Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gay Romance--Amazon Made Me Do It!

Background: I grew up 25 miles south of San Francisco. Once every month throughout junior and senior years in high school we were bused in the morning into “The City” and debarked with theater tickets hot in our hands. We were set free on the streets and were on our honor to make it to our seats for the 2 p.m. start of the play…or at least for the bus leaving at 4 p.m. for home.

We made good use of our freedom and this suburban girl saw big city stuff that surely opened my eyes…

And yet I was still voted “Most Naïve” in the high school senior poll. (As well as “Least Changed” at my ten-year reunion.)

Back to the present: So Amazon.com sends me those e-mails, you know the ones, “We noticed you bought Writers on Writing and think you also might like this fascinating new book, Collecting Ceramic Ashtrays." I’m always a bit amused by what Amazon thinks I also might like.

Similar suggestions occur when I go to their site. The page will open with books I recently viewed and then suggests other books I might like to view too. Sometimes I get curious and click away, which takes me to other interesting books which takes me to yet other interesting books, and the next thing I know I’m at wikipedia trying to figure out why I know the name Daniel Ellsberg.

Anyway…the other day I was viewing the page for a romance novel and it said 70% of the people who viewed this also viewed Love’s Sweet Flower by Alice Author (okay, making up title and writer, but the rest is true). So, hmm, I don’t recognize the name, but I’m procrastinating, so I click over and…oh. Pretty cover. Pretty heroine. Two pretty heroines. Oh. This is a lesbian romance. But, after a moment of wonder about the popularity of this particular sub-genre, I’m feeling very ho-hum about it. The lesbian romance thing doesn’t capture my interest.

I’m starting to click back when I see another one of those “People who viewed this book…” and there’s another book title and the authors “Scott & Scott.” Hmm. I click over to that. Hah. A gay male couple write romance novels together. And the story line appears to be wonderful romance fare—one character a “stuffed shirt” and the other a free spirit with amnesia. What’s not to like? And I realize I do like it. I really want to read this book…

Here you should picture me, Ms. Naïve, kind of sitting up in her chair and feeling a bit…well, daring. Adventurous. Like Cindy was encouraging us to be yesterday. I’m no vanilla chick any longer! I want to read a gay male romance novel!

Except then I realize something else. I’m not interested because of the titillation factor. Then the lesbian romance would have caught more of my attention. I’m interested in this book because what I’m intrigued by is people falling in love--and I know how women fall in love, because I am one. This book promises deeper insight into how men fall in love.

So it’s not my chili-pepper hot sense of adventure that drove me to put Razor Burn in my shopping cart. It’s the heterosexual romance novelist in me. I’m still just a woman writer fascinated by romantic relationships and by men.

So has amazon taken you down any interesting roads? I’m not the only one, surely!


Betina Krahn said...

Christie! How good to open up the browser and see you here!

Yeah, I get categorized by Amazon and have some fairly strange recommendations at times. Because i went after some Mayan themed books last year when writing "True Desires," they began recommending all kinds of Mayan/Aztec prophecy books. Okay, so I checked out one or two of those. Then along came recommendations for Mayan Apocalypse literature. . . then apocalypse literature in general. . . then ecological disaster apocalypses. . . then ecological treatises. . . then Al Gore's book on global warming. . . then tell-alls attacking Al Gore's facts. . . then tell-alls attacking Al Gore. . . then political A-bombs attacking Democrats. . . then a whole rush of Rush Limbaugh-esque diatribes. . . and finally an Ann Coulter book.

Which was when I stopped going to Amazon.

Apocalypses I can handle. Political hacks and harpies. . . not so much.

But I have to say, I'm reading Lawrence E. Joseph's book "Apocalypse 2012" (which has a lot of really good, hard science in it as well as some humor and some Mayan stuff) and I'm really enjoying it. Also planning to buy a coal mine in West Virginia and stock it with enough canned goods to last the volcanic winter that descends when the Yellowstone supervolcano blows. While Amazon didn't recommend this book, it did start me on a reading spree that led to it.

Interesting. . . optimist encounters apocalypse. . . stay tuned to hear the outcome. . .

:) Betina

lois greiman said...

My favorite is when Amazon says: If you like (insert name of huge bestseller) you'll like Lois Greiman. Yeah, yeah you will.

Betina, have you heard Will Steger is doing another expedition--40 dogs and I think eight people...half of them Inuits. He's out there trying to inform the masses about global warming and keeping it very nonpolitical. I have another hero.

Betina Krahn said...

Hey, Lois! No, I hadn't heard about his expedition. . . mushin' huskies isn't real big in the Florida news scene. Cool.

Oh, and on that "If you enjoyed Ms Megaseller's book, you'll enjoy Lois Greiman's". . . good for you! I always love your books.

:) Betina

Christie Ridgway said...

Betina: Oh, I love your amazon adventure trail (until the political diatribes). I think the Mayan stuff must be fascinating. We visited the pyramids in the Mayan Riviera a couple of years ago and I was so taken with that culture.

My last amazon suggestion was a book on "Girlfriends Doing Crafts" because I'd bought a kids' picture book on monster trucks. No lie. Very weird the way they makes those links.

Helen Brenna said...

I get the same thing Betina gets 'cause I've done a ton of research on both the Mayan and Inca cultures and myths for my books. But now, I see I have to pay attention - could get interesting.

I get a kick out of searching titles on Amazon. We've all done it, right? Come up with this fabulous title we're sure NO ONE else has thought of. Check on Amazon and bam, there are a gazzilion other books out there with some variation.

What about the titles you think are so wonderful and turns out there's some weird twist of words or innuendo you've never thought of? I've typed in title ideas for romances and gotten everything from baseball to religious themed books. What's up with that?

Michele said...

Amazon has made me buy a gay romance as well. Yes, I admit, curiosity got the better of me. It's much easier to explore your 'discomfort' zones via mail, than in a bookstore.
Can't remember the title, but it was like regency era, and the cover had two men with the breeches and floaty shirts in a clinch. The inside scared me so much, though, I couldn't get past chapter two. Written by a man, for men, I suspect.
I think I'd probably have liked the same story if it had been written by a woman.

Christie Ridgway said...

Michele: I think web-based buying has caused people to try lots of different things! I think it's led to the big surge in erotica (which sounds like maybe what you ended up with more than a romance) because you can buy it without standing in the local B&N and talking to your neighbor while you're trying to stuff the book you want to purchase under your sweatshirt (not that I've ever done this).

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, my sister! The day Amazon suggests that I might want to purchase anything by Ann Coulter is the day I empty my Amazon wishlist and go elsewhere. Not that I don't have an open mind, but I don't deal with merchants who insult me to my virtual face. Come to think of it, an insult to a sister writer's virtual face, hmm....

Christie, brava! Your post inspires me. While I know enough about Ann Coulter to reject that particular recommendation outright, I realized from your description that the book you ordered would interest me, too, if I actually read the blurb. Good for you for giving it a chance.

I didn't see "Brokeback Mountain" until it came out on DVD, and I have to admit that it was because I had it in my head that if a guy's gay, he can't be a cowboy. He can be a pro football player, a NASCAR driver, a Navy SEAL, you name it. Just not a cowboy.

But we're never too old to root out our own biases and stomp those suckers flat. I had some issues with the way the characters were portrayed in "Brokeback," but I appreciate the way the movie made me sort through those issues and try to figure out where my resistence really came from. I keep coming to the conclusion that I'm still a work in progress.

Don't forget to give us a book report!

Keri Ford said...

Amazon? No, but friends, yes.

A friend asked if I wanted to read an excerpt from a male gay romance. My curiosity meter jumped up and said YES!

For the whole ONE page I had, I stayed so confused. I couldn't tell whose body belonged to who, who was doing what to who with what body parts.

Other than there were two guys in the scene, I couldn't tell you what in the heck I read. I read the thing about three times trying to figure it out before giving up.


Christie Ridgway said...

Hey, Keri. I could see that being a problem. In m/f love scenes, there are some body parts that differentiate! And I also have to say, what kind of friend only provides ONE page of something you want to read?!

I'll come back with a book report, for sure. I saw Brokeback Mountain with my husband the first week it came out (oh, that makes us sound so hip...hah) because I was so curious and my darling husband likes to go to the movies. We were glad we saw it, though I generally enjoy movies that are more upbeat. Okay, I really prefer chick flicks with happy endings, so this was pretty far off the mark in most respects.

The part that really struck was how much more physical men's lovemaking was portrayed than we're used to seeing with m/f lovemaking and this struck me as probably pretty true.

Debra Dixon said...

Christy-- I've put Razor Burn in my cart. This is a romance if I ever saw one. Even the cover (except for the naked photo) "reads" like a category romance. Very clear marketing/branding.

I think Candace was the one who suckered me into "gay romance" as opposed to erotica. She suggested Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, a bisexual Regency romance, which she'd been suckered into from a blog review.

It was good book. Self-published but well-done. Very big book. Definitely a romance despite the triangle of gay-man-willing-to-be-bisexual to marry and get an heir, his wife and a gay man who he meets after marrying.

The book was about people, not about sex although there was sex, of all kinds. (g)

BelleBooks is toying with the idea of a new imprint for erotica. So I've been reading far and wide lately. But with the exception of Phyllidia, I have not read gay romance so I'll give this a whirl. We'll have to compare notes.

Christie Ridgway said...

Deb: I've heard about that Phyllida book. Okay, now I'll have to try it for sure, with your recommendation, though I'm not sure I'm convinced a 3-way can have an HEA.

Oh, yeah, I meant to mention that cover of Razor Burn. Yeeks. I felt it was a little too much for the blog which is why I used Jake and Heath instead. Guys, you'll have to check out the tan lines! (Oh, I tried to link it but it's not working for me. Just go to amazon and search on the title.)

Susan Kay Law said...

I couldn't go see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, because I knew it ended sad.

I didn't see TITANIC, either.

I'm SUCH a wimp.

But then, I also can't watch the news.

Christie Ridgway said...

Susie: Taylor (my 14 yr old) wanted to watch Titanic the other night and I said okay...as long as we turn it off before they hit the iceberg.

I still kept talking to the TV screen warning everyone of what was coming and I've seen it a gajillion times (until they hit the iceberg).

Laura Vivanco said...

When Brokeback Mountain came out there were lots of articles about it, and one that I remember discussed the International Gay Rodeo Association:

Most gay cowboys end up having to move to the city, and as a result they have to leave their work with horses behind. But the gay rodeo allows them to keep that connection.

The IGRA is now the second-largest organiser of rodeos in the world, putting on events across the US and Canada, and raising millions of dollars for charities at the same time. [...]

Squeaky and Andy are professional rodeo stars, riding on both the regular and the gay circuit, and they are pretty much the best in the business. [...]

They have never been an item - and only found out the other was gay when they turned up in the same gay bar while competing at a regular rodeo. "You should have seen the look on his face when I tapped him on the shoulder," says Squeaky as they lounge on the back of a flat-bed truck outside the arena. For years it was their secret, but Anaya gave Squeaky the confidence not to conform. They would compete on the regular rodeo circuit using different names from the ones they used on the gay circuit. "Man, when we started, we would have been run out of town if they knew," he says. "But we came out about three years ago. It got to the point where I didn't care, I was sick of hiding my life. It was weird; all the young cowboys were completely cool with it. But we had been riding in rodeos for years and we had proved ourselves. We were in the top 15 in the world, so they couldn't just write us off as a couple of queens. We got their respect first."
(The Guardian 2005)

Betina Krahn said...

Rex and I went to see "Brokeback" the week it came out and I was really struck by the movie and thought about it for days afterward. The roughness and physicality of the lovemaking was unsettling at first, but I truly enjoyed the push-pull of emotions as each man tried to be something he wasn't. Okay, enjoyed was maybe a bit much-- I appreciated and was fascinated by it. Seemed pretty real to me.

Okay-- I'll go read Phyllida, too. I can't stand being uninformed!

:) Betina

Betina Krahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christie Ridgway said...

Interesting article, Laura. Thanks for sharing. Amazing how big the gay rodeo circuit has become.

Betina: Yep, that's what struck me too. The roughness of some of the lovemaking in Brokeback. Made me think that men must really temper their strength when they're with women. I don't think I was really aware of that so much before.