Today I am incredibly excited to welcome L.A. Witt, author of The Closer You Get, coming out November 15. Closer features one of my favorite combinations – manwhore and virgin together in one book! We got to chatting about how much I love virgin heroes and I asked L.A. to share some of her thoughts about them from an author’s perspective. So please join me in giving her a warm welcome! (P.S. Giveaway information at the bottom of the page)
As I mentioned above, the virgin hero is one of my favorite tropes to read. As an author, what drew you to creating a virgin character?
In the case of The Closer You Get, I’d been thinking for a long time, especially after hearing from numerous readers about it, that Kieran from The Distance Between Us needed to fall in love with someone. He was happy being slutty, and would have continued to be, but I really wanted him to get his happy ending (as did my readers). The challenge was finding someone who could really get to him like no other man had. So that had Mr. Manwhore at the forefront of my mind, and the more I ran through potential partners for him in my head, the more I kept leaning toward someone who had significantly less experience. Behold: Alex the virgin. Perfect, because I’d also been wanting to work with a character like Alex, so once the two of them met in my mind, the story had to happen.
Alex is one of a few inexperienced characters I’ve written, though he is—well, was, now that Kieran’s gotten his hands on him—by far the least experienced. The main thing that draws me to virgin characters in particular is why they’re still virgins. In a culture where teenagers start experimenting at ages most people would prefer not to acknowledge, it’s becoming more and more unusual for someone to make it into, never mind past, their college years without becoming sexually active. So why would this particular individual wait? Shyness? Fear? Strict upbringing? Confusion or embarrassment about their sexuality? Was it simply their choice to hold off until later? Were they happy with their choice? Did they regret it? How would that person feel or respond when they did get involved with someone sexually? How would their reasons for staying a virgin come into play after the character was intimate with someone? There are countless possibilities, and they’re fascinating to explore.
Do you think the romance stereotype alpha male makes it harder to publish books with men who maybe aren’t so confident or experienced?
Yes and no. A lot of readers like the alpha male characters, which is fine, but there’s always someone out there who wants someone a little different. And for the record, even though I don’t tend to write about them, I’m not opposed to alpha males. I find them rather sexy, actually. What I don’t care for is the alpha male as he often appears in romances: domineering, obnoxious, sometimes even abusive. I don’t find that endearing in the slightest. That’s not to say I don’t like the occasional anti-hero, it just bugs me when I’m expected to fall in love with a character who, in real life, I would just as soon smack. A jerk is a jerk. That said, I do like alpha men. I love Doms, which is why they’re starting to show up more and more in my work. If one of my heroes is an insufferable and controlling asshole, though, they’re damn sure going to straighten up and be a decent human being before I expect my main character (or my reader!) to fall for him.
In The Closer You Get, you have one super experienced guy paired with a virgin. I love this dichotomy because we get to see the more experienced partner having to think about sex in a different way than he is used to, back before he became so jaded. What is it that interested you about this combination?
There were just so many possibilities for conflict with a virgin and a slut. (Incidentally, my friends and I called this book “Slutman vs Virginman” while it was in progress) Kieran has to deal with questions and concerns he’s never encountered before: Am I moving too fast for him? How do I do this without overwhelming him? What if he regrets something? What if he resents me for it? What if he gets too attached to me? It forces him to approach sex with a level of restraint he’s never even heard of. And what’s more fun than forcing a character out of his comfort zone? Well… forcing TWO characters out of their comfort zones.
Ok, now the really good stuff. Keiran and Alex’s first time having anal sex was off the charts hot. As a writer, what is it like writing sex scenes for a guy’s first time?
Glad you enjoyed that! As for writing a first time, it’s somewhat apropos that the first male-male sex scene I ever wrote was the guy’s first time with another man. For those who’ve read my older work, Rules of Engagement was my first ever attempt at M/M, so Dustin’s first time was also mine.
Writing a first time is always interesting. I mean, here’s this person who’s never experienced something, and that something happens to be incredibly intense and powerful, so there’s bound to be some nerves. Plus they’re going to be overwhelmed, hopefully in a good way. As a writer, I try to strike that delicate balance between emotional and physical responses. Make sure the reader is right there and feels everything, but don’t overdo it. Don’t go so overboard on the emotional that the physical is lost in the shuffle, but don’t get so into the mechanics that it reads like an instruction manual written by a Vulcan.
Writing a scene like that is challenging, but I enjoy them. In fact, it’s funny you should mention it: there’s a first-time scene in my current work-in-progress, Where There’s Smoke. Apparently I write more of these than I thought. Hehe
This is purely an unscientific observation, but it seems virgin heroes are more common in m/m stories than m/f. My thought is that with two men, you still can have one alpha guy in there, whereas in a m/f story the virgin hero sort of defies the traditional male romance role. What are your thoughts?
Hmm. Interesting observation. One thought—a purely unscientific hypothesis—is that it’s less about someone being an alpha and more about the value judgments associated with virginity and different levels of sexual experience. For a woman to still be a virgin (by a certain age, until marriage, whatever) is considered a positive thing. For a man, it’s often negative. He must be undesirable, he must be a mama’s boy, he’s probably gay (I’ve heard all these things, and they make my teeth grind). As they age, the female virgin is more virtuous, the male virgin more peculiar and weird. Similarly, with age, the experienced female becomes more of a whore and less desirable, whereas the man is more coveted (he has enough experience to please a woman, he hasn’t been tamed yet and is therefore a challenge, etc). In general, sexual experience in a man is a positive, just as sexual “innocence” in a woman is a positive. That sound you hear is my teeth grinding once again.
The thing is, I don’t view virginity as something particularly valuable or desirable. It’s not Undesirable, don’t get me wrong…I just don’t think someone’s value as a person should change the longer they maintain their virginity, or should change once they’ve had sex with someone. I don’t find anything morally superior about chastity. Of course there are those who view this differently, but I write my stories with that attitude and moral outlook.
In my mind, where virginity creates conflict between two characters is, as I said before, in terms of different levels of experience, not one being morally superior. The more experienced one might, like Kieran, be concerned about moving too fast and overwhelming his novice partner. The virgin, in this case Alex, might find his partner’s level of experience intimidating, plus he might be worried about the sexual experience being unpleasant, underwhelming, or even painful. There’s a certain level of performance anxiety for both that wouldn’t exist between two people who were similarly experienced. Any time people are in bed, awkward moments can happen, and a more or less matched pair would be more apt to just write it off as nerves or clumsiness, whereas guys like Alex and Kieran could be expected to be hyperaware of any “mistakes.” They might be more embarrassed, more uncomfortable, etc. While the pressure is on Kieran to make sure Alex’s first experience is a good one, Alex is going to feel like he has to compete with more experienced partners of Kieran’s past.
So for me, the conflict between a virgin and a manwhore (as Kieran calls himself) isn’t a moral one, but a personal one. Trying to connect, trying to please each other, stumbling through their encounters, etc. The possibilities are endless, and I guarantee Alex won’t be the last virgin I write. In fact, after doing this interview, a plot bunny has started gnawing on my skull, and I now have a hetero book in progress with a virgin hero. Details to come. 😉
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit Joyfully Jay today and chat with me! It has been so much fun! If folks want to find out more about you or your books, how can they find you?
Where to find me – as both L. A. Witt and Lauren Gallagher – on ye olde interwebs:
- Website: http://www.loriawitt.com
- Twitter: GallagherWitt
- Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com
- Personal Blog: http://navywifeadventures.blogspot.com
I always love hearing from readers, so feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com!
And now the fine print:
- By entering the contest, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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Good luck and thank you again to L.A. for the great post!