Let's see what the guys have to say about where M/M romance is headed...
As an Indie author I think the possibilities are limitless. I’m amazed at the inventiveness of the authors in the genre. It seems that no kinky little stone is left unturned. While I do sometimes tire of endless tales of sweaty man-love, there is some interesting world-building going on to spice things up and keep readers on their toes.
What Stu said. Think of all the literature and all the stories that have been explored over the centuries—every kind of story we’ve ever read. Until recently, you couldn’t find gay characters as heroes or positively portrayed lead characters. If we appeared at all, it was as villains, minstrel-type characters, or (at best) the female lead’s confidante. Now, thanks to the growth of small presses and the improving attitudes in our society, all those types of stories are open to interpretation with gay lead characters. We can finally be heroes as well as villains.
My book is a novel first and a M/M romance second. I sought out a famous/well-published M/M writer as a mentor and after some lovely conversation, he asked to read my work. When finished, he emailed me (quite snottily), “This (King Perry) isn’t a gay romance, it’s literature. And I don’t do literature.” To him, I violated important conventions of the M/M romance field. Personally, I think it’s time to break out of the limitations of that heading, and instead write quality books that anyone might want to read. Maybe there’s romance, maybe there’s sex...and maybe not. Maybe there’s a HFN ending. Maybe a HEA. But what if we invented more than those two options?
Homo romance is growing up. It’s sloughing off its amateur roots in slash, and starting to actually pull on its big-boy pants. Career-focused writers have narrative bones to pick and they’re picking them. Readers expect more from us (as they should), and authors and publishers are giving it to them. Increased sales volume demands a level of editorial expertise and promotional diligence. Many M/M covers equal anything you find with mass market genre fiction, which (to be clear) says more about their bottom line than our design footprint. We have matured into a legitimate going concern as a sub-genre and that means BIG changes to the way business gets done. The same-old doesn’t cut it anymore; there are no corners to cut. And anyone who thinks the big six publishing’s incipient push into e-fiction doesn’t spell ruthless competition and shrinking opportunities needs a fucking brain transplant, and a history lesson after. If we want to stay relevant, if we want to succeed, we must evolve.
Where is M/M and gay romance headed? Onto unlikely shelves and into unexpected hands because more and more people are figuring out that when a story is great, the gender simply doesn’t matter. Genre fiction has always been the backbone of publishing, and we as a community are poised to change things for the better. I remember being a teenager and WISHING I could find a gay novel in which no one committed suicide or got the tar beaten out of them. The world has cooled considerably since then. :P
Hmm, my esteemed blogmates have covered this topic rather well. I think as our society becomes more open-minded and accepting, the genre of M/M romance will have to adapt and adjust to meet changing sensibilities. I like the idea of gay guys being able to be both heroes and villains. I totally agree with Edmond in allowing the book and characters to be what they are and to shed the confines of what is expected. I do think that “romance” should be honored and within that genre, people expect a HEA (or at the very least a HFN). That’s simply part of the genre’s definition. But does romance equal sex? If it’s “erotic romance” I think the answer is yes. Even then, the sex doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be gratuitous. It should move the story forward.
I’d like to see greater tolerance of such taboos as cheating. That’s real. People cheat and sometimes they are forgiven, and other times they aren’t. One of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun, starts off with a mid-life beauty, Diane Lane, getting divorced because her scumbag husband left her for another woman. I consider that a wonderful romance; not because she finds a man at the end, but because she finds herself. The movie romanticizes self-discovery and acceptance and redefining what it means to be happy. I’d like to see M/M romance move in that direction, and for readers to come to expect a story to provide that kind of experience. A fellow author who I used to critique within a group wrote the book Happy Birthday Nancy Tobin, and I reviewed this book giving it the highest rating. It reminded me of Under the Tuscan Sun and my enjoyment of the book didn’t come from the sex (although the sex was good), but from the journey.
Where do you think M/M romance is headed?
Thursday, March 29th the boys are back with their thoughts on the age-old debate: Does size matter?
And don't forget, if you have any topics, questions or photos you'd like the guys to tackle, just shoot them my way. We'll make sure you get the credit.