We could simplify this, confess to voyeurism and fetishization in our love for images of and words about beautiful young men in bed together. Certainly, the popularity of slash fiction, yaoi manga, and gay romance puts us in good company. And we could own up to our fantastic creation of mixed-raced lovers who blend golden-tan skin, almond eyes, and luscious black hair as they express their love with multilingual fluency. But that's not the whole truth.
When we create our characters, we use our imaginations to embody them—at least to feel the places where we connect with them. We envision and build ornate backgrounds we can "live in", and then pare down our epic mindscapes and detailed notes to just what we think the reader needs. Talon can answer just about any question asked about a character's entire life before she's written a word; Salome labors to draw her characters in anime-style digital art. And then we work together in as many ways as possible, from roleplay-style exchanges on instant messenger to in-character e-mail exchanges.
Much of our writerly foreplay, if you will, ends up on the cutting room floor. That's inevitable, even when we love an exchange so much we long for a scene it fits into. There's this tidbit, for example:
Nick: I'll just sit here and play with my big old cock.
Angelo: It's not big and it's not old.
Nick: You did not just call my dick small.
Angelo: I thought I was pretty funny.
Nick: Fine, I'll just play with my gherkin.
Angelo: [laughing] And I'll play with my Blue Ribbon-winning County Fair cucumber.
Nick: As long as it's not seedless.
Angelo: No, it's plenty seedy.
Nick: [laughing] That's wrong on so many levels.
That's not going to drive any plot forward, but it shows their playfulness... and our love of dick jokes. As we brought After the First Taste of Love together as our first co-written novella, we were determined to keep some of the process in the final product. Readers will find evidence in a chapter made up solely of an e-mail exchange, including functioning e-mail addresses for Nick and Angelo, for instance. (The boys can't wait for "fan mail"!) And we even commissioned the superbly talented digital artist Mistiqarts to create a page from Dark Crimson 3, the fictional yaoi manga (kinda like a gay comic) that Angelo loves, which we've included in the book.
This playfulness hits us at an even more personal level, though. While we're happy to discuss our co-writing process further in comments to this post (or at www.salandtalerotica.com), we want to end by making as clear as we can what all this gives to us. Most essentially, we love our main characters (or we can't write them—though sometimes we love to hate aspects of them), and we love "being" them as we write. For us, writing gay romance is a kind of shared, idealized transgender experience. We know from experience that reading it can have that effect, too. And we're honored and thrilled to have readers take that ride with Nick and Angelo.
After the First Taste of Love – Now Available for $4.99 (e-book) and $9.99 (print)
Talon Rihai and Salome Wilde are the authors of After the First Taste of Love, their first novella, which is now available through Storm Moon Press. They can be found at their website, Sal & Tal Erotica.