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    QUESTION #1 M/M Authors Roundtable Discussion – Why Do You Write M/M Romance?
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  • Published: Feb 22nd, 2009

POSTED BY MARISA

I contacted some of my favorite authors and they agreed to answer my questions about their work, M/M fiction, and writing in general.  Their answers are honest, thought provoking and provocative. Over the course of the next two days I’ll be posting the discussion in 6 parts. Make sure to go to the links on each authors name for their bios and more information on their books. We’ve also posted excerpts of some of their books on our BOOK page. They’ll be in and out on both days to chat and we’ll be giving away some of their books during each discussion. Stay tuned today for questions 1 through 3. With questions 4-6 on Monday.

Marisa: Since most of our readers may not have read any M/M fiction – let’s start with some basic questions to open up our discussion.

Why do you write M/M romantic fiction? Do you have a particular audience you’re gearing your work towards? And do you feel that a book about two people falling in love is just that – not necessarily about the gender?

shadyridge2001.jpgCHRIS OWEN
I guess this is the powerhouse question, isn’t it? It’s certainly the one I’m asked most when I’m out and about and meeting new people. It’s very easy for people to understand “I write romance novels,” or even, “I write erotica *wink wink nudge nudge*”. The addendum “…about gay men” usually makes me the instant center of attention. Luckily for me, the overwhelming majority of the time it’s a very good conversation from there on out — but the very first question is always, without fail, “Why?!”

Over the last six or seven years my reasons have shifted a little. Originally I wrote romances about men because I thought it was really, really pretty. I like men a lot, and I think that quite often they can be sold a little short in fiction, shown to be a little two dimensional, without depth. I’ve also lived my life surrounded by men and I think that they have such fascinating conversations with each other — speaking almost in code sometimes, understanding things with a look or a phrase that I had to work a little harder to understand. It’s enormously fun to write those conversations and to develop relationships between men in my stories because men themselves are enormously fun. I still think it’s very pretty — two handsome men kissing each other is a lovely thing to see. I write about it because I like exploring intimacy, I like poking away at the stereotypes that are still so pervasive and seeing what’s really behind the way a character acts and what he says.

It’s not hard to see I’m a character driven writer, is it?

I don’t really gear myself to a specific audience unless ‘smart and fun’ is a demographic. I started writing to amuse a very small group of friends and things blossomed from there; I’m very lucky. I get e-mail from men and women of all ages and walks of life, which is thrilling to me. I love that — I love that I’m telling stories that appeal to cowboys in Texas and university students in Germany.

I think that part of me would love to say “It’s all about love! Gender doesn’t matter!” but in my reality it does matter. The stories I tell all contain elements that are partial to being gay — coming out, taboos, facing the all too real hatred, finding acceptance, moving on and letting go of people who just can’t quite accept. I think it’s very important to keep in mind when reading or writing romance stories about gay and lesbian characters that there is almost always an underlying pressure. In little short short stories I don’t dwell on this, of course, but in a novel I think it’s important to at least acknowledge that this is a different kind of romance than what’s shelved a few aisles over.

yellow_socks.jpgJOSH LANYON
For some reason, I always short-circuit on this question. Maybe because I don’t think of myself as a romance writer — NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT — so much as someone writing relationship stories. Maybe this is a cop out?

I’m trying to think how to explain this. I think we are defined by our relationships with others — not just the people we have sex with, but everyone in our life. And my stories are always about that…about how a central character reacts to the world through his relationships with others. And of course the major relationship — or at least the most dramatic for most of us — has to do with who we fall in love with. Many of our relationships are selected for us. We’re born into a family, we form friendships where we work or go to school, but we choose who we love — sometimes we “love” someone we’ve only seen in passing. This who-we-choose-to-fall-in-love-with thing fascinates me, because it is such an exploration of character — and my work is all about the characters.

Gender identity is central to my stories. Also, my stories are not for everyone. I’ll say that up front. If the main thing a reader is looking for is Teh Hawt…I’m not your guy.

langley1.jpgJL LANGLEY
I know just what Chris and Josh mean about this question. It’s definitely the most common question I get asked and one of the most difficult to answer, but let me give it a shot.

Like Chris and Josh, I’m a very character driven writer. So, for me it’s all about the characters and they are all different.

Why men? I love men. I know this sounds odd, but even in straight romance or regular fiction it’s all about the men for me. I really don’t care what female characters are feeling or thinking, I’d rather read a man’s point of view. And I’d definitely rather write a man’s pov.

Why gay men? I love the relationship dynamics between two men. It fascinates me, and I don’t mean the sex. Yes, the sex is hawt, I certainly won’t say otherwise. Naturally, I think any healthy loving relationship should contain sex, but I like to delve into the relationship between my characters. It is different than a relationship between men and women. It feels more real to me.

Do I have a specific target audience? No not really, but unlike Josh, I firmly identify myself as a romance author. I like to play with suspense and fantasy as well, but romance is always a major part of my stories.

jm_devon-cream_150×2251.jpgJET MYKLES
I write romance. I write escapism. I write about characters who fall in love and deal with that or try not to deal with that. I write about people who tear out their hair over the misunderstood actions of another or who melt at just the sight of that special someone. Sometimes–quite often of late–those characters are men who fall for men.

I don’t try to write deep and philosophical stories about love. There are tons of authors out there who are much better at it than I. I like to write about the simple romances. The quirky ones. The fun ones. I like to show the individual relationship and not make it so much about being heterosexual or gay. I guess that’s the world I want to live in, where gender doesn’t matter.

Do I have a target audience? I guess I target the like minded. The ones who want to read to get away from their troubles for awhile. I grew up reading high fantasy and I guess that’s colored my perception. I’ve been writing about men lately because I like to picture men together. Is a gorgeous image, is it not? I like to write different kinds of men, not always manly men, although they certainly find their place in my romances. I find that girly men are also lots of fun.

I guess that puts me firmly in the romance is about two (or more) people falling in love category.

craig1.JPGJAMIE CRAIG
I’ve been sitting here mulling this question for the past ten or fifteen minutes. Vivien and I were both introduced to writing gay romance in fandom through “slash fiction.” After Vivien and I wrote our first slash scene together, there was no turning back. We never set out to be m/m writers, and I don’t think either identify primarily as m/m writers. We still write het and menage, but somehow, we’re drawn to gay love stories again and again. Men occupy a different space in society than women do, men have different cultural and sexual expectations than women, and traditionally, of course, men and women are separated quite sharply. I don’t want to get into a huge discussion of gender politics here, or of traditional representations of men and masculinity in literature and romance, but I think there’s something to be said for the way these things influence (albei unconsciously) our work.

I won’t say that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to love. We are not writing characters that are interchangeable with women. While the end result should be the same (happily ever after), the actual shape of the romance should be different when you are writing a same gender romance. And when it comes down to it, we both love men. We love the way men look. We love the way men smell. We love the way men think, and the way they speak, and the register of their voices. We love how hot men are together.

I also agree with Josh that the real appeal of writing romance–or stories about love–is the question of why two people fall in love and choose to be together. I am fascinated by the process of entwining two lives, based on the belief that it is for the greater good, somehow. People can function just fine on their own, yet we all go through the process of building family units. Sometimes we go through that process again and again. To me, that’s something that can be explored endlessly.

tncollisioncourse.jpgK.A. MITCHELL

I agree with everyone. Am I done?

Okay. Yes, mentioning the genre I love to read and write in is certainly quite a conversation starter, even more so when I explain that the target audience is women. As to why romance and why m/m romance for me, it’s hard to say because I don’t know when that wasn’t what I liked or even wrote. My bio mentions that I put Ken and Chip in bed together while playing Barbie dolls with my friends. It’s quite true. I just always thought it was the best possible arrangement of the dolls.

As I started reading and writing, I was always totally focused on the relationships, friendships initially, and then the romances. When I wrote my own stories, there always seemed to be a gay character or two lurking in the background whether I was writing historical or suspense or science fiction, even if only I knew about him. I saw very few positive portrayals of gay men in the romances I read so I didn’t think I would ever get to tell their stories and still have a commercial career. I hadn’t even heard of slash fanfiction until I’d already tried to sell to the gay erotica print market.

Yes, I find it hot, which is something else that’s always just been there, like being right-handed. It wasn’t something I went looking for, but from the first time anyone ever mentioned it to me, I thought the idea of two guys kissing was much more interesting and later more tingle inducing than any other arrangement.

Now when I’ve dropped that convesational firecracker, I use a couple of different responses to the questions of but why? depending on my audience. For those who are interested, I give them some of the information I’ve read from sociological perspectives on women and slash fanfiction. But when I’m trying to connect with other romance readers, I talk about this. For me what causes a man to fall in love is an interesting question, since they are raised and socialized to hide emotion and vulnerability. Gay men aren’t automatically amazing communicators who are in touch with their feelings. Since what drives a romance is the conflict between the characters, a why-can’t-they-be-happy-together-right-now question, having two characters who are struggling with admitting vulnerability creates the kind of romantic tension I love.

Does gender matter? It definitely does to my characters and they’re the ones doing the driving. There’s so much conflict to explore in this genre because when a same-sex couple forms, they aren’t bound by tradtional gender roles and do not have the built in support system that heterosexual couples do. Their relationship is up to them to define and navagating that minefield is a lot of fun when they bring me along on the ride.

lb_gobsmacked_500×75022-200×3001.jpgLB GREGG
Sheesh! All of the above? I like boys? Penis envy? No?

Ahem: Why do I write m/m fiction? 30 years of reading romance and I finally found the voice that fit. I picked up an m/m novel, a well written, delightful, engaging, seriously scorching, romantic m/m novel by a certain lady ::coughJLLangleycough:: and I wanted more.MORE I TELL YOU!  I read and read…and then I started writing.

Intended audience? Oh one of my favorite ponderings! I write for ladies and gentlemen who enjoy reading fun, fast paced stories about men falling in love.  Love is love no matter what dangly bits you have.

blue_heart.jpgALLY BULE
Why do I write m/m fiction. You know what, I tried really, really hard to come up with a way to put this that wasn’t going to sound bad. But I couldn’t, so here goes anyway. I write gay romance rather than straight because men are more interesting to me than women. That is pretty much it. Soooo politically incorrect, but true. It’s always been that way. When I was a kid, I played Hot Wheels in the parking lot with the boys. My best friends in school were guys, not girls. I still read Clive Barker and Robert Heinlein instead of Nora Roberts. I love zombie movies, but I hate click flicks with the heat of a thousand suns. With very few exceptions, I still get along better with men than with women. My husband claims he married a man with girl parts. As an author, I just can’t get interested in a female romantic lead, therefore I do not write them. Besides, as I said in one of the other questions, the relationship dynamic in a male/male romance is endlessly fascinating to me.

As far as my audience, I’ve never geared my work toward anyone in particular. I write what speaks to me and hope someone besides me likes it LOL. So far, I’m happy to say that men and women both seem to like it just fine. There are still people would try to tell you gay men aren’t interested in romance, but my own experience doesn’t bear that out. I get email on a regular basis from gay men who have read and enjoyed my books. Those emails always make me happy!

Last part of the question: is it just about the two people, or does gender enter into the equation? I think it depends on the particular people whose story you are telling. My fellow authors made some very good points above. Frequently, the characters’ sex has everything to do with their love story. When one of those characters is coming out to their family and/or friends, for instance, or maybe facing their own sexuality for the first — or the final — time. In other stories, though, it may not affect anything at all. It tends to be an issue if one or both characters are either facing up to their own issues with their sexuality, or fighting issues imposed on them from the outside. If neither of those things apply, I think it then becomes about the particular two people rather than their sex and/or sexuality.

And I guess that’s enough of a dissertation from me on that issue! LOL.

A random poster will be winning Ally Blue’s latest release WHERE THE HEART IS.

66 Responses to “QUESTION #1 M/M Authors Roundtable Discussion – Why Do You Write M/M Romance?”

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  1. Kati
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 9:54 am

    Welcome to RNTV all of you fabulous M/M authors! I squeed like a little girl when Marisa and I started chatting about introducing some of our readers to M/M romance, which both of us read and enjoy. And every time she emailed me to give me the name of another author was joining us, I got more excited!

    First, thank you so much for SO thoughtfully answering this first question, which as you’ve said has to be the first thing most new readers want answered. I started reading M/M romance within the last year, and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. Like most of you guys, I’m a hero-centric reader. I love guy speak and the interactions between male characters. I think it’s why I gravitate towards authors who write really strong hero interactions. There’s very little I love more than a hero who has brothers or a best friend where we get to see their interactions. Why? Well, because I’m a woman, and I think there’s such a veil around what it IS that boys do together and talk about and think about when they hang out together. And even more, M/M romance really gives us the male perspective of falling in love. It’s like y’all have cracked some sort of a code that I don’t understand, but I freaking love reading about!!

    I was lucky enough to be introduced to some fabulous new authors in the last few weeks, and I have to say I’m hooked. I really hope some of our readers will venture maybe a bit outside their comfort zone to read your work. It’s been such a fun experience for me!


  2. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:01 am

    Thanks, Kati. We’ll try to live up to expectation. *g* This is fun for us too — talking to readers who maybe aren’t familiar with m/m romance and just might surprise us a little.


  3. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:08 am

    Hi Kati 🙂 Big thanks to you, and to Marisa for her thorough and thought-provoking interview! I loved the discussion format of this interview, and seeing how everyone else answered the questions was most enlightening. I was tickled to death to be included. In this group, I’m not just an author, I’m a fangirl *g*

    BTW, if anyone has any further questions, I’m more than happy to answer them. I’ll be in and out all day today. I’ll be at the EDJ (Evil Day Job) tomorrow, but should be home by 5:00 or 5:30 and I’ll hang out some after that. So don’t be shy! Any questions you might have, speak up 😀


  4. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:17 am

    Hi Kati! Hi Ally!

    I’m very…humbled to be here. Thanks for inviting me.


  5. Wave
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:32 am

    It’s no secret that I love M/M books because my blog features gay men 24/7 but I’m always puzzled as to why so many readers, as well as writers of other genres, want this question answered. I ask it when I interview M/M authors because I know that the readers expect it and want to hear the answer from the authors, but I rarely hear that same question asked of contemporary “romance” authors. I read stories that span different sub genres such as crime, paranormal, mysteries, suspense and a host of other themes but the characters that I love the most are gay men so my books fall within the M/M designation. I guess my question is – why do M/M writers have to explain why they write what they write, especially if the writers are straight females? Is there a perception that writing M/M is so strange that the writers need to explain why they write what they write?


  6. blodeuedd
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:46 am

    I do confess that I am yet to read a M/M novel, but I do have one at home in my enormous TBR pile. And if I liked that one I have no idea where to go next, so many good authors out there 🙂


  7. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:48 am

    Is there a perception that writing M/M is so strange that the writers need to explain why they write what they write?

    Yeah. I think for the majority of romance readers, it IS strange. Maybe it’s not to us…but my experience at RWA was that people either backed sloooooowly away from me (clutching their pearls), or they latched onto me and squeed: I LOVE M/M.

    But I know that I, as a reader, am curious why any writer chooses their genre. Why did Lisa Kleypas switch from historical to contemporary? Why did Lori Foster add that time travel element to an established contemporary series. Why do authors make the choices they do? It’s a typical question, especially when you’re new to something.


  8. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:50 am

    I ask it when I interview M/M authors because I know that the readers expect it and want to hear the answer from the authors, but I rarely hear that same question asked of contemporary “romance” authors.

    We do get it in mystery quite a bit. WHY MYSTERY? And to me it’s self-evident. But I guess the real question is why romance at all? Because as far as I can see the question applies to all romance writing. Why romance and not…literary fiction…or…mystery or westerns or SF? It’s that exploration of personal relationships — in particular the romantic ones — that fascinate. There has to be some reason that romance continues to take the lion’s share in readership.


  9. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:02 am

    Yeah. I think for the majority of romance readers, it IS strange. Maybe it’s not to us…but my experience at RWA was that people either backed sloooooowly away from me (clutching their pearls), or they latched onto me and squeed: I LOVE M/M.

    That evolution from traditional romance reading to m/m reading fascinates me. Maybe we should be asking the readers the questions? I understand why gay readers wish to see some semblance of self in their fiction, but I admit the sudden popularity of m/m with straight readers still catches me off guard. Are we just a flavor of the week? A new — and fleeting — kink? Or are we — meaning western readers in general — becoming more relaxed and open, able to identify with and explore beyond the obvious choices of chocolate and vanilla? Are we truly a 31 Flavors culture? Was the wish/need for this fiction always there, and that need is now being met?

    I have no idea. I’d love to hear from readers on this one. In fact, I don’t even mind hearing from readers who don’t enjoy m/m because I think open (courteous) dialog is important to understanding and tolerance.


  10. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:09 am

    The thing is, Josh, it isn’t sudden. It just seems that way. Readers are “coming out of the closet”, so to speak, with a love they’ve kept close for a looooong time and just now feel safe sharing. Which of course means new people discover a new genre to them, new people get addicted, and it snowballs. And of course THAT means that lots of folks try it and it’s not for everyone, so there’s a flurry of folks trying out this new-to-them genre, which makes it LOOK like a flavor-of-the-week when it really isn’t. If that makes sense. What exactly kicked off people coming forward with their love of gay romance in the first place, I don’t know. Maybe it just sort of reached critical mass, the cultural shifts in society got to the right point and more people felt comfortable telling their friends what they read… I dunno.

    Hmmm… I sense someone’s doctoral thesis in there someplace…


  11. Jerri
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:15 am

    This is a very interesting discussion.

    Until about a month ago, I would have NEVER read an M/M romance. Just not my thing. I couldn’t imagine finding 2 men in a relationship sexy or romantic. Then a friend of mine, who does read M/M, dogged me until I read K.A. Mitchell’s book A Regularly Scheduled Life. OMG. I was hooked from page one. The thing about it was I totally related to Sean and Kyle. They go through such a tumultuous period in their relationship and can’t seem to find the words to communicate with each other after tragedy strikes. For me, it was an eye opener because I got past that the book was about two men and fell into that the book was about two people who had to find a way back to each other. This book really got to me on an emotional level. That’s what I’m looking for when I read a book. Now I’m looking for more books like this.

    Thanks for this discussion and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of what you all had to say.


  12. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:16 am

    Hi Ally Ally Blue!!! Good morning. I think that from a traditional romance standpoint, Suze Brockmann’s Robin Chadwick & Jules Cassidy opened a lot of doors that had been previously closed. She reached folks who wouldn’t have thought they’d like a gay pairing.

    (I love Jules)


  13. Wave
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:18 am

    but I admit the sudden popularity of m/m with straight readers still catches me off guard. Are we just a flavor of the week? A new — and fleeting — kink?
    I think a lot of the popularity of M/M with straight western readers has to do with the yaoi influence, which is huge. However, to answer your question about whether this is just the flavour of the week, I really started reading what is now called M/M many moons ago when I read The Charioteer by Mary Renault and continued to read other more modern M/M after I read Chris Owen’s Bareback in 2003 and I was hooked, so it’s all Chris’s fault.

    Are we truly a 31 Flavors culture? Was the wish/need for this fiction always there, and that need is now being met? I think you have hit the nail on the head. The need was always there, unfulfilled, but now we have authors who write the genre and the electronic means to bring the books to the readers without the neighborhood store clerk knowing what we’re buying. Because of technology and the availability of books to satisfy the need, the growth of this sub genere which was always regarded as kink and indulged in in secret, could be exponential.


  14. Marisa
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:23 am

    Good morning all!

    First, thanks so much to all of the authors who joined in the discussion – you are terrific!

    I really can’t remember the first m/m book I read. I’ve racked my brain and can’t trace back my first steps into M/M romance. I think I might have read an Evangeline Anderson book with a menage that had a m/m/f romance. In any event, and I know this sounds cliche, I really pick my reading material based on the author. If I find an author that ‘speaks’ to me, I’m there, and I’m buying the next book.

    Stumbling on to M/M romance was accidental. But with the advent of the web and authors having websites I troll the internet to find authors I think will appeal to me, and I try to read 2 ‘new to me’ authors a month. Hence, my love affair with m/m romance is really a love affair with the authors. Write a good book and I’ll be reading it. The gender aspect makes no never mind to me.

    Hey Jerri – suggestions for books?- well just check out the authors joining us today. I guarantee that you will find some great reading in your future.


  15. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:31 am

    Welcome!

    It is so very interesting to see the different, yet so alike, answers. Different because obviously each author’s road to m/m fiction is different, but still–it’s all about the characters.

    I like stories in which the central relationship (two, three, however many people in whichever combination works for them) plays an important role. That is why the In Death books work for me as both police procedurals/detective stories *and* romances–it’s always about the relationships.

    As many of you said, I like men. I have always liked men better than women, even though people are people and humans are humans. The reality is that, either by conditioning or nature, the men I’ve known all my life (starting with three older brothers and countless male cousins and friends) are different than the women. And by and large, until very recently, I have enjoyed the company and society of men better.

    Which doesn’t mean I really understand men any better than I understand women 😀

    It was interesting to me to find the wealth of slash fiction when I (finally) got online. Not surprising, mind, because those traditional “core group of male friends” stories always suggested a “more to it” bond to me. From The Three Musketeers and The Mysterious Island to Star Trek and The Time Tunnel, it was very easy for me to imagine that the relationships between the characters were not only deep and intimate but romantic ones.

    While I do wonder if the seemingly sudden popularity of m/m romance is fueled both by curiosity (after all, there is still that little “oh goodie, forbidden!” scent to it) and by the number of new writers available to readers through the internet, I do not think it’s a passing trend.

    My one question always is, given how many straight female authors write m/m romance, how true to life (i.e., actual men) are these characters?


  16. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:08 pm

    My one question always is, given how many straight female authors write m/m romance, how true to life (i.e., actual men) are these characters?

    It’s my belief — and I’m willing to be corrected here — that for the most part the male characters are about as realistic as the male protags in a heterosexual romance. Meaning…not so much. And that’s a horrible generalization! I know that. I do think there’s much more variety in the types of main characters, which is exciting for writers: to know readers are open to those explorations. I don’t think you get that in mainstream romance, do you?

    But (this is an aside) something that puzzles me…the proliferation of baby-men, for example. I don’t mean guys who occasionally cry (my Korean war vet dad has occasionally — very occasionally — cried), I mean helpless, clinging, sobbing, frail little flowers. Are those baby men standing in for the reader? Because I hear women talk about what they dislike in het romance, and most of them would be appalled at a heroine who behaves like some of these guys. So…what is up with that? Are readers better able to relax and enjoy that goofy dynamic because it’s one step removed?

    I’d like to believe that this genre is getting better all the time, and that we will see more realistic characters as well as romantic stereotypes as it continues to grow.


  17. LesleyW
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:25 pm

    I hope that quote worked my html is rubbish. 🙂

    Lol – you asked the question so. The only contemporary romance I read is m/m. I actually got into m/m to begin with by reading m/m relationship scenes in more ‘traditional’ novels – Kushiel’s Dart (Alcuin and Delauney) is one example. Unfortunately there’s a tendency for them to end badly.

    I stopped reading m/f contemporary a long time ago due to a complete inability to identify with most female protagonists. Even if the heroine isn’t a photojournalist or interior designer she’s going to end up married to a billionaire. (apologies for the sweeping generalization there).

    Whereas you look at m/m heroes – firefighters, policemen, teachers, mechanics, – and two guys is hot. lol


  18. LesleyW
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:26 pm

    :sigh: See I knew that wouldn’t work – Josh I was responding to your question about why readers start reading m/m.


  19. Natasha A.
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:33 pm

    Thank you! I am so happy to add more m/m authors to my to read list!! I have read a few of you and I can’t wait to read more.
    I don’t know what it is about m/m that makes it so appealing, but it is! I am so looking forward to reading more posts and getting to know you all more!


  20. Jody F.
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:38 pm

    I’m so grateful to find others out there who like reading m/m fiction. Up til now I always felt like it was my dirty little secret. I think the reason I’m drawn to this genre is because you have not one, but two strong leads. I’m finding way too many of the heroines in my books being whiny and a bit irritating.


  21. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:40 pm

    Lol – you asked the question so. The only contemporary romance I read is m/m. I actually got into m/m to begin with by reading m/m relationship scenes in more ‘traditional’ novels – Kushiel’s Dart (Alcuin and Delauney) is one example. Unfortunately there’s a tendency for them to end badly.

    This! Fantasy and SF readers — seem to be more broadminded to begin with. Much more open to these explorations. As do (did?) the publishers of fantasy and SF.

    There’s also this slash fan fiction connection that Azteclady spoke of.

    The “end badly” thing — that’s one of the nice things about the romance genre as a whole — for the most part you’re guaranteed an upbeat ending.


  22. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:41 pm

    I dunno. I’ve had lots of emails from men telling me my guys are very true to life. Maybe there are hordes of readers out there cursing my name for my unrealistic characters and not bothering to write, who knows *g* But honestly, I have a real problem with the whole concept of “real men” and “real women” in fiction anyway. My male friends (straight and gay) who have no qualms about shedding a few tears when the feeling moves them or talking with their SO about their relationship would probably be quite indignant to learn that apparently they are not Real Men. I already know I’m not a Real Woman, since I can’t keep fake nails on for more than two minutes and I’ve never once demanded jewelry for my birthday.
    In Real Life, I think, Real People can’t be that easily pigeonholed. Which is why it bugs me to try and do it in fiction.


  23. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:41 pm

    Jerri, Thanks for your comment about Regularly Scheduled Life. It was one of those stories I had to tell. I’m so glad the relationship struggles rang true for you.

    In regards to the flavor-of-the-week question as Josh so cleverly put it, I agree with Ally. I think lovers of the genre have always been there, but until recently there wasn’t access to what we wanted and we felt a little odd “coming out” and admitting what we wanted.

    LB, I get the pearl clutching and the glomping at signings, too. The best was when a mother scooted her teenaged daughter past me and then the teen turned to quickly give me a thumbs up. Of course the people who’ve known me for years usually burst into incredulous laughter when they hear what I write. Apparently because I look and dress like a “schoolmarm.”


  24. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 12:46 pm

    The fantasy and SF genre is both so much more open, but also has a core that is downright hostile.

    Hey, for fantasy readers who love m/m don’t miss Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage series. But bring lots of Kleenex.

    Yes, Jody. I know where you’re coming from. Since I stumbled into this world, I’ve felt like I’ve been locked inside my own personal Disney World and wow am I having fun.


  25. Wave
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:01 pm

    I mean helpless, clinging, sobbing, frail little flowers. Are those baby men standing in for the reader?
    They are not standing in for this reader. These characters are called TSTL – too stupid to live – in both het and M/M books. I am not advocating all alpha men in M/M books because that would be totally unrealistic. We have diverse male characters in real life. But I cannot abide the whining and I have stopped reading a few authors’ books because their male characters all display this tendency. I’m female and I don’t behave that way. On the other hand, I love Ally’s beta males who are both strong and weak but they are not sniveling, whiny, crybabies, they are real men.


  26. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:03 pm

    Oh BTW: Hi LB!!!!! And hi Wave!!!
    **waves frantically**
    Sorry, I totally forgot to do that before 😀 😀 😀


  27. Jody F.
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:03 pm

    One of the problems I’ve noticed though with m/m fiction is I’m definitely not finding it in my public library. I’m not sure if it’s a conscious effort on the part of the library to not have this genre or if others aren’t reading it as much as I am so the library doesn’t feel the need to have many offerings.


  28. Kati
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:14 pm

    I had to laugh about the evolution of reading m/m. The first m/m I read was My Fair Captain Why? Because LB wouldn’t stop gushing about Nate. Man, was she right! LOL! So, I blame my new love of m/m on LB. 😉

    Thanks LB! :MUAH:


  29. Cathy M
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:15 pm

    I love reading a great romance story, no matter the gender. Once I got turned on to m/m romances I was totally hooked. Love the intensity, emotion and physical passion that I find in a well written m/m story.


  30. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:22 pm

    But honestly, I have a real problem with the whole concept of “real men” and “real women” in fiction anyway.

    I probably should have phrased that a little differently. I wasn’t thinking of the work of anyone here. It’s not that there aren’t helpless men or kick ass women in the “real” world, it’s that I’m puzzled at how popular these particular male characters seem to be in a genre (meaning romance, in general) where a classic concept of masculinity abounds. Is it because m/m readers do NOT read traditional romance (and maybe for that reason?) or is it a mix of traditional romance reading and a fondness for m/m? Writers like myself who started out with an almost exclusively gay male readership approach this a little differently — perhaps with more curiosity than writers like yourself with a slash (which is primarily feminine) background.

    What makes for a “realistic” character is a lot more complex than are-any-people-like-this-in-real-life. Because, frankly, fiction has to be better than real life. It has to make sense and ring true in a way real life…well, doesn’t.


  31. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:26 pm

    I already know I’m not a Real Woman, since I can’t keep fake nails on for more than two minutes and I’ve never once demanded jewelry for my birthday.In Real Life, I think, Real People can’t be that easily pigeonholed. Which is why it bugs me to try and do it in fiction.

    This. There are some readers/reviewers who will immediately characterize a character as a “chick with a dick” if said character dares to have emotions, dares to be uncertain about his life, dares to be insecure about his relationship, dares to let the other guy make the first move, or, alternately, dares to be the romantic “mushy” one. I find that attitude so insulting to both men and women. I mean, in my household, it’s like the gender roles are completely flipped. My husband is the “caretaker,” the one who does the housekeeping, the laundry, and the vast majority of the cooking. He’s the one who wants to talk about our feelings. He’s the one who cares about how he looks and goes to the salon to get his hair cut. If you add up all the times we’ve both cried in the past decade and compare them, we’d probably be tied (mainly because I never cry). You know the old saw about how women want men to listen to them, but not solve their problems, while men are all about problem solving? Yeah, the opposite is true in my house. Vivien, on the other hand, lives in a completely opposite household. She’s a stay-at-home-mom, she prepares/cooks the meals, she does all the laundry, while her husband brings home the bacon. Which family is more “real’? Which husband is more “real”? I know a gay man who broke down in tears one time because he wanted to be a father more than anything, and he was scared he was never going to have that chance. Should I have told him to stop his whining and be a real man?

    Okay, I’ll admit, this is one of my pet peeves. But it feels good to get it off my chest!

    –Pepper


  32. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:32 pm

    They are not standing in for this reader. These characters are called TSTL – too stupid to live – in both het and M/M books. I am not advocating all alpha men in M/M books because that would be totally unrealistic. We have diverse male characters in real life. But I cannot abide the whining and I have stopped reading a few authors’ books because their male characters all display this tendency. I’m female and I don’t behave that way.

    This is what I’m getting at, Wave. As tiresome as I find these characters, they are enormously popular. I see that and I’m curious about why that is — mostly because I’m writing commercially for a market, and the better I understand that market, the better I can write for it.

    I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for liking what they like to read! We all like what we like, and no apologies necessary. I’m just wondering if anyone can articulate that enjoyment of those particular character types?

    For the record, it’s not like I’m exactly known for my muscle-bound alphas. *g*


  33. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:36 pm

    FWIW, Josh, it wasn’t your comment that triggered my pet-peeve response. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for the past five or six months, but have never really articulated anywhere. It’s one of those things I’ve been trying to work through myself, though to be fair, I’ve never encountered the overly-whiney, crying, obnoxious characters yet. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I stumble over one….

    –Pepper


  34. daisiemae
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:40 pm

    I have been reading romance for over 25 years. I have been reading M/M romances for the past year. Honestly, since I started reading this genre, I can’t finish a het book…unless I MAKE myself do it. I am hooked on this genre for several reasons. First, I have NO patience with heroines. Most of them have that too stupid too live thing going on and/or they are such a witch I can’t stand them. I never think they deserve the heroes love and devotion, and I don’t forgive their mistakes as easily. Most of the time I often find myself wanting to toss the book across the room because of them.
    Second, I love men. Why wouldn’t I want to read about two men finding one another, falling in love and having their HEA?
    Third, I think the authors that write in this genre are the best writers out there. The stories are more interesting, the characters are well written and the sex is always HOT…it just doesn’t get better than that!


  35. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:41 pm

    Are those TSTL characters that popular, for real? I’m asking, seriously, because Ally the Romance Writer doesn’t read that much romance. I read a lot of horror and sci-fi and stuff. Personally, I have no problem with any sort of character, no matter how stupid, ignorant, cruel, whiny, etc., as long as that character remains true to themselves and contiues to act in character. But I will cheerfully admit to being in a minority as far as my reading habits. Profoundly flawed, irritating characters fascinate me. I know, I’m weird O_O

    Pepper, we are soul-sisters! My husband and I are the same way! He’s far more sentimental than I am 🙂


  36. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:47 pm

    This. There are some readers/reviewers who will immediately characterize a character as a “chick with a dick” if said character dares to have emotions, dares to be uncertain about his life, dares to be insecure about his relationship, dares to let the other guy make the first move, or, alternately, dares to be the romantic “mushy” one.

    But I don’t see this. I really don’t. I think the popularity of Adrien English — and frankly, I’m as surprised as anyone, at how popular that series is — both with readers and reviewers indicate quite the opposite. They are very welcoming of characters with emotions, characters who are occasionally passive, characters who don’t always get it right, characters who are recognizably realistic — the boy next door types, if you will.

    I feel maybe there’s a certain — unnecessary — defensiveness on this question?

    I think in real life none of us have much time for wimps of either gender, and that’s what I’m talking about. Not sensitive, smart, ordinary guys — guys who get by on wits or guts or humor — I’m talking about a particular type of character that would get a very bad rap in het romance. Or wait…maybe not. Maybe I’m missing the obvious point here because come to think of it these characters do thrive in het romance as violet-eyed heroines who have to be rescued every five minutes. And they are obviously popular.

    So I guess my question is really a general character type question about romance in general. So I…um…withdraw it from the table.


  37. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:47 pm

    Pepper, we are soul-sisters! My husband and I are the same way! He’s far more sentimental than I am

    We’re soul-sisters when it comes to reading, too. I don’t read as much romance as I probably should (though I read approximately 5 million romance books when I was younger, so maybe it all balances? And Vivien reads a lot of romance, lol. She’s more in-tune to current trends than I am). I tend to read horror, westerns, literary books, and well, “the canon”. I’m a recovering Literature major.

    –Pepper


  38. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:49 pm

    FWIW, Josh, it wasn’t your comment that triggered my pet-peeve response. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for the past five or six months, but have never really articulated anywhere. It’s one of those things I’ve been trying to work through myself, though to be fair, I’ve never encountered the overly-whiney, crying, obnoxious characters yet. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I stumble over one….

    Thanks, Pepper.

    I’ll send you a list of books I’ve thrown across the room. Okay…I didn’t really because I would have had to throw my laptop.

    I do think I was asking the wrong group of people — because it’s a character type that actually isn’t unique to m/m fiction now that I’ve thought about it.


  39. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:57 pm

    Maybe that’s why the question sort of threw me off, Josh. I’ve not really encountered those types of characters and did sort of wonder what you meant. But if they’re more in the het romance, that would be why I haven’t run across them *g*
    Okay I feel better now! LOL. But I can’t believe you’d wonder why Adrian is so popular! It’s because you’re a fab writer of engaging stories, duh!


  40. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 1:58 pm

    I do think I was asking the wrong group of people — because it’s a character type that actually isn’t unique to m/m fiction now that I’ve thought about it.

    Yeah. Maybe it’s a combination of traditional masculine/feminine roles getting transported over to m/m romance, as well as the influence of yaoi and slash on the whole thing.


  41. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:03 pm

    Oh and a lot of us really have heard the “chicks with dicks” accusation over and over from various places (usually bastions of traditional romance) and it has quite often been leveled at those male characters who are anything less than your typical square-jawed, steely-eyed alpha-dog type. It does get kind of old after a while to hear perfectly normal guys being called feminine just because they don’t fit a certain romance novel stereotype. I think if you hear some defensiveness from time to time, it probably stems from that repeated experience.


  42. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:04 pm

    Maybe that’s why the question sort of threw me off, Josh. I’ve not really encountered those types of characters and did sort of wonder what you meant. But if they’re more in the het romance, that would be why I haven’t run across them *g*
    Okay I feel better now! LOL. But I can’t believe you’d wonder why Adrian is so popular! It’s because you’re a fab writer of engaging stories, duh!

    Thanks. I really wasn’t fishing for compliments. *g*

    This is what comes of thinking aloud, because the more I tried to explain it, the more I realized that it probably ties into some kind of rescue fantasy or something and probably has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with stressful day-to-day living.


  43. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:06 pm

    Honey, you don’t have to fish. We throws ’em in yer boat *g*


  44. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:08 pm

    I have been reading romance for over 25 years. I have been reading M/M romances for the past year. Honestly, since I started reading this genre, I can’t finish a het book…unless I MAKE myself do it. I am hooked on this genre for several reasons. First, I have NO patience with heroines. Most of them have that too stupid too live thing going on and/or they are such a witch I can’t stand them.

    Daisiemae, my mom was a voracious romance reader for years (she switched over to mysteries finally), and I vividly remember her complaints about heroines, and how happy she’d be when she found a book that seemed to have characters she could really relate to — and how rarely (from my perspective) that seemed to happen. But when she found those books, she was a fan of that writer for life.


  45. Wave
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:08 pm

    Because, frankly, fiction has to be better than real life. It has to make sense and ring true in a way real life…well, doesn’t.

    As you so aptly paraphrased the Tom Clancy quote Josh, “The difference between fiction and real life? Fiction has to make sense.”
    I think if M/M writers take SOME character traits from their hetero heroes where we don’t have these whiny characters, and maybe have a mix of traits, that would work. Why is it that when I read het romances the guys were never whiny OR weak unless he was the heroine’s best friend and was not aiming for the main course i.e. bedding the heroine. I think a lot of these character traits are from yaoi.

    There are some readers/reviewers who will immediately characterize a character as a “chick with a dick” if said character dares to have emotions, dares to be uncertain about his life, dares to be insecure about his relationship, dares to let the other guy make the first move, or, alternately, dares to be the romantic “mushy” one

    Pepper
    For me, a “chick with a dick” is a man who you can very easily envisage as a woman (and not one that I would like to read about either), all he needs is a dress to complete the picture. I have read many books where all the guys talk about are supposedly “female” topics that I would not be interested in even if the character were a woman. All that’s left is for him to go to the salon to get his nails painted.

    I LIKE sensitive men but not men who cry at the drop of a hat. Men DO cry and have emotions, certainly in my family they do and they are not ashamed to shed a few tears at times. In books there should be some semblance on the part of the writer to make his/her protags fully evolved characters and not one dimensional. Because I read so many books for review purposes the characters and the stories get old pretty fast. Some of the plots I recognise as having been transplanted from het romances that an author might have written a few years ago and is switching to M/M by changing the het couple to boy/boy, but doesn’t understand why the transition is not seamless and I can spot the fake from miles away. I have never said that YOUR characters are “chicks with dicks” Pepper, on the contrary, you have given your readers some dynamite men. I have read and reviewed enough of your books to know of what I speak.

    For the record, it’s not like I’m exactly known for my muscle-bound alphas. *g*

    Josh
    Are you saying that Adrien is not a “muscle bound alpha”? I would never have guessed. :DDD


  46. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:22 pm

    Some of the plots I recognise as having been transplanted from het romances that an author might have written a few years ago and is switching to M/M by changing the het couple to boy/boy, but doesn’t understand why the transition is not seamless and I can spot the fake from miles away.

    Hmm, yes. Unfortunately, I HAVE seen writers on author loops and message boards admit that they have a book that could go “either way.” Not an idea, mind you, but an actual book they feel like they can change to m/m on a whim. So I suppose for some writers at some times, they actually do have “chicks with dicks.”

    I have never said that YOUR characters are “chicks with dicks” Pepper, on the contrary, you have given your readers some dynamite men. I have read and reviewed enough of your books to know of what I speak.

    Thank you. 🙂 Unlike Josh, I am fishing for compliments! (Just kidding! I wasn’t really.) Also, Ally has a point about “bastions of traditional het romance” being the most guilty of throwing out that description for men who aren’t alphas.

    –Pepper


  47. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 2:51 pm

    Are TSTL characters (of either gender) truly popular? I guess that’s like asking if the apostrophe ridden titles in category romances are popular… they sell, but I think it can be argued that they sell despite the cringe-inducing titles more than they do because of them.

    In the same vein, how many of us have encountered great characters who are written to fall in love with other characters whom we consider TSTL (or too weak, or too needy, or too manipulative, or too whatever)?


  48. jetmykles
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:06 pm

    Wow, ya’ll have been way chatty while I was getting up and getting my brain kick-started 🙂

    First, thanks to Marisa and Kati and Romance Novel for having us. It was a very cool idea and a neat format and I’m honored to be included.

    Second, hi! I know most of you who’ve posted. Hope you’re liking the conversation.

    Let’s see, what did I want to answer.

    Wave asked why do m/m writers get the question why m/m? I’ll go with the fact that m/m is seen as a fad right now, although I do agree with Ally that m/m has been around for a long time, just hasn’t been acknowledged. I remember reading Ms. Lackey’s Last Herald Mage series (to this day one of my all time favorite reads. period) and being caught up in the drama of Vanyel. He’s one of the best heros I’ve ever read. There have a been some other heros I’ve read since who I thought should be gay, or or were at least denying their true nature. But, I think there’s also a flood of het romance, even more now with the popularity of online purchasing and ebooks, so readers are looking for something “new and different”. m/m is being perceived as both. Thanks to that, I think more people are writing it because they know they can. A few years ago, a woman writing m/m would have been looked at strangely. Now… okay, we still get strange looks, but not nearly as many 🙂

    Josh asked about simpering, unrealistic men. Where are you seeing these men? I will admit to being woefully underread but I can’t think of any. Most, if not all, of the readers I know of would immediately abandon a book with such a character. I’ve only seen it in yaoi, and it’s lost its popularity there as well from what I’m seeing. On the other hand, I’m sure there are many out there who see some of my heros as girly. Especially a few of the later ones who’ve donned dresses and makeup. But that’s the kind of characters I like and am comfortable with. I’m an elf fan from way back. I find androgyny very appealing. But, I think most readers who read my stuff know that about my work and will expect these characters to crop up. But even with the guys who wear dresses, I don’t think they’re especially girly (well, not all) but, rather, unique 🙂


  49. jetmykles
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:07 pm

    ok, must display my ignorance again… “I guess that’s like asking if the apostrophe ridden titles in category romances are popular…”? what are apostrophe ridden titles?


  50. Wave
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:19 pm

    Jet
    I really like your androgynous characters in Heaven Sent but I don’t consider them “girlie men” as Arnold would say. As it happens today I’m reading your latest (at least I think it’s your latest), Devon Cream, with a young needy character but I would not characterize him as a chick with a dick. There are definite signs that I can easily pick up re those characters and the books find their way to the DNF file pretty fast. There’s a huge difference between creating a sensitive character and one who cries buckets throughout the book. I also have Lola Dances on my reading schedule next week and, as you know, the book is about a cross dresser which is something entirely different.


  51. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:21 pm

    I confess to being a tad mocking there, but I am willing to say that about one in every three category romances has at least once apostrophe i the title. Perhaps even one in every two.

    And the titles themselves? Sorry, but more often than not, they are truly awful (if descriptive). From Harlequin’s page, this months titles:

    The Triplets’ Rodeo Man
    Transformed into the Frenchman’s Mistress
    The Italian’s Ruthless Marriage Bargain
    The Texas Ranger’s Twins
    Her Best Friend’s Brother

    This is not a recent trend, by the way–anyone here remembers Mackenzie’s Mountain, Mackenzie’s Pleasure, etc?


  52. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:23 pm

    Jet, I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse for a character than for Vanyel. I loved those books. I reread them when I want to feel angsty. The only character whose torture under the hands of his author even comes close is Miles Vorkosigan (but at least he got an HEA). Vanyel’s is more HPM.


  53. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:27 pm

    I love this question and I love the answers even better. I think this helps to give me a better idea of why I like m/m romance as much as I like m/f. They are each equally important to me as a reader. I agree that much of the appeal is that men are hot, sexy, and mysterious (even to other men) but it’s also great when these stories show the real aspects of gay relationships; whether it’s what society thinks or how certain guys make you drool and stop you mouth from working properly enough to say “hi,” that’s what I love.

    I also wanted to thank Ally Blue for lending support to a portion of what it’s like growing up in a society that has such strict rules on what is appropriate for girls and boys to do in their free time. I could go into a whole diatribe about society’s appointed gender roles, but I won’t because it’s not necessary. This does lend well to part of what’s so fascinating about m/m romance: it doesn’t follow societal rules per se, alpha men can be emotional, beta men can be tough at times, etc. I personally find the building of the relationships in m/m romances to be so beautiful when these lines get crossed. And isn’t that what love is about? What “makes sense” isn’t always what happens. Love is a form of insanity, which makes it so wonderful.

    Thank you guys so much for working towards getting m/m romance/fiction out there. I’m a bookseller and I can’t wait for the day m/m romance/fiction is right along with all the other romance and fiction in my bookstore. It’s such an amazing thought!


  54. jetmykles
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:31 pm

    Wave: Thanks. I do try. I can’t standing the cry-babies myself so I can’t really see myself being able to write them. Hope you like DC!

    azteclady: huh, I’d never realized but I guess you’re right. Ack! Now I’m going to be paranoid LOL

    K.A.: tell me about it. OMG, the last book? Geez. I cried buckets. I was relieved to get the end of the story simply because she couldn’t put him through anything else! Gads, now I might have to go find those and reread them


  55. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:59 pm

    Elisa, thank you! I have kind of a sore spot when it comes to gender roles and what is and is not “acceptable” for boys, girls, men, and women to think, feel and do in our society. Probably stems from my own growing up. Too much of well meaning family trying to make me look and act more girly. OMG. And yes, so much fascinating fiction is born of characters who tear up the rule book and live their lives the way they see fit 🙂


  56. orannia
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:18 pm

    Apologies. I’m a little late today 🙁

    Josh said: I think we are defined by our relationships with others — not just the people we have sex with, but everyone in our life.

    And that’s why I read m/m romance. I love the relationships 🙂

    K.A./Jet – are you referring to Vanyel from The Last Herald-Mage series? *SIGH* I love Vanyel. His emotional pain… I love that series. I went all the way to the UK on my OE without them and bought them again. They are the books I read when I am at the bottom of…the pit and want to remind myself that happiness and hope can exist even when it looks like it doesn’t 🙂 Oh, and I bought all three covers as special edition prints. Oh, and I always cry when I read Magic’s Price too…


  57. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:36 pm

    Ally, you’re welcome. I can’t help but feel this ‘breakout’ into LGBT fiction is in some ways an offshoot from the feminist movement… not to say that I feel it’s all feminist – and maybe I’m feeling it this way because I identify strongly with the early feminist movement – but I think that’s part of the idea behind the smashing of gender roles. Erotica too, is something I feel stems from that. But I don’t think this is just an empowerment for women per se, so much as empowerment for people. I am somewhat surprised that much of the readership for m/m is straight women, but I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised since I sort of fall into that demographic myself.

    Deep, philosophical thoughts aside, I think you guys are doing wonderful things and I can’t wait to read Josh’s work since I’ve not had the chance to get into m/m from a truly male perspective. It’s kind of the reverse of the status quo from centuries ago. From what I’ve read of your work, Josh, it sounds phenomenal – it’ll be nice to have actually READ it for myself. 🙂


  58. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:56 pm

    From what I’ve read of your work, Josh, it sounds phenomenal – it’ll be nice to have actually READ it for myself

    I hope you enjoy it. M/M has been very good to me — the readers, the reviewers, the publishers…I don’t know if it’s a publishing revolution or sexual empowerment. But I have no regrets moving into this genre. It’s proved to be one of the richest and most fulfilling from just a creative standpoint alone.


  59. jetmykles
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:02 pm

    orannia: that would be the same Vanyel, yes. I’m so bummed I never got the hard cover version of the 3 LHM series. Of all the Valdemar books, those are my favorites, followed very closely by those involving the Hawkbrothers. Yum!


  60. Brooks
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 6:39 pm

    I have to agree with JL. I hadn’t thought about it before today, but you’re absolutely right that I care way more about the male perspective in books. And yes, I guess I do read M/M because I love men!

    Thank you all for your insightful comments. This is a great topic for discussion.


  61. katiebabs
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:22 pm

    Question: How would you get readers who normally don’t read MM, to take a chance and read it?


  62. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:59 pm

    Bribe them with chocolate?
    O_O

    Heh. Seriously, I don’t know any other way than just to show people that good gay romance is just like a good book in any other genre: solid stories with characters you can care about. I think the best way to do that is to get ourselves out there, get those excerpts out there, into places you don’t normally find gay romance. Like this one, actually 😀 I’m grateful to Marisa and everyone at Romance Novel TV for bringing us over here!


  63. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 10:37 pm

    I know some recent converts who are really surprised to find they enjoy the genre.

    I agree with Ally. If we can get them to pick it up, get an excerpt or a book in their hands, new readers will find us because the genre has strong stories and characters they can fall in love with. It’s great that we’ve been given this opportunity to reach a wider audience.


  64. Renee
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 11:39 pm

    Awesome topic. I really love this conversation.

    Kati: I think good stories with interesting characters with whom the reader can connect will do the trick. Good writing speaks for itself. Excerpts make a big difference to me. I spend way too much money on books already, so I need to be cautious when I try a new author or genre. If I can “try before I buy” it helps a lot. Author blogs as well as author collaborative blogs (like Fiction with Friction and Kiss and Tell Girls) expose me to authors I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. Also, recommendations by bloggers, friends, and other readers whose opinions I trust. I think what you are doing here today and tomorrow is a perfect example of spreading the word.

    I read my first m/m book after winning With Caution over at DIK (Thanks, JL! 🙂 ) The day I finished Without Caution, I went online and bought My Fair Captain. (And have since worked thru JL’s backlist.)

    Whenever I pick up one of Josh Lanyon’s books, I get it because I want a great story. I wouldn’t read the books if Adrien or Perry or Gabriel weren’t compelling characters, whose journey I wanted to follow.

    When I write about m/m fiction on my blog, I try to have it in there with all the other genres , next to the historical romance, urban fantasy, spec fiction. I hope that maybe someone who’s checking on my Lisa Kleypas or Kim Harrison review, might see the Ally Blue BCPI review right next to it and get curious (and hopefully click over to her site!)

    Thanks again for hosting!


  65. Stacy ~
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:53 am

    Sorry I missed out on all this great conversation! I am probably one of the first out of my reader friends to have read m/m romance, and I felt rather alone because here I was, having read a wonderfully emotional, sexy love story, and I had no one to share it with who could understand. Anyone who knows me and my reading preferences knows I love a strongly emotional story, and if it’s ultra hot, all the better. Part of the enjoyment of reading is sharing favorite stories with others, yet it took awhile before I found anyone who felt the same way I did. So thank you Marisa, RNTV, and all the great authors, for being here with us these two days. What a treat.

    What appeals to me about these stories is the fact that the stories I most identify with are not just black ‘n white examples of gay romance; there are gray areas, just like in real life. One of my favorites is “The Assignment” by Evangeline Anderson, about two heterosexual men, best friends, who go through some life-changing events and realize how they feel about each other. There’s an openness to it, a feeling that here is one man who realizes that the most important person in his life – his police partner, his best friend, the man who was there when he got divorced – is a man. It was a wonderfully emotional story, and very romantic as well. I was so glad I took the chance to read it, and now to see so many authors writing m/m romance is just incredible.

    As for the whiny, emotional characters, that bothers me whether it’s a man or a woman. A person can be emotional and sensitive without being over-the-top. I always think of Brockmann’s Sam Starrett, a heterosexual guy who cries rather easily and has a tendency to get violently sick on some of his missions. I love the dichotomy of him being this total alpha male but at the same time, having this softer side. It’s very appealing. I don’t always want a stoic, suck-it-up-because-only-women-cry kind of hero. I just don’t care for helpless, dependent, wishy-washy characters. Man or woman. Doesn’t matter.

    Can’t wait to read the other posts!

    P.S. LB, I heart Jules too 🙂


  66. Romance Novel TV « Joely Skye
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 6:47 pm

    […] been some great discussion about m/m romance over at the Romance Novel TV blog. It starts here, and continues for six more […]

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