J. Leigh Bailey
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Genre: M/M Romance
Pages: 200 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
No good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it, though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.
However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first
Escape in Africa
In my upcoming release DO-GOODER, my main characters have to literally escape from weapons-trafficking mercenaries. Not all escapes are quite that, well, literal. For example, I’ve been escaping things for years… real life, bad news, annoyances. Unlike Isaiah, my escapes were far less life-or-death. I didn’t need some heroic rescue, thrilling plan of action. I just needed a book.
I saw a meme recently that suggested that reading helped someone survive adolescence. For me, that is absolutely the case. When I was a kid my parents divorced, and my brothers and I moved with my mother from Wyoming to Wisconsin. While I’d always enjoyed reading, and was pretty advanced for my age, it was at this point that first started using reading books as an escape from reality. I didn’t want to deal with the new state, the new school, new people. I didn’t want to deal with being three states away from my dad and my grandparents. So I read.
Almost from the very beginning, I gravitated toward romance novels. It’s not an exaggeration to stay I’ve been reading romance (including adult romances) since I was ten years old. These made my escape into fiction even more perfect for me. Not only could I avoid the disappointments of my life, I could disappear into a world where, no matter how much bad stuff I encountered, I knew the story would end with a Happily Ever After. To this day, I read to escape the humdrum of real life, and require my stories to have an obvious HEA.
And while I was escaping from the mundane trials of every day life by burying myself in Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Elizabeth Lowell, a whole romance writing and publishing industry was booming in Nigeria. Like me, readers and writers needed an escape. But where I looked to escape my, admittedly, first world problems, many of these women were escaping from religious and political fanaticism and strictures.
The Nigerian romance industry has existed since the 1980s, and the books shift between morality tales and classic pulp romance. Many are written by hand in notebooks. Some are sold in crowded marketplaces. Some are transcribed (most are written in Hausa) and published online. They’re called littattafan soyayya (which roughly translate to “love literature”).
Romance novels are often ridiculed here in America. But in Nigeria, they are downright controversial. Many local governments have censored almost all romance books, as they said to corrupt young people and encourage moral indecency. Authors are forced to register with the Hisbah, the morality police, as well as different government officials. As a result of these extra regulations, and the political and religious pressures, many Nigerian publishing companies stopped publishing romances, and book stores stopped carrying these titles.
That wasn’t enough to curb the tide of romance, though. Women started opening their own publishing houses and their own bookstores. Some authors who didn’t want to abide by the censoring dictates of the Hisbah, started self-publishing, and selling their books out of sight of the government oversights.
(Here’s a great piece from Public Radio International about this story: http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-04-06/nigerians-are-writing-steamy-romance-novels-escape-religious-violence )
I love this story. I love that the escapism engendered by romance, has led to empowerment of women.
As a romance reader/writer, I often forget that the themes of romance are universal, and it’s not just the western world who are publishing and reading these books. And with Do-Gooder taking place in Africa (Cameroon), I particularly like this example of the romance publishing industry in an African country.
Do you read to escape? What’s your favorite genre of escapist fiction? What about it do you like? *Commenters will be entered to win a grand prize basket that includes an African cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson, a children’s African folk tale picture book, a field guide to African animals, and some fun swag.*
About J. Leigh Bailey
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.
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