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Gregory, thank you so much for taking some time out of your very busy schedule to answer a few brief questions about yourself, and your writing for the members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.
Thank you so much for inviting me to do this. It’s an honor to be asked to participate.
JM – Where were you born, and where do you live now?
GA – I’m a St. Louis native. Although I moved away for college, grad school, and then work, I came back a few years ago. I love the city; it’s great for so many reasons: the culture, the food, the history, the parks, etc. Among other things, I was surprised on my return to find that St. Louis has a strong LGBTQ+ community. It also has a strong writing community. I feel like I lucked out!
JM – Without getting too personal, can you share a little about your life with us?
GA – Oh boy. The sad truth is that I’m very boring. I work full time (I teach at a local high school), and in my free time, I try to read and write as much as possible. I also do exciting things like laundry, grocery shopping, and home repair (I’m still learning a lot about this last one). Every once in a while, I still try dating. I used to travel a fair amount for research, but now my adventures are limited to summer vacation. I’m still trying to figure out where I might go this year!
JM – Do you write full-time, have a 9-5, or are you a Lottery Winner?
GA – Writing full time sounds like a dream job; maybe one day I’ll get there. Right now, I’m lucky that I love the work I do teaching high school (my students might not be quite as enthusiastic, however).
JM – How long have you been writing/publishing?
GA – Like many writers, I imagine, I’ve been writing and telling stories for about as long as I can imagine. My siblings were fairly good sports about it until puberty hit! For a long time, I thought of myself as a writer even though I wasn’t actually writing anything. A series of experiences changed my mind about that, and about ten years ago, I started writing regularly.
JM – Do you write in other genres besides gay mystery/thriller/suspense?
GA – I’ve written in high fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay mystery/thriller. I also have an abandoned sci-fi (cyberpunk) novel that I still intend on finishing one day.
JM – Have you always self-published your writing? I ask because your finished product is of great quality, which isn’t always the case in this hyper-insane, electronic publishing market.
GA – That’s an incredibly generous thing to say. Thank you. I have always self-published. I’ve had a few near-misses with traditional publishers, but nothing has ever landed for me. That being said, I think it’s fair to acknowledge that my work has improved over the last ten years. I keep my older books available for sale, but I hope readers will recognize that my self-publishing skills and my writing craft have grown. My advice is always to preview first; I feel like that gives a fair idea of what you’re buying.
JM – You are a new author for me, having discovered your gay mystery/suspense novel, Pretty Pretty Boys, shortly after its release in Nov. 2017. I quickly snapped up the second novel in the series, Transposition, and have pre-ordered the third, The Paternity Case. Is Hazard/Somer’s your first series? How did the characters come about for you?
GA – Again, thank you for the very kind words. I have–boy, let me think–I think, I have five series that I’ve previously published. No, six. Two of them are m/m paranormal (no were-creatures or vampires): Hollow Folk and The Sophistries of June. A third (Witte & Co. Investigations) is historical fantasy with a strong m/m romance line (although not the main plot). See above for my caveat about my growth as a writer and self-publisher.
Your question about how Hazard and Somers came about is a good one. I know that many authors say that they’re not sure where an idea came from; it just popped into their head. That’s happened to me before, but it wasn’t the case with this series. I remember vividly when I first heard the story of Jesse Valencia, a student at Mizzou who was killed by a closeted cop in order to cover up their relationship (http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/05/23/rios/). That was the seed for this story; Hazard and Somers grew out of it. (JM–I know this story well; how ironic – I have a drafted plot idea influenced by this story in a folder (along with some research) that I wrote in 2011 – great writing minds think alike, lol!).
I have a longer account of how the piece developed, including a few surprising twists along the way, that I’ll be sharing with subscribers to my email list when Paternity Case launches at the beginning of April. I hope anyone interested will sign up!
JM – I so enjoyed Pretty Pretty Boys; the push and pull, yin and yang, rather complicated relationship between MCs, Emery (Hazard) Hazard and John-Henry Somerset (Somers), both detectives in the small-town Wahredua Police Department make the novels work! At the beginning of the series, Somers has remained in Wahredua, MI his entire life; Hazard has just returned to his hometown in disgrace upon getting fired from his former detective’s job in big city, USA; What a set up! So much history to explore from page one! How many books in the series are you planning?
GA – That’s a lovely description of the dynamic I’ve attempted to create in the books; thank you. The short answer to your question is: I don’t know yet. The slightly longer answer: I’m finishing a six-book arc that will resolve the back-and-forth of Hazard and Somers’s relationship, as well as one (maybe two) of the major recurring antagonists. However, I’ve already planned a second arc for the two detectives, and I plan on writing that second set of novels if there’s still interest.
JM – You have been successful in creating two strong-willed characters that are enemies as much as they are friends; yet their unique personalities make it work between them. The novels have complex, twisty mysteries, and yet romantic undertones (not giving anything away, here!) Have you always been a romantic?
GA – Ha! Yes. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I came out relatively late in life, and so my experience with romance is still, to some degree, mediated and second-hand. Now, I spend a lot of my time convincing myself that I’m a rigorous intellectual, but the reality is that my brain turns mushy whenever I meet a nice guy. Although, (maybe this is too much honesty) it’s been a long time since I met a nice guy . . .
JM – On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time answering questions of the genre. Can you share a little about your current release and/or WIP?
GA – Jon, thank you for making me feel so welcome in this community. I really appreciate it. I’ve got two WIP right now: I’m finishing revisions on Paternity Case, which releases April 6, 2018, and I’m writing Guilt by Association (book four of the Hazard and Somerset mysteries). Guilt by Association takes Hazard and Somers to the next level: they are facing a tougher mystery, their work lives are compromised when the mayor hands-off their case, and they find their relationship hurtling towards . . . well, that’s the problem. Neither of them knows. Yet. I’m looking forward to releasing this book in early summer.
Thanks again, Jon, for having me here!