Catching up with the Multi-Lammy Finalist author, Marshall Thornton

MarshallThorntonIt’s been two years since I first interviewed, Marshall Thornton, the author of the very popular BOYSTOWN series. This week, I’ve decided to share the same interview with you again, and provide some updates to what Marshall has been up to with the Boystown series.

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

I live in Long Beach, California about a block from the beach. I’ve been in Southern California for twenty-five years. Before that I lived in Chicago.

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

Well, aside from simply still being alive, I’d have to say that my Boystown mystery series is what I’m most proud of. I suppose, I’m also quite proud of the fact that I put myself through college; several times.

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

I live in a very large apartment with two roommates, two step-dogs and one pampered pedigree cat.

What inspires and challenges you most in writing?

I think the best writing advice I’ve ever seen is to write something you’d like to read. I find that both inspiring and challenging.

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?


It depends on the project, but generally I start an outline before I begin a project and then never finish it. Sometimes if I loose my way, I stop and re-outline. I will admit that the first five Boystown books have an arc that was unplanned and completely seat of your pants writing. I have actually thought through an arc for the next three or four books… I don’t want to trust in luck twice.

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

I’m a multitasker by nature. I don’t have the patience to just do one thing at a time. As I write this I’m also checking my sales numbers, playing World of Warcraft, and considering ways in which our government could become functional.

How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters? What are your thoughts about printBoystown5 versus audio book?

I think the best series, whether in book form or on television, are stories in which the main character has an unsolvable internal conflict at the center of their character. An easy example of that would be the TV comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. Raymond is a guy who hates his family and loves them at the same time. That’s a problem without a solution. In my series, as in many detective series, the main character’s central conflict has to do with the desire for justice and the inability to get justice in an unjust world; in a gay mystery series this internal conflict mirrors the external conflict of our community’s fight for justice.

There are some big differences between audio and print. With audio, I think there’s a temptation to spell everything out for the listener and I’m trying to avoid that. I prefer the listener feel that they’re being told a story rather than having a story acted out for them. Some of the books I’ve listened to go too far with elaborate voices and characterizations; personally, I have trouble finishing those.

Your first book in the Nick Nowak series Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Can you share how you learned your novel was a finalist and how you felt?

Honestly, I don’t remember how I found out. I think I saw that the finalists had been announced and went to their site and saw my book. Of course, it felt great. I think I’ve wanted a Lammy since I first heard about them twenty-five years ago – years before I was even writing fiction… It was very exciting to come close.

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

No, I wouldn’t say I’ve dealt with any homophobia. Or at least, not homophobia with a big H. The books are pretty clearly labeled so I wouldn’t expect to. I’ve had a little pushback from some m/m romance readers who aren’t comfortable with Nick’s unrepentant promiscuity. But then, I’m not trying to write that kind of book and I think readers have figured that out by this point.

Boystown 7On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for answering the questions. Huge congratulations on your Boystown 6: From the Ashes  being selected finalist in the 2015 Lambda Literary Awards in the Gay Mystery category. Good luck with Boystown 7: Bloodlines for the 2016 Lammys!

Thank you!

Will you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?

The eighth book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery Series begins with a phone call in the middle of the night. Private investigator Nick Nowak is pulled into the troubled world of freelance journalist, and all around pain-in-the-ass, Christian Baylor. When Christian can’t stop lying about the corpse in his bathroom things slip slowly out of control. Meanwhile, Nick’s relationship with former priest Joseph Biernecki takes an unexpected turn and the Federal case against Jimmy English proceeds toward trial

boystown8Boystown 8: The Lies that Bind is available for pre-order currently and will be released February 25, 2016.

Have any questions to ask Marshall? Feel free to post them here and Marshall will be happy to respond!


Exclusive Excerpt: Love and Punishment by Susan Mac Nicol

(Currently on sale for $0.99 via Amazon!)


On the search for a serial killer, Detective Anthony Parglietto and Flynn Parker learn that every man must make a choice: to kill, to live, to love.


Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves.

Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.



Detective Inspector Anthony Parglietto strode around the kitchen in Flynn’s home. He ran a large, tanned hand through mid-length, curly black hair as he growled into his mobile phone.

“Jesus, Rupert, I’ve told you already! He’s fucking gone, and all I have is this bloody cryptic note signed BTK, and we all fucking know who that is. Yes, that one. I’ve just sent a picture of Flynn off to your phone. His satchel is still here, the front door was open—that’s not like him at all. He’s normally ultra-cautious. You know how bloody paranoid he is.”

Anthony looked down at the note on the kitchen table, pinned there by a full tomato sauce bottle, a condiment he knew Flynn refused to have in his kitchen. Anthony had never even been able to get him to buy it for his own bloody fish and chips, for God’s sake, so the bottle must mean something.

As he’d arrived at Flynn’s basement flat off the street around eleven-thirty p.m., Anthony had seen the open front door. He’d made his way inside. Flynn’s old, beaten satchel in which he stored all manner of things was sitting on the kitchen counter, with his mobile in it. His laptop bag was at the side of the kitchen table. Flynn’s house keys were on the tabletop. The note had been sitting on the table and Anthony had glanced at it, thinking Flynn had to dash out quickly and left him a note. The handwritten words on the cream note paper had frozen his blood.

Anthony. I have your little fuck buddy. I’ll send him back once I’m finished with him, but he might not be in the same mint condition. Sorry about that. You might just have to have sloppy seconds tonight. Your buddy, BTK.


He’d not touched the note, just called the station and told them to get the Scene of Crime team down here fucking quickly, midnight or not. Once he’d hung up, he’d had time to process the chilling words, fearing what they meant. Then he’d found another note, addressed to Flynn on the same cream-coloured notepaper, lying on the floor by the sink.

By the time he reads this, you’ll be mine. Inside and out.

The two bits of paper had sent Anthony spinning into a spiral of frustration and fear. He stood now in agonised helplessness, his broad-shouldered figure gazing out into the darkness beyond. Anthony Parglietto was forty-two years old, six-foot-four and muscled like a boxer, with an explosive Italian temper just like his mother’s.

The Criminal Investigation Department—the Homicide and Serious Crime unit, in fact—had been his home now for the past nine years. He grimaced as he gazed out of the window. All he could think about now was that the monster he was hunting had Flynn in his clutches. Flynn of the cheeky smile and pale blue icy eyes and a nose for trouble—both causing it and getting into it.

He strode impatiently to the front door and peered out into the street above. It was quiet. Still no SOC team. SOC were usually quick to get to the crime scene but Anthony had no time to wait when Flynn was in mortal danger. Street lights flickered and ebbed undecidedly. Anthony muttered an expletive as he stalked back into the kitchen, tapping his fingers impatiently against his thigh. Close to ten minutes later, he heard the sound of a commotion outside. He walked impatiently over to the door, once again looking up into the street. The detective saw the fat, waddling form of Joe MacGrew, dressed in his white pull-on suit, and his assistant, Maddy Glover, exit their van. Anthony double-timed to the top of the stairs and waved his arms at the pair. They looked at him and Joe nodded. The couple approached, both looking tired and bleary eyed.

Joe clapped a hand on Anthony’s shoulder as he walked down the stairs and past him into the flat. “Anthony, don’t worry. We’ll find him. The rest of the team are on their way.”

Joe walked past Anthony and into the kitchen and looked around, shrewd eyes assessing the situation.

Despite his dread, Anthony felt reassured. Joe and Maddy were among the best at what they did and they’d find something. They had to.

“Is this the note?” Joe asked quietly. He took a swift look around the room, keen eyes noting the layout and no doubt documenting the tableau set before him. “Have you taken a look around yourself? Find anything you want to tell me about?”

Anthony nodded. “Just the notes and the sauce bottle. It doesn’t belong to Flynn. He won’t have it in the house. And there’s another note too. I found it on the floor.” He frowned at Joe’s look. “Don’t worry. I picked it up with a piece of cling wrap. My prints aren’t on it. I’m not a fool, Joe. I’ve been doing this for a while.”

He watched as Joe and Maddy did what they did best, all the time feeling a sense of complete helplessness that he could do nothing useful himself yet. Joe laid his kit out on the kitchen table as Maddy picked up the tomato sauce bottle in her gloved hands, examining the bottle.

“It’s not a new one. It’s been refilled from the looks of it.” She twisted the cap, lifting the bottle to her nose. Her face paled as she looked at Joe grimly.

“This is blood.”

She dipped a cotton bud in the substance and took out her little spray bottle of luminol. Anthony watched in trepidation as the bud turned a greenish blue. He knew all too well what that meant. He paled, bile welling up in his throat that he swallowed, feeling its acidic sting as it went down.

“Jesus Christ. Human blood?”

She shook her head, her face grave. “I won’t know until we get it back to the lab for microscopic analysis. But even if it is, that doesn’t mean it’s Flynn’s. You need to keep calm.”

But her voice sounded uncertain. Anthony passed a shaking hand over his eyes.


Buy Links


Exclusive Excerpt: DRAMA MUSCLE (a Nicky and Noah Mystery) by Joe Cosentino


a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO from Lethe Press


Congratulations to Joe Cosentino for winning Best Contemporary Novel, Best Mystery Novel, Best Crime Novel, and Best Humorous Novel of 2015 for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, in the Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Awards!


It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!


A half hour later, Noah and I (wearing dress shirts, chinos, and blazers), stood in the Bodybuilding Department office in front of the department office assistant’s desk. We looked at one another in surprise as the gray-haired, elderly woman behind the desk snored loudly, perched over her computer monitor. Professor Van Granite, who was much younger than the office assistant (and me), noticed our confusion.

“Mary has worked in the Physical Education building for fifty-five years,” said Granite. He winked at me. “That’s twenty years older than you, Nicky!”

“Why doesn’t she retire?” I asked.


Granite responded, “Because she gets insomnia at home, and at Mary’s age, she needs her sleep.” He nudged my side. “Most older people do.” Then he hooked his muscular arm with Noah’s and stood behind me. “Age before beauty, Professor Abbondanza.”

Luckily for Van Granite, Mary’s snoring drowned out my response.

Department Head Brick Strong’s windowless office in the Bodybuilding section of the Physical Education building reminded me of the custodian’s office in my grade school. Professor Strong’s rickety desk sat between a large drain pipe and an overflowing trash can.

The middle-aged ex-military man ran his thick fingers through his crew cut as he invited each of his guests to sit on rusty metal folding chairs assembled around his desk like cannons surrounding a target. Brick sat behind his desk on an old black chair perched on four squeaky wheels. Clockwise around Professor Strong sat Professor of Bodybuilding Cheryl Stryker, Professor of Bodybuilding Van Granite, my handsome Noah, yours truly, and Detective Manuello.

Though the Bodybuilding faculty wore sweat clothes, the bulges and curves of their formidable muscles were visible through the thick fabric.

Granite cased Noah’s body like a photocopy machine, until I caught Granite’s eye and he looked away—at my crotch. Then he checked himself out in the mirror on the wall. Obviously liking what he saw, Granite flexed his giant biceps, then ran a hand through his chestnut-brown hair. If he had been a student in the bodybuilding competition, I would have cast him as Narcissus.

“Thank you all for coming.” Dressed in a wrinkled gray suit, Manuello pulled at one of the folds of flab hanging over his thick belt. “As you know, this meeting is about the death of bodybuilding student Jonathan Toner.”

“What do you know so far, Detective?” asked Brick Strong in authority mode.

Manuello rubbed his wide nose. “The cause of death was a heart attack.”

Thinking of the numerous muscles on Jonathan’s petite frame, I asked, “Did Jonathan Toner die from taking steroids?”

Brick Strong’s crew cut nearly hit the moldy light bulb over his head. “Absolutely not! We don’t permit our students to use steroids.”

“Do you test them?” I asked.

I obviously had hit a nerve.

The department head said, “I say no steroids, and the students know that means no steroids.”

“I’ll have to try that with my students regarding texting during class,” I said with a nudge to Noah’s arm.

Manuello turned to me in annoyance. “Professor Abbondanza, why are you and Professor Oliver working in this department?”

Since Noah and I helped solve a series of murders in our Theatre Department last academic year, Manuello had a soft spot for us—where he sat.

Noah waved his hands theatrically. “Nicky and I are adding dramatic elements to this year’s student bodybuilding competition.”

“I’m sure,” Manuello answered with eyes raised to his bushy eyebrows. “The initial toxicology report showed something in Toner’s blood. The forensic team is doing further investigation, but they know it isn’t steroids or testosterone.”

Granite flashed his green eyes. “Is there anything else, Detective?” Glancing again at his reflection in the mirror, he added, “I’d like to fit in a workout before my morning class.” His gigantic pectoral muscles contracted under his skintight green sweatshirt as Granite said to Noah, “Care to join me, Professor Oliver?”

“Noah doesn’t like working out,” I explained with dagger eyes aimed at Granite.

Granite responded as if helping himself to sloppy seconds, “How about you, Abbondanza?”

After removing Granite’s thick hand from my arm, and lifting his chin from staring at my crotch, I answered, “I prefer to do my workouts alone.”

“Which is how it came about that Professor Abbondanza found Jonathan Toner last evening,” Manuello said getting us back on track. “Toner’s parents want his body flown to them in Montana after the full coroner’s report. While we wait, do any of you have any information that might be of help? We know Toner had no history of heart disease. But what about his recent state of mind? Is there anyone who might want to hurt him?”

“Detective,” said Cheryl Stryker, “I don’t know if this has anything to do with his death, but Jonathan has been training quite hard this semester.”

“Why is that?” asked Manuello.

“I think it was because Jonathan was jealous of Jillian Flowers,” Cheryl answered.

“Why was Jonathan jealous of Jillian?” I asked as Manuello raised his dark eyes to the cracks in the ceiling.

Cheryl answered, “Jonathan thought Brick had a personal interest in Jillian winning the competition.”

“That isn’t true, and you know it, Cheryl!” Brick Strong rose from his chair like a lawyer issuing a courtroom objection. “I’ve complimented Jillian and Mack a lot lately, because they’ve worked hard and made good progress. As a judge in the bodybuilding competition, I will be completely impartial.” He added to Granite and Cheryl, “I hope you will be too.”

Granite rested his powerful hand on Noah’s knee, and whispered, “Cheryl favors Tim Sim. Tim’s twin Kim is my bet to win the competition.”

I removed Granite’s hand from Noah’s lap.

Manuello asked, “Anything else, Professor Stryker?”

Cheryl nodded. “Jonathan was a good student, and a good bodybuilder, but unfortunately he wasn’t always a very good person.”

Manuello took out his pad and pencil. “Can you elaborate, Professor?”


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