I've been thinking about that a lot lately. What's my style? What do readers think when they read my name?
I've been spending some time on Good Reads lately - that online library/chat room/encyclopedia - reading over reviews. Not just reviews of my own writing, but those of other authors as well. While reading reviews of one's work can be a very affirming hobby, it can also be a dangerous one. As a writer, one is bound to run into negative reviews. Some of these can be quite helpful, well-written, and insightful. Others can be vicious, as if the reviewer now has a personal vendetta against the author. They draw blood.
Some people have been disappointed with my latest novel, Galley Proof. While I wish that wasn't the case, there has never been a proven way to please everyone all the time. Some people just won't connect with me or my writing. That's fine. We are not clones. I wrote a book that perhaps means much more to me than it does to someone looking for a good romance.
A lot of this disappointment, I think, comes from expectations. Many of the less than favorable reviews come from people who have never read any of my other works. My writing, I have been told, is not typical. I write for Dreamspinner Press, a m/m romance publisher, but my books don't fall neatly into that genre. I have been lucky enough to find a publisher who believes in my work so much they'll publish me anyway. The best description of my writing I've seen so far was from a reviewer who said I wrote "gay fiction with romantic themes." I think it throws readers when they go looking for a balls out romance and pick up one of my books. They soon find my book doesn't follow a particular template. When you are not what people expect you to be, it's something akin to taking a big gulp of Pepsi only to find that it's really iced tea.
(Then again, maybe they just hate my writing.)
I hate the idea that I'm a disappointment to anyone. At heart, my books are about character more than story. I prefer the surreal and fantastic storylines to the contemporary ones. Of the TEN published books I have written, only THREE were intentionally written as romantic.Simple Men succeeded the most, I think, in capturing the genre's template. I tried again with Another Enchanted April, and then once more with Galley Proof. The latter two branched off from the m/m genre as I was writing them. I freely admit that. Yet I find them much more interesting works because of that. Anyone who has read the latter knows how personal it is. Sometimes embarrassingly so. It's just shy of a memoir in parts.
I don't have it in me, the ability to write sweeping m/m romance. But maybe that's a good thing. There are a number of master traditional m/m romance writers out there. As long as I have a publisher, I'll be happy to be the weird guy at the party telling stories that might be just a little off. I might not be the most popular cock, but I shoot one hell of a load.