Monthly Archives: October 2017

30Oct/17

Code For Murder by Eliot Parker

Back in September 2017, Eliot Parker was one of our lovely guests on WROTE. To learn more about Eliot and find links to his work, Episode 128: Show Up and Keep the Chair Warm

I do like a good murder, and the vicious stabbing of a handsome, popular US football player heralded a promising start. The novel is packed with familiar themes; the anti-social female detective with a complicated private life and severe health issues, the seemingly popular victim who has dark secrets, a drugs deal that goes horribly wrong, and a handsome, out-of-reach-because-he’s-married colleague. This is good thing when it provides anchorage for a plot that becomes quite involved.

This book illustrates how hard it is to write a strong female character who is also sympathetic. The essential element, whether male or female, is that one thing which makes you care about them.  With strong females especially, they have to work twice as hard to prove their worth.

I sense the author wanted to show us how Stacy’s behavior and decisions came about because she was trying to “prove herself” and/or close the case at all costs. I just wish that her motivation was more sharp-focussed. With peripheral characters, the book seemed to pick up on the current US television trend for “love-to-hate” shows (eg., House of Cards) which are full of people with dubious qualities and ideals. The plot was nicely convoluted though, and held some genuine surprises.

This would have been a much tighter, more compelling read with a bit of judicious pruning by the editors. Some of the descriptions of place were unnecessary, and forced my concentration away from the action. For example, I didn’t need to know the interior design of a supermarket, because it wasn’t relevant to the story. These chunks of prose, as well as some clunky dialogue, got in the way of what was shaping up to be a tensely-plotted whodunnit.

Stacy had a tough perspective for me to get into, but in the end, the book is a solid crime drama, with a female character that doesn’t make excuses for how she is. I wouldn’t put other readers off getting to know Stacy, as long as they know what they’re going to get.


BLURB

An overzealous decision by Cleveland Police Lieutenant Stacy Tavitt leads to a botched undercover investigation, leading to Stacy being attacked and her unconscious body dumped into the frigid Cuyahoga River. Six months later, Stacy’s first case back from medical leave involves the murder of Cleveland Browns football player Devon Baker. With little forensic evidence connecting anyone to the crime, Stacy sets out to find the killer. As Stacy comes very close to unraveling the tangled threads of the case, the killer wants her, and those close to her, to suffer for another impulsive decision she made in the line of duty. The killer just may be more familiar to Stacy than she realizes.

30Oct/17

A Matter Of Courage by J C Long

We recently had the pleasure of J C Long’s company at WROTE! To learn more about them and get links to their work, check out Episode 127: I’m Not Whitewashing Hong Kong

This was a joy to read, a book set in the backstreets of Hong Kong, where two fictional gangs mainly keep out of each other’s way until one is suspected of murdering a member of the other.

There was more than a whiff of The Fast & The Furious about this, with muscle cars, sassy side characters and a young man trying to prove himself in order to be accepted by the people he looks up to. And I loved it for that. The action scenes were well-written and not too long, and didn’t seem gratuitously shoe-horned in, adding sparkle to an already interesting plot. Show me a beefed-up Mustang and you’ve got me at the first rev, TBH. The family scenes provided grounding and balance, and the sex just added extra spice where needed.

I had no idea that besties jerked off together “just for fun.” It seemed that everyone knew about Winston and Steel, other than the two main protagonists, which got a little frustrating by the end when it was teased out to the max. (No spoilers.) Yet it’s so refreshing to read an M/M romance that is a) not set in the US and b) brash and ballsy but at the same time, adorable (and not in a “pass the bucket” type of way,) whilst not playing by the rules. The head of the “good” gang, The Dragons, is tough but fair, happily paired up with Noah, a cultured Englishman. I was kept guessing throughout the book as to whose side Noah was on, and it was clever touches like that, as well as the growing tensions between Winston and Steel, that made it such an enjoyable read.

I loved the way that all the gay characters are positive ones. The real issue Winston had was whether Steel was interested in him as more than a friend. Steel’s sexuality was fluid. He was a mesmerising character, strong yet vulnerable, with a deep sense of loyalty. I didn’t pick up any angst of whether friends and family would accept them being together. The world of the Dragons was an accepting place for a diverse selection of people. And that was a beautiful thing.

Finally, this book held a definite Asian flavour. It is easy to slip into the mindset that city life is the same all over the world, but it’s important to make the distinction between cultures, and I found that it worked here, from names of the characters to the attitudes and family rituals, and that gave the book its soul.

So this book had it all for me; a burgeoning romance between friends who actually like each other, ferocious street racing, the importance of family, tension between rival gangs, set against the colourful backdrop of Hong Kong. A great book.

BLURB

Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.

The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.

Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.

Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?

 

 

27Oct/17

Casey Wolfe

October 27, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Casey Wolfe as the guest on Episode 135: Weird Stupid Kid Stuff!

This week Casey Wolfe joins the show to discuss their novel, One Bullet, writing contemporary before Urban Fantasy, and world building with Vampires, Mages, and Werewolves – Oh My!

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Bio:

For Casey, writing equals existence. History nerd, film enthusiast, avid gamer, and just an all around geek. Casey has been known to spend a lot of time dancing around the kitchen to music while cooking. Add in an unapologetic addiction to loose leaf tea, and you get the general picture. Married, with furry, four-legged children, Casey lives happily in the middle-of-nowhere, Ohio.

 

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23Oct/17

Disease by Hans Hirschi

Hans M Hirschi was recently on our show to talk about his new novel. To listen to Hans’ Episode and find links to his work, go to Episode 133: Hits Close to Home.

This was bound to be a tough read, as any book about facing one’s one mortality is likely to be. Hunter has early-onset Alzheimers, which strikes pitilessly and without warning. The book is from his point of view, via a diary he writes to combat the gradual erasing of his memory. There are also post-death notes from his husband, Ethan, who makes sense of the increasingly paranoid and erratic course of Hunter’s thoughts, and the result is a beautiful, tragic and fascinating insight into the mind of a man facing up to his own death.

Through a beautifully-woven story-line, we get to know Hunter and his family, including his and Ethan’s daughter, Amy. We learn of the difficulties gay couples face when wanting to have children of their own, the way the law is pitted against them in all aspects of their lives, and the terrible dilemmas some face when a loved-one’s life comes to an end. This isn’t just a book about Alzheimers, but about the choices that many straight people take for granted, that are, more often than not, denied to gay couples. It’s about when death can deal a cruel blow, and sometimes a merciful one, and about choosing how to die, whilst still of sound mind and body.

The book is also massively about family. How one family deals with a child’s disappointment on learning there is no Santa Claus, is one of my favourite passages. The author has an incredible talent for conveying pain, sadness, and joy in just a few words. I couldn’t put the book down after the first page. It was as if I knew Hunter and Ethan personally. The way the reader is drawn in to the story, which can be a hard-sell in this world of romance and HEA’s, is masterful.

There were a couple of sentences that jolted a bit, which seemed slightly out of place in Hunter’s reminiscences, but then I realised it was because his memories were becoming mixed with hope and fantasy. It is a disturbing read, sensing Hunter slipping away, being replaced by this paranoid, tetchy and confused individual who is more child than man. Ethan, his husband, admits the difficulties he has in coping, without sugar-coating or over-dramatising the agonising choices he will be faced with.

Finally, this is a love story, between two people who know they will be parted sooner than either of them hoped, and how they deal with that, knowing that their struggle is made all the more difficult because of who they are. I loved Hunter’s humanity, Eithan’s loyalty, and Amy’s stoicism. It is a beautiful, sad yet ultimately life affirming read. Recommended.

BLURB

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, he realizes that his life is about to change, not to mention that he’s been handed a certain death sentence.

Alzheimer’s is a disease affecting the patient’s loved ones as much, if not more, than the patient themselves. In Hunter’s case, that’s his partner Ethan and their five-year-old daughter Amy. How will they react to, and deal with, Hunter’s changing behavior, his memory lapses, and the consequences for their everyday lives?

Disease is a story of Alzheimer’s, seen through the eyes of one affected family.

20Oct/17

Brian Peyton Joyner

October 21, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Brian Peyton Joyner as the guest on Episode 134: Bridge the Divide!

This week Brian Peyton Joyner joins the show to discuss his novel, The Wisdom of Stones, the struggle Brian went through coming out as a senior at a Baptist College, his podcast, and his Agreeable Disagreement movement!

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Bio:

Brian Peyton Joyner was born and reared in a small town in South Carolina. He spent the first years of his life living in a trailer in Iva, South Carolina, a town of about a thousand people. HIs Grandpa used to brag that at least it had a red light, whereas its rival city did not. When he was young, he moved to Anderson where he attended public school, including T.L. Hanna High. In 1988, he graduated top of his class. His valedictory speech contained so many quotes (many in Latin) that he’s grateful VCRs no longer exist.

He next attended Furman University, a liberal arts college that was affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention when he enrolled. His senior year, he came out of the closet and broke off his engagement to his high school sweetheart. That same year, Furman decided to break its ties with the SC Baptists and became an independent university. Coincidence? Albert Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Brian tends to agree with him.

During his first year of law school, he worked retail across Michigan Avenue from the man that would later become his husband. Even though they spent almost a year no more than a hundred yards apart, they didn’t meet until 13 years later.

In 1996, he took a job at one of the largest law firms in the world and moved to San Diego, California. Ten years later, he met his husband. They married on Halloween in 2008, and four days later Prop 8 passed.

For twenty years, he made his parents proud when he worked as a corporate attorney. But on August 1, 2016, he quit his job (and disappointed his parents). He’s now a full-time writer, speaker, and advocate for “agreeable disagreement.”

His debut novel, The Wisdom of Stones, was published in May 2017.

 

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13Oct/17

Hans Hirschi

October 13, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Hans M. Hirschi as the guest on Episode 133: Hits Close to Home!

This week Hans M. Hirschi joins the show to discuss his latest release, Disease, writing about the tough topics that face families of every type, and the upcoming GayRomLit Retreat!

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Bio:

Hans likes to read books that deal with issues he can relate to, tackling the big as well as the mundane questions facing humanity and particularly the LGBT community today, from parenting, family relationships, love, loss, but also difficult subjects like our environment, trafficking, child abuse, racism, global warming, aging etc.

He’s a fifty-year-old father who clings to the illusion of still being his pen-age of twenty-seven, despite his body’s daily wake-up reminders to the contrary. He’s married to the most amazing man, Alex, and together they have a beautiful four-year-old son, Sascha. He considers himself a citizen of the world, having lived on two continents and traveled extensively (a hobby) through another three. He has friends all over the world. When he’s not writing, he likes to do public speaking or training (where he has his professional background).

 

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06Oct/17

Raevyn McCann

October 6, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to welcome Raevyn McCann as the guest on Episode 132: You Are Too Comfortable, Keep Growing!

This week Raevyn McCann joins the show to discuss her evolution personally, the mission of NineStar Press, stories told in “own voice,” and creating safe spaces through literature!

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Bio:

Raevyn is a lover of books…just about any type. She is also Hispanic, panromantic, asexual, and genderqueer, which gives her a different view of the world around her. Her life-long goals have been to make a modest living doing something with books, visit Machu Picchu, and most importantly, build social consciousness in herself and others.

 

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