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I’m so thrilled with the cover art for The Companion, finalized this week with Paul Richmond of the Dreamspinner art department! Original art by Dan Skinner.

The CompanionThis is the back cover copy:

Shepherd Bucknam hasn’t had a lover in more than a decade, and doesn’t need one. As a Daka, he coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy all the time, and he loves his work. It’s his calling. In fact, he’s perfectly content—except for the terrors of his recurring nightmare, and the ominous blood-red birthmarks on his neck. He’s convinced that together they foretell his early and violent death.

When Shepherd’s young protégé is murdered, LAPD Detective Marco Fidanza gets the case. The two men are worlds apart: Marco has fought hard for everything he’s accomplished, in sharp contrast to the apparent ease of Shepherd’s inherited wealth—but their mutual attraction is too hot for …

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So — picking up from Part One: a straight hero grows up in an automatic level of belonging—whether it’s the idyllic Shire, or some other culture in which the hero belongs to an identifiable majority—that a gay one does not. But there’s a great and powerful gift inside the pain of not belonging: it sets him free. The gay hero does not owe the same psychic allegiance to the heteronormative world and its cultural conventions that a straight hero does. He sees the culture in which he lives through a very different lens. As a result, he understands the familiar world from a perspective that is ideally equipped to bring outside-the-box thinking for change, insight, compassion and creativity. But it takes courage to do it.

In boyhood most gay males learn to be shape-shifters, which in itself is another kind of separation from the world. Generally speaking, he learns to …

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I’m developing materials for an online course to be presented this October under the aegis of the Florida Romance Writers, focusing on the differences in the Hero’s Journey for a gay protagonist. I’ve been fascinated by the Hero’s Journey since I read Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces as a teenager. It wasn’t until decades later–after I came out–that I became sensitive to the heteronormative overlays in the Journey as it was usually described. At first I was offended, but I soon realized that those overlays were perfectly appropriate for straight heroes, and that “somebody” ought to get busy and examine the differences for a gay male hero. So here are some comments about how a gay Hero’s Journey might present unique opportunities for a writer.

Now before anyone asks about other queer heroes (other than a gay male), let me beg those who are qualified to contribute to this …

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At the Equinox, just for a day, the world is united in a way that has nothing to do with human agendas or ideology, nothing to do with environment or climate, nothing to do even with season of the year: there is the same amount of light and darkness everywhere. It’s a kind of creative equality that fascinates me.

This time, as the sun crossed the Equator, I got the image of an adult leading an art project for some kids. Each child had a nice clear workspace, some on the floor, some at tables, some standing in front of a wall. The atmosphere was calm and full of anticipation. She hands out a big sheet of sturdy paper to each child, and then distributes sets of brushes and two identical jars — one of light and one of darkness.

“Okay, everyone,” she says to the eager kids (and I’m …

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On this date Germany’s Paragraph 175 was finally revoked. Originally adopted in 1871, Paragraph 175 was a provision of the German Criminal Code that made homosexual acts between males a crime. The statute was amended several times. The Nazis broadened the law in 1935 and increased §175 StGB prosecutions by an order of magnitude; thousands died in concentration camps, regardless of guilt or innocence.

East Germany reverted to the old version of the law in 1950, limited its scope to sex with youths under 18 in 1968, and abolished it entirely in 1988. West Germany retained the Nazi-era statute until 1969, when it was limited to “qualified cases”; it was further attenuated in 1973 and finally revoked entirely in 1994 after German reunification.

Noteworthy is that the gay men in the concentration camps were kept in German prisons after the end of the war because they had violated this law.

Wilde City Press is celebrating Gay History Month with authors offering a series of posts. Here’s mine…

I celebrated enthusiastically with the rest of those who love equality when veteran basketball player Jason Collins came out in April of this year. It was a brave thing to do, even if Collins was in the twilight of his career with no contract for the following season. (And I’m not aware of any contract interest in Collins for the coming season.) His coming out was billed as the first for an active major league athlete, but that isn’t strictly true.

From 1976 to 1978 Glenn Burke played for the LA Dodgers, and came out to his teammates and the club owners while an active player. Everybody knew. When asked, team captain Davey Lopes said nobody cared. In 1978 Burke was traded to the Oakland A’s, where he sustained a knee injury before …

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Late last week I submitted my latest novel, The Companion, to Toby Johnson at Lethe Press. He’d said earlier this year that he wanted to see the full when it was ready, so off it went. I can attend GayRomLit in Atlanta next week with my desk clear (figuratively speaking only!)

Jim Frey, whose workshops I’ve attended for several years, is adamant about having a clear premise for a novel. I’m a believer. Somehow, having a one-sentence cause and effect statement describing the story keeps me on track while I’m writing. It’s my litmus test as to whether a scene is superfluous or relevant to the story: does it support the premise? If yes, then it belongs. If no, then I need to cut it out.

For The Companion, which is a metaphysical mystery/romance (how’s that for an obscure niche?! It seems to be the one I’m wired to occupy) …

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Hi, folks. Joe Stalwart here. I’m a PI, a well-motivated character who overcomes obstacles in pursuit of a goal. My old buddy Lloyd Meeker asked me to come by and talk about writing conflict because he’s sulking and doesn’t want to deal with it.

Nah, that’s not really fair. The truth is he doesn’t mind conflict as long as it’s an authentic part of the story. It’s when it just gets manufactured for its own sake and shoved into a story that he gets pissed off.

But I’d better start at the beginning. Like I said, I’m a well-motivated character overcoming obstacles in pursuit of the goal. That’s the essence of a story, and I make a great protagonist, even if I do say so myself.

It used to be enough that one of my stories would start when a gorgeous dame walked into my dingy office while a solo …

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Besides doing a monthly review at Jessewave, I’m also doing one a month for Out in Print. My most recent, for Jack Fritscher’s Some Dance to Remember, is up today here.
It’s a novel about post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS San Francisco. It’s not a particularly well-written book, but it carries an intense emotional wallop — a turbulent, personal story set in the decade when gay culture exploded out of the closet and began to invent itself in the open. That evolution was not always tidy, or even beautiful, but always powerful.

My author friend Rick Reed tagged me as the next author to post in a series in which each of us shares answers to a a set of questions about our current writing project. So here are mine… hope you find the ideas intriguing!

What is the working title of your book?

The Companion

 

What genre does your book fall under?

I wish I knew. It’s a metaphysical gay mystery about death and love. What shelf does that belong on? New Age? Romance? Mystery? I have no idea. Here’s the story idea—you decide:

Shepherd Bucknam inherited more money than he’ll ever spend, so he doesn’t need a job. He’s handsome, smart, educated and polished. He’s also a sex worker. He takes his profession seriously, as a kind of mystical performing art, coaching repressed men into a more profound experience of their sexual selves. Violence terrifies him, and he’s haunted …

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