Jeff & Will note the passing of audiobook narrator Kenneth Obi.
J. Scott Coatsworth and Angel Martinez share the details on the virtual Rainbow Space Magic convention coming up June 20 and 21. The con is designed to bring readers and writers of queer sci-fi and fantasy together in a year that many cons have been canceled or postponed.
Daryl Banner talks with Jeff about his latest book Connor, which kicks off season two of Boys & Toys. The Spruce Texas series, including its latest installment Wrangled, is also discussed. Daryl also does a reading from Lover’s Flood and talks about the 10-year history of the book, which he recently revised and re-released. As part of the Podcast’s Pride celebration, Daryl also shares what Pride means to him.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- For more information on Black Lives Matter and organizations you can support visit BlackLivesMatter.com/partners
- Kenneth Obi on Audible (also available on Libro.fm)
- What Women Want: Gay Romance on Amazon Prime Video
- J. Scott Coatsworth & Angel Martinez on Rainbow Space Magic
- Rainbow Space Magic website
- J. Scott Coatsworth on Amazon
- Angel Martinez on Amazon
- Olivia Helling on Amazon
- Queer Sci Fi website
- Kaje Harper on Amazon
- A.L. Lester on Amazon
- Cody Sisco on Amazon
- Steve Turnbull on Amazon
- Rory Ni Coileain on Amazon
- SA “Baz” Collins on Amazon
- Vance Bastian on Amazon
- Belinda McBride on Amazon
- Catherine Lundoff on Amazon
- Eric Alan Westfall on Amazon
- Monique Cuillerier website
- Valerie Mikles on Amazon
- Rainbow Space Magic merchandise website
- The Trevor Project website
- The Hockey Player’s Heart by Jeff Adams & Will Knauss on Amazon
- Living in the Pages Podcast website
- Daryl Banner Interview
- Daryl Banner: website | Newsletter Signup | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | BookBub
- Connor by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Boys & Toys Season One by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Spruce Texas series by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Wrangled by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Lover’s Flood by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Outlier series by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- The Beautiful Dead by Daryl Banner on Amazon
- Madeline Sheehan on Amazon
- Nicole Jacquelyn on Amazon
- Chelsea M. Cameron on Amazon
- Jordan Marie on Amazon
- Sabrina Paige on Amazon
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Frolic Podcast Network website
Interview Transcript – Rainbow Space Magic with J. Scott Coatsworth and Angel Martinez
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Angel and Scott, thanks so much for being here. It’s great to have you back on the show. It’s been a long time time since we’ve had you here together.
Angel: Hi, thanks for having us.
Scott: Yeah. Thanks. Glad to be here.
Jeff: We want to talk all about this upcoming Rainbow Space Magic that’s going to bring everybody together online to talk about some great books. Tell us all about what Rainbow Space Magic is.
Scott: So it started out… What about a month ago? Maybe two months ago. Just when this lockdown was kind of getting started and everything I called The Great Pause. Olivia Helling jumped into the Queer SciFi Group and said what does anybody think about creating a virtual con since there’s going to be so many cons that are going to be canceled this year?
And she asked for volunteers and there were a few of us that jumped in, I think we’ve got what, six or seven of us total.
Angel: Something like that. Yeah.
Scott: And everybody said let’s pitch in and get this thing done. So yeah, it just kinda snowballed from there.
Angel: We were kind of watching all the conventions, domino effect cancel. Emerald Con cancels and this con cancels and that con cancels and now Flame Con is canceled in New York. And all of the big things that we would normally go to. We desperately wanted something that could bring the science fiction and fantasy readers together for queer science fiction and fantasy, because of all of the things that they’re missing this year.
Jeff: How was the response from participants?
Angel: The author response has been amazing. We started out sort of advertising to the authors more because we needed to get panelists together. We’re just now kind of getting rolling to get participants to sign up. It is a free convention. They only need to sign up so that they can get access to the webinars but there’s no cost for it. So we’re just starting now to do that promotion to get people to come and sign up so that they can actually come and see the panels.
Jeff: And the great thing is that it’s free.
Scott: The great thing with this kind of con too… I was just at Nebula Con last week, which was rescheduled as a virtual con. And it’s because it’s virtual, there’s a lot of people that couldn’t make a regular con whether because of cost issues, economics, or just because they aren’t able to travel.
So there’s a lot of folks that we’ll be able to come to a con like this, that wouldn’t be able to attend an actual in person con because it’s free and because you don’t have to get the hotel room, you don’t have to have your tickets and everything else.
You can kind of commit to it pretty last minute and you can also pop in and see the ones you want to see kind of as you go. I think we’re going to be recording them so if folks want to catch them afterwards they’ll be able to.
Angel: There will be recording done. And, it’s going to be over two days and there will be four blocks of panels.
So we wanted to do it so that it’s not focused on one time zone. So there’s an earlier block of panels in the morning. Then there’s a later block of panels for what would be the evening for us here on the East coast, so that people in different time zones in Europe and way out in Alaska, can actually come to some of these panels too.
We didn’t want to make it so that it was just East Coast focused and people wouldn’t be able to come if they were out in California or over in Great Britain or something like that.
Jeff: That’s amazing. Because so often with the virtual thing, it’s centered on one place. As you said there are time zones that kind of get left out a little bit. So that’s, that’s really cool.
Tell me about the author lineup. Who’s coming to this rainbow space magic?
Scott: We had quite a lot of number of authors that wanted to join in. And we kind of did an open thing where we said, what kind of panels do you want to see? And what do you suggest for the panels? So they got to throw the ideas out and now we’re kind of getting everybody figured into when they can come and what panels they can do.
Angel: We have folks like, Kaje Harper and A.L. Lester and Cody Sisco. Steve Turnbull is coming. Rory Ni Coileain is coming. Baz Collins has signed up for a panel, which is always fun. We have Vance Bastian also coming, so we’ll have both of them at some point. Belinda McBride, Catherine Lundoff. It’s just a really interesting and diverse set of folks who are going to be involved.
So it’s not just people who write male/male science fiction romance. These are folks who write across the spectrum who write science fiction and fantasy with romance and without romance. There are some folks who are coming in who are editors and narrators. So it’s a pretty wide spectrum of folks that we’ve gotten involved here. So it’s a lot of fun.
Jeff: That’s excellent. And as you said, probably because it is so virtual you could pull from such a number of people who can commit to a panel or two over the weekend.
Scott: And I think a lot of the organizers are going to be on some panels too. So we’ve got Eric Alan Westfall, Olivia Helling was the one that kind of came with the idea, Angel, myself. There’s Monique, how do you say Monique’s last name? Cuillerier and Valerie Mikles is coming also. So there’s a lot of other authors that are working on the thing that are also going to be participating both as moderators, but also being on the panels.
Jeff: Give us an idea of some of these panels. What are some of the ones that perhaps either of you are looking the most forward to either attending or taking part in?
Scott: I’ll just kind of go over some highlights. We really wanted to have some diversity and also some hope this time.
So we’ve got one called “What Could Go Right?” which is about hopeful, queer speculative fiction for dark times. We’re tackling religion and queer intersectionality in speculative fiction, which is one I’m really excited about. We’ve got one on ace and aromantic characters.
Those are some of the ones that are, we call them speculative fiction focused. They’re more reader focused a little bit. Or kind of reader and writer. We also have a couple of craft focused panels that we’re doing this time. We’re doing one on building queer character arcs in speculative fiction. The other one is “Jumping into the Mainstream” and that’s about authors transitioning from writing in smaller spaces into more mainstream space in terms of publishing and getting the word out there. So it’s really kind of a test for us.
Angel: What panel are you doing?
Scott: I’m actually on the list, but I haven’t checked my list yet, so I don’t know. So, which panels am I in?
Angel: J Scott Coatsworth will be on the panel “What Makes Queer SpecFic Queer,” which is one that I’m really looking forward to listening in on. It’s basically how much queer do you need before it’s considered queer speculative fiction. And you have another panel, Scott, which is the jumping into the mainstream. So you’re actually going to be on that one.
Scott: Yay. yeah, We kind of did that first one back in, Rainbow Con back in 2014 or 15. We talked about that and like do you have to have queer sex in something to make it queer? For instance, can you just refer to somebody as you know, at some point I mentioned my ex-boyfriend and that’s enough to make it queer? So there’ll be an interesting discussion.
This is the first time we’re doing this. We’re hoping it goes well this year. And if it goes well with this year, then we’ll consider doing another year of it. So it’s really an experiment for us to, to try this thing.
Jeff: Angel, what panels are you on? You hype Scott, but what are you on?
Angel: Well, I’ll be, I’ll be doing a reading, but I’ll also be doing a panel called “Outlaws and Adversaries” and that’s going to be about, the importance of outlaws specifically to the queer community and why that is that we identify with outlaw characters, and how they relate to their adversaries very often in these stories as well. So that’ll be a fun one.
Jeff: Nice. And you’re so you’re doing readings too. That’s cool that there are the tracks of the panels and the tracks of the readings.
Scott: They’re going to alternate and were doing multi platforms in this thing. We’re going to be doing the readings on Facebook Live and we’re using Zoom for the panels. And then the website will be kind of the glue that holds it all together. It’ll be interesting.
I had this experience, as I mentioned with Nebula con this last weekend. They had a really slick setup for their rooms or social rooms, which was cool to see. But, I thought that some of their navigation, it was really hard to find some of the things, like to find your way into those rooms. It was a good learning experience for me to take back to our site and work with Monique and make sure that things are all on the site to find and navigate from there to wherever you need to go.
So that’ll kind of the home base. And then you can pop into Zoom or you can pop over into Facebook Live for the readings. We also just talked about like 10 minutes ago about the idea of selling shirts and stickers and things. And so we’re going to set that up in Red Bubble and there’ll be a little store section on the website as well.
And I guess we should tell you what the website is, Jeff?
Jeff: Yes. I was going to get to that. How can people go and register and find out all about all of the programming?
Angel: The website is really easy. It’s RainbowSpaceMagic.org.
What we’re doing is it is free but we are taking, donations, sponsorship donations, and that’s covering just the small costs that we have, like setting up Zoom, for larger groups. Anything that we have leftover is going to The Trevor Project so people can certainly make donations even if we don’t need the funds.
Scott: Anything we’d make off Red Bubble, which would probably not be a lot because it’s a demand print service, but anything made through that will go back to The Trevor Project as well.
Jeff: Fantastic. A weekend of great scifi programming that also benefits, a good cause, which is great.
Scott: We try.
Jeff: So of course, June is Pride month and we’ve been asking all of our guests this month, what Pride means to them. So Angel I’ll come to you first for that.
Angel: Well, the thing that we have to remember, and it’s probably something that a lot of people are saying right now, is that the original pride was a riot. The original pride was people standing up and saying no more. And that’s something that we really have to think about this month. We have really have to support, black, indigenous and people of color in our communities and outside of our communities and think a little bit more outside of just ourselves. Pride is all of us coming together and it needs to be all.
Scott: I’m going to go in a little different direction with it. And I think that’s all very important, very valid.
For me Pride… the first time I went, I was probably 23, 24 when Mark and I went to San Francisco Pride. And it was just this amazing place where I was suddenly surrounded by people like me. It was a place that I didn’t have to worry about. If I wanted to hold his hand or kiss him or show that we were together. b
The full meaning of it didn’t really hit me until a few years ago and it was the year that the Supreme court approved marriage equality. Mark and I were lucky enough to be asked to March with the marriage equality folks in San Francisco Pride. And we had probably a million people out there basically cheering for our marriage. That was enough in the first place to just make my heart going in like this. But it was seeing the kids there and seeing the ones that were, some of the teenagers that were 13, 14, 15, and it made me realize that there were going to be kids being born at that time or just recently born that were growing up in a world that had never not known that we were considered equal under the law.
And that was what really kind of pushed it over the edge for me. So I don’t care that the bars are there, Coors Beer is there, or Apple is there. That’s all beside the point to me. It’s really about the individual people there and the people like me that found acceptance and for the first time in a real way at Pride. So that’s what it means to me.
Jeff: Thank you both for sharing that. I love hearing these stories. I’ve been hearing them all month long from the folks that we’ve talked to. So thank you for adding to what our listeners are hearing about Pride.
And thank you for being here to talk about Rainbow Space Magic coming up on June 20th and 21st. Give us the website one more time.
Scott: It’s RainbowSpaceMagic.org. Not comm, but dot org.
Jeff: Fantastic. And of course we’ll put that in the show notes so that people can easily find it as well. Thank you again so much for being here and happy Pride month.
Angel: Thanks for having us, Jeff.
Interview Transcript – Daryl Banner
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Daryl, welcome to the podcast. It’s so good to have you here.
Daryl: It’s a pleasure to be here too. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve wanted to talk to you for a while and it’s like, we need to get Daryl on the show.
Daryl: I know, I know I’ve been wanting to be on here for awhile, so I’m happy you finally came around to it.
Jeff: So we’re right in the middle of pride month and you’ve got a book coming out.
Daryl: Yes, I do.
Jeff: “Boys and Toys” season number two, and the book called “Connor.”
Jeff: Tell us about the series first of all. And then tell us about this new book as well.
Daryl: Okay. So basically, let’s see, my first season of boys and toys was last summer and, it was a totally different angle of romance for me. It was super fun.
It centers around four best friends in the city and they’re finding love and struggles and hilarious troubles. Season two’s totally different. I wanted to take a different approach to it. So Connor is new to the city. We get to meet the other guys through him and get introduced to the whole atmosphere of the city.
They’re all novella length romances. I think Connor is a great start and introduction to the second series. He’s very fun and he’s bright and it’s kind of, and he’s also a Kansas boy, so it’s kind of fun to throw this innocent Kansas boy, right into the gayville of the city. You also don’t have to read the first season to read this one.
You can just jump right in and read “Connor.” My plan is to have different seasons of “Boys and Toys” that are unrelated, read them in any order.
Jeff: So it’s essentially your version of an anthology series. You get the season one that has a certain theme and people in it and season two, comes the next thing, and it is that kind of the idea.
Daryl: Yeah, that’s kind of popular now in TV with so many series that each season has its own contained story. That’s what I wanted to do with the boys and toys. I wanted to play with this idea of a book series that kind of reads like a TV show where the chapters are more like episodes, everyone kind of has a hook.
So it kind of gets you going, gets you into it. One of my main inspirations for the “Boys and Toys “was both “Sex in the City,” for best friends in the city, and “Queer as Folk.” So it’s a bunch of friends. They each have a story that goes on. The main difference between season one and season two is that season one, all four of the guys were in all the books.
And then they kind of, each of the books sort of centered around sort of one of the guys in season two, one guy is going to have his own book. So Connor, that is his whole book and the other guys are secondary, but you kind of get to know them. It makes you kind of curious about what’s going on with their lives.
So I think it will be a very fun experience for people coming into to that series, I think.
Jeff: And what does Connor get up to as he arrives in the city?
Daryl: Oh, I don’t know if I could tell you everything that goes on with Connor in the city, but I will say it’s very fun. It’s a lot of unexpected surprises.
His romance starts right off the bat. So you kind of get hooked. And you’re very, you’re invested right off, right in the first chapter, kind of curious about how that’s going to pan out. He’s constantly getting into trouble on accident and he’s so innocent. He’s so sweet, but he’s also like he’s innocent.
Sweet, but then he’s kinda got this like, you feel like there’s this pinch of, he could, he can get bad, he can do something, you know, he can, there’s something hidden in him. There’s some kind of magic power and it’s very exciting and thrilling to see. Cause he keeps making these little mistakes, these little social faux pas and his roommate is this total frat bro dude.
And so like, there’s clashes. His landlord is kind of ice cold to him at first, you know? Cause he doesn’t trust him. He thinks this little twink is going to get eaten up by the city. It’s very, very fun. What brings him to the city is this really prestigious internship, which might not be what he was hoping it would be. And there’s a lot of social clashing and one that’s very fun. It’s a very fun book.
Jeff: Sounds like the perfect book for pride month actually.
Daryl: Oh yeah.
Jeff: A fun summery, fluffy, nice kind of read.
Daryl: Yeah, very much so. And all four books will kind of be like that.
We got all that. We got a very wide variety of characters between innocent country boy Connor, who’s new to the city. And then Brett, which is going to be the second book, who is his roommate, the total frat bro, who throws parties in his house and it’s a little irresponsible – probably has a little growing up to do.
And then Dante, who is the landlord and he’s also a photographer. Zach, who is a dancer at a club in town. And he’s got a lot of, he’s the most mysterious one I think, cause we really don’t learn too much about him, but you know that there’s something else deep about him – deep and passionate.
Jeff: And something called “Boys and Toys,” I mean, we got to ask, what is the toys side of this?
Daryl: You know, it’s kind of both, it’s like, it’s almost interchangeable. Like the boys are the toys in the first season. There’s actually literal toys here and there. Garrett, who is one of the four boys he has a fetishy side. He’s much more into fetish. And so there are literal toys that are incorporated in his arc throughout the season. And you might see a little bit of that into play in the second season as well. There might be cameos from the first season in the second season.
Jeff: I was going to ask if there were cameos, so it’s cool that we get to see those guys as well.
Daryl: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Jeff: You’ve got a couple of other series that you’ve got running too. Let’s talk a little bit about “Spruce Texas” because you also released a book in that series earlier this year.
Daryl: Yes. “Spruce Texas” is a very fun series. It’s super sweet. Spruce, Texas is literally a fictional small town, full of fun, loving people.
It’s exactly what you would expect for a small town. Everyone is in everyone else’s business. Everyone knows everyone. It’s a very small town, but most importantly, and I think this is the key ingredient, the special sauce for “Spruce” is that it’s set in a homophobia-free town. There are four books in the series.
It starts with “Football Sundae.” It goes into “Born Again Sinner” then “Heteroflexible” and finally “Wrangled.” And there will be much more to come. I have actually another “Spruce” book planned later this year that I will be releasing. And I wish I lived there. I wish it existed. I like Spruce, Texas. It’s one of my, one of my most fun places to write. I love going there.
Jeff: I love the books that, you know, really look at the world how you want it to be in those homophobia free zones that can be created in fiction. And I’m totally with you. I would especially do a small town like that cause I love a good small town romance anyway.
Daryl: Yeah. It’s sweet.
It’s very sweet. It’s fun.
Jeff: Tell us about “Wrangled,” this latest book.
Daryl: So “Wrangled” in particular was an unexpected book, honestly, because my original plan for it was a sweet little novella about a Spruce, Texas high school reunion. I thought that would be a very fun thing to bring all the characters together to kind of see how they were like in high school and to see how they are now and how they’ve changed and grown.
Then it really just kind of grew into something very different and it became a whole full length book right out from underneath my hands. Literally, as I was writing it, I realized this is not a novella. This deserves a full telling. And even the structure of the book changed too.
It’s about Lance who, the moment he graduated high school, he was the only really out gay guy in Spruce 10 years ago. And he had a very different experience than a lot of the gay men that are in the other books. He, his time, made him very bitter about Spruce. And so he takes off to the West coast to pursue a career in fashion and 10 years later he develops himself, he becomes this thing, this name and he’s right on the cusp of something.
And then suddenly it’s time for his high school reunion. And of course, all of his friends are like, I didn’t go to mine, but he decided to go to his and it goes all the way to Spruce. And that’s really, I that’s actually where the book begins is when he goes to Spruce and we experience the thrill of someone who is, so this is the first time in this series that we experienced someone who is so far removed from the sweetness of Spruce and he’s coming in cold and bitter and just, you know, Oh, I’m ready.
I’m ready to face this town that made my life hell when I was in high school. But because I mean, even without homophobia, kids can be kids, you know, teens, little towns. And so there’s a lot more other ways to be bullied and Lance was just very unapologetically himself. And long story short t he action of the book kicks off when he comes face to face with his main high school bully and finds them to be a totally changed reformed guy that everyone in Spruce loves, gives to charity, goes to church.
He does all these things and it just makes Lance see, even more that his high school bully is now this totally likable guy, what the heck happened. And it goes from there, they start connecting and maybe his high school bully has a little secret of his own. And that takes you into “Wrangled.”
Jeff: That ticks so many boxes for me, small town romance, enemies to lovers.
Jeff: bully has got the secret, which I’m sure is a crush. I’m just guessing,
Daryl: you know, bullies in their secrets. They all got a reason for their bullying. You know,
Jeff: What was your inspiration to create a small town romance?
Daryl: Well, I am from a small town myself, and that’s outside of Houston and basically growing up I of course did deal with homophobia. I had unfortunate experience my freshman year of high school, right at the beginning, too, right at the beginning of my freshman year of high school, where I basically was outed against my will.
And I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I didn’t get to decide when to tell everybody, it was an overnight thing. And suddenly the entire school knew, and this is back in the late nineties. So it was a very different time. 20 years ago and I just, I had a lot of experiences first off with dealing with that.
And I think my saving grace was being a theater person because theater itself, for anyone who knows is like a net of all the misfits of everything, because it’s not necessarily filled with people who are going to pursue acting or directing or something theatrical or film.
They’re not necessarily going to pursue that later in life. A lot of people just come in there out of interest, like they’re just want to try acting or they just want to do this or whatever. And that was my experience in high school being surrounded by a bunch of other misfits. So when that happened and I got outed, I had a magical instant support group.
In that theater and for four years, you know, they had my back and that’s something that I know as an adult I took for granted because not everyone had that growing up. And a lot of people, I can’t even imagine if I had to go through what I went through alone. That terrifies me the thought of that.
So, you know, I mean, we even had like, there were so many instances of homophobia that I had to deal with, or even see peripherally, even homophobia towards the straight men who were in theater. For instance, the quarterback, this was my sophomore or junior year, the quarterback of the football team decided he wanted to try acting.
And eventually he quit the football team to do theater full time because he has a natural talent for it. He literally just got on the stage and stole a lead role in the first show he auditioned for. And his coach was right on top of him saying, what are you? And he was calling him words like F words on three and six letter F words.
Like, is this really what you’re gonna, the coach? Yeah. Respected teacher is supposed to be, leading and he’s literally attacking him for it. He held his ground and said, yes, You know, I want to pursue acting. Yes, I do. And he did. And so, you know, things like that are what I was privileged to witness as a growing gay teen.
And I, I have a feeling that a lot of that had a lot of impact on why I write the worlds I do. I’m just kind of literally tired of writing about homophobia. I’m tired of it. It’s I just, I feel like without it wouldn’t have been a big deal. The coach would have been like, good job, go pursue your dreams, go chase something that inspires you.
It was homophobia that stood in the way of a coach being able to be proud of his quarterback for doing something like that. nd also I wouldn’t have had to be in fear. It would just been outted. Oops. Everyone knows now great. We move on with my life. I was also very lucky to have supportive parents.
My mom was my rock throughout all of that.
Jeff: Having met your mom I’m not surprised she was your rock.
Daryl: Yeah. So yeah. So all of that turned into my dream of what Spruce could be.
Jeff: What was your specific inspiration for “Wrangled” and maybe how did that inspiration change since the book itself changed, as you wrote?
Daryl: You know, my inspiration for “Wrangled,” like I was saying before, it was literally just, I want to explore what all these guys were like at high school.
It was a originally going to be a short novella. That had a bunch of different POVs where we got to see all the original couples from “Football Sundae” “Born Again Sinner” and “Heteroflexible” and how they were like in high school. And then kind of contrast that with the reunion going on. And the more that I delved into Lance’s story of that feeling of returning home really spoke to me personally for me, my high school, my 10 year high school reunion was before I started writing romance.
I actually didn’t go to my high school reunion because I was sort of, I felt like unsatisfied with my life. I felt like I didn’t have anything that I could be like, Hey, you know, I mean, if the, if my high school reunion had been just three years later, I would have been like, Hey, I write romance.
It’s really cool. I write gay romance. That’s really nice. But I just, I wasn’t there. And so it was a very different experience and I kind of imagined Lance is sort of in the same spot. He’s trying to pursue a career in fashion, but he’s like right on the cusp where he could be something or he could fail.
And so I wanted to really explore that from a perspective. And I felt like maybe it was a bit of a catharsis for myself.
Jeff: Now that’s a good story.
Daryl: Thank you.
Jeff: You’ve had a prolific year cause you’ve also had “Lover’s Flood” come out. Tell us about this one, because you were very careful to label it not a romance.
Daryl: So April was coming up and I knew that it was a 10 year anniversary of the very first book I published, which was originally titled “Psychology of Wants.”
Hilariously enough “Psychology of Want” was actually originally titled “Lover’s Flood.” I changed the title while I was writing it because I wanted something. I was just in a very arty mood and I wanted something that was a little bit more of a question.
I thought “Lover’s Flood” might’ve been too direct about a certain elements in the book and my mentor at the time, who is the now late Pulitzer prize, winning playwright, Lanford Wilson. We got to know each other all through my last couple of years at the University of Houston, he took over the Edward Albee playwriting workshop. And we submitted a bunch of plays of mine out of hundreds was selected among a few to be produced. And Lanford thought that I was a 50 year old man from the subject of my play. And then he meets me and I’m this little 20 year old dinky dink. And he was like surprised, but we got to know each other.
I’m very grateful that we did because he taught me so much about dramatic structure, characterization, language, cliches, tropes, just, he taught me everything. And he actually encouraged me to write my first book and he way preferred the title “Lover’s Flood.” He thought it was much more romantic. He loved it.
And for some reason I just, I was like, I just really want to name it “Psychology of Want,” because I was also in school at the time when I was developing the story and I was taking psychology classes. That’s one of my majors, my two majors were theater and psychology.
Fast forward 10 years now, I felt like, because that was my very first book it was very raw and it was seen and read by like nearly no one. And so I felt like there was something about the magic that I felt, the inspiration that I felt with that book that I feel like needed to get out there.
And I didn’t do it justice, you know, so fast forward 10 years now, 2020 and I, at first it was just going to be a light edit. And it was going to be like a re premiere of, it’s 10 years of writing crazy, you know, but in my light re-edit, which was supposed to take a couple of weeks, it turned into a complete, full revision.
I removed so many portions of it. I rewrote so many portions of it. I cleared up the story. The main character was deliberately very unlikable. So I made him much more palatable. I think for the common reader, which was very important because my attitudes 10 years ago is very different in writing because I came from playwriting. It’s all about the drama. It’s all about the darkness. It’s all about damaged characters. There was no such thing as a trigger warning. You don’t get trigger warnings. When you walk into the theater, you walk into theater and you’re going to see something that will devastate you. You might see something that’ll make you laugh like so hard.
You might see things that are about real slices of human life recreated in a very dramatic live way because they’re watching it. So, because that was my training for my whole life, I hit the ground running with my first book. And my thought was, if you don’t like the main character, well, this book isn’t for you anyway.
And I’ve gotten over that over the last 10 years. And I’m realizing it’s really important for people to be reached by even the darkest stories. So I needed to find a way to make him reachable. And then I, of course honored Lanford’s memory by naming it it’s original title, but it should have been named in the first place “Lover’s Flood.”
So lover’s flood in a nutshell is about a college student during his second year of college. He is a recluse, he’s trapped within himself and he has a wild, one of his key things about him is that he has a wild imagination. And as you learn, this imagination keeps him company and it even keeps him company sexually.
You also learn that he has a past with an ex boyfriend who was, I think is the best way to describe them would be emotionally abusive. And it’s, you know, I wanted to demonstrate an abusive relationship that is not usually what people think of. Typically when people think of abuse, they think of physical abuse.
They think that abuse has to be something that’s hard. I personally have been in relationships obviously where this came from, because this came from a very real place. “Lover’s Flood” is extremely personal to me. And I think that it’s really important to see the softer side of abuse that sometimes, a person who’s very manipulative and who’s a very, who can really get into your head.
And can make you think that what you want is what they’re giving you, which is something that’s hurting you. It’s almost a hypnosis and I wanted to explore that side of abuse because I think that that’s more common. That’s a serious subject, but that’s not what the whole book is about, but it’s, it’s a strong core of why the main character is what he is.
A lot of my readers have been describing him with a lot of the same words, which is surprising. People are describing them as damaged as sometimes demented, but in almost an endearing kind of way. He’s, like I said, he’s got a wild imagination and it takes him far. And it literally, the story takes you through his entire second year.
So it’s a long time span. There’s a lot of ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster there while it isn’t a romance. I see it a lot more as a coming of age. But there is a romantic arc because there is a person that he’s interested in that you meet very early on, but he has no tools to understand this person, to empathize with this person, to connect with this person because he’s so trapped in his head, he’s lost, he’s socially strange.
And one artistic element of this book that was in the original that I needed to keep in. This one is the fact that there’s no names. There’s also no proper nouns. So the university isn’t named, where he’s lived isn’t named, none of the characters have names, the main characters don’t have a name. It’s deliberate to kind of create, well, I don’t like to explain why, so I’ll just offer a suggestion of perhaps it helps create a dissociative feeling.
One thing that I’ve noticed readers say, which is really interesting is they say it helps anyone fall into any of the characters and realize that this story can be about anybody, no matter how unique and strange and out there, it might seem this could happen to anybody. And this could be anybody.
Jeff: I’m super intrigued by this.
Daryl: Thank you.
Jeff: Cause the blurb doesn’t quite give me all that, you know, having read the blurb, but now you’re hearing you describe it. Hmm.
Daryl: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the funny thing. It’s kind of writing a blurb you need to write it in short words cause you need to get their attention and you need to kind of wrap up your book a little bit in a package that this book is so difficult to put it into a package there’s so much in it.
Jeff: You write in a lot of genres, like, I don’t even know kind of what genre necessarily to put “Lovers Flood” in, but you certainly got the romances and you’ve also got some dystopian and fantasy going on in your, in your backlist. What draws you to these different areas? And how do you decide where you want to work next?
Daryl: One of my greatest loves as a kid was fantasy. That was my big thing. So that’s really kind of where I started. That’s where I, that’s where I came in. And also, like I explained before my background in theater, I’ve always been wanting to tackle unusual things, even magic realism, or sci-fi in a not necessarily like a “Star Trek” kind of sci-fi but more like a very tangible, modern day. This could really be, or this could really happen type of sci-fi. I found it really appealing. Things that dig into your psychology, your psyche. I think, while I do kind of write a bunch of different genres and I do it purposefully, I don’t want to be one thing. I don’t want to be a gay romance author. I don’t want to be a dystopian author or a fantasy author. That’s why, like my name, you know, me, my artistic voice has always been everything. It’s always been a whole lot of things. I think maybe if you could sit it down and find a common denominator, one common denominator I could see might be my homophobia free worlds, because even in my dystopian, series, which is the “Outlier” series, I’ve said it in a future that I want it to pull apart.
These things that tie our society together. But negative things that are tying our society together, such as homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, all sorts of things, ableism. And I wanted to put, I wanted to imagine a world where there’s some kind of equalizer that really forces us to see that we’re all human and that these walls that we build even boundaries between countries are manmade, they’re us. And we should really look past that and see each other as people, human beings. And so, my way of doing that was just to literally destroy the world and create a new one. In my “Outlier” series and in the “Beautiful Dead,” too, even though the “Beautiful Dead” doesn’t really have any gay content in it, it’s the same sort of notion of breaking the world apart and putting it together into a different way.
If I ever do tackle high fantasy, I do have fantasy ideas, but if I ever do tackle a high fantasy series, I would approach it the same way as my “Outlier” series centers around it it’s takes place in a place where there’s no homophobia and that’s even with the straight guys, like straight guys can show affection to each other.
And there’s none of that annoying nineties era, no homo attitude. Cringe. And I try to imagine the effects that a world like that would have on careers, personalities, the structure of our society in general, ideas like marriage and friends and what it means when two male best friends can really show affection towards each other, without the fear that they’re not manly enough and such on and so forth.
And also gender roles and pushing women to do what women should or when to do what men should. And, you know, there’s none of that, you know, especially in like in my non romance worlds like “Outlier,” queens and kings are just are equal in power princes and princesses. And, I mean, there’s a lot of medievalist, but it’s set in the future.
So it’s, it’s a very unique, it’s like technology and medieval stuff and super powers that people have. So it’s a very unique world, but it speaks to me.
Jeff: Some authors would split this stuff up between different pen names and you’re keeping it all under one. What’s your thinking there?
Daryl: To be perfectly honest, this is kind of a silly answer, but it was kind of on accident because I started writing my non romance stuff and then I was known for my non romance stuff because one of my first books after “Psychology of Want” and then I wrote a time travel thriller called “Super Psycho Future Killers” say that 30 times fast. And then my third book was “The Beautiful Dead.” And then my fourth book was “Outlier Rebellion”
And fun story about “The Beautiful Dead” and how this is a little stepping stone into getting into romance. My mom really wanted to go to this biker romance event that was here in Houston because all of her favorite authors were there.
This was back in 2013. I was like, I dunno, it’s like romance. Like I shrug it’s it’s fun, okay, I’ll go with her. I’ll endear her and her being, being mommy was like, you should bring your, “The Beautiful Dead” book. Just bring a copy of it and you’re going to give it to some of these authors so that they can read it because I know one of the authors loves fantasy.
And I was like, really, Oh my gosh, it’s so embarrassing. Mom don’t do this. And so I like had the book, I signed it, I put like a little ribbon around it and I brought it to this author whose name is Madeline Sheehan, and I didn’t realize how big of a name she was in the indie author industry. And I gave her the book. I was kind of shy. I was like, here you go. I write too, this is my third book ever. Here you go. Have fun. Didn’t think anything of it. And then littl, do I know Madeline Sheehan reads it on the plane ride home, devours it, and couldn’t stop talking about it.
She went to social media about it. She contacted me. She said this is amazing. Oh my gosh, you need to keep writing because at that time it’s a five book series. Now at that time it was, that was the only book that exists in. I honestly didn’t even know if I was going to write a book two.
She read it, she loved it. She told all of her friends about it. Suddenly all these other authors started contacting me through Madeline Sheehan I met Nicole Jacquelyn and Chelsea Cameron. I met Jordan Marie. I met Sabrina Paige. I met just, it just went on and on. I met all these different people.
Who eventually became good friends of mine. Madeline’s like total bestie. I love her. And so long story short, she finally was like, dude, why don’t you write romance? Why don’t you try writing romance and said, well, I’ve just, I think of like Fabio hair and Harlequin stuff. And I just kind of like, it just totally turned me off.
But little callback there was this one night where we were out at like some bar I don’t really drink, but we were out of this bar and I saw this really hot guy across from the bar. I was like, Oh my gosh, you know, should I go say hi, should I, should I not? Should I say hi? And then he leaves.
And I went back to my hotel room, feeling all dejected and sad, and then it suddenly clicked. And I was like a romance book is when I get to go over and say hi, and then see what happens and go from there. And I realized romance is life. Romance could be my life. You know, it literally every day, especially if you’re single every day, you’re just looking around and thinking what ifs with every attractive thing you see.
So that revelation sparked me. And I just started writing romance and gay romance at that right away. And my whole life changed.
That’s a great story. I don’t know if I went off on a tangent there, but I
Jeff: really didn’t. It all connected really well. During GRL last year, you were part of the folks who were interviewed for Charlie David’s “What Women Want Gay Romance” documentary. And for those who haven’t seen it yet, you actually are the first person we see as the play button is pushed.
Daryl: It’s just my face. It’s my face right away. Just get my face.
Jeff: How do you feel about the finished documentary and the stories that you told and the stories that it presents overall.
Daryl: I felt like it was good. I think, there’s of course there’s so many aspects of gay romance that can be explored. I think it would take like a whole series of documentaries to really get all the different nuance. It kind of grazes the surface of what the genre is and, and the key points of, I think the documentary was to highlight the idea, the notion of so many people who write and read gay romance are actually women. And cause that, for some reason it comes as a surprise to a lot of people. And, you know, like whenever I tell people that story, they’re like I would expect it to be gay men, you know?
But I’m like, you know, no, not necessarily because you know, I mean really when you get behind the artist of any work people as an artist, do you want to step outside of your comfort zone? Do you want to step outside of what, you know, that’s why you do research. That’s why, you know, you explore other characters.
I mean, not all books about murderers are written by murderers, Dexter wasn’t written by a serial killer. As an artist you want to, you want to stretch out out there. but I think as far as the documentary goes, I enjoyed it.
I’m not, it wasn’t new to see myself in a medium like that. I’m in theater, so I’ve been on stages. I’ve acted in plays. I was in like an independent commercial at one point too, where I played like this sort of geeky hipster, You know, I’ve always been also very open about myself.
You know, everyone knows my mom. Everyone knows my life. I write under my actual name. I don’t have a pen names, so I’m pretty much an open book to begin with.
Jeff: And the story honestly of you and your mom is amazing. Getting to meet both of you at GRL last year. It was just like, this is such a nice family that’s right here and supporting each other. It’s really awesome.
Daryl: Thank you. Yeah, my mom is pretty awesome.
Jeff: I’m not sure I could have my mom read some of the steamier parts of the book. So I think that’s very brave of you to do that.
Daryl: You should hear some of the conversation. You should be a fly on the wall in this house.
Sometimes my mom does read all of my work, including the steamy scenes. I don’t know how other people would react to it, but it’s the thing that she’s always been, she’s always read my work. Like she’s never shied away from anything. And like, you know, and sometimes she’s a soundboard for ideas that I have or whenever I’m kind of lost in a story, or I’m not sure I want something to go, you know, we have had like the moments at dinner where, you know, we’re, we’re eating and she’s just kind of daintily cutting her potato.
And I just had sent her my chapters that morning and she’ll just be like, you know, honey, I was just thinking about this. How can someone give a blow job and like also open their pants and hold the back of his head at the same time. Like, this is not possible. It’s not possible. I’m like, Oh my God, mom, we’re trying to eat.
Jeff: Dinner conversation in the Banner household.
Daryl: You know how it goes? Yeah. My mom and I are very open she’s she’s a cool cat.
Jeff: Which is, like I said, it’s very awesome.
Daryl: Thank you.
Jeff: So we’re halfway through pride month and all this month we’ve had authors reading from their work for us. So we can, you know, hear a little bit of the work from the author directly. What are you going to be reading for us?
Daryl: You know, I was thinking I would read my first chapter of “Lover’s Flood,” which is a very short chapter. Alright, chapter one of “Lover’s Flood.”
The good news is, you can’t die from masturbating.
Or I haven’t yet, at least.
And I don’t mean to sound awful, but my favorite part of the day is when my roommate rushes off to his morning classes. He’s almost never back before the late afternoon, and since I have no early morning classes this semester, I get the whole dorm room to myself for hours.
Hours alone are a commodity in dormitory life.
I shake away my screensaver with a flick of the mouse. I double-click a folder called “psychology notes”, which is actually full of male fitness models flexing, half-naked athletes, and cute guys making out. Video clips I’ve gathered, organized carefully by model name. Galleries upon galleries of photos, also organized by name.
I like knowing their names. Especially if we’re about to spend the next few hours together.
It would seem disrespectful otherwise, wouldn’t it?
The one whose folder I double-click today is no surprise. I’m sure every other model, athlete, and stolen-off-the-web hottie rolls their eyes as I open his gallery, knowing how predictable I am. He’s my first choice. I always open him first. He’s my go-to specimen of perfection, this guy who’s worked his way into my heart and made a home there. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s him I’m spending time with.
I don’t actually know him, of course. But his life is one I can easily imagine as I gaze into his soft, knowing eyes on the screen. I see him with a circle of his closest buddies. He always seems to be surrounded by a happy, bro-ish swarm of them. He’s the kind of guy who laughs with his whole body, all his perfect muscles contracting with his every joyful bellow. He’ll probably even laugh at a dumb joke I make, not wanting me left out of his circle. He doesn’t exclude. He doesn’t push away. He’s the perfect fantasy buddy. He’ll never get annoyed or angry, and he never rolls his eyes. He’s there for you, always, and he lifts you out of any mood you’re in and makes you see the better side.
He’s not just a sex object. I’ll never see him that way, no matter how fast he makes my heart race … and no matter what I’m doing right now below my waist. He constructs in my mind an alternate life. He is a kind of idealized, perfect love … a true love, a forever love. When he smiles, the whole world breaks apart before my eyes like ocean waves shattering the shore, and I smile with him—and I belong.
I don’t want to say I’m in love with him.
That would be ridiculous, of course.
What I feel for him is more of a deep, meaningful affinity—a kind of affection that is always accompanied by something like envy walking alongside it, holding its warm, warm hand.
There is a very fine line between loving someone so much, you want them—and loving someone so much, you want to be them. I guess depending on which side of that fine line you fall, the world sees you as either a romantic … or a creep.
I’m not sure on which side I fall.
Maybe my fine line is a blurry one.
Or maybe the better point is, it doesn’t matter.
Because when I’m staring into his bottomless eyes … enjoying his brotherhood, his sweetness, his charm and his allure, catching every football he throws with his jock buds, flexing his guns at the gym, goofing off at a party in his stylish clothes that show off all his hard work at the gym, beckoning me over to hang with him on the couch, that soul-stealing smile he gives me …
And during our time today, I stare with supreme devotion into the soft-eyed, adorably dimpled face of my muscular buddy on the screen.
And the tight, exquisite way his plain white t-shirt fits on his shoulders in this particular photo I’ve landed on, stretching across his pecs and wrapping around his biceps. His flat-billed hat is on cockeyed, strands of his messy hair jutting out in all directions from underneath its shadow. His eyes sparkle like undiscovered gems as he stares back at me. He lets me admire his beauty. He lets me live the fantasy.
He always looks like a champion in every one of his photos, and I never quite know what he just won.
Other than my heart.
Wow, that beautiful smile …
And I swear he knows it, because the corner of his pretty lips curve up ever so slightly in this pic, giving him that cocky, proud look of victory—the look of a guy who knows he’s got me.
There’s a noise at my back. My door swings open.
End of chapter.
Jeff: Oops, roommate came home.
Daryl: Whoops. The roommate came home.
Jeff: That was great. He’s such a good character.
Daryl: And he’s interesting, certainly interesting. He’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve.
Jeff: There’s a lot of about stuff bouncing around in his head for sure.
Daryl: Oh yes. Like I said, his imagination is his core.
Jeff: So what does Pride mean to you?
Daryl: Pride means… this might sound strange to someone, but I don’t know, pride to me means to have a simple unremarkable confidence that everyone else in the world has already just to be themselves. One day I feel like this idea of pride will be obsolete because we’ll live in that homophobia-free world. I write so many of my books in. Fun story about pride. If you wouldn’t mind me sharing. So one of the first years that I attended pride, I had just finished that very first book of mine, “Psychology of Want,” which “Lover’s Flood” is based on. And I had printed several paperbacks and I brought them to the pride parade to sell them here in Houston.
And of course I didn’t sell all of them. I was practically giving them away. The guests grand Marshall happened to be Andy Cohen of Bravo. Ten years ago, if you can imagine it, then he came by my kiosk and I gave him a copy of my book and I signed it and he was all like, you wrote this?
And I was like, yes, I did. It was very awesome. He was super, super fun. And of course, like my mom and I did the gushy thing, we’re just like, we watch all the “Housewives” shows. We watch Bravo, we love Bravo and it’s like super embarrassing, but we did it in any way. He started seeing us all around the event after that.
And he would, he would like drive in the back of a car and like wave at us and be like, hi, Darryl and his mom. I I love PLFAG moms. Cause that’s it. That’s who we were marching with. That year we were marching with PFLAG and he was super, super sweet. And I don’t know if Andy Cohen still has that copy of “Psychology of Want,” but if he does, and if somehow he were to see this and hear this, I would say I have a copy of “Lover’s Flood ” that has got your name on it.
And I would love for you to have it because it would just make my life full circle. From that time, when I started out to 10 years to where I am now.
Jeff: You should look on the the backdrops to “What Happens Live” and see if it’s back on that shelf somewhere.
Daryl: Seriously. Like is my book on there? No, no, it’s not.
Jeff: So what’s coming up next for you later this year after, “Connor” comes out.
Daryl: So what is coming up next to me? I’m going to be releasing, basically if “Connor’s” not out already, actually, I don’t know. By the time this airs “Connor” might already be out. So I would say what’s coming up next for me.
I’m going to be releasing the rest of season two of the “Boys and Toys” after Connor is going to come “Brett,” his roommate followed by “Dante,” who is the landlord, followed by “Zach,” who is a dancer at the strip club. In the fall, I believe you can probably see another “Spruce Texas” romance coming from me as well as another unrelated, full length romance, something completely new.
If my schedule stays on and maybe even by the end of the year, I will have my next installment of “Outlier,” which my readers have been waiting over a year and a half for. Those books are big. I should, I don’t know if that was stated earlier out, the “Outlier” books are huge and it’s literally because there’s so many different stories that happen at the same time.
It’s literally like writing 10 full length novels at once and then threading threading them together. I mean like my last “Outlier” book was over 280,000 words, so they’re big suckers. They take a while to plan and write. Yeah, that does take a while. Hopefully I’ll have that fifth book by the end of the year. We’ll see.
Jeff: So how can people keep up with you online?
Daryl: They can like me on Facebook. They can join my Facebook group Daryl’s Doorway, which is a good place to connect with readers. Be the first to hear things about me. You could sign up for my mailing list, which, you can sign up darrylbanner.com/subscribe.html. Very easy, very easy. I give away a gift card, every newsletter. I also pull fun things. And in my gift card giveaway, you have an opportunity to ask me questions and every single newsletter I answered like eight to 10 reader questions in my newsletter. And some of the questions were very fun.
There’s some questions that get asked, like all the time , so I put like a little perma-answer at the bottom of like, these are the questions I get asked all the time, and this is the answer. Usually it’s like, am I single? And how old am I? And how do I get your books?
So I have the links at the bottom. And, where else you can also follow me on Amazon. I have an Amazon author page, just click the follow button that lets you notice that the plus follow. And it, notifies you of every new release that I have. You can follow me on BookBub as well.
Jeff: Fantastic. We will link to all of those places. Plus all the books we talked about in our show notes page. So people wouldn’t be able to find everything. Darryl, thank you so much for hanging out. This was
Daryl: awesome. Thank you very much. This has been a lot of fun. I appreciate. And thank you for having me on your, on your shows is this is a total honor. I appreciate it.