The Game of Love and Death
We’re very excited to bring you guys a first look at Martha Brockenbrough’s upcoming book The Game of Love and Death in conjunction with Rockstar Tours.
As part of the book tour we asked author Martha Brockenbrough to talk about the importance of portraying diverse perspectives and characters in the media and how to portray other experiences outside one’s own respectfully.
Read more about the book, enter the giveaway, and then read her thoughts below, and pick up a copy of The Game of Love and Death after its publication!
Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.
For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.
Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?
Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.
The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter the Rafflecopter above for a chance to be one of five winners who will receive a finished copy of The Game of Love and Death! Unfortunately, this giveaway is for U.S. readers only.
We live in such a fractured age. If you follow the news at all, you’ve read and heard about shootings of unarmed black people. Businesses are seeking ways to refuse to serve gay people. State governments are banning people from using the words “climate change” even though the vast majority of the world’s scientists agree such a thing is happening.
Fear is at the root of all of this: fear of difference, fear that the things we believe are under siege, fear that it is better to pretend the terrifying doesn’t exist. When I think about things in my life I’ve feared, it’s mostly been the unfamiliar. This is why the dark is scary—we can’t see what’s out there, and it’s easy to imagine the worst.
Books work like a light. When you pick up a book full of the unfamiliar, you can take your time exploring it. The book won’t ridicule you, even if it might challenge you. It will rest in your hands. It will respond to their demands, offering you a new page when you’re ready. It will wait for you as long as you need to finish it.
And all the while, it can illuminate the thoughts and actions and hopes of fears of people who aren’t you. Or maybe who are like you. It doesn’t really matter. The light of the page gives us comfort in ourselves and familiarity with the other. It drives away the fear.
Diversity has many facets, and I try to be careful how I use the word. Everyone is diverse. Everyone. Even clones aren’t quite the same (though we don’t have human ones yet—not outside the pages of books.) There are populations, though, that are underrepresented in books. Everyone is diminished in this scenario. I think there is probably a perception that “diversifying” books will cost someone their share of stories, but it’s not a zero sum game. We all share all stories, and we all have something to gain from finding the ones we need at any given time, and the more diverse stories there are to read, the better the chance we will find the right one for the right moment in our one-of-a-kind lives.
It’s scary to write outside of your own experience, but here, as with real life, humility, curiosity, and diligence are helpful tools. I did my best with The Game of Love and Death, and I fully expect people to let me know where I failed. That’s going to hurt, but that’s part of the humility of this work and of part of being a human being. No matter what our intentions, we’re all going to mess up from time to time.
My process for research began before I was even aware I’d write this book, when I was a college student reading the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as fiction by gay men. I wanted to be a writer then, but I wasn’t reading these books as a writer as much as I was reading them as someone who was curious about different life experiences. Books felt like a safe way to explore these perspectives and identities, and I loved doing so even though I’d never think of myself as anything more than a tourist who fell in love with the destinations and loves to return.
Throughout the process, I remained focused on my characters and their individual experiences. I wasn’t writing about what it was to be black or to be gay as to be this particular character at this particular time living in this particular family with those particular aspects of their being. There are many ways to be a member of a group, and I tried to write the character and not the group, although I certainly thought about both.
As far as diligence went, I had many people read this book, and I was especially enriched by the insight of my editor, Arthur Levine, who is gay, and Andrea Davis Pinkney and Cassandra Pelham, who generously shared their thoughts on race. They were kind to me as I learned, something I appreciated to my core. This is the kind of grace I’d love to carry with me as I do my work, which I try to infuse with the spirit of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that means “healing the world.” If I can shed a bit of light with my stories, then my life will have been well spent.
About the Author
She’s the founder of National Grammar Day (every March 4), and she’s written game questions for Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. The former editor of MSN.com, Martha has interviewed lots of celebrities, including the Jonas Brothers and Slash (his favorite dinosaur is the diplodocus). Her work has been published in a variety of places, including The New York Times. She also wrote an educational humor column for the online encyclopedia Encarta for nine years.
She lives in Seattle with her family. Her favorite kind of food is Indian, although Thai runs a close second. Besides writing, she likes board games, playing music with the family band, travel to places far and near, drinking lots of coffee, and working out really hard at the gym.