The time it was about progress

Posted December 9, 2019 by Stacee in Signings | 0 Comments

When I saw that Tessa Dare was coming back to Mysterious Galaxy, I was definitely going to go.  I love her books and I always want to support MG, especially with their fairly new branch out to including romance.  It was an added bonus that Eva Leigh and Kristin Rockaway were both added.

I met up with Jess and we had lunch and did our usual pre-game ritual before getting to the store and settling in.  The three ladies came out right at 2pm and after a super quick intro, it started.

This was definitely more of an “in conversation” style and with three authors, I will admit to not catching everything.  If this event comes across as stiff or awkward, rest assured that it was neither of those things.

What does romance mean right now?

K: the romance world is changing, especially with the #MeToo movement. HOW TO is set in the tech world, which is where I came from. I worked in tech for 15 years. I used to read a lot of chick lit. I always wished I would see women as software developers.

As I was writing this, the Me Too movement was happening and I was excited to write about it. Beforehand, there was innuendo, and now looking back you realize it really didn’t fly.

E: history theoretically is fixed. How do you incorporate that?

T: our interpretation changes as scholarship changes. Women are always there, they just weren’t acknowledged. I definitely write it for a modern audience. I enjoy it as a chance to put those women back in. There were women running businesses and women scholars. There have always been gay couples and facets of society that didn’t make it.

E: feminism didn’t start with the suffragette. It’s always existed. We need to rethink things. Whose story are we telling and do I need to be the one who tells it? Social media has been very helpful for me.

K: when it comes to contemporary, it’s the same. With social media and learning…I’ve learned the depth of my privilege. I feel like I’ve learned something new every day. Going forward, I’ve woven it into my books and I hope to incorporate it more.

T: there are things from my first books, from 12 years ago, that I would never write now. You just acknowledge it and try to do better.

E: and don’t double down on it.

T: if there’s someone who wrote a book 10 years ago and wouldn’t change a word in it, you don’t trust them.

K: I’ve witnessed an evolution in RWA. Romance itself is helping to be at the forefront.

E: how do we envision romance as it relates to progressing movement?

T: that’s an excellent question and it seems like you’ve had more time to think about it.

E; I’ve been on a few panels with Tessa and she’s just so good at lobbing the questions back.

T: I refuse to believe that being in a loving relationship reinforces the patriarchy. I would love to have a more diverse world, but I don’t want to crowd out someone else. I try to place them in a world that acknowledges that there are other stories out there. People who don’t want to be married or gay secondary characters or people of color. I think we can write in the genre and not make it that everyone has to get married.

K: I’ve had people say that I don’t actually write romance. Technically it’s women’s fiction, but if you take out the romance part, there’s no story. It’s important to show the growth of both characters being supported. And not just one saving the other, but encouraging. I always reject the idea that being in a loving relationship supports the patriarchy.

E: I believe that you can create a supportive relationship that takes different forms. Women who want to be parents or earn their own money. That’s how I like to position it. If we’re going to believe that all of these dukes have 6 pack abs, why are we going to draw the line on them being supportive?

T: romance in general always has a protagonist who grows and the relationship is the agent of change. To me, that goes all the way back to Pride & Prejudice.

E: I love that if there’s problematic behaviors, it’s always called out.

T: that’s the balance of writing romance. You have to create a character who needs to grow, but also that readers will root for.

E: there’s a different tolerance for heroes and heroines. The flaws are not the same.

K: there’s the unlikeable heroine. If the female character is too brash or rude, the readers are unforgiving. You just can’t please everyone. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves and I think it’s more about people seeing those qualities on the page.

T: if the hero walks into the page and says they’re never going to fall in love…

K: who is going to fix this broken soul?

T: and if the heroine walks into the page and says they’re never going to fall in love…

K: she’s a terrible shrew and doesn’t deserve it.

E: with this new series, I swapped the genders of stories with inspirations of 80s movies. I was really concerned that people wouldn’t like the heroines for actively going after something.

Amazon just blocked {I didn’t catch the title.  It was described as a 15yo gymnast getting involved with her 30yo coach}. How do you feel about that?

T: if a reader acknowledges that it’s a story and they like reading it, does that make it okay?

E: I think there are some things that just can’t be done.

K: plus it takes away from all of the people who have had this actual thing happen to them.

{There was a lot more to this conversation, but I was sort of stunned into forgetting to type}

What 2020 books are you excited for?

K: the perfect escape and loathe at first sight by Suzanne Park.

T: I think my publisher gave up on sending me advance things.

E: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa is what about I’m about to read. I’m seeing more #ownvoices books that are coming out and that makes me happy.

Knowing what you know now and being plunked into that world?

E: I would be dead. I can’t see without my contacts and they didn’t make glasses thick enough. I also have anxiety and depression and I would be institutionalized.

T: or if you were rich, you could have been sent to the sea to fix your constitution.

There were a few other questions slash tangents of conversation, but I just sat back and enjoyed. After about an hour of conversation, the signing started.

I got to Eva first and told her how much I loved her new book and thanked her for coming.

I got to Tessa and Jess and I started talking about all the times we’d seen her.  She laughed and said that she recognized a few people in line.  She had a great zip pouch on the table and I started touching it.  We talked about how we both loved tactile things.

I still consider myself fairly new to the romance genre, but I’m slowly making my way through.  If you’re looking for some recommendations, I would start with these ladies.

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