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    QUESTION #5 M/M Authors Roundtable Discussion – Is your work ‘outside the box’?
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  • Published: Feb 23rd, 2009

Marisa: Relative to what print publishers are willing to release, do you consider your work “outside the box” ? What is it about your work that may be considered “outside the box”?

(Find out more about these authors by clicking on thier names for links to their web sites. Also check out excerpts of their books on our book page. )

This afternoon we’re giving away a copy of Jet Mykles HEAVEN SENT to one random  poster.


regularly2.jpgKA Mitchell:
I have read some of the gay erotica that is available from more traditional publishers and I do think that what we are selling is a bit different, especially in that it’s marketed to women. Much of the gay romance I read prior to the past four years did not focus as  much on the sensuality or the emotional development of the  relationship. It was there, but was paired with something from another genre such as mystery or science fiction or family drama. I think this was because publishers were skittish about selling something that was exclusively romance with two heroes.

With this market I feel free to write stories where even though the romance is the main focus, I’m not as bound by genre expectations as are writers of m/f romance. For example, in my book Regularly Scheduled Life, the romance is about a happy couple who because of external events become estranged and eventually break up before they find their happily ever after. I can’t think of a traditional romance where that kind of relationship journey occurred.


med_howeverlongthenight.jpgJamie Craig:
Well, some of our work is most definitely “outside the box” for  print publishers. Pepper and I just finished the 10th book of our MasterChronicles, the first of which was our first foray into m/m together. The entire series is very dark, both in violence and sexuality, with one of the two heroes a genuine masochist and his partner a vampire. Toss in a female empath with her own submissive tendencies, and I can’t even conceive of a print publication touching it in its current incarnation. It’s a niche within a niche, and with print already struggling to stay profitable in an ailing economy, the last thing conservative publishers are going to do is experiment like that.

That being said, we’ve certainly written some stories that aren’t any more provocative than what’s available in print erotic romance today, except for the fact that they’re m/m. There’s even a few that would give some of the sweeter, more romantic het stories a run for their money.





myfaircaptain72lg.jpgJL Langley:
Hmmm. Other than being gay romance? I don’t think so. At least not what I’m writing. I think the only reason the big NY publishers haven’t jumped on bandwagon is because they’ve yet to realize how popular gay romance is and how well it does sell. I think that will happen though.








jola_adrienenglishmysteries_coverlg.jpgJosh Lanyon:
What JL said. I’m probably a bit more literary than the typical m/m writer, but other than the fact that I’m writing gay romance, my writing is about as “straight” as it gets. I might experiment with POV or voice or a narrative style but I write a classic mystery — and a classic romance. I would also agree that the only thing keeping NY publishing from snapping up m/m is it has yet to prove itself commercially. I think that will change although I don’t know that Harlequin is going to come knocking this year.







35612372.JPGChris Owen:
In theory and in general I agree with JL and Josh. New York is waiting to see what kind of money can be made and how things can best be marketed. We’re definitely laying the groundwork for a breakthrough, and the small publishers are really the heroes there. For me personally, though, I’m not sure if my work is what NY puts out, aside from the M/M aspects. I have a tendency to roam all over the place, from historical to speculative, and there’s an awful lot of  threesomes and kink that keeps happening in my stories. The last couple of years I’ve swung back into calmer waters, but if NY were presented with a few of my titles like Gemini or the series I wrote with Jodi Payne, I’m not sure how far I’d get. I’m actually very okay with that, as these are the stories and the market I chose. I’m not aiming for New York, never have.

To reiterate the point, however — New York will start publishing gay romance and gay erotic romance as soon as the market is proven. I really do believe that.



lb_gobsmacked_500×75022-200×3006.jpgLB Gregg:
I’d like to believe that I’m outside the box, simply because that might sell books… but I’m writing love with sex, not the other way around. Hey, Lora Leigh is main stream and she pushes boundaries all kinds of boundaries. And she does well. I think NY will snap us up if the quality writing is present and they can make the bucks.

What really yanks my chain is the misconception that m/m=kinky. Just because we write stories about gay men, it doesn’t automatically mean that we’re pushing the envelope.

Unless we are on purpose. Heh.







jm_heavensent2_coversm.jpgJet Mykles:
I guess it depends on the print pub. I’ve read stories that are a lot more graphic and “out there” that what I write. I suppose for some it’s outside the box because they haven’t come to terms with m/m. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve read enough of what’s come out lately to be a proper judge.











twilight_large.jpgAlly Blue:
@ Chris, OMG Gemini! I love that book! Twins on leashes!
**dies** [/fangirly moment]

Okay then. To answer the question. Honestly? I don’t really know what NY is publishing as far as romance in print. Seriously. My shelves are filled to overflowing with sci-fi and horror, pretty much. Weird that I even write romance, when you think about it, but the world is a strange place. All my romance novels are contained within my trusty laptop, Admiral Crunchbyte (the boy-child named him; I dunno).

Anyhow, no, I don’t think I write outside the box at all. I think if I wrote straight romance instead of gay, every last one of my books would be smack in the middle of the proverbial box. There are a few instances of toy usage, and one threeway, but mostly I think I’m pretty vanilla. Luckily that’s my favorite flavor *g*

By the way, I totally agree with LB about the misconception that m/m has to be kinky. SO not true! I think this is why NY has forced me out of my box, dang it. I’ll tell you something else on that same topic. I think there is a bias against gay male romance — particularly erotic romance — in indie bookstores. Not gay bookstores. Regular independent bookstores. Or at least a few I have personally encountered. I won’t elaborate here, but yeah. I’ve seen it and it makes me furious. Attitudes have to change from the ground up before the big dawgs change their tune.

(Find out more about these authors by clicking on thier names for links to their web sites. Also check out excerpts of their books on our book page. )

This afternoon we’re giving away a copy of Jet Mykles HEAVEN SENT to one random  poster.

jm_heavensent_coversm.jpg

28 Responses to “QUESTION #5 M/M Authors Roundtable Discussion – Is your work ‘outside the box’?”

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  1. Chris Owen
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:07 pm

    OMG Ally! *dies* Thank you SO much! It’s just come out in print and I’ll be signing it at RT this year; I’m a bit nervous about that. Thank you so much — you’ve greatly encouraged me. 😀

    ….. wow, my day has been made.


  2. Kati
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:26 pm

    Well, let me ask this question, if New York did get on board with M/M romance and begin publishing it more mass market-wise, would it change the genre? I mean, part of what I love about M/M that I’m reading now, is that the author’s voices and vision seem so clear to me. I’m just wondering if it would be a good thing to have NY calling. I’m ignorant about the role of publishers in shaping the way a book is written, but I for one would be really upset if the genre changed drastically because of the way books are approached or edited.


  3. katiebabs
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:31 pm

    What is considered “outside the bos” for MM romance? How kinky the sex can get? I have read a great deal of straight erotica that makes me gasp because of their OMG, how can they do that position sex scenes.
    Again, does it always come down to the sex?


  4. Renee
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:37 pm

    From what I glean from the author comments, and experienced in my own (albeit limited) reading of m/m, the m/m genre is a big wide world out there. There’s something for everybody, and there’s a lot or room outside of “the box”.

    I like that there’s so much diversity in m/m fiction. Just like I can decide some days if I want to pick up paranormal romance by Nalini Singh or historical romance by Stephanie Laurens, I can also decide if I’m in the mood for sci-regency by JL Langley or a murder mystery by Josh Lanyon.


  5. PJ
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:07 pm

    These discussions have been fascinating. I’m a m/m virgin. I can see you frowning at me, Kati and I know what you’re thinking. Well, what are you waiting for? Give it a try! The reason I haven’t tried it isn’t due to any type of bias but, rather, a lack of exposure to your books. The local indie bookstore doesn’t carry m/m – Heck, they don’t even carry erotica – and my only other local book outlet is Wal-Mart. You know they aren’t going to have it! Normally I’d try out a new-to-me sub-genre by picking up a book at the UBS or library but they don’t stock m/m or erotica either.

    So, while I haven’t contributed to the discussions yesterday and today I have been reading what everyone else has to say. I’d like to thank the authors and the posters for visiting us here at RNTV and giving me a better insight into this sub-genre. Now I’m off to decide which of your books I want to read first!


  6. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:25 pm

    Well, let me ask this question, if New York did get on board with M/M romance and begin publishing it more mass market-wise, would it change the genre? I mean, part of what I love about M/M that I’m reading now, is that the author’s voices and vision seem so clear to me. I’m just wondering if it would be a good thing to have NY calling. I’m ignorant about the role of publishers in shaping the way a book is written, but I for one would be really upset if the genre changed drastically because of the way books are approached or edited.

    I can’t imagine this ever going totally mass market. I don’t know that the market is there. But it could be an enormously successful niche in the way ethnic chick lit is, for example.

    In fairness to traditional publishing, a lot of brilliant stuff comes out of NY. Innovative, cutting edge literary fiction as often comes out of NY publishers and the big houses as some small eclectic prestigious indie press. Granted, there’s a lot of crap too, but there’s a lot of crap in indie and small press (including electronic and self-publishing). And, frankly, while I love a lot of what’s happening in ebooks and small press — I think of it as the contemporary pulp fiction movement — most of what I see being published out here would not cut it in mainstream publishing, and I’m not talking about subject matter or adult themes. Is anyone here really going to argue that it’s tough to get published in m/m fiction? Because, I think it’s about impossible NOT to get your m/m work published. I mean, you may not get your publisher of choice, but if you want to work in this genre, you’ll find someone to put your books out.

    One of the positives NY publishing would bring to the mix would be greater distribution — and that’s key to survival in this game. I do all right — I paid my mortgage on my m/m earnings last month, but I’ll tell you honestly that that’s a rarity. There have been months when I was lucky to cover the utilities.


  7. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:30 pm

    This is an interesting question. In some ways m/m is by nature “out of the box” since it’s not yet the norm. In other ways, I don’t think it’s that out there (but I’ve always been open minded, so I thought I should qualify that statement) because there are so many types of m/m that don’t necessarily fall into an erotica category: they’re westerns, sci-fi, contemporary, etc. Is the question about “out of the box” regarding creativity, or subject matter, or both. If we’re talking creativity, many het as well as m/m fiction would definitely qualify as residing well outside of the box.

    PJ, I would definitely suggest you try some short stories or something. A lot of these great authors have freebee shorts to give you feel of the genre, plus they’re short in length so you get a pretty instant feel about whether or not you like it (or could like it). Then of course, you’ll get hooked and want to buy them all – at least that’s true for me. 🙂


  8. Wave
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:48 pm

    I can’t imagine this ever going totally mass market. I don’t know that the market is there. But it could be an enormously successful niche in the way ethnic chick lit is, for example

    Josh,
    As you know NY publisher Perseus is investing a lot of its own money in the M/M historical market by bankrolling Erastes, Alex Beecroft, Lee Rowan and another author (I don’t know his name) starting this April, with a huge launch on both sides of the Atlantic of their books and I assume that if the launch is successful the company would add other authors, and maybe even consider contemporary M/M. So obviously at least one publisher is thinking strategically in terms of the M/M market and its future potential.

    I do all right — I paid my mortgage on my m/m earnings last month, but I’ll tell you honestly that that’s a rarity. There have been months when I was lucky to cover the utilities.

    Obviously, writing is not as lucrative as I used to think, so I won’t quit my day job any time soon. *g*


  9. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:51 pm

    I like that there’s so much diversity in m/m fiction.

    This is one of the strengths of the genre. Part of that has to do with electronic publishing which has given m/m its…voice. The variety in formats alone: shorts, novellas, novels — you don’t get this typically in mainstream publishing. It’s where small and indie excel — those kind of innovations, that kind of flexibility, versatility.

    Then within m/m you have every possible sub-genre. You name it, I’m betting it’s been done. From regency space operas (JL’s work — sheer genius — comes to mind here) to classic contemporary romance (K.A. is one of the shining stars of there). Romantic comedy, paranormal, historicals…mysteries and suspense…fantasy. Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen. Not an ebook, but small press m/m fantasy that I think is destined to be a classic in the vein of Kushner’s Swordspoint.

    And when the writing is good, it’s as good as anything NY has to offer — absolutely.


  10. Renee
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:59 pm

    Josh: Yes! Wicked Gentlemen was one of the books I was thinking of when I said that. It was one of me favorite reads so far this year regardless of (sub)genre.


  11. Wave
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:00 pm

    Much of the gay romance I read prior to the past four years did not focus as much on the sensuality or the emotional development of the relationship. It was there, but was paired with something from another genre such as mystery or science fiction or family drama

    K.A.
    One of the reasons I read M/M is because it is “paired with something from another genre such as mystery or science fiction” since I love those sub genres. I read straight crime stories, horrors, mysteries, sci-fi, paranormals etc without any romance, and with M/M I find those stories enormously more interesting than a straight M/M romance. Obviously, this is just me. I do read straight M/M romance but my preference is to add another genre to make it a better read for me.


  12. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:00 pm

    As you know NY publisher Perseus is investing a lot of its own money in the M/M historical market by bankrolling Erastes, Alex Beecroft, Lee Rowan and another author (I don’t know his name) starting this April, with a huge launch on both sides of the Atlantic of their books and I assume that if the launch is successful the company would add other authors, and maybe even consider contemporary M/M. So obviously at least one publisher is thinking strategically in terms of the M/M market and its future potential.

    Yes, it will be interesting to see what happens there. Granted, m/m has already been successfully launched in mainstream commercial fiction within the fantasy genre — anyone remember Tanya Huff’s The Firestone? Or Lynn Flewelling’s nightrunner series? Paperback bestsellers. And there are numerous others. But historical could be a good vehicle– even a better vehicle? And having that publisher push could make a real difference.

    Obviously, writing is not as lucrative as I used to think, so I won’t quit my day job any time soon. *g*

    Most fulltime writers don’t make a living at fiction, sad to say.


  13. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:17 pm

    Again, does it always come down to the sex?

    I don’t know. At one time I would have confidently said no, but I’ve read enough reviews where readers seemed to ultimately judge on heat level that it’s a little…disappointing.

    I know that the readers who seem to like my work care about a lot more than the dancing chili peppers, and my work seems reasonably popular, but this current widespread interest — the thing making this genre so commercial right now — is it based on the kink factor? I guess the best folks to answer that are the readers themselves.


  14. Cathy M
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:52 pm

    The majority of my m/m library is in ebook format, and I commend all the small publishers for making these titles available to us.
    Chris Owen was the first author I read thru Torquere, then it was titles from Amber Quill and Loose ID and Samhain, that gave me so many other new authors to add to my favorites list.


  15. Mariana
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:54 pm

    These conversations have been so interesting. So many of my new favorite authors participating 🙂

    Anywho, I don’t think these books are “out of the box” per se. To me, they are wonderful relationship stories that happen to be with 2 men. These books seem more personal and intimate in the relationships formed; more mature, which I feel have been somewhat lacking in some of the mainstream books that have been published lately. Not to say that the more mainstream books are lacking, just that these seem to be more based on the relationship than external stuff.

    I’ve noticed I’m more attrated to re-reading my m/m books than my more “traditional” books lately.

    (No need to enter in giveaway; own all the books by authors in discussion)


  16. Natasha A.
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:16 pm

    See, like I commented before….I don’t see a person’s sex. To me, what you write is just another romance, but they are both heroes! I know that I am in the minority though and as much as I hate to say it though, I don’t know if NY will pick it up. Or it will be a while before it does. I don’t think that the United States is liberal enough as of yet. Look at California and Prop 8..or the fact that I just read on someone else’s blog that this library in (I believe) Southern California is limiting accessibility to: The Joy of Sex, The Joy of Gay Sex, The Lesbian Kama Sutra and Sex for Busy People, so that minors will not be able to borrow them. How can we justify that? (sorry, rant here….I work in a library and I just can’t understand that!)
    I’ll get off my soap box now! lol


  17. orannia
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:17 pm

    Much of the gay romance I read prior to the past four years did not focus as much on the sensuality or the emotional development of the relationship.

    And yet it is that sensuality and the emotional development of the relationship that I’m looking for. I’m still stretching my wings as far as erotic romance goes (whether it is f/m, m/m m/f/m, etc.). But, regardless of what I pick up I need that emotional connection and development.

    I so need to sort out being able to read eBooks. There are so many books out there I can’t read because they aren’t in print yet…and then there is the postage all the way down here!


  18. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:25 pm

    I so need to sort out being able to read eBooks. There are so many books out there I can’t read because they aren’t in print yet…and then there is the postage all the way down here!

    As much as I love print books, ebooks are wonderful for their immediacy, privacy, and price (usually).


  19. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:38 pm

    I have to agree that I’ve been reading more of my m/m romances than het lately as well. I don’t know that it has anything more to do with anything about the fact that it’s m/m so much as it’s *good* m/m – shoot, it’s *good* fiction, period.


  20. Kris
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:47 pm

    I’d like to echo the comments about the diversity of m/m being one of the reasons they like it so much. I feel exactly the same way. I LOVE the fact that I can read m/m in so many genres.

    I’ve read enough reviews where readers seemed to ultimately judge on heat level that it’s a little…disappointing.

    Josh, I really don’t get this approach at all. It puzzled me for ages what the heck the chillis or the kissy mouths were and when I figured it out… I kind of scratched my head… a lot. I guess I can understand it if the work is pure (hmm, okay prob’ly not the best word to use LOL) erotica. Maybe there IS a whole heap of readers out there who buy books on this basis. *shrugs* I don’t know.

    I so need to sort out being able to read eBooks. There are so many books out there I can’t read because they aren’t in print yet…and then there is the postage all the way down here!

    Down here?? Are you from the sunburnt country too, Orannia?? I must admit when I discovered ebooks I felt like I was in heaven. Where I’m from I have difficulty sourcing the YA, spec and romance I read as it is, let alone m/m. If I hadn’t come across epublishers there is absolutely no way I would have ever found out the m/m genre. I’ve not looked back since. 🙂


  21. LB Gregg
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:57 pm

    Kris~My book has 5 kiss-y lips next to it..and I’m like, uh, yeah they do kiss A LOT.

    Don’t those waggling weenies and chili peppers stem from the old men’s magazine ratings for porn? Like…circa the 70’s? I. Don’t. Know. Just wondering.

    Seems to me that some folks like their dirty hot books ::whistles innocently:: at certain times, and other kinds of books at other times. When the two become one: IT’S A MIRACLE. er. It can be a pleasant surprise.


  22. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 4:11 pm

    Wave,
    I love my romances paired with other genres too as my bookshelves can bear witness, both gay and straight. I don’t think there’s a genre I haven’t read at least something in. I just meant that until recently, it seemed that publishers were interested only in buying gay romance if it was paired with a one of those genres. Maybe I was looking in for love in all the wrong places. 🙂 I didn’t even know there was such a thing as slash fanfiction until three years ago, though I’d been quite devoted to whatever m/m fiction I could find. Is that a rock over my head?


  23. Ally Blue
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 4:58 pm

    OMG, y’all have been chatty while I’ve been slaving away at the EDJ! LOL.

    @ Chris, I am glad to make your day sweetie!


  24. Ally Blue
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 5:04 pm

    Errrr…. and I wonder why the rest of my length and brilliant comment did not make it in????
    Oh well. Here goes again!

    PJ, welcome to the wonderful world of gay romance! As Elisa said, many of us have free stories up on our websites (I do my own self *g*). You can sample our wares and see what strikes your fancy. I think I’ve read most everyone in this group and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Yes, I am including myself!
    [/shameless self-promotion]

    To address Kati’s question from waaaaaay up in comment #2, I think that if NY were to pick up on gay romance, it might indeed change the shape of the genre. Whether it would change it for the better or suck the life out of it, who knows? I’m not sure it’s something we have to worry about, TBH O_O


  25. Jody F.
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 5:13 pm

    Most of it is still outside the box (ie. small publisher, ebook format), but it is showing up in mainstream works like Brockmann’s Jules Cassidy/Robin Chadwicke. It’s still hard for me to find it in my public library which can be very frustrating.


  26. Stacy ~
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 8:19 pm

    Personally, I think m/m romance has definitely found a niche out there, and one that’s not going away any time soon. I love seeing how much more popular it’s become even in the last few years. Over the last 2-3 years I’ve had discussions with other readers who only wanted m/f stories to now seeing a lot of women proudly glomming m/f/m and m/m romances. In the beginning, I think it was more the trend thing, the forbidden aspect of it, but now it’s just that readers are able to find such a wide variety of stories that are well-written, emotional, and believable love stories. For those of us who love our HEA, it’s definitely opened up a brand-new world for us, and I am very excited about that.


  27. Aymless
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 11:02 pm

    Outside the box, in the box, next to box… ahh.. whatever! If it a good story and the romance is there, it good enough for me!


  28. Brooks
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 11:43 pm

    I agree with most all of the posters and authors. Just the nature of the M/M story is out of the box. And I love that there are so many different kinds of stories that ebook publishing houses take chances on that NY wouldn’t even touch. I would much rather buy from authors and publishers that are willing to take a chance than those that sell what is mass-marketable. The smaller ebook authors and publishers have a loyal following of readers and fellow authors. I love that closeness.

    Thank you, Chris for saying that you’re not aiming for NY. I wouldn’t want you to lose or change what you’ve got going. That really goes for all the authors.

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