've ever given it to anybody else. And like this, the scenes just explosive. And after she gives the safe word, and they stop taking stuff, they actually have sex. And it's just like, like, everything is so intense. It's been 300 pages leading up to this, like just leading up to this, like years and years of tension. And it's just like, it's a mix of like, you know, like, there's like hot King and stuff in it. And then the flow burden tension. And, you know, I do like age differences by ships. They're both adults. But Mallesons older, so I was just like, hey, you know, I'm into that cool. But all of that put together is just explosive. That scene has been etched on my brain for like, 10 years now.

Elle 53:17
Okay, that's it, I now it's actually mine. And

Rien 53:22
they're very, very long. There's nine of them. But like, Yeah, like that. That is a indicative was between women too. And I was reading this growing up and just being like, wow, you can do that. But But in all seriousness, like kushiel his legacy, like set the bar for me in terms of like that you can write about sex and have it be art.

Elle 53:48
Hmm. Okay. And now I can sort of see Yeah, I can definitely see what you're talking about there with having read your steamy scene. So in that, and I can't say to you what makes an intimate scene. Good.

Rien 54:02
So, to me, it's and I will elaborate on this because it's it's a very short answer. So elaborate is specifically the details because you wouldn't have the same set the exact same sex act in 10 different books, with 10 different couples, and it can feel like a completely different experience for your reader. Oh, this

Elle 54:21
is cool, because this was one of the things that has been brought up a few times. How do I make a difference? Did I write the same scene that I wrote the last time? I don't know? And, you know, and I think that that's a really good point that it can be exactly the same, but if the details change, you've got a completely different scene

Rien 54:37
because the details can be Is it their first time ever? Is it is it fraught? Is it hidden? Are they about to get caught? Like, you know, are they you know, are they are they not supposed to be together? Is this is this their wedding? Is this like their marriage bed? You know, there can be a complete different context in there. You know, is did they does everybody involved know what they're doing? Ha. Sometimes you can have fun scenes like like so. Well, I've joked about this on Twitter before. So it's not a huge spoiler, but a mica in her wolf in the wild is a virgin. I have a virgin hero, my big Butch werewolf has not actually gone all

Elle 55:16
the way. Okay, that is unexpected.

Rien 55:20
It is for the protagonist to because she realizes that she's like, Oh, God, just because she's dripping with sex appeal doesn't mean she's had sex. I'm such an asshole. Like, she's these this like, absolute, like just like shredded brick of old and she's just like, Oh, my God. I mean, I have to claim that realize that she has no idea what she's doing. Oh, my God, I need to teach her.

Elle 55:40
And that, and that does twist it because it's like the bike or the? Or the you know, you expect them to be more experienced? Yeah. And yeah,

Rien 55:48
and the thing is, is the reason Mike hasn't been with anybody is because her mother is an extremely well known alpha. And she basically had a lot of people growing up try to be romantic with her to excess power, of course. And then yeah, which made her like very shut down. It's not that she's not interested in sex. It's just that everybody growing up that tried to approach her for that kind of thing was essentially trying to use her. So she is it makes her more of like, she's like, more of it comes off as kind of like a cold, stoic, serious character, because she's used to people approaching her that way. So, you know, part of that, that warming up is, you know, the protagonist realizing that like, oh, like, she's not, like, she's not cold if even because she wants to be it's like, you know, it's it's a reflex. Yeah. So, and again, it also, like, so they're first time seen, like, they have a lot of like, kind of fooling around actually actually leading up to that, because it's fated mates. So they're going to be all over each other anyway. But is that like, is figuring those things out? And that's a completely different scene than anything. I've written the assassin books like because, you know, Campbell, and Justine, who are my two protagonists in the fatal fidelity series, they're both adults, they are both grown adults, you know, just getting out of her 10 year marriage, you know, Campbell has been around the block very times, like, the way I write the scenes for the two of them is very different. They know what they want, and they already have done it. Right. So that is a huge difference is technically you could look at those books and be like, these same acts occur and the context is so different. They're all it's almost unrecognizable. Right? Right. And there are other details, like, like, to really, like make an intimate scene for me is, you know, is all five senses, I start I do an outline of like, I usually do, like a really like raw outline of like, what Acts and stuff I expect to happen. And then I start those are like, my lines. And then my colors are, you know, all five senses, you know, because, you know, scent, you know, touch, you know, sight and everything and how it all loops together? Because I feel like it's really easy to get caught get caught in like the movement of it. Yes. You know, oh, yeah, we're thrusting. Cool. And it but it is easy to focus solely on that physical aspect, as opposed to everything else that's happening. There's so much that's happening when you're having sex.

Elle 58:05
Yeah. And I find that the choreography like, I definitely get tripped up in it. And I'm like, Okay, this is good. And then so, how do you I guess, how do you pull yourself out of that? And sort of go back? Are you sort of like, do do a layering process while

Rien 58:18
you're writing are is yeah, it's very much it's very much a layering like my, my first raw draft, you know, like, for like a sex scene, like the steam scene that we're going to look at here was that I'm like, Okay, I know that this is going to be like the last scene before the big reveal. This is the culmination of all of their desires, this and this and this. I want Campbell to be packing. So and you know, and I want I also like, I pick out like, basically all the emotional and pop beats, I mean, first, okay. And it's just like, okay, that's my raw thing I need to get from A to Z by the time the scene is done. Okay, cool. Right down probably the general order of Texas I have very, very, like short outlines. It'll just be like Campbell goes down on her arrow. And I'll literally just do it like in an order and then I will write the scene on top of it. Okay. And, and work my way down. It helped me a lot with pacing, right? Because I'm not being like, okay, they just did this, should I do this? Or should I do that I already have it I already have like the physical acts done. So

Elle 59:19
just in terms of process, like are you is this sort of first you're doing all of our outlining and all of this are you going like moment by moment, day by day, you sort of go okay, I'm writing this, no outlines, okay, and but it's all outlined way ahead of time. So it's not like Okay, today I'm going to do this and then I'm going to do my rough outline and then I'm going to write it and you have to know ahead of

Rien 59:40
time Yeah, I if it's a scene that I think I'm going to have difficulty with, I might do a secondary outline when I get to it if I need to get like into the real nitty gritty, right. But most of the time like before, when I start a book, I do a full chapter outline, okay, chapter by chapter, this happens, this happens, this happens, this happens. And then when I get to the chapter, if If it is something like a big deal like a steam scene that I'm going to, then I will make a chapter outline inside the actual document. And just be like this happens. And just go all the way through there. I'm very much a planner, I cannot lay pants to save my stresses me out too much. I feel like I feel like I forget how to write.

Elle 1:00:20
I get I'm impatient. So I end up when I start to plot, I end up pantsing because I'm like, I get so like, I want to write this. And then I just get to a point where I'm like, and I'm out

Rien 1:00:31
to the problem is also impatient. And this is my fault because like I have the whole Third Assessment book planned out. It's a four book series. For some reason, right now all my brain can be like, I want to write book four. And it's like you have to write book three first. Well, I already outlined the book, it's like yes, we have to write it before you can start number four. It's my brain going well you already know what happens do the next this kit kit do that?

Elle 1:00:55
So okay, cuz you are writing in a series and you so you're not Do you have the whole series planned or outline? Yes. Oh, wow. Damn,

Rien 1:01:03
it was it was always as soon as I finished the first book, I I ended up like I started this was before nine start picked it up. But I had an idea immediately for a sequel. So like, wrote that down. And then when they picked up the book, and the editor was like, you know, is this something that you think a series potential? And I was just like, Yes, I do. Let me do a series outline. And yet so there's four books. I do not intend it to be any longer or any shorter. I have Title I have titles for them and everything. Oh,

Elle 1:01:32
you know, I spent I just finished my fifth book today. It was just one off sending off to the editor. Thank you. And you know what I spent about two hours during this morning figuring out what the fuck the title was.

Rien 1:01:45
Okay, so that is an interesting thing about my process. I can't write something if I don't have a title. Oh, I

Elle 1:01:49
never have a title till I'm done. Yeah, no,

Rien 1:01:52
I the literally the first thing I have to do is that I will if I have an idea, I will like write it down into a document and then I figure out the title. I cannot I have never finished anything that did not start with me having the title. Wow.

Elle 1:02:03
You know, it's really funny because everyone always says, Well, you know, and I'm like this, I need to know how it ends in order for me to write it like that's the one thing I need to know how it ends but it's hilarious and romance because I know how it's gonna and it's gonna be happily ever after

so like, that's not hard. Yeah.

Rien 1:02:23
Yeah. But yeah, no, and like I always I always know how I wanted Campbell and Justine's arc to go okay. It is it is it is very specifically I don't want to go too much into the approves Wow, massive spoilers for the end of the series I haven't written yet. But like, Justine is the femme Patel. She's as like a no war character. She is the femme Patel. And but you'll notice she hasn't killed anyone yet.

Elle 1:02:51
Oh, oh, yeah.

Rien 1:02:57
So it's in but I mean, it's us with an assassin and of course, like it's a romance. So it's like it between them. It's not the thing, but like that the arc I had been setting up for her is the slow which is this so my mentor describes me is that you have Campbell in the like the dark black side of morality. And that Justine starts over in the white that she is a very good person who's in a terrible circumstance, and you know, gets pulled towards Campbell out of desperation. And every single book is then moving more in the gray towards each other. It's Campbell having more feeling and more emotion and more compassion. And it's just seeing losing her losing that that pure edge goes further and further and further away. And essentially, there's a line cross.

Elle 1:03:42
Wow, amazing. You know, because one of the things that sort of struck me and I always find this so cool because I'm actually working on a side urban fantasy slash PNR but I'm sort of you know, I had an idea for it. My original idea was strictly urban fantasy but now that I'm really entrenched in romance, I'm like oh, maybe I can make this more PNR maybe, but I always imagined the one female character like being the same throughout the book we you know, have is always in the series and if I do the love interest does that mean I need to pull her like have the different carry or do I continue her story and you know, because you have to keep giving them a happily ever after so you have to kind of separating them Yeah,

Rien 1:04:23
no, no and that's just because I have technically all of these books like like love kills twice ends on a hey there together gay right had for no one and then lovely deep they're there together as a couple and then it ends with a different take on it's them having progressed pestle so a lot of emotional pain and everything like that and that together so each each one of these books I have to keep in mind needs its own. Yeah, ata. Yeah, till we get to the last one. Oh, it's hard like it's a big like craft like writing crafting that like you know the structure like you know, The robot's structure and then in making it happen once in one book is hard and making it happen four times is, why did I do this to myself?

Elle 1:05:09
That's what I'm worried about. I'm like, you know, I'm like, Just expand, expand the universe, get some different characters make

Rien 1:05:16
yourself. But I do really love. I feel like, there, there aren't as many series in romance where you have couples that stay together the rest of the series. I'm a huge fan of that. Yeah, I mean, I love I love the first time get together as much as everybody else. But I do like series that follow a couple through their trials and tribulations a lot. Because, you know, it's easy when you're in the honeymoon phase. Right? More, which, which, to be fair, I got that from my games writing. So these characters would have like, eight to 10 seasons, right? Well, they get together and season one.

Elle 1:05:47
So you've got to make them interesting in season 234.

Rien 1:05:53
Yeah, so I mean, it's all kinds of things that can be like, you know, how did they deal with kids? Do they get married? Do they did this and that, but you know, you know, what's the external conflicts? What are their families think either way, it all kinds of different, like tropes and stuff to pull and deal with that. But like, you have to, like carry on, like, the chemistry and the heat, and then also have them grow as people, right, without sacrificing the couple because then being them breaking apart isn't an option?

Elle 1:06:17
Is it an option to break them apart and pull them back together? Or do readers get angry at that?

Rien 1:06:21
So I, it has been my experience that readers get fairly angry at it, they understand separations for certain things, like, I need you to go home while i deal with this, you know, big villain or this and this and that, like in a temporary break, kind of like a temporary break kind of situation to find. But actual breakups, I found tend to a lot of the times they feel contrived, right, I think it's hard. I see that I've seen even discussion on Twitter, like, you know, do we need the third act breakup? Which is, I don't even necessarily think it needs to be a breakup, there were lots of things like for it's it's not really even a breakup of the assassin book, it's it's just been thinking very seriously that Campbell is about to kill her, which is a very good reason to leave. That's not what's happening. But she doesn't know that it is very much that like she she finds something that makes it very clear that she thinks her life is a danger. Like, it's not even a breakup. There are like, there I think like there are lots of ways to do it. That is not just we fight over something small and then leave each other. Right. Right. Right. It can be I'm trying to protect you and the overbit. That's actually in her role from the wild. The the the like that kind of Crux conflict is just very much I'm trying to protect you trust me, versus you need to let me deal with this myself. And that's the thing is, I think the best versions of that that break apart or when it's clear it is because both of them care about each other so much. Yeah, it shouldn't be an argument about something small or petty. It shouldn't be a mistaken identity. It shouldn't, you know, like, and to be fair, as I'm saying this, I know that there are authors who have done those things well, but I think a lot of readers see that and they're like, oh, yeah, they have to argue for 10 pages, and then you know, oh, they'll get back together. You can do a lot of things to like make that that kind of, like crisis point. Interesting in based in their relationship, right. So, yes.

Elle 1:08:13
You're like having we're I'm having a masterclass with you right here.

Rien 1:08:19
Again, a lot of it is just from, as you said, My accidental MFA. It's like, well, you have two weeks to figure this out. You're going to do this 20 More times afterwards. I think we wrote something like I think we ended up calculating it out. I think I wrote like 2 million words for them in total. Holy shit. That's a lot of words. Yeah. Because every every like, every season was 30,000. Wow. So I mean, a lot of it was just like, well, you're going to figure it out one way or another

Elle 1:08:48
million words. Holy shit. Yeah. Okay, I want to dig into your steamy scene from love kills twice. We're gonna have a POV shift at at a certain point. But I'll flag it when we get there. But can you set this up for us?

Rien 1:09:04
Okay, so this is fairly close to the the end of the book they have already had. Kimball and Justine have already had sex once. They, they just she she runs it. So context for the readers. This is the assassin she hired to kill her abusive husband. Yes, they're the love interest. Um, and they, they end up there's like just a lot of tension between them. And she, you know, she basically hasn't had any kind of satisfying romantic or sexual contact in a decade. And she and she hits it off with Campbell immediately. The fact that they're dangerous is appealing to her in a way she just you know, it like the extreme of it is an immediate appeal and Campbell's immediately attracted her but it's like she's the client This is stupid. There's no way I should be doing this. And And yet, when she goes for it and kisses them, they can't hold back. So they they have sex. Once at Campbell's home. Hell and well, to be fair, and this, this probably come up in the, in the second scene as well, Campbell goes down on her and, and does a bunch of things like that she just has a great time. And then Campbell sends her home. And she's just like, you don't want me to do is they're like no, go home. And she's just, I, I've never been on the other side of this before, where I just get to have a good time and the other person doesn't what and, and they're just like, it's fine internally, it's Campbell just being like, I can't get attached. I made her I made her feel good, I can indulge in that and be satisfied with that and not think about myself. And Justine is like they did all this for me. And I don't understand why they care. So that's their first scene. So this is the second scene, which Campbell calls her and says, I'm, I'm doing the assassination tomorrow, basically, and this is going to be over with and you know, they're going to disappear. And just seems like I've been realizing it I'm never going to see them again. Right. And so they have a phone call at the at the start of this, the scene leading into it and have what is what is framed to be their very last time.

Elle 1:11:09
Okay. I'm gonna start reading Okay, so this little bit No, I'm guessing from this Justin as a painter, or an artist.

Rien 1:11:17
So yeah, she well, she owns an art gallery. Her because her husband thinks that like basically like never let her be an artist so she doesn't in private. Okay. She does it. It's like her private secret hobby from him is that she's kept a painting this whole time.

Elle 1:11:33
Okay, so just a really tiny snippet from from this opening. And I wanted to point that out because it makes sense so so so this makes sense. My attention drifts to the canvas Campbell specter right beside me and pencil. The color of their eyes is drawing on my sample sheet but it's a shadow of the real thing. There's no life there. No desire trying to break through frayed fraying, threads of restraint. Okay, so I was just like, oh my god, I'm done. I'm done this.

Rien 1:12:02
To me. I love that because, again, the ultimate rebellion she's not just painting and he her husband doesn't know about it. She's painting the she's painting the person she had an affair with. Yeah, in their house. It's like her her rebellion is she's like slowly about to break out of this. This is painting them. Yeah.

Elle 1:12:19
And I just thought the writing I you know that it was you know, not not, you know, not his image. It's his Specter. You know, I'm I'm sorry, their Specter. Yeah, yeah, there's, you know, fraying threads of restraint. Oh my God, it was so beautiful. So, so beautiful. Okay. Now now, Justine is on the move. I don't usually take the train. But something is funny about being so anonymous as the doors closed and I take the first empty seat. I see an assassin is waiting for me. Yet no one has the first clue. I'm just some woman in a blue dress, checking the clock on my phone with every passing stop now. Now this anticipation is building and I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. With three minutes to spare. I reached the door of their hotel for a second. I'm not sure whether to knock or text but it doesn't matter. When the when the hinges swing open. A hand darts out of the dark and pulls me across the threshold before I can think to resist. The door closes with a dull thud behind me. The lock flipped with a twist of Swift fingers that click of metal on metal seals my fate and Campbell's mouth is on mine hard and demanding. Even with the lights off I know it's them. The hands on my shoulders were the ones on my hips. A week ago the kiss justice searing I feel out of line of Campbell's clothes. I feel out the line of Campbell's clothes a dress shirt open at the collar the subtle buckle of their belt press trousers and affirm bulge between Campbell's legs. Oh their grip tightens on me in the mood to be tears just seen of course that's the first thing Campbell says not hello or how are you but a frame for who I want to be there the fire and flood sweeping through my life ready to take it down to the foundation so I can start over again. So I tell them exactly what I want see okay this is like I'm like I was just floored by the beauty of your writing here. fire and flood take it down to the foundation particularly poignant knowing that this is kind of literally what's happening because she's hired them to kill her husband the abusive husband um I was like This is extraordinary.

Rien 1:14:33
I'll actually tell you by the way the there the fire and flood sweeping through my life was actually one of the first lines I thought of really the story Yeah, I didn't have a place I didn't know where it was going to go. But when I was putting the story together if that line is one of the like, I keep notes on my phone I have like fragments of stuff okay, that that line was one of the first ones I had that was like this is their dynamic.

Elle 1:14:55
Did that were You were you just like walking down the street and you're like, Oh, I got it or how does That kind of you know, like how does that inspiration come to you?

Rien 1:15:04
Um So the funny thing so my my friends and stuff like no I love assassins and love this and that and somebody but one of my my friends like sent me like a joking post that it's like a joke's on you. I slept with the assassin who came after me. And I was just like what it was funny because we had I had been discussing with some other friends who are also Romance Writers like enemies to lovers like what the definition of enemies two lovers is and in the art my joking, like upsell on that was assassin target two lovers.

Elle 1:15:42
Yeah, and I was

Rien 1:15:44
just like, it was just like, okay, so because it to be clear. I I don't know if you've read the summary of the full summary of the book. I did. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Uh, at the beginning, Campbell was hired to kill just Steve. Yeah. So

Elle 1:16:01
hired, you know, they've both been hired by the the same. Married couple, the husband, the husband's hired Campbell, the wife's hired Campbell and so Campbell's got to make a decision, I guess who they're gonna kill?

Rien 1:16:15
Yeah, yeah. So but to be like the assassination target delivers. And I was just like, but to me when I thought of that concept, I was like, Well, how how does it change? Like, how does the contract change what gets violated? And I'm just like, oh, well, two people hiring the same thing. And of course, this Campbell's immediate responses What the hell is going on with these two? Because initially because the husband is the first person that hires Campbell, they get lies about Justine and why this person and then Campbell meets Justine and I was like, she's not like this at all. Wait a minute, what what is happening? Okay, and then she finds out you know, and then you know, like she tells them you know, he's extremely abusive and this and this and this and Campbell's like awesome like Well, fuck

Elle 1:16:59
that's kind of up ended their original plan I guess.

Rien 1:17:03
The thing is, is like they you know, they don't violate their contracts they don't do this and this and this and they have they don't have much in the way of morals but they have a very strict code right and and like being with justeat is already violated the code and so they're, they're wrestling with it this whole time. So it was to be like, yeah, like the way this concept came up was how do you take something like assassination target to lovers and make it like still a compelling conflict while not changing the fact that they were definitely hired to kill her?

Elle 1:17:33
Amazing their breath catches as I work my way down now we're getting really into the steam now okay. And full of campus life until I surpass my fingers, the wood creaks from above and my eyes have adjusted enough to see enough to the darkness to see one clenched fist against the door. Campbell's attention locked on me like I'm the only person in the world. I breathe in through my nose, tongue sweeping up the underside of their shaft, leaving every inch I can take slick, it's an easy for them to fall into encouraged by the palm resting at the back of my head. There's no force, just the pressure that never quite let them escape my mouth. The scent of sex and sweat spills across my senses. Salt lingering on the back of my tongue as I look around the head and don't delve back down. When my nose brushes the bronze teeth of their zipper. My name leaves Campbell's lips like a prayer. Oh, my puddle right now. I totally love how you're firing on like, basically all the sensations like we had talked about before. And you know, that sort of layering of act with the creak of the wood, the sight of Campbell and being locked on her and, you know, the sense and the pressure and sweat and sex and salt? Who cares?

Rien 1:19:01
I mean, and that's the hope to me, because I want the full sensation. I sometimes read sex scenes that like I like what's going on, but it doesn't feel like two bodies. Mm hmm. I want every aspect of the body involved in an intimate scene. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, is when you're actually having sex, like a lot of a lot when you're actually having sex. Like the things you focus on is not like a lot of things are filtering through at the same time. Yes, I think way more happening than I think we even parse that if you were looking at it from like a third person perspective, you would realize how much is going on there. Yeah, and that's how I kind of tried to picture it and be like, you know, if I was standing 10 feet away, what's there and it's, it's the the scent in the sight and the pressure and Campbell's posture and you know, and of course what Justine is feeling,

Elle 1:19:45
right? I'm like, Oh, God, you need to rewrite all of your sex scenes right now. Alright, last little bit from Justine then we're gonna move to Campbell. Later I put that fantasy into the air like a promise I want You in Me I want I want I want and Campbell's fingers find proof that I'm wet and that there there are no barriers left between us. Campbell teases my pussy and slow strokes until I gasp hips jerking forward trying to rub against their shaft as if that friction will sever their last thread of patients. Instead it destroys mine forcing a needy moan from my lips Campbell their hand leaves me and it would be it would be a torment if Campbell didn't press press hard inside me with their next breath filling me to the last inch I have to relax to take them all in but I savor the stretch pleasure sparking pleasure sparking electric through my whole body. They're so close close enough for me to read their eyes. They're not looking anywhere else not thinking about anyone else but me. I give up a lot more than Richard for it to stay this way.

Rien 1:20:50
Yeah, she's fallen so hard and cheap thinks this is the last time writing this and she's just like, oh God, like oops, there's actual feelings. Oh no. Oh, well.

Elle 1:21:04
It was so wrong. It's so emotional and so like it was just I was like, oh my god puddle puddle. It's amazing. Absolutely gorgeous.

Rien 1:21:14
I do just in general love stories where somebody falls in love with the person they absolutely should not yeah yeah like this is a case where like in logically looking at what she does the outside there is absolutely no reason she should pursue this whatsoever it is dangerous it's a mistake they're going to leave you know there's a there's an actual like crime they're committing etc etc. And she still can't help herself.

Elle 1:21:35
Now at this point does she know that Campbell was hired to kill her?

Rien 1:21:39
No, that is immediately after the scene.

Elle 1:21:41
Oh boy. Okay.

Rien 1:21:44
No, she they have a computer that has a list of all their clients on there and including like more and everything like that and Campbell goes to shower and Justine because she's desperate to have something of Campbell and to understand this they have told her so little about who they are right because she's so desperate to find something else like their their their their suitcases locked so she doesn't go there and their phone is locked. So she can't find it out from there. But she touches the laptop and and it comes to life and their their client list is on there with details and it has her name on it. And it says hired by husband and fairy very, very poorly as you can

Elle 1:22:28
about a debt especially since it was right after this. So Wow.

Rien 1:22:33
So yeah, so it is it is it is like 10 pages after this little boy.

Elle 1:22:38
Okay. Alright, so now let's figure out what's going on Campbell. Okay. She rolls her hips down at the same time I push up and we grown in unison I could keep up the game or I could take what I want. Right now what I want is to take just the inter very limit to have her scream my name until she's hoarse, so I bare my teeth giving her just a second to register the predatory look and start to move inside her exactly like she needs hard, fast and relentless. Fuck Justin rakes five hotline's down my back before she throws her head back and moans shaking with pleasure. Campbell don't stop don't you dare. I'm half tempted to dare just to see what she'll do. But it's so much better to feel Justine like this giving in while still demanding more. I kiss down the line of her jaw scraping my teeth along her throat and SHE GASPS high and hard maybe I can't leave the wrong sort of marks but I can make her dream about it the same way I'm sure she's dreaming about my fingers wrapped around her throat Can you come like this? I growl so focused on fucking her my senses collapsed to to that single primal drive. Just stand as malleable as as malleable as gold under my hands searing hot as I taste the sweat off her skin. Or do you need more? I can i She gulps down a ragged breath followed by a curse when I don't stop to hear her answer. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not sure I ever want to stop. If you keep if you keep going Campbell use me burying my face in the curve of Justin's neck. I do just that. It would be selfish if she hadn't asked for it pumping my hips like a beast in heat. But the moment Justin starts to whimper and tremble, I know she's getting close. I am to chasing that sweet friction with every thrust. But I can make myself last I will for her. She claws at me as she comes crying out with every tight pulse of pleasure as if there's so much tension inside trying to escaper it's trying to pour right through my skin. I'm wild with it continuing to move while my name leaves her lips and shattered syllables. Are you close just in gaps gasps take what you need. My hips jerk LIS spilling through my body in hot short bursts and just holds me through it. Her fingers tangled in my hair to keep me cradled against her shoulder. Instinct keeps me thrusting until we're both at our limit panting and flushed with afterglow. I think back into her one more time keeping our hips locked. together as our eyes meet again, Justin's hair is beautiful mess spilling in waves down her shoulders every which way and that a few strands claimed to the column of her throat rising with quick and breaths. Her lipstick is half and ruin the center of sex sticking between us and warring with the dark rose notes and Justine's perfume. I was like, right here in the room with them to be honest with you. We're just kind of hovering over I'm watching what was going on that was really like such a beautiful moment. And you can see where they're getting kind of emotionally involved here and really a kind of twist it up in her.

Rien 1:25:40
It's it's very much a contrast to the first scene to where it's very focused on like, the physical pleasure of the Act and the fact that it's something forbidden and shouldn't be happening that like, Whoa, it's the start of this affair. This and this and this it's so focused on like, Campbell's very focused on getting Justin off, as opposed to like theirs. They don't talk about feelings really that much. So it was it was really enjoyable to get this scene that both of them thinking this is going to be the last time I ever do this. Oh, the feeling spilled out.

Elle 1:26:14
meant to do that. Yeah, no, this was absolutely gorgeous. And and yeah, like I said, I could just see where they're, they're struggling with that. Like, they want it to be a little bit more animalistic, a little bit more removed. But that's not happening. Nope, that's just not happening. This is gorgeous scene was just so gorgeous. So thank you for sending it over. Laughter Yeah,

Rien 1:26:37
I mean, thank you, thank you so much for reading a i is again, like not say for content in in fiction means a lot to me, I think, you know, it gets it gets maligned so often, especially, especially in real life, you know, we have everything going on with like sex workers, and like only fans, that news just broke. Yeah. And in that, quite often, I I often sometimes wish that the that romance Landia would would openly support sex workers a bit more, we make a lot of money writing the fiction of it. A lot of people who live it are suffering.

Elle 1:27:12
Very good point, actually. Yeah, that is because I mean

Rien 1:27:16
to me is, and this is the same thing with like, you know, with Apple banning certain words in a fictional and a fictional app, with only text in a 17 plus scenario, whether adults is saying, No, you can't say that condoms are a thing, right? Like, like, like, the same forces that oppress people who legally to be clear, have sex for money? Are the same forces who will tell you no, you can't use these 30 words.

Elle 1:27:43
Right? Oh, right. Yeah. And I mean, it really is pretty extraordinary. Um, you know, I do have to question if sis men, it's like, it's only allowed for them. Right? It's there's big this is where the, that experience is only allowed for them. And so when you start factoring in any sort of, you know, women's pleasure, non binary pleasure, gay pleasure, like, whatever that might be, it's like, that is not allowed. Yep. And yeah, and that is sort of like, you know, that that sort of frustration, you know, of, you know, particularly with, you know, sex workers and being able to make a living, and oh, yeah, I could Oh, my God, this Yeah, I mean,

Rien 1:28:26
a lot of trans and a lot of trans and binary sex workers made a lot of money on only fat because they didn't have to deal with Yes, production companies that are interested in them.

Elle 1:28:35
Yes. And it was safe, or safer, you know, for sure for them to be on this app. And oh, yeah.

Rien 1:28:45
No, it's an important thing to be like, I always try to keep in mind that I am making my career on writing high heat content that I write sex that I that I value sex and therefore, you know, I try I try to keep in mind to support you know, sex workers who are dealing with it in reality. Yeah. And the way the way they are treated by society is to think it's just the way that porn stars are treated by society is quietly the way they wish they could treat all of us in regards to sex. It's just that they're allowed to do it. Yeah, sex workers. Yeah. You know, solid solidary is good for all of us. Quietly steps off myself.

Elle 1:29:27
I know I'm like no Pearl clutching allow.

Rien 1:29:33
So here, I will tell you a story. Do you want to know how I figured out I was non binary?

Elle 1:29:37
Yes, I would think yes, I actually would a porn star.

Rien 1:29:42
Which one? So their name is just Lee. They have been in porn for 2025 years actually. They have been out for quite a long time. They're one of the only like non binary starters that is actually crossed over into the mainstream at all other friends with soya who's also very well known is I was like 18 years old, watching a, watching a film from pink and white productions, which is a, like queer and trans owned pornography company, and saw them in in the corner, saw their pronouns, because they talked about the performers. And I had never seen that before. I'd never seen somebody who would use them. Okay, and I went, you can do that. And it was very, and this was after having, like, kind of like a gender crisis when I was younger, just being like, well, I'm no, I'm not a trans man, because I'm not a man. But what am I, you know, there was no word for it. And I saw this person. This isn't not just the pronouns, this person being desired. Yeah. And, and, and smiling and laughing, and have a good time. And wanted to be that person. So to me, there, there is no separation from to me from, for sex in my identity, because without somebody who was bold enough to be in that industry, and out in that way, I wouldn't know who I am.

Elle 1:31:03
Wow. That that's absolutely beautiful. And again, like, I think that it goes back to representation fucking matters. Yeah, absolutely.

Rien 1:31:11
That's the thing is it matters. And that's the thing that matters for adults, too. It matters for adult spaces. Yeah. Because to see people, you know, that are grown adults with careers and lives that there is a future. Yeah, isn't just you come out when you're 14, and then it's a void. Right? It's, it's that and I actually, I DM them on Twitter once just sent like a nice message, but they sent me back a very nice note. They're like, it looks so good.

Elle 1:31:38
I mean, I think that, you know, that's part of the reason. I that's kind of feel good. Yeah. Because especially because you figure considering how long they've been out and open and have been using. That could not have been easy to do. Don't ever Oh, not even remotely. I mean, I don't think it's easy to do now.

Rien 1:31:57
Yeah, it certainly wasn't easy back in, you know, like the early 2000s. Yeah, definitely not. And again, so if I hadn't had that revelation, and then I hadn't written characters I wrote, you know, the first non binary love interest to my things like this. This is a chain.

Elle 1:32:12
This is awesome. This is so awesome. So how can we as like sort of the romance community? How can we support you and other non binary writers? What can we do? What do you need from us?

Rien 1:32:24
A lot of it is two things. A lot of it is accidental exclusion. Because I want to be clear, I don't there are issues. There's of course transphobia and trans misogyny is your huge, huge problems and publishing I'm not underselling that. But a lot of it I think, is accidental exclusion. Yeah, there's a lot of talking that women are the only people that write in love romance. Which leaves out a lot of people who are not women who write romance that women really like.

Elle 1:32:49
And just write a scene. Yeah.

Rien 1:32:53
Yeah. So it's, it's, you know, to keep in mind, you know, when, when doing like, like, even like naming awards, or conferences, and just like being being really aware of like, who you're invited, but I can tell you as a non binary person, if I'm not explicitly Welcome, I'm not going to show up. Okay, there, there are sometimes places where they like, there'll be like, Oh, this is like a women in games conference. And I have to look through different FA Q's to find out that if I'm non binary, I can also show up. Oh, yeah, and that's the thing is in, it's not on purpose, because you find in the bottom, they're like, Oh, you're welcome. And it's like, but it wasn't very obvious that I was welcome. And the last thing you want to do is show up in a room where you are not allowed, right? Right. So so a lot of it is accidental exclusion that people are used to the binary and just being like, you know, writing terms and words and everything that way so some of that is just accidental. So it's to keep that in mind is important, you know, when you're approaching people and, and and in general. And a lot of it is also the more active part of that is you know, is promoting trans and non binary books is is looking into them and like the way that they talk about you know, bodies and sex and gender there are some times there's a lot of really good romances that still did insist that men are one way women are another. When in just completely ignore these. It's it nothing is I don't think expect every book by any means to have non binary characters. I don't even think that that should be the case, because there are many people without experience, and you know, that don't want to write that story. But if you talk about that a man is specifically this way with a penis with this and that all men do this this way. If that is our industry, that's a problem, right? It leaves no room for people like me, right? It leaves no room for trans women. It leaves no room for people trying to explore and figure that out. So a lot of it is language. A lot of it is you know, is trying to boost books that are by trans innovators. It's very hard to get marketing. They're like even like FF is already like a really small piece of the pie right there. But there are a lot of like doing voted readers who have made like groups and stuff like that that will hype stuff up. There is basically nothing for writing non binary romance specifically. I mean, like even on like something like Amazon like my assassin books are listed under bisexual romance, which makes sense because Justine is bisexual, but it doesn't tell you at all who Campbell is, right, I could try to also get it into transgender romance, which I guess it's not even about them being non binary they just happen to be right. Right so like the a lot of the categories and a lot of the places we need just don't exist. So we really need the help of like in the community to be actively inclusive and seeking out people like this and people with platforms to boost that because we just don't have it. That's why I'm really happy to see what Harlequin and Karina has been doing with their their trans girls summer you know with Penny games and may Peterson because like that's what we need. We need those those those heavy hitters to be like, hey, these ladies write romance to you know, its own voices. It's great, you know, give it a shot. A lot of the things like I've gotten very, very good reviews for love kills twice that the people that read it don't like a lot of them, but like wow, ordinary reviews from

Elle 1:36:09
from Goodreads to Nate every

Rien 1:36:11
night. It was so funny. My mentor told me like don't worry about Goodreads bolsters though I feel you. And I was just like it. But there was I forget what it was because one of my friends said, Oh, I saw a really sweet review on there. I was like, oh, go look at it. I was like, Damn, my rating isn't too bad, actually.

Elle 1:36:26
I mean, I was like, I'm on good. They ate everything on Goodreads. And they and I mean, rightfully, rightfully. So that book is hot. It is gorgeous. It is absolutely gorgeous.

Rien 1:36:41
Yeah. So but that's the thing is, is that there are many writers like myself who are writing stories like this that like what we need his exposure. It's not that we don't need mentorship to write good books. We don't even need like Grant straight booklets. Like, oftentimes, we've already done it. Right. And we just need I mean, it's we're all at the mercy of the algorithm, right? Yeah. Yeah. Is so it's, you know, it's a lot of so just having people actively give a damn is, like, honestly, the biggest thing there and I think it benefits everybody else. I you know, I think we all learn from each other and romance Landia I have learned so much from reading other romances and being like, wow, you know, this chemistry is incredible. Yeah, I love what they did with this trope. We all can learn so much from each other. There's such a huge market, we can all be successful. So yeah, I mean, that's, that's the main thing for me is like kind of, you know, accidental exclusion, but also just trying to actively support the work visit visits out there. You know,

Elle 1:37:38
well, okay, how can we signal boost you online? Where do you live?

Rien 1:37:42
I'm almost I'm almost completely just on Twitter. Ran gray there because other social media platforms give me stress. Oh, Twitter. Twitter is less.

Elle 1:37:55
It can't go on Twitter.

Rien 1:37:58
Twitter stresses me out. In Game Dev, I'm so used to being on Twitter. Okay. Like it's it's specific brand of awfulness that like it's just like, Okay, I live here now. Okay. And then my website is also the same as my my, my name and.com. I have a newsletter on there. If anybody's interested. I just released a free short story in the fatal fidelity universe. It is. It's a prequel story, actually. It's about Sophia, who is Campbell's lawyer. Now. She's in the mafia. That's why she's there. Why

Elle 1:38:33
are you doing the mafia romance? Because I'm thinking about one, two.

Rien 1:38:38
So she's actually aerospace. Um, so she's not involved with anybody, but she's gonna be a big deal. In Book Three. There's a big mafia plot. Oh, right. Nice. Um, so yeah. So you're like

Elle 1:38:50
live in my heart right now. I'm,

Rien 1:38:53
I really above all the strokes. Like the best thing for me about writing these books has been been able to write everything that like I see it in any kind of media. And I'm like, I want that. I want 10 more of that. Myself. So yeah, I'm on. I'm on. I'm on Twitter. They're primarily in my website. And yeah, and then the main thing is that her wolf in the wild by Kareena press is coming out October 19. And you're interested in a push biker werewolf and her big queer wolf pack.

Elle 1:39:20
And that one, you know, it's

Rien 1:39:22
available and so for pre orders now I actually, I can say this on here. I haven't posted this on Twitter yet, but I got patches. Now eight. Oh, for the hounds of God. I'm going to do a promotion campaign for that. If you're in the United States. In your you do sign up. I'm gonna I'm gonna I'll send you. I'll send you patches. I'll send you where we'll find some god patches.

Elle 1:39:43
That's so cool. That's so cool. All right. Well, I'm gonna have all of that in all those links in the show notes to pre orders and books and websites and all of that. Ryan, thank you so much for being here. This has been really really fun and really great to talk to you. Yeah, no, this

Rien 1:39:59
has been fun. It everything has been great. You had great questions. I also definitely hearing my sexiness right out means just standing here slowly turning red All right, I made you turn red. My job here is done. Very good reading voice. Oh, thank you. Thank

Elle 1:40:21
you so much. Oh, I would love to have you back. So anytime you're welcome. Still it's great.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai