Thank you, Marie and Heidi, for inviting me to blog here again in celebration of the release of my latest Nightrunner fantasy novel, Casket of Souls. We’re giving away books at the end, so be sure to leave a comment! (ed. And your email address so we can contact you if you win. Evaine)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my books, the two male Nightrunner heroes, Seregil and Alec, become lovers in the first two books—well, at the end of the second book, if you only count actual sex. For the rest of the series they are partners in ever sense of the word and I have had the high praise bestowed on them by readers that they don’t become a boring old married couple. So often such stories end with the falling in love and into bed part. Or if there is a relationship, it’s exciting by way of dysfunction. Which all makes for fun, interesting reading, but that’s not what I set out to do. In my world two bi/gay men can fall in love, be together, and keep things hot at home. Or on the road. Or in a field . . .
However, before I disappoint too many of you, the series books do not feature hard core graphic m/m sex on the page. Because I started publishing in the mid ‘90s in a mainstream market, that sort of thing just wasn’t being done. And even if it had been, I don’t know if I’d have gone that route. Instead, I do a steamy lead up, fade to black, and often come back afterwards for the laughing and snuggling or whatever. For example, in Traitor’s Moon I have such a segue, and the two lovers find out from their friends afterward that they left a window open by mistake and were—well, loud. Much fun ensues at their expense. By handling the sex in this way, I light the fuse but leave the bang to the readers’ imagination. And I know you all have very good imaginations!
Character is central to me as both a writer and an reader. Creating characters a reader can empathize with on some level is essential to any good story. Having two characters in a long term relationship lets you play with a lot of things: angst, the agony of forced separation, fear for the other’s survival, jealousy, loss, passion, power dynamic, friendship, love, honor, struggle, and the like. Cultivating that relationship, and others in the books, means a lot to me.
But I have written m/m erotica too, so let’s put on some Leonard Cohen and talk about writing sex! Sweaty, straining, penetrative sex.
I’m just gonna say it: Writing sex is hard. Murder, war, infanticide, poisoning, shredded bodies, battlefield amputations? Easy peasy. But sex? Wow. OK, sex is pretty easy (and fun!) if you know what you’re doing, but writing about it? That’s a whole different kettle of naughty bits. There’s something very personal and naked about revealing my inner fantasies to the general public. I love reading that genre. I enjoy writing in it, but there’s a deep seated feeling of nakedness that goes along with publishing it. But damn it, I wanted to, and took it on as a personal and artistic challenge.
It all started because over the years many readers have begged for me to write the story of Seregil and Alec’s first lovemaking. I resisted for a long time, but finally thought, “What the hell? If I don’t, some fan fiction writer will (or has) and it won’t be the way I wanted it to be for them.” So I wrote “The Bond” which is sweet and romantic, but has sex on the page that leaves nothing to the imagination. Then I wrote some other stories set in the Nightrunner world, some of which also have sex scenes, to go with it and published them as a collection called Glimpses. In none of them, with the possible exception of “The Bond”, is sex the main point. It’s part of the plot. Which is how I usually like my sex scenes when I’m reading other people’s work. Fucking for the sake of fucking can be fun, but I prefer it when the lovemaking/fucking/getting off/whatever flows naturally out of the interaction of the characters. That’s what writers like Marie and Heidi give us and I appreciate it. Like I said, writing sex well is hard work and they make it look easy.
My next foray, thanks to Marie’s invitation, was the m/m short story, “Seven Years”, which I wrote for the Cup-O-Porn birthday bash. It’s the most graphic one so far, and the hardest to write, or perhaps to show people. It’s so easy for sex to become mechanical on the page and I struggled with the balance between detail, eroticism, and story flow. You can read the story for yourself and see how I did. It can be found here: Seven Years.
Let’s face it; “insert tab A into slot B” sex scenes aren’t very interesting. The secret is that there has to be an emotional connection on some level, even if it’s selfish or one sided. That’s how you bring the reader into the scene, by letting them share in the feelings. I know that’s what I want as a reader in any book or short story I read, smexy or otherwise.
Then there’s the issue of a straight woman writing about a man—or men—having sex. Men are not complete aliens, of course. They love, feel affection, can be romantic and passionate, but with a slightly different spin. Some of the worst m/m fiction I’ve read features “women with penises.” That’s not good. Men are not women, and vive la difference! Although I didn’t discover it until well after the story was in production, Josh Lanyon’s Man, Oh Man guide to writing m/m romance covers this in great detail. Men aren’t as talky. They hate to cry, even though they sometimes still do. They think about sex a lot. (I’ve seen claims that men think about sex every sixty seconds. How do they get anything done?) Sex for sex’s sake is sometimes desirable. And the power dynamic is different between men than it is between hetero couples; in m/m sex everyone has the same parts, so who gets to do what to whom? It’s a negotiation, rather than a given. Top? Bottom? Equal rights? But there is affection, love, cuddling, and tenderness, too, and that’s universal. Some guys even stay awake for more than five seconds afterward.
I’m a romantic, and also have the good fortune to be in a romantic, passionate love relationship with the same guy for over thirty years. That’s a lot to draw on and I do. Over the years I’ve had many gay men ask me how I was able to write gay relationships well—and now we’re talking relationships, which include but are not limited to sex. In that case, I did draw from what I know. Love is love and while everyone—straight or het—may express it differently, the feelings are the same—the basic human need to love and be loved, to be special to someone. Mix that with some hot sex and you have a winning combination!
You can read Ch. 1 of Casket of Souls for free here: http://www.sff.net/people/Lynn.Flewelling/excerpts/casket.souls.exc.html
Lynn’s Website: http://www.sff.net/people/Lynn.Flewelling
Live Journal: www.otterdance.livejournal.com
Books to give away:
Casket of Souls (Nightrunner Seven)
Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner One)
Glimpses (Nightrunner short stories)