AJ LLewellyn and Appropriation in M/M Romance

Sorry for the long absence between posts — and thanks to all the posters new and familiar who continue to do completely awesome and eye-opening things while I’m off in the wilds of conference planning and manuscript editing. I’m making up for the lost time by writing an extra-long post — aren’t you excited?

Earlier today, romance blog Dear Author posted a news item that m/m romance author AJ Llewellyn — oh, what was the delicate phrasing they used? — “admits adopting male persona despite being female.”

Here we go.

Brain Food – Episode 8

Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 8 of Brain Food, wherein I discuss books past and present that were, well, waste of money, as well as my conflicted emotions on one digital comic, which wasn’t, as a friend suggested, money wasted but money donated.

I hope that everyone enjoys the episode!

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett is the story of Polly Perks, who in the method of young women all over fantasy, disguises herself as a man and changes her name to Oliver in order to join the army and find her brother. This being Terry Pratchett jolly hijinks ensue.

There will be spoilers below.

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You Can Take Your Sexy Star Wars Gear and Shove It

Every day it seems like another geek site is linking to another sexified Star Wars thing. Star Wars burlesque. Star Wars bathing suits. And today, apparently, Star Wars characters reimagined as classic pin-ups.

Now, I like sexytimes as much as the next person, and Star Wars has long been a bastion of nerdy sexytimes on account of a certain gold bikini. But let’s talk about context: that gold bikini appears when our diplomat princess has been captured trying to rescue someone else, and her punishment is to sit there in her undies choke-chained to Jabba the Hutt (who nobody can convince me is not secretly a giant penis).

And she’s pissed about all this. So the first opportunity she gets, she takes that chain and strangles her captor. Without remorse. She refuses to be passive and pretty, and the gold bikini is ditched because it just plain gets in the way. Leia is a princess, and she has one hell of a smoldering romance going with Han Solo, but there is more to her than her sexuality. Jabba’s fatal mistake is that he forgets this.

Point your lightsaber here (and get your mind outta the gutter!)

Romance, Race, and Invisibility

We are currently living through a romance novel renaissance. Not only are new subgenres appearing and old ones expanding — steampunk romances, no joke! — but romance authors and readers are getting more vocal, resisting the stigma of romance readers as sex-starved bonbon-devouring housewives. There is now a course on romance novels at Yale, and an academic journal that deals with the subject. Just this week the rising tide of romance ebook sales — by far the most-sold genre in digital form — was featured in an article on the front page of the New York Times.

Which brings me to China.

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Men are from Chandler, Women are from Christie

The odd couple is one of television’s go-to moves — and so is the idea that no two people are as mismatched as a man and a woman, especially a man and a woman with sexual chemistry. The whole Mars/Venus crap gets name-checked when a man and woman share the lead in a show: it’s heteronormative and reductive and can be excruciating to watch — but it’s also pretty revealing about mainstream cultural attitudes toward gender roles.

Especially when the couple teams up to solve crime. The result then is a pair of narratives in search of the Truth-with-a-capital-T: one short truth story, that starts with a body and ends with a killer and is solved over the course of a single episode, and one long one, that plays out as the couple learn more about each other and their mutual sexypants feelings.

Let’s start with the ultimate mystery romance show: Remington Steele.

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