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.

Perilous-Cover-400

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 6.18.38 AM

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.

stud2

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.

stud3

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/

 

 

New Author, WS Long, discusses the influences behind his recent novel, Love and Murder

September 20th, 2014

Interview by Jon Michaelsen © 2014

WS, 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 live in hot, humid Central Florida where the weather only gets delightful December, January and part of February. I’m minutes away from theme parks and observing the tourists who visit from all corners of the world.

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

I emigrated from the Philippines with my parents as a young child. After the military where I obtained my college degree at night, I went to law school on student loans. I eventually met the man who became my husband at a group counseling center in Orlando for men going through the coming out process. We’ve been together for close to twenty years, having been married recently after exchanging vows in Vancouver, British Columbia, a few years ago.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

Wow, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I’ve achieved it yet. I would say that becoming more aware of myself, that is, realizing my true identity has opened my mind and how I live my life and with whom I choose to live my life. I don’t know if I would call that an accomplishment, but an evolving path to happiness.

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

I haven’t encountered homophobia as it relates to my books. Like Sally Ride in the recent biography that came out, I tend to compartmentalize my private life from professional life except for close friends and trusted co-workers. However, my friends are amused that I have written erotic scenes because I’m perceived as being fairly conservative in my social life (not my political beliefs, obviously). For example, I can’t remember the last gay bar my husband and I visited.

I understand you are a military brat and former military yourself. Has your past military experience worked its way into your writing?

Yes. Some of my personal experiences in the Air Force appear in “Ask and I’ll Tell.” I hopefully conveyed the macho culture, the fraternal closeness and yet the homophobia in “Ask and I’ll Tell.” The story of Pad, Wayne and RJ are loosely based on actual people, myself included. RJ Davis is based on a real lieutenant I knew in the military. Wayne is based on a couple of friends. And Pad, well, he’s obviously an extension of someone I know very much.

There were many men in the military that I knew that had same-sex attraction, but had a hard time dealing with those feelings.

LoveandMurder

How long have you been writing? Do you have a favorite genre for writing?

I’ve been writing fiction for four or five years and I don’t have a favorite genre for writing at all. I think male-male romance can “borrow” from so many genres and that’s a good thing.

I don’t count the times when I worked in the school newspapers, or the years writing for work but if you count those experiences you can say I’ve been writing since high school.

You are a lawyer by day, writer by night, so to speak. Can you share how your vocation influenced your latest release, gay mystery/thriller Love and Murder?

That’s easy. “Love and Murder” is loosely based on a criminal case of mine when I worked as an assistant public defender. The victim was a known prostitute. The case went to trial, but mistried on a DNA issue. Obviously, the story in “Love and Murder” is fictionalized. Frank Peoples has no similarity to the client in the murder case I tried. Jake Chandler is a combination of friends, both straight and gay, going through the coming out process and having issues, post-divorce. Hopefully, the readers of the book feel the despair of a solo practitioner trying to maintain his practice, while juggling family life, because that’s something with which many of my lawyer-friends struggle.

Have you considered releasing Love and Murder as audiobook?

You’re the first to bring that up. (Too bad you couldn’t hear me laugh when I read this question.) That’s an interesting proposal, but I wouldn’t know how to begin that process. (You should absolutely look into Audible.com (ACX=Audiobook Creation eXchange) – an Amazon company for a quick and easy process)).

Have you considered serializing your gay mystery/thriller, Love and Murder?

I have a rough outline for the sequel to “Love and Murder.” So, yes, there’s at least one more book with Jake Chandler in it with the working title, “Love and Pain.”

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

My current work in progress, “The Nephilim,” is a YA book that weaves my belief system including reincarnation, past lives and eternal love. Without going into the plot line or characters too much, it does borrow heavily from Judeo-Christian belief systems about angels, demons, and the product of angels and humans, that is, the Nephilim.

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 WS Long on the web:

https://twitter.com/wslongauthor

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/wslong

https://www.goodreads.com/WSLong

https://www.facebook.com/wslongauthor

 

The Author of the Quarter Boys Mysteries Releases a Stand-alone with DeadFall

September 13th, 2014

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen © 2014

david_lennon

David, 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 live in Newton, MA, seven miles west of Boston. It’s actually a fairly large city, but divided into thirteen villages so it’s more like a bunch of small town centers spread out over a large area. We live in Newtonville, which has historically been more working class. Lots of multi-family homes, retirees, and younger families with kids. Very suburban, but with small yards.

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

My husband Brian and I have been together for about nine years, married for just over four. We live in a small Arts & Crafts bungalow with our dog, Blue (the real-life model for Blue in the last three Michel Doucette-Sassy Jones books). We’re not entirely shut-ins, but we come close sometimes. On warm evenings you can usually find us on the patio—grilling, having cocktails, and cursing the neighborhood kids for being loud.

When I’m working on a book, I’m typically at my desk by 5 AM and write until 9. Then I walk Blue and start my day job as a graphic designer. I’m self-employed and work at home, so if it’s a slow day, I might be able to fit in a little more writing, but that’s rare except on weekends. I’m very regimented about writing. I treat it like another job…that pays roughly a nickel an hour.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

In terms of writing, just the fact that I’ve written seven books and along the way managed to create characters and a series that some people care about. I mean, how many people get to do that? And I’m proud of myself for resisting the temptation to continue beyond the point I felt the series should end.

That said, the biggest writing-related rush was finding out that Echoes was a Lammy finalist. At that point I’d sold just over 400 books, including literally 37 copies of Echoes, so it was really exciting to get that recognition, especially alongside Richard Stevenson, Garry Ryan, and Greg Herren.

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

Not that I’m aware.

quaterboys

The multi-nominated, Lambda Award winning Quarter Boys mystery series is what fans have come to know you for, beginning in early 2010 with the release of the incredible novel, The Quarter Boys. Why did you choose to self-publish your gay mystery series instead of seeking out a publisher?

It wasn’t a choice initially. I wanted to go the traditional publishing route, but didn’t get any interest from agents or publishers, even after Echoes won the Lammy. At that point I decided to just stick with self-publishing. The advantage has been that I control everything and can bring out books quickly. The downside is that I have to handle my own promotion, and I’m pretty clueless and lackadaisical about that part. If Drewey Wayne Gunn and Amos Lassen hadn’t happened across The Quarter Boys, I might never have had a published review. I’ve been very lucky, though, with word-of-mouth publicity.

One can’t help but fall in love with Michel Doucette of the Quarter Boys series; Where did you draw your inspiration for creating such a humble, damaged and broken, “wears his heart on his sleeve” homicide cop?

Thanks, Jon. I wish I could claim that Michel was carefully conceived, but the truth is that he and Sassy were both happy accidents. The writing of The Quarter Boys was like a month-long fever dream. Other than a basic concept and the characters of Joel and Lady Chanel, I made it up as I went along. Michel and Sassy were created on the fly when I decided I needed two secondary cop characters. In the chapter where he first appears, the reader learns that Michel drinks Jack Daniels, is emotionally guarded, and has recently lost his mother. That was just lazy autobiography because I didn’t expect him to play a very large role. It wasn’t until I realized he and Sassy had become the main characters that I went back to figure out how those pieces could be developed. Fortunately there was enough there to work with, and I’ve become a big believer that not all happy accidents are really accidents. Sometimes you just have to trust that your subconscious knows what it’s doing and then figure out how or why something works later.

Echoes

Why did you choose to end the Quarter Boys series with the sixth and final novel, Fierce?

I prefer mystery series where the main characters are affected by what happens and evolve from book to book, like the Henry Rios and Benjamin Justice books. My series was as much about Michel’s and Sassy’s personal journeys as the mysteries, which usually served as catalysts. Essentially, I completed their personal arcs—or at least took them to the places I’d wanted—and wasn’t interested in just having them solve mysteries, despite the fact that I loved writing them. I think the fans of the series got that. I’ve gotten a number of emails that basically said, “I hated to see the series end but understood why you did it, and I feel satisfied by the conclusion.”

There was also a small element of fear. I was afraid that the longer I continued, the greater the chance I was going to screw things up. If I write a crappy book now, it might diminish my own reputation, such as it is, but it won’t diminish the series.

Have you considered releasing your Quarter Boys series in audiobook?

Yes, though I haven’t done anything about it yet. This is one of those areas where being a one-man band can be a handicap. I can only put so much time into the books, and I’d rather focus on writing. I’d also like to bundle the whole series into a single digital volume at some point.DeadFall-WEBcover

Your new mystery, DeadFall, is a bit of a departure from The Quarter Boys series; what influenced you to write it?

It actually started as a joke when I told some old friends that I was going to set my next book “on the mean streets” of our hometown, which is about as far from actual mean streets as you can get, but then I became intrigued by the idea of doing something related to my own past. I didn’t have any ideas for the plot until I came across an article about a coma patient waking after a number of years and started wondering what it would be like if you went into a coma as a teenager and came out of it well into adulthood: How much of the past would you remember? Would you be emotionally adolescent or adult? How would you relate to people from the past?

The story built from there, though it took me about a year to crack how to fit the different elements together and make it a mystery.

It’s definitely a different type of mystery for me, and I’ve gotten a few comments that it even seems to have been written by a different person, though I think it links thematically to some of the series’ books.

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

I’ve been playing around with a black-humored horror mystery set in South Boston in the mid-1970s, during the period when the city’s public schools were being integrated by court order. I really love the concept, and I’ve had fun developing some characters, but I still haven’t committed mentally or emotionally to writing it. I’m not sure it has legs enough to sustain a whole book, and I don’t know that I want to take a detour into speculative fiction. So I guess technically there is no WIP.

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.

Thanks, Jon. I appreciate the opportunity to blather about myself.

Find David Lennon on the web:

www.bluespikepublishing.com

Audiobook Narrator, Actor, Writer, Sound Engineer, Voice-Over Artist, Brad Langer

September 5th, 2014

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen  © 2014

 

Brad, 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 live in Rockland County, which is upstate New York, about 25 miles north of Manhattan.

Artist’s rarely like to toot their own horn, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

I met my life partner many years ago, and then we drifted apart for a long time. Years after we first met, we found each other again, and have been together since. I consider that a major accomplishment and a miracle too. But if that wasn’t enough, I started recording my voice when I was 6 years old on  a portable battery driven 3 inch reel to reel tape recorder, and while the medium for recording has changed, I am still recording my voice today. It’s what I love to do, and I’ve been blessed in being able to do it now for the world to hear.

Boystown

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

I work from my studio which is located in my residence. My partner is an author as well, and most days find us working on two levels of our home, one writing, one recording. And then at night we get to share our days with each other.

What inspires and challenges you most in your work as a narrator of audio books?

I love telling stories, and becoming characters. I have been American, Southern, British and an alien. I have been a detective, a scientist, a traveling businessman, a tween chef, a drakul and God. I never know what the next page and next project will bring and I get to explore new worlds, new adventures and new points of view every day.

How does it feel to be a virgin? Lol…I mean, you are the first narrator of audio books I’ve interviewed. Can you give up a brief overview of your experience and what got you into this line of work? Do you read the novel before narrating?

You make me blush! When I was in high school, I started a radio station by myself. I would record a show at night, and then play it back to the school at lunchtime the next day. And I loved telling stories, loved the idea of talking into a microphone. Later in college, I had one of the most widely listened to radio shows on our small AM station. And for years I have been told that I had a great voice. Finally, several years ago, a voice agent approached me and suggested I try narrating. Needless to say, I fell in love with the idea, and look forward to working every morning.

And while I normally skim a novel before reading, I don’t believe in fully reading before I narrate. I feel that the spontaneity of the moment is best captured as life is, without a crystal ball to know what’s coming next.

How to you prepare for narrating a book? Where do you go to record?

I try to choose only projects that I feel I can add something to with my voice and interpretation, and then I dive into the character, often staying in character for a short time even after I come out of the recording booth! My recording booth is in the ground floor of my home, so work is just mere steps away. A great time saver as traffic and weather are never an issue!

I’ve read all six novels in the Boystown series by Marshall Thornton. I’ve also listened to the first five novels via audiobooks, and I can assure you, listeners get a real treat to have you narrate all the novels in the series. You ARE Detective Nick Nowak as far as I am concerned! What is it like to step into the skin of such a complex character as Nick Nowak?

Again Jon, thank you for the complement, it means so much! I think Marshall has done an amazing job of crafting Nick. I connected with his character right away. One of my passions growing up was reading true crime and watching TV detectives like Mannix and Columbo. I always loved how they put the puzzle pieces together to take the chaos of a crime and assemble it into a logical and ordered solution. The process of looking outside the box and considering what others missed. To me, a good detective is the guy who finds the treasure in the spot that everyone else looked at , but didn’t see. I love that, and the aha moment, the moment went the light bulb goes off, the moment of reveal.

Boystown3

How do you prepare for reading an intimate and/or erotic scene?

Honestly, the same way as I do for any other scene. I am so invested in my character and the world around him that I feel it is best to just let “him” feel the way I would. For my intimate and erotic scenes, my investment is real. What you hear is me “in character” living the scene, experiencing the pain and/or pleasure much the same as the character would. Truth is, sometimes I emerge from the booth drenched in sweat after a particularly demanding scene.

Have you ever experienced bigotry and/or homophobia after an audiobook you’ve narrated is released?

No. I can’t say that I have. Although I can relate to you a true story of contractors who were working on my house one day, and heard part of a murder scene that I was doing and thought it was real and told a mutual acquaintance that they thought I had killed someone and was confessing. They had no idea that I was a narrator/actor and had no idea that what they were hearing wasn’t real. Although I was taken by surprise when I was told the story, I often smile when I think of it as testament to the “life” I am able to give my characters!

Boystown5

Last question; will you share with us a little about your next release in the Boystown series by Marshall Thornton?

Let’s see… without revealing too much, some time has passed, and Nick is no longer a private investigator, deciding to give it up after he killed the Bughouse Slasher. As usual, once he has made his mind up to stay away from the profession, there is nothing that can drag him back into it. As we know, Nick is a very strong minded individual. His only weakness is a loyalty to the past, to the people who were once close. And the only thing that would drag him back to being a P.I. would be a sense of obligation to someone he could not turn down. And when that person turns up with what ought to be a slam-dunk…

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.

Email Brad @ promobrad@aol.com

Find Brad Langer on the web:

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ABrad%20Langer

Bio:

Brad Langer has been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. Brad is president of Absolute Entertainment, a growing entertainment company that services the New York tri-state area. Given his broad range of skills and interests, Brad has been involved in every aspect of the business from acting, writing, sound engineering and audio production, to voice-overs, emceeing, and narrating. Brad’s background includes stints as a radio announcer on AM & FM stations in New York & Florida; puppeteering for Disney, working for Jim Henson on the Muppets movies, television programs, and special events such as Radio City’s Night of 100 Stars. A master of accents and dialects, Brad is currently a book narrator with titles available through Amazon.com, and is also the worldwide voice for

Forever Yours, International.

 

2013 Lambda Literary Award Winner in Gay Mystery, Author Jeffrey Round

August 30th, 2014

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen  © 2014

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

I live in the now-fashionable neighbourhood of Leslieville, in Toronto’s east end. When I moved here, twenty years ago, it was very unfashionable. There were skinheads living at the end of my street and not a flower to be seen.  My then-partner and I were the first to landscape our yard, front and back. By the following year, we seemed to have started a trend. The skinheads moved out and the neighbours began taking a greater interest in the appearance of their properties. Now we have trendy cafés, film studios and even gelato shops.

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

I’m not sure there is very much to share. I lived with a partner and a hound dog for a number of years. Then we split up and my dog died. I was single for the past few years. Unexpectedly, last December, I met someone I am very happy to be with, though we’ve held off on the decision to move in together. He is a gay dad, the father of a 14-year old, just like my character Dan Sharp. It’s a clear case of life imitating art. As for the writing, I work in an upstairs office overlooking my backyard garden. It’s very peaceful. I can hear the crickets and see stars at night. It keeps me sane, otherwise I might not have stayed in the city.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

I’ve been lucky enough to have eight books published. (That is as of this month, in fact. In the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci—my first book of poetry—has just come out from Tightrope Books.) I consider that an accomplishment, though when I measure it against everything I’ve wanted to achieve in life, it seems fairly insignificant. How I’ll feel about it all in another twenty years remains to be seen. I think if I were a father, I would see that as a much more important personal accomplishment.

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

Surprisingly little in any direct sense, which is fortunate. I prefer to fight for what I believe in rather than fight against what I don’t like. My writing is pretty direct in stating how I feel about the world around me. Indirectly, I suppose there are plenty of readers who won’t pick up my books because of the gay slant. There’s nothing I can do about that. I think if they did, they might be surprised to find some intelligent insights on what makes life worth living while being entertained along the way. They could only benefit from it.

P-TownCormorant

I was recently introduced to your Bradford Fairfax Mysteries via first novel, “The P-Town Murders” and Dan Sharp Mysteries via first novel, “Lake on the Mountain”; the former features Private Investigator/Special Agent, Bradford Fairfax, and the latter, Missing Persons Investigator, Dan Sharp; both gay mystery series are polar opposites, including the main characters. Was this intentional on your part? 

I’m glad you got to see both sides of me. I think of Dan as the dark me and Bradford as the light me. Between them, I sort of balance out. Yes, it was entirely intentional once I got going. I didn’t start off writing mysteries at all, but after writing a novel about the Bosnian War (The Honey Locust) and not being able to find a publisher for it for several years, I started to give serious thought as to what might sell. I wrote and polished The P-Town Murders in six months and sold it in less than two weeks. I knew I was on track and quickly penned a sequel, Death in Key West. Seeing how fast I could do this, my former editor asked when I was going to “get serious about mysteries.” I was having so much fun writing the comedies, it took me a while to realize I had the potential to take things in a weightier direction. When I wrote Lake On The Mountain, I didn’t plan on writing a second series. My character, Dan Sharp, had other ideas, as it turns out.

The first Dan Sharp mystery, Lake on the Mountain, won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery in 2013. Congratulations on your Lammy! Did you ever expect such a prestigious award for your love of writing? Did winning the award help introduce Dan Sharp to more readers across the border? 

LakeMountain

Thanks, Jon, and congratulations on your nomination as well. The Lambda win was a much-welcome vote of confidence in my writing, though I’m acutely aware how many books out there don’t get the recognition they deserve, so it was also humbling. As for expectations, there are always hopes and dreams, and we all need those! I did, however, have an argument with my agent over the book. For some reason, she was reluctant to shop it around. (Maybe this is the homophobia you asked about. It is much more blatantly sexual than any of my previous books.) I kept insisting it was my best writing to date. We eventually parted ways over it and I sold it on my own. My editor at Dundurn said he thought it was a book with award-winning potential, and I agreed, so while I was grateful when it was nominated for and eventually won the Lambda, I was not totally surprised. Now the trick is to see whether I can live up to the expectation it has built for subsequent volumes.

LammySeal-actualsize_2013-e1377558848107

As for whether the award influenced sales, I can’t give a definitive answer to that. I was told it was one of Dundurn’s four best-selling ebooks of 2012 before the nomination, so it was already doing well. I remember going around Manhattan the weekend I was there for the Lambda Award ceremonies trying to find copies to sign in bookstores. It was a depressing and dismal attempt. I think I signed two copies in total. Nor could I find a single Lammy nominees table. I think it’s deplorable for a city like New York not to recognize the event. While LGBT-themed books that sell well are somewhat more prominent in bookstores than they once were, it’s the lesser-known books that need the boost.

The Bradford Fairfax mystery novels have been identified as campy, somewhat humorous mysteries, and set in exotic locations such as P’Town, or Provincetown, MA; Key West, FL  and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? Where does your sense of humor come from? Are you as well-traveled as your protagonist?’

Ah, humour! It comes from the gods, I suspect. In high school, I was introduced to the classics: Laughing and Grief. I enjoy both equally. I am inspired by my travels, and can always be found laughing at (or with) something. I’m an ardent observer of human nature and consider myself a social critic. It’s the desire to make things better for the world and, at the same time, having learned to take life’s preposterousness with a grain of salt that ignites my sense of humour.

As for travels, I’ve been to all the places I’ve written about in both mystery series. I am often inspired to write because of the people I meet, the events I witness, as well as just by the sheer daydreaming that happens when I travel. The P-Town Murders was sparked by the realization that I was being spied on from next door by someone with binoculars while I lay naked in a Jacuzzi in my guest-house. As I like to say, I got out of the tub and flashed the guy, then had a flash of my own—that of writing a mystery about a guy being spied on in Provincetown. Bradford, incidentally, is named after one of P-town’s two main thoroughfares.

DeathInKeyWest

Much of what I write about in the mysteries comes close to being true, except for the so-called “main event.” It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say the books are memoirs of my vacations with a little murder thrown in. I certainly share many of Brad’s neuroses and can be just as goofy at times.

I must admit, I’m in love with Missing Persons Investigator, Dan Sharp. He comes across as so serious and professional, yet flawed with a darker, grittier side than Bradford Fairfax. Sharp is an alcoholic and suffers PTSD; I just want to pull him in and hold him tight until the sun comes up! But, I digress. What was your inspiration for penning such an outwardly masculine, yet complex and emotionally challenged protagonist?    

Feel free to hug me. While I’m not much of a drinker (pretty much a complete washout, as far that goes), like Dan, I’ve been unofficially diagnosed with Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I initially scoffed at the idea, thinking it was something only soldiers and people who experienced war first-hand could have, but that is far from the truth. In fact, it’s likely that many in the LGBT community suffer to various degrees from the disorder. The classic triggers include, among other things, fear for our own safety or the safety of someone close to us. With gay bashing, and coming from a generation of gay men who confronted AIDS first-hand, we’ve all got our own horror stories to tell. As I say of Dan, you don’t have to have been to war to live in a warlike state of mind. That’s where Dan comes from. There was a time when I found myself hating the world and being reluctant to get up and go outside and confront life every day. I knew I was miserable, but I didn’t understand why. I considered myself a good, caring person who tried to help others and make the world a better place, but that didn’t make me feel better. I suspect that many LGBT suicides are connected to the disorder. Once I accepted the diagnosis, it made all the difference in terms of dealing with what I was feeling and experiencing. I now consider myself a survivor, and take up the issue front and centre in the next Dan Sharp book, The Jade Butterfly. It’s very much at the heart of what drives Dan.

Do you have plans for another novel in the Bradford Fairfax series?

I’m a very analytical writer. I knew by the time I finished The P-Town Murders there would be at least seven books, and possibly an eighth. As it turns out there will be eight, if I have time to finish them all. There are three out now. Bon Ton Roulez is the fourth, and it’s already complete. It will probably come out some time next year. It takes place in New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina, which is when I first visited that city. The eighth book to be conceived (but fifth in order of writing) is Havana Club. It surprised me, coming out of nowhere a couple years ago after a trip to Cuba where I hooked up with a straight Aussie guy who became a good friend as well as a character. I realized it wasn’t actually in the series, but rather takes place prior to the series, not long after Brad completes his secret agent training. A final book, Toronto the Bad, will complete the series and answer a few questions I’ve purposely left dangling up to now, including who or what is behind the secret organization Brad works for. All the books take place in LGBT-friendly cities (Havana is the exception to the “friendly” rule, though it seems to be slowly warming up), so there will also be future volumes set in Palm Springs and San Francisco.

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

I mentioned the poetry book earlier. It has just come out. It is dedicated to my father, who died recently. I was grateful to the publisher for printing a single early copy in time for me to give it to him. He couldn’t talk much by the end, but I watched him as he held it and thumbed through it with a great deal of emotion. (JM – what an awesome feeling you must have had to share such a labor of love with your father…)

PumpkinEater

Earlier this year, I had two mysteries published, the second Dan Sharp mystery (Pumpkin Eater) and the third Bradford Fairfax mystery (Vanished in Vallarta.) A third Dan Sharp mystery, The Jade Butterfly, is already edited and in the can, as they say. It’s scheduled for a February 2015 publication.

I am currently writing the fourth Dan Sharp book, After the Horses, inspired by a real-life event in Toronto where the owner of a gay country and western bar was murdered. His lover was charged with his murder but not convicted. I’m working on a slightly different take of the story.

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.

Many thanks for the opportunity! It’s inspiring to know such groups are active on-line. I wish you all happy reading and writing.

 

Find Jeffrey Round on the web:

www.jeffreyround.com

and

http://unvailed.com/category/a-writers-half-life/

 

 

 

On The Record with Author of the Russell Quant Mysteries – Anthony Bidulka

August 23rd, 2014

Interview with author Anthony Bidulka

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen  © 2014

 

Anthony, 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 live in the province of Saskatchewan in Canada. I was raised on a grain farm near a little prairie town called Prud’homme, but for the last many decades I’ve made my home in the city of Saskatoon. It’s a little gem few people know about or have been to, only 250,000 people, a little bit of everything you need (and for everything else, well, that’s what airplanes are for), dramatic changes in seasons, safe, friendly.

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

AnthonyBidulka

Sure. For the past twenty years or so, my husband, Herb, and I have lived in a wonderful house we built on twelve acres just outside the city limits of Saskatoon. It’s a big house for two guys and two dogs (labradoodles Kona and Magic), but we use every inch of it. We each have busy lives and careers, so we treat our home as our refuge, a place where we can relax, luxuriate, hang out with the dogs and spend quality time together. But we also use it for entertaining –  family get-togethers, pool parties in the summer, fundraisers for causes we support, and we throw a heckuva Christmas party for anywhere between 100-200 people that brings together people from every walk of life and from the age of 8 to 88. (One of my ‘things’ is decorating theme Christmas trees, I do seven every year.) The house is also a great place to hang our art collection, another passion. We’re big travelers, but whenever a trip is over, we’re always just as happy to come home to our life on the prairies.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment is finding a wonderful husband to spend my life with. From a professional perspective though, it was deciding to take a leap of faith and leaving my long-term, traditional career as a chartered accountant to pursue my long-term passion  for writing…and it worked out!

You’ve probably answered this question a hundred times, but please indulge as our readers and fellow writers would like to know; Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?

Remember the thing about being an accountant? I am by no means a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kinda guy when it comes to writing. From the beginning I saw this as a serious career that I wanted to make a go of. So I approach each manuscript, each story, as any other entrepreneur would when starting a new business. I plan, I research, I create the best environment I can in which to carry out my task and be successful, then I put my head down and work.

I am a draft writer. It might take me two or three or thirteen drafts of a piece of writing before I feel satisfied with it (never entirely, but as close as I can get without overworking it). My goal is to present my editor with the best product I can create given my skill sets and the benefit of whatever experience I have up to that date (which of course is different..and hopefully greater…with each book).

Writing fiction can be a very fluid and spontaneous thing or very structured. For me I like to combine both. I first create a strong framework (outlines, drafts) upon which to build. I know my starting point, ending point, and key points in between. But everything else happens on the spot, allowing me the freedom to be creative and free. Sometimes it’s this unplanned stuff that is the richest material, but without a firm supporting structure, it would be useless.

Aloha

Have you ever had to deal with homophobia and/or bigotry because of publishing books with MC’s who are gay? In what form(s)?

Not that I have ever been aware of. I’m sure somewhere along the line certain readers have chosen not to read a Russell Quant book because he is gay. Some may do so from what might be described as a homophobic point of view, others may do so because they simply believe – right or wrong – that they wouldn’t enjoy reading a book with a gay main character in the same way other readers would decide they don’t want to read a mystery with a main character who is a dog or a librarian.

I see writing about gay characters as an opportunity rather than a challenge. An opportunity to distinguish myself as a mystery writer amongst a massive pool of other mystery writers, an opportunity to present gay characters to readers who might not normally find them in their typical reading choices.

The first novel in your highly popular, award-winning Russell Quant mystery series is “Amuse Bouch”, released in 2005. The series now totals eight novels, yet has enjoyed resurgence with a new legion of fans, especially with the release of the novels in Kindle/e-book & Audio book. Did you ever imagine how popular your gay private detective would become?

The first thing I wrote was a dark, dystopian thriller. I thought this was the book that would start my career. But it was the second thing I wrote, the manuscript for Amuse Bouche, which immediately got attention from publishers. That’s when I knew I had something important here. Maybe I knew it all along because I wrote Amuse Bouche with the full intention of it being a series, not a one-book-thing. I had plans for all these characters that needed to be told over a number of books. I hoped we’d get three, maybe five books. For the series to have run to eight books (so far…I never say never), is a thrill for me.

AmuseBouche

Your novels often feature scenery from world-wide locales, including New York, France, exotic ports in the Mediterranean and Hawaii to name a few. Are your travels as varied as Russell Quants?   

Yes. Except for one locale (can you guess which one?), I have traveled to all the same places Russell Quant has. Even the cruise he’s on in Tapas on the Ramblas was loosely based on an itinerary for a cruise I’d taken a few years earlier. Writing this series has been a joy for many reasons, one being the opportunity to marry two things I love to do: write and travel.

Most recently we visited Ireland for the first time, coming up we’ll be strolling the canals in Venice, sun bathing in Turks & Caicos, hosting houseguests in the hills outside of St. Tropez, and we’ve just finalized a trip to Japan that had to be postponed because of the tsunami. We like to mix it up between new places, old familiar haunts, relaxation trips, new adventure trips, traveling with friends, traveling alone. The world is too cool to ignore.

Your most recent release, the start of what I understand is a planned new suspense/thriller series featuring Canadian Disaster Recovery Agent, Adam Saint, is a 180 from the Russell Quant mystery series – for starters, Agent Saint is straight. What influenced you to branch out into mainstream fiction?

I like change. In my life I’ve had careers everywhere from being a bartender, a school teacher, a shoe salesman, an accountant and a writer. Every so often I get the itch. Fortunately the itch wasn’t to change careers entirely and become a mountain climber or lawyer, but I did want to stretch my artistic muscles and try something new. I had a lot of push back from some readers about writing a non-Russell Quant book. I realized that they’d grown to love him as a dear friend, and who wants a friend replaced? I knew I had to approach this from another perspective. Instead of replacing our friend, I was simply introducing a new one to the fold. The key was going to be creating a new character who was very different from Russell.

As far as Adam Saint being straight. That’s just the way he turned out. Like life, right? And really, going back to one of your earlier questions, just as I expect straight readers to accept a gay detective and give the Quant books a try, I also expect gay readers to accept a straight main character and give Adam Saint a try. In the end, all readers read for different reasons, which I respect. If a reader is only reading because of the sexuality of the main character, rather than the story, quality of writing, or type of genre, there is nothing I can do to influence their choice. I write the books I write. Hopefully you like my style, or humor, or storytelling ability, or whatever. If not, that’s okay too.

What can Russell Quant fans expect from you in the future?      

I can tell you this: I never say never. So if you were to ask if the Russell Quant series is over, that would be my response. Should there never be another Russell Quant book, I feel I left him in a very good place at the end of the 8th book, Dos Equis. But that book could also be a great starting point for an interesting turn in his life both professionally and personally.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, this series continues to attract attention of filmmakers who believe the subject would translate well to TV or film, so that is always another possibility for Russell Quant’s future. That’s a great about the future, you never know what wonderful things are yet to come. 

Women of Skwawa Island cover mock up

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

I’m currently in the final editing phase and working on cover design and all that other fun new-book stuff for the second Adam Saint novel, The Women of Skawa Island, which will be released November 2014. And, true to my aforementioned love of change, I’m also trying my hand at a new standalone novel that I’m excited about. It’s something very new for me in terms of style and content, and if I were to compare it to something out there today, it’s along the lines of Gone Girl. Who knows if anything will come of it, but I’m enjoying the challenge of it and the ‘stretch’.

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.

It’s been my great pleasure! Any time! Thanks for your interest.

 

Find Anthony Bidulka on the web: www.anthonybidulka.com and check him out for daily bits and pieces about travel, writing, art, parties, or just hanging out with hubby and dogs at Facebook and Twitter (@abidulka)

 

Michael Craft Shares What He’s Been up to Since penning the Mark Manning Series

August 16th, 2014

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen  © 2014

 

Michael, 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?

Business1I live in Rancho Mirage, California, which is near Palm Springs. Prior to that, I lived for many years in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and prior to that, the Chicago area, where I grew up. I made my permanent move to California nine years ago.

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

While home life isn’t generally very newsy, I’m delighted to report that I’m now happily married—because at last it’s legal. My husband, Leon, and I made it official last November. We chose the date, a Tuesday, because it marked what “would have been” our 31st anniversary.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

Having struggled 12 years to find a publisher for my first novel, Rehearsing, I found that accomplishment rather heady back in 1993. Then, having had the good fortune to publish another dozen novels in the 20 years since, that seems like a collective accomplishment worthy of mention as well. Honestly, though, simply being able to self-identify as an “author” or a “novelist”—that still thrills me.

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

Never. I don’t know whether to attribute this to dumb luck or to changing social mores, but I have never, at least to my knowledge, been the victim of homophobia. This may seem especially surprising, given that I emerged as a gay writer during the years when I lived in Wisconsin. But the Midwest is not nearly so provincial as many people tend to think.

LammySeal-actualsize_2013-e1377558848107

The three-time Lambda Award nominated Mark Manning mystery series is what fans have come to know you for, starting in 1997 with the release of Flight Dreams. Last year, to the excitement of many fans, the first five novels in the series were released in e-book format. Are you surprised by the series’ endurance after all these years?  

Sure, I’m surprised—and pleasantly, of course. It’s not only gratifying to know that the series “has legs,” but it’s also, for lack of a better word, validating. Writing, by its nature, is such a solitary pursuit, and writers (if I may stereotype) tend to be an insecure breed, having endured a lot of rejection before joining the ranks of the published. There’s always that nagging fear in the background that you just don’t have what it takes, that the story just isn’t good enough. So it’s wonderful and heartening to see the early work finding a new audience—or being discovered again by its original audience.

Can you share why you chose to end the Mark Manning series with the release of the seventh and final novel, Bitch Slap?

I had actually intended to end the series with the sixth installment, Hot Spot, but my publisher wanted more, and I complied. Looking back, I must have felt that this gave me the freedom to be more experimental with the seventh, and in fact Bitch Slap breaks a lot of the conventional mystery rules. To this day, I feel it’s the strongest book in the series and the best written of the bunch. Unfortunately, the title, which was my own bright invention, may have held the book back, and the cover, which was the publisher’s doing, simply fell flat.

Aside from those marketing considerations, I truly felt it was time to end the series because its “bigger story” had been told and was finished. Each installment dealt with a self-contained mystery plot (the whodunit, which I sometimes call the surface plot or the action plot), but the series as a whole also has an overarching “soul plot” that traces Manning’s coming out and evolution as a gay man—his evolution as a person, really. I left him exactly where I wanted him to be.

FlightDreamsIt’s been about ten years since the release of your last Manning novel. What has kept you so busy all these years?

Good question! And I’m not sure I have a satisfactory answer. The last ten years have been a period of transition and reevaluation for me. I moved from Wisconsin to California. I left my fifties and entered my sixties. I ended my corporate years and began retirement. I went back to school, earned an MFA in creative writing, and have tried to hone my craft and bring it to the next level. I have experimented with both playwriting and screenwriting—including a two-year involvement with an independent film project—and then concluded that script writing is simply not my medium. This has been a valuable lesson that has brought my focus back to fiction. Having scratched those other itches, I now feel securely back on track.

Most important, I don’t feel that the past ten years have been in any sense wasted time, spinning my wheels. Rather, it was a necessary period of self-reflection and redirection that I would hope to characterize not as hibernation, but as growth.

Have you ever considered penning another gay mystery series or revisiting Mark Manning?

The book is closed, so to speak, on Mark Manning; as I mentioned above, I have left him where I want him to be. As for another gay mystery series, that’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I have no current plans to move in that direction. My most recent novel, The MacGuffin, is a stand-alone mystery, not intended as the basis for a series—not gay-centric either. I did invest a bit of work on a possible sequel to that one, but it just wasn’t working. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten really excited about exploring a slightly different direction. (More on this below.)

mcgruff

The MacGuffin is such a departure from your previous mystery series (Mark Manning and Claire Gray). Can you share a little about your influence to move mainstream with your most recent mystery novel?

Although there is a gay presence in The MacGuffin, neither the protagonist nor the narrative viewpoint is gay. Your word “mainstream” is a fair characterization. And while I have always self-identified as a gay writer, I sometimes add the caveat that I’m “a writer who happens to be gay.” In other words, I don’t feel duty-bound to write exclusively to a gay audience or to write exclusively about gay issues or interests. This springs naturally from my philosophical stance that the ultimate victory in the fight for gay rights is assimilation, not ghettoization. It’s a big world out there. We are part of it, and it is part of us.

It used to be that if you walked into a bookstore looking for gay-themed material, it was all shelved together (if they had it at all), away from its mainstream counterparts, as if reserved for a rarefied niche—which perhaps it was. Now, though, if you can find a bookstore, you can probably find gay authors mingled with authors of unspecified sexuality, as if it doesn’t matter—just as it should be.

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

I’d love to. Over the last couple of years, I’ve “discovered” the short story, a venerable old medium to which I had previously paid little attention, either as a writer or as a reader. I’ve also become fascinated by an emerging hybrid medium that is variously referred to as “linked short stories” or “a novel in stories.” In such a collection, the individual stories serve a function similar to chapters, except that each story can stand alone, whereas the chapters of a novel cannot. Taken as a whole, however, the collected stories tell a larger story, much like a novel.

MCraft crop

And that’s my current project. I’m at work on such a collection, which will consist of about a dozen stories. There is a linking character who appears in every story, in roles ranging from central to peripheral. On the cusp of his 60th birthday, he is drawn out of the closet—so, yes, I’m wearing my gay-writer hat for this one. Many, but not all, of the stories are narrated through a gay lens.

I find this exciting because the collection allows me to utilize an array of viewpoint characters and narrative choices (third person vs. first; past tense vs. present), and it also allows me to tell the overarching story with a nonlinear timeline. Perhaps the biggest change for me, in terms of technique, is that I am writing largely without an outline, allowing the collection to grow organically as I write it. This has been enormously liberating. What’s more, these stories tend to be more character-driven than my mysteries, which are inherently plot-driven.

I’m hoping to complete the book-length draft by the end of this year. With any luck, it could be published next year. No working title yet. So stay tuned.

BitchSlap

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.

And thank you, Jon, for the opportunity to share all these ramblings with your readers.

 

Find Michael Craft on the web: www.michaelcraft.com