Y’all!!! I know, that post title is a mouthful is it not?! But how fun and exciting, right? 😀 Seriously I hope you’ve checked out the other Pride Month posts here at ALBTALBS (all tagged), but I’m really excited about this new post, and how it’s delightful and different from what we’ve been seeing. (Diversity in all things! <3) 😀 I hope you’ll give a warm welcome to Jason T. Gaffney, Ed Gaffney, and Suzanne Brockmann who yes, are all first time guests! Thank you all for joining us!
Classic Category Romance Tropes
Suz: So far, in your California Comedy series, you’ve used the “marriage of convenience” trope in Fixing Frank, where frenemies pretend to be engaged while contestants in a reality web series; the “friends to lovers” trope in A Match for Mike, where childhood friends meet again after a long-ago estrangement—and sparks fly; and the “Cinderella make-over” trope in Creating Clark, where a nerdy coffeeshop owner asks a hot actor friend to help him catch the eye of a another man. What do you think is the appeal of these tried and true romance tropes?
Jason: I think romance, as a genre, is appealing to many readers because of its familiarity—which is where those tropes come in. It’s more than just the guaranteed happily-ever-after that attracts readers—there’s also a comfort you get from reading or seeing a story that you’ve heard before.
Ed: But… while nearly all of the rom-com tropes have been used over and over for m/f romance, it’s still new—and fresh—in m/m and f/f.
Jason: I’m a gay man who grew up with a supportive family. I know I’m lucky—coming out was no big deal…
Ed: We were ready with the rainbow flags and confetti.
Jason: And I know my experience is not universal—there’s still way too many men who didn’t grow up with that welcoming message of you be you—but I also know that as progress continues, there are more and more men like me who don’t see our reflection in intense stories of coming out. So I wanted to write books and movies that are set in my world—that world where my parents and my family and my friends have always loved me for me, where my being gay is not a source of conflict—at least not when I’m safe at home.
Ed: So that’s where our movies and books are set. Our heroes have parents who love and support them. Conflicts come from outside sources, which is where those familiar romance tropes come in.
Jason: So, yeah, marriage of convenience—which we use in Frank…
Ed: When two characters—especially two guys who are attracted to each other—when they’re forced not just to spend time in each others’ company…
Jason: But they also have to gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes and PDA all over the place…?
Ed: There are a lot of opportunities to bring the funny.
Jason: And the sexy.
Ed: What he said. We used that same trope in our movie, The Perfect Wedding, where a man talks a friend into pretending to be his boyfriend for a holiday weekend in which he’ll see his ex. In that case, we twisted the trope by having the friend and the ex fall in love.
Jason: But even in The Perfect Wedding, we wrote the required “marriage of convenience” scene where the man and his pretend boyfriend have to kiss to show they’re together. And in their case—
Ed: Their backstory is that they dated a few years ago, and discovered that they’re ill-suited.
Jason: Completely incompatible. So when that kiss happens, it confirms what they already know: It’s one giant NOPE.
Ed: And it’s a real, absolute Nope. As opposed to a pretend Nope, where one or sometimes both of the characters have created long lists in their heads, filled with reasons why a real relationship absolutely won’t work.
Jason: Like, in Fixing Frank, our main characters are a landscaper named Frank, and a first grade teacher named Terry. They discover—
Ed: To their complete horror!
Jason: That they’re both contestants, competing to earn money for the charity of their choice, on a reality web series. And the last thing they want is for the producers of the show to find out that they know each other.
Ed: Because about a year earlier, Terry’s now-ex ran off with Frank’s now-ex. And that wound is still pretty raw—for both of them.
Jason: Just seeing each other is hard—because they both kinda blame each other for the heartbreak.
Ed: But now here they are. And when it looks like their secret has been exposed, rather than be forced to talk about their still-broken hearts on camera, Frank impetuously announces that the breakups were a blessing in disguise, because he and Terry connected, too, and now they’re engaged.
Jason: And Terry’s like, Are you freaking kidding me…? But silently, because, you know, he’s gotta play along.
Ed: And hijinks ensue—including those scenes where Terry and Frank are forced to pretend to be happily engaged.
Jason: Except in this case, when those kisses and PDAs happen, it’s not a real Nope, it’s more of a OMG, is that what I think it is…? Holy fuuhhhh… But… they’ve both got these long lists of reasons why they shouldn’t be together.
Ed: Only, their attraction for each other is overwhelming. For the first time, they begin to really notice each other.
Jason: And because they’re thrown together so often, they start to really like each other—to see each other as someone other than that stupid guy whose stupid boyfriend broke my stupid heart. And the fun continues as they move into a place where they have hot romance novel sex—
Ed: As one does in a hot romance novel!
Jason: And then they’re the opposite of Nope. They’re like, Oh, my god I want that—too bad it’s just pretend, and oh my god, my heart’s gonna get broken again.
Ed: Not gonna give any spoilers, but… Cue the romance novel happily ever after!
Suz: Now here’s our question for you, A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet readers: What’s your favorite romance trope?
Bio: Jason T Gaffney and Ed Gaffney are a son/father writing team who have collaborated for over ten years on stage plays (Looking for Billy Haines), and movies (Jolly, The Perfect Wedding, Russian Doll). Recently, they joined forces to write m/m novellas that include laughs, emotions, and hot sex scenes. (#awkwardnotawkward) They are currently in pre-production for their next m/m rom-com movie, a micro-budget feature, working title Analysis Paralysis.
In addition to his writing, Jason is an award-winning producer and actor. His credits include the web series, Fame Dogs, which just won the Indie Series Awards for Best Comedy and Best Ensemble, Comedy, and the award-winning LGBTQ rom-com The Perfect Wedding, which he co-wrote with Ed. Ed’s other projects include an Edgar nomination for his legal thriller, Enemy Combatant (Dell, 2008). He’s also the writer/director of the indie film Russian Doll, a f/f thriller, in which Jason plays the bad guy.
Our giveaway books: We’d love to give the A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet blog visitors the first two books in the California Comedy series: an epub of Creating Clark, and an epub of A Match for Mike. (Open to international visitors, too!)
Thank you all again for visiting! I hope you noticed Jason, Ed, and Suz have kindly offered a giveaway, so be sure to comment with your favorite romance trope! (And I’d love to see what you thought of this interview too!) 😀