Mel Keegan

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Name: Mel Keegan
Also Known As: see Jane of Australia
Occupation: professional author
Medium: books
Official Website(s): Mel Keegan (2002)

Mel Keegan (2004)
Mel Keegan (2005)
Mel Keegan (2006) Mel Keegan's Official Website (roughly 2009) (offline), Archived version
Mel Keegan (2013)

Mel Keegan Online: About, Archived version (accessed Feb 2024)
Fan Website(s):
On Fanlore: Related pages

Mel Keegan was an author of several books for The Gay Men's Press in the 1990s, and now publishes through Dreamcraft and Lulu.[1]

In 2003, from Mel Keegan's website in 2002: "The Mel Keegan Online site was built by DreamCraft from fictional text supplied by Mel Keegan and artwork by Jade. The site design and function are copyright by DreamCraft. All parts of the site are strictly copyright. [2] [3] Keegan purchased DreamCraft "for a peppercorn" from Jade and Dave in 2014.[4]

Keegan's first book "Ice, Wind, and Fire" had a very slash-like quality to it, and is, in fact, Ice, Wind and Fire with the serial numbers filed off. See Went Pro|from much more on this topic.

For decades, Mel Keegan did not invoke any pronouns when referring to their career and creations. In 2013, Keegan's bio at their website started to contain the pronoun "he." [5] The name of 'Mel Keegan' has become synonymous with fast-paced action/adventure thrillers with pivotal gay characters and themes. A self-confessed science fiction and fantasy devotee, Keegan is known for novels across a wide range of subjects, from the historical to the future action-adventure. Mel lives in South Australia with an eccentric family and a variety of pets, and is closely associated with DreamCraft, where he's been known to work as a part-time, standby editor." -- a 2013 bio at About Mel </ref>



About Mel Keegan

Mel Keegan's first novel, ICE, WIND AND FIRE [6], appeared with GMP as long ago as 1990. In the following years many other novels have appeared, including the sci-fi thrillers, DEATH'S HEAD and EQUINOX, which have become cult classics. DEATH'S HEAD was nominated for the mainstream "Science Fiction Hall of Fame," and the historical THE DECEIVERS won a Stonewall award.

At this time there are 35 Keegan titles on issue with DreamCraft; and Mel has completed both the series, HELLGATE and -- yes, NARC, albeit after a long delay caused by a battle with ill health. Most readers were extraordinarily patient, waiting for the NARC series to be completed ... just a few became unpleasant about the delay, but of course, grave health concerns do, and will, interrupt real-life writing plans, and emailing ugly language to the author won't speed up the process by one instant! In the end, NARC is done, finished, and currently available in Kindle, in mid-2018, with the paperbacks of SCIMITAR, BASILISK and the enormous ENDGAME to follow as soon as these titles have made it through the "proof" process. Remember that CreateSpace prints in the US, and proof copies are mailed to Australia, which takes time! Patience, grasshopper.

Following the GMP years, the first first fresh Keegan titles appearing with DreamCraft were THE DECEIVERS, DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT [7], NOCTURNE [8] and THE SWORDSMAN [9], and since then many more were issued, spanning the spectrum of creative genres from thriller to SF to Historical and Fantasy.

For almost a decade the Keegan novels were published by GMP (the Gay Men's Press, London), but after their merger with Prowler and later, Millivres, GMP became more or less 'dormant,' selling only old titles, and apparently publishing only those novels which had been in pre-press at the time of the merger. Eventually, Millivres discontinued its paperback division, and Mel turned to a local South Australian studio, DreamCraft, to manage his intellectal [sic] properties.

DreamCraft was actually a multimedia studio specializing in book packaging and also CD-Rom for PC. Aha. Jade and Dave had seen the immense potential of ebooks years ahead of the impending ebook revolution, and in the 1990s were experimenting with "books on disk." The original plan was for a reader to buy a CD-Rom loaded with all the book formats popular at the time, shipped in a DVD case cover designed to look exactly like a paperback. This was your ultmate [sic] file backup, and you would have access to every format you would ever needed, no matter how often you changed devices. Neat idea.

The downside was, of course, it was "hard goods" which had to be manufactured and shipped. Manufacture wasn't a problem, but the rising cost of shipping airmail was. It didn't take long for the Internet to begin to gallop, download speeds increased exponentially, and downloadable goods very soon eclipsed hard-goods. So ...

The switch to ebooks hosted online was simple, and DreamCraft's other strength -- book packaging -- came into play. PDF, EPUB, MOBI, paperbacks ... the Mel Keegan digital list was born, with print on demand paperbacks if anyone could afford the postage (always the factor Mel and DreamCraft could do nothing about). In the first five years the books were hand-crafted by DreamCraft, and each copy was personally signed by Mel. A few copies of these rare collectors items are still out there, and they change hands at ridiculous prices.

From 2002 to 2012, Mel contiued [sic] to work as a writer, though writing time became limited since he worked full-time and played "den uncle" to his brainchild, GLBT Bookshelf, which was online for seven eventful years until the basic "rot" at the heart of the immense website outstripped anyone's abilities to cope with it. The Bookshelf was a user-generated wiki, with free membership, open to all writers and publishers who produced GLBT materials. Alas, far too many users chose to abandon the pages they had made, never editing them to keep their content current, with the result that after seven years, the site was so corroded with dead links, it would have been a thousand-hour job to fix it ... and no one was on hand to help. It was a great idea ... at first. One prominent writer did refer to it as "faff," however, and in retrospect, MK has come to wonder if she had spotted the weakness inherent in any such user-generated project. If so, time proved her correct, and GLBT Bookshelf went the way of so many privately run, non-profit sites, though it lasted a great dead longer than most!

As ill health began to overtake Mel, the volume of his writing fell away -- and at the worst possible time. He did produce the 300,000 word finale to HELLGATE, and do it on time, back in the Bookshelf years, but the immense project hurt and he took a much-needed year to recover. In this same time, Jade retired, and to save the digital backlist from vanishing, Mel bought DreamCraft for a peppercorn ... yes, MK has owned DreamCraft since 2014, so all the books at Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu have remained in place. Then the struggle began in earnest with his health -- while NARC languished, unfinished, on a pivot point!


...which brings us to the present moment, and the re-edit of the website here. Much has happened in the last few years, and this site must have taken on something of an "abandoned" appearance, especially since the collapse of ARe, which was a very major ebook server (last MK heard, they were being investigated by the FBI for something like cyber crime). As ARe went down, something like 150 links acros [sic] this website turned into "404 errors," and of course the PDFs and EPUBS of virtually everything became unavailable, unless you wanted to navigate the maze of Smashwords. It was always going to be a monster job to fix this --

The job is about 90% complete at the time of this writing. Jade to the rescue, with something like 15 hours of work, threading through the site, tracing and fixing the dead links.


In the early 1990s, the name of "Mel Keegan" soon become synonymous with fast-paced action/adventure thrillers with pivotal gay characters and themes, in paperback with GMP. Almost thirty years later, readers are asking, will Mel continue to write after finishing the NARC series? Nothing is impossible. It's a question of health, strength, energy. Key on those words: "thirty years later," and remind yourself that the GLBT marketplace is neither very large nor very rich (no, there's not much money in it). So crafting such novels can only be a labor of love, to coin a phrase, and it all begins with the aforementioned health and vitality. Keep your fingers crossed. To reiterate: nothing is impossible.

A self-confessed science fiction and fantasy devotee, Keegan is known for novels across a wide range of subjects, from the historical to the future action-adventure. He still lives in South Australia with an eccentric family and a variety of pets, and for years has actually owned the DreamCraft "brand" after having been known to work as a part-time, standby editor in the "Jade and Dave years," going back two decades now. [10] [11]

Relationship to Fandom

Other fans have openly stated that they recognize Keegan's work from Professionals zines.

Mel Keegan's Ice, Wind and Fire is not the only fan novel to have been rewritten and published, of course. There's another which is an almost word-for-word copy of an S/H novel. Afraid I don't remember the title or author of either the zine or the pro novel, but if you see it on store shelves you'll know it [12] [13]

Keegan talks about fancasting, and possibly more, in a 2003 interview:

Tell us about the character faces on the new Hellgate book... They look familiar! (in another version of this interview, the question is "Tell us about the Travers and Marin faces on the new book!")

cover of the original "Hellgate" -- "In conference with Mel, I went through a ream of sketches. A soccer player, two actors, and a rock singer all contributed to Jarrat's 'real' face ... and it took three actors and a rugby player to get Stoney down! Then the fun began." -- comments by Jade at MEL KEEGAN TALKS ABOUT DEATH'S HEAD
They should! They're 'icon' characters which have been a staple of Television for decades. Gay adventures with a romance at the core have a great deal in common with the 'buddy shows' which have been so popular over the years. When TV producers are casting the parts for the characters, it's a 'given' that the characters (and by extension, the actors), must look in all ways different. From the mid-60s right through till the end of the buddy-show era, the favorite match was a taller, more robust guy and a slender, smaller one, and in virtually every instance, there was one dark and one fair, and almost always one with curly hair, one with straight ... is anyone old enough to recall Alias Smith & Jones, CHiPs, Starsky & Hutch, The Professionals, Battlestar Galactica, Blake's 7? Even as late as The Sentinel and Highlander the casting agencies were still following the tried-and-proven pattern. The fact is, it's also easier for the writer to nail down the characters if they look distinctly different.
When we're trying to plan the covers, I tell the artist what or who I think the characters look like, often naming a half dozen different faces ... cricketers, rugby players, actors, models. Then it's over to Jade, and the magic mouse-pen. The paintings take a long time and the faces are combined to achieve a final composite, and here's where it gets clever:
Three readers could look at the same character and recognize three different 'sources' for the face. The end result is familiarity, which is what we're looking for!
The faces on the cover of DEEP SKY are composited from four different sources ... I'll leave it to you, right here, to see who reminds you of whom! [14]

Fan Comments

What's true gay science fiction ... and what is an SF novel with an occasional gay reference? Does a gay-friendly reference here and there make a novel into a gay book? MK has been asking this same question for some time; and the answer is so convoluted, each reader has to decide from him- or herself. For example, how much would it astonish you to learn that Moby Dick has been listed in the 'best gay novels of all time' category? We were surprised. We've read it! What did we miss?

Which is a good way of saying, if the gay 'subtext' is so subtle that even we didn't see it till it was pointed out to us ... are you absolutely positive it was a gay novel (film, show, whatever), or could you be reading into it something that isn't actually there? Carl Sagan coined the phrase, 'Where there are strong emotions, we are liable to fool ourselves.'

There is, however, no such doubt when Mel Keegan's imagination turns to the science fiction genre. There is nothing subtle about these novels. The up-front, 'in your face' treatment of gay heroes, lifestyles, themes, issues, is like the proverbial breath of fresh air.

The NARC series is not written for younger readers; and it's probably true that the mainstream SF readership probably still isn't quite ready for these novels either. The books are just a tad bit too forthright ... no 'pussy-footing' around any bush, no messing about with 'subtext' material which leaves you wondering if you actually saw what you think you just saw, or if it was all in your imagination!

(Mainstream SF readers are quite ready to accept gay characters; but what about the gay equivalent of the straight romance novel's love scenes? If you've taken a quick look at what's going on between the covers of the bodice-rippers these days, they're steamier than a lot of 'adult' novels were just a few decades ago; and SF has always had an erotic vein. Now, what happens when you replace straight steam with bent steam? This is an excellent question, and don't miss MK's discussion on the topic!)

If a novel is going to explore gay SF honestly, it needs to deliver on its promises, actually BE a gay novel rather than a straight novel with a gay character who appears now and then — on other words, the 'token gay.' (In American TV,some time ago, a series would have a 'token black,' a character who was somewhat gratuitously created as an African-American, so the series could legally claim to have to racial bias. Gay chatracters in the Hollywood product are still struggling to achieve that dubious status, but we can live in hopes. Plus, a decade or so after the 'token character' makes an appearance, mainstream shows start to get genuine characters, with genuine stories written for them. And that's something to hold on for.) In an unpredictable genre which often fails to deliver the goods, the NARC series over-delivers. Mel Keegan seemed to set up the scenario and characters on the first novel, and then let them off the leash, let them run. Readers are carried along with them at break-neck velocity, and when the action becomes intimate, your reading glasses will certainly steam up.

It's a twenty-fourth century that would conceivably give conservative old Gene Roddenberry a complex. This future is an era when men could be real women if they wanted to, and women could be real men, and no one would even notice what was going on, becuse gender liberation has happened, past tense, and there are bigger issues to worry about. Gay science fiction, more than any other genre, has the potential to examine alternative futures which might easily become real. Mel Keegan's work has a strangely oracular 'feel' about it. [15]



  1. ^ Mel Keegan.
  2. ^ Mel Keegan: Home
  3. ^ See The DreamCraft Connection.
  4. ^ "Mel bought DreamCraft for a peppercorn ... yes, MK has owned DreamCraft since 2014..." -- Mel Keegan Online: About, Archived version
  5. ^ "As we go into 2013, Mel still has no intention of retiring as a writer, though writing time has become limited since he works full-time and pays "den uncle" to his brainchild, GLBT Bookshelf... - AmazonFail Prompts the Creation of a new online community, Archived version
  6. ^ This is Ice, Wind and Fire, a Professionals story with the serial numbers filed off.
  7. ^ This is Perfect Gentlemen, Professionals story with the serial numbers filed off.
  8. ^ This is Unfinished Melody, Professionals story with the serial numbers filed off.
  9. ^ This is The Swordsman, Professionals story with the serial numbers filed off.
  10. ^ Mel Keegan Online, Archived version
  11. ^ an earlier version: Mel Keegan (roughly 2009)
  12. ^ This novel is either The Cost of Love or Cowboy Blues.
  13. ^ from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #10
  14. ^ from Mel Keegan Speaks! (December 2003)
  15. ^ Gay Science Fiction Comes of Age With a Vengeance (scroll down) (2008)