As some of you may know, it’s the release day for Chace Verity’s first full length novel, YOUR HEART WILL GROW, a book featuring a pansexual mermaid and a (mostly) heterosexual, transgender human. Furthermore, if you’ve been following me here or on twitter for any length of time, you may know that I absolutely adore everything Chace has published. So when they sent me the ARC for YHMG, we talked about doing some kind of special post during their release week, and happily, they agreed to an interview!
That’s what I have for you today, and it’s pretty fun, if I do say so myself! After the interview, I’ll share the blurb for YHMG, as well as places where you can purchase this lovely book. And if you’re still not convinced (why not??), here’s a link to my review of the book where I gush about everything I loved within its pages!
So, without further ado…Chace Verity!
LEAH: Hi Chace! Welcome back to the blog, and big congrats on the new release!
CV: Ahhhhh, thank you, thank you! It is always a pleasure to be here.
LEAH: *smiles* You mention in the Author’s Note at the beginning of YOUR HEART WILL GROW that this is your first full length novel. How was your process on this book different from the short stories and novellas you’ve written?
CV: I wrote YHWG way before any of the novellas and shorts that I have out now. It’s a book that has gone through many revisions. With shorter works, I can navigate those quickly. A full-length book, it’s a bit more like a maze to me. I can see the start and the end, but I wade through a lot of the middle, making a lot of wrong turns. It takes time.
LEAH: Ahh, that makes sense! Now, one thing that I absolutely adore about your writing is that you don’t stick to just one pairing. So far there’s been F/F, M/M, and M/F, and you mentioned last time that you’re working on a story with a nonbinary character who’s part of the main pairing. Why or how did you decide that you were going to write within any and all gender pairings?
CV: It’s what my heart is drawn to, and what it has always been drawn to. I don’t identify heavily with any particular pairing/grouping. I do see parts of myself in all kind of characters, regardless of gender. So when I start thinking of a story with a romance line, I let the characters tell me who they want to be and who they want to be attracted to (or not attracted to).
LEAH: Love it! And you write all pairings so well! *smiles* Also, you write a variety of different mythological characters, but they’re often very different from the stories of classic mythology. How did you decide what aspects of the classic mythos you wanted to keep and what aspects you wanted to make your own?
CV: I mostly keep the aesthetics and change the rest. A lot of mythological characters are seen as monsters in the classics, but modern fantasy allows the definition of a monster to be challenged. In the real world, marginalized folks across the board have been treated as monsters and still are. As much as some people might want to view a story about mermaids as just about mermaids, I know there are real-world connotations. Possibly more than I intentionally created, as I have some levels of privilege that constantly require checking.
LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. There is so much that can be done with the different creatures, it seems silly to stick with just one set of rules! Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?
CV: Oh my goodness, I have the trashiest enby/f/f fantasy in the works. It is absolutely ludicrous, but I am enjoying writing it. I’ve got a cute, heisty m/m historical romance novelette coming out this fall in an anthology featuring a Deaf protagonist. I am still working on COUCH HUNTERS, the enby/f romance I talked about last time I was on the blog. And, Absolutes-wise, I’ve got the next novella waiting to go to the editor and am revising the next full-length book.
It sounds like a lot, but I only do a little bit of work most days. It all adds up, though!
LEAH: Oh wow! All of these sound so exciting! *bats eyelashes* You know where to go when you need some overly excited promo! *winks* While I’ve loved and adored all your books, I must admit that TEAM PHISON has been my favorite, so this question is a bit of a selfish one. *laughs* Do you think you’ll ever go back to their world, write more about them or their friends? Do you think it might ever be in print? Maybe with SUNDAY FUNDAY as an extra at the end! *smiles hopefully*
CV: Oh, gosh, I totally want to do a print version sometime. Especially with SUNDAY FUNDAY included! I really would like to do a sequel sometime with Tyson as the lead, but I think it would have a different vibe than TEAM PHISON, so I have to consider the expectations of returning fans. Of all the characters I’ve published so far, Tyson’s voice is closest to mine, as are his troubles. It would be deeply personal.
LEAH: I, for one, would be absolutely ecstatic to read from Tyson’s point of view. And I will continue to hope for that print version! Finally, before we get to some silly questions: Who has been your favorite, or the easiest, character to write? Who has been your least favorite, or the hardest, character to write?
CV: Phil from TEAM PHISON has been the easiest, by far. I was channeling some excellent vibes during the time I drafted TEAM PHISON, and Phil is totally the opposite of me in almost every way, so it was fun exploring a new kind of character (except we’re both suckers for achievements in video games).
My hardest has been Kelpana in YOUR HEART WILL GROW. Women who enjoy sex and have lots of it are so rarely well-received. I always had a million reviews in the back of my head when I worked in her POV, people criticizing Kit Rocha, Alisha Rai, Victoria Dahl, and so many other authors for writing women claiming agency over their bodies. I know not everyone is going to like Kelpana. I’ve always known. I tried hard to make her likable, but at the end of the day, the part of her I know most folks won’t like is the part I think is most important to keep.
LEAH: Kelpana is such a great character, and one of the things I loved about her characterization was her confidence and how unashamed she is of how much she enjoys sex. I hope others end up loving her as much as we do. But okay, now for a few fun questions! Pick five (5) of your characters and describe them using Starbucks drinks.
CV: Oooh, this is fun, indeed!
Tyson (TEAM PHISON): A precious Vanilla Bean Frappucino with his name written on the cup in big starry letters. Also two shots of espresso in it because… 🙂
Phil (TEAM PHISON): I think we all know he is too fuckin’ snooty to drink from a chain establishment like Starbucks, but if he had to, a house blend coffee. Grande, fuck, whatever size doesn’t give him a goddamn heart attack.
Charlotte (THE MASKED MINOTAUR): Royal English Breakfast Tea Latte. Fancy, tooootally normal drink. No secrets here. Nope.
Kelpana (YOUR HEART WILL GROW): Caramelized Honey Latte. Lots of milk and lots of honey. Better bring four of them.
Morgan (YOUR HEART WILL GROW): Iced Green Tea Lemonade. Perfect for after a vigorous workout and an excellent way to beat the heat in general.
LEAH: Ahhh, all excellent choices! Though I think I got like five cavities just thinking of Kelpana’s! *laughs* Pick one (1) of your books/stories and share five (5) songs that you think would make a good soundtrack for it.
CV: TEAM PHISON – the soundtrack! The novella’s moods from start to finish.
Zombies – Time Of The Season
Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me
Billy Joel – The Longest Time
Avril Lavigne – Wish You Were Here
Al Green – Love and Happiness
LEAH: Oh, what a great list! I’ll have to listen to those the next time I reread TEAM PHISON! Now, please recommend us five (5) good books you’ve read recently!
CV: Courtney Milan’s After The Wedding, Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her, Diana Hurlburt’s Current, Beverly Jenkins’s Forbidden, Leigh Landry’s upcoming Rim Shot Rebound.
LEAH: Oh god, A GIRL LIKE HER is such a favorite! Choose five (5) of your characters and tell us what five (5) things each of them would bring to a deserted island.
CV: Let’s play with our side characters in YOUR HEART WILL GROW for this!
Lorris: strawberry seeds because he’s gonna farm everywhere, his favorite sword with pearls embedded on the handle, a sketchbook, some pencils, some erotic gay novel featuring bearded minotaurs he would neverrrrrr admit he has
Hendricks: his workout clothes (gotta stay in shape), a spear to fish with even though he doesn’t have a clue how (also for working out), a big canister of olive oil to remind him of home (and maybe slather fish in? And maybe working out with?), a notepad to detail all the findings on the island that might possibly be profitable when he returns to civilization, one really good pen given to him by his father
Solstice: A mirror, nail polish, hair brush, hair spray, and jewelry polish for their many earrings/necklaces/bracelets. Appearances matter.
Iz: She only needs one thing, and that is pure spite.
Aragona: As a mermaid, a deserted island is the perfect place to store the human litter she found in the ocean that she is inexplicably interested in looking at again. These things include a wooden miniature of a horse, pink ribbon still on the spool, a rusted sundial, a waterlogged copy of an ancient Windspun Empire text, and an urn that once housed someone’s father’s remains.
LEAH: Oh Iz…*buries face in hand and laughs* If you could change the genre of one of your books, which would you choose and how would you do it?
CV: YOUR HEART WILL GROW would have been really fun as a space opera–soldiers on a generational ship, mermaids floating in space. TEAM PHISON would have also been fun as sci-fi, with age-gap alien cyborgs bonding over an online game about the stock market or something utterly human and mundane.
LEAH: Shit, I would read the heck out of both of these! Chace, it was so, so great to have you by again, thank you for coming! And again, congratulations on the new release. I absolutely can’t wait for more!
CV: Thank you so much again. ❤ This was so fun, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you and the readers in the future.
Kelpana was never supposed to love humans this much.
As a mermaid tasked with keeping peace between land and sea, her job is to be fair. Neutral. Diplomatic. Political. But her carefree spirit is bewitched by the carousing, free-swinging ways of the landfolk…yet one night of careless fun becomes a death sentence when she spurns a bratty prince. Now she’s facing life in prison—but that life won’t be long without the ocean waters that keep her alive.
Yet if Kelpana dreams of better things than this new, grim existence—so, too, does the young man set to guard her in her cell. Morgan Sunilian wants to be more than anyone ever believed he could be. He wants to be an Absolute, decked in gold armor and fighting alongside the kingdom’s most elite guardians. Morgan will do anything to prove he’s strong enough to be more than a prison guard.
To prove he can be an Absolute.
Yet as each day watching over Kelpana passes with him falling under the sweet spell of her soft voice and quiet stories, he realizes the truth of who he wants to be more than even an Absolute.
He wants to be a man of honor. A man of kindness. A man of fairness.
And a man with the strength to defy his orders, risk his life, and save the woman he’s come to love.
Your Heart Will Grow is a complete, standalone 80k novel featuring a pansexual cis woman and a (mostly) heterosexual trans man in The Absolutes series.
Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although queer friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”