Our final guest blogger this week is Australian m/m author, A.B. Gayle. And let me just say…WOW. Have you read any of her work? No? Then bloody well get to it. It is hot, emotional, incredible and will stay with you for a long time.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, A.B. Gayle…
Thanks Sami, Jess, Lexxie and Rhian and for having me.
Why did I choose to write m/m?
Why does any female write m/m for that matter?
…. then two men must be better.
Make them gay (not suggesting that Thor or Wolverine are that way inclined 🙂 ) and story ideas just jump out of the page.
But what’s wrong with the normal male and female scenario? Why write about gay men?
As a gay man, he found the whole concept fascinating.
Some gay men are disturbed by the thought of females writing and reading gay sex scenes, but others seem to get it. After all, heterosexual females and gay men have one huge factor in common. They both love men! They both appreciate the beauty of the male body. Many have *gasp* even gone to bed with a male!
Mind you, gay men often suggest we don’t know what it feels like to get a blowjob, but many of us know exactly what it feels like to give one!
So, with just a little research the mechanics are not that alien.
But why did I start writing them?
Over the centuries, writers have covered every angle of the traditional m/f romance. In every writing style, in every location. I devoured so many that I was looking for something different, especially as I’ve been there, done that in real life and have got the hubby and two kids to prove it! Writing stories with male heroes allows me to get “outside the kitchen” and into areas most females can’t or won’t venture.
Perhaps part of me always wished I could be the fireman who went in and rescued people, or was able to casually stroll into a bar and feel that my gender didn’t make me feel conspicuous.
When I was writing “Red+Blue” I was very aware that most scenes would have been impossible with a male and female. The story wouldn’t have worked the same way. Men have a lot more freedom to go places and the strength to do different things. That immediately creates a difference in what is possible to write about and the scenarios that can be explored. For example, my characters go canoeing in the wilds of Minnesota and the Quetico. Yes, females can do those sorts of things – I am living proof of that fact – but different factors would be present. More rigid constraints on behavior. Expectations.
Even when I had Danny, my hero in “Caught” walk up to Nathaniel Taylor, a total stranger, I was reminded that if he had been a female, the chance of that sort of thing occurring would be unlikely and, if it did, another set of expectations would be in force. All set by society and circumstance.
Like it or not, our gender restricts us to certain places and actions.
Yes, there are always exceptions to the rules and paranormal and fantasy are great ways to explore these.
But it’s not just the expanded horizons that result from having two male main characters, there are also a whole new set of conflicts that come into play.
And even the mushiest romance needs conflict.
But conflict with two guys isn’t just arguing about who is going to top and who is going to bottom – although that has been the case in some books – it can be about egos, whether they’re out or not, their willingness to let their guard down and admit they actually care for each other. Especially as the typical male finds it difficult to express their emotions. Plus, the outside world adds a totally different flavour in contemporary m/m romances. Life is not easy for a gay man growing up. While things have definitely improved, there is still a lot of homophobia around. Many of the older generation still see homosexuality as an aberration.
But there are also more positive sides to heterosexual women writing gay romances. The whole concept of love and romance shouldn’t belong exclusively to straight relationships. Yet, a happy future seems an impossible aim for gay men (and women) who are still coming to terms with the fact that they can be openly gay.
Many still bear the scars of years of feeling left out. Not wanted. Excluded. Every book they read, every movie they watched never depicted them in a positive light, assuming they were included at all. Gay men often bemoan the fact that they had no positive role models while growing up. People they could identify with.
Until now, most gay fiction reflected this reality and the stories were rarely happy. Let alone had a happy every after. Just when they finally won their freedom from laws which prevented them from being who they were born to be, they were hit by the scourge of AIDs. Some heartless members of society even told them that they deserved this fate. It was the will of God. So, to suddenly have a genre where being gay is not only accepted but is celebrated is something that they find quite amazing. For years, the concept of love and a happy long, lasting relationship felt an impossible dream. Yet, m/m romances show how that can happen. This is starting to make them believe it is possible.
How do I know this for certain? Since I started writing m/m romances, I’ve got to know a few gay authors. I’ve emailed them and interviewed a few on my blog. http://www.abgayle.com/my-blog—reviews–interviews.html
One, Don Schecter, is now 75 and didn’t come out of the closet until he was in his forties. “You just weren’t allowed to be gay in those days,” he told me. We have become internet friends, have skyped and beta each other’s stories. He makes sure I get the nuts and bolts right.
I’ve also been fortunate to meet and become friends with the Sydney-based author, Barry Lowe who delights in telling the story how someone
at high school, accused him of being camp. He’d never heard the term before. After being told it meant he was a homosexual, he went to the library and looked up that word, saying, as he closed the complete Oxford dictionary with a thud, “Wow, so that’s what I am. Great!” (Or at least, that’s the story as Barry likes to tell it.) Even though he’s been with his partner, Wally, for nearly 40 years, the thought of men writing about love just didn’t occur to him. He mainly wrote gay erotica because he thought that’s all gay men wanted to read. He’s still amazed that his romantic style stories like “A Red Rose Before Crying” sell so well.
Gay men in books, movies and plays rarely had a happy ending. They died tragically, or their love was thwarted. Think “Brokeback Mountain” or even “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
That’s assuming gay characters were included at all.
Like the villain in a murder mystery, because of who they were, they often “got what they deserved.” Even now, although gay characters are being included more, they are often the stereotype bitch queen from hell or the soft, femme type. Rarely do we see the burly gay bears or the ones who don’t flaunt their gayness.
When I attended the Mardi Gras after party as research for my novella “Mardi Gras” I was astounded by the sheer number of gay men there. Thousands of people spilled out of the Hordern Pavilion and neighboring entertainment areas. Every variation was present, including some leather men dancing to a DJ, or just milling around, chatting. Attending some of Sydney’s great drag events proved great inspiration for my recent release “Leather+Lace.”
Yet, even at Mardi Gras, I was conscious that when they left the area, they would have to stop holding hands and scuttle back into the box that society demands they live in.
In books they can escape that boundary.
I really feel that by giving them their happy ending, authors are helping to change things for the better. Writing in the gold rings and the picket fence, puts the issue of gay marriage onto the agenda. Showing the effect that homophobia has on their lives reminds us to ensure that our children have a more enlightened attitude. Reading about people being forced into the closet by the expectations of parents and society helps us understand the difficulties of coming out.
Lecturing (telling) people to behave in a more tolerant fashion doesn’t work.
Showing them situations and making them feel these issues as they walk in the shoes of the characters for a couple of hours, I believe can, and will, change people’s minds. That’s assuming they need changing. Yet even those who are already enlightened can gain a sense of affirmation.
Yeah, it’s hot writing and reading about two gay men getting it off, but more than that, literature – even when it masquerades as a light-hearted m/m romance – can help change perceptions. If properly researched and respectful towards gay men, by reading it we learn about the issues they face which helps us to support them when they need it.
It’s interesting that when we did a poll of subjects for panel discussions at our upcoming inaugural OzmmMeet the option for discussion that received the most votes was “Injecting realism into m/m romance” and “Are we stereotyping gay men and what would constitute an acceptable HEA for them?”
Thanks to the internet, this blog probably extends far around the world. But anyone who lives locally or would like to join a group of authors, reviewers and readers on the weekend of 11-13 October. we’d love to see you there. Check out our webpage for more info http://www.ozmmmeet2013.com.
Thanks to Down Under Divas for inviting me along. You gals rock!
PS: I have to thank Jess Dee especially, as her interest and encouragement when I chatted about the plot of my first story, an m/f romance was what gave me the courage to start writing in the first place. It was eventually published by Total eBound and called “Isolation.”
BIO: A.B. Gayle hasn’t been writing stories all her life, instead she’s been living life. Her travels have taken her from the fjords of Norway to the southern tip of New Zealand. In between, she’s worked in so many different towns she’s lost count, shovelling shit in cow yards, mustering sheep, being polite to customers, trading insults with politicians. Sometimes she gets confused as to who needs what where. Now living in Sydney, Australia, she finally has time to allow her real life experiences morph with her fertile imagination to create fiction that she hopes readers will enjoy.
Her writing centres on the theme “Opposites Attract” and the first two books in the series, “Red+Blue” http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2952 and “Leather+Lace” http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3658 are out now with Dreamspinner Press who also published the novella “Caught” http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=1975. If you want to read more about A.B. Gayle and her work, check out her website http://www.abgayle.com.