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29 December 2005 @ 06:22 pm
Writing bisexual historical romance  
OK, if you’re reading this, I finally did it—started my blog.

I know, me and 20 gazillion others, this week. But it’s a big deal for me. It’s the first sustained writing I will have done for over a year, since I finished writing my bisexual Regency romance novel, “Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander.”

“What?” you ask. “What is that—a bisexual Regency romance?” (At least, I hope you’re asking.)

The easy answer is to check out my Web site, where all is made clear: www.annherendeen.com With any luck, this blog will soon be linked to the site anyway, but until then, please, please, please check it out. The site is all about the book, and the book is beautiful, sexy, intelligent and funny, just like Phyllida herself, the heroine of the novel. It’s a romance, so yes, she’s the “heroine,” not simply the “title character” or “protagonist” or some other wimpy literary term. (And btw, her name is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, like Phyllis, only longer).

Now, back to your question. The Regency is the period in English history from 1811 to 1820 when the future George IV acted as Prince Regent for his father, George III (yes, he was still alive, about 150 years old, sick and incapacitated). You don’t care? So why ask?

Oh, I see, you want to know about the bisexual part. Terrific! That’s exactly what I want to talk about.

Are you thinking: Historical romance with hot lesbian action? If you are, you’re in the wrong neck of the woods here. Waaaaaay off the path. No, this is a story where most of the men are bisexual. I’m not saying the women aren’t—it’s just not what I wrote about in this story.
If this turns you off, too bad. Go read about “The L Word” or whatever. But if you’re like me, you are now getting all hot and excited, maybe shifting around in your chair, perhaps having to unfasten parts of your clothing, assuming you’re wearing any…

You don’t believe me? You don’t believe a woman is into this, and would write a story like this? Oh, come on. I know you’re out there, all you women who like to think about and read about men getting it on with each other. Where did all that “slash” fiction come from, if not all the women like me, like us? (“Slash” fiction, referring to the typographical symbol (/), not to cutting with knives, began as stories written by women for women, about the original “Star Trek” TV series. The slash was used as shorthand to show which male characters were portrayed having sex with each other. The first stories involved that natural and inevitable pairing, Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock, and were tagged K/S.)

And, please, all you bisexual and bi-curious men—I didn’t mean to appear to be excluding you. Obviously, I love you. You are my ideal, the reason I write. I only wish there were more of you, or more of you who were open about your preferences, and that you might be interested in reading the product of my overheated imagination. I know men tend not to read romances, but I hope you might make an exception for “Phyllida,” which, though named for its heroine, has some very hot, hunky, masculine bisexual male characters, especially Phyllida’s husband and his boyfriends. I would also be delighted to receive your e-mails explaining (please, give graphic and explicit details) just where I went wrong in the man-man sex scenes, and providing examples (again, graphic and explicit please) of how to get it right.

Now it sounds like I’m writing porn. I don’t think of it that way (“not that there’s anything wrong with that,” to quote “Seinfeld.”) I think of “Phyllida” as a story with sex scenes, as opposed to sex scenes first, merely embellished with a minimal story and two-dimensional characters just to flesh out a whole book, so to speak. On the other hand, I think of the traditional (male-female) romance novel as a form of soft-core porn for straight women. Many of the romances being written now—and it’s a huge segment of the publishing world—include some pretty hot and heavy sex scenes. But that’s only part of what I mean. Mostly, it’s about fantasy. Porn is a fantasy of perfect sex. Perfect bodies, no STDs, no complications. For men, it’s mostly a visual thing. For many women, sex is better with love (“romance”), or at least a “relationship,” as part of the package. It’s all about the story.

Aaaarrrggghhh I know what you’re going to say. It’s a stereotype, lots of women are into pictures of hot bodies, too, blah blah blah. Yeah yeah yeah. I know. And everybody knows someone who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and lived to be 100 years old. Every stereotype has exceptions.
All I know is, if I’m given a choice between:
1. Pictures or video of two hot male bodies having sex, no other info provided, no dialog beyond the obvious double entendres and a few grunts or groans; or
2. A well-written account of two attractive men (let’s say, for the sake of example, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley from “Pride and Prejudice,”) whose distinct personalities are revealed in the course of the story through witty and expressive dialog, and who become involved in an absorbing and reasonably realistic plot—and who then fall into bed and begin having hot sex, fully described
—I’ll go with no. 2 every time.
No, I’m not kidding. That’s what I’m working on now, or trying to, and no, it’s not porn, not in the standard sense. It’s a story, the story behind the P&P that was published in 1813. If you know that story, you’ll see I’m not really stretching things, just amplifying what’s implied and hovering submerged, very close to the surface, in Jane Austen’s excellent work. Naturally, the working title is “Pride/Prejudice.”

So, here I am. Here’s “Phyllida.” Where are you, my readers? When I started out on this journey, the attempt to write something unique, the kind of story I wanted to read and wasn’t finding, I knew it would be hard. I hoped I could get published the traditional way, find a publisher who would actually pay me for my story and put it into print, or find an agent who would sell my story to that publisher. But when that didn’t happen, I wasn’t totally surprised. We all know the gory details, no need to rehash them here. There are more writers than readers these days; if you’re a celebrity you can write anything and get it into print; if not, go away and, preferably, drop dead. Anybody who thinks that just writing something good is all it takes, please check your calendar—it’s the 21st century. George III really is dead now. The Regency is over.

But… what I don’t understand is: having put up a really stunning web site designed by an excellent Web designer (not me), and having finally gotten indexed by Google as well as Yahoo, and now having put my book into print-on-demand, if not traditional print and on bookstore shelves… what I don’t quite get is, why does nobody care?
I was naïve. I admit it. I thought putting the words “bisexual historical romance” together in this order into one phrase would bring hundreds of hits, that all you desperate people like me, starved for a good bisexual love story, would awaken from your torpor of intellectual and emotional malnutrition, would arise and exclaim with joy, “At last! Our fantasies have been realized at last! Hallelujah!”
And you would then all rush to purchase this wondrous book, only $14.50 from my beautiful and informative Web site (plus $6.81 for shipping and handling—I know, I’m sorry, no control over that) and also available through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
But it hasn’t been quite like that.

In my next post, I will take up this thrilling narrative, unless I get interesting questions by e-mail, in which case I will answer them.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: "Dido & Aeneas" by Henry Purcell
In Different Hues: Winterindifferenthues on February 2nd, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
Just put up the February NYABN page and our lovely "Valentine's Couple" looked a little Regency-ish . . . and that made me wonder where you had gotten off to.

BTW congratulations on that fine review you got on BRC!
ann_amalieann_amalie on February 4th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
I'm baaaack
Thanks for noticing the great review for my book, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander : a bisexual Regency romance.
Sheeri Kritzer wrote it and also posted it to my listings on amazon and b&n, for which I am eternally grateful.
Where have I gotten off to? Well, I didn't get off, unfortunately, unless you count self-satisfaction while imagining my two guys from Pride/Prejudice getting off with each other--sorry, I love silly sex-related puns--but I did take an extended leave from the blogosphere. I find writing fiction hard but enjoyable work. I find writing anything else just plain hard work.
Plus it turns out I really will have to do an awful lot of other work to upgrade my blog so that it can be embedded into my web site, and to make it look interesting and to connect to other blogs with similar interests. None of that work is easy for me, nor does it involve any kind of writing, so I have simply taken the writer's usual way of dealing with tasks--procrastination.
And yes, the Valentine's couple do look somewhat Regency, especially the hair styles. Lovely.
Thanks for writing to me and for writing about me.You guys are the best!