Happy weekend and welcome to the Rainbow Reviews Blog Hop! Oh, and welcome to release day (Friday 8/24) for my latest gay romance, “The Melody Thief!” Yep, two-for-one day, and definitely time to celebrate! As part of the hop (and release day), I’ll be giving away one eBook copy of “Blue Notes,” the original Blue Notes Series book from Dreamspinner Press (your choice of formats) and a Blue Notes Series t-shirt (your choice of covers). To enter, just leave a comment with your email address right here. And be sure to check out all the other wonderful blogs and giveaways (click on the hop logo above)!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Blue Notes Series, each book is a standalone novel that takes place in the same classical music universe. What does a “classical music” universe look like? It’s a place where performers share connections and friendships through their music. Characters include performers, entertainment lawyers, agents, and the people they know and love. Stories are often set in places where performers congregate—large cities like Paris, New York, Milan, and Chicago feature prominently in the series.
The original book in the series, “Blue Notes,” features a jazz violinist and a former musician turned lawyer, and is set in Paris. This new installment, “The Melody Thief,” features a classical cellist with an international career and an entertainment lawyer, and is set in Milan.
“The Melody Thief” is the story of cellist Cary Redding, a former child prodigy and a budding superstar on the classical music scene. Cary’s career is skyrocketing, but his personal life is a disaster. He’s addicted to anonymous sex and flirts with alcohol addiction. Everything comes crashing down around Cary when he’s mugged on a deserted Milan street while coming home from a gay bar. Things look grim until he’s rescued by Antonio Bianchi, an Italian lawyer (for those of you who have read “Blue Notes,” you’ll recognize Antonio as Rosalie’s lawyer).
Cary doesn’t want a relationship, although he’d be happy to end up in bed with Antonio. Things get complicated because Cary lies about who he is and pretends to be an out of work composer. The last thing Cary expects is to fall for Antonio. There’s also another complication: Antonio has a five year old son, Massimo. But when Antonio adds a little romance to Cary’s life, Cary falls hard. Now if he could only come clean about who and what he is.
To read an excerpt from “The Melody Thief,” click on the link and scroll down to the “Excerpt” tab.
Now, on to the theme of the Rainbow Review Blog Hop:
“What does writing GLBTQ literature mean to me?”
In some ways, writing gay romance isn’t all that different than writing anything else: it’s an act of self-expression, something my creative brain urges me to do. Ironic then, isn’t it, that a straight woman could learn far more about herself writing gay relationships than she ever learned from writing heterosexual ones.
I grew up in the 70s. My mother was a professional musician, my dad a college professor. Open-minded, politically active parents with openly gay friends. I never even thought twice about homosexuality as being “wrong.” It just was. The majority of men who inhabited my career universe, opera, were gay. Plenty of the women too. My best friend is a gay man—one of the best men I know. Kind, strong, intelligent, funny. In grad school, we used to say (with some seriousness) that if I wasn’t married by age 35, we’d get married and have a family together.
So what did I read at night when I was a college student? Harlequin romances. And boy, oh boy, did I long for more!
My first published romance was a het one. Spunky heroine with big boobs falls head over heels for another slave on the pirate ship where she’s held captive. Loved the hero. Hated the heroine. She was just so… wimpy. So not me. I’m a product of the women’s liberation movement—my parents told me I could do anything I wanted to do. I sang opera, went to law school in my 30s, and started writing professionally in my 40s.
My “a-ha” moment? My epiphany? When a friend asked me to co-author a love story about two men. My first thought: why not? My second: will I enjoy this? I couldn’t answer the first question (I figured that was a good sign). Still, I was pretty sure the answer to the second question would be “probably not.” Oh, how I was wrong!
I have a hard time explaining why I find gay romances so downright hot. Someone asked me if it’s because I can imagine “converting” the men to heterosexuality. Definitely not. And I don’t want to just substitute a different set of “junk” and create a main character who’s really a woman beneath it all (well not unless I end up writing a transgender story at some point!). But that got me thinking. I love men. Always have. I love their bodies, I love that they can be strong, self-assured and nobody faults them for it. There are so many shades of men, each with unique strengths, flaws, and weaknesses.
Which just leads me to the next reason I love writing gay romance: I want people to know how I feel about homosexuality. I want them to know I celebrate it. I want to write my best friend his own happy ending because, dammit, he deserves one like I got with my husband. And yes, there are times when I preach a little. And because I try to write about real relationships, I don’t skip condom use (or lack thereof). I’m not afraid to write explicit sex scenes because, let’s face it, real men have sex. And it’s not the glossed-over sex I read in those Harlequins years ago (if they even had sex); it’s sex as in a real physical relationship between human beings.
In the end, though, writing gay romance isn’t all that different from writing romance. My stories are about human failings, human strengths, and human emotions. The appeal of a well-written romance is that it can reach out and touch a reader’s heart, maybe even help the reader to learn something about him/herself, just as gay romance has touched my own heart and helped me to understand more about myself. -Shira