Rock Out With Your Cock Out
I love writing about music because I love thinking about (and listening to) music. I wish I could say that I love playing music; it would be more honest to say I would love to play music, because I’ve never seriously studied an instrument in my life.
There’s always an embarrassing pause on my part when I hang out with my rocker friends and someone who doesn’t know me yet asks me what instrument I play. “Um, none.” Maybe I don’t have the patience to do music myself — writing produces more immediate rewards for me — and the many times I’ve thought about picking up electric guitar, I’ve been dissuaded by the thought of having scarred and numb fingers, the same fingers I need to use for writing books or banging out emails in my previous day jobs. I like to quip that every writer is a failed musician, and I do believe it to some extent.
Rock and pop music — the organized commercial and business side — are also interesting to me in their approach to homosexuality. We all know the image of rock and hip-hop and most popular music genres: we’re gonna do what we want, we don’t care about the rules, we’re not constrained by social mores — and yet most of these “rebellious” institutions are extremely homophobic when it comes down to it. Of course they’re reacting to listeners’ tastes, or at least their perceptions of listeners’ tastes, but still.
One of the fun comparisons I bring out in The Minister and the Rock Star is that the Christian pastor, Darius, actually finds it easier to come out in his workplace than does the heavy metal star, Dan. And for good reason. Rob Halford, frontman of Judas Priest, has repeatedly, publicly and very openly, said he’s gay, he’s homosexual, he takes men up the ass, he sucks dick — and the collective music press and heavy metal fandom uniformly put their hands over their ears, refusing to hear it. Because being gay would be gay. Or something like that. In hip hop, the musical genre of The Big Comeback, Frank Ocean is openly gay, but his fans cover their ears and pretend it’s not really so. Meanwhile, Young Thug (who comes up a lot in The Big Comeback) cross-dresses, sings in a high falsetto, and makes gay insinuations, while the hip-hop establishment is horrified that maybe possibly he’s sucked a dick somewhere along the way.
So where’s the rebelliousness, the acceptance of everybody, the flouting of societal rules that don’t make sense? It’s pretty much like the “rebellious” rock and roll acts decades ago who refused to play nice with black people. I’ve got news for them though: being really rebellious should be about more than long hair and earrings.
I write romance, not ethnography, so everybody gets a happy ending. In The Minister and the Rock Star, the heavy metal star comes out, or more like is forced out of the closet, with the music business results of that coming-out left undescribed. In The Big Comeback, well, describing it too much would spoil the HEA, but there are HEAs all around, and we discover that some people in the music business are actually secretly heterosexual. And in Extra Hot Latte, which, I beg you to remember I wrote four years ago, when gay acceptance was at a much lower level than today, the two main characters fall into a routine of doing their thing and seem to find comfort in not explicitly calling themselves gay.
Some of my favorite writers in literary fiction — Don DeLillo for one — claim that listening to music taught them about writing. I can see where that comes from. I learned some lyricism from my childhood obsession with rap and hip-hop. I learned about the power of abrupt endings, and how you should never overstay your welcome in the listener’s brain, from some of my favorite classical pieces. And I learned how to use silence and rising crescendos from heavy metal.
Too bad, though. I don’t listen to my favorite kinds of music when I write, because they’re too distracting. I write either in silence, or listening to something easy and unchallenging — you’re going to laugh, but I’m a big fan of yacht rock when I’m writing (and only then). My characters are often listening to music too — the protagonist of Hiring Pedro rebelling against his wife by listening to The Smiths when she’s away (fortunately for our genre, his rebellion doesn’t end there), the nerdy judge in Judging Valentine listening to super-nerd-band Belle and Sebastian in his private judicial quarters (when he’s not playing with his Fleshlight), and (the admittedly somewhat autobiographical) Steve from High School Reunion having a fixation on old-time outlaw country music to remind everyone that not all gay men listen to EDM and Adele.
Music is a big part of me, a big part of my books, and a big part of my writing and thinking process. Do you enjoy the musical references in my books? Did you run out and listen to some obscure band because I mentioned it in a novel? I hope so. I can only hope that those bands will one day sing about my books. For that to happen, though, the musical world would have to get a whole lot less homophobic. Like most things, it takes time.
About The Big Comeback
Available at Amazon
“Nobody wants a has-been pop star.”
All Alex has left from his former stardom is a brain full of new song ideas, and a relationship with Murray, his pathological-liar manager-boyfriend. Alex holes up in a cheap hotel to take a break from Murray’s harangues and try to write music. Being recognized as “Flicky” by the handsome young desk clerk is the last thing Alex wants, but having a new friend, especially one as handsome as Luke, wouldn’t be so bad.
“This guest looks just like Flicky.”
Twenty-year-old Luke dreams of making it big in the music business, but he’s been cheated before. Despite his youth, he’s already seen stuff. He finds immediate chemistry with Alex — they’re just two straight guys talking music, right?
Alex and Luke navigate the music-industry world and all its deceptions and hidden agendas, both finding solace in each other’s honesty and genuineness — until Luke finds out that Alex hasn’t been honest with him either.
Through crooked back-room deals, brainstorming beach walks with Alissa, and the small joys of Christmas and New Year, Alex and Luke find their way to the big comeback.
The Big Comeback is a gay romance about second chances in life and love, with a feel-good HEA and love hotter than the Florida sun.
About the Author
Steve Milton writes gay romances with sweet love, good humor, and hot sex. His stories tend toward the sweet and sexy, with not much angst and definitely no downers. Steve crafts feel-good stories with complex characters and interesting settings. He is a South Florida native, and when he’s not writing, he likes cats, cars, music, and coffee.
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