Answer: My name is Marc and I’m a 23 year old student from Germany. Let’s get one thing straight right away; I’m not. I know, such a cliché thing to say, but it has actually taken me a while to say it and I’m proud of myself for being able to not only openly reveal it, but more importantly admit it to myself. Not that I ever thought that being gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer or questioning (GLBTQQ) was wrong, but I’ve always realized that admitting it would bring major changes and I kinda liked my quiet life.
I got to live in the US for 4 years (2 in Michigan and 2 in South Carolina), had some girlfriends, but never anything long term and graduated the IB program in High School so that I was able to take up my studies to become a TV screenwriter or creative producer for US TV shows at a German University. I’m currently sitting at a University computer, thinking about the best way to share with you why M/M books have had such an impact on me that I will spend many hours reading, reviewing and setting up interviews, giveaways and other cool events for you.
I believe the reason is that M/M romance novels have given me the courage and the drive to come out to my close family and friends. I have always known that I was also attracted to guys (a stronger attraction than I feel to girls), but I never felt the need to label me. It was a private curiosity and interest, felt kind of forbidden, special, and I never really thought about it much. Nor did I think that any higher power would consider me less in some ways, because I also was attracted to guys as well as girls. Even with a great interest in religion and a Catholic upbringing (well, my father is an atheist actually and we were never the church going folks – except for me 😛 – but I was taught about a higher power that loves unconditionally), I never doubted once that I was loved. It was such a deep knowledge that it didn’t matter when people used religion to justify their own hatred and prejudices – Well, it mattered in the way that it showed their true colors and I jumped in to defend the right to love anybody, long before I realized that I would one day be among those having to defend their love and sexual orientation to those, who truly didn’t have any business even discussing it – but it never made me think that I had it wrong and would someday end up in hell for loving someone. If the church and religious people thought that, then obviously they got it wrong. It’s not like it would be the first time, if you look at history. Well, anyway, I was gonna tell you about the M/M novels, right 😉
Thing is, I’m not actually sure how I got the idea to read one. I think it must have been the realization that stories with GLBTQ themes, especially with gay protagonists moved me strongly. I loved reading as well, so it was only a matter of time before I wanted to explore these themes in books as well. I think at first, I was looking for free stories so that I wouldn’t leave any traces by buying books that would reveal a truth about me that I wasn’t yet ready to be confronted with. Looking for such stories was not very rewarding, though, as I found a lot of free stories that made me very uncomfortable. I wanted love and romance, not stories of such illicit nature that it made my stomach turn. And I’m saying that being very open. Thankfully, these stories (that seem to be very popular, unfortunately, because it was hard at first to find anything else) didn’t turn me away from the genre, but I needed a different place to look.
It was actually the TV show “Supernatural” that gave me the needed idea. Did I mention I was a series fanatic as well? No? Well, I am 😉 It seemed like slash fan fiction for the series had been taken to another level, so that it was even mentioned in the series as well and got my attention. Now remember, I said I was open, right? So I know they are brothers, but… well… anyway- it was actually an alternate Universe story that really caught my attention and captured my imagination. When looking for the best fan fiction slash stories, I found a series called the “Homework Verse”. It has actually nothing to do with the series except for featuring the actors likenesses and names and really shouldn’t have worked for me, to be honest. It’s a hardcore BDSM story, which I didn’t know at that point. It has major D/S themes with collars and keys standing in for a traditional marriage ceremony and explores many different sexual practices that I’m still not really comfortable with like fisting, bondage (and not just for to restrain, either, but as an art form, breath play, knive play, and many other things. However, it was so well written that nothing was shocking enough to turn me away from the emotional rollercoaster. I wanted to read about the journey of these guys, wanted to see them fight for their happy ending, even with all the odds against them, fight through any problems and find the kind of love I yearned for. So I devoured it, read all the stories in the series without break, wherever I was. I laughed and I cried and when they had their HEA, I knew it was time to stop tiptoeing around the topic, because as long as I didn’t admit my sexual orientation to myself, I would lock away a part of myself and never be really free to be true to myself.
So, on that very day, I wrote a long letter to the author stating how much the story inspired me and went online to confess my secret to my best friend. She was incredibly encouraging and calmed me down, before I had a heart attack. Yes, I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I come out to someone and that happens quite often, because one meets many new people and it is always hard to know how they will react.
There are many old acquaintances and family members, who don’t know about me. Honestly, when it becomes important to me that someone knows, I will tell them and I’ve been showered with love and acceptance. But I know it will not always be that way. Sure, Germany is a very liberal country and more than 87 percent of Germans are for full equality. However it seems to me that some of that is a façade, people knowing what the popular attitude is and going with it publically, while nursing their prejudices in private. I have heard a lot of stuff that made me really sad, even if not directed at me.
Though I am out to those people in my life who really matter and that was not an easy thing to do in the beginning. The fan fiction story was only the beginning for me, though and I soon switched to published e-books that I could purchase with my own credit card on my own amazon account and read in private on my brand-new kindle. The most popular M/M author in Germany seems to be J.L. Langley, so my first published M/M was her “The Tin Star” and I loved the combination of sexy romance with emotional depth and outside obstacles that needed to be overcome. It’s a hot cowboy story that I can still really recommend today, after reading about 350 M/M novels with an average of about 250 pages.
Anyway, these stories set something in me ablaze and I made a deal with my best friend. She had a secret crush on a former teacher and I just accepted that I was gay (bi, with a preference for guys, whatever. I’ve been in a gay relationship for almost 3 years, so it doesn’t really matter and saying I’m gay makes my life so much easier 😉 – so she challenged me to go to a gay youth meet in Munich and I challenged her to confront him and we did. I went there and was nervous as hell, but it was really interesting and nice. I met some nice guys and one of them mentioned that he had met his ex online at a site. When I went home, I logged in and created a profile.
Now, some of you might think that these gay dating sites are mainly used for sex and in many cases you may be right. I had some sexual adventures as well, but I was also and mainly looking for love – from those who didn’t want a casual sexual experience, but something permanent. One week after putting my profile up, I found my mate. He always worked late, but he would come online everyday only to talk to me and we would spend hours talking, until dawn was breaking. Whenever he was there I dropped everything else and it became clear to me that I had to meet him. He was a lawyer, deeply in the closet out of fear for the consequences it could have for him in the very conservative feel and he had never agreed to meet someone so quickly, but about two weeks after putting my profile up, I met him and we had a perfect date with dinner and romantic walk through Munich and the royal gardens. When I was home, he was waiting for me on Skype and we switched to the phone to hear each other’s voices again and talked the morning away. It was 4:45 am when I confessed to him that there may perhaps be the possibility that I might be falling in love with him. Again – I was terrified. He said he felt the same way, though, after one week of chatting and one date and the rest is history 😉
So there’s a lot to be grateful to MM Romance for and reading these books still affects me in a special way, because I feel so connected to the stories. It was another book that brought me to the MM Romance group on GR, where I became addicted enough to the genre through merciless enablers and now dear friends like Brandilyn Carpenter (you may have heard about her? LOL) and Kaje Harper. After re-watching “Gladiator” with the incredibly hot Russel Crowe, I searched for gladiator M/M stories and found “The Gladiator’s Master”. I devoured the story and wanted more, but amazon was clearly not the right place to look for them. So I looked for gladiator stories and later fantasy stories on google and found many Goodreads lists (finding books like the incredible fantasy stories “A Companion To Wolves” and the Nightrunner series (I had actually read the Tamir Triad by this author and in the same universe long before, but never realized she had written M/M books as well). The book that finally made me join the group was finding “The Culling”, a gay YA dystopian novel, by accident. I’ve always been a big fan of the YA dystopian genre and finding a book like that made me want to be in a group where I would get help finding specific recommendations. Ironically, I have wanted to read this one on a special occasion and though it has been waiting on my kindle since April 2013, I have not started it.
So this is how I ended up in that group, meeting great M/M authors like Kaje Harper (who welcomed me warmly from the very beginning, and has been there for me ever since to talk about anything) and other readers who are just as addicted as me to the genre. I love to meet people (I’m Marc F, there) and chat, share recommendations, love the reading challenges, even though I overdid it at first, by adding more and more challenges until I was burned out and the many books were more of a chore than pleasure – I’m not a very fast reader) and the games, some of which I started. I soon was fully immerged in the M/M reading community and when Brandilyn asked me to review on her blog, I was overly enthusiastic and not only agreed but bombarded her with many ideas (I have ADHD, folks, that’s normal for me J)
And here I am. I really hope you enjoy my reviews and interviews and if there is interest, I will follow this introductory post up with regular personal blog entries to share with you my own experience with being a gay man in a M/M relationship.
I can’t really surprise you with an awesome list of my favorite 10 authors, because Brandilyn and I have very similar (and may I say extremely good 😛 ) tastes in books and I can only agree with her on it. Perhaps I can share with you some of my favorite books?
Favorite M/M novel: Keeping Promise Rock (Amy Lane)
Favorite M/M character: Dex from Dex in Blue (Amy Lane)
Most realistic M/M relationship: Mac and Tony in the Life Lessons series (Kaje Harper)
Favorite M/M mystery series: Holmes and Moriarity (Josh Lanyon)
Favorite M/M historical: The Gladiator’s Master (Fae Sutherland)
Favorite M/M series: The Cut & Run series (Abigail Roux)
Favorite M/M comfort read: Frog (Mary Calmes)
Favorite M/M shifter series: Change of Heart (Mary Calmes)
Most freshly honest and unique M/M novel: Rough Draft (Chris Owens)
Favorite M/M paranormal mystery novel: A Reason To Believe (Diana Copland)
Favorite M/M short story: 500 Miles (Parker Williams)
Favorite M/M paranormal: Sunset, book one of the Pact Arcanum series (Arshad Ahsanuddin)
Favorite M/M Sci-Fi story: Gravitational Attraction (Angel Martinez)
Favorite M/M ménage series: Dark Horse (Kate Sherrwood)
Favorite M/M YA: Gives Light (Rose Cristo)
Favorite M/M debut: Keeping Sweets (Cate Ashwood)
Favorite M/M fantasy: A Companion to Wolves (Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear)
Favorite M/M Sequel: Captive Prince 2 (S.U.Pacat)
Most anticipated M/M sequel: Not So Innocent, sequel to Shattered Glass (Dani Alexander)
Favorite M/M that is very different from other works the author writes: Mine (Mary Calmes)
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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