I write erotic romance, and currently I'm focusing on M/M (gay) relationships. Why? To be honest, it wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I realised I'd never given it much thought.
The first book I sold -- The Subtle Build of Perfection -- didn't start out as an erotic romance. I had a picture in my head of a hopeless guy who's bored with his life, working in a video store with his insane/genius best friend. I knew, as with all stories, that something had to happen to tip this poor man's world upside down, and into the video store walked -- a guy. And so, an M/M erotic romance/comedy novella was born. It came naturally to me, and I realised as I was writing it that gay romance -- gay sex -- has always been my comfort zone. Going back some ten years, way before I ever took writing seriously, I would write many a gay romance -- usually fanfiction (and whatever you feel about fanfiction, it certainly helped me learn how to write). But when I first started considering the idea of writing as a career, I went down the YA fantasy path. It's one of my favourite genres to read, and I certainly still intend to sell my own efforts (fingers crossed!), but I can't deny that the day I started writing The Subtle Build of Perfection, a gay erotic romance, I'd never felt so comfortable as a writer.
Let me see if I can explain why I find the genre so appealing.
I'm an out-and-proud bisexual woman, and while I'm in a very long-term and stable heterosexual relationship, the gay culture has been my life for as long as I can remember. The majority of the people I know are gay, and I've surrounded myself in a world where people are not only honest about who they are, but are proud of it. It's not like Queer as Folk -- gay people have the same lives and relationships and trials as straight people, but all too often the gay "lifestyle" is portrayed just as that -- a lifestyle. Gay people are people who happen to be gay. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me, and I know it's a redundant sentence, but in my mind it sums up everything I feel about my culture. There's nothing odd or glamorous about being gay, just like there isn't anything strange or fabulous about being straight. It's just sexuality. And that, I suppose, is the first thing that appeals to me about M/M erotic romance -- writing about normal guys in regular situations. Normal guys who happen to be gay.
Who doesn't love a good romance? Well, lots of people, probably. But I still get tingly feelings in my gut when two characters I care about finally manage to work through their differences and get together. I'm an old, bitter soul, but I have a soft spot for happy endings. For love. It can't be easy for them, of course -- I doubt anybody truly enjoys a simple "meet, date, fall in love" story. Where's the excitement in that? I took it easy for my first book, The Subtle Build of Perfection (which I will stop going on about soon, I promise). It has conflict, and I make sure they don't truly get together until the end, but it's a light comedy where the angst isn't too angsty. I was easing myself in.
The second book I sold, however (Resistance, sold to Loose-ID), is an angst-fest. I knew I couldn't keep writing these fluffy comedy books. I wasn't challenging myself and, as a result, I wasn't challenging the reader. I want my readers to feel the emotional rollercoaster I shove my characters on, and that's what truly appeals to me about romance. The will they/won't they, the pain and uncertainty, the unresolved sexual tension that jumps off the page and prickles your skin. The passion and need and desperation. If my characters want each other, they have to work for it, because the world isn't going to hand them happiness on a plate.
Yes, the sex. I enjoy writing gay sex. What can I say? It turns me on. I write graphic sex scenes -- some readers may even feel uncomfortable reading my second book, simply because the sex is so detailed and, well... dirty. Sometimes sex is dirty and rough and a bit gross. And I'm realistic. I like to think I write sex in a manner that's more arousing than disgusting, but I knew as I was creating these scenes that some people might be put off. That's not to say I write the most graphic scenes out there. I tip my hat to some BDSM authors -- that's some pretty intense stuff -- and I'm certain there are plenty of authors who can write a hotter vanilla sex scene than me. But I don't shy away from telling it how it is.
Having said that, I must refer to the age-old argument of erotic romance vs porn. The clue's in the title: erotic romance. Yes, the sex scenes are supposed to be hot, but they're not the most important part of an erotic romance. It's all in the emotion, what the characters are feeling -- and how they react to it. Erotic romance isn't porn. I don't write porn. I write romance, with the saucy bits left in.
Homosexuality is a big part of my life, writing is a huge part of my life, and romance is still the genre that gets me the most excited, the most involved. So it only makes sense that combining these three elements puts me firmly in my Happy Place.
- L.M. Turner