If I had a dime for every time I heard, "But why do you write THAT?" ... If I had a quarter for every shocked look, side-step shuffle, arched eyebrow, or curled upper lip I get for telling people I write male/male fiction, I'd say forget royalty checks and live on the incredulity of the masses.
The short answer to why I write what I do is, "Because I want to."
The long version is, well... longer. Some of it has to do with characters and the way I make them. Some people, when they discover what I do and feel compelled to change my ways or to learn more about this alien, misguided creature they've just unmasked, ask me, "But wouldn't you make more money if one of [the characters] was a woman?"
And when I tell the person, "Maybe, but I can't do that," and I get, "But you're the author!" I want to tell them, "Okay. I'm going to write a story about your life, but I'm going to make you gay."
"But I'm not gay!"
"Well, my characters aren't straight."
"But they're not real."
At this point I would sigh and drudge up a common example. "Was Bella Swan a girl or a boy?"
"What if she'd been a boy?"
"But... she couldn't have been a boy."
"Because Edward wouldn't have loved her if she were a boy."
"Because... he's straight."
"Why is he straight?"
"Because he's a 100-year-old vampire."
"And that's just who he is?"
"...I rest my case."
My personal dislike for the Twiawful series aside, everyone will agree that a good character is one who seems so real you wish you could find someone just like them.
And about the money thing... What I do isn't about money. It's about love. Okay, it's also a little about obsession and insanity and the voices that wake me up to tell me about that time in the whorehouse during the war that broke out on another planet fifteen centuries ago, but I couldn't listen if I didn't love what I do. If I wanted money, I'd be jumping on the 50 Shades of Crap train or still be in my old career in marketing.
Instead, I choose to be part of a secret society working to change the world.
See, you may not want to think about it, but there's hordes of people out there who are beaten, brutalized, chastised, shunned, disowned, hated, and sometimes killed for having the audacity to love someone.
Hell, we can't even stop despising people who have non-white skin, much less learn to smile and take comfort in two men or two women who have both the affection for one another and the bravery of us-versus-them to allow them to kiss on a public street in the Bible Belt, USA. I love America, and I'm glad to be here, but it still makes me want to scream and pull out my hair when I see evidence that our government, founded for the people by the people, has forgotten that the "...certain unalienable rights... among these, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" were endowed by the Creator -- not courts, social norms, religious groups, or state constitutions.
God gave us the right to be happy. Man keeps trying to take it away.
Maybe it's because I've always felt different. Maybe it's because I was ostracized growing up in a small rural town because I was female, because I had glasses, because I was smart, because I wore weird clothes, because my family didn't go to church every Wednesday and Sunday, because I was outspoken, angry, and even though I was 5'3" and weighed ninety pounds soaking wet, I would stand up for the kid getting shoved into a locker because he was more different than me and was in the wrong place with the wrong people. I've never been sexually abused, I don't secretly want a penis (the sex toy industry has provided me with ways to have more than one, and I thank them kindly), and while I do hate being female for reasons that are well-founded and largely medical, I don't think being male would fix my troubles.
I'm just me, and I feel a kinship with people who are trying like hell to be true to themselves and to find love and companionship despite the odds. I can't say I was always brave enough to try to do something to support this group. I didn't start writing male/male fiction with activism in mind. I just write stories, and I always have. When I was a child, my mother used to ask me why I wrote from a boy's point of view instead of a girl's. I told her, "Because that's the way the story goes, Mom."
And when I started writing two male protagonists fighting, living, struggling, overcoming, and loving... I never saw anything wrong with it. Through some grace of the Universe, I found a way to get those stories to a wider audience, and I followed that path. I don't know where it'll go. I don't know how long I'll be on it. I have many stories in my head, and I hope I live long enough to write even a quarter of them.
But now I confess to having this vain, idealistic, silly hope that somehow, these tales will make a difference somewhere, somehow. It makes me want to throw plates at peoples' heads when they imply that what I'm doing isn't "the real writing." I think my family and many of my friends are waiting for me to grow out of this phase. You know, much like a lot of families are hoping their teenage daughter gets over wanting to kiss her female best friend.
It makes me angry, and it makes me ache, because I know how hard it's been sometimes just to write about being gay. Forget living it (though, Hi, I'm bi, by the way). Forget trying to come out, survive high school, find support, or live in a country that doesn't think your love is real enough to warrant recognition, basic inheritance rights, or marriage.
I know in the great, grand scheme of things, this issue is small. Half the damned globe is still caught up in barbarianism. We still kill each other for resources, land, sex, religion... Dear God, how do we come up with so many ways to hate and hurt each other?
I'm no hero, prophet, great mind, or role model. I can't even tell my own father what I write because I'm terrified he'll hate me for it. Usually I just tell people who ask that I write romance and let them take over the conversation from there with the, "Oh, how nice, let me tell you what I would write about if I had all that free time and concentration and didn't need a real job..."
But maybe next time I'll say the truth without prodding. Maybe I'll tell them:
"I write about men and women living in an alternate world where being yourself is widely accepted. Gay marriage is allowed, and sometimes wealthy, beautiful men will help find you wedding planners. Abusers of all sorts get swift justice. Friends support each other. Lovers do their best to learn about and adore all parts of their spouses. People find hope despite incredible odds stacked against them.
"And I write those stories because I like to think that if we read about it enough, we'll want to make it real. If we can get cell phones and automatic doors from Star Trek because we thought it was cool, why not a world where love trumps hate, where there's always someone to hold your hand through rough times, and where fear comes in last place? Sure, it sounds crazy, but in 1966, so did landing on the moon, much less laptops, iPads, or YouTube MySpace, Google.
"It's not the only work I do or will do, but it might just be some of the most important stuff I'll ever write in my life. Because I love it. I'm moved by it. It makes me happy, and my mother always used to say, 'Happiness is up to you.'
"So go on," I'll say, "Tell me I'm strange, it's weird, and it doesn't matter as much as what you think I should be writing."
I'll just smile and shrug and keep doing what I'm called to do.
--Dee, AKA, Kelly Wyre, author of the New Amsterdam Series