After university. I discovered autobiographies – a colleague at work lent me one by - and I say ‘by’ in the loosest sense of the word – one of the actors from Eastenders. And at that point, I hadn’t watched the soap for years. I dived in and LOVED it. Properly loved it. A proper guilty pleasure. Celebrities, ex soap stars, Spice Girls, I have no shame. There’s something about their every day-ness, their chattiness which appeals to me.
The last five years. I discovered a real love for diaries. Maybe this is linked to the autobiographies, but a bit more high brow? Who knows. I read Jo Orton’s, Kenneth Williams’, Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield. Maybe this is something about me keeping my own diary since 1998, every day, what I’ve done, what I thought, who I saw, what they said. It’s all there. Maybe I wanted to see what other people, famous people put in theirs, for inspiration...who knows, but I love a good diary, still. So I trundled along with my chick lit and autobiographies for a few years and felt well settled in my literary groove. This I now know can be a bad thing. You can miss so many other books outside your groove if you always buy more of what you always bought. I also continued with my chick lit, and went a bit retro: I discovered the joy of Lace, by Shirley Conran, and Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susanne. *stands up* my name is Liam Livings and I love a good chick lit book with some good strong heroines. Of course, there are some awful ones too, but you can usually spot those by page 20 or so.
In 2012. I was introduced to the world of MM fiction by Clare London who invited me to the UK Meet. After I wrote my first novel, Best Friends Perfect, she suggested I join her and friends in Brighton. Silly me, I didn’t even know I’d written a MM novel, I’d just written a novel with people and experiences which I recognised, and knew about, which *as a gay man* was mainly with a gay pair of eyes. At the UK Meet, I heard names of authors I’d never heard of, books I’d never seen and this whole new world opened up to me.
Why didn’t I read MM fiction before this?
- I didn’t know it existed. This comes back to the, you don’t know what you don’t know concept.
- I didn’t have any ‘problems’ with what I was already reading, so I wasn’t seeking anything else.
- My life is pretty gay as it is: I live with my boyfriend; I’m out at the day job and since Uni, I always have been; I’m out to my family – close and extended; in fact at last check I was out to pretty much everyone, including builders who come to the house, the supermarket delivery guy, everyone. A large proportion of my friends are gay or lesbian. Of course I have straight friends, and know lots of straight people too. The thing is, I don’t think I was hankering for some *more gay* in my life in the form of fiction.
What about now?
Now, I enjoy reading it, alongside my usual genres, and a few ‘off piste’ ones too, like Gone Girl and The Lovely Bones. And I have made a concerted effort to read more MM fiction, to really *get amongst it* especially on my last holiday.
Well, that’s me for today, I’ll get me coat!
I’d love to hear what you think about my slightly rambling thoughts on my book genres. Have you changed what you like to read as you’ve aged? Do you ever venture ‘off piste’ from your usual genre and love it? Or did you do that, and it was awful?
Until next time