Archive for January, 2016

A BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH TOM CARDAMONE

BY CONNIE WARD

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What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I remember the moment so vividly. It was as if I were “literally” struck by lightning. As a child I was serious reader, forever with a book in hand, and then one day, not yet a teen, reading one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars books at the kitchen table in my family’s cabin in North Carolina, the summer sunlight just streaming in, it hit me: “I’m going to do this, too.” I put his book down, grabbed some graph paper, and started mapping out my world.

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I have two settings: weird and dirty. Sometimes, if the mood strikes, I’ll write something primarily erotic. Being gay is a risk and a journey, so exploring the sexual nature of existence is, well, natural to me, but I also know that every story is a story of transformation. And no matter what our intentions or the intentions of others are, alchemy happens, and we either turn into gold or are stuck with bat wings that don’t work, so speculative fiction lets me work that stuff out as well. Often with a shudder.

 What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My family is somewhere on the spectrum between intensely horrified to mildly proud. My friends are always extremely delighted whenever I‘m sober and productive. And they’re very supportive. My best friend Kate designed the cover for Night Sweats. My partner Leo has done two of my book covers. My friend and old roommate, Jay, took my author photo, my college buddy Mike has been doing my website for years now…I think that’s New York City. Everyone is not only interested and interesting, but also there to lend a hand. I just hope I’m returning the favor.

Where do you get your ideas?

Drugs were good to me. And that’s not a pithy response, When I was younger I was fortunate enough to get into psychedelics with a reverential yet playful attitude, meaning the first time I tripped, I also read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but since the words kept sliding off the page, I went for a bike ride instead. But somewhere in those early experiences, I was able to learn to let my imagination off the leash. I still go for long bike rides, and I often walk across the Manhattan Bridge just before dawn. And sometimes I think about Poe. Didn’t he walk incessantly across a bridge from the Bronx to Manhattan, deep in thought?

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

Oh, all I think about is sex and money. Writing is what happens when I come up for air. So no plotting, no planning, very little research, just a lot of gasping before I sink back down toward the bottom.

Night SweatsWhat makes Night Sweats special to you?

This is my second collection of short stories, and I remember sitting in a bar in the panhandle of Florida, way before I came out. It was a live show, I think the band playing was Man or Astro Man?—and I’d spent several years working on a horror novel that I’d never shared with anyone. Nothing yet published, and I was telling my friends about this idea I had for a werewolf story, and I caught them looking at each other like “here he goes again.” Honestly, that moment deepened my resolve to become a writer like no other. Getting a book out there is a big fucking deal. And to repeat the process, to return to the mine again and find your own peculiar gems, well, it’s not a fluke then, is it? It’s a passion and a profession, and when you get to combine the two, well, that is a splendid moment, and that’s what Night Sweats is to me, a fantastical event. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that Bold Strokes not only decided to publish this collection, but that everyone has come at the project with such interest and care.

I would like to comment on the title. This book has more horror in it, hence the name, a symptom of the virus that causes AIDS. And that’s purposeful. There’s not one mention of HIV or AIDS in any of these stories, but as a community, we’re still in the midst of an ongoing plague. That horror consistently impacts our lives in ways visible and invisible—queer folk have a daily dread, and the resolve we muster to beat it down, well, maybe that adds that extra bit of sparkle I see in so many of us, and that’s also present in this collection, or so I hope, but most of the work here is dark, and for some of us, that’s the same thing as honest.

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Ha! One of my dear friends, John, who is also a great reader, likes to tease me. He says he likes my stories but particularly enjoys the ones that aren’t “Tom-in-disguise.” So, yeah, some stuff is autobiographical, or just me taking the easy route, so I don’t know what triggers it when I jump into someone else’s skin.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

Tough question! I think I’d like to go at it this way: from childhood through college I was a voracious reader. I’m shocked at how much I absorbed. A small cadre of writers stood out. And before everyone was name-checking Philip K. Dick, he was a huge influence on me in the 80s, like when major books of his were actually out of print and passed around among the acid-heads hanging out in the school parking lot. John Varley was a huge influence, and the fluidity of his characters sexuality was earth-shattering for me. Funny story. A few years ago I got a very nice note from a fan, and I thought, “Well, I should return the favor!” So I looked up John Varley and wrote him an email, telling him how much his work meant to me as a kid struggling with being gay in the age of Reagan, and “boom!” He wrote me back thanking me for thanking him! Like in a few minutes, so I was doubly thrilled. But I digress. Octavia E. Butler, Alasdair Grey, Geoff Ryman, and Kathe Koja, all of them are my pantheon of originality and style. They have inspired me, and I’ve been lucky to interview two of them, befriending Kathe, and I heard Octavia give a warm talk in person, right before she passed. I’ll never forget that night. And I got to drink in a pub in Glasgow where Alasdair Grey worked off a bar tab by painting a fantastic mural. And when it comes to nonfiction, Edmund White is a light. There’s so much focus on his sparkling novels, but man, his nonfiction is immortal, too.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

The joy you felt in creating something is not automatically transferred to the reader, much less the editor and publisher. Worse, that joy is an emotional experience, so rejection doesn’t always lead to rational thoughts/decisions, like “I wonder what I could do better,” or “Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for this publication.” If your goal is to write and improve, rather than just write, chances are you’ll have a better go at it.

In this field, all you have is your talent and your relationships, so how do you treat others? How do you treat yourself? I think these are decent questions to ask.

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I travel whenever I can. There are so many places I want to go.

The Amazon Trail

Aargh! Just Aargh.

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

In our town we have a small, out of the way thrift store, dark and not heavily patronized except by people who are very down and out. The owner— and who knows her story—sells what she can, but is always willing to help out the homeless with clothing or outdoor equipment that they need to survive in this wet environment where there are beaches for sleeping and woods for encampments, soup kitchens for food, tourists for panhandling, the library for web access.
It’s not just the homeless. Garage sales and thrift stores that once were a lark for drag queens and bull dykes are such a way of life now. If the 1% or the 20% are able to buy everything they want, the rest of us, in the current economy, are grateful to be able to buy their cast offs. The underground economy—helping the destitute, bartering goods and services, garage sales, web lists—by necessity isn’t so underground any more.
Dollar stores are crazy busy since the so-called Great Recession, and not due to recreational shopping. Their food products are often good buys if you’re in the habit of reading labels carefully and their books can be great finds for $1.00, though the authors get nothing for their years of work. I find it bewildering that dollar store corporations are gobbling one another up and making someone, somewhere, obscenely rich.
Goodwill does great work, but they’re huge now and their prices are getting out of range. I, along with many of my neighbors, regularly buy from the local, less expensive Humane Society thrift shop. For household items, we matronize the ReStore, thank you Jimmy Carter. Our local cobbler can’t keep up with all the shoe repairs he gets. If we can’t fix something ourselves, we employ handymen or women, rather than licensed, bonded, insured workers, to repair our roofs, our driveways, our plumbing.
We’re all what used to be called middle class people. Just try being middle class when the Social Security checks start arriving. There was no 2016 cost of living (COLA) increase in these payments, earned through lifetimes of hard work. Something does not compute. The inflation rate didn’t trigger a COLA, but I’m paying $50.00, $70.00 or much more for generic prescription drugs that last year had no or minimal co-pays. To use a phrase from Dorothy Allison, I also call it criminal capitalism when older Americans can’t afford good health.
I count my lucky stars that my financial issues are at a level where I’m concerned about the cost of medications, not their total inaccessibility.
Of course the pharmaceutical companies are blaming the Affordable Care Act. Once again, a tool created for the people is being used to increase profits. Drugs are not manufactured to relieve pain or cure cancer or to prolong lives, they’re manufactured to make money. The balance has gone out of any equation that included keeping people alive and come down heavily on the side of making a financial killing. Aargh! Just aargh.
Online there’s Craigslist, the middleman of bartering. There’s Freecycle where people give away what they can’t sell or don’t need. I’m seeing a lot fewer listings on Freecycle than I did pre-recession. One of our friends, an underpaid care worker, shops garage sales as much as we do. For birthdays and winter holidays we exchange boxes of garage sale goodies, mailing our lightweight packages if we can’t meet. Has anyone else noticed how you can prepare a meal for a family of four on what it costs to mail a package now?
Even petsitting, a perennial cash service, is getting all big business on us. There are pet care companies with actual employees and franchises. What ever happened to the neighbors? Word of mouth? Signs on the vet’s bulletin board? We’re monetizing every little bit of America. And the world. Uber and Lyft were great ideas until they started raking in the bucks and grew and grew, taking jobs away from regulated cab drivers.
Politicians want to squeeze cash from our national monuments. Oil companies can’t wait to guzzle up natural resources from wildlife refuges. Prisons are privatized, hospitals connive to get more money from Medicare. All of this drives up costs and takes what was once affordable out of reach.
The bigger the corporations, the lower the wages, the fewer the jobs. And the corporations swell each time they subsume another business and dump another thousand employees. I am astounded by the monopolizing going on in the U.S.. We have laws to prevent such boundless greed. Apparently we need more than brakes on businesses, we need an enormous emergency brake.
A phenomenon that seems to be more common is the return, after their divorces and downsized jobs, of very adult children in their fifties and sixties, moving in with aged mom or dad in senior housing communities and elsewhere. These sons and daughters have little or nothing left; the parent is beginning to need help around his small manufactured home. These now older workers don’t go out and find jobs, mom becomes the job. The kids inherit the property and have shelter as long as they can pay the taxes. The next step may be homelessness—and a visit to the kind thrift store owner.

 

Copyright 2016 Lee Lynch

 

A BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL BAILEY

BY CONNIE WARD

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What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

 

Well, I’ve always wanted to tell stories. Weird stories, fantastic stories, stories that posited an answer to the question “What if. . .?”

 

From the time I was little, really little, like toddler age, I used to draw and paint and color. And I eventually went to an arts college to pursue my dream of being an artist. But I didn’t realize until well after I graduated from that arts college that my talent for art wasn’t necessarily just that. It was a need to tell a story. Every person I drew from my imagination had a backstory, an adventure they’d gone on or were about to go on, and even a future. And I rarely drew the same people twice.

 

Anyway, I’d thought my calling in life was to be an artist, an illustrator, and eventually a graphic designer. But my brush with graphic design in college led me to advertising, in the pursuit of which I discovered I was a writer. It was driven home to me that my real talent was in saying things convincingly. All those years in art school to discover I was a writer. . .what irony! I mean, I had begun writing original fiction when I was fourteen, to tell the stories my drawings and paintings couldn’t, but it took almost another ten years and three different majors to discover my true calling.

 

After I earned my BFA in advertising, I couldn’t get a job. I slowly gave up the fading dream of being a copywriter, but around this time a friend of mine introduced me to fan fiction and told me about slash, another thing I’d never heard about.

 

BSB-DyreByMoonsLightI started writing slash fan fiction and still do, to this day, alongside original fiction. Through writing fan fiction, my writing has improved tremendously. Writing it taught me about characterization, pacing, prose, plot, and detail. Penning those first novels at fourteen and fifteen, and then novel-length fan fiction pieces in my twenties, prepared me for writing Dyre: By Moon’s Light and my other novels.

 

I wanted to be a fiction writer to tell the stories that pictures—with their thousand-word worth—simply could not. Every picture is worth a million possibilities, and when I see people, or get a picture in my mind, I choose one to explore, then do so. Rather it chooses me and speaks through me. I mostly sit at my computer and try to stay out of the story’s way.

 

 

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

 

When I have my druthers, I tend to write LGBTQIA stories featuring people of color, often with a magical-realism bent. The fantastic has always, well, fascinated me, especially when paired with the life and times of someone who was basically an ordinary person—in the case of Ruby Knudsen, from Dyre: By Moon’s Light, an HR person for a small college. I like taking the unsuspecting “regular Jo” and dropping her in a situation where she has to adapt to the strange and possibly magical to survive. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, the hope that someday this would happen to me. Or the wish that it had happened when I was a bit more adventure-ready. I’ve been wanting to be plucked out of my ordinary life and dropped into a magical adventure since I was old enough to know the difference between those two lives. When I was seven, I convinced myself that I was a werewolf and that, on one full moon or another, I would change. It was more than a year before I finally admitted to myself the unlikelihood of that being true.

 

But even now, every full moon, I still gaze upward and hope.

 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

 

They’re one hundred percent behind me! The ones who’ve read Dyre: By Moon’s Light seem to have enjoyed it, though my mom thought the beginning was creepy—which was exactly what it was supposed to be. They’ve provided me with feedback, advice, suggestions, praise, cheerleading, and more. I couldn’t have asked for better friends and family during this process. They keep using phrases like “When you’re rich and famous. . .remember how supportive I was.”

 

So, they at least have faith that I’ll be successful, ha ha. And not a single one of them has, even after reading my stories, discouraged me from pursuing writing as a career. That’s extremely encouraging.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

I get ideas from everything. Everyone. Everywhere. From prompts, which my first three (completed) novels were: prompt-fic. But I’ve gotten ideas from words, phrases, sounds, colors, feelings, thoughts (“what if. . . ?”), characters I see in movies, read about in books, hear about in songs, poetry, quotes, and real people I know or pretend that I might know, etc.

 

Though, as I’ve said, I believe the story chooses the writer, and I think that when I see a prompt of some kind that really catches me, and makes me sit down and write, that’s because a story that wants to be told just walked up to me and introduced itself through that prompt, whatever the prompt might be. Just came up to me, introduced itself, shook my hand, and sized me up. And when we’ve both decided we suit each other, I sit down and start writing.

 

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

 

Oh, I’m definitely a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m not a story architect. I have writer friends who are amazing, who plan every bit of their story, down to the last punctuation mark. I am not one of those people. I’ve tried being an architect, but for me, it never works. I don’t really plan my stories, especially short stories. Novels are different, slightly, in that there has to be some planning, like I have to be at least five steps ahead of what I’m actually writing, or else I’ll write myself into a corner I can’t get out of (basically I get in my own way and lose touch with what the story demands of me), which actually happened with Dyre: By Moon’s Light. So even as I was completing my first non-fan fiction, grown-up novel, I was learning important lessons. And I probably will for as long as I’m writing, something that fills me with joy and anticipation.

 

So, yeah, I just write. I’m a strong believer and practitioner of write hot, edit cold. Although I’ve been known to edit while hot, too. Sometimes, that’s the only way for me to have the impetus and cajones to go back and do what needs to be done, in terms of killing off a character or making a bad guy do something really bad.

 

What makes Dyre: By Moon’s Light  special to you?

 

Wow, so many things. It was the first novel I ever completed that was—in my humble opinion—a real contender, publishable. It was the first in the Dyre series. Probably the first piece of work I gave my friends and family to read, in part and in whole. It’s my first novel to actually be published. It was novel-writing boot camp for me. It taught me so much about not only writing, but about perseverance and stick-to-it-iveness. I learned how to follow through with a project on Dyre: By Moon’s Light, even though at times I gave up on it as unsalvageable because I was blocked, because I was trying to impose my own will on the story, because I didn’t know where to end it or how, etc. But Dyre: By Moon’s Light was also one of my first loves, as far as my writing went. I was too attached to it to let it go forever, and when the time came to finish it, I came through.

 

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

 

Soooooo much, ha ha. The characters Ruby Knudsen and Jennifer “Des” Desiderio are based on two of my closest friends, after a fashion. Ruby has the sweetness, humility, and generosity of spirit of the woman on whom she’s loosely based. And Des has the wise-ass, kick-ass, heart-of-gold qualities of the woman on whom she’s loosely based.

 

As for me, I try not to Mary Sue myself. On the occasions I do, it’s always a very conscious addition, a small part, tongue-in-cheek observer or deus ex machina. Or just some random person in the story with something interesting or funny to say.

 

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

 

I can name some authors I’ve enjoyed who’ve tackled LGBTQIA themes in their writing, though I don’t know for sure about their sexuality, in some cases.

 

 

  • Robin Wayne Bailey (Shadowdance blew my mind)
  • Octavia E. Butler (everything she touched was golden, loved the Oankali in her Xenogenesis series)
  • Clive Barker (visceral and powerful writing, loved Imajica)
  • Mercedes Lackey (pretty sure she’s straight, but she definitely adds LGBTQIA themes to her novels)
  • Judith Tarr
  • Delia Sherman
  • Nicola Griffith
  • Kelley Eskridge
  • Tanya Huff
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Sarah Monette
  • Sheri S. Tepper (The True Game series is phenomenal)
  • Rosa Guy
  • Rita Mae Brown
  • Mary Renault
  • Anne Rice (of course)

 

Of these authors, it’d be nearly impossible for me to name a favorite. Though Mercedes Lackey was my first experience, as I recall, with a gay main character in her Magic’s Promise. Mary Renault and Robin Wayne Bailey were the second writers of gay fiction, historical and speculative, respectively, that I can remember reading after Ms. Lackey.

 

 

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

 

Sure. READ. A LOT. Read what you like, read what you don’t like, read what you want to write. If only so you know what the conventions of the genre are. Get used to using the tools of the trade, then throw them away, if you dare. Invent new tools, if you can.

 

Don’t be afraid to copy other authors’ style and technique. When it comes to artistic endeavors, it’s “When you know better, you’ll do better.” Or “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Which isn’t to say you should plagiarize. That would be wrong and, even worse than wrong, unhelpful to you as a developing writer. What I’m suggesting is, do you like Edgar Allan Poe? Don’t copy his work with a thin veneer of modernism. Instead, make a note of what he does well. Details and descriptions? Strong. Characterization? Solid. Prose? Rapturous. Take what you like about what Poe wrote and try to write like that. Keep doing it till you have a set of skills, and then find your own technique. Experiment.

 

So, you can write like Poe, now, eh? Big whoop. What would happen if you threw some Hemingway up in that piece? Poe’s descriptiveness meets Hemingway’s starkness. Play around, mix and match, jump between styles in the same story, the same paragraph, the same sentence, even. Have fun. Style, technique, and mode of expression are, really, the only things you have a choice about when it comes to writing. All else is, for lack of a better term, divine intervention. Concept is the cake. Execution is the icing.

 

If you’re a pantser, like me, remember: it’s not about you or what you want. All you can do is tell the story that wants to be told. You’re a conduit. Maybe you want your protagonist to live, when they’re supposed to die, or an antagonist to die when they’re supposed to live. But you don’t get that choice. The story will tell itself. Chances are, if you’re blocked, it’s because you won’t be quiet and still, and listen for the story to tell itself to you. When you do that, you can never be blocked on a story. Try to stay open, and you’ll always have inspiration and the words will always be waiting for you. (Which isn’t to say you won’t have periods when the words aren’t coming because you’ve temporarily exhausted them. But you’ll find that given a break of a few hours or a day, you’ll have them clamoring to spill out of your fingertips once again.)

 

To the architects. . .I don’t know how you do what you do, with outlines and whatnot. I suspect that you’re the true visionaries, who really do make up stories, as opposed to being a conduit for a story that already exists and just needs to be written. I wouldn’t presume to know how to tell you to do what you do. Just keep at it, and maybe some of the same advice I’d give to pantsers applies to you, too. Get out of your own way and stay there, and let the story tell itself. If the words aren’t coming, it may be time to revise or overhaul your outline/script/whatever. Or it may be time to call it a day and try again tomorrow. The trick is knowing which of those it actually is. I wish you luck.

 

But to all writers, new and old, pantser or architect, I say: Keep trying. Never give up. Write the story you want to read, even if no one else seems to want to read it. I guarantee you, once you’ve polished it, there’ll be plenty who do.

 

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

 

Ha ha, read, of course! Novels, short stories, fan fiction—lots of fan fiction—and I watch movies, listen to music, and absorb cartoons. I’m a kid at heart. But mostly, I write, when I’m awake. With occasional pit stops for other, less important things, like eating. Sometimes I hang out with my mother, my friends, my girlfriend, all of whom are very understanding when it comes to my need for solitude and GET-OUT-I’M-WRITING! alone time. Writing is pretty much my be-all/end-all. I do it for fun, for catharsis, for my sanity and health. Except for the need to socialize, writing and getting feedback for my writing fulfill most of my emotional/mental needs. I’m basically a one-trick pony, a one-note song. I write. With breaks for reading, eating, sleeping, and attempts at extroversion, I write. And when that happens, “I” cease to exist. There’s just writing. It’s the best, most addictive state ever. When I write, I am writing, in every sense of the phrase. That’s my fun.

Just A Little Starstruck

BY LESLEY DAVIS

Starstruck 300 DPII love the escapism that you can get from films, TV shows, and books. Where, for a brief moment in time, you can suspend your imagination and enter into a myriad of other worlds and just be somewhere else, be someone else, and leave this world behind. I’m all for that. I’m never happier than when I’m either in someone else’s story world or playing in one of my own.
“Starstruck” is my eleventh book published, the sixth I proudly have with Bold Strokes Books. I had a lot of fun writing it, mostly due to one character being quite the wise ass and threatening to take the story over if I wasn’t careful. All the characters are very real to me, I see them quite plainly in my mind’s eye, and I hear their voices. What was fun this time around was nearly everyone plays two parts. Cassidy Hayes is an actress so you’re introduced to the character she plays as well as her true self. Aiden Darrow is a writer, someone well used to having one foot in the real world and another in imaginary realms. She also loves the character Cassidy plays on screen and that’s where the idea for my story originated. Can someone very fantasy minded separate the actress from the character she plays? Especially when she is such a fangirl of the show the actress stars in? There’s always that inevitable disappointment when you see your favourite actress or actor in real life or being interviewed and they just don’t embody the role you adore them in. They either see it as ‘just a job’ (I’m looking at you, Harrison Ford!), or that how you interpret the character is not at all like they think they are playing them (I don’t have enough room to call out all of “Once Upon A Time” here!) and then there’s those whose personality is bland compared to the hero/heroine they play and they just want to sign whatever it is you’re sticking under their nose and move on to the next person in line. You’ll have to read the story to see what kind of character Cassidy is off the stage and how Aiden reacts to her.

Did I mention Cassidy has a stalker? It’s got to be the biggest fear of anyone in the limelight that someone out there is going to think that they have sole rights over them and will do anything in their power to prove it. It’s been in the news too many times, not always with a happy ending. It’s where you draw the line between reality and fantasy. You only have to look online and see how media whips up a storm between fans and the stars. We’re constantly fed a steady diet of their every movement until we feel we know them better than ourselves. Twitter/Facebook/Instagram takes us into their homes and we get to celebrate holidays, meals, births with them as if they are family. It’s no wonder some think they have some right to stars both on and off the screen.
Do I have favourites on TV and film? Hell yes! And I usually have a piece in my stories as to what shows I am watching as a time code for my work. I use the TV for background noise and sometimes look up and see something that makes its way into my plot. This time? Check out Aiden’s four wheeled pride and joy which came from a certain film playing late one night as I wrote that particular scene.
I really hope you’ll all enjoy “Starstruck”. I had a great time writing it and am thrilled that its publishing date starts this New Year off with new characters ready for you to read. I’m already working on the next book, no release date confirmed yet but “Raging At The Stars” is coming next! Stay tuned to my website http://www.lesleydavisauthor.co.uk and to the Bold Strokes web page for further details!
Happy reading and a happy 2016 to you all!

A BOLD STROKES BOOKS INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JAN GAYLE

BY CONNIE WARD

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  1. What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

That question sounds funny to me. While I have two BSB books coming out this year and a proposal under consideration, I still find it strange to call myself a writer, but I am and I love it. I decided to write a book on a bet from an old friend. He was teasing me about telling him a story. He always said I told good ones, but I thought they should be at least loosely based on fact—you know, 10% true. He said, “Nah, just write something down. I’d like to read it.” Next thing you know I had about 30,000 words and the beginning of what became Live and Love Again. Now I realize I am a fiction writer, and I enjoy it very much. I still have a day job, but I have a long-term goal to make writing my full-time job as soon as reasonable.

 

  1. What type of stories do you write?  And why?

My first few stories have been romances, mainly because I love a happy ending. One of my favorite classics is Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes it’s nice to escape the challenges of life and experience two people happy and in love.

Also, I’m in the middle of a young-adult/coming-of-age story, and I’m really excited about it. I have hopes of writing a mystery/suspense novel in the future.

 

  1. What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My family and friends are very happy for me and excited, especially my wife, who is the most amazing woman. She works from home so she was there when BSB sent the authors’ copies of my book. She kept it a secret all day. She wrapped the box up and went out and bought flowers. When I got home the wrapped box was on my desk, and I had no idea what it was. She was so excited and created a special event for me. It truly is exciting to see your first book in print.

 

  1. Where do you get your ideas?

That is a great question, and I wish I knew the answer so I could go there and get some more when I’m struggling with the next new book. I think most of them start out based on some real event I’m familiar with and then transition to a more interesting fictional story. And that amazing wife of mine, she is my muse. It is important for me to talk through an idea as I’m working on it. I often sit and discuss what I’m thinking about, and she helps me bring it all together.

 

  1. How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

With my first three stories, I just sat down and started writing about a couple of characters I’d created in my head, but as I’ve struggled through the editing process I’m beginning to realize a little more planning would be beneficial. It’s interesting that the “just write” method has worked for me because I’m a planner.

 

  1. What makes Live and Love Again special to you?

Live and Love AgainLive and Love Again is my first story and that will always make it special.

 

  1. How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

I’d say that most of my characters start out based on myself or someone I know, but they generally evolve into having their own personality. In some cases I think they have turned into more of the ideal me. Despite their flaws they generally handle themselves through the challenges perfectly—well, sort of.

 

  1. Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?

I have to go with Sarah Waters. I truly love her stories, and her amazing prose flows so beautifully. It helps that she writes suspenseful historical fiction—all my favorites wrapped into one. I’m generally not too fooled by her twists anymore because I’m expecting them, but they work every time. It would be a dream come true to pull off a suspense story the way she does.

 

  1. Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

Besides Sarah, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I would like to meet him someday and have a cool malt beverage with him. I’m not a big fan of horror, but King’s suspense and character development always keep me interested, even when I don’t necessarily enjoy the story. My favorite King of all time is Misery—great story.

 

  1. Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

My only advice is write. I have a good friend who keeps telling me he wants to be an author, but he never writes. He keeps coming up with outlines and researching characters and making notes. I’m still pretty new at this myself, but I believe you just have to start writing to get something on paper. The editing comes later.

 

  1. When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

When I’m not writing, I build custom furniture. Like the main character in Live and Love Again, I’m a woodworker. My wife and I have a small cabin in the mountains north of Albuquerque, and I’m currently building all the furniture for the cabin, including a futon, desk, end tables, bed, and nightstand. The list is long, but I’m about halfway through, though I’m sure my wife will add something to the list, and I won’t mind a bit.

 

On age and living

 

BY LAYDIN MICHAELS

ForsakenHappy New Year everyone. I hope this finds you raring to go into a new year of reading. For me, it has been a busy holiday season. December kicked off with the release of my first novel, Forsaken. I wrote about it here last month. It was exciting to finally have my own work out there in the vast world of lesbian fiction. Reality hit home when I realized I had not one, but two deadlines fast approaching as we neared the spin cycle of the year’s end. My second novel, Bitter Root, coming your way this summer, was back to me for the first round of edits, and the first draft of Buried Heart was due to my publisher.

Now I’ve been known to function well under pressure, but that was a bit much for anyone. With hang-dog expression and wringing of hands, I went to my publisher and asked for an extension. I was pleasantly surprised to be granted a nice four month extension on the first draft, yay! This meant I didn’t have to spend every minute at the computer, and was able to really enjoy family time during the holidays.

Our family gathering was smaller than usual for Christmas, but was so much fun. We had our traditional night before dinner of shrimp creole, ham and all the fixings. The grands, both niece and nephew were as cute as could be dressed as elves, handing out gifts. Watching with a smile so big it hurt, it dawned on me that I was now part of the senior generation in my uberfam. This is what I mean, I spent my entire life as “one of the little kids”. We self-divided our sibling herd into bigs and littles at some point. Being third from the end meant the label never disappeared. This was a great asset in helping me live young. My place had always been with my brothers’ and sisters’ children, where I got to be one of the oldest.IMG_8760

Now I looked around at the three brothers and two sisters who were at the festivities and realized they weren’t just the big kids, they were the oldsters. They were, for the most part white haired and frail. They had turned into old aunts and uncles. The shock was palpable. The nieces and nephews I used to run around with were the parents of teenagers and the babies I took care of were parents of babies. Ouch. It happened so suddenly, by my reckoning. I’m still a kid, in my mind. Where did my brothers and sisters go, and who are those old people?

IMG_7320Then I looked at my wife, smiling and laughing at the antics of the kids and I realized that it’s not how old the body is, it’s the age of the spirit and the youth of the heart that matter. Staying young isn’t so much about the body as the mind. My dad, who left us in 2011 at age 87, was never old. His heart was young, his spirit, undaunted by time. He left us a great blueprint to a happy life. Just feel. Live a lot, laugh a lot, love a lot. And that’s what I’m doing. Have a great 2016 and keep on reading. It keeps you young.

 


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