I’ve been kicking around a few thoughts for a while. Most of them have to do with the divide in the M/M genre amongst readers. Basically, what is a reader’s expectation for a book classified as M/M?
This has been an interesting discussion because there are definite undercurrents within the readership that require sex to be in any book marked M/M. I could go into historical reasons, most of them being the M/M genre appears to have risen up from the likes of John Preston and others who wrote erotica with a plot.
But there were others as well in that mix… like Joseph Hansen and Michael Nava who leaned more towards the story. If there was any sex at all.
The main question seems to be; is there room in the M/M genre for a story with no or little sex? And will a readership accept that?
Someone recently told me—and I’m still not sure if they were serious—that the current M/M offerings were like a bucket of Mill and Boons or Harlequin romances. Lacking in any true substance and pretty much written in a formula.
Does the perception lie with the reader or the genre? Truthfully, there’s kind of no divide in the genre. Anything written with a gay character is kinda tossed into the pot of M/M, regardless of the content or “heat level”. It does appear as if everything is judged on the basis of the romance in the work.
Is romance the only place a gay character is acceptable?
Stick with me here. *grins*
When I wrote Black Dog Blues back in the early 2000s, I was told by countless agents that it couldn’t be published as a sci-fi/fantasy because the main character was bisexual. It wouldn’t sell. Some hated my writing but the majority were of the opinion Kai wouldn’t take because well… he’s male and with alternative views on sexuality.
But see, that wasn’t the main part of the book. It never was meant to be. Especially in the first book but there it was… Kai would probably sell if I made him female. That would be acceptable.
I balked. Not because I felt like I’m this precious snowflake artiste but because it felt wrong to lop off his dick and femme him up to sell the book. So I shelved him. But I fully intended to wait out the wave of no-gay-bisexual-characters.
It’s an urban fantasy. Not a romance. I knew that going in. I knew that coming out. Pure. Urban. Fantasy. Will he get a relationship later in the series? Yep. Just not now. But I waited and as many of you know, I pubbed Black Dog Blues out and waited.
And got some pretty angry emails that there wasn’t any sex in the book and that it wasn’t a romance. That people were disappointed in the book because it wasn’t like the mystery-romances I’ve written. Others liked it because it was an urban fantasy and pretty much follows that formula. Low build up, world establishing and a bit of a broken-crazy main character.
I tried to be very upfront about the urban fantasy part of it. I didn’t want anyone to go into the book thinking there was going to be sex in it at some point during the first book. But then I realized about a week ago, we’ve kinda come to really expect sex in a book with a gay main character.
Hell, I do too. I admit it. So I had to stop and think about it.
This isn’t going to change Kai’s story. He’s still going to be going about his world but the separation of the genres in my mind is distinct. When I say M/M, am I meaning a gay romance element in the storyline or a gay main character with the potential to have a relationship?
The name of the genre pretty much spells it out… Male-Male. It’s a pairing. But can it be more? Should it always have sex in it? Is it expected? Is it warranted? How much is too much sex to the point where it becomes erotica?
So what do you all think? I’m interested in discussion on this. What’s your opinion? Mostly because I’m waffling and still stumbling about.
Do you think there should be a divide in all genres for “GLBT” characters or should the GLBT genre divide up to different categories of books besides romance?
And what ARE your expectations for a book with a GLBT main character?