I’m not J.K. Rowling. Or John Grisham. Or any other superbly-high-earning author who has millions of book sales (yet). For the first time ever this month, I received a royalty cheque. It wasn’t huge, but it was exhilarating. I’m considering framing it. Writing to me has always been a way of expressing myself. I love everything from the initial conception of a story to developing characters to writing dialogue (the dialogue part is ultimately my favourite). What it’s never been before is a way to support me and my family. Getting paid for doing something I love? It’s exhilarating and fantastic and amazing all bundled into one perfect package. But I haven’t gotten to the point where it pays the bills. And therefore, like thousands of others out there, I have another job.
My other job is awesome in different ways. It’s shifted from being another resume entry into a career, and I have people there who support me and who I love working with. In fact, I love them so much, that I recently opened up about publishing my first work. Suddenly, the two are colliding a lot more than ever before.
I won’t lie, it’s a little awkward to come right out and say that you write erotic romance. I’ve noticed that people have three reactions: the “snicker, snicker, really??”; the “I’m so excited for you” and the “I’m so cool, I’m not even phased, check out my awesome nonchalance.” I’ll admit, I was worried when I came out of the romance closet to discuss my writing. A lot of what I write is m/m, and that has the potential to add another layer of awkward. I was worried. Would my colleagues and friends get weirded out by the fact that I write gay romance? Would things suddenly get really uncomfortable?
Release day came, the posting went up on Amazon, and my coworkers—while not exactly flocking to see it—did take a look. I braced myself. And what I learned was that I had to start having more trust in the people around me.
The responses were an outpouring of the aforementioned second reaction, with a few memorable thirds. “Romance, eh? Make sure that the word ‘throbbing’ appears at least once on every page.” “Hey, did you know they’re both guys?” “That is one hot cover.” The snickering was (mostly) absent. And I think that Amazon was accessed more from work computers that day than it had since Christmas.
Coming out as a romance writer was probably one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my life. Not because I was previously ashamed of it, or because I wanted to hide it, but because I didn’t trust the people I knew to support me, even though I would support them if things were reversed. I now fly my romance flag proud (there’s still a little bit of rainbow in it).
And they’re right… it really is one hot cover.
Christine Price lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, two cats and a slightly retarded Anatolian Shepherd. Soul Bond, with Samhain Publishing, is her first published work.