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Does an Author Have to Live It to Write It?

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This is the third in a three part series of what part the author plays in the marketing of a book. In the beginning of Crystal Hubbard’s book, Mr. Fix It, Hubbard’s heroine suffers a crisis of confidence. She is a romance writer but has stopped believing in love, let alone romance. Because of this, she doesn’t know that she can be a writer of romance books anymore. She feels that she is a fraud, writing about love and togetherness and happy ever after when she doesn’t believe in those concepts anymore.

The question is a great one. Does an author have to be in love to write romance? Extrapolating this a little further, does an author who writes from a male point of view be a man to have an authentic voice; does an author have to be gay to write the m/m books for the stories to be authentically homosexual; does an author have to be married, wildly in love and a parent in order to write romance; does an author have to experience the out of the mainstream lifestyle in order to be able to write about those out of the mainstream activities (I.e., BDSM, threesomes, etc.)   How much of a writer’s real life have to mirror the story in order for the reader to buy it?

First, my own biases. I rarely read books written by men, regardless of genre designation. I’d rather read a female author’s voice whether it is mother/daughter writing team, PJ Tracy, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and JD Robb in the police procedure sub genre or YA or it’s romance. I’ve read men before: Jeffrey Deaver, John Sanford, Thomas Harris, Brett Easton Ellis (I still have nightmares from reading American Psycho), George RR Martin, and a few authors.   But it’s very few.   As an aside, the creepiest books I’ve ever read were by men writing about characters doing horrible things about women.   I stopped reading Deaver after A Maiden’s Grave and the milk/snake/deaf girl scene!   

More importantly, though, I have a bias in that I don’t believe that a man can know, intimately, the female path to self actualization and thus articulate it in an authentic manner even in fiction. I think I can acknowledge from an objective viewpoint that it doesn’t really matter who the writer is as long as the writer is good, but I believe that is why I reject the male author. I believe that they can’t speak to me in a way that another woman can.   I suppose that is how men feel about female authors.   According to John Howell of Waterstone, “Subconsciously, I think men stick to male writers. They think that what women write doesn’t appeal to them.”

This particular study suggests  (word doc) that male readers are more likely to dismiss an author based on gender than women.   (read the quotes, it’s an article in and of itself).   “While 40% of women surveyed said they would read books they believed appealed mainly to men, only 25% of men said they would consider a book they felt was for women.”   In the romance genre, I’m guessing the percentage of women that would pass over an author based on gender would increase otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for the female pen name for male romance authors. Conversely, there are female authors such as Devon Monk and Rob Thurman  or PJ Tracy and JD Robb whose gender seems to be disguised by their pen names to attract a broader male readership.   

There was the discussion on the review by Jayne of Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon  as to whether Laanyon was a gay male or whether she was a female author who has created a gay male persona to help sell books. Teddy Pig noted that  

  

I think most people know I am a very nitpicky hardass reviewer who not only reads but likes Gay Romance which is written mostly by women but I also have some experience in the area of Gay Sex and being Gay and I must admit I am far harder in my reading of Gay male writers because I for one expect a Gay writer to have the total experience of being Gay and I guess I expect he probably should be able to riff on all that in unique but realistic ways even in a fictional story.

  

I for one would never say women cannot not write Gay men or even Gay sex well. They probably have to make more of an effort in framing the story and characters to get that authenticity and maybe they should get a little more respect for that when they do it well.

I think what TP said “I expect he should be able to riff on all that in unique but realistic ways” points out what I think is the difference in the authenticity of a story.   Maybe it’s that a female writer writing about love and relationships from a female point of view can be less perfect, less articulate and still evoke a positive response. Maybe it is easier to write at a deeper level if the author has actually experienced what she is writing about and that translates into a reader (like me) thinking hey, this author person really knows what she is talking about even before the book is cracked open.

However, even as I say that I think of Kathleen Gilles Seidel, an author who has made me believe that she must have been an Olympic figure skater (Summer’s End), a soap writer (Again), a famous rock and roll band groupie (Till the Stars Fall), a well connected player in the film industry (More Than You Dreamed), and a former beauty queen (Don’t Forget to Smile) even though her biography states that she has a Ph.D. in literature.   Part of Seidel’s gift is in her details. In Don’t Forget to Smile, the female protagonist thinks to herself how a young beauty queen in the making has to learn to do makeup for black and white stills and how beauty queens are rarely blonde.   In Till the Stars Fall, Seidel includes excerpts from a biography of a rock and roll groupie that sound so authentic that you might as well be reading Rolling Stone.   Summer’s End  has the hero noting that the heroine’s training as a figure skater made her more athletic with better endurance, despite her small stature, than any other adult in the group.   In reflecting on Seidel’s work, I can acknowledge that an author’s background has very little to do with her ability to make a story authentic, yet I am beset with certain prejudices.

The author bio and the author picture all feed into certain bias held by readers.   They are designed to make the book more attractive and appeal to a reader’s desire for purchase.   The author bio might sell to readers that the author is fully in love with her own white knight (you read alot of this in the dedications) and thus her true love story is really from the heart or that she or he has some degree on the subject matter in which she is writing to lend instant authority to the topic (even if there is a better written book by a less credentialed author).   The ironic thing is that the more that an author’s life parallels her book, the less likely I am interested in reading it.   Memoirs make me uncomfortable, I guess.   (Although I love the “Based on a True Story” Disney movies – clearly I am a mass of contradictions).   Generally, when an author’s biography closely tracks that of the storyline, particularly in terms of looks, I’m thinking that the author is inserting herself into the book and I’m reading some strange fantasy.   I guess that is a bit how Robert Pattison feels about Stephenie Meyer’s books.

It’s hard to shake off those biases.   It may be that these bias are inescapable. Over time, they become ingrained beliefs rather than loosely held opinions.    The question might be how much those learned beliefs turn into expectations that effect the reading of the story.   Obviously, my own feelings are conflicted.   I want to not be biased and recognize that I should not be biased but somehow I can’t shake loose of at least the author gender bias (although it doesn’t apply for me in regards to m/m fiction).   

Does it really matter, though?   Should we, as readers, look at the book and solely the book without regard for the author in anyway?   Isn’t that the true reading experience?   To what extent does the author and the author’s experience affect your view of the book?   Does it matter when you find out about an author’s background (either before reading or after reading the book)? What affects you, if anything, the most?   I.e, gender of author, background of author, author looks, author bio?   I’m interested in seeing whether we, as a readership, believe like Crystal Hubbard’s heroine did and that is the author must live it to write it.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

327 Comments

  1. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 15:58:13

    @Emma: I actually would never have made the connection between Emma Collingwood and the Age of Sail (admittedly don’t even know what the Age of Sail is).

    As for my not letting authors have preferences, where is it that I am not allowing them to have preferences? Authors can say or do whatever they want, but it does not mean that we aren’t allowed to question their choices and how it impacts us, if at all. The mere discussion of a topic does prevent anyone from doing anything.

    I’m kind of curious where you are seeing the prevention of authors to have preferences?

  2. katiebabs
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 15:59:47

    I met Leigh Greenwood at RWA this year and “she” is a “he”. We had a great conversation about his books, and even though he is considered a romance writer , he feels he writes Westerns like Louis L’Amour amour, just with a love story. :D

  3. Emma
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 16:05:34

    @Jane: (Age of Sail = 16th – 19th century – think tall ships, Master & Commander, Napoleonic wars etc. I write gay historical fiction set in the 18th century.)

    Authors can say or do whatever they want, but it does not mean that we aren't allowed to question their choices and how it impacts us, if at all. The mere discussion of a topic does prevent anyone from doing anything.

    I'm kind of curious where you are seeing the prevention of authors to have preferences?

    I absolutely agree with you that they can be discussed. Maybe I got the wrong impression from this specific discussion here, but it seems to me that a female author writing under a male pen name is considered to be “dishonest”. If this impression is correct, I’d be curious to learn where the line should be drawn between preference of the author and dishonesty with the readers.

  4. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 16:21:31

    @Emma: If you are a straight female and you market yourself as a gay male writing how to books on writing from a gay male POV and having a more authentic voice than other writers within the sub genre because of your gender and sexual orientation then I do think that is dishonest. It’s still the author’s choice and suggesting that you don’t like it as a reader (which I point out I have not done) doesn’t prevent the author from maintaining that persona.

  5. Randi
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 16:53:03

    Wow. There is a LOT going on here, much to my delight.

    Firstly, Kalen: That whole hymen blog was awesome. Who knew? Not me. But I do want to know more about this corset-inducing autoerotic aphysxiation. That sounds verrrry interesting. I once wore a real corset for several hours. I spent the entire time trying not to vomit. It wasn’t fun and I swore to never put one on again. It also made me wonder how women scurried around to and fro in them…

    theo: just curious what sorts of menstral problems arise from hymens.

    KZ Snow: “ass-matter”. OMG, I almost fell out of my chair. LOL. ew. Yeah, there’s a fine line between historical accuracy and fantasy. I’ll take historical accuracy on manners, politics, economics, etc; but let me have my hygiene, please.

    @ Emma: I’m with Jane on this topic. It doesn’t matter what sex one is (and frankly, I’d like to read for male written romances, as I’d like to get a better idea about what men think about when a)they’re just looking for sex and b)when their affections are engaged; and how those differ from female responses to a and b); but rather the elaborate creations of a fake persona, that has nothing to do with the real author. And I think the allegory of Mark Twain is a good one. But if you don’t like that one, then let’s take a real life example: James Frey. James Frey did not have the experiences he said he did. He full out lied about who he was and what had happened to him. You could argue that his lies did not invalidate the message of his book, and in fact, many people did argue that; but at the end of the day, he didn’t have any more real experiences than I did, to bottle his message in a memoir. It was a lie and yes, IMO, does invalidate the message.

    Anyway, Kalen, how about that corset topic?

  6. Shayne
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:00:09

    Ann, I have yet to get over sparkly vampires.

    However, I do speak with some authority on the vampire biting sexy vs. not sexy. Having had a IV in my neck that caused considerable pain and tenderness, I can honestly say vampires have to have super duper powers to make any hole in the neck feel good. Therefore, RPatt must prove he has those powers before I’ll let him do anything to my neck. Not to mention all vampires must have that power or the author is bullshitting the reader.

    Believe me, it took months after that IV for me to even began to think a vamp bite might feel good on any level. That’s a no shitter as my SO would say.

    I didn’t say I was completely inexperienced in vampiric matters, did I?

    K, I’m done now and probably should go write to keep my nose out of trouble.

  7. MaryK
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:07:23

    @Victoria Dahl:

    I think it could very easily SEEM one inch inside. . . . Whew. So glad I finally got that off my chest.

    Thanks for articulating that. I was thinking something similar involving the stretching ability of the tissue but didn’t feel quite up to a detailed description. Man, if I ever decide to be a romance novelist, I’ll have to have an ultra-secret identity!

  8. Robin
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:13:16

    Mark Twain is such a good example for this discussion, because he wrote an autobiography that I and many other Twain scholars have spent countless hours, days, years, decades, etc. studying. One of the beauties of the autobiography is that it is the story of “Mark Twain” who was himself an invention of Samuel Clemens. And the biography is comprised of true and not true anecdotes, told while blurring the boundaries between real and fictional author persona. Now do you think those of us who have spent a lot of time with this work *haven’t* compared it extensively to Twain’s “real” life as we know it? That biographical research is part and parcel of the study of Mark Twain, in his autobiography and beyond (especially since so many of his novels were pseudo-autobiographical). And within a scholarship paradigm, the focus isn’t on whether it was a good or bad thing he wrote under the pseud, but rather *how* his work functioned, where it did and didn’t coincide with incidents from his own life (especially for the autobiography), and in some instances, *why* he altered and even made up incidents he advertised as autobiographical. Those inquiries are ideally carried out without judgment about Clemens as a person, which seems to be part of what people are objecting to with similar discussions about current writers.

    Unlike a lot of other readers, I cynically expect a certain amount of fakery in author marketing, even though ideally it’s not what I’d like. And it wasn’t too long ago that I indicated that I don’t expect full disclosure or truthfulness from bloggers, using fiction writing as a comparison (and just out of curiosity, I’d be interested in how those who disagreed with me on that point feel about the author marketing identity thing). But just as I expect a certain fakery, I expect that any discussion around authentic personalities online or in fiction/non-fiction writing would likely address questions of how various personae are presented and marketed. In other words, authors might present themselves in a certain way to better authenticate their writing, and readers might speculate about the authenticity of the author’s persona. I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive.

    That doesn’t mean I’m advocating an invasion of a writer’s privacy — although some see it differently, I see that issue as quite separate from this one. To me, wondering about what aspects of an author might be created for marketing purposes is the equivalent of wondering how an author gets ideas for his or her story. Neither inquiry requires an answer from the author, either, IMO.

  9. MaryK
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:28:25

    @kirsten saell:

    Honestly, there are all sorts of inaccuracies that authors don't get called on, like how during many historical periods the H/h would quite possibly have had lice, and the h's hair might go weeks or even months between washings.

    Personally, I differentiate between inaccuracies and omissions. Lots of details are omitted in the service of storytelling, but the details that are there should be accurate. I don’t object to the glossing over of the more unappetizing visuals. I would object to false statements of fact.

  10. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:46:04

    Lanyon, Teddy and the minions.

    I HAVE MINIONS PEOPLE!

    Followers! The power to rule minds!
    To bend all to my will! Bwahahahaha!

    *no way it could be you and Jane stuck your foot in your mouth in public*

    Nope, too much sense for that to be the case.

  11. Lee Rowan
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:51:26

    What an amazing heap of compost! It’s got taters growing in it!

    Some men write convincing women. Some women write convincing men. Most readers have their own notion of what constitutes “convincing,” and I’ll bet if you asked 20 readers to define that, you’d get at least 21 definitions. The notion that there is one sort of ‘convincing’ character of any gender or orientation is just silly. Yes, there are common factors in glbt experience – there are common factors in just about any sub-group of human beings. But each person’s experience is unique and so is his or her reality.

    Since when is a writer’s private life and reason for using a pseudonym anyone else’s business?

    I use a pseudonym because when I sold my first gay romance, Ransom, my wife was working for a religious university and if word got to her administration, she’d have been fired for “morals.” Our circumstances have changed for the better, but I like the name and readers know it, so it stays. If that isn’t a “good enough” explanation for you National Enquirer wannabes, it’s too damned bad.

    Why that name? My real-life name is also gender-neutral and as a bisexual woman married to another woman and conscious of a lot of the nuance that is shared by any non-het person, I don’t think I belong in someone else’s pigeonhole, particularly one defined by a het woman deciding whether a gay character, with whom she cannot identify either by gender or orientation, is ‘convincing.’ My use of a pseudonym hardly seems to be anyone else’s business. I am not a member of the National Enquirer generation and I believe my private life is just that. If someone doesn’t like my attitude, that, also, is too damned bad.

    Almost every letter I’ve received from a gay male reader has addressed me as though I am also a gay male, and none of them has panicked when I explained that sorry, I’m merely a dyke. (Thank you, gentlemen.) I don’t make a secret of my gender but I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the quality of my writing. The women in my m/f romances aren’t fluffy or feisty, either. They’re human beings.

    That’s what it boils down to: I write human beings. Love is the common denominator.

    I’ve got to say I haven’t seen such a silly display of zipper-sniffing since the Clinton-Lewinsky hearings. Which, IMO, was also nobody’s damned business but the 3 parties involved.

    Oh, and Josh Lanyon? My Magic 8-ball says he’s a pair of Siamese twins, boy and girl, joined at the thumbs, and it’s a real treat to watch him at the keyboard.

  12. Persephone Green
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:04:09

    No. No. No

    Wait! The last one needs to be in all capitals and italic and bold to mimic me, damnit!

    There is a difference between being a victim and abdicating agency

    Where did this even come from? It’s a completely false dichotomy to equate ‘blame’ and ‘responsibility’ with ‘agency.’ They are not the same.

    How is placing the blame of a crime on the perpetrator abdictating agency? Answer: It isn’t.

    What I don’t agree with is thinking that we have to change every woman’s behavior or attitude first before tackling laws and public opinion (which is supposed to be gender neutral; whether it is or not I leave up to the reader). That is what you said when you said we need to change ourselves before changing the institutions.

    Let’s make this perfectly clear: I believe in survivors, not victims. Period.

    Survivors pick themselves up or grab an arm and haul themselves up. Then they either go on with their lives and take action against sexism and misogyny and rape culture or they don’t.

    The articles I am referring to are ones from conservative women who cloak themselves in neutrality in order to coin false terms like “grey rape.” They place the responsibility on the woman for being in a bad situation when she’s not the one who made the situation bad in the first place.

    Women who say we have to ‘take responsibility and not let ourselves fall into these situations’ are not educating. They are preaching. They are judging. Women come away from those articles with no clear answer on how to exercise the same rights as men and not be abused, and as a result, they change neither their own awareness nor anyone else’s behavior.

    Those women writers are definitely not empowering other women. A lot of sound advice can lose its meaning when given through the wrong overall message.

    I’m going to teach women to stand up for and protect themselves so that it’s less likely that men will have an opportunity to exploit and abuse them, without admonishing those who engage in ‘high-risk behavior’ that men engage in freely all of the time, such as actually –gasp!– drinking at a party or walking home alone. They can do these things and still be aware of the risks, and they have a right to do them without fear. Being prepared and aware of potential hazards is great. Being taught that our actions somehow caused the crime is Not Okay. I’m going to lobby for laws to protect those of us who respect the sanctity of our own bodies and leave the intra-feminist blame game to someone else. What I’m not going to wait for every woman in this world who works against her own interests to change her mind.

  13. Mike Cane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:05:12

    >>>I suppose that is how men feel about female authors.

    So all those sales of Ayn Rand’s novels were primarily to … women?

    Anyway, you’re entitled to your preference/prejudice. I think it’s silly and you miss a lot of good writing. Do you want stories or stories that are “instructionally correct” (“self-actualization” *cough*).

    And here I am waiting yet another year for *any* publisher in the U.S. to pick up Patricia Melo again and translate her into English.

    Oh wait … is it all right for me to read *non*-American authors?

  14. Persephone Green
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:13:50

    I call shenanigans. Nora Roberts doesn't pretend to be a bloke behind her neutral J D Robb pen name. Jordan Castillo Price doesn't pretend to be one either. I can only think of a handful of authors who hem and haw about what gender they are when asked – and Lanyon's one of them. Why? Why jump down a reader's throat because they assumed ‘he' was female, and now make a huge song and dance about not revealing what gender he is?

    This. I don’t think false identities are the same as pseudonyms, and I don’t think it’s bigoted to question someone’s gender when they themselves have brought their gender into question by building up an online persona that may or may not be true.

    Oh, and people do make biased reading decisions based on author names, often unconsciously. I try not to be one of them, but I’m sure it’s happened once or twice.

    I know women who write m/m and men who think that those women write better m/m than other talented gay men do. It depends on how much skill you have as a head-hopper, not on who you are outside of your literary work.

  15. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:18:46

    Since when is a writer's private life and reason for using a pseudonym anyone else's business?

    You know, the obsession over whether someone is using a penname is a classic strawman. No one cares if an author uses a pen name. No one gives a damn about anyone’s private life either.

    Most readers don’t care if a female author chooses a male pen name, especially in writing m/m.

    They *do* care if that author goes a step further and claims to actually be a male – or a gay male.

    If an author claimed to be black, to sell better to a black audience, you think that would be fine and dandy?

    It’s like I said in my blog post – it’s wearing medals you haven’t earned. It’s claiming experiences and solidarity and credibility, when you don’t have them.

    If you can’t see the problem there, then no wonder you think this is all compost. I have a similarly high opinion of those who try and fool readers in this way.

    Teddy, the only one with a foot against their tonsils is you, I’m afraid. A few months ago you were castigating a transsexual author for claiming to be a gay man, and you’ve jumped bogart all over people for hiding behind pen names. Now you’re defending fraudulent behaviour – just because you like certain authors or their writing.

    Your defence of the practice of pretending to have background and experience, simply to fool readers into thinking they’re buying something they’re not, not only bewilders me, but saddens me. You’re seeking to let non-gay people exploit the experiences of those who’ve lived that life for real, and I simply don’t understand your motives.

  16. Persephone Green
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:20:31

    I think Jane articulated something above but I can’t find the two quotes I wanted to use. It was about the definition of dishonesty and whether we have a right to invent personas without people questioning them (that’s a misleading sentence anyway, because both groups have a right to do what they want; it’s the consequences that determine our ethical stance on the matter), and she was right: it’s all about whether the persona is selling the brand.

    If a person is marketing their work as coming from a POV that is only possible under this assumed identity, then yes, it is dishonest. That’s what James Frey did.

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  18. Mike Cane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:38:58

    >>>If a person is marketing their work as coming from a POV that is only possible under this assumed identity, then yes, it is dishonest.

    Well, yes, that is outright fraud. But she also mentioned those jaw-droppers about not reading men and wondering if men read women writers.

  19. theo
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:47:21

    @Randi

    One or two brief examples, a hymen which is overtly thick and will not stretch to accommodate the passage of clots, a multiperforated hymen which is more sieve like and doesn’t allow for proper flow, a hymen which is located as a deformity over the labia minora impeding flow, and those few examples alone promote infection which often begins vaginally and oh, shoot, what’s the word I’m looking for…crap…ends up moving into the cervix/uterine area. There are several other problems depending on the ‘deformity’ but those are the few I’m willing to comfortably mention. Even I draw the line on occasion ;-) Though it’s rare…

    @Jane, I want to keep hitting the ‘preview’ button instead of the ‘submit’ button for some reason where it’s placed. DUH me!!

  20. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:54:35

    she also mentioned those jaw-droppers about not reading men and wondering if men read women writers.

    Mike, Jane linked to formal studies about men reading women writers – or not reading them – in her post. She’s not making this up. I can also support this with anecdotal evidence in the m/m field. There are a lot of gay men who will not read female named authors because they think there’s no way they could know what they’re talking about.

    Some gay men and women are also highly resentful of straights muscling in on ‘their’ territory, and particularly, stealing publisher slots supposedly reserved for them. A view with which I have some sympathy, because while good writing is good writing, gay voices need to be heard, and if all the fakers are speaking for them instead, how will they break through that? It’s not a question of who can ‘do’ a male or female voice right, it’s a question of who is genuinely speaking from experience. To young gay people, it matters that they’re getting the real voice, not an imitation.

  21. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:55:54

    @Mike Cane: That’s not what I said. I said that my preference is to choose a female author over a male one in romance fiction but that I had read male authors. I also cited a survey that said that men choose to read male authors over female authors. (A fact that is observed by publishers as well as far as I know).

  22. Mike Cane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 19:47:34

    Now wait one second there:

    >>>First, my own biases. I rarely read books written by men, regardless of genre designation.

    >>>I suppose that is how men feel about female authors.

    Are you using a special grammar where “I” means someone other than yourself?

    I don’t want to be lawyer-like here, but you didn’t construct those sentences to mean what you now claim.

    If you want to make an additional point that men are unlikely to read Romance, I’ll easily grant you that.

    And if my fellow men are dumb enough to read only men, well that accounts for their gross stupidity.

    I guess I’m a word whore. I even read “Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice.” And I’m not black.

  23. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 19:50:01

    Teddy, the only one with a foot against their tonsils is you, I'm afraid. A few months ago you were castigating a transsexual author for claiming to be a gay man, and you've jumped bogart all over people for hiding behind pen names. Now you're defending fraudulent behaviour – just because you like certain authors or their writing.

    Your defence of the practice of pretending to have background and experience, simply to fool readers into thinking they're buying something they're not, not only bewilders me, but saddens me. You're seeking to let non-gay people exploit the experiences of those who've lived that life for real, and I simply don't understand your motives.

    I was castigating a fucktard for lashing out at Karen and others for not reading their mind about whatever gender identity she/he wanted to be addressed by that week and claiming it was phobic.

    I jumped over the owners of Torquere Press for hiding behind multiple Pen Names even from the very authors and people that work for them and not being obvious they were editing and writing whatever else they were doing to their own ebooks. That information was obviously helpful for people involved to know.

    I do not have to defend the practice of using Pen Names to hide a writers identity be that gender or sexuality or skin color since it is an accepted practice for long before you or I were even born.

    If you have not noticed TeddyPig is not my real name.
    It is Dick and yes I can be a big one.

    As a Gay man I do not see writers male or female using Pen Names to become gender neutral or even gender opposite as an issue or an infringement of my status as a Gay person or some sort of consumer scam. I support that as much as the right of a transsexual to be considered the gender they identify with. I don’t know the particulars of every case but I respect a person’s right to privacy and their wishes.

    Is that common courtesy so hard for you to understand?

    What does piss me off is bad behavior from people I think should have a brain enough to know better and who the the hell are you to say who is real Gay and who is not?

    Who are you?

    Did I get a vote in making you judge and jury for all real Gay people?

  24. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 19:58:24

    Actually, you were telling a transssexual they didn’t have the right to be called a gay man. But hey, if you’ve changed your mind about that, well and good.

    Teddy, you’re going to have to have this fight with yourself because there’s nothing in anything I’ve said to justify your vitriol.

    If someone wants to claim to be a gay man, fine. Won’t stop me going ‘huh’ when their writing shows them to be something else. I’m an admirer of gay men’s writing, and an admirer of women writing gay romance. I just expect the label on the box not to mislead me. I’m not the one labelling the box in the first place.

  25. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:09:09

    I did not change my mind about people acting badly and then justifying it by yelling phobic or racist or whatever when called on it.

    I am not fighting with myself Ann. You and Jane instigated it.

    Is that clear?

  26. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:10:43

    @Mike Cane: That is my statement but I also clearly stated that I read male authors but my preference is for females. I did not say I do not read male authors. That’s inaccurate.

    As to why I prefer female authors, it probably comes from the fact that I am primarily a genre reader and when I read other genres, such as mystery or fantasy, it is with the hopes that I can find a cross over – something that has romance in it.

    I don’t know why men don’t read women but I do know that within the sci fi circles, women have less stature as authors as men. I don’t know what it is within mystery circles.

    I rarely, for pleasure, read outside of the genre. I read plenty in my real job that is written by a host of genders.

  27. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:12:18

    @Teddypig: Please point out where I a) acted badly and then b) justified it and c) yelled phobic or racist statements.

    Please provide examples because I have no idea what you are talking about.

  28. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:22:40

    Jane, am I imagining things? Did you quote a certain Mr Teddy Pig saying:

    I must admit I am far harder in my reading of Gay male writers because I for one expect a Gay writer to have the total experience of being Gay and I guess I expect he probably should be able to riff on all that in unique but realistic ways even in a fictional story.

    And yet when a woman says they feel the same way, and therefore they don’t like it when someone pretends to be gay because they’re not getting what they think they’re getting, that’s somehow a slur on gay rights?

    Does being gay inform one’s writing on gay subjects or not? Does a reader have a right to expect someone who says they’re gay, to know whereof they speak – or not?

    Because if being what you say you are isn’t important, I’m gonna tap me some of that hot Middle Eastern mystique stuff and claimed to be an abused Iraqi child bride who’s escaped the tyranny of family and country to find freedom in the West. Shouldn’t matter I was raised a Catholic in Australia, should it?

  29. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:26:38

    Jane,

    This is on you.

    Next time you start sighting examples first do some basic research.
    Find out the authors name (Like it was not J.L. Langley) and find out if from their background they actually meet the specifications of the example you are trying to provide or if there is some irrational vendetta going on.

    Maybe even talk to the author involved.

    Is that common courtesy so hard?

  30. Chrissy
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:33:15

    I followed this discussion now for two days and it started out with claiming “no offense intended but me and my friends thinks this author is not the gender he claims to be and we are ever so good at hitting this on the head” to accusations of trying to defraud readers and being a faker and taking up the slot that should be reserved for authentic gay writers etc., etc. against the same author. All based on one unproved accusation. If this is not vitriol even slanderous than I don´t know what is. I understand that you, Ms. Somerville, are trying to turn your amateur slash writing into a career on the allegedly successful m/m romance market ( I don´t know any numbers so I can not say if this is in fact a profitable niche or not) . But I must say I find it rather pathetic that you feel you have to drag somebody else down who is – I can only presume – more successful than you are, because this is the impression I am getting. And no – I am not associated with Josh Lanyon nor am I sponsored by him ( more the pity) and up to now I haven´t been a minion to anybody – I am just a reader. Oh , and no offense intended.

  31. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:36:06

    @Teddy Pig – I admit that I got the name initially wrong and corrected that. But I went back and read every reference I made toward Lanyon and I don’t see it inappropriate. Again, if you can provide me an example of what you believed to be inappropriate, I would be glad to discuss it.

    My first reference to Lanyon was this:

    There was the discussion on the review by Jayne of Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon as to whether Laanyon was a gay male or whether she was a female author who has created a gay male persona to help sell books. Teddy Pig noted that (and then I quoted your comment extensively)

    You also stated this:

    When I recommend Josh Lanyon I do so because he is a good writer and his books contain lots of juicy Gay romantic plot elements.

    I think the actual experience of being Gay does count for something in this case.

    Then I replied to your comment about how this was related to Prop 8. I still don’t see the connection. Is not seeing the connection a gay slur? I stated:

    As for why it “fucking” matters, I don't know if it does but apparently, if Lanyon is a woman, then it matters enough to create a faux persona in order to gain authenticity through the personality which I find to be an interesting concept. It's no different to me than a man writing romance under a female persona (which is different, in my opinion, than a pen name).

    Recall that I was quoting your curse word but perhaps that was the slur? Please note that I said I did not know if it mattered (and also note that you previously stated that “being Gay does count for something in this case.”

    And then you said that this was about equality and said that we were gossiping about someone’s personal life by speculating as to the gender of the author. I don’t see it the same way but is that what is inappropriate? I replied:

    I had no idea that discussing gender of an author was considered gossiping about someone's private life. I think it is also interesting that you refuse to address the issue of whether the creation of a faux persona is required to be taken seriously within the m/m fiction circles.

    and so on and so forth. So again, please point to the comments/words/etc that contain slurs, bad behavior and justification therefor.

    As to your latest comment, I was quoting a discussion that we had at Dear Author on a review of an m/m book where you stated that the Gay experience mattered. It’s not the gender that is important. It’s the fact that there is a debate about the gender that matters in that it is important enough to the m/m market to know the gender of an author to have a debate about it.

  32. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:51:51

    some irrational vendetta

    If that’s referring to me, then you can blow it out your arse, Teddy.

    Jane cites your own words that Josh Lanyon is an example of a gay man writing, bringing that extra you expect from a gay writer.

    I state my own belief that his writing indicates him to be female.

    You lose your shit and start calling everyone bigots and homophobes.

    Nothing you have said, or his minions have said, has changed my mind. He writes like a woman. I do not believe he’s what he claims to be. The end.

    No vendetta. I despise for his behaviour and for inciting his followers to harrass and flame me. His opinion of me is very clear too. But that doesn’t mean my opinion of his writing is altered. I’ve said repeated he writes well.

    He or she is just an unpleasant piece of work on top of that. Are you going to claim everyone who dislikes Lanyon is running a vendetta? Maybe it’s just a case of his online personality pissing me off – like mine pisses a lot of people off.

    Now I’ll tell you this straight. My remarks about his writing were simple observation. I simply don’t care if you believe that or not. But you’re contradicting yourself with every post, and I’m just not able or willing to follow your thought processes any further. I wish you well, and you know I respect you, but I really can’t discuss this with you further. You’re simply being unfair and irrational.

  33. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:54:22

    Wow Jane,

    So in other words

    You did no research into this, so you did nothing, so you talked to no one including the author whom you were gong to involve in this discussion, so you did no wrong?

  34. Jane
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:06:21

    Okay – I just read your blog post and subsequent comments and I think I have a better understanding of where you are coming from. From your blog:

    Even as stupid as I am I know better than to mention any names as examples unless I know what the fuck I am talking about. Jane brought Josh's name into the whole discussion on purpose. I even had to tell her that the name she wanted to use was Josh and not J.L. Langley. Her feigning ignorance for bringing up and promoting the whole controversy after the fact is pretty sad.

    Yes, I made an error on the name of the author of the discussion previously held at dearauthor. I did use Lanyon’s name and the comments as an example, because it was illustrative of my example that people have gender bias when it comes to choosing what fiction to read. I don’t know where I feigned ignorance or was promoting the whole controversy after the fact.

    But I do get the sense you think that I wrote this whole post to target Lanyon and carry on some improper attack against Lanyon. I don’t know why I would do that. I have previously stated I enjoy his work quite a bit. I also have stated that his gender makes no difference to me. But the fact that there even is a debate is what the whole article is about.

    What research would have been important to discuss whether there is gender bias by readers toward books? Jayne herself noted in the review that she picked the Lanyon book over others because of his gay male perspective. The post was largely introspective about my own bias (the belief that a female author can riff more eloquently on the nature of falling in love and romance than a male author).

    While I don’t always agree with your opinions, TP, I have liked you and it is because I like you that I am taking your complaints seriously. I wouldn’t respond otherwise but yes, I don’t think I did anything wrong in this circumstance. I don’t see that research would be necessary to discuss my own bias and whether there was debate that showed bias by others since that appeared evident by the comments on the blog previously.

  35. Teddypig
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:09:55

    I don’t know Jane.

    Honestly, I think your very smart capable person.

    I just am disappointed in you right now because I think Josh is a good person behind that Pen Name.

    Maybe I am wrong to expect more from you.

    People listen to you Jane.

  36. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:16:37

    You did no research into this, so you did nothing, so you talked to no one including the author whom you were gong to involve in this discussion, so you did no wrong?

    Teddy, please don’t jump on me for speaking up here~and yes, I know I’m not looking at this from the same place in life you are, nor can I.

    However, all I read from Jane’s initial post was whether or not an author’s identity played into their writing. Somebody at some point wondered whether or not the author Lanyon was a male or female, I’m assuming based on the writing style and she referenced that, because it does play into the identity/author discussion.

    Where it went from there isn’t Jane’s fault.

    People aren’t told how to act and respond, although I firmly believe courtesy and mutual respect can do a lot more good than name calling or laying blame.

    I checked out the author’s site, just out of curiosity, and noticed that there’s some sort of workshop or book on how to write m/m authentically. So my point of thinking, on more than anything else, would be this… if he’s going to teach people how to write m/m authentically, it would have to be because he’s experienced it. For lack of a better example, it would be like me going to nursing school and having a bunch of non-medical people trying to tell me how to be a nurse.

    So if indeed the author is female, I can see some issue here.

    Now aside from that, I can honestly say I don’t see what it matters what the author’s sex is. But if there’s been some misdirection simply as a marketing ploy, I guess I can see why some people feel like they’ve been misled.

    I do think your personal experiences are playing into things-everybody has experiences in life that cause them to act certain ways, but it often clouds objectivity and I think your anger is playing into that here.

    I’m not saying any of this to attack you, attack Lanyon or anybody else. I don’t have a pony in this race. But it’s kind of coming off to me that you’re seeing attacks where a lot of us are just seeing discussion.

  37. Robin
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:18:51

    A pox on you, Jane!

    @Persephone Green: I’m not sure how to respond to you, because I’m not sure whether you’re simply reading through, around, over, or under what I’m trying to say, or whether this is a generational feminist difference, or what. You seem to be convinced that I am aligned with the type of women who blame other women for being victimized (and are you suggesting, btw, that only if a woman actively fights back against patriarchy after she’s raped or otherwise abused that she can claim to be a survivor? Because that sounds like a bit of a judgment to me, although perhaps I misunderstood you there. And it might be argued that you’re levying quite a judgment on me, there, too, or on the women you’ve aligned me with). That my desire to claim a position different than what I see as two extremes — women are always at fault for what happens to them v. we have to beat ourselves against the walls of patriarchy in order to be validated as independent persons — is being completely disregarded and collapsed into some reactionary anti-feminism a la Camille Paglia (apparently you’ve missed some of my rants, like my militaristic stance on battering in the thread on physical violence).

    I did not say that we need to change *every woman’s mind* about herself; what I said was that we have the power and the ability to respond to patterns of patriarchal thinking — that we can and should “break the pattern” amongst ourselves (break the pattern, not stand around waiting for every single person’s mind to change). And yes, I believe that one of the reasons we have not been able to sustain or advance many of the societal and institutional changes that have been fought for is because we do not see the process as multi-dimensional and that we cannot expect those who want to deprive of us power to validate us — EVER. And that self-validation — aka the exercise of personal agency — is necessary if we are going to make institutional changes advance and stick. As I said earlier, how can we expect others to believe we are worthy of being safe and wholly respected if we do not believe this amongst ourselves (and again, I’m not taking a head count here of changed minds). You may not agree with that, but I will never accept that simply because I do not myself ascribe to feminist principles more aligned with the first generation that I am anti-feminist or anti-women or a patriarchal operative.

    The real irony here, IMO, is that you seem to think I’m on the side of these idiots who talk about “grey rape” because I’m not rushing into battle with my sword and shield the way you think I should be. And yet I think my point is basically the same as the one you’re making in the first part of your last paragraph — that in teaching women that they should not judge themselves and each other for the choices they make and blame each other for being taken advantage of by male perpetrators you are fighting back. Because the way I read that is that it’s partly about getting women to feel empowered despite whatever men think or tell them or through what patriarchal social and institutional structures dictate or visit on them. By all means, fight for legislation and whatever else you feel you need to do. It’s going to be a hell of a long time, anyway, before we see which of us is correct about the relationship between internal and external change.

  38. cs
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:26:43

    Oh dear God, Jane made an opinion and that is all. Jane is not the end all and be all. I’m pretty sure people are capable of making up their own mind. Saying people “listen” to Jane doesn’t mean everything she writes will automatically mean everyone will bow down to her. Give people some credit here.

    I, for one found this topic to be very interesting. Though I have to admit, I read Josh Lanyon because I assumed he was a gay man. Because I wanted to read something from a gay male perspective. Now if he were to be “female” I’d go…’huh’ but that doesn’t mean I would stop buying his stuff/or enjoying it. But I do have the right to feel slightly taken back. Or is that not allowed anymore.

    I wonder. If Jane used someone else as an example, someone who isn’t as hugely ‘popular’ in this genre, would the reaction have been so…well this? I don’t know. The Bloggers here always use examples when expressing their opinions. I don’t see why this has suddenly gone up in flames.

  39. Lee Rowan
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 23:22:32

    @cs:

    I think the reaction to this revisitation of an issue that’s been popping up every couple of months may be a bit heated because there’s been a reiteration of the ‘why do/how can/how dare women write m/m fiction” being aired just about every other month, and for those of us who are women writing m/m, it’s getting a bit tedious.

    Sometimes this comes from people who don’t really want anyone writing glbt, sometimes it comes from gay men, sometimes it even comes from feminists who see women writing m/m as a ‘betrayal’ of one’s womanly identity. If someone were questioning why, for instance, James Baldwin wrote about a character of Caucasian descent in Giovanni’s Room, the silliness of this bias would be obvious. If someone questioned whether a man could be expected to write Anna Karenina or A Doll’s House … you see my point.

    In at least some of the m/m writing communities, it’s considered extremely bad manners to ‘out’ a fellow writer–there’s a pleasant but apparently archaic notion that it’s courteous to respect other writers’ privacy. In this blog post, Jane could have simply mentioned “an author” whose gender was being questioned by a reader who believed she detected a woman’s hand on the pen, if I may wax melodramatic. There really wasn’t any need to name the writer, and if the original ‘accusation’ was, as rumor has it, the result of a personal quarrel the accuser has with the writer, it’s even less fair that the presumption be perpetuated merely to illustrate an example that’s only tangentially related.

    To jump from the use of an opposite-sex or gender-neutral pseudonym to accusations of fraud is unfair and off-topic: fiction writing is not memoir writing. Adopting a false persona in order to present fiction as fact is indeed fraud. To use a pen name to write a fictitious account is … fiction. It pretends to be nothing else. If a fiction writer’s depiction rings true — I believe that’s called “good writing.”

    The bottom line, from where I stand: if Writer A has some quarrel with Writer B, for Writer A to say, “oh, yeah? You write just like a gurrl!” …. well, that makes somebody look like a 6-year-old, and it isn’t Writer B.

    I know that isn’t what Jane started out to say. In terms of writers as male or female, I’ve been surprised by how well some men write women (Patrick O’Brian and Aaron Elkins, for instance.) Lois McMasters Bujold writes terrific male characters. Horror writer Dean Koontz writes surprisingly good, strong women (he said once, in an interview, that he writes human beings; so did Dorothy L Sayers, when a fan asked her how she was able to write such convincing men.)
    And so many women have “male” names these days that I would read almost anything that didn’t reek of testosterone–no Cussler, thank you.

    I do think that if a reader’s focus is heavily on her or his own gender or orientation — women who are academic feminists, men who are immersed in the gay community — then there’s a likelihood they will focus on a range of fiction that reflects and reinforces their own perceptions and explores the particular area of interest. A gay man is more likely to pick up Armistead Maupin than Jennifer Crusie, a woman looking for an authentic woman’s voice would be more likely to go for Jane Austen. I’m not saying this as a criticism–but I do say I’ve never picked up a work of fiction expecting the author to articulate the female path to self actualization. I seriously doubt that there is just one path to self actualization for females and one for males. I consider myself a feminist, but I find a lot of feminist dogma either tedious or irritating. I just want a good story. If a story speaks to something deeper that’s a bonus, but I’ve found insight pretty much equally in books by by both female and male writers… and I’ve found poorly-depicted members of the opposite sex, too. It all depends on the writer.

  40. Ann Somerville
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 23:36:57

    In at least some of the m/m writing communities, it's considered extremely bad manners to ‘out' a fellow writer

    Really? New one on me, and I’ve been in the m/m community as long as you have. I wasn’t aware it was outing someone to say their writing didn’t seem to have any hallmarks of being a gay man’s, when that’s what the writer’s been presenting himself as.

    if Writer A has some quarrel with Writer B, for Writer A to say, “oh, yeah? You write just like a gurrl!” …. well, that makes somebody look like a 6-year-old, and it isn't Writer B.

    Oh yeah, that’s precisely how it went down. No misrepresentation there at all.

    Saying someone writes like a woman, isn’t an insult. At least, it’s not to me. Why is it an insult to you – or to Josh Lanyon? Is there some hidden belief that men actually do write better than women, that you’re too ashamed to come right out and say?

    You and your chums have a vested interest in people not examining this stuff too closely. Erastes is flogging gay porn to the gay male market, and she knows perfectly well she can’t be too open about her gender to that audience. Lanyon has done nicely as setting his or herself up as the voice of ‘true’ gayness in a female dominated genre. But neither of them should squeal too hard if someone says, hang on, your writing doesn’t feel all that male to me.

    Like I said, if they were honest and said why they were doing this, they’d be worthy of respect. Instead, we’re getting special pleading, I’m being vociferously abused, and you, Teddy and Erastes want to make out that Lanyon’s human rights and privacy are being violated. Puh-lease.

    If a fiction writer's depiction rings true -’ I believe that's called “good writing.”

    And if I say the depiction doesn’t ring true, I’m a heinous bitch, right? Lanyon wants us to swallow the idea he’s a guy – a gay guy. His writing is indistinguishable on that score from other good female m/m writers. So…he isn’t much of a writer if his ‘fiction’ can be seen through that easily.

    If he hadn’t sold himself in that way, no one would care about the pen name. Seriously. Pretending otherwise, is more of the weaseling you and your chums have shown all through this.

    Man up, guys. So to speak.

  41. Paul Bens
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 23:52:30

    There are so many smokescreens being thrown up to misdirect the issue at hand it’s laughable. A few people here are trying to bring the conversation back to the real issue at hand and lo! and behold! someone magically shows up to yell fire to get everyone to look away.

    Paul doesn’t play that. Paul doesn’t like topics hijacked away from the real issue. Paul doesn’t like the lack of pronouns on some websites. Does Paul have pronouns on Paul’s PR materials. Why yes Paul does.

  42. GrowlyCub
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 00:01:08

    Hey Paul!

    You might not have seen it in the deluge of comments, I was hoping you could recommend some m/m written by male writers.

    Thanks!

  43. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 00:17:02

    Hi Growly Cub:

    Sorry…I didn’t see it in the rain of comments. =-) Sorry about that.

    It is actually hard for me to come up with m/m romance by male authors because almost everything I’ve been reading lately has been written by females. So I may have to put my thinking cap on for a bit.

    Sean Meriwether is an excellent writer but the majority of his stuff tends toward the more erotica or bent, twisted fiction.

    I’m not done with it yet, but I’m currently reading Steve Berman’s “Vintage: A Ghost Story” and it has a wonderfully romantic feel to it. It’s YA, and I’m enjoying it very, very much and it is a love story underneath it all.

    Lawrence Schimel writes great stuff.

    While his novel Edinburgh is definitely not romance, Alexander Chin writes phenomenal stuff. And Noel Alumit’s off-beat “Letters to Montgomery Clift” is a love story of sorts.

    It’s interesting, because as a gay man, my idea of romance is far broader than the lust and fluttering hearts, so I don’t know that I’m the best for recs on true blue romance.

    My preferred reading site for gay lit is “Velvet Mafia: Dangerous Queer Fiction” (www.velvetmafia.com) and that is where I tend to find really, really interesting gay male writers. Some of the stuff the authors there contribute is romantic and other stuff in more raw.

    Ann can probably add more intelligently to this list than I. But I’m sure I’ll think of others.

  44. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 00:24:06

    BTW…I cant access DA at work so I only get the spare minutes at home or when I’m out sick. But I ultimately get through all the comments.

  45. ttthomas
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 01:56:59

    I think Ann Somerville has hit a few raw nerves, and I’m glad. As a gay woman, still smarting from the lies, deceptions and flagrant disregard for the equal rights of others that propelled Proposition 8 in California to a win, I have to say that while I “hear” something familiar in some of TeddyPig’s lament (anger, perhaps?), I feel as though his emotions have clouded his clarity and perhaps caused the anger to be misdirected. I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong on that. But hear me out.

    I do indeed think the subject of an author masquerading as a gender s/he is not is relevant to what just happened in California, but I think it for reasons exactly the opposite of Teddy (If I have understood his points). Honesty is not a gay issue. It’s not even a civil rights issue. It is, as Ann said, a consumer rights issue—and THAT is its only connection to Prop 8. The voters were lied to, misled, and purposely frightened by disingenuous power plays masquerading as concern for the children. And for our part in California, we just didn’t do our job of exposing the lies.

    But here’s what got me going while reading DA today:

    Ann To Erastes: “The only people making this an issue are the people maintaining the pretence when challenged or asked. Readers don't care about it – but they don't like being lied to. Writing frauds are unfortunately common – doesn't mean we have to accept it any more than we have to accept mealy mouthed explanations of plagiarism. For the record, I'd respect you and Lanyon a lot more if you just came out and said you thought your books would sell better if people thought you were blokes. That was what the Torquere Press crowd did it for originally, but they've since realised it's not necessary. All this crap about ‘Erastes is a male character' and the other self-justifications I've read today, is nonsense.”

    I don’t think this could have been said any better.

    When an author who writes m/m tells her audience that she is a male, call her Ratso or Fatso or Crazyasbatsoshit, that is a deceit of the highest order, and the only possible motivation that I can see is to capitalize financially on a market. Any other rationalization is bull. But there’s something worse than the initial lie and that is, the perpetuated lie.

    I believe it is possible to completely enjoy a book written well by such a person. Do I respect that person? Absolutely not. And there’s more. In the case of the author who showed up here to defend her bogus disclosure clause (in other words, it’s as if she’s saying—’I said I was a man, and my screename and my pen name is that of a man, but actually I’m a woman, which you may or may not know, as a reader, and so now that I told you, if you read the internet places where I said that I am, I think it’s OK…’ A big WTF…?

    What author doesn’t choose their pen name with premeditation of all the implications it will impart to the reader? We all do that. Writing under a pen name is not the issue. Writing under a pen name of a gender different from your own is not the issue. But proselytizing and projecting oneself on line and as an author as a gay man, with the shroud of authenticity that one thinks being a gay man will give one, is not the same thing as actually being a gay man, is it now?

    To use ones phony mantle as a jumping off point to criticize, and critique, others for their alleged lack of historical accuracy and authenticity is beyond the pale. (Not to mention a couple of memorable historical inaccuracies in Erastes’ book Standish) Does not the pulsing, hot light of even a moderate amount of shame permeate such a person’s aura? I think so—indeed, one could write a whole separate essay on shame as it relates to deception. I mean think about it (and this is for all the “Teddys” of the world): We’ve spent all our entire goddamn lives trying to hide who we really are, staying compliantly obsequious in that hot, dark, scary closet so as not to offend the friendly UnQueers, and so as not to provoke the unfriendly UnQueers—and you want to defend an author who has some glam fetish foolhardiness going on about being a real gay man when she’s a female??? I don’t care if she writes with a male or neutral gender pen name. That’s fine. BUT SHE’S NOT WHAT YOU AND ME AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF OTHERS ARE and that’s why it is exactly wearing colors one hasn’t earned. And that’s all it is. Truth in lending, as it were. I don’t care where she lives or who she sleeps with or whether she’s straight, gay or bent into a pretzel (by this point in her reading…lol); but she don’t get to be Queer, Teddy, if she ain’t!

    From time to time, but I have respected various things TeddyPig has said in other forums on other issues. I don’t have a puppy in this mill, either, but for all the reasons that the Yes on Prop 8 people swindled the voters—those are the very same reasons I think someone who has gendered themselves differently in print as though doing so makes that person some kind of expert in being that re-gendered entity, is a liar, a thief and a fraud. All the sadder when that person is a good writer and never needed to have done so, or, having done so, can’t stop justifying the lie already. If Erastes wants to discuss being a grownup, I believe one of the hallmarks of maturity is owning up.

    Because of that, people such as Teddy, but not just Teddy, should evaluate either their priorities or their friendships. I do not question such a person’s compassion, identification, genuine caring for the gay men she re-gendered herself into being (temporarily); I question the lie and deception she has perpetuated upon the reading public—because, guess what? Many of those reading public are homosexuals and lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people who she thinks so damn highly of that she lies to them. And, yes, I do question the honesty and the character of that person.

    I question it, but I don’t yet condemn it. Maybe I ought to have done by now, but it occurs to me that the possibility of “dawns the light,” while full of irony, is a better state than the inauspiciousness of initially illicit, and later public, gender hijacking. It is exactly wearing colors one hasn’t earned, and if anyone ought to know something about the pain and hurt of fraud perpetrated, and perpetuated, surely it is my gay brothers and sisters. (I use the word “gay” as inclusive shorthand).

    Thanks Ann for once again rising and roaring out of the muck that has been splattered upon you at the hands of lesser minds…and, as even the most casual observer can easily see, lesser hearts.

    Yeah, well, maybe I do have a puppy in this mill. I think it’s me.

  46. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 02:11:41

    @ttthomas:

    I guess you think you’re supporting Somerville’s position, here, but believe me, I’d rather be the object of your ire than have you speaking up on my side of the discussion. Your conflating the use of a pseudonym — in Erastes’ case, it is obviously a pseudonym — with the misrepresentation of the issues of Proposition 8 show a great deal of sound and fury, but the rage drowns out any sense that might exist.

    I haven’t been reading Somerville’s posts, btw; one or two was sufficient. When somebody’s riding a hobbyhorse and has no argument beyond “I am RIGHT and everyone else is WRONG,” that’s no longer a discussion, it’s a rant.

  47. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 02:22:21

    Whereas calling those who disagree with you children, and not even reading what they write, is the ultimate in respectful discussion, right, Lee?

    So glad you’re here to lay down the law, explain imaginary community rules for imaginary communities, and defend imaginary gay people while slapping real ones upside the head.

    A real freedom fighter for personal rights, aren’t you?

    ttthomas, thank you for your kind words. Sorry it’s brought the wrath of the queen bitch down on your head. Now you can see for yourself how certain cliques in m/m work – you don’t just disagree with people, you annihilate them, and all those who agree with them. Lee Rowan’s posse, and Lanyon, have developed that to a fine art. If these are the ‘certain’ communities with their amazingly convenient rules of etiquette, well, I’m ever so glad I’m not a member.

  48. Moth
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 02:31:38

    @Chrissy
    “I understand that you, Ms. Somerville, are trying to turn your amateur slash writing into a career on the allegedly successful m/m romance market”

    This seemed uncalled for to me. I don’t always agree with everything Ann S. says or how she says it but I think comments should stay away from dragging her personal writing into it. Just my two cents *ducks to avoid impending flame war*

  49. Maggie
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 02:52:32

    ttthomas @ 245:

    But ttthomas… Lanyon never claimed to be a man or a woman. Ms. Somerville made that part up. I think there’s a misunderstanding here.

    And since he never claimed to be one or the other, how does that make it lying?

  50. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 02:56:52

    Lanyon never claimed to be a man or a woman. Ms. Somerville made that part up.

    I most certainly did not make that up, and if Lanyon is still saying that, she’s lying. Flat out, bald-facedly lying.

  51. ttthomas
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 03:00:39

    I guess you think you're supporting Somerville's position, here, but believe me, I'd rather be the object of your ire than have you speaking up on my side of the discussion.

    Lee Rowan, am I supposed to thank you for that insult? Well, see, I think you should thank me for disabusing you of the screamingly wild ducks notion that you are clever. Really what you say says more about you and your ass hanging out than it does about me.

    Had you bothered to read all of the previous 247 comments, you’d know that the correlation to Prop 8 was brought up by Mr. TeddyPig in such a way that everyone, including me, at first, thought he had posted to the wrong forum. On further reflection, I thought the emotional intensity with which he brought up Prop 8, while misdirected, unintelligible within the the context of what he was responding to, and rather painfully personal, was, in better hands, a not-so-unworthy metaphor for the real discussion here, which is honesty. Sorry you missed it.

    @ Ann
    Don’t worry, Ann, I’ve been smacked by bigger, better, smarter and prettier bitch queens. And those are my friends!

  52. ttthomas
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 03:04:48

    I think there's a misunderstanding here.

    I agree, Maggie, but I don’t think I’m the one misunderstanding very much at all. I am new to posting on this and other forums, but I’m not new to reading them. I did arrive in this country on the Queen Mary (now docked in Long Beach, CA), but I assure you, it wasn’t yesterday.

  53. Seressia
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 03:18:11

    Geesh. Maybe I should just keep writing under my birth name.

  54. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 03:35:46

    @Maggie:

    If you want just a teeny little bit of evidence for Lanyon’s dishonesty, how about the review cited in Jane’s post? Jayne said:

    Another reason I picked your book to begin with is the fact that as a Gay man (Edited to add: At least I'll continue to assume you're a man until it's proven otherwise), you certainly know of what you write.

    Teddypig said:

    When I recommend Josh Lanyon I do so because he is a good writer and his books contain lots of juicy Gay romantic plot elements.

    I think the actual experience of being Gay does count for something in this case.

    Julia Sullivan said:

    I think that starting with a gay male writer who's adept at both the conventions of mainstream gay fiction and m/m romance is a smart choice for someone new to reviewing this genre. Also, Josh Lanyon is just a really good writer, full stop.

    ‘Mr’ Lanyon, that marvel of honesty and rectitude, then posts a reply after all these comments. Does ‘he’ say anything about the assumptions in the comments, and all over the post?

    This is the entire comment ‘he’ made:

    Thank you very much for the review, Jayne. I can't tell you how pleased I am to see gay or M/M reviews included in a mainstream romance review site. Very kind -’ and very much appreciated.

    Nothing contradicting what the others believe to be so. So it’s a claim by omission, if nothing else.

    This is aside from the fact I’ve actually seen ‘him’ getting snotty over someone reviewing his work on a forum and referring to him as female. This was in his LJ, no I can’t find the post, but posts can be deleted, edited and made private at will. I’m not imagining it, and I’m not lying. There was a snarky back and forth with a friend, offering to show people his driving license and so on, a very much firmer claim to the male gender than most other ‘male’ authors in the genre has ever made, in my experience.

    Lanyon also exclusively uses a male avatar on LJ, which is a clear way of flagging gender.

    I don’t think all those people who assumed he was male – unlike all the other male named authors in the genre – were victims of a mass delusion either. ‘He’s’ very deliberately building up the persona of being a gay man in people’s minds, and until this post, had done absolutely nothing to contradict that assumption even when made in front of him. Of course now, it’s damn obvious he’s just like Erastes and all the others faking it, because of the squeals of ‘no fair peeking!’.

    I suppose to those who’ve swallowed the Koolaid, this can be handwaved away. But to the rest of us, it’s very clear what message Lanyon wanted us to believe. As is also very clear, he wants us to believe it because it makes his writing somehow ‘better’ – more authentic. It’s ironic that he does indeed write well enough not to need this bullshit. He writes better than me, I freely admit that. He should just front up, admit what he’s up to – or not up to, if I’ve got all the clues and cues completely wrong (which I might have) – and get on with his writing.

    You don’t need to be gay to write m/m. I don’t know why he thinks you do.

  55. MD
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 05:01:03

    I agree with the poster who originally mentioned that some of these m/m works have a feminine viewpoint of men and relationships. Authors like Erastes, Rhodes, Beecroft, Buchanan, and some others whose names I can’t remember, I thought were female writers because there are hints of a female focus in their writing (or in some cases it’s crystal clear), but it hasn’t stopped me from buying and reading their work. Laura Baumbach is the only openly female m/m author I can recall at the moment, and Ann Somerville.

    Ironically I find of the m/m I’ve read in the past few years, Ann Somerville and Lanyon both write, at least in my opinion, with the least “feminine” style in m/m and I think they’re both competent writers. I don’t find one particularly better than the other. The level of sexual content in the book doesn’t impact my opinion of whether the story has a feminine feel, because the female authors usually write sex as raunchy and explicit as the male writers do.

    But I can understand why Lanyon has been singled out on this thread. I’d been thinking about buying the How-To book on writing m/m fiction written by this author and yes, mainly because I was curious to see what advice a gay male would give on the subject. I’ve decided to put off buying it for now, because I’m not sure I’d be getting what I initially thought was being offered. If I want female advice on how to write m/m, I can find that basically all over the ‘net. =D

    It’s one thing to disguise yourself as a man and tell me stories from your imagination. It’s decidedly another to tell me you’re giving me a gay man’s perspective on writing fiction when in truth you’re coming at it from the exact same perspective I am.
    If I’d bought the book, I’d be feeling terribly taken advantage of now.
    I don’t think this author is doing himself/herself any favors by playing this game.

  56. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 05:20:44

    Laura Baumbach is the only openly female m/m author I can recall at the moment, and Ann Somerville.

    Just a few plucked from list of my friends, my publisher, memory etc:
    Emily Veinglory
    Jules Jones
    Lee Benoit
    Lydia Thorne
    Jaime Samms
    Ginn Hale
    Nicole Kimberling
    Astrid Amara
    Ally Blue
    Maya Banks
    Treva Harte
    Joely Skye
    Vivian Dean
    Maia Strong
    Aislinn Kerry
    Amanda Young
    Jade Buchanan

    There are many, many more.

  57. How to Write Professionally | English Writing Software
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 07:25:27

    [...] Does an Author Have to Live It to Write It? | Dear Author: Romance … addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestenglishsoftware.com%2Ftips%2Fenglish-writing-software%2Fhow-to-write-professionally%2F’; addthis_title = ‘How+to+Write+Professionally’; addthis_pub = ”; Tags: Attention Writers, Bored, English Software, How to Write Professionally, Internet Libraries, Internet Sites, Media Library, Paragraphs, Punctuation Errors, Sentences, Suspense, Target Audience, Task Bar, Vast Resources, Writing Ideas, Writing Software, Writing Techniques Posted under English writing software by Jane Sumerset on 11.16.2008 [...]

  58. joanne
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 09:39:56

    First of all I would like to thank each and every poster for allowing me to practice restraint at my family’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.

    Second, I applaud all of you for your passion and strong opinions and many of you for being able to write them in cohesive sentences. (I would mention editing your own writing and using paragraphs for easier reading but this doesn’t seem to be the right place.)

    And last, but my main point of stepping into the war zone, in any and all future discussions about writers/writing/reviewing/sales/authors etc. PLEASE never, ever, ever use the phrase “average reader” because the one thing I can guarantee is that we may not be posting to these sites and discussions but we are reading them (and messaging back and forth about same) and seeing that lack of respect for our individual likes and dislikes in any sentence will get you a big old “you have got to be kidding”.

    Now while I’m hoping that I don’t get hit with an axe the size of Rhode Island I wish you all good luck and success.

  59. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 10:53:35

    @Seressia:

    Geesh. Maybe I should just keep writing under my birth name.

    Seressia, man, I’ve been wondering the same thing…for a few brief moments, at least. ;)

  60. azteclady
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 11:47:55

    Being without internet access for almost 24hrs: yikes!

    Having read the flood of comments, I would like to ask…

    The question, if I understand correctly, is whether claiming to be *something* one isn’t in order to market one’s work–as a way of giving authenticity to said work–is deceitful or not.

    Whether mentioning Lanyon by name or not, would that be the basic question? It is not, mind, a question of whether the person claiming to be something s/he isn’t can pull it off well enough to deceive the public or not (Ann Sommerville’s take on Lanyon’s writing notwithstanding), but whether it is okay to claim to speak from personal experience.

    So, if Lanyon were not a gay male but is marketing a manual on how to write and market m/m fiction as a gay male, that would be deceitful, right?

  61. Randi
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 12:20:14

    azteclady: Exactly. That was my understanding of the initial question posed by Jane. Using Lanyon as a hypothetical situation was, though my filters, exactly that. A hypothetical situation. I also agree with Ann S, way earlier in this thread, that there does seem to be some “now you’re bashing my favorite author and that’s not OK” going on.

    I forget who supplemented the Mark Twain example (sorry), but I think that’s a little deceptive. At this point in history, when introduced to Mark Twain, it’s common knowledge that he’s really Samual Clemens, and that his “autobiographical” material is half fiction. That is a completely different scenerio than an author, now, creating a fictional persona. If Samual Clemens were writing today, and published his “autobiographical” works, and I found out they were half false, I’d be pissed. OTOH, if all he did was create a pseudonym, big deal. And I think that’s the big deal here: pseudonyms are a common practice, and I think, most readers don’t care. Going the extra step and creating a fake bio and pitching oneself and something one is not, is entirely different. I don’t know Lanyone from a hole in the wall. If he is a gay male in real life-great. If he’s a female and pretending to be a gay male-well, that’s a big problem, IMO. Eventually, the truth will out.

    @ Paul Bens: You may not have meant to be disparaging when you wrote, “…my idea of romance is far broader than the lust and fluttering hearts…”

    But is was disparaging. Is it your stance that most romance books are about “lust and fluttering hearts”? Because that’s not why I read romance. I read romance for the HOPE of HEA. To read about two, or more, people traversing, together, the pitfalls of life to find another person (or persons) who care about each other and support one another. The road can be funny, bittersweet, meloncholy, or a mix of all that. But at the end of the day, it’s about the search, and the finding, of that special someone. However you meant your comment, it came out really condescending. At least to me.

  62. Brussel Sprout
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 12:23:16

    I think it is quite odd not to read male writers – I read evenly across the genders. My current favourite contemporary authors in no particular order are Jenny Crusie, Michael Chabon, William Boyd, Sebastian Faulks, Margaret Atwood, Kate Atkinson, Diana Norman, Jonathan Franzen and Joshua Ferris…Boyd and Faulks in particular have created persuasive female characters and Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie is one of the best male characters I’ve read, ditto Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond, Niccolo and Thorfinn.

    It’s true that in genre fiction, I think there can be weaknesses in characterisation, but it doesn’t necessarily hinder my enjoyment, because quite often (especially with first person narrative) the weakness in any depiction of the opposite sex is connected with the narrator’s journey from one state to another, and consequently offers the writer the opportunity to write with irony.

    The success or otherwise of a writer’s voice depends on the security of his/her vision. A writer should write about what they know in a Le Guin sense – provided a writer knows his or her own world solidly, and has an engaging voice/style, then they can take me wherever they want.

    Personally, I have pretty much given up on historical romance – I prefer historical fiction. I’ve read widely in the genre – James and Balogh included, but over and over, there’s something missing for me as a reader. I think it’s closely connected with voice and the focus on the third person limited point of view and the one-sentence paragraph, all of which plague the historical romance. There isn’t a formula book, but romance writers are canny and they take apart what sells and then replicate it, hence the wallpaper nature of so many books and the fundamental accuracy issues. Accuracy doesn’t seem to matter much to most historical romance readers, and those of us who do care about it find enough romance and historicity in hist fiction so we give up on historical romance quite quietly. The problem is that sales and marketing have overtaken worldbuilding as priorities for the publishers. I do think that there are editors in the romance sector who are just not that rigorous – I’ve published five novels and none of them have been severely edited, and believe me, re-reading them, I can see places now where decent rewrites would have made better books. But the pressure was to meet publication schedules and hit marketing deadlines.

    This pressure crosses the genre barriers. As a reader who loves big fat thick books, I am perpetually seeking modern equivalents to George Eliot, Dickens, Trollope, books that you can sink into and dwell in for a week or two. But the vast majority of modern novels over 400 pages are woefully under-edited. The writers are good, have great stories, but no one seems to be around to tighten them up in terms of both plot and structure. And if the writer is successful, the last thing an editor will do is tell them to cut cut cut. This is because there just isn’t that much time to reduce the book because the publishing schedule and the marketing campaign have been planned and cannot be altered.

  63. Jessica
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 13:06:22

    So many issues are being aired, but as far as I can see, here are the main ones (sorry if this doesn’t help anyone but me):

    Question 1 is whether an author has to live something to write it. (And we can disagree about what it means to say someone “lives something”: Do you have to have had cancer? Or just one of your close friends? Or do you merely have to have done your research?)

    [Sub-issue: what counts as "doing your research" -- having minions do it, etc.?]

    [Sub-sub-issue: Do historical novels have to be accurate, and in what detail (depiction of location of hymen)? And same question for erotica (depiction of uncircumcised penises).]

    [Sub-sub-sub issue: Hymen reconstruction surgery, and whether it represents an authentic choice for women. Women as puppets of patriarchy versus autonomous choosers.]

    Question 2 is what constitutes lying about his or her identity by an author. (Is any pen name a lie? Is failing to correct widespread but mistaken assumptions about one’s gender a lie? Etc.)

    [Sub-issue: To what extent is an author's personal identity private, and is a line crossed, either in terms of morality or civility, when gossip about an author is spread.]

    Question 3 is whether an author who lies about one’s identity or persona is doing something wrong. (So, for example, a woman writing erotica or a political tract in the 18th century might have compelling reasons to pose as a man that outweigh the wrong of lying. But a writer in the 21st century who cashes in on a sexual identity to sell more books may not.).

    [Sub-issue: what role, if any, editors and publishers play in crafting or influencing the crafting of false or misleading identities, and to what extent this mitigates authorial culpability.]

    I took it that the Question One was the point of the original post. Unfortunately, hundreds of albeit fascinating comments later, it doesn’t look much progress was made on that one, thanks to questions 2 and 3 getting thrown in to the mix.

  64. Lissa
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 13:18:58

    I have been following this thread for several days now and I have to say that it started out to be a very interesting discussion.

    Too bad it didn’t stay that way.

    I read both male and female authors. I read romance; straight and m/m, menage and erotica. I read mystery and suspense. In fact, I read just about anything – except horror, as a single female, I don’t need anything else to keep me up at night other than my own imagination. The point is – whether the author is male or female, gay or straight plays no part in my reading selection process. I choose stories that interest me, stories that I think will entertain me. After all, that is the function of fiction is it not?

    I have read male authors who write female characters well, and male authors who don’t. Same goes with female authors. I don’t know, unless the author tells me whether or not s/he is gay or straight or otherwise, nor do I really care. The quality of the storytelling and the character development is what I look for in an author. If those two things are present, I will choose the author again and recommend his/her books to others. If not, I move on. The author’s personal life is irrelivant to me.

    Personally, I think that if you are choosing your authors specifically on their gender or life experience you are cheating yourself out of some very good books. But that is your choice.

    As to the use of pen names – go for it. Write under whatever name for whatever reason you choose. But if you tell the world that you are a gay man – then be one. If you tell the world that you are a married grandmother with gray hair and an active sex life, then be that. Do not, under any circumstances, pretend to be something that you are not; or expect that people who find out differently will feel cheated and deceived and be prepared for the fallout.

  65. MD
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 13:31:35

    Emily Veinglory
    Jules Jones
    Lee Benoit
    Lydia Thorne
    Jaime Samms
    Ginn Hale
    Nicole Kimberling
    Astrid Amara
    Ally Blue
    Maya Banks
    Treva Harte
    Joely Skye
    Vivian Dean
    Maia Strong
    Aislinn Kerry
    Amanda Young
    Jade Buchanan

    Oh that’s right. Thanks. I can never think of names when I need to. =D
    Some of those authors I’ve never read, though. Nothing about vampire stories appeals to me. I think I’ve read two in my life- Bram Stoker’s and some book pitting Sherlock Holmes against Dracula (which I only read because I like Holmes stories). Also don’t read werewolf/shapeshifter/anime-based or influenced romance fiction. That all seems very popular in m/m.

    I’ve read some of Benoit’s work and liked it a lot and I didn’t initially know she was a woman. As I said, I don’t care when female authors use male pseudonyms because I enjoy male written or female written fiction alike and it doesn’t influence my book buying in the least.

    It only becomes a deceptive trade practice, in my mind, when you offer me a product I rely on to be one thing and it turns out to be something else.

    And for anyone who might reasonably argue that I don’t know whether Lanyon is a female author- well, I don’t believe a gay male author would have any need to flip flop or be furtive about the issue. Do you? (seriously?) Consequently, I feel confident this author is female.

  66. Maggie
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:09:20

    MD @ 264:

    “well, I don't believe a gay male author would have any need to flip flop or be furtive about the issue. Do you? (seriously?) Consequently, I feel confident this author is female.”

    He’s not being furtive. He’s just refusing to comment here so he can avoid a shit storm.

    I’m don’t even know how to respond to Ms. Somerville since her response to my comment saying Lanyon never tried to deceive anyone was to point out the fact that Jayne assumed from his pen name that he was a gay man. Jeeezus.

    I think it’s very sad that people just flippantly start gossip (and even defend that behavior) and then use that as a springboard to start accusing authors of deceptions that cannot be proven at all.

    And it’s horrible when the only reason for that accusation is, “Well, me and my gay friends have examined and discussed his writing style, and we have determined it to be decidedly feminine.” Well, you know what? I’ve read Josh Lanyon, Ann Somerville, AND Paul G. Bens, Jr. (A. Somerville’s best gay bud). I think you all are talented. There’s absolutely no reason for this mud slinging. And just to clear things up, no I cannot tell your freakin’ genders from reading your works and there is NO SET WRITING STYLE. I actually think Paul G. Bens writes even more flowery prose than Josh Lanyon, what with all the “delicate pink spot”s and the “intoxicating nectar”s. So there. Men are capable of romantic prose.

    Unfortunately, I think once people have started all these speculations and accusations, they will continue making them. I might make myself unpopular on this thread by saying this, but in this case, I think it was wrong of Dear Author to bring up specific names. It prompted certain other individuals to vent and spew hatred. The topic was legitimate, but once you start naming names, it just gets personal. But it’s worse than naming names, because you’ve insinuated that he’s lying when there’s absolutely no way you would know that. That’s just deliberately tarnishing someone else’s name when he did absolutely nothing to you.

    Ms. Somerville, you are a talented author. And Josh Lanyon is a talented author. Don’t tar your name and Lanyon’s by continuing this. Authors should be helping each other, not tearing one another down.

    Anyway, my comment is longish, but I wanted to remove myself from the thread, so I had to finish saying my piece. I’m not naive enough to think people will stop assuming things, but I’ll just stop defending, even though I hate that an author I love is being viciously attacked.

  67. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:15:07

    well, I don't believe a gay male author would have any need to flip flop or be furtive about the issue. Do you? (seriously?)

    I do. But then I’m not a proponent of the ‘people who have nothing to hide hide nothing’ school of thought. I believe people hide stuff all the time when it’s not really all that important, and I believe that someone who really is a gay man might absolutely be unwilling to declare himself that way by offering “proof” of some sort.

    I have my own opinions about Lanyon — and ironically they have not at all been influenced by either Jane’s or Ann Somerville’s comments — but that’s all they are — my opinions. IMO the original issue here was whether we can have the discussion about how authors market themselves as authentically empowered to write a particular thing, and clearly even having that discussion (let alone having the right to speculate about an author’s gender) is off limits as far as some are concerned. A position I find really troubling, especially in an environment where readers are regularly interacting with authors in a pseudo-personal way online, at author signings, etc. What all this furor has done for me is illustrate that it’s really not just about the work for those who are upset about the Lanyon discussion any more than for those they accuse of the same.

    But still, I can absolutely believe that someone who is exactly what they say they are refuses to prove that to anyone else’s satisfaction.

  68. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:20:24

    One thing I don’t understand is how this is all getting dumped on DA. This line of speculation about Lanyon was known to me before *anyone* brought it up here. Even as someone outside the m/m fan fiction, slash, and Romance communities, I had heard about this and thought it was a pretty widely rippling area of speculation. So I’m really confused about the insinuations that it was invented here (let alone the idea that it’s an attack on Lanyon).

  69. Marsha
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:58:19

    The insistence that any given author prove that he or she is as advertised (whether tacitly or implicitly) strikes me as nothing more than an entitlement tantrum.

    A friend once was deeply chagrined to discover that his new favorite “microbrew” was, in fact, a Budweiser product. When it was pointed out that nothing had changed about his enjoyment of the beer – it was still cold, refreshing and delicious – he conceded that it was only his own vanity that prevented him from purchasing it again. He didn’t want to be a Budweiser kind of guy, however such a person might be defined by him.

    If someone is getting what he or she needs from a book what of the particulars of the author? Whatever or whoever the author is personally does nothing to change that the book delivered what the reader sought and if the reader feels the need to demand that credentials be checked anyway then I think the reader needs to ask him- or herself why (since there’s no bearing on the content of a previously pleasing book). Which I guess brings us right around to the top of this thread.

    Then again, there are things external to a book. I may not want to give income to an author who believes X, Y, or Z thing. I don’t buy a certain company’s pizza because I don’t like what it might do with the profits generated by my purchase. If f the author of my fave ever Dessert Island Keeper (wait! are we allowed to say that anymore?!) turned out to be, say, Bill O’Reilly I might have to rethink my position.

    Not really helpful, am I?

  70. cs
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 15:05:09

    Personally, I think that if you are choosing your authors specifically on their gender or life experience you are cheating yourself out of some very good books. But that is your choice.

    Very, very true. However sometimes I do want a certain perspective and I actively go and seek it out. Especially in gay fiction. I’ve read tons and tons of books written by married straight women. But I also want to read gay fiction by people who are actually gay.

    Growly Cub: Have you ever read books by Michael Thomas Ford? He’s the man.

    Lee Rowan: Thank you for your comment. I actually have a few of your books in my TBR pile as well :) On the subject matter. I have to disagree, I don’t see anyone attacking female writers for writing gay fiction. Not on any BLOGs anyway. I think people like discussing it, just as much people like discussing why straight women like reading gay-fiction (i.e. me). The only time I’ve come across people being horrible about the fact women write gay-fiction, is from a (select) gay men. But hey they have every right to say what they will on the subject, as I am if a conservative white woman/man was writing about the life of an Asian girl (i.e. me). Your story might be fiction, but being gay or Asian is not.

    To jump from the use of an opposite-sex or gender-neutral pseudonym to accusations of fraud is unfair and off-topic:

    No one said that. However if you write a manual about writing about gay men/sex then you gotta admit, people will be a little-bit pissed off, if they find out that you’re neither male or gay. Have as many gender-neutral pen names as you want. Hell knock yourself out, but I don’t understand this whole ‘super-uber’ secret about whether your male or female.

    Many don’t seem to like Ms. Somerville and alright then. However all she really said was she believed that Josh Lanyon was female. Hell even I thought that ages ago as well. Believe it not assuming someone might be female is not slander. Now if I said Josh Lanyon is a creepy sod, then I can understand the outcry. But hey this poor thread has lost it’s initial point anyway. However still looking forward to the last installment of your series Josh, and your working partnership with Jordan.

  71. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 15:21:33

    @cs: @Marsha:

    If someone is getting what he or she needs from a book what of the particulars of the author? Whatever or whoever the author is personally does nothing to change that the book delivered what the reader sought and if the reader feels the need to demand that credentials be checked anyway then I think the reader needs to ask him- or herself why (since there's no bearing on the content of a previously pleasing book).

    Yes, exactly. There’s some publisher or other — Black Lace, I think — that requires that its authors be women. What do they do, demand a doctor’s certificate? I swear, if I were a man I’d be tempted to submit a story just out of sheer orneriness. Worrying about the gender of a writer would be like demanding that the person who built your dining room table be a large, burly man with a shop full of power tools. WTF? If it’s a good table, it’s a good table. Issues of business ethics and environmental impact are valid — the personal identity of the carpenter is not.

  72. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:03:56

    cs:

    I don't see anyone attacking female writers for writing gay fiction.

    Oh, it does happen; it has. Individual gay men, as you said, and I’ve had a couple of sniping episodes from a woman who considers herself a feminist who took potshots at my f/f marriage because, in her opinion, no True Lesbian could write about MEN. Or something. She kept at it for a year, and snarked at some other female m/m writers. The accusation was inane, but the brouhaha gave me a real dislike of the assumption that a writer’s private life, including sexuality (what is more private?) is any of a reader’s business.

    if you write a manual about writing about gay men/sex then you gotta admit, people will be a little-bit pissed off, if they find out that you're neither male or gay.

    I don’t see why. Is the book good? Is it effective? He didn’t write “How to be a Gay Man,” he wrote “How to WRITE about Gay Men.” If — having written a few books a la Louis Lamour, you wrote a book on “How to Write a Western Novel,” it would not be reasonable to expect you were out ropin’ dogies on the lone prairee. It would be reasonable to expect that you had done what you were attempting to teach (he has) and had consulted other writers who had done the same (he did.) I haven’t read it, mostly because I’m not keen on “Write X for Fun and Profit.” Like backyard breeding, it draws in people out to make a buck, not people who love the genre.

    I don’t subscribe to the notion that a writer (or an actor, or musician, or any creative artist) owes the audience anything more than the best story, music, or performance that s/he can possible produce. I think this clever-dick nonsense about being able to determine gender from a person’s writing is about as scientific as creationism or phrenology. Less, maybe — a phrenologist could at least detect if somebody’d been given a serious clunk over the head.

    And yes, anybody is free to express any opinion. But this psychic gender-detection is just goofy. What if — and this is utterly made up of whole cloth, totally unrelated to Josh, whom I have never met — what if a person writing with a male pseudonym were a transgender woman whose personal sexual identity was male? What good would it do anyone to “detect” that s/he was anatomically female?

    And more to the point: what hurt might it cause the writer who had found a medium in which his true self could find expression? Is the satisfaction of “LOOK!! I’m RIGHT!!” justification for this intrusion?

    (warning: the following paragraph is not to be taken seriously.)

    It’s particularly silly that a heterosexual woman is claiming the ability to determine gender over the ethernet Or… is “she?” I never met Ann Somerville; I don’t know that she is female.

    Yes, this speculation is intentionally ridiculous. I don’t know or care what Somerville’s identity or persuasion might be, I’m just trying to demonstrate that while it may be fun to point the microscope at someone else, it isn’t comfortable to be at the business end of the inspection.

    I expect all the speculation will be good for Josh’s sales, though.

    To answer the original question of the thread: Does the author have to live it?

    Not if s/he has an adequate imagination.

  73. MD
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:08:15

    And it's horrible when the only reason for that accusation is, “Well, me and my gay friends have examined and discussed his writing style, and we have determined it to be decidedly feminine.” Well, you know what? I've read Josh Lanyon, Ann Somerville, AND Paul G. Bens, Jr. (A. Somerville's best gay bud).

    A whiff of feminine viewpoint in an author’s work does not preclude talent. I don’t know where you got that from.
    I think all the authors you’ve mentioned, whether they are male or female, are fantastically talented and write some excellent fiction. Paul Bens in particular. His Torquere story is one of the best m/m stories I’ve ever read.

    My beef is not with the fiction. I don’t care what the author’s sex is.
    It’s the non-fiction that to me personally comes across as deceitful. Lanyon may not wish to confirm whether he’s male or female, but when his identity makes his work in the non-fiction field a lie, I feel he’s under an obligation to correct that.
    YMMV.

  74. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:14:46

    There's some publisher or other -’ Black Lace, I think -’ that requires that its authors be women.

    Since you can’t even be bothered coming up with a real example, I’ll give you one – The Mammoth Book of Gay Erotica, edited by Lawrence Schimel, which I reviewed here. Schimel decided that he only wanted real gay men to write for the anthology, and I’m very glad he did, because there, unequivocally, I can say, this is a sample of real gay writing.

    If you, Rowan, had managed to fool him, you would have tainted the product. It would no longer be authentic. Sure, the writing might have been good (I don’t know, since I’ve never had any interest in your writing to find out what you sound like when you’re not being an ass), but it would not have been what Schimel wanted to offer. You would have made him commit a fraud on the readership, something he cares very much about not doing.

    Maybe the publisher you can’t be bothered to find out the name of, wanted to do the same – perhaps say ‘real women’s erotica, by real women’. You think it’s cute to make a publisher lie to the readers, when the readers have made it very clear in this post, they really, really hate being lied to?

    Fan of Schimel as I am as a editor, for he is one of the best, he personally isn’t as good a writer as some of the women I know. But what he is, is a real gay man. If he turns up in an anthology of real gay men’s erotica, or biography, I don’t have to guess whether the male name is hiding a female’s voice. Some of the stories in that anthology aren’t fabulously written – I’ve certainly read better, written by women. But that isn’t the issue. Sometimes, the quality of the writing is not the only thing that matters.

    @Maggie – Paul’s a good friend and a very good author, but he’s far from being my only gay friend. Moreover, unlike some of the commentors here, no one’s got a hand up his shirt telling him what to say and how to say it.

    I actually think Paul G. Bens writes even more flowery prose than Josh Lanyon, what with all the “delicate pink spot”s and the “intoxicating nectar”s. So there. Men are capable of romantic prose.

    No one said they weren’t. If you bothered to actually read my comments, instead of the creative reinterpretations by friend Rowan et al, I pointed out that gay authors tend to have a shift in focus – something very obvious in the anthology I’ve mentioned here. Nowhere in my remarks did I say that equated to not being flowery, or romantic. Nothing in my remarks about Lanyon’s writing was uncomplimentary in the slightest either.

    However, (falling for your classic deflection though I am) I don’t think Paul writes flowery prose anyway – though I can’t read most of his stuff because it’s just too damn dark and creepy. That I have read, has been tight, dark-hued and far from traditionally romantic.

    er response to my comment saying Lanyon never tried to deceive anyone was to point out the fact that Jayne assumed from his pen name that he was a gay man.

    My response was to point out that Lanyon did nothing to correct her assumption, nor that of at least two other people. Honestly, are you actually reading anything I write?

    Mrs Giggles compared people like you to Clay Atkins’ fans. She was absolutely spot on.

    You want to look at who’s flinging mud and who derailed this post? Look at Teddy Pig’s comments, and his two wildly misleading posts. The discussion here has been civil, except where a few supporters have charged in to defend the authors they ‘love’.

    I don’t want my readers to love me. I only want them to love my writing. Clearly that’s not enough for some authors.

  75. Nora Roberts
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:17:14

    ~might make myself unpopular on this thread by saying this, but in this case, I think it was wrong of Dear Author to bring up specific names.~

    That makes no sense to me. DA brings up specific names in discussions all the time. Mine’s mentioned in this blog as JD Robb. The ensuing discussion, statements by those who comments, the tone and direction of same is certainly not the responsiblity of DA, particularly when the article FOR discussion was anything but a spew.

    Many here seem very sensitive about this subject. I won’t argue with them. I think people are entitled to their sensitivities and hot buttons. Others are equally entitled to disagree and put their own opinions out there.

  76. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:26:42

    He didn't write “How to be a Gay Man,” he wrote “How to WRITE about Gay Men.”

    As MD said, she would have bought this assuming the author was a gay man, and felt cheated to learn otherwise. You are being quite disingenuous, you know.

    I think this clever-dick nonsense about being able to determine gender from a person's writing is about as scientific as creationism or phrenology.

    Except I was right, wasn’t I. Like I said, and you didn’t read, you and friends have a vested interest in deriding gender differences. Maybe you think writing like a woman is a bad thing. I don’t.

    I don't know or care what Somerville's identity or persuasion might be

    Did someone ‘persuade’ you to be bisexual? You really do sound like some of the lying sods behing Prop 8 when you say stuff like that.

    Microscope away, Rowan. Like Paul Bens, I’ve made no secret at all about my gender or sexuality. It’s only your little chums who play stupid games with readers about such things – and it’s only because of the stupid games, that anyone gives a flying f*ck.

    expect all the speculation will be good for Josh's sales, though.

    Good for her. I keep saying, she writes well. People won’t be buying a bad product per se. Whether they care about the persona, is up to them.

    But if sales are going to increase, maybe she and her chums, and you and your chums, should stop squealing like stuck pigs, and be grateful for all the free publicity. Not to mention all the hugs and cuddles for being such poor oppressed little writers.

  77. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 16:51:53

    I want to swing back for a second (WARNING: blatant attempt to change the course of the thread ahead!!) to the issue of reading women instead of men or vice versa.

    As someone who was raised, like most people, I think, reading mostly male writers — all through high school, college, grad school, and law school — I feel that I have a pretty good saturation in the male authorial voice. Now I adore reading both male and female authors and have many favorites among both genders. But I totally understand how grown, educated, intelligent, civicly engaged women might prefer reading women over men, and I note that no one here is arguing it’s because women write better books (as has been argued about male authors). I understand this perspective because as a woman I know what it’s like to have the enormous symbolic phallus waved in my face every day in this society, that so much in our culture is determined via a male perspective, and I can well imagine that at some point retreating to female-written books might simply be a perceived safe harbor from masculine authority. It’s not my desire, but I understand it.

    My attitude is pretty much that when men can show me that they are as educated — as steeped, really — in female-written books as women are in male-written books, we can have a serious discussion about whether educated, intelligent women should be choosing to read only female-authored books. Until then, I get the escapist (from patriarchy) fantasy in choosing women-authored books for pleasure, even if it’s not my choice.

  78. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:02:18

    I don’t know why I’m doing this. That said . . .

    The “truthfulness” issue has a clear fulcrum point, which everyone other than a handful of posters has overlooked.

    Obfuscation of identity isn’t the fundamental issue. Not for me, anyway. An author who is simply producing works of fiction can, as far as most readers are concerned, present him/herself in whatever way he or she chooses. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, because our lives are our lives and nobody else’s. (I had no clue Erastes was female. Does it matter to me? Not one whit.) BUT . . . desire for privacy or acceptance tilts toward fraud when a fiction writer begins touting him/herself as an authority based on that smokescreen of a public persona.

    Say, for example (yeah, this is what “hypothetical” is all about):
    Bertie Buchinski offers a critique service for lesbian authors.
    Bertie Buchinski has dispensed a good deal of f/f writing advice and criticism on line.
    Bertie Buchinski has authored a “how-to” writing guide for lesbian fiction.
    Ergo, Bertie Buchinski has gone far toward establishing it/him/herself as an authority on (not just an author of) f/f fiction, and has been profiting from it.

    Now, if Bertie Buchinski were, in actuality, a het or bi man, het or bi woman, gay man, male-to-female trans, female-to-male trans, hermaphrodite (intersexual), precocious chimpanzee, or anything other than a full-fledged, card-carrying lesbian, Bertie Buchinski’s claim to “authority” is specious, at best. And all those readers and writers who assumed they were getting the lowdown from a bona fide queer girl — as they were intentionally led to assume — have been hoodwinked.

    I have no bloody idea if this type of thing has gone on or not. None whatsoever. And I have no inclination even to lean either way when it comes to making a call on any given author. Speculation is pointless. But IF such a situation were to be the case, it would indeed chap my ass. It’s akin to a person misrepresenting his credentials when applying for a faculty position at a college or university.

  79. MCHalliday
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:24:02

    I believe people hide stuff all the time when it's not really all that important…

    So true…in fact, I base my tales on the same notion that masking truth has a basis in fear of rejection and so many other deep seated reasons in order to keep the truth hidden. None for marketing purposes as yet but an excellent subject to explore.

    IMO the original issue here was whether we can have the discussion about how authors market themselves as authentically empowered to write a particular thing

    On that topic without the marketing slant, an author does not have to ‘live it to write it’, but it can’t hurt to have some experiences that can aid in the feel of authenticity when writing.

    For example, in writing a historical circa 1000 AD, it was helpful that I spent some time in a recreated wattle and daub village. Although the building materials in the era and location of Ireland I wrote about were different, it was influential in my acurate construct of a medieval village.

    Writing about places I've been are far easier than imagining, such as knowing Victorian London from the streets, homes, parks and buildings that survived WWII. Add research for accurate detail but more so, I've intimately known Victorians (most of my paternal side of the family lived into their late nineties) which afforded me first-hand knowledge of culture, custom, religous influences and speech patterns with words and grammar according to class and location in the UK.

    Off current topic but in reference to Mrs Giggles comment about a much needed NEW imprint for out-of-the-box tales, the Kensington editor, Hilary Sares, wrote to me, “Your wonderful prose and characterization were the highlights of this Victorian novel, which reminded me in many ways of the bestseller TCPaTW…but I would have to say that writing…in the first person may have not been the best choice.”

    Back to knowing what you write…as my contemp mysteries are primarily based in London, I can see Kensington Park when I write about it, same with the ring road or driving on the M5. I've been to *cough* many pubs, restaurants and use Brit preferences for food and drink. And also, really understand area specific slang and humour.

    On the other hand, my books (mostly the mysteries) relay characters/suspects POV concerning horrendous experiences and nurtured attitudes typically considered taboo. Only some of these experiences are my own (not saying which ones) but I don't write about a character without huge insight; I have never been a nun but I went to Catholic school, took and taught catechism, and am well aware of different convent protocol, also I considered the vocation on retreat many years ago. I know nuns are not saints from my own physical and mental abuse so I wrote about a mean-spirited Mother Superior in the second book in the series. I've known wonderful priests and absolutely horrid ones, so I wrote a priest (in the same mystery) as a rather sad and challenged secondary character.

    Back to experiences aiding the process of writing…some part of me must be empathetic to a character, even the villian. I have never experienced a lack of bad thoughts, even in my early development as I prayed for perfection, there were things I've done that still haunt me. A character always has a profound reason for motive and behaviour, even if it is innate.

    I want to swing back for a second… to the issue of reading women instead of men or vice versa.

    To that exact issue, I have personally encountered Layton on a group when I asked if readers might consider reading and the (hopeful) subsequent support of women as mystery writers due to the stats of male authored mysteries. Layton countered my stance, stating gender should not be considered when reading a book. As Layton's viewpoint is especially pertinent to this general discussion, I find his absence mystifying.

  80. MCHalliday
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:26:09

    Bloody hell, all my quotes were either lost or misplaced!

  81. MCHalliday
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:28:21

    I believe people hide stuff all the time when it's not really all that important…

    So true…in fact, I base my tales on the same notion that masking truth has a basis in fear of rejection and so many other deep seated reasons in order to keep the truth hidden. None for marketing purposes as yet but an excellent subject to explore.

    I

    MO the original issue here was whether we can have the discussion about how authors market themselves as authentically empowered to write a particular thing.

    On that topic without the marketing slant, an author does not have to ‘live it to write it', but it can't hurt to have some experiences that can aid in the feel of authenticity when writing.

    For example, in writing a historical circa 1000 AD, it was helpful that I spent some time in a recreated wattle and daub village. Although the building materials in the era and location of Ireland I wrote about were different, it was influential in my acurate construct of a medieval village.

    Writing about places I've been are far easier than imagining, such as knowing Victorian London from the streets, homes, parks and buildings that survived WWII. Add research for accurate detail but more so, I've intimately known Victorians (most of my paternal side of the family lived into their late nineties) which afforded me first-hand knowledge of culture, custom, religous influences and speech patterns with words and grammar according to class and location in the UK.

    Off current topic but in reference to Mrs Giggles comment about a much needed NEW imprint for out-of-the-box tales, the Kensington editor, Hilary Sares, wrote to me, “Your wonderful prose and characterization were the highlights of this Victorian novel, which reminded me in many ways of the bestseller TCPaTW…but I would have to say that writing…in the first person may have not been the best choice.”

    Back to knowing what you write…as my contemp mysteries are primarily based in London, I can see Kensington Park when I write about it, same with the ring road or driving on the M5. I've been to *cough* many pubs, restaurants and use Brit preferences for food and drink. And also, really understand area specific slang and humour.

    On the other hand, my books (mostly the mysteries) relay characters/suspects POV concerning horrendous experiences and nurtured attitudes typically considered taboo. Only some of these experiences are my own (not saying which ones) but I don't write about a character without huge insight; I have never been a nun but I went to Catholic school, took and taught catechism, and am well aware of different convent protocol, also I considered the vocation on retreat many years ago. I know nuns are not saints from my own physical and mental abuse so I wrote about a mean-spirited Mother Superior in the second book in the series. I've known wonderful priests and absolutely horrid ones, so I wrote a priest (in the same mystery) as a rather sad and challenged secondary character.

    Back to experiences aiding the process of writing…some part of me must be empathetic to a character, even the villian. I have never experienced a lack of bad thoughts, even in my early development as I prayed for perfection, there were things I've done that still haunt me. A character always has a profound reason for motive and behaviour, even if it is innate.

    I want to swing back for a second… to the issue of reading women instead of men or vice versa.

    To that exact issue, I have personally encountered Layton on a group when I asked if readers might consider reading and the (hopeful) subsequent support of women as mystery writers due to the stats of male authored mysteries. Layton countered my stance, stating gender should not be considered when reading a book. As Layton's viewpoint is especially pertinent to this general discussion, I find his absence mystifying.

  82. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:46:28

    @K. Z. Snow:

    Now, if Bertie Buchinski were, in actuality, a het or bi man, het or bi woman, gay man, male-to-female trans, female-to-male trans, hermaphrodite (intersexual), precocious chimpanzee, or anything other than a full-fledged, card-carrying lesbian,

    Oh, lord, I am not going to get into the bi/trans/woman-born-woman business.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s next to impossible to say that one person’s definition of a ‘real’ gay/bi/lez/het identity is precisely the same as anyone else’s. I know who I am, I know who I love, and other folks are entitled to make those decisions for themselves.

  83. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:49:09

    @MCHalliday: @MCHalliday:

    Who’s Layton?

  84. Nora Roberts
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:50:40

    I haven’t done or experienced a fraction of the things I’ve written about. I haven’t set foot on most of the locations I’ve used as setting. Except I’ve done and experienced all of it during the research and writing, and spent a great deal of time in every location within that same framework. Imagination, research, empathy, observation–all essentials in the writer’s toolbox.

    Obviously I haven’t lived in NY in 2060, but I write about that place and time, that world regularly. I’ve never killed anyone (and no one can prove otherwise) but I’ve murdered many fictionally. I believe I know how it feels to do so, and I think belief is enough when writing (if you have the talent, skill and imagination required). You have to believe in the absolute truth within that bubble of fiction to make it strong enough for the reader to believe it.

    Honestly, I don’t need any sort of ‘background’ or experience. I don’t need to have been there or done that on any level *except* through the process of writing to create the setting, the characters, the atmosphere. It’s my job to do that.

    That said, if I pretended I had, or that I was something I’m not, that I’d lived a life I hadn’t lived in order to sell my books or make them seem more ‘authentic’, then, imo, I’d be a fraud.

    I don’t know and haven’t read the work of the writers under discussion here. I have no pony in this show. This is a general and I suppose fairly encompassing opinion on the initial discussion posed.

  85. MCHalliday
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:54:05

    Lee, I majorly boobed: I meant to write Lanyon.

  86. Cat Grant
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:55:22

    As usual, La Nora brings class and level-headedness back to the discussion. Thank you! ;)

  87. Jane O
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:58:16

    I must say I have found this entire thread amazing.

    There are authors who delight in doing an emotional/spiritual/physical strip tease in public, and there are authors who go to great lengths to protect their privacy. There are Norman Mailers and there are J.D. Salingers. But that is entirely up to them.

    As reader, all -’ and I mean ALL -’ we have the right to demand is a book.

    If the author has written it well enough to convince us, fine. We may buy the author’s next.

    If the author has not written it well enough to convince us, we don’t have to read it -’ or finish reading it -’ and can toss it in the trash if we so choose.

    But we are not entitled to any personal details about the author.

  88. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 19:12:12

    But we are not entitled to any personal details about the author.

    I don’t think anyone here is talking about prying into an author’s life. If an author says, “My name is John Smith,” and nothing more, that’s fine. The issue is saying, “My name is John Smith and I’m an A,” when he’s really a B. I don’t know about you, but I consider the latter to be dishonest. Much like James Frey claiming to be the person in his “memoir,” which he did to sell his book.

  89. kirsten saell
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 19:38:18

    “My name is John Smith,” and nothing more, that's fine. The issue is saying, “My name is John Smith and I'm an A,” when he's really a B. I don't know about you, but I consider the latter to be dishonest.

    Okay, but I missed the part where Josh Lanyon came out and actually said “I’m Josh Lanyon and I’m a gay man.” If he has, I will stand corrected, but I honestly haven’t seen it.

    And I know Ann and others will insist that his failure to refute the accusations that he’s really a woman is a tacit admission of guilt, but I haven’t seen him responding either way–to claims that he’s a woman, or claims that he’s a gay man–and I honestly don’t think he should have to.

    Say, for example (yeah, this is what “hypothetical” is all about):
    Bertie Buchinski offers a critique service for lesbian authors.
    Bertie Buchinski has dispensed a good deal of f/f writing advice and criticism on line.
    Bertie Buchinski has authored a “how-to” writing guide for lesbian fiction.
    Ergo, Bertie Buchinski has gone far toward establishing it/him/herself as an authority on (not just an author of) f/f fiction, and has been profiting from it.

    Now, if Bertie Buchinski were, in actuality, a het or bi man, het or bi woman, gay man, male-to-female trans, female-to-male trans, hermaphrodite (intersexual), precocious chimpanzee, or anything other than a full-fledged, card-carrying lesbian, Bertie Buchinski's claim to “authority” is specious, at best.

    Um, I don’t think it’s specious at all. If all Bertie B is doing is professing to be an expert at writing f/f fiction, well, I don’t see a problem. If Bertie B is claiming to be a lesbian, and that that makes her a better writer of f/f, well, I might be annoyed to discover she was lying, but honestly, it isn’t going to keep me awake at night, tapping angrily on my keyboard. What would make me angry is if I bought her books and they sucked.

    Slightly OT: I do wonder why so many lesbian and bi woman authors write m/m. I will admit that I find it annoying, but for selfish rather than philosophical reasons–there isn’t enough decent f/f and f/f/m erotic romance out there for me (although there does seem to be plenty of erotica). For whatever reason, straight women would rather write m/f or m/m, and I have yet to encounter a gay man who writes steamy f/f. If anyone knows of one, I’d love a rec.

    And for the record, Erastes is quite open about the fact that she’s a woman–I recall her saying she chose the pen name before she was published because she believed she wouldn’t be able to sell without the cred that went with it. Soon as she realized that wasn’t true, she came out. All in public-like, too.

  90. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 19:56:15

    @MCHalliday:

    Oh! thank you.. I don’t have to go look through all those posts…!

  91. Lee Rowan
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 20:03:52

    @Ann Bruce:

    Frey’s book was supposed to be a memoir; that is a claim that the story is non-fiction and that the details are a part of his life. If the book had been presented as fiction, his personal life would be irrelevant. Heinlein never mined ice on the moon.

    I think the cover of the m/m writing book mentions that JL is the author of the Adrien English mysteries. That’s not a statement about the author’s personal info, it’s the credential that he has written in the genre.

  92. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 20:09:27

    Okay, but I missed the part where Josh Lanyon came out and actually said “I'm Josh Lanyon and I'm a gay man.” If he has, I will stand corrected, but I honestly haven't seen it.

    Ms Saell, if I was talking about Josh Lanyon in particular, then I would’ve used his name. I’m talking about the issue in general.

  93. cs
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 20:10:33

    As MD said, she would have bought this assuming the author was a gay man, and felt cheated to learn otherwise. You are being quite disingenuous, you know.

    My point right there.

    So how to write a gay man is different how? If this author were to be female and married with 2.5 kids, why would I want advice writing about gay men from her? If I were an author and wanted to do some research, about gay men and stumbled across the authors ‘manual’ I would have bought it on the assumption the author was a) male and b) gay. It would be research. I would want to make my characters authentic because as I said being gay isn’t fiction. As Ann said I would feel cheated if the author was actually female, and wrote the book because she has three gay friends and suddenly knew what it was like to be male and gay.

    Also no one is asking for the authors bank details here. As I said this big hush-hush about keeping your gender secret in the m/m business (I only know about this genre, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen elsewhere) is slightly weird to me. But when is that suddenly being privy to an authors personal life? I walk down the street and people say ‘hey that’s a woman’ suddenly they’re all up in my private life? Mmm…

    But on writing what you know vs. what you don’t know. The latter requires research, and especially if it’s a contemporary story about the world today. But if you research your topic well enough, who says you can’t do it. You might not know the exact feeling – but you’ll get the point well enough. If you’re writing about Mars in the year 3010 then…you’re alright there :)

  94. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 20:15:56

    @Ms. Rowan – Ditto what I said to Ms. Saell.

  95. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 21:33:35

    Okay, but I missed the part where Josh Lanyon came out and actually said “I'm Josh Lanyon and I'm a gay man.”

    But isn’t the deliberate mystery — the assumption of a male pseud, the refusal to use pronouns in reference to one’s self, the refusal to say one way or the other — the very thing that makes the questions, the curiosity, inevitable? And from what I understand via this thread, even *asking the question* is verboten — a gay slur, a personal insult, an inappropriate invasion of the author’s privacy, etc. For the record, what I find problematic is begging a question and then striking out at those who dare ask it. Although I have to say that using the name “josh” would be such a lovely inside joke if, indeed, a woman stood behind it. But then, I am so cheesy that it would be difficult for me to refuse that pun, lol.

  96. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 21:42:40

    @Robin – I just hopped over the Josh Lanyon’s site, and he does use the male possessive pronoun:

    Josh lives in Los Angeles, California, and is currently at work on about a zillion other writing projects, as well as his new M/M Manuscript Evaluation Service.

  97. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 21:44:48

    @ Paul Bens: You may not have meant to be disparaging when you wrote, “…my idea of romance is far broader than the lust and fluttering hearts…”

    But is was disparaging…. However you meant your comment, it came out really condescending. At least to me.

    @Randi: I apologize profusely for having offended you (as well as anyone else I offended). I did not mean for it to come out that way, but I understand completely how it did and that it did. I did not mean to belittle the genre in any way. When the genre is written well, it is all those things you enjoy about it and that is also what I enjoy about it (in the m/m world as, forgive, but straight romance I am vastly under-read on) as well. I have only my speed at typing and my denseness for not realizing how it would come off to blame. Doesn’t excuse it at all and I am very sorry.

  98. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 21:59:05

    Well, you know what? I've read Josh Lanyon, Ann Somerville, AND Paul G. Bens, Jr. (A. Somerville's best gay bud). I think you all are talented.

    @Maggie: I don’t know if I’m Ann’s best gay bud, but if I am that would make me do the snoopy dance. And thank you for the compliment regarding the writing. I do what I can.

    I actually think Paul G. Bens writes even more flowery prose than Josh Lanyon, what with all the “delicate pink spot”s and the “intoxicating nectar”s. So there. Men are capable of romantic prose.

    I can’t comment on how my prose is viewed in comparison to Lanyon’s, but I am the first to admit that on many occasion I love to roll around in purple prose. “Mahape…” is probably the purplest.

  99. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:01:01

    @Robin – I just hopped over the Josh Lanyon's site, and he does use the male possessive pronoun:

    Then that was added last night because it was not there when I looked.

  100. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:04:39

    Paul's a good friend and a very good author, but he's far from being my only gay friend.

    @Ann…but I am the prettiest, right?

  101. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:14:12

    Shoot…I should done this in all one post…

    Moreover, unlike some of the commentors here, no one's got a hand up his shirt telling him what to say and how to say it.

    Oh my mind went evil rude places with this…I’ll spare you, but the BF was involved.

    I don't think Paul writes flowery prose anyway – though I can't read most of his stuff because it's just too damn dark and creepy. That I have read, has been tight, dark-hued and far from traditionally romantic.

    @Ann: Dark and creepy just makes my heart sing. Thank you. Yeah as a warning to all who may be curious about me…I don’t venture into traditionally romantic very often. It’s not easy for me to write for reasons I won’t bore you with. Which is why I should probably venture to write it more often. It’s out of my comfort zone.

  102. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:15:35

    @ Ann Bruce: Well that makes the question even more pendant, IMO.

  103. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:18:00

    Paul Bens in particular. His Torquere story is one of the best m/m stories I've ever read.

    @MD: I don’t know who you are, but I would like to have your babies because of that compliment. Thank you very much.

    For the record, I would also like to have ttthomas’ babies, but I don’t think either of us have the stuff the other is looking for.

    And Ann’s…cause they’d just be so cute given both our looks.

  104. Randi
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:23:33

    @ Paul Bens: ;) You’re a classy fellow Paul.

    warning: serious off topic below…

    @ theo: thanks for the reply. I asked about the hymen/menstral problems because when you mentioned it, it struck a thought about dysmenorhea (god, did I spell that right?). Since dysmenorhea is a catch all phrase for “we don’t know why you have really seriously debilliatting cramps”, I wondered if maybe hymens could be part of that problem. Very interesting, none the less.

  105. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:29:00

    I am the prettiest, right?

    You are the prettiest. And always a class act.

  106. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:36:59

    @ Paul Bens: ;) You're a classy fellow Paul.

    I try. And the apology is heartfelt. It’s funny, I can’t access DA from work, but because I had checked “advise of responses” to the thread, I saw your comment early this morning (I do love that it forwards the whole response). I felt so bad and even worse because I couldn’t offer the apology until I got home.

    =-)

  107. Paul Bens
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:39:01

    And always a class act.

    @Ann: You should see me right now…with lasagne sauce dripped down the front of my t-shirt. The BF just looked at me and said “Classy.”

    -Paul, white trash through and through.

    =-)

  108. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:43:54

    @Robin – Hmm. I’m more of a spectator in this discussion, but since Mr. Lanyon has implied that he’s a he, the question of gay or not is now kind of irrelevant because if he turns out to be a she, then, IMO, Mr. Lanyon has deceived his readers for the sake of selling his books.

    If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see if the aftermath is like Mrs. Giggles predicts.

  109. theo
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:47:17

    @Randi

    **totally off topic reply**

    You’re welcomed :) Yes, dysmenohrea is a blanket term for, you’re right, we-don’t-know-what-you-have-so-we’ll-just-shove-it-under-this-diagnosis, but it also covers several structural problems, hymen deformities, vaginal prolapse, tipped uterus…

    Makes me want, just one time, for those darned male doctors who say ‘this won’t hurt a bit’ to have the chance to experience how much it ‘won’t hurt’…

    And I need to stop. I don’t want to pull this off topic again. :-)

  110. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 22:52:09

    @Ann Bruce: I thought the question at issue was about gender more than sexuality (although certainly one can lead into the other), but I could be totally confused. It sure as hell wouldn’t be the first time. ;) In any case, I don’t think we’re in disagreement.

  111. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 23:05:16

    @Robin: It could be me. It was a long day at work. I just kept seeing “Josh Lanyon” and “gay man”, so I assumed (and you know what they say about assume) it was about both gender and sexuality. Did I see someone mention Mr. Lanyon’s writing is more authentic because the author is assumed to be a gay man? Or was my mind playing tricks on me?

    But, yeah, we’re not in disagreement.

  112. Robin
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 23:13:15

    @Ann Bruce: In a sense it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think we’re supposed to be talking about any of it. . .

  113. Ann Bruce
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 23:14:35

    @Robin: lol

    I needed that.

    I’m off to bed now.

  114. Ann Somerville
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 23:19:06

    @Robin:

    To me it’s about gender. When someone claims to be male – and more than that, writes a book on how to write about gay men – then the maleness, to me, becomes important. Being a gay woman isn’t the same as being a gay men, nor does being a bi woman. Erastes is a bi woman, so is Lee Rowan. So might Lanyon, for all I know or care. Erastes is queer, certainly, but not a man. She doesn’t have balls, a penis, and hasn’t fucked a man with that penis. The ‘man’ bit is important – otherwise you’re imitating it. The thing that makes m/m a joke to actual gay men very often is how shoddy that imitation is – and how insultingly stupid it is too.

    Whether you convince yourself you are the bestest fake gay male writer evah, or not, if you’re selling to an audience looking for the real deal, then it’s a cheat.

    I’m not ignorant – I know many people are fluid in their feelings about their gender, and some writers in m/m are transsexuals (FTM). But if you’re talking about how boy parts work, and how they feel to the owner, then I don’t think even a transsexual can talk from personal experience about that the same as a cis-male can (thought they can certainly talk about things like the effect of testosterone and so on, body image etc.) This is where it gets complicated, at least for me because while I know how important it is for transmen to be accepted and treated as the men they feel they are, and actually are. Yet with some transmale authors I still see their writing as being on the female side. Again, this is not a criticism, it’s just a question of the focus.

    To me, the worst thing about all the screeching from the ‘other’ side is the way it’s considered insulting to be a female, or known to be one. It’s like this shocking secret that one must hide, and having it discovered is like outing a gay person to his employers or something. Strange how all the bellowing about it doesn’t matter if the writer is male or female, assumes that it very much matters if they’re thought to be female.

  115. ttthomas
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 23:40:36

    @Paul

    For the record, I would also like to have ttthomas' babies, but I don't think either of us have the stuff the other is looking for.

    Thank you Paul, that’s a very sweet thing to say. It’s true, I’ve already found what I’m looking for and what she has in common with you is a lovely graciousness.

  116. Robin
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 00:13:35

    I think the part of this that interests me most, and the aspect I’ve been trying to work out for myself before really commenting on it, is the idea that the gender of the author doesn’t or shouldn’t matter, and that the reader should not consider it when buying a book. Now there is a cynical defense of that position, obviously, but pushing past that, it just feels incorrect to me, although I have not yet been able to marshal all the reasons for that response.

    One is that even though I do not believe the generalization that men and women write with different, gender-based voices, I do believe that there are genres of writing that rely on a particular gender perspective, and even more narrowly, there are genres of writing that stand on the gender of the author (feminist memoir, for example).

    But beyond that there is the current marketing machine that IMO works very assiduously to identify readers with authors in gender specific ways. And I don’t, honestly, know of an author who has even tried to escape that. Which is not the same thing as saying there are no authors who haven’t tried to game the system to their advantage. Just that I haven’t come across any authors who have not submitted to the impulses of the marketing machinery to greater or lesser degree.

    Finally, though, I do not think it follows logically that if one recognizes or even purchases a book based on the purported gender of the author that such a thing means they will not be able to read the book objectively. First of all, our best attempts at objectivity are *always* compromised by various ideological imperatives. But also, I find gender blindness, like color blindness, to be an unattractive aspiration for the same reason I find *blindness, per se* unappealing. I do not think recognition of gender leads to untenable subjectivity any more than I believe that ignoring it gives the reader a more objective view of a book. We bring so much to our reading experience, and we will inevitably create for ourselves an authorial voice that fits with those experiences and expectations.

    I know there is more to this, but I haven’t yet thought it through. In any case, I find these calls to “judge the book and only the book” echoes of the calls of New Critics who believed that any work of literature gives up all its meaning within the four corners of the text itself. New Criticism was ultimately rejected as incomplete, hegemonic, and unfairly ignorant of the various cultural influences that give rise to any text. So I’m sure that accounts for some of my resistance, as well. But in any case, I think we need to interrogate this notion of what it means to judge books on their own terms. IMO, that cannot occur until the context in which they were written is understood and considered.

  117. Ann Somerville
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 01:17:36

    I find these calls to “judge the book and only the book” echoes of the calls of New Critics who believed that any work of literature gives up all its meaning within the four corners of the text itself.

    Which is nonsense. How can you examine Dickens out of context, or Marx, or any serious writer? Are we supposed to know what Animal Farm refers to, without reference to the Soviet experience?

    The author might be dead, but the author is still part of the construction. More so when the constructed persona is intended to play into the art – as it does when a female author sells herself as male, or vice versa. If it didn’t matter…they wouldn’t do it.

    I do laugh to see all these people claiming we should only look at the book, when they are the first to howl they will NEVER read a book by this or that person because of
    1. Bad review by that author
    2. Bad behaviour by that author
    3. That author smells bad

    Can’t really have it both ways, can they?

  118. Benjamin
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 02:31:19

    Okay I must have read an entirely different book when I read Man, Oh Man. When I read it, I thought the book was about how to write M/M Fiction, not about gay men as you stated Ms. Sommerville. For the record, I am a gay male (but hey this is the internet so who really knows). The reason why I brought the book is bc I am entertaining the notion of writing M/M fiction. The reason why I stated I may have read the wrong book is bc nowhere in the book does it say this is how gay men act because we are all different that is the beauty of gay men. We all react different in moments of love and romance.

    I think the real thing to do is do like my college English professors and cite from the text on where you think you feel he is really a she. Im willing to gather that would be a hard thing to do. For example, lets say we take the Annie (back when she went by E. Annie Proulx) out of her name and it was gender-neutral E. Proulx and read Brokeback Mountain (before the phenomenon). Now. When I read it (before it became a juggernaut), it shook me to the core by how great the WRITING was. She truly captured the heartbreak of two gay men which newsflash is not that different from a heterosexual breakup. I willing to wager that depression, feeling like your guts have been wretched out of your body, and crying are symptoms of heartache that knows no gender.

    If you feel that he is perpetruating a fraud, you would need to do like my English professors would tell me: “Back up your theory by citing from the text”.

    I guess we have to agree to disagree on that Josh Lanyon is using false marketing for his non-fiction book that has nothing to do with HIM but with the nature of writing . Now if he did a JL Leroy (if u dont know who Im talking about do a quick Google) or even a James Frey then this whole post would have some merit. But I have read Man, Oh Man more times than I care to say (re-reading it now to be exact) and NOWHERE does it say “This is how you should write M/M fiction because I am a gay man”. Trust me. That is a statement I would have picked up on. And in that some of you REALLY need to show and prove to give your point any validity

  119. Ann Somerville
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 02:58:21

    @Benjamin:

    The person who turned this into a ‘is he gay or straight’ discussion, is Teddy Pig, so you need to go talk to him.

    All I said that I felt, from the writing, Lanyon was female. After all the carrying on over the last few days, I feel even more certain of that. Lanyon is now, belatedly, admitting through his site, what I have been saying – that he/she has and is claiming to be a male. This is despite people like Maggie stating he hadn’t done any such thing.

    Personally, I don’t believe it. You may feel otherwise. But the person putting the importance on the gender is him/her, and he/she has been pitching himself/herself as not just a man but a gay man, allowing that belief to stand unchallenged. So if it’s true, then he/she is acting honestly. If not, then she/he is not.

    My belief is the latter. Nothing you say, Lanyon says, or any of his supporters say, will change that belief, because of the way Lanyon reacted when this was posed. Not only how he reacted, but his friends and supporters reacted. I’m sure you’ve seen the same kind of reaction from in the closet celebrities when asked if they’re gay. You can make your own decision. I honestly don’t mind what you believe on this score, but I do mind being repeatedly called a liar.

    This entire issue only matters because Teddy Pig decided to make a total drama out of a misreading of what Jane posted, and what I said. So go ask him why he did that.

    Lanyon’s how to book might well be excellent but as MD said above, there are plenty of books/guides about how to write m/m, written by women, on the internet. If someone I know is actually gay writes one, I might be interested.

  120. MaryK
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 03:19:41

    @Robin: I’m not sure how your comment at 277 relates to your comment at 316.

    I can well imagine that at some point retreating to female-written books might simply be a perceived safe harbor from masculine authority.

    I read mostly female authors because I’m gravitating to a richer experience. I’m one of those “psychic gender-detectors” who can, more often than not, determine the sex of authors from their writing. And in my reader’s eyes, the female authors are mostly better at writing character driven stories. I’m not saying men can’t write well in that style, but they certainly don’t flock to it. I don’t see how a strong preference for a particular style of writing means I’m retreating from authority – that would assume I view male writing as authoritative.

    My attitude is pretty much that when men can show me that they are as educated -’ as steeped, really -’ in female-written books as women are in male-written books, we can have a serious discussion about whether educated, intelligent women should be choosing to read only female-authored books. Until then, I get the escapist (from patriarchy) fantasy in choosing women-authored books for pleasure.

    I’m really confused by this. Are you saying there’s something wrong with reading only female-authored books? That the only reason women read women-authored books is to escape patriarchy? Isn’t this the basic argument leveled against romance novels – that they’re escapist reading with no real merit or relation to the real world?

    Are there Correct Choices as to what “educated, intelligent” women can read for pleasure? I left required reading lists behind in college, and I’ll continue to avoid writing that I don’t enjoy. Personally, I think women can choose to read whatever they want without apology or discussion with men.

  121. passer
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 07:35:24

    @Ann Somerville:

    First things first, I’m not anyone’s ‘minion’. I’m just a fan of Josh Lanyon’s work, and he doesn’t know my existence. I’m not even a native speaker, as you can tell from my unskillful English.

    Now, may I ask you again: Do you have any tangible PROOF that Lanyon is a straight WOMAN pretending to be a gay MAN? Because you are practically saying that he’s lying through his teeth, and that’s a serious accusation. And you know damned well many readers wouldn't forgive an author for that. You need to give more proof than those flippant ‘I thinks’ and ‘I feel from his writings’.

    Don't evade the question. Answer me straight.

    Now things are getting out of hand, but that's what you want, right? First you picked up a brief mention of Lanyon's name in a relatively long post, then you couldn't wait to jump in with your two cents, stating that you HAVE A FEELING that Lanyon indeed is a female author hiding behind a gay persona. And, WHAM! This ASSUMPTION somehow became a FACT, and then you forced Lanyon to admit… WHAT?! That he's a woman because he writes like a woman? That he really is a gay man (God Forbid!) who's ‘imitating the female style of gay romance' (WTF is that)? That he's… what Ann Somerville says he is? Hello, since when authors have to specifically report to you on their genders?

    Anyone who has a slice of brain must see how ridiculous this whole thing is. Before this, Lanyon's gender has never been an big issue. It's YOU who made an issue of it. It's YOU who started all this out of nothing, deliberately, aggressively, viciously. You want to put doubts and disbeliefs into people's head. You want people to take a dim view of Lanyon and question his honesty and integrity. You want to bring him down. You want to tarnish his reputation. You want to hurt him as bad as you can. With what, a few petty speculations and ‘feelings'? You know better than that, Ann.

    No one said it better than Lanyon's publisher and friend Laura Baumbach. Let me cite her from another blog, ‘One point people who are claiming Josh has created a male persona to enhance his status as a M/M romance author have all conveniently forgotten. Josh has been JOSH for at least 10 years, writing successful mysteries and winning significant writing awards. Years before he started writing M/M romance. He must be one hell of a planner to have concocted this persona a decade ago just to enhance his current writing. God, I admire Josh more and more each day. ‘

    Why do I care? Because I hate to see nice people getting hurt. From what I observe with my own eyes, Lanyon is ever a gentleman. Surely he has flaws – who doesn't – but he always strives to be a decent, polite, caring, honest person. And you, Ms Somerville, I'm afraid I can't say that about you. Frankly, as far as I watch you ‘in action', you show yourself as a nasty, paranoid, vengeful, hostile, raving, cold-hearted, witchhunting rumormonger. You don't even PRETEND to be nice. It's no wonder people like Lanyon would piss you off so much.

    But that's not the whole story, right? You and him had a history long time ago, and you hated his guts since then. You seize every opportunity and attack ruthlessly, slash and slay a lot of people by the way. Well done, Ann!

    Any outsider who doesn't know but interested in the history of all this mess, you can dig it out yourself. The argument on this forum, at least on Ms Somerville's part, is not a general discussion of the tradition of pen names, or author's right of privacy and anonymity. This is personal and malicious and horrible. You don't need to believe me, and you don't need to believe anyone for that matter. See it with you own eyes, and draw your own conclusion.

    As for Lanyon, all I want to say to him is: You displeased the wrong people; watch out at every corner from now on.

  122. Ann Somerville
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 07:51:12

    @passer:

    Bored now. Go run your mouth off over at Teddy Pig’s little slash fest. He’s the one who turned this into a clusterfuck.

    I’ve got books to write.

  123. GrowlyCub
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 09:03:41

    Passer and other impassioned fans,

    just from one reader to another: You are not doing ‘your’ author any favors by calling others names on their behalf. It reflects badly on the author.

    I’ve only read one of JL’s book, which he graciously sent to me so I could try before I buy (because I’m not into romantic suspense). I liked it up to a point, a lot, but then it broke down for me and I thought it was because he was a male writer. It seemed lacking in some essential, ethereal quality that, being only a reader and not a writer, I cannot quite put into words.

    If he were female, then obviously the gender of the author had nothing to do with my not being entirely satisfied with the writing. Maybe the Leigh Greenwood titles I read that also seemed somehow lacking to me, which I blamed on him being male AFTER I found out he was, are just lacking because of what I as a reader expect and it doesn’t have anything to do with the writer’s gender and all with their writing ability to produce something that works for me, as one specific reader. I don’t know, but I still suspect gender does have to with writing style to a certain extent.

    I just know that I do not enjoy books written by men as much, mostly because I don’t like the subject matter so many of them write about. That has more to do with content than with style per se, but style does come into it.

    I may be missing out on great writing, but if the the writing is about a subject matter I have zero interest in, I’m not missing anything at all (saying I ought to read more male writers is like telling me I have to read more classics to improve my mind; ain’t gonna happen, cause I ain’t got no interest in that fancy high-faluting stuff either. :)

    Oh, and I’m not a native speaker either…

  124. passer
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 09:55:04

    @GrowlyCub:

    Thank you for reminding me.

    To make things clear, I’m not on behalf of anyone. I take full responsibility for my words and action.

  125. passer
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 09:57:46

    @Ann Somerville:

    Your avoidance of answer said it all.

  126. MD
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 11:41:50

    And you, Ms Somerville, I'm afraid I can't say that about you. Frankly, as far as I watch you ‘in action', you show yourself as a nasty, paranoid, vengeful, hostile, raving, cold-hearted, witchhunting rumormonger. You don't even PRETEND to be nice.

    Wow. Guess you don’t pretend to be nice, either?

  127. Jane
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 11:49:33

    I’ve turned the comments off. It appears that any discussion worth having on this issue is being derailed by personal issues.

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