One of the more awesome things about having a story in The Biggest Lover has been revisiting authors I’ve shared a table of contents with before (in today’s case, that was in Tales from the Den). One of the cool things about Bear Bones Books is how there’s a community of authors who write in the bearosphere. I’m happy to sit down today and chat with Larry Faulkner about his story in The Biggest Lover.
We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex. Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.
It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.
NB: I love meeting new (or new-to-me) authors through anthologies, and “Tag Team” is my second table of contents with you. One of the first things I always want to know from authors is how their stories germinate. How did the story come to you?
LF: “Tag Team” is a direct result of my lifelong affair with professional wrestling. Yes, it’s silly and over-the-top, but can be really compelling, and the performers are extremely talented. Plus, the guys are generally really hot! Since I’ve been writing, I’ve had a story seed in my head about a tag team forming when two wrestlers fall for each other, and this anthology was the perfect opportunity to finally put it into words. For this project, I wanted something really sweet and simple, with just a little bit of angst and a whole lot of encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement.
NB: Absolutely. And building on that need for encouragement, the theme of The Biggest Lover (that of plus-sized men) is pretty darn unique. Did you find it a relief or a challenge in any way to work on a story with bodies not usually eroticized in the general community?
LF: I’m gonna say something possibly controversial here: It’s “pretty darn unique” because big gay men have been sidelined and looked down upon in the gay community for as long as I can remember. It’s my understanding that the Chub/Chaser community predates the Bear movement with the first Girth and Mirth chapter being formed in 1976, yet how many guys in the bear community have even heard of Girth and Mirth in more than a negative light, if they’ve heard of it at all?
NB: It wasn’t until Ron Suresha told me about it that I learned. And my first brush with the bear community certainly didn’t have that backstory as part of the history they shared with me, no.
LF: There for a while it seemed like the only “valid” bear body type was the muscle bear, when in reality bears always have come in all shapes and sizes, regardless of what anyone says. I will have to say that in the past couple of years, representation has been getting better. You see more chubby bodies on the TV and in print. You have celebrities like Daniel Franzese who are out, gay men of size and not ashamed to love themselves for it. Big Men’s events like Convergence (put on by the Big Gay Men’s Organization), seem to draw a bigger crowd each year. It seems that with the Body Positivity movement, people of size are being “rediscovered” again as what they are: people who are attractive, and attractive not despite their bodies, but because of their bodies (among everything else they have to offer). So, it’s kind of a relief in that sense, but it’s also a challenge because I know that fat can definitely be fetishized. One thing I tried to stay away from in my story is a sense of objectification. I wanted my big guy to be shown as someone who was more than just a fat belly to lust over, that he had other attractive qualities too (as do we all, really).
NB: Absolutely, and it was so refreshing to have an anthology that allowed me to explore my love of the sexy lug. Speaking of—if you had your druthers, what anthology call would you love to see that you’ve not seen yet? Any themes you’d love to write for, but don’t out there?
LF: Well, ultimately I’d love to work towards publishing a novel. Right now, I have two sitting on my hard drive waiting! I’m a huge geek and anime nerd. In anthologies, I’d love to explore themes of geekdom: sorcery, superheroes, mecha pilots, or magical guys (bear versions of Sailor Moon?) I have an idea for a superhero team story and also a different idea involving a team that pilots a giant combining super robot! I have entire plot arcs, characters…are there any artists out there who want to draw comics for me? Otherwise, I’m always up for exploring different themes with my erotica and romance. I’d love to write a sequel to my story in Tales From The Den, so another supernatural bear anthology would be awesome. I’ve been writing things and I’ll be posting it on my tumblr, in addition to my regular sexy, smutty stories, including my wrestling slashfic too!
NB: I so want to read bear versions of Sailor Moon. Please do that. Thank you, and I’ll pass all those ideas to my editor friends, because frankly I’d love to have more bear anthologies, too, which I suppose makes me a wee bit selfish.
For those of you looking for a copy of The Biggest Lover of your own, you can buy it direct from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) at the website, here. Or, check Indiebound for your local brick-and-mortar. Or, as always, ask wherever quality LGBT books are sold.
After writing for fun for most of his teen and young adult years, Larry Faulkner was finally first published in the Bear Bones Books anthology Tales From The Den: Wild and Weird Stories for Bears.
He has a passion for writing m/m gay romance and erotica with a husky slant, and hopes to publish more in the future, both short form and novels. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
You can read more of his writing and see selfies galore at his tumblr.