Exclusive Excerpt: Death by Pride (a Kyle Callahan Mystery) by Mark McNease

December 20th, 2014

Death by Pride

a Kyle Callahan Mystery

by Mark McNease

 

CHAPTER One

Killing wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. He expected to be a bit rusty after three years, but he had never anticipated this … dullness, this sense that, in the words of bluesman B.B. King, the thrill was gone. Maybe he had just been away from it too long; maybe he needed to get up to speed. The man whose body he deposited into the East River just before midnight was, after all, only the first in his current series. There would be two more before the week was out, and maybe the old rush would return with the next one. He had to trust it would, to believe as a child believes that Santa Claus is real and will come shimmying down the chimney every Christmas Eve. Or how Dorothy believed, clicking her slippers in that dreadful movie. That might be a more appropriate comparison, given the occasion. Click, click, click … and he was home.

He did not come all the way back to New York to resume his annual ritual for something as lackluster as this first kill. Had it been the young man himself whose death stirred so little response in him? What was his name? Victor? Victor Someone. Dense and inattentive; he had been too easy, and far too handsome. Cute, really. The kind of cute that becomes very sexual in manhood. Innocent smile, calculated shyness. Victor Someone knew exactly what he was doing flirting in the store that afternoon, and he had succeeded, much to his regret.

Unfortunately, Victor wasn’t nearly as enjoyable to kill as he was to look at. Too easy, too unchallenging. Like a cat who had no trouble capturing a wingless bird, he had not had fun with this one. He would have to analyze the experience, figure out why it had not been as satisfying as it was before, and what he might need to do to reignite his excitement. Did he need to be more brutal? Did he need to introduce tools into the game, a scalpel, perhaps, or a drill of some kind? He would think hard on it. A decision had to be made quickly; he’d already placed an online ad looking for the next one and the emails were flooding into his special account, the one no one would ever trace no matter how hard they tried. A phantom as elusive as he was deserved a phantom email routed through Chicago, then London and Tokyo, server after server erasing any clue to its origin.

Deidrich Kristof Keller III—D to everyone who knew him well (a thought that made him chuckle, since the only ones who truly knew him died with the knowledge) had only been back in his townhouse since March. His tenants, the ones he rented to when he left for Berlin to take care of his mother, had a lease through February and D had waited patiently for them to leave. A lovely young couple with two small children. He’d never met Susan and Oliver Storch—the rental had been arranged through an agent—but they had taken very good care of the place, he would give them that. And you would never know they had children; no stray toys were left behind, no evidence, really, that anyone had been there at all for the past three years. His kind of people.

Death by Pride FRONT

He was so glad to be back. He’d hated Berlin, all of Germany for that matter, though he saw very little of it and had no desire to see more. For D being German was as meaningless as someone being Scottish who had never been to Scotland, spoke with no brogue, and was only tied to the land by name and ancestry. His parents were from Germany, but they had moved to Anaheim, California, before D was born. His mother, Marta, returned to Berlin a broken, bitter woman, but that was not his fault. She was a coward. Cowardess? he wondered, making a cup of tea at his kitchen counter. It was an island counter, surrounded by a stove and refrigerator large enough to impress and too large to be practical—there was almost nothing in the refrigerator, and he rarely cooked. The entire townhouse was furnished for show—the furniture, the artwork, the paintings and photographs of nonexistent family members and forebears. It had been carefully put together to deceive. Anyone who came into his home would think he was just another wealthy man in New York City with a long lineage, should one wonder where he came from. Men with paintings of their grandfathers above a fireplace surely belonged in Manhattan’s upper reaches and had unquestionable pedigree. That was the point, to be unquestioned. By the time anyone got around to questioning him, to wondering about his authenticity, it was too late. He answered their questions with a belt around their necks. The belt he kept especially for them. You’re right, good man, I’m not who I appear to be. Please keep that to yourself. And they did.

He was tired now. He’d worked out how to get the bodies out of his house unnoticed some years ago, but he was getting older, forty-two this coming September. It wasn’t as easy as it used to be. And this one had been heavier than he’d guessed when he chose him.

Note to self: never, ever, pick a customer from the store again. No matter how cute or handsome, no matter how liquid and shining the eyes or seductive the smile. Stay online, stay hidden behind a dozen re-routers, change names each time, do not take this risk ever again.

He’d been away too long, losing his edge in his mother’s dreary Berlin apartment, saving himself for his return to the killing ground. He’d have to sharpen quickly; mistakes were something other people made. He’d made one this time—the only time in all his successes—and he would not make another one.

He would look at Victor Someone’s driver’s license in the morning. Sense memory was a beautiful thing, and nothing brought it back quite like his keepsakes. The license was his souvenir—his thirteenth. Lucky thirteen. The rest of the wallet stayed with the body. He wasn’t interested in making identification difficult. It didn’t matter if the police knew who had been killed, only that they would never find the man who did the killing.

It had been dark when he parked by the river. The new moon had worked to his favor, a first. No one had been around; he made sure no one saw a man with a heavy, strangely shaped object wrapped in black plastic trudging his way to the river’s edge. Then a simple heave and splash, and he was on his way home.

Bedtime at last. But before then, for a few minutes anyway, he wanted to go through those emails. He’d requested photos, knowing many of them would be old and meant to trick him, and that was okay. He was less interested in finding a man who looked exactly like his picture than he was in finding a man who made him want to kill. It was like falling in love with an image: he never knew which one it would be, but knew it when it happened. This one. Oh yes. This one will be here soon.

He turned off the kitchen light, took his tea cup with the little chain from the tea ball hanging over the side, and headed to his large master bedroom on the second floor. His laptop was open and waiting for him. He would sift through a dozen or so email responses and see if any of them struck his fancy. But first, the pictures of Victor. Victor Someone. He would enjoy those before sleeping. He always took pictures.

 

CHAPTER Two

*** Excerpt from Chapter Two

“Did you see Vinnie when you picked up the mail this morning?” Danny asked, stirring creamer into his coffee and taking it to the table. He sat next to Kyle and picked up the mail, flipping through it so see what was his. Leonard stayed in the kitchen, staring up at the coffee pot as if he could not understand there were no treats in it for him. Smelly, the wiser of the two, followed Danny to the table and perched at his feet, knowing he would eventually relent and get the pouch of fish-flavored nuggets for her.

“Come to think of it, no. The relief guy was on duty, what’s his name?”

“Dayton.”

“Dayton? That’s an unusual name.”

The building had doormen. It was a perk Kyle had never known before moving from Brooklyn into Danny’s apartment. It took a while to get used to, but not too long. Having someone open the door for you and receive packages and visitors was luxurious without being too elitist. Vinnie—Vincent Campagna—had the overnight shift and was among the most reliable doormen the building had ever had. He was in his mid-thirties, and in ten years on the door had not been off more than three or four times. This was the second night he’d called in.

“Is Vinnie sick?” Kyle asked, scanning the paper. The city’s new mayor was making changes, many of which were controversial and demanded above-the-fold coverage.

“No, it’s some family thing,” Danny said. “Something about his brother missing, I’m not sure. There’s not that much communication between tenants and the doormen, but I’ve heard things in the elevator.”

Kyle kept reading the paper. The mayor was pushing for some new legislation, the mayor was insisting on a vote his way by the City Council, the U.S. Congress was at a stalemate again. He flipped the paper over to see what news hadn’t made it to the top … and he froze. An article just below the fold was headlined, “Man Found in East River Identified, Police Searching for Clues.”

Kyle started reading the story.

“You know, I think Smelly’s finally losing weight,” Danny said, looking down at the cat. She had been pre-diabetic for several years, but every effort at trimming her down had failed. “Maybe it’s age.”

“Shh!” Kyle said, focused on the article

“What’s so interesting that you have to ‘shhh’ me?”

Kyle ignored him, reading. “What is Vinnie’s last name?” he said after a moment.

“Campagna. Vincent Campagna.”

“He has a brother.”

“Yes.”

“A brother who’s also a doorman.”

“Yes. I think their father was, too. A family tradition I guess, like the military. What are you reading? Is Vinnie in the news?”

“No, he’s not,” Kyle said, sliding the paper to the side. “But his brother, Victor, is.”

“In a good way, I hope,” Danny said, reaching for the paper to read about it himself.

“Not at all. In a bad way. A very bad way.”

Danny read the article quickly. “Oh my God,” he said.

“Oh my God is right. Victor Campagna is the body they found in the river Tuesday morning. You saw the story.”

“It was everywhere. But nothing about it being an accident or a murder.”

“This is awful.”

Smelly began meowing, an escalation of her demands for a treat. Kyle swatted her away with his free hand.

“He’s back,” Kyle said.

Danny looked up at him. The article hadn’t named a suspect. “Who is ‘he’?”

“The Pride Killer.”

Danny remembered then. Every year for four years at Pride weekend the East River had become a depository for victims of a man—assuming it was a man—who remained uncaught. The media had dubbed him the Pride Killer, because the murders only happened that weekend in June, stopping once the festivities were over. Then radio silence. No killing, no bodies, nothing for another year, and another.

“Three years,” Kyle said, as if he’d read Danny’s thoughts. “He stopped three years ago and they couldn’t figure out why. Everyone hoped he was dead, or that he’d come to his senses, if madmen have senses.”

“But the paper doesn’t say who—”

“It’s him. The hands and feet bound, the strangulation, the location of the body. Even if it traveled in the current they’ll trace it back to the general vicinity of where this guy dumps his bodies.”

“Now we know why Vinnie hasn’t been to work,” Danny said. “He must be devastated.”

“It says the body was found two nights ago. Poor Vinnie. And his family, I can’t imagine.”

The men grew silent. Smelly, sensing something was wrong, stopped her meowing and slinked off into the living room. She would get what she wanted, but later, when moods had returned to normal. Leonard was still staring at the coffee pot.

Finally, Kyle said, “He won’t stop.”

“How do you know that, if it’s even him? He stopped for three years.”

“Because this was the first. There will be a second, and a third. That’s the way he works.”

Danny had a sinking feeling. If timing was everything, it worked against them very well. Detective Linda visiting, a body in the East River; the stars had aligned in a way most displeasing to him as he watched Kyle’s face for the telltale glazed expression, the speeding, clicking thoughts. He worried Kyle would not stay out of it, and that sooner or later something terrible would happen to them. They were married now, together forever. What happened to one of them, happened to both of them.

“Listen, Kyle …”

“Don’t worry. This is one for the police.”

Danny had the feeling he had just been lied to. Not deliberately; Kyle had every intention of staying out of it. But it was his nature to wonder—wonder who this man was taking the lives of other men, where he lived, how he found his victims. Danny knew that as much as Kyle might try to ignore this, it would take root in his mind and grow until he had to do something.

“What’s cooking?” Detective Linda said, startling them both. Neither had heard her come out of the bedroom.

A sense of dread came over Danny as he blew across his coffee, cooling it. He knew Linda and Kyle would soon be lost in conversation about serial killers and floating bodies. Why can’t his husband just be an amateur photographer and a personal assistant? Why must he take it upon himself to rid the world of bad people? Sooner or later one of those bad people might rid the world of Kyle.

Buy link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QGVQCLS/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_A.1Iub022E2RB

 

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – The Best Corpse For The Job by Charlie Cochrane

December 13th, 2014

Excerpt:

Inspector Bright, looking just as attractive as he’d had earlier—maybe more so, given that his collar had clearly been loosened a bit—stood on the step, smiling. “Thanks for seeing me. I know it’s a bit late, but the more we can get sorted early on, the better.”

“Not got your sergeant with you?” Adam, trying not to sound too pleased about that fact, ushered his guest into the hallway.

“He’s got the job of contacting Ian Youngs’s family. I got the long straw for once.”

Adam wasn’t sure how to answer that, apart from showing the way to the kitchen and hiding his grin. “Bloody awful job that must be. How can you bear to do it?”

“I was going to say you get hardened to it, but I suspect if you did, you’d be no use at it.” Robin slipped onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar, then took out a notebook and pen. “Black coffee, please,” he said, in response to Adam’s gesture towards the coffeemaker. “This house is really nice. I thought teachers were poorly paid.”

BestCorpseForTheJob_1800x2700HiRes

“We are.” Adam poured the drinks. “This was my grandparents’ cottage. As their only grandchild, they left it to me. I’d rather still have them here and be a lodger or something.” Oh God. Already pouring my heart out. “Sugar?”

“No. Just as it comes, thanks.” Robin took the mug. “Have you always lived around here?”

“God no. Born and brought up in Hampshire.” Adam fetched his drink and a plate of biscuits—maybe he’d get his appetite back?—over to the breakfast bar. “One of life’s coincidences, the job at Lindenshaw St. Crispin’s coming up just about the same time I got this place. And a bit of a promotion—inclusion coordinator as well as class teacher.” Nerves were getting the better of his tongue. Shut up with the life story.

“I bet you think that’s a two-edged sword, now. Being at St. Crispin’s.”

“You mean because of this murder?”

“Not just that.” Robin took one of the biscuits, tapping the crumbs off but not eating it. “It’s not exactly a high-flying place.”

Adam shrugged. “I knew it wasn’t all the local reputation cracked it up to be. It was going downhill even before I got there, in case you think I’m the one who scuppered it.”

Robin laughed, wearily. “It’s always had a high opinion of itself.”

“I don’t know, it’s . . .” A scratching noise at the back door made them both turn round. “Excuse me. That’s Campbell.” Adam hopped off his chair.

“Campbell?”

“The dog. I inherited him with the house too. Come in, boy.” He opened the door for a large Newfoundland to make a regal entrance. “Does he bother you? I’ll lock him in the bedroom if he does.”

“No. I like dogs.” Robin tapped his leg, encouraging Campbell to come over for a pat. “I don’t have the regular hours to let me keep one.”

Adam slipped back onto his chair. Funny how the arrival of the dog had eased the atmosphere immediately, creating a common point of contact that had nothing to do with dead bodies or schools. “Unlike us teachers with our allegedly short days and long holidays.”

“I didn’t say that.” Robin smiled, caressing Campbell affectionately behind the ear.

“You’ve made a friend. Just don’t give him any biscuits. He’s spoiled enough.”

“Noted.” Robin flashed another one of his devastating, dark-eyed smiles. “You were saying?”

“I was going to say that there are plenty of people who’d leap at the chance to run the school.” Adam watched the interaction of dog and rozzer. George had never really established more than a wary truce with Campbell, even when he’d been living here for weeks on end. Didn’t they say that animals knew? “If someone comes in and turns us around, it’ll be a real feather in his or her cap. Campbell!”

The dog, suitably chastened, took his nose out of Robin’s pocket where it might have hoped to find a stray custard cream.

“Where’s your chewy toy? Go find it. Go on, boy.”

Campbell, reluctantly, went to his bed, rooting around under it.

“He’s a daft beggar. I’m sure it’s not there. Still, it’ll keep him out of mischief.” Adam sighed. “For whoever gets the headteacher job, there’s every chance it’ll turn out to be this year St. Crispin’s, and two years down the line some failing inner-city primary school with a mega salary to boot. People should be falling over themselves to get it.”

“Really?” Robin made a sour face, swiftly hidden. “If the job’s such a plum, then why did nobody decent apply the first time?”

Campbell, proving his owner wrong, waddled over with a teddy bear firmly clenched in his jaws, depositing the vile object in Robin’s lap.

“I said you’d made a friend. You’ll have to pretend to be pleased, even if it’s revolting.” Adam found the sight of dog and man together strangely comforting.

 

Excerpt: Invisible Curtain – A Corey Shaw Mystery by Alex Morgan

November 22nd, 2014

 

 

Invisible

Invisible Curtain – A Corey Shaw Mystery

by Alex Morgan

Excerpt:

 

Faruq Boussora gauged the distance between vehicles driving westbound on Lower Thames Street and when a gap appeared, he dashed across to the median, ignoring the horns blaring at him.  His heavy backpack jostled on his shoulders, causing him to stumble.  The straps rubbed sore spots on his back no matter how he tried to shift its weight.  He hacked a few times to clear his lungs of the diesel smoke and the stench from his nostrils.

He was on a mission of peace.  Although he knew many would think it was one of murder and terror, he didn’t care.  The infidels would see the truth, see the error of their ways.  They had developed weapons that were an abomination to mankind.  The infidels were abominations.  How would they like having those weapons turned against them?

Would that make us just as guilty if we use them as well?  No.  The ends will justify the means.  Isn’t that the phrase the infidels always used? 

Faruq fancied himself being part of the new ambitious program.  Why else was he chosen for this mission, hand-selected from dozens of candidates?  He trained for months and now he was ready.

Faruq crossed Byward Street and entered the relative quiet of Great Tower Street.  A few steps away, he walked into the Hung, Drawn and Quartered Pub, a popular gathering place in London despite its macabre moniker.

He scanned the interior, noting with satisfaction the place wasn’t completely full.  The smell of food made his mouth water and his stomach growl with anticipation. More people entered behind him but his favorite booth sat empty and he made his way to it, avoiding waiters and waitresses carrying trays of food and pitchers of beer.  He sat his backpack on the floor underneath the table, relieved to be unburdened from its weight, and slid into the seat.

A young waitress with bleached white hair hanging to her shoulders appeared at his elbow.

“ ’allo, Mr. ’alliwell,” she said, giving him a bright smile and making an effort to pronounce his name.  “’aven’t seen you in ‘ere for a while.”  Her tongue piercing glinted in the dim light of the pub as she spoke.

Faruq bit his lip, preventing a smile from splitting his face at the alias he’d given her.  It sounded so proper, so British.  And Sarah was so sweet, so gullible.  “Hello, Sarah.  It’s been a few weeks, yes.  I had business in America,” he said.  He had worked hard to drop his middle-Eastern accent and perfect the Queen’s English.  Maybe I should add a South London drawl?  No, that would be overkill.

“Well, it’s great to see ya again. Gonna be stayin’ with us a spell?”  Sarah asked.  She balanced a tray in one hand and put the other on the table, shifting her weight.

Faruq ignored the question and tried to divert his gaze from Sarah’s ample cleavage.   “The place looks just the same as the last time I visited.”  He glanced around the pub.  Nothing has changed.  That’s good.

“Expected us to tart the place up, did ya?”  She laughed.  Faruq smiled back.  “The usual?”  He nodded and Sarah withdrew.

Faruq leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table, resting his chin on interlaced fingers.  Of course, he hadn’t expected them to renovate.  He would’ve found that out weeks ago if they had.  Therefore, no last minute changes to his plans.  From his earlier surveillance of the place, he chose this booth as the most advantageous spot from which to launch his mission.

His handsome and uncharacteristically fairer-than-normal features let him blend in with the Londoners without drawing attention to himself, and his mastery of their speech and even a few dialects made his disguise complete.  Since 9/11 and the 7/7 London bombings, Faruq felt all eyes were on him and anyone who even resembled someone of middle-Eastern descent.

As well they should be, he thought with grim satisfaction.

Out this week – Exclusive Excerpt from Fair Play by Josh Lanyon

November 15th, 2014

Fair Play by Josh Lanyon

CARINA_1114_9781426898976_FairPlayExcerpt:

They walked the three-mile loop called Old Road, crossing Little Bridge and then Big Bridge, moving deeper into the wilderness at the center of the ten-mile-long island, not talking much except to point out the occasional rabbit or fox.

“Any word from the arson inspector?” Elliot asked after a time.

“Nah.” Roland sounded untroubled. And maybe that was good. If Roland really could take a philosophical attitude about this catastrophe, more power to him. Elliot was probably worried enough for both of them.

Birdsong filled in the comfortable silences. Bees hummed in the liquid gold of the closing day, and clouds of gnats drifted over the long sun-tipped meadow.

“‘In wilderness is the preservation of the world,’” Roland observed, when they stopped to study a distant blacktail doe urging her fawn into the safe shadows of the woodline.

“Thoreau.”

Roland smiled. “Very good.”

“See. Even storm troopers can appreciate a nice turn of phrase. And a pretty day.”

Roland chuckled.

Of course, Thoreau had also said, Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. Elliot glanced at his father’s profile. Roland was still smiling, but it was clear his thoughts were miles away.

It was tempting to view your family as an extension of yourself, but it was a mistake. And no one knew that better than Elliot, having had the clearest possible illustration when he’d been accepted into the FBI and his father had effectively disowned him for betraying the values he’d been raised with. Roland had backed down from that stance, but by then Elliot had been wounded and furious over his own sense of betrayal.

That was all in the past now. All but forgotten.

“Your mother would have liked this place,” Roland said suddenly.

Elliot nodded.

His mother had been killed in a hit-and-run several years earlier. In fact, it was his mother’s death that had brought about his reconciliation with his father. It was hard to say how long he might have hung on to his hurt and anger. Tucker had occasionally accused him of being intractable, and he was probably right.

Elliot said, mostly thinking aloud, “I don’t know how you do that. Stay friends with someone you used to be in love with.”

“I can’t think of a better reason to stay friends than that this is someone you’ve loved.” Roland eyed him consideringly. “You don’t stay friends with your ex-lovers?”

“I never have. It’s too awkward. Most people don’t fall out of love at the same time. One person always wants more than the other person can give them. And that ends in bitterness.”

“You wouldn’t want to stay friends with Tucker if things didn’t work out between you?”

Elliot was silent for a moment, absorbing the pain the idea brought him. “Honestly? I don’t want to think about that.”

“Of course. No reason you should think about it,” Roland turned away from the green, sunlit sea of the meadow.

“Do you think you’ll ever marry again?”

Roland laughed shortly. “I don’t think so. I’m pretty old and pretty set in my ways now to try to set up house with someone new.”

And the person he would most likely want to set up house with was married to his best friend.

They continued on their way in silence, walking toward home now. Roland suddenly chuckled.

“What?” Elliot glanced over at him.

“I just remembered something. When you were about seven you used to sing along with ‘Purple Haze.’” Roland sang in his raspy baritone, “‘Actin’ funny but I don’t know why. Excuse me while I kiss this guy.’”

Elliot laughed.

There was a hard, dull thunk to his right. He glanced over, but it took his eyes a moment to pick out the shining slender shaft protruding from the trunk of a towering Douglas fir. And then another second to make sense of the red-and-yellow fletching, the red nock…

An arrow.

An arrow lodged in a tree. Not two arms’ lengths away from where they stood.

“Christ.” Elliot rushed at Roland, hustling him off the sandy road into the trees, yelling over his shoulder, “There are people here, you asshole!”

“What’s the matter with you?” Roland sounded astonished, trying to free himself and face Elliot.

Elliot was already second-guessing his instinctive dive for cover. Tree foliage was a mistake if they were dealing with a hunter having trouble telling humans from deer. But no. That couldn’t be. Not a hunter. There were no hunters on this island. Hunting was prohibited by law. Besides, Elliot’s T-shirt was red. Roland’s denim shirt was blue. They had been walking in the middle of a road. In full view. Their voices would have carried.

Not a mistake then. Not a hunting accident. Not an accident at all. Someone had tried to kill them. Or, more likely, tried to kill Roland.

“Don’t stop!” Elliot kept pushing his father toward the shelter of thick trees. Another gleaming missile whistled past, this time to their left. Elliot veered sharply, feeling the ominous twinge in his bad knee as he tried to drag Roland the other way. “Christ almighty, Dad. Didn’t you see that? Didn’t you hear that?”

Another arrow cut through the air—to the right again. Elliot jerked away from the thin, tight-pitched hum it made, his heart jumping. The hum was followed by another heavy, dead thud as the arrow penetrated a tree trunk a few feet beyond the bigleaf maple they landed behind.

The sick knowledge of what that missile could do to flesh and bone…

It was impossible to know how far away their attacker was. There were too many variables. The design of both the bow—draw weight of the bow and the shooter’s draw length—the design of the arrow, as well as weather conditions, particularly wind, were always going to be factors. The shooter could be a thousand yards away, for all he knew.

Or he could be moving up on them right now.

 

Buy link:

http://www.amazon.com/Fair-Play-Alls-Book-ebook/dp/B00KV5Z7M0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415216995&sr=1-1&keywords=fair+play+josh+Lanyon

Twitter: @JoshLanyon

Chatting with north Londoner and Suspense, Thriller author, WD Jackson

November 8th, 2014

Interview by Jon Michaelsen © 2014

WD, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.

WDJackson1

Let’s start off with, where do you live?

Though I grew up in Birmingham, I now live in North London.

Without getting too personal, would you share a little about your home life?

Well, I live with my boyfriend Roberto and our French bulldog Oscar. Our flat is pretty small but nice, and our home life is quite simple. When we’re not at work we watch an awful lot of American tv, I write, give the PS4 a blast, and we go to the theatre or galleries quite a lot, which is huge perk of living in London.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

I’d say being able to have a full time job, having my first mortgage, being able to write (and actually getting a publishing contract) and managing to sustain a long term relationship all at the same time. Sometimes my life feels very hectic and I’m always tired, but I’m pretty lucky to have such a combination of things to be proud of.

Have you ever had to deal with homophobia after your novels were released, and if so, what forms has it taken?

I haven’t ever faced homophobia due to my writing – I think that comes from being fairly anonymous as a writer up until recently. I never really had much online or offline presence as an author before my latest novel. I am fortunate to also live in a city where being gay is not really an issue for the most part. It is something I am quite aware of in the back of my mind though as I have obviously faced homophobia before. I would imagine as my profile grows it may become an issue at times, but hopefully not!

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How long have you been writing? Publishing?

Technically over a decade, but seriously for about three years. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen, really just as another way to vent some creativity, but nothing came of it at the time. I wrote little bits here and there, but not with much effort, until I discovered self-publishing on Amazon. I was like ‘Oh, I have a book, let’s release it and see what happens,’ and amazingly it sold quite well, so I finished my second novel which had been languishing on my laptop for months, and it was then, probably about two years ago, that it occurred to me that actually writing is something I would really like to do as a profession.

Your novels seem to have a common theme in that they are mainstream thrillers, not gay-themed, but do include gay characters; can you clarify and share your influences?

Well all my novels are suspense thrillers, and now crime, with horror elements, which comes from my parents. I picked up their loves – crime fiction and murder mystery from my mum, action and horror from my dad. I was brought up on Poirot and Ellen Ripley!

As for how I include gay characters, I think that came as a reaction to having read a huge amount of books in my lifetime and as far as I recollect, unless they were classed as gay fiction, none ever featured gay characters. I still find this odd, and so I decided I always wanted to feature gay characters where appropriate. It’s part of everyday life for me to be around people of all descriptions, and on tv a range of people are pretty well represented these days, albeit often stereotypically, so why not in commercial fiction? What I don’t do is gay themed fiction. This is because it is not my aim to write about gay people and about being gay. I don’t think my stories would benefit from simply making everyone gay, but they do benefit from featuring what I hope are realistic representations of gay people because I think it makes them more realistic and reflective of modern life. They are not written to be about being gay, they just happen to be. In Red Light, my second novel, one character’s sexuality does affect the narrative to an extent, but none of my main characters have been gay yet. However, this is more because it hasn’t made sense in the story for them to be – so I reckon in future books I will have some main characters who are gay, but again the books won’t be gay themed.

Your latest novel, Slasher, is a serial killer thriller featuring police officer protagonist, Joshua Matthews. Can you share more of the plot with our readers?

Of course. Slasher is very close to my heart for a number of reasons. I love the genre wholeheartedly so it was great to write a book that plays with the genre, and also it came out of a bad review I got for my first novel. A woman on Amazon said Loose Ends, the book I wrote when I was 18, was nothing more than a slasher movie in print. I remember thinking that clearly she had never actually watched one, because it’s nothing like a slasher movie, but it certainly inspired me to see how I actually could successfully write a slasher novel.

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In the novel, a serial killer is targeting actresses who have played final girls in slasher films for a horror production company called Hitlist Pictures, and they happen to have a new high profile film, actually called Slasher, in production. This of course means that the new Hollywood starlet that has landed the lead also find herself directly in the crosshairs of the killer. Trying to catch the killer is Sergeant Joshua Matthews, a man whose painful past has stopped him from working homicide. After being handed a murder case out of circumstance, he must overcome his pain in order to stop the killer before Hollywood’s latest star is murdered. The serial killer is building up to a nasty finale staged at the world premiere of Slasher, and so it becomes a race against time for Matthews and his partner Detective David Crawford.

It’s a very pacey, filmic story, which I hope is a really interesting mix of horror and crime, something which I have found to be quite rare.

Slasher is billed as a Joshua Matthews Thriller. Do you have plans of serializing the cop?

I do indeed, in fact I have already started the next novel. It too takes a familiar horror genre and again throws it in to the world of crime fiction. While I don’t want to reveal much yet, I will tell you that the genre this centres around is demonology, and will force Matthews into a case of science versus the supernatural, leaving him doubting what is real. Matthews is also promoted in this one, he’s now a fully fledged detective.

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Do you ever see yourself writing a gay-themed novel in the future?

Honestly I’m not sure. As I said, I think a gay protagonist is likely – Joshua Matthews is straight but there could be a more prominent character in his series that is gay, but I also have numerous ideas for standalone novels, so perhaps one of those will go that way. Actually gay themed? Probably not a full length novel, because I would always want a mixture of people, but maybe a short story, that could be good fun. Incidentally, I did start a gay romantic comedy once, many years ago, after quite a painful breakup. I didn’t get far with it, and to be honest romance is not the genre for me when it comes to writing, but there are certainly elements of that which could emerge somewhere else.

Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?

Well my current WIP is the next Joshua Matthews novel. I do have another novel that I started that is on hiatus until I finish Matthews 2, which I’m pretty excited about, and is a standalone, but it’s a long long way off yet.

Slasher is my current release, brand new to the world. It released on October 27th on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Foyles, iBooks and a few other retailers. So far it has been pretty well received and fingers crossed it will do well! I love writing, and it means a lot to me when people get a kick out of something I wrote, so go check it out everyone!

On behalf of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook Group, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and answering questions fans of the genre would like to know.

 

Find WD Jackson on the web:

http://www.wdjacksonbooks.co.uk/

http://www.wdjacksonauthor.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/wdejackson

Exclusive Excerpt from Calvin’s Head – a Psychological Thriller by David Swatling

November 1st, 2014

“Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story.”   -  F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Calvin’s Head – Excerpt

by David Swatling

A strong wind blows wispy clouds across a bright full moon. I realize this is why I have been anxious all evening, agitated, with an unreasonable desire to go to a bar and get shit-faced. The Cancer side of my cusp is powerfully affected by the pull of the moon. On those rare occasions when I actually know in advance the full moon is approaching, I lock myself inside as one would a nascent werewolf. Too many nights lost to too much alcohol have proved this necessary. It was Willy who first noticed how much hotter I was when a full moon shone through the skylight of our bedroom.

I don’t want to think about that tonight, must not must not must not think about that tonight. I lock the door and automatically start walking left toward the little park. I stop when I realize Calvin is not ahead of me. Turning around, I see him standing poised to head off in the opposite direction.

I don’t want little park, Dekker. We went to little park this morning. I want canal walk.

– Fine. We’ll do the canal walk tonight.

Calvin leads the way, tail bouncing happily.

I won. I won. I won.

We have not walked the Admiralengracht in a few days. It’s a little farther away than I prefer to go at this hour, but it’s a mild night, apart from the wind, and I feel like being outside. Even though there’s no street traffic, Calvin waits for me to catch up at each corner.

– Okay.

We cross together. People who see this are impressed by how well trained he is but it wasn’t difficult to teach him not to cross the street alone. He doesn’t even chase his ball into the street, always waits at the curb for me to retrieve it for him. He didn’t bring a ball tonight.

No ball for canal walk.

In front of the snack bar at the corner, a pair of Moroccan youths pretend to fight, egged on by a couple of friends. Calvin stops and growls at them.

Bad boys. Bad boys fear Calvin. The leash he carries in his mouth muffles a bark.

The youths stop their horseplay, back off a bit. I don’t know what it is about Arabic culture that makes them so fearful of dogs. Okay, Calvin is almost fifty kilos of growling menace right now, but I’ve seen similar reactions to puppies.

– Come on, Cal. Let’s go.

He shoots them one last warning look before following me.

Arriving at the canal, Calvin drops the leash for me to carry and begins sniffing the grass that borders the water. It must be full of messages left by his canine neighbors but almost immediately he is distracted by a sound, a soft plaintive woman’s voice.

– Aaaaaandy. Andy. Aaaaaaandy.

Cal looks around, ears alert, and spots an old woman across the street. I think she must be trying to find a lost cat because no one calls a dog so quietly. The anxiety in her voice upsets Calvin.

Where is Andy? Must find Andy. His head darts up and down the canal, searching. He sniffs under parked cars. I assume he’s hunting for another dog since he has little interest in cats.

– Calvin, let’s walk. The lady is looking for her cat. You’ll just scare it away.

Calvin is still concerned as we head off along the canal, but within a few meters the old woman’s voice is lost in the wind.

We reach the next bridge, cross over, and begin to walk back down the other side of the canal. Ducks line the edge between two docked boats until Calvin spooks them into the black water. Ripples reflect the moonlight.

Calvin stops, stands rigidly at attention for a moment, then takes off at a quick trot. Up ahead I see Sela, a gorgeous Siberian husky, almost as big as Calvin. We’ve encountered her a couple of times, and she’s always friendly. But Calvin has little interest in her. He once snapped at her nose when she continued to ignore his threatening growls.

Tonight is different. Maybe it’s the full moon. Or more likely, Sela is nearly in heat. I assume not fully or her handsome young owner would have her firmly in tow on a leash. That’s another thing about the full moon. Almost every man suddenly looks more attractive.

Sela takes charge of this encounter and Calvin is reduced to a pathetic, lovesick puppy. All signs of his machismo norm vanish as he attempts to get a good sniff of her rear end. She teases him mercilessly, twisting her body away from his prying nose after a few seconds, and then hugging up against him seductively. She never allows him enough time to assume the position, running circles around his growing frustration. Calvin gives her a sharp bark, and for a moment she appears receptive, rolling onto the grass, belly up, smelly fanny fully exposed. As soon as Calvin is close enough to give her a good lick, she rolls away and jumps quickly to her feet.

Come and get me, big boy!

Calvin is left with his tongue hanging out, drooling like a sex-starved tourist in the red-light district. He looks at me with a forlorn expression.

Could you help me out here, Dekker? Please?

– Sorry, Cal, you’re on your own.

By now Sela’s dad has caught up with her. I always remember the names of the dogs but never their owners, especially when they’re as obviously straight as this young hunk. With some difficulty, he manages to get the leash clipped to her collar.

Calvin uses this opportunity for a last futile attempt to get a good lick of Sela’s ass. It’s her turn to snarl him off, obviously annoyed with her boss’s intervention. I grab Calvin’s collar and begin to drag him away, tail between his legs in despair. He actually starts to whine like a child.

Please, Dekker, please, she smells so good, Dekker, please.

– How about a little dignity, Calvin, huh?

When Sela has been led far enough away, I release him. He takes one long look back at his nearly beloved, raises a leg to piss a love note, and we continue our walk along the canal.

– Aaaaaaandy. Andy. Aaaaaaandy.

The old woman is standing on the bridge we normally cross to get back home. Her long gray curls are windswept and she looks so frail I fear she might be blown into the canal. She grasps the railing tightly and continues to call out for her missing cat. Calvin has lost interest in her plight, avidly tracking a trail left behind by Sela.

– Aaaaaaandy. Andy. Aaaaaaandy.

It sounds like a mantra, more chanted than called, as if part of a nightly ritual. An unnerving thought insinuates itself into my psyche. Perhaps Andy has been lost for more than a few hours. Perhaps Andy has been missing for days or weeks, months or even years. Perhaps Andy was not her cat but her husband. Maybe she doesn’t do this every night, only those lonely nights when she feels his absence like an amputated limb, when his voice is heard in the rattle of the wind on the window, when his heart beats in the ticking of the old clock on the wall, when she reaches for an empty space on the bed.

– Wiiiiiilly. Willy. Wiiiiiilly.

I pass the bridge quickly, trying to block out the old woman’s voice. I must not must not must not think these thoughts tonight, tonight of all nights. Not while the moon is full and Calvin in love and Andy lost and Willy gone and Dekker on the verge of losing his mind. I stumble along the canal until I reach a bench, midway to the next bridge, collapse on it, my whole body shaking.

Minutes or hours later I open my eyes. Calvin sits in front of me, leveling his ever-inquisitive gaze into my face.

What’s up? We don’t sit on a bench in nighttime.

I look back toward the bridge. The old woman is gone. The streets are empty but the moon is still full. I decide to take a roundabout route back to the house. I don’t want to hear her haunting cries again this night.

Two blocks from home, I see her crouch by a parked car. Her voice is barely a whisper as she coaxes a frightened white kitten into her arms. I’m convinced this is not Andy. This is some stray she found to replace the empty basket in her heart. If not Andy, any cat will do. She disappears around the corner, ghost cat in her arms, two lost spirits in the mist.

 

 

Find David Swatling on the web:

http://davidswatling.wordpress.com/

Playwright, Emmy Winner & Author of the Kyle Callahan Mysteries – Mark McNease

October 25th, 2014

Interview by Jon Michaelsen © 2014

Mark, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.

Let’s start off with, where do you live?

I’ve lived in New York City for the past 21 years. I moved here from L.A. in 1993 after losing a partner and too many friends to AIDS. I needed a big, drastic move. My husband Frank and I have an apartment in Manhattan, and a small house in (very) rural New Jersey.

MurderatPrideLodgeWithout getting too personal, would you share a little about your home life?

After being single for 12 years, I met Frank Murray. We’ve been together 8 years this December and got married on August 22, 2013. We live with three cats when we’re in the City, many more deer when we’re in the country (the cats don’t travel). We travel as much as we can and especially like cruises. But we’re homebodies, too, and socialize with a fairly small group of friends, some who’ve been friends with Frank since his grade school days. I always marvel at that, since the only friends I have from my childhood are on Facebook.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

One of my greatest accomplishments was caring for my partner Jim for the last two years of his life. That was hard. If I have to name a more traditional accomplishment, I’d say starting and maintaining lgbtSr.org, the website I launched almost four years ago for LGBTQ people over 50. It’s an accomplishment because I’ve touched people, had them tell me it meant something to them in some small, isolated community they live in (we’re not all in Philly and NYC), and the many interesting people I’ve met through it. When someone tells me, as they have, “What you’re doing is important,” that’s an accomplishment. The rest, as they say, is gravy.

Have you ever had to deal with homophobia after your novels were released, and if so, what forms has it taken?

I’ve seen this question in your other interviews and I’m glad you asked it, because for me the answer is yes. Specifically, when I did a book giveaway, on Goodreads, and especially the ebook giveaway on Amazon. It came in the form of 1-star “reviews” that should not be considered reviews by any definition. They were “content warnings” that a few readers felt entitled to put on my first book, Murder at Pride Lodge, to warn other unsuspecting readers that there were homosexuals inside those pages. That’s all they said. Shocking! When you give your book away (several thousand people downloaded it) you have no control over who is reading it. It was nice that several other readers came to my defense, and the homophobia was transparent, but it was there. One person warned that there were “graphic homosexual encounters” in the book. I don’t write graphic sex scenes, so I can only assume that to her more than one gay person in a room is a graphic homosexual encounter.

MurderinHeadlights

You won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program for “into the Outdoors”, a Wisconsin show for tweens: Congratulations! What possessed you to want to pen novels?

Fiction was always my first love. I was writing short stories as a young child. I spent about 10 years writing short stories and poetry, then 10 years writing plays. I fell into children’s television because I worked at Sesame Street (Sesame Workshop) for 7 years, the last 3 as the Story Editor for foreign co-productions. A good friend asked me to co-create the kids’ show with him and that’s how the Emmy came about. Once I had that I realized I’d been seeking validation for years, someone to tell me I was good at what I did, and I wanted to just go back to writing for the magic of it, the mystery of the blank page and a fevered imagination. The novels came about because I wanted to write a gay mystery series featuring older characters.

In reading your bio, I understand you’ve been writing for a long time and have numerous short stories under your belt. What was your influence to create Kyle Callahan?

I wanted to write a mystery featuring characters my own age (now 56). My husband and I go to a place called Rainbow Mountain, in the Poconos. I love it there, and one day I said to him, “This would be a great place to set a murder mystery” (lodge, cabins, 26 acres, winding roads, dead bodies), so I did! I told the owner of Rainbow Mountain about it (he was delighted), changed the name, moved it to outer New Hope, PA, and wrote it. As for an influence, I will say without shame or blush that Murder, She Wrote, was an influence. These are not police procedurals. I wanted to write what I think of as “popcorn mysteries,” fun, if diabolical, lighter fare you can read with a bowl of popcorn on the couch. As far from the brooding, dark, literary fiction I’d been writing for 30 years as I could get.

You have extensive experience as a playwright, script writer and author; Why did you decide to self-publish your Kyle Callahan Mysteries?

I’ve always been a DIY guy, always. About 15 years ago I wrote a novel and had one of the best agents in New York shopping it around. She called it literature, which should have been a portent. After failing to sell it, she stopped returning my calls. When I wrote a second novel, which was the first Kyle Callahan Mystery, I had no desire to shop it around and get the inevitable rejection letters, the “almost” notes, the “if you change this, this and that we might be interested” responses. I knew I could publish it myself and if it sold, I’d write another one. If it didn’t, I’d had fun trying. It’s still selling after two years.

I’m also publishing a couple other things, as MadeMark Publishing. My sister, an herbalist and teacher of Traditional Chinese Medicine (as well as a practitioner) and I put out a book recently of her advice on herbs and nutrition, and very soon I’m publishing (having co-edited) a collection of short stories from LGBTQ writers over 50, with a foreword by Patricia Nell Warren. ‘I Am My Own Wife’? Well, I am my own publisher. I believe very strongly each of us should do what we love because in the end we’ll all be in a box or a grave. Why wait? I publish a successful boutique website for older queer people, I do a podcast, and I publish books. And I have an Emmy on the shelf to always remind me that validation is an inside job.

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Have you considered releasing the Kyle Callahan Mysteries in audiobook?

I would absolutely love to, and I think they’d make really fun audio books, but I have no idea how to pursue it, and I have no money to! Any advice would be most welcome. Seriously.

I read somewhere that you would prefer to the Kyle Callahan Mysteries to be “mysteries” vs “gay mysteries”. Can you explain what you meant?

As one reviewer said in response to the 1-star “content warning” person: why do these have to be classified as gay mysteries? We write plays, novels, short stories, poems. It would be nice to live in a world where the qualifiers weren’t necessary—in fiction and in life. Quite a few straight people have liked my books. On the other hand, I’m not stupid. Writing in a niche can do a great deal to get you an audience. If you search “gay mysteries” on Amazon, you’ll find me fairly quickly. I don’t begrudge being in a niche category, I would just like to have the books judged as mysteries, gay or otherwise.

Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?

This is a multiple-answer one: In the next few weeks I’m publishing ‘Outer Voices Inner Lives’, the collection of LGBTQ writers over 50 (your interviewee Michael Craft is one of them) with my co-editor Stephen Dolainski in Los Angeles. Up next (by year’s end, I’m trying) is ‘Death by Pride,’ the final book in the Pride Trilogy with Kyle and the gang (after ‘Murder at Pride Lodge’ and ‘Pride and Perilous.’ And then, for a stretch, I’m planning to write an urban suspense novel that is not gay, about a man who hears his daughter murdered on a Manhattan street while he’s talking to her on her cell phone. Tentatively called ‘Speak to Me’ (his last, pleading words to her after he hears the gunshot), it’s about his ruinous obsession to find the killer or killers of his 17 year old daughter. It destroys his life, from outer appearances, but he has no choice—he has to see this to its end, even if it means the end of him. It’s a chance for me to go very dark and more literary. I’m not sure I’ll succeed in writing it, let alone in getting a significant readership, but I said before that life is short, don’t wait. I just hope I finish what I start.

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On behalf of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook Group, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and answering questions fans of the genre would like to know.

 

Find Mark McNease on the web:

http://markmcnease.com

http://www.lgbtsr.org/

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden: Discussion between Characters

October 18th, 2014

JamieFassendenThursday, October 31st – NH State Police Barracks, Concord, NH

The office door opens and Detective Kyle Dubois stands in the doorway, looking hesitant.

Chief Osborn:  Come in, Detective.  Close the door behind you.

Dubois does as he’s told, then takes the seat in front of the Chief’s desk when the Chief waves him into it.

Chief:  Do you know why I called you in?

Dubois:  Yes, sir.

Chief:  Most of the case was handled professionally, but there’s the matter of, uh… what’s the name…?

Dubois:  Jesse Morales.

Chief:  Yes.  Would you care to explain how a civilian came to be so intricately wrapped up in a murder investigation?

Dubois:  He found the body, sir.  On the summit.

Chief:  So you got a statement from him.

Dubois:  Of course.

Chief:  At which point his involvement in the case should have been over.  Yet you filled out not one, but two ride along forms for him—one of which was filed after he accompanied you on the summit.  Would you care to explain that?

Dubois shifts uncomfortably in his chair.

Dubois:  I didn’t think it would do any harm.  He wasn’t a person of interest, since his whereabouts were accounted for during the entire day, and he wanted to learn about police procedure.  He’s a budding mystery novelist.

Chief:  You know that’s not the way things are generally done.  He should have been submitted to a background check before the form was approved.

Dubois:  He passed the background check.

MurderonMountainChief:  Yes.  After the fact.  And what was all this about him checking into the hotel where your primary suspects were staying?  More or less conducting his own investigation?

Dubois:  (spreads his hands helplessly)  It’s not against the law for him to check into a hotel, no matter who might be staying there.  And we can’t stop him from talking to suspects.

Chief:  Did you explain to him he was interfering with a police investigation?

Dubois:  (sighs)  I tried!  But he’s not dumb.  He never technically interfered.  He never prevented us from talking to the suspects.  He also never revealed anything to them about our investigation, and everything he learned he reported back to us.

The chief frowns and leans back in his seat.

Chief:  Your partner, Detective Roberts, seems to feel Morales endangered himself during all of this.

Dubois:  Yes, sir.  I felt the same.

Chief:  But you couldn’t think of a way to get his ass out of there?  As I understand it, he went back in to attend a party given by the suspects—after he’d checked out of the hotel!

Dubois shrugs helplessly, but appears to have nothing to add.

Chief:  You’re damned lucky things didn’t turn out worse than they did!  (pause)  I gather this Morales is now a friend of yours?

Dubois:  (uncomfortably)  Yes.  I guess so.

The chief leans forward again and regards him for a long moment.

Chief:  I’m not going to tell you who to be friends with on your own time, but I don’t want to hear Morales’s name again—not in connection with police business.  No mention in the reports.  No ride alongs—not even if they’re done correctly. Nothing.  Is that understood?

Dubois:  Yes, sir.

The chief looks as if he wants to add something, but he merely hesitates and then nods his head.

Chief:  All right.  Now get out of here, before I decide I’ve been too lenient.

Dubois:  Yes, sir.

Dubois stands and leaves. On his way out, he passes by Detective Roberts, who’s on his way in.  Dubois gives him a look—something that could perhaps be a warning—and then he turns away.

Purchase Murder on the Mountain:

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mountain-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B00MTB5TS6/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1413669101&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=jamie+fassenden

 

Find Jamie Fassenden on the web:

http://jamiefessenden.com

Author William Maltese interviews Stud Draqual: Interview With A Stud

October 11th, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH A STUD
By WILLIAM MALTESE

Author’s notes:
The most recent “Kanelli People-Recognition Poll” puts “Stud Draqual” in the 98-percental range. Possibly because he’s the heir to a well-known silk-producing empire; heads an ever-expanding fashion house, including men’s and women’s couture; has been listed on the world’s best-dressed men’s list for the past twenty years; has expanded into boutique liquors and wine; is often pictured on society pages, lately in the company of industrial mogul and heiress Roxanne Whyte; has been the object of worldwide media attention for his involvement in two sensational murder cases that resulted in his first-person autobiographical internationally best-selling books — A SLIP TO DIE FOR and THAI DIED.

Stud
I met up with Stud during New York Fashion Week where his couture runway collection had, once again, gleaned rave reviews for House of Draqual. While his penthouse was being remodeled, he was staying in the palatial roof-top condo of Baronness DuVille Falwell-Marget, whose living-room boasts its spectacular 200-degree view of Central Park and the parenthesizing city skyline. The Baroness was on holiday in Corfu.


Stud was decked out in a couture Draqual silk three-piece men’s gray suit and shirt; blue tie; blue-leather Gucci shoes. Evident was his signature emerald-and-diamond pinkie ring.
Throughout the interview, our champagne glasses where kept topped with chilled Falwell-Magret vintage champagne from the Baroness’s French vineyards outside Leon.
Stud appeared poised and cordial.

WILLIAM MALTESE: I imagine you’re quite used to being interviewed by now.

STUD DRAQUAL: You’d be wrong. Most of my press has been the result of reporters out to fulfill their own agendas, no consultation with me whatsoever. If I didn’t personally know your publisher, Jon Michaelson, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to this interview.

WM: You’ve said publically that the reason you wrote your two books was in order to set the records straight.

SD: I still can’t believe all of the false information and ludicrous spins the press put out to make those murders seem far more sensational than they really were.

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WM: Although, you do have to admit, each case had more than its fair share of sensationalism. I mean, male corpses, in the one, turning up in Draqualian-silk women’s lingerie; a Thailand boy/girl, in the other, heading an international crime syndicate.

SD: I did not, however, participate in any three-day orgy with the latter, as reported by one British scandal rag whose name I won’t even bother to mention.

WM: Do you see all that coverage by the media, true and false, to have been a boon to your expanding business empire: All publicity chocked up as good publicity?

SD: At the end of the day, probably yes.

WM: Tell us something about the Draqual silk worms which, unlike others of their kind, secrete silk that’s already colored without any labor-intensive dying.

SD: Purely the sheer luck of my father who stumbled, quite by accident, upon a small colony of hybrids whose anomalies of DNA sequencing has even had Draqual scientists, until recently, unable to produce silk from outside the primary-and-secondary colors spectrum.

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WM: The gray of your silk suit indicating recent progress?

SD: Yes.

WM: Your competitors having tried for years to garner similar results, even without variations.

SD: Our managing to keep a lid on the worms has, indeed, provided us with a definite edge in the business.

WM: How much, roughly, did your expanding empire net this last fiscal year?

SD: Since Draqual Industries is privately owned, I’m not legally required to release financial information, and, therefore, never do.

stud4WM: A net figure, though, somewhere in the millions?

SD: That’s safe to say, yes.

WM: And, while you started out in silk and ladies’ couture lingerie, you have now expanded; not only in those two areas — more than one man and woman wearing Draqual silk couture on red carpets, these days — but you’re, also, now into boutique liquors and wine.

SD: So far: vodka, tequila, and a vintage cabernet sauvignon.

WM: Not to mention the eventual gargantuan result of the predicted hook-up between Draqual Industries and the Whyte Consortium. By the way, congratulations on Roxanne Whyte and your recent announcement as regards her pregnancy with your son.

SD: Empires always have need for heirs. No combining of ours, however, until Roxanne and I are both ready for retirement, our son old enough to take over the reins.

WM: A wedding anywhere on your immediate horizons?

stud5


SD: Not at the moment. Roxanne and I cherish our independence, although I’ll likely have an active part in raising the boy.

WM: There are people, you know, including, by your own admission, your long-time psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Doolittle, who think you disingenuous in the writing of both your best-selling books when you emphasize your sexual liaison with Ms.Whyte while downplaying whatever sexual relationships you may or may not have had with Inspector Don O’Reilly, and with the mercenary Jeff Billing, and with the Thai underworld boy/girl kingpin “Ram”.

SD: Less disingenuousness, on my part, than my simple refusal to pander to prurient interests by providing details that never happened.

WM: You’re still officially insistent, then, that there was no sexual relationship between you and any of those three men? Certainly, not the result of Billing or Ram’s lack of trying. And there was your own admission that you were thinking of sex with Billing while actually having sex with Ms.Whyte. Plus, you did spend one whole voyeuristic night with only Ram and you in witness. Nor have you ever denied having been aware of the physical arousals of these men, in your presence, and, sometimes, even your own sexual arousal, by way of direct reciprocation.

SD: I merely state it as it is. Arousals never really my problem. Acting on them, each and every time, is something else again.

stud6

WM: Your reluctance to confirm homosexual activities, do you think, is still the ongoing result of your previous on-record admission that so many people have always thought you gay, their judgment only reinforced by your exceptional good-looks, and by the fact that homosexuality is so often associated with the fashion industry?

SD: During my associations with O’Reilly, Billing, and Ram, probably, yes. At the present, I’m more inclined to admit that I may, very well, be bisexual. Then, again, there’s that underlying suspicion I may not really be “sexual” at all. I have no problem performing the sex act, even enjoying it, to a certain degree; I mean, an orgasm is an orgasm is a pleasant orgasm. Have I ever been in true rut-mode for any man or woman, though? No. Have I ever concluded that sex, in general is, more often than not, more bother than it’s worth? Yes.

WM: Have you seen O’Reilly or Billing recently?

SD: I’ve seen O’Reilly, on occasion, in passing; after all, he’s still an active member of the New York Police force. And, although I’ve not had any recent reason, like murder, to call upon his professional services, we have ended up in some of the same crowds. As for Billing, there were occasions I tried to locate him, but with no success. Black-ops don’t provide easy avenues for tracking down its membership.

WM: Any possibility of giving either man a second chance?

SD: I’ve never been convinced that O’Reilly was genuinely interested in me — in that way. As for Billing, I suspect that’s all water under the bridge, too. Then again, who knows? I’ve seldom found anyone as good-looking and charming as he is, and I work in an industry filled with good-looking and charming people.

stud7

WM: Any immediate plans for your future? Another book?

SD: Since another book would likely require another murder, I’d just as soon pass on that, if you don’t mind. Frankly, I consider myself having experienced more than enough life-threatening events to last me a life-time.

WM: There are rumors that you plan to launch men’s and women’s fragrances in the very near future?

SD: Stay tuned for a definitive announcement on that within the next six months.

WM: With thanks for this interview.

SD: You’re very welcome.

stud8 
About William Maltese: He first published in the late sixties an article for the men’s magazine “Argosy” that documented his search for Inca treasure in the jungles of South America between his junior and senior years at university. Shortly, thereafter his three-book pulp-fiction “Adonis” detective series was launched. Over two-hundred published books, and at-one-time-29-pseudonyms later, he can boast a whole list of writing in the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, including SLAVESSS MANN HUNTA CONSPIRACY OF RAVENSBEYOND MACHUTHE GOMORRAH CONJURATIONSGOLDSANDSTHE MOONSTONE MURDERSTUSKSSNAKES … and his four-books-to-date SPIES AND LIES series

 

 

Find William Maltese on the web:

http://www.williammaltese.com/

Discrimination and being an Opening Gay Mystery Writer by Mark Zubro

September 27th, 2014

Guest post by Mark Zubro, Lambda Award winning author of Safe and Pawn of Satan

 

Part of this was posted on Huffington Post under the title “A Walk to the Store.” This is a more full treatment of the topic:

One of the questions often asked in interviews with reporters, on panels at mystery conventions, or when I’m making personal appearances, is if I have experienced any discrimination connected with my being an openly gay teacher, while having twenty-three gay mysteries published.

Remember, at the time the books first came out, February 1989, of the people who were writing gay mysteries, a few were out, but most of the people who were writing them used pseudonyms, were actually married to a member of the opposite sex, or were in some other closet.

As so many of us have heard and indeed preached, it is important for us to come out so people know who we are. The decision to use my real name, first, middle, and last names was made in 1988. Remember this was before the Senate even passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was instituted to try and ameliorate an even worse policy. Using all three names was a defiant gesture of being proud and open about the tremendous accomplishment of writing a book and having it published.

There were a few mainstream gay authors using their real names at the time. Armistead Maupin comes to mind. And there were others.

I do wonder about so many who have preached we need to come out. So many in the gay media and in gay organizations preach being open, but what exactly are those now, but especially back then, were they risking? They’ve got jobs in gay media and jobs in gay publishing. For those of us who live in conservative areas with jobs in conservative school districts, the risk back then was real. And remember in more than half the states in this country, it is still legal to fire someone from their job just for being gay. It was legal to do so at the time in Illinois.

At the time the first book was published, the superintendent received two letters complaining about me. One complained about a teacher using gay characters in a book. As if, then, authors were to be limited by profession; as in an electrician could only write books with these type of characters; or a waiter could write books with only this, that, and the other type of character. The other complained about what I might be saying about my private life in the classroom. Basically they meant we don’t like this gay guy teaching our kids. And it could have been a problem. But the superintendent simply wrote them letters reassuring them that there was no problem. So I was lucky that there were only two letters, if luck it was? Or I was lucky that the superintendent wasn’t a homophobic pig, if luck it was? He only told me after the fact when the letters had been received and replied to. He gave me copies and did not discuss the issue.

zubrom-330-Pawn_of_Satan_Final_Front_Cover_for_OK__9_10_2013

I did receive lots of positive feedback from my colleagues. Perhaps the other members of the English department and other members of the staff were happy for me in having an actual real book published by a real New York, big time publisher. Doesn’t every English teacher dream of writing a book and having it published? Or maybe the homophobic pigs just kept their mouths shut?

But in terms of discrimination the students were another possible issue/problem. Although it turns out mostly, they didn’t care that I’d had a book published. It was an adult world of books that was foreign and uninteresting to them. They did want to know if it made me rich, and were, I believe, disappointed when I told them no. Not perhaps as disappointed as I, but still.

They may or may not have been interested in my private life but then, as now, my private life is about the same, pretty dull and boring. At the time I taught, ran the teachers’ Union as president, went home and read books and wrote books. Now as a retired teacher I sit at home and read books and write books. Sometimes I vary the routine, then as now, with naps or eating chocolate. I long ago learned I was good at dull and boring. I believe in going with your strengths. Those are two of mine and I’m sticking with them.

There were, however, problems of discrimination with the kids.

There was one essay from an eighth grader, who wrote in part the following: “I know he’s gay because I know what his books are about. They’re about gay people. I think my dad is right about what should happen to gay people, a bullet hole in the head.” This student was in my class for a full year. I didn’t read the essay with this comment in it until after the school year was over. I found this more sad than anything else.

Then the following occurred and I learned how pervasive the discrimination and danger from some of the students was back then. The following is all true.

I walk to the convenience store down the street every day to get my newspapers and so I can claim I’m getting exercise every day. Yes, even in winter, I just bundle up and then bundle up some more and hope I don’t slip on the ice. Tripped and fell once last year as I got distracted by a beautiful dog who was being taken into the animal grooming place two doors down from the convenience store. Just a klutz, no medical issues.

Once in a blue moon I run into former students. At least they introduce themselves as such, since some of them are now in their twenties, thirties, forties or even early fifties.

One Saturday a woman in her thirties who was chatting with one of the clerks at the store turned to me and asked the usual, “Aren’t you?” and I said the usual, “I’m sorry I don’t remember your name. Please tell me.”

I wouldn’t have recognized her in a thousand years. She told me her name, and she has a husband, kids, and lives in town. So, we chatted less than five minutes, and I walked back home.

That next day, Sunday, she’s there again. She introduces me to the clerks at the store adding that she always liked me as a teacher and said I was always good to her and her friends. That was good. But the conversation quickly lagged, like one of those moments when you kind of don’t want to be talking to this person, or at least can’t think of anything to say, and are starting to feel uncomfortable. I finished the conversation and walked home.

The next Saturday, she was there again. She’d been chatting with the clerk again, but as I turned to go, she followed me out of the store. The weather was nice that day as it has been.

Over the few days of brief conversations, we’d talked about other students who were in the same year with her. I usually remember the kids from a particular year, if at all, as most teachers do, by the most rotten kids in the class. Since she was in her thirties, the people and events we were talking about happened over twenty years ago just after the first books were out.

The most rotten kid that year was Biff. (fake name here)

The woman — I’ve forgotten her name now — and since she was married her name wasn’t the same as when she was a kid, said that her husband had gone to a school in the next district over from mine. Her husband had been best friends with Biff and his cronies.

Then she apologized to me. She told me Biff, but not with her husband — maybe I believed that — came to my parking lot and flipped my car. She said she was so sorry for that, and she always liked me as a teacher.

I told her that no one had ever flipped my car, if she meant as in turned it over on its roof.

She said she’d always wondered if what they’d bragged about had been true. She then listed the other things they’d done.

These were all too true.

SAFE

One time, my car had been picked up and moved about three feet from the perpendicular. I drove a high-mileage, small compact car so it was possible. Two other times the windshield was smashed. Another, nails in tires. A broken window in the apartment. Sand in the gas tank — I got a locking gas cap in all subsequent cars. The list went on.

At the time, I’d called the police for a few of the incidents, but there was nothing to be done. I had no clue as to the identity of the perpetrators.

It didn’t all happen at once — in fact over about a four-year span.

Stupid me. All the little things I dismissed or didn’t pay attention to. I asked once at the place where I went to get replacement tires, wasn’t it odd that I was getting nails in my tires so often. Couldn’t someone be sabotaging them? The clerk at the time said no, they must be nails from construction sites. Much as I might fantasize about studly construction workers, I’d never so much as gotten close to a construction site and certainly have never driven through one.

The woman reiterated that they used to brag about what they’d done to get the fag.

Teenage homophobia. A form of intimidation and bullying.

I never put it all together. The incidents all happened too far apart for me to connect them.

I think on some of those interviews and panels I may have said something like, ‘oh I was pretty lucky, there wasn’t much of a problem with homophobia, only a few letters from parents, and then I’d tell the story about the letter.’ Turns out there was constant homophobia of a violent and dangerous kind, and I missed it.

The woman at the store apologized several times. Repeated that her husband wasn’t involved. Named the names of kids I’d long forgotten who’d helped Biff.

So, yes, the bullying of a teacher, against an openly gay writer. And I was too naive or stupid or arrogant to see it. What a fool.

She was so was so nice and so apologetic.

I ask myself how I couldn’t have put it together? The basic fact is, I didn’t.

The apology happened recently. The events she was apologizing for happened in the early ’90s after my first books came out. I ask myself have things really gotten better for us? I often think they have, but then there are headlines about another gay teen committing suicide. I imagine they are getting better, but then I still see us as the only minority whose rights are put to a vote. I try to remember that in all the years between Dred Scott and Brown vs. Board of Education, African Americans mostly lost court cases.

When you are in the middle of a storm, it always seems a long way until the end. But there are signs of hope for us, some large and global, some small and personal. I think about the president and the ringing phrase in his inaugural address, “From Seneca Falls, to Selma, to Stonewall,” and I have hope. I think about the Illinois senate taking a positive vote for marriage for us on Valentine’s Day, and I believe there is hope for us in this world. I listen to, instead of further scorn and derision, a woman making an apology to an author many years later, and I believe things have gotten better.

 

http://www.markzubro.com/