KG MacGregor (left), for illustraion sketch purposes/ crop
KG MacGregor (left), JLee Meyer (right)

Two literary insiders discuss each other’s books, awards and smartass characters.

KG MacGregor and JLee Meyer have long been darlings of the lesbian publishing world. They’re winners of a Lambda Literary Award for Women’s Romance and a Golden Crown Award, respectively, and their novels, notably Out of Love (Bella Books) and First Instinct (Bold Strokes Books), are changing the way we read fiction. Here, the two drill each other on their craft.

Meyer: It was a lot of fun to see you in Hollywood at the Lambda book awards. You looked really happy. Remind me—was Out of Love your first to win an award?

MacGregor: It’s always fun to be in Hollywood—and kind of surreal to be there as part of the action and not just trying to catch a glimpse of Jennifer Beals. This was my first book award, though I was shortlisted for a Goldie in 2006 in the Romance category with Just This Once. I seem to recall you carrying home the hardware that night in the Thriller category. Was that for First Instinct?

Meyer: Yeah, I really enjoyed writing that book. I love romantic intrigue, with the girl getting the girl. Speaking of, you take the reader on quite a romantic adventure—can you craft a story! I’m curious, how long does it take you to produce a manuscript?

MacGregor: “Produce a manuscript”—that doesn’t sound very romantic?

Meyer: OK, OK. Birth a book. How’s that?

MacGregor: Much better. I generally spend about four months on the first draft. Then it drops into the editing pipeline and I start work on the next one. It’s all dictated by deadlines. I’m sure you know that drill…the evil editor peering over your shoulder and looking at her watch. You’re no slouch yourself—four titles in three years? By the way, I just picked up Hotel Liaison, but I’m saving it for next week. Go ahead, ask me why.

Meyer: Why do I have the feeling I might regret this?

MacGregor: Jury duty. Good thing there isn’t a naked woman on the cover, like Just This Once. Are there any surprises that might get me in trouble in a courtroom?

Meyer: Well, there is a bit of legal wrangling in Hotel Liaison, but not in a courtroom and not naked. That comes later. There was a naked woman on the cover of Just This Once? Was not! My book covers will never match the hot images on the erotica Bold Strokes Books puts out. But then again, the reader doesn’t have to worry about hiding their book from their row mates when travelling on an aeroplane. I’ve been meaning to tell you that I envy all your travelling expeditions. When you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro—did you do that so you would have fodder for Worth Every Step?

MacGregor: You mean like you being a hostage in Pakistan so you could write Rising Storm?

Meyer: Exactly. But a hostage versus an intrepid trekker—a big difference! I would have researched the mountain climb, too. But you did it. Was a book in mind?

MacGregor: It was actually the other way around. I climbed Kili in 2001, a couple of years before I started writing. That’s how I knew to save the seduction scenes for after the summit. Eight days on a mountain without a bath lends a whole new meaning to “doing the nasty.”

Meyer: And I always thought they wore oxygen masks because of altitude. You’re funny, KG. I love the humour you put into your stories. The Shaken series has a lot of it, too, even though they met because of an earthquake.

MacGregor: That series starts out funny, but things take a serious turn in the second book, Aftershock. Still, that story wraps up with what I think is one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever written.

Meyer: I look forward to reading that. Do you think humour is a trademark of a KG novel?

MacGregor: I always try to write real people, most of whom I find funny as hell, even when they don’t mean to be. Serious people drain me, and I’m sure a lot of readers feel the same way. They want to escape in a book and forget their troubles for a while. I think they liked Out of Love because they all know a smartass like Carmen Delallo.

Meyer: Honey, you are a smartass like Carmen Delallo. She always found the light side—definitely a character worth getting to know. I had tears of laughter with some of her quips.

MacGregor: So how would an evil editor handle Carmen and Conn Stryker in the same book? Could we do that?

Meyer: I think any self-respecting editor would quit if she had those two to handle.