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Q&A Three-way with Tagan, Kate, & Cade

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Three current Writing Academy students, Tagan Shepard, Kate Gavin, and Cade Haddock Strong, have stories in Bella Books’s upcoming romantic anthology, Save the Date.

They’re here to answer questions about all things anthology, including what it was like to be part of Save the Date.


Why an anthology?

TS: We started this project in the summer of 2020, right when we would normally have been meeting up at the annual GCLS conference. We were all missing that human connection, and we all wanted a new way to connect. Working on this anthology together seemed like the perfect way to do that.


What exactly is an anthology?

CHS: A general definition…An anthology is a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing—short stories in the case of Save the Date—by various authors. Usually, the collection is in the same literary form, of the same period, or on the same theme. 

Alternatively, an anthology can also be a collection of selected writings by one author.

There’s no set rule on how many authors or pieces of writing are required to make up an anthology.


How many authors contributed to Save the Date and how did you go about recruiting them?

CHS: Eleven authors contributed to the anthology, and, as you can see, it’s quite an amazing group: 

  1. Tagan Shepard

  2. Jessie Chandler

  3. Louise McBain

  4. M.B. Guel

  5. E. J. Noyes

  6. Celeste Castro

  7. Kay Acker

  8. Dillon Watson

  9. Cade Haddock Strong

  10. Kate Gavin

  11. Jaime Clevenger

In terms of recruitment, Tagan and I reached out to authors that either one or both of us had some sort of personal connection to.


Was it hard to recruit authors to participate?

TS: It wasn’t actually and I was surprised! Everyone we reached out to was excited to be a part of it. I thought it was great that we were able to get so many authors from across the experience spectrum into the project so we could all learn from each other. We have folks who have published a bunch of books and won a bunch of awards to completely new authors like 2020 Writing Academy alum Kay Acker.


Is this the first time you’ve taken part in an anthology?

CHS: Yes. Tagan approached me with the idea last year and I was all in.

KG: Yes.

TS: Yes.

I thought it was usually editors who put together anthologies? How did it work in the case of Save the Date?

TS: Oftentimes it is editors who compile works, but in this case it was more about the authors working together. I wanted to do a project with my friends and to make new friends at the same time. So this time we authors led the charge, deciding on the lineup, theme, length, and format before submitting to our publisher, Bella Books. Our excellent editor came in at the end to fine tune the stories.


I love the cover? Was it hard to get eleven authors to agree on it?

TS: That was one of the parts I enjoyed most! Cade and I compiled about a dozen images and she mocked up a sample cover for each, then we sent them out to the group for a vote. Of course there were differing opinions, but everyone agreed the cover we chose was beautiful and perfect for the collection.


How did you pick a theme for the anthology? 

TS: The idea for a wedding theme was sparked by a tweet that asked, “How long did you date your spouse before getting married?”. The responses from queer folks were so telling.

“About 15 years…”

“31 years….”

“For 8 years…”

“When my wife and I met, our relationship was a felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia…”

Our right to marry—to have our love acknowledged and legitimized by our governments—has been a long-standing fight for the queer community across the world. Generations put their blood, sweat, and tears into giving us the opportunity to love legally. In much of the world, that fight is ongoing. Because of that fight, however, we in the queer community sometimes overlook one important aspect of weddings: They’re awesome!

They’re big parties with free food and booze and CAKE! But what makes weddings awesome is what’s at the center of all of them.


Love between the couple and the celebration of that love with family and friends.


Eleven stories, that’s a lot. Are they all different?

TS: There’s such a wide range of styles for the authors we chose, and we all really wanted to honor that. The wedding theme tied us together, but the stories all feel like the author who wrote them, exactly what we were looking for.

CHS: Yes, the stories are all very different. As Tagan said, the theme ties them together, but they include a mix of romance, erotica, paranormal, and more.


Did the participants in the anthology beta read each other’s stories?