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CONTACT: Ed Gaffney
508-472-9663
ebgaffney@aol.com

Gays in Mainstream Romance Fiction:

Moving From Witty Best Friend to Kick-Ass Action Hero

New York Times bestselling romance author Suzanne Brockmann has often been accused of "waving a rainbow flag" in her books. She insists, however, that if she's waving anything at all, it's an American flag. Best known for her “Troubleshooters” series — romantic suspense novels, the latest of which, FORCE OF NATURE, will be in stores on August 14, 2007 — Brockmann has made a habit of peopling her fictional world with diverse characters of all colors, shapes, sizes and lifestyles. It's that very diversity, Brockmann believes, that is one of America's greatest strengths.

Which is not to say that Brockmann doesn't own a rainbow flag or two. As the mother of a gay son, she's been out – and outspoken – about the fact that in most states, her son is a second-class citizen. "In some states, Jason could get kicked out of his apartment, just for being gay. In others, being out and honest about who he is could cost him his job. And in every single state, except Massachusetts, my son doesn't have the right to marry the person he loves."

Brockmann lives in Massachusetts, where equal marriage has been a part of life for over three years. When her home state became the first to say "no" to marriage discrimination, Brockmann knew the fight had only just begun, and got involved: "I wanted to be on the front line with those standing against fear and hatred." Brockmann worked hard to get her state rep and senator reelected – both are equal rights advocates. She also joined Mass Equality, an organization dedicated to preserving equal marriage rights in Massachusetts.

And she continued to write novels featuring strong, heroic gay characters.

In THE DEFIANT HERO, the second book in her award-winning Troubleshooters series, published in 2001, Brockmann introduced gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy, and created a multi-book story arc that dealt with the homophobia of another recurring character, Navy SEAL officer Sam Starrett. While working together in the next installment in the series, OVER THE EDGE, the two men reach an understanding and become friends.

As the series continued, Jules appeared in all but two of the books, and quickly became a favorite character of Brockmann's readers. "I think, at the time, he was something unusual in genre romance – an out gay man who was comfortable with his sexual orientation," Brockmann notes. "Like my own son, Jules came out as a teenager, and had parents who loved and supported him, who reinforced his belief that he was and is a child of God – that being gay was no different from having brown eyes or being right-handed. Jules is funny, smart, courageous, and a highly skilled FBI agent. He's just like all the other heroes in my books – but Jules just happens to be gay."

And just like with many of the other heroes in Brockmann's books, it wasn't long before readers started clamoring for Jules to win his own romantic happily-ever-after.

In 2005, Brockmann helped Jules take a big step in that direction with her book, HOT TARGET, one of the first high-profile mainstream contemporary romance novels to include an in-depth romance between gay characters. “Gay characters who appear in mainstream genre fiction tend to be asexual,” Brockmann commented. “They show up, look fabulous, make a witty comment or two, and then exit stage left. I like to think of those characters as the first wave in the early struggles for tolerance and acceptance. In fact, I'm certain that for some of my readers Jules Cassidy was their very first openly out and proud gay friend. His story in HOT TARGET was the next step—showing him as a person just like every other person on this planet, searching for a connection, struggling with issues of love and intimacy—and sharing a steamy kiss or two along the way.”

HOT TARGET hit the New York Times bestseller list, and won an award from the Borders Group as their best-selling romance hardcover of the year. Library Journal called Jules Cassidy "one of the most charming and original characters in popular fiction today."

This summer, Jules is back in Brockmann's FORCE OF NATURE, which will be released in hardcover from Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, on August 14, 2007.

The eleventh book in the Troubleshooters series, FORCE OF NATURE tells the story of the romance between Florida private investigator Ric Alvarado and his childhood friend, Annie Dugan; and the romance between Jules Cassidy and Robin Chadwick, a closeted movie star first introduced in HOT TARGET.

Ric and Annie are handling what should have been an easy "missing person" case when Ric saves a stranger's life. It turns out the man he's rescued is the son of Florida crime lord Gordon Burns – who is under FBI investigation for alleged terrorist ties. Suddenly Ric and Annie find themselves an asset to FBI team leader Jules Cassidy.

A dangerous investigation becomes even more complicated for Jules when he runs into Robin Chadwick, who's promoting his latest movie at the Sarasota Film Festival. Burns is a movie buff, and Robin soon becomes embroiled in the undercover operation.

FORCE OF NATURE explores love, loyalty, friendship and sacrifice with its multi-layered storylines, edge-of-your-seat suspense and sexual tension.

"My primary goals have always been to create characters that readers are drawn to, and to write stories that not only entertain but also make people think," Brockmann said. "And if that means some reviewers are going to accuse me of waving my rainbow flag, well, I can live with that. I'm well aware that with my mainstream romance audience, I'm not exactly preaching to the choir, so I try my best not to preach – instead to engage my readers more subtly. But I am, after all, a PFLAG mom, so it's possible that, at times, my message comes through a little forcefully. See, I don't just want to change the world – I want to change it now."

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Suzanne Brockmann's first holiday novella, ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, the twelfth installment in her Troubleshooters series, will be in bookstores on October 30, 2007. Brockmann has donated every penny of her earnings from ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT to MassEquality, an organization dedicated to preserving equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. Brockmann's donation includes all advances, all royalties (in perpetuity), as well as all money from subrights such as audio books – and has already surpassed a quarter of a million dollars.

If you are interested in interviewing Suzanne Brockmann, please contact Edward Gaffney at 508-472-9663 or email ebgaffney@aol.com

Visit Suz's website at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com

Note: Photos are available at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com/fonprphotos1.htm

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