As before in the previous Friend Friday posts… (Sue Brown, Jeff Adams, Gregory Payne, Chris Shirley, Tammy Middleton, and DS Kenn. ) I asked Stephen to answer the basic interview questions. This is what he had to say.
Stephen: First, I want to say, Thank you so much for opening up your blog to other writers. It is a great example of how writers in this genre help each other out.
Wade: You're most welcome! I think we are here to help each other out. After all, readers can always read faster than ANY author can write! We need to keep the readers supplied :)
WK - So…. what inspires your writing?
Stephen: I write the stories I want to read. I’m old enough that it was almost impossible to fine stories with gay characters in them when I was growing up. As a kid, I started making up stories that had boys in them that were like me. The inspiration comes from the soul deep desire to not be invisible. I wanted stories that acknowledged some heroes can slay the dragon and would rather have the King’s son as the prize.
Wade: I like how you think.
WK - When did you start writing m/m romance?
Stephen: I’m still a little fuzzy on the line between gay fiction and m/m. Also I’m not sure if I always write “romance” or if there are just strong romantic elements in my stories. I’m a gay guy so I can’t see ever not having LGBT characters in a story I write. Also I think love/romance/sex is part of the human condition, so how do you write a story with humans in it without that longing for others? Wow, this is starting to ramble. Maybe the answer is both “always” and “I’m not sure.”
Wade: There was also a post on Facebook about the same thing. It seems the trends have changed over time. Someone said it was to differentiate between f/f or m/m/f or whatever because sometimes the term "gay" was used to mean male or female interaction with the same sex. But traditionally gay or gay culture referred to men. I think what other commenters said on the post was that "M/M" is normally used in writing, where "gay" would tend to be the term people would commonly use when speaking. True? Not true? IDK. and then one guy linked a book about history of gay culture. I found that interesting.
Anyway… I digress
WK - Are you a full time author?
Stephen: Unfortunately not. Maybe someday.
Wade: me too!
WK - Who is your favorite author?
Stephen: I don’t know if I can pick one. Flannery O’Connor and Mark Twain were my favorites early on. Being a southern boy, they spoke my language. In high school I read a lot of Arthur C. Clarke and fell in love with Tolkien. I discovered gay fiction in college with Joseph Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter mysteries. Finding a series of books with a strong gay protagonist was really important to me.
WK - How many books have you written so far?
Stephen: I have a handful of short stories, one novella, and one novel out. I’m kind of excited because the audio version of the novella, “The Three of Us,” just came out. That was an exciting process.
WK - Tell us a little about your novel, Dark Love
Stephen: The term “dark love” is used in the story as a metaphor for homosexuality—the love that had to hide in the dark. The story has several levels. One is a kind of tongue and cheek poke at paranormal romance. The lighter side lets me deal with the heaver aspects of forming new relationships, finding family and grieving the loss of family members. I’ve received pretty good feedback that I got the mix of laugh out loud and reaching for the tissues right on.
WK - How long did it take you to complete it?
Stephen: I whipped through that sucker, well at least for me. I started it for National Novel Writing Month and finished the first draft in about ten weeks. I think it’s about 110K words or so.
WK - Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?
Stephen: Oh gosh, I love them all. They are my boys! I do like the MC, Dieter. He’s kind of an asshole, in a lovable way (I hope), and it was fun to be bad through him. Innes is interesting. He’s a secondary character in a number of my stories. It’s like he’s standing in the shadows watching me, waiting for the right moment to step up and start whispering his story in my ear.
WK - How much of yourself did you manifest into your favorite character?
Stephen: I’m never sure how to answer questions like this, maybe because on some level it can have some disturbing implications, especially when you write something dark. They come from me so I’m in there somewhere I guess. But I really don’t build a character. I know some writers do. They have these great sheets with all kinds of details. I find that amazing. I meet my characters as I write the story. I learn about them as the reader does. Hum, I seem to have rambled away from the question. Maybe I need to ask some of my close friends this question. I’d be interesting to hear what they say.
WK - When someone reads “Dark Love”, what do you hope they gain from reading it?
Stephen: First, I hope that had a good time. For me that’s what it is all about. Secondly, I hope they felt like they visited Bennett Bay, the fictional setting for this series of stories, and really got to know the characters. The “Stories from Bennett Bay” are my version of a southern soap opera with gay and occasional paranormal/urban fantasy bits thrown in. I want the reader to get sucked into this weird little place that lives in my head. J
WK - Can you share four things you’ve learned about the business?
1. Network with other writers. I have never met a greater group of folk willing to help and share their knowledge. Maybe it is the gay/mm/romance genre but I’ve just been overwhelmed by the support.
2. Pass it on. Support and promote other writers as much as possible. We are not in competition with each other. Readers can consume more than we can ever produce, you just need to produce the best stuff you can.
3. Produce as much as you can. The more quality books/stories you have published the better you will do.
4. Just write.
WK - How do you keep your creative "spark" alive?
Stephen: I know there is the “rule” out there that you have to write every day. It is probably a good one and I try, but sometimes you need a break. Hanging out with other writers in real life (best) or online seems to help me. Also, I try to get to the beach as often as I can, one of the advantages of living in Florida. Watching the sun sink into the Gulf seems to recharge me.
WK - What is your suggestion or piece of advice to new and upcoming writers?
Stephen: This is the best time in the history of humanity to be a writer. Get your butt in a chair and start, right now. Try to write every day. Do it. Find a community online. There are people out there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember we were all beginners at some point. If you don’t start, you can’t get better and you do get better with each story you write. Just do it!
WK - Where we can find you on the Internet?
Stephen: You can find out about my books atat http://www.StephendelMar.com and I spend way too much time on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.delmar.5
WK - Could you please share your favorite excerpt from “Dark Love” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ISGDB5O) with us?
The setup: Dieter’s great uncle, Wolfgang, has just died. He is at the family farm in rural Florida right after the funeral. While going through the barn, he and his brother Paul find a mysterious little pewter box. The brothers have an argument and Paul leaves. Dieter’s long time friend and ex-boyfriend, Innes, comes over to comfort Dieter. Innes is a witch which is a point of contention for them because Dieter doesn’t believe in magic. Innes finds the box and has a rather strong reaction to it, which Dieter finds absurd. This scene is at the end of the day after Innes has left. He calls back to try and warn Dieter what he has learned. Dieter is resisting the best he can the encroachment of the mystical into his world.
Of course that was the moment my phone made the little nose-twitch tinkle-tinkle. I sighed, go with the flow and remember you love him.
I picked up the phone. “Hello Innes.”
“Didn’t you get my text?” He sounded flustered.
“No. I haven’t looked at my phone. I’ve had other things on my mind.”
“Oh. Right. Well, what are you doing?”
“Sitting naked in the kitchen having soup and a sandwich.”
“Because I was hungry. What do you want?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment. I heard the creak of a screen door and the chirping of frogs. He must have moved outside onto Flora May’s front porch. “Look,” he said, “Flora May just got back from the faeries.” He paused like he expected me to comment. I had nothing.
“She’s not telling me a lot. Said they’re pretty agitated about the whole thing.”
Again the pause. Again I was silent; although I was worrying my grip on the phone would reach its crush point.
“Dieter, you gotta promise me to take this seriously.”
Actually, I didn’t have to promise him anything.
I heard him swallow. “Tonight is a full moon.”
“So? It happens every twenty-eight days from what I understand.”
“Fuck.” He was agitated. “Listen, whatever you do, don’t jack-off in that box under the full moon.”
My mind kicked into neutral and spun its gears as it tried to make sense of the string of words it just received. Because they didn’t make any sense and they kept coming.
He continued. “I mean it. Whatever you do, do not mix your semen with that ash in the full moonlight.”
Some emergency back-up system took over. My thumb slid over my phone and ended the call. I stood up, opened the fridge and pulled a beer out. I twisted the top off and dropped it on the table. I pushed my way through the swinging door into the living room. As I fell back onto the couch, I tried to imagine a world where the idea of masturbating into a box of human ash existed, let alone the need to warn someone not to do that. Ohhh, I’m gonna cum, make sure the drapes are pulled and the lids are on all the urns, ‘cause we don’t want our spunk and ash and moonlight to mix! ‘Cause that will start the zombie apocalypse or something.
Stephen: Thanks for interviewing me! I'd be happy to offer an ebook of Dark Love to one of your visitors.
WK – NO Prob! I look forward to seeing you again at Rainbow Con in July if you are there. :)
And do you hear that readers and fans? Stephen will GIVE AWAY an eBook of Dark Love to one of my visitors. So please, comment below! Say HI. Tell Stephen what you think. I'll pick a random winner next week!
On Stephen’s website it says:
Stephen del Mar is a fresh voice in Southern Gay Fiction. His Bennett Bay collection of books and stories explore life in that unique corner of the American South known as Florida. He also writes fantasy and science-fiction. Del Mar lives in the Tampa Bay region of Florida and enjoys Key Lime Pie and mango margaritas, but not at the same time. He also finds constantly barking Chihuahuas nearly as distracting to the writing process as Facebook and Twitter, but don’t tell his housemate.
His Bio page also has an interview that may add a little more to your knowledge of who this writer is :)
Thanks to all the Friend Friday guests so far.Sue Brown, Jeff Adams, Gregory Payne, Chris Shirley, Tammy Middleton, and DS Kenn. Next week we'll say HI to Whitley Gray.
Names Can Never Hurt Me from Dreamspinner Press is currently #10 on their Best Seller List.