“Love is a better teacher than duty.”–Albert Einstein
I’m a writer … well, of course, or I wouldn’t be here, right? And,
like a lot of writers, I write a all kinds of things: mysteries,
non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and quite a lot of
erotica. Surprisingly, what I write that gets a lion’s share of
attention is my queer stuff … both erotic and otherwise.
More than likely because I’m straight.
Now, I’m very straight about being heterosexual (giggle), and I pride
myself in that I always tell my publishers the truth of what I am –
which is hardly not a problem as they are the ones who are usually
commissioning my books – but there are still a remarkable number of
people who are more than a tad shocked that I like girls.
Which, to be honest, I consider a huge compliment. In addition, I’ve
also penned quite a bit of romance … which gets me to my point: many
people have asked me how I can write gay fiction so convincingly that
there’s far too often that shock about who I like to sleep with.
The answer, I’ve come to realize is actually very simple – and can be
very informative to writers of pretty much anything … especially
romance. To put it simply, I don’t think about writing gay
characters, or women, or African American characters, or older
characters, or anyone else for that matter: instead I write about
Yeah, I know, that’s an almost-ridiculously simple answer but it’s one
that not just worked for me but it also an error I see far too often
from other writers.
In addition to being a writer I’m also an anthology editor as well as
an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books – and with both hats I
see far too many writers focusing on the differences between the
characters they are writing about and their own lives: the result is
obviously clumsy — if not comically so in far too many cases. One
favorite example (the author of which shall remain nameless) had a
character actually thinking that they would “find her attractive if I
wasn’t a homosexual.” Aside from the awful writing … no one thinks
that way. This isn’t just a writing-gay thing: I see it all the time
in other genres as well.
In romance it appears as women writers who think that men are a
totally alien species, or male writers thinking that women are from
Venus, or older characters, younger characters, characters from
different countries, ears, and so forth are from … whatever planet a
writer thinks they all come from.
The fact is that even though there are some differences between us
all, human beings are human beings: our emotional landscapes are all
pretty much the same: no matter a person’s gender, age, race culture,
ad infinitum, we all feel frustration, excitement, fear, joy,
nervousness, dread, humor … the whole spectrum of human emotion.
Someone once said that artists have to bleed for their art. Alas,
I’ve found that all that does is mess up my keyboard … but I do
think there’s a bit of truth in that. When I write a character – no
matter who they are – I reach into my own mind and project as much of
my own emotional experience into what that character might be feeling
… the rest being just extraneous. Love is love, and that doesn’t
change — despite the character’s gender, age, race, culture or even
Emotion is the key to what connects a reader with a character: they
are drawn to, and emphasize with, a person who experiences emotions
the same way they do. Simplistic, sure, but its remarkable the number
of romance books I’ve read where the character is lost – and therefore
jarringly inhuman – because the author is far too obsessed with
dwelling on extraneous differences and not common bonds.
It’s our shared emotional landscape that can breathe life into a
character, make a story resonate, touch a reader deep down, and make a
book truly memorable. The differences, any details that separate us,
might be tempting to get lost in – and putting much of your own
poignant commonality can often be more than little uncomfortable if
not emotionally risky – but never forget that we are more alike than
As I said: love is love – and you know what that feels like: now all
you have to do is allow your characters to feel what you feel … so
your readers can feel it as well.
Find out more on M.Christian by visiting his Website