Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘comfy chair’

comfy chairMy guest today is an author that I first met at this years UK Meet, and I most most intrigued to hear about his first release, The Necessary Deaths, which came out on the first of November and which I, for one, am gagging to read.

Please join me in welcoming David Dawson.

~~~

Hello, David. Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I work as a documentary film maker. I was with the BBC for about twenty years, firstly as a trainee journalist then in television making documentaries, before going freelance. I’ve filmed all over the world, as a director and a producer, most recently making educational and charity videos.

I’m still producing videos, but my son is steadily taking that over from me, although I do some camera operating for him sometimes; it’s great being directed by your son!

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I sing bass with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. They’re a great bunch of guys and they’ve been my strength and support over the last few years. We’ve sung in all sorts of places including: at Sandi Toksvig’s wedding to Debbie, at the West London Synagogue for World Aids Day, in St Paul’s Cathedral for Age UK and outside the House of Lords when the House debated the Equal Marriage Bill. Next year we’re off to New York and Chicago to sing alongside the Gay Men’s Choruses there. No, I’ve not written about the Chorus – yet. Look out for their appearance in a future mystery!

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I’m re-reading Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave. I’d read it a few years ago, and when I saw they’d made a film of the book, I worried they’d spoil it. Not at all. If you see the film, or read the book, be ready to weep buckets!
I aspire to the beautiful prose style of Armistead Maupin. He just gets better and better. His more recent books surpass the early Tales of the City books. Those early books were great fun, but it’s clear that with maturity, comes reflection and insight.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Oh that’s a tricky one, because they’re like Siamese triplets. They’re inseparable. I suppose for me the plot and core characters are born pretty well simultaneously. That is, I know who’s going on what journey and where they’re going to end up. Once I’ve fleshed out the characters in my head and on paper, I invent situations for them to deal with, on the journey through the book. Then the supplementary characters evolve, as the plot evolves. Sometimes I’ll experience a situation with someone in real life, then I’ll work out how to write it into a book.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

I like to spend time on developing histories for all my characters, I use pictures a lot for that, and names are very important. Once I set those, I’ll go for a ride on my motorbike, or cycle somewhere, and think about the character and about what has already happened to them. It helps so much in creating their motivation for doing things, or explaining why they react in a certain way to new situations. Once I’m writing the story, I’ll add to that back-story as events unfold. I have a spreadsheet full of character descriptions and images, to remind me when I forget what colour their hair is!

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake?

I’ve got an idea for a series in the science-fiction/supernatural genre, which I’m developing at the moment. There was a BBC drama series many years ago called “Out of the Unknown” which had a huge influence on me.

It took ordinary everyday circumstances, and then twisted them slightly, creating daytime nightmares. I think they’re far spookier than the usual night-time stuff.
I don’t think I’m cut out for historical drama/romance. My son’s the historian, not me! That said, I’ve been thinking about a thriller series set around The Chilterns during the Second World War. The Ministry of War had some very interesting places tucked away in this countryside, including what was called “Churchill’s Toyshop”, where boffins invented all sorts of amazing devices to defeat the enemy.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?
Pretty well all decent novels are relationship driven. Even Tom Hanks, the lone survivor in Castaway, had the inanimate volleyball Mr Wilson to talk to!

The Necessary Deaths has a strong romantic plotline in the developing relationship between Dominic and Jonathan. The extraordinary circumstances that they’re plunged into test their relationship and develop it further, in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I give the romantic story plenty of room to breathe, because it’s integral to the thriller. The romance between Dominic and Jonathan is what motivates them to react in the way they do.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

Yes, I have acute OCD on this! I have a spreadsheet full of detail and photographs about every character, even the minor ones. As soon as I write a new piece of description in the story, I add it to the spreadsheet. Photographs of people also help me imagine their back-stories, and how they might react to situations. One of my favourite tasks is to spend an evening scouring the internet for photographs of gorgeous men who might fit certain characters! It can be very distracting…

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

George Clooney can come to my rescue! Every time. He’s been a hero of mine ever since he rescued the boy from the storm drain in episode seven, season 2 of ER. In fact, I’m such a big fan, he’s a major character in a short story of mine that Dreamspinner Press is publishing in its Love Wins Anthology for Orlando this December.

But you want a team? Well, I think Dame Maggie Smith would stand up to any mugger, any day! She and George would make a fabulous team. In fact, I wonder why they haven’t been paired on screen already!

clooney-smith

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

Villains have got to be credible, so they need reasons for being bad. No one is all good, or all bad.

In The Necessary Deaths, the principal villain is motivated by ideology, and is very bad. But they still have a seductive side, which makes them intriguing and even appealing. Everyone has the capacity to be a villain, circumstances and back-story dictate whether the transformation to the dark side happens or not. In the second Dominic Delingpole Mystery I’m tackling this whole issue, which I think is fascinating.

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.

The Dominic Delingpole Mysteries will unfold over five books. I’ve plotted the overarching story, and I’m just finishing the second book in the series. I’m also working up the World War Two science fiction tale in the background, it’s quite a juggling act I can tell you!

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

From The Necessary Deaths:

“Mrs. Gregory,” said Dominic. “I would be very happy to have you as a client, but I’m not sure in what way I can act for you.”

Samantha smiled. “And neither am I just at the moment. Let’s call you a professional friend. I have no one else who I can turn to, and your legal mind will help me to see things a little more clearly. As you can tell, I’m a little emotional just now.” She turned away to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye. Then she looked at him steadily.

“Simon and I are very close. Ever since Richard, his father, died in a climbing accident, we have been a very tight family unit. I’d like to think Simon and I can tell each other everything.”

Dominic wondered if she was keeping up a brave front, or whether she really believed Simon told her everything. Her comments clearly contradicted what Simon’s housemate Jay had said an hour ago. Dominic decided that, as she was his client, he owed her the duty of honesty, and he should tell her about what he had learned in the last few hours.

“Samantha, I’m afraid I believe Simon may not have confided everything in you in recent times. I went to see John this morning before coming here. He told me about their relationship and how Simon was not yet ready to tell you.”

Samantha smiled.

“Dominic, I’m his mother. Do you think that I didn’t know?” She sighed. “I knew he was finding it difficult to tell me, and I was waiting for him to pick the right time. I didn’t want to rush him.” She paused. “But yes, you’re right, and I am wrong. Simon hasn’t confided everything to me; I merely know and am waiting for him to tell me. John is a lovely boy, and I was just pleased to know that Simon is happy.”

Samantha narrowed her eyes slightly as she asked, “But why do you think that means he must have kept other secrets from me? Surely you of all people must know how difficult it is to come out?”
Dominic blushed briefly. “Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, and for young people it really is much easier….”

“Oh nonsense! Can I just say that I think it’s a bit rich for you to judge Simon when you’re so secretive about yourself? We spent nearly three hours in the car together last night, and I still don’t know whether or not you have a boyfriend!”
This time Dominic’s face turned crimson.
“Samantha, could we just get back to—”

“Well, do you?”

Dominic sighed. “I think it’s my turn to acknowledge that I am wrong. Yes, I do have a partner, and no, I am not very open about it. In this day and age, it probably is unnecessary for me to be quite so discreet. But after a while, it gets to be almost a habit.”

Samantha giggled. “Oh, Dominic, how delightfully bashful you are! I imagine that it’s rare you have a conversation like this with your clients.”

Dominic smiled. “Samantha, I can tell you truthfully that I have never had a conversation like this with my clients. You must meet Jonathan some time. I think you two would get on like a house on fire.”


A young journalism student lies unconscious in a hospital bed in Brighton, England. His life hangs in the balance after a drug overdose. But was it attempted suicide or attempted murder? The student’s mother persuades British lawyer Dominic Delingpole to investigate, and Dominic enlists the aid of his outspoken opera singer partner, Jonathan McFadden.

The student’s boyfriend discovers compromising photographs hidden in his lover’s room. The photographs not only feature senior politicians and business chiefs, but the young journalist himself. Is he being blackmailed, or is he the blackmailer?

As Dominic and Jonathan investigate further, their lives are threatened and three people are murdered. They uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of government and powerful corporations. The people behind it are ruthless, and no one can be trusted. The bond between Dominic and Jonathan deepens as they struggle not only for answers, but for their very survival.

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner | Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N | iTunes

BIOG:

David C. Dawson is an author, award-winning journalist and documentary maker, living near Oxford in the UK.
He has travelled extensively, filming in nearly every continent of the world. He has lived in London, Geneva and San Francisco, but now prefers the tranquillity of the Oxfordshire countryside.
David is a Mathematics graduate from Southampton University in England. After graduating, he joined the BBC in London as a trainee journalist. He worked in radio newsrooms for several years before moving to television as a documentary director. During the growing AIDS crisis in the late eighties, he is proud to say that he directed the first demonstration of putting on a condom on British television.
After more than twenty years with the BBC, he left to go freelance. He has produced videos for several charities, including Ethiopiaid; which works to end poverty in Ethiopia, and Hestia; a London-based mental health charity.

David has one son, who is also a successful filmmaker.

In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. He has sung with the Chorus at St Paul’s Cathedral, The Roundhouse and the Royal Festival Hall, but David is most proud of the time they sang at the House of Lords, campaigning for equal marriage to be legalized in the UK.

You can follow David at the following sites:
Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog

necessarydeathsthe_headerbanner

Read Full Post »

My guest today goes under the name of Ruff Bear in most places though, as so many of us do, he has another name for those boring administrative things that aren’t nearly as much fun as being a creator of truth and beauty. Sadly Facebook doesn’t have much truck with truth and beauty and insists on the workaday name so I’ve invited Bear to my blog so he can talk about the real him for a while.

Welcome Bear.

Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I have been writing since I was a teenager and had my first work, a poem, published when I was 17. Although encouraged by my writing instructors, I was uneasy about the difficulties of establishing a writing career. I spent over 30 years working in higher education as a professor of political science and a student success specialist. In June 2014, I decided to fulfill my teenage dream and become a fulltime writer.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I enjoy gardening, cooking, travelling, reading books on world history, working out, and submission wrestling. I have written about travel and have a work in progress about the adult wrestling culture.

Bear is also a cracking photographer. Check out more of his work on the Bearly Designed website.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I am finishing up a collection of short stories and novellas by Robert Heinlein.  I read half of it and then switched to Neil MacGregor’s Germany: Memories of a Nation. I wish I could have written anything by Doris Lessing or Gabriel García Márquez. She blows me away with her range and he blows me away with his imagination.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Usually character comes first but sometimes I think of a situation I really want to explore. I never know what the plot is until I start writing.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

I know my characters completely the minute they set foot in the story. Well, maybe I don’t know their latest colonoscopy results.

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? 

Eventually I am going to get around to erotica in the D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller sense. I can’t see myself writing horror, crime, or anything with a lot of blood and violence. I admire 19th century horror novels like Frankenstein and Dracula, but the horror isn’t the creatures but how people reacted to them.

I feel very alive when I visit deserts, but desertification is one of many problems facing the world due to climate change, inaction and greed. I wanted to tell a story about the consequences of that inaction and how it could lead to the near destruction of humanity. As someone in love with world history, I wanted to write about cycles in history but projected into the future. As a political scientist, I am drawn to study political change movements, the social contract and empires. I practice Taoism and wanted to create characters that reflected the promises and cautions of that philosophy.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot? 

A relationship driven story almost has to be episodic and removes the opportunity to develop a lot of intertwining themes. Even sub plots have to tie into the main relationship. Romance or relationships as sub plots add layers or help explore themes creating a richer story.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

I do one reading that is solely to insure continuity and reveal repetitious descriptions. It drives me crazy that even the best television series will do things like mention a sibling and then next season say the character is an only child.

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?
Calvin and Hobbes. They always come up with some way to deal with adversity by ignoring convention, usually by creating a distraction that stops anyone else in his tracks. And I have seen film of a leopard hunting and killing a crocodile in water near the riverbank; tigers are larger than leopards and alligators are smaller than crocodiles, so Hobbes can handle them.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

Women, getting stuff done, deviously, since, well, forever really.
[Sian Phillips glorious as Livia Augusta in I, Claudius]


Devious men (devious women are never villains), indecisiveness and inaction in the face of crisis, social norms and customs that have lost their meaning, active engagement in any of the Seven Cardinal Sins except lust.

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.

I am ghostwriting the memoirs of a couple who have lived and traveled widely. I am finishing up the first prequel short story for The Secret History of Another Rome, researching the two sequels, and making notes for more prequel stories. I am finishing a short story about a woman protected by spirits. And I am waiting for my husband to finish the first draft of a science fiction novel we are co-authoring called Crossing Xavier.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

From The Secret History of Another Rome (the beginning of The Fifth Moment)

Octavian’s mother told her five-year-old son they would be leaving home to live elsewhere. She said it would be a great adventure and they could spend as much time as they wanted together once they arrived. In the meantime, he spent several days with his grandmothers visiting gardens and going on drives in the open air vehicle that was fueled by used cooking oil. One evening, the entire family ate at his great grandmother’s house and stayed up late talking and amusing the child.

One day the boy’s mother instructed him to make sure he said goodbye to his friends after they were done playing in the fields. Octavian couldn’t explain why he was leaving, only that his mother said they were. It wasn’t too unusual for a family to move from a community since opportunities came and went. Still, so far in their young lives, Octavian’s friends had only seen off one other, a girl who left for the interior when her mother was needed at a family cattle ranch when her aunt could no longer manage the place alone. When he said his farewells, the boy with long, bright auburn locks did not know it would be more than two decades before he saw another person less than seventeen years old.

A few days later Octavian found two trunks sitting in the parlor near the front door. It already had been an unusual morning. Instead of giving him his usual short trousers and a shirt to wear, his mother laid out a red piece of clothing that looked like a long shirt without sleeves, an off-white, hooded robe that went down to his ankles, and a light brown leather belt. He asked her what the shirt-like thing was and she said it was a tunic. She said from now on he would be wearing these clothes. It was odd. Mother was wearing a shirt and pants.

After breakfast, the day became even stranger. They traveled some distance to the far side of Mandela beyond Table Mountain to a flat expanse with a modest, white-washed building on one side. Mother told him this was an airstrip. Sitting in the flat, dusty field was a large, metal machine that had wings like a bird, but with upturned ends. He recognized the lettering painted above the windows near the front of the long, silver tube that made up the bulk of the machine. It was Arabic: امبراطورية روما في الإسكندرية. Octavian had been learning Arabic for as long as he had been speaking English and Spanish. The elegant script said Empire of Rome at Alexandria.

Octavian had heard the Empire mentioned by his elders. They did not speak well of it for the most part. His mother, however, used maps depicting the territories of the Empire in her lessons with him. The intelligent child put the pieces together.

“Mother, are we moving to the Empire?”

“Yes, Octavian. Very good of you to sort that out by yourself. We are going to Alexandria, the capital city of the Empire. We will live there.”

“Hmm.”

“Are you ready to go into the plane.”

“Plane? Is that what that is?”

“Yes. It is an airplane, but people just call it a plane for short.”

“Like calling Michael Mike.”

“Yes,” she said. Octavian realized he probably would never see his friend Mike again. “Let’s go. I packed a lunch for us that we can eat in the plane.”

“That sounds like fun.” Octavian enjoyed picnics, but had never had one inside a machine.

Octavian and his mother climbed the stairs and entered the cabin. They were greeted by a member of the flight crew, a smiling, friendly, dark-haired woman wearing a sea green tunic who spoke English with a bit of an accent. “Welcome aboard. I am honored to meet you and travel with you to the city. Please find seats in the passenger cabin. I will speak with you momentarily.”

Octavian’s mother led him into an area in the front of the plane with six large, reclining seats covered in a durable, nubby fabric.

“Here are some blankets and pillows,” the flight assistant added. “I admit the fabric can be a bit scratchy on the seats, so you may want to cover them with one of the blankets. The pillows are a good support for your lower back, as well as your head.”

She disappeared again as Octavian and his mother settled in. His mother was just removing lunch from the bag she had brought with her when the attendant returned. “Oh, I guess they didn’t tell you we provide meals. No worries. I am sure you will be hungry again toward the end of the flight.”

“Flight?” Octavian sputtered. “This machine really uses its wings to fly?”

“Yes, dear. Do you remember a few months ago when I was away for six days? I rode in an airplane to Australia and back. I wanted to be certain I knew what it was like before we moved.”

“And?”

“And I think it best if I give you something after lunch to help you sleep. Even though we will be crossing Africa instead of the southern oceans as I did, there is not much to see and becomes boring rather quickly. You have never been in a confined space like this for any length of time. I don’t want you to become over-excited or ill.”

“But I want to see things, even if it is just clouds and sky.”

“You will be awake while we finish lunch. And I promise to wake you for the last hour of the flight so you have time to see what you want to see.”

Octavian knew his mother always thought matters out carefully and would not bow to him arguing further. Besides, while they were eating, the woman in green came around to ask them to use the belts attached to the seats before takeoff. The boy wondered why they should strap themselves in if they were going to remove their clothes and wasn’t sure why removing their clothes was necessary. However, he saw his mother connecting the ends of her seat belt without stripping. He must have misunderstood.

The engines made a thundering sound. Within minutes, the plane started moving. The machine picked up speed running down the flat, dusty field. Octavian was in awe watching the trees and ground go by so quickly. Suddenly, the airfield was pulling away and the plane was climbing. The boy felt the partially eaten meal settle in his stomach. He couldn’t take his eyes off the window as the landscape became smaller. The plane banked and he could see Cape Town and its harbor, then Mandela, his home community. He could even see his great grandmother’s house set amidst the fields.

As amazing as it was, take off and climbing above the spare clouds was disorienting. Octavian decided it probably was best to relax. After lunch, he took a small red tablet. Funny, he thought. Tablet means a small pill and an electronic screen for reading and writing in English and tableta could mean both in Spanish, too. Those sorts of connections always fascinated the child. Within minutes, however, all thought slipped away and he was curled up in the seat with two blankets and three pillows.

The Secret History of Another Rome

Blurb:
In the mid-2600s, Ranulf becomes Supreme Pontiff of the Empire of Rome at Alexandria, a patriarchy run by priest-bureaucrats called Librarians. After twenty-two years on the throne, Ranulf’s memories flood back to him, from the time he moved to Alexandria with his mother to his present situation resulting from his choices, his training and his relationships. Ranulf’s life has been a quest for truth, not the half-truths of the Librarians and their Secret History, but an understanding of how action rather than static dogma is the path to the future. Guided by mysterious strangers from another time and his own innate curiosity, Ranulf searches for this understanding. Why do the Librarians hide facts from their ruler? What will Ranulf do as he gradually uncovers the truth? How will he respond when he finally understands?

Buy Links:

Kellan Publishing | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio:

Bear was raised in the Baltimore-Washington area. He has lived in the Albany, NY, area for 20 years. He has been writing since the age of 13 and had his first work, a poem, published at 17. Bear has worked 30 years in higher education as a professor of political science and a student success specialist. He has lived overseas in China, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Bear currently works full time as a writer of plays, non-fiction, poetry and fiction. The Secret History of Another Rome is his first completed novel. He has written three full-length plays and a one-act play that is the start of another long play. Bear also writes political essays, which have been published at http://www.dailykos.com/user/Ruffbear7 and http://www.opednews.com/hkbearmcneelege. One essay was published in River & South Review’s Winter 2014 issue and a poem was published in December 2014 by Silver Birch Press in their I Am Waiting series. He is completing work on a non-fiction book on the changing definition of democracy and writing several novels and plays. Additionally, he sells blank note cards and prints featuring his original photography at http://www.bearlydesigned.com.

Bear enjoys gardening, cooking, travelling, reading books on world history, working out and wrestling. He and his spouse were married in 1996 in a Christian-Taoist ceremony in a beautiful state park. They enjoy taking care of their 95-year-old house and their three cats: Rani Dolly Lama, Buster Amarillo Spotbelly and Miss KayKay Snugglegrumps.

Links:

Author Page

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Daily Cos

LinkedIn

Pinterest

Read Full Post »

My guest today is a young man, the progress of whose writing career I have been watching with great delight. I have interviewed him before and am very pleased to be given the chance to catch up with him.

For readers who haven’t met you before, could you please tell us a little about yourself?

Hi again Elin! I’m Andrew J. Peters, or Andy is just fine. I’m a fantasy author with a particular interest in retold myth and legend. More often than not I write about gay characters.

My two main projects are the Werecat series and a series based on the legend of Atlantis, which started with the début novel The Seventh Pleiade.

Besides writing, I’ve spent a good portion of my career as a social worker and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. I currently work at a university teaching social work students.

I wish I had some quirky hobby or special knack to share. Between my day job and my writing, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for me to cultivate much in the way of eccentricities, or maybe I’m not cut out to be an eccentric author-type. I am married to a wonderful guy, and we do like to travel outside of the U.S. for vacations and see movies and Broadway shows. Oh, here’s something: a secret confession and guilty pleasure. I sneak in some awful reality TV-watching every now and then. Survivor and The Amazing Race are my favorites, and I will pretty much watch any Real Housewives series.

Thanks so much for having me back. Your comfy chair seems even comfier. Have you restuffed the cushions?

How’s Chloe? Still being a supportive Muse I hope.

Chloë is lovely. We just celebrated her six year birthday last month. She gets more ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ and ‘shares’ than anything else I post on social media, so I do owe her quite a lot for helping with my author profile; or perhaps it’s just her profile.

In terms of being a supportive muse however, I think the better word might be grudging. She sees my work space as a place to bat around the mouse and keyboard, or sit on top of the keyboard at times.

Since you started the first Werecat book, has the world you built developed in any interesting or unexpected ways? Has this been a help or a hindrance?

The biggest challenge for me has been that the hero of the story Jacks went on the run to places that I’ve never been. In the first two books, he started out in upstate New York, Montréal and New York City, all of which I’m very familiar with. Circumstances have him needing to leave the country and go to the Caribbean. That’s where the third installment The Fugitive picks up.

I chose Barbados as Jacks’ first destination after doing some research. There’s a storyline about hidden assets in an off-shore bank, and it turns out that Barbados is a popular place for such transactions. It was tough for me to take the story there. I really had to approach the setting like a meticulous tourist planning a vacation. I read up on the country’s history, geography, people, points of interest, etc. in order to describe the place with some integrity. I used Google Earth to “look” at certain areas of the island, even tracking out a path for Jacks when he’s snooping around a private yacht club.

Next up for Jacks is Venezuela, the rain forests of the Amazon and possibly the Yucatan in Mexico. If I had the resources, I’d visit those places before writing about them, but that’s probably not going to be possible.

Does having your work on paper FEEL different to a regular e-release?

I am really happy that my publisher decided to put the first three installments of Werecat together in a paperback. I do like having my work in print. I put my books on a bookshelf and glance at them fondly every now and then.

It also feels great to be able to sign my books at events in that old-fashioned way. I know some authors send fans autographed postcards or bookmarks for their e-books, and I’ve done some of that. But it doesn’t feel quite the same as signing the actual book. It doesn’t seem like it’s quite as meaningful for fans either.

Shifter fiction falls within the bounds of the paranormal genre but how do you feel about the paranormal in real life? Have you ever had an experience for which there was no accounting by the normal laws of physics?

I haven’t had any personal experiences with the paranormal, but I keep an open mind. Living with cats has helped in that regard. I almost said being a “cat owner” there, but I think “living with” is a more accurate way of putting it.

Folks who have cats can back me up here. I think it’s pretty apparent that they see and hear things that we humans can’t perceive. If you’ve ever watched a cat staring intensely at a corner of a wall or a ceiling while nothing is going on, you know what I mean.

Sometimes there’s an ordinary explanation – a tiny bug that they’ve zoned in on or a noise too faint for a human to hear. But I don’t doubt that it’s possible that cats sense otherworldly things as well that are imperceptible to us. I see no reason why there wouldn’t be ghosts living among us for example, or perhaps some trace of energy from a deceased person attached to certain objects that were special to them.

That little theory of mine played a role in the development of the Werecat story. It’s a world where house cats or strays have a psychic connection to feline shifters, and they’re able to alert their human companions to a threat, or alternatively do some mischief on behalf of their shifter brethren.

Of all your characters, who have you enjoyed writing most – least – whose voice was the most troublesome to catch?

Some of the supporting characters in Werecat have been the most fun to write. Farzan, the boyfriend of the main character Jacks, is a self-described “gay Persian with Attention Deficit Disorder.” He’s a high-strung, self-deprecating, long-suffering, funny guy who gets lots of humorous dialogue and becomes pretty instantly endearing I think. In The Fugitive, Jacks meets a roguish shifter named Maarten who was fun to write as well. Maarten is a composite of some young trust-funders I’ve known – disaffected, entitled, yet charming in spite of his faults.

I’d say overall that Jacks actually challenges me the most. I think most hero characters get channeled from the author’s personality, and I’ll cop to that with Jacks to the extent that I went back to some of my own feelings and experiences as a young gay man in writing him.

But for Jacks to do the things he does, being a real “action character,” it had me working on characterization that is quite far aloft of my decidedly mild and introspective personality. He certainly makes decisions I would never have made. He goes home with a stranger that he meets in the park for example, and he takes on big cat shifters who are bigger and stronger than he is.

I’ve had readers tell me that they’re angry at Jacks because of the risky situations he gets into, and some readers think that he’s naïve and dumb. I wanted to write Jacks as a young man who views the world in simple terms. He does get led astray by his hormones at times and his youthful sense of invulnerability. At a glance, I’d probably call him dumb as well. But as the story develops, Jacks is faced with some pretty extraordinary problems, and I see him as a guy who gets through things by not wavering from his convictions. There’s no ambiguity for him, just right and wrong. That makes him quite different from other heroes I’ve written that tend to get caught up in their heads for a while before making a decision.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am polishing up a follow-up novel to The Seventh Pleiade, which is the story of a young gay prince who becomes a hero during the last days of Atlantis. The new book is Banished Sons of Poseidon. It will be coming out in late 2015, and it picks up with the survivors of the flood.

Could we please have an excerpt?

Sure, I’m happy to share an excerpt. Here’s a bit from the opening pages of the novel. People who have read The Seventh Pleiade will remember the character Dam who is at the center of the missing boys scandal while the island-city is celebrating a national festival and coming apart at the seams in many ways. The second book continues the story from Dam’s perspective. His cousin Aerander was the hero of the first book.

~~~

There was a hot water lake that the boys used for bathing not far beyond the Old Ones’ underground city. The lake was embanked in black rock, and in the cast of torchlight, its sediment-rich waters glowed as blue and bright as a summer sky.

Dam pitted his metal torch in a cleft in the bank. It cast an aura of light a few yards onto the water and up the black shore. Beyond that stunted perimeter, everything was obscure and still. Dam had heard that the barren country around the lake had once been crisscrossed with lava floes, but that was in ages past. All that was left was dry craters and scarred troughs through rolling fields of rock, and none of that could be seen at the time when Dam was out. The Old Ones had shuttered the watchtower where they kept their brilliant Oomphalos that washed a thrumming, red, crystalline tide over the underworld. The sun never graced Agartha, the continent below the earth, so the Old Ones uncovered and eclipsed their magical relic at intervals to give the aboveground refugees some routine of day and night.

The boys weren’t supposed to venture out of the city unless they were in threes or fours. Two nights ago, a stranger had been sighted stalking around the deep canyon beyond the city drawbridge. Dam wouldn’t have trekked out that way on his own, but the backcountry of dead lava fields seemed like safe territory. He was used to coming and going as he wanted to. Aboveground, where he had been a novice priest, he had snuck out from the walled priest’s precinct at night all the time just to walk the city streets and feel some freedom.

If his cousin Aerander found out that he had gone to the bathing lake by himself, he’d get a scolding. Those lectures never rooted themselves as much as they groped to find a hold in Dam’s head. Dam was sixteen years old. He had been minding his own way long before they had come underground. Aerander was sixteen too so he had no business telling Dam this or that anyway. Dam thought they had sorted those things out a while ago, but since Aerander had taken on leading the survivors, he fell back on his bossy ways sometimes.

Dam stripped off his sandals and his tunic, laid them on the bank and delicately made his way into the water. It was plenty warm. The whole region around the city stayed at a mild temperature due to heat that rose up from the lava pits in the shelf below. But the initial sensation entering the lake was always strange, going from dry to wet. Since Dam had been living in the sunless underworld, it was like his skin had become more sensitive while his eyes had grown lazy from lack of use.

Dam imagined his body soaking up the minerals of the lake, making him strong like iron. That was what happened when the Old Ones’ warriors bathed there so they said. He plunged his head beneath the water, disappearing into the otherworldly murmur of the pool. Afterward, his skin would feel as smooth as a stone washed by the sea.

There was only one detriment to bathing in the mineral lake. Since Dam had given up the habits of the priesthood and stopped shaving his head, the sediment-rich waters made his thick black hair coarse and unruly when it dried. Whenever he caught his reflection in the silver-plated walls along the Grand Promenade into town, he was startled and amused by what he had become. He looked like the child of savages raised in the depths of a jungle. The Old Ones didn’t have the grooming soaps and oils that people used aboveground. Dam didn’t mind. It suited him fine to look a bit wild, especially considering the strange new country where he was living.

Dam swam out farther from the bank, beyond the patina of torchlight. He didn’t know how extensive the lake was or if it ever got deep. For as far as he had ever swam, he could touch down on the rocky floor. The water only reached to his clavicle. He dove for the bottom, did a hand stand and kicked out with his feet. That made a noisy splash. Dam crested the water and gathered some sense. If he was going to sneak out on his own, he had to remember to be quiet about it.

His ears keened in on a disturbance. He looked across the shrouded lava field. Four then five then six fuzzy globes of light approached the bank of the lake. There were bantering, howling voices. Dam trudged quietly toward his torch and his clothes. It was boys and likely no one he would relish to run into. They had probably come out to practice wrestling in the lake, and they would harass whoever they came across.

Woefully, Dam had swum out too far to make it to the bank before the noisy group pitted their torches in the ground. Dam drifted back to the shadowed side of the lake. He didn’t want to look like a coward scurrying out of the water from the sight of them. It was best to go unnoticed and wait for them to leave. But his torch, sandals and tunic back on the shore announced a bather in the lake blatantly.

From his distance, Dam watched a tall member of the crew step to the edge of the water. He looked like he was peering out to the lake in Dam’s direction. The boy mumbled something to the others, and then they all shucked their clothes and went bombarding into the water.

So much for a peaceful getaway.

~~~

The Werecat series: The Rearing, The Glaring, and The Fugitive
by Andrew J Peters

Blurb:
The first three installments of the Werecat series: The Rearing, The Glaring, and The Fugitive, in one paperback.

Twenty-two-year-old Jacks is on a mission to drown his past in alcohol when he meets the handsome drifter Benoit on a lost weekend in Montréal. It’s lust and possibly something more. Jacks never suspects that a drunken hook-up will plunge him into the hidden, violent world of feline shifters.

Benoit traps him in an arcane ritual to be joined as mates, from which Jacks emerges with fantastical abilities and a connection to Native traditions that were buried by his family. But his new existence pits his human instincts against his wild animal nature. When Jacks meets the young medical student Farzan, who wants to be with Jacks no matter what or who he is, Benoit’s feline jealousy rages like an inferno.

Jacks must figure out how to survive with his dual nature and a boyfriend who will kill any threat to their relationship. When a secret society called The Glaring shows up with a plan to exterminate humankind, Jacks will have to work quickly to gain command of Benoit’s magic before the world shatters into a war of man against beast.

Buy from Amazon US or Amazon UK

Follow Andrew at the links below:

website: http://andrewjpeterswrites.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ayjayp
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewjpeterswrites
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6908025.Andrew_J_Peters

Read Full Post »

comfy chairMy guest today is Liam Livings, writer, baker extraordinaire, and fellow organiser of the annual UK Meet conference for lovers of LGBTTQ fiction, who has just released a touching romance called And Then That Happened with Love Lane Books.

Welcome Liam and thanks for answering my questions.

You’re an old hand at this author malarkey by now. 🙂 If you could go back in time, is there anything you would like to tell your newbie self that would have made things easier?

I wouldn’t go that far; I’ve only been writing to be published since 2012, but I feel I’ve learned how to write quickly, then edit slowly, so I have been able to write quite a bit in 2014. Anyway…I seem to use similar names for characters, so a spreadsheet/list of character names would have helped, rather than having to *find & replace* halfway through writing it.

Also, don’t sweat the details of the first draft too much, just tell the story, get it down on paper. There’s that many stages of editing, with myself, post beta readers, content edits, line edits, proof stage, that worrying at first draft stage whether I’ve used a particular phrase or words too often at that stage is pointless (I think). Just get it down, you can change it when you read it as a reader, not as a writer. My favourite phrases at the moment seem to be: A jolt to the groin (so much so that my BF said the story should be renamed A Jolt To The Groin, and even made me a mock cover for it); For wont of anything better to do (Sue Brown’s comments in that story were hilarious as she worked through the manuscript. Towards the end she just put *not again* in a comment box.)

Dominic and Gabe, the MCs of And Then That Happened, are two very memorable characters. Did you make them up completely or was any aspect of their situations or personalities that were inspired by your own personal experience or that of friends?

As I’ve written more I think I put a bit of myself in all the characters I write. I don’t think I every completely make up characters from thin air. I like to use a phrase, a characteristic of someone I know or have seen, lyrics from a song, an expression in a film, something, then think what if and use that as the start for a character, brainstorming their background, likes and dislikes etc. I have a marvellous questionnaire for characters from Kate Long’s session on characters at the RNA conference, it really helps you get to know your characters.

I met a friend who was in the process of splitting up with his boyfriend, and some of that, and other elements of him have gone into Gabe’s story, but this friend is *not* Gabe. Almost all of Gabe was from my imagination. Dominic’s careful nature with money and how he is with his friends is very much like me I suppose. I think his forthright nature is a bit of wish fulfilment on my behalf. The Di Anne character and actions may have been influenced by my friend’s account of a colleague she worked with at the time, who is not called Di Anne, nor does she work in a hospital, obvs.

Of all your characters who would you be most enjoy pushing downstairs, sharing a taxi cab with, or having them move in next door so you saw them every day?

In And Then That Happened, I’d push Matt (Dominic’s best friend) downstairs as he deserves it. I’d love to share a taxi cab with Carol Anne (Dominic’s mum) as she’d have me in stitches at her (unintentionally) funny stories about her daily trials and challenges. Anyone who doesn’t let you kiss them too close for fear of spotting the surgery scars behind their ears is going to be a laugh to talk to I reckon. I’d love Gabe to move next door, so I could see him every day. His enthusiasm for adventures, and grabbing life by the balls and just getting on with it, would be a great tonic.

Short vs long. As a reader, which do you prefer to read? As a writer, would you say that a short story is harder to write than a long one?

Depends what I’m reading. I read a YA novel of only 350 pages, but it had very few characters and was first person POV. It was just what it needed to be. I love a good multi character saga – Lace, Valley of the Dolls or An Absolute Scandal [read Liam’s blog posts here, here and here] – 900 pages with thirty characters and I absolutely *loved* every single page of it 🙂 However, I read a horror novel and the start was great, the end was great, but it really needed 200 pages removing in the middle. I kept reading thinking, I get it, I get what’s happened, we don’t need to see the same thing happen to a different character *again*. But I’m sure others would make that criticism of my well-loved sagas I’ve mentioned; not me though. There’s something about a long book, I absolutely adore, diving into the story, losing yourself in the narrative. I normally save the big 600page plus ones for holidays.

As a writer, the first thing I wrote was 200,000 words – Best Friends Perfect, which I now know was way too long for gay fiction, so it’s being published as a trilogy. Length depends on genre I reckon. My fellow RNA authors say 90,000 is a normal length for them and saga authors say it’s got to be 135,000 words or it’s not a saga. But in gay romance it seems to be shorter, 65,000 or fewer.

I think a short story is harder to write as you’ve not got any space to faff about with, but it’s easier in that once you get to 20,000 words you’re done. Personally I prefer to write longer, as it gives you more page time to explore the characters, get them to do stuff, think about things, fall in love, fall out of love, all that jazz.

I’ve just finished a first draft of Kev’s story (Kieran’s cross dressing best friend from Best Friends Perfect) and it’s three 65,000 word stories (a lot happens to him, he’s one of those characters who despite everyone’s best efforts always ends up in trouble, but he’s lovely with it) so in total it’s almost 200,000 words. With that many words you can have people coming in, leaving, coming back, have new characters they meet, a variety of romantic interests. But with a short story, you can’t really have that much tooing and froing with characters cos there’s not the time to get to know them, I’ve found, anyway.

What’s next from the pen, typewriter, state of the art word processor of Liam Livings?

In 2015 I have a series of sequels I’m planning to write. For exactly the reason I like longer stories, I think I’ve worked out I like a series, I like to come back to the characters, really go on a journey with them. Also if you have the characters, broadly
the setting, as far as planning the next book, you’re pretty well in to the next story aren’t you? No need to start from scratch, you just have to think about what they’re going to do.

I attempted to write a gay version of Lace/Valley Of The Dolls called Glitzy Gay Saga, and I’d like to revisit that; see if it’s not quite as *disastrously awful* as I think it is at the moment, then see if I can write a sequel and take the characters to a British film industry setting or something similar. Such fun!

Can I please have an excerpt of something?

Here’s the scene when fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life.

ATTH

The fourth of June 1999 at eight thirty pm, it was raining, as expected in a British summer. I looked up from my handover note in the staff room; he pushed the door open slowly and sat opposite me, smiling at everyone else.
It was my fourth of a string of extra nights, and I felt the sort of tiredness that comes from a series of night shifts where you grab hours of poor quality sleep during the day, between batting about with housework and other chores. The sort of tiredness only people with young babies or night workers can fully understand. His arrival immediately woke me back to more than normal levels.
My gaydar gave me mixed signals as he wore Timberland shoes and a very plain jacket over his nurses tunic.
He smiled at me, shook his curly dark brown hair so water sprayed around the room, then removed his jacket. ‘Look at me, Ernest! Just look at me! I’m soaking wet!’
The day sister looked him up and down. ‘Ernest, who’s he?’
‘A joke.’
‘I’m assuming you’re Gabriel, from the agency.’
He nodded. ‘Gabe.’
But as soon as he quoted Death Becomes Her—I knew for definite, without a shadow of a doubt, he was as gay as bunting. No straight man quotes that film, not in this world or the next. ‘Spanish, are you?’ I asked, feigning disinterest.
‘My dad is.’ He stared at me, his long brown eyelashes framing his eyes perfectly.
I deliberately allocated myself at the far end of the ward from him. I didn’t want to come across as too keen. Besides, I was happily partnered.

And Then That Happened

Blurb

Should you settle for a nearly perfect happiness or put your heart on the line for more?

It’s 1999 and 28-year-old Dominic’s carefully planned suburban life with his boyfriend Luke is perfect. His job as a nurse, his best friend Matt, his relationship with his parents, everything is just right. He and Luke have been together ten years, seen
each other through friends’ deaths and their parents’ ups and downs, and even had a commitment ceremony.

Gabe isn’t happy with his boyfriend, but he stays with him, because, well it’s complicated.

Fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life. And then that happened. Gabe’s open relationship, impulsive nature, enthusiasm for life and straight talking advice are fascinating to Dominic. They’re friends, they click over a shared love of Goldie Hawn and Gabe shows Dominic there can be more to life than planned and safe. So why can’t he take his own advice?

And Then That Happened is about finding a new kind of happiness, even when what you have is already perfect. And how sometimes perfect isn’t quite what it seems.

Buy Links:

And Then That Happened

Author Links:

Blog: http://www.liamlivings.com/blog.html
Website: http://www.liamlivings.com
Twitter: @LiamLivings
Email: liamlivings@gmail.com

Read Full Post »

My guest today is D P Denman, self confessed coffee addict and hockey fan who lives in one of the few places in the world greener and damper than Wales.

Welcome DP, so glad you could join me.

Thank you so much for having me, Elin. It’s great to be here…and you’re not kidding! This chair is comfy. *bounce, bounce*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Yes. Like most people in publishing, I have a full-time job that pays the bills so I can pursue the glamourous life of a fledgling author.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Always the character. They creep out of the shadows usually trailing a scene or sometimes only a few minutes of a scene. From there it’s a game of trying to figure out how they fit in that scene and how the rest of the story looks.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Sometimes they spring to life with a definite story and a strong personality. Blue from my latest book, Naked Truth, was like that. He stomped into my head demanding a story and has been pestering me to put him in print since book one of the series.

Others aren’t so easy to pin down. Sometimes I try to put them in stories that obviously don’t fit their personality so I start over with basic questions about what environment is best suited for the character.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

I love the villains that challenge me as a reader. The kind that start out obviously “bad” in some way, but by the end of the book you see so much of the humanity in them that your view of the black and white definition of them as a villain is muddied. They’re bad and you’re supposed to hate them, but you can deny there is something likable under the surface.

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

Maya Angelou because she was so inspiringly eloquent and had a long history of putting fundamentalists in their place. Stephen Hawking because it never hurts to have a genius around…and one with a wicked sense of humor is even better. Last, Indiana Jones because he’s good with catastrophe of all kinds.

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.

I’m working on book four of the Saving Liam Series. It will probably be the end of the central plot but not necessarily the end of the series.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Of course!

NAKED TRUTH, book three of the Saving Liam Series

The next night Liam plodded up the stairs at the club. He trudged into the combined locker room and employee lounge to eat his lunch in a space that smelled of sweat, feet, and five kinds of body spray. Like everyone else, he spent at least half his break downstairs where the customers could paw him, tip him, and maybe ask him for a private dance. It paid better than sitting on his ass.

He opened his locker, grabbed his sandwich and a clean pair of socks, and collapsed into one of the folding metal chairs. He sat for a moment enjoying the feel of the cold frame against his skin. Alex was in a chair at the other side of the room playing on his phone. He’d almost forgotten about the promise to discuss his mystery topic yesterday. Their lunch breaks hadn’t lined up right and he’d only seen Alex long enough to pass him on the stairs.

“How’s it going tonight?” Alex got up and moved to a closer chair.

“About average.” Liam took off his shoe and peeled off the sweaty sock. Several folded bills plopped to the floor and he picked them up. “How about you?” He asked as he carried them to his locker to stuff them in his gym bag.

“Same. You think they’ll be safe in there?” Alex jerked his chin toward the locker.

“As long as I remember to lock it. Why? Where do you keep yours?”

“In my jock.”

“All night?”

“Yeah. Before we start each set I wrap a new layer around my dick.”

Liam clunked back to his chair with one shoe off and one shoe on. “Why the hell do you do that?”

“Because I like my Johnson to smell like cash.” Alex shrugged, followed by a grin. “I’m kidding. I wrap them around my dick because nobody’s going to steal it that way and it gives me a little something extra to shake at the ladies if you get my drift.”

“Until you end up with a paper cut.”

“Hasn’t happened yet.”

An unidentified pickpocket had taught them all a lesson a few months ago about not keeping bills in their pockets.

Alex sat back in the chair. “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Okay.” Liam tugged on a clean sock.

“Some of the guys say you have a brother in porn.”

It was funny how fast a person could go from perfectly calm to freaking out. Actually, it wasn’t funny at all. He tried to hold onto his calm facade as his heart sprinted a fifty-yard dash in his chest and his stomach squeezed into a knot. That topic had emerged months ago and he’d silenced it with a lie. A lie that Angel’s life was someone else’s nightmare, someone who looked remarkably like him, someone he admitted he knew, but that was close as he could come to telling the truth.

~~~

The Naked Truth

Blurb:

Buried lies never die.

Liam has a new career, a new condo, a newfound sense of control and none of it is quite right. Shadows drift behind the bright sparkle of his life; things he’s determined to ignore until a shocking revelation makes it impossible. With the help of Justin and a new friend, Liam must face the life he’s buried.

Book 3 of the Saving Liam series

Release date: October 2014
Publisher: North Shore Publishing dba North Shore Press
ISBN: 9780989612364
Word count: 63,000



Award winning author DP Denman writes character-driven contemporary romance about gay men. Her stories are real and intense but always resolve in the type of ending that makes readers want to start the book all over again. She is from the Pacific Northwest and bases all of her stories in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In her spare time she is a dedicated LGBTQIA rights activist fighting for those who have been marginalized and abused. To that end, 25% of the royalties from every book go to support LGBT charities.

Author links:

Website: http://www.dpdenman.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dpdenman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dp.denman
Blog: http://dpdenmanauthor.blogspot.com

description here description here
description here description here

Read Full Post »

My guest today is John Goode. Now resident in Texas, he was once in the Navy, but currently spends a lot of his time writing. He has been a professional author for about a year and is best known for his beloved stories about the students and staff of Foster High and his Lords of Arcadia series.

John is with us today to celebrate the release of his new Foster High book, 151 Days, which is OUT TODAY.

###

Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

John : Yes I work graveyards at a security company so it gives me all night to write which is nice. I’m a night owl so writing at night is natural.

Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

John : I love music though I can’t sing. I just really love listening to it, the way a song can be crafted to invoke emotions fascinates me

Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

John : I am reading a book that is about the first season of Star Trek TOS that is incredibly detailed. That is the nerd in me showing. I think everyone should read Jasper Fforde’s Next Thursday series. If you are a reader those books are made for you.

Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

John : Usually for me character though most of the time it is actually theme that does it. I like writing in themes or what is the book for? What message does it have when all is said and done. I start there and then begin tolling together a story from that meta message.

Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

John : They are far more real than I care for that’s for sure. I think fully developed characters are the only kind that should make it to page so I spend a lot of time getting to know them as well as I can.

Elin: Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about teenagers in high school?

John : I have a couple of Sci fi stories that I need to get to quickly. I would say just straight up erotics, porn with no plot would send me running into the hills. I wrote Foster High because I wanted to write the books I wish I had when I was a teenager. I don’t think there are enough positive role models for gay teens so I wanted to see if I could make some.

Elin: Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

John : Well there are no villains in Foster High. There are people who seem to have sinister intentions but honestly they have their own reasons for what they are doing. I don’t think there are people out there who wake up and say I am going to be the bad guy today or I am going to do evil. I think they have their own reasons and think them as valid as any one else’s.

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.

John : Well I finished the new Lords of Arcadia book, and now I am about halfway through a story about a gay teen that has to decide between being out or being a basketball player. It’s called Fadeaway and is a character that is in the new Foster book 151 Days,

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

John : Here’s an excerpt from 151 Days

Change is a bitch.

I am using the term here to mean a difficult task and not a derogatory name for women or the scientific term for a female dog, just in case there are any who might take offense to the word. Change is a bitch, and that’s because it isn’t always easy to know it when it happens. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s obvious. I go over to Brad’s and end up kissing him, and my whole world turns upside down. Hard to miss that change. I decide to tell the world I like guys. Colossal change that is still affecting crap today. Kelly shoots himself. A change that brings the town to a standstill like an earthquake, and the aftershocks of it keep coming and coming.

Take race discrimination. After being considered property for far too long, African Americans were finally considered free people in the United States. That was a big change. But what went unnoticed, or at least unspoken, was the way people changed because of that decision. Some people thought the fight was done. The slaves wanted to be free—they were free, so that’s taken care of. Other people resented the fact that these people who were always second-class citizens to them were now supposed to be treated as equals, and they got angry. And their anger motivated a lot of ugly things, and the country changed while no one was looking.

Now, over a hundred years later, we elected a black president, and some people say, “Well that’s done.” What’s next? Other people reacted to that event in a rather unpopular way. They said the country was being taken over, they said he wasn’t an American, and some even said he wasn’t their president. And the world changed again.

Big change, little changes.

When Kelly killed himself, Foster, as a whole, reacted. Since no one thinks a teenage boy putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger is a good thing, the majority of the reactions were sympathetic, with a desire to make sure it could never happen again. People spoke out, said that the way kids were being treated was wrong, and that things had to get better. That was the bulk of the reaction, but there were others.

Some wanted to place blame on someone for why Kelly did what he did. Some blamed his parents, others blamed the kids on Facebook, and some blamed me. They said none of this stuff happened in Foster before I came out. There were arguments made that things were fine the way they had always been and that by rocking the boat, I had caused this to happen.

I’ll be honest, a lot of other things were said about me as well, but they were mostly hateful things, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t repeat them.

Things were changing in Foster, big and small, and most of it seemed to be centered on me.
Some for the better, some for the worse. The problem was, there was no way for any of us to know which was which until it was far too late. It is impossible for anyone to know what effect our plans will have until they already happen, and by then, there is no going back. I swore the day they put Kelly in the ground that I would change Foster before I left for college. It was a change, and none of us knew what would come of it.

There are 151 days until graduation. Roughly five months before I plan on running out of this town as fast as I can and never looking back. A lot of things can happen in 151 days. A lot of things that people might not be ready for.

So I’m telling you now, hold on. This might get a little bumpy.

###

Many thanks to John for answering my questions so kindly. If you would like to follow John and the students of Foster High his links are below.

The Foster High Facebook

The @fosterhigh Twitter account

email: fosterhigh88@gmail.com

Cover art by Paul Richmond

151 Days by John Goode

Sequel to End of the Innocence
Tales from Foster High: Book Three

With just 151 days left until the school year ends, Kyle Stilleno is running out of time to fulfill the promise he made and change Foster, Texas, for the better. But Kyle and his boyfriend, Brad Graymark, have more than just intolerance to deal with. Life, college, love, and sex have a way of distracting them, and they’re realizing Foster is a bigger place than they thought. When someone from their past returns at the worst possible moment, graduation becomes the least of their worries.

Order here.

Read Full Post »


My guest today is Jayson James who was born and raised in Washington State, where he currently lives and teaches. Whenever Jayson has the time (and money), he likes to travel, hoping to see most of the United States over the next 5 years.
His first novel, “Finding Our Way”, was published in September 2012 and released the follow-up novels, “Tormented Discovery” and “Drifting”, in 2013 creating what readers would identify as the “Finding Our Way Series.” Much to his delight, fans are eagerly waiting to read what happens next with Justin, Derrick and the rest of the gang.

His new release is T.E.D. and he is offering a terrific giveaway. Please keep reading for the link.

Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Jayson: Yes, for the sake of bills and living, I do have a day job.
My life is full, especially now that I have, as one friend put it, “a doghter” (dog daughter) named Cooper. I’d wanted to adopt a dog for the past two years but I did not think the time was right. It was my mom who reminded me that there never really is a good time to have kids. I am so glad that Cooper and I fell in love with each other the minute I picked her up. She has truly enriched my life.
I enjoy spending time writing, reading, watching movies and socializing. As I said before my life is full and I am always busy. Sometimes more than I would like to be. Recently I read that people are happier when they have something to look forward to. I think this is why I like to keep myself busy. Although I’ve been looking forward to having a weekend home, where I do not go anywhere. I get close, however something always comes up. It will be a real treat when I finally get those two full days off.

Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

Jayson: Drawing is what comes to mind when I consider this question. It is something that I get inspired to do, typically with pencil. I will draw practically every second I can for weeks on end in all sorts of mediums. Then all the sudden, as if a switch gets turned off, I quit drawing all together. I’ve drawn all of the cover images for my books with much prompting from my friends. As I go along I get more creative and think the images look better. In my writing, I’ve had a few characters that are artists and they have talked about experiences I’ve had when it comes to creating art.

Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

Jayson: I’m reading Nick Nolan’s “Wide Asleep.” This happens to be the third book with two of my favorite characters, Jeremy and Arthur. Within the first few chapters, I was crying and had my hopes up for things to work out. Nick writes real characters who are people who act like people, meaning not everyone sees or reacts to things in the same way. Nick’s books are each based upon a different fairytale, which I’ve always found clever.

Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Jayson: That’s a tough question! When I plan out they all come to mind. As I quit overthinking the question I realized that it is the character. Actually, all I had to do is glance over at my white board with my current work in progress on it. The characters are on the board: 1) The individual details of the characters are all each worked out underneath them, 2) Their storyline gets outlined underneath, 3) The story gets written, 4) Once the details are down everything below the characters is erased, 5) More outlining, such as chapters and other details, 6) This cycle repeats several times throughout the course of the book. The characters stay on the board typically until the second or third round of edits.

Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Jayson: My characters are never ready to fly. I like to write them as real people, thus they are changing and growing and even sometimes going in a downward spiral. I do have set ideas in many ways though. Such as with Derrick and Justin from the “Finding Our Way Series,”with each tellingl the story from their own perspective. Something I did with them (which drove some people nuts) was Derrick would use possessives such as “my dad” while Justin referred to them as “dad.” Derrick spoke with less contractions in his dialog while Justin used many and frequently swore.

Elin: Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

Jayson: I enjoy writing characters that are both lovable and flawed. Such was the case with “T.E.D.” Each of the three characters that make up this book are real people that readers can identify and relate to on some level. Tim is the kid you feel sorry for and you want to give him advice on how to better his life, yet you also want to tell to suck it up and quit being a wimp. Eric picks on others to keep himself from being discovered. Delsin is dealing with his own monsters and struggles, yet is supportive and does what he can. Their lives are intertwined, having an effect on each other.
This is similar to “Finding Our Way” with Derrick Wilson being the one thing keeping Justin Parker, whose home life was falling apart from going too far on the self-destructive path his was traveling down.
Then there is Kristian Kirkpatrick who is my own villain. He is handsome, charming, cunning and just plain evil. Everything about him is someone that I cannot stand. Yet, I would like to write a book with him as the main character.
As far as other villains, I have always wanted to write a book told from the point of view of the killer. The closest I think I have ever gotten was a book I started writing a couple of years ago about this guy who decides to kill his wife.

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.

Jayson: A new book called “Pieces of Us.” When completed, this will be only my second novel to have a title from the beginning of the writing process. It is about a guy and girl who are best friends in high school, growing and learning about themselves and others. I’m quite excited about this novel, as it will be different in many ways from my previously published works. Typically, I will not talk much about a book until it is in what I call, “the downhill stretch”, known as the last third of the book. This one I’ve been discussing quite a bit with my friends and I think the storyline is developing wonderfully.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Jayson: Gladly! This comes from my new release, T.E.D. This is the scene gives the reader’s insight to Eric, who is bullying Tim.


Sheila had been partially correct that he was hiding something. There was no way in hell Eric was going to ever let anyone know what that was though, especially not his two best buddies. Conrad was the meanest person he’d ever met and would no doubt kick his ass, and without much effort. Keifer would be more subtle, slowly not hanging out with him or returning his calls.
Definitely not his family either. Eric’s parent s made no qualms about expecting their youngest son to provide them with at least one grandchild. He could remember a long time ago when his older brother Ethan lived at home. He missed Ethan and wished that he could see him again.
Eric was thirteen years younger than Ethan. When he was six, he remembered waking up to shouting. Ethan was standing in the living room, with his parents. His mom was holding the door open and his father was face-to-face with Ethan. They all looked angry. Eric’s dad bellowed, “There is no way any son of mine is going to be into this shit. If you want to get involved with those kinds of people, than you can get the hell out of my house.”
Ethan looked to their mom, “Are you going to let him just throw me out?”
She didn’t even hesitate, “Your decision is why we are asking you to leave. If you decide to make the right choices, you can come back. Until then I’m afraid you are basically dead to us.”
“It is not a choice!” Ethan shouted. He kept on repeating that as their dad shoved him out the door and their mom closed and locked it.
Eric was crying, not wanting to see his brother go, “Where’s Ethan going?”
His father walked past him, “He doesn’t live here anymore.”
His mother picked him up, holding him and looking him in the eyes, “Ethan is doing something very, very bad. It is something that if he doesn’t stop doing, he will eventually die from. I know this is hard for you to understand, but Ethan is no longer a part of our family.”
Eric cried and cried, wanting his brother back. Ethan was the only person Eric ever felt a family bond with. His father put his arms around his mom and him, “You’ll understand when you get older.”
Nearly nine years later, Eric still ached to see his brother. His parents told him that Ethan had a bad drug problem and they feared for his safety and the wellbeing of the family. They sent him to a counselor who explained things like tough love and coping with the loss of a family member. This guy pretended to care about Eric and get him to tell him things that were supposed to be kept private between the two of them. Once Eric learned the counselor was telling his parents everything they talked about and how mad his parents got, he started saying the things he thought he needed to say, which worked and a couple of months later he did not have to go anymore.
Years later Eric would overhear his mother on the phone with her sister, “I’ve been hoping Ethan would get over his homosexual tendencies for years. I know now that he never will. It’s been so long I often forget I have another son. He died to me the night he told me that he was gay.” Eric never let her know that he’d heard what she said. Several years later Eric would learn what gay was and what homosexual tendencies were.
Eric’s eyes were starting to tear up as he thought about Ethan. There was a guy in the magazine he was reading who looked very much the way he remembered Ethan had. He hoped that his brother was okay and that they could be a family again someday. He planned on tracking him down the first chance that he could.
His father walked in the room and said, “What are you crying about? Is there a sad article in your Women’s Day?”
“Ha ha! I got something in my eye.” Eric closed the magazine and quickly left the room.

###

Many thanks to Jayson for answering my questions so sportingly. Here are the details of his latest release and at the bottom of the post you will find a link to his giveaway.

T.E.D. by Jayson James

TIM is being bullied. No one in high school wants to be known as a tattle-tale and to do so would only make things rougher for him. The repercussions would most likely make him an outcast, and without any friends.

ERIC is frustrated with life. His parents are overbearing and if they ever knew the person he really was, they would throw him out of their house. His friends are not much better, they only like him when he is who they expect him to be.

DELSIN is gay and ready to come out. Unfortunately, life at home is on the brink of falling apart with his parents constant fighting. Admitting the truth could bring his whole world crashing down around him.

Each of these three needs to decide whether the risks of being honest about who they are outweighs the importance of being true to themselves. This could mean ruining life as each of them knows it. Maybe it is better to remain miserable in order to play it safe. On the other hand, doing nothing doesn’t seem to working either.

You can buy T.E.D. on Amazon here: http://amzn.com/B00IC0NX7W

Jayson’s contact details are below.
Blog/Website: http://www.jaysonjamesbooks.blogspot.com
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJaysonJames
Twitter: @jaysonjamesbook

Click to join in a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »