Milena McKay - The Delicate Things We Make

For our January 2022 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed The Delicate Things We Make by Milena McKay. 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 (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.

Reader 1 4:02 PM

Welcome to book club! So generally how this works is people ask questions, Milena you can either thread your replies or just reply right in the chat (or hit ’also send to #book-club and you get the best of both worlds)

What did everyone think of The Delicate Things We Make?

Reader 2 4:02 PM

Loved it.

Reader 3 4:02 PM

Super interesting, so different than the norm, loved it!

Reader 4 4:03 PM

Loved it too.

Reader 2 4:03 PM

How much research did you have to do for the book regarding art and fashion?

Milena McKay 4:04 PM

A moderate amount. Though I have a family history with the art world and fashion is something I’ve has some personal interest in.

Reader 3 4:04 PM

Where the idea first come to you? The whole concept was so well thought out and detailed in the book.

Milena McKay 4:05 PM

The idea came unbidden, sadly, because I do not know a single woman who hasn’t been through her version of the events that unfolded in the book.

Reader 5 4:05 PM

you definitely needed both to be able to connect the two.

Reader 6 4:06 PM

Who was you favorite character to create

Milena McKay 4:06 PM


Arabella has my whole heart, she is modeled on Dame Maggie Smith from The First Wives Club

She was so much fun! The Award scene was one of the most favorite to write!

There are curse words that one just does not EVER use, but in that scene Arabella just let it all go and it was glorious to write!

Reader 6 4:08 PM

That was such an awesome scene

Milena McKay 4:08 PM

Vivian of course is the character that just tears you apart and builds you up and some of her scenes, especially the one where she tells Jamie what happened to her were rough.

Reader 7 4:09 PM

This was your first novel. How did you go from the idea to actually writing it?

Milena McKay 4:10 PM

I was so scared of actually PUBLISH it that I went the fanfiction route.

Reader 2 4:09 PM

Who was Vivian based off of, if anyone? And who would you cast for her in a movie if one was made?

Milena McKay 4:10 PM

Cate Blanchett is VIVIAN

But then, I imagine most of my characters as Cate Blanchett, at least initially, until they gain a face of their own.

Jamie is was and remained Anne Hathaway

Vivian is a combination of women, real life women who’ve gone through what the character has gone.

Reader 7 4:13 PM

Was it difficult to go from fanfic to novel?

Milena McKay 4:13 PM

It was and it wasn’t. I had so much support!

It was scary.

But I’ve learned in my year since my debut novel that it takes a village.

And if you’re blessed with that village, you will make it.

Reader 1 4:18 PM

That’s what’s so amazing about lesfic - so many “villagers” ready to support each other

Milena McKay 4:18 PM

Lesfic - to me- is a unique combination of simply the absolute best people

And they pick you up and help you and support you

I’ve been very very fortunate

Reader 8 4:14 PM

How long did it take you to write Delicate Things?

Milena McKay 4:14 PM

The story was written in maybe a month? it was in the middle of 2020 and everything was rather hopeless. The story gave me something to hold on to.

Reader 9 4:14 PM

Why did you choose a surname of Polish descent? Dworski?

Milena McKay 4:16 PM

I have to say that Dworski was chosen for the reason that it is rather close to DeVor. And I figured that Violet/Vivina would not want to lose quite the last vestiges of her identity when she made the leap.

Reader 3 4:15 PM

Looking at it now is there anything you would change or are you still happy with how the story developed and turned out?

Milena McKay 4:16 PM

I wouldn’t change the story, no. But I’d certainly tweak it in many many places,

The 2021 political developments in New York alone…

Reader 2 4:16 PM

Favorite Cate Blanchett character?

Milena McKay 4:16 PM


Reader 7 4:19 PM

With fanfic, you have a lot of set parameters you work within. Character descriptions, characteristics etc. How hard was it to adapt that, or was it liberating too?

Milena McKay 4:20 PM

Adapting is at once fun and difficult. It’s fun because it is freeing and it is difficult because you’re stuck with the same story for a long time, like writing the same thing over and over again.

Reader 1 4:19 PM

Okay… time to make you choose favorites :smile: Who are your favorite authors to read?

Milena McKay 4:20 PM

Clare Ashton, Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Diana Kane, Tracy Richardson, Anna Burke, KJ - I’m sure I’m forgetting many many others

Reader 2 4:19 PM

Would you ever write a romance set in a fantasy world? Maybe with a blonde elvish woman as one of the leads?

Milena McKay 4:20 PM

Fantasy is something that has been rather insistently calling my name.

But not elves.

Reader 9 4:22 PM

How does your mind work when writing? Do you see images, scenes in front of you? What inspires you?

Milena McKay 4:23 PM

I’m a very visual person. I see scenes. Like a movie almost? It has to make sense, where they stand, how they smell… I’m rather obssessed with how the characters smell

Reader 10 4:22 PM

I have a question that's not about this book. The Perfect Match is clever and cute (and my favorite novella from last year). Where on earth did you come up with it?

Milena McKay 4:24 PM

The Perfect Match was a spontaneous idea. Just POP! And then in the process of plotting it fleshed out and became a whole small Cupid/God universe.

Reader 9 4:23 PM

What's your favorite smell then...

Milena McKay 4:25 PM

Lily of the valley, wattle (acacia) in bloom

Daphne in bloom does it for me

fresh linen


Reader 10 4:25 PM

I just have to say that my favorite thing about your novels isn't the characters or plot lines.

You have an impressive way with words. When I start one of your novels, I have to clear my day. I cannot put them down.

Who was the hardest character for you to get right?

Milena McKay 4:27 PM

Benedict was very difficult.

Reader 10 4:27 PM

Oooh. Why Benedict?

Milena McKay 4:28 PM

because he’s in the wrong

But he isn’t evil

And that combination of a good man doing something that goes against his grain but still does it and continues to do it for some time before confessing only becasue he is caught

it’s not easy

he had to walk the line between being likable but still pretty bad and then swing back to good guy

Also for the longest time Vivian was difficult to wrangle

Jamie was easy

In some ways, we are all Jamie

But Vivian - was and remains a mystery, so how do you write a character revealing her without revealing her at all?

Reader 9 4:28 PM

If you could buy a painting from DeVor, what would you like the painting to be and what colors should it have.

Milena McKay 4:33 PM

A painting from DeVor. I love yellows. But I also love B&W so she’d have to do several for me

Reader 2 4:30 PM

If Jamie had another sibling what whiskey would they have been named after?

Milena McKay 4:30 PM

Jamie has 3 bothers:

Glen, John and Tully

For Glenfiddich, Johnny Walker and Tullamore DEW

Reader 2 4:33 PM

I was mostly curious what her other siblings would have been named if they hadn't stopped at the 4. I'd like to know what other possibilities were out there.

Milena McKay 4:33 PM

Jim and Mark for sure

(Beam and Maker’s)

Reader 7 4:34 PM

Your characters’ names always have a deeper meaning. Do you come up with them as you write or is it one of the first things you think of?

Milena McKay 4:34 PM

Absolutely silly about the names, But names come first.

Reader 6 4:34 PM

Are you a fan of whiskey if so what is you go to

Milena McKay 4:34 PM

Jameson’s whole family history is based on her name.

I’m actually a teetotaler

Coffee, cranberry juice and fizzy water are my go to.

Coffee mostly

Reader 3 4:37 PM

What fanfic is currently “on your shelf” that you are reading?

Milena McKay 4:39 PM

I’m in the middle of wrangling a difficult WIP so reading has been set aside for the time being, unless it’s an old and dear friend to get me through something boring in real life

Reader 9 4:38 PM

What is the highest reward for you as a writer? Reading all your books it seems to me you always try to give hints to the readers... Your books are never what they seem at first sight... there's always more behind your words. It's like decyphering a deeper message... is that your intent or it comes naturally?

Milena McKay 4:39 PM


having an audience

being relevant

Reader 9 4:39 PM

Being understood?

Milena McKay 4:40 PM

I suppose if people keep reading my books - they understand me? Or want to?

Being SEEN is somewhat of a theme in most of my books.

I think we all seek it in our lives.

Reader 10 4:39 PM

Oh, you have a lifelong audience here. 100%. No arguments.

The day they come out they're bought.

Reader 3 4:40 PM

I think the way you write your books, the level of detail, the intricacies waiting to be discovered and so so much more will lend your books to be able to be read and stay current forever.

Reader 10 4:42 PM

What was your favorite scene to write? In any of your novels?

Milena McKay 4:43 PM

Some of the scenes in The Headmistress were AMAZING to write

So very catarthic

Dont want to spoil those who have not read it

Reader 10 4:44 PM

If you haven't read that one, you absolutely should. I had to wait a week to read it because of work (and the inability to put your novels down).

So. So. So. Good.

Reader 3 4:45 PM

@Reader 6 mentioned audio books, I have never listened to a book, how does it change a story or doesn't it change it but enhance it?

Milena McKay 4:46 PM

I firmly believe that narration is CRUTIAL

I am very lucky that both Delicate Things and The Heamdistress will be narrated by Abby Craden, she’s an amazing actor and her narrations are always top notch, they enhance the book, make it more, give it life.

Reader 2 4:47 PM

If you had to choose between 10 million dollars or a machine that could clone your very own copy of Cate Blachett that would imprint themselves on you, which would you choose?

Milena McKay

I plead the fifth.

Reader 7 4:51 PM

What's your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?

Milena McKay 4:52 PM

Talking to people about my books! Does that count as the favorite thing about writing?

Editing is the worst!

I’m very lucky I have the absolute BESTEST editor in the world

(she’d strike BESTEST for not being a word. BUT IT SHOULD BE)

You know what else is difficult about writing?

Choosing the next book to write

When you have all these ideas

And they are just there

And you are sitting there thinking THIS ONE

But it’s never the correct one and halfway through you’re thinking gosh, I wish I’d chosen the other one, THAT would’ve been fun to write

Reader 10 4:54 PM

....when does the next one come out?!

Milena McKay 4:54 PM

It’s always the same with me

Touch wood, cross fingers, toes, legs, arms, everything - spring 2022.

It’s called A Whisper Of Solace

It’s set in Hollywood

An Ice Queen To Rule Them All

A girl-next-door

And the age-old question: WHAT MAKES AN ICE QUEEN WHO SHE IS?

Reader 11 5:00 PM

What's one tip or advice you would give to a novice writer??? I'm writing fanfiction and it's really well received but I'm also working on a novel.... Well started one and haven't been back to it in years

Milena McKay 5:00 PM

Reader 11, find your people. There is no substitute for this piece of advice.

People in the genre that you write, but also just people in the writing community.

People will get you through the darkest hour of writing - and there will be many - people will be by your side, will beta and encourage, will tell you you suck and need to be better, will lift you up and hold you when you need it. People who will understand what a writer’s block is, what a new idea is, what a new obsession is.

People are really everything in this business.

Reader 2 5:01 PM

Light, medium or dark roast?

Milena McKay 5:03 PM

Medium roast FTW

Reader 10 5:03 PM

Do you have any pets? (Random, I know)

Milena McKay 5:03 PM

I do

A have a one year old puppster

Her name is Jameson

She’s a former street dog who needed rescuing

And yes, she’s Jameson cause of Delicate Things

Reader 10 5:05 PM

Most influential book when you were growing up?

Milena McKay 5:05 PM

Whoa, way too many, I was (am) a nerdy introverted kiddo

Reader 3 5:05 PM

Most reread book.

Milena McKay 5:05 PM

LOTR was lifechanging

for me as a kid

Haven’t read it a while

But in lesfic - I come back to Truth and Measure a LOT

To Jessica Lambert

To Breaking Character

To Noyes’ Gold

To Closer to Home - Spangler

Thursday Afternoons - Richardson

So so many

Oh, there was a thread of underapreciated books on twitter

Virginia Hale

A Secret Chord

So different

The subject may not be for everyone


She’s so good with words

Reader 2 5:09 PM

I often forget I have Twitter.

Milena McKay 5:09 PM

I legit live there

And it’s the place where I met my people

So I owe a lot to the bird app

Reader 1 5:10 PM

Twitter is a good lesfic hangout spot, especially if you’re an author or aspiring to be

Follow your favorite authors there and then just jump in on the conversation - you’ll start meeting other readers and authors as you see who else jumps in

Milena McKay 5:12 PM

When I first got on twitter, I never tweeted. Just followed interesting people and favorite authors and swooned.

Then I slowly strated liking their stuff, then replying, and people were so very very kind.

LESFIC TWITTER is simple - pick an author, see who that author follows, follow those people!

That’s how I did it

And YES all the Cate Blanchett content is on Twitter

I take a look sometimes, for science

Thank you all!

This has been so so much fun!

I appreciate you all joining!

Reader 1 5:15 PM

Thank you so much for joining us, Milena!