I received several notes Friday from readers, all but one about my new release, Sudden Desire (and all complimentary, thank you!).
But one was from a reader who was upset that she’d read I’d written a menage book with more sexual contact between the men. Her beef was that “Triad was great. It had the girl as the focus and the boys were clearly straight.” and that if I write books where boyparts (my words not hers) touch, it would be making the men gay. There was some other stuff about agendas but that’s not really part of this post.
And I thought long and hard about how to respond. Because hey, she’s a reader, she has a right to her opinion of my books. She has a right to like certain kinds of books and to dislike other kinds of books. And I do have straight M/F books (more of those than menages) and books like Triad, where the sex is MFM (although in Triad there is a clear attraction between the two men). In the book she referenced, Thrice United, it’s still MFM most of the time but there is sexual contact between the two men. They’re all together in a relationship, bound in a magical sense as well as a romantic one. While Holly is the center of their attentions, there’s attraction between Nate and Rhett. (BTW, there’s MM boylovin in Vengeance Due and Tri Mates too although TM is MFM and Vengeance Due is a straight M/F romance and the MMF scene is between Lee, Alex and Aidan from Triad)
In the end, I decided to say what I feel, which is that romance is romance. Love is love. Sometimes it’s between a man and a woman, sometimes its a man and two women or two men and a woman or two men or two women – whatever. The issue isn’t the combination of pink parts to throbbing parts. The issue is connection. And so, for me as an author, I’m not going to shy away from MM scenes because I’m worried it may make my characters look gay. They’re bisexual, clearly. But in a bed, between the people, it’s about love and connection and depth of emotion and I’m hoping that the average reader isn’t thinking about sexual orientation at all.
And you know, okay so I’m gonna talk about agendas here after all – I’m going to write about people I care about. I want to write three dimensional characters who are interesting. Some are gay, some are straight, some are bi – my hope is that they’re all just people you want to read about. My agenda is that I plan to keep being bold when I can. My agenda is to not write any romance, ever, where the woman is a whiny, stupid twit who waits to be saved because she’s a girl and the hero is a man. She might wait to be saved because he’s got the expertise and she doesn’t, but she’s not going to be a handwringer and she’s not going to be called a whore by a character called Alpha but who is really just an asshole.
I’m sorry that I can’t appeal to everyone. I’d love it if everyone thought my books were peachy keen. But if I had to do that at the expense of writing the characters who want to be written, I’m not interested. My hope is that when you read one of my books you see a group of people on a journey together. The combination of body parts is something I hope is interesting and well written, but something less important than who they are to each other.
June 11th, 2006 at 9:11 am · Link
Umm… if the reader has that much of an issue with a character being bisexual (jeez, doesn’t this person realise it’s not all “straight” or “gay?), then it’s a problem on the reader’s end, not yours. It’s clearly not her type of story, and it’s not ok to expect you to change it.
Kudos for you on sticking with the story. I’ve known some writers in the past who tried to appeal to everyone and ended up shooting themselves in the foot cause of it.
June 12th, 2006 at 7:20 pm · Link
Lauren, keep writing for yourself…what you need to write and what comes from your heart, and soul.
I for one enjoy what you write!
When a family friend found out that I was writing romance novels, she immediately told me I should only write romances with a moral couple, with Christian ideals!!!
I have read Christian Romance and some of it is really good. I just have no desire to write it. I don’t have the interest and it would be awful if I tried to write it. My imagination isn’t that limited, nor is my fantasy life.
I write what I want to read!
June 13th, 2006 at 4:09 pm · Link
Nonny – I think she was more upset that I was writing something she thought she wouldn’t like and that somehow I was changing my voice. I hope she’ll read Thrice United anyway and see the connection between all three characters.
Kathy – Thank you! I enjoy what I write and I don’t feel bad or dirty for doing it either.
I know several really wonderful inspirational writers. They work hard on their books as I do mine and they believe in what they’re doing as do I. As long as we can all do our thing, it’s all good.
I realize that what I write won’t be for everyone, heck, every book I write is different. But I do hope what shows is how the characters are with each other and who they are, not so much what they are.
June 14th, 2006 at 4:57 pm · Link
I want to thank you for what you write. I have all of your books and I have enjoyed each one. She may have not checked out the rating system before she bought the book. Keep up the excellent work.