Before I started writing ManLove, I was writing straight romance, a genre I have not been published in… yet. Frustrated that my writing career was not exactly a career but still a hobby—and certainly not what I had dreamed of when I was a chubby youngster on the family farm—one day my partner flippantly suggested that I should write about gay relationships. Isn’t that what all writing teachers say within the first five minutes of any class on writing? Write what you know. It was like the dark cloud-filled skies had parted and a supreme being looked down upon me offering me the answer. Although I love my partner very much, he is certainly no supreme being, so the only answer for his insightful and life-changing suggestion would be divine intervention.
“Only after receiving the e-mail stating that my farmyard frolic had been accepted for publication did I find out that women, at least half the market, would be my readers.”
Reenergized and hopeful, I put pencil to paper and started the story that became Summer Heat, my first of the Heat series and the first published at Siren-BookStrand. Lovingly I agonized over every sentence, wanting this story to be the steamiest in the entire ManLove genre and the most erotic story I had ever penned. Honestly, picturing the sex part wasn’t really that hard since I am a gay man and enjoy sex, but writing the sex scenes was a little confusing due to having to use the same pronoun over and over again. When I reread it, I was so confused. I could only imagine what the poor editor felt like!
When writing Summer Heat I also took into consideration my market…or so I thought. Only after receiving the e-mail stating that my farmyard frolic had been accepted for publication did I find out that women, at least half the market, would be my readers. I have to admit, I was shocked. Totally shocked. Why would women want to read about two (or more in some stories) guys struggling it out until they finally realize what they needed to do is to kiss and get it on already and stop postponing the inevitable, falling in love? So to answer my question, I set out asking some of my female friends why do women read ManLove? I have to say, the answers I received shocked me, and I am not that shockable.
Friend A, I will call her Tammy, said she found the male protagonists in ManLove were fun to read and it was interesting to slip into the inner workings a of gay man. And when it came to the sex scenes, it was all man all the time. Never a bad thing! I immediately understood and share Tammy’s point of view wholeheartedly.
On my continuing quest for answers, I contacted Friend B, I will call her Andrea, a quiet, well-educated woman in her late fifties. I asked if she had ever read any gay romance and she admitted she hadn’t, but was wildly curious and would love to do so. The driving force for this new fan to the genre was her curiosity on how gay men have sex. After she read Summer Heat, I blushed more than she did knowing that my good friend had read my erotic tale including the explicit sex scenes. She admitted to me that during the sex scenes, she felt like a hungry pupil sinking her teeth into a new and interesting subject matter that was only newly discovered, wanting more.
Wow, was all I could think.
“Today when I start plotting out a story or when the characters start screaming in my head demanding to be heard, I take into consideration what my female readers want in a romance. (I already know what the gay men want…those naughty boys.)”
It was also beyond cool that I opened a whole new world for her, hopefully breaking down barriers and mistruths along the way. I just wanted to write a sexy little tale about two horny boys on a farm, but apparently for Tammy and Andrea, and many more, ManLove is much more than that. It is about educating the curious and breaking down barriers, exposing a whole new world. Who knew writers of ManLove had this kind of power and, more importantly, responsibility? Andrea became my beta-reader and is my biggest cheerleader, making my writing all the better due to her endless enthusiasm for her new favorite genre.
Today when I start plotting out a story or when the characters start screaming in my head demanding to be heard, I take into consideration what my female readers want in a romance. (I already know what the gay men want…those naughty boys.) They want strong characters that remain true to who they are, but they also want to fall in love along the way. When I received my first fan e-mail, from a woman, she blamed me for her sleepless night. At first I thought, this is not going to be good. But as I continued to read, she said she had spent her night reading every single one of my Heat series and she was in love. LOVE!…and lust.
Wow, was all I could think.
For me, a gay man, being a ManLove author is a huge honor, and responsibility, one I do not take lightly. Being an out and proud gay man who has faced many barriers and prejudices due to being born gay, I am honored that women and men alike want to read what I write. This is truly a lifelong dream come true. I am also proud to say that I share this honor with many female writers of the ManLove genre, women who are truly special and unique, their insightful souls able to enter into the mind and body of gay men, giving them a voice and allowing them to experience love happily ever after.
By Alex Carreras