Getting to know me isn’t easy.
I could probably talk to someone for days on end without sharing anything of substance. I’m not trying to be difficult, I swear. It’s just hard to tell the whole story.
It’s a lot easier to tell someone about the birth of my dog fourteen years ago than it is to tell of his eventual death. I’m struggling with his mortality, and I don’t trust myself to tell recent vet stories without breaking down, especially when three of my friends have euthanized pets this week.
I can talk about writing for hours on end, but when someone asks me about reading, I clam up. I read a lot. Reading makes me a better writer. The problem: what I read, and what I like, is highly personal. I’m picky as fuck. In the past, I’ve criticized Twilight and Fifty Shades, and had to retract my statements. Yes, people read these books. MANY people read them. They’ve served their purpose as entertainment.
I expect the same level of criticism for books I like, and I’m not ready for someone to tell me Michael Chabon’s a schmuck, or Dostoevsky doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or Ernest Hemingway’s sentences are short because he doesn’t know any big words.
A friend recently asked me what sci-fi series I like to read. That question caught me off guard. Pretty sure I made this face:
I read one-offs, not series. I read Ender’s Game already knowing Orson Scott Card’s agenda, and I didn’t read the rest of the series for that reason. I wanted to like Robert Heinlein. I loved Roughnecks, the animated series, so I finished Starship Troopers. I didn’t finish Stranger in a Strange Land. No, I didn’t grok it. I didn’t grok it at all. I love Star Trek, and Star Wars, but I don’t read fandom book series. If you want to impress me, build your own world – don’t borrow someone else’s.
I’ve read gay sci-fi, but if I talk about Michael Barnette and Amy Lane, I’m probably going to get blank stares.
So while I was freaking out about this question, I forgot one of my favorite series of all time. Dune. I read every book Frank Herbert wrote about Spice. Kudos to his son, but I stopped with the original series. I also forgot Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I don’t plan on reading more of the series until I have time to enjoy it (e.g. when I retire), but the first book in the series was amazing. I also liked Chuck Wendig’s Under the Empyrean Sky, though I still hate present tense. No, it doesn’t give me a sense of immediacy – it gives me a serious case of annoyance.
I may not be a fan of science fiction series, but I LOVE fantasy series. Wheel of Time. Sword of Truth. Mistborn. A Song of Ice and Fire. How did I blank on those?
Oh. Right. The Gay.
I tried to limit the amount of gay romance I read this year. Guess what happened. I DIDN’T read. I am six books behind for the year.
The rock-bottom layer at the core of what I read: I write gay romance. I read gay romance. Most of my sci-fi and fantasy selections have a dose of gay romance. Unfortunately, mass market publishers tend to focus on the tragic gay, e.g. Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell; Berdine and Raina.
I’m retaliating against the tragic gay. I’m writing the books I want to read. That means Happily Ever Afters for gay characters.
I’m not alone. Many of my Facebook friends are doing the same. May we all find shelves full of the books we’d like to read.