One of my cat nips is when characters in a book or film debate the meaning of another work of art. Think 500 Days of Summer (2009), in which the narrator tells us that Tom misunderstands the ending of The Graduate (1967), while his love interest, Summer, does not. Or Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren in which Nora and Zach tussle over whether O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” is romantic or terrifying. Or KJ Charles’s A Seditious Affair in which Dominic wrestles with the meaning of several William Blake poems, demonstrating that he’s compatible with Silas and that he’s finally gotten over his first love, Richard.
And any conversation about this kind of intertextuality would likely include When Harry Met Sally (1989). In director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron’s friends to lovers romantic comedy, the titular Harry and Sally constantly jaw about pop culture. From board games to journalists, museums to music, the film’s script bursts with the characters’ opinions about other texts. But the reference that comes up multiple times, and reveals the most about the characters, is Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942).
Seven years ago–how is that possible?–I wrote a brief post about Casablanca, one of the primo romantic dramas of the Hollywood studio era. The love triangle between Rick, the cynical saloon owner; Victor, the idealistic resistance organizer; and Ilsa, the woman torn between them, has been endlessly parsed in our living rooms and our pop culture. But–spoiler alert!–while Ilsa might end up with Victor, when Casablanca pops up in other works, it seems like most people are on Rick’s side.
What does the cultural preference for Rick say about us? While there are some structural reasons why people might find Rick more sympathetic, I think the real issue is that American culture has tended to celebrate the kind of hard, cynical, and even cruel masculinity Rick embodies rather than Victor’s restrained, gentle, and more idealistic mode. So I’d like to suggest, as I did on Twitter yesterday, that Ilsa made the right choice and that Victor would be a better and more supportive partner than Rick.
Continue reading “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
Happy release day to Olivia Dade, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, Cat Sebastian, and, well, me. I’m absolutely thrilled that He’s Come Undone is finally out in the world.
Brennan and Kristy’s story might be the most personal thing that I’ve ever written, and it took me almost a year to get it right. I’m enormously grateful to my critique partner Genevieve Turner for reading many, many drafts; to Kristi Yanta who did an amazing developmental edit for me last fall; and to Olivia Dade and Ruby Lang for beta reading the revision. (And it was a MASSIVE revision.)
“Appassionata” is a story about losing your voice and about fear, but it’s also about hope. About how art and love make us vulnerable–and give our lives meaning. And I hope if you pick it up, you’ll love it.
I really can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the other four stories in the anthology. They’re funny and poignant and angsty and sexy and wonderful. I’m so honored to be in the company of these incredible writers.
You can buy He’s Come Undone at almost all the online retailers. We pulled it from B&N after they delayed paying royalties recently. I’m sorry for any inconvenience that causes.
But when you’re reading, I’d highly recommend listening to the Spotify playlist I put together for “Appassionata,” which includes all the music Kristy plays and some contemporary pop that I listened to when I was writing it.
If you’re self-isolating like seemingly everyone else on earth, and you need some Emma Barry content to watch, read, or listen to, this is the post for you.
- I had a fabulous conversation with Andrea Martucci from the Shelf Love podcast about KJ Charles’s novel A Seditious Affair, which is one of my all-time favorite romances. You can–and should–listen to our conversation here. This episode is Not Safe for Work or, if you’re working from home, Not Safe for Delicate Ears. It is also not safe for my parents. (Dad, I mean it: don’t you dare press play!)
- In the fall, Andrea had the amazing Kate Clayborn on, and they discussed A Midnight Feast. So you should totally listen to that episode too.
- I just realized I never mentioned the Not Your Mother’s Romance Bookclub podcast did an entire episode on Earth Bound last year, and it was delightful. If you use Apple Podcasts, it’s here, and Google Podcast listeners can find it here.
- But maybe video is more your thing. When my friend Olivia Dade was in the region over the summer, she and I taped a long conversation about writing romance, and you can watch it here. It’s basically the equivalent of hanging out with us for 90 minutes, and we are super entertaining. We also don’t mention Covid-19 a single time.
- And if you’d like to hang out with Olivia and the wonderful Ruby Lang, you can do that too.
- As a reminder, Olivia, Ruby, and I will join Cat Sebastian and Adriana Herrera in the He’s Come Undone anthology in May. I’ve been editing “Appassionata” in the last few days, and I’m so excited for everyone to read it soon.
- Last but not least, if your TBR needs some more books from me, remember you can get my collection of short political romance Dispatches and my motorcycle club romance Free for free if you sign up for my newsletter. That’s 80K of happy endings, just for you!
That’s so much Emma Barry (and friends!) content–enough to brighten a day or two of quarantine at least. Stay safe and healthy, dear readers!
To celebrate the Super Tuesday primary voting tomorrow, the entire Rogue series is on sale for 99 cents for each book. This is an AMAZING deal if you like political romance and want to give a bunch of different authors a spin. I had stories in Rogue Desire, Rogue Affair, and Rogue Hearts (volumes 1, 2, and 4), but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Here are Amazon links for the series: Rogue Desire, Rogue Affair, Rogue Acts, Rogue Hearts, Rogue Nights, Rogue Passion, and Rogue Ever After.
ETA: the Rogue Hearts series officially went out of print on May 9, 2020. It was a wonderful ride, and I’m so proud of the project. The three novelettes I wrote are collected in Dispatches if you want them.
I have a super exciting announcement: my next project has an absolutely stunning cover and a release date.
Feast your eyes on the spectacular artwork for He’s Come Undone, and, on May 12, 2020, you can savor what’s inside.
The anthology is the brain child of the lovely Olivia Dade. Her pitch to us was that each story should feature a gloriously uptight male protag being undone, basically, by love. I might have sat at my desk and clapped when I was asked to contribute.
My story is one that’s been rolling around my head for years, about a tempestuous concert pianist who’s frozen by stage fright and the piano technician–a literal master of tension and control–who helps her find her passion again. So there’s classical music and second chance with a first crush and a super hot greenroom hook up and fear and redemption and courage. It’s called “Appassionata,” and it’s joined in the anthology by amazing stories by Olivia Dade, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian. Check out this AMAZING video Adriana put together with hooks and aesthetics for all the stories.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering He’s Come Undone, it’s available at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and B&N (Google Play, etc. coming soon!), and you can also add it to your Goodreads shelves and check out the slightly spoilery Pinterest board for “Appassionata” to tide you over ’til May.
While it’s true that 2019 was a mildly better writing year for me than 2018 was, I continue to feel “off” creatively.
I’ve been trying to name the source of my writer’s block, per this wonderful post by KJ Charles, and to address the underlying issues that have stripped the joy out of my writing and frozen me.
Around the margins, it’s helped.
- Genevieve Turner and I finished, revised, and released A Midnight Spark.
- We finished writing Red Shift, which is currently marinating before we revise and release it hopefully next year.
- I wrote and began editing a 25K short for a not-yet-announced anthology. Look for news on this in the coming year.
- I also started and abandoned various projects. But I have two ideas that, at least for the moment, I’m excited about.
- All together, I wrote about 60K and read 90 new-to-me books.
It’s not where I want to be, but I think I know how to get there, if that makes sense. So here’s to hoping that my 2020 year in review post is triumphant, and that it’s a year fecund with joy and success for you too, dear reader.
(I’ve been writing some version of this post for as long as I’ve been blogging my writing. You can read about my 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 respectively.)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the moment just before we flip the calendar page when we can take stock and separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Here’s what I would keep from my media consumption this year , what I suspect I’ll reread, relisten to, and rewatch in the years to come.
As is typical, most of these things are recent releases, but a few oldies snuck it. Tell me what I should fill the gaps with in the comments; and if you need more content from me, see my best of lists from 2018, 2017, and 2016.
Continue reading “Things I Really Liked in 2019”
The awesome folks at Love in Panels have put together a massive auction of signed books, services, swag, and just cool experiences in support of RAICES and The Young Center. From now until September 21, 2019, you can head on over to the auction, make a bid, and, if you win, you make a donation in that amount to RAICES or The Young Center, and the person offering the prize sends it to you.
Included in the lot of almost 200 amazing things, I’m offering a set of signed paper copies of Star Dust, Earth Bound, and Round Midnight, and I’d love to send them to you–yes, YOU. So get clicking and start bidding!
I wrote two guest posts commemorating the Apollo 11 anniversary. Over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, I tried to reason out the romance of the moon, and at Frolic, I rated the romances in astronaut movies.
Please read, comment on, and share these essays, and if you haven’t picked up the Fly Me to the Moon box set, it’s still just 99 cents. Grab it at Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play.
If you’re here because you read one of those pieces, welcome. If you’re thinking about trying the Fly Me to the Moon series, I hope you do. The fan favorites seem to be Earth Bound (which is in the set) and Free Fall.
And finally, I owe you a Jell-O mold. I made one on the Fourth of July that I intended to run in celebration of A Midnight Spark, but it was an utter disaster. It was even worse than the phallic lobster, which was at least funny. This was just a misshapen lumpy mess.
The concept for this new, and far better, Jell-O came from Liz Lincoln who posted a cola-cherry-cream cheese Jell-O recipe on Twitter; it was similar to this one except the cream cheese was actually in the mold. And, y’all, I just couldn’t bring myself to put cream cheese into Jell-O. It’s what holds me back from embracing the retro, in the end. Basic food decency.
I did like the idea of cherry cola Jell-O, so I played around with what I had in my kitchen. The results were delicious; it’s probably the yummiest Jell-O I’ve ever made. The recipe is after the fold. It’s the perfect thing to eat while pondering the historic significance of Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the moon.
Continue reading “Apollo 11 Anniversary Round-Up + Jell-O”