Josh Lanyon

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Name: Josh Lanyon
Also Known As: Diana Killian, DL Browne, jgraeme, Colin Dunne, Louise Harris, jgraeme2007, JGL
Occupation: professional writer
Medium:
Works:
Official Website(s): LiveJournal; archive link
blog; archive link
commercial link
Fan Website(s): maryrenaultfics ; archive link
Pros Archive
The Automated Hatstand
On Fanlore: Related pages

Josh Lanyon is a professional writer of m/m original fiction. She also writes professionally under the names "Diana Killian" and "DL Browne."

Josh Lanyon is a former fanfic writer.

In September 2015, Josh Lanyon revealed that she is a woman, not a gay man. The resulting discussions focused on cultural appropriation, branding and profit, authenticity, slash vs. gay, and the relationship between creators and their fans.

A month later, Josh Lanyon posted:

That said, I confess the older I get, the less patience I have with labels. I consider myself a humanist and while I write many stories featuring gay characters, I don't feel--have never believed--that the sexual identity or orientation is the most important or even interesting thing about the "people" I create. It certainly is not the most important or interesting thing I know about people in real life. [1]

Activities as a Fan

Josh Lanyon had been actively involved in both The Professionals and Mary Renault fandom.

In Renault Fandom

"If I had to pick one book that most strongly influenced me--both my writing and my thoughts--it would likely be The Charioteer". — jgraeme2007, 12 May 2007[2]

Josh Lanyon joined LiveJournal on 24 September 2006 but, although a member of the community maryrenaultfics for some time, did not actively participate until 2 March 2007, when jgraeme2007 (Josh's username) made an introductory post, as was a not uncommon practice with new members.[3] The following is the full text:

Hi all,

I've been a member for some months -- went back and read all the discussion threads (fascinating and illuminating stuff) --and I wish I'd been part of the community then.

I would appreciate any and all help finding the perfect TC quote suitable for an epigraph for a soon to be published novella. Just a couple of lines that sum up the spirit of the novel and/or the relationship between Laurie and Ralph. Every time I try to find a quote I end up lost in the story again.

I can't imagine a group better qualified to come up the perfect quote than this one. - jgraeme 2007

In a reply the following day to one of the comments, jgraeme2007 added, "I'm still getting the hang of how this all works (the journaling piece, that is)."

At that time, the members of the community were a few chapters into their second chapter-by-chapter discussion of Renault's novel, The Charioteer, focusing on the differences between the original British edition of 1953 and the later American one of 1959. In reply to another comment, jgraeme2007 said:

I see that you're comparing the editions again -- I received the '59 for my last birthday. For years I wondered if I'd imagined or embellished those missing passages; it never occurred to me that there had been a revised edition. Yes, the discussion where you all went chapter by chapter through the book was fascinating. And the comparison between the editions is interesting for several reasons. I actually disagree with many of Renaults cuts, although stylistically, yes, mostly they made for cleaner, tighter writing. Sometimes the emotional impact is more important than style.

Not surprisingly, given the friendly reception, jgraeme2007 proceeded to take part in the discussion of the next chapter ("Chapter 5 open for discussion: TC RAYOR CBC 53/59", which began on 4 March), and remained one of the more active participants in the CBC until its conclusion ("Chapters 15-16: Charioteer RAYOR CBC 53/59 discussion", which began on 29 April and continued into May).

Although in comments to jgraeme2007's first post, it is clear that at least one of the MRF mods checked the profile and followed the link to Josh Lanyon's website, this is not to say that all members did so. During the CBC discussion, the fact that this new member was a professional author was at most mentioned in passing. Nor, at this point, was jgraeme2007 referred to by other members as "Josh". It is fair to say that their mutual identity leaked out only gradually. Nevertheless, in a comment on the post "Chapters 15-16: Charioteer RAYOR CBC 53/59 discussion", trueriver (one of the moderators of maryrenaultfics) says, "I'm going to order your e-book btw, I LOVE the excerpt! As my_cnnr and poicale have mentioned in other posts, it's interesting to have your particular slant on things as an author. Good to have you around the place! :)" To this, jgraeme2007 replied, "You're all very nice about this -- and it's very flattering -- but I want to be careful that I'm not ever using Renault's forum to flog my wares. Talk about bad manners."

It is noteworthy that Josh Lanyon's initial presence on LiveJournal was specifically as a member of maryrenaultfics. Indeed, the first post to "jgraeme2007"'s blog ("Between the Lines") was not made until 12 May 2007, after the CBC of The Charioteer had concluded. It was sparked by faithfulreader's MRF post, "The Charioteer: Review", and used the tendentious opening lines of this "review" to segue into a discussion of the nature of subtext.

When the chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Charioteer concluded, jgraeme2007 continued to remain actively involved with the MRF community for a couple of years, commenting regularly on posts. The Dog Days of Summer Challenge in August of 2007 saw a ficlet, "Oh Crikey". The following year, during the communal In Their Own Words activity, jgraeme2007 was one of several members to provide answers to interview questions with Ralph Lanyon, one of the principal characters in The Charioteer.[4] And in 2009, jgraeme2007 commented on some of the Five Years On posts when the community reached its fifth anniversary, and was one of several members quick with congratulations when MRF reached its 1000th post. By that time, the fact that jgraeme2007 was Josh Lanyon had become common knowledge; and sometimes members referred to "Josh" rather than employ the username.

However, many maryrenaultfics members were also fans of Renault's historical novels, an interest that Josh Lanyon did not share. When critical discussion shifted to such books as The Persian Boy and The Last of the Wine, jgraeme2007 did not participate. As a result, Josh's interest in the community gradually declined and eventually ceased. Although there was another chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Charioteer in 2011 and jgraeme2007 was invited to return and join in, Josh Lanyon had moved on.

Renault fan fiction:

In Professionals Fandom

Lanyon used the name "JGL" in Pros fandom: [5] [6]

Professionals fan activity:

Attitudes to Fandom

Josh Lanyon's first post to her LiveJournal blog was in May 2007, the same month she made her first post at Pros-Lit. In the LJ post, she discusses both The Charioteer and Pros fiction, and she writes:
I've been reading a lot of amateur writing lately. By which I mean, unpublished writing, because some of it is quite good and could conceivably be published at some point (and, yes, I'm talking about that unique artform known as fan fiction). [7] [8]
Some 2007 comments regarding her start in fandom, and in writing in general:
I started out writing gay mystery fiction -- this was about a decade ago. From what I can figure out, when it's written to appeal to women, it's called M/M fiction, which I think has its roots in fan fic and slash, but I'm not clear on that point. Anyway, there's a pretty good market for it, regardless of what you call it. Like you, my fascination is with these particular characters and their world. I can't imagine being interested in any other TV show to this extent -- let alone writing fiction for it, but a few months ago I would never have believed I'd be joining in discussions and reading Pros fan fiction either. Something about these characters is unique and riveting. [9]
In September 2007, Lanyon was becoming disenchanted with fanfic:
Admittedly there do seem to be a few chicks with their own weird (hostile) agenda in the fan fic world. And some of the worst writers I've ever witnessed (as in traffic accident bad). But, in fairness, there's also some of the best M/M writing I've ever come across. Either way, I've pretty much given up on it. [10]
In August 2009, Josh Lanyon wrote:
I’ve only written a small amount of fan fiction, but I thought it was quite difficult trying to get the characters exactly as originally conceived (which, granted, is a matter of perception), trying to capture…what was not my own. Is it as hard as original fiction? Probably not. But it’s such a different art form, it’s hard to say. I do dread the day some bright soul pops up with the sequel to The Charioteer. Just the thought fills me with intense hostility. Yet the fan fiction is beautiful. [11]
From a February 2009 Q & A:
I think, in fact, m/m fiction started out for women — it’s roots are in slash and fandom NOT traditional gay lit, and that it has slowly but surely picked up an increasingly MALE audience. I was startled when I learned how many m/m writers got their start in slash fandoms — and slash fandom is dominated by women (gay and straight).... I would add that the increasingly number of gay male readers is a healthy indication that this readership is continuing to grow — that we’re still on the upwards swing — and a sure sign that romance, the appreciation of a great love story, is a universal one.[12]

Josh Lanyon left Pros-Lit after posting a long message, a flounce, there on December 16, 2007. In January 2008, Lanyon comments about having left the fandom [13], but she continued writing Pros fiction up until at least 2011.

Lanyon's Comments on Identity, Writing, Existing Characters, AUs: 2007

I think of myself as a writer. This is how I define myself to myself, assuming I need a definition (or an excuse). I've had a number of day jobs through the years, but those have never had anything to do with anything but a pay check. I'm a writer. It's what I do. It's what I am.

Maybe this is why I have problems with AU fan fiction. Meaning "Alternative Universe" fan fiction. That would be, for example, The Professionals (a 1970s British television crime show) as elves or vampires or sorcerers or regency bucks instead of the 20th Century crime fighters we know and love. Because part -- a large part -- of what I love about these characters is based on what they do. They are the characters they are because of the job they do, right?

They define themselves as The Professionals, and it's safe to say that it's not just a paycheck for them, it's not just a job -- it's, yes, an adventure. It's a vocation.

But it's not just the job. These characters are products of their time -- God help them because it's the 1970s -- and the result of their various (yes, made up) life experiences. So if all that is changed, how can they still be the same characters? And if they aren't the same characters, who gives a damn? Why not just read a novel about a vampire or an elf or a regency buck?

Now, when I say I have a "problem" with AU fiction, I don't mean an actual problem. I mean, it just doesn't do anything for me. I'm not saying it shouldn't be written or that it isn't terrific stuff, just that so far, I'm not interested in reading it because I'm a fan of the show and those particular characters.

An even greater stretch for me would be The Charioteer AU fan fiction. Ralph and Laurie as ... well, anything but Ralph and Laurie? How could they be anything but Ralph and Laurie and still be...Ralph and Laurie?

[snipped]

And does that matter?

I have no idea. I'm just thinking aloud here. And part of what I'm thinking is ... why wouldn't you just make up your own characters if you're going to essentially start from scratch. How can an AU character be "out of character" since everything that made that character what it was would be missing from the equation.

Maybe I just don't have much imagination. [14]

Lanyon's Comments on Filing Off the Serial Numbers: 2007

I've heard this. I think I've only read one well-known instance of it. In a weird way I can sort of see the attraction, if you do love the characters -- and some of this fiction is really good enough to be published. Personally I'd be nervous as hell about getting sued. [15]

Blurbs from Book Reviews

A 2008 review at Amazon for the book: "Man, Oh Man, Writing M/M Fiction for Cash & Kinks":

Lanyon makes the distinction early on that male/male stories are different than gay fiction. "In M/M fiction, the romance is the foundation." He emphasizes that even a genre story such as mystery, thriller or paranormal, must have the appropriate genre elements plus the romantic elements that focus on a male/male relationship (which may or may not include traditional romance elements such as Happily Ever After). In traditional gay fiction, the emotional elements of relationships are often glossed over and are not the focus of the story.

The reason for this romantic emphasis is the nature of the male/male market: women. Yes, gay male readers are beginning to discover--and enjoy-- these stories, but the vast majority of publishers in this genre readily admit that most of their customers are women. Women enjoy stories without the "baggage" of main female characters; they want exciting stories with adventurous action; and they want hot sex scenes with two men. Sex scenes that don't include women.

Lanyon traces the history of male/male fiction to its roots in fanfiction (stories written in an already created universe such as Star Trek and The Sentinel). Written almost entirely by and for women, a substantial number of male/male authors have made the transition from fanfiction to professional publishing. And they've taken with them the recipes for cooking up a best-selling story: characters that readers care about, dramatic scenes with clear settings, and sex scenes that both serve the story and arouse the reader. [16]

A 2011 review at Amazon for the book: "Man, Oh Man, Writing M/M Fiction for Cash & Kinks":

But although the author tosses in the occasional compliment, in his effort to teach female writers how not to stereotype or feminize male characters, he seems to have shortchanged one of the reasons some female readers are drawn to m/m romance--to escape the expectation that men and women must form an unequal relationship because, well, women are just like that. I don't accuse the author of having some sort of anti-female focus, and he's well established as a successful fiction writer. It's just that this advice book sometimes dips in an unpleasant direction in order to make distinctions between males and females, without an apparent sense of irony. [17]

An Exchange: Disappointment, Unwillingness to "Pretend" and Blurring Other Lines

From a September 20, 2015 exchange between a fan and Lanyon:

Anonymous, September 20, 2015 at 7:13 AM

Dear Ms. Killian, I was and hopefully will remain an huge Josh Lanyon fan. I have read every book he has ever written and have read all of his interviews. And I have been reading him since 2007. Never have I been aware that there is any discussion about his gender. I would not have known to even look for it because his gender as male came loud and clear from his blog. With that said, I was shocked to discover that Josh is in fact a woman. I had to read the blog 3 times before I uttered "WHAT" and went on a Google spree to find out if it is true. This is how I ended up here. I was shocked because intentionally or not, you have presented yourself in the other blog as a gay man. Perhaps the other bloggers have contributed to that fact when they always referred to you as one of the few male writers writing MM fiction. I don't read any other MM authors other than you because no one can compare to your style and I always thought that this is because the stories come from a gay man, and that did add a level of authenticity that others simply did not have. I don't know what to make of this, and frankly, I think I would have been better off not knowing. So this will require some mental adjustment. I hope that you will not find this response offensive but I just wanted to convey a genuine response from a reader that was not aware of all the 2008 discussions and to whom your revelation came as a true [shock] and I admit, invoked a feeling of being deceived.

Diana Killian, September 20, 2015 at 1:10 PM

I find it sad, not offensive. I can't tell you what to think, let alone how you should feel.

I believe in separating the art from the artist, but not everyone can do that. I do understand.

I can tell you that no decision, certainly not a decision this complicated and long-lasting is based on one single reason. And I can tell you that the last thing I ever wished to do was hurt or confuse or disappoint anyone.

And while it would have been easier -- maybe even kinder in some ways -- to maintain that online persona with all that it seemed to imply -- this is a case where I feel the truth is best. That the truth was necessary.

I'm sorry to lose you as a reader. Truly. But if you were buying my words only because you pictured Adrien English writing them...well, again, it makes me sad for both of us.

Anonymous, September 20, 2015 at 10:58 PM

You can be assured that I did not picture Adrien or any of the characters writing the books, but I admit that thinking that the books are written by a male author added a certain something that others did not have. I have tried reading other MM writers, those well respected and recommended by others, but I simply did not connect or "buy" their characters because they did not feel male to me. Therefore, I mistakenly assumed that the reason I liked your books so much, the reason the characters felt real to me like flesh and blood people, is that they are written by a male. But I was wrong and I guess that it is a true testament to your talent because you have succeeded in where all others, even successful well known writers, have failed in my opinion.

You did not lose me as a reader and will continue to read anything Josh Lanyon would write --I do not actually care what gender the author is. What got to me and prompted me to write these responses (which I never do) is a feeling of being lied to by my favorite author, that everything he shared (I am not talking about the books) was not authentic. But I understand you had reasons to do it and I will get over it.

Diana Killian, September 20, 2015 at 11:18 PM

Well, thank you. One thing I can assure you is my opinions, thoughts, experiences, etc. are all perfectly true and genuine. I don't argue that I deliberately withheld a key piece of information, but I don't have the patience or energy to pretend to be someone I am not. [18]

Comments: Fandom Focus: 2015

[anon at FFA]:

When I heard about Josh Laynon's announcement that he was a woman, I didn't remember him/her at first - it took some thinking. He was a member of a slash fan fiction mailing list and pretended to be male there too (and so I will use his preferred pronoun at the time).

He left the community after one of fandom's endless discussions about whether it took a male writer (Henry Jenkins) to legitimize slash fiction in the 1990s. The discussion left him feeling that the all female slash writing community was "insular" and that slash fandom as a whole tended to objectify male bodies. Basically, it boiled down to his belief that the discussions were "sexist" and full of "comments hostile to men" but he refused to take the blame for the behavior of other men simply by "accident of birth." He said he felt uncomfortable in the community and that he did not belong in fandom so he left. He continued to write slash fan fiction on LJ for another 3 years until.....2010? 2011? (At one point he had said that newer fans (LJ) fans were not as burdened by anti-male sentiments as many of the older slash readers and writers.)

I've now read his interviews about women writing m/m erotica and well....it makes his "coming out" as a woman even more bizarre. Not quite a candidate for the "MsScribe Hall of Fame" but close. [19]
[kiwisue]:
I really don't want to get far into the exceptionally tangled M/M side of it: I think "Josh" was always openly a pseud, it's the other aspects of identity (gay,male) that are being argued against or supported in that sphere that I'm not touching with a ten foot pole.

[snipped]

My concern, and the only reason I'm writing this, is that something happened to us: Pros fandom essentially played host to someone who carried themselves off as male, who did not disabuse anyone who assumed from “public knowledge” that they were male, and who was a loudish voice within Pros for enough years to affect the dynamic of the fandom. Presumably most of the fandom, apart from the small number who made it to the second Close Quarters con*, or received the news afterwards, and a similarly small number who questioned the JL identity, didn't have a clue. Probably there were a few fans for whom the idea of a gay male Pros fan who was also a writer represented a sort of wish fulfilment – at least a couple of the conversations I had during that period pointed in that direction.

On reflection I think it would have been a far, far better thing for, let’s say, Diana Killian - who also exhibited what I believe was a genuine fannishness on the RL author’s part - to have joined Pros fandom. The reason that didn't happen is presumably tied up in what Josh offered up as part of 'his' persona: self-promotion to a target audience; insights into writing m/m (and a book, a back catalogue, and a career starting to emerge); an authority on "being" a gay male, for those who believed, or wanted to; and forthright opinionating (often downright prickly in response to all but the mildest challenges) which tended to reflect back badly on the few who bothered to question credentials.

I like Pros fandom because it’s full of lovely people, many of whom I’ve met personally. I also like Pros fandom because it’s full of smart people. Sometimes bolshie people, and that’s absolutely fine with me. Yet it is my impression that Josh’s authoritative pronouncements were unbalancing, often enough, where Diana’s might not have been – IMO. Now with one exception I've seen nothing on lj/dw from anyone else in Pros fandom on this, and I'm basically curious: do you agree with any of the above? Does it say something about our fandom? [20]
[kiwisue]:
I think the genesis of it all goes back to when she started the JL persona - over 10 years ago (she mentioned it in one of her posts, or someone else did, but I don't have time to check it now). She got published with the male name when she'd initially failed under the female, before it was commonly known that women wrote m/m. Check out Jane of Australia around that time as well, she may still be in the closet technically. And JL worked damned hard to boost her career, I'm not denying or faulting her there. Annoyed that she dragged Pros into it by playing Josh to us, rather than Diana or DL Browne, mainly. And that damned M/M book! Angelfish too! [21]
[heliophile oxon]:
I guess it would have been nice to have maybe kept Josh for professional publishing interactions, and maybe use a different face for the fandom world where we're all just kind of hanging out together. I never did know which other names went with which! [22]
[msmoat]:
I've seen some of the vitriol, and at least one post on one of her blogs that was clearly from a hurt fan. The vitriol as at FFA, which I think you've seen. (Hmm, and having just popped over to DW, I see you have seen all that I've seen. *g*) Maybe there are other venues--it's not a world I'm much involved with. What bothers me the most about it is the lack of taking any responsibility for the deception. I suppose it's natural that she'd be so defensive, but the "you should have known" attitude is a bit disingenuous. [23]
[kiwisue]:
Well, some of us [knew] - but to claim that was because she "laid breadcrumbs" is ridiculous, as is that it was an "open secret" for those who attended various cons. I did notice a shift over the years from initially very insistent on the male identity (2007-ish) to more a dadt sort of situation in recent times. Although I reckon I wouldn't be exercised over it myself if it wasn't for the combination of in-fandom deception, blaming other fandom members for her flounce from Pros-Lit AND the authoritative posturing on lj. [24]
[kiwisue, comments in italics are by moonlight mead]:

I think I'll take the "chick" statement at face value and stick to 'her' unless something else crops up. Regarding personas and on-line fandom, my experience is that we are what our presence and our fannish history makes us. We can tell the truth or disguise it, but I think it's entirely uncommon to assert false identity in quite the way Josh did. To be fair, some fans very quickly jumped up with what they thought they knew - but Josh didn't even subtly disabuse anyone that I know of.

I did not see much of a difference in style.

The trouble I have with that is sorting out whether we're talking about apples & apples. You know, just because I'm a woman of a particular age and background, my reading tastes are not the same as everyone in my demographic. So talking about one sort of genre vs mainstream fiction vs another genre vs on-line stuff written for getting one's rocks off, it's tricky to make valid cross-comparisons on content alone? I mean, someone like James Lear does very well-written porn with plot (amusing, too - just don't expect the couple at the end to be In Lurv 4 Eva After), but while I don't think he's writing for the romance, nor do I think all gay guys are oblivious to it!

OTOH, I think the first JL I read was 'Dark Horse', and what struck me was how stylistically similar it was to het romance. As I went on and actually talked to Josh, amongst others, it reinforced how much m/m had borrowed from that genre - everything bar the second pair of trousers, it seemed (okay, NOT a het romance fan here, I may be exaggerating *g*). That says to me that the market prefers to recognise the borrowings in the books they purchase, which does point to it skewing female - but I don't know enough about it to be sure that was always the case, especially when Josh started.

And it occurred to me that perhaps Josh was or had been in a similar situation, and then it would all cast a rather mucky shadow on the 'really he's a she' thing. And I didn't want to go there. (I think we talked about this when you were over here once?)

We did! I just don't see it. Absence of evidence isn't, as you know, but.... at heart I want to feel that Pros fandom is on top of this, so I think less about Josh's life, however she lives it, and more about what we need to talk about as Pros fandom to put it in perspective. /exhortation. [25]
[byslantedlight]:
I think for me there were several elements to Josh's presence in Pros fandom, and you've hit the nail of one of them spot-on - that s/he did present 'himself' as "authoritative". Part of that was simply as a "professional" writer, but part of that was that she built up her ideas and thoughts as her lj-persona-who-was-Josh-Lanyon-actually in a way that led us to believe she felt that a person's identity was an important thing - such as when she very explicitly said, in this post, for instance :

... And I wouldn't want anyone confusing me with a fictional creation. I think any character we create is strengthened or weakened by our own personal experiences and wisdom (or lack therein). We can't write what we don't know -- which is not at all the same thing as writing what you know, although I don't know if I have time in what was supposed to be a five minute post to explain. Sure, I've used a number of my own experiences for my writing, but even more I've used a lot of research and a lot of imagination. I draw on the emotional resevoir we all have and I apply those feelings to fictional situations.

Now, she'd no doubt argue now until the cows come home that at no point here does she say she's a man and that she explicitly talks about using imagination to create her characters. But she also talks about not wanting to be confused with anyone fictional (which Josh Lanyon certainly was, complete with a background, partner etc.) not being able to write about what we don't know (which implies to me that 'he' knows about, for instance, gay relationships as the gay man whose identity she spoke through), and although she says she uses imagination and research, she also says she uses "my own experiences" (and again she's talking through a gay man's identity, about writing m/m stories, so what other experiences would we be expecting?) Without a doubt, this led me to believe that the integrity of persona is something important to her, and something she'd expect people to judge writing/and thus an author, through. And she said this as a gay man. [26]
[kiwisue]:
I did say I thought the fannishness was genuine - no-one reads the amount of fic that she did (including reading Heat Trace more than once and changing her opinion on AUs) without having a love for the characters. And yet - that thing about identity = writer comes up here as well, and the different response to blkandwhtcat was more abstract, less being in fandom more commenting on it? [27]
[smirra]:

With all her success and respect that she had achieved, I think she could have afforded the truth much earlier. But maybe it was too much fun and to good a marketing tool. What a bother must have author cooperations and some aspects of her marketing have been? Like it was said, that it was an open secret for some time, I think not a small number of people must have known for a long time.

I think what she did in pros fandom was clever marketing. She did a DIALJ-Story in 2009 I think and did participate in Pros BB in 2010, was announced as a writer in 2011 and than canceled it that year. That time ebook reader came on the market, became popular fast, so it was the right time to be active with marketing for her ebooks than. And she did quite successfully so. She is very busy and absolutely did her homework to know what she had to do and how best to approach. [28]
[kiwisue]:
Part of the reason for this post was that I had a pretty clear idea that Josh = Diana = DL Browne at least. I knew people who like me were convinced by some evidence or other (matching posts, DIAG interest etc). Others maybe just didn't think Josh wrote male - that's a lot trickier IMO, to match opinion to fact. I didn't know until now that JL/DK went to a Pros con, but that was another group who knew. Then you get layers - people I was frank with who hinted that others shouldn't take JL's maleness for granted. People I just hinted to because I wasn't too sure how invested they were in Josh's persona. Others who never thought about it or accepted the publicity. People on lj, on facebook, IRL... All people in Pros fandom though! [29]
[istia]:
I know I read some of JGL's Pros fic when she (or he, as I think JGL tended to be referred to on arrival in the fandom?), but I can't recall even a single title now. They never really did much for me, so I have no personal stake in this recent confirmation of her being a heterosexual woman rather than a gay man because I never had any particular interaction with her before the flounce. I knew from way back that [J L] was likely a woman.

I don't think JGL made much effort to hide her pro career as [J L], did she? The only obfuscation going on was whether [J L]/JGL was male or not (and, beyond that, gay).

I've never read any of [J L's] books, since I'm not a fan of mysteries, even m/m ones (unless they have a SFF or Mediaeval or other interesting to me non-modern setting). I see no problem using a male pseud in writing professionally in the genre, though it's another thing if passing oneself as a gay man when you're a heterosexual woman. I don't know if she actively did the latter or not because I never followed [J L] on any social media or read forums dedicated to m/m mystery writers and so on...

[snipped]

With [J L], though, it seemed like more of an effort was being made to pretend to be male, and possibly gay male. Pseuds are pseuds; no problem adopting whatever's marketable.

But fandom isn't a market, or shouldn't be treated as such. It's a small and relatively intimate community, at least a fandom as little dispersed as LJ-based Pros.

Pretending to be a gay man, however, is an entirely different matter both within and without fandom.

I should probably mention here that 1 of my fannish pseuds (Zeke Black) sounds male, and I have received comments from a few strangers who assumed I'm a guy. Everyone with whom I've interacted in fandom, however, or who has read my journal, I think has always known I'm female. And that I took the name from my female cat, Zeke, who was black. *g* I've mentioned that often enough!... Anyway, Zeke is a perfectly good name for a guy or a gal! :) [30]
[msmoat]:

The whole Josh thing is so convoluted and rationalized it just makes my head spin. I can understand using a male pseudonym, especially when she was first starting to write m/m. I can even understand creating a "persona" to interact with fans in this new era (then) of self-marketing and the internet. But it all went too far, and her comment that, by now, people ought to have known, well, I find that disingenuous. It's telling people that they willingly bought in to the fantasy, and aren't they fools for doing so, this is the real world. You know? I wish she'd take responsibility for perpetrating the deception--and it was far more than just a male pseudonym.

But it has little to do with me. She's long gone from Pros fandom, as far as I know. And I've little interest in the m/m market. [31]
[istia]:
If Josh had just kept her fannish and pro activities separate, or had not been deliberately masquerading as a man in both spaces, it wouldn't be any issue at all (for me, as far as fandom goes). There's still the problem of her possibly being seen in the m/m pro writing world as a gay man, so much more serious than the commonplace matter of simply using a male pseud. And her defensive posts since the reveal are outright insulting. She set out to fool the small, welcoming community of Pros fandom, succeeded (for the most part), and is now calling us idiots for not seeing through her. Well, Josh, a lot of us did; we just politely didn't publicly call you out about it. A lot of nastiness emerging, but it's all on her, not us. [32]

Other Comments: Less Focus on Fandom: 2015

There were many, MANY comments in 2015 -- topics discussed:

  • pseuds
  • appropriation of gender and sexuality to sell books
  • dishonesty, deception, cultural appropriation
  • false identity
  • fandom and profit
  • changing attitudes towards m/m original fiction
  • how m/m erotic fiction used to be much more of a female space (some say a low-paid corner of nowhere), and now that there is money to be made in it, males are jumping on the bandwagon
  • does the gender and sexuality of the creator matter?

Some sample quotes:

On the other hand, a great deal of this business is very personal and when you pose as a different gender both publicly and privately then you are skating dangerously close to catfishing. There have been instances where female writers have deliberately catfished gay male writers in order to pump them on how they “really” feel about straight women writing gay fiction. To my knowledge this is not something Josh ever did, and I’m not suggesting that.

However, everything Josh has said about straight women writing about gay men does now needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve seen several comments about instances where she used her authority as a “gay man” to tell people how they should be writing about gay men, in fact I’d say she does that a lot in her book, Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Cash & Kinks.

In a 2010 article at by Dick Smart at Lambda Literary, Josh is quoted as saying “There’s a great deal to appeal to gay male readers in M/M fiction.” That statement has weight coming from a gay male writer, from a gay man it means “hey you should try these books, I like them, you might too.” From a straight female writer, even though it may be a sincerely held opinion, the subtext becomes “buy my books.

[snipped]

I appreciate that in the year 2000 when Josh began publishing it may have seemed like a good idea to create a gay male persona as a brand. And during the ensuing fifteen years she did a lot, either actively or passively, to create that gay male persona. The problem – for Josh – is that in 2015, creating a false gay male persona is a really, really bad idea. And it has been for quite a while. This is why she’s been playing “open secret” for several years.

Had she “come out” with a blog that said, “this is what happened, this is why it happened, and this is how times have changed” I think there would have been a lot less hullabaloo about the whole thing. Certainly, I would have respected her more. Choosing to paint yourself as the victim of a brand you yourself created. Not cool. Not cool at all.” [33]
Gay men aren't discouraged from writing m/m fiction. Gay men aren't routinely excluded from literary collections of m/m fiction. Gay men are lauded for being gay men in the genre "Lanyon" writes. Moreover, it's a genre widely disparaged as being primarily written by women and for women, and any gay man with the chops and the interest in writing for that audience would be welcomed. I'd feel differently if it was any arena in which gay men's ideas and feelings weren't actually preferred by both gay men and straight women. In this case, I think people are manufacturing outrage over her axis of relative privilege in the wider world in order to disguise their own disappointment that their beloved man-in-authority turned out to be just another boring old woman with her boring old female take on things. [34]
Or they could just be upset that they were lied to, that a straight woman was pretending to be queer, and that she took advantage of the misogyny floating around to help prop herself up at the expense of other women in the industry. Even if you're right about all the fangirls and fanboys just being disappointed that their fave is suddenly less attractive to them, she pretty much dug this hole for herself by stepping on everyone's toes, and she's just as guilty of putting down 'the boring old female take on things' as anyone else. [35]
Gay man here, would disagree. Did she hurt people just by writing her books? No. But she treated my identity like a costume she could wear, so she could make more money. It's insulting, not because of the books she sold, but because of the entitled and dismissive attitude towards gay men (and gay people in general) that her actions require.

And while her actions were hurtful to women in the m/m writing community, they will also affect gay men there. I don't know if she ended up taking attention away from existing gay male writers who were also trying to offer their viewpoint - I don't know how to do that kind of analysis - but I do know that from now on any gay man writing m/m is going to be put under a great deal more scrutiny and have his identity questioned more.

I do think it is important to talk about how this will affect women writing in the genre, but to pretend it won't affect gay men too is naive, even if it's too early to know to what extent it will do so.[36]
When Lanyon started writing m/m, almost every woman in the genre adopted either a male pen name or used initials to hide their gender. But it's always been an open secret that Josh was a female. I can remember Ann Somerville going a number of rounds with him on Dear Author trying to get him to admit it and accusing him of all the things Ann Somerville has always accused people of: dishonesty, deception, cultural appropriation, etc. But then in ~2011 there was that huge fall out with AJ Llewellyn who was outed and claimed he was trans, and then Aleks Voinov came out as trans in support of all the other trans people within the m/m community. And I figured what does it really matter? There could be lots of complex personal explanations for why Josh chose this persona, and they are his business rather than mine. So at that point I stopped worrying about it too much. [37]

Not as Bad as Homicide

On October 17, 2015, a fan and Lanyon had this exchange on Lanyon's blog:

[Chris Quinton]: "...I am Very glad the outing kerfuffle has died down, and your writing is continuing as normal."

[Josh Lanyon]: "As for the kefuffle, well, the kerflufflers were diligent and painstaking in their efforts to keep the excitement blazing bright, but let's face it. If Anne Perry's readers can overlook homicide, mine can probably forgive the use of a pen name." [38]

Fanworks Based on Lanyon's Fiction

Interviews

Further Reading

References

  1. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, blog post by Josh Lanyon, October 30, 2015
  2. From "Between the Lines" (12 May 2007), the first blog entry by jgraeme2007 to the LiveJournal blog, "Just Joshin'". A fictional movie of The Charioteer also plays a major role in Josh Lanyon's pro novella, The Dark Horse.
  3. Hi all, I've been a member for some months -- went back and read…", posted by jgraeme2007 to maryrenaultfics on 2 March 2007.
  4. The In Their Own Words interviews with Ralph Lanyon appeared in the post "Ralph Lanyon: In His Own Words" on 10 February 2008 (originally open, locked by the mods in 2015).
  5. "I loved you in Pros fandom, loved your m/f romance books, your M/M books and will continue to buy whatever novels you write no matter the pen name." comment by H.L. Holston; "Thank you very much. That's so nice of you to say! :-)" reply by Diana Killian, comments at Thirteen Days and Counting; WebCite, September 28, 2015
  6. She links jgraeme and JGL at Pros Big Bang: The Palest Ink by JGL; archive link, September 10, 2010, and at Timed out story - Calibre by JGL; archive link in March 2011
  7. True or False?, May 12, 2007
  8. In hindsight, well, a metaphor.
  9. You Are What You Do?; archive link, June 6, 2007
  10. Of Which Reason Knows Nothing; archive link, September 18, 2007
  11. comment at What do you think about published fanfic?, August 26, 2009
  12. QUESTION #4 M/M Authors Roundtable Discussion – Why do you think so many women are drawn to M/M romance? Or do you care?, February 23, 2009
  13. "... by the time I'd left the Pros fandom, I'd come to change my mind -- well, maybe soften my stance -- on AU fics." -- You Are What You Do?; archive link, August 8, 2008
  14. You Are What You Do?; archive link, June 6, 2007
  15. You Are What You Do?; archive link, June 6, 2007
  16. from a 2008 review by Vincent Diamond at Amazon for the book: "Man, Oh Man, Writing M/M Fiction for Cash & Kinks"
  17. comment by SPQR Blues, 2011 at Amazon.com: SPQR Blues' review of Man, Oh Man, Writing M/M for Cash & Kinks, Archived version
  18. Thirteen Days and Counting;WebCite
  19. fail_fandomanon, Archived version
  20. comment at Ka-boom!, September 29, 2015
  21. comment at Cry me a river?; archive link, September 29, 2015
  22. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  23. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  24. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  25. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  26. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  27. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  28. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  29. comment at Cry me a river?, September 29, 2015
  30. comment by istia at Random Thursday; archive link, October 1, 2015
  31. comment by msmoat at Random Thursday; archive link, October 1, 2015
  32. comment by istia at Random Thursday; archive link, October 1, 2015
  33. post by Marshall Thornton, Branding or Catfishing?; archive link, September 20, 2015
  34. Man oh Man! Josh Lanyon is a woman (really), post at fail-fandomanon; archive link, September 18, 2015
  35. Man oh Man! Josh Lanyon is a woman (really), post at fail-fandomanon; archive link, September 18, 2015
  36. Man oh Man! Josh Lanyon is a woman (really), post at fail-fandomanon; archive link, September 18, 2015
  37. comment by Evil Cat at Goodreads comments, September 17, 2015
  38. Just Joshin: And so on and so forth, Archived version