Interview with A.L. Brooks

A.L. Brooks newest release, The Club Revisited is a scorching hot sequel to her debut novel, The Club. I’ve been reading a lot of her books lately and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. Thanks so much A.L. for taking the time to chat with me!

Thanks for your kind words! It’s lovely to be here answering your fab questions, and I’m chuffed to bits you’re a fan of my books *inserts blushing face emoji*

The Club Revisited by [A.L.  Brooks]

Your first novel was The Club and now five years later you have released the sequel, The Club Revisited.  What about Mandy and the girls made you revisit them? 

Reader pressure.

Haha, but seriously, that definitely played a part. As a debut author, it was pretty amazing to receive so much love and plaudits for The Club, but so many people were not happy with me (I mean that in the nicest way, of course) for that cliffhanger ending! But to be fair, as soon as I’d finished writing that first one, I already had in mind how the story would continue—for Mandy, at least, as I knew I had to wrap her story up in a satisfying way. It couldn’t happen straight away, however, as I already had my next two novels in the works.

As time went on, and The Club just got more and more popular, I actually felt a bit of pressure about whether to write a sequel or not. What if I did and it was total rubbish?! I would have been mortified. So it kept moving down the list of future projects. Until the pandemic hit, and I somehow found myself thinking about Mandy and all the people who visited the club, and it was like the ideas for the possible sequel all popped into my brain over the course of literally a weekend. I scribbled notes, fleshed out characters and scenarios, and shortly after I handed in the edits of my next contemporary romance, I got writing…

If you were going to write another book about The Club with characters from your other novels visiting it, which characters would be all for it and which would be freaked out?

This is The. Best. Question. Ever.!!!

Oh my word, this took some thought, haha!

I can start with the only one who couldn’t handle it at all, which is definitely Lena from Up on the Roof. Given how she feels about hygiene and the fact that she’s super reserved about nudity and sex, she’s the last person we’d see visiting The Club.

Definitely up for it, and probably the stars of the Red Room whenever they visited, would be Sarah and Bethany from One Way or Another. Bethany would be in heaven having that cross to tie Sarah to…

Other characters who might be intrigued enough to visit would be Tamsyn and Maggie, from Write Your Own Script, although Tamsyn would obviously be concerned about publicity. I’m not sure dark glasses and a hat would be a suitable disguise though… Maggie would probably be having a blast making copious mental notes for a future book!

Can’t imagine Adrienne and Morgan, from The Long Shot, or Jenny and Olivia from A Heart to Trust being that keen. Sadie from Dark Horse would definitely be interested, and maybe Holly’s curiosity would be piqued too. Alex and Justine, from Miles Apart, would probably also give it a go once, for a fun night out, but Carmen and Ash, from Dare to Love, would shy away.

Probably best not to mention the place to the Power women from Never Too Late for Heroes – I can only imagine the havoc they would wreak if they decided to take a look. Sunny would be making loud, embarrassing comments, which would make Reed mad at her. Mary wouldn’t know where to look. Val would just drink her beer and listen to her cousins bicker and ruin the evening for everyone there. They’re definitely the ones most likely to get kicked out of The Club, I’d say!

Dare to Love by [A.L. Brooks]

Dare to Love is one of my favorite books. As someone who came out in my mid 30’s I really identify with Carmen. Although I’m pretty sure anyone could fall in love with Ash.  What came first with this story, the characters or the plot?

Ah, I love that you love it! I really enjoyed writing this one and I love Carmen and Ash so much.

The plot came first. I’d been sent a couple of articles by a friend about women coming out later in life, and how they’d come to that decision. They were fascinating reading for someone like me, who knew at such an early age and came out relatively young. I wondered what it would be like to write a story like that, to imagine all that a person could feel and experience when they find themselves inexplicably same-sex attracted at such a later age, and suddenly Carmen, Tamsyn’s agent from Write Your Own Script, popped into my head.

We know from that book that she’s not had good relationships with men, and that deep down, despite her workaholic nature, she’d love to have what Tamsyn and Maggie were building in that story. So it then seemed it would be easy to use her background and weave a story along the lines of those I’d read in the articles.

And Ash popped into my head shortly after. Carmen’s potential love interest needed to be someone she wouldn’t normally mix with, someone so different from anyone Carmen had spent time with before, and so Ash’s background and story were actually pretty easy to build from that point.

What are you working on now and when do you expect it to be released?

My next book, Chasing Dreams, is out in March 2022. It’s an enemies-to-lovers, city woman/country woman story set in Oregon. It was written a while ago but we had to delay publication due to various issues around the pandemic. But I’m excited for people to finally get to read it, because it was great fun to write.

Claire is the successful city woman who wants to change her life and open up a guesthouse in the heart of Oregon. Ruby is the librarian in the very small town Claire picks to live in, and they clash from the get-go. But, of course, there’s chemistry, and sparks, and attraction, and some meddling locals, including Ruby’s grandpa, and— Well, you’ll have to read it to find out what happens, won’t you? 😉

And in terms of writing, right now I’m about one third of the way through my next book, Make Her Wish Come True, which is penciled in for release in March 2023. It’s a fake romance/single mom/Christmas mash-up and I’m hopeful it will have lots of feels, and lots of cute moments, and lots of chemistry between my leads…

I loved The Long Shot, I love a book that puts two of my favorite things together; lesbians and sports. I’m going to send you to a fantasy golf camp. All the big women golfers will be there including Nancy Lopez and Anika Sorenstam (totally showing my age, as those are the only women golfers who popped into my head). You can bring four other lesfic writers with you. Who are you bringing and why?

Ooooh, golf camp! Awesome – learning to play golf is high on my wish list, but I’ll probably need to retire first before I can find time to focus on it. Oh the joys of having a day job… Anyway, back to the question. Well, as she’s already promised me a hit up on a Scottish course one day, Wendy Hudson has to be on my list. She could also introduce me to more whiskies, as although I enjoy drinking it, I really have no idea which ones are best, and I’m fairly certain she does.

Also coming along, even though I have no idea if she’s interested in golf, but she can at least keep us all entertained with her incredible wit and skill at telling a story, is KJ. This woman is way up high on my list of other authors I’d love to meet, so sorry KJ, it’s going to have to be golf camp to make that happen.

Next, I think it would be cool to have another sports fan with us, and although her favorite, tennis, isn’t anything like golf, I reckon Cheyenne Blue would be a great addition to the camp! We could talk best matches and players and all that. Plus she’s really good at all the outdoorsy stuff, so she’d know what to do when I got bitten out on the course by a snake or ant or something. Because trust me, those little buggers always find me…

Last but definitely not least, the amazing Jae. Pretty sure she doesn’t really like sports, but she’s just such a great person to hang out with and talk about the world of sapphic fiction. I’m sure the four of us would stay up wayyyyy too late every night talking about our books, each other’s books, everyone else’s books, and it would be just fantastic.

What advice would you give to young authors just starting out writing lesbian fiction?

Don’t ever think you have to write the perfect book first time. That’s an impossibility and thinking it will kill all the joy you will get from writing your story and characters. Go into the quest knowing that your book will have mistakes, and plot holes, and a cat that appeared in chapter three and was never seen again, and that’s ALL OKAY. Just write, however you want to write, whenever you want to write. Want to plan it all out? Go for it! Want to just sit down and see what words fall out of your brain in whatever order? Do it! There is no right way to write, only your way to write, and you’ll find it, or it will find you (which sounds a bit creepy, but you know what I mean), and you will have so much fun going through the process as a result.

What are some of your favorite dishes to cook and what kind of wine do you prefer?

I love trying new recipes out, and recently discovered an eggplant parmigiana that was *chef’s kiss*. But I also have some tried and tested favorites, and the sausage casserole by the British cooking duo, The Hairy Bikers, is fantastic winter fodder. I also love making what I call power salads – a whole heap of healthy stuff tossed around in a bowl and piled on my plate. I’ll either have a totally veggie option, using things like soya beans, sweetcorn, grated carrot, beetroot, toasted seeds, and avocado, or add some grilled chicken or baked salmon for a change.

My wine tastes have changed a bit over the last few years, as I’ve discovered a lot of reds make me sneeze. Something to do with sulfites, I believe. So I’m more of a white or rosé drinker now, and now that I live in Germany, the choices are pretty fantastic. My most recent favorite is Grauburgunder, the dryer the better.

I also really like Italian wines, especially some of their lovely dry whites. My partner takes an annual trip with some friends to the Piedmont region, and she comes home each time with a few (ahem) cases that we store in our basement and enjoy slowly working our way through until the next year’s trip rolls around.

I change the women on my free pass card quite often.  It’s kind of sad how much time I spend thinking about it. 😉 Who are some of your celebrity crushes?

Gillian Anderson – she’s been top of the list for about 20 years now. Sigh. (And actually, she was the inspiration for Tamsyn in Write Your Own Script, which I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone before…)

Kate Winslet

Meryl Streep

Sandra Bullock

Cagney and Lacey (that’s teenaged me speaking, haha!)

Sue Bird (basketballer)

Mel Reid (golfer)

What books from lesfic writers have you enjoyed the most this year?

This type of question is so hard, because I read so much and could talk endlessly about books, but I know I have to kind of narrow it down a bit or you’ll run out of space. So, here’s 5 that stood out for me so far this year:

About That Kiss, by Harper Bliss

Oh how I love a celebrity romance! I don’t even really know why – maybe something to do with loving the idea of these women we put on pedestals going through the same trials and tribulations, when it comes to love, as the rest of us?

The Headmistress, by Milena McKay

Gorgeous. Stunning. Brilliant. I could go on, but if you haven’t read this one, you must.

Fake It, by Lily Seabrooke

It was so good to read a sapphic romance with a trans woman as one of the MCs and have the book written by a trans woman! Authentic, fun, sweet, it’s a lovely story with two fabulous characters who you just know should be together.

Forever Theirs, by Anna Stone

I try to branch out in my reading as often as possible, and this was my first poly sapphic romance. And I loved it! Really enjoyed the nuances of the relationship between the three women, and how their journey to be together was navigated. Nice and spicy too 😉

Ignis, by KJ

At the risk of sounding like I’m repeating myself, I’ll repeat myself: Gorgeous. Stunning. Brilliant. If you haven’t read this chilling thriller with a nice romance on the side, you must.

Thanks so much for chatting with me, A.L. It has been an honor and I hope we can do it again! 

Aw, thanks! This was such a great interview, I really enjoyed it. Thank you for having me as a guest, and you can ask me back any time!