4/10/2012

Men and Romance: A Bear on Books Speaks

Good morning readers!  Welcome back!  This is our second post discussing whether men can write romance. Tom from A Bear on Books is sharing his views today. Be sure to leave us a comment with your views to be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon card. Come back each Tuesday this month for another chance to enter the drawing, and another view on this topic.


A Bear on Books on…

Can a Man Write Romance?


I read a little.  Okay, okay, that’s not quite true.  I read a lot.  Anything from science fiction/fantasy to serial killer books to humor to – surprise, surprise – romance.  Especially gay romance.

In fact, you could say I’m getting to be a minor expert in the genre.  I have about, oh, twelve hundred m/m books on my Kindle that I’ve finished.  Everything from shifters to mysteries to space operas to romance to flash fic.  And I found a little something to like in almost all of them.  I can count on one hand the number I wish I could wash from my brain.  One in particular…shudder

Anyway, there are a few things the really good ones have in common.  Characters I care about.  Realistic situations, appropriate for the characters.  Now, this can be shifters, scifi/fantasy/horror too – the realism is specific to the world in which the book is set.  Good, crisp, interesting dialogue and story telling. 

I may be one of three who will say this, but unless the editing is egregious, I won’t let it get in the way of my enjoyment.  No book I’ve ever read is perfect – there’s a flaw somewhere.  But if the story grabs me, a few missteps won’t break the spell.

And I think I’ve said this before, but it bears (ha – he said “bear”) repeating.  I don’t pay attention to the name of the author unless it’s someone I know already and love.  Give me an Amy Lane or Sue Brown or Lee Brazil book and I’m happier than Porky in poop.  Think about it.

So I don’t know going in most times if it’s a man or woman, someone white, black, Hispanic, Asian, young, old, deaf, blind or whatever that is writing.  And I don’t care.  If when I finish, I’m moved, I’ll read more and maybe look up the author to see if I can find out a little something about the person behind the talent.

This is a long way around to get to my point, maybe, but that’s how I operate.  Does it matter if it’s a man or woman who wrote the story?  A resounding “Hell No”!

First, I guess, we have to define a Romance.  To me, a Romance is a story where there are (usually) two main characters who meet, fall in love and end up together.  There may or may not be intervening circumstances that keep them apart, interfere with their happiness, or break them up temporarily.  Here, we mean, boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back and lives happily ever after.

With that as a working definition, I can name twenty good – no, excellent – romance authors off the top of my head.  And quite a few of them men.

Lee Brazil (shut up – I’ve read “Loving Jacob” and “The Librarian” and “Loving Eden” and you get the point).  Damon Suede. TJ Klune.  John Goode.  Rick Reed.  Xavier Axelson.  Derek Adams.  Jake Mactire.  Eric Arvin.  Scotty Cade.  William Neale.

Need I go on?

Men feel emotions just as deeply as women.  We just don’t necessarily always show them or put them on paper.  But it’s a gross injustice to men AND women to think only a woman can write a romantic scene.  Or that only a man can write a good action thriller.

We do each other such a disservice when we take the focus off the books and worry about the hand that wrote them.  Do we worry about the gender of an artist whose sculpture we admire?  The painting that moves us?  The movie that makes us cry sitting there in the dark?

Art, of whatever kind, is about the WORK, not the artist.

So, yeah, men can write Romance.  Do a damned fine job of it, too.  Thank God.  Gives me more to read and enjoy.

Tom.  Out.


14 comments:

  1. Nothing makes me want to bite someone harder than crass generalisations about gender - and that includes the loo seat position.

    Sorry, you were talking about romance. Of course men can write romance.

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  2. Men definitely can write romance and very good ones, too. There really shouldn't be a discussion if they can or not, as long as I read a good story it doesn't matter if the author is male or female.

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  3. Wish more people felt the way you did. Writing is one of those professions where discrimination based on gender is widely accepted and even encouraged by the reader.

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    1. I definitely think men can write romance. Gender doesn't dictate being able to write in a genre. Although some readers do judge a book by its covers. (Part of that cover is the author's name=gender of the writer.) Some readers may think a guy can't write romance and another might assume a female can't write m/m sex scene. And we all know what they say about assumptions... Hugs, Z.

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    2. One of the biggest issues I've seen is men writing in the straight romance category. They are rarely accepted. They are seen as weird or strange, or worse they are accused of being gay. Which is rather stupid and immature, because then it just is a slap in the face of real gay men and the straight men who write romance.

      Coming from a thriller/suspense background I've been told over and over again that if I were a man or picked a male pseudonym I would sell more books.

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  4. Besides the delicious books I've read written by men, I've also received several love letters in my life that melted my bones and heart and had me answering the phone when they called. Can men write romance? Oh, yea...

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  5. I agree with Sara. I wish more people thought like you. Men can write romance just as well as women (in some cases better). It's the talent of the artest and the story that should be the reader's only focus. It is mine. I don't care the gender of the author. Like Tom, if I like the story, I go to find more. And if I'm really impressed, I will see if I can look up the author to know more about them (and as I've said before...I have ALL of Leed's books. *grins*) It's all about the talent and the story, not the gender of the author. My two cents worth. *blushes*

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  6. Men can surely write romance. I think the myth that they can't comes from publishers' notions of marketing books to readers based on outmoded ideas of gender, not the actual works themselves. It's why women were encouraged to use initials in m/m romance or children's lit read by boys (J.K. Rowling), and why men who wrote m/f romance used female pseudonyms.

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  7. Tom, like yoy, I read a lot. I don't care what the gender of the author is if the book is good and captures my imagination. My husband is the same way and we read the same book quite a few times.
    I have one friend that insists he will only read male authors, and I ended up arguing with him about that concept. Wish more men had your attitude.
    I have only recently started reading m/m-Lee Brazil, Sean Michaels, and Michael Black and a few books that ended up being part of a series, Qwilla, Violet Summers. I have enjoyed them very much and have actually started reading some reviews to find others.

    Patricia
    panthers.ravens@yahoo dot com

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  8. Nope, sorry. Women can't write Science Fiction and Men can't write Romance. It's in the Laws of the Universe. Didn't you read them? *ducks all the flying debris*

    OK - anyone who knows me and what I write, knows I'm kidding, but a lot of us have experienced the genre stereotypes firsthand. There are folks on either side of the aisle still insisting that men and women can't write X Y or Z.

    Funny thing is, I had never thought about the Romance one until I got more involved in the Romance industry myself. One of my favorite paranormal characters, Henry Fitzroy, is a vampire who writes romance under a female pseudonym. But I had always assumed it was because he was a vamp, not because he was male...

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    1. I like how you state it in the Laws of the Universe, does the Universe know it has the arbitrary laws and if now, maybe you should use your space ship to the Universe instead of taking said space ship on a road trip. :-)

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    2. I love Tanya Huff :)
      Panalopy

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  9. Before February of last year I hadn't read one single book in the M/M world (I hesitate to call it a genre). In the last year I've read almost exclusively in this world and find that I can't really tell a man from a woman by their writing style. Oh sure there are some differences. Usually in description. Women tend to lean more toward feelings when describing, you know, how the scent or the sight makes them feel, men are pretty cut and dried, it was big and white and smelled of fresh paint, a nice enough house so I bought it. Does that make the story any less for me? Well no sometimes all I need to know is that the house is big and white and smells like fresh paint. Some of the authors I've read this past year I knew up front were male. Waves to Damon and TJ. Others I didn't. I didn't buy because it was a female name on the cover, but because the cover caught my attention and the excerpt reeled me in. I've put down books written by both sexes. I'm an equal opportunity snob in that regard. Just write me a story that makes me laugh, cry, and die along with your characters and I don't care who you are. In fact I will even name a cat as one of my favorite authors. Sneaky Pie Brown. Go look her up, she's well published. :-) Oh and great post Tom.

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  10. "Do we worry about the gender of an artist whose sculpture we admire? The painting that moves us?"

    Excellent point. I always get so worked up whenever I see the Man vs. Woman argument. It's just insulting. Apparently men write bad het romance and women write bad m/m romance. There will always be bad eggs in both baskets, but in general the sex of the author doesn't matter. I've read loads of great romances by men, and also loads of romances by women (m/m romances, that is - I don't read the het stuff).

    Oh, and you forgot to mention Ethan Day! He's one of my favorite m/m romance authors.

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