With only nine more days until the official kick-off of GayRomLit 2015 in San Diego, we’re so pleased to have author Rick R. Reed with us today as our final tour guest. If you’ll be there and have a chance to say hello, do. A more delightful gentleman you’ll never meet.
Life Imitating Art and “Gender Reveals”
If I just say that the m/m community has been buzzing about a certain “gender reveal,” I think we all will know what I’m talking about even if I avoid mentioning the specifics. I have nothing new to add to that conversation, but a comment one person made on Facebook about it reminded me how my book, HUNGRY FOR LOVE (Dreamspinner Press September 2013) dealt with almost the exact same situation. The Facebook commenter mentioned that he’d already read all about the controversy in HUNGRY FOR LOVE.
Talk about life imitating art!
See, HUNGRY FOR LOVE has a main character that adopts an identity as a woman to write bestselling m/m fiction. When I wrote it, I was thinking of no one in particular (and the fact that the book came out two years ago attests to this), but I thought the similarities were, well…interesting.
Below is an excerpt that better details what I’m talking about. If you want to read the whole story of HUNGRY FOR LOVE, you can buy it by clicking on the links below.
BLURB: Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.
When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?
EXCERPT: He had never intended for things to spiral so out of control when he picked the pen name. In another age, when things weren’t so instantly available online, there wouldn’t have been the temptation to connect so personally with readers. But one thing had led to another, and soon Nate had created up an entire life for BF Mann. It had been fun, imagining all the things she was up to and her quirky personality. She had become like a character in one of his novels.
He could have kicked himself for never realizing the stock people might come to put in this woman, this writer whom they adored.
Until this morning….
Pen names were one thing. And Nate still didn’t believe he had done anything wrong by adopting one. Writers had been doing that much since time immemorial.
He realized that what he had done wasn’t so very different from what his sister and Marilyn had done, and it had spiraled out of control in much the same way (although his had much bigger consequences). He understood now what had happened, how an online persona could be fun, how we could create a whole new person to be.
Who among us hasn’t longed to be someone else, if only for a day?
Nate got up. He wasn’t enjoying the warm, balmy breezes, wasn’t able to eat more than a few bites of his sandwich.
He needed to talk to his readers. He trudged back up to the third floor, sat down at his desk, and opened his laptop.
He opened a new blog post and stared at the empty screen. And then he began to type.
I am writing just to you, the one who has been hurt by my admission earlier today that BF Mann is not a woman but a gay man. I wanted to apologize, to tell you how deeply I regret letting things get out of hand. I never meant to hurt you. In fact, if I could go back and do things differently, I would. Because I love all of you; I have loved communicating with you, even if I was foolishly hiding behind a mask.
I hope I haven’t damaged things beyond all repair. And I don’t say that because I am worried about sales, or that you will turn away from my next offering, but because one of the greatest treasures I believe any writer has is his or her connection to a reader. A reader like you. It might be on the page, when together, with my words and your imagination, we build a story. Or it might be on Facebook, exchanging messages and good-natured snark. Authors work in an isolated place, and believe me when I say I treasure my connection to you. I would be inconsolable if I thought my actions had done anything to permanently damage that.
It started with a pen name, and that was all I ever intended it to be. Like the characters in my books, BF Mann took on a life of her own. She’s a wild woman and got a little out of control.
I had to rein her in. I had to tell you the truth. I apologize many times over for deceiving you, but malice was never in my heart. Know I never snickered at you or thought you were foolish for believing in my persona. As I said, I treasured that interaction, and it never even crossed my mind that I could be doing you harm.
I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I have many more stories to tell, both personal and the kind you like—juicy gay love stories spiced with the paranormal or a big dose of suspense, all set right here where I do live (honest!), in Seattle.
For me—and I suspect for you too—it’s always been about the stories and not as much the person behind them. I know I will remember that going forward and hope you will as well.
I heart you.
He hoped the blog wasn’t too much and that it didn’t come off as insincere. He prayed, with all his heart, that his readers, his beloved readers, saw that he was baring his soul along with the real him, and in that act, dreamed of a kind of grace—or at least forgiveness.
He hit “publish.”
BIOGRAPHY: Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”