Wednesday, May 6, 2009

EC Goes to College

An Ellora's Cave book being taught in college? Yep. Last summer, a DePaul University romance fiction seminar featured Joey Hill's NATURAL LAW. Associate Professor of English Eric Selinger called the presentation "a knockout charged with an almost evangelical fervor" on Romancing the Blog. As a result, she was invited to speak at a Princeton University conference.

Here's what Ms. Hill had to say about her experience:
I first found out Natural Law was being used as a college textbook when I did a random Google search on my name to determine marketing strategies and found DePaul University Associate Professor of English Eric Selinger blogging about his class on Romancing the Blog. He’d chosen a good spectrum of titles to introduce his summer class to the romance genre, from the sweet to the erotic, and my book was an erotic example. I was blown away by this paragraph in the blog: “The penultimate set of student-led discussions–of Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect, Dark Lover, by J. R. Ward, and Mr. Impossible, by Loretta Chase–were thoughtful and thorough, and the closing presentation, on Joey W. Hill’s erotic romance, Natural Law, was a knock-out, charged with an almost evangelical fervor. (”Don’t get freaked out by the BDSM stuff,” one woman pleaded. “This is a love story.” “It felt more real,” another declared, “than anything we read all quarter.”) Whatever the life-skills they learned or missed, students came away with more respect for the genre, and most had at least one author, sub-genre, or series they planned to read after graduation.”

I worship Laura Kinsale, so to be part of the same curriculum with her work was a breathtaking moment. Anyhow, in that way that stars converge, I was about to send an email to Eric Selinger to thank him, when he contacted me. He and William Gleason of Princeton University were planning a conference focusing on the romance genre called “Love as the Practice of Freedom: Romance Fiction and American Culture” and wanted me to attend. Do you want to know how long it took me to get my stunned fingers unstuck to fashion a reply (lol)?
Unfortunately the dates of the conference were the same as the RT conference, and logistics made it impossible for me to accept, but I was still deeply flattered to be asked. I was also delighted to see that topics like these are gaining validity at the university level. One of my readers, who is working on a scholarly work of her own focusing on sexuality throughout the ages, recently said “instead of being defensive about sexuality in romance, writers should be standing TALL and shaking their collective fists at 800 years of silence.” I hope she uses that quote in her book, because it’s a powerful one.

Eric was also very kind when I thanked him for using Natural Law: "Natural Law was a hit--students really responded to it as a love story; indeed, one of the women who'd been most skeptical throughout the class was positively evangelical about how realistic the book felt to her, emotionally speaking. I'll let you know how it teaches this summer!”

How did Natural Law get on his text reading list? Apparently, one of my long term readers, Sarah Frantz, is an assistant professor of literature at Fayetteville State University and a friend of Eric’s. My understanding is when he was looking for suggestions for the “erotic” portion of his romance course, she suggested Natural Law. Though her very modest quote was “I didn't do anything really, besides recommend some of my favorite romances for him when he asked. Just like I always do!” Sarah also has been working on a paper now that’s going to be in an anthology of scholarly essays about romance that she and Eric are editing and will be published by McFarland Press. She says my books will be mentioned in that as well, so I’m looking forward to getting my copy!
Natural Law is the story of Mackenzie "Mac" Nighthorse, a homicide detective and a career cop who goes undercover in a high-class BDSM club as a male submissive in order to find a Dominatrix who is winning the trust and then murdering her chosen partners. When his path crosses Violet Siemanski's, he realizes he's found a Mistress willing to be his ally in finding the murderess. But Violet is also going to shatter Mac's shields and make him question who he is and what he wants, a challenge more disturbing than any case he's ever worked.
The book has gotten rave reviews calling the sex "explosive," the love story "riveting" and murder mystery "spectacular."

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