I interviewed three groups of m/m romance authors at the Romantic Times convention in May, asking the authors primarily the same questions. I let the discussions go in any direction the authors wanted with the idea that the mix of authors would put a different spin and focus on the topic.
Authors Z. A. Maxfield, Mary Calmes, Amy Lane, Anne Tenino, and Josephine Myles gave new insight into why women write gay romance fiction.
Amy began by saying that “love is redemptive” and if any group needs the redemptive qualities of love, it’s gay men.
ZAM agreed, saying that what was missing from the previous fiction about gay men was the happy ending. By writing gay romance, “we’re rewriting the traditional endings the way we want them,” she said.
“Romance itself is the emotional side of literature,” Anne explained. “That’s what we’re bringing to gay fiction.”
Writing about two men falling in love is completely different than the traditional romance. For one thing, both characters are equals, each with his own power.
“In fact, in many ways, I feel like a man,” Josephine stated in her British accent. This realization makes it easier for her to bypass all the traditional tropes found in mainstream romances.
“I’m tired of women’s nasty, mean games, and don’t want to write about them,” Amy added. Backbiting and undermining of friends’ goals and aspirations aren’t often found in gay romance since men are more direct in their interactions.
Mary echoed this thought by saying, “I don’t want to write about bitchy women.”
ZAM said the equality of the partners is much more interesting to her. “There’s an equality at the beginning of the relationship that’s a very powerful dynamic to explore,” she explained.
This power extends not just to the gay couple but to the fans as well.
Mary told about fan response to her writing. One letter was from a husband of a reader who started by saying in capital letters I AM NOT A FAN. The letter went on to say that his love life had improved since his wife had started reading Mary’s books, and he thanked her. He ended the email with I AM NOT A FAN.
As we laughed, everyone wondered if the balance of power had shifted in the non-fan’s marriage.