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10 Questions for Olivia Dade

Olivia Dade is a self-proclaimed nerd and book lover and her professional resume includes a master’s in American history, a job bringing that history to life in Colonial Williamsburg (costume included!), and experience working as a high school teacher and librarian (yay!). Dade credits stumbling across her mother’s secret stash of pirate-intensive romances as the literary impetus for her own love of the genre.

Who is Olivia Dade?

I am many things: Adverb apologist. Oxford comma enthusiast. Pants-averse hag. But most of all, I’m someone who loves stories and relies on their comfort to help me through difficult times in my life. If my books do the same for any of my readers, I consider that a privilege and an honor.

Tell us about your debut book, Spoiler Alert.

As the much-maligned final season of Game of Thrones began airing, so too did interviews with various cast members. Many of those interviews were both hilariously awkward and widely interpreted—rightly or not—as indicating the cast’s discontent with the final season. So I began to consider what it might be like to star in a show that epic, that popular, and absolutely loathe how the story ended, but have no means of openly expressing my opinion.

Those interviews were my inspiration for Marcus, who plays Aeneas on a blockbuster fantasy show inspired by mythology, Gods of the Gates, and secretly writes fan fiction critical of his character’s story arc. I wanted to pair him with someone equally passionate about the show and the power of storytelling to transform how we see the world and ourselves. That would be April, a plus-size geologist who’s found a genuine community through Gates fan fiction and cosplay.

Then I thought: What if Marcus and April were already online friends, anonymously pining for one another? What if they met in person and had immediate chemistry, but Marcus couldn’t say he already knew her, because his condemnation of the show (as Book!AeneasWouldNever) would get him fired if anyone found out?

That was my jumping-off point for Spoiler Alert, which is a romantic comedy about fandom, yes, but also about family, fatness, and the identities we construct—and the secrets we keep—to protect ourselves.

It also has a significant number of jokes about pegging, because I am who I am. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What inspired you to set Spoiler Alert in the world of fan fiction?

I moved to Sweden with my family two years ago. Soon thereafter, I found myself almost entirely unable to concentrate on published books, because the reading experience had become too entangled with my work. I couldn’t seem to switch off my brain as I read and immerse myself in a story anymore. Part of my mind was always analyzing everything, searching for lessons I could apply to my own publishing career. For someone who’d always counted on books as a means of escape from my own thoughts and worries, it was a devastating blow.

For reasons I’ll never understand, I knew nothing about fan fiction until then, even though I’d been a lifelong shipper (from Days of Our Lives to The X-Files to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries). But during that final season of Game of Thrones, I encountered the Brienne of Tarth/Jaime Lannister fandom for the first time, and I was hooked. I spent well over a year reading nothing but Braime fanfic. That particular fandom is blessed with many, many amazing authors, writing stories with astonishing skill and creativity and commitment to their chosen characters, completely unbound by what traditional publishing might consider marketable.

I didn’t know who any of those authors were, really. Their works were entirely disconnected from my career, and that was what I needed.

Suddenly, I could read again. Suddenly, I could lose myself in a story again. Suddenly, I found myself inspired by their passion and the committed communities they’d formed.

Spoiler Alert is a tribute to those communities, born from my real joy and gratitude. Traditionally published or not, great stories are great stories, and theirs helped me more than I say.

What is the romance (or are the romances) that got you hooked on the genre as a reader?

I literally don’t remember the first romances I read, because I began pillaging my mom’s inadequately hidden paperback collection from the time I was maybe six or seven. Instead, maybe I can recommend two more-recent romances I’ve adored, ones that demonstrate the astounding breadth of the genre: Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man, which is a quintessentially modern, hilarious, and high-concept rom-com, and Joanna Bourne’s The Black Hawk, which is a sweeping historical romance set in Napoleonic France. They’re completely dissimilar in tone, setting, and writing style, and they’re both romances that’ll leave you sighing happily to the last page.

What three words best describe the flavor of your writing?

Sweet-hot. Banter-y. Emotional.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

A dear friend and extremely talented author, Emma Barry, once told me this: I could write the best possible version of what I do, a book that perfectly exemplifies my authorial voice and the stories I can tell—and some people will still hate it. There’s a book out there for everyone, but no book will be loved by everyone. All we can do is try to find the readers who do connect with our voice and our stories, and wish everyone else luck in finding the books they need, even if those books aren’t ours.

What would you like to learn how to do that you don’t already know how to do now?

I need to get better with my Swedish. Basically, I want to know when my tween daughter starts calling me rude names in a foreign language, because I figure that’s coming any time now.

What three things would you bring with you to a desert island, and why would you choose those items specifically?

My husband and my daughter, because they’re my world. And, of course, Bear Grylls, who’d probably keep us all alive long enough for rescue, as long as we didn’t aggravate him too much.

If he tried to make me drink anything out of a snake skin, though, I’d run. (If you haven’t seen that particular episode of Man vs. Wild, well . . . I hope you have a stronger stomach than I do.)

What is next for you as an author?

I just finished drafting the follow-up to Spoiler Alert, called Slow Burn. It’s the story of how Marcus’s reckless, hilarious costar and best friend, Alex, falls in love with Lauren, the stubborn, honorable woman paid by Gods of the Gates to keep him out of trouble. Slow Burn lives up to its title, and also allows me to introduce the concept of Big Hag Energy, so I’m pretty excited about it.

How can readers learn more about your books and connect with you as an author?

I’m always available via my website, and I’m frequently on Twitter. I’m also participating in many upcoming virtual events, so please find me. I’ll be the one cackling, gesturing wildly with my hands, and doing my best not to swear!

About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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