We are so excited to have Deb Jannerson in the shop on Saturday the 17th signing her novel, The Women of Dauphine, as part of our Bookstore Romance Day celebration! Deb will be here signing from 2pm to 4pm.
Women of Dauphine is the story of Cassie, whose life utterly changes when her family moves into a decrepit house in New Orleans. Unbeknown to them a previous tenant still haunts the house. Cassie forms a strong bond with Gem, the witty, attractive ghost that was murdered in the house over 30 years ago! Deb’s novel tackles some heavy emotional themes, while the romance genre is often mislabeled as a guilty pleasure what readers know is that stories of love and connection help us to delve deep into our internal lives. I wanted to speak with Deb a bit about how her book fit into the world of romance and share that here with you all. I know I’m super excited to visit with her on Saturday and hope that you will be too!
Why do you think the romance genre is so important to readers?
We all read in order to feel and grow, and nothing provokes as many feelings as human connection.
What in your view is essential to a romance novel? Is it a love story? Can it be tragic or does it have to have a happily ever after?
I think any book with an important love storyline can be called a romance. Happily ever after is nice but not always necessary, or even appropriate. Of course, I’m of the opinion that genre lines are subjective and not mutually exclusive; a book can be literary and also romantic, paranormal, or whatever else. So your mileage may vary.
The Women of Dauphine is in part a romance between a young girl and a ghost that has been haunting a New Orleans house for over 30 years. What drew you to the paranormal side of romance?
When I began Dauphine in 2010, I was an avid consumer of gay YA and was becoming increasingly interested in horror. YA paranormal romance was on a meteoric upswing. It occurred to me that I had never read a ghostly novel with a central queer relationship. Of course, that’s since changed--even in YA, we have Ghost Friends Forever, Taproot, and more. There were also a few conventions in paranormal romance that I felt compelled to turn on their heads. First of all, the narrative is often: Everything about this protagonist’s life is normal, but then they meet this inhuman hottie, and wow, that makes things chaotic! Speaking as someone who had a tumultuous childhood, what if an otherworldly relationship were the stablest part of your life? Certainly it is for my character, Cassie. The love she shares with her ghost girlfriend is the most normal thing about her.
Second, it always bothers me when, because of supernatural aging differences, characters are hundreds of years apart… but never discuss it. Aren’t there ethical issues if one is still a teenager? Maybe it is okay, but why? Is age about experience rather than time? I wanted a story where the couple grapples with these questions. A queer anti-Twilight.
Because you are a poet, I have to ask: do you see a connection between romance and poetry? The heightened emotional stakes of both forms stand out to me and I wonder,
as a writer, if that felt true to you?
Yes and no. There’s an emotional honesty to both poetry and romance; both dwell on the vulnerabilities of their subjects. On the other hand, I think emotional honesty is at the heart of all good writing.
Finally, what is your all-time favorite romance novel?
What a question. I’m forever obsessed with Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, which at 1982 is usually credited as the first “positive” queer YA book. It’s a super-sweet romance between two teenage girls; naturally, it was banned and burned for years, but the book held up and changed everything around it, just like the girls’ relationship does in the story. On a more recent note, Malinda Lo’s sci-fi Adaptation duology features a bisexual love triangle that morphs into a polyamorous relationship, which I thought was really gutsy and skillful.
As far as adult novels go, I love IzobelBrannigan.com by British novelist Christina Hopkinson. It’s a mystery about an unhappy office worker who discovers a website about herself. She has to figure out who’s stalking her, but she also has to grapple with the fact that her life’s not as good as outsiders think. Along the way, she breaks up with her crappy boyfriend and gets together with a nerdy colleague (not the stalker, don’t worry), so it’s both a traditional romance and a story about loving yourself enough to make the changes you want.
Learn more about Deb Jannerson and follow her on social media:
When Cassie's family moves into a decrepit house in New Orleans, the only upside is her new best friend. Gem is witty, attractive, and sure not to abandon Cassie--after all, she's been confined to the old house since her murder in the '60s.
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Sophia Campos is only just getting used to her new life with her divorced dad and managing their business of helping ghosts, when she meets a ghost girl who changes everything. Not because she’s a ghost - but because of what it brings out in Sophia.
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"It's a pleasure to lose yourself in the beautiful artwork, and one of the loveliest queer romances I've ever read." — K. O'Neil, author of The Tea Dragon Society
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