The idea of being able to call myself a writer has always appealed to me.
Over the years, I've had numerous unsuccessful attempts at writing a great novel. I struggled to convince myself that what I was writing was any good, and I could never seem to write anything longer than a short story.
But then I discovered erotic gay fiction. I discovered I was pretty good at writing that.
I started writing erotic gay fiction almost by accident. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I entered into the profession without giving the matter a lot of thought.
I was traveling. To get a bit of extra cash in, I was picking up some basic copywriting work through a freelance platform – it doesn’t pay much but it’s the kind of straightforward writing that you can do while you’re also doing other things.
I’d initially focused on the travel writing jobs, but I began to see contracts being offered to write erotic gay fiction. So I thought I’d give it a go. I’m gay. I like to read erotic gay fiction. How hard could it be? No pun intended.
I pitched some ideas and soon had a few commissions lined up. It was time to put pen to paper, figuratively speaking.
One of the complexities with the kind of gay erotic fiction that I was commissioned to write is that the biggest audience was not actually gay men, but women. Apparently that's not a surprise to anyone – the biggest consumers of erotic gay fiction are women who would generally see themselves as heterosexual.
The kind of erotic gay fiction that heterosexual women enjoy is often referred to as m/m. There is generally a strong focus on a romance developing between two main characters, dreamy guys who probably experience a same-sex encounter for the first time — they experiment, they fall in love, and they live happily and monogamously ever-after.
It took me a while to get my head around that — some of my early pieces had to be revised because they were too explicit, too physical, too raw.
I gave it a shot, but the reality was that I didn’t really enjoy writing m/m erotica — it all felt a bit vanilla and contrived. It wasn’t sex between men as I knew it, or wanted it to be.
It took me a little while, several writing jobs, and a couple of hundred thousand words, to realise that the people who I was ghost-writing these stories for were simply taking them and publishing them via Amazon for the kindle-readers market.
That’s actually not difficult to do, so eventually I decided to cut out the middle-man and just write and publish the stories myself. This enabled me to write stories in a style that felt more authentic to my experience and to my fantasies.
While my style of erotic fiction is (weirdly) probably too gay for the bulk of the m/m erotica readers out there, I like to think that I'm occasionally providing some inspiration and excitement for gay men around the world who want to read authentic stories about guys who get off getting it on with other guys.
The downside with the ease of self-publishing through Amazon is that you can update and revise your work at any time. That’s a great feature in many ways, but I’m constantly proof-reading, updating, and editing stories. Nothing is ever finished. I’ve published things that are just the beginnings of ideas, always with an intention to come back and have another go at them when I’ve got the time or the inspiration.
My biggest selling story is The Mechanic — predictably it’s about a young guy who gets a job as a mechanic and ends up having a lot of sex.
Erotic gay fiction set in a historic context also seems to be popular. The Horse Tribe of the Celts is the biggest seller in terms of historical fiction that I’ve written — it follows the fortunes of the horse tribe known as the Brigantes.
Probably my favourite story that I’ve written is The Pack — this is werewolf erotica, loosely speaking. I got the idea for this story while reading about a pack of wolves who terrorised Paris in the 15th century.
My writing isn’t going to win any awards. I read what I’ve written and know that it could be better. It’s never going to make a lot of money. But I enjoy writing erotic gay fiction — erotica for gay men.