Eve Dangerfield on Taunt, Breaking Rules, and the End of the World
Hey everybody! Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome author, journalist, and all-around legend Eve Dangerfield to the blog to talk about her new release, Taunt! Eve is one of my favorite new authors and Taunt totally blew my mind. If you're not familiar with Eve's work yet, you'll want to fix that asap (my review's at the bottom in case you need convincing).
***Ten Questions for Eve Dangerfield
Your heroines are intelligent, confident, and totally unapologetic about going after what they want. What do you think makes a strong heroine?
A woman who pursues her own goals for her own reasons. In fiction female characters are so often pushed into the passive corner where they’re often just responding to the situations men have placed them in. That attitude isn’t like any of the women I actually know. My lady friends and family members are all driven, independent people who would chase their dreams to hell and back whether it’s to take kick-ass selfies or climb to the top of the pile in their chosen careers. It’s not unrealistic to portray women that way; it is reality.
Your books add an exciting new vitality to contemporary romance -- your heroines are ballsy, your heroes realistic, and your themes and politics feel very current. It feels like you’re approaching the genre from another perspective altogether. What’s your background and what made you want to write romance?
I’m a journalist by trade. I wrote for newspapers for a long time and I still freelance (though the game has been unequivocally changed by the internet). I’m not one of those authors who grew up writing stories. I wrote terrible journals about how sad I was that Aragorn son of Arathorn wasn’t
b) having age-inappropriate sex with me
But that was about it. Maybe that’s why my voice is a little different; I only started writing fiction when I was in my twenties. I was a huge fan of romance but none of the books I read encapsulated my experience of being a horny, deeply inappropriate feminist with great mates. I wanted to read a novel about a girl like me but the more I looked the less I found. And like Toni Morrison said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” I did and the result, Degrees of Control, didn’t suck so hard it caused the world to collapse in on itself, so I kept going.
Are there any romance conventions that drive you crazy?
How long do you have? Because as much as I love romance that bitch can be a cruel, cruel mistress.
Okay, one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out is slut shaming. With a few blessed exceptions contemporary romance is just slut shaming for days. I’ve lost count of the books I’ve read where the hero has porked his way through the equivalent of four pro-football teams while the heroine has nary a handful of lovers, all of them TERRIBLE so Drew McAlphaFace can blow her motherfucking mind when they finally do the deed.
This concept runs rampant in NA novels where the male leads are sports stars. The author goes out of her way to make sure the reader knows the hero has slept with epic amounts of chicks (what a LEGEND!) and often refers to these disposable females as puck bunnies, groupies and sluts. Meanwhile she also makes sure the reader knows that the heroine, who usually falls into bed with the dude pretty damn fast btw, ISN’T ONE OF THOSE DIRTY SKANKS NOSIREE.
The phenomenon of the whore verses the archetypal ‘good girl’ whose pristine pussy is patiently awaiting her prince sucks. Especially because romance authors are by and large women who you’d think wouldn’t want to perpetuate such shitty stereotypes about their own gender. The fact is most people have a lot of sexual partners these days (Tinder!) and they don’t deserve to be roasted on a slut bonfire for doing so.
What would like to see in the genre in the future?
Just more unique takes on love and sex. I also love it when romance branching out across other genres. Sci-fi romance and fantasy romance, when done well, kick so much arse. Plus feminist friendly erotica makes my heart swell with joy. I loved Beard Science by Penny Reid and the work Cara McKenna and Charlotte Stein are doing is consistently amazing. The more women bring their voices to the table the better. Also more comedy. The funny romance novel is a rare and beautiful gem.
What do you read for fun?
Romance although I’ve hit a bit of a dry spell lately and have mostly be re-reading books I’ve already read. Aside from that I pretty much just read non-fiction; feminist, science-y sociological stuff (sup dudes, I know that sentence turned you on). I love everything Caitlin Moran and Naomi Klein has ever written and Lindy West’s Shrill is fucking brilliant. Also Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari blew my mind. It’s about how the war on drugs is a loltastic farce of epic proportions and I wish everyone in the world would read it.
Tell me about Taunt! How did you write it and what do you want your readers to take from it?
Taunt kind of came to me out of nowhere. I had a few ideas whirling around my head; a romance novel about the apocalypse, a heroine who couldn’t biologically feel the emotion women have heaped on them from day dot; shame. Plus I was reading a lot of MFM novels which never really address my questions about how weird it would be to have multiple boyfriends in a contemporary setting. The plot for Taunt just showed up and wouldn’t go away. I wrote it in one big slab then I endured four or five months of rewrites and while it took a massive chunk out of my arse I’m prouder of Taunt than anything I’ve ever done before. Except that time I found $50 at the beach.
I wanted Taunt’s readers to laugh I think. Laugh and enjoy a heroine who’s just so utterly at ease with herself. Daniel is the role a lot of men have in books and movies. She’s the wild card. The joker. I think of her as a female Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine Nine. She’s an intelligent but deeply immature person who lives to fuck with people but is so loveable they almost always forgive her.
In Taunt, Daniel is an eco-terrorist staring down an impending apocalypse that feels unsettlingly possible. The end of the world isn’t what some would consider a romantic subject -- why did you choose this setting?
I think about the apocalypse a lot actually, whatever that says about me. I wonder if we would be told, if we’d even want to be told, how we’d live if we knew our time was limited. I think the idea of a far off disaster appealed to me because I’m sure most people, like Daniel, would accidentally forget about it all the time. Most humans have a weirdly uncanny ability to disremember that death and destruction are features, not bugs of life. The apocalyptic backdrop also raises the stakes a lot for Daniel and the boys, it forces them to bond and to confront their mortality which I like in a story.
How much of your personal politics make it into your books?
So much! Anyone who knows me knows I’m the biggest SJW, tree-hugging leftie going around. I make no bones about that. If Grassroots was a real organization I’d totally be a member. The sorry state of our bloated, too hot, capitalism-munted planet is a constant cause of pain to me. I find it difficult not to interrupt people arguing about the Bachelor or whatever and yell “Do you realize 64 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population? FOR REALZ???” But I’ve always been rude that way.
Taunt also helped me address some of my prejudices around people who join the military. I, a pacifist from a family of pacifists could never understand why anyone enlisted unless you were power crazy or secretly wanted to shoot people. My boyfriend taught me that most individuals sign up for the armed forces because they legitimately want to do good things for their loved ones and country, or make money in a job deprived market. He opened my eyes and there’s a lot of him in John, Colt and Seb. Besides the real problem isn’t that people join the military, it’s that we live in a corrupt consumerist society in which misinformed and greedy rich people rule us with an iron fist. Wow look at me ranting on here like I’m Elizabeth Warren or something. I’ll go back to romance stuff now.
Degrees of Control and Taunt have both been set in America -- what is it about America that interests you? Can we expect to see more in Australia in the future (or anywhere else, for that matter)?
America is the apex of the western world for a lot of kids. We see so much of it through our media content from such a young age that it’s really easy to imagine yourself there and replicate the language and culture. On a personal level I have family in the US and I’ve stayed in California, I feel like it’s a place I know and liked, although as is the case with Daniel, being constantly mistaken for a Pom and hearing “huh? What did you say?” whenever you ask for ‘worter’ as opposed to ‘waaater’, gets a bit old. My next couple of books will be set in Australia for sure but the sequels to Taunt will be based in the US.
I’m working on the sequel to Locked Box right now, Open Hearts and my fourth novel, Something Borrowed will be coming out in Feb next year which is pretty cool.
Eve Dangerfield has loved romance novels ever since she first started swiping her grandmother’s paperbacks. Now she writes her own unapologetically sexy tales about complex young women and gorgeous-but-slightly-tortured men. Eve currently lives in Melbourne with her sister and a zen-like rabbit named Billy. When she's not writing she can usually be found drinking, dancing or making a mess. Often all at once. Calling her an author will get you kissed.* You can find her at evedangerfield.com.
*circumstances are subject to change.
Daniel Schwartz never meant to uncover the apocalypse, unfortunately for her that’s exactly what happened. Yet while it’s clear to the Kiwi hacktivist what she should do; cover it back up and get completely smashed, the rest of the world doesn’t agree. A shady corporation places her in a beachside prison where they promise to hold her until she agrees to talk. Dani would be pretty annoyed if she weren't:
a) Biologically incapable of being annoyed
b) Very intrigued by the men hired to guard her
c) Extremely hungover
John, Colt, and Seb have poured a lot of time and money into their private security business the last thing they need is to waste six weeks babysitting a hyperactive hippie. Sadly they’ve signed a dubious but watertight contract. Each of the three men finds himself drawn to the weird, pop-obsessed Daniel and she to them. As they become entangled in each other’s lives Daniel is forced to answer some big questions such as; how can you escape when there’s nowhere safe to go? How can a commitmentphobe fall for not one, but three different men? And, most importantly, should New Zealanders kick people who call them Hobbits? (Yes.)
Taunt is a heart-stopping erotic thriller; chock full of science, nail-biting suspense, period jokes and good old fashioned lust.
Jess' Review of Taunt
Taunt begins with the end of the world clearly in sight. Heroine Daniel (that’s how she spells it) is a genius eco-terrorist outrunning the impending apocalypse by partying her way through Europe, pursued by a shady organization she may or may not have pissed off. Daniel is uninhibited, unapologetic, and more fun than anyone you’ve met: she is what a lot of women might be without self-doubt or shame. By the time she’s googling how to deal with the symptoms of snorting MDMA, it hits you – Taunt is not like other books.
Abducted by said shady corporation and held under house arrest in a plush mansion in California, the book proceeds as you might expect, until it doesn’t. She’s kept under constant surveillance by three hunky ex-military private security guards: John – responsible, stoic, and probably the craziest of all of them; Colt – hunky, randy, and wickedly funny; and Seb – a sweet southern boy who bears more than a passing resemblance to Cary Elwes. Knowing nothing about this book before I started reading it, I assumed Daniel would end up with John…until she had amazing chemistry with Colt…and seemed to fancy Seb?!
That’s right, folks. She goes for all three of them…at the same time…with their knowledge and consent.
And it is awesome.
A relationship with four people might sound like a mess, and in any other author’s hands, I think it probably would be. Fortunately for us, Eve Dangerfield is a goddamn unicorn. The characters are distinct, well-developed, and guided by their own desires, hang-ups, and quirks. The chemistry is out of this world; this would be difficult to build so well between two characters, but four?! The love story works – totally, miraculously – and does lead to a satisfying ending in spite of the imminent apocalypse, a threat that looms over the more immediate but no less dangerous story unfolding with the corporation threatening Daniel.
Eve Dangerfield is the defibrillator contemporary romance needs right now. This is the most exciting, genre-challenging book I've read in years. Her first two books, Degrees of Control and Locked Box, were phenomenal, but Taunt is in another galaxy altogether. It is totally fearless. The surprises come thick and fast and the tension and breakneck pace is maintained throughout. As always, Eve’s writing is sharp as hell and serves as a huge middle finger to anybody thinking romance is formulaic or dull (the fools!).
PSA: If you’re looking for something safe with a single uncomplicated heterosexual love story, this will confuse the hell out of you. Even if it’s not what you usually read, you can at least appreciate how well it’s written. On a scale of sweet to spicy, this thing is a Carolina Reaper Pepper. Some people will love it, and others are going to end up in the hospital. You should definitely try it, but put the burn unit on speed dial first.
Don't say I didn't warn you.