Image of a heart with rainbows

Author Interview: Yadira Douglas Chats about Dangerous Distraction

Author Chat IHS Logo
Get ready to learn more about the book Dangerous Distraction in this discussion with sapphic author Yadira Douglas.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Yadira Douglas about Dangerous Distraction, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Found Family category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Dangerous Distraction?

It’s all about letting some light in your life when you’re in the dark. Like Evelyn, I was stuck in fear and doubt for a while, certain that the inevitable grief weighed heavier than many years of joy. It’s tough to get out of that mindset, but when you’re ready for it, you’ll find there’s still a wonderful world waiting for you. As terrible as it is to lose someone or something beautiful, I think it’s way worse to deny yourself the chance of loving it. Take those risks, whether it’s a relationship, a job, or an adventure, and chase your dreams.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Picking the main characters isn’t an interesting answer, but after spending so much time writing about them, how can I not love them? If not either of them, I’ll have to go with Bill, designated driver of the Strategic Response Team. I based him on a gentle giant of a friend who will walk through fire for just about anyone. When I first met him, he sat alone on a three-seater couch because nobody fit beside him without making it awkward. He cooks twice a day if he’s got nothing better to do, and although he tries to make sure that’s the case, he’s always the first to offer a helping (shovel-sized) hand. He might look like a thug straight out of an action movie, but he’s an absolute sweetheart and super supportive.

Honorable mention to Kate Ashby, the mother I wish I had.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

Getting through the sex scenes, for sure. Letting my characters live in my head is a great way to figure out their wants and needs, but when it comes to those scenes, it feels like I’m creeping on dear friends. Give them some privacy!

Because I end up liking them so much, I also can’t handle seeing them in pain. Even though I know they’ll rise above it, I don’t like it when they’re hurting. In my first, basic outline, there was a break-up/conflict near the end. Evelyn would say something stupid and inconsiderate right when Victoria needs support. I just couldn’t do that to her, so I didn’t. Instead, I tried to throw in smaller hurdles for them to figure out.

What part of Dangerous Distraction was the most fun to write?

Spoilers? Sort of spoilers. I wanted to make sure that Evelyn was well and truly part of Victoria’s team, so a proposal at a lovely cookout seemed like the way to go. When you get together with someone like Viper, the boys are part of the package, just like any tight family. Victoria feared she’d never find someone compatible with the team, but Evelyn is just as mad as them. That’s the kind of woman she wants to spend her life with, and risk her life for.

The failed cooking attempt came from a memory that still makes me smile whenever I think about it. I’d like to say I’ve improved just like Evelyn and Victoria have, but that’d be a lie.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The working title was “Sorry for Getting You Shot.” At some point in the story, Victoria’s boss (and close friend) comes up with the nickname Dangerous Distraction for Evelyn. It’s a bit of a jest among friends, because he knows she’s good for Victoria. I thought it was catchy enough for a short title, and I’m a sucker for those cheesy moments where a book or movie title is dropped in a scene.

What is your favorite line from your book?

“If you’re afraid of losing it, be happy to have it.”

It’s what Evelyn’s dad would’ve told her and I think they’re words to live by. Life will kick you on your ass and try to keep you down, so savor every moment you have with the people you hold dear.

What is your writing process like?

It’s probably a weird one! After planning the basic outline of the story, I need some time to let the characters live in my head. I might write the first few chapters to establish the characters, but then I have to step back and avoid writing anything for a few days while it all just comes together. It’s very heavy daydreaming, led by the characters, so it’s important that I figure them out. Once I know what drives them, I can simply put them in front of a problem or something and they’ll go their way. Then, all I have to do is write it down and ensure it all makes sense. Sounds simple enough, right?

The biggest drawback, I suppose, is that there’s no rushing this way of writing. The story comes when it wants, how it wants. I’d like to be more structured in general, but I’m just grateful I’ve found a way to write what I love.

What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?

A cat. Specifically, my lazy orange fluffball. There’s no way you can get me to do anything if I’m not feeling it. If the stars align, or something, I’ll write and love doing it, but you can’t tie me to my chair and force the words to come out. My cat sometimes perks up and looks at nothing in particular, and I’m convinced it’s because he also has one of those eureka moments about his next book. Then he stretches and curls up on the couch again, which is eerily similar to how I go from taking story notes to watching a movie. Also, lights and voices distract me, and I’ll drop what I’m doing when you give me food or pat my head.

If I could take an animal’s drive, I’d pick worker bee or something. Work, work, work. Write, write, write. There are so many stories waiting to be told!

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

Supposedly, Andy Weir (author of The Martian, among other things) said, “A story in your head isn’t a story. It’s just a daydream until you actually write it down. So write it down.”

Stories, or rather ideas, have been living in my head for as long as I can remember. I never let them out before, and that might be the only regret in my life. Don’t let that dream die! Write it and make it real. Or draw it, compose it, sculpt it. Whatever works for you. Express yourself and make others laugh, cry, swoon, or sulk. What’s better than that? Just start, now. Figure the rest out later. If you find your passion, you’ll find your way.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

A friend’s older sister always read those Harlequin romance books. Whenever I saw her, she was reading a new one, and I didn’t understand why people liked such stories. I was a bit obnoxious about books, anyway. But you know what? She always had a grin on her face and I realized that’s what matters in the end. So, what drove me the most was the thought of just one person, anywhere on the planet, having that smile on their face while reading one of my books. As a side note, it also took a few years for me to realize I really liked that friend’s sister, so maybe that’s why her smile stuck with me.

I’m also nowhere near as obnoxious about books as I used to be. Every form of entertainment is valid. You just have to accept that it’s not all for you. And sometimes, you might get a different perspective on it when you actually give it a chance. I’ve grown to like romance for the same reason I like tales of heroes felling monsters and traveling through time. The fantasy may be simpler and more grounded, but no less heartwarming. A dragon’s lair is an awesome treasure, but so is the woman who will bring out the best in you and pull you through whatever great or small challenges come your way. Holding a fabled sword of your ancestors, or the hand of your bride-to-be? I’m getting carried away, but that’s the point. The clichés make it fun.

My biggest obstacle is my complete lack of discipline. I love writing, so when I’m in the mood for it, I’ll sit down and let the words out. But I can’t for the life of me get myself behind the desk and trigger that desire. Thankfully, the story tends to live in my head and push me toward making it real, but I’m definitely held back by my lack of structure.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

Screw what! How do I get them out of mine?

I like to set up the start of a story, or at least the introduction of each character or a glimpse of their life just before The Story Stuff happens. Then I let them loose in my mind until I know them. I think what they might be like under normal circumstances, from birthday parties to going on vacation. How do they handle a letter from the IRS? Do they open it right away, toss it on a pile, or ask someone else to open it? What happens if their car breaks down, and what model do they drive, if any?

It takes a while before I figure them out, but after a few days or weeks, they’re like memories of real people. It might be mad, but it works for me!

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

Fantasy is probably still my favorite when you look at an overall genre or style. There are so many worlds to explore and heroes to admire. Yes, I’m daydreamy like that. Following Frodo or Bilbo on their journey was awesome. So was rooting for Conan as he got into one weird situation after another. More recent stories with sapphic representation like The Priory of the Orange Tree take a special place, but a strong female lead ticks off a box as well. Two, actually, because those fulfill a fantasy of who I’d want to be just as well as who I’d want to be with.

I’m also a fan of books that throw you into new worlds through science fiction. How you do it doesn’t really matter to me. Just make me feel like a stranger in a wonderful new world and let me get in the head of a hero bound for a happy ending. Such stories hit the same fantasies as, well, fantasy. Besides, when you think about it, wormholes and faster-than-light travel are really just fancy words for portals and magic. And aren’t giant warships of intergalactic empires just dragons under another name?

When you scale it all down, you get what I like to see in romance, as well. Trying new things, beating the odds, and being rewarded with your heart’s desire.

What book do you wish you had written?

I think an all-women Fellowship of the Ring would be delightful to write. Sammy the butch gardener, ready to throw you over her shoulder like a sack of po-ta-toes. Merry and Pippin getting a little too distracted by each other and getting into all sorts of trouble for it. Gandalfina showing Froda some intimate magic tricks in one hell of an age gap romance. Gimla (with a beard, mind you) and Legolass going from rivals to lovers. Oh, it would be awful. But in all seriousness, I’ve definitely thought about sapphicfying a few stories. Haven’t we all at least pretended to replace a character in a book or movie before?

The Lord of the Rings weren’t the first (fantasy) books I’ve read, but they definitely had a giant impact on me. There’s just so much there, from beautiful world-building to meaningful relationships. I think the latter is just another form of romance, anyway, because trust, sacrifice, and friendship are powerful ingredients of any relationship.

Meet Yadira Douglas

Yadira Douglas loves pancakes and hates writing about herself in the third person.

I like to live a simple life and savor the little things. You’ll catch me petting cats, dogs, and the occasional cow on my morning walks, and I can spend hours watching people hurrying about in the city. I drive my fast car slow and enjoy video games on easy, but if you challenge me, I play to win and follow no rules.


share on:

Author Interview