Friday, October 29, 2010

Grant Wood: A Life by R. Tripp Evans

"...Give a child a piece of paper and he will not ask questions. He will make drawings. This will not mean he is queer..." Grant Wood, 1930

You may not know the name Grant Wood , but chances are you do know his iconic painting American Gothic. The famous portrait of a man holding a pitchfork, standing next to a woman with perhaps one of the dourest faces around, is used over and over again to convey the very heartland of America. Wood was known as the “Artist in Overalls” and was hailed by many as one of America’s most famous regionalist artists. In an era where artists were subjected to questions as to their manliness, especially if they assumed European artistic characteristics, Wood was skillfully able to give the American art world just what they wanted, a truly Ameican painter.

The irony here is that the man the public thought they knew, and who was profiled as being rather plain and ordinary, was neither.  In truth, he was a rather complex man who skillfully hid his real self, not only from the world, but more often than not, from  those close to him. Wood, the son of a stern, larger than life Quaker father, was a also a closeted homosexual, and this "secret", and his reflections of life as he felt it, found a means of release in his paintings. Since Grant Wood: A Life (Knopf,2010) is truly the first biography of Woods to be accomplished without objections from his sister Nan, R.Tripp Evans is able to reveal things that heretofore had only been gossiped about. 

In this thoroughly engaging biography, Tripp Evans, an art historian and college professor, reveals Woods, the man, by referencing his life through his art. Starting with his first works as a child, conceived while in the family's cellar, Wood displayed a creative bent that would make otherwise mundane objects or common subjects the stuff of wild imaginative exploration. As he matured, his pictures often conveyed disquieting images that revealed fantastic stories,especially if you take the time to look more closely. It is by revealing these wonderful details and back stories that Evans makes this biography transcend the routine recounting of a life, and makes it a real page turner.

Although American Gothic might be the portal by which you can most readily enter Wood's world, it is through the many other works illustrated and discussed in this volume that you begin to know the man more completely.

For instance, take a look at the painting From Bohemia (1935) where all the figures are without eyes, or the portrait of his Mother, Woman With Plants (1929) wearing a broach that pops up elsewhere, or the extremely fascinating Parson Weems' Fable (1939) which depicts the young George Washington with the exact same head that appears in the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait. The book is filled with wonderful color and black and white illustrations of these and many more works, so the treat is truly yours. The only frustration you may have is wanting to see the paintings as they hang in a gallery. So, read the book, and make it a point to find them. I know you'll want to.

As you read this fascinating account of an often misunderstood man, you will also discover more of the real  Grant Wood by learning about his extremely close relationship with his mother and sister. This trio know as "we three"  not only protected Wood from life's cruelties, but always nourished his creativity.You will also learn a great deal about American culture at the turn of the century and into the 30s, and  I bet you'll respond like I did, and keep saying to yourself, "I never knew".

Whether you're an art aficionado or just plain curious, this book will truly open your eyes. Don't hesitate. Get yourself a copy of Grant Wood: A Life as soon as you can. Tripp Evans also has a web page you can visit for more information about the book. Go to .  Enjoy

If you want to hear my recent interview with R. Tripp Evans, follow this link: and scroll down to the show dated 10/21/10

Next week I 'll be reviewing Linda Morganstein's My Life With Stella Kane. Until then-keep reading, and when you've finished the book, pass it on.

Robert Jaquay, The Gay Book Guy, for

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Perfect Family by Kathryn Shay

"When we were little Mom read a book aloud to us. In it kids could be who they are. William could have a doll and you didn't have to marry a prince." from Free to Be You and Me, Jamie Davidson

As I write this review, we’ve just ended our annual celebration of  National Coming Out Day.  Unfortunately, we are also mourning the deaths of several gay teens who felt that being gay is harder than staying alive.

Little did I know as I was searching for the next good read, that I would find a book that seemed to be written for this particular moment in time. It is called The Perfect Family(Bold Stroke Books, 2010) and the author’s name is Kathryn Shay.

In the world of stressors, coming out to family and friends is monumental. If you've gone through it, it is one of the hardest things ever. Add to that the difficulties facing young people who are trying to find their place in the world, especially in a high school setting, and you have all the ingredients for something to go awry.

When you start to read The Perfect Family, you are introduced to a family whose life seems to be almost picture perfect. They are just ending a vacation together, and upon their return, they'll resume their lives as usual. Every member of this tightly knit group not only care for each other, but trust each other completely. There are no secrets, or at least everyone thinks that.

Jamie, the youngest son is extremely popular at school, and has lots of friends.  He finds himself attracted to other boys, and wants to believe it is ok. Although he wants to share this with others, he's not sure how.

Luke Crane is a jock, and plays on the football team with Jamie's brother Brian. Nothing about him says gay, but after a few times in each other’s presence, Luke indicates to Jamie that “we have more in common than you think.”  I mean, this was a daydream when I was in high school. Jamie has clearly found his opportunity to be who he is.

Love follows quickly, and the boys decide to go on a date. Because of the family's belief in telling the truth, when asked who Jamie is going on a date with, he tells his mother about Luke. Maggie, his mother, tells the father, but knows his religious beliefs will be in conflict with his son sexuality. Jamie eventually tells his brother, and although the news that he is gay is unexpected,, Brian is angry at him for not telling him first. And so it goes.

Kathy Shay takes her story and develops it smartly, building the tension, but never to the point of overload. This is Jamie’s story, to be sure, but this is also the story of a family in turmoil. Each member has issues of their own to reconcile, and although the process is painful and slow, the outcome, we hope, will be good. The story also depicts the intolerance and blindness created by religious dogma, the loss of friendship, and the way families can be torn apart by a misunderstanding. It's a full bag.

In talking with the author, I was told about the genesis of this book. Although it is a work of fiction, she has a gay son who came out to her in much the same way Jamie does. In writing this novel, Karthryn Shay not only pays tribute to the power of love and understanding we’d like to think everyone possesses, but to the importance of being yourself, regardless of the pressure to conform. I thank her for writing this book, as I know it will help change the way people feel.

You owe it to yourself to read this book, for its message is very powerful. If you know a parent, friend or a teen who is struggling with this issue, recommend or give this book to them.

Listen to my chat with Kathryn Shay by going to

Next up I will be reviewing Grant Wood by R. Tripp Evans. I will be chatting with him as well, so check for details.

Until next time-take a cue from the Gay Book Guy, and read a book then pass it on.

Robert Jaquay,

Monday, September 13, 2010

All Lost Things by Josh Aterovis

What an absolute pleasure it is to begin a new book and have it totally absorb you, gnaw at you when you put it down, and urge you to pick it up again so you can find out what happens next.  This is what I experienced while   reading Josh Aterovis’ splendid mystery All Things Lost (P.D. Publishing, 2009). 
I learned about Josh's book via this year's Lambda Literary Award nominations. All Things Lost was one of the five finalists for Gay Mystery, and although it did not win the award, it is a book that begs to be talked about and read.
Beginning with Bleeding Hearts (P.D. Publishing, 2002) Aterovis introduced his readers to Killian Kendall, a gay,  amateur teen age detective with a knack for solving crimes others can't. He is a wonderfully likable character, and his "less than professional" approach to a crime is all a part of the fun we have while reading.
All Things Lost is the third installment in the Kendall Mystery series.  If you haven't read the previous books, don't worry. This is a stand alone book, and Aterovis sets the stage for us in its early chapters by bringing us up to date with all that has preceded it. You won't be lost for a minute.

When the book opens, Killian and his “brother” Kane are in a car accident. The other driver is a man named Shane Novak, and when Killian learns that he is a private detective, it takes Killian no time at all to approach him for a job.  Novak has heard of Killian's reputation as a “super” sleuth, and decides to hire him as an apprentice. The partnership that develops is terrific, with a wonderful teacher-student dynamic at play.  

Killian and his lover Asher have had a falling out, and are no longer together. Feelings are still strong however, and when Asher befriends a strange young man named Caleb, Killian is driven to find out what that relationship is all about. Caleb is dark and mysterious. He is also a young man who has been terribly abused by his hateful father, or so he says.
The mystery starts with the sudden death of Caleb's father in a house fire. It is immediately deemed suspicious, and when the father's charred body is discovered, it is determined that he was murdered. Caleb becomes the prime suspect, and Asher asks Killian to help prove his innocence. The plot now thickens.

Once this story line is established, this books takes off like the wind. We follow Killian's process of determining who the real killer is, and his path is filled with delightful twists and turns. To make the book even more fun, the author adds a special ingredient to the plot by dipping  into the realm of the supernatural. 

We learn that Killian is a Sensitive, meaning, he can communicate with the dead. Not only does he see his dead friend Seth, who assists him in solving the mystery, but he has a run in with a ghost, who, we learn, is seeking his help. Just what for is yours to discover.

The good new is, nothing ever seems hokey. The author engages you with well drawn characters, a nice tight plot, and he takes the time to have things make sense. When the plot draws to its action-packed conclusion, we are immensely satisfied. 

Because this book deals with older teen characters, it feels at times like a young adult novel, but that is not a bad thing. If I were wearing my librarian hat, I'd certainly recommend it to younger readers, especially with the positive portrayal of its gay characters. That being said, if you are a veteran mystery fan, whatever your age, you will be very pleased with the quality of the story, and the way the mystery is laid out. All Lost Things is a top notch mystery that will keep you coming back for more. I recommend this book highly. 

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting author, you can follow this link to his web page: I will be talking with Josh on one of my upcoming MyQmunity Gay And Lesbian Book Talks, so check the MyQmunity web page for date and time.  I will be chatting with Josh this Saturday, October 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET. Tune into the MyQmunity Gay and Lesbian Book Talk by going to

Until next time, find a good book to read-and then, pass it on.
Robert Jaquay  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Above Temptation by Karin Kallmaker

“For to tempt and to be tempted are things very nearly allied... whenever feeling has anything to do in the matter, no sooner is it excited than we have already gone vastly farther than we are aware of.”-Catherine the Great

When you pick up a book by Karin Kallmaker, you can count on several things. It will have great characters, a terrific plot, and usually just enough romance in it to keep you wanting more. It is no surprise to me that Karin Kallmaker has been dubbed the “Queen of Lesbian Romance".  She delivers a consistently good read, and never lets her readership down. She has written over 30 books and has a devoted following. Her books have won the Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Society award. She is also committed to publishing exclusively in the lesbian market, and has been a driving force in this market's success. The bottom line is that she writes very good books.

Her latest novel, Above Temptation (Bella Books, 2010) is yet another winner. One of this author's trademarks is giving her readers complex characters that pop out of the page and into your "reality" the minute you meet them. You learn about the things that make them tick, and thus, you care about them. It has been said that her protagonists are “the kind of indestructible and talented women we all dream we could be”. In her acknowledgements, the author dedicates the book "to all the women who set out every day to right wrongs in the real world..." With that point of view, you know from the very start that this book will offer you something very special indeed.

In Above Temptation, she tells the story of two women who work in a fraud detection agency called Sterling Fraud Investigations. Kip Barrett is an investigator who is known for her extraordinary diligence and  ability to sniff out even the most obscure elements of a case. Even though she knows she is good at what she does, she never relaxes her standards. However, in a very short while,  the challenge of a lifetime is coming her way.

Tamara Sterling is the out of the closet, high profile CEO of the company. Like Kip, she is very good at what she does, and also observes extraordinarily high  professional standards. It is her job to make sure that everything runs smoothly, and she does this very well. Also like Kip, she is unaware of the personal conflict she is about to face. Yes, each of these women are "superwomen", but they both are missing one significant thing in their lives, and that is someone to love and care for.

Under ordinary circumstances, these women would have little to do with one another, but something is happening within the company, and Tamara “hires’ Kip to investigate. Large sums of money are being taken from the company and are being transferred to bogus accounts. It is Kip's job to find out who is doing this. The caveat here is that this must be a stealth investigation, as any knowledge of it will send ripples throughout the company.

Soon into the investigation, Kip starts to have her doubts about Tamara, as her investigation starts to indicate that she could be the prime suspect. This is not only an ethical dilemma but a personal one, as we soon discover the fact that there is the hot romantic coal of attraction burning beneath the surface of both women. What will Kip do as she struggles with temptation and is torn between her call to duty and her emotional needs? What will Tamara do? 

This book is also a thriller, as the two women are forced to go "under cover" and seemingly subvert their usual ethical standards in order to find the culprit.  The potential damage to them professionally and personally is great. We follow the details of the investigation, which are thoroughly given, and, like in any good mystery, join the search for truth.

What Kallmaker does so nicely here, is integrate the sexual tension between the two women seamlessly into the ongoing story line. As the tension mounts, so does our desire for something good to happen to these two women. We feel their struggle, and want a happy ending. Will we get out wish? Ah, dear reader, that's not for me to reveal.

Don't hesitate to discover this talented author's gift for storytelling in Above Temptation. This is an exciting read, with lots of action and a yummy romance.  I bet you'll become an instant Kallmaker fan, if you're not already.

To hear my conversation with Karin Kallmaker about how she got started, and why she writes and a lot more, just click the blogtalk link!

Listen to internet radio with myQmunity-Book Talk on Blog Talk Radio

Next week I will be reviewing All Things Lost by Josh Aterovis. This book was a finalist for this year's Lambda Literary Award in the Best Gay Mystery category. 

Until then, happy reading.

Robert Jaquay,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What We Remember and The Road Home by Michael Thomas Ford

I first met Michael Thomas Ford soon after the publication of his very popular book of essays called Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me.(Alyson, 1997). I found him to be witty and charming, as well as a damn good writer. Little did I know at the time that he was at beginning of what has become an extraordinary career?

Ford has published over fifty works for Young Adult and Adults, and seems to spawn new ideas for books rather quickly. Not only does he excel in the gay romance genre, but writes horror books and mysteries as well. He has also added his take on the Jane Austen craze, with the publication of  Jane Bites Back (Ballantine Books, 2009), and has a soon to be published work about zombies called Z (Harper Teen, 2010).

What We Remember (Kensington, 2009) was recently awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Mystery, and it is a book that is wonderfully told and cleverly plotted. What starts out feeling like yet another domestic drama quickly turns into a mystery that keeps us guessing until the very end.

In the other work I am going to talk about, The Road Home, there is a mystery as well, and one of the characters says “mysteries need to be solved”, and another answers, “not always…isn’t it enough that we’ve figured it out?”

It is with the figuring out, as well as finding out what drives the characters to do the things they do, that makes this book as enjoyable as it is. Of course the mystery is fun to solve, but what we get in addition makes it an even more compelling read.

What We Remember tells the story of two families, the McClouds and the Derrys. They have been brought together through marriage and friendship, and the interweaving of lives is a significant theme here.

When the story begins, we learn that Dan McCloud, who was a police officer in Cold Falls, NY, has been missing for 7 years, and is presumed dead. He sent his wife a letter indicating that he was sick and was going to commit suicide. Although no one really knows for sure, the family and others have moved on, with various degrees of success.

With the sudden discovery of his body, all evidence indicates that he was murdered, and his oldest son James becomes the prime suspect. The arresting officer is the son of Dan’s best friend, and is James’ brother in law. Of course this creates tremendous tension within the families. Did James do it? Who else could it have been?

We discover, as we read on, that the key to unlocking the mystery is less about the how than it is about the why. What We Remember is told by alternating the past and the present, a device that reveals a great deal about the why.

Perhaps the most interesting character in the book is Dan’s youngest son Billy. He is the gay brother, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and is clearly the black sheep of the family. That being said, he is the one whose memory is the most reliable. He is the one that brings this story to its stunning conclusion. To say any more would spoil the mystery.

This book is an engaging and fun to read page turner. You get a lot more than you might expect, and that is a good thing. I recommend it highly.

The Road Home (Kensington, 2010) tells an entirely different story, containing the familiar elements of Ford’s very popular Last Summer and Full Circle. Yes, this has all the ingredients of a gay romance, but it is much more. This is a book about an inner journey of self-discovery and the life changing decisions that occur as a result .

Photographer Burke Crenshaw is forced to return to his family home in Vermont as a result of a serious car accident, which happens on his 40th birthday. As a result, Burke is not only confronted with his past, but is given the opportunity to reflect on his future. Just what is he going to do with his life?

While there, Burke meets Will, who is the son of a man Burke had a crush on in high school. Will becomes Burke's companion, and eventually they have sex. Burke is conflicted, not only by the age difference, but with the realization that Will is at odds with confronting his sexuality, considering the societal price he feels he would have to pay. After all, Burke is comfortable with himself..or is he?

Ford adds  a wonderful cast of characters to the story. There is a deliciously dandified gentleman named Gaither Lucas, a woman named Lucy, who is Burke's father's companion, and a librarian named Sam. All of them add a rich texture to the plot, making it fun and exciting. There is also a delightful segment devoted to the Radical Faeries, which is enchanting and magical.

Burke rediscovers his passion for photography and happens upon a curious mystery as a result of some old Civil War prints. There is a bit of a ghost story here as well, which is one of the things which made this book even more of a page turner for me. So you see, this book has a lot of things to offer, all the while giving you the opportunity to think about your own life. What a bargain!

I so loved this book, that it made me want to go back and fill myself full of Michael’s previous works, and I think you will too. So, which ever one you start with, you won't be disappointed.

I spoke with Michael on the MyQmunity Gay and Lesbian Book Talk show, and, as I mentioned above, he is preparing to launch yet another offering, a young adult book called Z. Call it a book about zombies, and like the others, you'll find out it's about a lot more.

Listen to my chat with Michael by following the link from the MyQmunity Arts Facebook page, or going directly to

Next week I will be reviewing Karin Kallmaker's Above Temptation (Bella Books, 2010

Until then, happy reading.

Robert Jaquay,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photographs of Claudia by KG MacGregor

"There are always two people in every picture; the photographer and the viewer."
Ansel Adams

KG  MacGregor has been writing for several years now, and her books have garnered many awards along the way. She won the Lambda Literary Award for Women's Romance with her book, Out of Love, and has received several Golden Crown Literary Society awards as well. Her most recent work,  Photographs of Claudia (Bella Books, 2009) is her 13th novel, and one that carries on her tradition of finely crafted story telling.

 Photographs of Claudia  is first and foremost a love story, one that will move you, excite you, and have you eager to find out what will happen next. It has wonderfully drawn characters and caricatures (notably the future mother-in-law) populating its pages. In a section about the book on her web page, KG MacGregor indicates that some of the characters in this book are drawn from real life, and although it is not necessary to know this as you read, it is evident that her characters mean a lot to her.

This novel's central character is Leonora or Leo Westcott. She is an accomplished photographer who has learned her trade from her father. Although he is dead, it is clear that Leo honors him ever time she works behind the camera. One of her points of pride is that she learned the techniques of creating masterful pictures well before the age of digital photography.

Don’t be mistaken, she has developed her own skills admirably, and has plenty of work to do, but she does not have the recognition she deserves. One of the challenges she is given by her friends is to advance herself by applying to a special workshop for studio photographers. They feel she needs to put herself out there. This is a competitive process which  requires a complete portfolio of her work, and she will need to find a suitable subject.

Leo is so committed to her craft that she seemingly has no time for a relationship. She resides quite comfortably with her cat Madeline, and her days are filled with assignments.. She does have wonderful friends, who, like friends are wont to do, would like to see her happily involved with someone. However nice this might seem, the time never seems to be right for her.

Leo first encounters Claudia Galloway quite by chance, while she is on a job photographing school children. Claudia is doing an internship with Leo’s friend Sandy, and exhibits this remarkable ability to have the children under her care behave while other children don't.  This impresses Leo, but what impresses her more is Claudia herself. It is evident, as her friend Sandy is quick to point out, that  Leo has been smitten by this woman.

What follows is the story of a relationship that is cautiously and lovingly developed. Claudia appears to have  no issues with Leo’s sexuality, and, in fact seems to feel most comfortable with her and her friends, even more than her own. Their friendship/relationship develops, and soon Claudia  becomes the model Leo uses to develop her portfolio. Mind you, it is Claudia that suggest this!

One of the things that keeps Leo from pursuing Claudia is that Claudia is engaged to be married. Her fiance is particularly hateful, and obviously wants Claudia to follow him wherever he goes. However, as she and Leo become closer, it is quite evident that Claudia is struggling, not only with her pending marriage, but also with her desire to be able to be her own woman.. The good news is that it is quite evident that a major shift in self awareness is taking place within her, and rather than anguish over it, she follows her heart to find out what it is she really wants out of life.

One of the nicer qualities this book possesses is its pacing. Although our wish to have something happen between the two women accelerates as they get to know each other better, nothing really happens until the time is right. This is a love story that wants to have a happy ending, but, to the author’s credit, we’re given a few twists and turns to keep us guessing. As with any good romance, are hearts are always wanting the best to happen.

The book also deals with the photographer’s craft, emphasizing the relationship between the subject and those who will view the work once completed. It is certain that the author researched this aspect thoroughly, and you are bound to learn something new from Leo's sessions with Claudia. I know I did.

Since this is the first KG MacGregor book I’ve read, I am going to recommend you start with this one. If you find her writing and her storytelling as fine as I did, then you’re in for a treat. There are twelve books before this one, and a new one on the way. She is best know for her romances, but she has also delved into the area of suspense. No doubt they are exciting reads as well.

To learn more about this engaging author, you can go to her website

To listen to my conversation with KG
Listen to internet radio with myQmunity-Book Talk on Blog Talk Radio

Next week I will be discussing a delightful book by author Michael Thomas Ford, What We Remember (Kensington, 2009). This book won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Mystery.

Until then, happy reading

Robert Jaquay,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Blue Moon Cafe and Tales from the Sexual Underground by Rick R. Reed

In 1764 a novel was written by Horace Walpole called The Castle of Otranto. With the publication of this work a new genre was born; the Gothic novel. The book was also written in the literary and artistic period known as the Age of Romanticism. This was a time when artistic sensibilities were often primal, and authors, as well as other artists, wore their hearts on their sleeve Many times these works included characters that showed fear and apprehension towards life and their surroundings. In short, they were exquisitely sensitive individuals, and were often out of place in the world they lived in. These works were often highly romantic as well.

Over the years this genre has taken on many hues, and one of them is that of the paranormal romance. One has only to watch an episode of True Blood or read any of the “Twilight" books, and you know that this type of thing is extremely popular.

Now, although we as GLBT folks can find a certain sense of fulfillment by imagining ourselves in these predominantly straight situations, we no longer have to do so. Fortunately for us, there are authors among us who have taken up these themes and situations and infused them with decidedly gay colors, usually with exciting results.

One such author is Rick R. Reed, who has written a wonderfully chilling horror tale called  The Blue Moon  Cafe (Amber Quill Press, 2009). Not only will this little gem chill your heart, but it will make it beat a bit faster due to its highly romantic elements. And it doesn’t stop there. This is not the romance of unfulfilled desire, where lovers just seem to miss the opportunity to connect over and over, but it does have a sexual tension that will keep you wanting to intercede. It is a highly erotic tale as well. That being said, the sexual elements serve to enhance the work, and never overshadow the super story that is being told.

The place is Seattle, the time is the present, and something horrific is happening to gay men. It is August, and the moon is full. The first character we meet has no name, but it doesn’t take us long to find out that it is not a man. We experience a stalking and a brutal murder through the eyes of a killer on the prowl. This is decidedly creepy. As the scene ends, we are psyched for what will follow. What is it? Could it be a werewolf?

The next character we meet is Thad Matthews, an unemployed gay man, who after a day of mundane chores, decides to get out and try a new restaurant, a place called the Blue Moon Cafe. This handsome, ginger haired guy is also unattached, so going out also means being every ready for that elusive chance encounter with another man. I guess we all know what that's like.

Soon after entering the restaurant, he meets Sam, an intriguingly seductive man who is  dark, hairy, and, exceedingly handsome. They meet, they flirt, and they have sex (all in good time by the way). Nothing is hurried here, as this is where a wonderful romance takes hold.

Everything should be perfect, but it’s not. Sam is reluctant to commit. Thad is hurt but determined to give Sam his space. We meet another character named Jared, and now we have the makings of a interesting love triangle. Yummy stuff, right?

As the mystery develops, the brutal  murders continue to happen. The beast has been seen, and one of the people who sees him is Jared! It doesn’t take long for us to start to wonder, along with Thad, if there is some connection between Sam and the murders? Sam and his family disappear during the full moon, and that is when the killings take place. Even though we sense what is happening, we are really never sure.

As with any good horror story, we are carefully lead along, and we become detectives trying to solve the mystery. The plot twists and turns in such a way as to keep us off guard After all, isn't that what we love about horror stories? The added bonus here is the love story. It is a wonderful one, as well as hot. No wonder Thad has a hard time trying to let Sam go.

What Reed possesses is a true gift for writing a good story that keeps you fully involved. He writes very well, and it is obvious that his way with words and images has not only made him successful in this medium, but will keep you coming back for more. If this is your first Rick Reed book, or one that you've been waiting for, don't miss it.

Moving now to his Tales from the Sexual Underground (mlspress, 2010), we really have an opportunity to experience Rick Reed at his literary best. His prose is smooth, his images precise, and his sense of humor, even when the topic is hardly funny, is refreshing and well placed.

These “tales” come from a weekly column which appeared in a weekly entertainment magazine in Chicago called Nightspots. As he says in his intro to the collection, “I wanted to write about people who were not just out, but out there, people who lived their sexual lives in ways most of us could only imagine…” He is true to his word.

Most of the sections are short, and cover things like: Cyber Infidelity, Craigslist,  The Truths and Myths about being a Slut, and several segments about the dynamics of being HIV positive. Depending on your bent, as well as your sense of humor, this collection will keep you reading just to see what’s going to happen next. There are serious moments, but mostly everything is told in a witty gay style that will have you laughing more than not. Although this is a departure from his usual fare, these stories give a terrific insight into the world of an author, and to the gay world in general., especially in Chicago.  I recommend it highly.

Listen to my conversation with the author, Rick R Reed, called "the Stephen King of Gay Horror". Just click the link below.

Listen to internet radio with myQmunity-Book Talk on Blog Talk Radio

Next week I will be talking about best-selling Lambda Literary and Golden Crown award-winner KG MacGregor and her new book, Photograph's of Claudia.

Until next time, happy reading.

Robert Jaquay,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Children of Mother Glory by C.M. Harris

"People shouldn't commit suicide because this is all there is; we should commit life because it may be all we get. This is heaven and hell. And it does kinda have its moments of grandeur, doesn't it?"-Suzy Gilmore

 I am so grateful to Amy Dawson Robertson for leading me to this absolutely wonderful author and her equally wonderful book. She told me it deserved more attention, and, by golly, she is absolutely right. C.M Harris's The Children of Mother Glory (Spinster Ink, 2009) is yet another great first novel and deserves the distinction of being called a Great Read/Must Read.

When we first meet Glory Potter she and her friend Emma gaze fondly at the new church being built. This is the church her father will preside over, and quite unexpectedly, it will become hers to watch over after his death. The church represents the heartbeat of a community called Gulliver. This town is small and remote, and is a place where everyone knows each other (or at least they think they do).  Most of the town's residents are adamant in their desire to keep a healthy distance between themselves and the world at large, and they do a darned good job at it. They share their lives with each other (unless they can’t), struggle with the “sins” aligned with being human, and have true inspiration to guide them, that being their church and their minister, “Mother” Glory.

Now, don’t let this scare you off. Fundamentalism and being “different” don’t usually mix well, but C.M. Harris craftily plays off these people and their rules of conduct, quickly showing us that regardless of the rules, differences will always emerge. As always, these differences create conflict, and it is their resolution we are most interested in. This congregation, known as Potterites, becomes the reference point for all that follows. We are introduced to quite a few characters throughout this delightful work, but it is the queer ones who become the novel’s true focus. That being said, I am convinced this book will resonate within us all.

Covering a hundred year span, this work is told in four sections, each focusing on the lives of four diverse individuals and the people they know. Everyone is connected in some way, especially to the past.  As we might expect, Glory Potter, even in death, has become a significant component in how they live their lives. They are never far away from her influence, and it is for us to determine how good or bad that is.

The novel begins in the early years of the twentieth century, and as I said above, introduces us to our title character. She is strong willed and capable of almost anything, but, she also has a secret. She is drawn to her friend Emma, and eventually falls in love with her. Of course, regardless of her true feelings, because of her role in the community,  she must suppress them.  As we get to know her we experience her inner conflict, and we also witness her determination and need to set her desires aside and be the true leader of her flock. Given the time depicted, we understand, but we desperately want her and Emma to be able to brave it out and declare their love for one another. Alas, we know better. The heartbreaking resolution they must choose sends a ripple through time. As we finish the beginnings of her story, we are now ready to meet her “children”.

Jumping ahead in time (1942) , we are introduced to Sebastian or Seb Brickman, who is on his way to an interment camp for Conscientious Objectors. Here is a young man who listens while Mother Glory declares from the pulpit that the devil is waiting for the “tick in his wires” to scoop up those who covet. She continues by saying, “And no, we cannot ever truly cast off our desires while we remain on earth. But we must silence our appetites.”

Seb, however,  is possessed by an “itchy appetite’, and although he hears these words, when it comes to his desire for another man, he becomes willing to create that tick, and ultimately pay the consequences. He eventually returns to Gulliver and hides his secret until it is no longer possible to do so. Is there acceptance in this strict community, or merely tolerance? Seb's story is yet another important layer in this intricately woven tale.

Moving to 1983, we are introduced to Danielle Clancy, who is the granddaughter of Emma. Although she also experiences the same internal struggle as Mother Glory and her grandmother, she isn’t beyond sending anonymous crush notes to Angela Klinshoffer.  Angela, to her, is the “impossible lovechild of Greta Garbo and Boy George”! And she is not the only girl who Danielle desires. At one point, she makes it her business to seek counsel from Seb Brickman, as she feels she is like him. As her character develops, we understand her need to break away from the judgement of others and leave her family, her friends, and of course, the church. In this segment we witness the bravery of not only following your dream, but following your heart as well.

The book finishes with the remarkable story of Diana Bower. Diana started her life as Darrell, and makes the penultimate societal sacrifice in her need to bravely celebrate her difference. Diana is also a black woman, so this adds a visible difference to her already remarkable aura. She is a lovely, understanding person, someone we'd surely like to know. It is by being true to herself that she frees herself from the fearful bondage of self that could make her feel "less than".  By bringing the book toward its conclusion by introducing this character, C.M. Harris beautifully closes the circle first drawn by Mother Glory in the beginning. As we witness intolerance softened by time, and as the real world totally penetrates this once closed society,  we look back to this tale's beginnings, and see that love, however manifested, will always prevail.

In the end, The Children of Mother Glory accomplishes what it set out to do, and more.  Somewhere, (and I dare say everywhere), in this grand book, we as GLBT folk can find ourselves and bear witness to our own struggle for peace within. Once again, I found a treasure for you to enjoy and savor. It will carry you forward like the wind, and even though the ending is extremely satisfying, I bet you’ll be hungry for more. I'm also certain you'll be eager for her next book, I know I am.

Listen to my BlogTalkRadio interview with C.M. Harris,  Go to  , or go to the MyQmunity Tampa Bay Arts page on Facebook!/pages/myQmunity-Tampa-Bay-Arts/106938482675160?ref=ts after tonight.

Next week I will be talking about Rick R. Reed's  The Blue Moon Cafe, and Tales from the Sexual Underground. This extremely popular author has been dubbed  "the Stephen King of gay horror"-need I say more?

Until next time, happy reading.
Robert Jaquay,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre

“She awoke, swam up the opposite side of Lake Nyos, and emerged from the water with a groan and a rumble. A few villagers woke and sat up in bed, wondering, Was it a dream? Seconds later their breath was taken from them, and they fell back onto their pillows.”-Lake Overturn

Hot on the heels of Lake Overturn ((Harper Perennial (PB) 2010, Harper Collins(HC) 2009) winning this year’s Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction, I knew it had to be the next good read on my every growing list. What I didn't know was that  it was going to be a great read!

Prior to winning this award, Lake Overturn was given the distinction of being dubbed Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, as well as becoming a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. No small potatoes!

Prior to this praise, I was not sure it would grab me, for it seemed that the story would be about a remote place, somewhere I really wasn’t sure I’d like to visit, and probably populated with people I could care less about. Wow, I was so wrong.

What makes this work click, and why should you speed your way to your bookstore or library and grab a copy, is because it is not remote at all. Lake Overturn is one of the most engaging “can’t put it down” books I have ever read. It is filled with wonderful characters, has a style of writing that is simple and compels you to think as you read, and most of all, I believe that anyone can relate completely, regardless of the locale or the class of people depicted.

Lake Overturn gets its title from a rare natural phenomenon whereby carbon monoxide, which has built up under a lake bed, finds an opening, releases the gas, and literally creates a “lake overturn”. The actual incident described in the book was the second such occurrence, this time in 1986 at Lake Nyos, Cameroon, West Africa. It resulted in the asphyxiation and death of over  1,700 people. When it happened again, it was still a mystery.

Our story takes place in Eula, Idaho, which is a small town not far from Boise. Eula, in all probability, is much like McIntyre’s own home town of Nampa, Idaho. This place is populated, for the most part, by ordinary people, has a considerable Mexican community, and is a place where one is more likely to live in a trailer park than a home. At one end of the town is Lake Overlook. If there is an upper class in Eula, they are most likely here.

Structured like a Victorian novel with an omniscient narrator who is never intrusive, the beginnings of Overturn set the stage for all that will follow. We are introduced to more than  a dozen different characters in rather rapid succession. Like in Dickens, you may have to keep your wits about you at first, but McIntyre makes it work so well that you soon remember who’s who and what's what. There are seven labeled sections to the book, all depicting some aspect of the scientific method. What is being tested here? Where will it all lead? Oh yes ,this is something you will want/need to find out.

We meet Enrique, along with his neighbor Gene, who is a strange boy exhibiting many autistic behaviors. These boys enter a Science Fair intending to “explain” the mysterious happenings in Cameroon. Enrique also discovers he likes boys, which is another “mystery” the book explores.

Then there is Connie Anderson, mother of Gene, and one of the book's strongest characters. We eventually learn, through some misguided pursuits, that she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for others. She is a woman of God and is determined to live her life according to His rules. Various religious convictions, practices and beliefs inhabit the narrative, but the author never ridicules them, even though you might expect it or find yourself wanting to.

Next up is Wanda Cooper, and her brother Coop.These two are quite the pair! Wanda’s story has the possibility of breaking your heart, for regardless of her place in society, she is a woman who truly wants to change for the better. Will she succeed? What price does she have to pay? All these questions and more concern us.

Although there are many many others, I will end with Leni and Chuck. Leni, who is Enrique’s mother, cleans homes for a living. She is a single parent, and life has not been easy for her. She also has another son, Jay,  who has been raised by others,but currently resides in her home like a guest. She meets Chuck, a man whose wife is dying of cancer, and whose daughter, Abby, is another wonderful  character we keep guessing about. Chuck  “invites” Leni into his lonely life by romancing her. How this relationship plays out and how it affects others is a significant aspect of the book.

The scenes change rapidly as these people’s stories unfold, and I think you will feel the same way I did as you read. I kept wondering how the title of the book relates to the story at hand, especially since the book has little to do with an actual lake overturn. What we feel, as we progress, is a sense that there are lots of things bubbling under Eula’s surface. Many are not shared or seen by others. Many things are felt that only we know.We are never sure when and if they will erupt. Will life's circumstances change for these people, or are they going to live out their lives wondering if? Is there a change in us that will come about as we move toward the end? Could be.

Once again, I assure you that once you start this novel you will have no choice but to finish it. It is truly grand in scale, but it becomes so personal that you will hardly know how big it actually is. Obviously Vestal McIntyre has won me over, and I know the same will happen to you.

Good news. I have scheduled a Blogtalkradio interview on 7/22 with Vestal McIntyre, something I'm terribly excited about. Please listen in by going to and entering myqmunityblog talk in the search bar, or, for those of you who follow us on Facebook, you will receive a link. It will also be available after broadcast as well. I hope you enjoy it.

Want to learn more about Vestal McIntyre? Visit his website at .

So until next time, discover Lake Overturn and enjoy the read. You won't be sorry.

For my next book I am going to review The Children of Mother Glory by C.M. Harris.

Robert Jaquay,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Bigness of the World by Lori Ostlund

"However can you understand the bigness of the world if you do not see the ocean?"-Ilsa Martin Lumpkin

Like a few of the other books I reviewed of late, I discovered Lori Outland’s The Bigness of the World (The University of Georgia Press, 2009) as a result of its being nominated as a Lambda Literary Award finalist. This work also received the prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2008, which resulted in its publication by the University of Georgia Press.

Let me say it outright: this book is such a good read that I am a wee bit afraid that I might smother it with praise! For praise it deserves. Ms. Ostlund, who I will dub as a consummate wordsmith, has the ability to instantly draw you into each story with such precision and ease that you might actually think this is your world too. Let me explain. Every story feels like it is being told to you by someone you know, someone you’ve know or thought about, or better still, someone you think you’d like to know.

It is obvious that her experience as a teacher in Spain, Malaysia and New Mexico becomes the canvass on which she paints her simple and oftentimes touching pictures of people and how they transact life, not only with each other, but with the world at large.

The title story opens the book, and we are introduced to Martin and Veronica. He is ten, (a number that reappears often in the stories), and she is eleven, going on twelve. These two delightfully precocious children live in a household with parents who are busily engaged in activities that, to their children, seem “nebulous at best”.

Because the parents are rarely home, the two children are put under the care of Ilsa Maria Lumpkin. The children adore her, and love her amusingly idiosyncratic ways. In one scene, we are told that Ilsa sings Chinese opera to them as. Their parents question this, and Martin and Veronica reveal that she really isn’t singing in Chinese, “she just makes it up.” Much to their dismay, Ilsa is let go for a silly indiscretion, and the children are now left, as they are suddenly old enough, to find more about these stranger called parent, and about Ilsa.

As this tale unfolds, and in the others that follow, we are introduced to many musings on words and how they are used, something that makes the book a continuously delicious read. We also discover the irony inherent in many of our dealings with others, and are given a variety of insights into what people would like their world to be, and how it really is.

How Martin and Veronica view their parents, and, in turn, the world at large sets the stage for an entire cast of characters that inhabit the ten other stories that follow. We get to meet other children, their teachers and parents, as well as just plain folks who happen to cross paths at the same point in time.

Another story, Idyllic Little Bali, finds a group of Americans tourists in Yogyakarta, Indonesia gathered together, drinking, and telling each other about their "oddest brush with fame." A man named Martin joins them after he is stopped on the street, and he lets them know that "Ted Bundy used to be my parents' paperboy?", obviously unsure of their intent. It now becomes Martin's story, and what a story it is. Clearly still waters run deep with him as he slowly sheds his awkwardness with the others. As a result of a rather hastily made decision, and in his absence, Martin becomes their friend, but he never knows it.

I could continue, story by story, but why spoil the fun of discovery? With titles like, Talking Fowl With My Father, Nobody Walks To The Mennonites, and The Children Beneath the Seat, you can only imagine what this talented, witty story teller will reveal next.

Humor abounds in these wonderful stories. I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. There is also a considerable amount of discomfort to be found here as well, but it is a discomfort that comes from our knowing exactly how someone is feeling, even if that someone happens to be a child. We were all there once in one way or another, and it is this quality, I believe, that makes this particular collection of stories truly memorable.

Is this a Lesbian book? Not in the traditional sense. Clearly there is a lesbian sensibility present, and there are certainly many references to being so, some that are truly hilarious. I’d rather say that these slices of life are about us, whoever we are. What really matters is that this book is a rare find, one that I know you will love, so don’t miss it.

Next time I am going to be reviewing Vestal McIntyre’s Lambda Literary Award winning Lake Overturn.

Remember, books not only entertain us, but they open windows to our lives-so, happy reading.

Visit for previous reviews and other interesting LGBT things to do, and tune into my Gay and Lesbian Book Talk show on This week I will be talking with Amy Dawson Robertson, author of Miles to Go. Don't miss it.

Robert Jaquay,

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Miles to Go by Amy Dawson Robertson

"Soldiers who are not afraid of guns, bombs, capture, torture or death say they are afraid of homosexuals. Clearly we should not be used as soldiers; we should be used as weapons."~Letter to the editor, The Advocate

One of the pleasanter finds while scouring the universe for the good read, is a newly published novel by “newcomer” Amy Dawson Robertson called Miles to Go (Bella Books, 2010)

It is labeled as a "Rennie Vogel Intrigue", which indicates that there are more works to follow, and which will focus on this wonderfully drawn title character. Women readers will love this character, and justly so.

Rennie Vogel is a tough woman who is loyal to her country, and to that end, has spent years honing her skills as an FBI counter terrorism operative. She is ambitious, but knows all to well that the government is reluctant to include women because of their inherent inability to perform as men do. Ready for a fight? The training for this field of endeavor is rigorous, and we soon discover that Rennie is in top form, often outperforming all others.

As the book opens, we find that Rennie is being considered for a newly formed Counterterrorism Tactical Team, CT3, and because the agency is required to include women, she is competing with other women for two available positions She clearly stands out above the rest, and is a likely candidate, however, in all likelihood she would be selected as alternate. This does happen, but there is surprise awaiting her. The team leader feels that the best woman should run a race with the man who scores lowest on the team. This delights Rennie and clearly pisses the one man chosen to compete. In a wonderfully exciting chapter, you’ll find yourself rooting for her, as she musters all the energy of Wonder Woman to cross the finish line first.
Even though she has proved herself over and over again, she is made to feel that if anything goes awry during a mission, she will be held responsible. And, although she feels confident, this “curse” is always in the back of her mind.This idea haunts her, but becomes her impetuous to succeed at all costs.

Although this is truly Rennie’s story throughout, Robertson introduces other fascinating characters by telling their story in parallel time. This works well, as it not only builds the excitement level, but tickles our imagination as to what we think will eventually happen.

Rennie and her team are deployed on a mission to wipe out an Iranian radical named Ahmad Armin. He is a former nuclear physicist who was convinced to defect by the CIA, but as a result of the agencies' involvement at the time of Mossadegh, he embraces a nationalist ideology that leads him to the thought of eliminating all US involvement in the area, and the world. He also makes headlines with the kidnapping of an American journalist, as well as the assassination of this brother. He is clearly the enemy.

Early on in the mission, Rennie's whole company is wiped out by a surprise sniper attack, and the woman who was deemed their albatross has to carry out the mission solo. Because of her particular skills, as well as her determination and quick mind, she accomplishes the impossible. While doing this, she discovers the kidnapped American, and decides to include her rescue in her mission.

Now, one of the things we learn about Rennie is that she is has had to suppress her private life in such a way as to only have furtive and unsatisfying encounters with other women. She is a loner, carries a lot of familial baggage, and has replaced her loneliness with her job. This is about to change quite unexpectedly. The woman she rescues possesses something that Rennie is drawn to.  The journalist Hannah is drawn to Rennie in a quite unexpected way as well.

One of the impressive things about this book is the author’s ability to convey sexual attraction and desire without unnecessarily interrupting the exciting story line. And exciting it is. This is a thriller, and although we soon expect that all will turn out in Rennie’s favor, the challenge of keeping us in suspense is met with success.

Will Rennie and Hannah have a future? Will Rennie’s career be affected by her unorthodox behaviors? Alas, this is where you need to step in and pick up Miles to Go to find out.You will be very pleased you did, and will want to follow Rennie as her life unfolds in future novels.  Amy Dawson Robertson has created not only a winning heroine, someone who we will come to love and respect, but a terrifically exciting read as well. Enjoy!

Next time I will be review Christopher Rices’s newest work, The Moonlit Earth, so stay tuned.

Stop by the website and listen to my first BlogTalkRadio show with James Magruder, author of Sugarless. I am hoping to be able to do the same with Amy.

Until next time, happy reading..
Robert Jaquay.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sugarless by James Magruder

“Hell is not hot. Hell, when I visit, is a cold, barren plain where mistakes are permanent and mothers and lovers go missing.” Rick Lahrem

In the pursuit of our identity as LBGT folks, most of us, depending on our age, had precious few resources at our fingertips to guide us in our jouney of self-discovery. For me, and earlier generations, there weren't many books or other resources. We truly had to "go it alone."

I am sure we all can tell the story of when and how we became aware of our differences, and likewise, we can tell the story of how much of a challenge it was for us to even conceive of “coming out” let alone doing it.

Today, whether you are an adult or adolescent, there are coming out books galore,and among these are those that are categorized as “coming of age” novels or bildungsromans. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to one of the very best I've even encountered, the super first novel by James Magruder, called Sugarless (Terrace Books, 2009).

Magruder tells the story of a young 15 year old named Rick Lahrem (rhymes with Harem), who, as the story opens, lives with his mother stepfather and stepsister Carla in a picture perfect suburb of Chicago. It is a “quirky” family, but one that I’m sure you can all identify with.

His step father Carl is an apelike licensed psychologist who occupies much of his leisure time in his “booger chair while making Rick life miserable. His sister Carla is a sexed up “burnout with low-slung torpedo tits” who can do no wrong, and his mother Marie, lost in her everyday household world, becomes transformed through the love of Jesus. This conversion is a significant component in the drama that unfolds.

Then there is Rick, who is feeling the surges of his sexual awakening, and is decidedly different. As he so aptly puts it, “Different is the kiss of death in high school”. However, for Rick, having the inclination or willingness to live his difference catapults him into an adventure that not only sets the stage for the rest of his life, but offers him that glorious moment when he understands just who and what he is.

One of Rick’s differences is his absolute love for Broadway musicals. Although he has never been to one, he got bitten by the bug while watching the Tony Awards (this is so familiar to me!). Whenever he can, he takes the opportunity to go to his favorite record store and carefully select his next “friend”. The process simultaneously excites and overwhelms him, as he is especially careful not to let anyone know he is indulging himself in this way. God forbid, he gives away the fact that he is a “show fag.”

Rich is a sophomore in high school, and one of the graduation requirements is to pass two quarters of Oral Communication. The adventure I spoke of begins after Rich reads a touching story in speech class and is summoned to the school’s performing arts office to speak with the instructor, Mr. Wegner. Wegner, and his student assistant Miss Schuette recognize his talent, and suggest that he join the competitive speech team, and in particular, participate in the Dramatic Interpretation category. To this end, he is given a scene from Mart Crowley’s Boys in the Band! And this, dear reader, is where the fun really begins.

The experience of Rick embracing this assignment in preparation for competition is not only a laugh riot, but this 8 minute exercise becomes the path to his enlightenment. Now, in order to for this to happen, the author adds a wonderful, yet controversial element to the story.

On one of his excursions to purchase yet another cast album, Rick meets Ned Bolger. Ned is a teacher from another school, but more significantly, he was one of the judges for Rick’s first completion. He not only believes in Rich, he excites him. To say that he seduces Rick would clearly bypass the reality of Rick’s own desire. Rick is ready, and what better choice than his being with someone who not only shares his love of musicals, but “inspires” him to do his very best.

From this point toward the transformational ending, James Magruder captures our attention every step of the way. Although this may not be our particular story, it is still ours to relate to. The writing is crisp and the images the author captures are very real. In other words, not one moment is wasted. You may find yourself torn at times as to the propriety of Rick’s relationship with Carl, but oddly enough, it is so matter of fact, that it works without offending.

Not only will you laugh a lot, but I bet you’ll get a few lumps in the throat along the way. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and the pacing of the book obliges you to read until you find out just what happens. I actually finished the book and began reading it again, not only finding it as good as I thought it was, but even better.

As I said, Sugarless is James Magruder first outing as a novelist, and he is currently working on his next. You owe it to yourself to pick this one up, so don't delay.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Robert Jaquay

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chatting with Radclyffe, (L.L. Raand) author of The Midnight Hunt

After reviewing L.L. Raand’s The Midnight Hunt, I was able to connect with author Radclyffe, and chat with her a bit about the book and other things. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

RJ: Hi Rad, I just posted my review of The Midnight Hunt (Bold Strokes Books, 2010), which, as you will see, I loved. Before I get into specific questions about it, I’d like to ask some other questions. My desire here is to introduce you to the readers of this blog, and perhaps give something new to those who have already read you-but would like to know more.

I lived in Albany, NY  for 30 years, and it appears that you live in nearby Valley Falls, is that the area where you are from originally? You use the Albany setting in Midnight Hunt, and it was such a treat knowing just where your characters were.

Rad: I grew up about 40 miles north of here in Hudson Falls. One of my romances, When Dreams Tremble, is set in Lake George, New York and loosely based on some of my experiences when I was a teenager working up at the lake. My current work in progress—another romance (Desire by Starlight)—is set in Vermont, approximately 40 miles east of where I currently live. While I don’t always set my works in areas where I live or have lived, I do try to choose locales with which I’m familiar because it’s easier to infuse the story with the small details that make the setting come alive for the reader. In many of my works, the setting itself is an important part of the work.

RJ: You have your own publishing house, Bold Stroke Books ( ), would you share about it and its inception?

Rad: Bold Strokes Books grew out of my lifelong love of gay and lesbian literature and my desire to be part of the process that defines and supports so much of our lives.

RJ: I know from your bio that you are a retired surgeon, and I know you are not the only surgeon turned author, but what prompted you to make the shift? Was the writer in you active during your other career-or did the author in you take over the surgeon?

Rad: I wrote my first full-length work when I was still a surgery resident, and I have written actively for the last 30 years. Writing never interfered with my surgical career, or vice versa. However, I didn’t start my own publishing company until I was ready to retire from surgery. Three full-time careers is more than anyone can handle!

RJ: I love your personal “discovery moment” after reading Anne Bannon’s Beebo Brinker. I’ve so often heard that reading Well of Loneliness is the moment when many women find out the secret desire the harbor is not theirs alone-what was it about Beebo that spoke to you?

Rad: I was young—only about 12, and beginning to realize that I was different than other girls my age. I didn’t have a framework or point of reference for that difference until I read this book, and realized that although I didn’t know anyone else who felt the way I did, these characters were proof that I might one day meet someone else like me. Of course, I loved Beebo’s rebellious nature and her bravery in striking out on her own, and her refusal to give up on love even though the path had been a difficult one. She w:as a hero. Her creator, Ann Bannon, remains one of my heroes to this day.

RJ: I find it fascinating to “go back in time” and discover the literary treasures that influenced us. Do you think today’s readers should take the time to do this? I mean, I myself want to read Beebo Brinker?

Rad: I know quite a few readers who have “discovered” lesbian fiction in recent years and have read many of the earlier works and enjoyed them. It’s always important to place works in context, because as you know, gay and lesbian works did not get published in the 50s and 60s with the kind of “happy ending” that we see today, or even the frankly affirming characterizations that we’re used to. Nevertheless, these very talented authors manage to create positive images for their readers, and for that reason, I think these books are still quite enjoyable.

RJ: I hope this is not a duh question, but by taking on the name Radclyffe, is this your homage to her and this important work?

Rad: I chose my pseudonym over a decade ago when I was posting a fair amount of fiction online and wanted to have a recognizably “lesbian” identity. I think it’s a cool name and I relate to it very strongly—and of course, Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall Is one of my literary heroes.

RJ: My dear friend, who happens to be a straight woman, mentioned to me that her mother suggested she read Well of Loneliness, and she remembers it as one of her favorites? Does this surprise you? Do you find that you have a significant “straight” audience, or is that hard to tell?

Rad: I don’t really have any way of knowing the breakdown of my reader demographics, but I do know that I have received encouraging e-mails from self-described straight women as well as straight men.

RJ: I suppose it is somewhat difficult for young people today to understand the kind of “I am not alone” moment you describe after you read Beebo Brinker, do you think it is still a lonely road for many?

Rad: While I think we’ve made great strides in the last 40 years since Stonewall, we still have a long way to go. I get e-mails every single day from readers who tell me that my books and those of the authors I publish are a lifeline for them. Many of them are just coming out and don’t have access to a support system to help them. Our literature provides validation, comfort, and hope to many.

RJ: Here's a question from a former librarian: Do you think a special section or some identification should be created for GLBT books? Or, should they be integrated into the collection so as not to create a

Rad: This question comes up often in regards to bookstores—what matters most to me is that readers who need and want our literature can find it. If that means shelving them separately in a LGBTQ section, then I have no problem with that. What I’d really like to see is a double shelving process—a lesbian romance in the romance section as well as the LGBTQ section, for example. However, understanding that bookstores and libraries may only purchase one copy, I’d vote for easy identification so readers can find us.

RJ: You clearly have a devoted readership. I imagine that you hear from them, and they relate their stories to you. Do you also get inspiration from these revelations, or are most of your ideas from your own experience and, of course, your imagination?

Rad: My stories pretty much come from my own imagination, dreams, and fantasies.

RJ: There is also a listserv, (  ), devoted to your works, and although I just joined, it seems as though this forum really opens you up to a whole other dimension of reader involvement. Is this where you test-drive some of your writing-or just a way to stay in touch with your readers?

Rad: I’m always interested in reader feedback as a litmus of what the reading public is interested in— literature is a dynamic form of communication, changing as our culture and society changes. A lesbian romance from 50 years ago looks quite different from a lesbian romance today. I do not, however, write “for the audience.” I write the stories that interest and excite me, and am grateful when readers enjoy them. My Yahoo list is a way for me to communicate with those readers who have supported me, many of them for years, but I don’t alter what I’ve written as a result of feedback. I certainly think about comments that have been made, but in the end, an author must write what moves them.
RJ: Ok, now I am going to shift to The Midnight Hunt. In your Hunt You Tube Video (  ) you talk about asking your readers to take an adventure with you, to go on a journey-and discover that they are on the same path together. As I said, you have a strong following, were you concerned that this new outing would possibly alienate them?

Rad: No, not at all. I felt that some readers might have the preconception that they would not “like” this kind of story because traditional romances are the most popular form of the genre and this is a paranormal romance. My hope was that the readers who weren’t sure that this was something they would like (or who were pretty sure they wouldn’t like it) might give it a try if they understood that at the core, these are still the same kind of characters that I always write, dealing with the same kind of issues, and falling in love.

RJ: You chose to write under yet another pseudonym for this series, and although I know the reason why, could you tell the readers of this blog why you did this?

Rad: Paranormal romances are pretty big departure from traditional romances—I felt this change was large enough to signal to my audience to expect something different, and I did this by using a new pseudonym. There is also a large contingent of readers who really like paranormals but who would not read traditional romances. Again, by changing my pseudonym, I avoid the confusion that might be associated with my other pseudonym.

RJ: I know after the review was published, I heard from a couple of people who siad that they didn’t usually go to books with werewolves and vampires in them., but said that they thought they would give it a try after reading the review? Are you finding this true as well?

Rad: Yes, fortunately, I’m hearing this lot, which makes me very happy. All you can really ask is that readers give your work to try. Some will discover that they like it and others will find that they prefer different authors. We’re fortunate in today’s world to have many fine authors writing for the gay and lesbian community, as well as the reading world at large.

RJ: In choosing this particular genre you choose to focus on the wolf-were. I took a mild swipe at the Vampire “phenomenon” in my review, and happen to love the wolf theme. What made you chose the wolf-were for your main character?

Rad: My goal in this series is to write about a variety of preternatural species, including Vampires (I like dark heroes and Vampires are nothing if not dark). However, I think any series needs a strong core, and for me it’s Were society. It makes sense to me that the Weres would spearhead the movement toward social equality and civil rights because they live in community. They have children, they have a strong affiliation to their pack, and in my world – they are psychically and physically connected. And I know from my readership that many of the emotional and psychological attributes of Weres as I write them are very popular—the heightened sense of responsibility, loyalty, protectiveness, and devotion to the mate.

RJ: I found the idea of having another self just below the surface, and having it aching to emerge quite exciting. Is this a way for you to speak to those of us who have that other self inside us, begging to come out, along with all the conflicts, if we chose to do so?

Rad: The parallel is obvious between the preternatural species (the “others” who are different, and thus persecuted for their difference) with being gay. I felt this was important and something readers would be able to resonate to. But I also wanted to explore the fundamental dichotomy between our animal natures and the effects of socialization and civilization on how we express ourselves physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. This was my way of exploring our more primitive natures.

RJ: Sylvan is such a marvelous character,and her inner struggle keeps the tension at a peak. She also is clearly responsible to her duties as the Alpha. You say that she is a typical Radclyffe character.What does that mean?

Rad: Sylvan is a hero in the archetypal sense—highly responsible, self-sacrificing, brave, valorous, as well as stubborn, unyielding, at times inflexible. She’s both easy and hard to love. Anyone familiar with my work will “recognize” her, and quite a few readers have drawn parallels between Sylvan and two of my most popular characters—Cameron Roberts, the Secret Service Agent in the Honor Series, and Reese Conlon, the sheriff in the Provincetown series.

RJ: Hunt's other main character, Drake McKennan,  and she is a medic. Any chance there’s a bit of you in her?

Rad: I don’t think so—Drake is far more patient and calm than me. I think there’s a little bit of the author in every character, if we write characters who ring true. How else can we instill them with genuine emotion if we don’t draw from our own? While none of my characters are ever autobiographical, but some are a little bit more of me than others.

RJ: You actually have at least two pairs of women moving towards a possible relationship, as well as a good amount of frustrated desire leaking out from your characters, and you add the extremely pressing issue of having Sylvan mate-less. Interestingly, Sylvan is less concerned about this “need” than those around her. Do you feel it is in our nature to seek a mate, regardless of the trials and tribulations we may face,or should some of us be free to move with the Pack?

Rad: On the whole, I believe that humans are social animals and we are driven to connect to individuals and greater society. Of course there are variations within that spectrum, and some individuals may do very well without “a mate.” However, if the drive for “union” weren’t a strong force for the majority of the population, I don’t think romances would be as popular.

RJ: Your books have a strong sexual content, and it appears that one comes (no pun here) to your works expecting this. I know the authors who blazed the trail for you could not get away with being this explicit-why did you choose to do so?

Rad: I by no means intend any criticism of the pioneering authors who came before me, and there are many reasons why their works were written the way they were. When I began writing, I wanted to show that the love between women was sexual and physical as well as emotional—that our love is every bit as passionate and consuming and rewarding as that which exists between a man and a woman. As a lesbian, I desire women physically just as I admire and respect them, and I believe those feelings should be reflected in our love stories.

RJ: You have several series, and now are starting a new one. Does the idea to create a series happen as you write, or do you plan this out in advance?

Rad: Some of my series are planned, and others evolved after the first book was written. Even with the planned series such as The Midnight Hunt, I really concentrate only on one book at a time with just a general idea of where the other books will take us. One of the most exciting things about writing is the unexpected direction that our stories take as they emerge.

RJ: Clearly, among your readership, there are those who are fond of a particular work. Is there one that stands out among the rest? Is it fair to ask if you have a favorite?

Rad: I do not have a favorite. There are things I like about every book, and there are definitely some that I like more than others, but I couldn’t pick out one and say this is it. Among reader favorites are the Honor and Provincetown series, Fated Love, Passion’s Bright Fury, and Turn Back Time.

RJ: You are such a prolific writer, and I'm sure there is someting new on the horizon. Would you share with us what that might be?

Rad: My next book--Trauma Alert--is due for release July 15, 2010. I'll be launching it in Provincetown, MA with a reading and signing at Now Voyager Bookstore, July 3rd. This is the first in a new series of stand-alone romances featuring first responders. This one features a trauma surgeon anda  firefighter.

RJ: Thanks Rad for sharing your time with me. I look forward to Trauma Alert,  and am also eager to read Blood Hunt, which is next in your Midnight Hunter series.

Rad: Thank you Robert.

Read more about Radclyffe and L.L. Raand at and .

Until next time, Happy Reading.

Robert Jaquay,