Image of a heart with rainbows

Author Interview: L A Wright Chats about Changing Gears

Author Chat IHS Logo
Get ready to learn more about the book Changing Gears in this discussion with sapphic author L A Wright.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz L A Wright about Changing Gears, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the International Setting category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Changing Gears?

I wrote this book while I was recovering from burnout. It was a spontaneous creative project, and an unexpected therapeutic exercise, despite writing the first draft in seven weeks. Like most of us, I’d always wanted to write, and being too exhausted for anything else was ironically the perfect time to figure out if I could make a childhood dream come true. So the timing was just fortuitous. As for why this story? I’d never intended to write a romance, but typically, that novel I’ve been working on since I was a teenager wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought I’d take a swing at the genre. Who knew I’d love it so much.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Abi ranks as my favourite MC. I like her sense of humour. She comes at some of the most serious issues with a dose of levity, something we could all take a lesson on. She’s also a bit of a free spirit (who doesn’t love that), and is trying to grasp hold of life. And she holds people to account. Is she like me? Probably the levity bit – life’s too short and all that.

What inspired the idea for Changing Gears?

Although the story was spontaneous, some of the core events were inspired by years in the education sector in Australia (not as a teacher), and a number of news articles about teachers who were being discriminated against because of their sexuality. It was, and still is, quite topical, for Australia. I think it was a story that wanted to be told – I was just lucky enough to be the conduit, I think.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

The biggest challenge was working through the editing process. As an indie writer with no budget (save for my amazing cover design) I had to work out how to do a lot of that work myself (thankfully I’ve had a ton of academic training, though I had to undo some habits). We’re our own worst critics – there are still tons of things I would adjust. Thank goodness there are more stories to be written.

What part of Changing Gears was the most fun to write?

Oddly, the family arguments. Jen’s family have some interesting characteristics, and her brother is… well, pick your insult. But it made the petty squabbles a fun dynamic to write.

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

The title was a moment of inspiration – after trialing a long list of terrible alternatives!

How much research did you need to do for Changing Gears?

I did a reasonable amount of research for this book – mostly locational. I’ve never cycled in France, which has surprised quite a few people who’ve read the book. So that required a lot of time on Google maps and travel websites and anywhere else I could get details about the dozens of places my MCs rode through.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

Ugh, a sequel. There have been quite a few requests for that. What are Abi and Jen up to next? The challenge for me is that the story’s hook is very social justice oriented, so I’m brooding on what that might be. If anyone has an idea for book two they think might work, let me know!

What is your favorite line from your book?

“It’s a poorly kept secret in the cycling community that when you wear these things [cycling shorts], you go commando. And as much as I’d like to help you out, I don’t think we know each other well enough for that.”

What is your writing process like?

I’m a bit of a pantser-plotter hybrid. I have to know where my MCs are going to end up so I can get them there. But sometimes the best laid plans aren’t worth much when MCs develop minds of their own. Which is the bit I like most – getting to know the women I’m writing about, and figuring out where an authentic story would take them.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I have the luxury of a room of my own for writing, but I’ve written about two thirds of the first draft of my next book on the bus to work – write in the margins, as they say. As for what keeps me focused, it’s the right music. I find that by about mid-way through plot development, I’ve a theme song for the story – that keeps me in the space.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I make my wife read it – drafts anyway.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

I’m a long-time science fiction and fantasy reader and have ideas for writing several queer themed books in both. I love these genres, so much scope for complex stories and characters and big stages for action. What’s not to love!

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

That reviews aren’t for writers, they are for readers. Linked with, you can’t write something for everyone. Both help me be comfortable with how people respond to the story. Sometimes it’s a story people love and resonate with. Sometimes it’s just not for them. And that’s great, actually. More room for us all, as readers and writers.

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

What has helped is just getting out of my own way. Burnout was an incredible cure for perfectionism, the writer’s curse. So learning there’s no such thing as perfect has really helped me actually finish projects, and polish them up.

When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

Music, always music. Thank goodness for Spotify.

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

Once I’ve got a rough idea of the story, I often try and find an image of someone who I can envisage walking the journey. But I find I learn more about my characters as I write, so often it’s getting to know them organically. What would Jen do in this situation?

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I’ve always read sci-fi and fantasy, I think because the escapism these stories can provide can be quite profound. Being on another planet is a great way to ignore your life on earth when you need to. There are some fantastic writers out there creating amazing realities.

Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?

I’m a genre-hopper. I’ve started reading a lot more romance, obvs, and sci-fi and fantasy, but also literary fiction and a wide swath of non-fiction from psychology, economics, philosophy, sociology etc (an occupational hazard). I find society interesting, so I’m always curious as to how and why things work the way they do, and how individuals have impact and are impacted by the workings of the world.

Meet L A Wright

L A Wright is a part-time indie author, currently living in New Zealand. When not daydreaming new scenes and storylines, she and her wife spend their time reading, watching movies and theatre, bush-walking, travelling, hanging out with friends and riding their N+1 bikes.

Visit L A’s Website

share on:

Author Interview