I often get asked a question that I'm sure a lot of us writers are asked: "What on Earth made you start writing gay erotica?"
My first response is to say, "I have no idea," which is true, but not the whole story. I think it really started when I was ten years old. That's how old I was when I started writing seriously. I was one of those weird kids who was pretty much born knowing how to read -- I can't remember learning. My mother read to me constantly, and I remember one afternoon long before I started school when she fell asleep in the middle of a chapter, and I picked up the book and just kept going. She was an English teacher and started me on the classics before most of my friends had even mastered reading short chapter books. My teachers didn't know what to do with me -- I'd have to put down Mark Twain with a sigh and pick up Dick and Jane when class started.
Though I always had a few good friends, I was very solitary, and I was the only child of divorced parents growing close to the family horse farm near the largest lake in Vermont. This left me with a lot of freedom for imagination, and by the time I was ten, I was writing Tolkien fashion, creating my own universe and populating it with people who could understand me in ways the real world didn't. I created a male character named Marsh, who was about five years older than me, and we grew up together. I followed his life through the years in a series of never ending novels that I never dreamed of trying to publish. Marsh became a kind of alter-ego who was everything that shy and quiet little me wasn't. There was nothing he couldn't say or do.
After a while, when we were both in our twenties, Marsh married and had a child. The problem was, he wasn't happy. And then one day, a man walked into his life, a man who was openly gay, and who was involved in a failing relationship of his own. I have no idea where this guy came from, and neither did my alter-ego, but before either of us knew what was happening, the two men ditched their lives and ran away together. I was stunned and shocked, and I searched back through Marsh's life and unhappy marriage and realized that he'd always been gay. I think that his experience probably wasn't too different from that of many real men. I could no more stop writing about him than I could stop breathing. And so I found myself writing about two gay men.
Of course, I didn't write about gay men all the time -- I was in grad school by then and trying to publish the next great American novel, and not getting very far. Finally, following I have no idea what muse, I opened a blank document one day and let out a story that had been floating inside me for a long time. I pulled out all the stops and wrote the most gay story I could, and all kinds of bizarre, erotic, repressed stuff came pouring out. It kind of shocked me and I banished it to one of those cobwebby files in the depths of my computer and hoped my family never ran across it.
Then, years later, I was browsing around on the web one night and ran across Torquere Press, and the more I read about them, the more I thought about that really bizarre piece I'd written. So I dug it out, polished it up, and thinking this wasn't going to amount to anything, sent it to them. Nothing could have prepared me for the shock I got when it was accepted a few weeks later. And that's how The Glass Man leaped from my imagination to the world, and how I found my niche as a writer of gay erotica.
Here's a scene from The Glass Man. The main character, Zalen, has just sold himself into the sex slave business on the planet Mirandt to earn enough money to save his family from a horrible existence they've fallen into through no fault of their own. The people who have bought him for the night are right out of his worst nightmare.
"There you are, right on time!" a man shouted, pulling open a door so warped it almost came off in his hand. The other hand held a glass of wine. He was half-dressed, fat, and oily. "Strip down and come on in. Leave your clothes on the porch if you want to find them again. Money's on the windowsill in case I forget. Let's go, you whoreson! Everything short of death goes, right?"
"Yeah," Zalen said.
"Let's see what you've brought with you." He seized Zalen's kit and began going through it while Zalen slowly removed his clothing. "Oh, we're going to have a good time, boys!" He shook the vial of pills and pulled out the rope. "Oh, yeah."
Five minutes later, Zalen was bound to a wooden chair in a back room with no windows. He counted four men, all like the one who'd let him in: half-naked, overweight, and sweaty. He could hear more upstairs. One of them seized Zalen's head from behind while another was slowly adding one white pill at a time to a glass of wine. Last night, he'd given Joe two, but this man put in five. Zalen knew seven all at once could cause unconsciousness, but he said nothing while the man put in one more and then grinned. Evidently, the man knew the dose, too.
"I want you way high," he said.
Zalen shuddered. He was going to have to drink it? Well, that's what being a slave was all about. "I guess I'm going to be," he managed to say.
"I'm liking this already," the man said. He brought the glass to Zalen's lips. It tasted warm and meady. He drank as much as he could in one breath, knowing it would hit faster that way. He dreaded losing control, being completely helpless in these men's hands. But part of him also couldn't wait for the numbing euphoria of the drug. The man let him breathe, and then he drank off the rest.
The man set the glass aside. It was done; he was going to get high whether he wanted to or not.
"I like your black eye, Zalen. Last night's customer rated you well. I hope you still have some left."
"Depends what you give me to work with," Zalen said, managing a smile. He wasn't feeling anything yet. That was the way with this drug. Nothing, and then huge. And with the amount he'd just taken, very huge.
The man grinned. "Want to see it? You'll get to know it real well tonight." He opened his pants. The hugest penis Zalen had ever seen rose into view. The other men roared with laughter at the expression Zalen hadn't been able to hide.
"Not that you're bad yourself," the man said, reaching out and giving Zalen a pull. "Let's see how big it can get." The man knelt swiftly and tasted Zalen, and at the same moment, the drug hit. Zalen screamed as every nerve in his body exploded into life, every emotion he'd ever felt crashed through his mind, and every song he'd tried to sing burst in his heart.
"Wow, easy!" the big man cried, putting a hand on Zalen's chest and pressing back as he strained against the ropes.
All the pressure and pain exploded, all the rage at his life, all the grief and loss and fear in his soul came pouring out. He heard himself screaming, "No! No!" over and over.
"I think you gave him too much," someone said.
"He can take it," the man said. He bent again and sucked Zalen's penis, working a hand between his legs to fondle him. Zalen froze, feeling himself rising, desire flooding over everything else.
"There, see?" the man crooned gently. "All better. All right now. All mine."
"Oh, yes," Zalen found himself whispering. "Oh, yes." And he came gently into the man's mouth.