Let me tell you, instead, what I’m watching.
With a few friends, I recently watched my way through Yuri on Ice.
Yuri on Ice is a one-season Japanese anime series about figure skaters. Yuri is a Japanese skater who has near-crippling anxiety that crops up at the worst times — usually when he’s at an international competition. Victor, a Russian skater, is his idol. When a video of Yuri skating one of Victor’s routines hits the internet, Victor is captivated and decides to head to Japan to coach Yuri and help him win the Figure Skating Grand Prix.
Yuri on Ice might be considered yaoi (as per Wikipedia, “a Japanese genre of fictional media focusing on romantic or sexual relationships between male characters, typically marketed for a female audience and created by female authors”). Indeed, we watched the series because a female friend was raving about the show and the blossoming romance between Yuri and Victor. If it is yaoi, then it has broad male appeal too, as I was totally captivated.
However, what I found interesting was that while the first episode rather blatantly hinted at the sexual component, as Victor is naked in one scene, most of the romantic tension is in Yuri trying to figure out his feelings and what Victor means to him. I’d hesitate to call it a romance since that’s not the primary focus of the show — rather, the figure skating is the primary focus. So, maybe this means it’s not yaoi since romance isn’t the main focus — there is, after all, only one kiss and it’s hidden by Victor’s arms. Meh, whatever. The show is fantastic, despite what genre it may or may not be. (This may sound odd as an erotica writer, but it was very refreshing to see gay romance depicted in media without constant sex and nudity. Instead, it was rather wholesome, which made it all the more fun.)
Since the show centers around figure skating, there is understandably a lot of figure skating depicted in the show. I have never been a fan of figure skating — it’s just not a sport that interests me. This show changed it all. The figure skating was one of the most fascinating parts, made all the more fascinating by the interior monologues of the characters during some routines, in which we learn what drives them and the personal struggle they go through in the midst of the routines. According to Wikipedia, the figure skating in the show was all choreographed and performed by a former competitive figure skater, so the routines are very realistic and beautifully done.
It’s rare that a piece of media completely reshapes what I’m doing in my creative life. Sure, like all writers, I sometimes get influenced by something I watch or read and elements of that something end up in my writing. Yuri on Ice is an exception, as it completely redirected a project.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, I am completely caught up in a giant project — a two-book series that will likely total 400,000 words. The first book is completely planned out and it ends on a bad note for one character. Since what I write is mostly within the realms of erotic romance, it’s quite problematic to finish a book with a protagonist in the situation I’ve got planned. He needs redemption and hope and love. That’s what the second book will be about. Still, though I knew that, I was totally lost.
After watching Yuri on Ice and seeing how figure skating and Yuri’s relationship with Victor was what got Yuri over his crippling anxiety and depression and on a path to healing and success, I knew I had to do something similar. So, the second book of my two-book series will be centered on figure skating and that will be the character’s key to a happy and love-filled future. It won’t be thinly-veiled fan fiction, though, nor would I even really call it an homage to Yuri on Ice, since the characters, setting, and situation are all very different. But it’s very clearly inspired by Yuri on Ice.
So, I have about six months to learn enough about figure skating so that I can write about it in my book and sound like I know what I’m talking about. Thankfully, the Winter Olympics are coming. My Yuri on Ice Watching Party friends are all on board for transitioning to an Olympic Figure Skating Watching Party. (The next “What are you reading?” topic comes up immediately after the Winter Olympics, so I’ll likely report on my self-education!)
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Schoolboy Secrets. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press and a member of the Indie Erotica Collective. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.