Hello everyone! Today I am thrilled to welcome the fabulous Taylor V. Donovan to the blog! Taylor is here to talk about her upcoming book, Disasterology 101, being released by MLR Press on July 19th. She is sharing some of her thoughts about the book, and has also brought us a great excerpt as well as a copy of the book to give away! So please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Realism is My Obsession by Taylor V. Donovan
I’ve been reading M/M romance almost exclusively for several years now, but it wasn’t until after I’d finished writing Six Degrees of Lust in April of 2011 that I started looking for online reading communities. I wanted to discuss books and talk about the stories I adored.
Goodreads was an amazing finding. Soon after becoming a member I met people who turned out to be invaluable friends, and joined what has to be the greatest critique group in existence. I discovered new authors every day, started commenting on reviews, and added an alarming amount of books to my shelves. I also discovered an interesting trend.
Turns out a significant number of MM romance readers wouldn’t bother with a story if graphic and frequent sex scenes weren’t guaranteed, and many others shied away from stories featuring kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. As they say, to each their own. Different folks, different strokes, and we are fortunate enough to have a rich stable of authors writing stories to satisfy all tastes and kinks. But this trend got me thinking about my own taste when it comes to romance and the tropes I want to read.
Give me the guys who meet at the worst time in their lives. The guys who are about to go their separate ways after five years together because one of them needs constant reassurance and the other is tired of being responsible for somebody else’s emotional state. The guy who’s dying to ask this other dude out but can’t because if he pays for a fancy dinner, he won’t be able to pay his rent.
Simply put I like realism, and I don’t believe it surprised anyone who knew me when I started projecting my reading taste into the stories I wrote.
When I read I want to see the struggle. The effort made to keep the fire burning while dealing with family issues and obnoxious friends. I want to see the love and support between the couple even when they’re stressing over finances and trying to make ends meet.
When I write I want to take my readers on a journey that, albeit filled with obstacles, will always be guided by the main characters’ hearts.
Relationships are hard work and require lots of dedication and compromising, and I’m jaded enough to not believe in love at first sight. To roll my eyes a little when I hear people say “all you need is love”, and to flat out snort at the notion that sexual desire translates to passionate boot-knocking every night.
What happens when people work too much? When raising children comes before anything else? When they’re too tired to even think about sex? For that matter, what happens when people can’t have sex?
A lack of libido or a non-existent sexual life is not something we see explored too often in M/M romance. No way. Nope. Hell no. We’re talking about gay guys, you understand, and gay guys think of nothing but getting laid… or so I’ve read.
But some gay guys are sick. Some gay guys are affected by germaphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Some gay guys lose their lunch if they become in contact with bodily fluids that aren’t their own. Some gay guys depend on medication and therapy to keep their compulsions at bay, and their medication has side effects such as nausea, insomnia, and a decreased sex drive.
Decreased. Sex. Drive.
Barely any sex.
I wrote Disasterology 101 because I wanted to give the uncommon guy a chance. Cedric is a guy desperate to experience a normal life and have a lasting relationship with the man he’s crazy about. He wants a family of his own and a happily ever after, but he’s limited by his mental condition in the things he can actually do.
He’s not a stallion ready to have sex at the sight of a boner. He can’t even go out whenever he wants to. Every new day is a challenge for him, and he can try the patience of a saint.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be loved.
What about you guys? Do you want realism in your stories, or do you prefer to escape? Let’s discuss, as I’m always curious about readers’ opinions and tastes.
“I don’t want to go to a gay club ever again,” Cedric said the moment his head touched the fluffy cushion of Dr. Black’s blue chaise lounge sofa. He really liked that piece of furniture. It was comfortable.
“When did you go to a gay club?”
“Saturday night,” he said with an amused smile. He knew his doctor was astounded by his announcement but, as per usual, he didn’t react to it.
“Have a good time?”
“I hated it. I knew I would. I mean, all those sweaty bodies touching one another… I can’t deal with it. Not even when I watch it on the telly.” He shivered. “I’ll be forever grateful to whoever thought of cordoned VIP areas and bouncers.”
“Why did you go to the club?”
“Roberto, my self-appointed big brother, said it’d be a good exposure exercise.” Cedric grabbed a throw pillow and pressed it against his chest. “I needed a reprieve from my thoughts, so I agreed to go. At the time it sounded like a good idea.” He shook his head and rolled his eyes. “I should’ve never shared that list you gave me of things I can do to increase my tolerance level. He doesn’t stop pestering me about trying new things.”
Which annoyed the bloody hell out of Cedric at times, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“You sound frustrated.”
“Not with Roberto.” He’d been left to his own devices at a rather tender age. The kind of concern and support he got from Roberto was something he’d always craved. Plus, they got along, and Cedric loved being treated like a younger brother. “But yes, you know I’ve been frustrated for weeks,” he confirmed.
“I really don’t understand how a person can disappear like that.” Cedric glanced at his watch, threw the pillow away and got up. “He hasn’t been back once. Why is that? Doesn’t he like coffee anymore?”
“It could be that he isn’t from the area.” Dr. Black didn’t need to ask who “he” was, as Cedric hadn’t stopped talking about him in weeks. “We’ve discussed this before.”
“I know we have.” He picked up the throw pillow and placed it on the chaise lounge, then glanced at his watch again. Only twenty seconds had passed. Shite. “I let Roberto talk me into going out not because I wanted to work on my issues, but because I thought a change in scenery would help me stop thinking about him.”
“And how did that go?”
“I found myself thinking about him even more.”
“Why do you think that happened?”
The crystal landmarks on Dr. Black’s coffee table were out of place again, but Cedric looked away. He was determined not to touch them. If he succeeded he’d be able to reward himself. That book with photographs of Soviet architecture he’d added to his favorite online bookstore account’s wish list sounded like the perfect prize.
“I got to the club hoping someone would catch my attention.” Cedric adjusted his tie and went to stand by the office window. “But every chap in there reminded me of the reasons why I‘m so attracted to him.”
“What reasons are those?” Was what Dr. Black asked, but you’re bloody obsessed, was what Cedric heard. “Why are you so attracted to him and not any other man?”
Could he even be “attracted” to a man he’d only seen once?
“He’s understated.” Cedric really hated not knowing his name. “I watched him for a while at the coffee shop, and I could tell immediately he has no idea how attractive he is.” Cedric closed his eyes and let a vision of solidly-muscled, dark-haired perfection fill his mind. “There’s something about him, you know? His eyes are the prettiest blue, and kind. He likes kids.” Cedric had no idea why that mattered to him, but it did. His favorite memory of the bloke was when he had smiled at that little girl in the coffee shop. “He’s passionate, when he isn’t getting pushed away, but based on how long he hesitated to step into the shop I’d say sex isn’t everything to him. Not like it appeared to be for those chaps at the club.”
“How did you feel in that club?”
“Out of place,” he mused. “Most of those chaps reminded me of peacocks. Tall, short, young, older, shaved, waxed or scraggy looking… They had different looks, but they behaved like peacocks. Are you familiar with the peacock mating ritual?” He didn’t wait for an answer before he continued. “They put on a show to attract the peahen. Or another peacock, as this case would have it. They flare out their colorful tail feathers and shake them. If the other peacock takes interest, they mate. One peacock mounts on top of the other peacock’s back and deposits his sperm into the sexual organ. And they’d try to mate with anything.” Cedric flicked his lip ring several times and looked at his doctor. “I witnessed a lot of tail-shaking Saturday night, and not many of those peacocks were concerned about decorum or privacy. They shook their tails, displayed their goods, and proceeded to do some mounting right there on the dance floor. It was absolutely disgusting.”
More so than the sex shop?
Yes! I’m not talking about the place. I’m talking about the people.
“Anything positive come out of your visit to the club?”
“I realized I could never be a peacock. I’m more of an Emperor penguin. They take long trips to find a mate, and are serially monogamous.”
Cedric glanced at the messy surface of Dr. Back’s desk and stuck his hands in his trouser pockets. There were papers everywhere. If he didn’t know better he would’ve thought his doctor left everything in disarray just to mess with Cedric.
“Also, I think the frustration I’ve been feeling has set in,” he admitted after a couple of minutes of careful reflection. “I found a man I liked, and I approached him in the worst way possible. I haven’t seen him again, therefore I haven’t been able to make amends….” He rubbed his face and sat across from his doctor. Maybe the blue chaise lounge sofa would offer some comfort. “I feel like I had this tremendous opportunity to interact with him in a normal way, and I failed.”
“Is this incident making you doubt your progress?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
“What do you want to do about it?”
I’m stuck no matter how hard I try.
I’m done. I give up.
Don’t you dare. Not yet. Not ever.
Cedric lay down and grabbed the throw pillow.
“Let’s discuss my strategy to blast through my frustration.”
Cedric knew he didn’t imagine the satisfaction in Dr. Black’s voice.
Taylor has brought a copy of Disasterology 101 to give away to one lucky reader. The contest will remain open a little longer than usual since the book isn’t out until later this month. So be sure to leave a comment below for your chance to win! The contest closes on July 20th at 11:59 pm EST.
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