Sunday, March 18, 2007

Male/male Historical Erotic Romance

Here at Lust Bites we are always pleased to hear from people who are doing new and different things with the genre. A lot of erotic romance topics can feel done to death. Fresh new thrills are always top of our list of treats. So we couldn't wait to get Erastes - author of male/male historical erotic romance Standish - on the blog and find out all about her small but perfectly formed genre - where you get not one but two gorgeous men striding out in their breeches and, quite often, striding out out of their breeches too.

Erastes: Well, hello everyone, it's nice to be here. I've been lurking for a while, reading the syndicated posts via LiveJournal and I've been enjoying the posts and the discussions that you generate here.

I'd always wanted to write but although having started a couple of projects which founded after a few chapters, I didn't succeed and I finally gave up, thinking that I had no plotting abilities. This all changed in July 2003, when I discovered fanfiction - entirely by accident. I had no idea that "fandoms" existed up to that point. I read a couple of fan fics, thought "I can do this" and wrote a 66k word Harry Potter novella dealing with what Lucius Malfoy got up to in the book Order of the Phoenix when he wasn't actually on the page. Although it was fun, I finished it and thought. "Mmmm. That was a spectacular waste of effort, I can't sell it!" I decided to convert it into original fiction, the idea being I'd change the names and places, remove or warp some of the magic and wouldn't have to do too much.

However, as other authors will know, things rarely work the way you set out for them to do. The book wouldn't listen, the characters evolved into different beings entirely (to my considerable joy) and it utterly refused to have anything to do with Potterdom or magic. It turned into a homoerotic regency romance and Standish was born.

It is now my aim to attempt to help drag historical homosexual romance into the mainstream and to make the publishers and review sites take it seriously as a genre.

I'm re-writing and editing my second novel Transgressions which is based around the English Civil War and is nearly ready to start getting sent out to publishers, and I'm about half way through Junction X which isn't strictly what the Historical Novel Society would deem "historical" as it's set in 1960's English Suburbia, but has been as much of a challenge, research-wise as any of the others.

Why gay romance?

I actually worried about myself the first time I read a gay story and was turned on by it. Believe me, I've had the least sheltered life you can imagine, but I'd never considered that homoerotica could be hot. But it was. Then I thought …"Hang on, what's most straight men's favourite fantasy? Two women!" So that being the case, it made perfect sense that I found two beautiful men in bed together alluring.

I should of course point out here, that I'm not a man, in spite of the name and the web-bio – I chose the name Erastes because at the beginning I didn't think that men would want to read gay erotica written by a woman and now I'm stuck with "him". I had no idea that most people writing and reading gay erotica (particularly in fandom) are women, and I'm pleased to say that both gay and straight men and gay and straight women enjoy my stuff, so I must be doing something right!


Why historical fiction then?

There are a lot of people writing contemporary but not that many writing historical gay fiction. Granted the word "gay" didn't come into that use until last century but homosexuality wasn't invented last century (or indeed "invented" at all). The interest in writing homosexual historical fiction for me is to attempt to portray it as realistically as possible. I don't want to write (or to read about) men in earlier centuries with modern attitudes. I want them to be aware of the danger of what they are doing, of the attitudes of the government, the church, even their neighbours.

This makes gay fiction difficult to resolve into a HEA – in my opinion. Two men from the 17 th Century in England would find it as difficult and as dangerous to set up house together as lovers as Jack and Ennis (Brokeback Mountain) would have done in 60's America. However there are ways to infer that they will be happy without having an anachronistic gay wedding. Lee Rowan manages it perfectly in her Ransom – set in Nelson's Navy, and Emily Veinglory does it well, too, in The Highwayman.

Personally, in the two novels I have finished, I've allowed the reader to decide what happens after the curtain falls. Can a rake and an innocent be happy and will Rafe ever be faithful? Can a Puritan and a King's man find a common path in Cromwell's England? What happens next? I hope that the reader cares enough to worry about my characters after the last page – that's the nicest compliment of all.

So – any questions? Don't be shy!

(We are also giving away a copy of Standish to one lucky commenter. So even if you don't have a specific question, just pop in and say 'hi' and 'gimme'
MM x)

66 comments:

Anaïs Nohant said...

No questions just awe. Would oh, so love to have a copy of Standish.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

I, on the other hand, have a question (not that I can win the book). Any recommendations for research materials on homosexuality/alternate sexuality in history? I don't see myself branching out into book-length historicals, but you never know...and hey, sex and history are two of my passions!

May said...

I was going to ask Teresa's question!

Awfully curious sort here. ;)

Erastes said...

Teresa and May:

Hello!

The best place to start is with Rictor Norton - social historian, literary historian, PHD, member of the Gay Liberation Front etc etc. Without his excellent HUGE site

http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/index.htm

Standish would be riddled with anachronisms. From there you'll find a wealth of information more than you'll ever need!

www.gayhistory.com is pretty good too, if not so comprehensive, and http://www.androphile.org/ (The World History of Gay Love) is a fascinating site where I have spent many a hour - it's very inspiring and I've written stories that I've been inspired to write after finding gay art that I didn't know. (I'd never heard of The Warren Cup before, for example)

http://www.androphile.org/preview/Museum/Rome/warrencup.htm

There's a list of research links on my site, which is a work in progress!
http://www.erastes.com/links.htm

Thanks!

Mathilde Madden said...

Wow! Thanks for the fantastic links.

Come on then Teresa and May. What are you thinking of writing?

Keziah Hill said...

Erastes! I always assumed you were a man. Good passing!

Nikki Magennis said...

Hi Erastes,

Congratulations on the Lambda nomination! And thanks for your post - I'm a total dunce when it comes to history so it's been fascinating reading about Ancient Greece on your site.

(And there's lots of excerpts on there too, for anyone who'd like a taste of some historical gay fiction - click on Erastes' name at the top.)

Erastes said...

*waves* to anais (what a wonderful name...)*ponders where I can use that name...*

Good luck!

Erastes
x

Erastes said...

Hi Keziah

I spent a while being "gender neutral" I have to admit, but after I realised that eventually I'd have to "come out" it seemed the sooner the better. It would have been very embarrassing to have won a Lambda and then had to accept it pretending to be Erastes' Mum...

*G*

"He's not a gay historical writer, he's a very naughty boy!"

Erastes said...

Hi Nikki,

Thank you! I was (typically for me) very dissapointed not to go on to the final cut but I am cheering madly for James Lear (who you guys must check out if you haven't already - he's a man too) with his wonderfully witty (and very hot) "The Back Passage" - sort of Gosford Park/Agatha Christie meets Duncan Does Dallas.... and RW Day with her superlative "Strong and Sudden Thaw". (who was with me in fandom at the same time and came out of it for original-ficland at the same time)

I'm a newbie into history too, having avoided it due to the appalling way it was taught at school, but am gradually becoming more and interested in it.

I must get some more excepts on the site! Hope you like!

Nikki H said...

Hi, Erastes! Thanks for posting to Lust Bites. I've always found the idea of two men together quite beautiful, but have never actually written about it. And since my eldest brother 'came out of the closet' I've found it more difficult to create a story that I'm happy with. Mainly because I think my brother might read it and think...'er, that wouldn't happen'

Erastes said...

Hi Nikki H,

Emotionally, I don’t see why anything might not happen with men. They are as varied as women after all, and I find it interesting to deal with a large gamut of “types” – Modern men are a little more likely to be in “touch with their emotions but contrast an “Ennis” who is completely unable to vocalise what he’s feelings to an Oscar Wilde who is witty and erudite and very saucy.

I love writing about men who don’t even have the vocabulary to deal with what they are feeling – to know that what they are feeling is wrong – in every sense of the word and are SO isolated that just coming to terms with what they want to do can be a very sexy process. Then there are the young men who ARE comfortable about it and know what they want, like Rafe in Standish, sixteen years old and predatory enough to think that falling in love with his tutor is enough to make him fall in love right back.

I’d love a gay brother (good for him!) to talk to about things, particularly positions – I should have cited “Free Gay Pix Too”, (which I can’t access from work) as being one of my MAJOR resources. If I’m not sure that a position is possible, (I wasn’t sure about the “sitting in someone’s lap” for example) off I go to check it out… It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!!!

Madelynne Ellis said...

Hi Erastes,

Few questions for you.

It's obvious from Standish that you spend a lot of time on research. How much of the research do you actually use in the book, and how much do you simply assimilate and then lay aside.

Are there any plans for a sequel, or another story set in the same period?

What made you decide to have Ambrose as the youngest sibling?

Is Standish based on a real location?

Oh, and are you really saying Ambrose/Rafe was originally based on Lucius Malfoy? I'm reluctant to put my money on which character. Obviously, Ambrose is blond, but I think that's probably where the similarity ends.

I think that'll do for now. I love picking over the details.

xx

Mathilde Madden said...

It is interesting that you point out how the different way men see their emotions make for a more interesting, or very different, story. I know some female authors of male/male romance get accused of feminising the men too much.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this and I also really want the answer to Madelynne's last question. How much are you prepared to reveal about that original piece of fanfic?

Erastes said...

Hi Madelynne.

*Fights down urge to squee.* I knew from reading your blog that you had read Standish, but was too scared to ask you what you thought of it.

It's obvious from Standish that you spend a lot of time on research. How much of the research do you actually use in the book, and how much do you simply assimilate and then lay aside.

I’m not as good a researcher as I’d like to be. I am daunted and squashed when I hear that someone has spent “a year” (or more…)reading about their period before they think they are ready to start. I’m far more – either arrogant, or overconfident – than that. I tend to just set off on the journey and then shore up the pit sides with research as I go along.

I suppose only a small fraction of what I learn goes into the books directly. I aim for a “contemporarily written” feel. By that, I simply mean that if I were living in 1820 I wouldn’t say:

“We entered the duck-egg blue drawing room, built by Nash in 1750. The cornices were of the latest Grecian fashion.” (just for purists that was off the top of my head, I don’t know if those facts are accurate without checking!!!)

If you read a contemporary book it doesn’t say, the Red Routemaster bus (now sadly discontinued) made its way along the Victoria Embankment “ it just says “The bus travelled west along the Embankment.”

I’m not putting this very well. What I mean is that I live in fear of info-dumping on the reader. I want to add enough detail to keep it in the period, to make you feel you are in a house with no central heating, no wall to wall carpets, no garage etc etc, but without having to describe every feather and furbelow like Heyer and Dan Brown tend to do.

Are there any plans for a sequel, or another story set in the same period?

I would like to make Standish a Trilogy, eventually – that was the original plan. No more with Rafe and Ambrose after the end of Standish - as what they do next is up to the reader (no matter my personal thoughts on the matter *frowns at Rafe *) but I have “Fleury” to do, what happens to him in the New World, and eventually I want to write “Rafe” – and explore his earlier life, perhaps. It depends! I have FAR more novel ideas than I’ll ever be able to do unless I channel the output of Catherine Cookson.

What made you decide to have Ambrose as the youngest sibling?

I had an idea for him to be sickly, and shabby gentil, and I couldn’t imagine him living alone – (In fact that’s a very interesting point, I can’t think of any stories about impoverished young men living quietly alone, they always seem to be dying in garrets somewhere…) and a bossy older sister and a less so one seemed to fit his circumstances well. He had to be indulged, spoiled (sisters will tend to do that…) and it helped shape his stubbornness. He’d been allowed to get away with things as a child, and that comes through in later life, I think.

Is Standish based on a real location?

Although there is (I found out after I started the book) that there is actually a town of Standish in the UK, there is no house called Standish there that I know of.

“My” Standish (and the oil painting on the cover) is from Witley Court, which is the most beautiful ruin in Worcestershire. The classical façade just makes my heart bleed. As you can see there is a fountain too – sadly NOT of Zeus and Ganymede…

http://www.nifty.demon.co.uk/witley/
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server.php?show=conProperty.356

Oh, and are you really saying Ambrose/Rafe was originally based on Lucius Malfoy? I'm reluctant to put my money on which character. Obviously, Ambrose is blond, but I think that's probably where the similarity ends.

Rafe started out as a Lucius clone. He’s rich, arrogant but after that, the similarities just bled away, he refused to be associated with such a cold-blooded bastard (Lucius refutes this, and says that Rafe has no taste. Rafe says that at least Ambrose is pretty and doesn’t have oily hair)

As you can see. I have problems….

Thank you so much for such lovely questions!

xxx

Erastes said...

Hi Tilly,

There's so much untapped stuff in the homosexual market, for this reason. There's no reason why you can't have sensitive men who are capable of sitting in front of the fire and discussing their feelings - I'm sure it happens - Scott and Scott had to start "Romentics" - their own line of publications - because of this, as no-one (at the time) was writing Romantic gay stories. I knew about them long before I discovered that others had written gay historicals, so I KNEW that there was a market for this, and set up to help fill it.

I personally don't like too much Chicks with Dicks syndrome. That's a bit rich coming from me when Ambrose is the biggest Girl at the beginning of the book, but that's deliberate. It's the hair braiding and the "can we talk" and the utter soppiness of some stories that I really can't manage. I prefer my men to be a little more manly than that, although I appreciate fully that the Boys Love brigade and yaio lovers go for it for that very reason - the feminised men.

But I have to say, when I've read a story, usually in fandom, where the male character has been transformed into a woman and had a baby, or worse still there's mpreg, I just think "why not write about women?"

Teresa said...

I have no questions just wanted to let you know glad to have you here today and would love a copy of Standish! Sounds HOT!

Erastes said...

Hi Teresa

Thank you! It's funny actually how the views of that vary. One of my reviews said that the sex was rather too graphic and another one said that it was rather too mild! I'll be interested in knowing what you think if you get hold a copy!

Erastes

xxx

Tracey said...

Hello Erastes.

What resources have you used to discover details about daily life in the Regency, or the English Civil War? I've found such things difficult to track down in my own research, because historians don't always write about them.

Have you ever come across anything while researching for your writing and thought, "Oh, this would make a fantastic story or novel"? If so, what was it, and what did it spark?

What character of yours was the most difficult to write about, and which was the easiest? Why?

If you had any advice to give about writing gay historical romance (or writing in general), what would it be?

Jules Jones said...

Oh, there were people *writing* romantic gay fiction before Scott&Scott. The problem was finding publishers who would believe that there was a market. I know a number of gay sf fans who were reading and writing slash fanfic out of frustration at not being able to find the same sort of emotional, romantic material in commercial gay porn.

I'm afraid I can't wibble at length about the Potterverse -- I read the books because a certain Predatrix made wanted me to beta-read her fanfic in that universe. :-) But it's amazing how much avatar characters can mutate away from the original fandom character, to the point where people very familiar with the fandom don't recognise them until someone points it out.

Amanda said...

1. ruth sims author of the phoenix has mentioned that some gay men's readings groups will not consider books written by women. now that you have outed yourself as a female, do you think you will experience any prejudice or limitations in writing prose with gay protagonists?

2) is Transgressions by chance a novel about transgendered people? and have you ever thought of writing or written about trans?
amanda/aka beauty_seeker on lj

Erastes said...

Hi Tracey! Thank you!

What resources have you used to discover details about daily life in the Regency, or the English Civil War? I've found such things difficult to track down in my own research, because historians don't always write about them

I’ll take these separately because they are both big subjects:

I suppose I “chose” the Regency period because it was an era that I feel particularly comfortable with. I’ve read as many of “of the era” novels as I can lay my hands on since I was old enough to be able to “get them”, so when I say I chose it, it’s not strictly true, there wasn’t really a choice of era for a first novel, and it’s an era I’ll return to many times.

For the Regency, too, there’s a wealth of on-line search information, as you know, Pemberley, the Austen society etc etc, although even with those you need to be careful, as they can be based on Heyer and although I trust Heyer’s historical accuracy up to a point, I don’t trust her slang.

The English Civil War though – OMG. If I had been writing a war book, it would have been a walk in park. There are thousands of books and online resources telling one every detail about the Battles and the Uniforms and the Regiments and the Marches and the Characters and …. So on.

BUT. Try and find out what a house was made of. Or what a young man might have been wearing, or eating, or did in his spare time, or ANYTHING regarding what the ordinary person was doing from 1640 – 1649 then it’s bloody difficult. Even ECW re-enactment societies (who do living histories) have the same problems. No-one seemed to want to bother with the peasants. Twas ever thus!

I used libraries for this research, as well as online resources – I wrote to Mistley Museum for details of the Witchfinders, I got court transcripts from Chelmsford Assizes, I contacted re-enactment societies and other places, Dubaiyan get hold of a Witchfinders pamphlet from the British Museum, RW Day sent me pamphlets with details on how much people earned - any straw I could grasp at. I don’t say that my vision of the mid 1700’s is at all accurate, but it’s a close as I could make it. I hope.

Have you ever come across anything while researching for your writing and thought, "Oh, this would make a fantastic story or novel"? If so, what was it, and what did it spark?

All the time. I am a magpie, and I wear permanent slash goggles. If I see a story about two men who are friends then I immediately start thinking about a story for them. The one that I’m looking forward to writing is that of Verus.

I was researching around for Greek and Roman references and ended up reading about gladiators. I found the story of Verus who was freed for fighting in the arena. (he and his opponent – the only time that was recorded so we assume it was the only time it happened. My mind immediately went m/m and I have a lovely story ready to write, just because of that five minute bit of research.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verus_(gladiator)

What character of yours was the most difficult to write about, and which was the easiest? Why?

Oh heck.

Easiest: Fleury. For sure. He FLOWED off the page, taking over and I could hear him, see him all the time I was writing about him. I knew his background, his upbringing, such as it was, immediately. As you know he was invented purely for one reason, to resemble Ambrose and then to be killed accidentally by Achille in his place. But he had other ideas and took over. I’ve never had such fun writing a character before or since. I can’t wait to work with him again.

Hardest: Hmm. Probably Edward, that I’m writing now. It’s very difficult not to show him as an Idiot, which he clearly isn’t, but still instil a sense of his inability to cope with his homosexual urges. I don’t want to feminise him in the slightest, he’s a man, and has never been in the slightest bit in touch with his feelings, or anyone else’s.

If you had any advice to give about writing gay historical romance (or writing in general), what would it be?

I can only quote Heinlein.

“Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it”.

Erastes said...

Hi Jules!

Oh yes, I put that badly, what I meant was that Scott and Scott were the first people I turned to for advice when I started writing and started worrying where I would sell Standish to - they were very sweet and told me just to keep trying, and that they had had to publish their own imprint due to the problems they had. I was very worried at the time, and thought there was no market. I hadn't discovered other writers of the genre you see.

I hope no-one sees anything of canon Lucius in Rafe, I can't. I don't think there's anything of him left in there. If anything there are only remnants of "my" Lucius, and my Lucius is a very different kettle of fish to JKR's. The fanfic I wrote before Standish has no point of reference to Standish at all. It's Het!!!! (which is one of the reasons it's hidden away) and its main character is a Big Fat Self Insert Mary Sue and it has so many fanfic cliches in it that it would be sporked to high heaven if I were to let anyone read it. *ashamed *

Jules Jones said...

Your fanfic Mary Sue is part of your million words of crap, so don't worry about it. :-) I started putting some of my fanfic stuff up on a website last month (I was mostly zine-published), and *cringed* at some of it. But that's how we learn - by writing, and trying to make each piece better than the last one.

And we'll *never* satisfy everyone.

Erastes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erastes said...

repeating this comment that I deleted...

Hi Amanda!

do you think you will experience any prejudice or limitations in writing prose with gay protagonists?

I hope not! I admit that when I started out I was nervous about it, and when I wrote my first story for submission and sold it to Torquere Press (to whom I owe a huge debt btw they are a marvellous publisher) I asked them (upon their request for a Bio) "do I have to say I'm female?"

They said "No. You can say you are a Green Rabbit if you like, it's your Bio." (paraphrased)

I think the thing is, that perhaps I'll be hurt and surprised if I DO encounter any discrimination/prejudice about this, because the professional world has been utterly professional about it. No gay publication has ever objected to gender (as so they shouldn't - you don't have be het to write het after all, do you?) and the only time I've heard "You must be a gay man to write for this anthology" was (quite rightly) for "Real Stories" I would be just as wrong to submit a story for My First Time in a real story anthology, as I would be to do so in a Lesbian anthology.

I read recently that the EPIC's had the most insane rules about sexual orientation, and had to laugh out loud. How does one prove to them that one is a lesbian for example?

Anyway. Short answer: No. And long may it stay that way. If writing has taught me anything it's that I'm actually a gay man in a woman's body, but there's no way I'm having an operation. No only do you get no cock to speak of, but you don't get a prostate, so where's the fun? And if I want to have sex with men, I just need to stay the sex I am.... Yes. I'm confused.

is Transgressions by chance a novel about transgendered people? and have you ever thought of writing or written about trans?

Heh. No. It's based around the English Civil War and deals with "sin" as seen by a young puritan. My issues with religion tends to creep into my writing without me being aware of it. There are more transgressions in the book, though, than just the homosexual aspect. It's also about trust, and truth.

And no, I haven't. Although I don't "write what I knew" in a lot of respects I have no first hand knowledge of transexuality, other than, as discussed above, I do feel that I'm the wrong sex, but don't intend to do anything about it. Similarly I'd never write about cross-dressing because it's not something I've ever encountered from either side of the fence, as it were.

Thanks hun!

xxx

Madeline said...

Fascinating stuff. No questions here - I'm just soaking it all in, loving the exchange of ideas, information, points of view. Just a great way to start the work week.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Hi again,

I have read Standish,and enjoyed it. Didn't realise I was so scary. If you want more opinion than that, let me know and I'll email you it.

Rafe started out as a Lucius clone. He’s rich, arrogant but after that, the similarities just bled away, he refused to be associated with such a cold-blooded bastard (Lucius refutes this, and says that Rafe has no taste. Rafe says that at least Ambrose is pretty and doesn’t have oily hair)

LOL! You know, I think they both have a point!

As you can see. I have problems...

Join the club.

I can't believe reviewers thought Standish was too graphic! Compared to what, I wonder. I hope they don't read anything of mine. :-)

As for hiding away those early fanfic's, I say get 'em out. They can't be any worse than the Gentleman's Wager nonsense I have posted on my website. It's always fascinating to see how things develop.

Interesting that you mention yaoi as an example of soppy girly men, cause while I enjoy yaoi, I'm not all that for overly girly men. I like my men to be men. Makes picking out titles interesting. Anything involving dresses and horror mpreg is out straight away. Although, that said I'm a sucker for a bit of Gackt/Mana fanfic (I'll slink off and stop being so geeky now).

kristina lloyd said...

Erastes, you are such a fab guest. I'm in awe of your enthusiasm and knowledge. I've got some research on Molly houses ahead of me so I think I'll be using some of your links. Thank you.

The stuff you say about research is interesting. My 1st book for BL (Darker than Love) was Victorian, written in 97/8 before the internet had even been invented (well, OK, it hadn't reached my house yet). It was a helluva slog, especially trying to find out, say, what kind of underwear was being worn in 1875 (because I imagined 19C knicker specialists would be reading it and pointing out my mistakes). Bizarrely, perhaps, I found loads of really useful stuff in my local children's library (because the books have pics in and give simple info).

Anyway, I like that you clearly take time over research and that you care. Your point about how much to use and red buses reminds of a radio chat I heard once - some judges of a book competition, can't remember which, were talking about the selection process and how they discussed it together. They admitted to coining the phrase 'the bakelite knob problem' to refer to historical fiction that had too much detail eg a character couldn't simply 'turn on the radio', they had to 'turn the bakelite knob on the radio'.

Which is sounding a lot ruder here than it did on Radio 4.

Great post, fascinating. Though I have to admit, I am a fanfic ignoramus, and I’ve no idea what a lot of you are going on about here.

Also, it is very nice to have that pic of Jude Law as Bosie. I still remember seeing his bottom in that film. It was a lovely moment.

Jules Jones said...

[notes down "the bakelite knob problem" to pass to the knob joke specialist]

How much period detail to use is always a tricky problem. It really is very easy for the novice writer to go completely over the top, resulting in that sort of unnatural prose. And it's not just historical that suffers from it; science fiction has the same problem. And even contemporary set in a Foreign Country. Good control of scene-setting detail is a joy to read.

Becky said...

Silly non-writing question first. If you won a massive amount of money in the lottery, what would you do?

Now a writing question. A friend of mine who writes het romance strongly believes that in order for a book to be considered 'romance,' it must have the HEA, otherwise it's 'women's fiction.' I don't agree, but it does seem that some publishers feel that way. If a major romance publisher was interested in Transgressions but wanted you to change the ending to be less ambiguous and more HEA, would you do it?

And what are your thoughts about categorizing books in general?

Erastes said...

Hello Kristina! (i'm now overheating at the memory of Jude's bottom)

Thank you for your kind words. This is one of the best erotic blogs that I’ve found – certainly the most welcoming and accepting!

As for Molly Houses, Norton is The Authority. His book "Mother Molly’s Clap House" is a must have for that subject.

http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/molly.htm

No. I’m not on commission, but he’s so good!

I can’t imagine what research must have been like before the internet. I’m so bloody lazy that I probably didn’t let myself start writing before Google was invented… My mother has written a family saga and she did it all in a library. I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone who does this sort of thing. I’m the equivalent of the MTV generation of the historical novelist.

And yes, there will always be someone who will find your anachronisms. I have ONE (that I’m aware of) in Standish, a stupid mistake that I actually knew I’d made and didn’t amend the MSS, and someone spotted it on the first week…

But knickers are important. *G* 17th Century knickers for men? A nightmare!

Anyway, I like that you clearly take time over research and that you care.

That’s the point, and thank you. I care – not just because of the reader – but because of the book. I want to get it right. I belonged briefly to a critique society for historical novelists and I worked hard beta-ing other people’s novels and got a fair amount of wank for it. People said “Oh really – who’s going to know THAT obscure point?”

Anachronisms happen but people who don’t even attempt to get the era right have no respect for the reader and that’s insulting, imho.

I like the idea of the Bakelite knob…

Erastes said...

Hi Madelynne again

I do like manga, i have to admit, because I love the pretty **pretty** men and the drawings, I do like visual porn. But my PC isn't up to it, and I wouldn't know where to start buying it in Norwich... And most of it's in Japanese....

*G*

Erastes said...

Hi Becky,

If you won a massive amount of money in the lottery, what would you do?

It worries me. I'd like to be rich, but if I got to be as rich as JKRowling.... Would I still have the hunger to write? I don't know.

Nice thing to worry about though... *G*

But what I WOULD do is to:(depending on how much I won)

1. Buy Witley Court start restoring
2. stop working (obviously)
3. Buy a Bassett Hound. Call it Bertie.
4. Buy a Georgian House
and many other things...

Regarding categorization, it's a thorny problem which I know is contraversial. I dislike it intensely, on a personal level.

Romance: For me - knowing how a book is going to end is as bad as opening a book a reading the last page first.

And "women's fiction" is a horrible and quite insulting term - isn't it? Or is it me?

That's like calling war books "Men's Fiction" *headdesk*

If a major romance publisher was interested in Transgressions but wanted you to change the ending to be less ambiguous and more HEA, would you do it?

No. It would be impossible to do. It's 1649. Cromwell has taken over England, there are dreadful dark times to come. All I can give them is a Happy Now.

After all - ALL romance endings are only a happy now, aren't they? Once the end happens, nothing to say that the heroine doesn't step back and say "Only joking, you bastard!"

Anonymous said...

hi, Erastes!

I just posted a comment that vanished, so trying again.. Does your pen name have a specific reference?

Lee Rowan

Kate Pearce said...

Blogger ate my comment again1 shriek!
Thanks for coming on our blog and for the fab post. I'm totally fascinated by the whole Civil War thing and dying to read your books.

I also write erotic historical romance for Ellora's Cave and for Kensington Aphrodisia and I've managed to squeeze quite a lot of m/m encounters into my books without anyone complaining that they are supposed to be romance!

Readers seem to love m/m and I'm impressed at you getting rid of the female I usually choose to have in the middle of my males. It's interesting, I still tend to show the most graphic m/m interaction through the pov of my female character, I'm not sure I'm confident enough to do without that prop!

Anonymous said...

After all - ALL romance endings are only a happy now, aren't they?

Oh, yes... and I've seen a few "HEA" endings that, given the characters, would probably turn into divorce drama in oh, say six months...

Erastes said...

Hello Lee! Thank you for coming over.

Yes, very much so.

Erastes was the older man in the Erastes/eromenos relationshiop in ancient Greek, and his job was to teach citizenship (and love) to his young lover.

So, it's a bit of a pose, and a small joke at my own expense as I attempt to drag historical male romance into the mainstream.

*G*

kristina lloyd said...

Molly Houses - thanks for that one.

I have one anachronism in DTL (again, one that I'm aware of - I'm sure there's more) so I sympathise. No one's ever pointed it out though (yet). I was aware of it too and marked it as a correction when I got the proofs. But the publisher didn't change it (it was only a one word substitution, goddammit). It's actually one of those odd ones that the historically accurate choice would probably have sounded wrong whereas the inaccurate one I went for sounded good to modern ears. I'm sounding very nerdy here because I’m trying not to say what the mistake was. Can you tell? Erastes, I'll send you my secret shame via MS if you promise not to reveal it to the world.

Ultimately, we only go so far with historical accuracy anyway. In the olden days, people often smelled bad, had terrible teeth and lice in their drawers. And you wouldn't want that in your erotic romance.

Erastes said...

Hi Kate!

I've had trouble with posts being eaten, but learned my lesson and have been typing them in Word! It's been fun - and so nice to spend a Monday doing this!

I must get Transgressions Out There. It ain't going to sell sitting in a drawer...

I've never managed to write menage fics, because in general, I suppose because my men are homosexual. I would imagine that three-way romps were more acceptable than m/m ones...

It's funny though, because up until I discovered m/m my fantasies were usually purely m/f/m. But I suppose it's because 1. There's a lot of horrible het, by that I mean coarse and badly written and

2. There's a billion people doing it better than I could do.

I wish I could explain why I (and other m/m writers) find het squicky. It makes no sense at all.

If you are trying a little m/m, try a little more... *tempts*

Erastes said...

Kristina:

I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

And yes - bad teeth, bad breath - fleas!!! It's not very sexy... But that's a subject for another blog perhaps?

Erastes said...

I'm off home. Will be back on line in about an hour.

Talk amongst yourselves you lovely people...

*G*

Nikki Magennis said...

Wow, I'm learning lots today.

I didn't even know what a Molly House was, so I had to look it up.

I found book, called 'Sodom on the Thames', by Morris B Kaplan. Looks fascinating.

Kate Pearce said...

Ah, you see, I'm totally fascinated by the 'undecideds' those men and women who don't have any boundaries and are quite willing to do anyone. I'm frankly quite shocked that I even managed to sell 2 books to Kensington that have 2 male heroes like that.
And yes, please get the civil war one out there!

Madelynne Ellis said...

I do like manga, i have to admit, because I love the pretty **pretty** men and the drawings, I do like visual porn. But my PC isn't up to it, and I wouldn't know where to start buying it in Norwich... And most of it's in Japanese....

St Benedict's Street is probably a good place to start. Try either Abstract Sprockett or Kulture Shock. I'll be astounded if neither of them have any. And while you're there you could always drop into Sin Sin's Love Store.

The whole pretty men thing is why I like manga, but I'm afraid I stick to translations, I'm really not fond of reading online.

BTW Kristina, I think I have a documentary around somewhere on video about Molly houses.

Alison Tyler said...

What a fascinating post and discussion...
Just catching up now. Wish I could say "gimme."

:) Alison

Amanda said...

thanks erastes for your answer. i read a fair amount of gay erotica and was happy to discover recently an anthology where the author's name was female. no pen name and no initials. in my opinion, anyone can write anything if they do the research, do it with sensitivity and are willing to listen. that's why i am so offended by publishing companies that ask for female only writers for so-called women's erotica. i'm glad to hear the gay erotica world isn't so narrow minded.

Nikki Magennis said...

Amanda - it's a good point, the old 'women-only' thing. We've touched on it briefly before, and I am really keen to have this debate sometime.

I'll see when we can fit it in to the schedule!

Erastes said...

Nikki - thank you for the book link! I'll have to check that out.

Erastes said...

Amanda,

That's utterly disgusting really, isn't it? How would they be if you could only write about white characters if you were white? I swear people don't think these things through...

In the world of global communications, how on earth can they be sure you are a woman, anyway?

Anyway, as Nikki says, this is definitely a subject to be debated at more length, I'll look out for it!

Maria, Lover of All Things Romance said...

No questions, just a gimme!

I've only recently realized how sexy gay erotic fiction is. Whew! Especially if the guys look like Brad Pitt and Hugh Jackman

Erastes said...

I've been casting Standish since the first day I finished it....

*G*

Gwen Masters said...

*fawning*

Never mind me, I'm just over here fawning in the corner with my "I Heart Erastes" shirt.

*goes back to fawning*

Nikki Magennis said...

Gwen, you'd better get a few of those printed up. : )

Erastes said...

Stop that!

*hands breadstick*

Get back in the corner! Both of you.

Anonymous said...

Breadsticks? I don't think I want to ask...

I'm a bit puzzled by your comment on Epic. The category for glbt books is limited, but there was never any question about entering a book being dependent on the writer's sexuality. Hell, I'm a bi woman in a monogamous f/f marriage... and my book had no women in significant roles. Not only was Ransom given a wonderful round of applause (and no boos) when I thanked my wife, the folks at registration knew her by name when we checked in. Epic is concerned with all e-books, so there is a certain inevitable friction between some "inspirational" writers and much of the erotica, het or otherwise. But I didn't see any homophobia or even uneasiness from any of the officers or volunteers at Epicon, and they got positive feedback from the m/m panel. M/M writers are hoping for either inclusion in the general categories next year, or more s/s categories, but the category has absolutely nothing to do with the gender or orientation of the writer. (When you start considering the werewolves, vampires, and non-human erotica, personal questions could get awfully peculiar.)

Lee

Erastes said...

Hi Lee,

I will have to check (apologies, I used information without checking it out! but I do trust the information that this person give me)

RW Day told me that A gay man or lesbian can win an EPIC award in any category in which he or she qualifies. For example, a lesbian writing about a het couple's romance could win, while a straight woman writing about gay men's love couldn't.

I know RW Day too well (she was a semi finalist in WOTF) that she wouldn't have made that up, but I don't know where she got it from.

I'll find out.

Anonymous said...

*shrug*

It doesn't matter where it came from--internet rumor is like that old 'telephone' game where you pass a phrase around a circle and see if you recognize what comes back. But I sure don't have the equipment to 'qualify' as a gay man, so it seems there was a bit of misinformation somewhere. Or possibly the folks currently at the Epic helm are more interested in good stories and less worried about writers' personal plumbing. I know there are some gay men (and gay publishers) who don't consider reading stories written by women, and some lesbian groups that restrict membership to women-born-women, leaving out transgender folks. Their loss in the long run.

Hey, did you know Standish was #2 on Amazon's 'gay romance' list nearly all day?

Lee

Erastes said...

NO! I checked this morning, (so sad) and it was about number 24?

I'm very happy, it's held a place for four months now! I've never seen it at number 2! Any chance you have the cached file that you could share with a very pathetic writer?

Anonymous said...

No, but the next time it pops up there I'll catch it. It's been #2 several times that I remember (#4 right now.) Standish & Ransom have been playing tag on the list all this past week. Earlier today you were at #11 and I was #12. I keep hoping for one of 'em to hit #1 but Tin Star seems to be nailed in place. I guess cowboys top sailors and gents in tight breeches.

Lee

(I had a blog password, and they changed the system... gotta go re-register one of these days.)

Anonymous said...

Ha!

Got your wish! Go look now -- Standish is back at #2, Ransom's #3. I'm mailing you the picture. (They're #6 and #8 in Gay Fiction.)

Lee

Erastes said...

oh wow, that can only be thanks to today!

Thank you, Lee

xxx

Jules Jones said...

On the EPPIES -- Spindrift was a finalist in the erotic romance with paranormal elements category in 2006 (before the appearance of the separate lgbt categories), and nobody did a genitals check on me. Might be worth checking that the new categories really do have that sort of restriction, rather than it being a badly misphrased description someone's given.

Anonymous said...

That's a great cover, Jules.

It's got to be a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. The rules are up right here:

http://epicauthors.com/eppierules2007.html and Epic does not have a 'sekret agenda' the way RT does (until some m/m authors pinned RT down with a direct question, they just sort of ignored m/m stories--now at least they've openly admitted discriminating against them by not reviewing them.)

I am an obviously female person. There's no way they could've mistaken me for a gay man... no Adam's apple, and my makeup skilz are too feeble for me to pass as a drag queen. Besides, as the saying goes, on the Internet nobody knows you're a dog/cat/hamster -- how could they tell?

Lee

Erastes said...

I think it was me getting my wires crossed. Many apologies all! *G*

I'd just like to close and say thank you to EVERYONE who participated and I'll make a note of the names of everyone who's eligible and make a drawing for the winner of the signed copy of Standish this morning. Tilly will announce it later on.

It was a really fun day yesterday and I hope you'll have me back.

Love

Erastes

Nikki Magennis said...

Thanks again, Erastes for being such a lovely guest. We certainly will have you back!