Friday, December 21, 2007

Guest Blogger - Stephanie Vaughan

First, I’d like to thank Lucy for having me today. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sitting in the audience of more than one panel discussion at the RWA national conference listening to Lucy speak, so it’s an honor to be asked to guest blog. To find out that she’s a fan of my gay romances, well… that idea takes a little getting used to.

And gay romances, for that matter… what’s that all about?

I’m obviously a big fan and so it’s probably no surprise that I’m thrilled at the level of acceptance they’ve achieved in recent years. When an author of Suzanne Brockmann’s stature – New York Times and USA Today bestseller many times over – adds a gay romance thread to one of her ongoing series, that’s a big deal. That fans have so overwhelmingly supported her and taken her heroes into their hearts is an even bigger deal.

When I wrote my first gay erotic romance in 2004, I was nervous, let me tell you. Every other email to my critique partner or editor usually included some version of, ‘Are you sure anyone besides us is going to want to read this?’ People had obviously been writing them long before I ever sat down at a keyboard and attempted one, but they weren’t nearly as easy to find then as they are today.

I have no idea if anyone’s yet documented who wrote the first m/m romance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was done in pictures painted on a cave wall somewhere. I do know that in the 1970’s, fans of Star Trek began writing erotic fanfic starring Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock. These fans were usually women and the first stories were photocopied and circulated among friends or published in fanzines and distributed at conventions.

It took the internet, though, to make them more widely available and to let people really connect to talk about them. That’s when things really began to take off.

When I turned in that first manuscript I was pretty nervous and even more so when the publication date finally arrived. I had visions of ugly emails from outraged readers and maybe even a mass exodus from my newsletter group; of being carted away in the dead of night to the reeducation camp for the gender-confused. (What can I say? I’m a writer. I have a vivid imagination.)

What I got instead, though, were fan letters. Mostly from women, but I received one in particular that really got to me. It was from a gay man thanking me for writing a romance “for people like him.” He said, “I used to buy straight romances and change the gender of one of the characters in my head. Thank you for realizing that gay men are complex creatures and that we fall in love too, just like straight people do.” That letter touched me deeply and I still have it, pinned up above my writing space.

Since that first m/m romance, that’s nearly all I’ve written. I’ve got a couple of more traditional romances that have been published and really ought to write another story, to make it a trilogy. And I’ve written one story featuring two men and a woman. Whenever it’s time to sit down and decide which story comes next, though, lately it’s the m/m stories that speak to me. Sometimes it’s a noisy clamoring from a space opera warrior and the geeky washout from the diplomatic corps who nag at me until I tell their story. Other times it’s a heartbroken IT professional who knows he needs something to help him move on, but doesn’t realize it’s the cute guy he’s about to meet at a party.

Most of the time I’m too busy writing to analyze it much, but occasionally I stop and try to figure out just what it is about these guys that draws me so much to tell their stories. I’m a sucker for an underdog and I think it’s that, partly.

I don’t know. Maybe when being gay is about as noteworthy as having blue eyes or being left-handed, I won’t feel the same urgency to tell those stories. Someday, when we realize that no matter what we look like on the outside, the love we feel for each other inside is the same, maybe I’ll be out of a job.

I don’t think so, but if I am, that’ll be okay.

Stephanie Vaughan
http://www.stephanievaughan.com/
stephanie@stephanievaughan.com

Note from Lucy (who is indeed a true and huge fan - having all of Stephanie's books in her re-read folder): Look for Stephanie's latest release from Ellora's Cave, Home for the Holidays!

42 comments:

Lucy Monroe said...

Stephanie...I am so happy you are here. I totally understand how impacting that reader letter was to you and I concur with him - you handle gay romance beautifully! I love your comment that maybe you feel the need to write gay romance because it *is* such a novelty (and usually not the good kind) to people. Gay romance changed my outlook on homoerotic love and I know it's touched a lot of other hearts. It gave me the chance to help others change their outlooks as well as be prepared to be there for someone I love who began to realize their own sexuality wasn't as cut and dried as they thought. I thank you for writing what you do and touching *me* in as important way as you have. :)

Laura K said...

I love Stephanie's work!!! I have read quite a bit of work by her, and I agree with you, Lucy, that she creates definite connections with gay romance. I also like her m/f titles too! Continued success, Stephanie and happy holidays!

blessedheart said...

Great blog, Stephanie! I am one of your biggest fans!

Blessings,
Rhonda :-)

Stacy~ said...

Welome Stephanie. I admit I haven't read your stories, but I have enjoyed some m/m romances. You mention Suzanne Brockmann - I am a huge fan of her work - and I just loved the romance she wrote for Jules. He is such an amazing character and to have him finding the man of his dreams was sigh-worthy, let me tell you. There should definitely be more stories out there like that. To me, a romance is a romance, and while my preference is m/f stories, if a m/m loe story is told well, and is romantic and emotionally intense, then I would want to read it. Simple as that.

There's also the "hot" factor. I can't explain why they are, but again, I think it goes back to good storytelling, and getting caught up in the whole attraction, maybe even forbidden aspect. By forbidden, I don't mean because it's wrong, but because in some of the stories I've read, one or both of the characters involved are initially portrayed as heterosexual who end up being "forbiddenly" attracted to each other. It can be really sexy.

Anyway Stephanie, thank you for writing stories that open up people's minds, and for writing romance to begin with. Happy holidays.

Angie-la said...

Wow. I loved the way you likened sexual orientation to any other genetic predisposition.
Too bad everyone does not understand that.
And that letter? For some reason it just touched me.
People truly are just people, no matter what.

Amy S. said...

Hi Stephanie! Love your books! Wow, what a great letter to receive.

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for the warm welcome, everyone. It's really wonderful!

One of the things I'm proudest of in writing romance is that I think we're making the world a better place. If you want ugliness, just pick up a newspaper. To continue to be able to find love and positiveness on a daily basis, though, is really something and people like Lucy are giving the world something incredibly valuable.

I have to head off to the airport here shortly, but I'll try to find a WiFi connection somewhere and check in again later. Thank you all for the kind words. It's really amazing. Thank you.

Jenn said...

Stephanie, I have to say I have not read any of your books but I just might have too. I've found myself interested in reading some m/m erotic love stories I just have never done it. I think I may have to give myself an early Christmas present.

Maureen said...

Hi Stephanie!
I haven't read your work but I think it's wonderful that you received so much support for telling the stories in your heart.

Wendy said...

Hi, Stephanie! I've never felt inclined to read m/m romance but after reading your post, I'll definitely check your books out. :)

Happy holidays!

Cryna said...

Welcome Stephanie - great blog, and even though I have not read an m/m story, I commend you on writing what is in your heart to share with others. The letter would be a real bonus.

Lily said...

Hi Stephanie,

I have never read any of your books... and as I love the more traditional romances, however I think that writing m/m stories will make people realize that we have to respect everyone's choices of life :)

Nathalie said...

Lucy was once raving how she loved your books... and here you are, blogging!!

Lucy Monroe said...

Oh, man...I've got tears in my eyes. You all are so amazing. I love each one of you taking time to visit with me and my guests here. Reading the comments on Jeannie's blog really touched me ad the ones here too! Thank you all for being *my* homies. LOL You all rock!

CrystalGB said...

Hi Stephanie. I haven't read any of your books because I read more traditional romance but I respect the choices of others.
Happy holidays.

traveler said...

Fascinating blog and intriguing books that I will try since it will be a change for me.

ellie said...

Stehanie,
Loved your wonderful blog. It is interesting to receive such a letter. thanks for writing your amazing books.

ruth said...

Welcome Stephanie,
What a lovely letter to receive. Your books bring so much pleasure and are extraordinary. Each of us can benefit from this romance.

Estella said...

Really enjoy your books, Stephanie!

anne said...

Hi Stephanie,
I am now introduced to another choice which is always welcome. Thanks so much. Sounds wonderful and your writing is original.

Susan said...

Stehanie,
I enjoyed reading your blog, it was very touching. I haven't read any of your stories but that is about to change!


Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

diane said...

Stephanie, your blog is so uplifting and great. I can now read and enjoy another type of romance book. Thanks so much.

jenna said...

Stephanie, Welcome
Your novels appeal to me greatly. Romance is available in many forms and styles. This is something new for me.

sabrina said...

Thank you for the stories and this great blog today. I will definitely check for your books.

faechilde said...

Hi Stephanie...I've read quite a few of your books but haven't read any of your M/M books. I have read several of Jet's and a couple of other authors so I guess I need to play catch up. LOL

sharon said...

I will have to read your new books. Being receptive to new ideas in stories this should be an adventure which I look forward to.

Amy said...

I love your blog. I have never read a gay romance novel but am open to the idea. I will have to check out one of your books.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janie said...

Wonderful Blog. I look forward to reading your books

Cathy said...

Hi Stephanie, looking forward to reading your new release.

Brandy said...

What a wonderful letter to receive! Why is it so hard to forget that love comes to many different sizes, shapes, peoples, etc?

Jennifer Y. said...

Welcome!

You stories sound interesting. I have to confess that I haven't read many m/m romances though. However, I am always open to trying new things especially when it comes to romance books.

petite said...

reading romance novels has always been a great enjoyment for me. This new type entices me even more. Hope to have this great chance. Happy holiday much success.

KimW said...

Nice to see you, Stephanie. Neat story about the fan letter. That's nice. I'm looking forward to reading your new EC book.

Cherie J said...

Welcome Stephanie! Enjoyed your post.

lidia said...

Stephanie,

What an interesting post. I have to say that I have never read any m/m books nor was I tempted to search them out. However, now I may look for them to find out what I've been missing.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!
Cheers!

Sue A. said...

Your wonderful post and the comments it has received makes me want to search out your books. Thank you for sharing your heart warming story.

Autumncat said...

I really enjoyed your blog. I'm looking forward to reading your books!
Happy Holidays!

Stephanie said...

Hi Jenn,

If you want to try some m/m romances, there's a huge variety to choose from now--everything from sweet to ultra-hot. Westerns, historicals, hard-boiled detective stories, SF and futuristics... Feel free to email me and I'll let you in on some of my favorites.

Steph

Pamk said...

Great interview and I completely understand the letter the man wrote you. I've read m/m stories but generally prefer m/f or m/f/m cause I was having problems changing the gender in my head when I read the story lol.

orelukjp0 said...

Hi Stephanie,
I enjoy your stories. Keep writing stories that we love to read.

Jennifer L. said...

Hi Stephanie.
I'm ashamed to say that I have only recently started to read strictly m/m romances. I didn't know what I'd been missing! I 'm sure its because of excellent writers like you. I love your books!