This week, I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite mystery writers; the terrific author of the incredible “Dick Hardesty” and “Elliott Smith and John” mysteries; Dorien Grey.
Dorien, where do you live?
I live in Chicago, to which I returned after a 40-or-so-year absence, and now live on the same street and within five blocks of the apartment I moved into straight from college. Eerie to walk down the same streets, past the same buildings I was so familiar with so very long ago.
Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Well, I assume the question was somewhat satirical, since I not only toot my own horn and often and loudly as possible, but have a full symphony orchestra of which I am the only member. It’s seriously difficult, though, to pick out one thing as my “greatest accomplishment” other than managing to live as long as I have. My life is my greatest accomplishment, I think.
I live alone, alas, with my black cat, Sheba (pathos, anyone?). I spend about 10 hours a day on the computer, too much of it spent directing my little symphony orchestra to convince people to read my books. I am grateful to my best friend, Gary, who lives in the next building to mine, without whom I might get out far less than I do, to plays and concerts and museums and coffee and…the usual big city stuff.
What inspires and challenges you most in writing?
My ever-active mind, which is like an industrial-strength popcorn popper churning out an endless flow of thoughts and ideas which I then enter into the computer in various ways. I will not be here forever, so I am almost obsessed with preserving in some form as much of my life and myself as I can. Words are my posterity.
You’ve probably answered this question a hundred times, but please indulge as our readers and fellow writers) would like to know: Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?
I’ve always felt that, while detailed plotting works for some writers, plotting in advance, other than the sketchiest of ideas where I want to go, would be like wearing concrete boots. I sit down at the computer and turn my mind on, then just sit at the computer and watch what my fingers have typed. (Okay, it’s not quite that easy, but I often surprise myself by what appears there.)
The classic example of this, which I’ve quoted often, happens in “The Good Cop,” book #3 of the Dick Hardesty series. I have Dick walk into a bar to pick up a local gay paper and…with absolutely no planning on my part…he meets Jonathan Quinlan, who turns into the love of his life and with whom he has shared every book since. I’m still both amazed and delighted to tell this story.
How do you deal with the constant distractions such as blogs, FB, promo and real life (like that dreaded daytime job)?
I’m fortunate enough not to have a daytime job, and it often seems my life is one long series of distraction. Like trying to run between the raindrops, I just do the best I can. I do admit, lately, to have been very negligent on working on my current WIP, but I’ve decided not to let myself get too upset by it. I’ll know when it’s time.
You currently have two gay mystery/suspense series known to fans as the “Dick Hardesty” and “Elliott Smith” mysteries, with the Hardesty mysteries at fourteen books now! How do you sustain serialized, continuing characters?
One of the nice things about a series is that I–and the reader–get to know each of the recurring characters as real people, and just as real people change and evolve over time, so do the characters in a series. Of all my characters, I think Jonathan has evolved the most, from an awkward young kid who Dick tended at times to treat as a surrogate son to a full partner in the relationship. The addition of Joshua, Jonathan’s young nephew, to the series had solidified many of both Dick and Jonathan’s traits.
Well, I’m waiting for The Serpent’s Tongue…Dick Hardesty #15…to be released
As am I, Jon…as am I. I have never had a shred of patience, and while one might think patience would come with age, one would, in my case, be wrong.
Have had you ever had to deal with homophobia after your gay novels are released, and if so, what form has it taken?
I can honestly say I have never encountered any overt homophobia surrounding my books. I’m sure there must be someone out there who has it, but I’m not aware of it, thank God . I do not suffer bigots gracefully.
Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?
One of the reasons I have been neglecting work on Cameron’s Eye, book #5 of the Elliott Smith paranormal mysteries is that I have been concentrating on having all my books done as audiobooks. I’ve become intrigued with audiobooks and their ability to reach out to markets regular print and e-books cannot; specifically to the blind and dyslexic, as well to those who enjoy listening to novels while traveling to and from work or longer distances. I’m going to start beating the drums for giving audiobooks (as well as all other forms of books) as holiday presents; they’re the perfect gift and you don’t have to go any further than your computer to shop for them.
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.
And I am really grateful to you and your readers for allowing me this opportunity for my “orchestra” to play a few selections.
Find Dorien Grey on the web:
My website is www.doriengrey.com and anyone interested can read the first chapter of any or all of my books there. I also have a blog site: www.doriengreyandme.com, and invite anyone on FB with whom I am not already friends to join me there.