There is one question that I’ve been asked more often than any other in real life with regards to my writing, the question that every woman who openly writes gay fiction will eventually get asked: “Why do you write GAY fiction?”
(It’s funny how no one ever asks why I write books featuring rich characters, or poor characters, or military characters, or smart characters, or dumb characters. Heck, I once wrote a novel in which an acid-scarred former supermodel did battle against super-powered flying battle machines and no one blinked an eye. But once you bring GAY MEN into the mix, well, now you’ve got people wondering.)
I’m sure the answer to this question varies from author to author (though most of them, I suspect, will include the words “hot” and/or “sexy” at some point) and I have quite a few answers myself. What they all boil down to, though, is one thing: gender roles. Namely, my absolute and complete loathing of traditional gender roles.
I used to belong to a writers’ group. The first book I presented to them was a YA novel featuring a background heterosexual romance, but mostly focused on a couple of kickass female characters and a one major supporting male character. And the very first comment I received was: “your male character is too weak”. And when I asked what that meant, the explanation was that the problem lay in the fact that “male character was weaker than the female character”.
To that I say, “Fantastic! I did my job right, then.”
Unfortunately, that’s not what most mainstream publishers want. They want female characters who are strong but vulnerable and who secretly, deep down, really just need a man to lean on. And that dynamic interests me not at all.
This is why I love writing gay fiction. No one requires me to write a built-in, society-mandated power imbalance. If I want my guys to both kick ass, that’s great. If I want one to be big and burly and totally a bottom, that’s cool, too. If I want my female characters to universally and unequivocally kick ass, no one is going to complain.
(And, you know, I don’t have to even consider the question of kids and/or pregnancy. Bonus!)
In short, what I love about writing gay fiction is the complete freedom to write characters the way I want them to be, rather than the way society tells me they should be. For that, I’ll take a hundred iterations of THAT question.
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With Jane's permission, we'd like to point out that this blogpost by Sue Brown also deals with a similar topic - although Jane's blogpost was written a short time ago, it turns out to be remarkably timely! You can also click through from Sue's blog to another by Amy Lane on the same subject - all excellent food for thought.