It’s Reverb‘s release day, and I’m thrilled to welcome Anna Zabo back to the site to celebrate! Reverb is the third book in the Twisted Wishes series, and it stars a pansexual cis woman named Mish and a queer trans guy named David who just happens to be her bodyguard through a stalking incident. Here’s the official book info:
Twisted Wishes bass player Mish Sullivan is a rock goddess—gorgeous, sexy and comfortable in the spotlight. With fame comes unwanted attention, though: a stalker is desperate to get close. Mish can fend for herself, just as she always has. But after an attack lands her in the hospital, the band reacts, sticking her with a bodyguard she doesn’t need or want.
David Altet has an instant connection with Mish. A certified badass, this ex-army martial arts expert can take down a man twice his size. But nothing—not living as a trans man, not his intensive military training—prepared him for the challenge of Mish. Sex with her is a distraction neither of them can afford, yet the hot, kink-filled nights keep coming.
When Mish’s stalker ups his game, David must make a choice—lover or bodyguard. He’d rather have Mish alive than in his bed. But Mish wants David, and no one, especially not a stalker, will force her to give him up.
When I set out to write David in Reverb, I knew two things for sure: I would not be dead-naming David, and his being trans wouldn’t be the focus of the story.
I wanted to write about a trans guy being a guy and getting his HEA without wallowing in trans trauma before we got to that HEA, as if the only reason trans people have HEAs is if they go through some unbelievable crap and the one lone golden cis person pops out to save them from misery.
There’s a lot more and varied and beautiful trans experiences other than that!
Yes, there are microaggressions and little moments that grate when you’re trans, and some of those things made it into Reverb. There are also moments of humor and just…moments of being trans. Those are aspects I tried to include in the novel.
I did not want to focus on trans pain. I didn’t want to write a story about understanding trans people from a cis point of view. There are enough of those books out there already.
So if you’re going into Reverb wanting some great moment of angst about David being trans…there isn’t any. It’s not an issue. It’s really about Mish and David and touring with the band and the awful stalker who won’t leave Mish alone.
Personally, what I would like to see more of are books about trans joy. About the settled nature of living the life you want to live. About the happiness of gender euphoria. About life being life with all its foibles and fun and sadness too, but not have that coupled with being trans. About growing older as a trans person. That’s what I want to see more of in trans romance. The conflict of a romance not centering around being trans.
We don’t center romances around the trauma of being cis or how hard it is for a trans person to come to accept that their partner is cis. It seems counterproductive to expect every story with a trans main character to follow that pattern, too.
I’d also like more non-binary main characters in romance. Not every person falls into a gender binary. And, I’d love to see more romances about trans people falling for trans people. And older trans characters! David is forty-three in Reverb because I’m in my forties. And you can still be sexy, badass, and trans in your forties.
Basically, I believe we need more stories about trans love and trans joy, not just trans survival. Not just trans acceptance. Trans people deserve to see themselves in books as happy, joyful, fulfilled human beings at all ages.
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. They can be easily plied with coffee.
Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
Anna uses they/them pronouns and prefers Mx. Zabo as an honorific.
What do you get when you take three adorable stories and put them together as an ebook for the first time? In this case, Three Kisses by London Setterby, which releases on March 26th! Here are the details on the three stories that make up the collection:
About That (Almost) Kiss (m/m)
Since his ex dumped him, Alec Chase has spent his nights sleeping on friends’ couches, wandering his urban college campus, or standing around at dreary parties. That was how he ran into smart, sexy JP Wu last weekend. But JP, a brilliant graphic novelist, is way too good for Alec. As for JP trying to kiss him—well, that was only because he was drunk…right?
A Kiss in Costume (winner of a 2016 Watty Award) (f/f)
This Halloween, Maggie Juárez just wants to nerd out on the finer points of costume design in her hand-made Regency ballgown and try to ignore her painful, awkward crush on beautiful ice-queen Samantha Winters. But Sam is impossible to ignore, especially when she shows up to a party dressed—perfectly—as Mr. Darcy. She can’t be trying to attract Maggie’s attention…can she?
A Kiss At Christmas (trans m/cis f)
Reid Schechter has always had a crush on his childhood best friend, vivacious cosplay enthusiast Layla Peters. Instead of growing apart at their separate colleges, they seem to have more in common than ever. And visiting Layla in person for the first time after starting his hormone therapy and undergoing top surgery should be weird, but it just feels normal. Still, as much as he daydreams about asking her out, Layla is practically a natural phenomenon. There’s no way she could have feelings for a curmudgeon like him…is there?
London Setterby writes modern-day Gothics and fantasy romances. As L. Setterby, she also writes gritty, suspenseful contemporary romances. Under both names, she writes across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. London lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and toddler. She is usually covered in cracker crumbs.