I’m pretty aromantic. I didn’t make that up, I found it on the big asexuals website, asexuality.org when doing research for an asexual character in my ghost story. (Her name is Lanie, and she’s romantic, but asexual. I consider myself her inverse: sexual, but aromantic.) I fell in love once, and even then, I wasn’t romantic about it. I tried. But it’s not really my deal. And I don’t get off on it. I look at a bouquet of roses and you know what I see? Dead flowers. (I used to consider myself a late bloomer. At what point do you stop waiting to, ah, “bloom”?)
But here I am. And it appears I write romance.
Now, I might quibble about The Scientific Method, but Hugh’s New Dude is a romance, hands down. And really, most of the stories in this universe contain elements of romance. Every story I’ve ever written is about people getting through the day, about juggling love and the desire to trust with a very visceral sense that the only way to stay safe is to withhold oneself from others.
One of the most common reasons folks go into writing romance is because they love reading it. I couldn’t figure this out for the longest time. I don’t go near the romance section at the book stores. Straight people! So many straight people! I love straight people. I live with straight people. But it’s a bit like reading fiction written by middle class white men: I don’t do it much anymore. Not cause I hate middle class white men, but because I’ve read their narratives for so long I just…don’t want to right now. It’s not a rule. It’s just a vague preference, to seek out other stories, to actively choose instead of accepting the default.
(I do have one lesbian romance library book on my shelf, which we discovered one night cleaning up the big corporate bookstore at which I used to work. “I guess this is garbage,” someone said. I swiped that sucker so fast. “Hell no, it’s not. I’m taking that home.”)
I’m not a romance reader per se. But I came up reading in the fanfiction trenches, man. Back when anything with queer content required a very serious warning. And the folks who accidentally stumbled upon un-warned-for queer content were viciously offended. (Well. Obviously some of them were viciously turned on, instead. One does wonder at the overlap between those two groups.) But slash fanfiction is mostly romance. Characters you already know, and how they overcome obstacles (like, y’know, canon) to be together.
House/Wilson? I rocked that. I could swing Sam/Josh if the writing was right, and Xanthe writes a hell of a kinky Jed/Leo, but if I had to ship in West Wing, I’d ship CJ/Toby. I was never a huge Harry/Draco fan, I don’t touch Ron/Harry with a ten foot pole, and Snape having sex with children still gives me the icks. (Snape’s pretty damaged. I don’t dislike him, but the “this guy is so damaged it’s not wrong he has sex with kids” narrative wore a bit thin for me during the whole Michael Jackson fiasco.) But then you pull in AJ Hall’s Draco/Neville and fuck me, dude. If I had to choose five story cycles and forsake all others until the end of time? AJ Hall’s HP fanfiction would be on the list. (So, probably, would her Sherlock Queen of Gondal stories.)
All right, question for the masses: if you had to choose five storylines to take with you to a desert island (could be a series of books with the same characters, or a television show, or a movie, or anime, or whatever), what’s at the top of the list? What’s so rich, so developed, you could just live inside it forever?