It has come to my attention that A.C. Adams is a pen name for Adam Gaffen. While I have no problem with pen names – many authors use them for a wide variety of reasons – this crossed the line info appropriation, as the author set up an entire persona for his pen name and interacted with many in the sapphic and queer writing communities under that persona. I can’t stress enough how wrong that is, and apologize for our own part in sharing this persona. I am leaving this up – for now – as a way of informing anyone who may have read this on my site, rather than just “disappearing” it without an explanation. –Scott
Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: AC Adams is a professor of English at her alma mater in Boston when she’s not writting sapphic fantasy fiction. She’s stunned by the reception her books have received but completely thrilled at the same time. AC is a Red Sox fan and lives with her wife and their cat, Pixel.
Link for novels: https://books.bookfunnel.com/kalilistemptation
Link for short stories: https://books.bookfunnel.com/kalilishortfiction
Link for ROOTS OF LOVE: https://books2read.com/u/bQNDQ0
Thanks so much, A.C., for joining me!
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
ACA: Okay, so do you want to talk about one I got paid for, or something in an unpaid publication? Because I had stories in my high school fiction magazine and paper, and in college too, but the first one I got paid for was actually Finding Faith when I put it on Vella. If you wanna go way back, it was probably a little Buffy fanfic I wrote and put up on a fansite when I was a teenager.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
ACA: Sort of, yeah. Because I’m a professor and my university, while pretty open-minded, might not be so keen on me making a splash as a romance writer. I know that while I was working on my MFA there was lots of disparagement of genre fiction, how trite and formulaic it is and that it attracts sub-par authors. Now that I’m a peer of many of my former instructors, maybe I ought to be more vocal about sticking up for genre fiction, but I kinda sorta need to get tenure first.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
ACA: I look at reviews as a way to learn, whether that’s from my mistakes or my successes. So yeah, I read them. I know how many reviews I have on Amazon for my books (182 and 63 at this writing), and have looked at every single one of them. I also read reviews on bookstagrammer accounts when I know about them, and on Goodreads. The thing is, I don’t let myself get too carried away with a reaction either positive or negative, because the review really isn’t about the book. It’s about the reviewer.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
ACA: I’m gay. I’ve been an out-and-proud lesbian since I was thirteen, and so I drifted into WLW romance. And I know that this particular genre and group is pretty well represented, but I want to put my own twist on it. So I made my demon, Kalili, pansexual—but not by choice. It’s her job to seduce humans, so she sleeps with whoever her assignment is.
The problem is there’s a lot of resentment in the lesbian community for pan and bi women, as if their journey of self-discovery is any less legitimate than a lesbian’s. I’ve hit that in some of the criticism of my first book, because I have some graphic depictions of hetero sex. As a result, I’ve adopted the term (and definition) of Sapphic Fiction that Jae uses, and I’m gonna paraphrase it a little. A sapphic book is one where the characters in the love interest are attracted to each other now, but may have been attracted to men, women, non-binary, or genderfluid people in the past.
Is Kalili a lesbian? You could argue that she is by the time the book ends and she’s in love with Faith. But I see her as Sapphic, and that’s something I want to encourage members of the LGBTQIA+ community to embrace. Don’t put people into a box because of where they are in their relationships. One of my best friends is married to a man but is attracted to women. Is she hetero? Bi? Pan? She’s my friend and I’m not gonna put her in a box to make my life more comfortable.
JSC: Let’s talk to your characters for a minute – what’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
ACA: Oh boy. You asked for it.
Kalili: She never lets me out!
ACA: I do so!
Kalili: It’s my turn now. What was the question again?
JSC: What’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
Kalili: She’s not all that bad, you know? I’ve had much stricter bosses. What I appreciate is she lets me tell my story my own way and doesn’t try to make me remember the exact words or details about my past. I mean, it was a thousand years ago that all this shit went down, and I’m not the same person. I don’t talk the way I did then, though I like to think I still have the attitude.
ACA: You do.
Kalili: And the fact that she didn’t run away when I approached her and started whispering in her ear speaks well of her.
ACA: Increased my therapy appointments.
Kalili: All writers are crazy. Every one I’ve known, and I’ve known hundreds.
JSC: Are you happy with where your writer left you at the end? (don’t give us any spoilers).
Kalili: So my story doesn’t really fit into one book, alright? That means each of the first two books she’s put out ends on a cliffhanger. Now, a clever reader will figure out the ultimate ending but not all the details, so I guess you can I’m happy? I mean, I got my girl, right?
Faith: Are you doing another interview, Kal?
Kalili: AC invited me!
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names?
ACA: That would be Pixel, our cat. He’s a large – I mean LARGE – Maine Coon Cat. Orange, with all that comes with it, like attitude. Sorry, cattitude. He likes my keyboard so much I had to get a silicone cover to keep all his fur out of the keys!
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
ACA: So in the past I’ve read just about anything. Whatever caught me, right? Fantasy, literary fiction (yes, I’m one of those), science fiction, romance, biographies, you name it. Lately, though, I’ve been reading lots of sapphic books. Part of that is because of who I am and the current assault on women and women’s rights in this country, and I want to read about worlds where some jackhole in a suit isn’t telling me what I can and cannot do with my body! But a larger part is, since I’m writing for others now (not just myself), I want to stay current with trends and tropes to make my own writing better.
JSC: What’s in your fridge right now?
ACA: Oh, wow. Besides the leftover takeout? Well, let’s see. Wine. Wine. Cream cheese. Butter. Eggs. Veggies, lots of those. Sharp cheddar. Defrosting proteins for the next few days’ meals. Leftovers. Dressings, sauces. Ice tea. Iced cacao (NOT cocoa). Oh, what’s this? Eww. Bye!
JSC: Would you rather be in a room full of snakes or a room full of spiders?
ACA: Gimme the spiders. I don’t mind them at all, even in large numbers. Snakes, tho, they give me the willies. Besides, you never know what they’re gonna do.
JSC: Do you believe in love at first sight?
ACA: I do, but it’s not that simple, yanno? I can, and have, fallen for someone as soon as I saw them. Yes. Junior year of HS. Goddess, she was amazing; not that she was a classic beauty, but something about her drew me in and made me want to get to know her. Now, it wasn’t mutual, which was a bit of a problem for our relationship. A bit of a killer, actually, but eventually we were friends, and that was good enough. For me, too, there’s a difference between “love” and “in love” – love can lead to being in love, but I can’t go the other way.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
ACA: Right now I’m working on “Keeping Faith”, the final book in the Kalili’s Temptation trilogy. This will wrap up all the loose threads I’ve been leaving lying about in books 1 & 2, plus set things up for the standalones I’ll be writing. And yes, there will be standalones. Kalili and Faith are two of my favorite characters, and their relationship isn’t one I am willing to walk away from. I don’t have a release date yet, as I’m putting the early draft up on Kindle Vella and have to wait 30 days after the final episode is up to release it in novel form, but I’d expect sometime in the late summer maybe?
In the meantime, I have a new Kalili & Faith story out in my anthology, “Roots of Love” (available wide), as well as a Kalili & Faith adjacent story in the same anthology. And I’m in the early stages of assembling my team from my winter anthology, but it will include notable sapphic authors Nat Paga, Lila Gwynn, Alyson Root, Jaime Clevenger, Abby Taylor, and Chelsea M. Cameron. I’m very excited to see how this comes together!
And now for AC’s book: Finding Faith:
Can an angel and a demon find love?
Provocative. Scandalous. Taboo. Irresistible.
Kalili’s a demon. In 10th century Rome, her job is simple: corrupt humans. It’s also dead boring. Her latest assignment, a pimply teenager named Octavianus who might someday be pope, is a case in point. After all, there are only so many ways Tab A can go into Slot B. But she’s content with her life, easing through her days, until she’s told of a new angel in town.
One sent to kill her.
Faith has a simple job. Go to Earth, find a demon, slay her for demonic acts, and return. Of course, it’s always the simplest things which are the trickiest. Finding Kalili is easy enough when you’re given directions, but actually killing her proves more difficult. Not because Kalili resists, but because there’s…something between them.
When they can no longer deny their attraction, they’re left with the question: what next? What they discover will shatter their perception of the world and may give them the chance at love they seek.
Read the novel reviewers call “witty, funny, and fun”, “an enthralling romance”, and “the perfect balance of wholesome and seductive.”
When an angel and a demon fall in love, there’s Hell to pay…and Heaven’s waiting its turn.
“Finding Faith” contains violence, explicit sex, nudity, inappropriate use of church property, portrayals of beings divine and demonic bearing little or no resemblance to established religion or mythology, trespassing, bad language, sacrilege, blasphemy, attempted murder, arguable murder, divinely mandated attempted murder, justifiable murder, sexual promiscuity, kidnapping, attempted rape (which is never comedy), theft, assault and battery, panties, even more explicit sexuality, polyamory, abuse of authority, corruption of would-be popes, abuse of imps, uncomfortable discussions with exes, disturbances of the peace, disorderly conduct, mayhem, dismemberment, a completely different Trinity, more bad language, corruption of a minor, debauchery, gratuitous nudity, improper disposal of bodily fluids, blatant disregard for authority, and shagging. If any of this offends you, you might want to turn back. Now.
When In Rome…
I was bored.
“Harder, Octavianus!” I said, and if my voice didn’t carry the expected passion, well, my teenage lover didn’t notice.
“That’s right, oh, yes!”
I suppressed a yawn, then let it out anyway.
Not like he’s going to see.
Octavianus was behind me, thrusting for all he was worth, my skirt tossed onto my back.
I hope he finishes soon.
My mind wandered. Demons weren’t supposed to be bored. At least, Below would have me believe that. I wasn’t entirely sure.
The problem? Immortality.
Demons are eternal, unless someone kills us. Tough to do, yes, but possible. Too many people equate “immortal” with “invulnerable”, but that’s not accurate.
The point is, unless stopped, we keep going.
And the same is true for angels, in case you were wondering.
It makes sense. We come from the same stock. Created simultaneously and set loose in the universe. And don’t believe the bullshit about demons being angels that fell. The original immortals, greater demons like me? Lucifer created us to oppose the Head Office.
All part of the fucked up ineffable plan.
And that wasn’t particularly relevant at that moment, except it made living through each day Earthside tedious in the extreme.
Having an unfamiliar task would have helped.
No such luck.
My assignment was to seduce one of a half-dozen prospective Popes.
Been there, done that. This century, even.
“Sway him from his religious beliefs into a life of sin, then use your powers to shorten his life before he can resume a path which will lead him to chastity.”
Blah, blah, blah.
What made this one worse was that Below hadn’t done their research.
Octavianus, son of Alberic II of Spoletto, was anything but chaste when I entered his life.
So much for swaying him.
But I was stuck with the task.
Frankly, I didn’t see the point. A corrupt pope or cardinal would be immeasurably more valuable to Below than one who failed to be selected and died.
Eh. What did I know?
He grunted at an especially hard thrust, and for a split second I hoped he was coming. He resumed his pounding, dashing my hopes.
If I was human, I’d be sore in the morning.
I wriggled, hoping the additional stimulation would speed the process.
A minute later, he was still going strong. Time for me to play dirty.
“Don’t stop, Van,” I moaned. “Right there, don’t stop, don’t stop!”
Two thrusts later, Octavianus let out an impassioned groan and came.
“Oh, lover, that was so good.”
I didn’t know if he heard me and didn’t care. He pulled out of me and slapped my ass.
“You’re a good fuck, Dora.”
For this assignment, I was Theodora, not Kalili, proving someone Below had a really crappy sense of humor. “Beloved of God” indeed!
“You are a magnificent lover, Octavianus.” I stood, allowing the fabric to fall over my legs. I’d clean up when I returned to my chambers.
At least you don’t take much of my time.
He waved a hand in dismissal, and I fled.
First stop, bath. Then what? I don’t know.
Which brought me full circle.
I was bored.
I didn’t lack for work. Rome was a cesspit of debauchery, and the closer you got to seats of power, the worse the stench.
Which was good for me and my companions. There were dozens of demons, succubi, and incubi in Rome this spring. Agapetus II was ill again, and the jockeying for his successor had resumed. Which meant corruption season was in full swing.
But it was deathly dull.
Especially for a demon who had been around since the beginning of so-called civilization.
“Oh, bless it all!” I cursed.
“Problems, Kalili?” came a greasy voice behind me.
He thought he was oh-so-sneaky, but I had picked up on his aura and didn’t show my surprise when he spoke.
He was an imp. Think of him as a demonic secretary and you wouldn’t be far off. As the senior demon on this assignment, he was mine, tasked with keeping appointments and handling everyone’s schedules.
Did you know Hell invented paperwork?
Original in triplicate was one of their proudest moments.
And imps were masters of minutiae.
He was a pain in my ass.
Like other immortals, Cor could make himself invisible. Unlike demons and angels, he couldn’t make himself insubstantial, so while I could walk through walls if I wanted, he had to find doors. Not saying I ever took advantage of this.
“Finished so soon? Did he commit to marrying you?” That was my plan. Get Van, the most likely of the prospects, to marry me. He was already corrupt, but a married cardinal would be challenged to become pope.
But I’d only been working this angle for a few weeks, far too little time for any results, and Coronatus knew it. He was asking me just to be a prick.
Fine. I could be a prick too, even without shapeshifting.
I passed through the door without him and smirked until he caught up.
“No, he fucked me and I left. He was already thinking about lunch and the serving boy. Not exactly the right time to ask. Besides, with his cum dripping down my leg, I didn’t think it was quite romantic enough.”
Demons and angels are touch-telepaths. When we’re in contact with a human, or another immortal of equal or lower status, we can read their mind. It made my job easier, as it did for the succubi. But eww.
“Do you have an estimated date, Kalili?” He was persistent.
“No, I don’t, and you can tell Below to stop asking me.” I was feeling pressure because according to my orders? This was supposed to be a straightforward job. Again, they didn’t do their research. If they had, they would have known that the potential of a papacy was enough of a lure to keep most mortals from taking a permanent entanglement, no matter how tempting. And while I had an outstanding track record, I wasn’t infallible.
“I’ll pass it along.” Cor made a notation on the slate tablet. “Did you know there’s a new angel in town?”
“I’d heard,” I said. Angels came and went like cockroaches. I paid them as little attention.
“And she’s assigned to watch you.”
I yawned. Entirely staged. There was always an angel watching me.
No, it’s not ego.
I was a very senior demon. Sure, there were older demons, and higher-ranking ones, but I’d been on Earth continuously for six millennia, and had been there and done that. It was a rare assignment I didn’t have one angel or another looking over my shoulder and trying to screw with me. I would be more surprised if I didn’t have an angel I had to dodge.
“And she’s got permission to kill you.”
I walked into the wall.
“Fuck! Ow! What did you say?” I rubbed my injured shoulder.
“My source says she’s ordered to kill you.”
This was unusual.
There was an unwritten détente between the two sides. Demons didn’t kill angels, and angels didn’t kill demons. Inconvenience? Absolutely. Interfere? Definitely. Injure? Sure, if we thought we could get away with it. But kill?
As I said, we were immortal, but not invulnerable. A human could kill our bodies if they got lucky. Poison didn’t work on us, neither did drowning nor smothering. Enough damage and we’d die, like a beheading, or multiple stab wounds, shit like that. Unfortunately for them, that was little more than an irritating bunch of paperwork. We’d come back eventually and get our revenge.
Demons couldn’t kill other demons. Not permanently.
I didn’t know if angels could kill angels. I’d never cared enough to ask.
Only a demon could kill an angel forever.
And vice versa.
The last demon killed by an angel was Gard, just over two centuries earlier. In fairness to the angel, it was totally justified. He’d gone rogue, chopping wings off angels whenever he could. Which was totally what we did, but there wasn’t any provocation. The bosses worried that he’d escalate the Celestial War all on his own. Below had tried to stop him, to no avail, and so they’d quietly let it be known that he was fair game, no longer protected.
That was the only one this millennium.
Cor shrugged. “Don’t know. Do you want me to find out?”
I smacked his shoulder. “Yes!”
He smirked at me. “What’s in it for me?”
I didn’t have time for this. If an angel was searching for me, I needed information now, not later.
“Besides your continued existence?”
“You can’t kill me.” Which wasn’t quite true. I could, but Below would issue him a new body and send him back to pester me. Then there was the paperwork, and probably a reprimand to go with it. To top it off, he’d be even more annoying when he returned.
This, I knew from hard-earned experience.
“A weekend off.”
“Deal.” I cursed myself inwardly. I shouldn’t have negotiated downward, but it was a habit. A week free of him? Bliss! “After I get the information.”
“Agreed.” He stopped, forcing me to stop with him. “Sign.”
“You don’t trust me?” I was already reaching for the contract. An imp trusting a demon? Not likely. He snatched it back as soon as I’d made my mark and turned to walk away.
“Who is it? Do we know her?”
He shook his greasy black hair at me.
“No. At least I don’t know her.”
“Does she have a name?”
“Faith.” Cor walked off. I wasn’t getting any more from him today.