J.P. Bowie is originally from the Scottish Highlands – Aberdeen. He loves to mention that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a former neighbour during the summer months. Jim moved to London at 19 and worked in the theatre for several years before migrating to the US. He also worked for a cruise line as casino manager for a couple of years which is where he met his partner, Phil.
J.P. has almost 30 books to his credit and writes stories that cover the gamut from mysteries, paranormal, historical, westerns, and gay fiction. I’m really pleased that he agreed to be part of this series and I think you will love his post.
So many good articles have already been written on the subject of m/m erotic romance that I wondered if I could really have anything succinct to add. Victor’s words of wisdom and Rick’s common sense observations have resonated with a lot of people who have read these articles.
I started writing in this genre about five years ago. Until then I’d been writing gay romantic fiction without the erotic edge. Yes, my men kissed, caressed and fell in love, but the love making was, in a word, discreet. When I wrote My Vampire and I, I opened the bedroom door and let the guys go for the gold, and after reading the words of one reviewer – “What a delightful surprise from J.P. Bowie” I figured I’d found my niche.
To quote Laura Baumbach who has written so much on this subject she is to me the voice as well as the words of m/m erotica – “If you are intending to write and market your work as m/m erotic romance you must include sexual scenes that depict sexual desire, scenes that arouse the reader on some level. The lovemaking component must develop the characters or move the story along. It can’t be just a throw in for the sake of adding sex or padding your word count. It must mesh with the storyline, be true to the characters and be an integral part of your overall plan.”
That’s it in a nutshell, and what I strive for in all my stories. Your readers have to first love, or at least really like, the characters. They must want to cheer for them as the heroes’ mutual attraction grows and their lips meet for that first kiss. The readers must feel fundamentally involved in the men’s lives and want them to succeed. If that doesn’t happen then the writer has failed in some way to convey the hopes and fears of the protagonists, and to make the reader care for them.
Writing m/m erotic romance isn’t just a case of stringing sex scenes together. Quite often, too much sex in a story can get a bit boring after a while. Here’s where the character building comes in. The men should be real flesh and blood characters, not just buffed and gorgeous with big dicks. On the other hand, all that combined with intelligence, compassion, a sense of worth—and please, a sense of humor—will earn you points from most readers!
Then there’s the plot. Even in a short story there should be more than just boy meets boy, boy beds boy, and they live happily ever after. Yes, HEA’s are pretty much called for by most m/m publishers, but getting there should involve some conversation, perhaps some conflict, indecision, maybe even betrayal, something to hold the readers’ interest other than the fact the lads are buffed and gorgeous with you-know-whats. I like mystery and adventure stories so a lot of my books contain those elements; even my paranormal stories tend to lean toward a mystery to be solved or action sequences. Anything to get the readers’ attention, and not have them skipping pages.
The old adage, ‘never judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t really apply to m/m erotic romance. Most covers depict those buffed and gorgeous lads, but it’s important that the images should also reflect what the story is about. I’m usually happy with what my publishers’ creative department comes up with, but there are times when I will get actively involved with the design, sending images I feel better represent the story. If you don’t like the cover of your book, let the publisher know way before the release date—after that, it’s too late baby.
If you’re a new author, or yet to be published, gird your loins for those first reviews. Every author has had a rotten egg thrown at him or her at one time or another. Once your work is out there it’s fair game for every wannabe critic. Some are good and constructive, others are simply destructive. But hey, it goes with the territory, and I, who have had my fair share of rotten eggs, try to learn from even the worst review.
Writing m/m erotic romance is above all else, fun. You get to invent these great characters, have them fall in love, have mind-blowing sex, chase villains on horseback or in cars or planes, have mind-blowing sex, face down bigotry, put the world to rights, have mind-blowing…Well, you get the idea. All you wannabe m/m writers out there – go for it, and have fun!