New Patron Heather is thanked.
Christina Pilz chats with Jeff as part of the 2017 GRL Blog Tour. She talks about her series of historical m/m romances and offers up a giveaway.
Will reviews All In by Ava Drake. The guys also let people know that the new Dreamspun Beyond series is now taking subscription orders on the Dreamspinner site. Jeff reviews the audiobook of Marshall Thornton’s Femme, which is performed by Joel Leslie, as well as the ebook of TJ Klune’s Olive Juice.
Jeff & Will discuss the screenings they attended while in L.A. First up, the Broadway revival of Falsettos followed by the OutFest presentations of Something Like Summer and EastSiders Season 3: Go West.
Joyfully Jay recommends books by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish, Tal Bauer, KJ Charles and Annabeth Albert and tells of the SPECTR tour she took in Charleston.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode:
- Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- 2017 GRL Official Blog Tour: Christina Pilz
- All In by Ava Drake on Amazon
- Ace In The Hole by Ava Drake review on episode 43 on BigGayFictionPodcast.com
- Save of the Game by Ava Drake review on episode 63 on BigGayFictionPodcast.com
- Dreamspun Beyond subscriptions on Dreamspinner Press website
- Femme by Marshall Thornton and Performed by Joel Leslie on Amazon
- Olive Juice by TJ Klune on Amazon
- Falsettos in Cinemas website
- Something Like Summer movie website
- Something Like Summer by Jay Bell on Amazon
- EastSiders website
- Joyfully Jay Recommendations
- Joyfully Jay website
- Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish on Amazon
- Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish review on Joyfully Jay
- Hush by Tal Bauer on Amazon
- Spectred Isle by KJ Charles on Amazon (coming August 3, on pre-order now)
- Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert on Amazon (coming August 1, on pre-order now)
- SPECTR: The Complete First Series by Jordan L. Hawk on Amazon
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this week’s show, Christina Pilz is here as part of the GRL Blog Tour, plus Joyfully Jay recommends “Heart of the Steel” and much more.
Announcer: Welcome to the “Big Gay Fiction” podcast, the show for readers and writers of gay romance fiction. If you can read it, write it, watch it, or listen to it, these two guys are going to talk about it. Now, here are your hosts, Jeff Adams and Will Knauss.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 93 of Jeff and Will’s “Big Gay Fiction” podcast. I’m Jeff from jeffadamsrights.com.
Will: And I’m Will from willknauss.com. This week’s episode is brought to you in part by viewers just like you. For more information on how you can help support this show, we’ll have that in a few moments. Coming up shortly.
Will: We got a lot to talk about this week. Shall we get to it?
Jeff: I think we should.
Will: All right.
Jeff: So, exciting news. After months of preparation, months and months, “Tracker Hacker,” which is the first book in the code name Winger Series officially goes on pre-sale this very week.
Will: Oh cool.
Jeff: At Harmony, Inc. and other various, you know, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, across the web.
Will: Various retailers.
Jeff: Various retailers. And I’ll have the link in the show notes for anybody who might want to, you know, pick up the pre-order copy. It’ll be out on October 17th.
Will: Awesome news.
Jeff: Yes. Very excited about that.
Will: This week, we also did some traveling.
Jeff: It’s very nice to have you in L.A. with me. I liked it. It was fun. Get to come home from the office and then there you are.
Will: I’m right there. You can’t escape me.
Jeff: It’s just like being at home except it’s not home it’s a hotel.
Will: Well, yes, technically yes.
Jeff: But we did a lot together this week while we were gone, and we’ll talk about that coming up in just a few minutes.
Will: Indeed. First, before we get to that, we would like to thank our newest patron, Heather. Hello, Heather, welcome to the “Big Gay Fiction” family. Now, you can help support the “Big Gay Fiction” podcast with a monthly pledge through Patreon for as little as $0.25 an episode. Your pledge helps pay for the cost of producing and distributing this very show. Now for fans who pledge at the silver and gold levels, you’ll have the exclusive opportunity to ask questions of our upcoming guests. Also, everyone who pledges via Patreon also gets access to the bonus episodes that we do every single month.
Jeff: Bonus, bonus, bonus.
Will: And, in fact, we’re gonna be recording this month’s bonus episode immediately following the recording of this episode.
Jeff: Indeed we will. And that bonus episode will be out for our Patreons on Tuesday.
Will: Tuesday the what? What date is it?
Jeff: That would be the 18th.
Will: Eighteenth. Yay. Yay for the 18th. So the closing of this section is going to be… Yes. Okay. I had to look at my list. I’m sorry. You can get details on how to become a Patreon at www.patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast. That’s patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Christina Pilz Interview
Jeff: So, recently, I got to talk to Christina Pilz, who is joining us as part of the GRL Blog Tour for this particular blog tour season. It was quite enjoyable talking to Christina, especially after talking to Cat Sebastian. So, recently, also because both of these authors do historicals. And, in particular, we talk about “Oliver Twist,” which is a heavy influence on Christina’s work. So here’s Christina to tell us all about it.
Today, I welcome Christina Pilz to the podcast as part of the 2017 GRL Blog Tour. Christina is an author of historical fiction, and her love for historicals began with a classy reading of “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She loves coffee, road trips, and history. She supports the Oxford comma, and she writes every day. Passionate about what she does, her stories will transport you to England in the year 1846. Welcome, Christina.
Christina: Hey, thanks for having me on the show today.
Jeff: Oh, our pleasure. So before we actually dive into the questions that I know we wanna talk about, what’s the support about the Oxford comma about?
Christina: The Oxford comma is what you use when you have a string of three or more nouns. So, for example, you can say, “I went to the store with Bob and Edna,” or, “I went out with the strippers Hitler and Stalin.” So if they are not strippers and you want them to be people, you have to put a comma after every single one of those nouns, and if you don’t, then the strippers are named Hitler and Stalin, and so your meaning changes based on where those commas are or are not.
Jeff: See, I’m a horrible comma user so it’s good for me to hear these things.
Christina: And I think they legally decided that it does make a difference if you use the Oxford comma or not because it could make a difference in like an analysis of a crime or something where that comma is in the police report matters.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
Christina: That was recently decided on this summer, so it’s legally valid to use it in a certain way.
Jeff: See, I can’t be a police officer then because I misuse commas all the time. Anyway, on to what we wanna talk about.
Jeff: So tell us about some of these literary pilgrimages that you’ve gone on.
Christina: Well, I love to travel. So one of the things I did a couple of years ago was go to London so that I could scope out the places that are in my stories. So one thing I did is I went to number 48 Doty Street, which is where Charles Dickens lived when he wrote “Oliver Twist” and touched the desk that he used and all this good stuff, and went up and down the stairs. There’s a character in “Fagin’s Boy” who lives in number 14 Doty Street. That’s Mrs. Acton. She’s kind of Oliver’s nemesis. So it was fun to pick out her house and know where she lived. It’s part of my research. Any historical fiction author will tell you they love to do research.
Another thing I did was in London, at the same trip, I went from where the haberdashery is located to where the Three Cripples is located. Now I based the haberdashery on a tavern called The Ship and it’s at 116 Wardour St., so it’s a real place and it’s a half an hour walk uphill to get to the Three Cripples. And that’s based on the One Tun which is a real location that a lot of people think was the basis for the Three Cripples. So, you know, I just go. It’s like a giant rabbit hole to go anywhere, and it’s my secret pleasure. It’s just what I love to do. It’s the bonus for me for being an author. It’s my treat.
Jeff: It sounds like a really good treat too.
Christina: Yeah. It’s a lot of fun.
Jeff: How did you decide on 1846 to beat your time?
Christina: There was a map. I was thinking I wanted a number that looked interesting and interesting font. 1844 was one year and 1846 was the other one. I don’t know why. I like even numbers. And there was a map by John Snow. It’s called the John Snow Map 1846. And I went online and there was the map of London at a specific point in time. And I said, “Okay, 1846 it is.” So it was also before a lot of things started to happen. Victoria was still a young queen. There wasn’t a train system, you know. They didn’t have telegraphs. It was before a lot of modernization started to happen to Victorian London. So early Victorian London rather than later. So kind of… I could do more with it, I think.
Jeff: And certainly, you got to, you know, use some of the Charles Dickens stuff as kind of jumping-off points too.
Christina: Oh, yeah, absolutely, places that he’d been or places he mentions, you know. I tried to do research. What I’ll do is open Google Maps and take the little Google Man and he goes for a little walk up these streets just so I can kind of get a feel. And sometimes the old buildings are gone but there’s photographs and… Photography existed then so there is a chance that I could get a real photograph of the real building. So the research, definitely a time suck for me.
Jeff: But a fun time suck, especially if you get to go do it in person.
Christina: Yeah. Every now and then. So the next trip may be a couple of years from now, I’m hoping.
Jeff: Now, did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym for these books?
Christina: You know, I did. When I wrote fan fiction, I have a couple of pseudonyms I used. And if you have a mask to write behind, it makes you very brave. And it’s not that I’m ashamed of that writing, but I think that I decided to write under my real name for historical fiction and then perhaps to get in touch with those places inside of me that are a little shy, I would come up with a different pseudonym and write contemporary male-male romance. So I really have been considering this. I think that it would definitely help my writing because when writing as yourself, you know, grandma and grandpa are watching you. Even if they’re not alive they’re still watching you. And I’m not ashamed but I think there’s just some adaptability and anonymity that the mask will give me. So I’m, yeah, thinking about it really, really hard.
Jeff: Interesting. Well, I look forward to hearing, if you share your pseudonym, more about that perhaps in the future.
Christina: Okay. If you wanna know what it is, if the rubber hits the road, it’s gonna be J.E. Blue and J is for Jack, E is for Elizabeth, which is my middle name, and Blue because that’s my favorite color. And a writer named by the name of PD Singer says, “Well, initials are hard to search on,” and I said, “I don’t think J.K. Rowling would tell you that.
Jeff: Yeah. Right.
Christina: Right? And there’s a lot of authors who do it. It gives you kind of an ambiguous gender, which is also useful for drawing in, you know, all kinds of different readers. I think they respond to that. So we’ll see how it turns out.
Jeff: Cool. We’ll keep an eye out for that in the future.
Christina: Okay. Thank you.
Jeff: So writing, does it exhaust or energize you?
Christina: Well, I think that it energizes me if I make it part of my everyday schedule. You know those people, they get up at 5:00 in the morning and they say they go for a run, and it sets them up for the entire day. That’s what writing does to me, if I do it. I’ve been kind of in a slump recently because I’m coming to the end of my Oliver and Jack series and I am loathe to let it go. I’ve been doing it for over three years. I’m married to these guys. We’re all married to each other.
And I’ve decided that I’m going to write some novelettes. I’ve given myself permission to write about them whenever I want to. All right. Little novelettes, put a good cover on it, you know, edit it, put it through the whole thing, and then just give those away because I just… It makes me sad. And my friend, Wendy Rapon, said, “Are you dragging your feet for a reason?” I said, “Yes. Yes, I am.” So, hopefully, after this interview, I’m going to get back in the saddle and do the whole 5:30 in the morning thing again and set myself up for the day. So, yeah, I was doing it in the wintertime so I don’t know why I can’t do it in the summertime. Maybe I feel lazy because it’s warm. I don’t know if writers…you know, temperature affects different writers differently.
Jeff: Yeah. Different environmental conditions I think, you know, can impact that, and certainly seasonal would be one of them. Is this your full-time gig or do you also balance the day job as you’re writing?
Christina: I definitely balance the day job. I am a technical writer. I’ve been doing it for about 20 years. I have a great job, a terrific boss, but, you know, it takes away 40 hours a week so I have to really get up early and be devoted to that time, and I was…I was devoted and then I fell off the wagon.
Jeff: You’ll get back on it.
Christina: Yeah. I think so.
Jeff: I’m confident. So what does literary success look like to you?
Christina: Well, I was thinking about that. I think literary success means, to me, something that I think sounds really boring. And I shouldn’t ascribe that to it, but what it is is that it don’t have to go to my corporate job. I get up and I write. I have my cup of coffee. I get the chores done and have breakfast and do all that stuff. And then I go have coffee with my writer friends. And then in the meantime, I plan trips and I take them. And that’s it. I don’t want a Jaguar. I don’t want a, you know, built-in pool or anything like that or a fancy car, just time to do those things that I wanna do. And lots of trips to London, of course. That’s what it looks like. And people enjoying my books.
I’ve gotten a couple of letters recently from readers, and engaging with them in that and talking about my characters, I think that would make me supremely happy. But I did find one of these points of success. PD Singer, the woman I mentioned, belongs to a group called Out in Colorado, which is a bunch of writers in the Colorado area who write male-male romance or just fiction, you know. There’s detective stories and, you know, fireman stories, shifter, and paranormal. They have just been so welcoming and warm and kind and sharing all their information with me. So that part of, you know, my dream of being an author has really come true. I’ve been able to connect with people who do what I do.
Jeff: That’s fantastic.
Christina: Yeah. It is fantastic. I got lucky that way.
Jeff: Now you mentioned you do a lot of research.
Jeff: So what nature is the research, and then how long do you spend before you actually dive in and write?
Christina: Well, I am very self-indulgent. I will research and tell it’s time for me to stop and I have to go to bed. I love, you know, taking that little Google Man for a walk, going on the internet and looking for the right picture, pictures of characters or places they’ve been, or the bed they sleep in. You know, it’s a giant rabbit hole. And, for example, I’ve seen every version of “Oliver Twist” ever made, including the cartoon from the ’70s. So I know and I’ve read the book like backwards and forwards, the audiobook. I’ve read it like 100 times.
So when the movies come out, I know what they’ve left out and I know what they put in. Though I will tell you the first time I read “Oliver Twist” was in seventh grade and I was shocked to find out that Fagin got hung. He was hung at Newgate. And the movie that I had seen up to that point, he happily goes off with Jack Dawkins at the end of the movie dancing and singing, right? But he dies and Jack Dawkin gets deported to who knows where, but in the movie I saw, you know, they dance off and they’re gonna go start another gang and pickpockets and live happily ever after. So, you know, research reveals things to me that make it fun to write about. And I will go on and on about this because it’s what I love to do. I think any historical fiction author will tell you the same. That’s what they love about writing historical fiction is they have a great excuse to go to the library, the bookstore, on a trip to wherever. Yeah.
Jeff: Do you have a favorite movie version of “Oliver Twist?”
Christina: Well, I saw the 1969 musical when I was seven. Of course, I fell in love with “Oliver Twist” then. I’m not a fan of Roman Polanski’s version that was in 2005 because I felt like it was somewhat static the way he told it. People in the scenes tend to just stand around instead of doing stuff, and I was like…There was a BBC version put out in 1995, I think it was, and it was just perfect because they just did interesting things with the storyline. They explained what happened to Oliver’s real father, you know, they expanded on it. So that was a good one. I think my favorite is the 1969 version, though, definitely. The singing and the dancing. Yeah.
Jeff: Okay. So in the research, do you find that you, like, plot your book and then get the research you need for it, or are you researching to make your plot? What’s kind of the chicken and the egg to that?
Christina: The chicken and the egg, that’s a good question. I think that I get a story idea and like in college I over prepare for the final exam on the first day, I’m already ready. And so, I will plot and then I’ll stop like for two months and just do all the research and then come back and fill in. Like, I think one example was in the Victorian era, they paint those fence posts, those iron fence posts blue or green, whereas today we paint them black. So I feel really like dah, dah, dah, dah. I know this little fact that I can draw on while I’m writing. So I think the answer to your question is I do both at the same time. I plot and I research because then I stop and then I go down that rabbit hole. So, yeah, they’re at the same time.
Jeff: So GRL is practically in your backyard this year.
Jeff: What are you looking forward to?
Christina: I am looking forward to knowing what’s going on. The first year I went was about two years ago to San Diego. I had no idea that it wasn’t like a convention with panels where you discuss ideas. It wasn’t a writer convention, it was a reader convention. This is set up for the readers. They get to meet the authors. They get to ask you questions. We had a luau which I thought was a lot of fun. And you sit with the people who’ve read your books or are going to read your books and you’re there for them, and I thought, “Oh, that’s completely different.” So this year, A, it’s in my backyard so it’s not gonna be as expensive and, B, I know what’s coming. I know to have my books ready, pre-orders, you know, have information for them, which I didn’t have the last time. I was just completely taken aback by the whole thing. And it was a lot of fun, but this year I’m ready. And I get to meet people that I’ve met on Facebook too. The readers that have written in are gonna be there, so that’s gonna be nice. More like a summer party than a convention with panel discussions.
Jeff: That’s a good description though, it is like one big four-day summer party.
Christina: Oh, yeah, that’s a lot of fun. You have to be ready. You can’t have a cold when you go. You have to be, like, in prime healthy condition.
Jeff: And then you get sick when you get back. That’s kind of the given.
Christina: Yes. Yes. As a matter of course, yes.
Jeff: So I understand that you’ve got a giveaway for our listeners. Tell us what that’s about and what they need to do to enter.
Christina: Well, I’ve got five things that I’m gonna be giving away. The first one is going to be… It’s a word cloud t-shirt. And what that means is they’ve taken words from “Oliver Twist” and they put it on the t-shirt. So the words show up in like a grid and you look at it and you understand what the story is, even though there’s no title. And there’s also gonna be a mug with a different word cloud. I had so much fun picking these out. And then there’s gonna be an unabridged copy of “Oliver Twist” because a lot of my readers have written in saying, “Oh, I haven’t read ‘Oliver Twist’ but I really thought your story was good.” Kind of told me that they’d like the chance to read it, you know. And if somebody sends in a book maybe they will.
And then there was the movie and CD combo of this 1969 version. You can buy this little packet that contains the DVD and the CD. So I thought that would be fun. So that’s pretty much it. So two t-shirts, a mug, a book, and the movie CD combo. So anybody can come and enter once a day. It’s set up so that if you leave a blog post comment, you have to answer the question, who fell in love with who first? Did Jack fall in love with Oliver, or did Oliver fall in love with Jack? And there’s no wrong answer, of course. I just wanna know what people think. And that’s worth one point. And then two points if you sign up for my newsletter, which is useful for me so that I can reach out to more readers.
So you can do both of those or one of them. You can do it up to one time a day for those. And there will be like a week-long for the raffle. And at the end, Rafflecopter will spin through its machinations and then pick out five winners, and then we’ll figure out who gets what. And you have to be in the U.S. and Canada to enter because I can’t ship to anywhere else, sadly. Maybe next time I’ll figure out a better way, but this is what I have. I think it’ll be fun.
Jeff: I think it will. That sounds awesome. And that Rafflecopter people will find that on the show notes for this episode.
Christina: Okay. Yes. You’ll give them a link and they can just go straight to there. On the 17th, which is when this interview airs, that’s the day that the Rafflecopter giveaway will become active.
Jeff: So what’s the best way for people to keep up with you online?
Christina: Well, I have got a Twitter account, so you just enter ChristinaEPilz in Twitter, all one word. And, of course, at my blog, www.christinaepilz.com, then Christina Pilz at Yahoo. This is all… If you go to my blog or my website, then you can find all that information on my contact page. That’s pretty much the best ways right now to reach me. Yeah, I think that’s it.
Jeff: Excellent. We’ll link up to all that plus your Amazon page so people can find all your books as well.
Christina: Yeah, Amazon, and I’m also at Kobo and then a variety of other places through draft to digital. Apple, I believe, is one of those places.
Jeff: Awesome. Well, Christina, thank you so much for being with us. It’s been excellent talking to you.
Christina: Well, thank you so much for having me.
Jeff: The “Big Gay Fiction” podcast is thrilled to once again, partner with GayRomLit as a featured blogger. You can see all the participating blogs and the full GRL Blog Tour schedule at gayromlit.com/2017blogtour. GayRomLit is an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate LGBT romance for one of a kind must-attend gathering of dynamic informal and diverse fun. Each year, the retreat travels to a new city and hosts tons of events from ruckus parties to tete-a-tetes while still maintaining a spirit of familiarity. GRL is the place to connect with old friends, find family you didn’t know you had, and meet with both newly published and established authors in the gay romance genre. This year’s retreat is set for October 19 through 22 in Denver, Colorado at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. For more information or to register, please visit gayromlit.com
Will: Want to be among the first to know what’s coming up on the “Big Gay Fiction” podcast? Join the “Big Gay Fiction” podcast monthly newsletter. As a subscriber, you’ll get our exclusive coloring pages that you can download and color. You can even send us your artistic creations and we’ll display them in our online gallery. Go to biggayfictionpodcast.com and sign up on the homepage.
Jeff: So while we were away, we both read a lot. And you, in particular, have a new read to talk about.
Will: Yes. This week, I wanna talk about “All In” by Ava Drake. Now, all in is the third installment in her Wild Card series. I’ve enjoyed all of the Wild Card books. The first one, which was “Ace in the Hole,” if you go back into the archive… When I first reviewed this one, it left me kind of scratching my head. I enjoyed the book, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting a romantic suspense story so I was kind of like… By the second book, I knew what to expect and I absolutely fell in love with the second one called “Seven-Card Stud.” That book is amazing. If you guys haven’t read it, please read it. It’s cuckoo bananas in the absolute best possible way. That book went above and beyond romantic suspense into, like, spy-fi territory. There’s, like, all sorts of crazy stuff going on at the end. It’s absolutely amazing.
This book, the third one, “All In,” kind of takes that action back down a notch, and we get a little bit closer to sort of like a body card detective, more of a traditional romantic suspense vibe. So this particular book involves Zane. He is a male model who is approaching his expiration date. He’s almost 30. I know. So he’s had some wild and crazy years and he sort of escaped to London to work over there and get his life back on track. Now he feels like his career is like coming to a close so he’s come back to the U.S., in New York, specifically, to kind of get a couple of last jobs and use the money to finance his future endeavors. He’s going to study some design, that sort of thing. Maybe become a stylist, designer, anyway. So he arrives in New York only to be pulled aside. There seems to be a problem with his luggage. It turns out there are some…what’s the word I’m looking for? He’s inadvertently smuggled some goods into the country. Oops. Luckily, he is saved by Sebastian who is a former special forces agent. He also happens to be a gazillionaire real estate mogul.
Jeff: Of course.
Will: And Sebastian has been tasked by the Wild Card company, which is the sort of connecting thread through all of the books, they can all be read individually, but they all have something to do with Wild Cards, Inc. So he has been tasked with keeping an eye on these forgery plates that are coming into the U.S. and trying to find out any connections to evil nefarious consortium that they’ve been tracking called Abriss. So Sebastian gets Zane out of that particularly sticky situation and they become reluctant allies and trying to figure out how they can track down the Abriss agents. All sorts of detective spy things go down like a spoiled drop…
And what was nice about this book is that both of the characters have interesting and complex backstories. And part of the conflict of this particular story is they don’t trust one another. Sebastian isn’t quite sure that Zane is, like, naive as he seems. He thinks that he may, you know, know more than he’s letting on. Zane has no idea who this incredibly hot Sebastian guy is. Why is he helping me so much? Is he a part of this nefarious, you know, group of international bad guys? I don’t know.
So what would normally be a pretty standard conflict device actually makes real sense, and it’s something that they explore throughout the book, as well as their smoking hot attraction to one another. So as in all of the Wild Cards books, the chemistry is explosive. Holy moly, Ava Drake is so good at characters who just are like ready to just like jump on each other at a moment’s notice. So this book is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of really great action. It’s super sexy. And I also was really surprised by the end. The two main characters were sort of just kind of in a normal detective vein sort of following a lead about these counterfeit plates when, all of a sudden, they come across an agent for the evil consortium and all hell breaks loose to a really fantastic finale.
Will: So like the other books in this series, I highly recommend “All In” by Ava Drake.
Jeff: Very cool. And we should mention while we’re talking about Dreamspuns that within the last week the Dreamspun Beyond line has started taking pre-orders for subscriptions. So you can get the subscriptions for the e-books or the print books which start coming out in August. We’ve already got our subscription now because we need those dreams buttons. But we’ll put a link in the show notes to the subscription page if you have not picked yours up yet.
Will: Awesome. Now, you have been reading a lot as well.
Jeff: I did.
Will: Or listening, mainly. You’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks.
Jeff: Listening and reading. I figured out like the best way for me to read as much as I want is to have a book going in audio, which I traditionally will listen to while I’m working out and while I’m having breakfast. And then to have one that I’m reading which I read at night before bed or in the case of being on the plane…
Will: Well, yeah.
Jeff: …either one of those works. And I actually did both on our to and from on the plane.
Will: Okay. What’s the first book you wanna talk about?
Jeff: First is Marshall Thornton’s “Femme” which came out in print and e-book last year and just came out in June in audio performed by Joel Leslie. And I have to say that it was Joel who actually put this book on my radar because he messaged me and said, “I really think you need to read this because it tackles something that we don’t see a lot in romance and is also an issue of sorts out in the gay community, in general. And what we’ve got here in “Femme” is Lionel who is a feminine man who is a bartender and Dog, real name is Doug, but he gets called Dog for reasons that are explained in the book, who is out of the closet with himself but not out of the closet totally in his life. He does play on a gay softball league, which is how Lionel meets him because Dog and the softball guys come into the bar. They end up very drunkenly going home. As the book opens, they’re actually waking up from their twist.
Will: The morning after.
Jeff: The morning after. And it’s a real issue for Dog trying to resolve his ongoing growing feelings for Lionel when he feels like he should be going out with the alpha male that he is. And that’s what he’s been, you know, kind of instilled in his brain. And beyond that, how he will perhaps introduce Lionel to his family or to his friends or even how the softball team will react if they become a couple. This is further like… The drama around this is further enhanced by the captain of the softball team actually giving Lionel a very hard time in the bar and ultimately getting Lionel fired because Lionel doesn’t take any shit from anybody.
Look, I got us our E for the episode. Because if you say something that, like, tries to tear him down, he will come back at you because he’s not gonna put up with that. He’s very comfortable with who he is and the person that he’s become because he had a very difficult childhood as a femme growing up. And so, all of these dynamics of the alpha male versus the femme and the gay community, and Lionel even has to kind of butch himself up or so he feels to go to work at another bar when he gets fired. It’s a fascinating read on many levels. The romance between these two is so push-and-pull but yet you know they both want to be together and they kind of just gotta sort it out. So it is a romance so, you know, they get there in the long run but the journey is amazing. The performance by Joel is outstanding. If you’re a fan of Joel’s you got to pick up this book because hearing him do the voices between Dog and Lionel is just perfect. We’re actually gonna have Marshall and Joel on to talk about the book later on in the fall.
Jeff: So that’ll be fun.
Jeff: And I should know too that this was a Lambda Literary award finalist. So it’s got some additional cred behind it.
Jeff: Yeah. Pedigree, even better.
The second book I read and I kind of wish I waited on this for audio because I found out while I was in the middle of it that Derek McClain is actually doing the audio for this. It’s TJ Klune’s “Olive Juice” that came out a couple of months ago. It’s so good. I mean, everything that TJ does is so good.
Will: So are you gonna explain why the hell it’s called “Olive Juice?”
Jeff: I’m not.
Will: You aren’t?
Will: Good Lord. Okay.
Jeff: Not on air. Sorry.
Will: Okay. Well, what’s it about?
Jeff: So in this book, you’ve got David who is your single point of view narrator and his husband, Philip, who have gone through, possibly, I would say the worst thing that parents could have happen. And I’m not gonna go beyond that because I’m not going to spoil the book. But the book takes place over a night.
Will: Oh, that’s interesting.
Jeff: They initially meet for dinner because Philip has said to David, “I need to see you.” They’ve been estranged for months. They meet at a restaurant where they used to go on these vacations and they try to have dinner. Lots of conversation. I could see this book being translated into essentially a very tight chamber piece play, with one other person potentially playing all the other parts, if you restructured it just a little bit, who play like the bartender and the waiter and stuff, who have to drift it out. This book is interesting in how TJ has made this work because much of this book too is also David’s internal dialogue, during the dinner, before and after the dinner, when they eventually get back to the place that’s not the restaurant because I’m trying not to spoil anything there.
And it’s not often you see a book that is so much internal dialogue with… I would say that the book is probably 50% or more internal dialogue for David than any other dialogue that happens in the book. It’s another extraordinary piece of TJ kind of breaking the bounds of what he writes. And as you might have noticed, I said David and Philip are husbands. So this is also not a romance, in my view. So pick up TJ Klune’s “Olive Juice.” It’s really good. You’ll find out what the title means because I’m not gonna blow that here because TJ would come after me. But yeah, it’s really extraordinary.
Jeff: And kudos to him. And I suspect I’ll just pick up the audio when Derek releases it and have to give that a listen too because it’ll be interesting to see how he works with all this internal monologue.
Will: Yeah. That would be interesting. Yeah.
Jeff: To may come across what’s internal today and what’s external being said to other characters.
Will: Yeah. Cool.
Jeff: That’s my stuff.
Will: All right. While we were away, we also, besides reading…
Jeff: Which we do a lot of.
Will: And Ubering…
Jeff: There was a lot of Ubering around the L.A. area.
Will: Lord of mercy, we Ubered everywhere. Anyway, we did not…
Jeff: I took you on an hour-long train ride too.
Will: So other than the Ubers and the train, we also saw some movies while we were in L.A. Do you wanna take it away with the first one?
Jeff: Sure. First up was, we went to one of the screenings of “Falsettos,” which we talked about last week. It’s a live from Lincoln Center Production that was shot towards the end of “Falsettos” run on Broadway during its recent revival last winter. I loved it. This is the second time I’ve seen “Falsettos.” My first was in an off limited Broadway production. And that was good. This elevated it to greatness, in my view. I see why it got all of its Tony nominations. I see why they revived it. This cast and this creative crew did a stunning job with it.
The first act is still the weakest act because as Will will further elaborate when he talks about it, there’s a very… The storyline in the first act is very thin as, you know, this slightly dysfunctional family with a man leaving his wife for another man and this 10-year old who doesn’t quite get what’s going on, and the dynamic with the psychiatrist who’s treating both the husband and the wife, and eventually the child. But then you get into the second act which really delves into the beginning of AIDs introduces a doctor and her wife. And the dynamics get a lot more serious and yet somehow also a lot more funny, which I don’t…you know. It’s interesting how they were making all that work.
And the casting was just tremendous. Christian Borle as the man who leaves his wife was outstanding as he always is. Andrew Rannells, I believe this is the first time we’ve seen him really in anything after he made his breakout in “Book of Mormon” a few years back. But I thought… He really impressed me and I loved his singing. There was something about his singing voice that I’ve never really heard much of it, and I really liked what he did. Stephanie J. Block made the first act for me. The songs that she sang as Trina’s life was falling apart were just amazing. And I loved him, and Tracie Thoms and Betsy…
Will: Betsy Wolfe.
Jeff: Betsy Wolfe as the doctor and her catering wife really also perked up the second act in a lot of ways. Well, you do your review first and then I’ll say the rest of all the people can still see and stuff.
Will: Briefly a history. Now, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Will: Originally, “Falsettos” was a one-act Off-Broadway, okay, an Off-Broadway one-act play called “March of the Falsettos.” Later, came its sequel called “Falsetto Land.” Now, when they revived it, they simply put them both together-ish.
Jeff: Well, no. There was an On-Broadway revival…an On-Broadway production, which was the first time they were joined when it was called “Falsettos,” and that happened in the middle ’90s somewhere with the original cast, most of the original cast from the Off-Broadway 2 productions.
Will: I see. Okay. Okay. So what we have now is “Falsettos.” Personally, I’ve never really listened to the CDs because I never could get into them. Sometimes there are shows when you listen to them in audio form they just don’t translate that well. You kind of have to see them on stage and see it brought to life by the magic theater. This wasn’t one of those things for me so I never really… I don’t know the show all that well. I hate it. I hate, literally hate “March of the Falsettos,” which is Act One of this particular show. It is horrible, people being mean and stupid. I hate Act One. Act Two, which is “Falsetto Land,” is much, much better. There’s an actual story going on in Act Two, and I enjoyed that. If we had been in New York while this play was running, we would have undoubtedly have gone to see it because the cast is amazing. Despite my dislike of the actual material, the cast was phenomenal. Loved every single one of them. They’re really, really amazing. So my only, you know, kibitz is with Act One. So I like half of it.
Jeff: Well, I think you liked bits of act one because we talked about this and you liked as I did Stephanie J. Block solos in act one. Were really good.
Will: Stephanie could do anything. She’s amazing.
Jeff: She has this whole cooking moment that was just a riot.
Will: Yeah. Anyway.
Jeff: And we should say that because “Falsettos” is doing so well in the theaters from this week’s showings, in particular even the debut on the 12th, that it’s extending its run across the country until July 26th depending on the theater. But they’re also adding theaters. So you can go to falsettosincinema.com or check the show notes and you can go see where it’s playing. And it’s also expanding up into Canada a little later in the month.
Jeff: So given that this does not have an air date on PBS, at this point, if you want to see it, we highly recommend going to the theaters. It’s only 15 bucks and it’s really worth it.
Will: Now, we extended our L.A. trip by a day so that we could go experience Outfest.
Jeff: Yes. Which was awesome. We saw a movie and…I guess you’d call it a movie since they said it was a theatrical version of “Eastsider” season three.
Will: Well, yes, technically yes.
Jeff: We got to see Jay Bells…the adaptation of Jay Bells’ “Something Like Summer,” which…I’ve read the book and it just made me swoon and made me cry rather a lot towards the end, for reasons of… If you’ve read it, you know why you cry at the end of the book. They made a really solid translation to the book. There’s a lot of condensation in it. Just everything happens faster because it all happens within the span of about two hours. And so, there are scenes from the book that you just aren’t gonna find in the movie and there are things that are consolidated to happen faster than when you’ve read the book than you may like.
It didn’t bother me. I love what they’ve done. They’ve expanded Ben’s singing a lot. There’s a lot of singing that happened inside his head, which I really love because I like musicals, and then you musicalize Ben’s feelings and I’m into that. But it all happened in his head and so it wasn’t like people were singing out in the real-life, in the real world. The cast they assembled for Ben and Allison and Tim and Jace were just so spot-on and they aged up pretty well over the span of the 12 years, especially Tim and Ben. So yeah, look for it. Hopefully, it’ll hit a couple more festivals and then hopefully they’ll get distribution on it. They talked about, going into it, that it was their largest attendance of the festivals they’d been at so far. So hopefully, it’s a sign that the movie is getting some pickup and some notice so they could get some distribution out there and make its way out to more peeps.
Jeff: Now you’ve never read the books.
Will: No, I’ve never read the books. I really, really enjoyed this movie. I think it was very well done, and I’m eager for the rest of the world to see it as well. So, hopefully, they will get a distribution deal very, very soon.
Will: So, after the movie, we were unable to stick around for the Q&A afterwards. We had to Uber off to the next location of our whirlwind Outfest tour and we went and saw the world premier of the first four episodes of season three of “Eastsiders.”
Jeff: Yes. Now people know, if you’ve watched consistently over the past few weeks, that we had Kit Williamson and John Halbach on talking about season three a little bit and the Kickstarter they were doing which was successful. So they’ve actually been shooting two more episodes very recently out in Palm Springs. I think this is my favorite season of “Eastsiders” thus far.
Will: Okay. Interesting.
Jeff: Somebody in the Q&A, because we could stick around for the Q&A on this one, mentioned that this was like a chamber piece because most of this episode happens between Cal and Tom going across country in this little teeny-tiny trailer, and it gives them this moment to really analyze their relationship after what, I believe, was supposed to be a year living in New York.
Will: It was two years.
Jeff: A year or more maybe living in New York. And it was just really touching. They kind of moved through talking about the various things that they thought could be wrong with their relationship or might be right with their relationship. There were also some very funny moments as they picked up a drifter who was played by Colby…
Will: Colby Keller.
Will: Holy moly. I would pick Colby Keller up too.
Jeff: They also picked up another couple while they were staying over somewhere. I believe it was outside of Portland with Wilson Cruz. But really the stuff between Cal and Tom, I really, really liked, and it really touched me and it was also funny and it was just like… That was just perfect.
Will: So while they’re putting the finishing touches on season three, there is no firm release date for this season. It will be sometime this winter, we are told, sometime in late 2017. So we have that to look forward to.
Jeff: Yes. Along with those last two episodes.
Will: Indeed. I can’t wait. From what we’ve heard I can’t wait. They’re gonna be really, really good.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.
Joyfully Jay Reviews
Jeff: So also while we were away, I spent a few minutes talking to Joyfully Jay…
Will: Oh, that’s right. Yeah.
Jeff: …who’s got some book recommendations for us and also for you Jordan L. Hawk fans out there. She’s got a bit of a little summer trip that she took that you’re gonna be very interested in.
I’m excited to have Jay back on the podcast from Joyfully Jay. How is it going?
Jay: Hi, Jeff. How are you?
Jeff: Doing very good. Thanks.
Jeff: It’s been way too long since we’ve had you on.
Jay: I know. I was thinking about that. I think it’s been since maybe the winter even.
Jeff: I think so. I think so.
Jay: Yeah. Yeah. I missed you guys.
Jeff: We missed you too. We’re gonna try and get better at scheduling things, for sure.
Jay: No problem.
Jeff: So you’ve been reading a book that I’m desperate to read, so I’m looking forward to your take. You’ve read “Heart of Steal” from Avon and Roan.
Jay: Yes. Yes. I read that for last week. The review actually went up and totally went crazy for it, which isn’t really surprising because Roan Parrish and Avon Gale are both great writers. And so, I wasn’t surprised to like it but I was surprised…I guess why I liked it so much because it’s… For people who aren’t familiar, the setup is that these guys meet at a party and Will meets this man Vaughn who is a billionaire…I can’t say, philanthropist. And they meet are instantly attracted and have this hot hookup and the next day Will opens his door and this picture that he’d been admiring in his host’s home is sitting outside his door because Vaughn has stolen it for him.
And the sort of punchline to all of this is that Will is an FBI art crimes investigator. So it’s a definite meet cute and I loved that. But I think what’s interesting is the story is not a cops and robbers suspense type book, which is sort of the direction I assumed it was gonna go in. But what’s really, I think they do so well, is they take these two personas, the sort of billionaire gentleman thief kind of thing and uptight FBI guy, and instead of making the story about their jobs, they really make the characters about their jobs, and they show so much how Vaughn’s personality is affected by being this wealthy man who is used to having everything that he wants and being able to control his world and control the rules. And that’s part of the reason he gets away with all of these weird thefts that he does.
And then you have Will, who is this very rigid controlled black and white kind of guy. And most of the story is really a total character-driven relationship development story. So I went crazy for it and everyone I’ve talked to has gone crazy for it. So definitely I recommend it if you’re interested because it was so good and so engaging and super sexy and very romantic. So definitely loved it.
Jeff: Yeah. With that, it’s moving at the top of my TBR. It was pretty on top anyway because it’s a Avon and Roan.
Jay: I sold it. I sold it.
Jeff: But I’ll just move it that much further up.
Jay: Yes, yes, yes.
Jeff: So what else have you been reading, that you’re into right now?
Jay: Well, I actually am currently reading “Hush” by Tal Bauer, which I’m really excited about. You might know Tal has the “Enemies of the State” series, which is I believe…we’ve reviewed it but… I think it’s the president and his secret service. And this one is a thriller between a judge and the U.S. Marshall who’s assigned to the courthouse to guard and protect the judges and the judiciary system. So it’s really interesting because it’s a super thriller but it also…
The beginning is very much building the relationship between these two men. And what I’m finding really engaging…I’m only in the first portion of it, so I haven’t finished it yet, but what I’m finding really engaging is that the judge has been in the closet basically his entire life. He was sort of out in college and then realized after some very sort of stern talking from his professor that he needed to stay closeted if he was ever gonna have a career in the law or he was led to believe that. So what’s really interesting is after reading, you know, 8,000 stories about people coming out, which is obviously a common theme in the genre, this is really just so well done the way she describes his whole experience of what made him be closeted for so long and that feeling like that his life as an out gay man has sort of passed him by and he’s missed this whole revolution where suddenly it’s okay to be out and be married and walk around with a man outside in the street and all of that, and how hard it is to reorient his life now to this completely new perspective that he can have this relationship and he can be out, and how that’s affecting him.
So I’m finding it really interesting. And we’re just getting these little teases of the suspense plot which I think is gonna sort of take over in the second half of the book. So I’m really excited about that. I’ve enjoyed the other books I’ve read et al so I’m really excited about it.
Jeff: Very cool. Yeah. It’s nice to get a different take on a coming-out story sometimes because there’s only so many ways to go in this…
Jeff: Sounds like a nice unique one.
Jay: Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, it’s really interesting because you really get a good sense of like almost that terror, not of people finding out but of just sort of changing the whole way he looks at the world and how hard that is. I mean, of course, they say he’s sort of older, he’s like the same age as me, but, you know, this man in his mid-40s but just having this sort of life has passed him by and can he still reach for that, even now at this stage of his life? So really interesting. And I’m really excited to see sort of how the suspense plot then takes over for the romance that’s sort of the focus right now. And that review is gonna be out, I believe, next week, so I’ll get you the link information for that.
Jeff: Awesome. That’s awesome. So what are you looking forward to in the next few weeks that you’re gonna pick up soon?
Jay: That I’m gonna be reading… I’m really excited, new series by K.J. Charles. The first book is out I believe the first week in August called “Spectred Isle.” And I love K.J. Charles and have loved every single thing that she’s written. So I’m super excited about that one. I’m also really looking forward to new Annabeth Albert who is another favorite of mine. She has a book coming out August 1st, “Trust with a Chaser.” So I’m excited. I believe both of those are new books in the series. I know for sure K.J. Charles’ is a series. So I’m really excited because both of them are go-to authors for me. So they’re sort of creeping up on my TBR list. So I’m excited to be able to get to those.
Jeff: Nice. Now, I understand you’ve traveled recently and you took a little trip that some Jordan L. Hawk fans might be kind of jealous of.
Jay: Yeah. Yeah. I went to Charleston. My kids are actually, believe it or not, both out of the country right now. And so, I said to my husband, like, “We’re doing something because there’s no way I’m just sitting around while our kids are in Europe.” So we went to Charleston, which we’d never been to before. And if you’re a fan of Jordan L. Hawk’s SPECTR series, the series takes place in Charleston. And in fact, the city is a very prominent part of the story so there’s lots of things that were recognizable.
So I had made a comment about how it was going, and Jordan actually sent me a list of some of the different places where scenes take place in the series. And so I had such a great time, I was dragging my poor husband around like to John’s house because John’s house is at this street and I realized we were a block away and I said, “We’re going and we’re taking a picture.” So I got to see John and Gray and Caleb’s house which is in the part of town that they would need to be millionaires not government employees to live in. But that’s typical.
And I got to see Fort Sumter, which is where a humongous climactic scene at the end of the first season takes place. And so, that was really cool because I had this image in my head because it’s an expansive scene of what it was gonna look like, and it’s actually quite small. So it was sort of fun to imagine, you know, Gray there fighting and, you know, there’s a church spire where Gray sort of perches and looks out on the city. And the most recent story takes place in College of Charleston which was right around the corner for us, and Marion Square. So it was really fun. I had a good time sort of taking a little bit of a field trip around the city and checking out all the places that these guys have been and where they live, and I posted them on Facebook. So that was really fun. A lot of people who are fans of the books got to see the pictures and they enjoyed seeing their house and their street and all of that. So that was really fun.
Jeff: That’s very cool.
Jay: And so Jordan needs to make like a visitor guide of, you know, the city. This could be like a new business for people, you know, when they have a real town telling people where to find things because it was really fun.
Jeff: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jay: Sort of a scavenger hunt.
Jeff: It happens all the time with TV shows. I know. Like friends go to Atlanta and they do the “Walking Dead” tour.
Jay: Oh yeah, yeah.
Jeff: For everything around Atlanta and like wherever they film, “Dawson’s Creek” back in the day.
Jay: Oh, yeah, right, right, in North Carolina.
Jeff: In North Carolina. They go through all that stuff and now “Vampire Diaries,” same kind of thing.
Jay: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, it was really fun. And I always get that because I live in the D.C. area so I’m always, like, supercritical about how things were written. But this was really interesting to see like when authors use a real place and really real landmarks, you know, not that it just takes place there but specific stores and specific streets. It was really fun.
Jeff: That’s very cool. Well, Jay, we thank you so much for giving us all this cool stuff.
Jay: You’re welcome.
Jeff: And I’m pretty much gonna go one-click that “Heart of the Steal” right now.
Jay: Yes, for sure. For sure.
Jeff: And we’ll see you back, hopefully, in just a few weeks now.
Jay: That sounds great.
Announcer: The new adult hockey romance “Rivals” by Jeff Adams is now available in audiobook as performed by Derrick McClain. Mitchell Turner and Alex Goodman squared off on the ice throughout high school. Their rivalry was tough on Mitchell because he harbored a huge crush on Alex. With high school and college behind them, they meet unexpectedly on Thanksgiving day, once again on the ice. Mitchell is thrilled to see his one-time adversary all grown up. With their rivalry in the past, could this be the start of something magical for the holidays and beyond? Written by Jeff Adams and performed by Derek McClain, “Rivals” is available at amazon.com, Audible, and iTunes. Also available in e-book. Get your copy today.
Jeff: And as we wrap up for this week, just a very quick reminder to check out the Rafflecopter on the show notes page, where you’ll find Christina Pilz’s giveaway for some of those groovy prizes that she’s got.
Will: Yes. Awesome. Yes. Be sure to check that out, guys. So coming up next week in episode 94, Lambda award-winning YA author, Bill Konigsberg will be here.
Jeff: Yeah. Very excited to have him on the show. You’ll remember a few months ago I was just over the moon for “Honestly Ben” and we talk about that “Openly Straight” and some of his other books and what’s coming up next for him.
Will: Awesome. That sounds good. So, guys, remember no matter where life takes you, the journey will always be sweeter if you have a book. So until next time, keep reading.
Announcer: For detailed show notes and the complete episode backlist, go to biggayfictionpodcast.com. New episodes are available every Monday on all major podcast distributors and YouTube. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.
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