Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Write...What?

Posted by: Kelly Jensen
When I tell people I’m a writer, most want to know what I write. Depending on my audience, I’ll answer with science fiction, romance, or sometimes science fiction romance. I rarely label what I write as gay romance.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed by what I write. I’m not. That’s my name on the cover of every book. Not a pseudonym. I love my guys and the stories I tell about them. I want people to know these books are mine. But getting into the gay thing can be an awkward conversation starter, particularly if you don’t really know the person you’re talking to.

My deflection doesn’t always have good results. I have told someone I write science fiction only to have them answer, “My nephew LOVES science fiction, what’s the name of your book?” 

The nephew in question is eight. I’d love to imagine an eight year old reading a story about two men who reclaim their love in the aftermath of a devastating war. But we kill a lot of people in the Chaos Station series. And then there’s the sex. On the page sex. Lots of man parts, described in sexy detail.

My books are not appropriate for an eight year old.

So I tack on the caveat, “Oh, well, they’re romance as well.”

Everyone knows science fiction romance is all about space barbarians needing to have sex with every woman on the planet in order to save the universe, right? Well, everyone I’ve ever mentioned my books to does.

Except for the woman who told me, “My husband likes sex! I’m sure he’d love your books.”

“But does he like reading about sex between men?”

Honestly, I really should just tell the truth from the beginning. “My books are gay romance. One series is science fiction, the others are mostly contemporary romance. I’ve got one coming out this summer that’s paranormal. A mystery writer adopts a cursed house cat shifter from the local shelter.”

That, right there, is the point where I lose them again.

So is what I’m writing really that weird? That difficult to explain?

My friends get it—or simply don’t care what I write. They’re happy I’m published because I’m happy to be published and they buy my books because I’m published. Some of them actually read them and then tell me embarrassing stories about what they thought gay sex was all about, and how their perceptions have been changed—and that's a good thing.

Others flat out ask the follow up question. “But why are you writing gay romance?”

There’s no simple answer to that one. Well, actually, there is. I write science fiction because I love science fiction. I write romance because I adore love stories.

It gets a bit more complicated from there.

I write gay romance because I will never tire of putting men in situations where they must confront their emotions—regardless of whether they do it with a grunt or over a romantic, candlelit dinner. I write it because the stories in my head at the moment often have two male protagonists and, because I’m in love with love, they usually end up together.

But here’s the thing. I’m not really writing men. Or just gay men. Yes, my characters are male and some of them identify as gay. Some are bisexual, some of them don’t care to put a label on it. I see them as people, though. I’m writing stories about two people falling in love.

Some of these stories are set in space; some of them include guys who can shift shape into house cats (and squirrels. I’m not looking forward to explaining that one). They’re about college students and forensic accountants. Travel agents and art appraisers. Mystery writers, soldiers and property developers. I’ve got a baker and a numbers guy in there. They’re young, old and in between. Some have broken hearts; some have never been in love. More than a few have bit of a belly because I kinda like a little belly on a guy. Lots of them wear glasses. An extraordinary number have blue eyes because I’m a sucker for blue eyes.

I don’t set out to write gay men (or bisexual men, or otherwise), I’m just writing guys. And, often, the stories aren’t about their orientation. The plumbing on the object of their affection is important as the colour of their hair (until we get to the sex).

My stories are about guys being, well, guys. Falling in love—and fending off a marauding alien or two. So, when people ask me what I write, I start with that, because, honestly, that’s how I think of my books. I write science fiction and I write romance. Sometimes I combine the two.

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Phase Shift, the final book in the Chaos Station series (co-written with Jenn Burke) releases next week! You can read Chapter One on our website. There, you can also sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with release news, giveaways and free extras.

Phase Shift

Book five of Chaos Station

Zander and Felix’s relationship has always pushed boundaries—personal and professional alike—but their love and commitment is stronger than ever. So strong that Zander’s ready to ask commitment-shy Felix the question of a lifetime when he’s interrupted. The Chaos is being hacked, and crucial, top secret information about the project that created Zander—and his fellow super soldiers—has been leaked.

Neither man could have expected the enormity of what’s discovered at the end of the data trail: an entire colony of super soldiers run by the very doctor who changed Zander’s life forever. And now she needs them both—Zander to train her new crop of soldiers, and Felix’s new crystalline arm to stabilize their body chemistry.

With help from the unlikeliest of allies, Zander, Felix and the Chaos crew must destroy the project and all its ill-gotten information. But when the team is split up and Felix is MIA after a dangerous run, galactic disaster is a very real possibility…and Zander may have missed his chance to ask for forever.


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About Kelly

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

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