On The Record with Author of the Russell Quant Mysteries – Anthony Bidulka

Interview with author Anthony Bidulka

Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen  © 2014

 

Anthony, 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 the province of Saskatchewan in Canada. I was raised on a grain farm near a little prairie town called Prud’homme, but for the last many decades I’ve made my home in the city of Saskatoon. It’s a little gem few people know about or have been to, only 250,000 people, a little bit of everything you need (and for everything else, well, that’s what airplanes are for), dramatic changes in seasons, safe, friendly.

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

AnthonyBidulka

Sure. For the past twenty years or so, my husband, Herb, and I have lived in a wonderful house we built on twelve acres just outside the city limits of Saskatoon. It’s a big house for two guys and two dogs (labradoodles Kona and Magic), but we use every inch of it. We each have busy lives and careers, so we treat our home as our refuge, a place where we can relax, luxuriate, hang out with the dogs and spend quality time together. But we also use it for entertaining –  family get-togethers, pool parties in the summer, fundraisers for causes we support, and we throw a heckuva Christmas party for anywhere between 100-200 people that brings together people from every walk of life and from the age of 8 to 88. (One of my ‘things’ is decorating theme Christmas trees, I do seven every year.) The house is also a great place to hang our art collection, another passion. We’re big travelers, but whenever a trip is over, we’re always just as happy to come home to our life on the prairies.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date? 

I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment is finding a wonderful husband to spend my life with. From a professional perspective though, it was deciding to take a leap of faith and leaving my long-term, traditional career as a chartered accountant to pursue my long-term passion  for writing…and it worked out!

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?

Remember the thing about being an accountant? I am by no means a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kinda guy when it comes to writing. From the beginning I saw this as a serious career that I wanted to make a go of. So I approach each manuscript, each story, as any other entrepreneur would when starting a new business. I plan, I research, I create the best environment I can in which to carry out my task and be successful, then I put my head down and work.

I am a draft writer. It might take me two or three or thirteen drafts of a piece of writing before I feel satisfied with it (never entirely, but as close as I can get without overworking it). My goal is to present my editor with the best product I can create given my skill sets and the benefit of whatever experience I have up to that date (which of course is different..and hopefully greater…with each book).

Writing fiction can be a very fluid and spontaneous thing or very structured. For me I like to combine both. I first create a strong framework (outlines, drafts) upon which to build. I know my starting point, ending point, and key points in between. But everything else happens on the spot, allowing me the freedom to be creative and free. Sometimes it’s this unplanned stuff that is the richest material, but without a firm supporting structure, it would be useless.

Aloha

Have you ever had to deal with homophobia and/or bigotry because of publishing books with MC’s who are gay? In what form(s)?

Not that I have ever been aware of. I’m sure somewhere along the line certain readers have chosen not to read a Russell Quant book because he is gay. Some may do so from what might be described as a homophobic point of view, others may do so because they simply believe – right or wrong – that they wouldn’t enjoy reading a book with a gay main character in the same way other readers would decide they don’t want to read a mystery with a main character who is a dog or a librarian.

I see writing about gay characters as an opportunity rather than a challenge. An opportunity to distinguish myself as a mystery writer amongst a massive pool of other mystery writers, an opportunity to present gay characters to readers who might not normally find them in their typical reading choices.

The first novel in your highly popular, award-winning Russell Quant mystery series is “Amuse Bouch”, released in 2005. The series now totals eight novels, yet has enjoyed resurgence with a new legion of fans, especially with the release of the novels in Kindle/e-book & Audio book. Did you ever imagine how popular your gay private detective would become?

The first thing I wrote was a dark, dystopian thriller. I thought this was the book that would start my career. But it was the second thing I wrote, the manuscript for Amuse Bouche, which immediately got attention from publishers. That’s when I knew I had something important here. Maybe I knew it all along because I wrote Amuse Bouche with the full intention of it being a series, not a one-book-thing. I had plans for all these characters that needed to be told over a number of books. I hoped we’d get three, maybe five books. For the series to have run to eight books (so far…I never say never), is a thrill for me.

AmuseBouche

Your novels often feature scenery from world-wide locales, including New York, France, exotic ports in the Mediterranean and Hawaii to name a few. Are your travels as varied as Russell Quants?   

Yes. Except for one locale (can you guess which one?), I have traveled to all the same places Russell Quant has. Even the cruise he’s on in Tapas on the Ramblas was loosely based on an itinerary for a cruise I’d taken a few years earlier. Writing this series has been a joy for many reasons, one being the opportunity to marry two things I love to do: write and travel.

Most recently we visited Ireland for the first time, coming up we’ll be strolling the canals in Venice, sun bathing in Turks & Caicos, hosting houseguests in the hills outside of St. Tropez, and we’ve just finalized a trip to Japan that had to be postponed because of the tsunami. We like to mix it up between new places, old familiar haunts, relaxation trips, new adventure trips, traveling with friends, traveling alone. The world is too cool to ignore.

Your most recent release, the start of what I understand is a planned new suspense/thriller series featuring Canadian Disaster Recovery Agent, Adam Saint, is a 180 from the Russell Quant mystery series – for starters, Agent Saint is straight. What influenced you to branch out into mainstream fiction?

I like change. In my life I’ve had careers everywhere from being a bartender, a school teacher, a shoe salesman, an accountant and a writer. Every so often I get the itch. Fortunately the itch wasn’t to change careers entirely and become a mountain climber or lawyer, but I did want to stretch my artistic muscles and try something new. I had a lot of push back from some readers about writing a non-Russell Quant book. I realized that they’d grown to love him as a dear friend, and who wants a friend replaced? I knew I had to approach this from another perspective. Instead of replacing our friend, I was simply introducing a new one to the fold. The key was going to be creating a new character who was very different from Russell.

As far as Adam Saint being straight. That’s just the way he turned out. Like life, right? And really, going back to one of your earlier questions, just as I expect straight readers to accept a gay detective and give the Quant books a try, I also expect gay readers to accept a straight main character and give Adam Saint a try. In the end, all readers read for different reasons, which I respect. If a reader is only reading because of the sexuality of the main character, rather than the story, quality of writing, or type of genre, there is nothing I can do to influence their choice. I write the books I write. Hopefully you like my style, or humor, or storytelling ability, or whatever. If not, that’s okay too.

What can Russell Quant fans expect from you in the future?      

I can tell you this: I never say never. So if you were to ask if the Russell Quant series is over, that would be my response. Should there never be another Russell Quant book, I feel I left him in a very good place at the end of the 8th book, Dos Equis. But that book could also be a great starting point for an interesting turn in his life both professionally and personally.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, this series continues to attract attention of filmmakers who believe the subject would translate well to TV or film, so that is always another possibility for Russell Quant’s future. That’s a great about the future, you never know what wonderful things are yet to come. 

Women of Skwawa Island cover mock up

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

I’m currently in the final editing phase and working on cover design and all that other fun new-book stuff for the second Adam Saint novel, The Women of Skawa Island, which will be released November 2014. And, true to my aforementioned love of change, I’m also trying my hand at a new standalone novel that I’m excited about. It’s something very new for me in terms of style and content, and if I were to compare it to something out there today, it’s along the lines of Gone Girl. Who knows if anything will come of it, but I’m enjoying the challenge of it and the ‘stretch’.

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.

It’s been my great pleasure! Any time! Thanks for your interest.

 

Find Anthony Bidulka on the web: www.anthonybidulka.com and check him out for daily bits and pieces about travel, writing, art, parties, or just hanging out with hubby and dogs at Facebook and Twitter (@abidulka)

 

Multi-genre Author, Playwright and Publisher, Geoffrey Knight sits down with me

Author, playwright & Publisher, Geoffrey Knight interviewed by Jon Michaelsen

Geoffrey, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.  (Full disclosure – Geoffrey Knight is one of the publishers of Wilde City Press, which currently has released two of my novels) 

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

I live on an island in Far North Queensland, Australia, right on the Great Barrier Reef. I moved here from Sydney almost two years ago and I have no intention of ever going back. Don’t get me wrong, I love cosmopolitan life and the energy of big cities. But you can’t beat walking the dogs every day on a perfect, deserted beach with a calm tropical sea as blue as the sky.

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As you probably know, writers rarely like to toot their own horns…lol, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

I guess my books are my greatest accomplishment. Writing a novel isn’t easy. As we all know it takes a lot of hard work and discipline and imagination. But most of all it takes courage. You’re pouring your heart and sweat onto the page for the whole world to praise or rip to shreds. There will be people who will like what you create… and there will be people who will hate it. It’s inevitable that your hard work will be trashed by someone out there. You will be called some terrible things, you will be abused, mocked and have your ego crushed. Rejection is hard for anyone, let alone when you’ve worked night and day and emptied your soul into something. But we’re writers because we write. We tell stories because it’s what we’re born to do. And finishing those stories and putting them out there for the world to admire or hate, for better or worse, now that’s a real accomplishment.

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

I live with my three dogs and two cats, which is quite a houseful of pets. My partner Brett lives on the mainland in a city called Townsville which is about a half hour ferry ride. We tend to spend one weekend on the mainland, then one on the island. Brett is quite high up in disability care and has a very demanding job, so when it comes to the weekend we try to unwind as much as possible, taking the dogs to the beach, watching DVDs, going to the basketball, cooking or going out for dinner. We have lots of great friends so it’s always nice catching up with them for a barbie or a swim at someone’s pool. It’s pretty much hot all year round in Far North Queensland so we’re never far from someone’s pool.

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Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines in detail?

I plot till I drop! Everything has to be completely planned out. I’d love to be one of those writers who can make it up as I go along, but I think with some genres – in particular actions and thrillers – that’s very hard to do. Knowing where the next twist is coming from and when a clue needs to be planted is extremely important. Having said that, one thing I do like to do is put my characters in a dire situation with no idea how to get them out of it. I figure if I don’t know how to save them, the reader won’t be able to guess what will happen next. It’s a great way to raise tension plus it makes me think twice as hard trying to come up with a creative way to save their arses.

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

No, I’ve been very lucky never to have had to deal with that. If anything it’s the opposite. People are delightfully intrigued when they find out what I write. They find it fascinating. Some don’t take it very seriously, but they still love to talk about it. And no matter how many times I tell people that I write several different genres in gay fiction, I always get labeled as a “gay porn writer”. I used to get annoyed but nobody means any harm by it, so I go with the flow now. If that’s the best way they can deal with it and describe it, then that’s okay with me. At least they’re trying in their own way to get their head around it and accept it, and I have to take my hat off to anyone willing to accept new things.

Harm'sWay

Harm’s Way is a mystery/suspense novel I am dying to read which has a unique plot I don’t think I’ve ever read anywhere, especially not with a gay theme. What influenced you to write Zach Taylor’s story?

Years ago a friend of mine told me she had a dream that she discovered her father was a serial killer, and her first reaction was to question whether that would be something you inherit. It was only a dream, but I thought it would make for a great story, so I wrote it… but I have a confession to make: Harm’s Way was originally written as a straight thriller. I wrote the first version way back when I wanted to be the next James Patterson, in the days before I turned to gay fiction. I like that story a lot, but it didn’t really jump out as a straight thriller. Then one day, after I found some success as a gay fiction writer, I decided to turn the main protagonist in Harm’s Way from a straight woman into a gay man. The process was a lot more complicated than I initially thought, it was so much more than changing “she” to “he”. Men react to situations and dialogue very differently – both emotionally and psychologically. It gave the entire story a very different vibe, and I think it’s even better than before. There was also the added element of the daughter. A gay character with a child completely changed the back story of that character and their sense of self. I was stunned (in a good way) at how different the story became and the issues I needed to address. It made the book so much more layered.

Not many readers of your novels realize that you, along with author, Ethan Day, started a new publishing company almost a year ago? You currently own and operate your own advertising and design company, so what possessed you to start Wilde City Press? Can the members of Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction expect to see more releases with mystery, suspense/thriller themes? WildeCity

This month marks our first birthday, it’ll be a year on April 16, so we’re very excited about that! I love design and advertising, but I love writing so much more, and starting Wilde City felt like a great way to combine the two. I wasn’t sure how I’d go, but I really love publishing. I love dealing with all our wonderful authors and readers beyond the realm of my own books. And yes you can expect LOTS more thrillers and mysteries being released by Wilde City this year. This month alone we’ve got some delicious, dark tales such as Clipped by Devon McCormack, Breathless by Alex Morgan and a superb thriller called The Next by new author Rafe Haze, which is like a sexy, sinister, gay version of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. There’s lots of thrills to look forward to this year!

You have an incredible action/adventure, romantic thriller, mystery/suspense series known to fans as Fathom’s Five, which include the novels, The Cross of the Sins, The Riddle of the Sands and The Curse of the Dragon Gold. Can you share a little about how your self-confessed nomadic life influenced the development of this series?     

TheRiddleoftheSands

Thanks for the compliment, I do love the Fathom’s Five books. And yes, I love traveling so wherever I go I look for the adventure in a place, whether it’s a marketplace in the Middle East or a snow-covered mountain or a remote island. Of course, I haven’t visited every exotic location that my Fathom’s Five boys have been to. But that’s when research and imagination come into play.

My favorite mystery/suspense novel written by you (and fellow writer, Ethan Day) is To Catch a Fox. (You knew I’d have to ask this next question!) Is there a sequel in the works with the enigmatic and sexy, Jon Fox?

Haha, yes I knew I wasn’t going to dodge that bullet. And yes there is a sequel in the works called A Fox in the Hole which will hopefully be ready later this year. This book will be a lot creepier than the first with a main focus on the spooky things that go on in New Orleans, including the evil work of the book’s main villain, a Voodoo Queen named Sister Sacrifice. And yes, we’ll be putting Jon in lots of bad situations and then try to figure out how to get him the hell out of there. The opening scene sees him drugged and being buried alive (hence the title A Fox in the Hole). How he gets out of that… well you’ll just have to wait and see.

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

Well A Fox in the Hole is top of the list, along with the third instalment in my action series Drive Shaft which is called Drive Shaft 3: Russian Roulette. I’m also working on my sexy gay Tarzan-inspired adventure novel, Zan of the Apes. After that I think I’d like to do a comedy. I actually love writing comedy, I had so much fun writing Guess Who’s Coming At Dinner, I’d love to do something quirky and fun like that again. Aside from those I have about a thousand other projects I’m working on at any given time. Who knows which one will bust out of the gates first!

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 want to know.

Thank you so much for having me, Jon. This interview was a lot of fun! Keep writing and reading everyone, and if you want some great mysteries and thrillers, we have a stack over at wildecity.com – hope to see you there! 🙂

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Find Geoffrey Knight on the web:

www.wildecity.com

Find Out How I Met the Love of my Life in The Face of Gay – Kage Alan’s Blog

The Face of Gay 32 (Jon Michaelsen)

 

One of my favorite bands, Tears For Fears, regrouped several years ago and released an album titled Everybody Loves A Happy Ending. I find

1988_Johnnythat I concur. The human adventure comes with a number of hidden traps and pitfalls mixed with uncertainty and the ever-looming unknown. And then there are times when we’re asked to look over that life in order to find something about it worth telling others. Welcome to Jon Michaelsen’s Face of Gay.

The Face of Gay 32 (Jon Michaelsen) It never fails, once in a while a reader will come along and ask a question I can’t answer readily as I can espouse reasons for my love of penning gay fiction, developing plot and characterization, outlining, proofing, editing–yes, I love editing –and, why I choose to write in a genre overwhelmed with a bevy of newly published authors with the emergence of small electronic publishers, indie publishers and self-publishers, all competing with legacy publishers of GLBT fiction.

A reader recently asked, “What are you most proud of?”

To read more, click on the link below:

http://www.kagealan.com/blog/2013/the-face-of-gay-32-jon-michaelsen/

Famed Horror writer, Rick R. Reed chats about his new novel!

It’s always with some trepidation that I open an e-mail from a cover artist with a subject line that indicates a JPEG of a brand-new cover is within. It’s a suspenseful moment, wrought with tension, and one in which you get to see if your baby is going to have the beautiful face it deserves…of if it’s gonna be ugly as sin, dooming it to a life of shunning and ridicule, much like my own life.

I think my baby has a beautiful face…and boy, am I relieved. Check out the cover design below for my October release, Dead End Street, my first young adult horror novel. Cover artist Trace Edward Zaber did a great job making a cover that’s simple, evocative, and creepy…all at once.

But mothers always think their babies are beautiful. What do you think?

Here’s a little “elevator speech” about Dead End Street, which will be released in October, just in time for Halloween (or the holidays, which is a heavy handed way of saying that it would make a great gift for son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandkid, or your own inner teen).

They were five misfit kids who had banded together in their small Ohio River town. Over the years, they had organized various clubs and now they had formed the Halloween Horror Club. The premise was simple: each week, each teen would spin a horrifying tale and at the end of five weeks, the scariest story won a prize. The twist: the stories had to be told in the infamous and abandoned Tuttle house, where, fifteen years earlier, an entire family had been murdered in their beds. The idea seems like a good one, until the kids begin to realize they may not be alone in the Tuttle house, which backed up against the woods. There seems to be someone—or something—watching them. Is it Paul Tuttle, the teenage son who disappeared fifteen years ago, the night his parents and sister were killed? Or is it someone even more sinister? 

With each story (each a completed short, original horror tale that stands on its own), the tension mounts…and so does the anger of this mysterious inhabitant of the house. He is enraged at having his space violated. And his rage could mean a real dead end for those who dare to invade his home…

Read the first chapter of Dead End Street here:

http://www.rickrreed.com/upcomingbooks.htm