Using tropes and genres like a pro: Ep 334 with Alexis Hall

Using tropes and genres like a pro: Ep 334 with Alexis Hall

If you're a person who finds puns in bad church latin funny, let it shine.

Alexis Hall describes himself as a genrequeer writer of kissing books. You may know him as the author of Boyfriend Material and Rosalyn Palmer Takes the Cake, both of which we’ve talked about here. But like recent guest Emily Henry and so many others, those successes were far from his first rodeo. Head to his website, quicunquevult.com, to see the evidence. (Why is it called that? You’ll have to listen to find out.) Alexis has written, and still writes, everything from paranormal and fantasy to billionaire romance to rom-com, with the recent addition of genre mystery and historical fiction.

We talk tropes, dialogue and leaning into the the thing you do best then revising for the rest. (And we did it all with a kitten climbing around on my desk, adding to both the joy and the challenge.)

Sarina and I (this is, as usual, KJ) have long hoped to talk to Alexis because he is so prolific and also so willing to take chances. When we finally did, what we heard was someone who doesn’t see himself the way we see him—successful, talented, charming and able to convey all of that on the page. That shouldn’t be a surprise, because he often writes characters with that same block—they’re successful and delightful but see themselves as flawed in some way. That may be almost too generic to be considered advice (after all, we’re often told to write a “misbelief” into our characters)—but I found it striking, because along with the many other emotional journeys Alexis writes, he writes this one often and well: that of a self-perceived fuck-up accepting that they’ve transcended that earlier self and become someone capable and worthy of love.

I’m calling that out here because as we talked to Alexis, we talked about his brand being clever banter and an uber-confident writer’s voice—but I think that emotional journey is part of his brand as well. So this episode left me thinking about how brand is more than the way a book or a writer looks and sounds. It’s also the way the book feels. And when you think about it that way—that the emotional arc and feel are part of the brand as well—I think it may help silence any voice in your head complaining that things are repetitive, or that you’ve “ done that before” or that something has been done by others.

We tell our own stories and the stories that we hold most closely, in fiction, in non-fiction, in whatever we’re working on. Indirectly, directly. Again and again. I hope this episode helps you think about what your story is and how you’re telling it.


Alexis’s books in general are all here.

But you can pre-order Paris Daillencourt Is about to Crumble on Amazon here and Bookshop.org here.

Follow Alexis on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.


Alexis: ARC of Kate Clayborn’s Georgie, All Along

Sarina: Dark Matter, Blake Crouch

KJ: Carrie Soto Is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Don’t forget that Author Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here.

And— this is KJ with a question. Do you own In Her Boots yet? Have you read it yourself, or given it to a friend who’d love a fun story about figuring out who you are as opposed to who you think everyone wants you to be—that also delivers a literary hoax, farm life and an ex who can’t seem to find the exit? If you don’t have it on the shelf yet, now’s the time!

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.