Friday, March 8, 2013

Guest Post: Gay as Mardi Gras by Lily Velden

Firstly, many thanks to Pants of Reviews for having me!

So, who the hell is Lily Velden, you’re asking yourself? Don’t worry, I ask myself that same question at least once a day. I’d love to be able to give you a definitive answer, but in truth, it’s fluid. It changes on a day to day basis, okay, hour by hour basis, which is probably why I’m divorced and single… I’ve never been much good at accepting labels or boxes, let alone, fitting into them.

Okay, well there you have one insight!

Hmm, the basics… I’m a heterosexual woman in her forties (how did that happen??? It feels like only yesterday I was twenty-one…) who writes M/M fiction. I’m unashamedly idealistic, and despite my checkered history, I’m an incorrigible romantic.

The reason I pop those snippets in is because they relate to a question I’ve frequently been asked by family, friends, and even readers since I began my M/M journey.

Why do I read and write about gay men?

I’m not alone in having been asked this question. I’m fairly confident most women writing in the M/M genre have been. The oft heard response of; if you like cock, then two lots of boy bits have to be better than one, though an oh so valid reason, doesn’t hold true for me. I’ve always been a quality over quantity type of girl.

I hate to admit it, but I’m not that great at being a girl. I’m a dunce when it comes to brand names—Louboutins or JELLYPOP? I don’t care as long as I can walk in them without breaking my neck, and they look nice with what I’m wearing. Tom Ford or something picked up at a chain store? Once again: couldn’t care less as long as it fits and doesn’t make my arse look big! And I’m sorry, but I can’t convince myself that any handbag is worth $5000+!

As I read over what I’ve just written, I’m chuckling—I’ve managed to make myself sound like an ugly, old frump. I’m not… well, I hope I’m not. It’s just, being a bit of a tomboy, I never perfected my hairdressing or make-up skills.

When reading, I quite enjoy being given wonderful descriptions of everything about the heroine, but let’s just say when it comes to my own writing, I have no interest in showing my ignorance by reeling off the wonderful brands she‘s wearing, walking in, carrying over her shoulder, dousing herself in, or how she managed to put her hair up in an intricate bun! I’d probably make all the wrong choices!

Don’t get me wrong – I like description and when it comes to describing my boys, I can wax lyrical. As someone who is also an artist, with a love of life drawing and portraiture, I could write sonnets about their bone structure or the play of muscles fanning their back. Just don’t ask me to go into detail about the weave of their shirts…

I write about men, yes, because I like them, but also because it’s a challenge.

I’m a woman—writing a romance novel from a woman’s perspective about how she feels is not a huge leap. Let’s face it, after three marriages, there’s a good chance I know what it feels like to fall in (and out of) love—or lust—experience a first kiss, be courted, get married, and start a family. I also know from the female perspective how it feels to be betrayed, abandoned, and used.

When I write from a man’s perspective, I have to constantly be on my toes. Men think differently to women. Act differently to women. React differently to women. Their priorities and motivations are different. Because I can’t take anything for granted it makes me stop and think and ask questions. It encourages me to observe and listen—to both my characters, and the men who populate my life; be they colleagues, neighbors, friends, family, or random strangers in a supermarket or gas station.

It’s been good for me—it’s made me more aware. More understanding and tolerant. Men may have their quirks and foibles, but so do women. Conversely, it’s also made me more frustrated—here we are in the 21st century, and we still have so many prejudices. We still treat sections of our community unfairly and unjustly. How can we justify having one set of rules/laws when it comes to marriage and children for heterosexuals and another for gays and lesbians?

Love is love. Gender shouldn’t matter.

Perhaps, for me, the most important thing I discovered along the way is though many emotions are universal, and know no gender, our experience of them is individual and personal. It is that diversity of experience that fascinates me and inspires me to want to share my characters’ exploration of them through their stories.

I hope some of you will want to join Jesse and Daniel, from Gay as Mardi Gras, on their journey.

Gay as Mardi Gras
Published by
Dreamspinner Press
SUMMARY: After the demise of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Janey, Jesse needs to get away. His nan has just the thing: a month-long cruise around Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. It seems perfect—until Jesse realizes what kind of cruise it is. 
A gay cruise. 
Since Jesse’s roommate, Daniel, is recovering from a broken heart, the two decide to buddy up. They hit it off, and with Daniel now Jesse's partner in crime, they explore the boat and participate in all the fun activities on offer—with some, ah, interesting results for straight boy Jesse. 

RELEASE DATE: 06 March, 2013

BOOK LENGTH: 77 pages

GENRE: Contemporary M/M fiction 

LINK at Dreamspinner:

You can find me in the following places:

TWITTER: @LilyVelden

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