SD Simper - Carmilla and Laura

SD Simper: Hey everyone!

Oh whoops, never added a profile photo. Gonna fix that now

Reader 1: Hi SD!!!

SD Simper: Hi [Reader 1]!

Reader 2: Welcome, thanks for joining us!

Reader 3: ::waves::

Reader 1: Is the pic SD uses on her Discord server, the name is a take-off on a character in one of her book series

A pet name for a beloved character

Reader 2: Nice. I must admit I’ve only read Carmilla and Laura, but I absolutely loved it so I’ll have to catch up on the rest of the catalog soon

SD Simper: Carmilla & Laura is by far my most wholesome work lol. So if you dive into the rest, just keep that in mind

Reader 1: If you like dark lesbian fantasy you will be blown away

Reader 2: So normally how this goes is we chat for an hour, everybody feel free to ask questions and SD, you can either answer in this window or you can thread your replies if you like.

Reader 3: Can I ask, what made you decide to write the book but give it a hea instead of the way the original was written?

SD Simper: I have a huge love for the original story. That said, lgbt stories in that era (and most eras up until maybe 30 years ago) could end happy. Whatever J Sheridan LeFanu's intentions (which is a whole other topic I have theories about), he couldn't have ended it happily if he tried. My goal in writing C&L was to give grace to the story he maybe wasn't allowed to write back then.

Reader 3: Gotcha. Thank you

SD Simper: Thank you for the thoughtful question!

Reader 1: "Whatever J Sheridan LeFanu's intentions (which is a whole other topic I have theories about),"

I for one would love to hear about this, as I have some notions, too, but have not researched him or the book like you have.

Reader 1: Is the etiquette to wait until the author answers one question to ask another, or just add one to get in line?

First time, sorry

Reader 3: Ask away normally

SD Simper: I'm planning on answering in the order theyre received, and I'll put them in the thread

Unless it'll be a long answer, at which point I'll mention that specifically and get back to it

Reader 1: You can even ignore it, I would not be offended, lol. I guess you are too nice for that though.

I have an AMA-type question about your Foreward. I had no idea you were a literary nerd!! Can you tell us about that, such as when it started and how you got into it? Related in my mind, I have always wondered how you even found fantasy books given the context of your youth?

SD Simper: Honestly my love of books stems from a love of dark fantasy video games that I played probably way too young lol. I read a lot of video game novels as a pre-teen and naturally branched into fantasy as a whole. I've always been really into horror books in general though. One of my favorite books of all time is Hannibal by Thomas Harris (which I also read way too young haha). I've always been a big reader and was obsessed with abridged versions of classic novels when I was really young. My favorite book as a kid was the Great Illustrated Classics version of White Fang. I did eventually read the real version lol

If that didn't answer your question fully, let me know

Reader 1: Perfect, thanks!! I so did not see that coming, even though I have seen you talk about gaming.

SD Simper: I was a HUGE Blizzard nerd because of my dad. I spent my childhood playing Diablo and Warcraft (and to a lesser extent, Starcraft).

Reader 1: Not ever having gamed my whole life, I did not understand a word of that, lol. But I so glad you enjoyed it, had something to connect you to your Dad, and it led you to your avocation!

Reader 3: Do you write full time or do you have a day job?

SD Simper: This is my full time job where I make a full time living!

I would be neglectful to not acknowledge and thank my wife's role in that though. When I first aspired to be an author, I lived with her and one of our best friends (wife and I weren't married yet), and they hosted kind of an intervention and told me to quit my day job (which I'd come to resent). My now-wife told me she was happy to cover my end of the rent - which, while it wasn't expensive due to the number of roommates, was a life changing offer for me, the poor starving artist.

So I was able to devote time to my craft and get my career under my feet. You could call it an investment on her end, since I now have a steady paycheck, but I can't admit that I write full time without also revealing the incredibly kind and altruistic gesture from my sweet wife. Getting to the point of writing full time is HARD, and she gave me the best gift an author can receive.

Reader 1: That so aligns with my impression of her, lol. Such a dear!!

Reader 2: That’s awesome, too often people are not supportive of creative endeavors so I love hearing the opposite!

Reader 3: Are you a plotter or a panster? (Other than when the book is already written in full before you start like L &C).

SD Simper: Both? I start as a panster and get as far as I can before needing to plot. I tend to be my most creative while thinking on my feet. I loosely plot. I do tend to have my ending in mind before I begin, however, so I at least have a direction.

Reader 3: [Reader 4] I can’t wait for your question today

Reader 1: Not a question, but so love your FIFY version of the story, and love how you seemed to write in an old Gothic style for at least the first half of the book. After that it seemed more modern, but perhaps that is because I am so used to the Fallen Gods story line, lol.

And sorry, everyone, huge fangirl here...

SD Simper: Thank you

Reader 2: I loved the voice - it felt very authentic to the period and there were so many fun turns of phrase. It did make me wonder what a modern version would be like. SD, do you think Carmilla and Laura would play out all different if it took place today?

Reader 1: So, an AU to the AU, lol?

Reader 5: I thought it seemed very authentic as well

Reader 2: lol yes!

SD Simper: Something I did very purposefully for C&L was try to create a bubble world of sorts, i.e. Laura is VERY isolated and apart from the rest of society. Carmilla is her first real glimpse into a new life. A modern setting with the internet and social media would dramatically change Laura's view of the world. She wouldn't be isolated or cut off from new ideas the way she is here. While I think they'd still have ended up together because FateTM, it would have definitely play out differently

Reader 6: Are you working on a NaNo project?

SD Simper: Kind of. I am working quickly through writing Fallen Gods 6 and will realistically use NaNo as accountability as I slog my way through the very complicated finale.

I do have a side project I'm dabbling with that I might utilize a bit more for NaNo, but I do need to prioritize Fallen Gods at this point (I made a promise to my fans to not detour away from it again, like I did to publish Sea & Stars lol)

Reader 3: Who are your favourite authors? Favourite book?

SD Simper: My favorite book is somewhat controversial and comes with the disclaimer that I disown the movie adaptation, but it's Hannibal by Thomas Harris, aka the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. It was extremely influential to me as a teen, and entirely shifted my view on how books should end versus the freedom to take another path, no matter how dark and messed up that ending is.

My favorite authors... That's difficult to pin down, especially since I now have many author friends irl and maybe have biases haha. Thomas Harris obviously, but I think Madeline Miller has a beautiful style of writing (and Song of Achilles was also an influence in how I trained my own writing style). She's my irl friend so take this as the biased take it is, but I think Anna Burke is incredible.

Reader 2: I love the Hannibal series - Red Dragon is one of my favorite ambiguous bad guy books, he could have gone another way if only his circumstances were different

Reader 3: I haven’t heard of Madeline but Anna Burke is amazing so yes I agree.

SD Simper: YES I love Red Dragon! NBC's Hannibal is my favorite show, though it definitely started detouring away from leading to REd Dragon lol

Reader 7: Why did you choose this story, of all the ones you could have rewritten?

SD Simper: I just really love Carmilla. I had a full hypomanic episode around the time I first read it (like, actually, I do have BP2), and Carmilla & Laura was the result. I'm planning some upcoming retellings however

Reader 1: I am so glad you wrote it, but hypomanic episode, not so much.

SD Simper: Naw, hypomania can be fine. It just depends on where my brain settles. I don't really get to control it. I had another hypomanic episode once where all I could think about was gardening - and now my house is really pretty lol. It's not the same as manic, thankfully

Reader 7: What was your process of rewriting it? Did you always plan on publishing it?

SD Simper: The first scene I wrote was the "I have been in love with no one" scene, i.e. when they kiss in the moonlight. I literally lost sleep thinking about it and had to write it down. I had already published Sting of Victory by that point so publishing was always in the back of my mind, but this wasn't a project I necessarily even expected to write. I wrote it really quickly and it just overtook my whole life.

Reader 7: Is there another one you're looking at rewriting?

SD Simper: Yes. I don't want to go too deep into explaining, but I have big plans for Phantom of the Opera

Reader 8: Ooo!!!

Reader 1: I so love the retelling of faerie tales genre as lesbian stories, and to me this is adjacent

Reader 2: Same, there need to be more of them

SD Simper: I'm open to ideas

Reader 3: You’ve just mentioned you have BP2. I’ve just started reading a book and the mc has this too. Could you enlighten me on how many types there are and the differences please?

SD Simper: BP1 of course is the iconic one. That one has full depression and full mania, which often leads into full psychosis and delusions. It's a really difficult mood disorder to have and anyone with it has my love and support. What most people don't realize is someone with BP of most flavors will spend about 80% of time in a depressive state, so it's a tough life.

BP2 is what I have. We experience hypomania instead of mania, which is like a lesser version of it. No psychosis. It can be uncomfortable, but I often say it's more like a more aggressive for of ADHD hyperfocus (which, yes I also have)

BP3 is known as cyclomythia and it a rapid cycling form of bipolar disorder, i.e. you don't spend weeks/months in a cycle, you can switch really fast.

Reader 3: Wow thank you so much. I have just been referred by my Dr to see someone about an ADHD diagnosis. Thanks for clarifying. My friend gad BP and at a guess BP1 and it is hard.

Reader 8: I go between BP2 and 3 a lot! Its the worst but I also have the major depression factor of it too

Reader 2: I would like to express my appreciation for the corset scene when Carmilla first arrives - I had no idea I had a thing for regency “proper society ladies being required to undress each other simply because clothes are complicated, and then it awakens feelings” tropes, or that it was even a thing, but I am for it.

SD Simper: Okay so fun fact - my wife is high key an expert in historical fashion and is the reason the fashion has any historical accuracy at all haha

Reader 6: Right?! I was LOVING that scene!!

Reader 2: Oh that’s a really cool expert to have on hand!

SD Simper: There's also something very intimate in general with traditionally female clothing rituals. Like, even heterosexual women will often get together to get ready before a party and help each other with hair and make-up and there's something really wholesome about it

And if you're gay....well, you might discover something haha

Reader 2: Or end up super confused because everyone else is having fun and I am too but is it in a different way?

SD Simper: It's one of those moments where you realize something might be different.... Hmm

Reader 2: What’s your favorite part of writing a book?

SD Simper: I LIVE for big drama and emotion. I love the build-up to a scene where there is a dramatic emotional high, whether good or bad, which is why I tend to include so many lol. My books, love them or hate them, have BIG feelings in them.

Have I gone too far and made myself uncomfortable when it's a big sad scene? Yes. But it fits the brand and I still enjoy the lead up

Reader 2: You know for sure it’s going to have a big impact on readers if it’s making you emotional while you write it, tho, and it’ll hopefully stick with them for a long time

SD Simper: I'm like an adrenaline junkie for feelings

Reader 3: Can you ever see yourself writing a typical contemporary romance? If so what trope would you pick? I’m an ice queen, medical, age gap, enemies to lovers all in one book kinda person

Reader 6: Taking notes for a future book lol

Reader 3: I’m writing it right now!!

SD Simper: Pretty much all my books features Ice Queens EXCEPT C&L haha

Yeah, I would, but it would end up being dark in some other way

Reader 3: Say you’re not allowed darkness, would your creativity fail you?

SD Simper: I write lots of age gaps in Fallen Gods lol

Reader 3: Oooh but do they have hea’s? I’m not good with books that don’t leave me feeling good. So no horror normally for me

SD Simper: I write dark stories with cathartic and usually happy endings because it's a reflection of my own life (not that my life is over, but I accidentally stumbled into the Good Place after many years of turmoil). I think shying away from the darker aspects of life does no one any favors, but I think shining hope at the end is important. I don't super love grimdark as a genre, weirdly.

Would my creativity fail me? I dunno. I'd probably get bored though

So the thing about Fallen Gods is I personally view the story as a series instead of as individual books. So individual books don't always end happy, but the story is definitely not done yet either

They're REALLY dark. There are content warnings listed for book 1 now, so you can decide for yourself if that's what you want. If you're unsure, I'd recommend The Fate of Stars instead

Reader 3: So if I wanted to read it I’d be best waiting for you to finish the series and read it all in one go? I’m afraid that yrs I am that person who waits for all the books before starting the first

SD Simper: Fortunately for you, book 6 is the last book in series one and it's the next on the list

So that'll most likely be out next year

If you're wanting more books from me, the Sea & Stars trilogy is complete

Reader 3: Thank you. I only finished L&C 1 hour before book club so I didn’t get chance to search.

SD Simper:

For your convienence

Reader 1: The S&S AU is kind of a contemporary romance, though is not a novel yet. And Aftermath, also not a novel and still set in the world of S&S, is just so wonderful read after S&S.

SD Simper: I've debated adapting the AU for and expanded audience

I've already done most of the work. I would just need to give the first story a proper second act haha

Reader 1: Part of the problem is that you have so many beloved story lines and series that you need like 24 hours a day to do justice to them all, lol.

But, of course, PLEASE DO NOT!!!!

Reader 3: Thanks for the link

SD Simper: [Reader 1] I really do though! I have so many ideas lol

Especially for Fallen Gods stuff

Reader 1: I reread Carmilla just before this to refresh myself, and I so love how you made the relationship explicit, whereas in the original it seemed that Carmilla was just fascinated by Laura in a way that sometimes happens with vampires instead of real love and dedication and it being a 'meant-to-be' kind of love. Of course, I guess that was the point, but still.

Also the way that you treated the 'I have never loved anyone' theme compared with the original. And of course your writing was better in every way, lol.

SD Simper: Oh my god, you're so sweet

Thank you

Reader 2: I meant to read the original before book club but I just ran out of time… I figured the odds were pretty good we were going to get a happy ending in SD’s version, but I was still on the edge of my seat at the end!

SD Simper: They're kinda the same, up until a specific point lol. Laura doesn't know Carmilla is a vamipre in the OG until much later on

Reader 2: Your book covers are absolutely gorgeous - do you work with the same illustrator for all of them?

SD Simper: Carmilla & Laura had a different designer than my others. The rest are illustrated by the wonderful Jade Merien - who is not a cover designer, so I generally hand her a template to where the title and author name will be and have her work around it

I love her work so much

Reader 2: I have absolutely zero visual arts abilities but I love seeing how other people’s brains work - thanks for the link, will definitely follow her

SD Simper: I don't generally credit my C&L illustrator not because she isn't amazing and fabulous but because she doesn't do covers generally so she doesn't want the attention haha

She's an irl friend who is a graphic designer

She also did my Fate of Stars special edition cover (with real papercraft!)

She also does my typography for my other covers

Reader 2: Ooh, that’s really cool!

Reader 3: Why is it that yours and the original have a stake thru the heart into Carmilla but it doesn’t kill her? I thought that was how you ended a vampire?

SD Simper: There are lots of ways to end vampires in different mythologies. I just combined a few different ideas

Reader 3: Yours was a very selective way.

Reader 1: This version seems to be the 'belt and suspenders' one, lol. Not sure what else you could even DO to her beyond stake her heart, decapitate her, burn her, and then put her ashes in a river to spread everywhere.

I love how it got subverted in L&C at the burning point, thank the Goddesses!!!

Reader 2: Haha Carmilla would make a good ‘she just keeps coming back!’ villain for a monster movie if you went that way with it rather than the romance angle

SD Simper: My brain wants to say Dracula did a similar "stake in the heart paralyzes them" thing, but I can't remember for certain

The original books sorta leaves a "will she or won't she" come back sort of thing

At least, it can be read that way

Reader 3: I thought for sure when her head got chopped off that would be the end.

SD Simper: I think that IS the case for Dracula, but I know there's a lot of relevance with water for vampires and wanted to play with that a bit too

Reader 3: SD has a not-quite-a-vampire as a MC (to me, THE MC lol) in her Fallen Gods series who is even harder to kill than THAT. Even if you did all the stuff they did to Carmilla in the original, this chick could be brought back.

Reader 1: So, a bit off L&C, but you write a lot of neurodivergent/mentally ill characters in your stories. Have you already done a character suffering from BP2 and I missed it? If not, do you plan to do that someday?

SD Simper: Not explicitly. I based a lot of Ayla off my own inner turmoil, so she could be read as a caricature of BP2, but she doesn't fit the criteria perfectly. I also know more about myself and my cocktail of mental illnesses and neurodivergences, so realistically that's her deal.

I intend to. Not sure for who yet. That's a difficult mood disorder to showcase in a book simply because it would need to take place over a longer period of time, but I think it's definitely doable

Reader 3: Thx!

SD Simper: I have a question for you, dear readers - what is your favorite kind of lead for a monster/supernatural romance novel?

Reader 1: Lead character? Or something related to story?

Like a lead-in or basis…

Reader 3: I love shifter and witches novels. I guess that’s paranormal though is it?

Reader 2: I agree, this is too general, cannot answer

SD Simper: Oh sorry - do you like vampire love interests? Werewolves? Medusa? Stuff like that

I should have said "romantic lead"

Reader 3: Vampires too!

SD Simper: Shifter and witches totally count

Werewolves are just shifters, hot take lol

Reader 3: Not Medusa, she never has a good hair day does she

Reader 2: I mean, it depends on the tone because if it’s going to have a comedy element I would totally want to read a story about not being able to look my girlfriend in the eyes or she’ll turn me to stone

Reader 3: I love those 3 then. Shifters et al, vampires and witches.

SD Simper: OMG a rom com with Medusa is gold

I love it

Reader 6: 100% vampires... Ayla has my heart

SD Simper: She has the bonus of turning into a demon monster sometimes

Reader 1: For me, the form of the character is not nearly as important as their personality. I have become really emotionally involved with a lot of different (what would you call them, species??) in various stories.

Reader 3: There is a book about a thing from a planet and she can’t look at her until the end or she’ll do something or other. I’m being very accurate here

Reader 5: I’m a total fan on werewolves

SD Simper: Honestly i'm really into demon monsters, but not the Ayla variety lol. The Bringer of War variety

Reader 8: Hm depends on the author and the tone of the story!! I love my Vampires most definitely! The several shifters I've read are good though Jae has to be my favorite though! I love Second Nature! Witches are another favorite! Cara's new series is probably my new favorite in that department!!!

Reader 6: Medusa x blind girl

SD Simper: I think also, regarding what [Reader 1] said, sometimes just the genre of monster romance is appealing and the monster doesn't matter

[Reader 8] Vampires are just so very romantic by nature

Reader 2: I think vampires are inherently the sexiest given the power element and the need for physical closeness

Reader 1: "Love a monster, become a monster"

SD Simper: Even the spooky ones lol

Reader 3 : My girlfriend is a monster book was good. Probably too fluffy for you even though they killed people

SD Simper: The couple that slays together, stays together

Reader 1: Cara, plus they are always so beautiful!!

SD Simper: ....damn, that's a good tagline, hold up

If no one has claimed that, dibs

Reader 2: It really is - use it!

Reader 8: I agree!!!! I think that's why I've always had a thing for them! I spent several months when I was 10 swearing I was was a huge thing!! Lol

SD Simper: [Reader 3] I'm all in for lighthearted horror

Reader 2: Except for in the cheesy old movies when they’re, like, Gary Oldman sleeping in a dirt box. Then they’re just delightfully weird

Reader 6: Definitely vamps!

Reader 3: I read ARC’s for a couple of monster books. The lighthearted type. That’s about my limit on horror

Reader 8: I was the child obsessed with Buffy and Charmed like legit obsessed. It doesn't help that I'm a sensitive either though.

Reader 1: "..damn, that's a good tagline, hold up"

Are you talking about 'love a monster become a monster'? I guess you are teasing if so? I stole that off your bookmark, and from what Mereen said to Flowridia in a certain scene. That is why I put it in quotes, lol. I guess I should have added attribution though, sorry!

SD Simper: You're totally fine lol

It's like the funny version of my real tagline haha

Yeah, Mereen kinda hammered in the "when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back" lesson

Reader 3: I thought you meant the slay one. If you’re not claiming that can I have it please?

SD Simper: That's the one with dibs sorry lol

The abyss line isn't original

Reader 3: Bugger

SD Simper: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Reader 2: Haha and now it comes down to who can write it first

SD Simper: I was just gonna use it as a joke tagline for Fallen Gods

But uh, taglines aren't generally trademarked so the more the merrier lol

Reader 1: The abyss is Nietzsche, right?

SD Simper: Correct

Reader 3: The iReadIndies spooky book is coming out tomorrow and everyone has written ghost stories almost. There’s only 1 vampire. Did you add to that?

Reader 1: I am now so confused about what tagline we are talking about, lol

SD Simper: No, sadly. I blanked on the iREadIndies anthology tbh

Reader 3: Well 1 vampire I’ve found so far. I didn’t quite finish it

SD Simper: I've done some other ones for them in the past.

It's been a busy month, unfortunately haha

Sick wife, sick puppy, broken down car (twice)....

Reader 2: I hope all 3 of them are doing better now

SD Simper: Wife is better now, and puppy is getting there. Hopefully the car is fixed lol

Yeah, my great dane puppy caught kennel cough, despite being vaccinated. But it happens and thankfully her case is really mild (probably because she's vaccinated)

Reader 3: I to my shame I put something in that was neither ghost or vampire and I stick out like a nun at an orgy

SD Simper: NOte to self....write nun orgy book…

Reader 8: Oh [Reader 3]!

Reader 1: What if it is a Halloween mascarade orgy?? ;)

SD Simper: Also acceptable

Reader 2: Would read, one of my first bizarre crushes was Agnes of God, if anybody remembers that movie

Reader 1: Ugh, now I have a flashback to a certain scene in Eve of the Endless Night, sigh…

Reader 3: I’m afraid I wrote something that’s nothing to do with Halloween and a bit of a piss-take on a paranormal

SD Simper: [Reader 1] sorry not sorry

[Reader 3] What is your author name? I'm not actually sure who your alter ego is lol

Reader 8: Elle Armstrong

SD Simper: [Reader 1] to clarify, I'm assuming you're refering to orgy for two instead of something bad lol

OH okay! [Reader 8] thank you! I've definitely heard of Elle Armstrong. ALl the more reason to check out a new book

Which would you recommend I start with?

Reader 8: Yes! Her books are amazing!

Reader 3: I’m author of the week if anyone wants to help and make me look like someone wants to talk to me .

Reader 1: The Ballroom Scene, SD Simper

Reader 2: [Reader 3] @Louchilla what do we need to do, ask you questions on the FB group?

Reader 3: Anyway SD let’s talk about YOUR books

SD Simper: [Reader 1] oh damn. Sorry haha

Reader 3: Yes please, just anything. Laugh at my jokes, you know, hero worship me, anything

Reader 8: Crash Dance was out first and then Cafe A'moor! She also cowrote with Jax on A Marines Conflict!

SD Simper: [Reader 3] I'll be sure to chime in!

Oh nice!

Reader 3: Thank you. I appreciate everything even if you take the piss outta me

SD Simper: Haha I promise to play nice! You've been lovely to chat with here

Reader 1: Probably an unfair question, either like asking who your fave child is, or perhaps (I think) too many different answers based on different criteria, but who is your fave character in all your stories? If too long an answer, no worries!!

SD Simper: Oh man..... it might be Neoma

which i realize the irony of, given I killed her before Fallen Gods even started

Let this show y'all how willing I am to break my own heart for a story lol

Reader 1: Thx!

SD Simper: Oh, maybe also Ku'Shya

She's just ridiculously funny to me

OH, wait, duh. It's also Demitri

I love that boy

Little wolf pup

Reader 1: Love Ku'Shya and her family!!!

SD Simper: I have another, but I won't say who since they'll all of a sudden have a very elevated role in the next book and I don't want to make you wonder why haha

Reader 1: Love him like Noema it seems, lol.

SD Simper: SIGH

I know

Reader 2: We’re a bit past the hour, anybody have questions they haven’t asked yet?

Reader 1: This has been so amazing!! Thanks for organizing it!!

I wish I had know about it before, will defs be attending from now on (so love Lucy Bexly's work, and missed hers, sigh).

Reader 3: There’s a transcript of all the book clubs

Reader 2: Fabulous, will be happy to have you back! And yes, if you haven’t found Lucy’s transcript yet, here it is:

Reader 3: thanks!

Reader 2: Thank you so much for joining us, SD - Carmilla and Laura was wonderful!

Reader 3: I loved the book. It made me want my own vampire

SD Simper: Thank you so much for having me! If I may do a quick plug of my stuff, i do have a bonus Carmilla and Laura scene (their eventual wedding) on my Patreon:

And if you sign up for my newsletter, I'll send you free books!

Reader 3: Thanks SD

SD Simper: Anyway, thank you so much again! I'm going to sign off. [Reader 2] I really appreciate the invitation

Reader 2: Happy to have you!