Friday, June 20, 2008

GLBT ~ Where are the men writing about women?

I'm in the process of collecting the names of M-M authors whose work impresses me. The list is growing by leaps and bounds. So far, I'm intrigued by, or flat-out admire, the output of Blind Eye Books authors (especially Ginn Hale), Joey Hill, Jordan Castillo-Price, Manna Francis . . . and others whose names I can't remember at the moment and am too freakin' lazy to look up.

But, as my list grows, a question nags: Why is the majority of manlove-themed commercial fiction (romance/erotic romance/urban fantasy/yaoi/slash fanfic/blah-blah-blah) written by straight women? Three answers immediately come to mind. 1.) That's where the money is; 2.) many of us have put in time as "fag hags"; 3.) we're straight women, for shit's sake, so this stuff turns us on!

Okay, going with the last reason . . . Then why isn't there hot lesbian fiction, and incredibly well-written lesbian fiction, penned by straight men? Or is there, and I'm just broadcasting my ignorance? (Wouldn't be the first time!) Seems all lesbian fic I've come across is written by . . . well . . . lesbians. Yet we all know -- at least, those of us who've regularly dealt with straight men know -- that women doing women is a turn-on for them. May not be for us, but it is for hetero guys. So where's the prose to prove it?

Truly, this discrepancy mystifies me. There's so much captivating and exquisitely written m-m fiction being produced by females, one would think an equal amount of captivatng and exquisitely written f-f fiction would be produced by males. But . . . no go. What's up with that?

Wait, I'm back. A logical answer just came to me. Women make up, by far, the greater portion of the book-buying public. Is that the key?


Debra Glass said...

Personally, I would like to see F-F-M fiction added to EC's line. It's hot. It's trendy. But I've been told it doesn't sell well. Why? Perhaps it's because the reader doesn't want to imagine her hero even looking at another woman but I think it could be handled to cater more to a woman's fantasy. (She's mine, Mister Man, You can't touch but you can watch.) What are your thoughts on that?
I too, think MM fiction is hot but would never want to participate in it.
Great topic. I'll be interested in seeing the responses you get.

K. Z. Snow said...

I've had no exposure (so to speak!) to F-F-M or F-M-F, but I suspect there's some market for it. Apparently most publishers believe, though, that the market just isn't big enough and that women, by and large, are turned off by the setup.

But that could easily change in the near future. Erotic romance has been embracing more and more situations that were previously considered taboo. F-F might be next. (I'm still curious about why men don't write it!)

Renee George said...

Hey K. Z.,

This is a great topic. I've discussed it before and have a few theories of my own.

I write MM fiction, and the majority of my readers are female. So, I have the advantage of writing about two guys having hot sex in a way that turns me on as a woman to please other women who are interested in MM fiction. It's something I understand.

I've read FF fiction by women, and FF fiction by men (who were writing for women), and the big difference is the audience. Women for the most part write what they like as women, while men writing for women, write what they like as men -- most of the time a lot is lost in translation.

Real world example - when I'm writing MM, my characters have thoughts and emotions and speculations and introspections during the course of intercourse, not so much as to be intrusive, but enough to make me care.

When I asked my husband what he is thinking about while having sex, he said "this feels good." So I asked what he thinks when we alter positions, speed, depth, etc.. and he said "this feels good." Then I asked, well what are you thinking when you have an orgasm, and he replied, "this feels really, really good."

I thought, hmm, is this normal for men? So I asked around, and the majority of men said, "pretty much."

Well, I think that explains a lot right there. LOL.

I think, as woman, we want emotions ingrained in the action, where as men, well, they prefer the action before and after the act of sex.

So, MM erotic fiction for women by women can be totally fantastic for women. FF erotic fiction for women by men tends to get lost in translation.

The fiction surrounding the eroticism in an FF work by a man can be very well crafted, but if the male author is writing for women about two women, he can't really know what it's like for us so for a woman reader it can come off as unrealistic.

Where as a woman writing about two men for women, it doesn't really matter, because neither the author nor the reader knows what it's really like to be in the heads or bodies of men. (Although I do have some male readers, so apparently, a few men get it, LOL. And it may be the same for men who write FF, they may have a few female readers who get it.)

Well, this probably sounds like a bunch of nattering, so I'll stop. Can you tell I've thought about it a lot? LOL.


Willa Okati said...

I've often wondered about this myself, and while I have no definitive answers I'd be inclined to agree with Renee George in saying that there seems to be a different mindset between genders when writing same-sex erotic scenes. Though I try (operative word there being "try"; as Renee also pointed out, I'm female) to keep male thoughts and perspectives masculine during the writing of sex and romance, I do employ the use of emotions, affection and subtext that makes a fantasy enjoyable for me when I read.

I've read and enjoyed F/F, and would like to see more of it commercially available, although I do understand that right now most sales are too low to warrant more. I'd like to try writing it. As I understand, print markets find better sales with lesbian romantica/erotica.

Treva said...

Don't pat yourself on the back too soon. My guy friends who read m/m stories are gracious enough to say sometimes female authors get it right. Sometimes the story is good enough that they can ignore the huh? moments that some of the male characters exhibit. But sometimes we don't get it at all.

However, I will admit that so far I haven't read any f/f stories by guys that do ANYTHING for me. They don't even come close to real women or hot scenes. But I live to be wrong.

Samantha Kane said...

Hey K.Z.! I agree with your conclusion. I think a great deal of it has to do with the market. But I thought Renee made some excellent points. Women writing m/m for women use a woman's perspective, and the women readers get it. But men writing for women? It's Mars and Venus, to quote what has now become a cliche. I'm not saying it can't be done, but that it's hard to do.

Josh Lanyon recently wrote a book about writing m/m fiction. I can't remember if this was in the book or a comment he made on a blog, but basically he said that men writing m/m fiction now have to write it for a whole new audience >> straight women. And that takes a whole new mindset, and is shaking up the traditional gay fiction writers a bit. So let's add that element here, too: gay male authors writing m/m erotica for straight women.

K. Z. Snow said...

Excellent, excellent comments! Very thought-provoking and enlightening.

Thank you all so much for giving me a very juicy bone to chew . . . uh, in a manner of speaking.

Jessica Freely said...

Chiming in late here, K.Z., but I wanted to add that erotic literature seems to appeal to women more than to men, on the whole. From my own observations, men seem more drawn to magazines and films for their erotic entertainment.

As a point of interest, I'll note that in Japan, where every bookstore sports a boys love section as big or bigger than the het romance sections of stores here n the U.S., there is a long-standing tradition of women writing sexy stories for the entertainment of their female friends. The Tale of Genji, sometimes argued to be the first novel, was written by a Japanese noblewoman in the early 1000s for her circle aristocratic ladies.

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jessica! Yup, I think you tagged the bottom line. We're writing primarily for a female audience--a hetero female audience--and what's hotter than two (or more) hot men together?

Sarah said...

Really interesting post. Josh Lanyons Man, Oh Man, Writing M/M Fiction for Cash & Kinks is apparently excellent, and his books are excellent also.

James Buchanan is another male author who is wonderful, well worth having a nosey at.

Personally, I wonder if the market for f/f/m is there? Not something I would personally want to pick up but that is just me! I also wondered do men really get into lesbians or are they into straight women doing the smexin together, does that mean they're into bisexual women?

Teddypig also has an excellent article about how men view sex, which as Renee said is so different from how women do.

Fascinating stuff!
I have written a blog about why women read m/m fiction, I have no idea just a few thoughts. Cool blog BTW!

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, Sarah, and thanks for stopping by. Yes, I'm familiar with Lanyon and Buchanan (by reputation only, I'm afraid, since my TBR pile is already enormous!) Don't think I'd want to read a "how-to" book, though. I'm afraid it would throw me into a neurotic, second-guessing mode--you know, "Oh, shit, am I describing this right? Maybe I should rewrite that. ARGH, I've got it all wrong...BWAAHHHH!"