Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guest Blogger - Ethan Day

First, I must give credit where credit is due, to the list of interview questions for Ethan. All but one was swiped from MLR Press's Authors Blog. Ethan is such a fun guy and these questions are so much fun, I felt they were a perfect mix. So, thanks go to Alex Beecroft for posting them on our MLR Blog and I hope you'll enjoy sharing in Ethan's exuberance!

Ethan is a fellow Loose Id author and has had his first book, Self Preservation, published this year. His next book, Dreaming of You, comes out this May. It's also, as Ethan says, "a romance that’s bent with my style of humor."
So, here's.....Ethan!

How does your hair look currently?
In desperate need of a cut! My hair has gotten way too long and completely outta control.
What’s new in your life right now?
This whole authory thing is really new and thus far been a lot of fun. I love to write and I’m just super psyched and grateful anyone wants to read it.
How many colors are you wearing now?
All the colors of the rainbow! : )
Who was your first major crush and what was the fantasy date/scene you wanted to be with him?
Well let’s see…there was the boyhood crushes, Sean Cassidy & Parker Stevenson from the Hardy Boys series, Kristy McNichol (my first lesbian crush, LOL) & Christopher Atkins…can’t forget him and all his Blue Lagoon glory. I also had a major crush on Mark Hamilton from Star Wars. It would be a few years later before I matured to appreciating the bad boy Han Solo/Harrison Ford types. Early on I was crushing on the ‘good’ guys.
I’d have to say my first big time major crush was Rick Springfield. He was dreamy!! Ahhh, Rick. I desperately wanted Rick to get over Jessie’s Girl and just admit to himself that I was the only one for him. That movie he made, Hard to Hold, I rewound and watched the part where he ran naked over and over and over…there was definitely a worn out section in that VHS tape, LOL.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I’m a little of both, I think. When it comes to my love life I’m all shy and stuff. I seem much more laid back and very passive. The average passerby would never suspect the inner ravings going on in my mind. I hide my crazy really well. There are only a few close friends who have seen my crazy. Because of this, they will always be my friends. They know too much for me to allow them back into society completely unsupervised.
Get a few cocktails (or a lot of caffeine) in me and I can become very extroverted. I’m never gonna be a ‘dancing on the bar & swinging from the chandelier’ type though. Been there & done that. The things we do in our twenties, LOL! I’d say for the most part I’m pretty laid back, but I’m not really the type to hide back in a corner either.
What was the last book you read?
I read The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks a week or so ago. I loved it…thought it was great, but I found myself missing Adrien English. I kept hoping he’d stick his nose in at some point and help solve the mystery with his sarcastic wit. I really love that character. Maybe I can whine at Josh until he either writes another book or at the very least has Adrien e-mail me once or twice a month, LOL.
Who is your favorite super hero?
I actually did read a lot of comics back in the day. I’d have to say that Spiderman/Peter Parker was always my favorite super hero. He was really the first superhero that felt real to me. Superman was hot and all…so big and beefy. Oh…the Christopher Reeves of it all. Peter Parker felt like me, though…the kid next door nobody paid much attention to.
I also really loved X-Men and the Avengers. I always knew I was different as a kid. I didn’t necessarily understand how I was different, but I knew I was. Subconsciously, I think I was connecting to these stories and characters on a lot of different levels. Having to hide who you really are being the most obvious, but I think X-Men and Avengers also gave me my first glimpse at the ‘created family’. These people who had bonded together because of their differences? They lived and worked together for a common goal. It made me realize that while you may not be able to choose your relatives, you most definitely could choose your family.
Is there anything that has made you happy these days?
Being an author! Writing a book and having people actually read it. I can’t think of anything that could make me happier. I love, love, love-love doing it. It can be frustrating at times…make me want to pull all my hair out, but writing is truly my first love. To have an outlet for my over-active imagination, the bustling fantasy life, and day-dream believer inner world I reside in half the time. It really is better than sex. Or maybe it’s just that the sex going on in my mind is better than the real thing?
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
I’m so not going here with you, LOL. There’s only one way anyone’s gonna find out the answer to this question…which of course will now be prefaced with the signing of a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement.
What was the last story you wrote?
I’ve got four works in progress going at the moment. I have two that are nearing completion, a third Contemporary Rom/Com and a Paranormal/Historical which has turned into a bit longer book than I’d originally planned. These will definitely be out this year…assuming anyone will want to publish them, of course. I’m working on the second book in the Preservation series, though it’s not as far along. And I’m in the plotting/planning & character development for another Contemporary novel as well. I’ll be jumping into these two once I tie up the first two.
What’s the last thing you laughed about?
I like laughs. I laugh all the time…its part of the reason I write romantic comedies. It’s like having my own little party which I eventually get to share with everyone else. I don’t like to delve into the dark and dreary very often. I go there every now and again, but I like to feel good.
I like to know I’ve made other people feel good as well. Readers who’ve contacted me to let me know how much fun they had or how funny they thought Self Preservation was? I love that. Don’t get me wrong…I’m selfish enough to be happy making myself laugh, but I can’t even begin to describe the way it feels to hear that something I wrote lightened someone else’s day.
What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
I listen to a lot of dance/club music or sugary pop music which tends to help keep me in a peppy mood. I don’t know why, but having the ‘thumpa-thumpa’ going on in the background keeps me giddy, which is generally a good mood to be in when you’re trying to write fun, frothy romance. Some say the ‘thumpa-thumpa’ is the gay mans mating call…if that’s true I must be horny all the time as well. Horny and giddy…this is totally going to have people thinking I walk around my house laughing while touching myself, LOL. I promise that isn’t the case.
Anyway…in answer to your actual question, I don’t usually get stuck on one song since I have a constant stream of music going in the background.
What’s the last movie you saw?
Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig…now there’s a man I’d be tempted to do time for. I say tempted because honestly those orange prison jumpsuits…so not my color.
I didn’t love Quantum as much as Casino Royale, but to be perfectly honest that probably had more to do with the fact that Daniel Craig wasn’t naked in the second one. : ) Daniel Craig should just stay naked…I know, he’s a really great actor and all…but a boy can dream.
Do you buy or download the movies you watch?
I’m a Netflix baby. I used to buy movies, but with Netflix I can get practically anything I want within a day or two, plus you can watch from your computer.

Ethan is a delightful guy. And, if you can imagine it, he has still more to share! Surf on over to his Addiction to Fiction Blog and his website to learn about his contests, read excerpts, check out more info on his books and his wips.
And, please, leave a comment here on The Sweet Flag so Ethan will know for sure that "you like him. You really like him!" ;~D

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guest Blogger - Alan Chin

The Sweet Flag welcomes Alan Chin, author of Island Song to share some tidbits of his life and writing with us.
Thank you so much for being here today, Alan. Here is the blurb for
Island Song
from your website:
"According to the tenets of Buddhism, life is suffering, and suffering arises inexorably from desire. In my meditative novel, Island Song, the interplay between craving and pain creates the thematic backbone of this story in one man's journey from desire, to anguish, to a metamorphoses. Like most South-Sea romance stories, Island Song envelops all that is unique to Hawaii, the distinctive people, the fertile land, the mythical history. Yet it stands alone by the way it reveals a rare and dignified portrait of a gay couple struggling to satisfy love within an environment that rages against them."
Jeanne: When and where did your interest in Zen philosophy begin? What was it about Zen that called to you?
Alan: I became interested in Zen back in the ‘80s while living in San Francisco and hanging out with drug-happy people who were searching for spiritual meaning in their lives. I didn’t take it too seriously until the early ‘90s, when I gave up the drugs and began to study and practice Zen philosophy in earnest.
What attracts me to Zen is that it’s not about worshiping any kind of “God” or following a list of “thou shalt nots”. It’s about living a pain-free life. The Buddha didn’t profess to believe in a God, or even a spiritual world after death, and he didn’t consider himself a deity. The Buddha’s first law was that life is painful. The rest of his “laws” and his path is devoted to bringing a person to a place where they can live life without the pain that spawns from greed, envy, hatred and a host of other human emotions. It’s about being in balance with nature, with yourself, with the universe. And of all the different forms of Buddhism, Zen seems, to me anyway, to be the most straightforward approach.

Jeanne: In reading your website biography, you wrote that you wanted to incorporate poetry into your stories. I'm curious about this aspect of your writing. Could you elaborate a bit and perhaps share an instance of this? And, also along these lines, do you write poetry?
Alan: I’ve always admired poets, how they coin a world of meaning, imagery and beauty in a few simple lines. I try to do that with my prose, but it usually comes across as florid description, sometimes pretty good description, but I confess it falls short of being categorized as poetry. I wrote poetry a dozen years ago, but not since I started writing novels. Truth be told, I’m a pretty poor excuse for a poet (that’s not false modesty. If you read my poetry you would agree). I will spare you by not including any examples here.

Jeanne: I am envious of anyone who can travel freely. Of the places you've visited what place was the most exotic; the most fun; the one you've returned to the most often?
Alan: The most exotic was Bhutan, a rather small Himalayan country sandwiched between Tibet and Nepal. It is the last Kingdom where the Government is run by Buddhist priests. In an attempt to hold on to their traditions, they only let 2,500 visitors into the country per year. Each tourist pays $200 dollars per day just to be there above the cost of hotel and food. The country has one airport, and only two planes fly in and out of it. There were no paved roads until 1995. It is like stepping back in time a thousand years. It’s how I think Tibet was before being invaded, first by the Chinese and then by tourism. The landscape is spectacular mountains surrounding golden wheat fields in deep valleys. The people are simple, devout, and loving.
The most fun was going on safari in East Africa. Going out over the African landscape to study the million different animals in their habitat was thrilling. I’ve been so close to a male lion I could have reached up and grabbed his ear. And I got close enough to a Black Rhino that I did touch his horn. I was in a tree house when a giraffe walked up, stuck its foot-long tongue out at me, and then butted my head, knocking me down. I had no idea why he didn’t like me. Maybe he simply didn’t like writers?
The place I’ve returned to most often is Thailand. I love it there. In fact, I just got back from a four and a half month trip to SE Asia, and three of those months were spent in Thailand. I love the hill country in the north around Chang Mai and the Golden Triangle, the beaches on the islands in the south, and also the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Thailand has everything: great spicy food, warm people, hot sunny beaches, and it’s dirt cheap. My husband and I can stay at a three star hotel for $25.00 per day and eat for less than $10.00 per day. You can’t beat that.

Jeanne: You mention that you're working on a "gays-in-professional-sports story about a gay coach and a straight teenager trying to make it on the straight dominated professional tennis tour." Can you share a bit more about this story? I think the character mix is exceptionally interesting.
Alan: The back story is two tennis professionals who were drummed out of the professional men’s tour because they were lovers and were outed. Years later they are both still lovers and living in San Francisco; one works as a tennis pro at a posh golf and tennis country club, the other is an alcoholic that give private tennis lessons to gay men. They’re both a bit miserable because they can no longer compete with the big boys. Then one of them is approached by a teenaged tennis prodigy and his overbearing, homophobic father. The teenager has a great game but is too mentally fragile to be able to make it on the men’s tour. But what will happen when an openly gay coach decides to buck the homophobic, straight-male dominated sport of professional tennis a second time to teach this boy how to compete? It will surprise you, and hopefully make you examine your own life, your goals, and what you’re willing to do to achieve those goals.

Jeanne: You've been with your partner for over twelve years -- longer than many "straight" relationships. When I interviewed Dorien Grey, one of his wishes was "that more writers...especially straight writers...[would] incorporate stable, monogamous gay relationships into their books." Do you think having such a stable relationship has enhanced your writing? And, for this hopeless romantic, could you share how the two of you met?
Alan: We’ve been together nearly sixteen wonderful years. Durning that time, Herman has been my foundation. I write, and he takes care of everything else in my life. I could not have finished even one novel without his support. Writing for me is hard, it takes all my energy. He takes care of all those little mundane hurdles that life keeps tossing at us, so that I have the time and space to devote myself to my writing. I often feel that both our names should appear on the covers of my books.
How we met? We had the same series at the San Francisco Opera, every Tuesday night. The first opera of the 1994 season I saw him from across the crowded room, and couldn’t breathe for a moment, to the point I became dizzy. He noticed me staring, hell everyone in the room noticed me staring… We didn’t speak that night, or the next week or the next. We just kept staring at each other. You see, he was always in the company of two other men and I assumed he was in a relationship with one of them. It was during the last opera of the ’94 season, the last intermission, our last chance to make contact, and I saw him marching across the room directly to me. I held my breath as he walked up, handed me his card and said, “If you’d like to have coffee sometime, give me a call.” I called the next day. We had dinner two nights later.

Jeanne: Last question. What one thing would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Alan: I’m a romantic softy. The day after gay marriage became legal in California, we marched down to the Civic Center and became the first male/male couple to be married in Marin County, California. I’m very proud of that. Not so much proud of being the first couple, but of being in the front ranks of that movement, and being able to make that social statement about our relationship. And I can tell you that even after living with Herman for over fifteen years, I got choked up while repeating the vows. It was a very emotional experience.
The other thing I’d like to share is that people can find out more about my writing at my website and my writer’s blog You can also read about Herman and my travels at
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you and the people who visit your blog.
Thank you, Alan. I loved having you visit. Next time, please bring the photo album. :~D

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guest Blogger - Alex Beecroft

Guest blogger, Alex Beecroft, author of wonderful gay historical fiction shares her thoughts as
M/M Romance takes on the World!

LOL! Perhaps I'm inclined to overdramatize there, but that's a little what it feels like to me today.
Today is the release date of my new book, 'False Colors', conveniently subtitled "an m/m romance" by the publisher so that nobody will think the two good looking young men on the cover are sailing off in search for brides.
Actually it's conveniently subtitled because it is one of two new releases coming out today from Running Press which are being packaged and promoted as mainstream romances. The other book in this new series is 'Transgressions' by Erastes, set during the English Civil War, with an equally gorgeous cover, and also with the helpful subtitle "an m/m romance".
What is going on here then? Well, simply this; Running Press are making a bid to make m/m romance mainstream – to make it as respectable as m/f romance. No more confining m/m fiction to a little ghetto on the internet where the uninitiated can remain ignorant that it exists at all. No more being treated as second class citizens by RWA and Romantic Times because we don't fit their notion of what is a 'traditional' story about people falling in love with one another.

It's an all or nothing attempt. These books are only being released in print, and their tasteful covers are partially there to make it easier to pick one off the bookshelf and take it to the till without feeling self-conscious. Easy to read on the train or in the dentist's surgery (I've tried this myself, with an author's review copy, and not one person looked at me oddly! Result!)

It's… quite a bold move, I think. The publishers (and I too, I admit) are hoping they will succeed like Brokeback Mountain, because the thirst for m/m romance is out there among a lot of women who don't yet know the m/m publishing business exists. But is the world ready to treat same sex romance as if it's the same as opposite sex romance? As if the love stories between hero and hero are as 'normal' to write about and as 'normal' to read about as love stories between hero and heroine? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I hope it is ready, not only because this is my book and I want it to do well. Not even because if this succeeds it will open up new opportunities for m/m writers, readers and publishers that we haven't had before. But mainly because I want to be part of a world in which gay romance and lesbian romance and bisexual romance and transsexual romance is there on the bookshelf next to heterosexual romance. I want to be part of a world that values all people's love stories equally, and I see this as a small first step towards that world.

After all that, you might want to know what False Colors is actually about! So here's a quick run down:

For his first command, John Cavendish is given the elderly bomb vessel HMS Meteor, and a crew as ugly as the ship. He’s determined to make a success of their first mission, and hopes the well-liked lieutenant Alfie Donwell can pull the crew together before he has to lead them into battle: stopping the slave trade off the coast of Algiers.
Alfie knows that with a single ship, however well manned, their mission is futile, and their superiors back in England are hoping to use their demise as an excuse for war with the Ottoman Empire. But the darker secret he keeps is his growing attraction for his commanding officer—a secret punishable by death.

With the arrival of his former captain—and lover—on the scene, Alfie is torn between the security of his past and the uncertain promise of a future with the straight-laced John.

Against a backdrop of war, intrigue, piracy and personal betrayal, the high seas will carry these men through dangerous waters from England to Africa, from the Arctic to the West Indies, in search of a safe harbor.
Eighty pairs of eyes watched John as he came up the side and strode stiffly to the Météore’s small quarterdeck. Taking off his hat, he turned to face his crew, noting the slack, bruised faces of men with scurvy, the nose-less, crusted features of those whom pox was slowly consuming from within. The Master was barely being held up by his mate, his linen drabbed with wine-stains. The single midshipman picked his nose as he slouched by his division, then spat over the side. Only the new lieutenant stood straight and alert, in newly laundered dress uniform, his wig powdered, his buttons gleaming and his pale brows arched a little in amusement as he watched John struggle with hat and paper in the increasing wind.
John fumed inwardly at the slackness, the disrespect as well as the waste of lives. Opening Admiral Saunders’ letter he read it aloud in a firm, positive tone, reading himself in as captain, telling them whence his authority came and warning that he had the right to govern and punish as he saw fit. Some of his anger wound its way into his voice, making it snap like the cat, and the more alert members of the crew stood straighter by the end of it.
Hoping to find at least one other person aboard competent to do their job, John was about to quiz the volunteer, when his thoughts were instantly dashed as the huddle of warrant officers parted to reveal the modest black dress and white lace bonnet of an elderly lady. John bowed over the twigs of her fingers, reeling. ‘The Doctor’s wife, Mrs Harper’, a voice informed him, and ‘charmed’ he said, mechanically. They’d sent a woman on board! In God’s holy name—knowing what they knew—they’d allowed not merely a woman, but a lady on board! The blood drained from his face, then returned, thundering and stinging in his ears. A victim. Are we to put up a plucky resistance and then be sunk, so that the outrage may provide an excuse for war? So that the First Lord may say ‘see, we don’t scruple to spare even our women in the pursuit of this menace?’ It was despicable.
His head throbbed suddenly, pain winding up from his clenched teeth to lance through his temples into his eyes. Giving orders to set sail, to clean the decks, and paint a properly anglicized Meteor over the name on the stern, he waited until the life of the ship around him settled into its routine, then ducked into the captain’s cabin to think. But the ruin he found seemed to mock him. The French captain’s cot lay slashed on the floor, stern lockers and all the chests broken open and ransacked.
“A right fucking pig’s ear they’ve made of this, sir,” the voice of his steward grated along his spine, making him straighten up, instinctively. Turning, he found Japheth Higgins looming behind him with John’s portmanteau propped against his hip and his sea-chest dragged by one handle from the other hand. An orange brute, Higgins had a tendency to appear out of random shadows, like the Borneo wild man.
“I thought I told you to stay on the flagship, Higgins.”
“You was having a little laugh, though, right sir? ‘Cos you wouldn’t leave me behind, not was you Admiral of the White.” Higgins dropped the sea-chest by way of final punctuation and scratched his ginger sideburns with a tobacco-stained finger.
John laughed around the queasiness in his throat. An unusual fairy godmother Higgins made, to be sure, but it was true. Assigned to him as a sea-daddy on his first ship, set by the captain to teach the infant young gentleman the ropes—and to make sure he was not too homesick, too lonely, or too much picked on—Higgins had been with him ever since. Now he couldn’t even say “I was trying to keep you safe, you fool,” without spreading rumors he did not need the rest of the crew to hear.
“Not a very good joke, I’m afraid,” he said instead. “I’m sorry Higgins. I’m glad you’re here. See what you can do to sort this mess out, would you? I’m going for the tour.”
Choosing not to notice as he passed the Master retching into a bucket, John paced the length of the gun-deck. Lighting the lantern he had taken from the midshipmen’s berth, he descended to the lightless lowest deck, past the carpenter’s workroom and the gunner’s stores, and so back again to the grated area where the anchor cables were laid to dry. Trying to calm his mind, he strode out nervous and filled with a lightning of energy he had to out-walk before he could think.
On the cable tier, absolute darkness pressed inwards around the circle of his light. Water trickled, glistening, down the Meteor’s flexing sides, the sound of it sweet in the silences between waves. A stench came from the hold, seeping up through the holes of the deck. Below the latticework of planks on which he stood, the ballast of gravel below stirred with a great hiss, like the tide rolling over a beach. Not all the anxiety in the world could prevent him from making a note to order the pumps set working at once.
Around him, on either side, the anchor cables lay coiled, water dripping from them, falling as an indoor rain through the gratings to join the water in the hold beneath his feet. Footsteps knocked on the deck above him but, down here, dark, quiet and solitude calmed him. Breathing in, he sighed, the spring of his anger easing enough to allow thought. It was too early to despair. Somehow, he would complete this mission and return as the hero Saunders described. Or at the least, he would complete the mission while keeping his crew alive, from the old lady to the youngest powder monkey. Here in this waiting space, this space between worlds, as he thought of it, it was easier to believe.
Straightening his back even further, an ache like a fist between his shoulder blades, he picked his way back through the coils of hawser. They rose like cliffs on either side and, as he walked, his lantern light mingled with a growing brown gloom that spilled in from the doorway. There, in the narrow gap between John and the main companionway, stood the volunteer--Lt. Donwell, he reminded himself from the orders--with his wig off and his bold eyes glimmering gold as John raised his lantern to look at him. Walking forward, John expected the man to yield, to step back and let him out. Mere inches separated them by the time it dawned on him that Donwell was not going to move. Confusion striking through him, obliterating even the dread from moments ago, he pulled himself back from a collision only just in time. The skirts of their coats brushed, sending a jolt of invasion through him from thigh to shoulders. What the devil?
His mouth dried as a wave of prickly embarrassment swept over him, bringing guilt in its wake. Yet what had he done wrong? It was Donwell who should flinch, who should feel guilty, who should not be smiling so! John could not wrench his gaze away from Donwell’s face. Limned with gold, it was perfectly nondescript; round, pleasant, and completely lacking in self-conscious guilt. Donwell’s mouth quirked up at one side into a slow, charming smile. And his presence! It was extraordinary. It beat on John’s skin like strong sunshine. He fought the urge to close his eyes and bathe in it. His pulse picked up, waiting, waiting for something....
Returning sanity hit him in the face. He snapped, “Get out of my way! Don't you know who I am!”
Donwell’s smile only broadened. John thought the man would at least salute, but he just passed a hand through the loose blond curls of his hair and stepped away. “I’d know you anywhere, sir.”
“I’ll have a little more respect from you in future, Mister.”
“You may have whatever you like.”
Speech deserted John once more. Aware he should act now to regain the initiative, he had no idea what to do. Instead he pushed past, feeling the man's gaze on the back of his neck like warm breath, and tried to tell himself that he made a dignified exit. But if the truth be told it was a flight, spooked as a partridge from the covert
* * * *
Please check Alex's presence on the Internet at the following links:
Her LiveJournal:
Her Blog:
Buy Link: False Colors
Buy Link: Transgressions

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest Blogger - Dorien Grey

"The Man Behind the Curtain"
I read your blog. I read reviews, excerpts, your books, poetry and finally, I said to heck with it and threw away all my formal list of questions (when did you decide to become a writer; when was your first book published; where do you get your ideas ) and just toss out what came to my mind as I was exploring the world of the "Man Behind the Curtain".
Jeanne: Of all the poetry you've written across the years, what are three of your favorites and why?

Dorien: Books and poems are the children of the writer's mind, and I love allof mine. But I can pick two which reflect the very core of my being."Playmates", which is dedicated to my now-long-dead partner Ray Lopez, who the passage of time, which blunts the sharp edges of reality, now tells me was the love of my life. "The Boy With the Poppyseed Buns", which addresses my deep sense of irony. A third I especially like is "Dreams of a Calico Mouse" which points to the fact that there are two sides to every coin. All are in my chapbook of poems, "The Poems of Dorien Grey" available as a download from GLB Publishers ( Dreams of a Calico Mouse can be found at the end of Dorien's interview.
Jeanne: You wrote: "Nostalgia requires distance." Your non-fiction Navy memoir, A World Ago is slated for release later this year and in reading your blog, you often turn to your life in the Navy. Could you share just a few moments that, in retrospect, impacted on your writing? Dorien:Ah, I wish it were possible to do so, but it isn't...not for me, anyway. Life and Time are the same river, constantly moving toward the sea, and I cannot take a knife and cut it into specific pieces or point to a specific spot and say "here is an example of what made me who I am." I write because I have to write, and every experience I have ever had has contributed to it. I have any number of memorable moments, but to say they influenced me more than, say, a half-remembered dream or someone memorable I encountered briefly on a bus is really impossible.
Jeanne: Okay, I had to ask a book related question because The Angel Singers, your latest Dick Hardesty mystery (an even dozen!) centers on the world of music, a subject near and dear to my heart. (Well, okay, the question isn't quite book related, but music related.) What music inspires your writing? When you were writing The Angel Singers, besides "I Am What I Am", are there any songs that you find particularly meaningful?
Dorien: As an unabashed romanticist, I find that I react to some songs like a tuning fork reacts to being struck with a small mallet, and the effect on me is the same. Anything that moves me deeply, be it a song or a book or a movie or a personal experience, resonates long after the experience has ended. In "The Angel Singers" I very carefully and deliberately chose the songs for the program Jonathan and the chorus perform. Every one of them is, in its own way, an anthem of pride and hope, and those two words sum up my entire view of life.
Songs from the concert include: "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret,"You're a Grand Old Flag," "God Bless America", "I Hear Singing" from Call Me Madam, "Somewhere" from West Side Story, "Oklahoma", "What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Consider Yourself" from Oliver, and "This is My Country." Again, all songs of power, empowerment, and hope for the gay community.
Jeanne: Well, here's another "book related" question. Here you are writing wonderful mysteries with a well-beloved cast of characters, and then "Calico" appears. What prompted his appearance?
Dorien:Truth be told (and I think I'm telling this particular truth here for the first time), "Calico" was the first book I ever had published. I was working for a publishing house in L.A. that needed westerns. I always hated westerns, but the saving grace in them was that they were not quite so blatantly heterosexual as other genres. (The cowboy often rode off alone on his horse, which he seemed to prefer to the heroine.) So I wrote an on-the-surface "straight" western which I called "Calico" (the publisher for some unfathomable reason changed the title to "Stagecoach to Nowhere" which had absolutely nothing to do with anything in the book). That it had a barely-concealed gay sub-theme seemed to elude the editors. After the copyright expired and reverted to me, I rewrote it the way I wish I could have originally done a gay love story.
Jeanne: One more book question. I mean, after all, you "are" an author. Seems that your devoted fans will be seeing number thirteen in the Dick Hardesty series with The Secret Keeper. Can you share a snippet or a brief blurb?
Dorien: Delighted to. Jonathan is hired by an elderly millionaire to help with the old man's garden. When the man is found dead, apparently a suicide, Jonathan...and the man's gay grandson...refuse to believe it, sending Dick off in search of the truth and who, among the man's greedy and dysfunctional family, may have resorted to murder.
Jeanne: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa and now Vermont have all passed same sex marriage laws. Do you think more writers will incorporate this into their story lines? Would Dick and Jonathan marry if they had that right?
Dorien: I certainly hope that more writers...and especially straight writers...will incorporate stable, monogamous gay relationships into their books. As to Jonathan and Dick's taking advantage of the right to marry, I'm not sure. Probably, if Jonathan insisted on it, and also probably if by doing so Dick could share legal custody of Joshua. But as Dick says, "A piece of paper doesn't make a very strong glue."
Jeanne: And last do you have any questions you'd always wanted to ask your readers?
Dorien: I'm endlessly fascinated by my readers' reactions to each and every book, to the characters in them and to both the issues the books address and the way in which they address them. There is nothing I (or any writer that I know of) loves more than to hear from a reader.
Jeanne: Thanks so much, Dorien.

Dorien: And thank you, Jeanne, for the opportunity to talk to your readers. I truly appreciate it.
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Dreams of a Calico Mouse
In a quaint little cottage, a calico cat
naps by the hearth on a calico mat.
Contented and warm in the heart of the house,
it purrs in sweet dreams of a calico mouse.
In a garbage-strewn alley, where scrap-paper ghosts
dance in the wind ’round graffiti-scrawled posts,
in a box by a trash bin, a calico cat
trembles in dreams of a calico rat.
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