Books

Romance Authors Come Together to Support Reproductive Rights

Romance authors from across the nation, including Florida, have come together for an anthology in support of reproductive rights.
Romance authors from across the nation, including Florida, have come together for an anthology in support of reproductive rights. Photo courtesy of Dissent: A Charity Romance Anthology
The Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade has inspired political action across the nation. Now that same willingness to act has prompted authors in the romance community to raise money for groups that fund and aid abortions. Dissent is an anthology of original stories from 150 authors in the romance genre.

The book is more than just short stories; it's a rallying cry in creative circles to organize for abortion rights, as co-organizer and author Nicole French tells New Times.

"It's kind of evolved into this thing where we want the message to be that the community is taking a stand," French says.

The anthology is split into three volumes and includes Floridian authors Jenna Lynn, Molly O'Hare, Cara Dees, Persephone Autumn, Tamara Lush, Celia Kyle, and Natasha Raulerson.

For the project, French, a professor-turned-novelist, teamed up with her fellow romance authors Brighton Walsh and Brooke Cumberland. Walsh dedicated herself to photography before pursuing romance writing, and Cumberland, like French and Walsh, is a USA Today bestselling author. The trio was not the first to write a romance anthology supporting abortion rights. Alongside Dissent are Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Rights (which includes poetry), Not Well Behaved Women, Hell Hath No Fury, Liberate, and Our Choice. French says that this shows the romance community overwhelmingly supports abortion rights.

"[Romance] is really about choice," French explains. "If you think about what a romance actually does, it's taking that choice and translating it into what people do with their bodies, especially if you talk about sex. So it makes sense that romance writers would say, 'Hey, hands off our bodies!'"

All of the proceeds from the anthology will go to Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. The collection will be available on September 6 — National Read a Book Day — in hardcover and e-book at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Google Play. An auction will also feature signed books and other items from August 30 to September 2. Items and services in the auction include special editions of books, character naming or book dedication, a Zoom call with authors, a Patreon membership, editing services, and a mentorship.

Dissent also includes a Change.org petition stating, "We — readers, writers, and contributors to [a] thriving romance community — demand that the United States Congress act now to protect these rights and uphold Roe vs. Wade."

According to French, the auction and the anthology were easy sign-ups for enthusiastic authors. What started as a simple social media post evolved into a Google sign-up sheet. At its height, Dissent had 500 authors interested.

"To be honest, it was really easy [to get authors]," French says. "We're limited to what we can publish on Amazon; there are file limits and things like that. So 150 was really the most we can do at the word count. So that's why we did the auction so that we can give everyone a space and make their voices heard."

As for what to expect when the anthology becomes available on September 6, French says the stories will be about romance but not explicitly focused on reproductive rights. Without giving too much away, the stories will cover a wide variety of relationships, scenarios, races, orientations, and genders. The only prerequisite was that it be an original story.

Even though French resides in what she calls "über blue" Seattle, the anthology features many writers from traditionally red states. According to her, every author — "über blue" or not — was happy to get their messages out despite the blowback that may come with publishing a pro-abortion anthology in a red state.

"I'm really honored [red-state authors] are even taking part because there is a different risk there, and it's one of the reasons that we are trying to honor their boundaries and privacy because there's a risk for them putting their name out there, especially in some of their communities," French says.

Action from the romance community, French says, has always been its hallmark, ever since the earliest romance stories. What's different today is that romance authors have the space to organize their efforts.

"Time and again, the romance community has come together to fight for the very thing we write about — people getting their happily-ever-afters in however that looks for them," Walsh adds. "Bodily autonomy is the most basic of human rights and the foundation for every single person's happily-ever-after."

For more information on Dissent, visit romancedissents.com.
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Reina Perez is a freelance writer at Miami New Times. She studied journalism at Nova Southeastern University.
Contact: Reina Perez