Meet lesfic authors Tagan Shepard, Carolyn Elizabeth and Dolores Arden

Lesfic authors Tagan Shepard, Carolyn Elizabeth, and Dolores Arden introduce themselves and share their new novels.

October is upon us and this month is always great for the creepy, dark, and mysterious. Fortunately for lesfic fans, our Bella Books releases this month hit each of those themes. We three authors decided to team up and introduce both ourselves and our new releases to you!

Bella fans know Tagan Shepard and Carolyn Elizabeth, and we are thrilled to introduce the newest member of the Bella family, Dolores Arden!

Here’s a few tidbits about our lives so you get to know us better and be sure to read all the way to the end for a great giveaway opportunity!

Let’s start with a good old-fashioned origin story! How’d you become a writer?

Image credit: Dolores Arden

DOLORES: Gray Matters is the first time I’ve ever been published. I took a few creative writing classes in college (many, many moons ago!), and I felt a near-instant affinity for the craft. I even considered screenwriting as a career—one of the many fleeting thoughts that routinely ran through my head back then. In the end, I went in a totally different direction, opting for the security of a government job. Air traffic control is about as far away as you can get from fiction writing (although there were many times when a creative mind was an asset). It turned out to be a good profession for me, namely in that it allowed me to retire after 25 years and think about what else I’d like to do with my time. Revisiting the writing thing was the natural conclusion, and lesfic as a genre definitely seemed like the most fun, so here we are. I had a blast writing Gray Matters, and I’m already hard at work on my second book.

CAROLYN: Writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time despite having no formal training. I read a lot of lesfic over the years and I always knew I wanted to write one (or many) of my own.

After moving to Ontario with my family in 2013 I found myself mostly unemployed. With too much time on my hands I discovered fanfiction. Reading it was a natural gateway to writing it. As it turned out my stories were pretty well received and writing made me very happy, which I always suspected it would.

Several years later I received a message from a fanfic reader that Bella Books was doing a contest for fanfiction writers and the winner would get a book contract. I considered entering and started pawing through my stories to find a suitable entry.

When I couldn’t settle on one it occurred to me to just skip the contest and write the book that I had intended for all these years. So, I did and here I am.

TAGAN: It’s my firmly held belief that every good story starts with a beautiful woman. In my case that beautiful woman is my wife. Several years ago I was working overnights in a hospital lab and once a week I’d stay up overnight to switch my sleep schedule. As an avid gamer, I spent those eight lonely hours playing my way through as many RPGs as I could get my hands on. But even the most avid gamer can start to feel like they’re wasting their lives when they spend that much time gaming, and I confided in my wife that’s how I was feeling. In retrospect it might’ve sounded like a flex.

She said “Well then do something else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, write a book?”

Friends, she did not say this in a sweet, encouraging way. She said it like an insomniac night owl would to a chatty morning person at 7am before she’s had coffee. I may have bristled a little at the flippancy. So I grumbled to myself, “Maybe I will.”

A year later I submitted the manuscript for Visiting Hours to Bella.

I started writing out of spite, but I fell in love with job from the very beginning.

What’s the first lesfic title you ever read?

Image Credit: Carolyn Elizabeth

CAROLYN: I always feel a little disappointed when this question comes up. So many people can name that one life changing book that was the first time they read women loving women on the page. I have absolutely no recollection of what book that was for me, but these are some of the early authors I enjoyed going back to the early 90’s:Sandra Scoppettone, JM Redman, Kate Calloway, Elizabeth Sims, Claire McNab, Katherine V. Forrest

TAGAN: When I was in high school I snuck out on a Saturday and drove to the Barnes & Noble in town farthest from my house. I wandered around for a half hour, slowly making my way toward the Gay and Lesbian section. I leaned hard into the “oh look where I’ve found myself. How very odd that I’d end up here” act. When I finally got there and no one popped up at the end of the row screaming and pointing at me, I scanned the spines as quickly as I could so I could escape. Rita Mae Brown lived an hour away from my hometown, so I could buy books written by an out lesbian and pass it off as supporting a local author. I picked up Rubyfruit Jungle and Venus Envy and spent the whole summer hidden in my room, reading them both multiple times.

DOLORES: When I think about this question, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown is always the first thing that pops into my head, except I’m not sure that I ever actually read the book! I think everyone kept telling me I should read it, until at some point I convinced myself that I actually did. Anyway, I definitely read Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, both of which are just as wonderful as their titles suggest.

Let’s finish with a taste of your characters. Which character in your current release do you most identify with?

Image credit: Tagan Shepard

TAGAN: I really identify with Sloane from Queen of Humboldt. Not in the powerful attorney by 30, elected Governor by 40 kinda way (although I have 13 months on that one so never give up hope). I identify more with her flaws than her strengths. She is quick to trust, but equally quick to write off anyone who burns her. She’s stubborn and self-reliant, but that leads to her loneliness. Once she’s made up her mind about something or someone, it takes an earth-shattering event to change her mind.

Fortunately for Sloane and Marisol, an earth-shattering event is headed their way.

DOLORES: Both of the main characters in Gray Matters are formed of little bits and pieces of me—I think that’s probably unavoidable. They’re both far superior to me in more ways than I can count (Remy is fit and good-looking; Giana is emotionally evolved). If I had to choose one, I’d say Remy reminds me the most of myself (I did in fact name my dog after her) and Giana is probably the most like the person I’d want to be.

CAROLYN: Ooh, this question is hard. There’s a little bit of me in all my characters and if we were talking about Gallows Humor it’s an easy answer. It’s not nearly so clear for The Other Side of Forestlands Lake.

Both Lee and Willa as kids have qualities of me—the sporty side of Lee and the bookish side of Willa. As adults, Willa and I share the love of storytelling and Lee and I share the love of being a parent. Physically, I’m more Lee. Unlike Willa I would never actively search out a haunted place for research—that’s what the internet is for.

I am a serious believer in the “other side” and I think I share that with both Willa and Lee, but like Willa’s sister, I absolutely do not mess around with the “witchy woo woo.” When all is said and done I think I align more with Lee Chandler on this one.

Be sure to tune in to What’s New at Bella podcast to learn more about Dolores, Carolyn, and Tagan and their October releases.

Comment, retweet, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter with the first lesfic title you read by Oct 15th for a chance to win an autographed copy of all three of our October releases!


Dolores Arden likes to think of herself as a writer deferred. She first discovered her love for the craft many moons ago while taking creative writing classes in college. But then throw in life and distractions and a demanding career in an unrelated field—and it’s taken her more than thirty years to come around to it again. She’s lucky to call the San Francisco Bay Area home, and these days she spends most of her time hiking the trails, digging holes in the garden, or being walked by a large and enthusiastic Great Dane named Remy. Gray Matters is her first novel.

Carolyn Elizabeth is an enthusiastic writer of Sapphic stories where serious camp meets upbeat macabre. Her sarcasm and love of pop culture are sprinkled throughout her stories and she would love to publish at least one novel in every subgenre. She is a happily married mom of two rambunctious boys, living in London, Ontario, and working in cancer research. She enjoys weaving elements of her colorful and diverse life experiences, including her education in pathology, into her romantic blend fiction.

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