For Love of Books – Interview with TJ

 For Love of Books is a series where instead of interviewing the writers, I interview book reviewers, those people who give their opinions about different books and influence the buying patterns of thousands of readers. Most reviewers do this job because they really love books, which is why I like to talk to them.

Today I’m interviewing TJ, a guest reviewer on the site, about why he likes to read M/M romances. TJ is one of a growing breed of new M/M romance readers – men. According to a poll on the site he has joined the15% of men who now read M/M romances. Not only does he read this sub genre but he also reviews the books. TJ will probably tell you that he didn’t see this one coming when I asked him to lend his talents to reviewing after I saw some of his comments (OK he was mouthing off about a few books that he had read)  🙂  and I wondered how he would adapt to writing reviews, which is not as easy as many people think.

I think reviewing is one of the most important and difficult jobs in the industry apart from publishing (which includes editing and all the other associated functions,) writing the books, and selling them. The job of a book reviewer is dissimilar to that of a high end reseller – we don’t promote books that we think are lemons (I hope) and we’re truthful about how we really feel about the books we review. If we are not truthful the readers won’t take long to spot this and will never believe us again.

Reviews are always a matter of opinion whether it’s movies, restaurants, stage shows, books, etc., and these opinions can vary from one end of the spectrum to the other, which is why it’s always a good idea to check out several reviews if you have the time, before you buy a book. Most reviewers are motivated by their love of books, are impartial, and if they have any biases they state them upfront and they don’t expect anything other than “thank you” from the readers. Now on to talking to TJ and finding out what he’s made of. lol

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I know that you don’t like to talk about yourself but can you at least give us the fifty cent tour of TJ? What you like, who you are (not the dull stuff), what’s hot for TJ, what’s absolutely the best dish for you (I mean food TJ, not that other thing)  🙂 and how in hell you got yourself in this situation?

I’m currently single, but I’m still a hopeless romantic who believes that my Mr. Darcy is out there somewhere. Hey a guy can dream! I live close to the Big Apple in NY and just love the combination of country mixed with the city’s energy. I can be found many a day strolling the streets people watching, or enjoying nature in the beautiful parks. But in my soul I’m an artist, who supports himself by crunching numbers all day – and let me tell you – they are not that tasty!

Speaking of tasty things, I do love food, and am a pretty decent chef. I tend to gravitate towards Italian food when given a choice – love my lasagna! I also love, love, love music. I go nowhere without my ipod, and have an incredibly eclectic collection of songs.

Now as to how in hell I got myself in this situation? For that I blame Josh Lanyon completely! He mentioned on his blog that he had done an interview over at Gay Book Reviews. Being curious, I went to check it out. Had I known where that would lead me…

What is it about books that turn you on?

Well aside from the hot sex in m/m,  I love how when I’m reading a book, I get a full immersion in the experience of the characters. That is to say, I almost always lose track of both time and place. Now that’s amazing.

If you were asked – and I’m asking you – what are your top 3 books of all time – what would you say? What do you have on your bedside table right now? (Since it’s December 8th I guess it’s Fish & Chips which was just released by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban). Is there anything else that you’re reading right now?

I could try to impress you, and say Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or maybe my favorite Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or perhaps Allan Folsom’s Day of Confession, but honestly as good as they all were, I’ve not read them in years.  So, if I’m truly honest and chose by how many times I’ve reread a book, the answer is much different.

My biggest repeat offender is Josh Lanyon. He’s the only author of a book that I’ve ever reread immediately after I’ve finished it. (That was A Vintage Affair – I loved that book, yes even that scene Wave).  But most reread would go to… Death of a Pirate King. Can you keep a secret? Don’t tell Josh, but sometimes when I need a quick Adrien and Jake fix, I skim through DoPK for the parts where they’re in a scene together. Such wonderful dialog… sigh.

Moving on, (and it kills me to admit this) but that little sh… I mean talented author, Ethan Day has weaseled his way into my #2 spot with Sno Ho. I reread that book like a daily affirmation, and damn him – he makes me laugh every time! God, Ethan’s gonna be insufferable now and never let me live that down, will he?

Third place is a tough choice, and probably has ten books tied, but I would say Caught Running by Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux – a really great comfort read.

As far as what I’m reading now, of course Fish & Chips, but also Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall and then there’s my now OCD-ish rereading of Sno Ho. I am so sending Ethan my therapy bills!

I’m not sure which of your favourite authors is top of the heap other than the writing pair I just mentioned, but I think Ethan Day is pretty high up in the stratosphere for you in terms of writing ability. What is it about Ethan that turns you on and makes you love his books so much? Is it the hot men and even hotter sex he writes about?  🙂  I go for his humour.

Of course it’s his sense of humor. It’s rare that a book makes me laugh out loud and snort like a little piggy, but that Ethan Day has made me snort in public! It’s damned embarrassing! As for the sex – eh, I could take it or leave it. Just make me laugh Ethan! Okay, okay – the sex is hot too! Who else but Ethan Day could write such a funny, very hot, “angry” sex scene like the one on the sofa in the beginning of Sno Ho? That. Was. Priceless. Oh crap – I can bet Ethan’s head is growing bigger as I write! Alert the media – crazy Missouri man’s head now bigger than the world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin Minnesota!

Ethan Day sent in a couple of questions because he had to get in on the action when he found out I was interviewing you.  🙂

Ethan: First of all TJ – and most importantly – who informed you it was rare for anyone to have Ethan Day more than once? I want names! I mean really…I make them all sign non-disclosure agreements, so this breach is like, way rude. 🙂

Oh sweet, naive Ethan. The writing was on the wall… literally – I read it on the men’s room wall! I thought it was an advertisement “Ethan Day will light up your life – for one night only!” But the second line read “And you’ll never hear from him again!” The rest was just plain mean, and I doubt that you’re bendy enough to do what they said you should do to yourself.

Ethan: Name something you’ve never read in gay romance but wish you had.

How about a story about a gay romance writer who falls for an online book reviewer, then proceeds to annoy the crap out of him?  Seriously, I’d love to read about a gay m/m romance writer and his foibles in negotiating the real life dating pool. You have my permission to use that.

Ethan: If you were writing a gay romance what would you name your protagonist?  Same question…but replace ‘gay romance’ and insert ‘gay porn’.  : )

I would name him Ioan (pronounced yo-an). I like that it’s a bit unusual, and as an added bonus, it would drive the readers crazy trying to figure out how to pronounce it! As for gay porn (you perv) how about Harry Butt? No? Ethan Nytenday? I could do a lot with that one – sing along with me – Night and day, you are the one…

If you were ever to meet Ethan, what one question would you like to ask him …… about his books TJ, control yourself. lol

How about which character in your books is most like yourself in real life? I’m betting on Aden.

You love mysteries and Josh Lanyon is, I believe, your favourite murder/mystery writer. What is it about his mysteries that set them apart?  

Oh Josh, yes he will always be my favorite – I won’t say just m/m author, but author. Period. His mysteries are always interesting, and I never guess the ending. (You never guess the ending?!!!!) But what really hooks me, is that his writing is so beautiful, his characters so very real and flawed like the rest of us. I may not always love his characters’ behavior, (we all know how Josh loves to torture his readers), but then I must be some kind of masochist because I always love his characters. Who knew I had that kink?

Is there one genre that he hasn’t explored yet that you would you like Josh to write a book? Why?

Josh is so very talented that I don’t think there’s a genre that he couldn’t conquer. I honestly believe that if Josh wrote mainstream fiction he would be quite successful. (Ow, my ears! What is that sound? The screaming Fanyons?) As far as something that he hasn’t done, I do like to read post apocalyptic stories and would be interested to see what Josh could cook up. As to why, well because he did such a wonderful job in world building for Strange Fortune, that I would love to see how he constructs his futuristic world.

Other than mysteries and M/M romances what other types of books do you like to read ? I hate to tell you but PWP is not really the answer I’m looking for and I’m not sure you could even call it a genre. 🙂

I love a good thriller, sometimes a Nicholas Sparks sappy romance, or maybe laugh along with David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs. But I guess it’s time that I admit my dirty little secret, I… oh God I can’t believe I’m going to say this, I read Karen Marie Moning’s Fae (fairy) books. Yes damn it! I love those stupid books. I started reading them long before I discovered M/M, and got hooked. God, another thing that I’ll never live down. This is turning into a very embarrassing interview.

Why do you think that M/M romances have taken hold of “romance” readers and made such an impact? How do you think the authors can screw up this sub genre?

I know that a large percentage of readers of M/M are women, so I can’t speak for them, but I can say that I like the dynamic of 2 men together, as they tend to be more equal in the relationship than in M/F. Too often the women in M/F are so weak and helpless that it’s laughable.

For me, I think the danger of screwing up the M/M genre is very real, since it is growing quickly and books are being churned out at an incredible pace. It’s inevitable that with such fast growth, keeping up the quality of the writing will be a challenge.

As a gay man, when you read M/M romances what frustrates you more than anything and makes you want to throw your ereader against the wall? On the flip side, what’s the best thing about these books

For me the most frustrating thing is quite simply bad writing, mainly hokey dialog, or excessive descriptions (telling not showing). Reading about a character’s every mundane action is not fun.

What I love, is that M/M romances are even being written, and some written very well. That is simply amazing to me.

What surprises you the most about this sub genre? Do you think the sky is the limit or we’re going to reach the glass ceiling pretty soon and never progress any further?

I am most surprised at the amazing variety of sub genres within M/M, from sweet romance to SciFi and paranormal. I do believe that in order to continue to grow, the authors and publishers will have to not only attract new readers, but maintain the interest of long-time readers, who will undoubtedly demand better quality stories.

What do you find most challenging about reviewing? What would make a book DNF for you? Is reviewing fun for you or are there days when you would like to tell me to take this job and shove it? lol (Don’t get any ideas – look at Christian, he can’t wriggle out of those coils I wrap around him)  🙂

The most challenging part of reviewing for me, is putting into words what worked and didn’t work when a book isn’t as good as it could have been – not wanting to be harsh in my assessment, but needing to be honest. I would say a DNF would have excessive descriptions, hokey dialog and unrealistic characters.

Most days I like reviewing, since I truly love books, but sometimes finding the time to read and write a review is challenging.

Do you have any pets TJ? Not that kind, and fish and gerbils don’t count. Lol

I have had some wonderful pets over the years, (dogs mostly) but have’t gotten another since my last one passed. I’m kind of enjoying the freedom of being pet free for a while.

TJ UNPLUGGED

You know the drill about this part of the interview TJ. The boyz in the hot tub get to throw a few questions at you while you relax and submit to a bit of pampering.

Do you ever sit in front of a fire in the winter on a bearskin rug with a glass of wine (preferably red, because that’s what I would drink  :)) with a book? What types of books would you read given that scenario? Would you be wearing your silk dressing gown? I know what the boyz in the hot tub want you to wear, and a dressing gown is not even on their list.

I would definitely be reading a hot M/M romance! But I don’t own a silk dressing gown, so my wardrobe I’ll leave to your imagination. [This answer is so dull. I expected you to say you would be reading porn] 🙂

Billy, one of the guys in the hot tub who never seems to wear any clothes and tries to entice anyone I interview into the tub, has a question for you.

What do you do for fun when you’re not reading or picking up hot men? He has a few suggestions which I wouldn’t repeat. 🙂 [Before you answer, be careful TJ. This is not one of those sites you visit.]

Oh Billy, you look a little cold in your birthday suit. Are those goose bumps? Come, let’s slip into the hot tub. There now… isn’t that better? Hey, who splashed me, cut that out! LOL So, a real luxury for me is time to paint, or do anything creative. It’s such a great release as it uses the other side of my brain from the number crunching half that I use all day. Of course there’s always something going on in town – like a sidewalk fair, there’re lots of restaurants, a beautiful park and we even have our very own gay pride parade! So fun is not hard to find.

Billy also wants to know, what do you really think of Buda? He would like to invite both of you into the tub for a few beers but there’s no jello or mud wrestling allowed in the tub. (Don’t know what Buda is going to do). BTW I have no idea what’s in the beer but the guys giggle a lot after Billy’s version of a hot tub massage party. I should tell you that Aunt Lynn calls the hot tub “penis-land”, but I assume this is not a problem for you snicker

Penis-land? I want to go there for vacation! I think that Buda-boy is one very cool guy (and I hear a real hottie too!). If I were 10 years younger… Well at least I can still enjoy the view. So heck yeah, invite Buda in! He’d love the guys. Um, Wave… I don’t think this is beer. Back home, they call these Long Island Ice Teas. Whew! Is it hot in here?

Sorry, Billy has one more question. No it’s not the briefs or boxer question but you’re in the right vicinity. lol He wants to know – What do you like to have for breakfast? What? Billy – why do you care what TJ has for breakfast? Oh sorry, I guess I’m stupid. Back to the breakfast question. He wants to know if he could serve breakfast wearing just his frilly French maid’s outfit (can’t get that visual out of my head because Billy is kind of hairy) and could he bring along Ethan as a treat? I swear I didn’t know about Billy and Ethan. TJ you told me you weren’t into ménages. 🙂

There’s nothing like hot buns for breakfast and I love nuts (well nut butters like almond and peanut). But clothing is optional Billy. And Ethan is always welcome. But did you say – bring Ethan as a treat or a trick?

Thank you TJ. I think these are some of my better interview questions.  🙂

Those were some great questions Wave. I had a lot of fun. Thank you!

All pictures, except for the very cute one of a young man in uniform at the top of this interview, were taken by TJ who is an amateur photographer and artist.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

113 comments

  • Interesting interview. I am not sure I gave up on the m/f genre because of weak females. I read both m/m and m/f romances. To me, the m/m books I consume is a sub-genre of romance – ultimately I am reading a romance, the m/m part does make it hot, but it isn;t a requirement as any well-written romance will suffice.

    I came to the m/m genre long before it became a published form in the western part of the world as these m/m novels have been around in asia for years, so my take on them is slightly different. Actually, my take is constantly evolving as I first took these novels to be mainly written by female for female first online as derivative fiction and now as mainstream sub-genre.

    I love realistic portrayals of characters, but as it is a romance, how ‘realistic’ can any of these characters be? Romance requires a particularly adamant imagination in that the genre always encompasses perfectly flawed men and women. That is how the fairytales usually blossom and well, gets told. I don’t see m/m romances to be any different. Of course dialogue and behaviors of gay men can be better written, but that’s also no different from saying a book (m/f or general fiction) is badly written because of weak characters and dialogue. Cliches and bad writing aren’t exclusive to any genres.

    Perhaps the m/m genre is exploding right now, and publishers are scrambling to publish as much as they can, but I do find most of the books to be weak in writing. To be honest, most of the published traditional romances are better written than the m/m stuff, and that’s only inreference to technical styles. I have never encountered so many shifting POVs, purple prose, and grammatical mistakes in a sub-genre before. And speaking as a fan who regularly supports this genre, I honestly think these issues, more than realistic or unrealistic portrayals of characters, are what’s hurting the m/m genre. Publishers should really pay more attention to the quality of writing before letting them be published.

    Perhaps I am being too harsh, but to me, I really feel that every novel needs to be at least on the level of KA Mitchell, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon, or even Astrid Amara (the new Elle Parker), and some others I have forgotten. I don;t mind reading short novels or novellas or whatever, but I get agitated when I start reading a story and can’t get through because of the writing. The m/m genre is so new, I think quality is more important than quantity.

    Sorry for the tangent, but I really do think that sure, audience is important, but in the grand scheme of all things related to fiction, a well-written story is more important than anything else – the rest can and will come later because fiction is fluid.

    Reply
  • A final word about the site — Wave, this is the first place I come when I’m trying to find out something about a book or an m/m author. This is now a major reference source in our genre.

    Reply
    • Josh

      Wave, this is the first place I come when I’m trying to find out something about a book or an m/m author.

      Wow, what a huge compliment. This makes all the work worthwhile. Thank you so much.

      Reply
  • I tried to answer this before but my post seems to have been eaten.

    Anyway, I mis-wrote this and never had a chance to fix it.

    In order for m/m to be anything more than a kinky sub-genre of ROMANCE fiction, we need to have a broader and more representative readership.

    That’s what I get for posting in a hurry.

    All romance fiction has an element of fantasy. Whether your fantasy is hardboiled, gritty porn or soft and sweet euphemisms, it’s all fantasy. It’s all idealized — yes, even the ugly, violent stuff — and romanticized. Fiction is not — cannot — be real life. It is merely symbolic. It is merely representational — and what it represents is a picture skewed by the eye viewing it.

    More women read fiction than do men, and more women read romance fiction than do men. So very naturally women are going to shape the genre — meaning that if you want to sell well in this genre, you have to at least be somewhat aware of what the readership finds appealing. At the same time understanding that you’re NOT going to appeal to everyone.

    You really can’t criticize — well, I don’t think you *should* anyway — what other people find sexy or romantic or a turn-on unless it actively does another harm. And I don’t mean some vague philosophical harm, I mean…child porn or rape or beastiality with an unconsenting animal. Other than the obvious things, I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to judge what turns someone else on.

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  • Great interview 🙂
    I have a great admiration for reviewers, because I know I just can’t do it (Themes in Lit was HELL for me, even though I love reading). I just forget most of what I read. I remember some things, but re-reading a book always makes me go “huh, I can’t remember reading that.” at some point. Of course, that’s what makes re-reading fun for me as well.
    So, my hat off for all reviewers out there 🙂

    But what really hooks me, is that his writing is so beautiful, his characters so very real and flawed like the rest of us

    I agree. There is something about his prose that is so compelling. I was hooked from the first story of his that I read, which was “Snowball in Hell” … I think

    Reply
    • Hi Cayendi – With my middle aged brain I have to take notes along the way as I read a book that I’m reviewing. Otherwise I’d be just like you and not remember a thing! LOL

      Yes, I agree, Josh’s prose is so compelling. He had me at “Cops before breakfast” (The opening line for “Fatal Shadows”). I remember reading that first line and then not being able to put the book down. Love that man’s work!

      Reply
  • Great interview Wave!…..loved getting to know you better Tj. I guess there are some advantages to being SO VERY late reading this post…learned lotsa things from everyone *snort* It is obvious after reading some of your reviews Tj, that you enjoy m/m for many of the same reasons I do. I enjoy your wit and way with words and look forward to each review…usually knowing I will be adding your recs to my ever-growing-Wave-created TBB list! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

    It makes me stupid-happy (small-town girlie that I am) that I can “meet” people that share my love of m/m romance. I haven’t been reading this genre as long as many of you that post here, but I have become ensconced in this world and these authors and I enjoy knowing that there are others out there that feel the same way.
    As for the KMM series?….great books, she is among the very few authors that write m/f that I even read anymore since discovering m/m.

    Reply
    • Hi Elaine – It’s nice to hear that you enjoy my reviews. Thank you for that. As to the interview and comments – as I said it seemed like a fun idea, a simple question and answer. I’m not quite sure when it ran off the tracks though! 🙂 But I’m glad you enjoyed all the zaniness.

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  • I’m flippin’ stuck on jury duty or I’d have responded to this sooner. And guess what? Wave’s site is NOT approved by the California legal system!! It’s all those purty pichures, Wave.

    Thank you, TJ, for those kind (and generous) mentions. And I forgive you for turning from a beloved reader into a reviewer. ;-D

    One observation I have is that the harshest judges of masculinity, of what a guy would or wouldn’t do, are ironically straight women.

    It’s straight women who typically challenge whether a male character is masculine enough — whether he’s behaving believably like “a man.” So writing for straight women — who do still comprise the majority of m/m readership — is a very different proposition from writing for the gay market.

    Gay readers have no problem with femme men or flamboyant queen protags. There was a recent discussion of this over on a list I belong to, but I disagreed with most of the conclusions drawn (no suprise, eh?).

    It’s the straight female reader who is largely shaping the profile of m/m romance fiction. I don’t say that it’s a negative or a positive, just that it’s a healthy and necessary thing for the genre that readers like TJ are growing in numbers.

    In order for m/m to be anything more than a kinky sub-genre of gay fiction, we need to have a broader and more representative readership.

    Which I guess is my way of saying TJ is my ideal reader.

    Reply
    • Josh

      Gay readers have no problem with femme men or flamboyant queen protags.

      It’s the straight female reader who is largely shaping the profile of m/m romance fiction. I don’t say that it’s a negative or a positive, just that it’s a healthy and necessary thing for the genre that readers like TJ are growing in numbers.

      It’s funny you should say that straight women are shaping what gay men look, talk, act and sound like in M/M romances. That’s so WRONG! As I said to Cole, if it wasn’t obvious that many het authors are just dusting off their het plots, changing the names and sex of the protagonists and passing them off as gay men in M/M books this would probably not be as big an issue. So women are compounding the problem on both sides – writing and as a consumer.

      Fem men exist and if they are going to be portrayed in M/M romances they should be written in a way that shows them as genuine people not caricatures, which is what happens in many books. Victor has written some fem characters in his books who are not women pretending to be gay men. Maybe a few authors need to take lessons from him. As I also said to Cole it takes a lot of writing skill to portray intelligent feminine men in M/M romances without going over the line – writers have to be careful not to write them as women – there has to be a balance between the genuine article and the characters that we have been getting in many books.

      Whether or not women comprise the bulk of buyers for these books should not change the basic profile of what a gay man looks, acts, talks and sounds like in romantic or other situations. I have many gay friends who laugh at the characterizations in some of these books and say that they would never happen in RL. My point is that fem men are not women.

      BTW are you on jury duty for a murder case? lol

      Which I guess is my way of saying TJ is my ideal reader.

      You used to call me your ideal reader – how quickly you changed your tune when a hot man is dangled in front of your face. 🙂

      Reply
      • “In order for m/m to be anything more than a kinky sub-genre of gay fiction, we need to have a broader and more representative readership.”

        I just think it’s kind of funny that we have this idea that the male readers of m/m want a “one-handed read” and that those books are written by male authors. I admit that sometimes that is what I want to read and what I started out reading on sites like Nifty. But, I always wanted to be wooed reading these stories and was almost always disappointed. Enter reviewsbyjessewave and I found that mostly the books I was reading and loving were written by women under male pseudonyms. So maybe I’m not a typical male reader, but oh well.

        I wanted to say, also, how cool it is that sites like yours Wave, allow readers and authors contact, which is a great thing for the future of the genre.

        Reply
        • Hi Cole

          I just think it’s kind of funny that we have this idea that the male readers of m/m want a “one-handed read” and that those books are written by male authors

          I hate to burst your bubble but that’s exactly the impression given by author William Maltese who wrote a blog post exactly a year ago. Here’s the link –

          http://www.gaybook.reviews/?p=11238

          Obviously that view is not shared by most of us but William does have his followers as well as detractors. 🙂

          I wanted to say, also, how cool it is that sites like yours Wave, allow readers and authors contact, which is a great thing for the future of the genre.

          Thank you for the compliment.

          One of my objectives when I set up the site was to create a forum for both readers and writers to discuss issues in a non confrontational manner and exchange views in an atmosphere of mutual respect. So far no one has been killed although there have been a few knock down love-ins between TJ, Buda and Ethan. 🙂

          Reply
          • “I hate to burst your bubble but that’s exactly the impression given by author William Maltese who wrote a blog post exactly a year ago.”

            Well, that’s kind of what I was thinking about, although I have seen that thought expressed here and there as well. I’m glad then that there are those who disagree as I do. I know there are lots of women who love a good sex romp 🙂

            Reply
        • For such a relatively small sub-genre, I think it’s fascinating to see how widely tastes vary here. When you see how many writers are selling books — and how very different those writers are from each other, it’s really amazing.

          I sell pretty well, I admit that — and yet some of the other bestsellers are probably my complete and utter opposite — so there’s clearly room for variety and originality.

          AND this genre has both.

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      • I’m sorry for shifting the focus of Tj’s interview, but, I read through Josh’s and your comments and I was amazed. Women really contact authors or publishers or whomever to complain that a gay character is not masculine enough? My first thought was, don’t these women have friends or relatives or even acquaintances who are gay? Sexual orientation and behavior comes in many different variations for all people. It really bothers me that there is a faction that attempts to drive out the realistic behavior and characterization of gay men in stories in order to satisfy a need for big, lusty guys(or whatever.)

        I agree with Cole. I really rely on this site and its reviews to guide me in my book and author choices. I prefer the characters behaving the way real world characters would, even if its a fantasy world.

        Reply
        • Patty, in all fairness I’ve read about male editors rejecting male authors because they suspected the author was female given the sweet and romantic nature of the work.

          We all have our biases. Preconceived notions aren’t restricted to any one group. And when it comes to our concepts of masculinity and femininity — I don’t think you could ask for a more touchy subject.

          Reply
        • And one other thought on this before I get back to work. Some of this isn’t conscious or deliberate — just as the writing of these characters isn’t conscious or deliberate.

          There are just a lot of weak writers — male and female — around who aren’t very good at characterization. It’s not that they deliberately write caricatures, it’s that they don’t know how to NOT write them.

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          • Josh

            There are just a lot of weak writers — male and female — around who aren’t very good at characterization. It’s not that they deliberately write caricatures, it’s that they don’t know how to NOT write them.

            One of the principal reasons I read fiction, regardless of genre, is for the characters. I have mentioned many times in reviews of your books how much I enjoy your characters. IMO a writer is, above all, someone who knows how to craft characters with whom readers can fall in love or hate. If a fiction writer can’t engage the readers by his/her characterizations then he/she should not call himself/herself an author.

            Characterization is the one area that I’m most critical about in my reviews of M/M romances – if I don’t “love” the characters, in most cases I can’t love the book.

            Science fiction, murder mysteries, fantasy etc. mostly rely on intricate plots, and I admire the work that goes into the world building, but I consider the characters equally important in books with these themes.

            Reply
      • BTW are you on jury duty for a murder case? lol

        Robbery and assault — and I’m free now!

        Which I guess is my way of saying TJ is my ideal reader.

        You used to call me your ideal reader – how quickly you changed your tune when a hot man is dangled in front of your face.

        You’re my OTHER ideal reader. ;-D

        Reply
    • Aww Josh. Sorry you’re being held against your will. 😉 I actually had jury duty a few years back and had a pretty good time as all the people on the jury were as nutty as me. And that’s saying a lot! But we laughed all day, and got in trouble a few times for being too loud in the jury room. Oopsy.

      Wow, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that since women are the majority of m/m readers, they have a lot of power – what they buy will influence what will be written or published. You’re amazing – you always can cut right to the heart of an issue.

      And you’re right Josh (no surprise there) – for me at least, I don’t have an issue with more femme or flamboyant characters in my books. That is as long as they are well drawn and interesting.

      “Which I guess is my way of saying TJ is my ideal reader.”
      Well I may not be your ideal, but Lord knows I’m one of your most loyal readers. And all compliments sent your way are well deserved Mr L.

      Reply
    • I think you make some important points Josh. While I’m not anything close to being any sort of an expert it does seem to me that the genre sometimes suffers from trying to fit the gay into the romance genre as opposed to taking the romance genre and tweaking it to fit the protagonists. That’s likely an oversimplification of things. And this isn’t a sly bash at female authors either. I think it’s every bit as ludicrous to say that a woman can’t write gay fiction as it is to say a gay actor can’t play a straight role. What an author has between their legs has zero to do with their ability to write a good book.

      Reply
      • Good writing has nothing to do with gender. End of story.

        Some of the best m/m writing I’ve seen is by women. And in fan fiction, no less!

        But I agree, Ethan, that m/m is not always going to be an entirely comfortable fit in the romance genre. Not least becasue the vast majority of romance readers will never even take a peek at it.

        Reply
    • I can’t believe I still feel defensive whenever straight women are mentioned in relation to m/m romance. It only makes it more obvious why my gay male friends call me a gay man trapped in a woman’s body; I don’t identify with those straight women at all.
      Yes, one hand reads come in handy from time to time (not just the m/m kind), but that’s not why I read m/m romance at all. I’m a sucker for romance and I love the uphill, against all odds, battle to find the love of their lives and make their relationship work.
      I don’t need book after book filled with masculine men. I like diversity and I like some reality to go with my romantic image. So no problem with femme men or flamboyant queen protags (and why does that make me think of one of my best friends telling me that he doesn’t mince while he’s mincing about? *rolls eyes*)
      Of course, as goes for all writing, it only works as long as it’s written well 🙂

      Reply
      • Cayendi, I’m honestly tired of that debate. Deadly tired of it.

        It’s more about the realities of selling to any fiction market. If you’re trying to sell a cozy mystery to a mainstream publisher, you avoid certain things. Same deal with pitching a book to a particular romance line.

        M/M is a sub-genre of romance and to do well in it, you have to be vaguely aware of who the audience is (without making the mistake of thinking that this would be one person with easily defined tastes) and what that audience is looking for.

        Very often my readers like the same authors I do — and dislike the same kinds of stories I do. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

        The nice thing for m/m writers is that this is a relatively large and varied niche. You have a lot of really different authors doing quite well here. That’s a sign of a very healthy genre.

        Reply
  • Okay, because I seem to be late for EVERYTHING lately, it is fitting I’m a day behind here. Great interview TJ and Wave. I love these “For the Love of Books” posts and getting to know my fellow guest reviewers better.

    I LOVE David Sedaris and have had to read his stuff in a room by myself so I can laugh out loud til I cry. He also is a frequent speaker at the place I work that shall remain nameless, and he is as great in person as on the page.

    I keep trying to get Wave to up the travel budget so we can all meet up in person (here, so I can cook for the whole buncha yinz), but she has been such a Scrooge when it comes to doling out the cash. I can even arrange for a hot tub full of hot boyz since I am across the way from San Francisco. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lynn

      I keep trying to get Wave to up the travel budget so we can all meet up in person (here, so I can cook for the whole buncha yinz), but she has been such a Scrooge when it comes to doling out the cash.

      I have been trying to be a little more generous lately – did you receive the coupons to Amazon I sent you? lol Seriously, I’m trying to peddle the boyz in the hot tub to make some extra cash so that YOU can have your get together but I’m not getting many bidders. 🙂 Do you think it has anything to do with their looks? We’ll all be living off the avails of prostitution if this takes off.

      Reply
    • Thanks Lynn! You were missed yesterday. I’ve nit seen David Sedaris in person, but have heard him on the local public radio and he’s hysterical. The other drivers do give me weird polka as I’m laughing out loud in my car alone. 🙂
      We need to find that lost travel budget!

      Reply
      • Wait wait wait…

        Lynn, do you work in radio? Because TJ, I listen to the same radio show, I assume, as the one making you look like that disturbed man talking to himself at stoplights, and man is it the best ever. I never miss a show.

        Reply

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