Hello everyone! We’re thrilled to welcome Lilah Suzanne, author of the Spotlight series, on From Top to Bottom Reviews today! There is a guest post, an excerpt and a giveaway waiting for you!
Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist-turned-lover, turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company levels demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation of Grady’s new life begins to crumble, and fast. Will he be forced to make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?
Crossing the Streams: Writing M/M and F/F Romance
By Lilah Suzanne
That, of course is a Ghostbusters reference in the title. It’s my all-time favorite movie, but when I was a kid, my brother had all the Ghostbusters toys. That’s something I recognize now as one of many stifling gender norms I was constantly bumping up against. I recognize too, in retrospect, the in-between space I occupied as a kid: a tomboy with short hair and boy’s clothes who tromped around in the woods and also had a sizable Barbie collection and lovingly tended baby dolls. And when I was older: a girl who liked girls and boys. It seems simple now, being bisexual, but when I was figuring it all out I felt like I was neither here nor there, part of no group or identity, defining myself by what other people thought I should be. Sometimes it still feels that way.
I bristle at the conventional wisdom that authors must pick a lane and stay there. Maybe because for so long the lanes available to me never quite fit, so I had to find my own way. In my current Spotlight series I have a diverse cast of characters, men and women who are gay, lesbian, bi, and pansexual. To me it feels natural, writing men falling in love, and women falling love, and men and women whose sexuality or gender defies the either/or dichotomy falling in love. These are the stories I want to read, so these are the stories I write. Picking one and sticking with it feels an awful lot like being told my sexuality will land eventually on one side or the other. It didn’t, it won’t, and the place where the streams cross is where I’ve landed for good.
But maybe some of the conventional wisdom is right, maybe I should be worried about a kickback proton-reversing blast (I’m taking this Ghostbusters analogy all the way through.) Readers like predictability; they like to know what they’re getting into. I get it; I do, too. I also like being surprised by a story I thought I wouldn’t like, or delighted by a narrative that does something I didn’t expect. And I don’t think I’m alone, there are a lot of us occupying the in-between spaces looking for something different, and there are a lot of those stories to yet be told.
Of course there is nothing wrong with happily staying in one lane, with finding the stories that feel like home whether they’re M/M or F/F or dark cyborg time-traveling SciFi thrillers. I just hope that as we recognize sexuality and gender are more nuanced for real life people, we can apply those nuances to Romance characters as well. Not as a way to dismiss someone’s sexuality but as a way to identify and embrace it.
And for predictably, here’s what you can always expect in my stories: Imperfect people stumbling their way through love, offbeat but always warm humor, and happily ever afters for everyone. My favorite Ghostbusters quote isn’t really relevant here (“Listen… Do you smell something?”) But this one works, I think. “We have the tools, and we have the talent.”
I say we keep crossing those streams and see what happens.
“Morning, gorgeous,” Grady says, when Nico finally shuffles into the kitchen. Grady loves Nico when he’s all done up: hair intentionally, painstakingly disheveled; his cheeks soft and fragrant from shaving; wearing an outfit so trendy even the fashion magazines can’t keep up. But he loves Nico like this just as much: bleary-eyed and grunting and hair unintentionally messy. Nico sits at the breakfast bar and stares blankly into space. Creases from the pillow still mark one cheek, and his hair seems to be struggling to stay alert, too, as it flops into his face. Grady slides him a steaming cup of coffee.
“I was thinking we could head to The Gulch? And eat at this restaurant me and Gwen found before we go to the florist? If we leave soon we should have time. It’s in an old gas station. I know that sounds weird; it’s not. And there’s a vintage vinyl store that opened recently across the street. How does that sound? Nice, right?”
Nico squeezes his eyes closed and takes sip after sip of coffee. “Too many words,” he whispers, pained.
“Sorry,” Grady whispers back. They don’t often get a lot of Sundays with one only lonely item on their respective to-do lists. “Lunch. Record Store. Florist. Yes?”
Nico’s eyes open again; they’re a little less vacant. “Yes.”
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(Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Blended Notes // Five winners receive Blended Notes eBook)
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Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, Broken Records, and Burning Tracks.
Blog Tour Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Interlude Press Tag: Celebrity / Famous Person Tag: Guest Post Tag: Part of a series Tag: Rockstar/Musician Blended Notes Lilah Suzanne Spotlight series