I had the great honor of interviewing M/M author, blogger, and reviewer Nya Rawlyns. Her blog is a beautiful combination of her writings and reviews on different gay romance books. If you want to check out something fresh and interesting, I recommend you go visit her blog and enjoy what it has to offer! I promise you, you won’t regret it!
Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
When I first built an author platform, I blogged sporadically (if at all). Writing the next book always took precedence with the limited time I had available. I also jumped genres, going from romantic comedy to sports-themed romances, and then finally settled on my passion: homoerotic literature. Along the way, I decided the promotion/marketing gig was a soul-sucking pit of despair. In reaction to that epiphany, I opted to publish my stories online on my website, a chapter at a time, sharing my characters and their stories with whomever cared to read along.
I also accepted the Word Press challenge (a real life mission impossible for someone who does not enjoy working on this stuff or find website design intuitive) and set up a new website devoted to spec fiction and sharing my books as free reads. I also indulge in the occasional RantyMcRant (especially about editing or lack thereof), or share my favorite reads, post a few reviews and talk about living in the country with horses, chickens, and assorted wild critters.
You can find my particular den of villainy here: http://loveslastrefuge.com/
What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
I’ve reviewed for years, in all genres, and I have a specific review site for that: http://sandinmyshoesreviews.wordpress.com/
When Love’s Last Refuge finally came together, it seemed natural to devote my portion of the blogosphere to reviewing books that inform my own particular passion: M/M literature. Right now, I am on the lookout for gay writers, men who lend their voice and their perspective to a genre that’s been overwhelmed by the romance trope and written primarily by women for women. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’m not sure it serves the needs of a gay community looking to turn a unique vantage point into stories that both matter and resonate with their experiences.
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
What can possibly be better than a story well-told, with characters you fall in love with, or love to hate, with learning how others have conquered their fears and the obstacles society has put in their paths, with watching vicariously as emotions mature and grow, or wither and die. That the story is M/M is entirely incidental. Love is love, caring is caring. The emotions, the challenges, are truly gender-neutral. But there is also a unique quality to them because we are in a period of social change, and hopefully social enlightenment. That makes getting those tales out there important so that can all learn to celebrate inclusiveness rather than fear it.
Yes, I do suffer from standing on a soapbox now and again, but when asked what I’m passionate about… There you have it.
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
I’m not sure about being “unique,” but I do blog about a variety of topics for which I do have a modicum of expertise. Editing is my day job, so it will come as no surprise that I do quite a few posts on that subject. It also informs my review process, and with the advent of so many indie books hitting the digital universe, I have added grading the editing/editors along with doing a critical analysis of the book.
My reviews are of the literary variety rather than the usual book report (or I Heart This) one sees on GoodReads or Amazon. And I… Um, ahem… I tend not to pull my punches (translation: no unicorns farting rainbows on my watch).
I also use the opportunity to explore speculative fiction, stretching my wings as a writer and breaking a few rules along the way. My latest WiP is A Season of Firsts which hopefully will find a home on a literary shelf rather than in a genre category.
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
Success? That’s easy: email subscriptions, page views and comments, nice or otherwise. I do not delete comments just because they do not agree with my opinion. But I do not tolerate abusive behavior or bullying of any ilk. So far my readership has been growing slowly but steadily. I’d prefer an engaged audience rather than some vague target group of meaningless numbers.
As a reviewer, having publishers and individual authors submit books for consideration is the ultimate validation for how I review, and the honesty and integrity I bring to the process (and I am always aware that however I review, it is still just an opinion).
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
I recently did a blog post on some highly recommended male writers and their latest books: http://loveslastrefuge.com/2014/09/10/smitten-your-next-great-mm-reads/
On the distaff side, some of my go-to writers are Susan Mac Nicol (Waiting for Rain and Worth Keeping), Michele M. Rakes (Saving Kane), Cat Grant (Breaking Free), and L.A. Witt (Walls of Troy)
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
Oh boy. Okay, you asked so here it is: fewer girly guys who angst themselves stupid (ala Bella in Twilight), who go emo at the drop of a hat, who Heart everything, who are so far from the male perspective that they become nothing more than pathetic caricatures (toldja, I have strong opinions).
The gay perspective is unique. It doesn’t necessarily involve heart-throbbing HEAs or even HFNs. I’d rather read a realistic story than a manufactured (female) crowd-pleaser. But that’s me. I prefer transgressive, edgy storytelling than romance tropes.
As with everything, your mileage may vary.
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
Read widely, in all genres. Find reviewers you like and trust, study how they review. Be honest in your evaluation. Acknowledge it’s an opinion, but one you can back up with solid evidence and examples. Be fair, be kind. But if it’s a one-star, then that’s what it is. Don’t sugar-coat. It’s not a popularity contest for the reviewer, but it can be a learning experience for an author.
And if it’s “not to your taste” acknowledge that, but don’t rate it negatively just because you prefer ending B to ending A, or an alpha instead of a joe-schmoo character.
As for blogging? I’ve found that less text is better than text-dense posts. Break up your commentary with pics (and be sure you are allowed to use them and/or credit them appropriately). Edit your work. Be sure it says what you mean: clarity, brevity and some humor go a long way to getting and holding an audience.
And finally, many thanks for giving me an opportunity to talk on subjects near and dear to my heart. Remember: Reading is Subversive. Join the Revolution. [Credit: my favorite tee-shirt]