Today I am so pleased to welcome Anna Zabo to Joyfully Jay. Anna has come to talk to us about their latest release, Reverb. Please join me in giving Anna a big welcome!
Reverb is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. One with a woman as the main character. One with a trans person. When I wrote Syncopation and Mish appeared on the page in all her glory, when she pulled Ray into that first hug, I knew she’d have her own book.
I just didn’t know, at the time, if I’d have the courage and the chops to write it. I’ve never written a woman main character before. And writing a trans masc character would be scraping open bits of myself that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reveal.
I also had no idea if my publisher would publish it. In the past, I’d had it explained over and over that m/f books with trans characters don’t sell. I know at least one nominally LGBTQIA+ publisher that rejected an m/f book with a transwoman—not because of the writing, but the content. “Conventional” wisdom says that only m/m sells well.
So when I pitched Reverb to Carina, I hoped for the best, but expected the worst.
Reader, I got the best. Carina wanted the book. They were excited about the book. My editor loved the book (while working with me to make it the best we could). The art department sent me not just one, but three cover concepts. They have been sensitive and supportive. Not once did anyone ever push my hopes down because they’re actually excited too.
And that’s a lovely thing, indeed. There’s nothing better in the world than being lifted up rather than shoved down.
And, it turns out, I can write women main characters. Well, I suppose the readers will be the judge of that, but I feel good about Mish. She feels as real as Ray or Zavier or Eli or any of the other characters I’ve written.
Because I am AFAB (assigned female at birth) and trans masc, I have always had an odd relationship with womanhood. I was raised as a girl, I grew into my adulthood socialized as a woman, and indeed, I tried very hard to be a woman. In the past, I’ve never felt like I could write a woman because there was something about me that was…broken when it came to womanhood. And indeed, when I figured out that longing to switch genders wasn’t something most people have felt their entire lives, I understood why I didn’t quite fit into womanhood.
Figuring out my own gender out, becoming settled with myself, unlocked that block I’d been carrying around. By the time Mish strolled onto the page in Syncopation, she was a woman I admired. When she finally has her own voice in Reverb, she’s a woman I could love. And she’s undeniably a woman. I could take some of the experiences I’ve had in my life that women do experience, and give them to Mish. And the emotions. And the caring.
I’ve said before that all my characters have a bit of me in them. That’s so very true with this book, for both Mish and David. In fact there’s probably more of me in both Mish and David than maybe I’ve let others glimpse before. I told one friend that David is kind of who I’d want to be now if I’d figured out who I was in my 20s and not my 40s. Both characters are special to me. I hope you enjoy them!
The tougher they are, the harder they fall.
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.
This book is approximately 105,000 words
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Anna Zabo (they/them) 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 is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns and prefers Mx. Zabo as an honorific.
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.