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  1. Books

What's Suzanne Brockmann reading?

Nightstand

Suzanne Brockmann

Brockmann, 54, will be a busy woman on Oct. 25 at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. She will appear twice, once for Do or Die, the first book in her new romantic suspense trilogy, Reluctant Heroes, and again with her daughter Melanie, a personal trainer and resident of Sarasota, for their YA paranormal romance, Night Sky. Brockmann is arguably most known for her Troubleshooters series, and in the 2004 book of that series, Hot Target, she gained fame for being the first mainstream romance writer to include gay characters in a subplot. She dedicated Hot Target to her openly gay son, Jason, who now lives in Los Angeles. When we caught up with the author by phone, we asked her if she expected her gay story lines to be so well-received by her readers. "I do a lot of signings all around the country, and there were times when I'd be somewhere that I didn't expect everyone to be so open to it, but at those places it seems I'd always get the question, 'Will we be able to read more with the gay characters?' '' Brockmann said. "So it's been wonderful to learn that most of my readers are so very open to diversity.'' Brockmann and her husband, Ed Gaffney, split their time between Sarasota and Massachusetts.

What is on your nightstand?

I've got several. Everything I'm reading is electronic now. I've got Made for You by Melissa Marr. It's a YA romantic suspense novel with paranormal elements. It's absolutely hands-down my favorite book of 2014

Why?

The writing is awesome, just beautiful, and the story is gripping. I also have Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. He's another YA author. It's fantasy. He writes books with gay characters. It's got diversity in it. That one I just started. I have one more author that I just downloaded. It's a short story by Alexis Hall, who is about my son's age. He writes romance. He wrote my favorite book of 2013, Glitterland. It's a sweet boy-meets-boy story. He's magic, the way he writes.

You've mentioned before that you knew your son was gay before he came out to you at 15. Did you lean on any books to help your son find his identity?

Actually, I used books after he came out to make sure he was informed with things like safe sex, and you know the gay community is a real, vibrant community. It's kind of a club, so we made sure that we pointed him to the LGBT aisle at Barnes & Noble and let him invest in books. But when he was younger, there weren't that many books out there yet. There is a YA author I'd recommend, Alex Sanchez, who wrote The God Box. … Now there's a great website for parents called theparentsproject.com, which just put out a book. I blog for them occasionally.

Contact Piper Castillo at pcastillo@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4163. Follow @Florida_PBJC.

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