Join Prism Book Alliance® as GRL 2015 Supporting Author Wendy Rathbone talks with us today.
Back when I was writing slash fanfic in the 80s and 90s, everything was still on the down-low, hidden, secret. Fanzines were underground not just because of the homoerotic elements in slash, but because the stories were about copyrighted or trademarked characters, and a fear of lawsuits invaded writers’ minds even though they weren’t making any money off it.
Knowing we were writing in an underground niche came with both paranoia and a thrill.
But that’s not why I love male/male romance. Finally, in this new century, it is a real genre. It is public and proud, and I love this new age because stories I was searching for all my life are finally being published. I now find books I didn’t know I’d been craving for years. Suddenly there is access to this stuff. Suddenly all the pent up stories that I wanted to write outside of fandom in my own original universes seem like valid concepts for books and not just shameful ideas to continue to lock away in my files and drawers. I love male/male romance because the concept of the genre (for which there was no name 30 plus years ago) has freed me to become the writer of my heart.
I have always loved reading books about close friendships between men—young men, older men, powerful men, men who should have been enemies, vampire men, future men, etc. I always wanted the stories to take it one step further, though. I craved a real romance where the two men who bonded through battle or other adversity might be allowed to express more. I wanted writers to be allowed to develop that if they so wished.
Some writers did (and still do) expand on male/male intimate bonding, especially in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, but most of those wonderful books still focused less on romance and more on political intrigue, world-building, mystery, war, or supernatural events. It wasn’t that I didn’t want all that in my books, but I wanted more. Why couldn’t we have it all, the plot AND the romance. I craved more character-driven plots, and finally someone decided to invent the genre. Gay lit. Gay romance. Male/male romance. Gay erotica. Whatever anyone wants to call it, it’s been around but with no real “place” to call its own until this past decade. Even Anne Rice broke barriers with her “Beauty” series, but until current times and 2015’s publication of the newest book of that series, it was very hard to find!
My favorite stories are those where falling in love is a transformative, life changing experience. I’m not against porn, not at all. I love erotica and I love to write it. But I love character introspection into what love does to a person, how it makes them want to be better, do better. How love rescues the self from its old and lonely existence and introduces new ecstasies and conflicts to explore. I love when that theme and erotica combine to give me an experience quite unlike any other as a reader.
And as a writer of male/male romance, how I love the freedom the genre gives me to search my characters’ deepest hearts and lay them bare.
But why do I REALLY love male/male romance? It seems like such a hard question. I tilt my head at it. I shrug. I distract. I clam up. I’ve been asked it all my life, even in fandoms where everyone seemed to be writing it. Why? Why? Why?
Basically, it’s simple. Believe it or not. Take me at my word or not. My soul thrums and resonates with the idea of two men falling in love. I relate to it so hard it’s like a language I am fluent in. Now, finally, books are being written in that language. Now, finally, I can write in that language.
I am also reminded of a short scene in the series “Orange is the New Black.” A female inmate at the prison discovers that a male guard is smuggling goodies into the prison from outside. She says she wants some porn. She pauses and then says to make it gay porn… with men. Other inmates standing around get all big-eyed. She looks at them frowning, stands her ground and says, “What? It’s hot.” Slowly, they all shrug and nod. And, well, I agree with her.
I’ve run into a little bit of sexism here and there, people who think a nice girl shouldn’t be writing about “that stuff.” It’s merely a cultural program to shun women as “naughty” for writing about men in love. Or writing any erotica for that matter. Yet Anais Nin was doing it in her personal diaries and in her stories in the 1930s and on.
Shunned by some, revered by others, that’s the way of life with any writer in any genre out there. You can’t please everyone. And I’m not going to change because someone thinks I’m naughty. I’m not going to go away. I love what I love. How it manifests just is. I’ve been hard-wired to love men together since I wrote my first fanfic at age 12, a one page story about Steve and Danny from Hawaii Five-0 (the old one with Jack Lord) wherein I worked very hard to figure out how to make one of them trip and fall into the other’s arms. I had no idea at that age why I wanted to write that. I just did.
After my small, poetic romance “The Foundling” turned into a trilogy (the third book, “The Lostling,” was just published in January, 2015,) I never wanted to stop writing in this genre. While that trilogy is contemporary romance, I craved space opera scenarios and far distant futures. So I wrote “Letters to an Android.”
Right now I have two brand new books finished and being readied for publication. They will both be out this summer.
“Lace” is a m/m romance in my new vampire-fairy universe. There will be a sequel.
“Scoundrel” is a m/m romance space opera. It is from the point of view of a pleasure slave in the far distant future. And there are space pirates! It contains some of my most explicit erotica to date.
And my newest project? “The Moonling Prince” is another science fiction tale in the far distant future. Like my novels “Letters to an Android” and “Scoundrel,” it contains alien landscapes, starships, beautiful but damaged men, and bits of poetry thrown in to please my poet’s heart.
And that’s another reason why I love writing m/m romance. I love that I am not limited by the genre. I can write contemporary, science fiction, vampire…whatever my heart desires. Also, it’s a blast. Oh yeah, and don’t forget, last but not least: It’s hot.
Thank you to Prism Book Alliance. I am grateful to be guest-posting on this blog, and so happy to be attending the GRL retreat as a supporting author in October, 2015. I hope to meet readers and authors who love male/male romance as much as I do.
Thank you for reading this blog.
Title: The Losting
Author: Wendy Rathbone
Publication Date: 01/01/2015
Cover Artist: Della Van Hise
Genre: M/M Romance
In the first book, The Foundling, Alec is found adrift on a raft at sea by a wealthy, underworld kingpin named Diego. Alec suffers total amnesia, and with nowhere else for him to go, Diego offers him his vast, luxurious estate in the Caribbean as a safe haven where he can recover. A strong bond develops between the two men which not even the cruelties of their darker worlds can break.
As a victim of the sex-slave trade, Alec learns, by the end of book 2, None Can Hold the Dark, more about Alec’s kidnappers as they pose a second threat to his new life with Diego. But he still remembers almost nothing about what happened to him, and his former identity remains a blank.
The Lostling, book 3, takes place directly after the second book as Alec and Diego relocate to San Francisco. There, amid salty winter wind and fog, Alec’s lost memories slowly return and he must relive some of his most painful and terrifying moments to regain his forgotten self. In agonizing dreams and flashes of memory, he finally remembers what happened to him… and why.
Ghosts surround me.
Pale, translucent, silken. They have no bodies, no identities. I want to see them as windows to my past but they shine on empty silver space. My past is nothingness.
They float toward an unknown image.
I can feel them crowding me sometimes, wispy against me, pouring into me, melting through me. They are the dust of me. The glitter of an ancient light gone dim at the far edge of the galaxy.
At first I see scribbles of moonlight on tendencies of mist. Then the haunting thickens.
Tonight I touch the window glass in our bedroom with my fingertips, watching the fog turn the low city lights into golden sea creatures wrapped in salt foam. The fog is uneven right now, like suds in a bubble bath, moving in a white tide. It laps the hills and the air. It even merges with the clouds over the moon, destroying their furry shapes.
The lightning and hard rains of Diego’s island, destructive as they could be, were more honest.
I am standing in our upstairs bedroom which is nice and warm, but the window against my hand is cold. I came in to get ready for bed but I haven’t moved from the view for long minutes.
Diego comes in and moves directly to the bathroom. He’s used to me staring out, used to my stillnesses, my silences. It’s polite of him not to disturb me.
I watch the blinking lights of the bay wink out beneath the white evening’s cotton invasion. It’s like being stranded.
Awhile later, Diego comes up behind me. “You’re shivering,” he says.
“This city is cold.”
“Don’t you like it?”
“I love this house. But it’s not like your island. The Caribbean is definitely more beautiful.”
“The Caribbean is unsafe for us now.”
“I know that.”
He looks over my shoulder through the window. “That’s a lot of fog.”
“All that damn fog,” I echo, turning and putting my arms around him. He’s wearing only a bathrobe, nothing else, and he smells of mint toothpaste and rain.
I’m still fully clothed but his warmth permeates through the material and infuses itself into my skin.
I often feel so famished for Diego, a sort of anxiety I am at a loss for words to describe. My body has the idea that if it can just get close enough to him, touching, holding… any physical contact, actually, the desperate emptiness within me will be soothed.
That is never the case. Touching him only enflames the need within. It only fuels fevers and pyres it would seem no mortal should survive. It has to be some sort of chemical persistence between us, a rapacious, magnetic gravity that draws us. Like a separate entity. It lives and thrives between us, curls wolf-like all over and around us, tying us up in its energetic ribbons.
I pull Diego harder against me, press my face into his neck just to breathe him in, and already I’m groaning.
This leads to stroking and massaging through our respective garments. Sometimes we don’t even notice our clothes. All that matters is each other. The here. The now. The erotic moment suspended in time like a diamond drop of light undying.
Believe me. I can go on and on. About stuff like quenchless thirsts and promises made all agog that contain phrases like never before and more than life itself.
Love is like going mad. But then so is living. Yet sometimes love is a softening madness that files the edges off harsher, darker reality.
I wouldn’t call ours soft.
But I will say Diego takes away the sharpness and alien-ness of whatever lunacy and horror brought me into his arms. He folds my amnesia into a delicate square and puts it on the shelf for later.
Our lips find each other and now I’ve forgotten the fog. I taste in him a promise of sweet reprieve for however long I can keep this up.
About Wendy Rathbone
Wendy Rathbone has been writing for many years in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance and erotica. Her poetry and short stories have been widely published and won many awards.
In 2011 she began to delve deeply into the realm of male/male romance. Her m/m “Foundling” trilogy includes: “The Foundling,” “None Can Hold the Dark,” and “The Lostling: Alec’s Story.” Her soft sf novel “Letters to an Android” also contains a male/male relationship. She is also the author of the erotic m/m novella “The Secret Sharer.” Her erotica short story collection, “My House is Full of Whispers,” contains all manner of pairings.
Two novels forthcoming for the summer of 2015 are: “Lace,” a vampire m/m romance, and “Scoundrel,” a m/m romance set in the far future about a space pirate and a pleasure slave.
She lives in Yucca Valley, CA with her partner of 35 years, Della Van Hise, and is currently hard at work on a new m/m romance novel.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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