Recently I was asked about the polarity in my writing. It stretches from erotic to emotionally devastating, and all places in between. Because of this, I have two very different reading audiences. On one side, I have my m/m readers who seek happy endings and hot sex, while the other readers look for less eroticism and more of a literary read, which often (with my novels) leaves them in tears. Today we’re talking about the more literary of my novels – The Value of Rain, Listening to Dust, and Summer Symphony. If you would like to review the topics I explored in those novels, you can see this post.
Why do I write about such emotionally charged issues?
It certainly isn’t for the money. My gay romance novels outsell the more serious fiction books 50:1. I write these books because the stories need to be told. There is more to our existence as LGBTQ people than flippancy, fashion trends, and fucking.
Life isn’t always pretty, and I respect those who seek to find some relief from reality in a book. But as a 50 year old gay man, I can’t forget all the bullshit we’ve been through just to get the few equal rights (scraps) we’re still fighting for today. For me personally, it’s been a long road, and frankly it’s been hell. (And there’s still a long way to go.)
The novels I write aren’t my personal stories. All you have to do is look around; see what life offers. Sometimes being LGBTQ is simply horrendous. And yet we persevere. And that’s exactly why I write about the dark corners of our existence, because we do persevere. But if we persevere with the intent to forget, and lock those dark memories away, then we are doomed to repeat the same history.
A few months back I read a post concerning gay fiction wherein an m/m author stated that he didn’t ‘read that crap.’ If I remember the post correctly, it was because the protagonist in the story died brutally. I respect his opinion, we all have our reading tastes. But honestly, when I read those words the first time, I was pretty angry.
Obviously, his words weren’t directed at me, nor to the horrors LGBTQ people have suffered. But they struck a chord because many of the not-so-pretty stories found in LGBTQ fiction are based in reality.
There is no walking around the brutality LGBTQ people have suffered, and still suffer. We can write all the pretty HEA stories we want, but today someone will die because s/he is LGBTQ. That’s a fact. It’s a fact I don’t want forgotten. And short of death, there’s still a vast wealth of emotion pouring from LGBTQ people which needs to be explored in literature. Not all of it is nice, or sexual. I believe we would only suffer more if we forgot our past and failed to acknowledge the tears we have shed.
My personal philosophy on writing the heart-wrenching reads goes something like this: We can’t know the highest levels of joy and happiness if we don’t know the darkest recesses of our despair. An exploration of both is required in order for us to live and thrive in the world we have today.
So, I’ll continue to write for both fan bases, and hope you enjoy each.