Today one of my favorite bloggers, Orannia from Walkabout, is here to talk about her earliest experiences with m/m romance. Hello, Orannia! I'm very happy to have you guest posting on my blog today.
When Heidenkind first approached me regarding a guest post for her M/M Month, my first thought was ‘Who? Me?’ followed closely by a panicked ‘But what will I say?’ After a considerable amount of introspection, I decided to go back to basics’ *grin* So, I asked myself the question I always ask when attempting to review a book: ‘Where to start?’ But...with such a broad subgenre as m/m romance, attempting to answer such a question would be a monumental task. So, I decided to turn the question on myself.
Gay protagonists have been appearing in a variety of books for years, even before the m/m romance subgenre first took form. My first introduction to a gay protagonist was as a teenager. My best friend recommended Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Promise and Magic Price; together, these three books comprise a fantasy series entitled The Last Herald Mage. Ring any bells? While the sexual orientation of the main protagonist, Vanyel, is slowly revealed (to the reader and to Vanyel) in the first book (Magic’s Pawn), and while this revelation does lead to conflict, neither Vanyel’s sexual orientation nor the resulting hostility are the sole focus of the book. To all intents and purposes, the book is a fantasy novel; however, the author has weaved into the novel Vanyel’s struggle for self determination and self-acceptance. (That struggle is kind of a Mercedes Lackey trait.) As a teenager, I endured each and every step with Vanyel as he struggled to find himself... and the fact that his beloved, his soul mate, was male and not female was, for me, both a simple point of fact and a turning point – it made me realize that the sexual orientation of a character was not how I measured their worth. It was part of who they were, yes, but not all of who they were (if that makes sense).
Mercedes Lackey is not the only fantasy author to introduce a gay protagonist; last year I discovered some new-to-me authors, including Ginn Hale, Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett and Sarah Monette, all of whom have written gay protagonists into their novels.
Each of the above novels, and each gay protagonist within each novel, is very different, with the approach to each relationship varied. However, in all cases the relationships are organic – part of the story, but seamless. I could wax lyrical about both Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen and Sarah Monette’s Mélusine (the first book in The Doctrine of Labyrinths). Both authors have written what I consider to be dark fantasy novels... and while the gay protagonists contained within are broken to a greater or lesser degree, like Vanyel, they are, unlike Vanyel, characters who have accepted their sexual orientation. And thus, the perspective we, the reader sees, is different again.
Attempting to read a new genre or subgenre can be daunting, especially if you are unsure as to whether or not it will appeal. Sometimes it helps to test the waters (so to speak) by dipping your toes in by way of a genre with which you are already familiar and comfortable *grin* From where I sit, fantasy novels provide the bridge; they allow me to determine, in a setting completely outside current (read here and now) parameters, whether or not I am comfortable with a particular issue (whatever it is). Perhaps (to keep with the same analogy), for those of you who have yet to dip your toes in the subgenre that is m/m romance and are unsure whether that may be a step too far, a more familiar genre (whether that be fantasy or mystery etc.) might be the stepping stone to deciding if m/m romance is a subgenre you might be interested in exploring...or not. Happy reading!
Heidenkind - thank you for inviting me to post my first ever guest post as part of your M/M Month – I’m very honoured and I’ve had so much fun!
Thank you, Orannia! As always you've given me some great recommendations--I think Magic's Price sounds like a must-read! And thank you so much for joining me for M/M Month and writing such a wonderful guest post.
Please take the time to check out Orannia's wonderful blog, Walkabout!!