Friday, July 27, 2018

Suzanne Brockmann - Now a Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

I discovered Suzanne Brockmann in a bookstore.  Strolling through a new to me bookstore on a vacation near a beach, I found Over the Edge. I finished and went back and got Out of Sight. I then went back ad found the beginning of the Troubleshooters series and worked my way through, finding the other series and standalones along the way.  I joined her newsletter list.  I went to a fan event in Atlanta, which I documented here. The event had been timed to precede the RWA conference.  Many of the other attendees knew to stay an extra day for that.  I did not.  (I actually had to come back and move so it was probably just as well.)  But I remembered this RWA thing.  And sometime after that, I read a Meg Cabot blog post where she talked about RWA being the organization that had helped her the most in her career.  It took a little over a year for me to join, but I did.  
Suzanne Brockmann has talked many times about how she pushed to write characters of color, gay characters, and even to make a featured gay character have his own multi-book arc.  And here's the other thing, she is a white, straight, cis-gender author.  She is a multi-bestseller.  Sure, I bet she gets less pushback now, but it's still there.  Yes, no one will always like you.  But, Brenda Jackson and Beverly Jenkins are likely the only African American authors to receive RITAs, and those were lifetime achievement awards.  Not everyone who writes great things will get an award, but such a lack is still glaring.  African American authors are not the only category of authors RWA has failed to acknowledge.  But it's a big, obvious one.  Partway through, Brockmann's speech, I thought about the second thing.  I don't claim to be besties with Jackson and Jenkins (although, hi, universe, drinking buddies would be just fine), but their speeches were wonderful and talked about the struggles they faced and how grateful to receive such an award now.  And Brockmann as a intersectionally privileged person, was able to be a little angry.  It was exactly what I expected of her, and was a powerful demonstration of true allyship. Just like she also had a list of favorite authors other people should go visit at the Literacy Signing.  (A thing, she has actually been doing forever. Not all favorite authors have the same taste as you, but I have discovered lots of great authors from her.)
Brockmann posted the full text, with some notes here.  I have already sent in my feedback that the RITA ceremony was everything I wish for RWA to be and hope for it to become.