Blog Tour – Shane Allison – Men on the Make Book Release
Described by editorial reviewer Amos Lassen as, “Tales that are a reflection of the way we as gay men live today. Some of these stories are so hot that I must say that they do not reflect all gay men but might indeed reflect their dreams,” you know you’re in for one helluva rompfest of a book.
On today’s blog post, I had a moment to discuss with Shane Allison his points of view in how the book came together, the views he has on the work itself as well as a broader look at Gay Literature as a whole.
SA Collins (SC): So Gay Sex Confessions. What was the impetus for the book?
Shane Allison (SA): I have always had an interest in gay erotica, and when something centers on being confessional, that’s even more fascinating. Cleis had done some lesbian true confession books I think, but never anything queer, so I wanted to visit that theme.
SC: Was it something you saw lacking in the gay literature arena that needed addressing or was it more of a lark?
SA: I wouldn’t say lacking, just not enough of true gay confession writing. It was a hard book to do because there weren’t too many I guess that had anything to confess, or wanted to confess. There definitely needs to be more books like Men on the Make for sure.
SC: Given the topic, how did you go about sourcing the material? Was it a general call via social media or did you ping gay men in your own social network to contribute?
SA: A general call pretty much. I hoped that there would be those out there that were willing to share their real life sexual experiences with me.
SC: Do you feel there is more to explore with this type of ‘confessional’ scenario with men like us?
SA: Yes, always. Every confession holds something new and exciting. I keep a journal of my sexual experiences, and there’s always something new and great to write about.
SC: Overall, how do you see our voice out there in literature? By and large, my impression is that, like mainstream media, we are woefully underrepresented. Do you feel this is the case? If not, why not?
SA: Good question. I like the idea of new LGBT writers expressing themselves in whatever medium they choose. There are many, many stories that have yet to be told. I feel that we are more represented now than we were a century ago. We have come far by leaps and bounds, and we still continue to make strides. I don’t want the LGBT community to be defined as one dimensional, that we all want to march down aisles in wedding dresses and tuxedos. We are so much more than that.
SC: How do you feel about the M/M romance genre or gay fiction? What is your perspective on why there is such a prevalence of women writing (in the majority) to other women rather than to us?
SA: I don’t mind M/M romance as long as it’s good writing. I prefer mine with a bit of sex mixed in. I don’t really like the term romance because it’s associated with bad writing and watered down work you find in books sold in supermarkets. I get a lot of gay erotica written by women, most of it not so good. I believe there’s this idea that erotica is easy to write, but it’s not as easy as some might think. I get material that comes off very generic and over the top like I wouldn’t know the difference between that and mind-blowing work.
SC: How do you feel we, as gay authors, work to get our words, our voices into the hands of gay men? Do you see it as a systemic issue or more of a cultural or age related issue?
SA: I use to wonder with the state of LGBT bookstores, if we really get out and support the stores. Not just buying books by your favorite authors, but going to readings. That support is so important. With bookstores closing around the country, we have to get the book in the reader’s hand. Whether it’s doing interviews like this, using social media as a tool to get the word out, and doing reading and tours. You have to let them know who you are and what you’re doing. You can’t depend on the publishers and bookstores to do everything. This is especially important in the gay community. Just when I think no one is reading, I get emails from people telling me how much they like what I’m doing.
SC: Given the nature of the work, sexual confessions, what are your influences from a literary standpoint and how do you feel they helped in putting this work together? Or do you see them as separate from the fictional writings you’ve done?
SA: Well, fiction and non-fiction are close siblings for sure. There’s usually a little non-fiction in my fiction, a story loosely based from a true life experience. The Straight to Hell Magazine was a big influence on me. Billy Miller runs it now. That magazine gave me the idea for Men on the Make.
SC: How much of it is, in fact, real – by that I mean, do the men who have contributed to this work, actually say this happened to them or is it more of a coloring of how we as gay men experience our world? It is a metaphor or an amalgam of our experiences? A broad stroke, if you will?
SA: All of the work are from real life experiences.
SC: Did you find the editing process difficult or easy with this particular piece?
SA: It was easy pretty much. I did have a few questions about some of the stories, but all in all, I think this is a great anthology.
SC: What was your experience like in coming to terms with your own sexuality? Do you believe it influences your work or is your work more illusionary? By that I mean, are you writing from a core set of experiences that you have personally gone through or do you like to dabble in the ‘what if’ of life? A combination of both?
SA: A combination of both really. The true confession work comes to me easier. I’m one of those writers who likes to write about mostly everything that happens to me.
SC: So many who write with an erotic edge to their work do so with a fair degree of anonymity, under a pseudonym. I know I use a nom de plume becuase my name is rather boring and doesn’t quite standout. So I chose to write using a variant of the first character I ever fleshed out – sort of honoring my first creation. Do others in your personal life know about the type of writings you do or are you writing in the closet, as it were?
SA: I use my real name, so folks know. My friends know what I write and edit and they are cool with it. I don’t really go for pen names. I understand it with some people, but I’ve been writing material with sex in it for years and decided long ago that if I was going to be out about it, I needed to be proud of what I do and I am.
SC: Who was the greatest literary influence in your life, and why do you think they made such a great impression?
SA: I started out writing poetry, so poets like Langston Hughes. Later, in my twenties I discovered Allen Ginsberg’s work. His sexual poems and poems he wrote about friends is great stuff. I love his poem, “Please Master.” That one is my favorite poem by him. I had lots of influences. Madonna, poetry, dirty magazines and my own imagination mostly. Whether it’s writing sex or getting in front of a camera, you have to decide to be balls out. You can’t be timid.
SC: What’s next in the pipeline for you – what tickles your literary fancy from an author’s standpoint?
SA: My debut novel, You’re the One That I Want will be out in 2016, so I’m psyched about that for sure. I have all sorts of ideas.
SC: What inspires you? What makes you stop and ‘smell the roses’ in life?
SA: Anything positive inspires me. Other people pursuing their dreams makes me get off my ass to make my own dreams come true.
SC: Anything else you’d like to add?
SA: I know there are folks who want to write in this genre, and the best advice I would give would be to read as much of the stuff as you can get your hands on, the good stuff mind you like the wonderful books Cleis Press does. Read and write everyday. Even if you think it sucks, keep moving forward with it. Don’t think about it too much. It’s more important to get the overall idea out there.
I want to thank Shane Allison for taking a few moments to discuss his current release (out now – see links below) and wish him nothing but success on his new venture. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for his novel when it drops in 2016.
From Cleis Press –
Want to Hear a Secret?
Nothing is better than a juicy secret, especially one involving what goes on behind closed doors! Men on the Make: True Gay Sex Confessions features the absolute hottest and most unexpected sex: in public, with strangers, threesomes, foursomes and moresomes. What makes these stories collected by award-winning editor Shane Allison even sexier is that they are real-life encounters and reflect gay life today in all its cultural diversity.
About the Editor –
Shane Allison has been published in countless literary journals and publications, such as McSweeney’s, Velvet Mafia, Mississippi Review, New Delta Review, and Outsider Ink. The editor of Rookies, Cruising, and College Boys, his stories have also appeared in anthologies such as Beach Bums, Best Gay Erotica 2014, and The Big Book of Orgasms. He lives in Tallahassee, FL.
My Review –
I think the thing about Men on the Make that I liked was the variety not only in the sex but the way each man relayed the telling. It’s a tapestry of maleness and rutting that is so strong you can literally smell it coming with each turn of the page. Whether Rosen’s Castro ‘forbidden fruit’ boss man, a torrid romp with Daddybear or a bisexual fuckfest in the French Quarter during the height of Mardi Gras, this book pulls no punches, safe sex or otherwise, in how we, as gay men, are varied in our sexual appetites or adventures.
The book flirts with men moving out of their comfort zone all for the thrill of a busting a nut in a public place, or in a seedy apartment. Sometimes love is in the mix, other times, not. It’s a cornucopia of semen laden and male musk filled orgasmic tales. Or I guess you could argue, tails. Some are better told than others, some with more stylized method of evoking that raw sensuality and male musk that seeps from the page. As with most compilations it has its high points and thankfully, very few that don’t quite make that high mark. It’s a more even work than I expected. In that I was thoroughly pleased with the effort.
This is by no means a romantic influenced compendium of male experiences. This is out and out rutting and sexual gratification. Tales of the need to seed. The darker and seedier side of (gay) male sexuality. That’s not to say that there isn’t some more subtle flavors like angst, confusion, desire percolating at the edges of these men’s confessions that heighten the emotive quality of the tales. There most definitely are. I agree with Allison when he says that there needs to be more work of this nature out there. That’s true. I think our voices, no matter the expression of them, needs to be heard. As with our heterosexist opposites who have no problem bathing us with their hetero-normative sexually laden world in the media, there does need to be more of who we are as gay men. Bold and honest work. Men on the Make is an attempt to close the gap on this. I think gay men, while we often experience so much of our lives in varied and unusual ways – sometimes throwing caution to the wind just for a good fuck, we aren’t always so quick to share those experiences. It’s something that Shane laments a bit in compiling the work. I think society has taught us to be a bit reserved with the sharing of this aspect of our lives. Men on the Make is a strong contender to balance that underrepresentation of our sexual lives.
Where you can get a copy –
Men on the Make
True Gay Sex Confessions
Edited by Shane Allison
$15.95, Trade Paper
216 pages, 5 ½” x 8”
Publishing on September 6, 2014
From Amazon US
From Cleis Press