Saturday, April 16, 2016

Safe in His Heart, by Renae Kaye

As an author, I often see the world differently.  And I know this, because I view the world differently today than I did four years ago.  Four years ago I was normal and just went about my life without thinking too hard.  That changed when I gave myself the tag of “author.”  Because now I’ve given myself permission to view the world differently.

People I meet are dissected and parts of them removed for future use in a story.  It’s very cannibalistic.  I also like to hear people speak about why they did things, because what makes them tick is interesting to me and I want to reuse it in a book.

Which brings me to the point of this blog.  Most people know it.  Most people will sit there and go – yeah, of course.  But I ask you, dear reader, to try to think about it a little more, because you may find you are doing it without realising.  And I have to raise my guilty hand at this – because I’m aware of it, and I still do it.

Here it is.

The big revelation.

Authors are not their characters.


I’ve read discourses about this that say that authors are probably very much like the first character they ever created, and I have to admit that many of my characters share traits with me, but that is just a small sliver of character.   But it bears repeating.  Authors are not their characters.

I was speaking to an author once who writes BDSM-type novels, and she was telling me about some of the dirty emails she gets sometimes.   Men (I only remember her mentioning men, but it could’ve been women too) who mistook her for her (male!) character and wrote to her wanting sexual play.  She confessed that she didn’t use BDSM practices in her real life, only in books, and was a bit perturbed about these emails.

I have to admit to making assumptions about authors too.  **hangs guilty head**  I tend to picture them as their cover model, or at least feminine versions of their cover models, and then I always pore over photos from conferences and laugh about how wrong I was about them.  One author I was speaking to has an avatar of a red-headed cartoon figure.  She told me she was invited to join a red-heads only club, just because of her avatar.  She’s not a red-head and was banned from the club when they found out.

So logically we know that authors are not their characters, so why do we assume characters have the same beliefs and ideologies as their creators?

Once upon time, back when I was poor and just getting into M/M Romance reading, I borrowed every single M/M book that the libraries in my state held.  One was set in America and featured a character who worked in politics.  Now, I’m just an ignorant Australian, so I didn’t get all of the nuances of this book, but I pushed through to the end.  I was doing some googling about the book later to try and understand the problems the characters faced (ie from different political parties), and I found an interview with the author about it, where she admitted that this character was hard for her to write.  She said he was the opposite party to what she supported, but the story wouldn’t work without him being this particular party supporter and so she wrote him.

Intrigued, I went searching for reviews on Goodreads about this book and I was astonished.  Instead of focusing on the book and the love story between two political opposites, they were focused on fact that they could never like a character who supported XX party.  Admittedly politics is one of the things people get all het up about, but they were taking it out on the author.  For writing about a character.  Who, as it turns out, has a different political stance to her anyway.

Acceptance.  That’s the big buzz word that flies around at the moment.  Accept that people are gay.  Accept that people are Muslim.  Accept that people are trans.  Accept that people have mental health issues.  Accept that people are a different skin colour to you.  Accept.  If you study the statistics about how many M/M Romance readers are female, you will understand that women can read about men and empathise with the main character.  You will understand that straight women and read about gay men and empathise.  95% of my readership is outside Australia (probably more).  So those people can read about Australians and empathise.  We can read about someone different from us and still enjoy the story, empathise with the character, and celebrate their happy ending.

My upcoming release talks about two trigger points that may send readers screaming, running for the hills and googling hitmen to take me out.  Cheating and religion.  I admit that they are in there. I’ve spelled it out carefully in the blurb so that people won’t send me voodoo dolls and horse heads in the mail.  But I want to make something very clear – authors are not their characters.  If you’re a reader who can’t bear to read about an Amish character because you’re not Amish, then that’s fine.  And there’s also no offense taken if you can’t pick up my book that has two characters who identify as Catholic and Anglican.  If you can’t read about a desperately closeted man who entered into a marriage of convenience to hide his homosexuality, then that’s okay.  I don’t mind.  I’d rather hear readers say, “You know what?  I just can’t read that one” than readers get upset with me.

Because, I have to apologise if it's distasteful, but it’s something that is present in our society, no matter how much you like to think all LGBT people are welcome out of the closet.  I’m in the business of writing realistic characters.  For me, Andrew is real.  His parents are very Catholic and he’s been told his whole life to turn away from the sin of homosexuality.  Unable to bear the shame and hurt his family with his gay side, he marries a woman and has children.

Safe in His Heart is a journey of one man’s acceptance of himself.  Raised in the Catholic Church, Andrew has a belief in God that cannot be erased, just because the Bible says he’s a sinner.  Andrew’s life is in turmoil.  He cannot see any way that he will be accepted out of the closet, so he lies and cheats and desperate holds that closet door closed.

Then he meets Paul – a man that was supposed to be a once-off hookup.  Paul and Andrew are drawn together.  Paul doesn’t think too highly of Andrew’s life either, but there’s something that keeps bringing him back to this closeted, married, cheating man.  Technically Andrew’s wife gives him permission to cheat, but does that make it right? 

And yes, as an author who needed to explore her character, there is religion mentioned in this book.  Andrew wants to hold onto his belief in God, so he has to explore his feelings on this, so the reader has to follow Andrew’s thoughts about the Bible.

My own personal beliefs of cheating and religion lie somewhere other than Andrew or Paul’s opinions.  I’d probably be un-baptised if I set them out.  But that’s okay.  Because I’m an author and my own beliefs don’t appear in print.  I’m in the business of creating characters.  And sometimes characters do things that are not-so-nice.  Just like real people do.

I have a hope.  A goal.  A wish.  It’s very egotistical, and I’m a little ashamed to admit it.  But one day, I hope that someone who’s struggling with his own sexuality  picks up one of my books and is helped by what’s inside it.  I usually visualise a young man of around seventeen who isn’t sure about who he is, browsing the shelves in a library and finding the book, then taking it home to pore over.  I hope he finds the answers within the pages.  I hope he sees that there’s nothing wrong with him. That gay is okay. That LGBT people can have happy, normal lives too.  And if someone is struggling with their belief in God, I hope that they maybe be able to follow Andrew’s journey and see how Andrew had his “ah-ha!” moment.

I look forward to you picking up my book and following Andrew’s journey.  It’s not an easy one.  People do get hurt.  Sometimes people do things with good intentions that fail.  Sometimes people unintentionally hurt others.  And sometimes it’s just bloody hard work in order to get a measure of happiness.  Life is never going to be easy for Andrew, but I do guarantee he gets a HEA with Paul.  Love is the only thing that is going to be easy.

eBook links

Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.

Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a fa├žade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.

For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.

How to contact Renae
Twitter:  @renaekkaye


  1. I am looking forward to seeing how you sort this all out in your book! Just keep on writing please from one of your Aussie fans!

  2. Hi Renae,
    Can't wait for the book to come out. I have enjoyed all of the characters you have written, all their different lives and backgrounds.
    Thanks for writing.