For me, as an author of realistic fiction, the best compliment I can get is “how did you get into my head like that”? Though, I’ll have to admit, given that I generally write survival stories, I hate that it’s necessary for me to get into someone’s head to write their pain, to write my pain. I’ve gotten letters for the Little Boy Lost series from men who went through reparative therapy. I’ve gotten letters for Aaron from men who can’t be touched because of physical abuse. The letters for In the Absence of Monsters and A Heart for Robbie are so heartbreaking, they’re hard to quote.
While my audience is primarily women, I write for gay men. In my BDSM work, I write for gay men into kink. I’m not disrespecting women when I say this, I love that my books are enjoyed by a variety of people, but I want guys to read my books and say, “damn, that’s me” because they aren’t written realistically in mainstream fiction and I want them to find characters with whom they can identify. That idea is one of the driving forces behind the Working Boys series. So many authors write rent boys, porn stars, and other sex workers the way they want them to be rather than the way they are. For me, that’s the highest form of disrespect. It’s like saying they aren’t worth the time it takes to do the research properly.
Vnny, Porn Star is based on cover model Tony Buff, who I met in Chicago a few years ago, but who I’d been a fan of long before that. As someone who lives on the other side of the whip, someone who lives the lifestyle, I watch BDSM porn with a different experience than someone who has never been on their knees with boots filling their vision. I’ve always respected Tony’s commitment to his responsibilities as a Dom. Anyone can don leathers and smack someone around, but only a Dom/Domme respects his/her boundaries and puts his/her sub first. His respect for the artistry of our lifestyle is evident in his scenes and his personality if you have the luck to meet him in person.
So, when he texted me to tell me how much he loved my writing and how he sees so much of himself in Vinny, how intimate it was for him to read, that meant more to me than any prize, any award. That is my target audience telling me I’d gotten it right. The biggest, baddest, sexiest Dom in the industry just told me that reading Vinny was like reading the thoughts in his own head. So, then next time some genius puts up yet another blog post about how women can’t effectively write gay men, I’ll just pull out those texts and read them. Then, I’ll open Word and prove them wrong all over again.