NEW YORK TIMES
ROXANNE ST. CLAIRE
Roxanne St. Claire, Rocki, fell in love with stories when she read Gone With the Wind. On her twelfth birthday she received a typewriter (with italic font) and has been writing every since.
With over 30 books to her credit, Rocki lives in a small beach community in Florida with her husband and two teenagers, and one spectacular Australian Terrier named Pepper (and a new puppy named Ginger). Her spare time is spent with her family, but she also digs in the dirt with her plants, travels for business and fun, hangs out with her many writer friends, and, of course, reads. She is still crazy about words and stories and hopes to write at least a hundred books in her lifetime. Her favorite verbs? Love. Work. Play.
Q: Rocki, can you give us a breakdown of your body of work?
I’m a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of suspense and romance, including three popular series (The Bullet Catchers, The Guardian Angelinos, and Barefoot Bay) and multiple stand alone books. I also write young adult novels, and my most recent release in that genre, Don’t You Wish, was optioned for film!
I just signed with Grand Central Publishing to continue my contemporary women’s fiction series with the “Barefoot Brides” trilogy,
launching in 2014. The first book in that series, Barefoot in the Sand, was recently nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award in the single title contemporary category.
Q: What are your current projects? Right now, I’m writing a young adult thriller for Random House and promoting the release of the third book in the Barefoot Bay series, called Barefoot in the Sun. Up next, I’ll start the new Barefoot Brides trilogy. I’m a full time working writer, so I’m rarely “between” projects!
Q: Do you read the same genre you write?
Very rarely. I like to read what I’m not writing, so I’m definitely enjoying some romance novels while I write the teen novel, then will jump back to YA novels when I’m writing romance. I also read scads of non-fiction, and anything written by my many dear friends in the business.
Q: Have you had an interesting experience in the research of one of your books?
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to do a zipline/ropes course at our local zoo. I thought it would be an easy-breezy afternoon of fun. Whoa, I was wrong. The course wasn’t just challenging, it was terrifying! I have incorporated the whole idea of a deadly ropes and zipline course into the book I’m writing now -- something that came right out of the moment I was flying over a swamp full of alligators and seeing my life flash before my eyes!
Q: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
Hope, happiness, and belief in the power of love.
Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Gosh, I can’t think of one I haven’t been asked. I guess why should people read my books? And I’ll answer with this: I write a book that makes readers stand up and cheer in the end. I write a book that makes readers laugh, cry, and get lost in another world. And I write a book that I hope will stay with readers for a long time. But, if not mine, just read any book -- because reading is the door to new worlds and great places!
For more on Roxanne St.Claire visit her website at:
Released: April 26 / Harbourlight, Pelican Book Group
Mild / Ebook and Print
DEVIANTS – (The Dust Chronicles – Book One) by Maureen McGowan released by Amazon Childrens’ Books – October 2012 – 4.5 Stars!
In a post-apocalyptic world, where the earth is buried by asteroid dust that’s mutated the DNA of some humans, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Glory must protect her younger brother and escape the domed city that’s been her entire world.
Outside in the ruins, they’re pursued by the authorities and by sadistic, scab-covered Shredders who are addicted to the lethal-to-humans dust now covering the planet. Glory’s quests to transport herself and her brother to safety make up the thrilling and fascinating first volume of The Dust Chronicles.
This sci-fi novel reminiscent of the Hunger Games is a wonderfully described dystopian novel about a world that I hope never comes about. The story opens with sixteen-year-old Glory hunting rats so she and her disabled younger brother will be able to eat that night. From that moment, I was totally hooked on this character who tries to do her best by everyone, but who has to worry that others will see her secret. In her world, paranormal abilities are punished, not rewarded. If anyone in authority learns that she can use her emotions as a weapon – she will be thrown outside her domed city to die.
If that happens, who will look after her younger brother? Dependent on her, Drake is a well-drawn character who could be a major pain in the - - -. He’s not, although he has reason. Even when he opts to be the occasionally brat, he seems more realistic than many of the younger siblings that show up in fiction.
The betrayal to the authorities came as a shock, although as an adult I will admit that I expected it. Glory was a bit too trusting – but what else is new? She’s sixteen. We’re all allowed to trust the wrong people when we’re that age. If the conflict hadn’t developed, neither would the story.
Okay, I did have a few issues, very few. This was a “dystopian” novel which meant it was a given that the world would turn on its ear and it truly wasn’t “perfect” for anyone or everyone regardless of the PR pitched by those in authority. Most of the time in this type of fiction, the world starts out somewhat normally – I’m thinking of Jonas in The Giver. This wasn’t the case in Deviants – the story started out in the dark and McGowan continued to twist and turn the reader’s emotions in this fictional thrill ride.
This is a sign of powerful writing when I couldn’t stop reading, regardless of how late it got. I had to find out what happened next to these kids. Darn it – Book Two isn’t out yet! I have to wait until June for it!
What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen released by Simon Pulse – May 2012 – 5 Stars!
“Don’t even think of leaving… I will find you,” he whispered. “Guaranteed.” Sara and her mom have a plan to finally escape Sara’s abusive father. But when her mom doesn’t show up as expected, Sara’s terrified. Her father says that she’s on a business trip, but Sara knows he’s lying. Her mom is missing—and her dad had something to do with it.
Okay, so this was another “keep me up” all night book. I had no idea what was going to happen with Sara who struggles to be invisible as her father grows increasingly violent.
Sara has to learn the truth about her missing mother and begins to play detective. To complicate matters, Alex, a football jock pursues Sara, thinking she’s the girl of his adolescent dreams and now her life is even more confusing. The descriptions of high school were very authentic, especially when she pretends that nothing is wrong so none of the administrators will contact her dangerous father.
The portrayal of a family living on the edge of tragedy ripped at the heartstrings. I rooted for Sara, praying that she’d make it to the end. I desperately wanted her to survive, sharing her fears for her mother. I empathized strongly with the girl, but that made it difficult to believe that she was ready for a romance with Alex. Was it realistic for her to be falling in love with this guy when she was still dealing with so many life changes in her own family? I don’t want to give away the plot or throw in any “spoilers,” but there were a lot of undercurrents in this novel and all of them felt necessary. Mom’s disappearance is the obvious mystery that Sara needs to solve, but she also had other questions to answer.
This story about abuse and survival may not be for everyone. The material may be too tough for a teen audience. The story is powerfully written and the realistic background could evoke a visceral response from readers. Of course, one would like to think that there were other choices for Sara and her mom, that they might have found help at any corner. Some readers may not like the world that Bilen revealed – but as Ayn Rand wrote so many years ago, “It’s not the muck in the pigpen that we find offensive, it’s the ray of light that shows it to us.”
This was an amazing debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Tracy Bilen writes next!
Shannon lives on the family farm, a riding stable in the Cascade foothills, where she organizes most of the riding programs and teaches horsemanship around her day-job as a substitute teacher.
She writes books in her spare time, mainstream western romance as Josie Malone for SirenBookStrand and young adult novels for Black Opal Books and Fire & Ice YA. She’s a member of RWA, YARWA, the Greater Seattle RWA and Evergreen RWA chapters.
Released: March 17, 2013/ Amazon Digital/Createspace
Sizzling / Print and ebook
Mystery / Thriller
Released: January / Etopia Press
Spicy / Ebook now, print later this year
BRAKING POINTS Tammy Kaehler
Released: April / Poisoned Pen Press
Mild / Print and ebook
Released: March 2013, The Wild Rose Press
Spicy / Ebook
Released: June 2013 / Revell Publishing
Mild / Print & ebook
UNLOCK THE TRUTH
Released: May 10, 2013 / The Wild Rose Press
Spicy / Print and e-Book
THE BLUE DOLPHIN by Robena Grant
Released: May 24, 2013 / The Wild Rose Press
Spicy / Print and eBook
Spring is Springing, and it's time to check in on some old friends and a few new ones.
The Christie Curse (Berkley, 2013,$7.99) introduces a new series by a mother-daughter team who write under the name of Victoria Abbott. Jordan Bingham is a young woman with a brand-new college degree and a slightly sinister family, who lucks into what she thinks is a dream job, doing research for an old woman with a vast collection of mystery books and a few secrets of her own. When she learns that her predecessor met with a sticky end looking for a previously unknown Agatha Christie play, Jordan gets suspicious, and starts investigating on her own. A cast of characters that includes a love-lorn mailman, an Italian cook, and a gardener with a grudge makes for a highly entertaining read. Luscious recipes are included.
Lorraine Bartlett's newest “Victoria Square Mystery”, One Hot Murder (Berkley, 2013, $7.99)
has Artisans Alley owner Kate Bonner truly frazzled. A heat wave has customers shunning the craft center, which has minimal air conditioning, for the cooler temperatures of malls farther away. A hold-over from the previous owner of the Alley is constantly complaining. Someone is stealing food from the communal refrigerator. Worst of all, a fire breaks out in the wood-working shop, and a body is found in the ashes. Things really get sticky when it appears that the deceased was not burned, but shot.
A question of identity arises: is this the wood-shop's owner, an ex-teacher who was heartily loathed by his students? And if it isn't, who is it? Kate finds herself in hot water, as she teams up with the one person who has made her life miserable since she took over Artisans Alley, to face a most unlikely killer. No-bake recipes suitable for hot weather are included.
In a Witch's Wardrobe, by Juliet Blackwell (Obsidian, 2012, $7.99) has reluctant witch Lily Ivory up to her vintage-clad neck in trouble, when she attends an Art Deco Ball and comes to the aid of a young woman who falls into a coma. Lily recognizes the signs of a curse, but isn't too sure who would have cast it, or why. When she finds out that other young women have also been poisoned, and the child of the woman in a coma is affected, Lily realizes that there is true evil in the San Francisco Bay Area, and that there is someone using witchcraft for nefarious ends. San Francisco is known for its tolerance, but there's a group out to destroy the Wiccan community. Lily tracks down the murderer, but there is more here than mere petty jealousy. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this on-going series!
Shiela Connolly stars a new series with Buried in a Bog (Berkley, 2013, $7.99). Maura Donovan has come to her grandmother's birthplace, a small village in Ireland, with no particular aim in mind but fulfilling Gran's final wishes. Her first week is filled with adventure and discovery, when a body is recovered from a local bog, and she becomes the target of a malicious thug. There's plenty of local color in this visit to the Emerald Isle, and Maura finds more about her family's past than she ever thought possible. There's a special legacy waiting for Maura, and more adventures down the road for Connolly's faithful readers.
In Fonduing Fathers, (Berkley, 2013, $7.99), Olivia “Ollie” Paras, the heroine of the “White House Chef” mysteries by Julie Hyzy, is called on to escort the President's son to a major food and cooking exhibition. At the same time, she's trying to organize her own life, introducing her mother and grandmother to her off-again, on-again lover, Gav. Then her mother drops a major bombshell: her father, Anthony Paras, was not the hero Ollie thought he was, but a spy and a traitor! An exhibitor at the food fair may have clues as to what Anthony Paras was up to. It's up to Ollie to clear her father's name, and expose a costly fraud as well. Presidential recipes are included.
A Fall Festival is turned upside down in Paige Shelton's newest “Farmer's Market Mystery”, A Killer Maize (Berkley, 2012, $7.99). Becca Robbins, known for her home-made jams and jellies, is in another kind of jam, when her ex-husband turns up at the local Fall Festival, operating a shooting gallery. The Farmers' Market “regulars” taking booths at the Festival are having doubts about leaving their usual stands, and the feeling gets stronger when one of the old-timers is found hanging from his own ferris wheel. Corn maze legends, spider tattoos, and local lore come together as Becca tries to keep her own store going while finding out why the nearest town is so secretive. Recipes included.
Susan Witting Albert's final “Cottage Tale of Beatrix Potter”, The Tale of Castle Cottage (Berkley, 2012, $7.99) brings the story of Beatrix and her beloved Will Heelis to a satisfying close.
Beatrix has decided to marry Mr. Heelis, in spite of her demanding parents' objections, and they are refurbishing Castle Cottage as their new home, but the work is not going well. There are thefts, and the building contractor has fired his best carpenter, who is then found hanged, a probable suicide. There are other mysterious thefts, too, that may have been committed by very different thieves. A rare book has gone missing, along with jewelry and silverware. Who is responsible for the thievery? It's up to the animal population to come to the rescue, and save the town from destruction. A Historical Note gives some of the background of Beatrix Potter's life and career. A Glossary explains local terminology, and recipes are included.
Roberta Rogow is a retired librarian who enjoys books with characters that grab you, often set in exotic places or in other times. She reads a lot of historical mysteries, but also enjoys Alternate History, and has been known to indulge in an orgy of“cozy crafty” mysteries, set in small-town America or villages in Great Britain.
Harm is quite the character in this novella. He is a man of contradiction—hot sex and cool calculation. At least that is what Holly thinks and, no matter how attracted to hims she is, she does not intend to be another scratch mark on his bedpost. As the embodiment of a Casanova, Holly makes it her personal mission to stop him from proving his reputation by successively bedding her girls—bikini models come to do a shoot on the island of Anguilla. She can’t afford “any pouty faces” in the shoot because of envy or lust between the models as they compete for Harm’s favors. On the surface, this is one of those fun, sexy beach reads. But things are never quite as they seem, and Holly and Harm are the perfect duo to play out their character juxtapositions of reputation with reality on a beach in the Caribbean.
One of the things I love about Jenna’s style is that she sets up what appears to be an impossibly clichéd situation—bikini models on a secluded island and an Adonis for the hero. Yet, the depth of her characters and their backstory, paired with the realistic realization of the start-up retail business, makes even the most jaded reader go to her Caribbean island willingly. One can easily choose to read her books for the light fare and entertainment they bring and be wonderfully satisfied at the end by a story well told. For me, I also found myself, consciously or subconsciously, appreciating the prose itself. I admired the humor (hard as hell to write well) along with the double entendre in the names she chooses for places and people, and I laughed out loud with some of the dialog and the constant push and pull of the hero and heroine—literally and figuratively.
This novella is VERY sexy in the tradition of most Samhain novels. It also has Jenna’s trademarked humor and does a great job of turning the world upside down like a snow globe you shake every once in a while to see things in a different light. The only thing I disliked about the book was I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I wanted a slower build to Holly’s final decision, and the Epilogue tied up the story too quickly for me. However, it is a novella and I admit I don’t read them often because I always want to stay with the characters longer than the word count allows. This is a book that will appeal to both category romance readers and to contemporary romantic comedy aficionados.
SECRETS OF AN
by Paty Jager
Publisher: Windtree Press
Format: Print and Ebook
Price: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 trade paperback
Action/Adventure / Mystery
Like the first book in the series, Secrets of a Mayan Moon, this one finds Isabella Mumphrey trying to solve another mystery. Also, Tino is still on the warpath to kill the drug lord responsible for murdering his family. It is obvious the Tino and Isabella are madly in love, but they are also both so independent and driven to solve their puzzles that they are sometimes blinded by opportunity.
Being the more experienced agent, Tino is much more cautious in his pursuit of the drug lord. Isabella still has more smarts than the average woman or man, and carries her handy McGyver-like vest to get her out of difficult situations. Her sense of justice and fair play keep her making choices that aren't always in the best interest of staying alive. Throughout the story she questions (and so does the reader) if she has trusted the right people. Like a good mystery, and a thriller, the reader is not sure if Tino and Isabella will make it out alive this time. Each one is willing to die for the other. Each one wants the other to save himself/herself first.
Though the ending of this mystery isn't quite as mind-boggling as the Mayan Moon book, the building tension and the constant questions of who is a good guy and who is not kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. Tino and Isabella have all the best parts of Indiana Jones, McGyver, and a bit of Mr and Mrs Smith wrapped into one--but with a more three-dimensional relationship than cardboard characters. I hope Paty Jager continues this series with lots of books. And I still hope some smart studio picks this up for a movie or TV series.
I highly recommend this mystery and suspense with a good romance at the center. If you haven't read Secrets of a Mayan Moon yet, I suggest you pick up both books. Though this stands alone, starting at the beginning of the series will allow you to see how Isabella and Tino's relationship begins and provide you more depth as well as understanding about their relationship. I am anxiously awaiting the next book in this great series.
Maggie Jaimeson writes romantic suspense with a futuristic twist and romantic womenʼs fiction. You can read about her and all of her books at http://maggiejaimeson.com.
Two of her Romantic Womenʼs Fiction from her four part series,UNDERTONES and HEALING NOTES, are out now.
RETURN by Charity Santiago
Publisher: Charity Santiago
Format: Kindle Only
Genre: YA Fantasy/Adventure
First, I have to say that Ashlyn Li is a great character. I loved that she wasn't the typical girl--she's Asian and a ninja assassin. Second I loved her combination of snark and caring. It's pretty hard to write that type of character, and I think Ms. Santiago pulls it off.
For the most part I enjoyed this book. In the beginning, I had a love/hate relationship. I was drawn in by Ashlyn, the heroine of the story, and her immediate willingness to take responsibility for a war that started in her self-imposed absence. I liked her lets-go-get-them-and-make-things-right attitude. I also really loved Skye's down-to-earth and often profuond advice. On the other hand, I was frustrated with the two setups of the story that were too pat: 1) She didn't pursue a relationship with Drake because of a perceived slight when he smiled at another girl three years ago; and 2) Accepting responsibility for a war that occurred when she was gone--as if she had any control over that. Also, in the first 20 pages or so I had some problems with the passive voice, a lot of telling to bring the reader up to speed on the background, and some missed editing. However, after those first 20 pages or so, the character of Ashlyn made me forget those things as her combination of wit, caring, and youthful exuberance propelled her forward to right all wrongs.
Like many young people, Ashlyn is very focused and when it comes to saving her kingdom, she is not going to stop until she's accomplished that. Being a ninja has always been her calling. Not only is she proud of it, but she is very good at fighting and killing if need be. It was her three year absence from her kingdom that set up the situation where it was taken over by the bad guy.
Once the reader is brought up to speed on the background, the book becomes non-stop action. There’s a definite love triangle with Drake and Vargo. I won't tell you who I like best, it is up to you to choose. Personally, I would have liked a little more relationship development but I can't complain about the page turning action. I am definitely going to pick up the next two books in the series so I can see what happens to Ashlyn and her friends.
Q: What does Lyrical Press offer readers?
A. Lyrical is a romance and erotic romance only digital-first publisher. Select books are also available in print. We offer readers a rich catalog of titles ranging from tender contemporary romances to edgy erotic paranormals written by some of publishing’s brightest talents.
We’ve recently opened four lines.
• Embrace features the beloved tropes of Enemies to Lovers, Boss/Employee to Lovers, Reformed Rake, Millionaire Playboy, The Love Triangle.
• Hometown Heroes are usually set in small towns where readers can enjoy stories featuring Best friend’s sibling…all grown up, Childhood enemies to lovers, The bad-boy next door, Just came to town.
• Once Upon gives readers an erotic twist on fairytales, myths, legends and folklore.
• Vintage puts a modern take on retro-style period romance. These stories are set in such eras as Regency, Viking, Victorian, Medieval, Tudor, Pirate, Western, Native American.
Q: What does it take to be published by Lyrical?
A. Considering we only accept, on average, about one cold submission a month, I’d say Lyrical is extremely choosy about the books we present to our audience. Every Lyrical content editor reviews each cold submission that comes in. This allows management to make an educated decision on which books we pass on and which books become part of our catalog. Once a manuscript is acquired, the author is expected to first pre-edit the book. This cleans up any minor issues that would otherwise stall the actual content editing cycles. Next, every Lyrical title goes through at least two (if not three or four) extensive content editing cycles, followed by one or two bouts of line edits. By the time a Lyrical books is presented to our readers, we’ve ensured they’ll enjoy a top-quality reading experience.
Q: What kind of qualifications and experience do your editors have?
A. Every Lyrical content editor must have editing experience. They also have to pass two stages of hiring. The first is the submission of their resume, which is reviewed by Piper Denna, Lyrical’s Executive Editor. If she feels they have the required experience and seems like they have something positive to add to our team, they move on to stage two. This is a grueling test, where we can see their actual content editing style applied to an a sample manuscript. If they do well on this test, they are hired and put on a probationary term of three manuscripts. During this probationary period, Ms. Denna reviews each stage of content editing, and judges the editor on work ethic and editing quality. If they meet Lyrical’s stringent demands and standards, they become permanent members of the house’s editing department.
Q: Where can a reader find books from Lyrical?
A. With worldwide distribution through the prestigious distributor Ingram, Lyrical Press authors are guaranteed their book will reach readers across the Internet. Readers will find Lyrical’s books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony. BooksOnBoard, iTunes, and anywhere else digital and print are books sold.
Q: What does The Wild Rose Press offer readers?
The Wild Rose Press offers a wide variety of romance to its readers. These include the hottest erotic romances from our Scarlet Rose Line to the sweetest of romances from our Sweetheart Rose Line. In between those two wide ranges, there are subgenres such as romantic suspense (Crimson Rose Line), Paranormal (Faery Rose and Black Rose), and even a line that is devoted to those readers who love cowboys – Yellow Rose and Cactus Rose. An entire division has been created for the readers of Historical Romance and include four separate departments for everything from Civil War stories in American Rose to Regency Romances in English Tea Rose.
In late 2012, TWRP also began publishing genres such as women’s fiction, mystery/suspense, historical fiction and erotica for readers who sometimes want something other than romance.
Q: What does it take to be published by TWRP?
Manuscripts are reviewed by an editor depending on the department it fits in. The editor will make a decision whether the story is to go on to the next phase or a rejection. If the editor finds something in the story she wishes to contract she puts together a report for the Senior Editor of the line and makes a request. It is the Senior Editor’s decision whether something is contracted or not.
Q: What kind of qualifications and experience do your editors have?
Our editors have been in the business for years. They come from all walks of life and live all over the world. The vast knowledge they bring to us in the publishing world is something we are quite proud of. Many of our editors have degrees in English or Communications.
Q: Where can a reader find books from TWRP?
Our print books are available through www.amazon.com and on our website. Electronic books are available everywhere you can buy ebooks such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iStore, Sony, and numerous other distributors including of course our own website www.thewildrosepress.com and www.thewilderroses.com for erotica and erotic romance.
Taxi Rojo, A Tijuana Tale
by Erik Orrantia
Lambda Award winning author Erik Orrantia delivers a unique study of overcoming adversities set in the teeming south-of-the-boarder city of Tijuana. Caught in the vortex of two million souls struggling for a better life, fate brings six people together in the back of a taxi rojo. The taxi crashes down a canyon, killing two and connecting the survivors in ways that will dramatically affect each of their lives.
The story follows the lives and hardships of Pancha, a drag queen looking for love while performing at the El Taurino bar; Rigo and Cristian, gay partners in a loving but open relationship in a city where HIV is rampant; Toni, the handsome bi man who uses his looks to dominate others; Derek, the young hustler out to steal whatever he can from whoever he can; and Julia, who works as a domestic for an American family across the boarder in order to support her daughter and disabled sister. The more they battle to put the crash behind them, the more it brings them together.
This is a story of unheroic people struggling to overcome everyday problems. It takes a studied look at important social issues like fidelity, wrestling with identity, self-sacrifice, and finding love where you least expect it. Orrantia skillfully weaves these commonplace lives together in a way that showcases these important and interesting issues. In his capable hands, these characters become real. The reader feels their heartache and their joy. The characters and problems seem so common, that they touch something deep in the reader, because we all at one time or another battle with these same burdens.
The one character I’ve yet to mention is the city of Tijuana. Orrantia has a gift for drawing the reader into the setting. You feel the grittiness of the town, smell the corn tortillas on the grill, hear the arrogant laughter of macho men, and feel the danger of walking the streets at night. The descriptions are vivid and real.
Listening To Dust
by Brandon Shire
Publisher: TPG Books
Murder touched Stephen Dobbins long before he reached manhood, and it left him drowning in a sea of loneliness and self-doubt. A chance meeting with a young American serviceman gave him the strength to try a relationship and discover love for the first time since his loss.
For eight months his union with Dustin Earl flourished, until the Dustin was forced to travel back to his small Southern town to care for his mentally challenged brother. Shattered by Dustin’s departure, Stephen journeys three thousand miles to rekindle that love, and make a life with Dustin. What he finds, however, is the excesses of a dysfunctional family gone crazy.
This story is not your average feel-good romance, although it has many touching moments. It is a powerful look at love through the looking glass of tragedy. The story is both beautiful and disturbing, and not for the faint of heart.
It is almost entirely told via the character’s dialog and several long flashback sequences, both of which I find tedious in other novels, but the way the author allowed the story to unfold held my interest throughout. The reader finds himself at story’s ending within the first dozen pages, and then spends the rest of the book discovering how he got there as the author skillfully peels back one layer after another.
This novel is well written and adeptly paced. Although the author occasionally dips into eye-rolling melodrama, I found it a captivating read.
Alan Chin interviews Brandon Shire
author of Listening to Dust
I love finding out tidbits about other writers, which is why I like doing interviews. Last week I reviewed Listening To Dust by Brandon Shire. I contacted Brandon and asked to interviewer him. What follows is that interview.
Q: What one thing happened in your life that has made the biggest impact on who you are today?
B: Meeting my Zen teacher. She taught me about the value of life and how to find beauty even within its ugliest moments.
Q: When did you start writing and how many books have you published?
B: I began writing about 15 years ago, but only recently started publishing. I currently have four books available and have more coming.
Q: Who are the authors who most influence you today?
B: This is a hard question for me because I read so many different genres that it’s difficult to pick just one author who really influences me. Above all that have touched me, I would have to say Toni Morrison and William Gay. One of my current favs is Haruki Murakami. But Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo is the only book to sit by my bedside.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow?
B: (Laughs) No, I wish that were the case. My muse spits out thoughts when we’re driving down the highway, doing the dishes, or in the shower - all the places where I don’t have a pen and piece of paper handy. Since I still write with pen and paper, I learned long ago to have a small notebook with me at all times.
Q: Is Afflicted your latest novel? What was the inspiration behind that story?
B: Afflicted is a two-book gay romance series. I was inspired to try my hand at the genre when I saw a blog post which stated that men couldn’t write romance. I found the idea ridiculous. My first two books were quite heavy in subject matter and something lighter was definitely necessary. My fans were also asking for ‘something with a happy ending,’ so the project kind of came together on its own.
I also wanted to write the book from a uniquely gay male perspective. I found a quick note in my papers about a blind man and a hustler from some years back and thought they would be perfect together. After doing some research I noted that most depictions of the blind were showing them as weak, dependent, secondary characters. I wanted to change that and contacted the Blind LGBT Pride International and asked if they were interested in being consultants to ensure the book was factually accurate and stayed away from the stereotypes that sighted authors often inflict upon the blind. Of course the readily agreed and were extremely helpful.
It was difficult to write because I had to remove any inclinations toward visual descriptions. Every interaction between the characters had to be based on sound, touch, taste, and smell; and when you’re dealing with sex and love, those senses are often over-looked in writing.
Q: Your book, Listening To Dust, has garnered several excellent reviews and a Rainbow Award. Can you tell us about it?
B: Dust is a hard look at love and loss. It is meant to be a book that doesn’t give an inch because sometimes life is like that. Despite how much we want everything to turn out okay, sometimes it just doesn’t, especially in matters of the heart. I wrote the manuscript over a decade ago and then lost it. But the story would never leave me alone and every time I sat down my muse would plague me with Dustin and the people around him. Finally, I let the muse go and wrote the current version in a frantic 22 days. When I was finished I sat down and cried my eyes out. The dedication in the book will likely tell most readers what and how much the means to me.
Q: So, if you don’t mind sharing, would you tell us about your work in progress?
B: The next book is Cold, which I expect to be out in May. It’s a gay romance series about two completely different men who find a little piece of what is missing inside of them in the other person. I had thought the book would just be a single novel, but apparently the muse has other ideas. It begins in a prison environment and will continue on outside of prison.
I am also in the process of bringing some of my unpublished work to print, some in sci-fi and some in horror. My fans have asked that the characters be LGBT inclusive and I am working on that as I write the Cold series.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
B: Writing is still a hobby for me; it’s my break away from the chaos of the real world. If I’m not writing, I’m working.
Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
B: Readers can find out more about me, my books, and the charities I aid on my website. For more personal interaction I can often be found on the fan-generated Goodreads group, Twitter, and Google Plus. I’m just about everywhere online, except Facebook.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
B: I am a staunch advocate for LGBT youth, particularly in regards to homelessness. 10% of the proceeds from the purchase of any of my books are donated to two charities working to get LGBT kids off the street. Readers can learn more, or donate to the charities on my website.
Other books by Brandon Shire
Cold - Coming May 2013
Afflicted Book II
Listening to Dust
The Value of Rain