“Zipper Fall” release party #7: And what of the dead body?

September 22, 2013

The party is winding to a close, folks. I am so glad you could stop by. This is the next to last post. We still have an autographed book to give away, so if you want your name in the pot, post a reply either here on www.dreamspinnerpress.com/blog, or on Facebook. Don’t forget, the 25% off code is good on my titles and Dreamspinner Press mystery/suspense titles through Monday!

And now about the dead body. The blurb reveals that Jack’s sister, Celia, died under suspicious circumstances. You all know that Wyatt is a climber – that’s one way to break into other people’s space. It turns out that Celia was a climber, too. A very good climber, in fact. Isn’t it ironic that I fell in love with a female character in a m/m novel, and all I have of her is a memory? She never appears – her death took place several months prior to the plot. Yet, she was so much fun! Strong, determined, adventurous. If she was anything like her brother, she was a good-looking, athletic woman. She also wasn’t stupid, being an accountant and a writer, and she had honor and courage and integrity. We need more characters like that – and not only the gorgeous guys we love to read about, the men who fall in love with one another and, despite their flaws, experience true love and devotion and the security of knowing that they have found their place in the world.

I want female characters as good as the guys! I want to love them, and cheer for them, and admire them. What a shame that I had to kill her. Isn’t it just so ironic? Yet, I admit that writing a strong female lead is hard work. There are all kinds of tropes out there, and it’s too easy to fall into a stereotype regardless of genre. Authors end up messing up perfectly awesome female leads in both romance and thrillers. It’s too easy to slip into that well-worn and accepted mold of what we believe a woman should be, or is capable of being. And that, my friends, is exactly why I love writing male couples. When it comes to two guys, they start with the same set of social expectations, even regardless of class. There is no mother who awaits grandchildren. Nobody tells a guy, “You really shouldn’t pursue a PhD in geology, because you have a baby and how will you be flying to Hawaii to take lava samples all the time?” (That’s what happened to me, although it might have been for the better.) Men don’t get pregnant, so there is a whole new freedom associated with casual sex. Even though I acknowledge that men have their own pressures and have to live up to a different set of expectations, this child-related gender stress is the same for both of them. It is this equality of expectations that makes a same-sex, male couple a blank canvas for many a story of love, romance and high adventure. I try not to make my guys stereotypes, either, but I freely admit that when I write, despite all the research I do, I sit alone in a room and make things up. It’s a fantasy. Perhaps I live vicariously through Kai in Wild Horsed, because he is a natural rider with a cat-like balance who attracts equine attention with his soft, perceptive manner. I will never be like Kai. Why, only today I fed my finger to a horse, let him step on my foot, and the SOB almost unseated me when he refused an obstacle. Kai is my equestrian fantasy. If he were a girl, it would get a lot more complicated once the issue of birth control came about.

Wyatt climbs rocks like a lizard. He is fearless – in fact, he lives in a perpetual search of a good adrenaline high. I am scared of heights and the best I can hope for is a good wall with secure equipment. In addition, he’s as kinky as a tangled fishing line. I, a risk-averse and unathletic plodder, live through Wyatt’s grace and carefree comfort no matter how high off the ground he might be. He lets me fantasize about the edges of my own comfort zone.

Sometime soon, my own comfort zone will extend to tackling the pervasive gender issues that all women deal with as they navigate career realities and lifestyle choices. I will find Kai’s balance and Wyatt’s courage, and create a female character that is both credible and kick-ass. She will be a CIA agent, but she will live off her smarts and cunning, not through any special-forces skills. She will be like us, knowing that her clock will soon start ticking.

Until then, I’ll hang out with my pretty boys, and I hope you will, too. Let me know what you find alluring about m/m fiction that ‘s missing from a decent read with a female protagonist! Please drop me a line on that. I will log on again at 11pm EST, put your names in a hat, and one of you will get an autographed copy of Zipper Fall (or Wild Horses, your choice). I will give this book away to honor Celia, the cool, tough broad I have created who died before her time.

2 Responses to ““Zipper Fall” release party #7: And what of the dead body?”

  1. Trix says:

    It *does* still surprise and sadden me that cool, multifaceted female characters are so often missing from m/m. There are so many harridan exes (hey, she drove him to it, right?) or rom-com best friend types who just prop up the guys as sidekicks. But when I do find the great ones, it’s a joy for sure!

  2. Holly W. says:

    I’ve never nailed down a specific reason. A lot of it though goes with what you said of expectations, in that the society and family expectations are going to be different from anything I can experience. I have to live vicariously, and enjoy the alternate perspective, simply because I am not a man.

    Also, guys! Great heroes in m/f romance are fantastic. Two great guys getting together is just double the fun.

    Your female CIA agent sounds really interesting. It’s hard to find balanced female characters in any genre, either as sidekick in m/m or lead in m/f.

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