For our February 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins. If you weren't able to make it, check out the transcript below.
A couple of notes on the transcript:
If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we're reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you'll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.
Quinn Ivins 4:01 PM
Thank you so much for having me. This is the first time a group has read my book so I'm very excited and a little nervous
Reader 1 4:02 PM
Is this the part where we all gush about how much we loved this book?
Reader 2 4:03 PM
What inspired you to write this book? Especially as a period piece?
Reader 3 4:03 PM
I loved the book so much. But it ended and I thought eg? Where’s the missing chapters
Reader 2 4:03 PM
Can it be considered a period piece if I was alive during the events?
Quinn Ivins Today at 4:04 PM
There is a follow-up story you can read for free!
Reader 2 2 minutes ago
The anthology Glimpses has a short story about Molly and Carmen that takes place in March 1999. Here is the DL link: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ngtz77eo6d
Reader 4 4:05 PM
What's your background with statistics and political research?
Quinn Ivins 4:07 PM
I have a PhD in political science like Carmen
But I started grad school in 2006
Reader 3 4:07 PM
Do you use it today
Quinn Ivins 4:07 PM
Yes, but I'm not in academia anymore. I work for a government agency doing statistical analysis
Reader 2 4:07 PM
I was an assistant to a poly sci professor in college. How much of what they experienced did you see?
Quinn Ivins 4:08 PM
I drew from personal experience a lot. For example, the situation with a student having a nervous breakdown happened to me when I was a TA. I gave him an extension and my professor got mad--then we found out he had been hospitalized
Reader 5 4:08 PM
I loved how Carmen got attached to the cat and even more so when she kept the kitties!!! It was so uncharacteristic for her at that point... For we all know she's a giant teddy
Quinn Ivins 4:09 PM
My publisher Astrid deserves credit for the cats. She suggested Carmen needed a cat -- eager to please, I added 4 cats
Reader 2 4:12 PM
Did you draw on personal experiences?
Quinn Ivins 4:12 PM
I thought the 90s would be an interesting time to explore the really rapid shift in gay rights opinion that occurred from that time to the present. Support for gay rights changed REALLY fast compared to other things political scientists have studied. So I wanted to explore why that was and also give credit to the people who had made it happen (not me, I thought I was straight in 1997 haha)
I also feel like people my age (older millennials) had an experience where we grew up around a lot of homophobia, and it was scary, but the world changed fast enough for us to have pretty good adult lives
So I almost have survivor's guilt because I experienced things like the backlash to Ellen coming out, but by the time I was ready to get married it was legal. I got married less than a year after it was legal. So for me, the world changed just in time. But a lot of my older friends had a much harder time at my age
Yes, I loved the X-Files and some of the music mentioned
Reader 1 4:15 PM
What part of writing this book did you enjoy the most?
Reader 5 4:15 PM
How did you come up with Molly's Best friend???
Reader 3 4:15 PM
How hard was the research? I’ve never seen an entire page of credits or whatever they’re called to publications before
Reader 2 4:16 PM
I must say, the credits and notes at the end made my nerdy heart sing.
Quinn Ivins 4:16 PM
@Reader 1 The 90s nostalgia was really fun to write. I also loved writing the part where Molly knows Carmen's secret, because I love the idea of an "ice queen" type character in that situation
@Reader 5 Aditi is actually based on a real person named Aditi, but I've never met her. I had a girlfriend in college who had basically been converted to lesbianism by her wild friend Aditi back home, and for some reason that stuck with me.
@Reader 3 the research wasn't too difficult because I'm a political scientist, but I did have to keep in mind what had been published by 1998. One of my older political methodologist friends gave me a tip on an article that came out right before Carmen rips apart Grayson's research in the talk
Reader 6 4:20 PM
Was it hard as you wrote to not include something that wasn’t around then ?
Quinn Ivins 4:21 PM
I wished I could have included a Bring it On reference. But it didn't come out until 2000. In fact my editor and I debated whether I could even say "Bring it."
Reader 2 4:20 PM
what was the most challenging part to write?
Quinn Ivins 4:23 PM
It was hard for me to write sex, even though the scene in the book is not very long or explicit. I worked hard on improving for my 2nd book, which mostly involved pushing through feeling self-conscious
Reader 5 4:20 PM
Without profession in the mix... Who would you say your more like Molly or Carmen?
Quinn Ivins 4:24 PM
I'm more like Molly than Carmen. I'm not as much of an activist as she is (although I was in college) but my personality is more like hers
Reader 1 4:23 PM
Have you ever considered writing in another genre such as fantasy or sci-fi?
Quinn Ivins 4:25 PM
I'd like to write sci-fi sometime. I'd never be able to write fantasy.
Reader 3 4:25 PM
What’s your 2nd book about?
Also who is/are your favourite authors?
Quinn Ivins 4:29 PM
My 2nd book is called Worthy of Love (out about the end of April) and it's about a disgraced attorney who went to prison for campaign finance crimes in a high-profile scandal (like Michael Cohen). It starts after she gets out, when she can only find work in retail and meets Bella, who has been stuck in her hick hometown working at the store for 10 years
Lee Winter did a better job summarizing... here's here blurb https://quinnivins.com/worthy-of-love/
I love Jae, Lee Winter, Benny Lawrence, Caren Wilenger
Reader 1 4:26 PM
What genres of books do you like to read when you're not writing?
I love to read romance. Like many of us I'm sort of hanging by a thread and can't handle anything that doesn't have a happy ending right now. Otherwise, I read nonfiction books about politics (pop books with gossip, not research)
Reader 2 4:25 PM
I like that they didnt get together until after Molly left the university / program. That made me super appreciative of it, too.
Reader 7 4:26 PM
Yes, @Reader 2! And I especially appreciated that Carmen still had reservations, even after Molly was no longer her student
Quinn Ivins 4:27 PM
Thanks! I *agonized* over the power difference and "teacher/student" aspect of the book. My poor editor probably felt like my therapist because I was so worried about it. I didn't want to write something problematic or unethical, and I tried so hard to make it okay -- but it also made it very hard to write a romance, especially physical chemistry, when they were banned from romance for 85% of the book
Reader 1 < 1 minute ago
Would you ever write a book with lesbian space pirates that love to sing sea shanties set to techo music? Also, this is my "me" question for this book club meeting.
Quinn Ivins 1 minute ago
Sadly I doubt I will write about space pirates who sing sea shanties. The closest thing I ever wrote to sci-fi was a fanfic set in a dystopian future that was mostly like this world but with better technology and a worse climate
Reader 2 4:29 PM
What was your favorite part to write?
Quinn Ivins 4:32 PM
I loved writing the scenes that make fun of academia. The faculty meetings and grouchy dinosaurs. I feel like I've had that in my system since grad school, and it was good to get it out.
Reader 8 4:31 PM
What do you enjoy or love most about being an author? Same for dislikes about it?
Quinn Ivins 4:34 PM
I love most parts of being an author. It's something I do on the side in addition to having a day job and toddler, so I wouldn't write books if I didn't enjoy it. This is the one thing I do for me in my "free" time. The part I hate most is proofreading. I have ADHD and it's very hard for me to catch typos.
Reader 2 4:35 PM
I have to ask - why write books that require so much research and extra information? I adore your novel, and Cannot wait to get your next one. I ask this because I'm a :chicken: and refuse to do what you do. lol.
Quinn Ivins < 1 minute ago
I thought I was taking the easy way out writing about my own field for my first book. So there was some research, but I already knew a lot of it. As for why I keep doing it, I think because I tend to write about brainy characters who care about things (the criminal justice system and politics in my second book, college issues in my 3rd). So I end up having to learn about whatever they're into
Reader 2 2 minutes ago
College issues!?!?! YES!!
I appreciate and admire your research and novel. It was extremely well researched, written, and edited. I look forward to see what else you publish. The research and extra work you put into it really takes it a step up from the pack.
Quinn Ivins < 1 minute ago
Yep, my 3rd book goes back to the college setting but it's about a college president in a feud with faculty over attempted reform
Reader 8 4:42 PM
Is there anything you have a big hankering to do or specific interest in exploring with your writing, eg sub-genre, topic, co-write, etc.
Quinn Ivins 4:45 PM
my third book involves a twin switch which is something I've always wanted to write. Other than that, I've always wanted to write a book set in the 1980s but I was born in 1983 so I don't have as much personal experience. My nostalgia for that decade probably comes from being a literal child and then watching a lot of 80s music videos on VH1 in the early 90s
Reader 3 4:43 PM
How the heck do you balance a job, a marriage, a toddler and write book? I’d need 5 extra days adding to the week
Quinn Ivins < 1 minute ago
I wrote my first book mostly on my phone, just typing here and there when I had a few minutes (or was stealing a few minutes from whatever I was supposed to be doing). The pandemic has made it a lot easier because I got to cut the commute out of my day (although of course I'd give anything for the pandemic to be over). But it's hard for sure. I don't have any time for myself that isn't spent writing, and sometimes I get burnt out.
Reader 7 4:44 PM
How did you decide how to handle Carmen and her family? I kind of appreciated not having the “coming out to a family she expects to be unhappy” situation (which almost always seems to involve bringing a partner home, in many novels)… but we did see her brother’s reaction to finding out through the media, and got to hear them talk about what they expected from their parents
Quinn Ivins 4:48 PM
I actually did write a whole scene where Carmen comes out to her family, but then I cut it during editing. I just didn't feel like I was doing anything new or interesting -- we've all read 100 of those scenes. I don't miss having it in the book, except that I was really proud of how I incorporated the history of that exact day into the scene. I was going to have her come out to her family on Thanksgiving on the day of a famous incident in a football game involving the Pittsburgh team
I got sort of obsessive about getting the historical details right. For example, on New Years Eve in 1998 it was unusually cold in DC so I rewrote the scene so that they'd need puffy jackets and they were still cold when they went outside
Reader 3 4:51 PM
Would you like to be a full time writer?
Quinn Ivins 4:56 PM
I would love to be a full-time writer, but I don't see it as realistic until I have a very long backlist and perhaps not even then. The money just isn't that much compared to a FT job, and my family has a lot of expenses (student loans, childcare, saving for college, etc)
Reader 5 4:51 PM
Who would you marry??? And who would you kill ignoring the obvious choice!
Quinn Ivins 4:52 PM
I'd have to say I'd marry Carmen. She was a combination of every strict teacher I had a crush on in my 27 years of school. Although I didn't have a stats professor like her -- all of my professors were dudes
Hmmm if I couldn't kill Grayson and I absolutely had to pick someone.... maybe Tom Orta? But I have affection for all of the other characters, even the ridiculous academic types
I try to make villains cartoonish so they're easy to hate and you don't have to feel bad for them
Grayson wasn't inspired by Trump, but Trump's Twitter feed inspired the quotes on Grayson's Geocities website
Like when he called Molly a "very nasty person who almost failed my class" something like that
It was fun to describe all of the academics' physical appearances because academics have such a funny way of dressing especially after tenure
Reader 5 5:05 PM
My last words are ... Can I just have Worthy of Love now!
Quinn Ivins 5:07 PM
I think it comes out in the Ylva store on April 22nd
Then it will be available on Amazon and everywhere 2 weeks after that
It will also be an audiobook but probably not for a few months