I’m delighted to interview today Reviewer Danielle Murray from the Watch And Word Society. She works together with a team of reviewers who feature romance and erotica books. If you’re looking for a resource with a lot of valuable reviews on these genres, I highly recommend you check their blog out!
Tell us about you and your romance blog. Where can we read it?
Thanks so much for reaching out to me! The blog I have was started by my good friend, Audra, and me. It can be found at http://watch-and-word-society.blogspot.com/. We named it after an organization from Boston, MA (where we are located) in the 1930’s as an organization to censor and suppress vice in books. Of course, rather than suppressing our vices, we celebrate them!
What got you started as a blogger or reviewer?
I’ve always been a voracious reader! When I was first struggling to come out as a lesbian in the mid 1990’s I was really craving a community and a way to connect with other queer people. This was early into the internet, but I found a bulletin board listing books with gay characters, and I was off! I read some lesbian classics, but it was books like Gordon Merrick’s The Lord Won’t Mind, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s the Catch Trap, and even Patricia Nell Warren’s Front Runner that really grabbed me. From there, I read any queer book that I could get my hands on. I was really fascinated by all of these women who were writing books about gay men. In many ways, I connected with some of the stories about gay men more than I did with stories of lesbians, though I read a lot of Rita Mae Brown too! I read books by many men and women, from Larry Kramer to Andrew Holleran and Christopher Bram. I loved Robert Rodi and Stephen McCauley, and I felt like I was finally connecting with people who shared my experiences. Later, I started reading a lot of straight romance novels, and I loved the escape they provided. There were times I wanted to have my heart ripped out, but I wanted to know a HEA would put it back together.
It was right after Brokeback Mountain, which captured my mind but broke my heart, had come out that I researched the book and decided to see if there was anyone out there who had written some fan fiction typed work that might have put a happier end on this tale. I had never really sought out fan fic, but I had been on “nifty stories” years ago (a sight full of amateur erotica). Much to my surprise I found out that there is a burgeoning genre out there, and I stumbled on Bareback, by Chris Owen. It was the first MM romance I read, and I was captivated. I searched for all of the books I could find, and that, combined with my reading speed, helped me to consume thousands of MM books. I still love some of my older gay and queer books, but I am so impressed by the complexities of MM books out there now, and I read MM almost exclusively now, when I am reading for pleasure.
I read so many books that friends kept telling me to blog, and then Audra, my co-consipirator, and I decided to join forces and start a blog! Audra is a much more experienced blogger than am I, and her blog on historical novels (http://unabridged-expression.blogspot.com) is very successful. We created this blog for more tawdry purposes!
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
I love MM books for many reasons, but I really want everyone to see the complexities in these works now. I loved and devoured every MM book I could get my hands on years ago, and some of those authors were great (and still are!) but now there are so many genres within the genre of MM, and I love that. When I read MM I am usually doing it for fun, so I like knowing what I am getting in to. I love a good review to help me choose a good book, and I remember that these types of reviews were the only way that I even found these books years ago, so I want to return the favors. I also love connecting with authors, and that is so new to me. Some day I might finally type out my own novel, and I love the community we have going here in the MM world. I don’t want people to see MM and pigeonhole it as gay porn (which is lovely in and of itself, but not the only thing MM has to offer!)
As a lesbian, and a teacher, I find the communication that occurs through MM, and any romance, to be such an important form of media for so many people. As a young queer person books were the things that connected me to the world and helped me not feel alone. I want to help connect other queer people, people who love and know queer people, and people who care about queer people to the books that tell their stories. I think when we tell our stories and read the stories of others, we connect with them on a very personal level. When we hear someone’s story we can’t discount their humanity.
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
We have a lot of fun with the idea of vice, and locking up our books! We also are very honest and clear in our reviews. Personally, I like a quick summary and an analysis that isn’t too lengthy, but that hits on the highs and lows. That’s what we try to provide. We also have a mix of books, but with a decidedly queer theme! We are also two lesbian moms who live and love the books we read!
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
Audra probably has more “successes” as a blogger than do I, but I would say two come to mind. One was meeting a newer author and having an opportunity to review her book before it was released. I felt like I had made it! I also feel like that when an author I fan-girl squee over follows me on twitter (@pagecrusherz) Find me! 🙂
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
This year…I would say:
Tin Box, Kim Fielding
Worth Keeping, Susan MacNichol
Slow Burn, Sam Morgan
Roads Series, Garret Leigh
Hell or High Water Series, SE Jakes
Shaking the Sugar Tree, Nick Wilgus
Think of England, KJ Charles
Loving Jay, Renae Kaye (whole series!)
Mark of Cain, Kate Sherwood
Stay With Me, SE Harmon
River Leith, Leta Blake
Hanging By a Moment, HB Pattskyn
Pull me Under, Zarah Detand
Saugatuck Summer, Amelia Gormley
Let Love Live, Melissa Collins
One Indulgence, Lydia Gastrell
Enlightenment series, Joanna Chambers
Outcome and Aftermath, Cara Lee
Backup Boyfriend and Boyfriend Mandate, River Jaymes
Hard Feelings, Ashlyn Kane
All things out this year from JP Barnaby, Daisy Harris and Amy Lane!
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
I’d love more non-traditional romances. Shaking the Sugartree was great and SO different! I’d also love more characters who are struggling through their own lives. I loved the characters in the Tin Box. So complex! I also love books written with kids, when the kids are really well done.
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
Jump in and give it a go! I was so nervous for so long, and this summer I just did. Go for it! Work and life can get busy, and I wish I blogged every day, but I’m getting better! It’s a process. Stay connected with your fans and the authors you love. They are SO lovely and SO approachable!