MLR Press Authors' Blog

Sex, sex, sex

by on Mar.03, 2009, under Author Posts

Now that I have your attention…

Writers get asked all kinds of questions, some so often they’ve become cliches: where do you get your ideas, how long have you wanted to be a writer, when are you going to write a real book – this usually comes when you write what people think is fluff, like romance or chick lit or in my case, m/m stuff with lots of hot man on man sex. Horror, that’s not real writing!

But I get one question most female writers don’t: how can you write about gay men having sex with other men? I started writing what’s known today as m/m, much of it erotica which includes some pretty graphic sex scenes years before it became popular. So how can I, female, write such personal accounts of men? I mean what do I know about cocks and balls and cock rings and the like? Back when I started reading it – in the early 80’s – and later when I started writing it, it was important that no hint of my sexuality be revealed. No problem since I have an androgynous name. Back then it was unheard of for women to read, let alone write gay sex stories. Now you get publishers who are putting out calls specifically for women to write this stuff. Talk about turn around. Me, I’m just writing what I want and I’m happy that other people seem to like it too. I finally caught the beginning of a trend instead of coming in as an also ran.

So, how do I write it? It’s all in my head. I think sexuality is a lot more fluid than most people want to admit. Labels like straight, gay, lesbian, bi… whatever you choose to call yourself or others call you, are just that: labels. Attempts to slot each of us into neat little categories so we’re easier to understand. I don’t think most of us are that simple. We may project that simplicity since we don’t want the world to know our dirty little secrets, but we all have them. Not that I’m saying that every straight person secretly wants to sleep with a gay or every gay wants to have sex with someone of the opposite sex, but sexuality isn’t as binding as we make it out to be. So I’m able to project what I feel onto another person. It’s not much different than getting into any character.

I also believe that most sexual pleasure occurs in the brain, not the gonads. Paraplegics can engage in sexual acts, have intercourse and orgasm – the experience is entirely in their head, because their bodies may respond, they just don’t ‘feel’ the sensations like someone who’s not paraplegic. Arousal occurs in your brain above all, the physical stuff is just incidental. How else to explain how you can be aroused by the lightest touch of a lover on your arm, when the exact same touch at any other time, by anyone else would not do anything to you? Which is probably a good thing, otherwise you’d never be able to enter a crowded elevator again! It happens with your lover because your mind is anticipating what is coming and primes your body for it. You arouse yourself with anticipation. The same touch from someone you detest will make your skin crawl. Sometimes just the sound of your lover’s voice, a smell you relate to them or a glimpse of them across the room will arouse you.

I find I am able to get into the heads of my characters, be they male of female. And when they feel arousal I feel it in a visceral way. All in my head, all translated onto the computer screen. I don’t try to analyze it very much. It might stop working if I did that. All I know is I can see, hear, smell what my characters are experiencing. And apparently, from the emails I get, so can my readers. Nothing thrills me more than having a reader that my story turned him on.

I also write about some pretty nasty crimes being committed and do my best to get into the head of the bad guys so they’re not just card-board baddies. It doesn’t mean I have to kill someone or torture puppies to put it in my books. Although to be honest I’d probably have a harder time writing about a puppy abuser than a human one. Oh well, we all have our hot buttons.

Let’s just say I don’t entirely buy that old axiom: write what you know. Learn to expand your horizons. Here’s another cliche for you: think outside the box.

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4 comments for this entry:
  1. Amanda Young

    Very well said, Pat. I think a lot of us gals in the business get that very same question over and over again. 😀

  2. Debby

    Hey got my attention

  3. William Maltese

    Fascinating, in that your subject always manages to catch my attention, probably because I was writing f/f erotica, way back when, graduated to m/f in Harlequins, and was continually asked how I could possibly get into the heads of women accurately to portray how they think and feel, not only in sex but otherwise.

    I’m always surprised that some people still can’t seem to believe that women can successfully write from the standpoint of men, and vice versa. I think there’s enough verifiable proof out there (you and I included) to prove it can be done.

  4. Victor J. Banis

    This is a subject that resonates with me, for the same reasons William and Pat bring up – I too have written straight fiction, from male and female pov, and f/f fiction, as well m/m, and just about every variation you can think of. I think it’s just called good writing (yes, okay, I dislocated my shoulder with that pat on the back) Yes, it can be done badly; anything can. But then, we don’t sit down to see if we can write something badly. For me – and I suspect for all of us at MLR – it’s just a question of getting into the heads of the characters.


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