Steve Williams (thanks) over at Suite 101 has given me an opportunity to try and set the record straight regarding the whole Me2 controversy:
Author M. Christian, an established and highly praised writer, talks about his acclaimed works and his career to date, offering aspiring writers his sage advice also.
SW: Can you give us some deatails about your book please?
M.C: The book called Me2, which was totally and completely written by myself, the real and bonafide 'M.Christian' and not written by some person claiming to be the real 'M.Christian'. It is a novel about identity and existence. Although the book has been marketed as a horror story, it also has elements of surrealism, humor, and plenty of social commentary. Similarly, even though the book has a gay male focus I think it would appeal to readers of any orientation, as its message is extremely universal: who are we and are we in control of our lives?
Everyone, gay or straight, likes to think they have a certain uniqueness, but do they really? 'Me2' deals with this by exposing the idea of a copy or fake, a second 'you' that appears apparently out of nowhere and begins not only to take over your life but also becomes a better 'you' than you ever could. How would you react to that? Would you try and quickly change your life, become someone less easily imitated? But then what happens when even this new 'you' is similarly copied -- or is the fraud, your doppleganger, just doing what you're doing ... down to your panicky change of life?
And it gets even worse from there.
SW: For aspiring writers, what would you say were key things they could do to improve their writing?
M.C: Boy, that's a difficult one, mostly because I believe each writer is different, with unique things that do (or don't) work for them. I have no problem advising folks on smut, for instance, because that's writing for a specific genre. But in general:
Don't read about writing and don't take writing classes (except for mine, of course). I've noticed a lot of would-be-writers spend way too much time on theory and little to no time on actual practice. A writer writes, and each time they do they (hopefully) get better. And have fun! If writing is painful then you're not doing it right. Don't try and outdo someone else or become the next Dickens or Kipling, just do things that you like and that you enjoy. Once it gets easier then you can try to push yourself even father but when you're just starting out you need to get comfortable with language, structure, flow, etc.
For God's sake don't dismiss genre fiction. Good work is good work, if it was written for The New Yorker or a Saturday morning cartoon. Learn to recognize good -- and bad -- work and learn from it. If you read something good then learn from what that writer did. If you read something bad then learn what that writer did wrong.
Play games with your own creativity. If you like a TV show then try writing an episode. You don't even have to write it, just imagine the story and the dialogue. If you're watching a movie or reading a book, stop half way through it and finish it yourself -- was your ending better or not? Why was it better or not? The big thing is to have fun!
Don't write thinking about money (there isn't any) or awards (they are like hemorrhoids, every asshole gets one), or fame. Instead just think about the books you love and do something like them -- repay the debt, so to speak.
SW: Do you see gay fiction becoming more mainstream in the future?
M.C: Only if readers buy them. Like with gay issues in our culture, queer books have become more common, but money is what matters (sigh). I think one of the best 'tricks' to further mainstream gay characters and issues is to simply make them part of any book's world or to emphasize similarities and not differences -- create a bridge between so-called 'gay' fiction and every other genre. So, yeah, I think queer books are becoming more mainstream but I think there's still some distance to go -- mainly because readers need to throw down their bucks to keep the genre going. Without money it could slip back into being just a tiny niche.
SW: Finally, do you have any new stories in the works? If so, can you tell us a little bit about them?
M.C: Thanks for asking! I already mentioned that I have two novels coming out very soon: Brushes is a mainstream/romantic/erotica novel about a famous artist and the people who surround him; and Painted Doll is a cyberdelic noir story about a woman on the run from the mob who hides under the identity of a quasi-dominatrix. In the meantime I'm working on a new novel that should be out in another year, having a great time with a wonderful artist adapting one of my stories into a comic book, and wasting way too much time on my blogs...