Exclusive Excerpt: Black Irish by David Lennon – Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Horror

Exclusive Excerpt:

The upside down city shimmered on the surface of the Charles River. Doyle stared at it, musing whether the people who lived there would be any less miserable. It seemed to make some sense that in an upside down world, everything would be opposite.

A horn bleated and Dopplered as he jerked the wheel right, pulling the Camaro back across the center line. “Bastard,” he muttered. He rolled down the window and let the frigid air blast his face, gulping breaths to clear his head. There was only a slight taste of something unsavory.

The road dipped as it passed over the Esplanade into Back Bay.

Fucking Back Bay. The only part of downtown that wasn’t laid out with pick-up sticks. They even alphabetized the cross streets for the rich fucks. The rest of the city is a big “screw you” to anyone who didn’t grow up here. Typical parochial Boston bullshit.

He spit, but most of it blew back, freezing on the side of the car.

At least Southie was built on a proper grid, even if it’s bent in the middle. It might be all drunken loons now, but whoever designed it was sober enough at the time.

He turned left onto Commonwealth Avenue.

Hereford. Gloucester. Yeah, try pronouncing that one if you’re not local. Fairfield. Essex.

Snowflakes drifted down, melting as they hit the windshield. He turned on the wipers, rolled the window halfway up, and lit a cigarette.

Dartmouth. Clarendon. Brick, granite, brick, brick, granite. Colonial, Federal, Victorian. Berkeley. Arlington. Rich fucks.

He puffed impatiently on his cigarette and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited at the lights opposite the Public Garden. His chest felt tight and his brain was buzzing. The light changed and he popped the clutch, the tires squealing on the wet pavement as the car careened right onto Arlington. He tapped the brake twice and straightened it out.

“Jesus fuck,” he exhaled, looking around apprehensively for flashing lights. “Stay in control. Don’t lose your shit.”

As he eased to a stop at the lights at Boylston, another car pulled alongside on the left, its radio blaring an anonymous disco tune. He reflexively shot a look of annoyance, then quickly looked straight ahead as he registered tank tops, feathered hair, and neatly trimmed mustaches. The windows of the car were all open, despite the intensifying snow.

“Guess she didn’t like what she saw.” The fey voice was so loud he knew it was a deliberate play for attention.

“Then I guess she must have seen you,” another replied as loudly.

“Fuck you, bitch,” said the first.

Doyle pretended not to hear them.

“She’s a butch one,” said the second voice.

“And cute, too,” added a third.

He felt heat traveling up his neck and focused hard on the stoplight, willing it to change.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” the third voice called eagerly, and Doyle saw an arm waving in his peripheral vision. “Do you have a light?”

“Guess she’s the shy type, Felicia,” said the first.

“More likely the type with a humpty frumpty wifey and three little dumplings waiting at home,” said a new voice.

“Well, if you change your mind, we’ll be at 12 Carver,” called the third voice hopefully. “I’ll save you a seat.”

“On her face,” trilled the fourth, followed by raucous laughter.

The light changed and the car rocketed away, turning left onto Boylston. “Bye, girlfriend!” a voice carried back.

Doyle sat at the green light for almost a minute breathing hard, his heart pumping. Finally a horn beeped behind him and he crossed the intersection and continued up Arlington. He felt numb, dizzy. As he passed the old armory on the corner of St. James, he suddenly pulled to the curb, opened the door, and began dry heaving.

She? She? She?

The words echoed in his head.

Why would they call me that? Why would they assume I’m one of them?

His stomach convulsed again, but still nothing came up.

Or maybe it was just some dirty fag trick to make me feel insecure, trick me into thinking I am.

He stopped gasping and spit a phlegmy gob into the street.

I’m nothing like them. If I had my gun I’d have taught them not to fuck with me. I’d have taught them to show respect.

He sat up.

What did the one in the passenger seat look like? The one who waved?

He couldn’t remember any of their faces. He hadn’t looked at them that closely.

But I know where they’re going and what the car . . . .

He shook the thought out of his head.

As if I’d ever go to a fag bar. That’s all I need, one of the mobsters who owns them or some cop collecting a pay-off thinking I’m a fag. Besides, in a bar people want to talk. They want to know things about you or spend time with you after. Fuck that. I don’t want to spend time with fags. I just need to take the edge off.

He wiped his mouth with his hand and lit a fresh cigarette.

A few times around the block in the car that nobody knows.

But first, another bottle.

 

Sal Pesky pulled the dirty sheet up, but the cold had already seeped into his bones. He checked his watch. Another four hours.

Kansas. Over the rainbow. Or was it before the rainbow? That part of the movie always confused him. He knew Dorothy went over the rainbow to get to Oz, but since she ended up back in Kansas and the rest of it was probably just a dream anyway, did that mean Kansas was actually over the rainbow?

He began absently humming the song.

He knew he was getting squirrelly. Another day and he’d probably be babbling to the furniture. He wished he had someone else to talk with, but the phones in the motor lodge were dead, along with the electricity and heat, and the snow and wind were too strong to walk to the gas station up the highway to use the pay phone.

Besides, it wasn’t like anyone wanted to talk to him. So much for turning to family and friends in times of need. The nicest thing anyone had said to him was, “I’m going to do you a favor and pretend you never called me, you dumb sonofabitch.”

But he wasn’t a dumb sonofabitch. Even though he’d never killed anyone before, he was sure he’d done it right. He’d pressed the muzzle right against the side of Conti’s head and pulled the trigger twice. He hadn’t missed. He was sure of it, even though he’d had his eyes closed. He’d heard Conti’s brain splat on the wall and smelled the burnt hair and skin and blood. Yeah, maybe he should have stuck around long enough to check whether Conti was still breathing, but he needed to get outside before he puked.

His humming became more frantic.

It was all that little bitch’s fault. If it hadn’t been for her, he wouldn’t be here now. That fucking bitch. If she’d been home where she was supposed to be instead of out in the park in her little pink jammies, none of this would have happened.

As soon as he’d found out who she was, he’d gone to Jules and told him what had happened. Or at least enough so Jules would know it was all just a big misunderstanding, that he didn’t really do anything. Jules had understood and had promised to keep him safe.

He cradled the gun tighter to his chest.

Not that that had kept the nightmares away. Every night he’d had the same dream about The Gardener coming after him. He wasn’t even sure what The Gardener looked like, but he’d still dream about him and wake up screaming, soaked in sweat, and have to check to make sure he still had his tongue and all his fingers and toes.

He’d had to eat a lot of shit, but Jules had kept his word, and then suddenly he had the chance to make it right. Take care of Conti, and it would all be square. Now everyone wanted him dead instead. That fucking bitch. It was all her fault.

He checked his watch again. Only a minute had passed. Four more hours and he could leave for Portsmouth and catch a bus to Albany, then a train to Topeka.

They’d never look for him there because he had no connection. Just the movie, but he never talked about that with anyone because they might think it was strange he liked it so much.

And he’d been careful. After he took the bus to Springfield he’d hitched a ride to Providence, then stolen a car and driven it right back through Boston and up to Danvers. Even if they figured out the Springfield part, they wouldn’t be able to find him.

The old motor lodge had popped into his mind as soon as he knew he had to find a place to hole up. Just like that it had come to him. He’d driven past it probably a thousand times since it closed after the fire and he’d never thought twice about it, but then suddenly he knew it was where he should go.

The car was out back. No way anyone could see it from Route 1. He was cold and hungry as hell, but at least he was safe. Jimmy the Gardener would never be able to . . . .

He heard a faint rustle outside the door and froze. Cold sweat trickled down the small of his back as he strained to listen. Just the wind, he tried to reassure himself.

Another noise, just outside the door. A cough? He jerked the gun up, his arm shaking as he cocked it. His eyes stung, his vision blurred.

In the darkness he thought he heard the door knob twisting, though he was sure he’d locked it. A sliver of light appeared just inside the frame and his finger spasmed on the trigger. A dry click echoed in the room. He let out a small whimper and frantically pulled the trigger again and again.

When he heard the sharp metallic tick of the pruning shears snapping shut, he began to scream.

EXCERPT: Lambda Literary Award Finalist – DeadFall by David Lennon

Chapter 4

He’d spent the afternoon cleaning and vacuuming. Other than a different floral wallpaper and “brick” linoleum in the kitchen, and shortened drapes in the living room and study, the house hadn’t changed in the thirteen years since he’d been there. He opened a window over the kitchen sink and pressed his right hand against the screen, savoring the feel of the cool evening air against his skin for a moment.

A knock startled him and he spun around. Through the screen door he could see the shoulder of a dark blue shirt and a badge. His heart did an unexpected quickstep as he moved cautiously to the door.

The officer looked to be in his late thirties, though the soft belly swallowing the top of his belt buckle suggested older. His face was unremarkable, his receding hair faded blond. Only his eyes were interesting. They were pale green, watchful.

“Can I help you?” Danny asked.

The officer just stared back. Danny licked his lips and stole a quick glance at the silver nameplate pinned above the right breast pocket: Holtz. An image of mirrored sunglasses and a thick blond mustache flashed in his mind. “Dick Hole,” he whispered involuntarily, then tried to cover it with a cough.

“Nice to see you, too, Danny,” Weston Police Lieutenant Rick Holtz said dryly, then gave a tight smile. “Or is it Dan now?”

“Danny’s fine,” Danny replied. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay,” Holtz said. “As I recall, I may have earned the name a few times. I heard you were back in town and just wanted to stop by to say hello. All right if I come in for a minute?”

Danny immediately felt wary, but pushed the door open. Holtz stepped stiffly past him into the hallway, then turned right into the kitchen. He took a look around before turning back to Danny. Danny leaned against the door frame, cradling his left arm across his stomach with his right hand.

“Settling in okay?” Holtz asked.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Danny’s mouth suddenly felt dry. “You want something to drink?”

“Do you have any coffee?”

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Danny shook his head. “Sorry, I don’t drink it.” He felt oddly embarrassed. “I guess I just never acquired the taste.”

“Mommy has a headache. Make mommy some coffee, just the way I showed you.”

“Probably just as well,” Holtz said. “Stains your teeth and rots your gut.” He nodded toward the family room. “Shall we?”

“Yeah, sure,” Danny said uneasily.

Holtz sat on the plaid couch, while Danny took the orange twill recliner by the fireplace. He shook a Marlboro from a pack on the side table, then looked up. “You mind?”

“It’s your house,” Holtz shrugged.

Danny clamped the cigarette between his lips and lit it.

“So is your left arm paralyzed?” Holtz asked. It came across as detached curiosity rather than intrusive.

“No,” Danny replied. “The nerves are okay, but it got busted up pretty badly and the bones fused in this position. By the time I was stable enough for surgery, they would have had to re-break them all. Didn’t seem worth it since no one expected me to wake up.” He looked down and wiggled his fingers. “Maybe some day I’ll get it fixed, but right now I don’t want to see the inside of another hospital for a long time.”

“I’m sure,” Holtz nodded. “So are you planning to stick around for a while?”

“Yeah. Seems like a good place for me right now.”

“Emotionally comfortable,” Holtz offered.

Danny considered it, smirked. “Well, let’s just leave it at emotionally familiar. Plus my mom’s going to need me to cart her around for six months until she gets her license back.”

“When does she get out?”

“Monday.”

Holtz nodded. “I’m sure it’ll be good for her to have you here. I think she got lonely out here by herself.”

The words hung there for a moment, and Danny wondered if he’d imagined a note of blame. He decided to change the subject. “So how long has the Gardners’ house been empty?”

“It’s not,” Holtz said. “Joey lives there.”

Danny blinked back. “It looked abandoned when I drove by.”

“Yeah, he hasn’t exactly kept the place up. I don’t know if anyone told you, but his mother committed suicide a few months after Bryce was killed. Pills. His father has some sort of degenerative brain disease. Joey moved back to take care of him about five years ago but had to put him into a home last year.”

Danny nodded, only half-listening. It hadn’t occurred to him that he might see Joey again, at least not so soon. “Is he married?” he asked. “Any kids?”

Holtz frowned. “I don’t think he’s exactly the marrying kind. He pretty much stays to himself at the house. We see him in town once in a while, though never for long.”

So he’s some kind of freaky homo hermit now?

The neurologist had told Danny “the voice” was just unconscious thought bubbling up from a part of his brain that hadn’t reintegrated with the whole yet. He preferred to think of it as a remnant of his fifteen-year-old self, lurking in some corner of his brain. He found the idea comforting.

“You should stop by and visit,” Holtz said. “I’m sure Joey would appreciate seeing you. And it might be good for both of you.” He looked at a grouping of family photos on the wall above the mantel for a moment, then pushed to his feet with a grunt. “I should get going. I’m sure you still have a lot of unpacking to do, and my wife’s holding dinner for me. Like I said, I just wanted to stop by to say hi.” He paused for a half-second before adding, “Though I would like to sit down and talk with you at some point.”

Danny’s stomach clenched. “Why?”

“I’d like to hear what happened the night you and Bryce were attacked.”

Danny considered just telling the truth—that he didn’t remember anything from that night or the weeks leading up to it—but something in Holtz’s tone struck him as odd. “Why? What does it matter?” he asked. “Tim Walczak’s already in jail.”

Holtz shrugged casually. “You never know. You might remember something that didn’t come out during the original investigation.”

“Like what?” Danny pressed, beginning to feel annoyed.

Holtz smiled as though he’d just discovered Danny was slow. “If I already knew, then there wouldn’t be any reason to talk to you, would there?” Before Danny could reply, Holtz took out his wallet, removed a card, and handed it to him. “Give me a call when you have some time. I’m not on patrol anymore, so I’m usually at the station.” He patted his stomach and offered up a grin that seemed intended as self-effacing. “Or grabbing a bite at Ye Olde Cottage.”

Danny felt the old dislike come rushing back.

Chapter 5

Danny watched the taillights disappear down Cherry Brook, then went back inside and locked the door. He grabbed a Coke from the fridge and lit a cigarette.

He wasn’t sure what to make of Holtz’s visit. Clearly it had been more than just a social call. How had Holtz even known he was back? He’d been in town for less than nine hours and had made only a quick stop at the boutique grocery store that replaced the Triple A Market.

The Holtz he remembered had been petty, insecure, and desperate to have his authority respected. He’d been like the substitute teacher who starts class by warning the kids not to test him or they’ll be sorry. It might have made him dangerous if he hadn’t also been predictable. Danny had always gotten off with a slap on the wrist because it had been so easy to push Holtz’s buttons and get him to undermine his own credibility.

This Holtz seemed outwardly different. More direct, at ease with himself, maybe even thoughtful. Yet Danny had still sensed the old Holtz lurking behind the not-so-shiny new facade, and the visit had definitely felt like a warning shot.

But for what, and why did he need to stop by so soon? It’s been thirteen years. What difference would another few days make?

His thoughts began to move faster.

Or another few years? Walczak’s already in jail, so what does it matter? Why does he want to talk with me at all? I don’t know anything. I didn’t have anything to do with the murders. I was almost killed. But what if he doesn’t believe that? What if he’s been waiting all this time to prove that I was the killer, and…

Danny caught himself and laughed. He took a drag on the cigarette to slow his racing pulse, and shook his head. Or maybe he’s just missed me because he hasn’t had anyone to hassle since I’ve been gone. He cracked the tab on the Coke, took a sip, and headed upstairs.

*****

Though he’d expected to be immersed in his past when he moved back, he hadn’t realized it would be quite so literal. His room was a virtual time capsule. Marantz receiver and Technics turntable still on a low stand under one window, albums neatly arranged beneath. Bookshelves lined with classic adventure and mass market paperbacks. Walls a who’s who of stoner rock—Pink Floyd, Hendrix, the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Aerosmith, the Allman Brothers, Cream, Skynyrd, Marley. Paint and a new mattress were definitely in the near future, he decided.

He looked at the lone poster over the bed, a stark black and white shot of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from a 1973 show at the Boston Garden. Plant’s shirt was open, his hips thrust forward, his cock and balls gaudily outlined against his upper thigh. Danny smiled, remembering Caroline staring at the poster with a combination of disapproval and curiosity. How did she not know? he wondered. I hardly ever listened to Led Zeppelin.

She was married to Jerry for seventeen years.

He knelt in front of the stereo and pressed the ON button. After a few seconds the tuner glowed blue. He set the function to FM and slowly turned up the volume. A station promo—“WBCN Boston. The more you listen, the longer it gets.”—segued into the frenetic marimba organ loop of Baba O’Riley.

Guess that hasn’t changed either, he thought. He opened a box and began sorting clothes into the dresser.

The idea of seeing Joey scared him. It wasn’t just the disturbing picture Holtz had painted. What if things between them were too different? Though he knew it would be ridiculous to assume they could pick up like no time had passed, what if there was no connection at all?

He pushed the drawer shut, opened another, and began filling it with socks and underwear. He had a vision of Karl giving him an exasperated look and straightened up the underwear.

He’d never been one of the popular kids or even part of a clique, but he’d always felt like he belonged. It wasn’t just pieces of his memory that were missing. He’d lost that sense of belonging. The world he’d been part of had moved on without him, but he didn’t feel part of this one yet either. Something was missing. He’d hoped he could find it by coming home. Maybe Joey would be part of that.

He pushed the drawer shut and reached into the bottom of the box for the porn magazines Abby had slipped into his bag as a going-away present from Shady Meadows. He already had them pretty much memorized, but couldn’t bear to part with them. He crossed to the nightstand and opened the top drawer. All thoughts of Joey faded.

The drawer was empty save for an oversized white book with horizontal bands of both bright and dark green above blocky hand-drawn type: WESTON 78. It was the yearbook of what should have been his graduating class.

He laid the magazines on the nightstand, sat on the edge of the bed, and took the book out, resting it on his lap. He stared at it for a moment, then ran his fingers over the cover. He felt a tingle run through his body, raising the hair on his arms. He took a deep breath and flipped it open.

The inside cover and fly leaf were covered top to bottom with scrawls of blue and black ink. Danny leaned closer and studied them. There were a few short notes, but mostly signatures. He recognized nearly all the names, and felt a lump form in his throat. He looked self-consciously into the hallway as though Caroline might be watching.

He turned the page. On the right was a photo from his last Christmas morning, proudly modeling the fleece-collared Levi jacket Caroline had gotten him. His long sandy hair was disheveled and his eyes still a little puffy with sleep, but he looked genuinely happy. He was sure it was the only choice Caroline had given the yearbook committee. She’d told him it was her favorite photo of him because he was always sweetest in the morning, before he remembered to be a teenage boy.

Across the top of the page it read DEDICATION, and just above the photo, To Our Friend Danny Tyler. Below it, We Miss You. Love, The Class of 1978.

Danny began to cry.

 

The Author of the Quarter Boys Mysteries Releases a Stand-alone with DeadFall

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen © 2014

david_lennon

David, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.

Let’s start off with, where do you live?

I live in Newton, MA, seven miles west of Boston. It’s actually a fairly large city, but divided into thirteen villages so it’s more like a bunch of small town centers spread out over a large area. We live in Newtonville, which has historically been more working class. Lots of multi-family homes, retirees, and younger families with kids. Very suburban, but with small yards.

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

My husband Brian and I have been together for about nine years, married for just over four. We live in a small Arts & Crafts bungalow with our dog, Blue (the real-life model for Blue in the last three Michel Doucette-Sassy Jones books). We’re not entirely shut-ins, but we come close sometimes. On warm evenings you can usually find us on the patio—grilling, having cocktails, and cursing the neighborhood kids for being loud.

When I’m working on a book, I’m typically at my desk by 5 AM and write until 9. Then I walk Blue and start my day job as a graphic designer. I’m self-employed and work at home, so if it’s a slow day, I might be able to fit in a little more writing, but that’s rare except on weekends. I’m very regimented about writing. I treat it like another job…that pays roughly a nickel an hour.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

In terms of writing, just the fact that I’ve written seven books and along the way managed to create characters and a series that some people care about. I mean, how many people get to do that? And I’m proud of myself for resisting the temptation to continue beyond the point I felt the series should end.

That said, the biggest writing-related rush was finding out that Echoes was a Lammy finalist. At that point I’d sold just over 400 books, including literally 37 copies of Echoes, so it was really exciting to get that recognition, especially alongside Richard Stevenson, Garry Ryan, and Greg Herren.

Have you ever had to deal with homophobia after your novels were released, and if so, what forms has it taken?

Not that I’m aware.

quaterboys

The multi-nominated, Lambda Award winning Quarter Boys mystery series is what fans have come to know you for, beginning in early 2010 with the release of the incredible novel, The Quarter Boys. Why did you choose to self-publish your gay mystery series instead of seeking out a publisher?

It wasn’t a choice initially. I wanted to go the traditional publishing route, but didn’t get any interest from agents or publishers, even after Echoes won the Lammy. At that point I decided to just stick with self-publishing. The advantage has been that I control everything and can bring out books quickly. The downside is that I have to handle my own promotion, and I’m pretty clueless and lackadaisical about that part. If Drewey Wayne Gunn and Amos Lassen hadn’t happened across The Quarter Boys, I might never have had a published review. I’ve been very lucky, though, with word-of-mouth publicity.

One can’t help but fall in love with Michel Doucette of the Quarter Boys series; Where did you draw your inspiration for creating such a humble, damaged and broken, “wears his heart on his sleeve” homicide cop?

Thanks, Jon. I wish I could claim that Michel was carefully conceived, but the truth is that he and Sassy were both happy accidents. The writing of The Quarter Boys was like a month-long fever dream. Other than a basic concept and the characters of Joel and Lady Chanel, I made it up as I went along. Michel and Sassy were created on the fly when I decided I needed two secondary cop characters. In the chapter where he first appears, the reader learns that Michel drinks Jack Daniels, is emotionally guarded, and has recently lost his mother. That was just lazy autobiography because I didn’t expect him to play a very large role. It wasn’t until I realized he and Sassy had become the main characters that I went back to figure out how those pieces could be developed. Fortunately there was enough there to work with, and I’ve become a big believer that not all happy accidents are really accidents. Sometimes you just have to trust that your subconscious knows what it’s doing and then figure out how or why something works later.

Echoes

Why did you choose to end the Quarter Boys series with the sixth and final novel, Fierce?

I prefer mystery series where the main characters are affected by what happens and evolve from book to book, like the Henry Rios and Benjamin Justice books. My series was as much about Michel’s and Sassy’s personal journeys as the mysteries, which usually served as catalysts. Essentially, I completed their personal arcs—or at least took them to the places I’d wanted—and wasn’t interested in just having them solve mysteries, despite the fact that I loved writing them. I think the fans of the series got that. I’ve gotten a number of emails that basically said, “I hated to see the series end but understood why you did it, and I feel satisfied by the conclusion.”

There was also a small element of fear. I was afraid that the longer I continued, the greater the chance I was going to screw things up. If I write a crappy book now, it might diminish my own reputation, such as it is, but it won’t diminish the series.

Have you considered releasing your Quarter Boys series in audiobook?

Yes, though I haven’t done anything about it yet. This is one of those areas where being a one-man band can be a handicap. I can only put so much time into the books, and I’d rather focus on writing. I’d also like to bundle the whole series into a single digital volume at some point.DeadFall-WEBcover

Your new mystery, DeadFall, is a bit of a departure from The Quarter Boys series; what influenced you to write it?

It actually started as a joke when I told some old friends that I was going to set my next book “on the mean streets” of our hometown, which is about as far from actual mean streets as you can get, but then I became intrigued by the idea of doing something related to my own past. I didn’t have any ideas for the plot until I came across an article about a coma patient waking after a number of years and started wondering what it would be like if you went into a coma as a teenager and came out of it well into adulthood: How much of the past would you remember? Would you be emotionally adolescent or adult? How would you relate to people from the past?

The story built from there, though it took me about a year to crack how to fit the different elements together and make it a mystery.

It’s definitely a different type of mystery for me, and I’ve gotten a few comments that it even seems to have been written by a different person, though I think it links thematically to some of the series’ books.

Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?

I’ve been playing around with a black-humored horror mystery set in South Boston in the mid-1970s, during the period when the city’s public schools were being integrated by court order. I really love the concept, and I’ve had fun developing some characters, but I still haven’t committed mentally or emotionally to writing it. I’m not sure it has legs enough to sustain a whole book, and I don’t know that I want to take a detour into speculative fiction. So I guess technically there is no WIP.

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.

Thanks, Jon. I appreciate the opportunity to blather about myself.

Find David Lennon on the web:

www.bluespikepublishing.com

26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced – “Pretty Boy Dead” makes the cut

 

The 26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists were announced on March 6th 2014. My novel, “Pretty Boy Dead” was shortlisted as a finalist in the Gay Mystery category.  To see the finalists for all categories, click on the link below:

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http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/03/06/26th-annual-lambda-literary-award-finalists-announced/

PRETTY BOY DEAD –

Blurb:

A murdered male stripper. A missing go-go dancer. A city councilman on the hook. Can Atlanta homicide detective Sergeant Kendall Parker solve the vicious crime while remaining safely hidden behind the closet door?

When the body of a young man is found in a popular midtown park, police and local media quickly pin the brutal killing on a homeless gay kid with AIDS. But Homicide Detective Sgt. Kendall Parker isn’t convinced, even when the suspect is accused of assaulting a police detective with a deadly weapon.

City leaders want the heinous murder solved yesterday and they jump at the chance to pin the crime on the drug-craving teen. Besides, it’s an election year and remaining in office is their top priority, even at the sacrifice of the young man. Sgt. Parker isn’t easily persuaded and is determined to prove Hopper’s innocence, despite protest from his colleagues and the great citizens of Atlanta. And all threatens to expose the deep secret Parker has carefully hidden from his comrades for years.

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Reviews:

Pretty Boy Dead

A murdered male stripper. A missing go-go dancer. A city councilman on the hook. Can Atlanta homicide detective Sergeant Kendall Parker solve the vicious crime while remaining safely hidden behind the closet door?

Named one of Jessewave’s Top Picks 2013!

Pretty Boy Dead is a well-written police procedural with an engaging plot and well-developed characters.” – Jessewave

“…the writing is solid, the book is well executed from cover to edits…” – author Ryan Field

“The author has written a gritty crime drama that is exciting…” – Rainbow Book Reviews

“Highly recommended for those who like swift, compelling stories.” – Chris Beakey, author of Double Abduction, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award

The characters are well drawn and I really believe that they propel the story and of course, it helps that the book is so well written.” – Amos Lassen

“…offers an intriguing look into the thought process, personal demons, peer pressure and bureaucratic nightmares that can plague a homicide detective working on such cases.” – Bob Lind, Echo Magazine   

“If you are looking for a great mystery, you can’t go wrong with Pretty Boy Dead. – The Novel Approach

“Jon Michaelsen has written a tense, entertaining, and believable crime novel.” – David Sullivan, author and retired 29 year veteran of the San Jose Police Department.

“Overall, a good read…a murder mystery with a lot of flawed characters.” – On Top Down Under Reviews

WHERE TO PURCHASE “PRETTY BOY DEAD” –  

Wilde City Press: http://tinyurl.com/PrettyBoyDead

Amazon

eBook: http://tinyurl.com/PBD-ebook

Print: http://tinyurl.com/PBDprint

Print UKhttp://www.booksamillion.com/p/Pretty-Boy-Dead-Kendall-Parker/Jon-Michaelsen/9781925031607

Amazon India: http://www.amazon.in/Pretty-Dead-Kendall-Parker-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00H9VAM5Q

(Europe) Junglee.com: http://www.junglee.com/Pretty-Boy-Dead-Kendall-Mystery/dp/1925031608

Barnes & Noble –

eBook:

Print: http://tinyurl.com/PBDBarnesandNoble

OmniLit –  https://www.omnilit.com/product-prettyboydeadakendallparkermystery-1364535-243.html

Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/pretty-boy-dead

Tower Bookshttp://www.tower.com/pretty-boy-dead-kendall-parker-mystery-jon-michaelsen-paperback/wapi/124483703#product_details

What Writing GLBTQ Litature Means To Me: Rainbow Blog Hop

What writing GLBTQ literature means to me.

When I heard of the opportunity to participate in the highly anticipated RAINBOW BLOG HOP, hosted by Rainbow Book Reviews August 24-26, 2012, in honor of launching the Rainbow Book Reviews website (http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/index.php), I jumped at the chance to participate with fellow writers. Below is information posted via the website in the “about us” section for those unfamiliar with the new GLBTQ book review site:

“Rainbow Book Reviews is a site dedicated to GLBTQ-related books, reviews, and authors who write about topics of interest to us and our friends.

We have a wide range of activities for you to check and participate in, if you wish. Feedback is always welcome. We publish new releases on a daily basis, have a team of reviewers who try to help you understand what to expect from a book, we publish monthly author interviews, and have author pages with in-depth information. You can also find out about the many great publishers who publish GLBTQ-related books.

We want to make sure the site offers what YOU (the reader!) want to see, so please contact us with any ideas or feedback at info@rainbowbookreviews.com. For individual staff members, please see the overview below.”

As a participant in the RBH, I was given the task to describe what writing GLBTQ literature means to me. Right off the bat (does this date me?) I am asked to reveal my thoughts about referencing very complicated question. I will be as totally honest and forthwith in order that you – the reader – may gleam some sense of what makes me tick; why I write at all.

I have been writing stories most of my life, beginning around age seven or eight, I’m not really sure. What I do know, however, is the person who first influenced my writing and encouraged me to further explore my “active imagination”, my beloved grandmother, who I affectionately named “Mana” when very young. It was my attempt at mimicking my mother who called her mother, Momma. When she readied for bed each night, I would sit on the side of her bed reciting the stories I had dreamed up – she never once questioned the reasons or motivation driving my need to create make-believe, fictitious imagery of people or animals of whom became characters of my words. I’d jot a few pages longhand on paper while at school during lunch or recess to read to Mana during out nightly ritual. Those times spent with my grandmother are my most treasured memories even today after having lost my best friend three years ago at the young age of seventy-nine years old.

So, getting back to what writing gay literature means to me: at first glance, it’s opportunity to share ideas, historical or current happenings of circumstance. My earlier pre-teen stories covered popular genres of the day based largely upon what I was reading at the time (I was a voracious reader in elementary school – even winning the coveted “top reader” award each year at the local library during summer break) or had watched on television, which influenced my imagination. I remember the one book and movie that was the catalyst pushing me to start writing my first story: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, originally published in 1960 (my birth year) and adapted to screen in 1962 (starring Mary Badham and the legendary Gregory Peck), the novel won the Pulitzer Prize and the movie earned Gregory Peck an Oscar for his supreme performance. I didn’t see the movie until I was older (my mother had worried the film was too “heavy” for a young, impressionable boy) and read the book as an assignment for school. I knew then I wanted to write stories. In fact, my first quasi-serious attempt putting pencil to paper was a hysterical fantasy titled “The Ship”, about a pirate ghost ship off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. I even named the main character of the story Atticus, the same as Gregory Peck’s character.

At second glance during my formative years, many stories flowed from my pencil, encouraged both by my grandmother and teachers in school. Born and raised in south of Georgia, USA, my family could not afford to purchase books for me (I come from a blue-collar family that worked in the cotton mills on the Chattahoochee river) so I lived in the school library checking out as many books as allowed. I read everything from fiction to non-fiction, biographies and history. I couldn’t get enough. I wrote fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery and thriller stories during those years and always wrote for the love of telling a story, which I shared with my family and some teachers. My favorite memories of grade school was each spring when English or History class teachers would read books to us the final week of school. One mesmerizing novel I recall was titled “Island Of The Blue Dolphins”, by Scott, O’Dell, about a young Nicolero Indian girl stranded on an island off the coast of California for eighteen years. The story remains with me even today; the power of the written word is unmatched.

I didn’t realize I was “gay” until later in my teens (this was the late ‘70s), so writing gay stories wasn’t yet a priority. Majoring in English when I went off to college was a no-brainer, even minoring in Broadcasting (go figure!). While seeking my under graduate degree, I wrote fictional stories for the campus newspaper, often turning them into serials that had attracted a decent readership. I finally came out my second year in college, and my writing began to focus more on gay characters, considered risky in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s of the south. The first homoerotic novel I read was “Good Times/Bad Times” by James Kirkwood. The novel about the relationship of two young men in boarding school affected me deeply and I began seeking out gay-themed novels once I realized they existed, often perusing the bookstore shelves for hours, too embarrassed to ask the store clerks.

Then I came across the cover of a paperback novel showing a young man sitting on the bench in a locker room. The book was the groundbreaking, “The Front Runner”, by Patricia Nell Warren. This novel became catalyst of my writing gay-themed stories. I devoured every novel I could find by Ms. Warren, moving on to other gay-centric novels thereon. What was so important to me during the early years of my emerging sexuality was reading fictional stories that resembled me, what I was all about or could be. I relied on these stories for self-discovery, unable to speak to my parents or other family members about my being gay.

Fast forward thirty years and third glance; I have been writing stories for several years that have always featured a gay protagonist, concentrating mainly in the mystery/suspense, thriller genres, many with romantic tendencies. But, it wasn’t until as recently as 2008 that I began to submit my stories for publication. Though frightened and unsure, I wanted to share my writing with others besides my family and friends. I am a gay author and I write stories of mystery/suspense and romance novels where the main characters are gay. I don’t feel this fact defines or limit my characters, but more often provides excellent opportunities for exciting plots. Many diverse writers have influenced my written style, such as David Baldacci, John Grisham and Michael Crichton, along with the groundbreaking gay novelists Patricia Nell Warren, Michael Nava and Felice Picano. Some of my current favorites and influencers are gay mystery writers Greg Herren, David Lennon and John Morgan Wilson – and many more.

Finally, writing GLBTQ literature means being true to the gay culture, to create realistic, (in my case, fictional) characters that represent the gay community correctly. Knowing some readers just coming to terms with their sexuality might be reading my stories, I research meticulously to ensure accuracy and strive to present positive role models within my writing even as my characters face bigotry and intolerance, dating, falling in love…and usually, murder! My characters must grow through challenges and experience, be representative of the gay community, whether negative or positive, and not all my stories end with a HEA.

I will continue to write as long as I enjoy creating stories, and I am happy to be able to share my writing with others. Recently, I released an erotic thriller, False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1 – the first novella of a two-part murder-mystery. I am currently writing a gay, murder-mystery, police-procedural, featuring closeted Atlanta Homicide Detective, Kendall Parker, which I hope to get published sometime in 2013. I am also a Juror for the 2012 GLBT Rainbow Awards sponsored by Elisa Rolle, (http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/tag/rainbow%20awards%202012), which I am greatly enjoying.

Links to my titles:

Amazon Purchase Link:
http://tinyurl.com/FalseEvidence-AmazonKindle

Lyd :
http://tinyurl.com/False-Evidence

PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES!

Click on the link below to read more about prizes and give-aways for the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog Hop:

http://rainbowbookreviews.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/the-rainbow-book-reviews-blog-hop-is-here/

In celebration, of the Rainbow Blog Hop, I am giving away two (2) copies of my latest novella, False Evidence. Just respond with you name to be entered into a random drawing set for Saturday, Sept 1, 2012.

I would love to hear your thoughts and what reading/writing GLBTQ literature means to you!