So it’s been a while. I’ve been busy writing. I found a publisher that really seems to get what I am about as a writer. I don’t know if I’ll rate. But it’s something I’ll definitely work toward.
There was just a small problem. My book was too big. I get it. It’s a business. At my age I don’t wander around in a daze of euphoric writers bliss thinking that anything I put down onto digital paper is golden. That I’ll be adored by the masses. I mean, I write MALE on MALE Gay Lit Fic wtih a heavy slant on the erotic element of the story. I mean, I am a gay man. I need to write what I know. It is my world. Been my world since the first guy I boned back when I was a teenager back before the heady days of HIV and AIDS. So I got an eye opener of a entrance into all things gay when being that way wasn’t talked about openly nor was it even evident on TV. Okay, we had Billy Crystal’s Jody Campbell on Soap. He played it brilliantly if a bit over the top fey. But that character was a product of its time. Gay men were supposed to be the laughed at. It was the only way we were palatable back then.
Yet, that never was an answer for me. It wasn’t who I was. Whatever that was at the time (hey, I was barely out of my teens, how the fuck did I know what I was – other than being into men). Being into men was about all I knew about myself back then. This was the era of Jeff Stryker and his huge porn cock from hell – even though there ere plenty of other men who had bigger cocks and could fuck a helluva lot better than he could. Chad Douglas, much? That man was my wet dream of a fuck back then. As a gay boy I wanted to bed that porn star more than any other. It never happened, except in my head and in my hand. From what I’d heard he isn’t around any more (I don’t know if that’s true or not) but if it is, then maybe it was for the best that I never did get my wish.
So why the ramble about fucking? Well, it sort of colors the men in my works. Sex is important to humans – whether or not they choose to admit it. Being a gay author I have a playground to probe, prod and work through the vagaries of being a gay man in this world. Even going so far that in my first work I am seeking to get published is harking back to my youth and the mental ramblings that went through my brain while I was caught up in the euphoria that some other boy was just as interested in an intimate and physical relationship with me as I was with him. That was pretty heady stuff back then. I am sure that gay boys float on air as they discover their first loves and how incredible the simple act of fucking can make your heart soar. Fucking is great. In fact, it’s fucking great.
So with the MC’s of my story – Angels of Mercy, I am having to recall those heady days. The work begins as a contemplative piece. And therein lies the rub, I suppose. Not that any publisher has had a real chance to look at it. It is a book about GAY men written BY a gay man. I know it’s a hard fact to face but I am surrounded by female authors who are writing characters of which most of the work seem to have little in common with the world I grew up in. The world I surround myself with others like me. Not to disparage those author’s works, but inwardly I liken it to writing about a black Jewish three legged lesbian. I have absolutely no reference for me to even begin to hope to have an honest work. Yes, I get the counter argument that human frailties are human and that we have that element in common, despite the variances in our worldly experiences. But you see, that is the one element that I find in the whole m/m romance segment of the business. It has VERY little to do with me as a gay man. Other than it’s men poking and fucking other men. And even in that, it’s polite. The men are not messy. They are not really piggy. There is no cum play, watersports, and even the S/M elements simply don’t even scratch the surface of what men feel or more importantly don’t feel as they experience those elements of gay culture.
So when I heard about a publisher that wasn’t caught in the trap of the same old formula being reworked and reworked – with little hope of a singular voice to break out and really transform the genre, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. So I began to write. There might not be a publisher that will come within miles of it. Though I’ve had beta readers with positive, constructive commentary to assist in tightening it. But in that I have exclusively stuck to other gay men. It is this intrinsic truthiness (apologies to Mr. Colbert) that I am seeking. I am not writing for the audience that wants the formulaic shape shifter work. Nor am I writing for that singular vampire story that has been so overwrought that there is nothing really separating it from other work out there.
And I got it honestly. The three books that changed my life would prove prophetic in how I am writing today:
Gordon Merrick’s Charley and Peter series beginning with The Lord Won’t Mind (my views on M/M romance began here). John Rechy’s two masterworks – City of Night and The Sexual Outlaw. Three books that shaped my young gay boy world before I even put a toe out into that world.
These books color everything I do now. That isn’t to say that the works of Gore Vidal, EM Forester and Thomas Wolfe didn’t inspire. They most definitely did – and still do. Hell, TJ Klune is my go to right now. In fact, pretty much I am influenced by male authors because I find their voice speaks to my own. So along with TJ, Eric Arvin, Josh Lanyon, Jay Bell (a very personal fave) Ethan Day, Brent Hartinger, and Brad Vance, there are many others who’s works inspire. But those men I named give me something a bit more. I am deeply indebted to their creativity as it gives life to my own. That may make me sound gay militant. Maybe. But I don’t think so. As I said before, I am tired of translating other’s works into my own experiences. I can appreciate the work for itself, but it fails to completely inspire. Now give me a male protag struggling with his own gay maleness – and I’m all in.
With my work, Angels of Mercy, I wanted to do something really different. Different in that it has quite a bit of influence from my own experiences. My own sense of sexuality as A MAN who desires and has sex with MEN. A point where my protag rails against his own mother knowing about his life as an out gay youth but he is adamant that she doesn’t understand fully what that means. She can translate it to a degree, but she’ll never know what that means for him. Elliot, my main character, is deeply in love with his boyfriend. The hottest jock on the varsity football team – Marco. I wanted to pose the question, what if the geeky artsy gay kid got the hot jock – what then? For a geeky gay kid who was used to the shadows, what would happen if he was dating (on the DL, that is) the highest profile boy on campus? How would it work? How would it fail? And what would be going through his head throughout it all. And I wanted, for once, for the Jock to be the solid one, the unquestioning one in the relationship.
But there again lies the rub. It’s contemplative. It’s introspective. Elliot’s a bit of a mess. Being a out gay kid in a small town (even in Northern California) can do a number even on the strongest psyche. Elliot can’t believe his good fortune when during a completely uneventful summer Marco, the hottest guy in town, not only comes in to his family run DQ, but he tells Elliot he’s been in love with him for the past two years and he can’t hold out any longer. It turns Elliot’s whole world upside down. They have the summer to discover all things about themselves as a couple head over heels in love before the oppressive monster that is high school descends and nearly drowns them in the process. Do they go back to their separate worlds? Do they seek out a way to be openly together? Very tough calls for two gay boys deeply in love. And they are. Deeply. Profoundly. At eighteen they’ve found their soul mate. But what if the world around you didn’t see it that way – what would they do to be together?
So the screws on my characters tighten. The story goes dark – very, very dark. Matthew Shepard with a little Hannibal Lecter dark before the boys will see any light. So the work is deceptive. It begins introspectively in Elliot’s head and heart. It’s messy. It’s erotic, it’s raunchy as only two gay boys could be. Then it all implodes pushing hard to separate my lovers until they’re able to find a way out and back into each others arms again.
I had a discussion with a published author of some renown in the m/m romance field. When I explained the work, she said that my boys could come off as being a bit pervy. My immediate reaction (though I withheld it from her) was ‘gee, do you know any gay boys and what they get into?’ I get that it’s romance, but honey, if it is men on men – you better believe it will be HELLA PERVY by those terms. Men thrive on messy, pervy fun when we’re together. Even our straight boy counterparts bear that out. Ever watch them on an ATC out in the dessert? Thrashing around in the mud? Men love their messes. It’s what makes us happy. I’ve ranted about this before but I truly think I need to defend my boys in Angels. If they are anything, they are honest. Honest in that they are as close to my own experiences in growing up gay. Honest in that they are equal parts raunch as they are euphoric in their love for one another. But most of all they are definitely male. No chicks with dicks in my books.