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JAN 16: What's it all about...?!

Today my visitor is jenre, avid reader, most excellent blogger and reviewer of fiction, especially m/m. She's fun and witty and has a perceptive, amusing, encouraging view of life - and our beloved fiction, of course!

Why I Love to Read m/m Romance

About a year ago I discovered m/m romance fiction and from practically the first book I’ve been hooked. What is it, though, about this small (or is that select) genre that has made me all but abandon my once-beloved het historicals and read, almost exclusively, m/m romance?

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I like lists...so here we go!

Here are Jen's great reasons...

1. The Men

It’s always about the men for me, even in het romance. I find it difficult to identify with heroines in romance novels as they are often nothing like me in physical form or personality and I find that I am rather unforgiving of their faults and impatient with them. The men... well, I’ve spent many hours swooning over some of my favourite Historical Romance Heroes. In m/m romance you get two yummy heroes for the price of one – what could be better?!

2. The Sex
After reading many, many het romances where the sex was such a big deal, it was refreshing to read a genre where sex was a natural part of the relationship. In m/m there’s no hang ups; no thoughts of ‘will he respect me in the morning?’; no virgin/whore preconceptions. The men meet, have an attraction and act upon it. At first the men may not even want to make a serious commitment to each other, which would certainly have had to be the case in a lot of het romance and certainly in Historicals. The fun of m/m is watching the men turn what could be just casual sex into something more.

3. The Different Plot Ideas

I’ve really enjoyed all the different plot themes that I’ve encountered in m/m romance. Plots such as: ‘Gay for You’ – not everyone’s cup of tea but my guilty pleasure; ‘Cute Young Things’; ‘The Closeted Gay’; YAOI and dealing with homophobia or prejudice. They were like a breath of fresh air to my jaded palette.

4. The Community

M/m is a very small genre. Because of this, the community of authors and readers who write and enjoy m/m is also very small. I’ve loved reading the blog posts of many authors and readers of m/m, enjoyed commenting on their blogs and sharing in their discussions, frustrations and (sometimes) moans. I’ve ‘met’ with many, many friendly people and I’m always heartened to see how supportive many authors are of each other and the reader blogs who comment and review their writing. Of course, there’s the odd disagreement and the occasional ding-dong, but generally everyone works together to give us a real sense of community on the internet and I like being part of that.

Jen says :
So there you have it: My reasons why I love m/m.
What about you? What got you hooked on reading m/m?
Or if you are an author, what made you want to write in this genre?

Please let us all know! ♥


Follow this month with Clare (yes, it's all about the MEEEE...):

Week 3 :Coming soon!?! jenre, badmomma64, emily83176, Josh Lanyon, sharona1x2, merith - and some more FREE FICTION!

Jan 09 : ravensilver describes the creativity of independent manga publishing - and the challenges...
Jan 10 : kitzheng talks about Kink...
Jan 11 : chrissy munder shares the struggles of writing, NC17 penguins and mantyhose...
Jan 12 : 1more_sickpuppy bares her soul about confessing her love for m/m fiction...
Jan 13 : erastes talks about taking that leap from fanfiction to the 'original' world...
Jan 14 : meet my Muse, the 'man' who has way too much power in my writing house...
Jan 15 : Sloane Taylor heats up those chill new year nights...

Jan 01 : the Cheeky Cherubs welcome us to 2009 with a pithy verse or two and the threat of piercings...
Jan 02 : sweet, sexy fiction from lilzazu, all about the perennially tricky problem of a sticky shift...
Jan 03 : excellent editing tips for all authors who ever wondered whether to be cruel to be kind to their prose, hosted by jolilightner...
Jan 04 : Clare pimps the fabulous I DO anthology, now available in ebook and all proceeds to Lambda...
Jan 05 : abstractrx ponders the changing role of Romance and its reflection of - or on?! - the society around it...
Jan 06 : FREE FICTION from me and my friends!
Jan 07 : Jordan Castillo Price discusses what tempts us to try out a new author...
Jan 08 : Clare rambles on about perceived plagiarism and posts excerpts of her Torquere titles...

Want to grab a day to pimp, pose or pontificate? (just a couple left now...!)
Comment HERE!!


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for the lovely intro, Clare. You made me blush!
Jan. 16th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
One thing I love about m/m fiction is that while yes, we still worry about unprotected sex I don't miss the pregnancy dynamic in any of its various forms.

Especially this one:

In most m/m fiction I have read (not including published mpreg scifi/fantasy - a very rare animal) when you get to a HEA you don't have one of the partners immediately lose all the behavior characteristics that attracted the other in the first place, run screaming away from their career and settle at home to fufill themselves by having children.

Not that I'm saying any or all of that is a bad thing in either fiction or real life and I'm not delving back into the psychology behind Erica Jong and her zipless f*ck. But after years of reading this aspect taken to the extreme in other genres of romantic fiction it's a pleasure not to even have to think about it when I pick up a m/m story.

There are the other aspects of the pregnancy dynamic I won't get into but this one is a big button pusher for me and it's a relief not to have to put a m/m book down because the sudden descent into this stereotype has made my teeth hurt.
Jan. 16th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
I'd not really thought of that side of things Chrissy, but you are right many het romances do end with an epilogue or final chapter showing the heroine in wedded bliss as a housewife with rugrats. It perpetuates the idea that women are only 'playing' at having a career until the love of life comes along. This is not seen at all in m/m. Even if the men do decide to adopt, they still keep their career.
Jan. 16th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
I stumbled into the m/m genre little by little. For years I read nothing but m/f, and enjoyed it immensely. Then I accidentally stumbled upon a m/m/f scene (I think in one of Emma Holly's books).

I will admit this: I was shocked, appalled, uncomfortable, and aroused! Growing up in an extremely conservative household, I never would have gone seeking anything in the m/m genre, even in a menage form. In fact, reading m/f was my guilty little secret from my family. But there was no denying that despite my beliefs, I found the m/m/f scene extremely intriguing.

So I began to seek out m/m scenes in het romance. Not having internet access at the time, these scenes were few and far between. Only one publishing company seemed to carry books with that level of erotica, Ellora's Cave.

Naturally, when we finally joined the modern world and hooked up to the internet, one of the first things I did was look up Ellora's Cave. It wasn't long before I discovered all the epublishing companies that either specialized in m/m, or published it alongside their m/f selections.

At this point, after having read so much m/m, my whole belief system had changed. Before I thought homosexuality was wrong. Now I believe love in any form, including same sex, is beautiful and God-given.

I enjoy this genre for most of the reasons already listed. I love men, so seeing two men together appeals to me. That was my initial draw into the genre. What's kept me there is plot. It seems to me that m/m has so much more opportunity to explore conflict and resolution. There can be a lot of angst, and still a HEA as well.

It wasn't until after I was fully immersed in the genre that I realized how boring some heroines are. It never occurred to me while I was reading m/f. I also agree with Chrissymunder, women in het romance usually give up so much in the end, where men are seen as equals.

I could go on and on, but really, who wants me to? ;)
Jan. 16th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
What a thoughtful reply.

Like you, I come from a very conservative background, but having a male gay friend made me see that homosexuality is not wrong, just different - although I have many Christian friends who don't agree with me on that one.

You are right about the plots, after all if the plots were bad then no-one would read the books as there's only so much gay sex you can read without becoming a bit bored. Perhaps that is why m/m is more popular with women than gay porn novels. It's the plot and relationship we look for, not just the hot sex.
Jan. 16th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you two brought this discussion up ^_^.
I've read some blogs recently that have bemoaned the lack of quality in some m/m fiction, and also noted the fact that many people still see it as a sub-genre of erotica.
(hmmm... possibly on my own blog, too, actually...!)

My reply was that I think it's still a 'young' genre, and there's a place for quantity as well as quality, at least until it's more familiar and tolerated. But then, I maintain, the dross will start to fall away, the readers will get more discriminating, other sub/affiliated genres will appear to cater to the different themes, and the waters of m/mfiction will find their own levels. I'm hoping, anyway.

But dear god, yes, - it's the plots that we need and appreciate! Of course let's not be hypocritical, we love the hot sex too - but sex without plot gets boring, just as you say. Much like real life *blushes*.

Jan. 16th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
Like Clare said, this seems to be a theme lately, the whole plot vs. sex thing. I think there is, as already mentioned, such a range of interesting plots that can be explored in the M/M genre. I also think there are a lot of ingrained power issues that fall away when the partners are the same sex. It allows for a more interesting exploration of other aspects of the relationship. I have little use for some of the pitfalls of writing a heroine. I guess I just don't get girls in the same way I get boys. Odd, that...
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
I often don't get the girls too. They are either TSTL or held up as paragons of virture or made to be too good to be true. As a normal human woman, it is hard for me to identify with those sorts of women. I've always been the sort of woman who gets on better with men - I blame my rather practical nature! This is why I like reading m/m, I don't have to try to identify with a character so unlike myself.
Jan. 17th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
I think, and this is just what i think, mind, that with all the pressure put on women by society to be everything, and to do it all right, Good, strong, human female characters are hard to write. Normal, imperfect, sometimes failing women are hard for a reader to identify with. We want our fictional heroines to all that, and it just isn't possible. It's not a stereotype, so much as an unrealistic ideal we still have to overcome. We just don't know what we want our heroins to be any more. That makes them almost impossible to write.
Jan. 17th, 2009 10:06 am (UTC)
You are right, of course. Partly the trouble is that we women are very fickle. We want heroines with whom we can identify, but then complain when those heroines have failings!

Also, all women are different. I hate confrontation and see many strong, agressive heroines as arrogant and pushy, yet someone else who is more agressive than me would be able to identify with that sort of heroine.

In m/m romance I am not expected to identify with the hero, just to be able to empathise with him. That's the difference, I think.
Jan. 17th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
In m/m romance I am not expected to identify with the hero, just to be able to empathise with him. That's the difference, I think.

I wonder if our expectations of male behavioral patterns are just fewer and less complex. Not that men are less complex, by any means, just how we expect them to behave is less complex. This makes it easier to empathize, maybe? It just seems there's no good way to write a heroine that everyone is going to be happy with. As you say, the strong heroine is going to seem abrasive to some, and the accommodating heroine is going to seem a pushover to others. If we can find a happy and attainable balance in life, maybe our heroines will get easier to write.
Jan. 17th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Happy and attainable balance in life

Isn't this what we are all ultimately aiming for?! If only it were possible!
Jan. 16th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
You've done a great job of summing up the appeal, Jen. I agree with everything you've said. Love the men (natch!), the diversity of plots and relationships (all of which, I think, are both fascinating and have a legitimate claim to believability), and the overall talent, intelligence, and temperament of the people in the community (with surprisingly few exceptions).

I've been particularly impressed by the talent level. I said that at the beginning of my foray into this subgenre and can't say it enough. Some incredible authors here.

And, truly, Clare is one of the sweetest and most supportive writers I've ever encountered anywhere. (If a little bit of a sucking sound accompanies that compliment, it's because her "Muse"--in statuary form--is way cooler than mine, and I'm hoping to con her into a swap.)


Oh, my. I'm so very parenthetical today!
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
Some incredible authors here

I have to agree! The great thing about these authors is that they have a little room to experiment because they are not weighed down by the expectations of large publishing companies (although I don't expect many would mind being snapped up by a large publisher!). This leads to new, fresh plots and ideas, and sets them apart from some of the tired het formats.
Jan. 16th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
Hi Jen (look at me being all LJy)

I think I was introduced to m/m via Emma Holly too.:) I then discovered ebooks via Samhain saw that m/m was published along side m/f and the rest, as they say, is history.

In all seriousness though I think I was extraordinarily lucky discovering this genre via Samhain with it's stable of authors who produce high quality work. I could have easily had a not-so-good experience, which may have made me more hesitant about trying any more m/m books.

Why I like m/m? For all the reasons you mentioned... plus a couple more.

The equality of the m/m relationship is a big thing for me. I don't think I realised how frustrated and tired I was with m/f in traditional het romance until I started reading more m/m. I like how the heroes of m/m have a more balanced relationship, more give and take, more willingness to think beyond the traditional stereotypes, just more.

The other aspect I like about m/m is the fact that because it is new to me there are a whole heap of authors, sub-genres, themes/plots, etc just waiting to be discovered. As an avid reader, I'm absolutely loving it.
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
Hi Kris - welcome to the delights of LJ!

Yes, the equality is what appeals to me too. I hated all those old school romances where the hero took what he wanted by force and the heroine swooned at his manly show of strength. You can't do that in m/m - hooray!

I discovered 'Loose Id' and 'Dreamspinner Press' before Samhain, both of which contain quality m/m authors *cough* including Clare *cough*. Those three are my staple epubs for m/m at the moment although I have occasionally bought from Torque. I think once you've found a publisher which produces quality writing on a regular basis it gives you confidence to try writers that you may not have bothered with before out of fear that you may spend your money on something disappointing.
Jan. 17th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
oh this might be kind of funny. I write fanfiction only (at this point in time anyway), and it was something I posted...the second story I began I believe, that my readers left comments asking me to 'please make this yaoi!!!'. I was...14? 15? at that time and I didn't know what this 'yaoi' thing was and had to go hunt down some fics to 'research'. Trust me, the first lemon scene I read (um, age prohibition aside) left me rather...shocked. Prior to all of this I'd never really given any thought to two men being together. I understood the terms (gay, homosexuals...) but I didn't give it any further thought.

Of course, in fanfic there's a canon personality of the characters (canon or fanon actually) so given my love for those characters it wasn't difficult to see why and how they really could be together. A part of steering that story into the yaoi direction was to follow with 'demand', and then I really began to enjoy writing those characters together. And then I got flamed pretty badly and stopped writing altogether until June 2006.

I met Clare out of the fandom in which we both wrote fanfiction, and it was through her that I started reading m/m stories. Thus far, I admit I've only ever read her stuff, and a lot of that has to do with logistics. Like, I need a friend to purchase the ebook so it won't show on my credit card bills and alert the parental units I'm buying these books, or the fact I can't keep any physical copies around for the same reason. Of course, the fact that I met Clare from the fandom makes me...read her stories while pretending that sometimes the characters could be the ones we both wrote about...

But overall, this month with all of these posts and free fiction, and just by looking at various websites with free fiction, I've began to develop a love for the m/m genre. Hot sex aside (the writing and reading of which makes me embarressed and blush), I like the way the interactions are so different than what I see in my every day life. Like, no whiney girlfriends. More mutual understanding. I still like it when there are things like 'consequences in the morning' because I do prefer, when reading a longer story, to see two characters grow to share more than just sex. The whole bonding thing works different than a guy/girl, and that intrigues me. In fact, I think I find myself downright jealous of some of the characters that Clare writes about (or of the guys I write about, even if they aren't 'real').

What I do wonder about, is why I like reading parts where one character appreciates the attributes (physical or not) of another character. Is it because I'm a girl and I like guys and I can 'appreciate' what the first character sees? And then I can perhaps appreciate both of them and understand why they are both attracted to one another? I don't seem able to do that on the same level when reading a girl/guy romance...I mean, I can see why they would end up together but the internal feelings and understanding is somewhat...different.

Unfortunately, reading/writing this is still something I hide off of my Internet life, not so much I'm ashamed of it but I don't want to deal with the consequences or judgment and things like that...

Okay. Now I've ranted on and on. Sorry! ^_^;;
Jan. 17th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
I like rants! It shows you've engaged with the post which is very flattering - thank you :)

What I do wonder about, is why I like reading parts where one character appreciates the attributes (physical or not) of another character. Is it because I'm a girl and I like guys and I can 'appreciate' what the first character sees? And then I can perhaps appreciate both of them and understand why they are both attracted to one another?

I think you've hit the nail on the head, as it were, with this observation. In m/f romance we are supposed to in some way 'become' the heroine. This is why many het romances are written mainly from the position of the heroine. This causes me problems when the heroine is not like me at all. If we do get the hero's POV it's usually either to hear his thoughts or, if it's during a sex scene, it's a highly romantasised version of events. In m/m the appreciation of the hero's body by the other hero is less romantasised and more earthy or sexual. In a way it is how a woman would view an attractive man's body.

One reason I like the sex in m/m is that I can put myself partly in the position of one of the characters. I know what it is like to touch a man and I can identify with the hero doing the touching. The sex is also less passive than in m/f romance and I like that as well.

This has been rather a rambling reply, due to lack of morning caffeine, but I hope you get my meaning!
Jan. 18th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
I did get your meaning, thanks =) (btw, Doctor Who icon yay!)

Actually, all I said came to me as a sort of realization. It wasn't something I thought about until after I saw your post ^_^;; But yeah, I think I see exactly what you're saying.
Jan. 18th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
Why I Read M/M
I'm a newbie to M/M romance. As a gay man, I would read books by E Lynn Harris and I love the gay relationships. But as he got more popular (New York Times bestseller list), I found that he pretty much have stopped writing about gay relationships (which is odd because he is in fact a gay man) and the gay sex was pretty much nonexistent bc he didnt want to offend his readers which the majority are female. So imagine my surprise when I discovered this genre of fiction that concentrated on hot man love to my surprise was not only enjoyed by women but also the majority of authors were women! I was stunned to be honest not that women can write about gay men in a realistic manner (hello E. Annie Proulx wrote Brokeback Mountain-the greatest gay love story ever IMO) but I was surprised that women were getting excited about the sex! Who would have thought.

But then it dawn on me. Hello straight men can fantasize about two lesbians why would it be a stretch that women can enjoy 2 men having hot naked sex. If anything women are more openminded than men anyway.

I love M/M because of the stories, the fantasy, the hot erotic sex. I love the fact that I can now fantasize and relate to the characters in their romantic entanglements and angst..(oh the angst) I love discovering new authors (Clare, dont worry Im going to get to you..;-)) and I love learning more about the genre as to (hopefully) one day I can start writing my own M/M stories and putting them out in the world.

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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