Interview With Angel Martinez
How long have you been writing fiction?
For publication, since the mid-90’s. Good grief. We can say late last century and be taken seriously these days. There’s a scary thought.
Are you in agreement that writing fan fiction is a great way to hone ones’ craft – why or why not?
I’ve never written fanfic myself, but I believe in practicing, and anywhere you can do that is a wonderful thing. Fanfic allows writers a lot more freedom than published fiction and provides a space where there’s potential feedback as well from readers. Experimenting, making mistakes, trying again – it’s a good space for all of these things.
Do you write hetero romance? Why or why not?
I’ve written science fiction with hetero romances in them, but this hasn’t been the focus of my writing. There’s enough het couple fiction out there and not enough queer fiction by far. I write what I want to read – queer characters – and am more comfortable here where the queer writers are, too.
What are your thoughts on erotica?
Mostly that it’s a misunderstood term. Erotica isn’t porn and it’s not romance with some adult scenes. Not that there’s anything wrong with porn, but porn is about sex, full stop. Erotica is about an emotional journey through/with/because of sex. Both of these things are valid and have a place in fictiondom, but they’re not the same. (I don’t write erotica – too much genre plot in my stories for that, lol)
What book are you reading at the moment? It’s okay to give a fellow author a plug!
I’ve just finished the third book in K.D. Edwards Tarot Sequence – The Hourglass Throne. Excellent urban fantasy with lots of queer characters! I highly recommend the series, both for the world building and the characters.
What are you currently working on?
When creating your characters, do you have models/actors/real people in mind or are they totally fictional?
Never. I can’t have a real person intruding on what the character looks or sounds like in my head. It just distracts me.
If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are you in their sex scenes?
It depends. Sex scenes need a reason to be there in my story and while they are definitely adult scenes, they don’t tend to go on for pages and pages. It’s the emotional connection, what the characters’ need out of the encounter, that are more important to me than insert lubed tab A into possibly lubed slot B.
As a gay fiction or m/m romance author, do you feel that the trend is changing where it is becoming more mainstream?
Yes. At least in certain portions of the fiction world. Science fiction and fantasy have a long history of being ahead of the curve regarding character identity and sexuality. We see more and more queer authors and queer characters in the big annual awards for these genres and queer characters have become much easier to find. Mainstream romance has come a long way – but it still insists on separate imprints of there are to be queer main characters.
But we have to start asking what mainstream is these days – with so many publishing options for authors and so many independent authors, the big houses no longer have a monopoly on the reader’s attention.
What would you say is the distinct difference between m/m and gay fiction?
I’m going to repeat what I often do – m/m is a pairing. It’s not a genre. If we’re talking about romance, the difference is obvious. Gay fiction may contain a romance, but is not primarily a romance novel. To compare them is like asking what the difference is between science fiction and mysteries. They’re two separate things. Also, I need to be clear that most of the time, when people say gay fiction, they’re referring to literary fiction with gay characters. It really should just be literary fiction, just as fantasy with gay or queer characters is just fantasy. I’d like some day for the separation not to be needed, but for now – for reader discoverability – I know we still need to make the distinctions.
Do you believe it’s important for you to know the gender of the author?
No. Absolutely not. The author owes the reader nothing – nothing – about themself as a private person. If the author is nonbinary and not ready to come out, they owe the reader nothing. If the author is a woman writing under initials, they owe the reader nothing. What the author must not do, under any circumstances, is co-opt and claim the identity and voice of authority of any marginalized person who is not them. If the author is not a gay man, they must not claim or infer that they are one. If the author is not a transgender woman, they must never claim to be an authority of that lived experience.
Do you think women making up a good portion of the m/m fiction writers detracts from the genre? Why or why not?
Once again, m/m is a pairing, not a genre. If we’re talking about Romance, writ large, the genre, it’s inevitable and understandable that the majority of writers are women. Romance has always been considered fiction for women, and often looked down on and derided because of that. The vast majority of readers and writers are women and while I’m pleased to see more men getting involved in the genre as both readers and writers, we have to keep in mind that there’s still that stigma out there. Writers have an obligation to create whole, well-drawn characters – and to understand that research and care is required for writing someone who is of a different identity, whether those writers are men or women.