How I got into m/m romance

It’s barely three years since I found out this genre even existed. At that time it probably barely did! Back in May 2008 a friend on Live Journal reviewed several m/m historicals, most romances, one erotica. I was gobsmacked. I didn’t know these existed. I’d read gay fiction of the literary variety. I’d read plenty of slash on the internet. I was aware of this Yaoi stuff from Japan, but that there were actual real m/m romance books, which seemed to be primarily aimed at women readers amazed me.

So I got hold of specific books mentioned in her reviews. And then got hold of more. (It’s not so easy getting them as paperbacks in the UK. They’re sometimes horribly expensive and you can only get them from a limited number of places. Thank goodness I have an ebook reader now.) And after I read some I started thinking, I could write one of these. Not historicals, but by then I’d found that there were all the other genres available too. It was around that time I was thinking about starting to work on a novel to submit for publication. I figured I’d found my niche!

The first full on m/m story, with actual sex in it, I did was for NaNoWriMo 2008 and it didn’t really fit as romance and anyway, it wasn’t all that good. I started reading more romance, of both the m/m and m/f variety, to study the genre, and just because it’s fun! I’d never been a big romance reader, but I am now. Oddly enough, despite my own books being science fiction so far I quickly gravitated to historicals and still love them the most for reading for pleasure. It’s not so much the period detail I’m keen on, it’s the difficulties and dilemmas which are totally alien to us now but were near insurmountable obstacles to people then which interest me.

In Spring 2009 I started planning a definite no question about it romance, which eventually became Liar’s Waltz. So in less than a year I’d gone from not knowing the genre existed, to starting a novel intended to become part of it. And now in just under three years I have one book out and another one sold, another one drafted and just started another draft this weekend. All thanks to a short series of reviews by an LJ friend. Funny how something that’s almost random set me on the path to achieving one of my biggest dreams in life.

How did you find the genre?


20 thoughts on “How I got into m/m romance

  1. I don’t know if I stumbled into it, I just kept creeping it in with the fan fiction I was writing. As you know, my genre is romance too… but I stick the m/f variety.

    Having read my first proper historical romance and finished it this evening, I get where you’re coming from about the obstacles and conflicts (we love conflict!) in historical romances. It’ll be in the post to you this week – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Oh and wow – I keep forgetting that I’ve known you since Dec 2005 when I first enlisted on the ‘Shrine’ and you convinced me to start posting fanfic in 2006 AND do NaNoWriMo! That’s over 6 years now! Scary how time flies when you’re having fun 😀

      1. I know! Look at the mess you get me in 😉 Hopefully, one day, I can share this ‘published’ author status with you. And I do, I’ll have you to thank 😉

  2. I got into it kind of by accident. Someone in my writing group brought a short erotica piece as a change of pace. We all read it said “That’s very nice.” And none of us really wanted “nice”. So half the group went off and wrote something hotter for the next month. Then one of my crit partners sold a menage story to Torquere. I thought to myself “I have a suitable pair of characters in the backstory of this novel I’m working on. I’ll just write a quick little short about their first night together and see if I can sell it.” One thing lead to another, and the next thing I knew that cute little short had turned into a novella, and then expanded into a novel, which is coming out on the 13th. And while I was doing that, I also did a few other shorts, which also sold.

    The original novel? That’s still in the trunk, so to speak. It was crap. I’ll rewrite eventually, but it’s fairly far down the list at the moment.

    1. I can relate about how “just a little short” rages out of control into a novel. Once those characters start walking and talking everything changes.

  3. I came a slightly different route: having enjoyed fanfic, but wanting more variety, I was desperate to find m/m romance – but didn’t have a clue where to look!
    Like you, I started with paperbacks, ordered at ruinous shipping expense from, and now give daily thanks for my e-book reader! 😉

    1. So many of the writers and readers come via the fanfic route, me included. It definitely seems to be a major factor in this genre. There is a difference though, in that so much slash fic isn’t Romance in the classical sense. I’d love to see the m/m genre open up more to not just romance.

  4. I’ve been writing novels with sexually ambiguous heroes for over 20 years. Never showed them to anyone, never planned to do anything with them. I thought I was the only person doing it until I discovered the internet and OMG slash fan fiction in 2000! It didn’t take me long to seek out decent original stories posted online, though there weren’t many. I made friends with B G Thomas in 2004 and betaed his 2004 Nanowrimo attempt. Since then I’ve admired the writers with the guts and self confidence to publish while continuing to write things that make me smile.

    1. Yeah, I’d definitely always had sexually ambiguous or indeed definitely unambiguously gay characters, especially as I can’t seem to help myself but write sexual subtext for people. But writing actual romance was definitely a new departure!

      1. I’m not at all sure that I write romance. I like to give my boys something to worry about other than each other – like a full blown war – so the snatched moments are more poignant.

        Looking at other comments it seems that fanfic has been a hugely beneficial and liberating force in the lives of so many writers.

  5. Fanfic route again. Wanted to write didn’t know what or how, everything I tried seemed trite and had been done before and better. Found the Snape Fuq fest accidently online (never heard of fanfiction) and the first story I read (Clandestine by chaosrose) went ZING! in my brain and I wanted to write about Snape and Lucius which I did – then I realised that it was rather pointless fun and wrote Standish instead. While trying to sell that started to write a few short stories which got me enough “platform” and well-knownness to help get published.

      1. what worries me is what would have happened if the first story I’d read had been Dobby/Harry. I don’t think I would be writing now.

  6. I wrote the “Infamous Novel” before I really got into slash, or at least I had started it almost two years before I joined the old BSGSlash list. By this time, I was almost finished with the IN, and discovered a *lot* of unconscious subtext. One of my minor characters stepped up at the very end, the last chapter, and announced he was gay. He also demanded his own story, so I began trying to develop his character and that of his partner, using roleplay. The RP turned into an obsession & my writing partner & I have been working on “sequels” for several years now.

    Now if only I could summon the courage to contact an agent…

    1. Sounds like a similar thing I ended up doing with a couple of original characters from one of my fanfic stories. They ended up getting their own series which I’m only just finishing up now, years later.

  7. Fanfiction, sort of – I’d only ever written one slash fanfic, but a friend on LJ was complaining that she couldn’t find any decent pro m/m romance and harangued fan writers to try their hand at pro fiction (and listed a couple of sites that published m/m). So I looked at some excerpts, decided I probably could do better, and sent Ransom out to a couple of publishers. Linden Bay accepted it… Hard to believe it was five years ago, almost to the day, that I got the request for the full manuscript.

      1. Mary Renault was a pioneer with Fire From Heaven. There were enough gay romances out for Ransom to be nominated for the first GLBT Eppie–so I may qualify as a `pioneer`in gay Age of Sail romance, but.. (shrug) That`s for other people to decide. I just write what interests me.

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