Manga and Gay Romance

James Buchanan works as an attorney.

In his spare time, he writes gay romance novels and stories.

His most recent works include the novels, Twice the Cowboy and Cheating Chance. He has also published a novella, My Brother, Coyote and a collection of short stories, Bittersweets: A Taste of Halloween.

His fiction includes mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy, historical and science fiction.

“My longer works have heavy elements of romance in them,” he explains on his website. “Some of my stuff is Original Yaoi, also known as June, with the traditional Seme and Uke roles with all involved being Bishonen. What can I say, I love Manga and it’s fun to write.”

His work has also been described as ‘dark fic’ or ‘Gothic.’

Buchanan explains that this is because the work has an edgy, not-quite-happy feel to it.

“It follows my own reading tastes. I’m more likely to be found with A Slave’s Condition than a pretty shounen-ai manga like Gokuaru Café,” he adds. “Clive Barker’s homocentric horror is on my shelves and I don’t need happy endings.”

He finds that writing gay romances allows him a broad range of genres to work in.

“If I feel like writing a detective novel, I can. If I am inspired to do a horror piece about fallen angels or silly fluff with ice-skating cowboys, somebody will buy it. Twisted fantasy/history with a bi-sexual, anti-hero who falls for his best friend, let’s go.”

What unifies his work and gives it consistency is a romantic and sexual bonding between two men.

“You can play with the expectations and relationships. In heterosexual romances the characters must be the alpha guy and the woman he overwhelms … I find those types of characters stifling. Not that you won’t find alpha males in my books, but they’re likely to be head-to-head with another alpha male.”

He adds that some of his characters would not necessarily self-identify as “gay,” and he gives this as the reason why he prefers to describe his work as homoerotic as opposed to gay or homosexual romance.

Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, and Roger Zelazny as some of the authors who have influenced him the most.

“ I devoured science fiction and fantasy as a teen and through college, even when I was supposed to be reading “real literature” for my degree.

“Bizarre as it may seem, I adored Milton and I believe that a good deal of my tendency to hide biblical and mythological references in my books comes from him. I don’t know if most people will ever see them, or understand them, but I do believe my stories, like “The Darkness”, are richer for it,” he says.

Other authors who have inspired him include H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury.

“Lovecraft for his ability to take mundane, everyday life and twist it, torture it and give you a story that leaves a little part of your brain saying, ‘Well, it’s not that outrageous.’

“Most of all, Ray Bradbury. The richness and depth of his storytelling still gives me shivers. You can almost see and feel what he describes. I try for that. I don’t know if I make it, but I try for it.”

When asked how his own personal experiences have influenced the direction of his writing, James Buchanan says his life is in his books, not in an autobiographical sense but in the sense that he takes note of what is happening around him and how people react.
“I tend to write about places where I’ve lived, or been to countless times,” he says.

He also tends to draw closely from personal experiences.

“I’ve had some pretty awful things happen in my life, I can transfer the feelings from those into a different but similar situation for a character. Same for the really wonderful times. Sometimes it comes through strong, other times it’s much more subtle. There have been one or two occasions where my current partner was reading over a bit of a story and said, ‘What, were you writing our fight down?’” he says.

He gives time as the biggest challenge that he faces.

“I’m not at a point where I can devote my life to writing. Student loans need to be paid, food has to get on the table, and the mortgage comes every month. So I work full time as an attorney. It’s a profession that is known for devouring people’s lives. You’re not expected to work for a firm … you’re expected to live for it.”

Another challenge he faces is that marshaling the resources that are needed to get a story moving.

“Sometimes my characters just won’t cooperate. Other times I’ve gone blank and can’t think of a story to write. Or I have a thousand ideas roaming around my head and I can’t focus on any one,” he says.

He deals with these challenges by trying to be as organized as possible and by using free periods to write.

“I carry a personal tape recorder in the car and a spiral notebook in my briefcase. I’ll get up at four in the morning when everything is quite and try and knock out 500 words. Fifteen minutes waiting for the judge to take the bench is enough to do some character sketches. I don’t push myself. When it’s not flowing on one story, I’ll jump to another bit and write on that, at any one time I’ve got 3 or 4 projects in the works.”

During those times when a story refuses to co-operate he tries to jump-start it by doing research.

“I’ve got a stack of books with material I want for some story or another. Every time I get a “plot bunny,” I write a brief sketch of it. That way I can go back to it at a later date,” he says.

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