It's almost the end of Pride Month, and we don't want to see it go. Week after week we've heard from some of our amazing #OwnVoice authors in our genre. It's been both entertaining and informative. Today we close out our Pride feature with queer romance author Noah Steele.
Read on as Noah talks about himself, his writing, and tips he has for non-queer authors writing queer characters.
GIANNI: Hi Noah, welcome to our Writing with Pride feature for Pride Month, and it’s awesome having you close us out.
Let’s start with your pronouns that you prefer to use.
NOAH: He/him/his please. Thank you for asking!
GIANNI: You're welcome. I stalked you a bit for information prior to this interview and found out you are an avid videogamer. What’s the greatest video game of all time?
NOAH: Final Fantasy IX! I might be a little biased, though. I loved FFIX so much I tattooed it on my body forever. I’ve played it AT LEAST 12 times. It has such good pacing, characterization, a beautifully realized setting, and packs an emotional punch. It also got me through some rough years while I was figuring myself out and taught me lessons beyond how to tell a killer story.
GIANNI: What do you do when you’re not involved with writing or video games?
NOAH: I try to work out, but it’s been tough to stay motivated while at home lately! One of my favorite things to do is spend time in nature (it started as a way to get over my fear of bugs and then I just started having a great time being disconnected), so I like to find walking trails and paths to get lost in. I also do as much reading as I can, to nobody’s surprise haha!
GIANNI: I get that. This year has been particularly tough. What meal would you say you’re a pro at making in the kitchen?
NOAH: Oven roasted baby potatoes! It’s the ONLY thing I can do from memory without screwing any of it up hahaha, I’m actually kind of bad in the kitchen. But I made these for a party once and now I have to make them EVERY time friends want to do a dinner party. They’re yum!
GIANNI: What’s your favorite kind of dessert?
NOAH: Tiramisu! It’s just the right amount of sweet with a kick.
GIANNI: What tagline defines Noah Steele the man and how is it different from Noah Steele the writer?
NOAH: Noah Steele the writer is all “instant sparks and swoony hearts”. It’s that immediate attraction you feel for someone that needs to be explored, always handled with a daydreamy touch (because I love to write romances that feel like escapes with some drama, heat, and tons of heart). Noah Steele the man isn’t that different! If I had to give my non-writing self a tagline, it wouldn’t be that different! I really am just all about putting kindness first and working hard to make stuff happen.
GIANNI: Sounds great. Readers definitely want the swoon factor. Do you have a favorite song/artiste?
NOAH: Yes! My favorite artist is this amazing synthpop group called Freezepop. I stumbled onto their song ‘Plastic Stars’ in my late teens and was so smitten by it, I dove into everything and have been hooked ever since! Their sound has grown and I’ve only fallen more in love with the way they make music fun and full of feeling. I don’t think I can choose a fav song of all-time, though!
GIANNI: Have you always wanted to be a writer, and briefly describe the journey leading to your first book Racing Into Love.
NOAH: Yes and no! I’ve been writing short stories and poems and stuff since I was really really young. Stories have always been part of my life, and I spent A LOT of time at my local Toronto Public Library branch both as a patron and volunteer. BUT, I unfortunately listened when people told me that writing isn’t a viable career and should just be a hobby. That changed when a good friend of mine who writes M/F romance gave me really strong encouragement based on her own success, because I was unhappy with my regular 9-5 jobs/freelancing and had always said I wanted to be writing. We talked about what it takes to start self-publishing that same day, and by the time I got home, I had the idea for Racing into Love! It took a lot of polishing, but I debuted with that book a couple years after that convo.
GIANNI: I adore your covers for the Cut to the Feeling series, by the way. Which one of your couples was your favorite to write and why?
NOAH: Thank you so much! The series covers are by Aria Tan of Resplendent Media, and she totally nailed the vibe. I think Olly and Seth from my second book, Fighting for Love, have been one of my favs to write. I LOVE the idea of a flighty daydreamer with someone more reserved with a quiet strength because me and my boyfriend are exactly that. But Marc and Connor from my 3rd full-length, Visions of Love, are a close second, because Marc kind of became my fav character in the series the more I got into his head and wrote him.
GIANNI: I like how you can identify your favorites. Many of us like to pretend we don't have faves lol. Tell us one thing in any of your books that was actually from your own experience.
NOAH: Eating gross fair food and going on rides! Seth eats this insane burger at a local fair early in Fighting for Love and takes a Ferris wheel ride with Olly. That came from my annual dates with my boyfriend at the Canadian National Exhibition. We ONLY go to ride the Ferris wheel and eat our way through new fair foods offered that year.
GIANNI: Aww, How is being an author different or similar to what you always thought it would be?
NOAH: It’s similar in that I kind of knew I’d be spending most of my time writing and dreaming up new stories. I was surprised by how much MORE businessy stuff goes into making this a viable career, especially since I’m self-published.
GIANNI: How has your personal experience as a gay man shaped the way you tell your stories?
NOAH: I think the biggest thing is that because I used to be bullied for my sexuality before I even really knew what it meant to be gay, I avoid themes of queerphobia and queer pain in my books. I approach queerness as a very regular part of life, so you won’t see many closeted men or queerness as an obstacle to happiness in my work. I celebrate it by just letting it be normal, because it is normal. Through my 20s and now in my early 30s, I have a very different and very positive relationship with myself and how I express my queerness, and so my main characters tend to be rooted in that sense of like, just being gay men who have other problems to be dealing with because they’re out and comfortable and have more going on in their lives.
GIANNI: I’m always amazed at authors who can balance a social life, a relationship and writing. How have you been able to strike a balance and not let writing consume every other aspect of your life?
NOAH: It’s HARD! I’m honestly not even sure I’ve struck a very good balance yet. It’s easy to keep my writing life separate from my relationship because I write while my boyfriend is at work, so it helps me keep a schedule. I know when X time rolls around, the writing day is done. It’s a little harder socially because lots of my friends are authors, and writing is a lot of my time, so I don’t really have much else going on to talk about. I try to balance it out by being a listener and responding to all the stuff my friends have going on in their lives.
GIANNI: From time to time, you’ve spoken up about controversial views that might arise in the LGBTQ+ writing community. As an #OwnVoice author, what responsibility, if any, do you feel that you have to the community?
NOAH: I definitely feel like I have a responsibility to be vocal about misconceptions that exist in M/M Romance, especially when it comes to things like gatekeeping and realistic depictions of queer relationships. Of course, I can only ever speak from my own experiences, and there is no One True Queer Relationship. They’re all so different, even among people who identify the same way! Something I’ve struggled with since debuting is the common struggle for LGBTQ+ people to be model representations of the entire queer spectrum, and that’s literally impossible. I can only ever do my best at showing people what my queer experience looks and feels like on the page, so that’s what I’m getting back to now while writing.
GIANNI: Do you have a writing routine or something that you have to do before, during, or after writing?
NOAH: Not really! I write using the POM method with set timers for word sprints and breaks. If anything, I make sure that during my breaks, I’m away from my screen and out of my chair to keep my energy up (doesn’t always work!). After writing, I try to put as much distance between me and the draft as possible for the rest of that day unless a big breakthrough hits, otherwise I dwell and overwork the draft and start to go slow!
GIANNI: Many individuals believe you have to read widely in your genre when you’re an author. Do you read often and who are some of your go-to authors?
NOAH: Reading widely in a genre you want to work in is one of the BEST pieces of advice anyone can give! I read as often as I can, but have been reading much slower since I started writing and publishing my own stories. Neve Wilder and Sean Ashcroft are two go-tos for me for different reasons. This could be a pretty big list, though. I’m the type to be enamored a lot by individual books, which I think is good, because it means I end up reading pretty broadly! Outside of M/M Romance, Erin Morgenstern has been a go-to ever since I read The Night Circus.
GIANNI: Do you have a favorite #OwnVoice author and why that individual?
NOAH: I dunno about favorite, but Ryan La Sala released his YA LGBTQ+ debut, Reverie, in Deember 2019 and it’s AMAZING. It’s camp, it’s cute, it’s dramatic, it’s queer as hell, and it’s SO REFRESHING! It’s not a romance, but it’s amazing queer fun, and I very firmly believe this book is gonna be really special to a lot of young queer people. I would have killed for this book in my teens.
GIANNI: Ooh, I'm so here for the YA, so I've got to check that out. What project are you currently working on and what can readers expect from this project?
NOAH: I’m writing the Cut to the Feeling series finale! Readers of the series might recognize the character Theo, who I introduced way back in book 1. Well, this college musician is finally getting his happily ever after with a tattooed florist whose family has other plans! I think it’ll be more of the fun, sexy escapism that readers have come to enjoy about my books, and a fitting end to the stories about this specific group of friends before I try some new things!
GIANNI: What advice would you give to anyone desiring to write in the LGBTQ+ characters who may be apprehensive of doing so as a result of not being an #Own Voice author?
NOAH: INVOLVE QUEER PEOPLE IN YOUR PROCESS! And not just as sensitivity readers! Talk to the people you intend to represent. Consider queer beta readers, editors, ARC readers. Research your ass off by looking at what queer creators have already said about things like this. READ OWN VOICES BOOKS to see the way identities are represented by the people who share them. Of course you’re not going to please everyone with the way you portray things (this is true for OV authors, too), but you have a responsibility to get it as right as you can and write it with understanding and respect.
GIANNI: Very good advice. What’s one goal you’re looking to achieve as an author?
NOAH: I want to get to the point where I can be really consistent with releases to create a giant backlist. It will take time, but I’m excited because it’s something so many people get to share with me along the way to making it happen!
GIANNI: Will you be going to any conferences or author events where readers can find you?
NOAH: Unfortunately, not in the near future! I’m in Canada, and it’s tough and expensive for me to get to events in the US and overseas with any kind of consistency. I would love to be at GRL as an author soon, and GLO, and even Ignite Your Soul locally! With COVID concerns being major right now, any future appearance plans I have are totally on hold and my focus is on just writing more books and working on the upcoming launch of my online merch store.
GIANNI: Looking forward to the merch store. And lastly, how can readers reach you?
NOAH: I’m all over social media!
FB Page: facebook.com/booksbynoah
FB Group: facebook.com/groups/authornoahsteele
Website + Newsletter Sign-up: noahsteele.com
Thanks so much Noah for being a part of this feature. It was great having you. All the best with your next book and the online merch store. Readers, check out these amazing covers that I mentioned in the interview.
A big thank you to all the #OwnVoice authors who stopped by on my blog to talk about their experience as a queer romance author and what it means to them. Your views were insightful, and we wish for you all the best in your endeavors.