I have an imaginary friend. His name is Danny.
He’s only recently moved out of his parents’ house and into his own flat. He’s in his early twenties and on his own for the first time. Unfortunately, this whole “being an independent adult” thing isn’t as much fun as he thought it was going to be.
In my imagination, he’s just come home after a really bad day. Sometimes his bad day revolves around a hard shift doing a minimum wage job. Other times it involves a date with a man who turned out not to be such a nice guy. Danny’s a sub. He’s met quite a few men who think dominance and cruelty are the same thing. Sometimes Danny thinks nice guys are more like myths than realistic prospects.
It’s cold and raining. Danny lives in Wales, just like me, so it’s usually cold and raining. This isn’t the first time he’s arrived home soaked to the skin. Since he’s dependant upon public transport, it’s unlikely to be the last time either.
Danny changes into dry clothes and makes a cup of tea.
The only reason he can afford the rent on his flat without needing a flat mate is because he’s living in a bad part of town. Two doors down the street is a pub that plays loud music late into the night.
The beat from the base pounds through his entire flat. There’s no chance of Danny being able to sleep, so he doesn’t bother heading to bed. Instead, he curls up on his sofa with a cosy blanket and his mug of tea, and he picks up his e-reader.
And this, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear, is the part where I get to the point of this post. This is the part where queer romance comes in. On a different kind of evening, Danny might reach for porn or a thriller, but what Danny needs on night like this is a romance—a comfort read. And, more specifically, what he really needs is a comfort read that features people like him.
I started writing my own stories at a time when my health wasn’t great. I have something called ME (sometimes referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). When it’s bad, it tends to involve long periods lying in a dark, silent room. Your senses are so heightened you can’t tolerate the light on, or music playing. You can’t do anything because you’re too exhausted. You can’t sleep because you’re in too much pain. One of the few things you can still do is make up stories.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in those circumstances I wanted to think about things that would cheer me up. So, I automatically started to make up my own comfort reads. It was around that time that I realised that, for the previous couple of years, my own reading had been splitting into two parts. Half of the stories I read were feel-good comfort reads, and half were about people like me, but none of the stories I could find back then fitted into both categories.
If I wanted to read about sex or sadness, there were lots of stories about people like me. But love and happy endings—apparently the world thought that they were only for the straight vanilla people. And you know what? That’s not okay.
Not being able to find love and happiness because I was too ill was one thing, but the idea that because I’m bi and kinky I’m not good enough for love, that I’m not allowed to have happiness? No.
That was when I consciously started to write comfort reads for people who aren’t straight or vanilla. That was when I started to write stories about people like me, people like Danny.
Sometimes my imaginary friend Danny changes a bit. Sometimes he’s older. Sometimes he’s gay rather than bi. Sometimes he’s a dom or a switch. Sometimes she’s a woman. Most facets of Danny are up for being changed depending on the particular story I’m writing, but I always feel that he’s someone like me—even those times when he turns out to be a werewolf.
The theme of this year’s Queer Romance Event is “We All Need Stories” and the organisers are right—we do. Sometimes the real world sucks, and God knows that there are times when we all need to be reminded that love isn’t just for straight people, and happy endings aren’t a vanilla privilege.
And, I suppose, on an extra-selfish note, these stories intersect with reality and give me hope in another way. Because if queer people can find love and kinky people can find happiness, maybe it’s possible for someone who’s often too ill to get out of bed to do the same. Maybe.
Kim Dare (+ Danny).
One commenter will be given a choice between an e-copy of either Axel’s Pup, Duck! (2nd ed) or Magpie (2nd ed).
About Kim Dare:
Kim is a bisexual submissive from Wales (UK). First published in 2008, she has since released over 100 BDSM erotic romance titles ranging from short stories to full length novels. Having worked with a host of fantastic e-publishers, she moved into self publishing in 2013.
While she occasionally enjoys writing other pairings, most of Kim’s stories focus on Male/Male relationships. But, no matter what the pairing, from paranormal to contemporary, and from the sweet to the intense, everything she writes will always feature three things – Kink, Love and a Happy Ending.
About Axel’s Pup
As the landlord of The Dragon’s Lair and leader of The Black Dragons Motorcycle Club, Axel Carmichael has seen it all and done it all. He’s a respected and experienced dom. Nothing shocks him any more, and nobody catches him off guard.