John, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.—-
I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.
Let’s start off with, where do you live?—-
I live in beautiful San Diego, home of the 2015 GayRomLit get-together in October! Woohoo! There are so many people I want to meet I can’t wait. This will be my first writer’s convention. I’m a little nervous but it should be a lot of fun.
Without getting too personal, would you share a little about your home life?—-
I’m married. My husband’s name is John too. We’ve been together for ten years and married for two and we live in the South Park section of the city. We have two cats, Max and Leo, who think they own the place. For exercise I walk about 10 miles a day and for fun I read, watch movies, and piddle around in the yard. That’s about it. Oh, and we take in as many stage shows as we can. For my birthday last month, John took me to see a production of Cabaret. It was great.
I’ve read somewhere that you only recently began submitting your writing for publication; How long have you been writing and why did it take you so long to submit to publishers? ——
That’s not quite accurate. I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. I spent my whole life submitting stuff to publishers and never got my foot in the door anywhere. It was only after I ran across the website for Dreamspinner Press, and after I got to know the wonderful Elizabeth North, who runs the place, that I ever received an acceptance letter. I was sixty before I sold my first book. Since then, I think I just signed my 24th contract, or thereabouts. I write fast even if I did get off to a slow start. It just goes to show, you should never give up.
Do you get to write full-time or are you maintaining an evil day job?—-
I’m retired so I’m one of the lucky few who can write full time. I usually crank out 3 or 4 hours at the computer every morning pecking away at whatever story I’m working on at the time then I go back to it several times during the course of the day. When I’m in the middle of a story I don’t think of much of anything else. The other John seems to understand and stays the hell out of my way. Poor guy. Right now I’m just finishing up a romantic thriller titled, MY BUSBOY. I should have it off to DSP in a couple of weeks. Don’t know what I’ll work on next. Maybe another comedy.
Is A Hard Winter Rain your first novel? Can you share a little of where you got your inspiration for the story and how long it took you to write it?—-
Rain wasn’t my first novel, but it was up there. When I wrote Rain I was still working so it took me longer to finish. Don’t remember how long exactly. Almost a year, I think, since I was working and didn’t have a lot of time to write, plus Rain is longer than a lot of the other novels. It’s still a favorite of mine though. I was so thrilled when DSP picked it up. It was one of the first ones they bought. I walked on air for a week after that. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the greatest thrill of my life, bar none. As for inspiration, I was a hairdresser for forty years and I wanted to write something about a character in that field. I’m not as butch as the guy in the book, but I was able to draw on a lot of stuff knowing the business the way I did. I remember also being excited about incorporating the weather into that story. We had just had a rainy winter in San Diego and I thought the storms would make a great backdrop for a thriller.
You’re known in much of your writing for comic flair, including in stories with a gay mystery/thriller theme, such as Hobbled and Spirit. Is it important to you to include some humor in your writing?—-
I don’t know how important it is, all I know is I seem to do it. I can’t help myself. I think every good piece of fiction needs a little humor to lighten the load of a heavy story. Sometimes I know I go a little overboard — haha — but like I said, I can’t seem to help myself. I try to write what I like to read, and since I like to read humor, that’s what I do.
I read an interview you did with author Carole Cummings where she described you as DSP Publication’s “answer to Stephen King” – that’s a very impressive compliment. Have you always had a special place in your heart for horror?—-
I almost fell off my chair when I saw she had written that. First of all, because he’s one of my idols, and second of all because I would never compare myself to Stephen King. In my opinion, as far as horror goes, nobody matches the King. Just being mentioned in the same sentence with him was enough to make me swoon. Do 65-year-old gay men swoon? I don’t know. Maybe it was just a stroke.
You write in many genres; M/M Romance, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, all very well received from your fans. Do you feel you have different fans per sub-genre, or do they cross over?—-
I had never really thought about it. I do know some of my loyal readers that I’ve gotten to know tell me they prefer comedy or romance, and sometimes those are the ones who aren’t too crazy about horror. But like I said before, I strive to write what I like to read, and I pretty much like to read everything. With every new book I write I try to shoot for something different than what I’ve written before. That’s why I never thought I’d ever write a series. I thought I would be too bored. Fooled me. Somehow when I did Serenading Stanley, I fell in love with the characters so much I had to bring them back. The third Belladonna Arms book comes out August 17th and I’m already thinking about a fourth. So never say never.
Where do you get your ideas for a story; tell us about how you can up with your latest release “Sunset Lake”?—-
Sunset Lake is the closest thing to autobiographical that I’ve ever written. I don’t mean the plot — I haven’t killed any little old ladies, I swear — but I mean as far as the setting goes. Nine Mile may not really exist but it is absolutely a dead ringer for the little farming community where I grew up in Indiana. A lot of the characters in the story are people I knew growing up as well. Mrs. Shanahan for instance, lived on an adjoining farm. The lady who died at her piano in the story was actually a maiden aunt of mine and she really did sit in the closet with a cat on her lap during thunderstorms. Sunset Lake was a stripper pit that everyone used to swim in and it was just as beautiful as the one in the story. There’s a lot of me in that story. A lot of the way I grew up, a lot of the morals I still believe in. I don’t think anyone comes from a farming community like that but that it leaves a mark on you, and over all I think the marks are an asset to the person you become in later life. There’s a lot of love to be found in an environment like that. A lot of honesty. A lot of goodness. It’s a healthy way to grow up. Which doesn’t really explain why I decided to kill them all in my book.
And as for horror having a special place in my heart? You bet. I love writing horror. There are no constraints when you’re writing horror. Anything goes. You can steer your reader anywhere your imagination wants to take him without any boundaries of reality to stand in your way. It’s fun trying to scare that person out there holding your book in the middle of the night, all alone with nothing but your words to keep them company. I like the spooky, gory stuff. I like it in movies and I like it in the books I read. For me, there’s nothing remotely resembling work about writing a horror story. It’s just plain fun.
Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?—-
The novel I’m just finishing up, MY BUSBOY — I have one scene left to write and then some editing — is a love story between a well-known writer and a busboy he meets at his favorite neighborhood restaurant. As most of my stories do, it takes place in San Diego. For conflict, we have a crazy ass stalker who’s driving the writer nuts, and before the story is over the stalker goes off the deep end and becomes truly dangerous. You have to watch those fans, haha, you never know what they’re going to do. I’m pleased with the way the story is ending up. In fact, I just wrote most of the big “battle” scene this morning over a pot and a half of coffee. I’ll probably have to tone it down a little bit after the caffeine wears off. This is one of those novels, unlike A Hard Winter Rain, where the romantic part of the story takes center stage. It’s a very sweet book, I think. Even with all the action at the end. I hope people will like it.
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.—-
I’m really honored that you asked me. I hope we can do it again some time. It’s been a lot of fun.
Find John Inman on the web: