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    Question #3 M/M Round Table Discussion – Why do Women Write M/M Fiction
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  • Published: Feb 22nd, 2009

Marisa: In this particular group of authors, Josh is the only male writing M/M fiction So the first part of the question is for him – how do you feel about women writing M/M?
2nd part of the question is for everyone – do you think that women writing M/M fiction changes the sensibility – the tone of the work?

2007_fatal_shadows.jpgJosh:
I am laughing at this question, Marisa! Actually, now days I decline to answer any questions regarding my own sexuality or sexual identity. I let people know up front that Josh Lanyon is a pen name, and I leave it at that. For this particular genre — m/m — I think women have a definite advantage. M/M is a sub-genre of romance, and most romance readers are women — and while I know for a fact that many gay men read in this genre, the target audience is pretty much a feminine one.

I actually started out writing gay mysteries for a gay publisher, and there has been a definite learning curve for me. There was a strong romantic subtext to my work, but I restricted it mostly to subtext. And I used to put very little sex in my work — I was not comfortable with the idea at all — and the idea of writing a story that was equal
parts romance and mystery was a bit of struggle. (I’ll be honest here and say that I still deplore reviews that rate based on heat levels)!

Anyway, m/m, in my opinion, is mostly a certain sensibility. It’s about emotions rather than sex, it’s about the choice of language and imagery, and I think women do this very well. They speak to each other in the same codified language. I go back and forth on the issue of whether m/m is gay lit, per se. I know many gay writers do not consider it to be gay lit in the traditional sense, but then a reader or reviewer who is anti-gay would most definitely see it as gay lit. So…? I’d love to hear some thoughts on that.

I don’t have a problem with women writing gay fiction — any more than
I would have a problem with a man writing about women — or a black guy writing about a white guy. It’s fiction. It is not biography, and it is not meant to be biography. If anything, fiction should be better than real life, and a writer should be pushing him/herself — and the reader — beyond their accepted boundaries. You don’t do this (usually) by writing about your own backyard. Granted, you may have a
jungle out there and it could be worth writing about. That’s pretty much my answer for my male colleagues who resent the influx of women writers into the genre formerly known as gay romance. Sometimes the most accurate portrayal of the truth — whatever that truth may be — comes from those observing rather than those living.

One thing I would like to say about the use of pen names and sexual
identity — because this does certainly come up more and more. I have no problem with women using male pen names — or initials. I don’t feel anyone should use their real name writing genre fiction of any kind — save it for when you write the great American novel. And because maintaining an online identity is complicated and tiring, I don’t have a problem with women using male pen names or initials and then coming out and identifying themselves as a heterosexual mother of six who writes about two guys — or six — because it’s HAWT.  But…it is not particularly brave. Rushing to identify with the safe and accepted sexual norms of our society is not in itself a courageous act. It’s not a cowardly act, and it’s not wrong to do, but no one should be kidding herself that by coming out and loudly proclaiming her heterosexuality that she’s doing something that deserves commendation. She’s writing romance fiction, and that’s great. But no one — especially someone sticking close to shore — should be condemning the choices of other swimmers.

jl_thetinstar_coverin.jpgJL:
Honestly, I don’t know. I know there is always a lot of discussion in this area but I do my best to ignore it.  I think it’s pretty irrelevant actually because a good writer is just that a good writer.  I think anyone can write anything convincing no matter what the sex of the author.  I’ve read men who write wonderful female leads and women who write great male leads.  People are so very different.  That is the beauty of it all.  Just as people are different, so should characters be.  In my opinion, a good writer can get the individuality of a particular character across no matter what sex the author or character is.






blue1.JPGAlly: 
Hm. That’s a very good question. I found the whole discussion of whether or not one can tell male vs female writing especially interesting. Now here’s something to make you go “hmmmm”. I’ve had a lot of male readers tell me that I write realistic male characters. A few have even wondered if I’m actually a man with a female pen name, which in this case I take as a huge compliment. Other readers have occasionally accused me of writing “chicks with dicks”, though thankfully that hasn’t happened to me often. Here’s the interesting part: the readers accusing me of writing feminized men have invariably been female (the ones I know of, at least). Make of it what you will. It is, to me, a striking phenomenon, and tells me that the perceived tone and sensibility of a work may be as much due to what the reader brings to it as to what the writer gives to it.

And with that, Ally has used up her brainpower for the day. Hopefully my Deep Thoughts make sense outside of my head o_O

lb_gobsmacked_500×75022-200×3004.jpgLB Gregg:
Well I’m the newest of the newbies, but here goes. This question appears to hinge on the notion that m/m somehow existed before there were women to write the stories. Er. I don’t think that’s the case. M/M sprang from slash and fanfic. M/M is romance and I think in this genre we’re USED to women writers. Actually, we expect women to write our stories. It seems to me that the poor dudes are the, uhm, odd men out, which is silly.  It’s  interesting  that there are straight and gay men who write ‘traditional’ m/f romance under female pseudonyms. For me, personally?  I don’t care what you have or do not have in your trousers (unless it’s TRULY impressive): good writing speaks for itself.


146881481.JPGChris:
This is an uncomfortable area for me to get into, if I follow along the line of the conversation and delve into pseudonyms, gender neutral names and if women are trying to fool the audience by taking these names. I do think that I have to address it for me, however, since I’ve been mired in the topic on several occasions, accused of gender shame and lying. So, here we go: I chose my pen name because Chris is my middle name and Owen is my husband’s last name. Ta da! Obviously I was seeking to fool people and hide my gender. I chose to use Chris over Christine because it’s shorter. That’s all. I go to conventions, I am obviously a woman, and it never once occurred to me that people would think I was lying to them because I didn’t use my real name or show my cleavage on the back cover.

I write gay male erotic romance and I have very small children. Of course I’m going to use a pen name. Jeepers. It’s hard enough on them having a mommy who spins her own wool to weave with without having ‘spicy book writer’ on top if it! *grin*

Moving on to the actual asked question —

I… have no idea. None. I do think that men are completely capable of writing lovely, hot, moving romance novels. I think men are absolutely able to carry off a romantic sub-plot in any genre. Josh certainly does. I think having a feminine, romance-seeking readership changes the tone more than who is writing the stories. The readers want their happily ever after endings and they want to escape into a book that’s exciting and romantic and adventurous, so we try to give them that. As I’ve said in reply to one of the other questions — I write the stories I want to read. It seems that I’m a romance reader after all, after twenty-five years of never taking my nose out of mysteries. Who knew?

med_thosewhocherish.jpgJamie:
You know, I want to sort of leap from Josh’s point. It never occurred to either Vivien or myself that “Jamie” could be seen as boy’s name or a gender neutral name. In fact, I chose “Jamie” because my husband’s name is Jaime, and I took (what I thought) was the feminized version of that. Later, I realized that no, it is a gender neutral name. But I don’t know why anybody cares about who the author is. I’m honestly, completely, without exaggeration, totally baffled by this. I just finished my graduate degree in literature, and I never read about or cared about an author’s biography. I didn’t feel betrayed because George Elliot was a woman, or because Mary Shelley wrote from the first-person POV of 3 men. I just don’t understand why this issue matters to anybody at any time. Not all women write the same. Not all women write with the same sensibility and tone. I think the fact that gay romance is ROMANCE does more to influence the sensibility and tone of the work than any individual author.

jm_sexyspringsurprise_coversm.jpgJet:
Sure it does. Women tend to think differently and tend to explain things differently than a man. That is, of course, a sweeping generality. I’ve read stories written by women that I’d have sworn were written by a man, and vice versa. I don’t think it really matters and it kind of saddens me that it’s so very important to some. I can understand the curiosity, but I think the stories should stand on their own without the personality of the author. OK, they can’t completely, and I know that, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t particularly want to know all that much about authors themselves. For me, the same applies for actors, musicians and sports figures. I can respect and enjoy what they do much better, most times, the less I know about them as real people. Who they are colors what they do, of course, but its part of their artistry that makes it something to behold.

But I digress 🙂 I think the knowledge that there are women who like to read about gay romance has colored the outlook of the genre. Personally, I think that’s for the good. It frees up–or it should free up–both sides to just enjoy the stories and not make so many rules about who should be writing something.

regularly1.jpgK.A. Mitchell:
Before the age of email there were many authors whose work I loved and
I never wrote them a letter to tell them so. I never met them at a book signing. I only loved their work and didn’t really care who the person was behind the stories I love. You know what they say about the dangers of meeting your idol! Authors and readers enter into an unusual relationship, and because the whole relationship happens in our minds, it can feel like an intimate connection. That’s why I think readers can feel they need to know the kind of details Josh was talking about. As a reader, I’ve always cared more about the story than the gender/race/age/religion/orientation of the story teller. I don’t read fiction as a blue print for how to interact with others, so questions of “authenticity” have left me somewhat confused. No matter what sort of fiction I write, I try to tell the story from inside the characters. They use different language and imagery than I do and the characters feel outside my own experiences anyway, no matter what their gender.

I second what Josh said about the friction between various camps about what is authentic gay story telling. I’ve also heard people claim that they can tell an author’s gender by word choice. I think word choice has more to do with the kind of story a person is trying to tell.

If I were writing horror, I’d definitely use different sorts of words to describe the same objects as I do writing romance. Do writers who are female have a different sensibility for that? Since they’ve been the ones romance has been marketed to, if they’ve read a lot of it, they’ve immersed themselves in the style. But I think a writer who is male with the same reading choices would probably pick up the same sensibility. Language is very much a learned skill. I would never presume to say I can tell anything about a fiction writer based on their imagination or word choices.

I’ve never been particularly interested in getting my birth name on a book so no matter what I’ve written I’ve always had pen names in mind. When I sold in this genre, I wanted to give a reader the option of assigning me whatever gender he or she chose, so I decided to use gender-neutral initials. If a reader is interested in me beyond the name on the book he or she is reading, then the reader will learn my gender from my biography. But while I love interacting with readers about my books, I hope the reader is more interested in the stories I tell than in who I am.

A random poster will be winning a a complete ebook set of Josh Laynon’s THE ADRIEN ENGLISH MYSTERIES!

aem51.JPGaem21.JPGaem3.JPGhell_you_say_looseid3.jpgdeath-of-a-priate-kine.jpg

59 Responses to “Question #3 M/M Round Table Discussion – Why do Women Write M/M Fiction”

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  1. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:11 pm

    (Please don’t enter me in the drawing, I already have The Adrien English Mysteries)

    I beg to disagree with LB that women were the original m/m writers–I would venture a guess and say that as long as there have been humans, there have been homosexuals among them, and that their stories have been told in one form or another for about that long.

    On the rest of the question… I think that writers write about people, and that depending on their talent and command of the craft, they writer more or less believable people. But since the degree of ‘believability’ of any given character hinges heavily on what each reader brings to the text, there is no universal answer to the sensibility question.

    On the other hand… 😀 I know that when my daughter screamed about poor Wash at the end of Serenity, “this had to be written by a man!” I agreed wholeheartedly. So, call me a hypocrite.


  2. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:18 pm

    I think that writers write about people, and that depending on their talent and command of the craft, they writer more or less believable people. But since the degree of ‘believability’ of any given character hinges heavily on what each reader brings to the text, there is no universal answer to the sensibility question.

    What she said!

    And can I just say, OMG I freakin’ sobbed over Wash! Like a baby! It killed me. Killed me dead like a possum in the road, it did.


  3. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:19 pm

    Hi A! Long time no talk!

    I beg to disagree with LB that women were the original m/m writers–

    Yeah I agree with you on the bigger picture, for sure. I was referring more to the recent market. Specifically the e-pub world of m/m. Gay lit is certainly a different thing. Although women have written that as well!

    (Please don’t enter me in the…oh man..this is a GREAT prize pack!!!)


  4. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:24 pm

    *waving at LB* (See, I wasn’t sure it was YOU!!! 😀 but happy to see it is)

    and I know!!!! but… I do have them, what can I do?

    Ally–me too!!!! I still get mad at Joss Whedon over it. Damn the man!

    *ahem*


  5. Jody F.
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:25 pm

    I do feel that there is a different tone when women are writing, for sure the sex scenes seem different. Women authors make them feel a bit more romantic, at least in my reading experience.

    And having Wash die was awful! I just sat there in shock for a few minutes after it happened.


  6. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:49 pm

    Yes yes. It was a real WTF?!?!? moment. But you know what, even though I was PO’ed at Joss for it, when I thought it over, I was glad he took the risk, in a way. That was a gutsy move, killing off a popular character like that. Which of course is a whole other blog, isn’t it? Heh *g*


  7. Chris Owen
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 3:50 pm

    Hi! I’m here — sorry so late, I was off doing that other thing I do, with the fiber and the weaving and knitting. Now I have my author hat on, and here I am for a couple of hours.

    Still mad at Josh, still cry for Wash.

    Still a woman. 😉


  8. orannia
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:02 pm

    I think that writers write about people, and that depending on their talent and command of the craft, they write more or less believable people. But since the degree of ‘believability’ of any given character hinges heavily on what each reader brings to the text, there is no universal answer to the sensibility question.

    Beautifully put azteclady 🙂 Each reader brings their own…baggage (for want of a better word) to the table when they pick up a book. Their loves, their hates, their insecurities. And all of that molds how they view each character. My best friend and I often have completely different takes on the same character because we have each experienced life in different ways.

    And I think the same thing happens with authors. Each author, male or female, adds a different…flavour to the mix (so to speak). What I’m attempting to say is, each author’s experiences (regardless of genre) colour their work. So perhaps their is a different tone to a m/m book by a female versus male author, but that’s to do with who they are, not what chromosomes they have 🙂

    Hopefully, that all made sense….


  9. Chris Owen
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:06 pm

    … Joss. Not Josh. I have no issues with Josh at all. I want the prize. 😀


  10. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:13 pm

    … Joss. Not Josh. I have no issues with Josh at all. I want the prize.

    Freaked me out there. I was sitting here going…what the hell did I say THIS TIME? *g*


  11. azteclady
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:18 pm

    orannia, yes indeed, it does make sense.


  12. Chris Owen
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:19 pm

    Sorry, Josh. :)) I had to look at it three times to figure out why it was so wrong. WHOOPS!

    (This is how I get myself in trouble over and over. Honestly. At least Ally was very sweet to me when we met in Houston and I cling to the hope that I made a half descent impression. :)) )


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

    Before the age of email there were many authors whose work I loved and
    I never wrote them a letter to tell them so. I never met them at a book signing. I only loved their work and didn’t really care who the person was behind the stories I love. You know what they say about the dangers of meeting your idol! Authors and readers enter into an unusual relationship, and because the whole relationship happens in our minds, it can feel like an intimate connection. That’s why I think readers can feel they need to know the kind of details Josh was talking about.

    This is a two-edged sword, definitely. You find out too much about a writer, interact with them too much, and you lose that ability to bridge disbelief. You start hearing the author’s voice instead of the characters’ voice. But we all do it. I’ve been curious about an author, looked them up, read their blog…and sometimes it’s just too much information.

    I’m personally going to try and be more engimatic from here on out. *g*

    Seriously, though, it’s hard for me to read the books of friends. And not just because I dread not liking a book.

    But at the same time readers seem to enjoy the fact that we make ourselves accessible…so there’s a balance. I want to interact with readers, I want to make myself available — but a certain distance is essential. For sanity as much as safety.


  14. Marisa
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:22 pm

    The person behind the words? I have to say that I’m of two minds, sometimes I want to know about the author and other times I don’t want to have anything ‘color’ my reading experience, including the author’s personal thoughts. I want to bury myself in the characters not in what went into writing the characters.


  15. Chris Owen
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:29 pm

    Josh said: “But at the same time readers seem to enjoy the fact that we make ourselves accessible…so there’s a balance. I want to interact with readers, I want to make myself available — but a certain distance is essential. For sanity as much as safety.”

    Yes. Yes, a thousand times yes. I’m having to pull back rather a lot just lately due to some unexpectedly close-to-home things. For every hundred wonderful readers out there, there seems to be one who is a little less… uh, stable.

    I enjoy getting e-mails and I really, really like meeting people face to face. I’m a people person and I love conventions and such. But there’s also a line I have had to create — I don’t answer questions about my personal life, I won’t talk about my children, I won’t reveal personal details. Occasionally I get e-mails from people who seem to think I owe them something, that I have a duty to be more public, more available, more political.

    I used to wonder if they were right. Now I just keep doing what I do and try to tell stories that engage people’s hearts and imaginations.


  16. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:32 pm

    And I think the same thing happens with authors. Each author, male or female, adds a different…flavour to the mix (so to speak). What I’m attempting to say is, each author’s experiences (regardless of genre) colour their work. So perhaps their is a different tone to a m/m book by a female versus male author, but that’s to do with who they are, not what chromosomes they have .

    This is it, absolutely.

    You also have to take into account that a good writer studies genre and learns his craft. If certain words and phrases are part of the arsenal, then a writer is going to stock up as necessary.

    I read a post somewhere that men never put “smells” into their writing! But when I was a little cub writer I read an essay by Joseph Hansen (my writing hero) and he said something to the effect of…always put the weather and the scents in. So I always do. He always did. Chandler always did. Good writing is about details.

    And now I’m totally off the track.


  17. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:35 pm

    Seriously, though, it’s hard for me to read the books of friends. And not just because I dread not liking a book.

    I find this true of reviewing. I’m interested to hear if other reviewers/bloggers find this to be true.


  18. Marisa
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:45 pm

    Josh said: This is a two-edged sword, definitely. You find out too much about a writer, interact with them too much, and you lose that ability to bridge disbelief. You start hearing the author’s voice instead of the characters’ voice. But we all do it. I’ve been curious about an author, looked them up, read their blog…and sometimes it’s just too much information.

    I have not found that to be a problem just yet… but I get what you mean about TMI. I’ve read some posts by authors on blogs (which is different than reading what they have on their sites) and after reading them made a decision not to read their books. YES I’M GUILTY of making snap decisions.

    LB as for reviewing books of friends, I know what you mean. I think I’ve been able to maintain a certain balance about that. Of course that’s my opinion. But, reviewing by it’s very nature is subjective. No doubt about it, I bring my own baggage to every book I read and every book I review. I admit it.


  19. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:49 pm

    Ally was very sweet to me when we met in Houston and I cling to the hope that I made a half descent impression.

    Aw, you were lovely! So nice and sweet! I, on the other hand, made my usual Scary Fangirl impression I think LOL
    RT was sooooo much fun though. I’m like you, Chris, I absolutely LOVE to meet people. I left Houston minus a voice because I talked so much. Had an absolute blast though 🙂 But yeah, I’ll talk about my work all day, and I don’t mind talking about myself to a certain extent, but certain personal details (especially about my family) I’d rather keep private.


  20. Kati
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:49 pm

    Ohh! TOTALLY enter me in the drawing! Miss Kati WANTS this prize pack!

    As for the question, I usually can’t tell the gender of the author, especially in M/M. I judge books by how entertaining they are. Period. Don’t care if it’s a man, woman or pet chimpanzee writing the book. If I dig the story, I dig the story.

    Hell, my all time favorite romance was written by a duo: Tom and Sharon Curtis, I couldn’t tell who wrote what section of the book if you put a gun to my head.


  21. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:50 pm

    Going to conferences and signings, I love interacting with other writers and with readers. It’s wonderful to talk to someone who understands the joys of the solitary activities of reading and writing. (And writers don’t think you’re crazy when you talk about people in your head as separate individuals who have minds of their own.) But I prefer it when the conversations stays on fiction. I’d hate to learn that my favorite author espoused a cause I detested. I’d love to say it wouldn’t matter because it’s all about the connection I have with her work, but it would be hard not to let that color my perceptions of her writing.

    So while I LOVE interacting with readers and writers, I prefer to keep it on the topic of fiction. Although, I’m still fangirl about some authors to make an utter ass of myself when I try to talk to them.


  22. Kati
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:52 pm

    LB – To comment on what you wrote (we cross posted), I don’t have a hard time reviewing friends’ work. Mostly because I am able to separate my friendship with them from the work. I’m pretty comfortably saying what works and doesn’t work for me about a book, and doing it in a way that’s not going to cause tremendously hurt feelings.

    I’m always thrilled when one of my friends writes something I love. And even more excited when I get to pimp it out! 😀


  23. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:53 pm

    Kati, The Windflower, right? Awesome book!


  24. orannia
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 4:59 pm

    I just realised I didn’t proofread my comment correctly and used ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ 🙁

    You also have to take into account that a good writer studies genre and learns his craft. If certain words and phrases are part of the arsenal, then a writer is going to stock up as necessary.

    Definitely. And I agree about scents (although this meanders off-topic a bit….OK, at lot 🙂 ) I read somewhere that with humans, sight dominates our other senses, so for them (the other senses) to come to the fore we need to..this is going to sound silly..shut our eyes 🙂 I really like it when authors includes the other senses (including scent) into a scene. It gives me a clearer image, probably because it’s a memory thing. You smell cut grass or fresh, hot bread and the memories are so vivid… I’ll stop rambling now and go and gaze at all the pretty books that I have yet to read and will be adding to my TBR list 😉


  25. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:05 pm

    Kati~That is a fun thing, indeed. Not that I, you know, pimp friends books. Or anything.

    Marissa~It is subjective. I think it’s fantastic to find folks who review books and like/dislike the same things I do because then..when they give an emphatic: ZOMG READ THIS!! I do.


  26. orannia
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:16 pm

    I also wanted to add – I really appreciate the time authors take in responding to comments/emails and generally interacting with readers. I feel honoured. Saying that, I do respect that they are not their characters and their characters (unfortunately) don’t exist except in their minds (although said characters can be rather opinionated 🙂 ) and that they they have their own lives. In other words, I try and respect their privacy. I still squee when I receive an email from them though 🙂


  27. josh lanyon
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:22 pm

    In other words, I try and respect their privacy. I still squee when I receive an email from them though.

    Interacting with readers is one of the perks of the job. Yes, it is time consuming, it is time not spent writing, but…it’s kind of an honor to be chosen as someone’s storyteller, if you know what I mean? Because stories are so important to us — to all humans. We NEED our stories in whatever chosen form. So to have someone read your stories — and then be kind enough to write and say he or she enjoyed them? The very least an author can do is acknowledge that.


  28. Chris Owen
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:28 pm

    I totally agree, Josh. It’s so incredibly flattering that someone took time out of their day to tell me that I touched them. It amazes me.


  29. Laura Baumbach
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:36 pm

    Some good thoughts here. I’m surprised by some of the answers. I write under my own name and never thought of it as a courageous or less than courageous thing to do. Just easier, honest and less work to keep track of. I must be lazy. I’ll have to give the alternate opinion some thought. And pronouns are never a problem for me either. Lots of things to think about here. Nice dialog!


  30. Jamie Craig
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:37 pm

    I also agree with Josh. I LOVE it when readers email me. So far, all of the reader emails we’ve received have been respectful and polite and a huge joy to receive. It’s always enough to lift our spirits and inspire us to continue.

    –Pepper


  31. Ally Blue
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 5:52 pm

    I use a pen name in case the powers that be at the hospital where I work decided that gay erotic romance would “reflect badly on this institution” and fire me. I may not like the EDJ, but it leads to very good things such as food and health insurance. LOL. Probably I’m just being paranoid, but I’d rather be wrong and paranoid than wrong and fired *g*
    It never even crossed my mind to use a male pen name, though. I like being a girl, even if I’m not a very girly girl 😀

    Agreeing with everyone else on interacting with readers. Reader email just makes my day, every time. I’ve only had one or two that were weird or stalkerish. The vast majority of the email I get is just lovely, and I always answer it. Best part of the job, IMHO 😀


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

    I am a relatively new reader of M/M fiction. But now that I’ve started I’m like a kid in a candy store. I have read books by both male and female authors. As others have said before me, it is the author that makes the story and not the gender of the author. It is a wonderful genre and I’m doing by best to read books by a wide variety of authors. I have a lot of catching up to do! All I can say from a reader’s standpoint is that male, female, gay, straight or anywhere in between, thank you all for your contributions to erotica.


  33. Jody F.
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 6:23 pm

    I’m so glad to hear the author’s responses to the fan mail question. When I send an e-mail to an author I always worry that I’m intruded on their writing time. I’m always excited to get answers to my burning questions though.


  34. jetmykles
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 6:25 pm

    Yep. Hearing from readers is a beautiful thing. And most whom I’ve heard from really just want to say hello and how much they enjoyed a story. They know I’m busy and that I probably can’t interact all that much. I do make a point of answering all emails though, even if it’s only to say thanks. As Josh said, it’s an honor.

    As for pen names, I use one because it’s easier for people to “hear” than my real one. I’ve got a weird name. My pen name has many elements from my real name though. It’s shorter and snappier though. I’ve never tried to hide that I was a girl but some people started thinking I might be male when I started writing m/m. I think it’s pretty obvious if you look at my website though. I don’t mind one way or another. I’m only really interested in what they think about my stories. If readers think I’m a cool person too, that’s a bonus


  35. JL Langley
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 6:42 pm

    Reader email is the wonderful. More than once a reader email has come at just the right time to cheer me up and keep me from killing off characters.

    JL is a pen name, but it’s very close to my real name. Legally, I go by JL, but the last name is a variation of my maiden name.


  36. K.A. Mitchell
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 6:52 pm

    I definitely agree that hearing from readers is an incredible lift. Not only did someone read my book, he or she took the time to talk to me about it. I always feel honored. It keeps me going when nothing seems to be working right.


  37. Audge
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:01 pm

    From going to book signings I found that most readers of m/m romances are women. It follows that women writers would be able to appeal more to this audience. They have their characters show emotion and have more and detailed plot lines.


  38. katiebabs
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:16 pm

    Wouldn’t the same question arise why women write straight romance? Hey, whether you are a male or female author, as long as you can tap into the emotions and write a great story, who cares what gender you are?
    Enter me!! 😀


  39. LB Gregg
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:28 pm

    Sacre Bleu! It’s Katie Babs! ::waves::


  40. katiebabs
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 7:52 pm

    Yes, I have arrived!! *insert evil laughter*


  41. Kati
    on Feb 22nd, 2009
    @ 9:20 pm

    Kati, The Windflower, right? Awesome book!

    Absolutely! I re-read it at least once a year. It’s a sublime reading experience in my opinion.


  42. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:22 am

    I completely agree with this, but I must say that it is an interesting question. As a female writer, I am not sure that I would know what to say from my experience of what it would be like to come out as a man – but then again, many het stories have male characters written by women… are they authentic? I’m not sure, but I would say that the authenticity is probably the same between the men and women of het works. So… yeah, I think women can certainly write great m/m, just as a man could and it really is all determined by the readership. I’m not a man, but I would like to think that the average opinion would be the same as mine for a male reader of romance.


  43. Elisa Jankowski
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:23 am

    oh poo, it didn’t work… I was quoting Jet’s “I think the knowledge that there are women who like to read about gay romance has colored the outlook of the genre. Personally, I think that’s for the good. It frees up–or it should free up–both sides to just enjoy the stories and not make so many rules about who should be writing something.”


  44. Renee
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:35 am

    I love author blogs and sites, because I get to find out more about their writing, whether it’s excerpts, upcoming publications, or learning about their process. In regards to being male or female (or other personal author info), my usual reaction is, “Oh, ok.” Then I move on to the book. Good writing is good writing, regardless of the author’s gender or personal life.

    A caveat tho’: I have chosen not to buy an author’s books when they’ve put themselves and their beliefs out there in a way ::coughorsonscottcardcough:: that makes me not want to support them (no matter how much I loved Ender’s Game) by buying their books.


  45. Renee
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 12:39 am

    Oh! I forgot: please don’t enter me, as I own all the AE’s in ebook format. (They are awesome!)


  46. josh lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:26 am

    Oh! I forgot: please don’t enter me, as I own all the AE’s in ebook format. (They are awesome!)

    Thanks so much, Renee. Glad you’ve enjoyed them!


  47. Stacy ~
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:27 am

    I agree that I really don’t need to know if it’s a man or woman who wrote the story, as long as I enjoy it. That’s my main concern.

    And if a story does move me, then I do like to let that author know. When they created something that touched me, I feel they should know about it. I don’t expect a response back; I’d rather have a writer doing what they do best. Plus, you hear so much about how people take the time to write complaint letters, well I’d prefer to put positive karma out there and write about the good experience I had. Writers are profoundly responsible for that. Thank you for that.


  48. Kris
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:49 am

    I was pretty new to reading m/m romance and to lurking on blogs when I came across some of the debates about pen names and the sex of authors, etc.

    At the time – and still, it struck me that the accusations made re: female authors with pen names writing m/m romance were being dishonest to readers were only a hop, skip and a jump away from someone (just a general someone) taking advantage of the controversy to say that only GLBT authors could write GLBT fiction, and from there that GLBT fiction can only be read by real GLBT people. My 2c anyway.

    Personally, not that I’ve ever really thought too hard about, I can’t tell whether the m/m romance is written by a man or a women. But than again I don’t really care as long as I’m enjoying the story. *g*

    BTW, if you have mentioned – maybe once or twice on a few blogs – about how you hate a particular character an author has written does that count as being weird and stalkerish??

    (Please don’t put me in the draw. I have this series too.)


  49. jetmykles
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 1:54 pm

    Stacy: I can tell you that I’ve received some positive emails you mentioned at JUST the right time to keep me from pulling my hair out. Sometimes writers feel very alone. It helps to get a pat on the back every once and awhile. So, thank you, for being one of those who gives an author a little bright moment in their day.


  50. Natasha A.
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:49 pm

    I think part of my fascination with m/m is the fact that it is so new to me. I have always loved men and women. They are both equally gorgeous for different reasons. I have never really thought about a person’s sex when I look at them. I see attractive or not. To finally have m/m rather than f/m is a great change! I can’t believe it took me soo long to find it.


  51. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 2:55 pm

    BTW, if you have mentioned – maybe once or twice on a few blogs – about how you hate a particular character an author has written does that count as being weird and stalkerish??

    Nah. I’m determined to win you over, so those mentions are like me taking your temperature. HMMMM…SHE’S STILL RUNNING THAT STRANGE FEVER…MORE CHICKEN SOUP.

    A critical review is one thing — that’s all part of the job description. The thing that sometimes feels a little off is when someone you’ve never corresponded with contacts you personally to say they don’t like your work. Then it does seem a little…personal. Like, they somehow felt it was necessary that you knew they didn’t like your stuff? I’ve only had it happen once, and I honestly didn’t know how to respond.

    It’s one thing when someone writes to say…you shouldn’t have done that to Character A or Character B! Those are fine. I know the reader cares, and I like it when readers care — even if they’re mad at me. *g*


  52. Chris Owen
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 3:09 pm

    “BTW, if you have mentioned – maybe once or twice on a few blogs – about how you hate a particular character an author has written does that count as being weird and stalkerish??”

    Not to me. I totally get that I can’t make everyone happy all the time. I hope that people understand that as a writer I’m telling the stories that are in my head, not fulfilling wishlists. LOL

    But I DO get annoyed (okay, I get hurt feelings) when I get *repeated* e-mails from the same person telling me over and over that they hate a character or something I’ve done. Honestly, it’s not necessary to start every e-mail with “I hate that you added X to the story. Threesomes are unrealistic and gross.” After eight times I get it. I disagree and wouldn’t change it, but I get that you hate character X. Stop e-mailing me about it. (er, the general ‘you’, not YOU.)


  53. Kris
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 5:00 pm

    Josh: *snort* Well, no wonder. I’m a potato and leek girl. *cheeky g*

    Chris: Seriously. That sounds unpleasant. I might kid around (sort of) with Josh and others about how I feel about Jake, but I hope I’d never do something so personal like that. It certainly makes the case for pen names and privacy though, doesn’t it.


  54. Josh Lanyon
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 6:46 pm

    Stop e-mailing me about it. (er, the general ‘you’, not YOU.)

    Damn. What gave me away?

    Juuuuust kidding.

    Actually, one thing I wish I did more was write other authors when I’ve read something I enjoyed. You wouldn’t think a writer would get shy about that, would you? But I’m always a little hesitant to “bother” other writers. Even though I appreciate hearing from readers myself.


  55. LB Gregg
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 7:00 pm

    But I’m always a little hesitant to “bother” other writers. Even though I appreciate hearing from readers myself.

    Me too.

    ::cough::

    Chris~I cannot imagine emailing someone like that. Unless…it’s…possibly…about Butch and V. But I wouldn’t ACTUALLY email her. I’d just talk about it on my blog.


  56. Chris Owen
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 7:04 pm

    It gets a little tiring. LOL I really try to be polite about it, but with two people I’ve simply taken to not discussing that particular book. I answer the rest of the e-mail and don’t engage on the part that they want me to change. 🙂

    I hesitate to write to other authors, too — although I did trip all over myself being a scary fangirl to Jordan Castillo Price. She took it well. *grin*


  57. LB Gregg
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 7:06 pm

    I squeed all over Meljean Brook. (So embarrassing). Fortunately, she still likes me. I think.


  58. Rowan McBride
    on Feb 23rd, 2009
    @ 8:38 pm

    I’m shy about writing other authors too. Well, except Jet Mykles. I stalk her with a fiery passion. lol.


  59. Jon Treadway
    on Feb 23rd, 2010
    @ 7:14 pm

    I also need to use a pen name when writing because I work for a defense contractor and I was job hunting when my first story was accepted. I find it interesting to know if the writer is male or female, but other than that I’m more interested in the stories themselves, the characters, and the romance as it evolves (and the sex — not necessarily in that order… 🙂 ).

    And don’t worry about entering me in the drawing — I’m one of those fans who stalk Josh and have all his books. Whoops, I FOLLOW Josh…

    Jon

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