Lesfic author Tagan Shepard takes us behind the scenes of her new novel Swipe Right.
There’s nothing like falling in love.
Especially if it’s with someone you already know. Someone you care about, but learn to care about in a new way. It’s why we love friends-to-lovers stories, but it’s also why my new lesfic novel Swipe Right was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.
We’ve all had a tough year. Everyone keeps saying that. To the point that it loses meaning. The way you say “Fine” in response to “How are you?” But the kicker is—it really has been a tough year.
For me, writing has been really hard. It isn’t just COVID, though that has been a huge stressor, of course. My wife and I both changed jobs in the last year. We’ve moved twice. We’ve sold a house and bought a house in this manic market. It’s been hard to find the time to write. It’s been harder to find the emotional space to write.
Then Kieran stepped back into my life.
I hate editing. I do anything to avoid it. My most successful strategy to avoid editing is to write another book. I finish a manuscript, then put it on a shelf and start a new idea. Six months or a year later I come back to the first one and force myself to edit. From outlining to publishing is usually about two years, most of that time spent pointedly not looking at the unpolished pages sitting in a corner, waiting to be seen again.
So when the stress of my life sucked all the creativity out of my body, I looked through old files and found my first draft of Swipe Right. I’d written it in 2019 (feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?) and hadn’t really thought about it since. Editing takes arguably more creativity than writing a first draft, but I needed something to do with my writing time where I didn’t have to report a word count. I opened the manuscript and was reintroduced to Kieran.
And I fell in love all over again.
I think when you meet Kieran, you’ll see how and why she saved me. Kieran is passionate and brave. She takes chances and she’s endlessly optimistic. That doesn’t mean she never gets down on herself and the world. We all have highs and lows. We all have doubts and fears. It’s how she attacks those low moments that defines Kieran. People have hurt her. They’ve taken advantage of her big, open heart. They’ve shown her people can’t be trusted with her heart. But she gives it anyway.
Kieran is a romantic. She knows there’s someone out there for her. Someone who will love her like she loves them. Someone who is loyal and warm. Someone who will treat her the way her best friend, Penelope, treats her. If only she could find that person. The best friend and lover wrapped into one.
This year has been hard on me as a writer. I wasn’t sure if I would get through it. If I could get the books in my heart onto the page anymore. Just like Kieran, I had to ride out the lows and believe. Just like Kieran, the answer was right there in front of me the whole time.