I am that man.
I recently got a review for Hungry for Love where the reviewer said something along the lines of “I read m/m because I want to read about men; I don’t want female characters messing things up.”
This surprised me, perhaps as much as the uninitiated are surprised when I tell them the readership for gay romance is at least ¾ straight women. Women don’t want women in their gay romances? Seriously?
It takes two to tango. And it takes at least two to make a book. Just like a play needs an audience to fully come alive, a book needs a reader for precisely the same reason.
One thing I have to constantly remind myself as a writer is that, once I have written the words, ‘the end’ to a story is that I must let go. As much as I labored over the book, dreamed about it, had conversations with myself about it, agonized over word choice, character hair color, continuity, repetitive words and phrasing, the time comes when the book meets the public which signals that it’s time for me to step aside.
Just peruse the men for men ads in your town’s Craigslist and you’ll find lots of guys looking for other barebackers. And no, I am not talking about riding a horse here (but maybe riding someone who is hung like one). Check out #bbbh on Twitter (that’s the bareback brotherhood for those not in the know); check out barebackrt.com (that’s the bareback real time hook up site). Hey, if you want to have sex without a condom, it seems there’s no end to the possibilities. If you want to see sex without condoms, turn to Treasure Island Media and their lovely documentary-style videos. Try Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend if you want to see a wholesome lad giving selflessly of himself again and again.
From Goodreads: In the ‘Gay for You’ (GFY) genre, a character who was not previously gay, or at least didn’t know they were, meets ‘the one’ and embarks on a gay relationship with him/her. The implication is usually that one or both protagonists wouldn’t be in a same-sex relationship except with this one special person.
Recently, someone on one of my Facebook groups posted a solicitation looking for a good “Gay for You” novel and it bothered me, not as a writer or a reader, but as a gay man.
This post will probably cause some controversy, so I’d just like to say first of all that I am not trying here to convince anyone of what they should read or write, but simply to present my own and deeply personal perspective on why I am bothered by the whole “gay for you” thing.
So I am in Chicago this week, away from what is now home (Seattle), but back in what, for many years, was home to me: the city of big shoulders, the Windy City. I lived here for more than sixteen years and this city, more than any other, is home to me—and more than that, it’s inspiration.
That’s what I’m thinking about this morning: how places inspire us, both in writing and in life. Chicago for me is an inspiration I simply cannot get away from. Its mean streets, its gorgeous boulevards and skyline, its hard-working, but complicated people. For me, it’s always been easy to return to Chicago in my mind, which is maybe why I use it so often as a backdrop in my writing.
A recent post in one of my publisher groups got me to thinking. Anything that gets me to thinking is a dangerous thing because it usually leads to me doing something I shouldn’t. But, in this case, I think it’s probably worth following up on.
A writer posted on the m/m romance publisher group that she (with her two-initials first name) had recently received a note from a potential reader, who asked her if she was a male. She wondered how she should respond—and many other writers chimed in, with suggestions for everything from silence to snark to courteousness.
Ever the smart-ass, I surprised myself by coming down on the side of courteousness. This is what I wrote:
Romantic hero number one, with stars in his eyes, asks romantic hero number two the age-old question, “Why do you love me?” And romantic hero number two, who is a wise man indeed, gives a response that at first blush may seem glib, “Why not?”
This morning I am thinking about why we love what or who we love. That question, I would think, would have great resonance among readers of romance, because it’s core to most of our stories—and often a writer feels he or she needs to give credible motivation for a couple falling in love. And in fiction, I kind of agree, but is it true for real life?
There are now two of me—one is the “Stephen King of gay horror” and that me writes books like IM, A Demon Inside, Blood Sacrifice, and Deadly Vision. This Stephen King character is grizzled, bearded, and grumpy. You don’t want to meet up with him in a dark alley.
The other me is much lighter, in terms of psyche. That me is a gay romance writer. This guy, who is clean-shaven, has a smile for everyone, and is generally in a good mood, writes love stories like Chaser, Tricks, Beau and the Beast, and Caregiver.
These two me’s have seldom been left alone in a room together and when they have, they have managed to produce books that are a hybrid of the two, books like The Blue Moon Café and Bashed. Those two books combine the sometimes-at-odds with the other combination of horror and romance.