neyronrose (neyronrose) wrote,

Old Garden Rose tours continue, comments on fiction

May 31st: W. came down from Lansdale for a tour of the roses.  Not all of them were blooming yet, but I showed her my books on Old Garden Roses, so she could see what some of the ones still in bud look like in bloom.

June 1: Ventured outside for a bit to do some pruning and cut some roses for inside.  Rosa Mundi had its first blossom open.

June 2: Brought A. from the bookstore home with me so she could see the roses and my herbs.  Almost everything except the Old Garden Roses is in various containers on the west side of the house, most near the back door.  I showed her the websites for my jobs, and for a couple of the other authors I like.  And I showed her the T-shirts I have that have Bishonen Works art on them.  (She'd admired the worksafe T-shirt I'd worn to the bookstore one day.)  I was explaining how Weiss Kreuz has some of the very prettiest bishonen, so we watched the first couple episodes of that.  So now she's heard about the various aspects of my life -- the bookstore, the proofing and editing work, and the artwork I've been into lately.  I never thought I'd develop an interest in yaoi and fan fiction, but the bishonen drew me into it.  I appreciate the work of some American comic book artists, so it kind of figures that I'd appreciate the work of other artists who draw beautiful young men.

Today: Still reflecting on Jessewave's latest interview.  Here's the link:  (I still need to learn to do that pingback thing.)  Here's the quote I'm particularly thinking of (Jessewave's questions are in orange): During our last interview I asked you a serious question and I think I didn't add the appropriate ending so the question was misinterpreted. Here it is again in the proper context - What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment, as a writer?

Oh. Well...I don't know how to answer this without sounding like a pretentious git. I'm not sure I've accomplished anything significant yet. I guess...maybe having the honesty -- or the bad manners -- to point out that the emperor had no clothes on? And that, although he was HAWT, a story needed to be about more than that? I think by writing MAN, OH MAN, I initiated public discussion of something I think everyone knew but was too polite to say out loud -- namely that we all needed to be writing to mainstream standards. Because you don't have to, to be published in this genre and in these venues. If you write an m/m story, I guarantee you you'll find a publisher. Maybe not the publisher of choice, but you'll get published. It's not some great achievement to be published by Golden Weinie Press, so who are we kidding? I think a lot of folks were kidding themselves that they wouldn't be published by mainstream publishing because of the revolutionary content of their work -- and in some cases that might even be true. But in most cases...the writing is substandard. And while I think a few reviewers had unkindly observed this, I think I was pretty much the first writer to say honestly to my peers...come on, folks. It needs -- at the very least -- to be as good as anything published by Kensington or Alyson or Cleis.

One of my recurring observations about M/M romance is about the quality of the writing. Because I read so much I come across many "not ready for prime time" M/M romance books. Some of these books are really awful, not only from first time but established authors as well...  

And Jessewave seems to agree on that one.  I suppose I started out comparing the books to the Romentics books by Scott & Scott, which were deliberately written to have a Harlequin romance feel to them, except with the protagonists being gay men.  I'd read the Romentics books first, which is probably how Amazon started recommending m/m romance to me, in that "if you liked this, you may like that" way they have.  That's likely also part of why I had the reaction to m/m I did -- thinking that a lot of the heroes in the books acted nothing whatsoever like gay men.  Now I understand why that is, where a lot of the writers are coming from.  And of course, I still remembered being known as the "bisexual fag hag" in college, having a gay roommate and being G.L.'s "shopping hag."  So I'd spent a fair amount of time with gay men when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and had my own perceptions of how gay or bi men might act to draw from.

As I became more aware of the romance-novel style most of the books were written in, I naturally started to compare them to the myriad of category romances I'd read.  But I still kept judging whether the men were acting like any men I'd known.  And I started to pick out those writers who I felt transcended the genre.  I figured it was like with Janet Evanovich, Kay Hooper, Jayne Ann Krentz, Iris Johanson and Sandra Brown.  They all wrote category romances, and went on to write in longer, less limited formats, most writing in other genres of popular fiction.  Those are the terms I was thinking in, that m/m romance was like category romance with a twist, and that the best writers would cross over, to as mainstream as they could get.

Then I saw a comparison of e-books to pulp fiction, and thought that that made a lot of sense, too.  And again, it's just like the best pulp fiction writers rose to the top of that genre, and went on to, in some cases, create their own followings, in fantasy and science fiction, action-adventure and mystery.  There's that aspect, too, of the e-book authors who come from a fan fiction background.  Fan fiction has absolutely no requirements for the writers to act professionally -- that's not what it's about.  Those writers are writing for the love of it, and their groups seem to have their own rules of etiquette, which are naturally different from the rules for non-amateurs.  So the e-book system is situated somewhere between the expectations of fan fiction authors and readers, erotica authors and readers, and the readers coming from reading mainstream romance, with their ideas of what they should be getting.  I expect the writing level of really good romance authors, strong characterization of the protagonists, realistic portrayals of their surroundings and the attitudes of the people around them, and skilled relationship development.  It's quite possible to find books like that.  Once I find them, I stick with those authors.  And squee about them a lot.  So, sure, there'll be a shakeout sooner or later, but to the readers' benefit. 

Tags: flowers, m/m

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