For Love of Books Interview – TeddyPig

Today I’m pleased to put TeddyPig on the hot seat on the site. TeddyPig is almost a legend in the M/M subgenre because he is knowledgeable about Romance as a genre, its history, its protocols and most of all what are some of the issues.

TP is the owner of The Naughty Bits website where I visit as often as I can – it’s probably one of the few sites I check out regularly because I never know what his topic of the day will be. Say what you like about TP, he keeps us all on our toes. He holds our feet to the fire and kicks us when he thinks we need it, and even when we don’t. 🙂

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So TeddyPig what are some of the really cool things you like to do?

Huh? Cool things? I work constantly here. Here being on the internet. This is not a vacation it’s a job I tell you. Anyway, that is why I am always around it’s just another day at the office you could say.

What’s a tough guy like you doing reading romance books? 

I have always read Romance. It started one summer when I was very young and I was desperately bored and ran into a box of early Harlequins with all the nurse stories and all those pink cover Barbara Cartland books, so this would be back in the early 70s.

I then graduated to those wonderful mantitty covers of the 80’s. Johanna Lindsey was one of my favourites. Gentle Rogue and Heart Of A Warrior and oh god, if it had a studly guy on the cover I was so there.

Gay Romance now excites me only because I have that old school Straight Romance background.

Other than romances and books about BDSM, what other genres do you like to read?

See below answer

 Who are some of your favourite authors?

 Oh the usual suspects… I tend towards really strong character writers like Josh Lanyon, J.L. Langley or really good short story writers like J.M. Snyder and old proto-Gay Romance authors like John Preston or Victor J. Banis.

 When you were growing up which authors did you like to read?

Well a long time ago in a galaxy far far away there were these women see who wrote these Sci-Fi/Fantasy books under masculine sounding names like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton who were my heroes because I found out they did that because they were looked down on in the genre they had chosen to write in. I like the rebels. Then I fell in love with early hard boiled cyberpunk creators like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson but then quickly got bored with where it ended up going because popular trends tend to end up like that. What starts with rebellion can sometimes wind up in parody if you get my drift.

 Sometime ago you listed your Top Five M/M romances on this site which were: The Catch Trap; The Front Runner; Mr. Benson; Brokeback Mountain; and The Tin Star. You said at the time:

As a gay man who has been around this planet for a while I faced very real bigots and very real homophobia and very real deaths caused by such thinking. In my opinion trying to separate M/M Romance from any other form of Gay Literature or Gay Romance based solely on the “perceived notion” of a writer’s or reader’s gender or a writer’s or reader’s sexuality is playing into yet another form of bigotry and prejudice that I will never respect and personally do not feel has any place in our community. Teddypig says “Gay Ghetto Thinking” is for losers who need to stop reading and flapping their lips and get out of their mother’s basement and see the real world… news at eleven.

Do you think the debate over who should be writing/reading M/M romance will die down soon, or is the divide too wide?

No, I think where ever there is “potential money to be made” in any genre of writing there are writers willing to “cry wolf” or “finger point” and do whatever they feel they have to in order to promote their books as being “really gay” or “more authentic” simply based on the back stabbing drama they stir up to get as much attention as possible.

Despite the fact writing is the great equalizer and a good book that catches the public’s imagination has nothing to do with your education or who or what you are behind that computer screen, and none of these fools seem to have a clue what “Romance” is and have never written “Gay Romance” or would know how to if they ever attempted such a thing.

Playing such cards as “authenticity” and “homophobic” in regards to women writers who write Gay Romance and are obviously SO NOT THAT WAY is a really sleazy way to generate controversy while being the unsellable “gay fiction writer” snobs that these ignorant fools usually turn out to be.

Let’s face some simple facts about who is making these accusations and their current dilemma. Gay Fiction as a genre is in the garbage heap quality-wise and sales-wise at the moment because of the work of such infamously narrow minded self serving clueless organizations as Lambda Literary. What is really hilarious is if you take a hard look at Lambda Literary who chose a president based strictly on the fact he was related to that religious nutjob Ann Rice! WTF was that all about? They might want to look smart but their actions as a group tell an entirely different story.

That speaks volumes to me of their consistent attempts of kissing whatever ass they can grab to try and stay relevant and promoting only books written only by “the right people” while reserving the term Gay Lit for the anointed few they designate but honestly the whole thing is falling apart because it only works with the idiots that still listen to them or can get taken in by their schtick.

They also have pretty much ignored such pioneers as Victor J. Banis for years, preferring to promote young “academic visionaries” and the like who SURPRISE! failed to sell anything or make anything of themselves and they tend to completely miss any of the current trends. They strike me as just a sad comedy routine now listening to their explanations they have tried to come up with for their actions.

What is even more pathetic is I have at least made some small attempts to get people to go buy books at their local Gay Bookstores like A Different Light who are unfortunately closing their doors.

Lambda Literary has as far as I have seen over the years done one thing consistently this whole time on their website… Promote “themselves” and their fucking useless “award”… to the exclusion of the very community and local independent gay bookstores they supposedly were there to serve. I just wish they would go away.

Here’s a really important question (at least I think it is ) 🙂 that few can answer as eloquently as you:  How has the M/M ‘landscape’ changed over the past 5 years, and is this change for the better or worse? 

Gay Romance has changed quickly along with all of publishing as I expected it would. Anyone can throw together a website and pay a good graphic artist to create nice Photoshop covers and sell ebooks out of their spare bedroom. It does not take that much effort and you can see all that happening quickly especially in Gay Romance. There are at least 10 ePublishers I can name right off the top of my head who crank out Gay Romance week after week. There are maybe 6 or 7 Top Romance ePublishers all together that I know I can depend on to try and NOT sell me unedited, mislabelled, and thoroughly unreadable garbage. That is just the state of our genre at the moment. Too many people think it’s just a matter of pushing a few buttons and a quality product will pop out.

I do not blame writers for all that by the way but I do watch and wait and see if after some success they get serious about where they get published at and eventually catch on and migrate to a “real” ePublisher with “real” Romance editors and “real” Romance authors to converse with, or if they simply refuse and stay in that one step above “fan fiction” junk heap they started at and crank out half assed eBook after half assed eBook. If they do that then I simply move on.

What do you think epublishers are doing right and what are they doing wrong? Do you think that M/M romance can only keep going through the ceiling on a straight trajectory or is there a point when it will be on a downward curve, and what do you think would be the cause if the latter happens?

Hire and keep “real” Romance editors that do their jobs and KNOW WHAT “ROMANCE” IS! OMG and I am not excluding the Top ePubs here. For example, take Scarlett Parrish ~ By The Book. It was plainly bisexual erotica. NOT ROMANCE! In fact the man and woman proceed to breakup over the whole gay sexual exploration by the main character and that takes up most of the book. Breaking up a couple and writing about it in such detail is so so so NOT ROMANCE!

I really wish people would stop trying to make Gay Romance into this “other” thing that has no relation to Romance as a genre because that is called Gay Fiction and if you really want to fail in life writing that genre right now then go ahead. Leave Romance and by extension Gay Romance what it is and what it means to us readers with it’s required HEA and all those rules we expect the writer to know and follow.

What types of protagonists do you like? Tough guys such as cowboys and cops? Or maybe the sensitive beta like one famous amateur detective? A tough Dom? What can the authors serve up for TeddyPig’s pleasure?

Good strong character writing tends to be the best bet to keep things interesting. Let’s face it I wish all writers could be great right off the bat but that is not going to happen. So I just wish more writers would stay away from the typical over used gotchas… “Gay For You” or “Insta-Gay To Straight” plots usually filled with lots and lots of senseless feminine based emotional angst with actions that speak more to what a Romance Heroine would do, not what a typical Hero would do, in such circumstances. It’s that whole “chicks with dicks” accusation and it is real and it is a problem to me as a reader that probably means the writer needs to go back to writing Straight Romance characters not just whatever trend is currently selling right now.

Writers who do not understand that storylines that depend on some gay guy secretly lusting after the straight dude while being his friend for a long time are kind of insulting and play into a ton of homophobic fears about creepy predatory gay men.

Constantly pairing a hyper masculine guy to a wimpy effeminate guy which rides another stereotype where you are basically implying in the typical gay couple there has to be someone who plays the woman’s role and someone who plays the man’s role. I am pretty damn sure lesbians are probably tired of that crap too.

And why can we not have the old worldly wise and almost Jedi like drag queen characters anymore? You know, a hard edged overly made up ugly drag queen with a heart of gold and a cigarette hanging from her lip drinking a cocktail and telling the bar what it is all about. I miss that type of stereotype in this more gender aware world. What happened to all the fun Gay stereotypes? Can we have a few of those back and get rid of some of these insulting supposedly sexy ones?

I usually ask the regulars on the site to come up with questions and there are some very interesting ones that readers want you to answer:

Pam has a very serious question:

This is silly, but I want to know who drew that wonderfully spavined pig.

I found that pig on some old geocities website and had to have it.

Damon Suede, an author who has written books in other genres and has just published his very first m/m book, said this about you:

Actually I think the coolest thing he does is sort of act as a watchdog for the M/M community AS a community. He is always nudging publishers and authors and readers to ask why certain things have become the norm and encouraging folks to examine their preconceptions.

And again, even if they blow him off, he’s asking questions that don’t generally get raised. We’re such a small community and it seems sometimes there’s a frontier-era wildness at work.  I always feel like Teddypig has a touch of the outlaw that keeps us on our toes.

Damon wants to know: 

What three things do you think the M/M community should do to strengthen itself and take steps in its own evolution: Authors, publishers, readers, and/or designers… whoever you think needs to get cracking

Good Gay Romance writers are just not enough we need more capable Gay Romance editors in this genre.

1. Hire more ROMANCE editors!

2. Hire more ROMANCE editors!

And 3. Hire more fucking hard working god damned gay romance editors!

Rdafan7 has two questions

What changes (good & bad) have you seen in this industry over time; seems like m/m has become very popular just in the short time he’s been reading it. (not complaining!)

Also, is there an author you like but don’t feel that he/she has gained the popularity they deserve?

Actually I already answered one of those questions above.

Up and coming author I got my eye on who needs to find a Top ePub and by extension a good Romance Editor… Hmmm, currently that would be Kim Dare or my other favourite genre Ménage Romance and that would be Elizabeth Moore. See I read all kinds of Romance still to this day so I stay informed on what is going on overall.

 AB Gayle has a comment and a question

I’d like to ask what his favorite BDSM books are.

And thank him for steering me towards Dirk Vanden and his books and

David Stein’s Carried Away.

My first love in Leather Romance… John Preston ~ Mr. Benson

On your website The Leather Flog you give readers a guide to Excruciatingly Painful Basic Leather Protocol I’m linking the site so that anyone who wants to can read the post for him/herself. You talked about the protocol and how you came to be involved. Here’s part of what you said:

I was fortunate to find myself stationed in Washington DC in the early 1990’s by the Navy for oh about 6 years roughly. During that time I made friends with a large group of Leathermen most involved with the local Motorcycle Clubs, one club of which I became a member of by invitation and by way of that club was also involved in something called MAL or Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather and most importantly during this time I also became the bottom of a man named John, A Leatherman, who lived and breathed what I view to be Leather and it’s core values.

Are you still involved with the Leather community?

Not really I am now in Wilmington NC and there is no Leather Bars or clubs here. But I have an open invitation to any Centaur functions I want to go to and Washington DC is not that far away. Oh and I ran into Rocco on Facebook the other day. It was special to hear from him again. So I still see these guys I talk about, but remember we are getting old.

One of the reasons I love to visit your site is as I said earlier, is it’s like the Wild Wild West – I never know what the topic of the day will be. How do you find the time to come up with the varied subjects you write about? Do you spend your nights tracking down hot leads like the reporters did 40 years ago when they wore out their shoe leather? 🙂 Of course you will only wear out your typing finger.  Seriously, you must really love what you do. What’s the best part about owning a website that has the pulse of gay issues?

I never give away all my secrets. Well really, I probably am sick in the head and I am just typing away to relieve the stress. It’s better than kicking the cats. Hell, what else am I gonna do, it’s not like I can get away from going to the office every day since I gotta pay the mortgage you know.

When you’re not reading or playing with your various toys or posting about controversial topics on your website, the boyz in the hot tub want to know what you do for fun?

Cause chaos and discontent on Goodreads… hey it’s a hobby.

Thank you TeddyPig

Author

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

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