Saturday, August 27, 2011

Switching Up: Fair or Not Fair?

I was reading an interesting article on a blog site dedicated to m/m (male/male) romance. On it, one reader mentioned liking one book but not another in a series because while one book was m/m, the other was a "het" (heterosexual) romance. The reader was peeved that the author wrote it that way.

Interesting, because I've found myself mixing it up a time or two. I'd never thought about the romance leads's sexualities being a problem.

I know people have different tastes, and I can understand selectivity as a reader, but I'm not wearing that hat when I create. The characters speak to me. They're as gay or straight or bi as they're...well, made. Sounds bizarre, but trying to make a gay character straight is a nightmare, and vice versa. There's nothing worse than reading an intimate scene in a story that feels unnatural or forced because the character isn't true to type.

I like to write about diverse characters. Some are straight, some are gay, some white, some not, and some aren't even from this world. Personally, a setting where every couple is straight is as odd to me as a setting where every couple is gay. It just doesn't ring true because people aren't wired the same unless they're living in forced environment. So when I wrote my Dawn Endeavor series, about men made into creatures that needed sex with others like themselves, a natural bisexuality was built into what would normally be straight military men. Mostly. Because one of those same military men wasn't straight to begin with, he was gay.

I hadn't thought about alienating readers when I wrote it. But I didn't set out to write a story for a particular person. I wrote characters who came alive. I thought about having a protagonist of Hayashi's Hero interact with a peripheral female, but it didn't work. My guy was gay. Not playing at gay; he was gay.

I don't have a problem reading gay or straight romance, so long as the story is good and the characters feel authentic. So I'll follow a series and its characters no matter what. It hadn't occurred to me until I read that post that other readers might not feel the same. Stupid of me, but then, I'm thinking with my writing hat on most of the time.

My biggest gripe about authors is when they switch genres during the same series. Going from romance to urban fantasy or mystery with little to no romance drives me nuts. The gender bending, not so much. Or have I completely missed out on what floats a reader's boat?

Curious...

11 comments:

LB said...

I just lived this. I wrote two m/m books, and then the third in the series was m/f. I think yes, some readers were put off by it. Some even emailed and asked me what was up. But like you, I didn't think about people's expectations when I wrote it. I just told the story the way I felt it should be. I guess I can understand readers' feelings about it, too, though.

PG Forte said...

Yeah, I'm with you, Marie. Characters are going to be who they are. And sometimes who they are is as big a surprise to the author as it is to the reader! I'm all for diversity, even if it does make a series a little hard to pigeon-hole.

Marie Harte said...

LB, mine were the opposite. Books that started m/f but went m/m. Though in all honesty, parts of the other books were m/m as well, so though the main romance was a m/f, I didn't think there would be much issue. And then the characters spoke, and that was that.

Marie Harte said...

True, PG. It's hard to promote a series if they're all over the place, but I think the overall theme should blanket the series, not the love interests. My two cents.

Carrie Ann Ryan said...

I will take it all. As long as the characters are strong it could be m/m m/f or m/m/f or everything. As long as the characters are true and consistent it shouldn't matter.

Now if someone like Andrew Grey (who is an m/m contemp author) suddenly wrote a m/f book after 25 or so m/m books - then I may think "huh?"

I think the world should be the same though. I also think that the intensity of the love scenes should be similar. I am okay with them being different, but I don't want book 1 to be chic lit and book 2 to be erotica.

I have actually seen that before and I was confused.

rowenarush said...

I completely "get" the idea that characters are their own people. They speak to me as they are, and it's my job to write them in situations that they would actually be in. I have tried to make characters fit in this plot or that, and they just refuse until I accept that I'm not going to win.

Although I admit, I don't get the m/m phenomenon among women. Is this akin to men liking f/f? Or am I just the rare oddball?

Susan W. said...

I agree with Carrie Ann. I'm more interested in a good story than in whether or not it's m/m, m/f or more. If it's a series then all the books need to stay true to the series type. If an author crosses genres in the same series I usually loose interest.

Marie, I have to say I love your Circ's. I didn't think anything strange about the relationship of the group. I just wanted to know what happened to each of them. My cousin and I are eagerly awaiting the next Circ's book.

Marie Harte said...

You might be right, Rowena. I don't know why, exactly, but I love m/m romance when written well. If one hunky man is fun, just think what two can be like...

Marie Harte said...

Carrie Ann, yep. Exactly what you said. :)

Marie Harte said...

Thanks Susan. I love the Circs. Grayson's story comes out in November, and it promises to be a hot one. But he's a little different than the Circ teams, since he was born that way. Note: Grayson is Ava Belle's brother, introduced in Julian's Jeopardy.

Susan W. said...

I'll put Grayson's book on my calendar for November so we can get it when it comes out. Thanks!