In an interview recorded at GayRomLit 2019, author/narrator/director Charlie David discusses the documentary he’s on gay romance that he’s filming at the retreat. Jeff and Charlie also discuss his narration work, including the recent release of Gregory Ashe’s Orientation.

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Show Notes

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Interview Transcript – Charlie David

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Jeff: Hey everybody, it’s Jeff from the “Big Gay Fiction Podcast.” We are live at GRL 2019 and I am with a return guest to the podcast Charlie David, who I get to sit across from for the very first time.

Charlie: I know how cool is this?

Jeff: It’s awesome.

Charlie: Thank you for having me back.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely and congratulations on being here for your very first GRL.

Charlie: This is definitely an exciting time because I’ve been part of this gay romance world for a number of years now and have got to know different authors over the phone and by email and stuff. But, to walk into the convention center today and see just how many passionate fans, publishers, producers and consumers of this content in these books there are… It’s really cool to see them in person

Jeff: And just wait til it really kicks in because this is just the preamble.

One of the things that’s brought you here besides the fact that you’re an author and audiobook narrator is you’re working on a documentary here for your “OUTspoken” series. Tell us about that and what you’re hoping to gather here over the weekend.

Charlie: Yeah. So “OUTspoken” is a series that I’ve been producing and directing for OUTtv, which is in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and soon to be launching in India as well. The series is documentary that’s always looking with a queer lens at something. It could be fashion, music, animation, relationships, sex.

I started thinking one day because you know sometimes my friends ask. Well, what do you do you seem like you’re retired? Well, I kind of am, but I also work really hard guys. One of my jobs is narrating predominantly gay romance.

When I tell them that most of the writers are women or that there’s a large percentage of writers, publishers and readership are women and straight women, that always makes people’s face turn into a question mark. As did mine at the beginning. That’s what provoked me to think this would make a great documentary. Because if I’m curious about something and a lot of other people show curiosity around it, then I think it’s worth diving into. Even on the way down here from Toronto today. I mean people on the train when I was picking up the car rental, in restaurants, “hey, what are you doing here?”

As soon as I tell the story they are like “What? That happens? That exists? In Albuquerque? Today?” So it’s fun because it feels like you’re part of this secret community in a way that is breaking down barriers and busting down walls and going mainstream at an exciting time of growth. It’s fun because you know those of us who have been around for a while we get to be part of that and share that excitement.

Jeff: What made you decide to come to GRL to do this? Is it just like the central Nexus of it all?

Charlie: I think so. I mean I had been invited for a few years to come and it hadn’t really worked out. But I stayed in contact with the organizers and at first I thought I could potentially fly to New York and Portland and San Diego and places where I know people who are in this or come to the nexus come to the hub when everybody’s going to be together. I think that’s what GRL really offers is four jam-packed days of getting to passionately talk about a an interest, a hobby, or a career for many of us as well that we are all very passionate about. So I thought well, this is a great opportunity to do a lot of interviews in a short amount of time.

Jeff: How has the response been from folks who know you are coming here to work on this? The organizers put the word out three or four months ago that you were coming. How’s the response been?

Charlie: Well one thing, you know, to be honest that I was nervous about and that I’m generally nervous about when I’m making a documentary or anything that I do was how would the you know the community here feel about me coming in with cameras? Right because it’s like it’s this special thing. I Imagine it as kind of like a summer camp in a way or this protected space where you can really let your hair down be yourself, share your passion, share about your favorite stories and stuff. But at the same time you might not want everybody to know that about you. I think a lot of people here are on a spectrum of even their level of comfort in in disclosing this interest, right? It’s almost like a coming out process in a way. So some might not disclose with their co-workers or boyfriend or husband or girlfriend or somebody else back home or their circle of friends or family that they are a gay romance writer or reader or publisher. So in going into any kind of situation like that I always try and be as as considerate as possible, respectful of the people and to hold space for them in their space.

One thing that the organizers thought of that I thought was awesome was you get to choose a color of a lanyard if you don’t want a camera on you you get a bright pink neon one and that’s a sign for us to stay away. And, of course, we will because we’re still in a place and time where for some it could be damaging. It could be loss of job, loss of a friendship, or whatever else because of this passion and I don’t want to be part of that. I just want to be part of holding people up.

Jeff: What’s your hope for what the message that the finished documentary will carry? Of course, that might be hard to say right now as you’re just assembling the pieces but looking forward

Charlie: You know, I had to stop myself because I was at like 60 questions. I was like, I only get to sit down with these people for like an hour each. I’m gonna have to put it on 30 second, one minute timers on each question. I feel like I have so much that I want to dive into and explore because I think. It is this interesting thing where there are really two sides of the coin in how some people view this. Some people view it as the writing of gay romance by predominantly straight women is a beautiful show of open-hearted, open-mindedness, activism in some cases, etc.

There’s the other side of the conversation that may ask, “is your imagination expansive enough to allow you to go to places of discrimination, potentially being beaten, what coming out is like? Really dark moments that sometimes queer people go through as a first person lived experience. I don’t know that there’s an immediate answer to that, but I think it’s worth reflecting on.

It’s just like… we were chatting before coming that kind of like in Hollywood right now and in society in general were at a time of call out culture. It’s like if a straight actor plays a gay role, we’re going to talk about it. If The Little Mermaid is black and she used to be white with red hair, we’re going to talk about it. If a Korean actor is playing a character that is supposed to be , Chinese we’re going to talk about it. And I think that talk is healthy. What I would hope is that we come to a place where we are expansive enough to be inclusive of everybody and that there is space for anybody to tell any story.

I think right now we’re just at this, you know, we’re still very protectionist of some of our own stories and we want to make sure that they’re as true and authentic as possible. So I’m really excited to dive into that with some of the writers and readers here.

Jeff: Do you have a rough time frame for when the documentary will hit the airwaves?

Charlie: So I just finished the first episode of our fourth season of the show. So I just finished the last one, which was all about kink and fetishes which was super fun to get to go to some BDSM play spaces. And so I think it’ll be in the new year because we’re still releasing some of the episodes from season 3 which will finish in December.

So I’m imagining this will be a spring 2020 release and we’re still working on title. I kind of think GRL is pretty cool “grl,” you know. But in film and television often the most simple, knock you over the head, you know exactly what it is titles, kind of work because people want to know what to expect.

So if you have ideas …

Jeff: If I’m not mistaken, we see “OUTspoken” in the States on Amazon Prime.

Charlie: Yeah, that’s right, it’s on Amazon Prime here. It’s been so fun diving into topics like sex parties and kind of an education and tutorial about how do you go to a sex party. Maybe having a wing person to go with you and that type of thing.

I think this one is especially exciting for me and the execs at OUTtv back home in Canada are terrifically exciting excited about it. They’re just like dude, where do you come up with these ideas? I’m like I didn’t come up with it. I was just part of it and then realized we should do something on this.

Jeff: Well, how often do you get to do an episode where you’re part of it in the way that you are now?

Charlie: With sex party one. The Fetish one. The Kinkone. All of them?

No. I mean I always follow my nose in terms of curiosity. But yeah, none of this level of… this is part of my creative sphere and and how I make a living and what I consider fun, so it is it’s definitely very personal as well. I think that’s also why I’m so excited to have these conversations with people because I think it’s also going to be a cause for self-reflection for myself too

Jeff: When this comes out you’ll have to come back and talk about the experience of cutting it all together and creating the narrative that it ends up with.

Charlie: Yeah. I mean the challenge with the series for me is it’s a TV hour, which means roughly 45 minutes and we’re going to have so many conversations over these four days. Just the one that we’re going to have on MPREG in itself I feel like could be an episode and I’m sure that I’ll be sitting down with each of the people for about an hour and that’s my challenge when I go home with 30 or 40 hours of tape and then go okay guys and gals, we got to make this 45 minutes.

Jeff: Bonus reel for the DVD.

Charlie: Yeah. I was thinking like, oh, maybe you could teach me how to do a podcast one day because then we could take all these really fun conversations I have with people, extract audio and I’d be able to share because I’m sad sometimes when I go back and I’ve had a wonderful conversation with somebody and it ends up being three minutes of an episode.

Jeff: As opposed to a longer form medium where you get that time to expand. For sure happy to teach you how to do a podcast.

Now besides the documentary, you’re also here as what they call an industry pro and later tonight you’re doing a reading at the audiobook narrator panel. What kind of audio books are you narrating these days? What’s coming across your table?

Charlie: It’s a really fun, wide spectrum of stuff. I work regularly with Ella Frank and with Brooke Blaine and those ladies are prolific in their writing. They always have at least one series on the go.

So I just finished “Henri,” which was “Confessions” book five. We have another one coming up called “Bailey” at the end of the month. So that one’s really fun. She has a lot of bad boys in there that are fun to voice. She always does a great, hot sex scenes as well.

I’ve started working with Angel Knots and so I’m diving into this whole MPREG universe and and in this series it’s a bunch of best friends who are college age and they formed a celibacy club and not too many of them are successful. Let me put it that way. But they have a lot of fun along along the road. So I’m on book four of that right now.

And then working with Gregory Ashe, which I’m super happy about.

Jeff: I saw this come across my Facebook feed from him that the first book in the “Borealis Investigation” series has you as the narrator. I’m like, oh my God, that’s awesome.

How did you and Greg hook up to do that work? And I have to ask what you thought of the book.

Charlie: Most of my audio book work at this point comes from authors or publishers just reaching out directly and saying “hey, do you want to work together? “Do you have time? Where might it fit on the calendar? I generally try and give a read of just to make sure that there’s some some synergy between us in terms of the creativity. I read the first chapter of “Orientation,” Gregory’s first book in that series, and I was hooked. I was like this guy is super talented.

I really want to know what’s going to happen next and I really want to get to know these characters. They’re so well drawn. It’s North and Shaw and they’ve been best friends for a long time. They own this detective agency together that specializes in queer cases. There’s this really dynamic push and pull between them, this kind of love that dare not speak its name because they both don’t have the courage to go there. I’m having so much fun with it. We’ve just started the second book, “Triangulation,” in that series. I believe that there’s one more for sure but I’m going to beg him. I’m going to be like Gregory, North and Shaw had better come back or at least send them to my house.

Jeff: That’s great. He’s amazing and we were talking about before we hit the record button, you’ve got to do the “Hazard & Somerset” series because it’s so, so good.

So hopefully you’re not going to be behind the camera crew the whole weekend. Anything you’re looking to do at GRL to take in the experience, kind of separate from the filming.

Charlie: Absolutely. I mean I’m here to have fun too. You know, we have a pretty tight schedule just like I think most people who are here right? We’re here to work and we’re here to to play as well. I’m definitely curious about the costume party the dance party. I want to go and see what that’s all about. I think there’s a baby shower going on at one point as well. That might be kind of fun to see the MPREG baby shower on Saturday.

So yeah, as a newbie, I’m open arms, big wide eyes. I want to experience it all so I’m going to be around every room, every corner poking my nose in and trying to talk to everybody.

Jeff: And what else is new from Charlie David that folks should be checking out?

Charlie: Coming up outside of the “OUTspoken” series, I’m about to go into production on a new show called “Avocado Toast,” and it’s definitely queer as well. “Avocado Toast” is kind of this meme that this Australian multi-millionaire, potentially billionaire, was a little bit derisive towards millennials and said none of you will be able to afford a house or have any Investments or savings because you spend all your money on avocado toast and fancy coffees.

Of course, the millennials are “hello houses are no longer $70,000, you know when our income has not like kept pace with that.” The show itself is a scripted comedy. We’re going to do 10 episodes and it’s looking at the the sex, relationship and work lives of two millennial best friends and their baby boomer parents.

We finish casting on Tuesday as soon as I get back. We’ll be going to camera second week of November. So that one I’m super excited about. We have a trailer up already at in November, I’ll also start casting the second season of a show called “Drag Heels” that I do. “Drag Heels” is kind of like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” minus the competition. It’s more a celebration and so it’s almost like drag artist queens and kings go through a personal story that will come culminate in a public show. So we’re excited that will be another 10 episodes that will film in in January and that’s another one. I love to do.

Jeff: Fantastic anytime in all of this to write another book.

Charlie: Oh God. I want to I don’t know. I really want to because, well even tonight, I’m going to read a passage from “Mulligans” which was one of my three books and I’m doing that one because my voice is a bit scratchy and it’s very it’s comfortable for me because it’s my own writing.

As I was reviewing it, I was like, oh, you know what? I want to do this again. I want to write again. I want to tell another story. I think, I hope, that my storytelling skills have elevated from that one. It was a decade ago. So just through the act of narration and reading a lot of other people’s work, storytelling through film and television as well.

So. Yeah, I’d like to give it another stab. I should probably go to school with Gregory Ashe for a while though, have him tutor me or something.

Jeff: I’ve thought about that. A master class with Gregory Ashe would be a really good thing.

Charlie: Maybe we can talk him into that. Yeah and Ella Frank.

Jeff: All right. Charlie thank you so much for hanging out with us and telling everybody about this great project for “OUTspoken” and we look forward to seeing the finished product next year.

Charlie: Thank you so much. Appreciate your time.