Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Problems with Representations of Bisexuality in M/M Romance

Here's a cross-post of a piece I wrote for Prism Book Alliance last month, written in response to some of the issues being raised lately in the m/m genre. 




Bi-erasure in M/M romance is not entirely a surprise. The genre is defined by the fact that the two guys have to get together in the end. Unfortunately this reinforces one of the more pervasive myths about bisexuality that exists: that it’s just a stepping stone on the inevitable path between straight and gay.
Remember how cutting edge Sex and the City was? Remember when Carrie said this about bisexual guys: “I'm not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it's just a layover on the way to Gay Town.”
And therein lies the problem with the entire Gay For You trope, particularly in Romance where of course the guys will end up together forever, and of course their previous relationships with women can be easily brushed off as a phase, or an aberration, or a stepping stone, in this case, not to Gay Town necessarily, but to HEA Town. Which just happens to look exactly the same as Gay Town in this scenario.
When I first released Dark Space, I was surprised to see it described as “Gay For You.” I’ve said it before, but if there’s really a need to slap a label on Brady, then it’s at least Out For You. And that’s out as in queer, not out as in gay. Brady has an ex-girlfriend and--intense amount of internalised homophobia and acute self-denial notwithstanding-- there’s no reason for the reader to think that Brady wasn’t genuinely sexually attracted to that girlfriend. Brady’s out for Cam. But it’s not like Cam magicked him True Gay or anything. And it’s something that I specifically wanted to address when I wrote these lines in the sequel:
Which wasn’t to say that a hot girl in a tight shirt couldn’t still get my attention. She couldn’t keep it, though, not when I had Cam.
Brady is with Cam because he loves him and is attracted to him. At the same time he is still, and always will be, sexually attracted to women. This in no way devalues his relationship with Cam. And I feel that this is a problem in Romance as a whole. That when you meet The One, you no longer have eyes for any other. Which is probably one of the bullshittiest of all the bullshit fairy tales ever invented about love. Because, let’s face it, unless finding your true love also involves ritually removing your eyeballs, you’re still going to look at hot people. You’re still going to be attracted to them. You still have a pulse.
The thing that I find most problematic about the GFY trope though, is its logical conclusion. If Gay For You is a thing, then surely so is Straight For You. Why, with the right girl and (probably) just a little bit of prayer, there would be no gay men at all!
Because of the inherent constraints in the M/M genre, it’s sometimes too easy to play into that whole bi-erasure thing. Because an M/M HEA between two guys looks exactly the same, whether it’s gay or bi. Two men overcome whatever was standing in their way and end up together…aww. Which is why I think it’s important for writers to remind our readers that one or both of these characters may be bi.
Bi-erasure is incredibly harmful for people who identify as bi, and romance novels, which offer an escape for so many other people, aren’t as warm and fluffy when they’re quietly denying or invalidating your existence. And bi people get enough of that shit from other media. Bisexuality in popular culture is way too often associated with duplicity, with untrustworthiness. In Hollywood, in terms of shorthand for evil, bisexuality is right up there with an English accent.
As writers, I think we have an obligation to try to do better. We need to be certain that we don’t treat bisexuality as a phase, or as a part of a process of denial, or as the fucking no man’s land between where Gay and Straight have planted their flags and dug their trenches. Bisexuality is its own valid identity.
A beta reader pointed out that in my newly-contracted novel I have two instances of briefly described m/f oral sex, and that some readers wouldn’t like this. I knew that, of course. I’d thought about that when I was writing those scenes, and how fucked up is it that I actually stopped writing, squinted at my screen, and wondered if that was okay? In the end those scenes are staying precisely because I had that reaction. One of my MCs is bisexual, and just because he finds himself in a relationship with another guy doesn’t mean that it automatically wipes his identity clean and he can start over as a gay man. He is and will always be bisexual, whoever he ends up with. He is not confused, he is not in the process of realising he’s attracted exclusively to men, and he’s not Gay For You. He’s not gay for anyone. He’s bisexual, and that in no way invalidates his, or anyone else’s, HEA.

M/M Romance is supposed to embrace diversity, and promote inclusiveness. Romance is supposed to make a reader feel happy, not invisible. And that’s something that clearly needs some work. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m aware that writing this post from my position as a cishet woman that there will be things I have overlooked, or misconstrued, and am just plain ignorant about. But I know that we can do better, and I hope that we can all try.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Island

I’m happy to announce that The Island has been re-released, with an awesome new cover thanks to the incredibly talented Natasha Snow.




LOOK AT THE PRETTY! 

Initially, when I got the rights back after my contact with Loose Id expired, I thought about making some changes to the story. It’s interesting to see that what I wrote back in 2012 isn’t what I might write today. There were a few places where, in hindsight, I might have made a different decision with the plot. Ultimately though, I decided to leave it pretty much untouched except for some tiny tweaks I doubt anyone will notice.

Really, at this point, I think I’ve got enough plot bunnies to keep me busy until the next millennium, so I don’t feel the need to start reworking my older stories.

Here’s the blurb, for anyone who didn’t catch the book the first time around:

Shaw is in Fiji to sell a stolen painting to the crime boss, Vornis. It will be the deal of a lifetime, if Shaw can pull it off. But then Vornis parades his latest toy around in front of him—a captured DEA agent whose time is running out. It’s none of Shaw’s business, and it doesn’t matter that under any other circumstances Lee would be exactly Shaw’s type: he’s young, he’s hot, and he might even have a personality if they hadn’t beaten it out of him. Too bad there’s no way Lee is getting off the island. Too bad there’s nothing Shaw can do for him. And too bad there are some lines that even Shaw won’t cross.

Keeping his hands off Lee proves harder than he thinks, but Shaw’s not stupid enough to fall for the tortured captive of a dangerous crime boss, is he? If he did, it wouldn’t be just his job he would be risking—it would be his life.

The Island is available at Amazon and at Smashwords with other retailers to follow shortly, and the paperback will be available soon! 

And, after spending so many hours wrestling with all that formatting to get it right for each platform, I’ve got to put it out there: I need a drink.

Cheers! 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fallout

The Goodreads MM Romance Group recently held their annual readers’ choice awards, and M. Caspian and I are pleased to hear that Fallout came second in the Best Dark Read category.


Neither of us are in the MM Romance Group any longer, so we didn’t realize  that any of our titles were nominated in any categories, let alone came second.


Thank you, readers, for the best kind of surprise!


We’d like to thank everyone who read and voted for Fallout. We promise we’re not done with our dark collaborations yet! We’re currently working together on another novel that we hope to have knocked into shape in a few months. We hope you’ll enjoy that one too!



You can buy Fallout here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stealing Innocents




Stealing Innocents is here! Yes, it's the collection of stories so dark that even my pseudonym needed a pseudonym. 

For a chance to win a $20 Riptide voucher and an ebook of your choice from my back catalogue, join the tour and leave a comment! 


January 11, 2016  -  La Crimson Femme
January 11, 2016  -  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
January 11, 2016  -  Booklover Sue
January 11, 2016  -  3 Chicks After Dark
January 12, 2016  -  My Fiction Nook
January 12, 2016  -  Boys in Our Books
January 12, 2016  -  GGR-Review
January 12, 2016  -  Cup o' Porn
January 13, 2016  -  Love Bytes Reviews
January 13, 2016  -  The Day Before You Came
January 13, 2016  -  Bookaholics Not-So-Anonymous
January 13, 2016  -  MM Good Book Reviews
January 14, 2016  -  Prism Book Alliance
January 14, 2016  -  Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
January 14, 2016  -  Sinfully MM Book Reviews
January 15, 2016  -  Joyfully Jay
January 15, 2016  -  TTC Books and More
January 15, 2016  -  Book Reviews and More by Kathy


You can find out more about Stealing Innocents, and read an excerpt, here

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year from New Zealand!

If I've been slack when it comes to blogging and keeping up on social media, for once it's not laziness! I'm on holidays, hurray! I'm in New Zealand, where it is unquestionably beautiful, and very questionably summer. Seriously, it's January and it's stupidly cold. I've probably spend way too many years living in the tropics, but I'm pretty sure the winters here would kill me! 

But what I've seen of New Zealand is absolutely beautiful, and everyone should come here. I'll be sad to get back to Australia and the daily grind in many respects, but it will be nice to get back into some writing again. I always take my computer with me, but when  my holiday brain is activated, I can't get much done at all. So apologies to all my cowriters as well... but you guys knew what you were getting into, right? 

Here are some pictures of New Zealand to make you all jealous: 






And no, I swear I didn't take a photograph of New Zealand sheep just to make a dirty joke about it. It's just that even their sheep are cuter than ours! Ours are skinnier and dirtier. I think they put them through the wash here before they let the tourists see them.