A (Virtual) Spooky Reading

EarthBoundRetroRocket2

Binge on Books is doing a month-long Sounds Like Halloween celebration of scary stories, and I recorded myself reading the mission sequence from Earth Bound for it. It’s more suspenseful than spooky–and obviously very spoiler-y if you haven’t read the book!–but you can listen to it here.

Also, I talked to Rachel Kramer Bussel from Salon for an article on resistance romance. A lot of my favorite authors are quoted and are name checked, so it was incredibly cool to be included.

Finally, I started an author newsletter. I promise I won’t send too many of these, but if you want to keep up with my new releases and sales, you can sign up here.

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Project Announcement: Rogue Desire

Back in April, I outlined a book on Twitter. Well, not really a book, more of a plot bunny about two people admitting they were in love against the backdrop of a global crisis and a debate about the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

It festered, and I started emailing and direct messaging with friends who had their own resistance romance ideas. All of that turned into Rogue Desire, which is releasing next week. You can see the cover over on the Happily Ever After blog at USA Today. I have the blurb and preorder links below the fold.

Continue reading “Project Announcement: Rogue Desire”

VOTE

If you’re in the United States and you can, please vote. As I said in the afterward to Party Lines, Michael and Lydia–probably my personal favorite couple from any of my books–would want you to. If you’re not certain where your precinct is or what’s on your ballot, Google will help you (search “where is my polling place” or “who is on my ballot”). Yay, democracy, y’all!

ETA: oh, and if you need a distraction, A Midnight Clear will only be free for another week. Joe Reynolds would be happy to keep you company while you sit up late waiting for election results.

Authenticity in Romance; or, The Land of 10,000 Dukes

What follows is a random collection of jet-lag fueled thoughts meaning it’s even more random than normal. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday, Kaetrin wrote an essay on Dear Author about the problem of accumulation. She explores how the overrepresentation of certain kinds of people in romance shapes the genre by pushing writers toward certain tropes. There are by a factor of a thousand to one more dukes in romance than there were/are in real life, but if you’re writing, discoverability is a real issue–so do you choose to write the millionth duke romance or do you write a romance set in a Shaker community in antebellum America? Probably the duke.

(Aside: I desperately want to read a Shaker romance. Why are we so obsessed with the Amish? I mean, other than the fact that Shakers were celibate. And this leads to me asking for an asexual romance. Has anyone read either?)

It’s not an apolitical question. In the land of 10,000 dukes, lots of people are unrepresented or unrepresentable–and that matters in terms of who is being written out of history and for whose story seems to have subjectivity in the present. As Kate Sherwood pointed out in the comments, there’s a magnifying effect because readers and writers learn through their reading. They learn the tropes, thus making certain ideas de rigueur, but I think they also probably learn the worlds too.

Continue reading “Authenticity in Romance; or, The Land of 10,000 Dukes”

I’m Writing About That?

A vague and random series of thoughts, for which I apologize in advance.

I was emailing with someone this morning about the final book in my series about political staffers, The Easy Part, and I realized that the series is about me. It’s not about me in the sense that any of the heroines is based on me; nothing that happens in the books happened to me. But it is about my experience as an older Millennial coming to political consciousness in the late 90s.

I’ve written before about how many of my early memories are political, but I think I’ve also been working through the later stuff. What does it mean to come to political consciousness during the age of Clinton? To vote for the first time in the election of 2000? (Which is both why I always vote and why I’m deeply cynical about the process.) To fall for a candidate–either George Bush or Barack Obama–and then to watch him either fail to implement the vision he articulated during the campaign at all or to seriously compromise his values?

I don’t think Millennials are unique in this regard. Surely younger Baby Boomers who voted for the first time in the late 1960s, witnessed Vietnam and then Watergate followed by the cynical 1970s had a parallel development among other generations. But the blend of hope and cynicism in all of The Easy Part novels and the looking for personal and professional compromise that occurs in all of those books feels of this moment to me in a way that I didn’t realize until now.

I don’t mean to be pretentious about my work at all. But now that I’ve finished a series and am starting to plan another one, I can see what I’m writing about in a way I couldn’t before.

A Fine Romance Friday: Dave

Leading up to the release of my contemporary political romance novel, Special Interests (which will be out on Monday!), I want to use fine romance Friday to feature some of my favorite on-screen political romances. Today’s selection is Dave.

Ivan Reitman’s 1993 romantic comedy is cinematic wish fulfillment–for who amongst us has not watched the political process and said, “I could do better than that”? And in tonight’s fine romance, Dave Kovic gets his shot.

The premise: non-profit director and all around good guy Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) bears a striking resemblance to the sitting president, Bill Mitchell (also Kevin Kline). So much so that when Mitchell wants to conduct a sordid affair, the Secret Service enlists Kovic to help cover it up by making a public appearance in place of the president. But when Mitchell suffers a stroke during said affair, his staff (Frank Langella, Kevin Dunn) decide to use Dave as a puppet in order to enact their own agenda.

This set up bears more than surpassing resemblance to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and, as in that film, Dave just won’t stick to the script: he keeps having warm, funny interactions with people, he gets an accountant friend to help him “fix” the federal budget, and he falls for the first lady (Sigourney Weaver).

I find it more than a little sad that most of the older film and television representations of American politics are hopeful (Mr. Smith, The American President, Dave, The West Wing): while some people act in bad faith in all of these cases, the overarching message is that good things can happen in government. Newer representations (Scandal, House of Cards, Veep) seem much more skeptical. (And some older versions are as well, see Advise and Consent or All the King’s Men.) It’s a small sample size, so I don’t want to draw too many conclusions, but I don’t think we’re nearly as hopeful today about politics as we were when Dave was produced.

Skepticism and idealism come and go. I’ve written before about trying to balance a realistic take on the system with one that doesn’t make us feel disempowered. But the well-earned contempt that Americans have for their government makes me sad.

But I digress!

Dave is a funny, clever film and a hopeful, sweet romance–and you can’t really wish for more than that.

The Problem with Politics

I hate electoral politics and think politicians and staffers are all creeps. Should I read Special Interests?

I’ve written before about politics in romance novels, about how I think all romance novels are political but some politics announce themselves while others hide in plain sight. So if you read romance, I would say you’re already reading political books.

But…the politics in Special Interests aren’t hidden, not even a little. The hero, Parker, is a senior aide to an important senator; the heroine, Millie, works for a construction union. The book revolves around a budget negotiation. It is very much about the American political process–good, bad, and indifferent.

Further, it’s partisan. Millie and Parker are both liberal Democrats, though being members of the same party doesn’t help them. They argue about politics and their different orientations toward the political process, and what these differences mean about their personalities, are at the heart of the conflict in the book.

Despite all that, I don’t think it’s a partisan book. There are characters in the book who are “bad” (broadly speaking) who agree with our hero and heroine politically. There are characters in the book who are “good” (again broadly speaking) who are conservative. I don’t want to spoil the end of the budget subplot, but it isn’t achieved at anyone’s expense. It isn’t about demonizing or lionizing either party.

The next book in the series isn’t partisan at all and is in general less overtly political. The third book is going to feature a cross-party romance. Things worked out the way they did in Special Interests because it felt like the truest representation of the characters and the place, not because I have any sort of agenda. Most importantly, I don’t think that one’s enjoyment of the book is contingent on agreeing with the characters.

So should you read the book if you think Washington is a cesspool of corruption? Only you can answer that. If anything to do with laws and politics raises your blood pressure, probably not. (Though in light of all the discussion about online reviewing and author backlash, let me say that if you don’t like the book–either because of politics or anything else–I totally support your right to review it honestly however and wherever you want. Reviews are for readers not writers. While bad reviews are unpleasant, I’ll live and I won’t harass you about it. Promise.)

But if you want a (I hope!) witty, sexy, honest portrait of young DC staffers trying to make the federal budget and love work, I think Special Interests is for you.