The Enigmatic M. Keegan
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||The Enigmatic M. Keegan|
|Interviewer:||Crusader Hillis for "The Screaming Hyena"|
|Interviewee:||Mel Keegan, a pseud for a well-known fan writer|
|Medium:||online, reprinted in 2000 in Discovered in a Letterbox #14|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Some subjects discussed: male/male romance writing, identity, and Keegan's "first published gay novel was Ice, Wind and Fire, detective fiction set in Jamaica."Some fans have stated that they reconize Mel's work from previously published zines:
IntroductionCrusader Hillis, the interviewer, opens the interview with:
Mel Keegan is the author of several books published by UK's Gay Men's Press. Keegan's work spans the genres and now includes thrillers, science fiction, romance and historical drama. Keegan's books sparkle with a facility for language, imagery, plot and characterisation often lacking in much so called 'genre' fiction. Unlike many of the authors in the media circus today, Keegan eschews a literary profile in favour of remaining anonymous, deeply anonymous. So much so that his/her persona excites curiosity across the globe. There has been speculation that Keegan is a woman, rising undoubtedly from the fact that many of the best writers working in the field of gay male romance today are women. (Think Patricia Nell Warren, Anne Rice, Mary Renault, Poppy Z. Brite and Chris Hunt.) Even in far-flung Chicago I was asked by a US fan "Is it true that Mel Keegan is actually four lesbians living in Adelaide?". (An impressive question since most Americans don't know where Australia is!) Other speculative fancies abound, including that s/he is a blind woman/man, a lone female writer, a well-known male writer working behind a screen, and so on. I spoke to Mel Keegan (through the very anonymous medium of a letter to a post office address in South Australia) about these and other facets of his/her career.
Some Excerpts from Keegan
Interesting that you should say there is curiosity about Mel! I heard one rumour that I am in fact a consortium of three gay guys, two women and a super computer. I can confirm that this theory is, at least in part, accurate. Seriously, elements of my private life would not survive Mel's going public. Simple as that. (If George and Steven discover what I do at the keyboard, nights and weekends, my Fedora, whip and revolver may be confiscated). Under what circumstances would all about me be revealed? Ask rather, what would it cost me, personally! For a million-copy bestseller, I'd surely consider it! But my personal life is precious... and therefore, so is my privacy.
I think that even now, most of the adverse or tepid reaction toward romantic novels tends to result from the old 'romance of the month' stereotype, where the plot and narrative incite an instant diabetic attack. Many reviewers may still be confusing 'romance' with 'romantic pulp fiction', where the target marketplace was (probably) juvenile females and the resulting fiction was geared to appeal to that group. Compare another pulp marketplace: military action. Soldier stories, mostly mindless, churned out by the thousands in skinny paperbacks, most of them as poorly written and structured as their counterpart love-story narratives. Their target markets are (probably) juvenile males. I'm not sufficiently in-touch with the book publishing and retailing industries to know if pulp military action is as denigrated as pulp romance, but I suspect that it is. And if it's not, given that it can be just as mindless in its own way - and, because of its unavoidable violence, much more dangerous in young hands - what does this say about double standards and dichotomy in a community where the traditional male stereotype is given the nod, while fiction supposedly oriented toward females is largely ignored by reviewers? Better, think back - waaaay back, before 'romance' came to mean thin paperbacks produced by the zillion and aimed at readers with anomalously high sucrose tolerances. Think Sabatini and Fenimore Cooper and Kipling. God knows, think Errol and Olivia, Hollywood, circa 1935! Now just 'bend' the tried, proven, nineteenth-century formula and add a dash of eroticism. I like to think that you get something rather like Fortunes of War.
Reactions and ReviewsIn 1999, a fan commented in Discovered in a Letterbox #16 about the recent spate of mainstream articles  mentioning slash:
The major articles made me wonder once again whether slash is becoming more exposed. Are ones like The X-Rated Files and The Enigmatic M. Keegan raising its profile so much that the general public is becoming aware of its existence? Where are they published? Do we find them because we are looking for articles of this nature? Would they be spotted by the man-in-the-street or ignored through lack of interest? We know the words to use in net searches. How easy or likely would it be for someone, without knowledge, to access those sites purely by chance?