Writing

Why I Write What I Write

On Twitter a few weeks ago, I asked if anyone had anything they wanted me to blog about, and my friend Char was kind enough to toss out a whole list of potential topics that were really intriguing regarding my writing process, why I write certain things, how I write, etc., but the one that caught my eye first was “What draws you to M/M romance and what do you specifically find delightful in writing the male gaze from the male gaze?”

At first, I sort of stared at the prompt because I’m currently editing an f/f or sapphic romance, which will go out to my newsletter subscribers at the end of the month (which you can join by clicking here). My immediate answer is that I don’t write M/M romance so much as that I write queer romance. I think a lot of newer readers might assume I write M/M only because Kinship and Kindness and The Reanimator’s Heart, my last two releases are both M/M, but if you look at my previous series, The Ingenious Mechanical Devices, you’ll see that there’s an ace-allo M/F(but would be enby in 2023) couple, a gay couple, and a pan-bi M/F couple with various other queer side characters. And subsequent books in the Paranormal Romance series will have a lesbian F/enby couple as well.

It’s mildly annoying that M/M romance tends to get the most attention and sales, which on one hand I am grateful for, but I like to write about all sort of queer characters. Within the queer community, there are those (like myself) who will read about anyone and just enjoys queer couples in general. Other readers tend to be more insular and only read MM or FF, which is fine, but that really isn’t the audience I write for.

My choice of genre/romantic couples stems from my own gender and sexuality. I tend to just say I’m nonbinary and queer for simplicity’s sake, but if we’re getting more granular about it, I’m agender nonbinary (slightly masc leaning, slightly) asexual omniromantic. Aka, gender is *giant shrug* but basically Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night and my sexuality is that I like people of all sorts but don’t feel sexual attraction.

Because of my gender and sexuality, I am attracted to different genders and my identity in relation to those genders is complicated at times since we don’t really have commonly used words for nonbinary attraction to men or women or other enbies. Because I am slightly masculine leaning, M/M romance made sense in my head. Before I knew what being nonbinary was, I used to say I felt like a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. I felt queer, I felt like that feminine masculinity that I often saw with queer men (highly related to Nathan Lane in The Birdcage as a tween/teen because being a woman was a parody of who was I, but I couldn’t put that into words. Besides that, Anne Rice’s books, which were highly influential in my tween/teen years for realizing queer people even existed, were mostly M/M or focused on queer men. Gay men of the late 80s/early 90s were a major touchstone in figuring out my gender identity and that what I was feeling was queer attraction, so M/M tends to be the attraction I relate to most.

Complicating this was that I dealt with dysphoria, which made it difficult to write cis F/F romance. I often joked there are too many layers of Victorian Era clothing and that’s why I avoided F/F romance, but no, it was that trying made my dysphoria kick up horrifically. For a long time, I had a very hard time reading or writing cis F/F romance, but once I realized I was nonbinary, that lessened greatly. It was strange, but somehow realizing I wasn’t a woman despite the body I came prepackaged in gave me distance enough that I could enjoy those books without my brain rebelling. This is why I’ve actually been able to think more about Ruth’s book (Tempests and Temptation) and write Flowers and Flourishing (though one MC is a trans woman).

Sexuality and gender are complicated, writing is complicated, and dysphoria bleeds into the creative side of your work whether you like it or not. For a while, I was ashamed that I couldn’t write F/F romance. I wanted to, and I am attracted to women. I couldn’t understand the mental block, but once it fell away, it was like, “Oh, yeah, that revelation seemed to clear a lot up.”

The crux of this long digression is that I don’t write for the M/M gaze. I write for the queer gaze because I write queer characters of all genders and sexualities. If you’re looking for exclusively M/M content, that certainly isn’t me, but if you want series with trans characters, nonbinary characters, gay/lesbian characters, asexual characters, and bi/pan characters who get happy endings, then I’m the writer for you.


As a side note, Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive course is going to be running soon. This 6 week class is what helped me restart my career last year, and it was certainly worth the money. If you’re new to indie publishing or want to get back into the swing of it by refreshing your knowledge on best practices or marketing, I would take a look. I wrote out 40+ pages of notes when I took it, and now that she has expanded it, I will be taking it again since I have lifetime access to the course. She also has payment plans set up if you want to join but can’t pay in full upfront. If you use this link to sign-up, I get a commission as a former student.

If you would like to know more or have questions about the course, I would be happy to answer them!

Book Reviews

Reading Rec: Band Sinister

Band Sinister by K. J. Charles is a delightful Regency rom-com complete with a motley crew and a touch of the Gothic. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

band sinister

Guy and Amanda Frisby are no stranger to scandal. With a run-away mother and a father who drank himself to death in the aftermath, they have desperately tried to keep their heads down and live a decent life. But that’s quite hard living next door to the Sir Philip Rookwood’s Murder, a hellfire club spoken about in whispers by the locals and attended by notorious libertines. When Amanda goes for ride and breaks her leg on Rookwood land, she ends up nursed back to health in Sir Philip’s estate. Guy fears for his sister’s health and reputation but soon finds the Murder is not what it seems. And the biggest surprise of all is how Sir Philip changes his views on life and love.

I was beyond thrilled to receive an ARC of Band Sinister, especially since Ms. Charles promised a rom-com with a body count of zero. If you’ve read her work, you know how remarkable that is, and better yet, it delivers.

The central romance between Guy and Sir Philip is a slow burn that moves in steps until Guy is comfortable enough with his identity and Sir Philip. Guy is a virgin hero, which is a breath of fresh air in a genre where most characters somehow manage to be exceedingly well-versed in sex. Sir Philip, while seen as a rake by society due to his half-brother’s behavior and his own cultivation of his reputation, is far from that. He is patient, kind, and treats consent as a key aspect of any relationship. There’s a lot of talk in Romancelandia lately regarding consent in romance novels and whether it ruins the aesthetic or slows down the romance. Personally, I think it’s needed. The characters show their ability to grow and communicate and no side is taken advantage of in the process.

Besides the romance, the cast of characters is phenomenal and begs the question, will there be more books in this series? Apart from the Frisbys and Sir Philip, we have two rogues from Philip’s childhood, a musician and composer, a cosmopolitan doctor ahead of his time, and two paleontologists, who I am incredibly intrigued by. Each character is unique and hints at what could potentially be a story of their own (possibly set before this volume takes place).

Band Sinister has a bit for everyone: a hint of the Gothic, a charming romance, handsome rogues, a plucky woman, and a cast of bright intellectuals and rogues.

Band Sinister comes out tomorrow, so grab a copy on Amazon.