I've been rereading Tanya Huff. I think she's a fabulous author and I love her latest books ("The Silvered" and "An Ancient Peace"). I love all her books actually. She makes gay and bi seem normal, and she has engaging characters and her stories are often quite gripping. And I thought to myself: I could do this.
I've also read C.S. Pacat's trilogy which starts with "The Captive Prince". She's a Melbourne author and she's been published by a mainstream house: Penguin Viking. And her books were suggested to me by Booktopia the online Ozzie bookstore, even though Booktopia doesn't even have a gay-shaded section on their website (what? really? yep.)
Her writing is intensely erotic and very readable. Now, I've included a lot of sex in my stories for a couple of reasons. The first is that I think sex is natural and healthy, whatever the Abrahamic religions say. It's part of our genes. We love making love. We think about love and sex often. It's kinda skewed that we have so many "murder-mysteries" when murder is so rare. How many of us have found a body in the library? Yet how many times have we made love during our lives?
It's true that writing sex scenes is hard, because you have to make something so intimate and personal into a text that can be read while being neither laughable nor 'off'.
The second reason I included sex is because there is so much het sexuality out there, and I wanted to write about love and sex between men, as a counter to all that hetero normativity.
But I assumed that because I was writing about men fucking men (and loving them and it, too), that I would never be mainstream. After all, Fakebook insists on warning "may offend" when two men are just kissing! Actually, I'm glad it offends. Anybody who is "offended" by love, freely expressed between two adults deserves to be "offended". I hope they get ulcers with it. And bad breath. The point is, though, that if C.S. Pacat's novels can be mainstream, so can mine.
I've also been reading Charlaine Harris, whose books are the base of the TV series "True Blood". I didn't start reading her because of the TV series. To be honest, I seldom watch TV. And the reason is that you can't easily choose what to watch. Let me explain what I mean. The first Charlaine Harris I bought was "Midnight Crossroad". I was a few minutes early for my train home from the city, and so I popped into W.H. Smiths at the station, a branch of the UK "railway bookshop". And I took "Midnight Crossroad" off the shelf by chance, and flipped through a few pages and immediately liked it. You can't do that with TV. You keep on watching a piece of crap hoping it's going to get better and find you've irretrievably lost an hour of your life. Not that I don't watch DVDs. But that's different, because I've chosen them. Anyway, I like Charlaine Harris' novels. And again I thought:
I can do this.
There is so much writing out there that I don't like. Writing which bores me. I want what I read or watch to take me away from my own life. It's not even a question of liking second-rate writing. I love Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. I love Dorothy Sayers and Donna Leon. I love them because I end up in the 19th century, in Victorian London. in 1920s and 1930s England, in Venice. I like reading autobiographies, because I am there, wondering at other ppl's lives, admiring their resilience, their survival. No matter the odds. As for examples of what I dislike, take "Game of Thrones". Horrid. Not a single likable character. All cinquecento murder and betrayal and pointlessness. Or Joe Abercrombie. Fine writing but so fucking depressing. I see enough of that every day, out there in the real world. The news is filled with horridness. Enough.
So I decided to write what I liked. Not what will sell. Not what others urge me to write. I must avoid self-indulgence, but equally, I'm not doing this for money, though I wouldn't mind making a bob or two. I'm doing it for pleasure. I'm doing it for fun. I like my characters. They are my friends, or at least, my acquaintances. I love making up a new world. I want to write about ppl I understand, the damaged, the sad, the lonely, life's failures, and give them some sort of happiness and fulfilment. My writing would definitely be better if I put my characters through the wringer more. And perhaps I will, because writing happy things can be too bland. You need a bit of salt with the sugar. But the point is, I'm going to write what I want. With more straight and more female characters. More fantasy, of all kinds.
And I hope, my faithful and so patient readers, who have given me so much support and encouragement, I hope you enjoy the new stories which flow from my pen. But I firmly believe that if I write what please me, I will write more. And what I write will be better. Creation comes from some inner conduit to the divine. And if you block it, you can't create.
So here goes.