April 3rd, 2020
I asked Skye where she would like to interview:
Crap, I hope she’s not vegan. Maybe they have salads… I push away those thoughts and swipe on a little lipstick as I stride down the block. The yellow printed jumpsuit and denim jacket I’m wearing are a little too warm for fall day in Nashville, but nothing to be done about it now. I just hope the look says, “Romance Author-but, you know, a friendly gal who’ll dance in the honky tonks if that’s your thing.”
We meet in front of the neon sign featuring a pig and the words “Martin’s Bar-B-Que” on it. I smile wide, because heck yes I’m glad to meet you. “Hi! I hope this is okay? Their BBQ is excellent, and I always think people should eat a little ‘cue when in Nashville.” Or salad. That’s awesome, too.
You’re amenable, so we go inside, heading straight upstairs. The square tables with blue stools on the first floor aren’t crowded, but the green picnic tables in the beer garden on the top floor are much better for an interview. We order our food and stake a spot, being sure that there’s a full roll of paper towels and plenty of hot sauce in the caddy beside us–required accessories for southern eating, after all.
I take a sip of my Jackalope IPA and wiggle my brows. “Thanks for coming for a visit to my hometown. Since I moved away, Nashville has exploded into an amazing place to be. I try not to take that personally.”
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
Skye McDonald: In a way I’ve always had bits of Not Suitable for Work in my head. One day-I don’t remember the exact one-when I was burnt out from a stressful job, I just started writing it. The book poured out of me, and then the series did, too. But when you say “enter the world of writing,” that makes me think the writing community. It was 2017 that I started connecting on Twitter, and that really took my work to a whole new level. I entered contests, got beta readers, and got amazing feedback that I really believe took me from someone who has a bunch of Word docs to someone who called herself a writer. 🙂
L: How long have you been writing for?
S: Well, my bachelor’s is technically in writing, so the short answer is forever! However, that’s rhetoric and writing, focusing more on essays and academic composition, not creative writing. In terms of fiction, I wrote some long mushy sagas while I was in high school (which are thankfully long gone). As an adult, I really didn’t write creatively until 2014, when I began Not Suitable for Work. So, to make a long story short, we could say 5 years going on forever.
L: What are you currently working on?
S: I just finished editing and revising the epilogue to NSFW. That means it’s time to go read through the finished version (fingers crossed… is a book ever really finished??) of Off the Record, book 2 in the Anti-Belle series. In January, I’ll begin editing Nemesis, book 3. I am not currently creating new work.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
S: Christina Lauren’s “Beautiful” series was my gateway to the romance genre, and Bella Andre’s Sullivans series is so fantastic. Renee Carlino’s hybridization of women’s fiction and romance is genius. My current obsessions are Lucy Parker, JL Peridot, and Sarah Smith. 🙂
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
S: Two things: One, balancing writing and life. Two, managing bitter disappointment.
L: What is your favorite writing trope? Least favorite?
S: I’m a fan of opposites attract, mostly because the truth is that the characters aren’t opposite at all, and they just can’t see the truth. The HEA (happily ever after) is a trope that gets scorned in our cynical society, but I believe it’s 100% possible in real life as well as fiction–you just have to make it happen! Least fave is probably alpha billionaires. They can be super fun to read, but I like when characters are relatable.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
S: Fitness is my number one, probably. I race Spartan, run, teach indoor cycling, practice yoga, and rock climb. In the winter I’m hoping to get into Silks/Aerial acrobatics. I also love to travel, especially when I can bring my Corgi along!
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
S: In romance, that would be Beautiful Bastard/ both the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren, because as I said they were my gateway. They’re so fun to read! Non-Romance, Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin are my fave authors–but I grew up adoring Lord of the Rings.
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
S: Hahaha, about writing or life??? No. I don’t believe in regret, and I firmly believe that lessons you learn are learned in their time. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have experienced all the struggles and triumphs that I did.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
S: I am self-published. I spent a year and a half out on submission, agented, etc. Discussing this further would take too long; suffice to say it was, as the question above implies, a journey of lessons.
L: What are you currently reading?
S: Re-Reading FAKER by Sarah Smith. Up next: It Starts With a Kiss by JL Peridot. **Also reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and Maus by Art Spiegelman, but that’s all part of my teacher life!
L: What genre do you read?
S: Romance and Dystopian fiction/Sci Fi
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
S: When I write, I can literally sit/stand at my desk for hours working. I always have to get up and move, though–the dog insists, even if I don’t! I must have music and beverages: coffee, water (better if it’s lemon and bubbly from my Soda Stream!), then wine or whiskey.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
S: Depends entirely on the book I’m writing what my playlist is, but yes music is essential!
L: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
S: I have a thing about getting euphemisms wrong! Had a colleague who used to say “the drop of a dime.” –You TURN on a dime, and do something at the drop of a hat! Oh, and irregardless is NOT a word! (I’m laughing at myself here.) On a serious note, I also do not like the phrase “Oh, come on. It was a joke.” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” You’re putting the onus on the person who’s been hurt and telling them they don’t have a right to their feelings. Not. Cool.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
S: Katniss Everdeen. Warrior woman who was truly and openly broken by her experiences. Atticus Finch. He did what he could to understand the disenfranchised perspective. He stood up for the truth–and he was a great father.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
S: In the random, unexpected moments of life.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
S: Begin to write for fun. Continue writing for fun. Then, decide if writing is just for fun or if you want to get it out in the world. THEN, prepare to do some work. But, all along, keep it FUN.
Skye McDonald is the author of the Anti-Belle books, contemporary romance novels set in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. As an English teacher, a die-hard romantic, and a huge fan of Nashville’s hip new vibe, Skye’s Anti-Belle series are standalone books feature sassy GRITS (Girls Raised In the South) learning to love themselves before they can claim their happily ever after. (Spoiler: they always do!) Her first book, Not Suitable for Work, won the 2017 Linda Howard Award of Excellence in the Romantic Sensual and Sizzling category, and is out now via Amazon/Kindle. Books two and three will be released in the upcoming year.
When she isn’t lost in a love scene or grading student essays, Skye can be found cheering for the University of Tennessee (go Vols!), exploring Brooklyn with her adorable Corgi, or heading off on some new adventure.
Not Suitable for Work (Anti-Belle Book 1) – The competition is stiff. The stakes are high. And what happens on Halloween night is definitely not suitable for work.
Celeste Greene and Ben Addison are thrust into a competition for the web designer position each of them desperately needs. Rivalry these two can handle, but the chemistry between them is another story. Is the risk worth the reward for a broken ice queen and a laid back guy who cares more about friends and music than cutthroat office tension?
Book ONE of the Nashville based Anti-Belle series!
Buy it here!