Tuesday Tidbits: Dev Bentham on Moving In Rhythm
What made you want to write THIS story, Moving in Rhythm?
I actually got the idea in Zumba class. There I was stumbling around in the back and the story grew as I watched my instructor’s ass sway and wiggle and swoop. She was the first person to read the finished product and loved it. This story also came out of my feeling that we all need to push through our fears. Mark’s extremely shy. It’s something lots of people can relate to, but it is also something we need to get past if we’re going to find real love.
Tell us about Mark – why is he so special?
Mark suffers from pathological shyness, a truly debilitating condition which involves serious panic attacks. Although he’s uncomfortable in crowds and public places, Mark’s main trigger is the attention of an attractive man. He breaks out into a sweat and literally cannot speak. Although he’s able to have occasional anonymous sex, he’s never managed a real relationship. Underneath all that terror, he’s a really nice guy and you can’t help but root for him to find happiness.
And Seth, your second hero; why is he so well-suited to your primary character – or not?
Seth’s an incredibly patient man. He rehabilitates rescue greyhounds and knows how to approach another being’s fear. He’s also dealing with his own limitations. When an injury ended his professional dance career, he had to learn how to live with lowered expectations. They’re drawn to each other by both the wounds they’ve survived and the strength they gained in the process.
What draws you to writing a male/male romance?
I love writing in this genre for a number of reasons. For one thing, it’s very freeing to move outside of the male-female power dynamic. With straight romance, whether you’re fighting or embracing stereotypes, you’re always writing about gender politics. In m/m romance, gay politics are in the background, but it’s a battle external to the relationship. And there’s a sexual freedom I have with male characters that I think might not work as well if I turned Mark into Martha. For example, the first scene in Moving in Rhythm has Mark in a bar seeking anonymous sex. He has to go through that kind of encounter to understand that what he’s really looking for is emotional connection. A female character would start in a different place, she’d probably already understand that she needed love, and I think we might judge her more harshly for her casual hook-ups along the way. But mostly, I love the way my men fall in love so sweetly, so heartfully. And, of course, they’re hot to watch.
Do you find it easier or more difficult to write not one, but two (!) male point of views?
I tend to stick closely to one character’s point of view, in this case Mark’s, mostly because that coincides with my experience of the world, since I rarely know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. But that begs your real question, which I think is about how I can slip deeply into a male character so that he becomes my primary voice in the story. And I’m not sure I understand myself, except to say that gender feels to me like a continuum, with all of us having some more feminine and some more masculine traits. When I’m in a story, I let myself travel to the other side of that continuum, which doesn’t feel that different to me than if I decided to write as a child or a very old woman. Writing is a bit like acting, in that we inhabit characters who are not ourselves.
What are some of the challenges you face with this particular genre of writing?
People always assume the hardest part to write is the sex, because, after all, I don’t have the same equipment as my characters. But sex is sex, there are only so many things two bodies can do together. I do find it challenging to draw characters who are emotionally available enough to make for satisfying romance reading, and yet sufficiently reticent to feel convincingly male. And, of course, it’s always a challenge to explain to my mother why my stories have all these explicit bits about male genitalia (although, I’m not sure she’d be happier if there were female parts mixed in).
What books/heroes did you like to read, growing up, and how have they inspired you in writing this story?
As a kid, I read everything from the original Grimm’s fairy tales to the classics to racy romances my mom had hidden in a box in the basement. I’m not sure how they influenced the writing of this story, but I do know that the reason I read so voraciously is absolutely related to Mark and his anxieties. I was a terribly insecure child, shy around both adults and other children, and certain that people were laughing at me all the time. Those were the feelings and fears I drew on in creating Mark and I think he’s a more powerful character because he comes out of my own experience.
What are you working on next?
I have a book coming out from Loose Id very soon, called Learning from Isaac, which is the story of a professor who falls in love with his student, only to find that things are more complicated than they seem.
Congratulations on your new release!
If you’d like to contact Dev, you can find her at these places:
To grab hold of Dev’s new release, Moving in Rhythm, try these sources:
To celebrate Dev’s new release, Moving in Rhythm, one lucky person can win an advanced copy of the book in whatever electronic form they prefer by leaving a comment. The winner will be announced 10th March.