Today we're making the Yuletide gay with Ivy L. James in an exciting interview all about her sapphic Christmas novella debut! If you're snowed in like the characters in Ivy's story, fear not — we have lots of entertainment for you this Queermas. Make sure to check our previous Queermas days for new episodes, articles, and interviews, and settle in here to read all about tropes, traditions, and Ivy's future projects.
Thank you so much for featuring on our website! First of all, let’s get to know you a little better. Tell us about you and your work.
Thanks for having me! I’m Ivy, and I write queer adult romance. I value that my books are inclusive in terms of race, sexuality, body type, neurodivergence, and more.
Make the Yuletide Gay is a contemporary lesbian holiday romance novella. Senior editor Nicola and junior editor Grace, who each think the other is smoking hot, get snowed in at a small B&B on their way to a conference. Oh no, how could this happen, what a terrible event… 😏😏
Your debut release, Make the Yuletide Gay, is a sapphic Christmas novella out now. Tell us about the book and what inspired you to write it.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the magic of the holidays and the way it ramps up the energy of two people falling in love. Think queer, steamy Hallmark movies; that’s my vibe. I’m also a big fan of grump/sunshine pairings in general, but especially when it involves one lover teaching the other how good the holidays can be.
This story takes place in a B&B, where the characters get snowed in. How important is this setting in bringing the characters together and have you ever had a similar experience?
Both characters, Grace and Nicola, are already attracted to each other at the beginning of the story, but neither of them would’ve acted on those feelings had they not been snowed in at the B&B. Plus, the B&B’s owner meddles throughout; I love a matchmaking secondary character.
My wife and I got married at a lovely B&B here in Maryland. Honestly, I’d love to be snowed in there with her. Sign me up!
The age gap trope features in your book. Was there anything fun or challenging about this dynamic, and what made you want to explore it?
It was interesting to write an 8-year age gap because it mattered more to Nicola (the older one, at 38) than to Grace (who’s 30). It’s not a massive difference, and it’s not what comes between them, so I got to navigate the balance of Nicola worrying about it vs. the real problem.
It was my first time writing an age-gap romance, but it won’t be the last. I have an idea for another one coming up after my current work in progress!
What is your favourite trope of festive fiction as a reader, and is your favourite as a writer any different? If so, why?
My number-one festive trope to read is forced proximity, especially getting snowed in. Bonus points if there’s only one bed available! (This is why I jumped on those so fast for Make the Yuletide Gay, haha.) My favorite trope as a writer is a fake relationship. I’ve seriously considered writing an entire collection of just fake relationship stories.
Was there a scene in the book that you most enjoyed writing and why?
My favorite scene to write was Grace and Nicola ice skating together. They got to bond over both being bad at it, and I looove the tension of an almost-kiss.
Fun fact: My best friend, a professional artist, illustrated the almost-kiss as a two-part artwork on Instagram! (You can see it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CFmbkSggN_A/)
Give us a random line of dialogue from your book without any context!
“I think I’m gonna go for Santa-ception.”
Do you have any holiday traditions/activities, and do they also feed into your work?
We do matching pajamas for Christmas with my wife’s side of the family, as well as making Christmas cookies. There’s a cookie decorating scene in Yuletide, inspired by that!
Speaking of feeding, how about festive food and drink?
I love eggnog and Christmas cookies. They’re classics. But all year round, I drink peppermint mochas and eat candy canes. They bring me so much joy.
Do you have a favourite festive movie, show, and/or book and has it influenced your own work at all? Bonus points if it’s queer!
Favorite festive movie: Holiday in Handcuffs. Favorite festive book: the gay novella Don’t Stop Believing by Gwen Hayes. I’ll devour both of these at any time of year; that’s how much I love them. They’re both snowed-in-at-Christmas romances, so they were definitely an inspiration for Grace and Nicola’s story.
Are there any other seasonal LGBTQ+ releases that you’re looking forward to reading?
I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun!
With New Year just around the corner, can you tell us anything about your next project, even if it’s just a little hint? What can readers expect from you in 2023?
I’m currently drafting The Winner Takes It All, a contemporary rivals-to-allies-to-lovers f/f adult romance. It’s Yelena and Embry’s story in my “Virginia Is for All Lovers” series. Expect lots of bickering from these two!
Ivy L. James wrote her first story on Post-it notes as a child. Since then, she has graduated to regular paper and enjoys writing inclusive, heartwarming romance as a way to counterbalance the negativity in the world. She lives in Maryland with her wife and their corgi, cat, and two snakes.
Book link: https://books2read.com/u/38RWya