About a year ago I finished my first attempt at a futuristic novel. It was a first for me in many ways: my first story set in the future; although it certainly deals (like all my stories) with gay themes, it is my first story with a straight protagonist; and it is my first story where I start the protagonist off as being unlikable, and try to make the reader warm to him over the course of the story.
I knew stretching my boundaries like this would be a gamble as far as publishers and readers are concerned. Having a straight protagonist meant many of the gay publishers would reject it (and several did.) Also, because this is not a romance, many of the women who read MM will not take to it. This is a story aimed at gay men. But knowing it may never see the light of day, I had to write it anyway. I had to break out of the constraints of writing stories with an MM romance edge. At the time, I felt it was the only way I could grow as a writer.
So throwing caution out the window (sorry for the cliché), I spent two years developing this story of twin brothers, both battling a corrupt US government in 2055. One is a straight warrior, the other is a gay writer, both fight for liberation in their own way. In my opinion, it is my best story, and by far my best writing. I’m very gratified with the results.
As expected, my current publisher, Dreamspinner Press, rejected the story because their audience demands MM romance. No surprise there. So I started shopping it around, one by one, to other gay publishers, all the time convinced I would need to self-publish this book to get it in print. I received two more rejections before getting lucky—very lucky.
Yes, I received an acceptance letter from Bold Strokes Books on Friday, telling me they would be happy to publish my story. I’m now waiting for the contract, but I’m thrilled they are willing to take a chance on me. My elation goes way beyond the opportunity to have this one story published by a reputable firm; it is about joining a publishing firm who doesn’t handcuff themselves or their stable of writers into one genre.
I feel exceedingly fortunate to have an in with a publisher who publishes a wide breath of genres, because that is definitely where my writing is taking me, far far away from MM romance. I feel I am growing as a writer, and it looks like I’ve found a publisher who is willing to stick by me as I grow.
Me likes it.