Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m so excited to be on tour this week promoting my new release, THE GRAND BALLAST, a m/m speculative novel about a future where the population is so bored with everything from emotions to technology to art that few people create things or fall in love anymore. The only works of “art” that have relevance are the X-shows—live pornographic performances that often incorporate creative violence.
Bode, the main character, is a dancer who still believes in love and falls for the brilliant but highly unstable Kilroy Ballast. Kilroy, in turn, manipulates Bode into joining his famously brutal circus-themed X-show, the Grand Ballast. The story follows both Bode’s twisted relationship with Kilroy and his growing connection with a fellow X-show performer, Valen.
Thanks so much to Sinfully Addicted for hosting me today!
WHY ART MATTERS
So far on this tour I’ve talked mostly about THE GRAND BALLAST’s characters and some of the challenges the story presented. But there’s another angle to THE GRAND BALLAST that I haven’t discussed, and that’s the idea of the book as a kind of love letter to art.
Both Bode and Kilroy see creativity as the key to reawakening a population whose feelings have been dulled by decades spent staring at tiny screens and being bombarded by derivative entertainment. Kilroy’s vision of what he wants to create is certainly more twisted than Bode’s, but both believe they can use art to remind people of what’s important, and to help people forge real connections with one another.
I didn’t want the book to be preachy, or for the characters to serve as my mouthpieces, but like the characters, I believe art has tremendous power. That it’s one of the most fundamental ways for us to connect, and that it will endure even as the world continues to change. Sometimes I worry that we live in an age of shortcuts, where convenience is prized over quality, and transient pleasures over experiences that last. But I look around at all the beautiful things people are still creating, and I’m reassured.
Kilroy says art only needs to change people for a moment, while Bode seeks to evoke a more permanent change. I see value both in creative works that have a cultural impact spanning centuries, and those that make people feel something just for a few minutes or hours. Art can be joyful, savage, beautiful, and terrifying. It challenges the status quo, it gives us courage, and it makes us face the best and worst parts of ourselves.
So yes, this is a story about love and obsession—and a sex circus. But it’s also about a way we can connect deeply with people we may never meet face to face. A way to share experiences and ideas and change one another’s moods and perceptions. It’s about the importance of continuing to make things, even if we’re not sure if the things we make matter. Because everybody can create. And everybody’s creations do matter. We’re always finding one another—through stories and paintings and songs and performances. And that is something truly beautiful, and oddly simple.
The Grand Ballast by J.A. Rock
Genre ~ Dark Erotic M/M Romance, non con.
In a future where live sex shows abound to keep a jaded population entertained, dancer Bode Martin falls for the brilliant and unstable Kilroy Ballast, who molds Bode into the star attraction of his erotic circus, the Grand Ballast. Drugged beyond any real feeling, Bode trades freedom and his once considerable pride for an illusion of tenderness—until he inadvertently rescues a young man from a rival show, and together they flee to an eccentric town in the west where love still means something.
Valen’s not an easy man to know, and Bode shed his romantic notions under Kilroy’s brutal employ. Yet their growing bond becomes a strange and dangerous salvation as they attempt to overthrow the shadows of their pasts and wade together through a world of regret, uncertainty, beauty, and terror.
But Kilroy won't let Bode go so easily. Long ago, Bode was responsible for the loss of something Kilroy held dear, and he still owes Kilroy a debt. As the three men battle toward a tangled destiny, Bode must decide if his love for Valen is worth fighting for—or if he was and always will be a pawn in the story Kilroy Ballast will never stop telling.
WARNING: Contains violence and noncon. Not a genre romance.
:: REVIEW ::
Meet J.A. Rock
J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including BY HIS RULES, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, and, with Lisa Henry, THE GOOD BOY and WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.
In the spirit of THE GRAND BALLAST’s nontraditional romancey-ness, I’m giving away an e-copy of any of my backlist titles that exist in that sort of Is-this-a-romance-novel? gray area. Choose from TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, THE SILVERS, and ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE (co-written with Lisa Henry). More information about each title is available here. Leave a comment and your contact info for a chance to win! A winner will be drawn at random at 11:59 p.m. on July 6th.
::: Congratulations go to Lisa G our lucky winner of this post ~ happy reading! :::