In my Hearts of New Orleans series I have a character, Sebastian LaGrange. He’s an gay man in his seventies who becomes a mentor and dear friend to two younger gay men, Lane and Matt (from Pinky Swear). Sebastian appears in the next book with the boys, Pioneers, where Matt is making a documentary about gay life in
At the end of that story, I left Sebastian accepting a date with a man he meets at a fast food restaurant, Raymond Chou, an Asian man who grew up in
France. My readers begged me to continue their story. It seemed Sebastian had wormed his way into their hearts and they wanted him to have his HEA.
So, in C’est La Vie, I gave Sebastian his HEA in what I hope was a very sweet, poignant story. Now this involved a man, Raymond, who was very much sexually active in his seventies, and he wants Sebastian. Yes, that way. But Sebastian goes through all sorts of worries about “doing” it, as would any man who’d been “out of action” for quite a while. Will he? Can he? If he can’t, will that be the end of Raymond? What will Raymond think of his seventy year old body?
When it came to the sex scenes, they had to match the tone of the book, and the reality of the men involved. There were no wild gyrations or gymnastics, it was gentle, sweet, and loving. They took their time getting to the actual “penetration” – Sebastian was the bottom – and Raymond handled him with consideration and love, but we did see the entire thing. No closed doors. No fade to black. No shame.
The story is romantic, sweet, and gives those who read it hope that love can come to us, no matter what the age.
C’est La Vie http://amberquill.com/AmberAllure/CestLaVie.html
Lynn Lorenz http://www.lynnlorenz.com
Reelin’ In The Years
I admit, by some standards, (though not my own) I’m old. Too old to be writing erotic romance. And I freely admit, there are some drawbacks to my age. I don’t do clubs, I’m not out at bars staying on top the latest slang and fashion. But then, I never did that sort of thing.
That leads to the question: what does the older author have to offer the reader? Well, experience, and not just of the sexual variety. I’ve loved and lost. I’ve experienced grief and pain that was so deep it was bewildering. I’ve had success and failure. I’ve had good sex, bad sex and no sex at all. I’ve seen troubled marriages transformed into deep enduring relationships, defying all the romance tropes around. I’ve seen unlikely pairings that flourished. This experience encourages me to think outside the box in my writing. I just wrote the ultimate May/December pairing: Travis is 25, his lover Dylan is 900…give or take a decade or two.
The older writer has the mileage to look back and see that sometimes life is more varied and complex than fiction. An older author can often channel emotion and experience into a character, giving him depth and unexpected layers.
And characters…what’s better than a forty-something cowboy coming out of the closet to find passion and love with an over-the-hill boy toy? Or a woman discovering her inner kink after her kids are grown? I see possibilities now that never occurred to me 25 years ago.
I’ve found that I can shock and excite people half my age. How cool is that?
Many of my characters are in their late twenties or early thirties because that’s a crucial time, I believe, in finding love and settling down. While I have written about older guys I think there has to be a compelling reason why this guy is on the market at this stage of his life. Is he a widower? Coming out late in life? Rowan in The Russian Boy is in his early fifties and has, like many men of his generation, been married to a woman and had children. He’s had to get over the baggage of that broken relationship before he’s ready to start a new one.
When I write about older guys I try to emphasize those features that are attractive on a man who’s no longer in his youthful prime. I’ve written sex scenes with older men, in The Russian Boy, where Rowan is self-conscious about having sex with a man twenty years younger—but Taylor loves things about Rowan, such as his confidence and wisdom, as well as his sexiness, that have only improved with age. In my short story, “Heat Lightning,” appearing this fall in the Cleis anthology Sexy Sailors, both the protagonists are over fifty, and the things they find attractive about each other are age-appropriate—liking the gray pubic hairs, the bit of extra at the waist, and so on.
My author photo is about seven years old but I’m not changing it for a while at least—it was too expensive! I don’t think my being 55 has any impact on what readers think of my books. Many of my biggest fans are men of my age or older who relate to the emotional struggles I write about.
I’d be happy to see more M/M romance about older men. I think it’s a real challenge to bring together two guys who have already had their characters set through the years, and see how they can adapt to each other.
My first novel, Until Thanksgiving (to be released in December or January by Dreamspinner Press), revolves around 39 year-old Josh Freeman. After he and his lover of 17 years part ways, Josh is certain that his life is over and he’ll never find love again. I wrote the story because at 39, that’s how I felt after my 12-year relationship had ended. No, he’s not over 50. But the fact that Josh feels the way he does (and the way I did) at what I now perceive to be the prime of life was something I wanted to write about.
Now I’m 54, and believe it or not, recently single after the end of another 12-year relationship. Again, I have a sense that my chances of finding love are slim to none. The difference is that this time around, the thought doesn’t frighten me.
I don’t think gay men are any more beauty-conscious than straight women—not when it comes to fictional men. Gorgeous heroes are the gold standard in straight romance, too. And if gay men find youth appealing, in characters or writers, well, so do straight folk of both genders. The only reason I find age an issue at all is my own fear that my work will be judged based on something other than its merits. I’m a perfectly nice woman of a certain age—Mom’s age! I have three sons older than most of my characters.
Let me say right here I don’t know if my age would be an issue with readers. I like to think not, that the story is what matters. My stories don’t focus only on younger characters. Older characters get to have sex in my stories, too, as often as they care to. My sorcerer Muir is over fifty years old, though I don’t dwell on his age. His scars get more attention. And the sex is explicit.
Though I love writing about young men coming of age through adventure, I also love watching men who have a few life lessons under their belt finding that special someone who appreciates them for who they are and finds them sexy. In fact, in contemporary stories, I prefer older protagonists. I know firsthand that the sex drive doesn’t shrivel up and die for a person over fifty. I’m more interested in sex now than I ever was!
Primary Link: (blog) http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/
This world is made up of people of all ages, races, beliefs, cultures and sexual orientations. As such, it’s my sense that no matter what you write, you’ll find some readers. Maybe not as many as you’d like, but I think there’s certainly room for anything and everything including older heroes.
In romance fiction there will be readers who don’t like very young characters or very old ones. The majority of what’s selling appears to be books with characters in their 20’s and 30’s. That doesn’t mean that books with older characters don’t sell. I know for a fact that some do.
I did a cover for Z.A. Maxfield’s Family Unit, a book featuring a hero who is a grandfather. That book sells phenomenally well. Readers don’t care how old Richard is. They identify with him and they love him. And I think in M/M romance, especially with female readers, they are more accepting of older heroes as long as they are written well and portrayed as sexy regardless of their age. Maybe gay men want books about young, hot, perfect guys, but I don’t know for sure. Certainly, the gay men who have critiqued my books aren’t like that and I’m not an author who writes what I think will sell. I write what I need to write. I write the story that thunders inside me, insisting on having its day on paper.
If I came up with a plot bunny involving a character over 50, I’d go with it if it’s one of those stories I just have to write. And when I write paranormals, I have characters who are immortal so they are more than 50 and look younger. They don’t always act younger and they aren’t always perfect. In fact, I live to write flawed characters regardless of their age.
At the age of 51 I’ve learned not to sweat the stuff I can’t change. I can’t stop my body from aging even if my brain doesn’t think it’s aged. I don’t lie about my age or worry that people won’t like what I write. I am who I am. When readers ask me personal questions, I probably tell them far more truth than they want to know!
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(This picture is about as old as Neil's but cost a lot less, thanks to an outdated Polaroid camera. My reaction to it? First, where'd those black dots come from, and how dare they make it look like I'm hiding a guinea pig under my golden tresses? Second, how could I kiss a man with a 'do like that? (Sorry, JLA. At least your hair has grown out . . . what's left of it, anyway. :))