Author Spotlight no.48 – Bob Frey

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).

Author Spotlight no.44 – Tristram La Roche

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-fourth, is of Tristram La Roche.

Tristram La Roche is a British-born gay author who writes about male-male relationships. As a child he was dragged from pillar to post across Europe due to his father’s work. As a result, Tris says, he lacks the feeling of belonging to any particular place and describes himself as European rather than British. He knows his way around ‘Old Europe’ better than England and has spent much of his adult life living in Italy and France, and travelling extensively in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Greece.

Tris has worked in tourism, yacht charter and journalism, and at one point dabbled in politics. He is a keen supporter of GLBT rights and takes a lively interest in current affairs across the board. Tris draws on his own varied experiences when writing, and when he isn’t writing he can be found reading, watching films, listening to music, cooking, wandering around art galleries, swimming and, erm, travelling. He currently lives between London and the north of England with his partner of fourteen years, and has a grown-up son.

And now from the author himself:

Some say you are the product of your upbringing. I suppose you can twist things to fit that. I was always drawn to the arts but my father, a dour and domineering Yorkshireman, said such things were for poufs and Nancy boys. Well, Dad, hey – look what I turned out to be! He wanted me to be a Clerk of Works or a Chartered Surveyor. Me? On a building site? As if! Mind you, some of those builders…

Even so, I floundered around a lot before finally deciding to write professionally. Yes, I had done some freelance journalism for a bit but I mean writing fiction – being artistic and creative. My first work, a novella entitled On My Knees, was published in June 2011 and became an instant Kindle genre bestseller. It’s a coming out story and, yes, somewhat autobiographical. Being my first published work of fiction it taught me a great deal, especially about how readers see your work. Thankfully, the vast majority of reviews were terrific but the ones that did criticise tended to do so because the very elements I had put in there that were true, the reader said ‘Tsk – just as if!”

I followed with another novella – in fact so far all my works have been novellas because I like them, both from a writing and reading point of view – called Lorenzo il Magnifico. This draws on some of my experiences in Florence, a wonderful city which you must visit if you haven’t already. The title plays upon the historic Medici figure after whom a street in the city is named. My Lorenzo inherits an apartment in that very street and it is the setting for some man-on-man romance.

Fixed was published in September and is about a successful chap who loses everything, including his partner, in the financial crash of 2008. Mike ends up back in the Yorkshire countryside living in a rented dump where he bumps into an old school friend, Pete. Pete is a plumber with a knack for fixing the broken.

My final offering of 2011 was something rather different, an historical gay romance called The Hun and The General. I took the old barbarian, Attila the Hun, and made him fall in love with Livianus, a fictional Roman general. It’s a story of political intrigue, masculinity and tenderness that shows how the course of events can be changed by love. It became an instant bestseller on ARe. My stories are erotic in parts – can I say that? – though I try to avoid writing porn. However, they are definitely adult material, so don’t buy The Hun and The General for your kids’ history homework.

Right now I am writing the screenplay for The Hun and The General. I loved writing the story so much that I’m pretty sure my next book will be another historical work, but I am contemplating doing some time travel and writing a sci-fi set far into the future. Whatever I write, the main characters will be gay and there will always be a message of hope.

Morgen: As a short story writer, I love novellas and yes, Tris, absolutely you can say erotic parts. 🙂 Thank you. You can find more about Tristram and his work via… his website: http://tristramlaroche.com, Twitter, Facebook and his Amazon Author Page. And he came back on 7th January for a full interview which you can read here

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Shelley Harris – the two hundred and thirty-second 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.