Angels Hiding in Darkness…
Random thoughts as I write volume 2 of my Angels of Mercy series. Establishing my angelic boys in the world I’ve built for them. Pondering what it means and why these things and man on man sex matter as I continue this journey.
I know my journey is different from other authors. I know that many won’t get what I am on about. But you see, I have this need to write from somewhere deep in my gut – yeah, not so different from any other author, right? So what’s the diff?
Simple: My success at it has very little to do with it’s marketability. If it succeeds on that front, all the better. But it is NEVER going to be a requirement. My stuff may never sell. So not the point for me.
I write because these are stories I want to write. These are stories that matter deeply to me – they are my worlds, they are my characters and they are unapologetically who they are. Again, I get that many authors take this stand.
But my boys are a hot mess – and I have little interest in holding to the m/m romance genre as it stands currently. And they are a product of this internet rife with porn age. They are products of the social media world where a sixteen year old boy can have more followers on Twitter than Justin Bieber (and there is such a boy). Internet celebrity, while I rail against celebrity for celebrities sake, is fascinating to me. Surely they are filling a void that the regular media channels don’t fulfill.
So my boys have to deal with that.
Most of the M/M genre doesn’t play with that. Most of them write using formulas and stoic writing narratives that unless the writing is uber crisp and engaging I just yawn and take a pass. The implied rules are that whatever theme is prevalent in the genre is what everyone is writing about. Shape shifters, vampires, etc. They’re all in the mix because it’s simply not enough to write about young men who are coming out their confusing teen years and find the wherewithal to establish themselves as confident in their sexuality. To embrace it whole heartedly. To even revel in the messiness that boys often get into and not bat an eye whilst doing it.
It comes down to this for me. I want to give back. When I was sixteen I found my way into a Walden’s Bookstore (remember them?). Or sometimes it was a B. Dalton – another one that has long since bit the dust. Anyway, there I was – fully cognizant that I was a gay boy struggling to figure out not only how I was going to work my way into the big gay world I just knew was out there, but I was in desperate need of a primer. I needed a gay daddy figure to show me the ropes.
Head out of the gutter now, we’re not discussing BDSM (though I have no judgments for those that do partake of that scene – even I can see the sexiness in it). No, what I am talking about was some real honest man on man instruction guide on how things were going to go for me. What was out there.
So yeah, there I was at 16 and knowing what I was but having not a single clue about how to go about it. The upshot? I could drive and I had a part-tine job which meant money in my pocket.
Then something magical and mysterious happened: I found a book.
City of Night by John Rechy.
This book gave me exactly what a 16 year old (hormonally charged) gay boy wanted. I wanted a primer on what was out there. I mean, I loved my parents and they were great. Never once did I ever feel like my home life was ever in question. I had the unconditional love – that part was secure. Just not a road map of where I could go with the whole thing. Remember, this was way before the internet and online porn sites aplenty that permeate every corner of our media and information laden lives.
But back then – this was all I had. It was gritty, it was dark and deeply hormonal. It spoke about the emotions and urges I was going through that I couldn’t talk to anyone about. I mean, it’s one thing if your a straight boy and wanna talk about boning some chick you think is hot. Imagine having that exact same conversation and your buddy tells you he thinks he could so get into boning Susie Whats-her-name and looks to you and all you have to say is, “Yeah? I’d so rather be popping one up your ass or down your throat, but hey, that’s just me.”
So wouldn’t go over very well, no matter how much hotness cred you were trying to give your best bud that you thought his ass and cock you spotted in gym had your blood boiling.
So yeah, I only had John Rechy in my court. But what an ally. His world was gritty, it was emotively volatile, it was gripping from the very first page. I drank it in like a parched man to a river. Then I found the other two books of his that would also color my young gay life: Numbers and The Sexual Outlaw.
This was at a time when promiscuity wasn’t the most prudent course. HIV and AIDS were just making themselves known – well, I say known but no one really knew what that meant. Without a doubt, those books changed my life. Without a doubt, those books saved my life. That was when I learned unequivocally the power of writing and the written word.
In the course of writing this blog entry my mother called to give me an update about the state of my brother’s current drama. I’ve blogged about it before so I won’t go into the details at this juncture again. What I will say is that, and you’d have to know my mother and me, we ramble quite a bit over the course of our conversations. We’ve always been this way. Somehow, in the middle of hearing about my brother’s woes, we ambled over to when it was like for me growing up and figuring things out in my life. Trying to sort out why I write the things I write.
Why M/M erotica? Well, in reality, I don’t really look at it from that standpoint. Sex and men are hard to separate. We think about it constantly. It’s just built into us. To varying degrees I’ll grant you – as it is with all facets of life. But the urge is still the same. Men feel the need, the burning need to do what we’re built to do. It’s why porn has the industry it does. I am sure some women enjoy it but they are far outweighed by their male counterparts – I don’t believe anyone would seriously challenge me on that.
We have porn because of that sexual drive that ekes into every corner of who we are as men. I see it every day. The furtive glances from the guys I work with when one of the cuter girls happen by. Married or not, their eyes rove. I know my sex – and sex is what’s going on in those looks.
I have a buddy who is happily married to a man he loves whole heartedly. They love each other, they complete each other. It’s a very beautiful thing. They also have an open sexual relationship and actually find joy in sharing other men in their lives. They are honest and open about it and work at it as adults should who are confident enough in who they are to know that they will be there for each other no matter what. They’ve been together for ten years now and they act around each other as if they had just started dating.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch the two of them. Embracing each other and yet knowing that the way to do that – and to remain true to how they are that they were open enough to clear the air about how their lives were going to be with regards to love and sex. I admire them. I am sure it’s not always easy. But the love they have for one another is palpable.
They’re two rough and tumble boys that have matured into sexy as hell men. And they embrace who they are.
So anyway, back to my writing. It was important for me to write from that perspective. I want to write books I wanted desperately to read when I was young.
It isn’t enough that it’s just about the romantic feelings. As a young man (teenager) sex was important to me even though I hadn’t had any at that point. To deny young gay boys the gratification that what goes where and why, and to let them know that those ‘nasty thoughts’ (which by the way are NOT nasty at all… they’re human, folks… I am so over the fucking moon pissed off about how we infantilize young men). I am not postalizing pedophilia in any way – let’s be clear about that. But if a boy (say around the age I was) wanted to become sexually active and the opportunity presented itself with another boy at the same school? Well, personally, if everyone involved was safe and sane about it, no coercion involved, then I’d be down for it. Boys feel those urges when puberty hits. While I understand they may not have the emotional maturity to handle it, sometimes, especially with regards to young gay boys, experimentation is probably the only recourse for them if it presented itself.
It’s why I grouse when YA novels never seem to cover this subject adequately. These boys are having sex – if the internet is to be believed, some of them are having enormous amounts of sex and what’s more they are posting it online. To think that we can’t put down what really goes down in a teen sexual situation is just plain ludicrous. The shit is going to happen if it’s going to happen and writing about it or reading about it will not promote it.
What it will do, in my opinion, is tell these boys who don’t have the means that they are not alone, that there is someone out there who feels just like they do. Someone out there may find Elliot Donahey (my protagonist in Angels of Mercy Volume 1) and how he processes having not only a boyfriend for the first time in his life, but the jock stud that every girl is after might give them hope that their dreams of an Ever After Happily is in the cards for them.
Rechy’s work allowed me to vicariously live through those tumultuous times of the 80’s and 90’s when HIV was nothing short of a death sentence. Sure I experimented myself. My first boyfriend and I evolved to having an open-ish relationship. In the end it wasn’t even a consideration of why we parted company – that was something else altogether. The openness in the sex wasn’t an issue at all. So I get my buddy and his hubby. I really do. I fully support them and how they’ve defined it for themselves.
Those are the stories I want to write.
Those are the characters and the sexual scenarios I want to put out there because they are born of experiences either I went through or friends of mine did.
Those are the books that have to be out there somehow. Because those were the books I would’ve wanted to read. Stories that are emotively and sexually charged – pulling no punches in either department. The emotive moments were equally important, but the words that had the power to stimulate my erotic mind and allowed me to vicariously live through the sensations that the character goes through when he’s fucking or being fucked. The draw they have to cum (and I deliberately use that spelling because for me it is inherently crass and male (not that all males are crass – but we have it within ourselves to be so)). The desire they have to seed and for it to be a big hot mess. Cum play is just one element I explore with these boys. Again, this was drawn from personal history and my own explorations.
These are the stories I would want to read. They are honest in scope and in expression of thought. Elliot is all over the map – thoughts and emotions roil around like a tumultuous ocean. He wavers, he is adamant, he hides and he comes out swinging. Gay boys have to. We bob and weave our entire lives. We live in a world, that while it grows with increasing acceptance and tolerance, where we are constantly reminded that we are not the same. We are not in a relationship that can honestly and without fanfare be expressed in the course of a TV show or movie that still doesn’t cause a stir.
Every time I see two straights going at it in a series or TV I am so over it. And before any detractors flip lid over that position, think about it for a moment – It literally soaks every form of media around us.
Swimming upstream, remember?
Yeah, well, this pink gayboy salmon is gonna start taking nips out of those that swim downstream. I don’t have to buy into that hetero-normative play in life. It’s secure enough in the human condition that it doesn’t require my support or proliferation.
My worlds will be gay oriented because that is my real existence. Straight people will cross into those worlds because that is how the world works. I get that. I would be ape-shit cray-cray not to include it. But it will sooooo not be the focus of my work. There are more than enough on the printed/digital page to read about that.
That’s probably why my gay boy hero in the story comes from the Jock quarter. I wanted a story for one goddamn time to be that the jock is rock solid in who he wants and won’t take no for an answer. Marco Sforza is dead set on Elliot as the only one for him. Their world would seem letter perfect. The first book begins to bear that out.
But as with all drama, these boys don’t have an easy path to their Ever After Happily. Forces conspire to separate them. The boys have their allies. There is definitely a Team Sforza-Donahey. They aren’t alone, even if at times they feel like they are. But that’s how heady love is. That’s how it goes sometimes. While you may know deep down inside that you’ve found your one and only, others in your world may not be so comfortable with that.
My villain is also über sexy in that straight hetero-normative way. He’s a womanizer, he tosses the girls he bangs like used Kleenex to the ground. I think the phrase I use is: “Still smelling from the last pussy he banged.” Yeah, that’s Beau Hopkins. Tall, dark, handsome as all fuck but with a heart as black as pitch that pumps the sludge of tar. And he absolutely hates faggoty boys like my Elliot. He is the quintessential preacher’s son.
I ended volume one on a helluva cliff hanger. My beta-readers were all up in arms about that. They wanted to know WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. So I guess I got something here. We’ll see.
As for me, if I like it, if I feel proud of the effort and am not embarrassed by it at all, then I am good with it. It’s a success on that all by itself.
My Angels may be in the dark, hidden, remote for beta-readers eyes now. But not for long. Book one is in the can – still polishing it here and there. But I am also sourcing my ISBN’s and galley art with a cover artist. Then I’ll explore the marketing facet and promotions venues. I’ve even sorted that it will also be offered on my website directly. I am willing to invest in my own work enough to do the whole she-bang. I am down with it all.
It may come to nothing, but if my readers thus far are spot on with their assessments and their desire to know what happens next, then maybe, just maybe I’ll get it there.
Maybe my boys will be heard – they will walk out from the darkness.
It might be a nice thing after all, if my Angels got to see the light…
Okay, so I have been pondering backstory quite a bit as of late. The reason? I am writing a series of books told by three young men’s perspective over the course of the same events. Each of them has their part of the tale to tell. That’s nothing new in and of itself, right? Yeah, well, not by me. So I’ve had to seriously contemplate the first novel told by that book’s protagonist. I am still in editing mode with that one – beta readers are taking a look at it and providing feedback. So that’s good.
But then the hubby said to me, “You know that what Elliot (my MC in the first novel) sees as important and memorable isn’t necessarily what Marco (his jock quarterback boyfriend) thinks is important, right?”
In some strange part of my psyche, I knew I knew this. Only I hadn’t really given it its due. Marco, the unwavering boyfriend, is his own person. I know this because I created him. But somehow as I was retelling the same story from his perspective, trying like hell to give him a platform to tell his part of the tale, I was somehow shortchanging his experiences and not giving a real look at how he looked at the exact same circumstances but from his life experience.
This should be automatic, right? Yeah, well, it was. Just not to the extent that he deserved. Good thing I am only two chapters into his book that I can regroup and massage it into a better narrative for him. He deserves it. For fuck’s sake he’s the rock in this relationship. His artsy geeky boyfriend is the one who keeps waffling all over the damned place. Not Marco. He’s as fucking solid as they come.
Which brings me to another point – in fiction (esp. queer fiction) I take a rather hard line that cum is different than come. Sure you say I am coming when the guy is getting off. But I would actually like the more porn iteration of the word (and all it’s implied variants) cum, cumming, came (okay, that one sorta breaks the mold). But CUM vs. COME is definitely on my target list. I prefer to use C-U-M as it is a bit raunchier and as a guy, that’s where I am. I like big ol’ messy man on man action. Boys like messy sex. It drives our passions. Cumming is the best fucking thing in the world for us (yeah, yeah, I am sure it is for the ladies when they can get it too. But I don’t write straight erotica so that’s off my radar here).
I am not a piggy sort of guy but I can certainly appreciate when guys get that way. I get it. I truly do. Marco and Elliot (in Angels of Mercy) are very into their form of rutting, cum soaked sex. They like it down and dirty. It’s what grounds them, keeps them bound to each other.
And ladies, don’t let any guy tell you he hasn’t tried to taste his spooge. He’s a fat fucking liar if he does. Every dude has tried it at least once. We’re boys, we can’t help ourselves. The gay dudes that are into it, fuck me, they can’t get enough. Cum dumpster high on the shit like its the best fucking crack around – which, I guess it is. I get that too. Doesn’t mean I wallow in it myself, but I get it. So do my boys.
So back to the backstory question I pose. Marco has quite a bit of backstory that colors his world, how he views it and why. When he (finally) finds the courage to ask Elliot out, he never wavers once he has him. Marco refuses to think of his world without Elliot now that he has him. He would literally tear the world apart to get him back if something ever came between them. Scary obsessive love, that’s the kind of love he brings to Elliot. Elliot doesn’t understand it. He can’t figure out how the hottest guy in their small Northern California town would even look his way let alone profess his everlasting love to him. It rattles his world, shakes it, turns it right-side up on him but he still doesn’t get it.
Marco tells him it ‘ain’t for you to get – it just is, and you better get used to it.’
Gayboys, especially the types who’ve been told they aren’t worthy of any kind of real love, that their perverse or monsters, often can’t handle love when its offered so willingly. Elliot waffles in the beginning because of this. Marco just overwhelms, he consumes and he is very fiery. Leaving Elliot stunned and bewildered and deeply loved. It scares him like no other.
So the first book covers that, with those exact lines from Marco’s mouth about it not being something for Elliot ‘to get.’ But what Marco has behind them is something Elliot can only guess at. Yet in volume 2 of my Angels series, we get to see why Marco tells him that his love for Elliot is weighted, it has history. For Marco, his love has gone on unrequited for two very long and scare filled years wondering if Elliot would even consider going out with him. Marco is a bonafide stud. Girls follow him around, guys try to emulate him, but Marco doesn’t really see that, doesn’t pay it much mind. All he can see is the out gay kid that nearly everyone picks on and, despite the macho air that billows in his wake, all he can feel is how frightened he is that Elliot would reject him. So he waits, he watches, he follows. Consumed by all things Elliot. Marco is right, for him, it does have history – two long years in high school where the bullied gay kid takes no notice of him – slinking from dark recess to dark recess trying to stay out of the limelight. And that is the problem. Marco is nothing but limelight. A great big shiny light.
And when he thinks he finally has the courage to approach Elliot to just say ‘hey’ and see if he’ll talk to him, he over hears a brutal conversation where Elliot rails to one of his geeky friends about the jocks at school and uses Marco as the poster boy for all things terrible and wrong in his life – never knowing Marco is nearby – torn apart, shredded by the boy he loves but thinks he can now never have.
So, it’s weighted, it has history. For Marco, his backstory about this love for Elliot, how he comes back even stronger and more determined to change Elliot’s mind about what he thinks about him is what is so powerful in his story. My hope is to provide enough of that struggle, enough of his backstory from book one (told by his boyfriend) that we get a chance to see what it means for Marco to ‘man up’ and fight for the man he loves and put it all out there for Elliot to see.
Luckily for him, Elliot is swept off his feet.
Even Marco can’t believe he’s got what he’s always wanted either.
Of course, no one would read a story that was only sunshine and roses. So the boys go through some fairly terrible shit. That’s life. Happy as a clam then you’re eaten by a shark. That’s not to say they don’t get their Ever After, Happily. It’ll just take a heap load of crap to sort through to get there.
But at least my hubby gave me some things to mentally chew on. Marco’s highlights in his pursuit of Elliot are very different for him than that of his boyfriend. And even where they intersect, they have different weight for each. But I guess, as a writer, that’s where the fun comes in. Letting Marco explore what it all means for him. He’s got the boy that no one liked, but that boy was the only one he could see, the only one who mattered.
The only one who had his heart…
Backstory, it’s the colors we weave to make stories worth telling and for our readers, stories worth reading.