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Author Spotlight: Brenna Bailey

Welcome to the first Author Spotlight of 2024! In this blog series, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.

Since I now have a completed series out in the world (Juniper Creek Golden Years), I thought it would be fun to do an Author Spotlight post on myself! Of course, asking myself questions would be a bit odd, so I asked my lovely VA to put together a list of questions for me.

Bio: Brenna Bailey writes queer contemporary romance and owns an editing business called Bookmarten Editorial. If her nose isn't buried in a book, you can probably find her out in the woods somewhere admiring plants or attempting to identify birds. She is a starry-eyed traveler and a home baker, and she lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her game-loving spouse and their cuddly fur-baby.

Q: It’s only been a little over a year since the debut of A Tale of Two Florists, the first novel in the Juniper Creek Golden Years series, and you’re already wrapping up the world of Juniper Creek. How does it feel? 

A: Even though A Tale of Two Florists was released only a year ago, I’ve lived in Juniper Creek much longer because I started writing the books in 2021. It’s surreal to have completed a series already, but I don’t really feel sad because I’m not letting go of the town or the characters yet! My next book is also set in Juniper Creek (although with younger protagonists), and I’ve got another book planned that will bring back some of the Golden Years characters.

Q: Your books fit snugly into the “low angst” or “cozy” subgenre of fiction. What makes this style the right one for you? Would you ever explore others?

A: I am very much a low angst and cozy kind of person. If you’re familiar with CliftonStrengths, my number one is harmony, which means I’m not big on conflict. I read a lot of cozy books, I cultivate a cozy aesthetic in my home and my wardrobe, and I try to bring that vibe to my books too. There’s enough conflict and heaviness out there to go around without me adding to it.

While I do want to explore some heavier topics in my stories, I don’t plan to write non-cozy books anytime soon.

Q: Like its predecessors, Forever in Flowers takes place in a small town called Juniper Creek. Why did you choose it as your setting?

A: Some of my favorite places to visit are small tourist towns. They’re perfect settings for low-angst romance novels because they’re cozy and quaint and often nostalgic. Juniper Creek is based on three smaller towns/cities that I’ve visited many times and have fond memories of: Invermere, Fort Langley, and Abbotsford. All three places are in British Columbia, Canada!

Q: While small town romances definitely have their niche in fiction, not many authors choose to write about older characters. Can you talk about why you chose to?

A: I grew up with a lot of older people in my life who shaped who I am and how I see the world. I lived with my grandma until she passed away when I was in junior high, and I had a set of “adopted” grandparents who I spent quite a bit of time with until university.

I also read a ton, and I didn’t see much representation of older people on the page. When you look for older characters in books, there are a couple of common tropes: the wise mentor figure (usually in fantasy) or the quirky and lovable sleuth (in mystery). There wasn’t really anything in romance.

Since I was seeing older folks around me living full lives, I thought it would be good to show that on the page. We all age, after all, and we should look forward to what’s ahead of us!

Q: Juniper Creek is brimming with unique characters. How do you keep personalities fresh?

A: I borrow traits from people I know (including myself) or from people on TV or in other books to create my characters. It’s fun to collect traits that stand out to me, then mush them together to make an entirely new person. If you’re close to me, I’ve likely written a piece of you into one or more of my characters!

Q: All of the books in the Juniper Creek series are romances. What sets Loretta and Joyce’s relationship in Forever in Flowers apart from your previous pairings?

A: Loretta and Joyce are such a sweet pairing. Not that the others aren’t sweet, but these two have such a fun dynamic based on their grumpy/sunshine personalities and the wedding that pushes them together. They complement each other in unique ways: Joyce helps Loretta be more positive, Loretta helps Joyce regulate her emotions, and they remind each other what it means to have fun.

Q: If you could give five words to describe Forever in Flowers, what would they be?

A: Ohh, I love this question! Let’s see . . . sapphic, cozy, charming, low-angst, nostalgic.

Q: Parents shouldn’t have favorites… but is there a book in the Juniper Creek series you enjoy most?

A: This is way too freaking hard to answer! I love all my books for different reasons. There’s always some recency bias as well—I tend to love the book I worked on most recently the most.

But if I absolutely had to pick one, it would be Of Love and Libraries because it’s my love letter to libraries, and fall is my favorite season (the book is set in fall).

Q: Why did you choose the self-publishing route?

A: I am a bit of a control freak. I’ve worked for myself since 2018, and I don’t fancy working for anyone else. I wanted full creative control over my work, and I wanted to control the business side of things too, so self-publishing was the way to go for me!

Q: What advice would you give authors who are looking into self-publishing?

A: First, I would remind them that self-publishing is a business. It’s not just writing—it’s also book-keeping, marketing, copywriting, project managing, and networking. Second, I would say that if you’re up for the challenge, self-publishing is also a joy! And you don’t have to do it alone. There are so many services and professionals out there to help with self-publishing, so although it can be scary, it’s 100% doable and you can find success with it.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)

A: I’m pretty casual about the actual writing process, but I do have a few rituals in terms of idea generation. For some reason, my initial story planning sessions always happen in the hot tub. I go in there with my spouse (preferably on a cooler day, bonus if it’s raining), and I bounce ideas off him.

If I’m struggling during the actual writing process, one of my rituals is going for a walk with my characters. It sounds weird, and my spouse thinks I’m off my rocker when I do it, but I will go for a walk and pick a character to walk with me. I’ll ask them questions (in my head so people don’t look at me funny) and let them answer, and that almost always helps me work through a writing block.

Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?

A: Keep track of your wins and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. That will help keep your joy muscles strong! I’m a fan of happy dancing whenever I accomplish something, whether that’s hitting a word count goal, selling one single book, publishing a new book . . . anything that gives me an excuse to celebrate!

Q: How do you refill your creative well?

A: I am a reading fiend, and I read across pretty much all genres. I also try to get out into the world and experience new things that get those creative cogs turning.

Q: You’re currently working on a couple of other stories, right? Can you tell readers anything about those?

A: I just finished writing the first draft of my fifth novel! It’s another sapphic romance set in Juniper Creek, but this time the characters are in their thirties. It will likely be released in 2025!

If you'd like to follow me on my writing journey or find out more about my stories, this is where you can find me:


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1 commentaire

Love this interview! So fun to get a different peek behind the scenes. Love you!

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