I am all about an age-gap romance. Add in fun dates, a cinnamon roll hero, TMNT references and an author who is a fellow pop culture junkie and you’ve got Almost Maybes by Anna P.
Check out the Synopsis for Almost Maybes by Anna P
Even at 36, Oleander Bowen has to do things she doesn’t enjoy to appease her grandmother: meet eligible bachelors who will definitely make terrible husbands, hide her sexuality and make excuses for working late. While Oleander hasn’t had to battle the patriarchy the way other Indian women have, she’s tired. She’s also tired of the boring one night stands and tired of working two jobs to pay back her parents.
Then he steps into her bar.
For Jackson Huxley, being 26 means living his best life, hanging out with his friends, nerding out over Star Wars and the Ninja Turtles. But also healing his broken heart. He’s never been the kind of guy that women want—too nerdy, not enough muscles and far more inclined to break out pop culture references every single time.
Then he met her.
Neither of them were looking for love, but persistence and charm not only gives Jackson a chance to be himself in a relationship, but also encourages Oleander to drop her walls and open up to something new.
Till his past, unacknowledged ignorance and one hurtful incident turns them inside out and suddenly all the perfect times they’ve shared shatters everything.
They almost had it all. And maybe they can get it back.
Content and Trigger Warnings: Homophobia, fat shaming, racism, bigotry, gaslighting, physical assault, attempted rape. Please note that this book also contains cursing, open door sex scenes, consumption of alcohol and mention of drugs. This book is intended for audiences 18 years and older.
Author Interview: Anna P
Anna, I’m so excited to talk with you about your debut novel, Almost Maybes, which hits shelves May 20th, 2022.
Hi Sarah, thank you so much for doing this! I haven’t had a chance to talk about the book yet, so this is great!
Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind Almost Maybes?
Honestly, I just wanted to tell a story about a fat, Brown, queer woman who has everything a person needs even though the world keeps telling her she doesn’t deserve it. Oleander was inspired by myself and some of the women I’ve known my whole life. Fat women are often put down and told that we can’t have all the good things in life if we don’t lose weight and I refuse to believe that! And while I wanted it to be a body positivity story, I didn’t necessarily want it to be a journey that Oleander goes on to accept her body. She’s 36, she’s accepted all herself the way she is, now she wants to find someone to love all of that too.
Almost Maybes is a Love in the Wildes Romance. Does this mean readers can expect more books from you?
They can! Originally, this was going to be a standalone, but as I wrote the second draft and these secondary characters came to life, I believed that I could tell their stories too. I have about 8-9 books planned, but I’m not sure if I’ll write all of them. Right now, however, I am working towards having at least 4 books out in the Love in Wildes series.
Almost Maybes is a small town romance with an age gap. I love that Oleander is older than Jackson. Can you tell readers what other tropes to expect?
Oh god, tropes. When I was writing this book, I could not for the life of me figure out what tropes this fit! So let me see if I can give it a go. You’ve got a semi-grump x sunshine, found families, a slightly reluctant heroine and obviously the age gap. I want to point out that this is not a ‘reverse’ age gap, because that term is strange. Why does it automatically become a ‘reverse’ if the woman is older? It’s one of many romance pet-peeves.
If you were to break down the feeling or vibe for Almost Maybes, what three words would you choose?
Fun, sexy and entertaining. (I hope people feel these vibes when they read the book!)
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Almost Maybes has several pop culture references, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more. What are some of your favorite elements of pop culture?
I am a pop culture junkie! I talk in movie quotes and reference GIFs from my favorite shows all the time. I’m a big rom-com and sitcom fan. I think movies and television shows are my go to when it comes to pop culture. I know way too much information about random actors’ careers and gossip about their personal lives. But at the heart of it all, I’m a nerd. So all the nerdy pop culture things are my jam. Gimme a Marvel or Star Wars movie, show me merch featuring Buzz Lightyear (or anything Disney/Pixar) and I will throw all my money at it in a heartbeat.
Author Interview: Anna P: Let’s Chat About Writing
I’d love to know if you’re a plotter or a pantser. What seems to work best for your writing?
As a perfectionist and someone who likes having control over everything, I started out as a plotter. I plotted book 1 out meticulously. I had tons of Google Docs with how I wanted the story to go. But as I started writing it, I became a bit of a pantser because I was just writing whatever I wanted and ignoring my plot notes. So now I’m a hardcore plantser (plotter + pantser), because I’ve discovered that controlling your characters and forcing them to do what you want them to do is pointless. Your characters will always have a life of their own (even though you created them!) and the best thing to do is to just go with the flow. Having a plot is great, but be open to flexibility, I guess.
While we’re on the subject of writing, do you have any favorite snacks, music or rituals for your writing?
I’m a tea drinker. I have 2-3 cups a day and more if I’m very stressed or anxious. I tend not to eat when I’m writing, because I find that taking my hands off my keyboard breaks my focus. But I do listen to lots of music. Foo Fighters are my favorite band and their hard rock vibe is great for writing steamy scenes and breakups. I’ve also been listening to a lot of indie recently and Skrizzly Adams and Dotan were all I listened to as I worked on the second draft for book 2. I tend to choose music that is soothing, but also uplifting and won’t distract me from my mission. Oh, also soundtracks! The How to Train Your Dragon OST is honestly the best thing ever. And while you’re at it, look up Lord of the Rings ambient music on YouTube and find yourself headphones, because that music can truly transport you to Middle Earth and it’s a great place to get lost while writing!
Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
I think one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is that if you want to be a writer, you’ve just got to write. Forget about the critics and the haters and those who won’t like your story, write for yourself and write for those that NEED your story. I also think it’s absolutely important to find your ‘people’, because they will support you endlessly through everything and boost you up when you’re feeling down. And this is obviously something everyone will say: but don’t let imposter syndrome bring you down. It’s easier said than done, but once you start ignoring all of the noise around you, the right things come into focus.
Can you expand on your decision to self publish and why that was the best choice for you and your manuscript?
I, like a lot of people, have an insane fear of rejection. I don’t want someone to read my story, tell me it’s not good enough and toss it into the reject pile. Lol. But more than that, all of my favorite authors and author friends are indie authors and despite the amount of work it takes to really get your stories out there, they all said that it was worth it. I wanted to have enough control over my story and the plot, I didn’t want someone coming in and telling me that the conflict wouldn’t work or the heroine is not nice enough or changing the way I promote my books. Besides, I like having control over things in my life and by self publishing, I had complete control.
Reading Recs, TV Casting & More: Author Interview: Anna P
What started your foray into reading and loving the romance genre?
When I was in boarding school, our library had a selection of romance novels hidden behind the crime thrillers. I had finished reading the thrillers and found my first romance novel. I don’t remember what it was called, but I remember seeing a couple in an embrace and the book featured lots of kissing and some sex and things that my 11 year old brain could not comprehend. I was obsessed with finding more stories of that kind, but there weren’t any more books in the library and my mother wouldn’t let me browse through Mills & Boons in the public library, so it was only a few years ago that I got really invested in the romance genre. As for reading…my mother wrote in my baby book that at 10 months old, I grabbed a random book off the shelf and flipped through the pages like I was actually reading. So clearly I’ve been doing this for a while!
What are some romances on your TBR and/or must read romances?
I have a bunch of authors who are always on my “must read” list: Eve Kasey, Susannah Nix, Christina Lauren, Max Monroe, Jen Morris, Elsie Silver, Jenny Bunting, Juliette Cross, Tessa Bailey, Roni Loren and Chloe Liese. As you can probably tell, most of my list is made up of indie authors!
Who is the perfect reader for Almost Maybes?
I don’t know if there’s a ‘perfect’ reader for the book, but I would say someone who likes stories about characters that are often not seen in romance. People who want to see themselves in love stories, people who can handle some of the tougher parts of life, but also enjoy the happy parts as well.
If you were to cast an adaptation for Almost Maybes, do you have anyone in mind for your characters?
Oh yes! In fact, long before I had a story or plot, even, I had faces. Oleander would be Gina Rodriguez and Jackson would be Dylan O’Brien. They are the only people I’ve ever seen for these two characters.
What are you hoping readers get / understand or feel when they read Almost Maybes?
Oh, I love this question even if it’s going to be so hard to answer. I want readers to feel happy and comforted. I want them to feel seen in the little things about these characters. Growing up, I always wanted stories featuring characters that looked like me and it was rare to find fat Brown girls in romance or any other kind of fiction, really. We were punchlines or the loser best friend or we had a glow up when we turned 21, but I want people to see themselves in Oleander who has been consistently beautiful and fat and queer and herself her whole life. I want people to also see the dark side of being fat, Brown and queer and I want people to know that attacking someone because of how they look or where they come from is unacceptable. It is, at the end of the day, a story of hope and acceptance while also being a story about love.
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me, Anna! How can readers best connect with you?
Thank you so much for doing this, Sarah! It’s been such a blast talking about my book and really getting into the nitty gritties of writing! I’m on Instagram (@annawriteshere) and nowhere else at this point.