Sitting Down with Multi-Award winning author of Lesbian Mystery/Thrillers; Andi Marquette

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

Thanks, Jon! I appreciate this opportunity and hope everybody has an awesome start to the new year and may 2014 bring all kinds of creative output.

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

Mostly Colorado, now. I’m hoping to get back to New Mexico. I consider both CO and NM home states, but my heart is in NM.

As you probably know, writers rarely like to toot their own horns…lol, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

LoE for websiteThat’s kind of a philosophical question, yes? I consider weathering some icky health issues a couple years ago a great accomplishment. I also consider my academic degrees great accomplishments. Finishing a manuscript is also a great accomplishment. I really like that, when I’ve wrapped a project up and I see it out there. I love that. I do have some awards for some of my work, and I’ve made some finalists’ lists. I’ve won a Goldie (Golden Crown Literary Society [lesbian fiction]) and been a finalist a few times there; I’ve won Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice Awards, and one of my sci fi books won a Rainbow. One of my romance novellas was a runner-up in two categories at the Rainbows this year, which was super cool. I consider it awesome to get nominated, let alone make a finalists’ list or win. So “accomplishment” can mean a lot of different things. Just getting through a day sometimes is an accomplishment, depending on what’s going on in one’s life. J

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

Oh, lordie. Nothing special. My day job and my writing eat up a lot of my days. That plus getting work-outs in and trying to make sure that I have a social life (BALANCE, people!) and get out to do things keep me busy. I do cook and I rarely eat out. Friends and I get together at each other’s houses and hang out, too. Cheap entertainment and always fun, because most of my friends cook, too. So there’s no shortage of yumminess. Sadly, I lost my canine buddy of about 15 years two years ago and I haven’t gotten another dog. I do regularly donate to no-kill animal shelters (my dog was a rescue) among other things. I also travel quite a bit, so I really don’t have the time at the moment to devote to a dog. I’m outdoorsy, so I try to get out as much as possible, too. Fairly mundane, right? And I was just lamenting this morning that I really need to organize a bunch of crap in my house and get rid of a lot of stuff. That’s the first project I’m doing after the new year.

Can you share what inspires and challenges you most in your writing? 

I find inspiration everywhere. Yeah, I know. How lesbo woo-woo is that? But it’s true. I can go into a grocery store and some storyline will pop into my head set in that store. I’ll think about zombies, maybe, and where I’d hide in an apocalypse in that store. Or, if I’m in a romance mood, I’ll think about what would happen if two people bumped into each other in an aisle. Which aisle would it be? How would they react, if one tripped and fell into the other? Or dropped something like a jar of pickles near one and the glass broke and pickle juice got all over the other’s fancy pants (maybe she’s on her way to some swanky event)? Or, if I’m in a thriller kind of mood, what would happen if some dude sees another dude in the frozen foods aisle who owes him money? That could be either a scary (depending on who the guy is who wants the money) or kind of comedic scene, depending on how you want to play it out. I’m envisioning frozen chicken flying through the air. And bags of tater tots.

I find inspiration everywhere, and when a reader writes to me and tells me how much they enjoyed something I’ve written, that’s inspiring, too.

Challenging: balancing a day job and all the other stuff I have to do with writing. There are days I come home completely exhausted and it’s all I can do to make something to eat and get things ready for the next day. Some of those days, I’m too tired to write, and I’ve discovered about myself that when I’m really tired, a writing session is completely ineffective because I’ll end up having to re-write. On those days, I try not to be too hard on myself if I simply can’t write effectively. I don’t know how writers with young kids do it, honestly. Those people must be superheroes from some other planet.

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You have a few lesbian mystery/thriller series under your belt, such as the Chris Gutierrez, and K.C. Fontero mysteries. How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters that keep readers clamoring for more? 

“Clamoring”? One hopes! LOL

Series are hard. Especially one that’s research-intensive like the New Mexico series. For those who don’t know, I write this series a little differently than most. Odd-numbered books star K.C. Fontero (a sociologist/professor type) and even-numbered star K.C.’s best friend, Albuquerque police detective Chris Gutierrez. Chris’s books often require a lot more research because I try to ensure that the police procedure is accurate and that I’ve captured Chris’s reactions and actions while doing her job in a way that’s consistent not only with her character, but in terms of the job. So I have beta readers who are active police officers check Chris’s books over. And like any series, the characters come and go through each other’s books and there are subplots that the characters have to deal with not only in a particular book, but across the other books. Those of you who are also writing series are probably nodding sagely – you know how this can go. And when you’re writing a contemporary series, you have to be cognizant of change and how to keep your series updated and contemporary when time for your characters is only, like, a couple of months while for the author, it’s a year or more. Think about James Bond. That series has been going since the 60s, and no one thinks: “How come James isn’t 120 years old? That would be realistic!” No, they just accept that James Bond is still a 40s-ish guy doing kick-ass things, even after fifty years.

In terms of sustaining – there are days where things feel a little frustrating and maybe lackluster. I call those points in a series “author doldrums.” At that point, I’ll get up and go watch a movie or do something else and usually, something will pop into my head that will freshen the plot or give me a new twist or a new perspective on a twist. Sometimes I’ll need a few days off from the series and I’ll write a short story or a novella or work on another novel. I’ll carry that renewed energy from a new project back to my series, and get through the doldrums.

Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines in detail?

Pantser. I don’t do outlines and I generally don’t know what’s going to happen during the course of one of my books. I do, however, keep a chronology. That is, ol’ skool paper and pen notebook and I’ll write down what day it is in the story and once I finish writing the events during that day in the plot, I’ll list the scenes under the day’s entry in my notebook. I do that AFTER I’ve already written the scenes. That way, I can refer back to my ol’ skool list if I need to rearrange a scene or cut it out. Generally, I remember where in a manuscript something is, but having my chronology there helps confirm things. I also keep lists of characters and quirks they might have.

In terms of getting started, I’ll usually have an overarching theme that I want to explore and then as I write the plot, the explorations tend to fall into place, though I do have to stop sometimes and contemplate whether I like the way a particular exploration is going. I expect my process will change over the years. I tend to be open to different ways of doing things and trying new things.

tiesthatbindYou recently released the fourth Chris Gutierrez Mystery. As with this novel and others you have written, you’ve tackled some hot social topics, with the likes of an anti-immigration blogger and white supremacy, among others. What would you say has influenced you to tackle such often divisive topics? 

Actually, for clarification, it’s the fourth in my New Mexico series, and the second Chris Gutierrez mystery (she and K.C. switch off books; see above).

Books 1 and 3 in the NM series star K.C. Fontero, the sociologist. Book 1, Land of Entrapment, dealt with white supremacy and book 3’s (The Ties that Bind) murder was layered into Diné (Navajo) beliefs and the oil and natural gas industries in northwestern New Mexico. That’s a huge industry in the state, but it’s also an industry that takes a toll on people who work it, and like every extractive industry, there are pros and cons they bring to the communities in which they operate. I added a bit of Diné folklore and beliefs into that plot, and I hope that makes readers think about their own belief systems and why they come to believe what they do.

Books 2 and 4, in which Chris is the main character, deal with other issues. Book 2, State of Denial, dealt with the murder of a young gay man in Albuquerque and both external and internal homophobia, through the lens of organized religion. Book 4, Day of the Dead, as you’ve noted, is murder and mayhem against a backdrop of immigration, both illegal and legal and the role of law enforcement therein. One side of Chris’s family immigrated from Mexico, and she still has family south of the border. She’s also a law enforcement officer, and understands her duties with regard to undocumented immigrants, but she also understands what drives people to try to cross illegally into the United States and she tries to strike a balance between building effective police relationships with immigrant communities and enforcing the law. There’s also an element in Dead that deals with the exploitation of women on both sides of the border, and Chris has strong feelings about that, as well. Point being, there are no easy answers to complex issues.

I use New Mexico as an arena for my explorations of national social issues or regional issues (like the oil and gas industry). What I hope people get from this series is 1) a sense of New Mexico as a place and 2) an uneasiness with their own preconceived ideas about some of these issues I bring to the books. I would like people to question their own ideas, no matter where they’re coming from socially or politically, and to think about how these issues play out not just in the national media, but between individuals on the ground. Life is messy. People are messy. And some of us do the best we can while others end up doing not-so-nice things. But we are all part of the panoply of human crazy and human awesome-ness.

My influences? Natural curiosity and academic training in anthropology and history. Which fed off my natural curiosity. I got that curiosity and interest in just about everything from my folks. I come from a family that was always exploring the region, always meeting people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and always involved in local and community issues. So basically, I come by my topics naturally. I’m probably kind of weird, too. Heh.

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

Not overt. But then, my mysteries are published by a house that primarily does lesbian fiction (and a few gay authors, too). Plus, I’m open about who I am. I mean, anybody writing LGBTQ fiction knows that not many – if any – so-called “mainstream” houses are going to publish their work. Especially if that work includes overt sex and intimacy between same-sex characters. There’s still an “ick” factor about that, but there’s clearly a market for it. Witness all the LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly houses that have emerged in the last few years that carry F/F and M/M romance and erotica. I’ll know things have totally shifted when Harlequin puts out a line of F/F romances. LOL

So I think I’ve been lucky, and haven’t had any overt homophobia toward my work. My first book did, however, get a weird reaction from some in the demographic it’s geared toward – i.e. lesbian readers of lesbian fiction. There were some who refused to buy Land of Entrapment because there’s a graffiti swastika on the cover image. That is, there’s a swastika that was graffiti’ed onto an adobe wall. I got some comments about that, about how I seemed to be glorifying Nazism and they wouldn’t support the book or buy it. Even though the book in no way supports white supremacy. There are probably a few readers out there who still believe that, though with each book after that one, that criticism has mostly disappeared. And yes, I did expect that there would be a few who would have an aversion to the book. In a way, that’s good. They SHOULD have an aversion to a symbol as it was appropriated for such horrific purposes and they SHOULD think about modern white supremacy and how it plays out in their communities. And they’d see that clearly if they read the book.

Ironically, there’s a ghost town in New Mexico named Swastika, after the Swastika Fuel Company, which organized the town at the end of World War I. That was, of course, before the Nazi Party appropriated the symbol, which as most people know, is an old, old symbol originally associated with life and prosperity and “good.” It’s still used by Indian (as in India) religions. Obviously, my use of it was not in reference to its ancient roots. Sadly, there are those among us who revere its most recent incarnation, and use it to intimidate and denigrate. That’s the point I was making in Land of Entrapment.

Which living actor would you cast to play your protagonist, Chris Gutierrez Mystery series?

Oh, see, I don’t even go there. LOL

I have very clear images of my characters, and when I write, I do envision the story as a movie, but I don’t see actors in the place of my characters. I just see my characters. I prefer that readers have their own ideas about what my characters look like. That said, if anybody ever decided to turn the books into movies, I would hope that I’d get a little bit of input, though I’d respect the creative vision of the writers and director (unless they were trying to make my characters straight or something like that).

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

dayofthedead

I released 3 projects this year. One is a romance novella, From the Boots Up (which just placed as a runner-up in two categories at the Rainbow Awards), one is the third installment in my sci fi series, The Edge of Rebellion, and my most recent – and shout-out to the publisher here, because they worked feverishly to get it released in conjunction with Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – is Day of the Dead. Readers can go to my websit to read the synopsis and first chapter [here’s the link: http://andimarquette.com/books/mysteries/].

Here’s a bit about it: Albuquerque homicide detective Chris Gutierrez and her police partner Dale Harper are trying to figure out who killed a Latino man in his home in a neighborhood just off Albuquerque’s Old Town. During the course of the investigation, they discover that he may have been involved in human trafficking over the Mexican border, and that his past may have caught up with him. Add to the mix an anti-immigrant blogger who’s targeted Chris and a mysterious network along the border, and Chris has her hands full.

WIPs (I always think of Devo when I see that acronym: “WIP it baby, WIP it all night…”): I’m getting a novel-length follow-up to From the Boots Up ready for (hopefully) release in late spring. I’ve also started writing the fourth in my sci fi series and I’ll be starting the research for book 5 in my New Mexico series after the new year. I’ve also got another romance novel I hope to release in the fall. And there are some short stories in the hopper, too. I try to keep busy. Heh.

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 want to know.

Inquiring minds! Thanks a whole bunch, Jon, for having me aboard. And to all you authors out there, keep on keepin’ on! To all you readers, thank you so much for doing that reading. Happy New Year.

 

Find Andi Marquette on the web:

http://www.andimarquette.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andi.marquette

Twitter: @andimarquette

I also co-admin the site Women and Words, which you can find here: http://www.lesbianauthors.wordpress.com

 

Is He an Outliner/Plotter or Total Panster? Interviewing the “Trouble” series author, Hank Edwards

Come on in, sit down and take a load off as you enjoy my interview the Saturday before Christmas with author of the popular Venom Valley Series; author Hank Edwards;

Where do you live?

A suburb in nnorthwest Detroit, MI, the Motor City!

Writers rarely like to toot their own horns, so what would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

Publishing 16 stories while holding down a demanding Evil Day Job, staying involved with my family and partner, and watching way too much TV. Of those published stories, I’m especially proud of the world I built in my Venom Valley series that combines vampires and zombies with Native American spiritualism and plunks it all down in the American Old West.

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Without getting too personal (well, you can get personal if you want to!), can you share a little about your home life?

My partner and I just celebrated our 18th year together, and it just keeps getting better. We have two cats that we rescued via friends who found them as strays, and we treat them like our children, naturally. My partner enjoys cooking, so he pretty much decides the menu and prepares the meals (yes, I am that lucky), which gives me time to work on my writing. He got me to switch from a PC to a Mac, and I love it. When I’m writing, I’m either in my office/kitty room (where we have two kitty condos and a two kitty beds and a big box filled with kitty toys) working on my iMac or sitting in the living room listening to movie scores and writing on my MacBook.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing? 

The biggest challenge/inspiration is to come up with something new, something unique, but familiar enough to pull the reader in. Also, to keep finding words after having written so much already! My friends in the Story Orgy group help with that. We’re a group of writers who used to post stories, either serial stories or flash fiction, to our blogs every Monday that have been written off a common prompt. We have a private group where we share information, gripes, plot bunnies, etc. and help each other through the tough times. We’ve been a “family” now for going on three years and I love them all dearly though I’ve only met two of the five in person!

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 used to be a big pantser, I just started writing and had no idea where the story would go. I’ve tried to become more disciplined with my writing by writing out notes (which is really easy to do with Scrivener, the only way I like to write these days), but even with notes, I still suddenly veer off course when a character decides to do something completely surprising, and then a whole new opportunity opens up in the story. I trust my characters enough to simply follow along and see where they take me. So, I guess I’m a pantser by nature, though I’ve tried to tame myself.

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You currently have two popular gay mystery/thriller series, one mainstream romantic and the other speculative fiction, known to fans as the sexy “Trouble” series and the paranormal series, “Venom”. Do you find it difficult and challenging to sustain serialized, continuing characters? What do you find rather easy; what aspects are the most difficult? 

Good question! The difficult part in an ongoing series is to make sure the characters fit within the story, and what they will take out of it. In my Up to Trouble series, now with three books, I decided in the third book to move the action to the island of Barbados where Mark winds up being kidnapped by a group of sex slavery thugs. He goes through quite an ordeal, and that will affect him in the next book or two, once I can get myself to sit down and write the next two ideas I have for that series. In Venom Valley, I saw a complete story arc that I knew I could wrap up in three books with the possibility of extending it to more if I thought the characters warranted something more. To me, the easiest aspects of any series are also the most difficult, which would be writing the same characters which is easy because you know them and the readers know them, but then again it’s difficult because it’s the same characters, and you have to be very careful not to become stagnant in their relationship or drama.

If one of your novels/series was opted for a screenplay next week, which would you like to see on the big screen; what makes it so special to you?

OMG … I would LOVE to see one of my books on the big screen. . I love movies, I grew up going to see a lot of movies and they fed my imagination. It would be such a high to see something I wrote projected up on that big screen. I am a very visual writer, I pretty much see everything happening in my mind and write it all down as if I’m transcribing a movie. To see that brought to life on a big screen would be … wow, that would be awesome. As long as I got to have script and casting approval. I’m not high maintenance, nooo

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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 not had to deal with any homophobia directly, thankfully, but I’ve heard of some writers whose families have shunned them because of the material they write. I have been fortunate not to have been exposed to that sort of treatment.

What are your guilty pleasures?

TV, way too much TV. I like comedies and scripted dramas and movies, lots of movies. I watch way too much TV and my biggest guilty pleasure of the shows I watch is Glee. That show amazes me every week with the production numbers and song choices and acting and all of it. Wow, there’s a lot that goes into every episode and, sometimes, it’s like they saw right into my head and brought a musical sequence to life. And I love how it’s breaking down gay and lesbian barriers for the younger generation.

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

The third book of my Venom Valley series is currently in my editor’s hands at Wilde City Press, but I can share a bit of it with you as long as you’re kind and remember that it’s completely unedited. This book is titled Blood & Stone: Venom Valley Book Three, and this part takes place early in the story. The group of survivors has taken shelter in the church of Belkin’s Pass, which has been overrun by vampires and wolves. An attack has set the church ablaze and the group must evacuate, but they will be vulnerable to attack. This chapter is told from the point of view of Glory, the ex-saloon girl who is protected by a Native American spirit named Ohanzee. Here you go, first look at Blood & Stone: Venom Valley Book Three, coming in early 2014 from Wilde City Press.

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The warm pulse of Ohanzee’s protection surged around Glory, and she could almost feel his arms around her. She relaxed her muscles as she had learned to do for the many years Ohanzee had been protecting her, and allowed him to move her out of harm’s way. Ohanzee tipped her away from the fangs of a snapping wolf, but then she felt a sharp pain burn up her left arm. Blood, warm and sticky, flowed along her skin, and she turned to see an Army man—the youngest of the group, Private Kirby—staring at her with wide eyes, a sword shaking in his grip as he stared at the cut he had delivered.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Glory,” Kirby said. “I was just holding the sword like so and you moved all sudden like and your arm grazed the blade.”

“Move!” Glory shouted to him. Kirby jerked his head back in surprise, and then jumped in front of her to cut down another wolf rushing through the doors.

More wolves swarmed through after that one, and behind her, Glory felt the heat of the fire swell as it grew larger. Ohanzee helped her dodge left and right, and Glory stabbed one wolf through the chest, and then used her foot to push it off her sword. Before she could try for another, Ohanzee seemed to shove her aside, back from the doors. A second later, the horses bolted past, trampling several of the wolves and, from the cry that arose, one of the Army men, as well.

Once the horses had cleared the door and were fleeing along the road with the wolves snapping at their hind legs, Glory turned to find the young Private Kirby lying on the floor clutching his right foot.

“Soldiers!” Sergeant Maxwell shouted above the noise. “Solider down! We leave no man behind. Stay together in tight formation!”

Two other soldiers grabbed Kirby roughly beneath the arms and dragged him out the doors of the church. Glory ran out the door behind Beatrice, keeping both hands tight on the handle of her sword as blood ran down her arm. Ohanzee’s presence strengthened around her, and she knew they were not yet safe.

The vampires came for them fast. Before she knew it, one of the soldiers had been yanked screaming out of their group, and the cold burn of panic filled Glory’s chest. She was protected by Ohanzee, the spirit warrior her father had called to guard her when she was a child, but these creatures were numerous and moved so fast and were so strong. Could Ohanzee keep her safe from all of them? She was determined that she would not become food for these monsters, nor would she join them. As long as she could draw breath she would fight to clean the land of 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.

 

Find Hank Edwards on the web:

www.hankedwardsbooks.com

www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks

www.facebook.com/venomvalleyseries

www.twitter.com/hanksbooks

https://www.amazon.com/author/hankedwards

 

Haunted Houses, Zombie Proms, a Big Bad Wolf & Erotica; Interviewing Logan Zachary

Where do you live?

I live in a haunted house in Minneapolis, MN.  The man that invented Old Dutch potato chips built this English cottage.

Writers rarely like to toot their own horns, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

Last week, I found out that my book, “Calendar Boys” was one of ISO book club’s Top 100 bestseller of the year.  I also have four short stories in four of the anthologies in the Top 100.  Jerry Wheeler’s Tricks of the Trade, Neil Plakcy’s Sexy Sailor, Shawn Allison’s Nasty Boys and Big Man on Campus.

CalendarBoysWow – that is some accomplishment; Congratulations!

But just as you have seen recently with your book, Pretty Boy Dead, there is nothing more exciting than to see your book finally in print and in your hand.

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

My Partner, Paul, and I have season tickets to the Broadway plays and Minnesota Opera.  We attend concerts, foreign and independent films.  We are active in the bear community and participate in various events and fund raising activites for AIDS and helping feed the less fortunate.

I work four days a week at a hand therapy clinic and help patients with traumatic injuries ranging from overuse syndromes, lawn mowers and snow blowers accidents, table and chain saws injuries, and multiple crush injuries at work.

SYDNEYWe have a six month old miniature schnauzer, who is chewing on everything in the house.  She just ate the Christmas tree lights and loves to chew on my pens when she’s not helping me type on my computer.  Caps Lock is her favorite key.

What inspires and challenges you most in your writing? 

I would love for one of my books to be made into a movie or hit the New York Times best seller list, but I want to write the book or story that I want to read.  I want to do better with each story and challenge myself to come up with something new and unique to me.  I enjoy the creative process and enjoy seeing what I come up.  My writing is just like reading a book, I can’t wait to see what’s on the next page, what’s coming up.

In writing a murder mystery, I like to come up with a unique way to kill or use a different murder weapon.  I enjoy coming up with clever ways and unique murder weapons.  This is a special challenge to me along with using humor and fun characters to tell my story.

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?

BigManI fly by the seat of my pants and have no idea where my story is going.  I have a vague idea of where the book or story will end, but I rarely know who the killer is until my characters show me who it should be.  When I try to control my characters, they refuse to do what I have outlined or plotted out ahead.   They refuse to go where I have plotted them to go if it isn’t true to their character and many times they know better where they should go and what they should do.  Mostly they say, “You know…” and proceed to tell me the right thing to do.

Yes, I hear voices, and I answer them back.  My writer friends say I am too nice to my characters and I need to make them suffer more.  Well, I can’t say what my characters want me to tell my friends.

You have published about a hundred gay erotica stories in collections such as “Teammates”, “Calendar Boys”, “Men at Noon, Monsters at Midnight”, and “Skater Boys”, the latter edited by Neil Plakcy, my subject for last week’s Author Interview. Can you share with us which stories contain mystery, thriller or suspense as a sub-genre?  

NastyBoysI feel that all stories have a little mystery in them.  Who will get who?  Who will get it in the end?  (In more ways than one.)  Most of my short stories are erotica, but I have a few with the mystery added.  “Call Boy Killer” is a dark mystery in Nasty Boys. “WereBear”is in”Men at Noon, Monsters at Midnight”.

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

I had a book signing at an adult book store and sex shop, and two of my friends wouldn’t come to the event.  They were fine with the gay subject matter, but they couldn’t get over the sex shop.  This was a classy, nice store that taught safe sex and offered educational classes.  It wasn’t where you needed a trench coat and brown paper bags and women primarily shopped.

What novel or short-story do you wish you had written and why?

I wish I wrote the book Romancing the Stone.  I feel that is the perfect movie and book.  It has humor, mystery, and romance.  I’m a hopeless romantic and grew up reading my mom’s romances, but the romances she read had adventurous women who took their fate into their own hands, were strong enough to fight back, and had an adventure.

Which living actor would you cast to play your protagonist, Paavo Wolf, in your full-length novel, “Big Bad Wolf”?

BigBadWolfJames Marsden or James Franco.  I love their work, and they both have the charisma and charm that Paavo has, along with the humor and personality, along with body type.  If my movie was made into a movie, I would love to have a chance to meet both men.

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

My new book is called Big Bad Wolf.  Paavo Wolfe owns We’re Wolfe’s Books, the place to go for Lake Superior’s horror book and movie aficionados. His best friend, Stacey, own Lotions and Potions next door. When a wolf attacks two of Stacey’s employees, against all reason, they begin to suspect that one of the victims is turning into a werewolf. As they struggle to find the truth, they dodge a nosy news reporter, an ex-partner detective assigned to the case, a drug selling boyfriend, and too many friends trying to help solve the crime before things become really hairy. Can Paavo solve the mystery before he runs into the Big Bad Wolf?  The action takes place the week of Halloween and during a horror film festival and a zombie prom.

Currently, I am finishing up the sequel to Big Bad Wolf.  It’s called GingerDead Man, where a baker from Icing on the Lake is thrown in his own oven and Paavo and Stacey find his body.  This book takes place over Thanksgiving week, and they have to deal with Joe’s family, Paavo’s landlord, and the homeless dinner as an arsonist is setting Duluth ablaze.  The heat is turned up in more ways than one in Paavo and Joe’s relationship from the steam room at the bath house to the various fires that are set around the town, putting everyone in jeopardy.  Billy Goat Snuffed is the third book planned in this series.

SailorsI have a children’s mystery about a mummy being plotted, and a bunch of short story requests.  So I am busy and ideas are flowing.

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 want to know.

Find Logan Zachary on the web: www.loganzacharydicklit.com

Interviewing the enigmatic “Have Body, Will Guard” creator, Neil Plakcy

This week I get to interview one of my favorites, the ever enigmatic and delightful, author Neil Plakcy – interview by Jon Michaelsen;

Neil, where do you live?

A townhouse in Hollywood, Florida, a mile or so inland from the ocean, with my partner and our golden retriever.

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

I think it’s the way that I combined the coming out story with the mystery in Mahu, the first of my mystery novels about Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka. I’d read a lot of gay mysteries by then, and all the detectives had already been out in their personal and/or work lives. I wanted to show how the process of solving cases can relate to a hero’s figuring out his own life.

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

I’m a college English professor, so a great deal of my life revolves around reading and writing, often with my dog curled up beneath my desk. I try to write for an hour or so every day, usually stopping in at Starbucks on my way to school. I use the voice recorder on my phone for funny bumper stickers and snatches of description. I get a lot of inspiration for my golden retriever mysteries just from watching my dog. (His royalties come in the form of treats and belly rubs.)

What inspires and challenges you most in writing? 

I’m a romantic, and so I’m continually thinking about how we fall in love and how we stay in love in the face of obstacles, both internal and external. For my Hawaii mysteries, I’m inspired by life in the tropics (which I experience in Florida), by news of the islands, and by all the unique characteristics of Hawaii – everything from sexy paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) to leis to surfers and a hundred other cool things.

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 work on a principle I learned in graduate school, based on screenplay structure. I start out with one or more characters in a situation, then look forward to the first plot point, about 1/3 of the way through the book, when something changes the trajectory of the story. For example, for Kimo in the Mahu series, it can be discovery of a clue that sends the investigation in a different direction. I work my way toward that point, writing scenes and moving the story forward, and hope by the time I get there I know what the second plot point is, another third of the way through. By the time I get there, I hope I know who the villain is, what his/her motivation is, and what the climactic action is going to be. But that doesn’t always happen, and sometimes I have to go back and rethink the plot to make it work. I can’t plot out too rigidly or I get bored – writing is hard work, and my reward for the work is learning how the story comes out. If I already knew before I started, I wouldn’t have the motivation to do the work. I usually do at least three drafts of a book – more if I have lost my way and have to rethink.

natural_predators_100You currently have some highly popular gay mystery/thriller series known to fans as the “Mahu” and “Have Body, Will Guard” mysteries, the latter with more of a romantic angle. How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters? 

I love these characters, and love seeing how their lives evolve. In the Mahu books, Kimo is going through the arc that many gay men do – coming out to himself and others, making gay friends, starting to date, falling in love, having love drama, finding Mr. Right and settling down, then dealing with all the issues that come with couples. Now he and his partner are becoming dads. All that feeds into the mystery plots—I try to give him cases that will challenge him based on where he is in life.

In the Have Body, Will Guard books, I’m walking a tightrope between romance and adventure. I wanted to write the kind of gay heroes I didn’t see much in contemporary fiction – strong, daring and smart, committed to helping others. But at the same time I recognize they’re a couple in love and I look for ways to challenge them. What if a client is attracted to one (or both) of them? What if Aidan, the former teacher, considers giving up being a bodyguard to return to teaching? A fan mentioned to me a while ago that while the Mahu books have a lot of family background, Aidan and Liam exist on their own. So their next adventure brings them into contact with their families – and highlights their different feelings about family.

You also have published numerous gay romance and erotica titles; can you share any that have mystery/thriller/suspense sub-plots?

Mi Amor, one of my romance novels from Loose Id, has a subplot involving Russian gangsters, and my self-pubbed The Russian Boy is about the theft of a painting. The Guardian Angel of South Beach, a novella from Loose Id, is about a gay guy who takes some magic pills that bulk him up to become a crime-fighter.

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

I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced little overt homophobia – but I live and work in a very liberal environment.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Dark chocolate. Microbrewed beer. And time to myself!

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

As I mentioned, I write multiple drafts of books. So right now I have a solid first draft on my computer for GHOST SHIP, the next Mahu Investigation. A powerboat carrying nuclear material washes up on the shore of Oahu, with a young couple and their infant twins dead. As a new father himself, Kimo’s very moved by this case and investigating it takes him out of his comfort zone.

The next Have Body, Will Guard, THE NOBLEST VENGEANCE, sends Aidan and Liam to Turkey and then back home to New Jersey as they protect Aidan’s distant cousins from danger.

I’ve also finished a draft of the next golden retriever mystery, and I’m working right now on a romance follow up to this year’s LOVE ON SITE. I’m having a lot of fun creating sexy love stories for a group of recent college graduates on South Beach.

love_on_site_150On 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.

Find Neil Plakcy on the web:

www.mahubooks.com

www.mahubooks.blogspot.com

http://www.loose-id.com/authors/l-p/neil-plakcy.html

http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowAuthorBooks.php?list=_ABKLIST028&author=Neil!Plakcy