I am travelling into the romance writing genre, which, most likely will drive me into the publishing of a book/essay/manual where some tips on correctly and real romance and sentimental writing are given. My journey went over the gay-romance frontiers, and I’ve asked some questions about this writing genre to one of the most successful MM/LGBT writers of the moment, Ms. Marie Sexton.
5.14 – a love story booktrailer
Marie Sexton (who also writes as A.M. Sexton) lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
First novel was Promises, published in January 2010
Nearly thirty published works since then.
Several Rainbow Awards:
- Strawberries for Dessert, 2010, 2nd Place Best Contemporary Gay Romance, 3rd Place, Best Character Development
- Blind Space, 2012 1st Place Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Honorable Mention Best Gay Novel
- Song of Oestend) 2011 1st Place Best Gay Fantasy, 1st Place Best Character Development, Honorable Mention Best Gay Novel
- Second Hand, Runner-Up 2012
- Family Man, Finalist
- Never a Hero, Honorable Mention 2013
2012 Award of Excellence from CRW for Contemporary Romance (Between Sinners and Saints)
Finalist for 2012 CRW Award of Excellence for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Song of Oestend)
The Romance Reviews Best Book of 2012 in GLBT – Romantic Science Fiction / Futuristic (Blind Space)
Why romance writing and specifically gay romance writing? How this interest came and determination to write it arrived?
I used to read only fantasy and thrillers. Back in about 2007, I read Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. At the end of the second book, the two main characters (two men) become a couple, and I was intrigued and absolutely amazed. I started searching Amazon for other fantasy novels with gay characters. From there, I sort of stumbled into gay romance, and I was immediately hooked. Then sometime in 2009, I came up with a story idea of my own. That idea turned into my first novel, Promises.
Why gay romance (LGBT/MM) and not another writing literary genre (mainstream)?
For whatever reason, every story idea I’ve ever had has involved two men falling in love.
Romance writing is the publishing genre that sells the most but at the same time the one that rises the biggest prejudiced opinions. Why do you think that happens?
Partly I think it’s because romance has happy endings, and I think (in America, at least) a lot of people still subscribe to the Puritan idea that work and suffering are good, and pleasure is bad. Reading something just because it makes you happy is considered folly. But I also think the prejudice against romance is largely because the genre has traditionally been written by women, for women. And in America at least, anything women enjoy tends to be mocked and marginalized.
What are the MM/LGBT writers you think the most important at the moment? Do you have someone you get inspired by?
Honestly, I’ve learned to just keep my head down and keep writing. I’m not very aware of who’s publishing what these days, or of who’s making waves and who isn’t.
How do you get the ideas for depicting characters and backgrounds to set your novels
I don’t really know. A lot of times it feels like these men sort of sneak into my brain and slowly take up residence. Usually it all starts with one little scene and builds from there. With Promises, it started with two men in a hallway. With A to Z, it started with Angelo walking into a video store and being appalled by the lack of organization. Release started with a whore and a sex slave trying to find a few moments together without their master knowing. Oestend started with an artist and a cowboy standing by a barbwire fence. And from there, I start exploring the possible ways they got there. A lot of times, the first scene I write is in the center of the book, and then I work both backward and forward from there.
Which rules should a MM/LGBT writer follow to write a good gay-romance novel?
I think the most important thing is just to make your characters as real as you can.
Rules are made to be broken: do you agree? Is it possible to transgress rules of romance writing also in a gay-romance field?
I do like to break the rules on occasion, but as an author, I have to be ready for some backlash. My couple Zach and Angelo are a good example. They’re madly in love, but they choose not to be entirely monogamous. Occasionally I’ll meet a reader who is absolutely venomous about it, but that’s how it goes. Zach and Angelo have no desire whatsoever to follow somebody else’s rules, and I have to be true to that. J
Where the MM/LGBT novel is going to go, to your opinion?
I think it will keep gaining in popularity, but I don’t know if it’ll ever be as accepted as mainstream romance. I doubt I’ll ever walk into my local grocery store and see one of my books on the shelf. (But I would LOVE to be proven wrong about that!)
How do you explain this huge success for MM/LGBT novels especially among heterosexual female readers?
I think a lot of women are anxious to explore what love can look like outside of the confines of traditional male/female roles. A lot of women (in America, at least – I can’t speak for the rest of the world) were beaten over the head with the Madonna/Whore dichotomy as we grew up and we’re starting to realize what bullshit it is. And that’s something you can’t escape by reading traditional heterosexual romance novels. You’re still being smacked in the face with the accepted (and unaccepted) roles of women in relation to men. I think reading gay romance gives us a safe way to explore love and sexuality away from the bonds of our own lives.
What do you think a MM/LGBT reader searches for in a gay-romance novel?
I think readers want characters they can relate to, situations they can empathize with, and a nice, happy ending so they can smile when it’s all over.
Thank you Ms Sexton for this interesting interview,