Alexis Hall Talks Writing Beloved Queer Romances Like Boyfriend Material

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Alexis Hall has four romance novels coming out in 2022. Yes, four.

“Something Fabulous,” released in January, is a story about a duke in love with the wrong twin – the brother of the woman he’s supposed to be pursuing. “A Lady for a Duke”, which will be released in May, is a Regency novel about a pair of friends separated at the Battle of Waterloo and then reunited. “Paris Daillencourt Is About to Fall Apart,” released in October, continues Hall’s universe of romantic comedies in a “Great British Bakeoff” competition.

And then there’s “Husband Material,” the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2020 hit, “Boyfriend Material,” a hilarious comedy about a rockstar’s son who falls in love with a buttoned-up lawyer.

Speaking to TODAY, Hall says he’s not necessarily recommending the publishing regimen. “I joke that I have absolutely no social life,” he says.

Hall’s recent writing schedule demonstrates a growing demand for queer romances. While LGBTQ romances have been around for decades — as Hall’s career shows — they’ve recently reached a wider audience. The trend is evident in pop culture, with Billy Eichner leading the first-ever gay romantic comedy produced by a major animation studio, released in 2022.

With its Union Jack cartoon cover and British sensibility, Hall said his novel ‘Boyfriend Material’ was a natural companion to Casey McQuiston’s wildly popular 2019 novel ‘Red White and Royal Blue’, also set in the UK. (both make excellent beach reads).

“(Boyfriend Material) landed at the right time to get the market ready,” Hall said.

Following the release of “Boyfriend Material,” Hall, who has been publishing books since 2013, recalls receiving phone calls from his team about the title’s growing success.

“I was kind of thrown off. I was like, ‘Suddenly people want to buy this stuff!’ But I was very happy,” he said. “As someone who’s always written pan-LGBTQ books, I’ve always had a ‘Rising tide lifts all boats’ attitude,” Hall said.

Hall said he found himself in that work schedule and released four books in a single year, “by accident.”

“I’ve been in this business for a long time. I got a slightly bigger profile a year and a half ago now. And as a result, I suddenly got a bunch of offers that I was terrified of to say no, so I was suddenly doing a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of things,” he said.

Yes, it’s work for Hall – but for longtime fans of the author, the release schedule is a godsend. Hall has a knack for writing both romantic and cerebral novels. His characters are witty, leading to some really funny exchanges.

Verbal gymnastics goes hand in hand with the great beating hearts of the books. Hall is able to precisely track the characters’ emotions, the exact gradations of when and how the characters fall, and pinpoints all of these stages in bright, thrilling prose.

Fans have been following Hall’s novels and blog (and writing rave Goodreads reviews) for nearly a decade. Hall said he was encouraged to write by the era of self-publishing, when anything seemed possible.

“There was, at least, a perception that writing and publishing was going into it, ‘Anyone can do it.’ We were optimistic for the internet,” he said with a laugh.

“Glitterland” was Hall’s first book, kicking off a series of interconnected contemporary romances between gay cis men known for their steam and emotional depth (“Glitterland” will be republished this year).

“The style of fiction that I’ve always wanted to write is, basically, pretty evasive,” he said.

In a media landscape where so many queer romances have historically ended in tragedy, books like Halls are an antidote. But Hall is reluctant to say whether that’s a good thing or not.

“There are a lot of people who find real value in darker stories because there are people for whom it speaks to their true experience. Something more steadfast and less escapist has real value for many people and other people. There are people who don’t like the kind of books I write for this reason. But on the other hand, I think there’s value in having a choice,” Hall said.

Hall calls himself “genrequeer” because he has written many types of escapist novels, from romantic comedies to historical books. But they are united to contain characters across the queer spectrum.

“A Lady for a Duke,” for example, features a trans woman in a Regency-era setting, reconnecting with her best friend from whom she had once been separated on a battlefield. “I wanted to write a really harrowing, emotionally charged, really classic historical romance,” Hall said.

Or “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake,” released in 2021, features a bisexual single mother participating in a baking contest who is in a love triangle with two men.

With their supporting characters and main characters, Hall’s books demonstrate the spectrum of homosexuality, which has always interested him in writing.

“It was important for me to tell pan-queer stories. I see the world in a very interconnected way and I think it’s really important to recognize that everyone’s rights intersect in very complicated ways,” said he said, and avoids “treating all LGBTQ people as a monolith.”

With that in mind, Hall likens his approach to writing novels to owning a pub.

“It’s about wanting as many people as possible to feel welcome in that space. And you can’t really make people feel welcome if you implicitly erase them,” Hall said.

Amid his growing success, Hall would rather we pay attention to his ever-changing world of characters than him. Keeping a strict grip on his privacy, Hall uses a cartoon as his avatar, dispenses with author photos, and conducted the interview from audio zoom only.

Hall still retains her full-time job and casually refers to writing as her hobby. “It’s partly self-deprecating,” he admitted, “but some of the most dedicated and driven people in the world are amateurs.”

Although he is a romance writer, he does not see romance in his career. He says there are no fancy “rituals” in his routine. Rather, he’s on the “really tedious, really unsexy, ‘do a little everyday’ writing diet.”

As for whether he’s a romantic, all those romance novels later? He says he is romantic and cynical.

“I’m the kind of romantic who’s like, if the choice is to save the person you love, but destroy the whole world, or save the whole world, or sacrifice the person you love, I’m with the ‘ Save the person you love ‘ ‘ side of it every time. I’m the romantic type with bargains and ‘deals with the devil,'” he said.

We may never know much about Hall – but his books are portals to his bountiful imagination, one that imagines happy endings and “save the person you love” moments for all kinds of people.

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