Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-eighth, is of mystery novelist and short story author Bob Frey.
Bob Frey loves to entertain, make people laugh and think, and, perhaps, shake them up a little. He was a copywriter for several top Los Angeles advertising agencies and received several awards for his creative work. When he turned to writing fiction, he found it was a whole new ballgame and he had a lot to learn. He has since published a couple of mysteries, The DVD Murders and The Bashful Vampire Murder & Comic Book Murders, and Catawampus Tales, a book of short stories, a mixed bag of fast food for the mind.
Also an actor, he has appeared in some forty independent films and stage plays. Now retired, he lives in Sandy, Oregon, with his wife, Susan.
And now from the author himself:
Why I wrote a gay mystery
My wife, Susan, is a big mystery fan. In fact, she belongs to a mystery book club that reads a book a month and then meets to talk about it. After writing several novels without publishing success, I decided to take a crack at a mystery. It occurred to me that there were no mystery novels with a gay protagonist, so that’s what I did.
It took a lot of, well, different research. I went to a gay bathhouse, stripped down to a towel, and walked around to see what I could see. I’ll admit I was a little edgy, not knowing what to expect. My wife, of course, thought I was crazy. To my surprise, nothing troublesome happened. Oh, a couple of guys made eye contact, but nobody hit on me. I did see some unusual, ah, sights, but I was in a gay bathhouse, so what did I expect? I walked around and noted all the different rooms or venues. Later, I learned from research on the web that the layout of all bathhouses is pretty much the same and is more or less based on cruising. For example, there was a steam room and showers, which were like the old YMCAs, and a video room that aped an adult movie theater. Then there were glory hole booths similar the ones in public toilets, you know where someone has made a hole in one of the dividers, and there was even a maze that took the place of bushes and shrubs in public parks. All and all, pretty creative when you think about it.
I have a section in The DVD Murders, where Frank Callahan, the main character, and his sidekick, Detective Barry Jennings, visit a gay bathhouse in search of the DVD serial killer. Here’s where a writer’s imagination takes over. I decided to switch the POV to Barry, a good guy but straight arrow. The result, as seen through Barry’s eyes, is probably an exaggeration of what actually goes on, but, as I have been told by several readers, it is pretty funny and adds some humor to an integral part of the plot.
I also went to some gay bars and cruising grounds without getting into trouble. All in all, my experiences did give me some idea of the ebb and flow of what goes on and helped add some authenticity to my writing. Once I had a draft with which I was reasonably happy, I advertised on Craig’s list for a gay book editor. The guy I picked not only helped me with gay aspects of the book—for example, the fact that cruising in mainly done on the web these days and bathhouses are now mainly used by older gentlemen—he was a terrific editor and added a great deal to the overall narrative. He was also helpful in helping me better understand the gay lifestyle.
Thank you so much Bob, that was fascinating… something tells me I may see the park differently next time I’m there with my dog.
You can find more about Bob and his writing via his website is http://www.BobFreyBooks.com, and read his Flash Fiction Friday no.16 and guest blog on this blog, and Bob will be returning (definitely a glutton for punishment for the full interview on Thursday 19th January).
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with poet Rainbow Reed – the two hundred and forty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).