Unzipped magazine once proclaimed that I was the Stephen King of gay horror. I get letters from readers telling me how I made them stay up all night and how they were afraid to turn off the lights. Many of my books deal with lovely specters like serial killers, vampires, ghosts, werewolves…all roiling in a potent brew of blood and guts.
Yeah, I can be a gruesome guy.
But lately, my mind has turned to a kinder, gentler genre: gay romance.
And I wonder why. Am I going soft as I grow older? Losing my edge? What compels me to write love stories like VGL Male Seeks Same, which just became a finalist in the EPIC E-Book competition (formerly known as the Eppies) in contemporary romance? What makes me want to write stories like NEG UB2, Pottery Peter, Through The Closet Door, and others with love as their central theme?
These are the kind of things that keep me awake at night.
Even my horror titles, books like Orientation (reincarnation tale) and Bashed (ghost story) have lately been imbued with romance at their core.
And you know what? I thought writing this blog would deliver a revelation to me, an epiphany from on high. I would at last understand what made me want to write about those central human connections: love and desire. But I’m not sure that’s gonna happen.
I can speculate. For one, I have just entered my fifth decade. I have been married to a woman once (for seven years with a handsome and talented son as a result). I have been in serious, live-in relationships with four different men (just call me Zsa Zsa), the last of which I believe is the keeper. I have had flings, encounters, zipless fucks and more with countless others. So maybe I want to get out a little bit about how I feel about love, that hard-to-pin-down emotion that affects all of us with about the same regularity as, oh, well, hunger maybe. So maybe I am just looking into the triumphs and losses of my own personal life and bringing them to the fore through exploring how two human beings are drawn to one another.
Or maybe I was stunned when I wrote that little online romance story, VGL Male Seeks Same, and it was an instant hit, becoming a bestselling title for my publisher and garnering some rave reviews. Maybe I said to myself, “Hey people like this stuff. Maybe you, sir, should just give people what they want.” But, even though it was a revelation to me first that I could write a love story and second that people would actually read a love story from me, catering to the marketplace has never been my thing. I’m a selfish bastard. I write what I want. I write what makes me laugh, cringe, or cry. I write what my characters bug me about and force me to get down on paper.
So as much as I would like to say, “I write romance for you, dear reader,” I can’t, because it isn’t quite the truth.
No, I think my first thoughts are closer to the truth of why a horror writer finds himself increasingly exploring the battlefield known as love. As a member in good standing (and sometimes not-so-good…but that’s my business) of the human race, I wanna know what love is (to quote a song). And I think that, deep down, I know that’s what compels me to write about love. To try and understand it, to grasp its ineffable magic and to connect with my fellow human beings with a story that, while it may have many variables, has a universal truth: love.
I probably write about horrific things for many of the same reasons, but you just need to substitute fear for love.
And, often I have found that fear and love go hand in hand, just like lovers. Which is why I think you’re going to see from me, more and more, a very special mix of the frightening and the romantic.