(Interview with Jon Michaelsen)
Reprinted with permission; copywright Dark Diva Reviews; Sept 2008 http://darkdivareviews.blogspot.com/
Hi Jon, welcome to the Divas! When did you start writing M/M fiction and which authors – M/M specifically – appealed to you the most when you started writing your stories?
I have been writing stories as long as I can recall. I began writing M/M fiction sometime in my late teens and wrote my first novel at seventeen. Authors that appealed to me at this age were Patricia Nell Warren and James Kirkwood. In my early twenties, I discovered the writings of Michael Nava, Felice Picano, Armistead Maupin and Andrew Holleran.
2. I am intrigued that you describe yourself as an author whose characters ‘just happen to be gay’. Do you see a difference between this and books that state themselves as M/M fiction?Yes and no. I guess my answer depends on the targeted audience, material or which author. Some of my favorite novels do not contain a single gay character (or perhaps they get the obligatory cameo role), yet I find that I read many stories as if the protagonist is “gay” – so what if he/she has a love interest of the opposite sex! Why limit ourselves, I ask? I’ve been gay as long as I can remember, but it took years of personal growth before I began to speak so candidly about it. I don’t think my sexuality defines who I am – so why should it define my characters?
3. You mention one of my favorite authors Felice Picano as being an influence. I only recently discovered him and was over the moon about a short story of his, The Married Man that I read in an anthology called New York Sex. I could talk to you about him all day but what is it about his work that you particularly admire?
OMG! I discovered Felice Picano about two years ago. He released Like People in History, to date my favorite novel of his. I couldn’t believe that I never came across his titles before. Perhaps because most mainstream bookstores at the time didn’t carry gay-themed titles as much as they do currently, albeit a very limited selection. I searched online and ordered four more titles of his work right away: The Lure, The Book of Lies and Onyx. What intrigues me most about Picano’s writing is his uncanny gift of absorbing the reader into his characters’ lives. You don’t ever want his stories to end! I’m also intrigued by his versatility in his writing; he doesn’t stick with one genre.
4. I must mention something here about your personal life. I know you have been with your lifelong partner for 22 years. Congratulations! How do you sustain a relationship that long in this crazy world?
(Laughs) I’m always amazed when people – even close friends – seem shocked at the number of years I have been with my partner. We got together during the mid-80s and the rage of AIDS was not yet realized by our community, and indeed the world. I’d like to say we met at the right time, the right place, but our introduction was far less dramatic. Sustain, you ask? I think any relationship takes hard work. Our partnership is no different than a marriage between a man and a woman, with exception of obvious legal exclusions.
5. What are the three things you love most about him? Quick…first things off the top of your head…
His loyalty, honesty and enduring love.
6. What is your life like in Atlanta and have you found it to be gay friendly? Do you have a writerly ritual, like a fave coffee shop hangout?
Atlanta is very gay friendly! At least, within the city limits and some of the immediate suburbs. Once you get outside the city, outside the interstate perimeter I-285 (locals called it “OTP” or outside the perimeter), acceptance and tolerance lessens the further away from town one drives, but the boundaries of acceptance keep expanding each year.
My favorite haunt to pound out a few words in my laptop while enjoying a great cup of joe, friendly staff and excellent music is Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse http://www.outwritebooks.com/ which is in the heart of Midtown, the gay mecca of Atlanta. In fact, I wrote scenes from my current e-book, Voyeur, while seated at a favorite table near to the window and glancing out at the tall buildings of Midtown. Outwrite is located at the corners of Tenth and Piedmont, a popular spot that manages to find its way into the pages of several of my stories, including my current work-in-progress; a murder/suspense novel releasing sometime early next year.
7. Have you considered getting married in California and can I come to the wedding??
No and Yes! We’ll wait for marriage to become legal in Georgia before going that route. When that happens – or we move to a state that legalizes marriage between same-sex couples, absolutely!
8. I promise not to embarrass you or spit at anybody, unless they ask me to, of course…Okay Jon, dish. You say you have three monstrous terriers. What are their names and how bad are they, really?
Have you ever owned a terrier?
AJ says: I have a golden retriever. In her puppy days when she chewed everything and tried to kill the cats, I threatened to turn her into a throw rug. The dog understood and has been a Stepford Dog ever since…but do go on…
LOL. Well, we have terrors, er terriers (!), but we love them dearly. You can’t threaten them; they’re up for the challenge! Each is unique in personality and smart as a whip. Their names in order of age are Gracie, Monte and Morgan and they are the of the same breed, Lakeland Terrier. I’m exaggerating some, but any terrier owner will tell you to keep an eye peeled in their direction at all times as they get bored and get into trouble at the drop of a dime.
9. If you were a Disney character, which one would you be, and why?
Hands down, Nemo! I love the ocean and plan to retire hear the water one day. My family lives in Florida. I would love to travel the currents and see the “underworld” like Nemo.
10. Do you read a lot? What books do you enjoy the most?
I read all the time. When I’m not writing or editing my own work, I’m reading and/or reviewing another author’s writing as part of an online writing workshop I’m involved in. I usually read two or three novels simultaneously; one sits in my car, one bedside my bed and another near where I happen to relax for the evening in the house. I love to read! In order to keep the story lines from merging, I’ll try to read different genres. For instance, currently I’m reading Rick R Reed’s psychotic serial killer thriller, IM.
AJ Says: Hold it right there. He is my new favorite author. He scares the pants off me! I loved IM!
Wow, what a thriller! Have you seen the cover of his new release set for October 2008, Dead End Street? OMG! The cover of the novel sends shivers up my spine! I can’t wait to read it. I’m also reading The Mistress and the Mouse by J.J. Giles, an erotic soap-opera that would make hardcore Dallas and Dynasty blush! The third book I’m re-reading at the moment (yes, re-reading since I read all stories prior to publication during creation) is the all male, erotic romance anthology titled, Men, from Loveyoudivine, which includes my story, Voyeur.
11. I have asked other M/M authors this and it continues to enthrall and baffle me. Why do you think so many women have become increasingly drawn to M/M fiction over the last couple of years?
I honestly do not know. No one was more shocked than me to learn that most of the people buying my e-book, Voyeur, are women. That holds true for the recently released print anthology, Men.
12. Can you personally tell if a woman (passing as a man) is writing M/M fic and what is the difference in your mind?
A difficult question to answer. I believe it can depend on the author, perhaps their experience to some degree. There is some m/m fiction where I can peg the difference on the spot, similar to if I tried writing m/f fiction – I don’t have the experience or knowledge in some areas of m/f couplings that would lend credibility to the story. I feel the same holds true in some m/m fiction written by women sometimes. But, I’m often proven wrong. Take Anastasia Rabiyah, for instance. She’s a wonderfully gifted writer who recently released, The Blindfold, another story in the Men anthology. If I’d read the story without knowing the author was a woman, I’d swear a gay guy penned it! Just goes to show, can’t judge the greatness of a novel by the gender of the author alone.
11. What are you working on now and please describe your writing process.
I’m in the editing stages of a murder/suspense novel that should go to my publisher by the end of the year centered on a closeted gay-homicide detective in Atlanta, Georgia; the first in a series. I have at least three novellas in the hopper that I hope to submit before the end of the year, and a selection to be included in Men II, which is set for release in early 2009.
My writing process? Scattered! I work on the story that I’m in the mood for at the moment, what ever jumps forward. I can move back and forth, work on a short-story or my novel based on where my muse takes me. I carry a micro-cassette recorder (remember those?) with me in the car at all times. I’m usually recording scenes, dialog or story ideas while tooling down the highway.
12. I was fascinated to see that on your website, you described Michael Crichton as a literary influence. Is this where you get your ‘twisty’ inspiration for your books?
Some, yes. Others include Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, M. Night Shamalyan, John Grisham and David Baldacci – and a recent discovery, Max Griffin.
13. I just ran your name through the Vampire Name Generator. It’s pretty cool, actually. This is what came out: The Great Archives determine you to have gone by the identity:
Emperor of Scandanavia
Known in some parts of the world as: Father of The Steely Moon
The Great Archives Record: A child of the Moon Goddess – Cold, determined, but of the light in the night.Wow, you’ve put me on the spot! How about, that I can move among the living even during daylight hours, a rarity of my heritage borne centuries ago.
Now imagine that you, Steely Moon, have just landed with a thud in Atlanta. Georgia in the gay ‘hood. What one special, unusual vampire trait do you have?
14. Cool Answer…Now, forgetting you’re not single just for a moment, if you could conjure up any outfit and any man in the world you, Steely Moon, wanted for a hot night on the town, what you wear and who would your date be? And how long would it take for you to put out?
Hands down, my date would be Christian Bale. We’d dine at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead in formal tuxedos, before heading out for the evening later in black jeans, dark boots and t-shirts. To “put out”? Depends on when he’s called into action in his bat suit.
15. Oh you have a great sense of humor. I love it!! So, what is next after Men II?
My goal? Lots and lots of writing! Men was just released this month, and before I know it, Men II will be here. I need to finish editing my murder/suspense novel, Pretty Boy Dead, and start on the second book in the series, as well as other projects throughout next year. Also, I have an idea for a ghost story.
16. One final question while I still have you under the harsh spotlight of the interrogator’s death beam…am I the sexiest guy to ever interview you?
Well, of course!!
On behalf of Dark Diva Reviews, I would like to thank Jon Michaelsen for stopping by today…and for being such good fun!!!
Find out more about him at:
Order my current e-book
Order Men from loveyoudivine
order MEN from Amazon.com