Interviewing Southern Gay Fiction by Newcomer Stephen del Mar

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen

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

My pleasure. This is my first interview, so you know, very cool.

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

I live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

dark_love_cover_02 320 x 200

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

Well, I’m still a fairly “new” writer, but I think what I’m most proud of so far is my first novel Dark Love. It came together pretty quickly while I was working on another book. I finished the first draft in something like 10 weeks, which is blazing fast for me. We got it edited pretty fast and published. I was a little nervous because it is a rather wacky and strange story but the feedback has been great. When people want to know when the next one is coming out, I take that to be a good sign.

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

Aha, I’m supposed to have a home life? Do they sell those on Amazon? I’m a single guy working two jobs and trying to find time to write. Fortunately my parents and the sibs all live in the Tampa area so I get to spend time with them.

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

I’m a total pantster. Nothing blocks me faster than trying to outline something. I know this sounds silly but for a long time, I’m talking years and years, I didn’t get any writing done because I was always told that you had to start with an outline. A few years ago, I reconnected with a friend from high school, who is also a writer, and she asked me why the hell I hadn’t gotten any writing done. I explained that I always got hung up on the outlines and it never went anywhere. She very patiently explained to me, that it was okay to just make stuff up as I went. I haven’t looked back since. I have thirty years of storytelling to catch up on.

Can you share something about yourself most wouldn’t know?

I’m sure I could, but I don’t know what that would be. You mean like how I don’t like beats? Really, don’t feed me beats. Oh and I have dyslexia, which can make writing a bitch. Thank God for editors and proof readers.

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

That’s a really good question. I’d say, no, because I really don’t tell a lot of people I write, let alone what I write. I live and work in the more rural and conservative areas of Tampa and well, they tend to be suspicious of those with book learning and I tend to write about men doing unnatural things with other men, so I’d rather keep the pitchfork action down.


You have published numerous short stories, novellas and novels in several genres, such as gay contemporary, mystery/thriller, paranormal/ghosts and gay romance; Do you have a favorite genre for writing?

No, well other than stories with gay men in them, I don’t think I have a genre. I write what the muse gives me. Back to the pantster thing, I guess, an idea for a story comes to me and I start writing it. For example, “Slay me,” said the dragon. is a fun little urban fantasy story. I didn’t plan on writing an urban fantasy story, I just had this flash of a leather bar, which was really a dragon bar and in walked a twink that was really a dragon slayer. Suddenly the gears started turning and a nice little short story came about.

Okay, maybe I need to re-think my answer. Although I have some broader fantasy and a sci-fi series on the to-be-written list, I think the genre I’ve really settled into is some kind of broad neo-gothic southern thing. One of the hallmarks of southern writing has been setting as character, sometimes the central character. I’m really having fun playing with my Bennett Bay series, using the same setting and many of the same characters for contemporary stories as well as more paranormal and fantasy stories.

“Him” is promoted as a short psychosexual horror story about madness, delusion and murder, and I found it to be that and much more. Few writers choose to delve into the psychotic mind as the main character as you have. Did writing the story freak you out as it did me reading it?   

You have no idea. That is one of my first stories. I did it more as a writing experiment where I wrote something really dark. I really had no idea what I was doing because I do not read that kind of story.

The seed for that story comes from a bit of real life. I went to grad school in the Twin Cities and I used to work in the mental health field, so I know a bit about psychosis. And I’m also very aware of the stigma the mentally ill face, so I’m always trying to be sympathetic when I meet the obliviously ill folk out in the community. So there was this guy on the bus I took that presented as mildly delusional and I said hi to him one day and tried to chat with him a bit. Over the next few days I realized he had started including me in his delusions. I choose to start taking a different bus. (You have to love the mental health care system in this country where we let sick people fend for themselves on the street, but that is a rant for another day.) Anyway, I took that experience and tried to imagine what it would be like to slip into a very dark place. And just to make it more fun, I wrote it in first person, so I really was the crazy guy. I have a whole new respect for writers who write regularly in this genre. I couldn’t do it.


Several of your short stories include ghostly themes. One in particular I greatly enjoyed is “The Demise of Bobby and Clyde”. What was your inspiration for writing this dark ghost story?    

Halloween, I think. I wanted to write a good old fashion ghost story that could tie in with my Bennett Bay location. I of course wanted to give it a fun little gay twist so I have two naked guys exploring an old house. Half the fun was getting them naked in a believable way. Sadly, things don’t end well. There is a follow up story planned. Not sure when I can get to it. Three sisters, who are witches, buy the haunted house and want to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Not a good idea. But things end better in that one, maybe.

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

Dark Love is my current release. It started out as my little poke at paranormal romances, you know the whole sparkly vampire thing, but it transformed along the way into something with a bit of depth to it. “Dark love” is a metaphor for gay love, how our love had to be hidden for so long. It’s a story about letting go of the past and finding and forming family. There are no vampires but there are witches, fairies and a guy named Boris.

Return to Cooter Crossing is my current work in progress. I’m about 75% done with the first draft. I really want to release this by the end of summer. It’s contemporary gay fiction with a strong romantic element but also a southern family story. I have genre issues.

After that I need to write a sequel to Dark Love otherwise my fans will hunt me down and do unpleasant things to me.

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.

Thanks for doing this Jon. It has been a real honor.

Find Stephen del Mar on the web:



NEW EXCERPT: Boystown 6: From The Ashes – by Marshall Thornton


Written by Marshall Thornton

** Graphic m/m sex **


I had him face down on the bed, head shoved into the pillow, back-arched. I held onto the veneered headboard with both hands and fucked him in an aggressive way that in some states was classified as a felony. Owen Lovejoy, Esquire was enjoying the hell out of it.

He was too tall to be considered short but too short to be considered average, which put him on the tall end of short. He had dark hair cut conservatively, nice copper eyes that were made bigger by the large, round, tortoise-shell glasses that kept slipping down his nose as I fucked him. His body was squat and athletic, like a wrestler or a boxer, even though I knew for certain he didn’t do either of those things. Long hours and take-out food seemed to be his only health regime.

His ass was perfectly round, especially when he lay on his stomach, and he lifted it up to meet me as I thrust into him. I’d been fucking him for what seemed like hours. He’d come maybe ten minutes before. I wanted to come. I was tired and the room was hot with radiator heat so I was sweating like we were mired in the dog days of August.

I pushed all thought out of my head and concentrated on the way my dick felt sliding in and out of his ass, the little gasping whimpers he let out, and the sexy arch of his back. A minute later, I could feel myself getting close, muscles contracting, cum flowing through me, and then a few brief seconds of silence, release, blissful emptiness. The French call it la petite mort, the small death. But I don’t think it’s like that. It’s more like life, before I screwed it up so bad.

I caught my breath and pulled my dick out of him. He flipped over and said, “I made a mess of the sheets. I came twice.”

“You paid for them. I don’t think I can complain.” On his second visit, Owen had arrived with a set of nice permanent press polyester and cotton sheets from Carson Pirie Scott . I lived in a place called the Hotel Chateau where you could rent rooms by the hour, the day, the week, or the month. The rooms were furnished right down to the bedding. Bedding that wasn’t up to Owen’s standards.

The Hotel Chateau was located in a six-story, yellow brick building on Broadway with a mod sixties neon sign and steel awning stuck on one end of the building. I lived in a single room with no kitchen. The sallow yellow paint had bubbled off under the window and the drapes had a groovy brown and black pattern that hid the mold growing up the back of them. There was a double bed, a dresser, and a small metal table with two chairs. In other words, the place was thoroughly disgusting. But it was a hundred and ten dollars a month and I could walk to work. That gave it an appeal.

Abruptly, Owen said, “I keep hearing that this is what causes AIDS.”

“What is?”

“Sex, dear. What we just did.”

“Do you wanna stop coming to see me?” I asked, completely unconcerned with what his answer might be. Well, maybe not completely. It would be inconvenient if he stopped coming around.

“No. I mean, if you’ve got it then you’ve already given it to me. Right?”

“Or vice versa.” I really had no idea what he did when he wasn’t in my bed. I mean, aside from being a lawyer and working his ass off. He could have been fucking half of Chicago in shifts for all I knew.

“True,” he admitted. Of course, he knew that Harker had been sick with AIDS when he was murdered. I suppose he was thinking it was more likely that I’d be the one to be handing it out. If it truly was caused by sex, that is. We lay there a minute or so, the sounds of traffic on the street below drifted up. I’d cracked the window a bit to help with the extra radiator heat.

“This is nice pillow talk,” I said, finally.

“Sweetie, I just wondered if you were worried. Are you?”

Was I? It was like I’d been waiting to start dying for a year, well, hoping might be a better word. It was starting to get hard to believe that I would. “No, I’m not worried.”

“It’s mostly in New York and San Francisco, anyway,” he pointed out.

“Is it?”

“I think something like two thousand people have died nationwide. But I don’t think there’s even been two hundred here. If that.”

“Lucky us,” I said, though I didn’t feel lucky. I’d known three people who had it. Two of them wouldn’t have made the death count, though. Harker because he’d been murdered. Earl Silver, Ross’ boyfriend, had officially died of liver disease since it was less embarrassing. So, of that couple hundred, I knew one who’d been counted. Some guy named Robert who’d been Brian’s grumpy roommate. I didn’t like the drift of the conversation so I changed the subject. “You told Mrs. Harker where I work.”


“I told her lawyer where you work. Was it a secret?”

“She came by to see me.”

“I’ll call Buck and tell him that’s not cool.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“What did she want?”

“Her favorite priest died of a heart attack. Except she doesn’t believe it. She wants me to poke around.”

“Are you going to?

“No, I gave that up.”

“You still have your license, though.”

“For another year.”

“When you’re ready to go back to work, I can use you at the firm. In fact—”

“I’m not going to get ready. I just said I gave that up.”

He put a hand on my bare chest and said, “Relax, it was just an offer. Why doesn’t she believe the priest had a heart attack?”

“Because she’s a stubborn old bitch.”


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Author Michael Nava; Creator of the Highly Popular Henry Rios Mystery Novels

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen

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


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

Just outside San Francisco.

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

You know, Jon, the most interesting things about me are in the books I’ve written.  Otherwise, my life is quite ordinary.  Getting up, cleaning the cats’ litter box, going to work, coming home, making dinner, watching baseball on TV.  Really nothing to write home about.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

Twenty-plus years of sobriety. (Jon – Congratulations! That IS a major accomplishment and I’m greatly proud for you.)

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

Well, never to my face.  I’m sure there were outlets that did not review the books because they featured a gay protagonist and undoubtedly many readers wouldn’t read the books for that reason.  On the other hand, the fact that there was a gay protagonist may have distinguished them from the crowded field of crime fiction and attracted reviewers and readers for that very reason.  Certainly, I have no complaints about the positive reviews the books received in many mainstream publications.  So, the gay factor may have been a wash.


Your seven novels featuring gay Mexican-American criminal attorney, Henry Rios, are cited often by authors of the LGBT mystery/thriller genre (including me!) as not only ground-breaking, but a major influence in their own writing. How do you feel having achieved such enormous influence on generations of writers (not to mention readers) and the icon-status bestowed upon you? 

I appreciate the compliment but the real pioneer was Joseph Hansen.  His 12 Dave Brandstetter, novels, published between the early 70’s and mid-90’s, featured a gay insurance investigator who was both secure in his sexuality and his masculinity and competent at his job.  Joe’s books were the antithesis of camp and the mid-70’s New York gay ghetto novels in which the protagonists were “doomed beauties” whose lives seem to consist of sex, drugs and self-pity.  I read them as a law student at Stanford and they spoke to my experience of being gay and gave me a model for what a sane, accomplished life might look like as a gay, professional man.  They are also beautifully written — Joe’s best books are as good as Ross McDonald’s or any of the other so-called “literary” mystery writers — and a great pleasure to read.  Joe showed me the way and I am in his debt as a writer and a human being.  So, to the extent people feel the way about my books that I feel about Joe’s, I would urge them to read Joe’s books if they haven’t already.


The five-time Lambda Award winning Henry Rios mystery/suspense series is what fans have come to know you for, starting in 1986 with the release of The Little Death. Last year, to the excitement of many fans, all novels in the series were released in e-book and audio formats to a new generation of gay mystery lovers. Are you surprised by the series’ incredible endurance of almost three decades?  

I’m happy the books are still available and that, as e-books, I won’t have to worry about them ever going out of print.  It was odd hearing the audiobook.  I could only listen to a little bit and then I had to turn it off.  I don’t know why it was so disconcerting to hear another voice reading words I wrote, but it was.  As for why they have survived, I don’t know.  I think they do document a very complex and difficult period in LGBT history — the plague years — and the fact that they constitute a series may provide a more panoramic view of those years than a one-off novel.


Can you share why you chose to end the Henry Rios series with the release of the seventh and final novel, Rag and Bone?

I never set out to be a mystery writer, my first vocation was as a poet. When I did turn my attention from writing poetry to writing fiction in my early 20s, I wanted to write about my sense of “otherness” and estrangement from the mainstream culture as a gay man in a straight world and a brown man in a white world. I found the American noir was a perfect vehicle for that exploration because in those classic novels by Chandler and Ross McDonald, for example, you had an outsider hero who embodied the virtues the mainstream pretended to honor — loyalty, courage, ingenuity — but rarely demonstrated. And, as I said, Joe Hansen’s books, which were mysteries, gave me a blueprint. So crime fiction seemed a way to write about a queer Latino lawyer struggling to right the thing in a hostile world. The Little Death was supposed to be a one-off but it did well and the publisher — Sasha Alyson, another gay pioneer — asked me if I had another one in me. I did. After Goldenboy was published a New York literary agent got in touch with me and said he thought New York publishers would be interested in more Rios books. He negotiated a two book deal with HarperCollins and, voila, I was a mystery writer.



By the time I got to the last book in the Rios novels, I had pretty much exhausted its capacity to explore those outsider themes. At the same time, I had become more interested in my Mexican heritage and identity than in my gay identity. So I looked for another literary vehicle to explore that aspect of my “otherness.” One thing and another led me to fin-de-siècle Mexico, the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican-Arizona border and Hollywood in the silent film era.  So now I’m writing a series of historical novels. My underlying theme never changes: I write about the day-to-day heroism of disenfranchised, the despised, the underdog.

It’s been about thirteen years between the release of your last Henry Rios novel and your most recent release, The City of Palaces. What kept you so busy all these years? Have you ever considered penning another gay mystery series?

Well, as you may know Jon, in addition to writing I’m a lawyer.  I’ve spent almost my entire legal career in public service, first as a prosecutor, and for the last 25 years as a staff attorney at the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court, where I currently work on death penalty cases, writing opinions in those cases for the court.  I also became very involved in pushing for greater diversity in the legal profession and the judicial system.  California is a “minority/majority” state — that is, no single racial or ethnic group comprises 50% of the population — and the largest population is Latinos, most of us of Mexican descent.  Yet, though we are approaching 40% of the population, lawyers and judges are overwhelmingly white, straight and male. Unless we’re prepared to accept an apartheid system of justice in California, that has to change.  I spent most of the last 10 years working on that issue in various capacities.  Now as I approach retirement from the law, I’ve turned my focus back to writing.  I’m not interested in writing another mystery series, but I don’t rule out revisiting Rios at some point.

The City of Palaces is a significant departure from the more contemporary gay mysteries you’ve written in the past. After a long absence from publishing, what influenced you to share such a sweeping historical saga set prior to the Mexican Revolution?

The book is well thecityofpalaces

Well, as I mentioned, in the last 15 years or so I’ve become really interested in the Mexican part of my heritage and identity.  My great-grandparents came to California in 1920 as refugees of the Mexican Revolution; they were among the million Mexican displaced by that savage and bloody civil war, about which most of us know nothing.  So there’s that.  But I also became fascinated by Ramon Novarro, who was one of the first generation of movie stars in the 1920s, and who was both a Mexican immigrant and a homosexual.  His early life — how he came to L.A. as a teenager and hung out at the studios where he was discovered — and what it might have been like to be an immigrant and gay and suddenly propelled into worldwide fame, seemed like a story worth telling.  Those narrative threads came together for me.  Originally, I was going to write a single novel based on Novarro and set in Hollywood in the late teens and early 20’s, but the backstory — the story of the Revolution and how he came to California — was so complicated and dramatic and fascinating that I realized I could not do his story justice in a single book.  So The City of Palaces, which introduces the Novarro character (called Jose) as a nine-year-old boy is the first of four novels.

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

I just finished a book tour for The City of Palaces and now, after catching my breath, I will resume work on the second book in the series which is set in the border town of Douglas, Arizona between 1913 and 1916.

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

Thank you, Jon.



Find Michael Nava on the web:






Author Alex Morgan’s Popular Paranormal Police Detective Returns

Author Alex Morgan interviewed by Jon Michaelsen


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

Ellicott City, which is just northwest of Baltimore, Maryland.

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

Getting published is a huge milestone.  I love saying ‘yes’ when someone asks with a sympathetic look ‘have you ever been published?’ and watching a mixture of disbelief and ‘really?’ cross their faces.

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

I have a husband who supports my writing hobby but often asks ‘how do you come up with this stuff?’.

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

I come up with a general idea of the story I want to write and then continue to expand on it until I feel satisfied with the final product.

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

I’ve never experienced homophobia from any novel or short story, but I get the impression some bad reviews of my work are rooted in homophobia. Nothing specifically has been written but there have been subtle implications readers have been turned off by the gay themes.

You have published numerous short stories, novellas and novels in several genres, such as gay contemporary, mystery/thriller, M/M, erotica, and gay romance;

Have I missed any?

You missed only one: post-apocalyptic science fiction. Harvested, available from JMS Books, takes place after an alien race has devastated Earth and stripped it of its resources.  Dakota sets off through wild territory with unknown perils to find his lover, Grayson.


Do you have a favorite genre for writing?

I prefer writing mysteries because of the broader appeal (I get to toot my horn a bit more).  But I like writing BDSM stories because they are easier and a lot more fun!

For reading?

I love reading mysteries set in ancient or medieval times.  I recently finished reading John Roberts Maddox’s Decius Mettelus Caecilius the Younger series set in ancient Rome.  Now I’m reading Laura Joh Rowland’s Sano Ichiro series set in late seventeenth century Japan.

The Corey Shaw mystery series will soon be re-released by Wilde City Press for fans to enjoy. You must have been surprised by the sudden closure of your last publisher as I was; when can readers expect to see titles from your backlist return, especially those with mystery/thriller/suspense elements?

Breathless“, the first Corey Shaw mystery was just released by Wilde City Press, followed by “Murder at the Green Lantern” and then “Invisible Curtain” in order.

The Corey Shaw mysteries are some of my favorite, especially the second installment, “Murder at the Green Lantern”, where following a fetish party at a gay bar in Washington D.C., a young man is found murdered and left nailed to a St. Andrew’s Cross. When will it be available to readers again? Can we expect to see more of paranormal sleuth, Corey Shaw?  

Breathless_Alex Morgan

The final edits of Murder at the Green Lantern are finished so look for it this summer.  The fourth installment, “Legacy of Hepaestus” (never published before) will be out after “Invisible Curtain“.

Many readers may not realize you and I collaborated together to write Switch Hitter, an erotic thriller novella about a closeted top ranked National League baseball player with a secret, who falls for an alpha S.W.A.T captain tasked with rescuing him from a crazed fan. What did you think when I first approached you to collaborate on a story?  

Who doesn’t know we collaborated on “Switch Hitter”? I thought you and I did a good job of telling everybody!  Hehehe

My first reaction was apprehension because some of my…I mean, a lot of my…oh, all right, all of my ideas are kinda out there, so I thought you might echo my husband and say “how do you come up with this stuff?” LOL. But I’m pleased with the final product.

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

Sure!  “Legacy of Hephaestus” opens where “Invisible Curtain” leaves off.  Corey is trying to salvage the remainder of his Baltic vacation by enjoying the sights and men (mainly, the men) in the Netherlands and Norway.  A huge diamond is stolen from a factory in Amsterdam.  Then a young man with whom Corey has a one night stand is murdered, and an attempt is made on his life in Oslo. When Corey gets back to Massachusetts, he believes he is safely back home, but he gets drawn into the situation when a noted volcanologist on sabbatical disappears from the University of Bergen in Norway and the diamond appears in Boston.  Corey has to return to Europe to find the missing professor, whose disappearance is linked to the diamond theft.  And the people who tried to kill him in Oslo aren’t ready to give up yet.


I’m also working on a mainstream novel which is a follow-up to the two already at JMS Books, “Inside Passage to Murder” and “A Faire Day for Murder“, which feature colleagues of Corey Shaw. My current WIP is based in southwest Louisiana, where an old woman, hated by everybody, has been found dead.  Was it murder or natural causes?  Randy Arsenault believes it’s murder, but proving it will be difficult because it seems everyone in the small town of Opelousas had a reason for wanting her dead.

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 Alex Morgan on the web: