Kelly Farmer has released two women’s hockey romances, Out on the Ice and Unexpected Goals. She was kind enough to chat with me.
Laura is the kind one who puts together these awesome interviews. Thank you for having me!
Kelly, hockey isn’t only the subject of these books, it also helped you to realize your bisexuality. Tell us about your journey and how women’s hockey fit in?
Writing Out on the Ice was a real life imitating art experience. The plot bunny for a women’s hockey romance was sparked after the gold medal game at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The US and Canada faced off in a nail-biter game that ended in a shootout. The hockey world was full of stories of cross-border couples who’d found love on and off the ice. I thought, “How fun! I love women’s hockey! I should totally write a story like that!” Followed pretty quickly by, “But can I write a romance between two women?” and “Is it my place to write one?” I’d written many male/female romances, since hey, I was straight. Right?
It was like that story idea opened up something inside me. Maybe I could write a Sapphic romance because maybe, I um, also liked girls? The plot bunny continued to hop around my brain. Amy, one of the love interests, told me she was bi (my characters are in charge, I’m just along for the ride). She was out and proud and very insistent that be part of the story. That started to feel right not just for her, but for me.
I started to read more LesFic and real life Sapphic romance stories. Did a lot of soul-searching. Book research also became personal research. I Googled. (Yes, I actually Googled things. It’s so embarrassing. There’s a scene in Unexpected Goals where Maisy does that and, um, yeah. It was inspired by real life.) I was out for a walk one day, and this sense of calm settled over me. I realized I was bisexual. I was also in my early forties, so it’s never too late to live an authentic life!
So I went on my own personal journey along with Caro and Amy. Having Out on the Ice be my debut novel was extra special because of this. It felt like one of the most genuine stories I had written. I’d tuned in to my heart and wrote from a place of love in a way I had never done before.
This may or may not explain why I have always “admired” athletic women, hahaha!
Which of the characters in Out on the Ice and Unexpected Goals do you most identify with?
Amy Schwarzbach and Caro Cassidy in Out on the Ice are a 50/50 split of my personality. I can be reserved and keep to myself like Caro, but also word vomit my bizarre stream of consciousness like Amy. Caro was very easy to write, but Amy made me tired. I already live with “squirrel brain,” as she calls it. I didn’t need hers, too! I’ve often said my favorite trope is a Grumpy/Sunshine pairing because I am a grumpy sunshine. My brain is an odd place.
Jen Donato in Unexpected Goals is one of the closest to “real me” characters I’ve ever written. She has my oh so charming habit of actively avoiding drama. Sarcasm is her love language. She’s always cold. She’s a vegetarian from a loving, involved Italian family. She’s chill on the outside but competitive on the inside. She even kind of sounds like me and also tells bad Dad Jokes. Though I did give Maisy Goode my keen ability to overthink everything.
What are you writing now and when will it be released?
I’m working on the third book in the Out on the Ice Series. It’s currently titled Calling the Shots, and features rival head coaches in my fictional women’s pro hockey league. In order for one of them to win, the other must lose. Oh no! It’s a second chance-ish romance with an ice queen who’s also a single mom—things I’ve never written, so that’s been fun.
I just finished a Sapphic It’s a Wonderful Life retelling called, appropriately, It’s a Fabulous Life. Think that classic story crossed with a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, but make it gay. And the angels are drag queens. It’s light and fluffy and fun. I wish I could tell you exactly when they’ll be released. Hopefully later this year! Publishing is a slooooow industry.
I’m also giving my newsletter subscribers another free short bonus story. Gina Morales, one of my favorite characters in the Out on the Ice Series, is having her story told in between the books. Part 1 of The Off-Season is currently available (sign up for my newsletter on my website to get it). Part 2 should be ready in March. And by saying it here, I guess I have to stick to that! 😉
You live in Chicago, I’m in Missouri. Every winter I curse a lot while freezing my butt off. What do you love about Chicago that you endure such awful winter weather?
Oh Laura, if you had asked me during the summer, I could find lots of reasons. But it’s January, and honestly, I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M HERE other than I’ve always lived in the Chicagoland area. I love being outside, and it’s tough when the temperature dips to something arctic for like a week straight. I’ve almost moved a few times, but something inside of me has always said, “Not yet.” I kinda hope it says, “Go for it!” one of these days. 😉 But my family is here, most of my close friends are here, my fantastic writers group is here. It’s home. Gross weather and all.
I do love Chicago. It’s a beautiful city with great people, an amazing lakefront, and the best pizza in the world (which is a fact).
I know you love 80’s movies. What are some of your favorites?
All of the John Hughes movies (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, etc.). They were filmed near where I grew up, on the North Shore. They take me right back to my childhood, renting VHS tapes and watching them on Friday night. I’m super high-tech and still have a functioning TV with a built-in VCR (not the DVD combo one—just a VCR). I have been known to have a throwback Friday night and pop one of my old tapes in. I am kind and do rewind! 😉 (Younger folx reading this will be like, “Huh?” and I will feel old and cry.)
Clue is one of my top favorite movies ever. It is BRILLIANT. I still quote from it on a consistent basis. Really, a lot of silly comedies have lines that have found their way into my everyday speech: Better Off Dead, Top Secret, Three Amigos…
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the movie that was EVERYTHING in junior high: Dirty Dancing. Oh, yeah. I made a T-shirt with puffy glitter paint and the movie’s logo.
You have done a lot of theatre. What do you love about acting and what was your best performance?
The thing I love about acting is what I love about writing: Creating worlds and people. It’s so much fun to step outside of yourself and experience a life that’s different than your own. There is a magic that happens between you and the audience when you’re on stage. You leave a little piece of yourself with them. Bringing joy to people’s lives brings me so much joy in return!
I have been fortunate to play Rose Arnott in Enchanted April twice. That’s my favorite role in a show I could perform for the rest of my life and be totally fine with it. She’s an emotional rollercoaster of a character. This might sound weird, but hearing people cry in the audience when I was crying was pretty cool. I was actually recognized at my then day job twice for that show! That was surreal.
And, I mean, the costumes. I’m still that little girl who liked to play dress-up. I have worn some amazing costumes. Remind me to tell you about the production of Jekyll & Hyde where I had to re-learn the choreography to allow for this three-tiered bustle my dress had. 🙂
The lesfic community is so supportive of each other. As a new writer in the community, which authors have given you some much needed support?
It’s such a terrific community! R.L. Merrill has been there for me from the start. She gave Out on the Ice an early reading and has been super supportive ever since.
Rachel Lacey and I have similar writing backgrounds. We transitioned from writing male/female romance to Sapphic romance. The audience is different, the core readership is different. Being someone who reads romance widely, I had no idea there was little crossover. It was an adjustment. It’s been nice to have someone who gets where I’m coming from.
Lily Seabrooke is a joy and a treasure and just the sweetest person in the world. Her positive energy and support is a bright spot on Twitter. She also hosts the very fun monthly Read Cute virtual reading events.
Rien Gray is a new friend I’ve actually met in person! We’re both Chicagoans. We also have the same publisher, Carina Press. They are one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.
Jennie Davids and I did a book giveaway swap with our 2020 releases (Inked with a Kiss and Out on the Ice, respectively). It was one of the first times I felt like a real author, and I’m so grateful she did that with me!
I’m part of a small but supportive Discord of Sapphic romance authors. They’ve been great to share wins with and pick one another’s brains. Meryl Wilsner set up the Discord (thanks much!) and is running some fun weekly Zoom writing/productivity sessions. (If any published or soon-to-be published authors want to join us, please let me know! We’d love to have you!)
Jae does so much for LesFic readers and authors with the Sapphic Reading Challenge. T.B. Markinson and Miranda MacLeod run I Heart Lesfic and do an amazing job spreading the word about new releases and sales. They’re also running the IHL Reading Challenge. These authors do all this while also writing fabulous books! I’m seriously in awe of them.
Please support all of these authors! They are wonderful writers as well as people.
What are a few of your favorite lesfic books?
Gold by E.J. Noyes was the first Sapphic romance I read. It’s not only a favorite because of that, but it’s also a really damn good book! I love stories where characters go through the ringer and earn that happily ever after. Plus, both ladies are athletic. You know about my affinity for athletic women. 😉
The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher is a lovely story set in a small coastal town in Maine I could live in. It felt like all the characters were people I could be friends with. Okay, I want to be more than friends with Adah, the very hot butch chef. She can cook for me anytime. 😉
I recently read The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley and loved it! It has everything I want in a Regency romance: an achingly sweet love story, bluestockings taking down the bad guy, a family of adopted siblings who use their talents to help people in need, and it pokes fun of the ton and all its ridiculous rules.
Tell me what you want readers to get from your books?
The warm fuzzies! Like my answer regarding what I love about acting, I love to connect with others. Open hearts and minds. If my stories about women falling in love bring a little joy to your life, that means the world. Things are hard these days. Let’s escape for a few hours and know everything will be okay in the end.
Oh, and if you become interested in women’s hockey, that would be cool, too!
Thank you for taking the time to chat, Kelly. I look forward to reading more from you in the future and I hope we can chat again!
Thank YOU for everything you do for our community! I hope we can meet in person when the weather is nicer in the Midwest. 🙂