Happy Humpday. And since it’s Wednesday that means another interview and excerpt from an author contributing to the Not Quite Shakespeare anthology from Dreamspinner Press which is available for pre-order HERE.
My guest today is one of my favourite authors, whose cerebral mysteries and paranormals are a delight. Welcome, Theo Fenraven.
Have you ever visited the UK? If so where did you go? If not, what would you most like to see if you were able to make a visit?
I’ve never been to England. I’ve always wanted to go, though. There are a lot of places I’d like to see, but because my story is set in Manchester, that would be my first pick.
What inspired you to write your story for the anthology?
I liked the idea of setting a story in the U.K., and I’ve never been part of anthology before. As it happened, the idea for the short story occurred to me only a day or two before I heard about this. Talk about fortuitous!
Could you tell me a little about it?
Very little, or I’ll give the plot away. I’d rather readers came to it with fresh eyes. Wag is in IT and as the story opens, he meets Silver, a new employee, and is instantly in lust. That’s all it takes; Wag doesn’t get out much. The story of these two misfits plays out against the background of Canal Street in Manchester and at their shared office.
Could you please tell me about your other work?
My latest release is Transgression, a story that looks at different kinds of sexuality in our culture and what people think about it. A male bisexual meets a MtF transwoman, setting various events in motion, some of which are life-threatening. My books are rarely straight romance. I would soon be bored to death! Instead, I weave in elements from thrillers, mysteries, and adventure tales. Precog in Peril is a paranormal murder mystery centered on the life of two young men who live on a houseboat; The Blue Paradise is set in Florida and the world of pro baseball, and concerns a stalker; Phoenix Rising dramatically brings a myth back to life in the shape of a charismatic rock singer; and in Blue River, a talented photographer goes back in time to 1863, where he has to grapple with a disturbing lack of amenities while attempting to court a deeply-closeted young rancher.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently wrapping up a first draft of my next book, which is called Wolf Bound and is a shifter story. I always swore I’d never write one based on a human-to-wolf transformation, as it’s been done over and over in the genre, but the characters leaped up in my head one day, waving their arms wildly, and I was hooked.
Please could we have an excerpt?
Here’s part of the first chapter from Wolf Bound.
I bought the old farmhouse in July, moved in on September tenth, and discovered the lake island in October. The body of water I lived on was Heron Lake, and it didn’t have islands. It did have a few summer cabins, a couple of year ’round residences, and my farm-turned-country acreage for a guy who knew nothing about growing food or keeping animals. It had been abandoned some years back, long enough that the pasture that had once fed beef cattle was now overgrown with thistle, and trees had sprung up in the long grass. I had my work cut out for me, taking down and disposing of the old barbed wire fence, but I thought I might get it accomplished by the time winter set in.
I knew there was another, smaller lake in the area, but I didn’t find it until I threw down my wire cutters one Saturday afternoon, wiped the sweat off my brow, and walked down the road, impulsively turning into an unmarked gravel lane that led into the trees. There was no mailbox to indicate it was a private drive, so I followed it past towering oaks and maples until it ended at a small lake. Out in the middle of it, on an almost perfect circle of raised land, was a small one-and-a-half-story cabin circled by a tall, graceful stand of birch and ash. Between the island and the shore was a wide, wooden dock, one end of which lay to my right behind thick woods. The other stopped short of the island by what I guessed was around thirty feet.
On my left was a large, well-cared-for house with a neatly trimmed lawn and intermittent explosions of late-blooming flowers. On the shore, a canoe and kayak were turned over on the beach. A dusty SUV was parked in the drive, but no one was on the porch and the lights were off. An old windmill turned lazily in the breeze, and there were solar panels on the roof.
I backed away uneasily, realizing this was someone’s private property and I was trespassing. Giving the tiny island cabin another admiring look, I retraced my steps to the road and went home. I decided it was high time to quit for the day, sit on my porch, and suck down a cold beer.
The summer people were mostly gone, but someone from the cabin closest to me wandered up my drive as twilight was setting in and sank into a rocker with a sigh. His name was Sam Malone. “Same as the guy on Cheers, remember that show? But I’m not a professional bartender, and my hair is real.”
Sam didn’t look like the actor, either. He had a head of curly black hair, was on the short side at around five foot nine, and was lean as a piece of crispy bacon. His parents owned the cabin, and sometimes he came out to get away from his stressful job as an ER nurse.
The breeze was picking up and had a distinctly chilly edge as it swept leaves off the trees and along the ground. Fall was here and winter not far behind.
“How ya doing, Jon?” he asked.
“Good. Got about ten feet of wire down.” I glanced at my hands, which looked beat up despite the gloves I wore when working. “Hardly any barb cuts today.”
I fetched him a beer, and we rocked and gazed at the small whitecaps ridging the water. I asked, “Who lives in the house on the other lake?”
“Egret? That’s the writer, Harrison Kalmes. One of his books was bought by Hollywood and turned into a movie. Must be nice, eh?” Sam drank and burped. “Keeps to himself.”
“Does he have a family?”
“Not that I’ve seen.” He grinned. “You interested?”
I’d told him I was gay the first time we met. Smiling, I swung back in the rocker and lifted my work boots to the porch railing. “Don’t know him. I’m interested in him being a writer, though. That’s sort of my secret dream.”
“Yeah? That’s cool.” He slid farther down on his spine, stretching his legs out and crossing them at the ankle.
Sam was straight, but my orientation didn’t bother him. It was nice having someone nearby I was comfortable around. I’d miss him when winter shut things down and he no longer visited. However, after what I’d been through the last few years, a little isolation didn’t sound half bad.
We drank in companionable silence while the first stars came out and a sickle moon rose in the sky. An owl hooted nearby, and I remembered someone telling me owls and hawks didn’t share common territory. I wondered if that was true.
“What’s with the cabin on the small island?” I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind. I wanted to see what it looked like inside, and what the view of the lake was from there. I’d been reading about “tiny houses” off and on for a few years, and while this one obviously hadn’t been built recently, it had that same feel about it, like the whole of someone’s life could be tucked neatly away in small spaces. I’d even considered buying one, but then this property became available for not much more, and I decided to risk it. Also, practically speaking, resale value on “normal” houses was much better.
“Don’t know. Knock on the door and ask him.”
“Maybe I will.”
Many thanks, Theo, for answering my questions, and good luck both with NQS and with Wolfbound, which I understand has now been released to very good reception from reviewers and is available here.
Readers, if you would like to follow Theo’s progress you can find him on his blog and on Facebook.