Monday, October 24, 2005

PANEL: Men In Fiction


OUR PANEL TODAY IS: Wayne Jordan, J.J. Murray, Varian Johnson, R. Barri Flowers, Vincent Alexander, Edwardo Jackson

Come talk with some of the hottest men in fiction.

Post your questions in the comments section.

Please read the previous comments before you post, so we don’t have duplicate questions.

Please address your questions to a panel member or all panel members.


JENNA said...

Hello guys! Agent 08 here, loaded with questions.

:?: In my WIP the H is an erotica author, but doesn't want his family to know. Did you ever hide your genre? How does your family react?

:?: Do you find it hard to get into the female POV, or is that your favorite angle to take? I know for me I love trying on the male mind.

:?: Do you think fans react to your stories on their own merit, or see them as romance by men?

:?: What barriers aret here for men in the genre?

rootwomin said...


this is directed to all of the panelists and inspired by varian-

do either of you use pennames?

to varian-i think that's a lovely name!

thank you,
meri #129

SORMAG said...

I would like to know how do you market your books to men? Do they come out for book signings?

They say men don't read. I'm wondering how do you approach this market?

LaShaunda - OO

Wayne said...

For years, in my teens and early twenties, I hit the fact that I read romance novels, but I grew up, matured and it's just a minor annoyance these days when people react negatively. Fortunately, those individuals are in the minority. At work, most of my collegues know I write and read romance. I've been on television on several occasions, so it's a non issue these days.

Getting into the female POV was a bit tricky the first time around but I find love scenes particularly difficult from the female POV. I do prefer to write in the male's POV, since I want to give men an equal voice in the genre.

Since Capture the Sunrise, a part of the SLOW MOTION 2-in-1 volume, has just been releases, it may be a bit too early to say, but I believe most persons have accepted me as a romance writer, but yes, they have been a few who've been intrigued by the fact that's I'm a male romance authors and wants to see how I handle it!

The obvious one that we are male. Most of the male romance authors I know write for Harlequin using pseudonyms, so the move into the genre may have been a bit easier. However, I'm still glad that my editor at the time of my sale wanted to publish Barri and I using our own names.

It has proven to be a excellent publicity strategy that seems to be paying off.


J. J. Murray said...

My family was mystified that I became a published romance author. I watched my mother read Harlequins by the numbers--she had a notebook full of digits she simply crossed off when she was through. I picked up several of these as a kid and laughed! Yet, it stayed with me. Be careful what you leave around for your kids to read. It may scar them for life ... or give them a vocation.

As for the female POV: I have been listening to women all my life, so it's no wonder their voices are echoing in my head. My first three novels (Renee and Jay, Renee and Jay 2, Something Real) had 1st person female narrators. In my latest (Original Love)I primarily use a 1st person male narrator. This is not to "reach" a male audience. It is simply more his story than hers, and his voice tells his story better than she can. In my next novel (Jack & Diane), I use both a male and female narrator to "tag-team" the story. I am fortunate I have a willing editor at Kensington who allows me to experiment.

Many readers do not know I'm a man. Whenever I take a break at signings, my wife will often sign books for me without a hitch.

As for barriers, I think the only barriers we have are the ones we put up ourselves--but that goes for all writers in any genre.

Pen names ... This is a long story, but I'll be brief. I was originally "Desiree Holland" in 2001 with my first novel (Renee and Jay). Because of the buzz surrounding the book, bookstore owners wanted "Desiree" to come to do signings. The publisher then decided to allow me my initials. Eventually, the publisher decided that a picture of both me and my wife (who inspired the book) should be on the book flap--a publishing first. To pay homage to "Desiree" (my first contract with Kensington actually lists her name!), I have her make an appearance in Original Love.

Shelia said...

Comment to All: I'm an avid reader and I actually enjoy reading books by male authors; especially when the main story is told from a male's point of view. It brings a freshness to stories, because I've always been intrigued on how men think (Men say women are complicated; men can be

Shelia (Badge#16)

Varian Johnson said...

I'm somewhat fortunate with my name, being that most people have never met a "Varian", and therefore assume I'm a woman. I don't hide the fact that I'm a man; in fact, I think many people are intrigued by the idea of a male writing a book where the main character is female.

Concerning the female POV, in my first novel, Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid, I originally tried to write the novel from a male POV. I realized pretty quickly that this was a mistake, being that it was Maxine's story. I ended up making Maxine very tomboyish, which helped me to relate to her more. I was also fortunate enough to be in a critique group full of women, and they were quick to let me know when I was being untrue to the character.


Varian Johnson said...

And to Meri (#129)-

Thanks for the compliment about my name. I hated it when I was growing up, but it's finally coming in handy!


Wayne said...


Welcome to the publishing world. Seems that we've entered at the same time. I look forward to reading RED POLKA DOT IN A WORLD FULL OF PLAID. And congrats on the 4 star rating in Romanctic Times!!!

rootwomin said...


this is directed to all of the panelists.

as a personal chef and food writer i've found that the role of food in romance cannot be overlooked!

how much of a role has food played in your novels? a unusual question i would imagine but one i find interesting due to the nature of my work.

are any of your characters foodies, as in avid food enthusiasts?

have any of them wrestled with any food related issues? i'd be interested in knowing if any of your female characters have dealt with the all-too-real issue of weight and self-image in relationship to her beloved in your novels and your handling of that from a male perspective.

thank you,

Tee C. Royal said...

Hello gentlemen. To all the panelists, what's the biggest challenge being a male author? And how did you choose your particular genre?

Varian, I like your name as well, but will admit until I researched info on your book, I didn't know you were male. I enjoyed the read and look forward to more.

J.J. it is always a pleasure and I still think you should write comedy. I look forward to Original Love.

Wayne/Barri, the release of your book is pretty exciting. How does it feel to be the first romance authors published by BET? Any pressure?

Vincent, my husband loves your work and I can't wait to finally get to read the books. Will you be switching genres?

Tee C. Royal
Badge #57

R. Barri Flowers said...

Hello, friends:

I am delighted to be able to join with this group of talented male authors for my first online blog conference.

After finding success first with nonfiction books, then mystery novels, the latest being JUSTICE SERVED (Dorchester, 2005), I have now made the jump to writing romance fiction.

My contemporary romance novel, DARK AND DASHING, is part of the two novel, SLOW MOTION (Harlequin Arabesque, November 2005), along with Wayne Jordan and his wonderful novel, CAPTURE THE SUNRISE. We have the distinction of being the first two male authors to write contemporary romances for Arabesque.

SLOW MOTION is already making waves on the romance fiction scene. Romantic Times gave the book a 4.5 Stars TOP PICK in its December issue. According to the reviewer:

"Spellbinding stories, well-developed characters and warm, spirit-lifting romances are Jordan’s and Archer’s gift to readers. 'Can men write romance?' In the case of these two, the answer is an authoritative yes! Definitely a keeper, and one to read over and over."

It's great to have our novels validated by one of the leading publications for romance novel reviews!

With respect to the general question of whether or not men can successfully write romance novels, currently Nicholas Sparks sits atop the Amazon bestseller charts in the romance category with his latest novel. This speaks volumes not only to his talents and mass appeal, but illustrates the openness by mostly female readers to great romantic tales from male authors as much as female authors

The door is wide open for male romance novelists who understand the dynamics of love, intimacy and realistic conflict to excel. In SLOW MOTION, I believe this is conveyed and expect it to continue to climb the charts.

Wayne and I are here to stay as romance authors and happy to give Sparks a run for his money in appealing to the masses in writing great love stories sure to please!

R. Barri Flowers said...

Hello, Tee:

As to how it feels to be the first romance authors to write for Arabesque, I must say that I am honored to share that distinction with Wayne.

I applaud BET for taking a step in the right direction by allowing us to lend our voices to the genre. Now, of course, BET Books has become a part of Harlequin Enterprises, and we are presented with an exciting new challenge in bringing our talents as male romance authors to a broader audience.

As for pressure, I feel none. I am confident enough to believe that the future works will speak for themselves in establishing us as romance novelists in it for the long haul.

Given that I also write mystery fiction, I am enjoying moving back and forth between the genres in building my fan base.

My next legal thriller, STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, April 2006) will be followed by a second romance novel, THE LOVES OF HIS LIFE (Harlequin, June 2006).

I look forward to continuing to create new ideas and turning into great novels!

Varian Johnson said...

I agree with what Barri said. As long as a male author can create compelling stories and three-dimensional characters, men can be just as successful as women in the romance genre. While there are large differences between male and female characters, ALL characters have the same basic desires: to be wanted, to be successful, to find their purpose in life, etc. Male and female characters may act on their desires differently, but the basic desires are the same.

Linda said...

To all:

What subjects would you like to address in a future write?

What is your view of women writing from a male POV?

Do any of you see yourself coming together for a male romance anthology?

Linda! Badge #141

Dyanne said...

Hello gentlemen,

I don't have a question at the moment but a comment. I'm enjoying the conference and the ease of meeting and reading what everyone has to say. I just wanted to say a quick hi to the guys at the conference.

R. Barri Flowers said...

Hello, Linda:

SLOW MOTION (BET, November 2005) is an all male romance anthology, featuring two complete novels -- CAPTURE THE SUNRISE by Wayne Jordan and DARK AND DASHING, my own contemporary romance written under my pseudonym, Devon Vaughn Archer!

It is now available at bookstores across the country and online booksellers.

With the success of SLOW MOTION other such collaborations on romance anthologies might occur in the future.

KimW said...

To all the panel members:

What is the most unique (funny, hearwarming, sad, scary, etc.) experience, in person or by mail/email, you had with a fan?

Kim #192

Wayne said...


In my first book foot, food place a minor role in that, I wanted to highlight some of the dishes that are popular and native to Barbados..

Beyond, that I didn't really consciously think about food.


Wayne said...


I feels great! Yepee!

But on a serious note. I feel really honored to be among the Arabesque authors whom I've admired for years. I've loved the work of Sandra Kitt, Gwynne Forster, Adrianne Byrd and all the other wonderful Arabesque authors for years. And now I'm being publised by the same company they write for. I'm humbled by the gift and opportunity God has given me.

Wayne said...


Yes, one reader wanted to know if I was really a male romance author or a woman pretending to be a male romance author..


Stephanie said...

Hello Gentlemen,

I've found this panel fascinating - You go Boys! lol Can't wait to check out SLOW MOTION. I tend to feel more comfortable writing from the male POV myself, so I can relate to alot of the themes discussed above...

For those of you writing in multiple genres ~ did you find that your success in one genre facilitated your ability to break into another one, or did you encounter resistance from agents, editors, etc. who wanted you to focus on one thing??

Stephanie said...

Oops, forgot my identifying info

Stephanie, #144

Edwardo Jackson said...

I know I'm on the late train on this one, but I did want to throw in my two cents...

Agent 08: Although I'm not an erotica author, being an author of "relationship fiction" does get its share of looks ("Oh, you write romance novels" followed by disapproving smirk - not exactly...). My family could care less. Outside of my mother, always my toughest critic, they could care less.

As far as getting into the female POV, it's funny you ask that because my forthcoming novel I DO? is written from the anti-heroine Jasmine's first person POV. I admit, I had a lot of help. A friend of mine read my chapters as I created them to authenticate the appropriate level of, er, estrogen (Thank you, Desiree for introducing me to DSW; it's all in the details, no?).

RootWomin: The role of food in romance, huh? Well, I'm a bad example - I mean, I'm a picky eater. But I do mention the food of an important date or event in the characters' lives, if I think it'll enhance the mood. Hear, hear for blackened chicken pasta and cheesecake!

Stephanie: NICE picture (oops. Are we allowed to flirt in this panel???) :-)

I've found that when I've tried to break out of my Nick-Jasmine trilogy with a more serious book based on class, race, and family drama between two brothers, the predominantly female editors that act as gatekeepers to the mainstream publishing industry, just didn't get it. They all loved the writing, but they "couldn't relate" to the two men enough, nor get past my previous work, to give it a shot. Which is why, like I DO?, I will most likely be publishing the novel myself within the next two years.

Well, that's it for me, folks. I'll try to be more involved tomorrow. It's mad busy over here on the West Coast!

Thanks for having me!


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