It’s Friday, so that means my blog is handed over to a guest, and today I have the pleasure of hosting Sue Brown, who is talking about tropes. Reading what she has to say on the subject, I wonder if I should be worried… how about you?
Last week, I was moaning to my best friend about tropes within the male/male genre. “Why do I have to read yet another book with our hero having a female best friend?” I asked my gay male best friend. He didn’t really need to point out that the trope exists for a reason. Duh!
And then there’s the gay for you trope. Okay, I admit this one drives me insane. Straight man meets gay man. Makes friends, maybe makes a little more… Oh no, the next thing you know the poor man is wrestling with his sexuality after wrestling bare-arsed with his friend. In the Tate Britain museum
there is a sculpture of a men wrestling with a snake. Think snake as sexuality and you get the idea. So, there I am moaning about the trope, and another gay friend points out that a) one of his fantasies is turning a straight man gay, and b) “Oh Sue, what was Nothing Ever Happens
Actually it was about me, but I suppose I have been foiled on both counts… okay, there must be another trope I can legitimately dislike. Oh yes, friends to lovers. Um, no, your favourite book of 2011 Stolen Summer by S.A. Meade
has that storyline, and you adored it, Sue. Besides which, many people have fallen in love with their friends.
I know. Big man/little man. Oh yes, a beloved trope. One that always makes me think about a ladder and a ditch. Yes I can hate the feminisation of a gay couple until I remember friends of mine. If I said that it took me years to remember that the smaller guy’s name wasn’t Mini Me, you get the height difference. So nope, not allowed to dislike that one.
There must be one. Instant love – mated wolves. I look at my Kindle.
Now you get the idea from this blog is that while I’d like to take the mickey out of the tropes, I can’t. Either I am one, have written one, know one or have far too many books to be rude about that trope.
But in the process of doing some research (“Hey guys, hit me with some tropes”) a Facebook friend (thanks Brad) pointed me in the direction of Queer Tropes
. Now, I have read it before and while I don’t agree with everything NeoProdigy says in there, it never fails to make me laugh wryly. This man has a skill with words that I can only admire. Let me quote you the section that has me snorting my coffee.
“3) The Mythical Straight Boy Unicorn
Boy do I have plenty to say on this one.
Stop me if you recognize this plot device or some variation thereof. Miserable gay boy who has given up on love falls in love with the mythical straight boy. Gay boy in desperate need of being rescued falls in love with the mythical straight boy. Gay boy is persecuted by life and homophobes, who shall ever save him, the mythical straight boy. The gay boy is miserable and has no confidence in himself. Who teaches him to be cool, self confident and self reliant? The mythical straight boy. The gay boy is looking to recruit and win over that white knight. So who does he convert? The mythical straight boy. The gay boy needs saving? Who shall save him? I know, how about the mythical straight boy?
No seriously, I am willing to offer monetary and/or sexual incentives to stop this madness.
This stems back to this bullshit notion that cis-gendered heterosexual men have the sole copyright trademark on masculinity, power and strength. All straight guys are tough and strong and all gay guys are sissies.”
There we have it. NeoProdigy has written about the tropes of our genre in a far wittier way than I ever could. I am reduced to searching futilely for a trope I can legitimately dislike, and realising that the tropes are there for a reason. Deal with it, Sue!
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found at university listening to lecturers discuss long-dead theologians. In her head, however, she’s plotting how to get her cowboys into bed together; she just hopes the lecturer doesn’t ask her any questions.
Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.
In a moment of madness, Morgan cheated on his best friend and lover, and Shae walked out without looking back. Five years on, and Morgan has a new life. He is engaged to a tempestuous and passionate Hollywood actor, Jase, and his career as an assistant movie director is thriving.
The last thing Morgan expects is for Shae to walk back into his life. It is clear from the start that he is still deeply attracted to Shae, and that feeling is returned. What is also obvious is that everyone else can see it, including his fiancé.
As Morgan and Shae get to know each other again, they discover the extent that friends meddled in their lives to keep them apart five years previously. Morgan finds that he cannot deny the fact he is still in love with Shae, but he is engaged, and Shae has secrets that he is not prepared to share. Morgan has some hard decisions to make as he struggles not to hurt the men that he cares about.
Morgan searched for something to say that wasn’t “Why the fuck did you leave me and never come back?
Why did you leave me?”
“I’m sorry to hear your dad is ill,” he said eventually, when the silence stretched uncomfortably long.
Shae looked relieved at the innocuous topic. “He’ll be fine but he needs an operation on his gall bladder. He’s having some tests now.” Correctly interpreting Morgan’s surprised expression, Shae added, “Mom threw me out of the hospital. She said I was making her miserable.”
That made Morgan grin, which Shae returned sheepishly. Of course, Peggy Delamere would send Shae off for coffee rather than have him fussing around her.
That seemed to be the end of that topic. Morgan was desperately casting about for another when Shae looked over, this time with a question in his eyes. “You own this place?” he asked, waving a hand around the coffee shop
“Yup, all mine.” The pride was evident in Morgan’s voice.
A puzzled frown marred Shae’s forehead. “I thought you were off making films these days.”
“I am. I bought this in case I didn’t get any work with the studios. I have a manager who runs the place for me.” He waved at Marilyn behind the counter.
“MC’s.” Shae smiled, a genuine expression that reached his eyes. “I should have guessed. Angela dragged me in here bitching about wanting to sit down. I didn’t pay much attention to the name of the place. When did you buy MC’s?”
Shae seemed genuinely interested so Morgan answered, “About four years ago. I bought this place with the money my gran left me.”
The expression on Shae’s face softened. “I was sorry to hear about her death,” he said, the sadness in his tone audible.
“You heard about Gran?” Morgan was shocked. After they split up no one would talk to him about Shae at all. He’d had no news in nearly five years, despite repeatedly begging their friends for information.
“Pete told me. He thought I’d like to know.”
Morgan nodded slowly. “You always got on with her better than I did.” He paused. “Pete never told me about you.”
“I asked him not to,” Shae admitted, “I didn’t want you to know just how—”
He was interrupted by Jase and Angela coming over with four steaming mugs of coffee. Morgan did his best to smile at his fiancé but his timing was shit; he really wanted to know how Shae had been about to conclude that sentence.
Jase and Angela carried most of the ensuing conversation, with Morgan and Shae chipping in when they were prodded. The discussion was painful. In any other circumstances Morgan would have been amused, watching Shae retreat into sullenness in a situation that made him uncomfortable. Morgan wanted to talk, ask questions, and demand an explanation for Shae’s disappearance. Instead he had to wait until Angela looked at her gold bracelet watch.
“Time to go, Shae. They said your dad should be awake soon.”
Morgan stood up with them. “Do you want to take coffees back for your mom as well?”
“Cool. Peggy will be definitely cranky by now without some caffeine inside her,” Angela agreed.
“Marilyn, get whatever Shae and Angela need. On the house,” Morgan called. She nodded in response. He turned to the couple. “Nice to meet you, Angela.” He gave her a smile, and although it felt forced she seemed to appreciate the gesture.
“Thanks, Morgan.” Angela stretched up to give him a kiss on the cheek and then gave another one to Jase.
“I hope your dad is okay, Shae.” Morgan held out his hand to Shae and this time the man shook it without hesitation. Maybe it was his imagination but he was sure Shae held his hand for a little longer than strictly necessary.
After the pair had left with their takeout coffees, Morgan sat back down, only to see Jase looking at him speculatively.
“What?” Morgan asked.
Biting his lip, Jase took a while as if considering his words carefully. “Tell me you don’t still love that man and I’ll believe you.”
“What?” Morgan repeated, his brow furrowed in confusion.
“Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t love Shae Delamere, and I’ll believe you.”
Morgan sighed, knowing he had always been shit at lying to Jase about even the small things. He wasn’t about to lie about Shae. Taking Jase’s hand, he replied, “I do still love him, but…” He made sure he was looking directly at his fiancé when he spoke again. “I am in love with you. Shae is my past; you are my present and future.”
He could tell Jase still wasn’t completely convinced so Morgan showed him in the best way he could, cupping Jase’s face with his hands and kissing him tenderly.
“Ummm,” Jase mumbled, and Morgan smiled as he watched Jase’s blue eyes take a while to focus.
“Thank you,” Jase murmured, and pulled Morgan over for another kiss.
As Morgan lifted his head, a movement outside the window attracted his attention. He looked over to see Shae staring at him, his lips pressed in a thin line as he watched the two of them kissing.
Immediately Morgan felt guilty, although why he should feel like that about kissing his own fiancé he had no idea. Shae looked away. Jase followed Morgan’s gaze and saw Shae watching them through the front window. When Jase realized who stood staring at Morgan, his expression mirrored the anger and hurt on Shae’s. He got up, muttering something about seeing Morgan at home later.
Alone on the sofa, Morgan watched his fiancé and the man who had once been his life walk away in different directions.
Thank you for being my guest here today, Sue. Congratulations on your new release, if a little bit early, and wishing you lots of sales and success. L.M.