My sit down with the wonderfully gifted “Dick Hardesty” creator – Author Dorien Grey

This week, I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite mystery writers; the terrific author of the incredible “Dick Hardesty” and “Elliott Smith and John” mysteries; Dorien Grey.

Dorien, where do you live?

I live in Chicago, to which I returned after a 40-or-so-year absence, and now live on the same street and within five blocks of the apartment I moved into straight from college. Eerie to walk down the same streets, past the same buildings I was so familiar with so very long ago.

Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

Well, I assume the question was somewhat satirical, since I not only toot my own horn and often and loudly as possible, but have a full symphony orchestra of which I am the only member. It’s seriously difficult, though, to pick out one thing as my “greatest accomplishment” other than managing to live as long as I have. My life is my greatest accomplishment, I think.

NinthManWithout getting too personal, can you share a little about your home life?

I live alone, alas, with my black cat, Sheba (pathos, anyone?). I spend about 10 hours a day on the computer, too much of it spent directing my little symphony orchestra to convince people to read my books. I am grateful to my best friend, Gary, who lives in the next building to mine, without whom I might get out far less than I do, to plays and concerts and museums and coffee and…the usual big city stuff.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing? 

My ever-active mind, which is like an industrial-strength popcorn popper churning out an endless flow of thoughts and ideas which I then enter into the computer in various ways. I will not be here forever, so I am almost obsessed with preserving in some form as much of my life and myself as I can. Words are my posterity.

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?

I’ve always felt that, while detailed plotting works for some writers, plotting in advance, other than the sketchiest of ideas where I want to go, would be like wearing concrete boots. I sit down at the computer and turn my mind on, then just sit at the computer and watch what my fingers have typed. (Okay, it’s not quite that easy, but I often surprise myself by what appears there.)

ThegoodcopThe classic example of this, which I’ve quoted often, happens in “The Good Cop,” book #3 of the Dick Hardesty series. I have Dick walk into a bar to pick up a local gay paper and…with absolutely no planning on my part…he meets Jonathan Quinlan, who turns into the love of his life and with whom he has shared every book since. I’m still both amazed and delighted to tell this story.

How do you deal with the constant distractions such as blogs, FB, promo and real life (like that dreaded daytime job)? 

I’m fortunate enough not to have a daytime job, and it often seems my life is one long series of distraction. Like trying to run between the raindrops, I just do the best I can. I do admit, lately, to have been very negligent on working on my current WIP, but I’ve decided not to let myself get too upset by it. I’ll know when it’s time.

You currently have two gay mystery/suspense series known to fans as the “Dick Hardesty” and “Elliott Smith” mysteries, with the Hardesty mysteries at fourteen books now! How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters? 

One of the nice things about a series is that I–and the reader–get to know each of the recurring characters as real people, and just as real people change and evolve over time, so do the characters in a series. Of all my characters, I think Jonathan has evolved the most, from an awkward young kid who Dick tended at times to treat as a surrogate son to a full partner in the relationship. The addition of Joshua, Jonathan’s young nephew, to the series had solidified many of both Dick and Jonathan’s traits.

Well, I’m waiting for The Serpent’s Tongue…Dick Hardesty #15…to be released

As am I, Jon…as am I. I have never had a shred of patience, and while one might think patience would come with age, one would, in my case, be wrong.

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

I can honestly say I have never encountered any overt homophobia surrounding my books. I’m sure there must be someone out there who has it, but I’m nCaesar's Fall audiobook cover.audioot aware of it, thank God . I do not suffer bigots gracefully.

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

One of the reasons I have been neglecting work on Cameron’s Eye, book #5 of the Elliott Smith paranormal mysteries is that I have been concentrating on having all my books done as audiobooks. I’ve become intrigued with audiobooks and their ability to reach out to markets regular print and e-books cannot; specifically to the blind and dyslexic, as well to those who enjoy listening to novels while traveling to and from work or longer distances. I’m going to start beating the drums for giving audiobooks (as well as all other forms of books) as holiday presents; they’re the perfect gift and you don’t have to go any further than your computer to shop for them.

On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.

And I am really grateful to you and your readers for allowing me this opportunity for my “orchestra” to play a few selections.

A World Ago (USE)

Find Dorien Grey on the web:

My website is and anyone interested can read the first chapter of any or all of my books there. I also have a blog site:, and invite anyone on FB with whom I am not already friends to join me there.

Responding to requests that I participate in the Weekly Saturday Author Interviews

After interviewing ten authors thus far for the Weekly Saturday Author Interview series, I’ve had several requests to participate as well – so, at the risk of appearing self-serving, this week I answer the standard questions (with some modifications) asked of previous interviewees. Hope you enjoy!

Where do you live?

I live in the beautiful city of Atlanta, Georgia, in a suburb about two miles north of infamous Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza.

photo1What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

This may sound cliché or corny depending on your frame of reference but first and foremost what I am most proud of is being in a relationship – albeit not yet allowed legally to wed in my state – for 29 years. That’s ancient in gay years for sure. I met my partner, Rick, while in a bar in Midtown Atlanta, the Armory, when I was quite drunk and made a lewd gesture (I grabbed his crotch) to him. A bartender I knew had actually asked Rick to take me home to keep me safe. He tucked me in his bed and slept on the soda. We’ve been together ever since.

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

Well, I shared some about how I met my partner above, but to expand a little more, We bought our first home in nine years after being a couple, realizing we’d be together for the long haul. We anticipated being in our home for a few years before making another move. We’ve yet to move from our original home.  We have four monstrous terriers; one boy and three girls, of which two are mother and daughter.  In 2009 during the worst of the economy, I was laid off from a company I’d been with almost 20 years. We took a very big leap at that time and I began working with my partner to increase our business. We’ve managed not to kill each other.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing?

My inspirations are varied, but I love to watch people in public. My previous corporate career required lots of traveling and I would often spend time much in airports awaiting connections, weathering cancelled flights while watching people, imagining their lives. Most interesting ones have become characters in my stories, so watch out! Challenges; they are too numerous to list, but some I mention may be familiar to many writers. I am very introverted. Writing is one thing, but putting myself out there to market and promote is far more challenging for me. One of the reasons I attended GRL this year was to meet and mingle with other writers and readers in a very open, comfortable environment.

2013-10-19 14.47.50 2013 GayRomLit, Atlanta GA

You’ve answered this question a lot of times, but please indulge our readers (and fellow writers): Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?

I am a total puntster on short stories and novellas, but for longer works, I tend to sketch a minimal outline, create bios of main characters and build upon that as I go. Rarely do I outline detail until I’ve reached about fifty to seventy five percent mark of a longer story.

SwitchHitter_cvr-FINAL You are a relatively new author, writing mainly in the gay mystery, suspense/thriller and erotica genres. How about an update?   

My goal is to spending more time writing in the gay mystery, suspense/thriller genre and finishing one of my current WIP, a paranormal romantic novella with strong mystery/thriller elements. This is my first paranormal-themed story, and the amount of research into the subject matter has been extensive to ensure I get things. I am also working to finish the sequel and final part to False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1, which I hope to have out sometime in 2014. False Evidence was released last spring, but just six weeks after release my publisher closed the doors. I spent a few weeks researching to find another publisher willing to re-release my backlist as soon as possible. The publisher who offered contracts to re-release the erotic thriller I co-wrote with Alex Morgan, Switch Hitter, is Wilde City Press. I’ve also signed a contract to re-release False Evidence with WCP, but waiting to re-release until I’ve finished the sequel. We feel it’s best to combine both False Evidence and the sequel under the title Murder Most Deadly. Wilde City Press just released my debut full-length novel, Pretty Boy Dead, a police-procedural, mystery/thriller featuring closeted homicide detective, Kendall Parker, the first in what I hope is a long series.

False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1
False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Absolutely! Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Ice-Cream, neuromuscular massages and Tia Maria on the rocks.

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

Actually, no, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering I only began publishing since late 2008. Acceptance these days is far greater to most writers, if not all, of the gay mystery, suspense/thriller genre, I clamored to read twenty-thirty years ago the moment each of their novels was released. Ground-breaking novelist such as Victor J. Banis, Vincent Largo, Felice Picano, Michael Nava, Joseph Hansen, Richard Stevenson, Michael Craft, Mark Richard Zubro, among many more.

At the risk of “sounding self-serving” (a comment from Spock in Star Trek (2009)) can you share a little about your current release and/or WIP?

Earlier this month, I released a debut full-length novel, Pretty Boy Dead with, Wilde City Press, the first in my planned Kendall Parker Mysteries series.

PrettyBoyDead_cvrFINAL_FINALClink on the link below for a blurb and excerpt of Pretty Boy Dead.

Early reviews of Pretty Boy Dead:

“Pretty Boy Dead is a well-written police procedural with an engaging plot and well-developed characters. As an opening for the new series, it works perfectly – while this story is done, you want to know more about Kendall Parker. Hopefully, there will be much more.” – Reviews by Jessewave

Read the entire review:

“…early on the “who” and” why” in regards to the murder seemed fairly obvious. But then the author throws out clues that make the reader think maybe they haven’t quite gotten it figured out after all. This was the case for me for sure. There is one thing that I can say that I most definitely did not see coming. This is a good thing because for a while there, I was beginning to think that the story was a little bit too predictable. Thankfully that predictability flew out the window.” – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Find Jon Michaelsen on the web:

Now Available: PRETTY BOY DEAD

My Interview with the Author of the Taking The Odds series; Lawyer by day…Write at Night!

This week, my interview is with the author of the very popular Taking The Odds series, James Buchanan – lawyer by day and writer by night.

JamesBuchananWhere do you live?

I live in sunny Southern California.  Pasadena to be exact… I can walk to the Rose Parade route every Jan 1st.

Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

Just getting published. Everything beyond that has been a roller coaster ride of fun.

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

It’s flipping crazy?  Seriously, a two lawyer family, one demon spawn in High School, another in Middle School. Cooking competitions and chef events for the eldest in between racing to practices and softball double headers for the younger.  Both are in bowling leagues where they earn scholarship money from competitions all over the state.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing?

Time. It is my enemy and my friend. Lately, it’s just been my enemy. But, when I’m just busy enough with the evil day job, my jibe gets going and I crank out bits and pieces in the time I have.

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?

TheGoodThiefI’m a total punster. I don’t outline until half the book is “done”.

How do you deal with the constant distractions such as blogs, FB, promo and real life (like that dreaded daytime job)?

Not well these days. It’s slowed down my writing some.

You currently have a gay mystery/suspense/romance series known to fans as the “Hard Fall” novels. How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters, especially considering the romance?

Hardfallfinal-190x300I look for how they have to navigate the various things that life throws out at them. Especially when you set up a hard life for them.

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

I haven’t had to particularly deal with homophobia, at lease in an overt fashion. Disbelief, raised eyebrows, a little shocked look when someone reads a back cover and then quickly sets the book down on the table. Most of the time when I’m shilling my books, its in gay friendly venues. And I haven’t twisted any hater’s shorts so much that they’ve gone after me online.

On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.


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

I’m currently working on book 4 of the Deputy Joe books, Requiem in Leather. It will follow Joe and Kabe to Northern California where they will have to track down a missing man.


We got to a small meeting room that might have been in any Ward hall. A circle of folding chairs took up most of the floor space. Craig grabbed one and snapped it shut. Following his lead I closed up two. As I came up next to where he stacked them, Craig asked, “So how did you know Jack?” Kabe pitched in as well.

Didn’t want to lie even if right now Craig didn’t go off as skittish as he did on the phone. “Never met the man.” I admitted. “But my ah…Kabe did.” I pointed towards him.

Focusing in on the little bit I’d hesitated on, Craig prodded, “Partner? Significant other?” He kept at stacking the chairs while we talked.

“I don’t know as we’re at that stage yet.” I shrugged and got another couple of chairs squared away.

“Boyfriend works.” Kabe snapped.

I kinda dodge the weight of that title. “That always sounds like high school or something.”

That got me a smile offa Craig. “It does, doesn’t it?”

I paused. How to put it? From what Ryan said, Craig knew what Jack and Mike were into. “Anyway, Kabe, he was with Jack for a while.” Left out the part about it being in prison and all. “Not long.” With my thumbs hooked over the back, I drummed my fingers on the backrest of one of the metal chairs. “But Bill, a good friend of Kabe’s grandma is, I guess, informally administering Jack’s estate.”

Kabe punctuated his observation of, “Like the Feds left an estate,” by folding a chair with a bang.

Craig sat down in one of the remaining seats. He rested his forearms on his thighs and his chin on his balled up fists. After studying me for a while, he asked, “And why are you involved?”

I didn’t sit. “Long story short?” Just stood there massaging the metal in my hands like I could turn it to putty in my grip. “I’m a deputy sheriff in Utah. Detective.” Felt kinda odd, me being on the receiving end of an interrogation, but I didn’t have the instant authority that a uniform instilled. “Bill asked me to help him out.” I had to establish why people could trust me with what they knew. “Because he’s done by Kabe in the past, I said I’d give it a go, see if I could track Mike down.”

“Okay.” Craig relaxed a little, sitting back up and dropping the death grip his hands had on each other. “And how does Mike fit into that?”

I flipped the chair around and sat down on it backwards with my arms crossed over the spine and my knees out to either side. “You knew about Jack, right?”

Now he offered up a little defensive dip in his shoulders. “Depends on what you think I might know.”

“That he and Mike were into some interesting activities.”

“You mean into leather?” That was delivered with a pinched up face, like he thought I might be either stupid or leading him along on something.

“Yeah, and I’m not really trying to dance around things.” I really wasn’t. “I’m just kinda new to it all and sometimes the words fail me.” Managed a small snort of laughter on that.

“Seriously he isn’t.” Kabe hoisted himself up onto a table, swinging his legs in the air and grabbing the lip with his hands. “There’s about half part shy and half naive mixing up in someone who doesn’t talk a whole fucking lot anyway.” One of his sly smiles lit the room. “Luckily he’s only shy and naive with words and not every thing else.”

I shot him a glare. “Watch your language.” Wasn’t sure if it was mostly because of the tease or the cursing in a church. After a moment of not being able to cow Kabe in the least, I gave up and returned my attention back to Craig. “That’s why my boy knew Jack, back when.” Although I’d never give personal information to a suspect in an interview, I had to learn a different set of steps for this kind of thing. “Kabe’s teaching me quite a few things.”

“That’s an understatement.” Kabe sounded smug.

I ignored him and got back on track, “Jack’s dead, like I said, and his friends, with the same interests, are trying to organize a memorial service.”

“Okay.” Craig massaged his face with his palms for a bit then let out a deep breath. “So yeah Mike was into that scene: whips, chains, ball gags, Mike liked it all.” He seemed to relax a hair too.

“Like I said, Jack’s dead and there’s a memorial service. I guess Jack wanted to have all of his boys come together, least those that are still with us and Bill’s been trying to make that happen.” I held out my hands like there weren’t nothing in them but air. “We’re coming up empty when it comes to Mike.

“You can’t find Mike?” Again he sounded surprised by that. “Didn’t Jack leave a way to contact Mike? I mean, they were really close.” His tone was almost more insistent that his words. “Closer than a lot of guys into that kind of lifestyle get.”

“From what I gather Jack was so sick by the time he realized Mike was in the wind that there weren’t much he could do.” I rubbed the back of my neck with my hand. “I’m pretty sure Mike was still in the Marines as of maybe six-eight months ago. Jack tried to find him through the service and was brushed off.” Realized I’d wear my skin off if I kept at it and moved my hand back down to the lip of the chair. “And what he did know of Mike’s past, Jack wasn’t able to tell Bill. From what I’m understanding, Jack just wasn’t with it enough to be helpful, the cancer got him pretty quick.”

Find James Buchanan on the web:



Thrills, Chills, Mystery, Suspense…and Romance; OH MY! Sitting Down With Rick R. Reed

Four years ago if you had asked me would I envision myself interviewing writers of GLBT fiction to publish weekly, I would have laughed out loud. However, that is exactly what I have been doing now since the advent of the online social group I created and moderate: Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction. This week, I get the chance to interview a writer I greatly admire as a gushy fan of his writing, and who I finally got to meet personally when attending GRL 2013 in Atlanta this year; Rick R. Reed – Interview by Jon Michaelsen;


RickRReed1 Where do you live?

Seattle, WA. More specifically, we live in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood, just above Lake Union (and, for the movie buffs, directly above the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat).

Autumn rainbow1

Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

Oh, I toot my own horn all the time and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Every man should toot his own horn at least once daily, don’t you think?

But seriously, folks… My greatest accomplishment? The promoting, horn-tooter in me would like to point to this or that book and count the reasons why it’s so special. But actually, my greatest accomplishment is raising a wonderful son and seeing him happily grown up and married to an amazing man. Right along with that is my own marriage to my husband. Even as recently as just a few years ago, I might not have believed I could ever write those words I just did. I guess the word family would be my answer when asked what my greatest accomplishment is.

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


Well, I just did. At our house, we are all Cancers, even our dog, Lily (an adorable Boston terrier) so we are all very much into home life. I just was talking on the phone to my son the other day and I told him that I thought a great measure of success is when you realize there’s nowhere else you’d rather be than home. I feel that way. I love nothing more than hanging out with my husband, Bruce, cooking a terrific meal (I love to cook) and maybe just staying in and watching a movie. When we do go out, it’s usually to explore Seattle’s restaurant scene, to see a play or a movie, or to enjoy the abundant nature that surrounds us here in the Pacific Northwest. I also spend time at the gym and running outdoors when the weather is nice.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing?

Creating characters that I care deeply about. If I care deeply about them, chances are my readers will as well. Getting to the emotional truth of people in fiction is paramount in my goals as a writer.

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?

As I said above, for me writing a good story is all about finding my characters, making them real, and understanding their truth. What that means, to answer your question, is that I am more a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer. I like to take a journey when I write a book and I like to be surprised at what my characters say or do. Their truth informs me and the story, which means things can go off on a completely different tangent from what I intended. Of course, I have a general idea of where I’m going and what I want to say, but I am totally a pantser.

IMEarly in your publishing career, you quickly earned a name (and some awards along the way!) for gay horror, suspense and thriller titles, such as “IM”, “The Blue Moon Café”, “A Demon Inside” and “Dead End Street” (and many others in mainstream fiction) – to name a few. More recently you’ve moved in the direction of gay romance. Can you share with us what influenced you to shift genres?

Small DEMON INSIDEThis is the question I really get asked a lot these days! I don’t think I’ll ever completely abandon suspense/horror, but I do think that if and when I write it again, it will be couched within a love story. I think I made the switch to romance because I found writing about the most important human connection we can have incredibly satisfying and universal. Personally, I think because I have found the love of my life (eleven years together, legally married for going on one year) and am no longer seeking that out, it’s easier to write about love than it was when I was so preoccupied with finding it for myself, if that makes any sense. I am enjoying the light over the dark right now.

Can we expect the return of gay mystery/thriller/suspense fiction novels from you?     

As I said above, I don’t think I’ve left it behind, it’s just that it will be part of a love story. In fact, if you look at almost any of my work, even the stuff that’s considered thriller/horror/suspense, the love story is still at the heart of it. But yeah, I have a short coming out November 17 from Amber Allure [] called “The Ghost in Number 9” that has the ghost of a closeted married man coming back to haunt a trysting couple in a no-tell motel. And planning is in the works with my friend and very talented writer, BG Thomas, to write a book together. Who knows? There may be a supernatural or thriller element to that.

Two of my all-time favorite gay thriller/suspense novels you wrote are “Tricks” and the sequel, “Rent”. Will fans of Wren and Rufus get another story featuring them? What inspired you to write their love story amid the backdrop of go-go boys, sex and murder?

I haven’t really considered a sequel, but I never say never. If anything, I would be more likely to write something with new characters but set in the “Tricks” universe—the Chicago stripper bar that is central to both books. I think a gay bar has so many stories to tell because of all the different personalities that walk through the doors. Each person has a unique tale. Hmmm…this is getting the ideas flowing….

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

I have, sadly, had to deal with homophobia, but rarely in the context of my books. Most readers are well aware that my books are liberally peopled with gay characters and that’s what they want to read, so I really haven’t had that experience. What does make me sad is that I know there are people out there—straight friends and family—who are thrilled with my work and interested in it, but don’t read it because it’s “gay.” Little do they realize that gay themes are also human themes and they just might get an enjoyable read out of it if they’d concentrate more on the human part instead of being put off by the gay part. After all, if I was put off by “straight” fiction, I would have so much less to read!

On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.

Thank you for having me, Jon. Wait. That sounds dirty, doesn’t it? (Jon: not in the least!)

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

Oh yes! Legally Wed comes out in January and I’m so excited. It’s kind of my nod to same-sex marriage being legalized in my home state of Washington last year (my husband and I were married on the very first day it became legal and look forward to our first wedding anniversary on December 9). Anyway, here is the blurb for Legally Wed (and the gorgeous cover is by cover artist extraordinaire, Anne Cain).

LW Small Final 2 Guys BLURB
Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?

And while I’m at it, I might as well give you the blurb and cover for “The Ghost in Number 9” as well.GhostNumber9


For Tony and Carter, room number 9 in the Galaxy Gold motel on Seattle’s seedy Aurora Avenue is a refuge. There, the two young lovers have found a place to hide away from a world that would condemn them for their love. Within the darkened, summer-hot confines of room number 9, Carter and Tony can explore their love and lust for one another, free of the burdens of the outside world.

But room number 9 holds a terrible and tragic secret–one that dates back to the Galaxy Gold’s opening back in 1962, when Seattle was hosting its World’s Fair. There’s a ghost in room number 9 and he has a message for Tony and Carter, a message about the consequences of shame and hiding love behind a closed motel room door.

Will Tony and Carter listen to the ghost’s message and have the courage to bring their love out into the open? Or will this long-ago story, one eerily similar to Tony and Carter’s, be ignored?

The answer awaits in room number 9.

RRR authorRick R. Reed Biography and Contact

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Visit Rick’s website at or follow his blog at You can also like Rick on Facebook at  or on Twitter at Rick always enjoys hearing from readers and answers all e-mails personally. Send him a message at To find any of Rick’s books mentioned above, visit and search for Rick R. Reed or visit his author page at

My Interview This Week is a Stylist of Diverse,Gay Literary Fiction – Author Anel Viz

My guest interview this week is Anel Viz, author of many diverse literary fiction, by his own admission claims, “As a writer, I am first and foremost a stylist. I agonize over finding the right word…”

Where do you live? City, town, island, country?

Anel VizI’m planning to move to Minneapolis in the next year or so, but for now I own a home half block away from the Mississippi River (but I can’t see it because the hospital is in the way) in small city in the center of Minnesota.  Although here in the Upper Midwest most people would probably describe it as medium size, it still has a small town feel to it.  Still, the population has more than doubled since I moved here some 38 years ago.  Mind you, now, where I live has just about zero connection with who I am.  I grew up in New York City (Bronx, Queens, Manhattan) and have lived over one-fifth of my life in French-speaking countries, mostly France itself, half a block away from the Mediterranean with a clear view of it from my balcony.

Writer’s rarely like to toot their own horn; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

Tell me about it.  I totally suck at promo, and I mean that literally.  (I mean the “totally”—“suck” is a figure of speech.)  So I will take your statement as a challenge and toot away. My greatest accomplishment?  Hasn’t happened yet.  That would be having someone not merely review one my books (something that doesn’t happen a lot to begin with) but write an essay about it or about my work as a whole—real, honest-to-goodness literary analysis à la  “Graves of Academe”.  (Yep, I’m one of those, by training and profession.)  Of course it will be a cold day in hell before that happens, so I’ll take advantage of your invitation and do a little literary self-analysis. Please don’t stop reading.  Let me explain.  I’m a writer of gay-themed fiction who aspires to be a literary mainstream author but lacks either the talent, the experience, or both.  I fully realize that, like “liberal” (and just as undeservedly), “literary” has acquired pejorative connotations in some circles.  If a book is boring, flowery or pretentious they call it literary.  That, however, is pseudo-literary.  Lord knows my books have been slammed, especially on Goodreads, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has ever called them boring, flowery or pretentious.  A truly literary work is beautifully written, meaty, and makes you think.  Now, there is no reason a gay romance can’t be literary, but let’s face it—most of ’em ain’t.  There’s no lack of great gay poetry, and I can think of a number of excellent gay-themed novels (Mary Renault and Alan Hollinghurst immediately come to mind) and a few classics with gay subtexts (Gide, Musil, Wilde, etc.), but off hand only three in-your-face gay novels I’d call masterpieces.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were more? Bet everyone’s wondering what those three in-your-face gay masterpieces are.  Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian’s Memoirs, and Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman.  Just my opinion, of course.

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

My wife and I separated 23½ years ago but we’re still legally married.  Why (both why we split and why we haven’t divorced) would be getting too personal.  We have two grown (but not grown up) sons.  I’ve been with my only ever boyfriend (not telling his name) for ten years, and he moved in with me four years ago.  He’s been divorced twice, has a son plus three step-children, and is the reason I insist that “gay for so-and-so” really does exist.  (Pace, ye naysayers.)  We got our current dog (Steve—his name you can know) two and a half years ago.  I’ve always had dogs.  Anything else?  Oh, yeah.  “Only ever boyfriend” emphatically does not mean only ever male sex partner.  Going into more detail on that one would be getting too personal and might even result in FB closing down your group.

Where do you write?

Here, at my laptop in front of the living room window, with a six-story brick hospital blocking my view of the river.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing?

The craft.  As a writer, I am first and foremost a stylist.  I agonize over finding the right word; I read every paragraph aloud to make sure it flows; I endlessly tweak the narrator’s voice; I make use of and develop recurring motifs and fret about their placement; I strive to come up with realistic dialogue while making every word count; I’m always asking my betas if I’m belaboring a point or sound preachy; I work and rework the arc of the story, putting in glimpses of what will happen later (in the words of one reviewer “just enough to tweak your curiosity but not give anything”) as well as surprising twists that in the words of another “seem inevitable in hindsight.” Yet for me the greatest challenge by far is creating authentic, multi-dimensional characters.  I write psychological fiction.  (Literary fiction I only aim at; psychological fiction I actually do write.)  In order to make my characters real, I make them the product of their culture (not the reader’s culture), individuate them (the stereotypes in the Kaleidoscope story Roomies only play at being types), and take pains to tell the reader less about them than s/he needs to know.  As I say in the preface to Kaleidoscope, “Every human mind is unique, a jumble of ever-changing ideas, assumptions, emotions, desires, conflicts, intentions, certainties, doubts and, yes, fears; a personality too complex to be seen as a whole. We never truly know another person; we do not truly understand ourselves.”  Let me add to that that no amount of therapy, psychoanalysis or blinding flashes of epiphany will ever reveal the totality of any person’s unconscious thoughts or subconscious.  Real people do not conform exactly to textbook definitions, nor does any psychological study, however exhaustive, lay out a complete person.  So when I come across a neat explanation of a character’s motivations in a work of fiction, that character immediately loses some depth.  When an author tells me exactly what makes his or her tick, they flatten out entirely.  There are some things even an omniscient narrator cannot know.

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

TheCityofLovelyBrothersBoth and neither.  With shorter stories, I often (but not always) get an idea, start at the beginning and write straight through, plotting by the seat of my pants.  For longer stories, novellas and novels, I start with characters in a situation and work out from there in both directions but not chronologically and still undecided which, if any, of those characters will be my protagonist.  By the time I’m about half done, certainly by the time the work is 80% finished, I have a fairly good idea of a more or less complete plot, but well before figured out what that plot is going to be, I had carefully worked out the arc and structure of the story line.  I know the pacing of my books before I know everything that’s going to happen in them or how they will end. For example, in City of Lovely Brothers, I decided on a four part structure within a narrative frame and having the historian-narrator introduce each part in the first person, and that the four parts would be Caliban’s from birth until he fractures his hip, from Caliban’s return to the ranch until Nick moves in with him, Caliban’s and Nick’s life together on the ranch, and the fourth after they leave the ranch—all that before I knew exactly what would happen in any of the parts except for the sections scattered around the novel that I had already written, before I got the idea for many of the crucial secondary characters, including Amanda, Hester, Calvin Jr., Jake, Logan, and Troilus Pardoner, to name a few.  But you want to know about my thrillers and suspense, not my historicals. So your answer is: Yes, I do plot, but I don’t plot plot.  And I’m most “seat of my pants-like” when it comes to my characters, which I never plan.  I delve into them and discover what’s there.

How do you deal with the constant distractions such as blogs, FB, promo and real life (like that dreaded daytime job)? I don’t.  I retired a little over a year ago, I’ve already said I suck at promo, my blog is moribund, and FB sends me into sensory overload, causing my brain to shut down.

You have proven yourself a master and many genres, including Drama, Thriller and Suspense. How do you prepare shifting your muse to tackle a new genre?

You left out historical and humor (for two), and I’ve written more of each of those than the three you mention put together.  Thing is, though, I don’t think in terms of genre except insofar as I’m a genre bender.  Why worry about shifting my muse when my muse is going to shift the genre? I love to toy with my readers and to do it in subtle ways so they don’t realize I’m constantly playing push-the-genre-envelope games.  Here’s an example I don’t believe anyone has picked up on.  One of the so-called challenges of first person narrator romance is how to work in a description of the main character.  The cliché solution is to have him look in a mirror.  In P’tit Cadeau, which is on my mind because I read an excerpt from it at GRL, the narrator is an artist and I describe most of his paintings in elaborate detail with particular focus on color.  In the course of the novel, he does a self-portrait.  I give the composition, the setting, how he’s posed, what he (isn’t) wearing, etc., but not a word about what he looks like.  No eye color, no haircut, no complexion, no toothy smile, no shoe size—nada.  In the end, the only physical attributes we know for sure are his age, that he’s circumcised, and what little we can infer about his build from how he fits together with his model and lover, whom I describe repeatedly.  But here I am again, going on and on about a genre other than the one this interview is supposedly about.  On the other hand, given the mind games I like to play, is it any wonder I’m drawn to drama, thriller and suspense?  (Make that non-traditional drama, thriller and suspense.)

Horror,Dark&LiteHorror Dark&Lite 2 400x600

With Horror, Dark & Lite, the two-volume parallel structure preceded all the stories in them except for the first and last.  I got the rights back to two of my earliest publications that had appeared in multi-author anthologies—a scary vampire novella and a comic shifter short story—that I wanted to revise and re-release.   Both of them already pushed the genre envelope: a first person narrator who doesn’t know what his own story is about (to wit that his lover is a werewolf) and a vampire story without vampires.  (By the way, The Frenchman, a free read accessible in the archives of Wilde Oats online magazine, is a shifter story with no shifters in it.) All seven stories in the horror collection twist their traditional genre in a different way.  Val uses vampirism as a metaphor for obsession and domination in a piling up of graphic sex scenes parallel to what is going on in the characters’ lives outside of the bedroom.  On the surface, the surfeit of non-stop sex seems gratuitous, but as one reviewer pointed out when they finally “come up for air, their lives have been irrevocably changed” so clearly it does advance the plot. Slasher resembles Photographic Memories in my Kaleidoscope anthology in that it is best described as a non-whodunit except in this case they catch the perp.  I throw in enough red herrings along the way to open a seafood restaurant, including some that cast suspicion on one of the main characters a couple of pages after a scene that provides him a watertight alibi.  On top of that, it contains a handful of episodes that are variants of scenes from my favorite scary movies. The Matador is an historical novella that gradually moves from realistic social commentary to paranormal shifter, then back and forth between the two, so structurally the work itself is a shifter.  As vampirism is a sexual metaphor in Val, bullfighting works allegorically in The Matador: Goading the bull is a kind of foreplay, goring stands in for anal intercourse, the estocada a muerte for orgasm, etc.  And vice versa.  So one can’t call it a metaphor because which element is the image and which the reality are constantly shifting. Similarly, each story in the “lite” volume draws on a different type of comedy.

KaleidoscropeYou have published Anthologies and short story collections; including the suspense/thriller horror anthologies, Dark Horror and Horror Lite. Which of the stories in the collections frightened you the most and why? (I’ve read Slasher, which opens at a helluva pace – what could be scarier than a brutal murder in a gay bathhouse!)

This interview.  (Just kidding, though it wouldn’t surprise me if all this literary self-analysis has scared most of your readers away.) None of the “lite” stories are scary.  The part in the vampire story where the Viet Bloedrank returns to the hotel room after feeding comes closest, but there’s no real feeling of threat, in my opinion.  The stalker story has plenty of creepy moments, but that’s all they are—creepy.  In the dark volume, Slasher has the highest concentration of scary scenes, one of which you mention.  A sensation of dread permeates the opening, although no one is in immediate danger.  But for the reader, I think the dark alley with the cloned vampiric hustlers lurking in the shadows in Val (although that scene has its origin in a tongue-in-cheek bit of wordplay) or when Soledad encounters the bull in a deserted street in The Matador are more frightening.  Or the scene in The Matador where…  But that would be a spoiler. Curiously, what was most frightening for me would be the least frightening of them all to read: Bryce Olson is Pregnant, the aliens story in Horror Lite.  Once I was working on it, jumping from scene to scene in random order as usual, the writing process terrified me because I had no idea how I was going to end it right up until I wrote the ending.  It had become apparent that the ending had to be the punch line, but, while I was sticking jokes in right and left, I wasn’t sure what the joke was.  How’s that for seat-of-your-pants writing?

After your book(s) come out, have had you ever had to deal with homophobia, and if so, what form has it taken?

No, never.  But very few people know that I’m Anel Viz, and Anel Viz only surfaces as a living, breathing person at conventions like GRL.  And when he’s just a virtual author noodling around on line, he pays as little attention to personal homophobic attacks as he does to negative trolling reviews on Goodreads.

On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.

My pleasure, and I hope I haven’t overstepped the boundaries of self-promotion in the process.

Alma's WillLast question; will you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP? Huh?  You’re asking for more horn tooting?  Okay, here goes.  I have too many Ws IP to count, so I’ll push my most recent release (last May), which finally came out in print a month ago, is a Rainbow Award finalist, and you yourself generously and enthusiastically reviewed on Alan Chin’s Gay/Lesbian Fiction Book Reviews blog, for which I thank you again. We’ve all heard some readers complain about a book because they don’t like the main character.  Well, the main character in Alma’s Will is a homophobic woman with no redeeming qualities I can think of off-hand.  Livia Redding was one of those characters who take over a story that wasn’t meant to be hers, and I rank her as one of my most vivid, real and complex creations.  She’s is the kind of person you “have to” feel sorry for but don’t because she’s so vicious.  But while the gay characters in the book have been hurt by bigotry and their wounds have not entirely healed, at most Liv’s homophobia complicates their lives, pisses them off and upsets them.  Although a generation earlier her interference would have been devastating, in spite all her bad-mouthing and machinations, she inflicts no real damage.  The gays are the survivors; Liv is the victim, destroyed by her own hatred and used by the fundamentalist Christians who don’t give a damn about her and only adopt her to further their cause.  In the end she learns nothing except her own powerlessness, which makes her no less dangerous as a source of contagion.  Unfortunately, there are plenty more like her. (Can I go now?)

Where on the web to find Anel Viz: