Lesfic Book Club: Full English

For our July 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Full English by Rachel Spangler. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Rachel Spangler  3:59 PM

I’m here!  This is my first time on Slack so I’ve been poking around a bit and I really like it.  I have a feeling I am going to have so many typos today, as I always get worse when I am excited, so I hope you all won’t judge me too harshly.

Reader 1  4:01 PM

For Rachel as well as anyone else who’s new, book club lasts an hour and it’s just kinda a free for all – have a question, throw it out there. Rachel, you can either respond right here in the channel or if you want to get fancy you can thread your replies by clicking the speech bubble/reply in thread button

Reader 2  4:02 PM

My first question… why scones?

Rachel Spangler  4:04 PM

I ate so many scones when I lived in England!  We had them everywhere, but people also brought them to us.  It was magnificent. Snd scones in England are so much better than the scones in most American bakeries.  I refuse to call the things they sell at Starbucks a scone any more.  To say I got addicted to our local tea rooms when living in the UK is an understatement.  I swear they have healing properties.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:06 PM

Rachel, I loved your book! I especially enjoyed the sex scenes  (I mean, HELLO!) I’m writing a romance myself so it really gave helpful insight.  You are classified as a romance author, not erotica?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you.  I put a lot of work into my sex scenes because they are often the hardest part to write for me, but I think they are so important both for revealing character and for an emotional pay off for the read.  As to the line between erotica and romance I tend to consider myself romance because the plot decides the sex not the other way around.  Still, I do have one erotic romance (Spanish Surrender) and one erotic romance collection (Straight up).

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:06 PM

Were you in england when you wrote it.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes! My family and I spent eight months living in a small coastal village in the Northeast of England, just south of the Scottish boarder. It was dream.

Reader 4  4:09 PM

I have to say 1 thing. I read trails merge over a decade ago. It was my 2nd lesfic novel. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement.

Reader 5  4:10 PM

I read trails merge in the first surge of the pandemic. It still is one of my favorites

Rachel Spangler  4:11 PM

Wow @Reader 4 What a wonderful compliment!  I am so glad you found it when you did.  To this that that is one of my best sellers, so clearly I got something right, even though I was still so young.  I wrote that one in grad school, when I had so much left to learn.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:12 PM

What was your favorite part about living in England, besides the scones?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

We live in a place that absolutely inspired the village in the book.  We had stunning views, and amazing neighbors, and a local pub where everyone welcomed us, there were castles all around, and we spent our free time zipping around on the left side of country lanes.  The while experience was magical, but I think the best part was the way the village just folded our little family right into their circle.

Reader 6 Aug 1st at 4:13 PM

OK I got a good one if you could be any dinosaur which would u be

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh Pterodactyl for sure. I would love to fly, also my son watched Dinosaur Train when he was little and that was fun.

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:14 PM

Are you still with the same publisher?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I am not, I have moved around.  I’ve published with Bold Strokes, Bywater, Brisk, and I’ve even done a little self publishing. I’ve loved each one for different reasons.  I started so young that I’m always trying to push myself to keep learning and growing.

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:15 PM

So, I understand more where you got inspiration for Full English given having lived in the UK. All of your books are so different from a topics perspective, it’s very impressive bc they also are not at all formulaic to each other. So, how do you tend to settle on book topics that you are going to write about or are interested in?

1 reply

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I almost always start with characters.  I often have ideas for different settings or conflicts, but they never take off until the characters voices come through for me. That’s how I try to keep things fresh, you have see themes in plot or conflict, but so long as the characters are full, unique, well developed people, it shouldn’t matter what else they have have in common, their stories will be theirs alone.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:15 PM

So I think my favorite part of the book was the whole Brogan, Emma, Lady Victoria triangle.  I loved the tension and confusion you built between them.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Agreed, that was such a good twist, and normally I just automatically hate the 3rd part of the triangle, but this time I was like, hmm…. but it could work.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you!  Lady Vic started as a sort of plot device and then insisted on becoming her own authentic self.  She was a joy to write, and even though her life was clearly not a great fit for Emma I didn’t want to make her a villain either.  And of course the readers liked her so much, she got her own spinoff in Modern English.

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:16 PM

When you write outside of your experiences, how do you research and write it? Do you choose the theme first?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I do insane amounts of research and I generally like it to be primary research. I like to visit the places I write about, and I also have a tendency to just cold connect with people to make sure I have something right.  My last book Thrust involved me just getting a list of olympic fencer and tracking them down online until two of them agreed to talk to me about all things fencing: the sport the culture, the training, the diet, all of it.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Do you find that people are generally excited to talk to you for a book?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes!  Very much so.  I am always surprised by the people who grant me full access.  I have generally found that most people are eager to talk about things they love.  I have several olympians in my phone’s contact list, and I often think perhaps they shouldn’t just let people they don’t know text them, but I work really hard to always respect their time and privacy, so the more books I right with expert content the more credibility I am able to bring to those conversations.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:17 PM

If you and several others were summoned to another world to fight against a great evil, would you want to be the Heroine, the Saintess, the Sage, the Scribe who documents the whole journey, or just some tagalong who enriches the other world by teaching them all about the magnificence that is scones?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I like the role of scribe and bard a lot.  I like telling stories that while not always 100% factual reveal truth. Though tag-alone and scone schlepper isn’t a bad job.

Reader 8 Aug 1st at 4:18 PM

I’m not sure I can formulate a question, so I’ll go with a compliment. The best thing about this book was the love. Too many times, it feels like books show a search for sex or search for a partner, where this was more about love growing naturally and even catching both Emma and Brogan unawares. That and, as somebody who grew up in a small town… it was good to see the community spirit and caring that is one of the best parts of small communities (edited)

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you, that is a wonderful compliment.  For me the whole reason for writing romance is that I believe in the transformative power of love.  I think it’s one of the few universal forces that can actual change our foundations of how we view ourselves and world around us. I always try to convey that in some way in my books.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:18 PM

Will you be writing a sequel to Full English? Perhaps revolving around Lady Victoria?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

LOL yes, Modern English was wonderful to write.  And now I will admit I am writing a third book in the same town called Plain English, which will follow a reckless cousin of Vic’s and an artist friend of Emma’s which will feature my first genderqueer romantic lead.

Reader 1 Aug 1st at 4:27 PM

What’s your ideal writing environment, if you could go anywhere and have anything at your disposal?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh the classic room with a view.  Something comfortable. I usually write in a large over-stuffed chair or even a bed.  I can listen to music and often have playlists on Spotify, but I need to have something to look at as I stare into space and ponder new worlds.

Reader 8 Aug 1st at 4:28 PM

Going off the wall a bit… can you imagine anybody from Full English competing in the Olympics? If so, who would it be and what event would they be in?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh for sure Brogan would sail, and Vic would ride in the hunter/jumper class.  My favorite scene in Modern English is one where she’s on a horse.  Sports romances are kind of my speciality so I have been in olympic heaven lately!

Reader 7  8 days ago

I love that you pick the not so run of the mill sports! It’s so educational and enjoyable. (edited)

Reader 8  8 days ago

I thought of Brogan sailing after I asked, but I feel silly not thinking of Vic, especially because I had Olympic equestrian on the DVR as the chat started!

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you!  I have loved getting to go down the habit hole with lesser known sports.  I am not an athletic person, but it’s fun to play them in books.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:28 PM

When you write your characters, do you have an image in your head? And how far do you take that? Like I have character sketches with photos, defining physical features,  lingo…all kinds of stuff.  My characters feel like my friends lol

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes!  I do detailed character studies, I know what more about them than will ever show up in a book.  I even have Pinterest boards for some of them books, or sometimes I cut out pictures from the Eddie Bauer catalogues.  They are very much my friends!  When I finished a book I am always very lonely!

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:29 PM

What was the most enjoyable part of writing this book (not counting the “research” into scones)?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I love those early days of getting to know them when it’s new and exciting and the possibilities are endless. Yhen the middle third becomes a horrible slog where I want to quit every time, and I think that every word I write it boring trash. Then at the end it gets fun again. There’s always a moment when it comes together and I can see the way it will work out (I never know how it will work out until this point) and I LOVE that moment.

Reader 5 Aug 1st at 4:32 PM

Do you know how to sail?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

No!  I have been on sailboats a few times and always love it, but I have never learned how to do it on my own.  It was on my bucket list for last summer, but we all know what happened to 2020.  I hope to spend a year in Spain soon, and sailing is on the top of my list there.

I have two books set in Spain already, because I love it there SO MUCH!  The first was a new adult coming of age story called Spanish Heart, and the second was a very adult erotic romance called Spanish Surrender.

Reader 7  8 days ago

Ok, I think those are possibly the only two books of yours I have not read yet besides Modern English.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

No worries. I am sort of kicking around an idea for a whole series there, but that’ll have to see if the move happens next year.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:40 PM

Do you use beta readers? If so, how much do you rely on their input for your final publication?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes! I have had the same two beta readers since almost the beginning. They get the book at the same time as my editor.  They leave heavy lifting to her, but I rely on them a lot to let me know if something doesn’t make sense to them, or if the pace lags, or if they find they aren’t rooting for the couple.  Then I also employ sensitivity readers if the book calls for it.

Reader 1 Aug 1st at 4:43 PM

What kinds of books/media do you like best when you’re not writing your own?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Romances, romances, and romances.  :slightly_smiling_face: Really I follow the adage of writing what I love to read.  Though I will say I have had this sort of second childhood through my son and he loves fantasy, so he’s opened my eyes a lot.  We loved reading every single Rick Riordan book together.  He’s getting older now and he recently had me read the Scythe books where were way too dark for my tastes but absolutely gripping.

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:44 PM

Do you have other “off the beaten path” sports you want to write about?

Or other locations you want to put your characters in?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh so many!  I love sports and I have been watching so much olympics lately.  I’ve been thinking of a book about a Mounted archer, but I’ve also got ideas about a speed skater (insert joke about fast women).  Sailing appears to me A LOT.  My son is into rock climbing now which is so cool.  The list goes on and on.

Reader 5  8 days ago

Any interest in writing about swimming?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

As to travel, it is a passion of mine and I want to set books in call the places I have.  I live right on the boarder with Canada so I really need to do a Canadian book.  I love Cape Cod and feel like I need a book about a whale watcher.  I had a great time eating my way through Italy which would be fun to put in a book!

As to swimming…yes!  And also diving!

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:46 PM

Do you do your travel specifically for your writing or is the writing a happy side effect?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Both I think.  It’s a chicken and and egg thing.  Travel always inspires art, but good art also makes me want to experience the world.  I will say I often travel for passion, and the writing springs naturally from that, but sometimes it has worked the other way around.

Reader 3  4:51 PM

How did you choose your editor?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Generally a publisher will choose your editor. That’s what happened for me with my first few books, but when I got assigned to Lynda Sandoval we just took off together.  We had so much success both creatively and sales wise that we now come as a pair.  When I moved to Bywater I took her with me, and now she works as an independent contractor, so whatever publisher I’m with can contract with her directly.  She also moved to the town I live in so we work together all the time.  This is pretty unusual though, most young authors have to work with whoever the publisher hires.

Thank you all for having me and thanks to Cara for organizing!  This was a blast.  If you think of anything after I go you can always reach out on social media.  I’m on FB, Twitter, Insta, and Patreon.  I also have a website at http://www.rachelspangler.com but it is under construction for the next few weeks, so bookmark it and come back at the end of the month to see the new stuff!

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