We’re celebrating Queer Romance Month and I was lucky enough to get twelve questions with author, Amy Jo Cousins. She’s super fun! Read on book besties…
1. What’s your favorite queer romance?
Ah, I see we’re going straight to the death match with these questions. Favorite queer romance? Ahhhhh. Okay. I can do this. *thinks about it for seven hours* KJ Charles’s Think of England is my favorite right now. Ask me again tomorrow and I’ll say something different though!
2. Ok, now your favorite non-queer romance?
Anything by Cara McKenna. I love her novellas like Curio and Willing Victim, and her longer books like After Hours and Unbound. She overturns so many romance assumptions in her books that I’m always delighted by her stories.
3. For someone new to queer romance, what do you recommend?
Amy Lane’s Christmas Kitsch. It’s absolutely charming, with great characters, the triumph of building your own life, and the creation of a new family based on choice and love, not blood. I adore it.
4. Can you recommend a book you love, but feel is under appreciated?
I think EE Ottoman’s Mechanical Universe books are terrific. A mashup of steampunk and historical and queer romance, with clever dialogue and fascinating characters. I really like that Ottoman writes beyond the m/m dot on the LGBTQ spectrum. Also, Rowan Speedwell’s Kindred Hearts. It’s a historical that starts out in familiar places in England, but then takes us onto the battlefield of the Napoleonic Wars. Both of the main characters suffer real losses, especially one who’s self-destructive choices cost him something he didn’t even know he wanted. Sorry! I’m being cryptic, but don’t want to spoil it for anyone. It’s a lovely book.
5. You must have a favorite quote from a queer romance book, what is it?
I am terrible with quotes so I am skipping this one! My brain doesn’t remember things like this.
6. What’s your favorite queer romance hero?
Bertie, from R. Cooper’s My Man Godric. Bertie believes no one in the kingdom takes him seriously, and even he thinks of himself as rather useless, because he isn’t hard and dour and eternally on his guard. But Bertie is honest and loyal and brave enough show his heart to the world, even when that means he’ll be laughed at. I love him.
7. Just in general, what’s your favorite romance character?
Cat, from The Windflower by Sharon And Tom Curtis. If there is one book I would set my house on fire to see written, it would be Cat’s story. A secondary character in The Windflower, Cat was raised in a brothel, gives one the impression that horrible things have happened to him he will never discuss, pretends to be a pirate’s pet and makes you wish it wasn’t all pretense, and is remote and unshockable, except by his own growing affection for the heroine of the book who makes him want to be kind. Seriously, I would kill for a book about Cat.
8. Is there a character from romance you identify with?
Ed and Laurie from Heidi Cullinan’s Dance With Me. Both of those men are adjusting to the idea that their lives will be less than they anticipated, than they dreamed. That they will never have something they once loved beyond reason. And they are learning that that is okay, and that their lives will still be good, will have value and joy and passion.
9. Why is queer romance important to you?
Because telling stories is how we learn as a society who we are, and I want everyone’s stories to be a part of our understanding of ourselves. It’s harder to fear things or people when you understand them, and I think storytelling is the most powerful and immediate way to make a connection between ourselves and others. It changes us. It can change the world.
10. Tell us about your book(s)
I write LGBTQ and het romance about people whose lives and world remind me of my own. There are gay people and straight people, bi and trans folk, and people who are still figuring it out. Black, white, Latino, and Asian people, and those who are a mix of more than one culture. People who are loud and proud, and those who are quieter. People with kids and people without, same with money and education and religion and all the things that make people different in surface ways. But there’s also family, born or made, and friends, and eating together and taking care of each other, and none of the surface stuff matters at all when you get down to it.
11. Tell us a story – can be real, or fictional, about queer romance
Once upon a time, a guy found out one of his friends from college had started writing queer romance novels. While emailing her one day asking for romance novel recs for his wife’s birthday present, he mentioned to his friend that he was bi. And that’s why I write queer romance. Because that guy is married to a woman who knows he’s bi, but almost none of his friends do. Even his friend who writes queer romance had never heard him claim his sexuality until her books made it clear to him that he could and it would be okay. Because there’s still such pressure to model the ideals of heteronormativity, a guy like that can’t even say out loud, “When I was dating, I wasn’t only interested in women.” So he has a life that included involvements with men and with women, and a spouse who knows and loves him, and that’s a happy queer romance…to a point. But that’s a very tiny circle within which to feel free to be yourself, and everyone’s circle should be as big as the world.
12. What do you think is the future of queer romance?
Awesomeness? I see more and more people picking up and reading queer romance books who wouldn’t have even thought about it a few years ago. I see a wider range of characters and stories being published by all kinds of people, trad and indie and self-pub. I see nothing but great things coming. It’s pretty damn exciting. 🙂
Be sure to check out Amy Jo’s contribution to Queer Romance Month – “I Think I Understand Her Now” at QueerRomanceMonth.com.
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series
And Amy’s story is in the book: ’90s Playlist (Romance Rewind Book 1) *As an aside…I LOVE the 90s! What an awesome theme!
Six stories of sex, love, and being young in the ‘90s, inspired by songs of the decade…
The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Shelby Summerfield is a gold star lesbian, even if she doesn’t look like one. Florence Truong is the only other dyke at Carlisle College in 1993 not wearing plaid flannel, and Shelby sets her sights on seduction. But instead of a delightful tumble in the sheets, Florence calls her out for being a straight girl. With seduction off the table, Shelby settles for revenge for her humiliation. But if all she wants is to show up her campus rival, how come Shelby can’t stop herself from saving Florence instead of annihilating her?
Be sure to check out QueerRomanceMonth.com to see more love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. There are over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies, joining in this effort with essays, flash-fiction and much, much more.