This week I got to spend some time with the author of the highly popular, BOYSTOWN, series: Marshall Thornton. I love his sexy character, Nick Nowak, a former cop turned private investigator, during the 1980s in Chicago – Interview by Jon Michaelsen;
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.
I have been listening via audio book to the first Nick Nowak novel: Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries. I am looking forward to the next release in audio book. How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters? What are your thoughts about print 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.
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 a huge congratulations on your Boystown 5: Murder Book making finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category.
Last question; will you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?
Before the end of the year, my next book The Ghost Slept Over should be out. It’s a romantic comedy for a change of pace.
Here’s the blurb: When failed actor Cal Parsons travels to rural New York to claim the estate of his famous and estranged ex-partner he discovers something he wasn’t expecting…the ghost of his ex! And, worse, his ex invites Cal to join him for all eternity. Now. As Cal attempts to rid himself of the ghost by any means he begins to fall for the attractive attorney representing the estate. Will Cal be able to begin a new relationship or will he be seduced into the ever after?
And, of course, Boystown 6: From the Ashes will be coming out in the spring of 2014.
Have any questions to ask Marshall? Feel free to post them here and Marshall will be happy to respond!