My guest today is my old friend B G Thomas who is celebrating the release of his 18th story, The Boy Who Came In From The Cold, and who is one of the “go to” guys for M/M romance.
No more natter – on with the questions! And be sure to read to the end where there will be a competition to enter.
Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them?
BG: The answer is somewhere in the middle. I rarely create a character to fit a part. I am not a grab character from box A and one from box D, so that everything balances out. “Oh! I need a swishy guy” or “Oh! I need a big beefy guy!” They just come to me. Like wondrous magick. But I don’t always know much about them. That comes as I write the story. They reveal themselves as I go.
In the case of my new novel, “The Boy Who Came In From the Cold,” it started as a sexy little short story I wrote years ago. A story that bothered me because editors in those days wanted nothing buy sex–plot, what plot? I knew that Todd Burton and Gabe Richards were far more than that. I fell in love with both of them and as the years passed, they wouldn’t let me go. They kept calling to me. So I found the manuscript, it wasn’t even five thousand words, dusted it off, reread it, and suddenly they began to really talk to me. I was thrilled with the layers and depth to them, their past, their hurts and angers, and how an unfortunate set of circumstances brought them together. How quickly they fell in love amazed me. Lust at first sight is one thing, but love? I could hardly contain these men. I finally gave up and let it happen. I was very happy with the result.
Also, when my characters become real enough to me, they demand to show up again. Often just in a cameo, but sometimes more. Or it will go the other way. My character Tommy from “All Alone in A Sea of Romance,” appeared in several of my shorter pieces and finally demanded his story be told, and that he finally get a chance to find a man instead of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride.
Or in the case of my new novel, Bianca from “Bianca’s Plan” shows up. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t even see it coming! I was writing along and BAM! there the little devil was. My holiday story “Bianca’s Plan” stunned me with how well it sold and lots of people have told me they like her. So hopefully they’ll be happy that she shows up again and let us know her two daddies are doing great.
Elin: What are you reading? Something to be clutched to the bosom or tossed aside with force? Fiction or non-fiction?
BG: I’m reading an amazing book called “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” by Alexandra Horowitz. I have trouble reading non-fiction sadly, because I think so much of it is so dry. Not this book. And if you are a dog-lover, you mustread this book. It started as research for the book I am writing now, and has turned into something that makes me understand my dog in ways I never did before. She pretty much tells The Dog Whisperer that he is full of shit. Dogs are not wolves. They are an evolutionary miracle and the greatest genetics experiment of all time. Dogs have been with mankind for far longer than anyone thought, maybe 40 thousand years, and their domestication might have been more important than the discovery of fire for humans. And it is romantic! so romantic. Not in some weird way, but if love your dog now, just wait until you read this book. And see how much they really do love us back.
Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.
BG: Well, a writer is always worried that if they say too much, someone else might like the idea and rush something out, right? I will say the book is called “Hound Dog and Bean” and it is one of the most delightful stories I have ever written. I think people will fall in love with the characters, or at least I hope they do!
Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?
BG: Sure! I’ll present the first few pages of the book and how Todd and Gabe meet. You can decide if it is an auspicious meeting or not. Rest assured things…heat up after this.
It was cold outside. It was really cold. Freezing cold.
Todd Burton, freezing himself, watched as a man with a big industrial broom swept what was an obviously already shoveled sidewalk. The snow was falling harder than ever and was piled everywhere.
Jeez, it’s snowing like a son of a bitch out there. Todd glanced nervously over his shoulder into the lobby of the apartment building. No one seemed to be watching him.
What the hell am I going to do?
If this had happened to him a week ago, it wouldn’t have been so bad. Not good. But not nearly as bad.
Luckily, one of the building’s residents had let him in out of the cold in the first place. A big guy–good-looking, tall and wide—wearing
a long woolen (and obviously warm) coat.
Todd would have done almost anything for that coat. His pale-tan lightweight fall jacket barely kept out the chill of late autumn. It didn’t
stand a chance against the snowstorm outside the warm lobby.
“You’ll wear it and like it,” his mother had screamed. “We ain’t made of money!”
If he hadn’t chosen to wear a sweater to the New Year’s Eve party last night, he didn’t know what he would have done. It was the only thing keeping him from being chilled to the bone. His gloves were a joke—the simple one-size-fits-all type bought at Family Dollar, with a hat purchased at the same place—and all but useless. He might as well have been naked.
So it had been a stroke of luck when the big man had asked Todd why he was standing under the awning of the Oscar Wilde apartment
“Waiting for a ride,” Todd replied, even though it was a lie. He was no more waiting for a ride than he was waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. But it got him out of the frigging cold. Todd flexed his wet toes in the confines of sneakers worn to death. His feet were still frozen and aching after nearly an hour. Lord yes, his toes hurt.
This sucks, he thought. This sucks zombie dick.
“What am I going to do?” he muttered as the snow, abundant as the feathers from a high-school-girls’ pillow fight, fell thickly to the ground. Icicles, looking like the teeth of some primeval creature, hung just outside the large plate-glass windows. I’d hate to be the poor guy that one of those fell on.
“Still waiting?” came a voice from behind Todd, and, startled, he jumped and let out a cry. He spun around and found himself gazing up into the face of the man who’d let him into the building. No longer in his winter wear (where was that coat?), the man had changed into jogging shorts and a T-shirt that stretched over a massive chest and proclaimed that he was 2CUTE2BSTR8.
It took Todd a moment to figure it out, but when he did, his mouth dropped open. Too cute to be straight. The guy was queer. It was a little more than Todd’s small-town naïveté could take in. This guy? A fag? It just didn’t seem possible. The guy was a powerhouse. A total class-A stud. This was no swishy, limp-wristed, pink-wearing gay boy.
The man eyed him suspiciously, and Todd realized he needed to say something. “Uh-uh, yeah, I don’t know what’s taking… uh, George… so long.”
Piss. Did I actually say “uh George”?
The man nodded, went to retrieve his mail, and on his way back, stopped again and looked Todd up and down. But this time his gaze lingered just a bit. Todd felt his stomach give a weird sort of flip-flop.
“Look,” said the man. “Watch yourself, okay? The building manager has been known to have a shit fit when hustlers come in the building for, well, whatever they come in here for. Just don’t get caught.”
Todd stiffened. Hustlers? Did this guy think he was looking to sell himself? Before he could think of how to respond, the man crossed the lobby and disappeared into the elevator.
He thinks I’m for sale! Todd shook his head. Cursed under his breath. Do I look like a hustler? he wondered and thought about the boys who sold themselves in the park. Maybe I do, he realized, horrified.
Todd thought of the man who had let him into the building. That coat hadn’t come from Wal-Mart.
There was the pinging from the elevator as the doors opened, and speak of the devil, it was the same man. He was carrying what looked like a plate and a mug and was heading in Todd’s direction. When he got closer, the wondrous aroma of coffee hit Todd and he saw the man had a sandwich as well. To Todd’s surprise, the man handed them both over. His mouth fell open. The day had been one of the shittiest ever in a year of total shit. And here, out of the blue, a complete stranger was showing some small-town kindness?
Todd only hesitated for a second, all but snatched the food and coffee from the man, sat down on the windowsill, and practically gulped everything down. Both were a relief beyond words. Todd almost swooned. He hadn’t had so much as a bite all day, and with barely twenty bucks in his pocket and no idea when he’d get more, he’d been afraid to buy so much as a dollar grease burger from Mickey D’s.
He ate the food so fast he barely tasted it. Oh! And the coffee filled him with a warmth that finally let him shake off the cold that had plagued him all day. He actually gave a shiver as it lifted.
“I’m Gabe,” said the man.
With only a few bites left, Todd nodded but didn’t offer his own name.
“What are you doing out in this weather, anyway?” Gabe asked.
Todd stopped chewing. Boy, was that a question and a half. He swallowed hard. How did he explain it? It was awful. He was ashamed. How did he tell a complete stranger that he felt like a total failure?
Todd gave the guy a quick look, then a longer one. The guy was huge. A good head taller, at least, than Todd’s five foot nine and downright massive: really built. He obviously worked out. A lot. Like the guys in the muscle mags that Todd collected. Gabe’s pecs looked as big as dinner plates, and Todd could see the man’s abs even through his shirt. His waist seemed almost as small, his hips as narrow, as Todd’s, impossible as that should be.
And good-looking. Really good-looking. The man had short light brown hair and light blue eyes (the color of a country summer sky) and a face like a movie star. This guy could have any woman he wanted. Why had he chosen to go gay?
“Okay, so if you don’t want me to know—”
Know? Know what? Did I miss something?
“—can I at least get that name?”
What the hell? “Why do you need to know?”
Gabe shook his head. “Okay, Mr. Uh Todd Whydoyouneedtoknow, I’ll leave you alone.”
The man started to turn away, and suddenly, Todd didn’t want Gabe to leave. “I was kicked out of my apartment,” he cried out in a
Gabe stopped, turned back.
“Surprised the shit out of me too. Got home this morning from a New Year’s party, and the lock had been changed.”
Gabe’s eyes widened just a bit. “Damn.”
“What kind of asshole kicks someone out on the streets in this kind of weather?” Todd asked. He began to wring his hands. “I thought
there were laws that protected you from that.”
“I believe there are, but that’s not going to do you any good right now,” Gabe said.
“No shit.” Todd sighed. “You really queer?” he asked without thinking. His lack of a filter from thought to spoken word had bounced him against the walls of authority all his life.
“The word is ‘gay’,” Gabe said, “and yes I am.”
Gay and proud of it, Todd thought with wonder. “Sorry,” he said and meant it. After all, the guy had helped him when no one else would. So what if he chose to fuck a dude instead of a girl? It was his choice.
Gabe crossed his arms over that expanse of chest. “You got a place to stay? A friend?”
Todd felt the last of his strength leave him and his shoulders
slumped in defeat. “No.”
“What about the friends you partied with last night?”
“No way.” The people at that party hadn’t been his friends.
There was a pause, and Gabe looked him up and down once more. Not rudely, but it made Todd feel weird anyway. He couldn’t quite describe the feeling. The guy wasn’t drooling or any fucking thing like that, but still…. Gabe was a guy. And despite parades and gay marriage, the end
of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and gay and lesbian support groups in high schools, men with men wasn’t anything he was used to. The guy seemed nice. Had given him food. Gabe had shown him more kindness than anyone else in this fucking city, so—
“Look,” said the big man, “I’ve never paid for it, but you’re awfully cute, and it would give you a place to stay for the night, and….”
Todd started. “What?”
“I mean it’s not going to be like Pretty Woman, where I have to pay extra to get you to stay the night, right? I mean, I’m getting you out of the snow and—”
“I’m not a whore,” Todd snarled. “And I’m not a fucking queer.”
Gabe’s face froze, his warmth vanishing as if it had never been there. He reached out and took Todd’s now empty mug. “Good luck,” he said, voice icy. “And like I said, don’t let the building manager catch you, or you’ll be back out on the street, blizzard or not.” Gabe turned and strode back to the elevator without looking back.
Great. Shit. Why did I do that? “I gotta stop losing it,” he said aloud. I could have just told him I’m not gay, not a hustler. The guy—
Gabe—was nice. He would have taken no for an answer. Todd turned back to look out the lobby windows. Gasped. The snow, which had
been coming down hard, was now a writhing wall of white.
He looked back to the elevator. But Gabe was gone, of course.
Now what am I going to do?
To find out, check out the book The Boy Who Came In From the Cold, on sale now from Dreamspinner Press.
Follow BG at any or all of the links below!
BG’s Website: http://bgthomas.t83.net
BG’s Live Journal: http://bg-thomas.livejournal.com/
BG’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter
Or to email BG directly: email@example.com
Special Message from BG:
CONTEST! Hey! I want to do a little give-away. Head over to DSP and check out the full story description of the novel. I have built into the story a little pun, or joke as it were. If you can figure it out, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be one or two winners, depending on how many people email me.
Many thanks, BG, for being such a great guest.