First off, I’d like to give a big thanks to M.D. Neu for inviting me to be a guest at his blog. It’s great to be here! When we were first going back and forth over what might be a good topic for today’s post, he mentioned that he doesn’t write romance, and also wondered what my feelings were regarding my journey as a published author over the past six years. Those might seem like separate topics, but they really aren’t.
I’ve been living in an imaginary world since I was twelve with an eye toward becoming a published career author. It wasn’t a ‘someday when I grow up’ sort of plan, it was more like a ‘next week after gym class’ one. When you’re twelve and make such a grand pronouncement, parents tend to roll their eyes, pat you on the head and say ‘sure you are’. Writer’s Digest magazine subscriptions, Annual Publishing and Literary Agent Guides notwithstanding, I caved at fourteen after my first rejection. I told myself that whoever that William Morrow guy was, he didn’t know what he was talking about, so who needs him anyway? I then promptly changed my career aspirations to Rock Star—which made so much more sense. As I was saying, fourteen.
Fast forward a zillion years later. Spoiler alert: The rock star thing didn’t work out. Off and on while I was going through the hassles of pursuing a music career (ugh, not for me), a brilliant story idea would jump into my head and demand I tend to it at once. Thankfully, one of my earlier computers destroyed all evidence of those little disasters by crashing. Saved by bad technology. Who knew?
I do need to stop right here, though, and point something out to those of you who hold yourself back from writing over your fear of those little disasters. They’re mandatory in the process of growing as a writer. Can’t be avoided. The only way to get good at something, is to keep doing it over and over and over. You never get it right, but you get better at it.
Okay, back to my eventual decision to pursue writing again. It began gradually, sort of dipping my toes in. I wrote bios for other musicians, or the CD liner notes. Reviews in entertainment mags, press releases, that sort of thing. Then I graduated to ghostwriting the memoir for a Hunter S. Thompson era journalist and co-writing with a rising guitar some of his early career anecdotes. No, it wasn’t fiction, but it was storytelling. Bios and press releases are like blurbs and taglines—they’re needed, and help train your mind to break things down to the bare bones. Beginning, middle and end. A complete story arc.
But the plot bunnies that were destroyed in the great computer crash of 2006 refused to die. The rambling, disjointed and cliché ridden drivel I’d twisted them into had, but the seeds were still there and hadn’t been poisoned. Now, is this the point I determined, why yes, I shall now write MM Romance and nothing else forever more? Nope. I started writing literary short stories, and dusted off those bunnies which all centered around various sci-fi and dystopian themes. One was very dark and twisted, others were more along the lines of Starman. Eventually, the Starman-esque ones took prevalence, and I was bored senseless with my so-called literary shorts (I had all of two of them published in a teensy community college lit mag), and didn’t feel I was doing the darker stuff justice. So, I stayed with what felt right, what I was being pulled toward more.
A couple things happened to me within a few months of each other during 2010 that changed everything. I had to have some minor surgery, so was bedridden at home for a few weeks, and during that time, I discovered an open submission call from a writer’s newsletter I subscribed to. My job was as a salary-exempt manager, so the sudden downtime had me antsy. I also figured I’d never have the opportunity to spend endless hours researching the latest in the publishing industry as I would while I was laid up, so I really made the most of it.
I clicked on the link for the open submission call, and discovered it was for an erotic romance publisher looking for short stories to include in an anthology featuring threesomes. Whoa. What is this sorcery? Obviously, I was a bit behind the times—salary exempt jobs will do that to you—because this was a hallelujah moment. It occurred to me that all the hand-wringing I’d been doing over how much sex to include or not include in my sci-fi stories, and whether they should have any romantic elements at all, would be non-issues if I wrote for an erotic romance publisher. Or, if I wrote romance.
My characters had been pulling me in that direction for years, but I’d been digging in my heels, resisting it because I’d never viewed myself as a romance writer. I decided to randomly order the top-selling romances from several erotic romance sites, and I included all pairings: MF, MM, MFM, MMF, FF and so on. I paid particular attention to the threesomes because of the call I wanted to submit a story for. What I discovered once I let myself read and enjoy those stories, was that I should quit fighting my characters and embrace the romance, make it a part of the character’s journey instead of an aside.
I didn’t get accepted to that call, but the editor from it recommended my story to another editor at the same publisher, and I was accepted for an anthology that she was working on. The moment I received my first acceptance, everything changed for me. My attitude about my writing and what I wanted to do with it and how I was going to keep it going took over my life. The next story I sent in was also a threesome (MMF), since I’d already had positive results from that combo and because I had a really cool idea.
That’s the kicker. You have to have a cool idea, right? While driving to work one day—which is when I used to get a lot of my ideas— a scene popped into my head that had the ‘what would happen if?’ thought bubble attached to it. Those thought bubbles are essential to all writers. This one involved a gay firefighter recruit walking in on the straight fire chief—only to discover he’s not all that straight. What would happen? Is the fire chief angry, embarrassed, freaked out because he’s closeted? Is the firefighter recruit intrigued, shocked, thrilled, also embarrassed or all of the above? What would be the result of the actions they take after that night?
I came up with a synopsis for that story and two others, then pitched it to my publisher as a three-book series. They said yes, it morphed into a six-book bestseller and Morticia Knight, Author of MM Romance was born. I should probably add something to all this. I didn’t arrive in the world of MM Romance via fanfic the way many have, haven’t been around as long, and I wasn’t aware until I’d been publishing for a while, that there was some backlash over women writing gay romance. I was instantly perplexed.
Tennessee Williams is one of the best playwrights of all time, and has written two of the most beautifully tragic and heartfelt female characters in modern theater. Stephen King has written some incredibly strong female characters—Dolores Claiborne and Fran from The Stand are two who come to mind—and he wrote them from the women’s POV. Got into their heads and hearts, and it never occurred to me to question his right to create those characters or to tell their difficult stories. I met Christopher Rice at a book convention a couple years ago, and we sort of joked about him writing MF romance and me writing MM romance, and it was a shoulder-shrug, laugh about it moment. No big deal.
I do believe in ‘own voices’, I believe it’s vital that people of color, those with disabilities, and everyone on the LGBTQ spectrum write, write and write. That as readers, we take the time to read their words and learn their truths. But, my own voice friends and family members also want their stories told as much as possible, by whoever wants to write from an informed stance. (I’ve already rambled on as it is, so the research aspect of ‘getting it right’ would have to be a whole other post!) Once I began writing again, I didn’t tell my muse to discriminate and I let my characters lead me where they wanted to go. The result has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me as an artist.
Oh, before I leave, I should mention that I did finally get a sci-fi series published! Yay! It’s not exactly Starman, no intergalactic babies or Dutch apple pie, but there’s lots of BDSM sex, gummy bears and it’s MMM (one human, two aliens *grin*). Also, it has a plot. No really, an actual plot with intrigue and uprisings and mysterious evil forces and lots of other cool sci-fi/dystopian stuff. It’s the Soul Match series, and Book Four, Surrendering For Two, was just released. If any of the above sounds interesting to you, please check it out!
Surrendering For Two (Soul Match 4)
Strength is found when surrendering to destiny.
Graham has suffered way too much at the hands of the Nall. Ever since he was enslaved after the invasion, he’s been raped and tortured by the Alasharian Supreme Commander and his cohorts. Condemned to die by hanging for his part in the human rebellion, Graham gives in to the inevitable, no longer caring if he lives or dies. But an unexpected event occurs and, at the last moment, Graham is saved.
Balor is a guard to the Nall, but he’s also a part of the growing rebellion among the Alasharians. When one of the Nall’s advisors enlists his help in getting a human prisoner to safety, Balor comes to his aid. Startled by the soul match hum that sparks to life when he touches Graham, but unable to do anything about it, Balor is determined to protect his human match at all costs. When Advisor Oman arrives on the scene to rescue Balor as he helps Graham to escape, it becomes clear that yet another alien/human triad is forming—even if Graham may never accept being bonded to two aliens after the trauma he’s endured at the hands of Alasharians.
The time has come to depart to the secret military complex where the human and Alasharian allies will stage their final assault against the Nall and the Void. Families are reunited and others torn apart as they prepare for battle. The allies fear what will become of them all if Chris, the special human Sha Sha Ar has chosen as their spiritual leader, is no longer there to guide them.
Where you can buy the book:
About Morticia Knight:
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little hearts desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share—her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Since then, she’s been fortunate enough to have several books on bestseller lists along with three series’ titles receiving recognition in the Rainbow Book Awards.
Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the North Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men, she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.