J P Is my guest today and I never know what she is going to talk about. When she asked is she could be my guest, I of course agreed because she is always fun. It turns out she has something special in mind. So welcome J. P!
This afternoon, I sat down with Devon Hunter, a full-time rentboy and former pornstar, who at one time, reviewed M/M books for an online podcast. Since that time, he and I have discussed many different aspects of fiction and writing gay male sexuality. So, I asked him – what should authors keep an eye out for as they write gay men. What were some of the things that didn’t ring true when you read for review?
Here were his answers:
- Don’t make the characters overly nostalgic – they’re too sentimental. Syrupy idealized remembrance of situation is overkill and unrealistic – the best part of memories is how they are imperfect.
- Extravagant emotions – men hold things back to a point. When we break through and have those moments, they’re moments, they’re not the norm. When they do happen, they are extraordinarily special because in the grand scheme of society, we’re not allowed to have them.
- Men are generally hypersexual, it’s not going to be a coy expression, it’s not a flirtatious, hooded, twinkling eyes – the intensity of men with men, being rawly sexual, the look is one of being devoured. Keep the intensity, but don’t make it one-step removed from rape. We enjoy our sexuality, but it’s not an overly flowery act either.
- Men have control over themselves, especially when they’re not a teenager – not every blowjob is the best blowjob they’ve ever had. Not everything has that kind of intensity. It doesn’t have to mean everything – every caress doesn’t have to hold this wonderful key to the universe, it just feels good. A lot of the time, sex between men is used for communication, to express attraction, apology, or love.
- Sexual metaphors are overdone – intense shudders of delight, or electrical storms – every time I touch a guy, he doesn’t just erupt in orgasm, unless he has a medical condition.
I think, as authors, when we write, sometimes we express the way we believe men should express themselves. This doesn’t fall along gender
lines, but our level of creativity and how that relates to the expectations of readers. Readers are looking for an escape—they want something more than their own experience. So, how do we balance their need for more with the reality of men and gay relationships? For me, the answer lies in in-depth conversations with my gay friends, male beta readers, and a grounded approach to romance. Men have romance, but it has a different dynamic than a romance between a man and a woman. If you can simply change the names, pronouns, and genitals of your m/m protagonists—something needs to change in your character development.
If you’ve never had gay sex, watch gay porn—it’s not perfect, but does give you enough for a literary interpretation of the interactions, positioning and intensity of men having sex. Talk to guys who have been intimate with other men, ask them their impressions, ask them technical questions, get personal—write it well, and do justice to your characters.
Your readers, especially those looking for themselves in your work will thank you for it.
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com
3 Responses to “Welcome My Guest – J P Barnaby”
Great blog post!
Very, very, nicely stated post, J.P. And I agree with the points your friend makes. I wonder sometimes if I haven’t written a sex scene in my books because I just can’t think of a way to do it without making it sound ridiculous. The expectation is that it’s going to be “all that” when two characters have sex in a book, so I simply avoid it or make it unnecessary to have in it.
Great advice! I loved reading these from your friend Devon, J.P. One of the first introductions I had to MM romance was a terrible author who violated almost every single one of these rules. And he was a male author, so he had no excuse for not ‘getting it.’ But every time the two men came into the same room they instantly got rock hard and almost erupted. I wanted to scream. Good post!