William Maltese has posted an opinion piece about writing M/M romance for different audiences – male and female. In my opinion some M/M books that are written by women and those written by men are different, with female writers including more emotional content in their books. However, I have read books by female M/M writers who got down and dirty and took me through backrooms, public restrooms, and parks in their one hand reads® which are no different to similar stories written by male writers for a mostly male audience. William does have a point about the majority of M/M books being tailored to meet the expectations of female readers, after all, they represent the main target group of publishers and writers of these books. Here’s William’s take on the whole writing for women and writing for men business.
I have been noticing something, over the last few years, which causes me, at this time, to make comment upon an aberration of gay fiction which has occurred since I first began writing it. (See Drewey Wayne Gunn’s THE GOLDEN AGE OF GAY FICTION
or my web-site at
for insight into my literary beginnings).
Namely, many new writers and readers of the genre — namely of the female persuasion — seem to have entered the market place with the preconceived notion, incorrect, that real m/m love and romance and real m/f love and romance proceed basically along the same lines, and that any m/m book that portrays otherwise is somehow lacking, off the mark, and has an author who has somehow gotten “it” all wrong — when, actually, quite the opposite is probably closer to the truth.
A quick aside here by way of assurance that this isn’t a tirade delivered by me to bemoan the entry of women into the m/m marketplace, as readers, as writers, and as reviewers. I have many close friends in the m/m publishing business who are women and whom I love dearly and who I’ve come to appreciate as being stellar contributors to the genre. I’m of the belief that anything that expands a genre’s popularity and its fan base is a good thing, not a bad, for all involved; and, I’ve always been a true believer that, if only given the chance, and/or if only giving themselves the chance, women would be just as turned on by man-on-man sex as men have for so long been turned on by gals going at it.
What I merely want to point out, here, is that women writing m/m for the enjoyment of women readers … in fact, men writing m/m for the enjoyment of women readers … will likely be required to write differently than those same authors would write m/m for the enjoyment of male readers. This is not a bad thing, any more than it’s necessarily a good thing; it just is what it is. The truth of the matter is that the female libido is wired differently than that of the male; what turns a woman on, by way of love and romance, isn’t necessarily the equivalent of what does it for a man. We would all, writers and readers and reviewers, alike, be far more content, happy, and understanding if we recognized that fact from the get-go and didn’t try to pretend, wish, or actually believe that it’s otherwise.
Frankly, I’m getting rather weary of just how many women reviewers (and there does seem to be a plethora of them popping up, these days), are criticizing and bemoaning some male authors of m/m books for not providing them with “m/m romances” but, rather with just “plain old fashioned m/m sex-for-sex’s sake” — as if many a male reader’s ideal of m/m romance and love isn’t sex-for-sex’s sake rather than the romance and love loaded down with all of the accumulated emotional baggage that women are more apt to attach to it.
Ladies, most guys, although there are exceptions to any rule, do not need a long lead-in, let alone emotional attachment, to think themselves in love, or believe themselves actually romantically involved, especially if it’s just for a brief moment in the back room of some bar, or hurried sex with some stranger in a dark park. All of the early m/m books, written entirely for an initially total male audience, were wham-bam-thank-you-man dissertations, and not long-and-lengthy courtships a la Harlequin that only saw sexual consummation realized at book’s end. So, the next time you find yourself with a book in hand that takes that seemingly sex- for-sex’s sake viewpoint, as regards m/m love and romance, do, please, try to remember that while it might not be playing to your specific interpretation of m/m love and romance, it is likely playing to the interpretation of some guy. So rather than you moaning and groaning and complaining that the author, rather than you, doesn’t know about what he’s talking, you should really just move on to a book more geared to your own way of thinking — of which there are more and more out there — and quit trying to label only your interpretation of m/m romance and love as the only interpretation of m/m love and romance.
I mean, if my book CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS is sub-titled, “A One-Hand Read®”, what is there about one-hand read® that would have some reader convinced that I should be providing her with something other than the male-desired short-on-emotional-involvement m/m love and romance that I’ve blatantly advertised?
I’m thoroughly convinced that more readers and reviewers would be satisfied with what they’ve read if there wasn’t a tendency in the market place for women writers of m/m love and romance books to have pseudonyms that are masculine in nature and, thereby, confuse the reader; guys who think they’re getting a wham-bam-thank-you-man book, written by a real man, for a man, end up with an m/m Harlequin-type romance written by a woman; women readers, who would best appreciate an m/m Harlequin-type romance, pick up a book by a real man, for a man, and find themselves dragged through back rooms, parks, truck stops, and funky alleys, for seemingly quick and meaningless sex which is actually sufficiently loving and meaningful mainly only for the men for whom the book was really intended.
I could understand this penchant for female authors assuming male pseudonyms, if this was a time wherein women were seeking to enter a genre entirely dominated by male readers and, thereby risked being shunned by readers for not being male-specific. Willingly, I was published as Anna Lambert and Willa Lambert in my halcyon days of writing m/f romances for the likes of Harlequin, because, it was genuinely believed, even advertised, that such books were for women written by women. Even today, most m/f romance readers being women, a man might feel himself at a disadvantage in trying to write a book appealing to that audience. But in m/m love and romance fiction, wherein the majority of readers have become women, not gay men, not being gender-specific, by way of authorship of a book, is downright confusing to the reader, and actually often disallows readers the ability to find the kind of novel that best appeals to his or her interpretation of m/m love and romance. As a man, I would likely be more drawn to LOVING BROTHERS written by Chad Stuart than to LOVING STUDS written by Suzy Cue, if what I wanted was just to read a quick sexual romp. Likewise, a woman reader, less appreciative of random sex, would likely be more drawn to the latter. However, if Suzy Cue is writing LOVING BROTHERS as Chad Stuart, I’d possibly be as disappointed, in my reading of that book, as any woman reader wanting a Harlequin-type m/m romance would find herself if she ended up reading a book written by a real man for a man.
So, in summation … if you are a man or a woman and want to read a plot-lead m/m novel, wherein emotional interaction takes precedence … if you are a man or a woman and want to read a sex-lead m/m novel, wherein emotional interaction is at a minimum … do a little research on whom (man or woman) wrote the book you’re tempted to buy and what the available blurbs have to say about the book in question. You might still end up disappointed, on occasion, but I guarantee you’ll be less so, as an informed reader, than you’ll ever be if you pay less attention.