Let’s give a warm Wonkomance welcome to Tamara Morgan, who graciously agreed to visit us today to talk about her penchant for the wonktastical. Tamara is a newbie author, like me — her debut novel, Love Is a Battlefield, released with Samhain in February — but she’s already carving out a niche for herself in Humorous Romance of Reenactment. Or perhaps Contemporary Men Who Wear Kilts.
Which is to say, any way you slice it, Tamara is wonky. Which is why I love her.
And now for the interview!
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I think I originally came across you on Twitter because someone said you had a lentil farmer hero, and I pretty much instantly fell in love with you. Because…lentil farmer! So tell me about this guy, and whether he’s as wonked as he sounds, and when we can expect him.
I do have a lentil farming hero! (Though to be fair, he is also one of my Highland Games athletes, so he’s not entirely dedicated to the legume lifestyle.) Those who have read Love Is a Battlefield will recognize him as Michael O’Leary, a crude, overgrown beast of a man who swears constantly, eats and drinks to extreme excess, and is obsessed with his own testicles.
Isn’t your heart palpitating already?
Honestly, though, he’s been my favorite hero to write. I suspect this has less to do with him being a lentil farmer and more to do with the fact that his sense of humor is equivalent to that of a fourteen year old (in other words, exactly on par with mine).
Indeed, I have met Michael, and I was hoping he would get a book. To learn that he is the lentil farmer in question, and that we’ll get plenty of testicle humor… *faints*
But your debut release, Love Is a Battlefield, is pretty darn wonky itself. Let’s see, we have a battle between a Regency reenactment society and a bunch of burly Highland Games fellows, competitive camping with a wood-fired hot tub, a hero from Guam (or, as I prefer to put it, GUAM!), and a denouement that involves human chess pieces. Did you know Love Is a Battlefield was wonky when you wrote it? Did you fear that you’d have trouble finding a home for it?
When I originally started writing Love Is a Battlefield, I was giddy with how ridiculously wonderful I found the whole premise. I told my husband that I was pitting a group of kick-ass men in kilts up against women in flowing Regency gowns, and I wish I’d thought to take a picture of his face. His exact words were, “Um…who would want to read something like that?”
My answer, of course, was, “You have no idea who reads romance novels, do you?”
I wanted to take the decadence of a good historical romance novel, complete with rustic Highlanders and bluestocking ladies in corsets, and give it a modern twist. In order to do that, I needed dedicated re-enactors willing to feud over some land (since, as any good Highland romance reader knows, the hawt factor is all about the incongruously kilted and recently bathed Scots standing up for their kith and kin). The rest of the admittedly wonky details fell into place around them.
I knew it would be an odd book, and I did have trouble finding a home for it, but I think it all turned out exactly as it should. I was fortunate enough to find an editor willing to embrace the wonk in all its glory, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.
(Note: My husband eventually changed his tune and came to the dark side, embracing Love Is a Battlefield the only way he knows how…by making me a virtual paper doll of my hero. You can dress Julian up in various kilts…and take them off again.)
Your husband is awesome! But probably you already knew that. Excuse me while I spend forty-five minutes getting Julian’s kilt hose on properly…
So your next book has codpieces. Excellent! Anything else I ought to know about it? Because “codpieces” was pretty much all it took to cause my autobuying finger to start jerking spastically toward the mouse.
Oh, the codpiece. No other word in the English language has the ability to reduce me to giggles quite as effectively as that one.
In keeping with the larger-than-life playfulness of the series, the second book pits the Highland athletes up against a Shakespearean acting troupe. The World Is a Stage has a Taming of the Shrew storyline, which is one of my favorites of all time. The codpiece in question belongs to the book’s hero, Michael O’Leary. He wears it with pride (in fact, he wears it on a date). He also lives in an Airstream, spouts dirty limericks, and owns the aforementioned lentil farm.
I love him.
Oh Jeebus, he lives in an AIRSTREAM?! That’s even better than the lentils. I am so excited, I can’t even tell you. I am crossing my fingers for awkward Airstream trailer sex.
Okay, last question. Tell us your number one favorite wonktastical book and why you love it.
On the subject of codpieces, I would have to say the hands-down most wonktastical book I’ve ever read is Egalia’s Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg. Now, this book isn’t a romance novel, mind you, but it appeals to the romantic in me, since it’s a satire that takes place in a society where gender roles are reversed and men (menwim) are sexually objectified and oppressed by women (wim).
I know that there are countless social commentaries to take away from this book, and it provides an interesting look at how patriarchal societies are formed and run, blah, blah, blah, but I mostly remember it for the pehoes. Wim, of course, don’t wear bras in this reverse world. It’s the menwim who have to wear supportive undergarments. I’d have to pull out the book to double check, but I’m pretty sure the pehoes are basically fancy boxes that strap around the hips and cover the manbits, decorated all over with pretty ribbons and bows.
Pehoes. Go ahead. Say it out loud.
It doesn’t get much better—or wonkier—than that.
Thanks, Tamara! I’m going to be wandering around the house all day now, saying “pehoes” and laughing. And then singing “Dick in a Box.” Which is another one of my all-time favorite things.
Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.
LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD is available now.
THE WORLD IS A STAGE is set to release June 5.