Today, I’m giving the blog over to a fellow author of historical gay romance, Anne Barwell, and her novel, ‘On Wings of Song.’ The book is currently on sale for $2.99 in Kindle and has been picking up some great reviews. I’ll be here on Wednesday with news about ‘1892’, the Clearwater Tales Volume One, and possibly even a cover. Meanwhile here’s some more info about ‘On Wings of Song’ and all the links you need.
On Wings of Song
“A beautifully written historical romance.”
“A sweet, and angsty, slow burn romance.”
A chance meeting they never forgot.
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
Author’s note: This story was originally released by another publisher. This edition has some added content, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.
Today, I have the great pleasure of welcoming Anne Barwell to talk about the research for her historical series, Echoes Rising. I asked Anne to tell us about her novels and what goes into creating them and was delighted to discover she is as passionate about research as I am. There are similarities between the time in which Anne writes and my Clearwater Victorian era (illegal and dangerous to be gay). I won’t dilly-dally but will hand you straight over to Anne.
Thanks, Jackson, for hosting me today.
My Echoes Rising series is set in WWII so I needed to research not only location, but the time period too.
I’d wanted to write not only an action drama story but one that had at its heart a relationship between two men during a time when the discovery of their relationship risked severe repercussions, even death. I also wanted to explore characters who needed to do some serious soul-searching in order to break free of expectations of themselves and their society.
I knew in writing a historical I had a lot of research ahead of me, especially as I planned to write a three-book series. Shadowboxing is set in Berlin, Winter Duet is a road trip across wartime Germany, and Comes a Horseman takes place in France leading up to, and including D-Day.
I used a range of resources for my research. I work in a library—shelving in the 940.5 section is not a great idea as I get distracted by shiny things. The library, and its databases, were a fantastic writing resource. Half the fun was finding the resources, which weren’t just in the history section, as I also needed travel books—for locations—and information about clothing and weapons. Early on in the writing process for the story, I found a book called The Bomb by Gerard DeGroot which was about the ‘life story of the Bomb’ and subtitled A History of Hell on Earth. I bought my own copy of it.
The Forgotten Voices series, another invaluable resource, relays personal accounts by both servicemen and women and civilians about what it was like to live through that time. The internet also provided a lot of interesting information although some things were next to impossible to find, the specifics of German telephones being one. The only information I could find was about the US system at the time! Luckily one of my beta readers was German and she proved an invaluable source of information. She also checked facts on websites written in German and provided/suggested the German used in the story.
However, history can also work for a story rather than against it. After all, there’s no need to find a way to blow something up when it’s already documented that the Allied forces dropped bombs in the area at that time.
Many of the other locations in the story are real places. The Michaelskirche—St Michael’s Church—in Berlin where Michel meets the Allied team was still intact in 1943, although it was damaged later in the war. The Klosterkirche, a nunnery on the site of another church, where Michel and Kristopher take refuge, is also a real place, as is St Gertrud’s convent in Alexanderdorf. I was able to draw on photos of those places to describe them as well, which was very helpful. Other landmarks included the Brandenburg Tor and the Spree River.
Some of the other settings were not real but I studied maps in order to place them in actual locations, so I could work out what route the characters had to take to reach them. I also used Google map directions to figure out long it would take to get there, although I had to make some adjustments, given the time period. Cars didn’t travel as fast seventy years ago, and this story is set during a war. Google street view was also useful too although I had to again keep in mind the time difference. I based my fictional locations on real places so they would sound authentic. It’s the details that throw a reader out of a story, although it’s impossible to get everything right, and sometimes a writer has to take some liberties for the sake of a good story.
I used books of street maps of the area—because sometimes you want something in hardcopy, rather than flipping back and forth on browser tabs—and firsthand accounts of people who had been in Berlin at that time. Databases were very helpful, especially the Times Digital Archive, as they gave more of an insight into what it was like living there at the time. Travel books like The Lonely Planet Guides were useful too, but again had to be adjusted because they focused on what Berlin is like now, rather than describing the city in 1943.
Music plays a big part in Winter Duet, book 2 of my WII Echoes Rising series. Two of the characters—Kristopher and Michel—are musicians. Kristopher plays the violin, and Michel the flute, and they’ve promised each other a duet if they survive the war. Although the title reflects that promise, it also refers to a duet of another sort as the team is split into two for a good portion of the story.
I’d attended a lecture on music code as part of one of my music papers at uni, and had always wanted to use it in a story. I also studied Schubert’s Winterreise as part of the same paper, and given the setting of Winter Duet, it worked perfectly for it. The lyrics for the music come from a collection of poems by Müller so I used lines from one of the poems—’Frühlingstraum’—as code phrases used by the Resistance. Kristopher takes the conversation about music a step further and devises a code which he and Michel can use to leave each other a note that will not be easily deciphered if found by the enemy.
Music code was not only used in WWII but long before that. Bach used musical notation to spell out his name in his compositions using the fact that modern music notation had developed from modes—in German ‘B flat’ is ‘B’ and ‘B natural’ is H—and phonetics. Later Schumann used several musical cryptograms in his music, spelling out not just his own name, but that of Clara Wieck, who would later become his wife. Other codes were based on pitch, motifs (repeated music phrases) and note lengths. There are many more examples and variations out there across a range of different composers.
And yes, Clara Lehrer, Kristopher’s sister, is named after Clara Schumann. I’ve learnt a lot more about WWII while writing this series than I ever thought I would, and despite the work involved, I’ve really enjoyed it. I still have a notebook, a folder, and bookcases full of information about the period, and although this team’s story is told, I wouldn’t be surprised if that information proves useful in another story sometime.
Shadowboxing, Book 1 of Echoes Rising, is on sale this month.
Complete their mission or lose everything.
An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.
For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined. Author’s note: This is the third edition of Shadowboxing. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house. This story has been re-edited and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with kitty siblings Byron and Marigold who are convinced her office chair is theirs.
Anne works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher of a wide range of genres, and is constantly on the lookout for more hours in her day. She likes to write in series and even so-called one-shots seem to breed more plot bunnies. Her writing is like her reading – across a range of genres, although her favourites are paranormal, fantasy, SF, and historical. Music often plays a part in her stories and/or her characters are musicians.
She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers, and a member of RWNZ. Her books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner-up in the Rainbow Awards.
Proofing a book and making it ready for publication.
The Larkspur Legacy, the last in the Larkspur Mystery series, is now being layed out and when that’s done, it will be ready for publication next weekend. Meanwhile, I thought I’d have a look at the blurb and talk a little about the proofreading stage. As you can see from the title, I’m never sure whether I should write proofreader or proof-reader, or even proof reader. And that’s why I have one. More about that in a moment, first the blurb.
The Larkspur Legacy full blurb reads like this:
The Larkspur Legacy
The Larkspur Mysteries
‘Lord Clearwater, the Larkspur Academy has forged a bond among its men that will last long after they have left us and made their own way in the world. You are to be commended for the enterprise, but you should not be surprised by it.’
Barbary Fleet, December 1891
Henry Hope lies in a coma, and Lord Clearwater’s hunt for his mother’s secret treasure is on hold. But when a new clue comes to light, Clearwater and the academy men resume their greatest adventure. It is also to be their most dangerous.
With murderous enemies behind, the unknown ahead, and a warrant out for Clearwater’s arrest, no-one is safe. Loyalties and friendships are tested as the men face harrowing confrontations, a war of attrition in the national newspapers, storms, gunfights and death.
Will love and friendship be enough to secure the lives and futures of Lord Clearwater and his crew? Can they solve the riddles in time, and will anyone ever know the meaning of the seemingly unlockable riddle? Behind four points ’neath gifted crook, the light awaits for those who look…
The Larkspur Legacy follows on directly from ‘Starting with Secrets’ and is the culmination of both the Clearwater and Larkspur mystery series. It is not necessary to have read the Clearwater Mysteries, but to get the best from this ‘end of season finale,’ you’re advised to read both, the Larkspur Mysteries in particular, and to read them in order.
With themes of friendship, bromance, male love and revenge, the story combines historical fact with fiction. As with all of Jackson Marsh’s mysteries, the novel contains humour, love and action, while offering the reader the chance to solve the clues with the cast of disparate, well-drawn characters.
“This is a book that could have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dan Brown.”
That is what you will see on Amazon when the book is published.
For me, the important things to remember when writing a blurb are:
It is not a synopsis
It is selling the book
Use power words
Keep it brief
Entice the reader
Other authors and advisors have other advice, but those are my rules to myself.
I start by writing what I want the browsing reader to know, and I don’t care how I write that draft. Then, I go through it knocking out as much as I can that’s not necessary to convey the backbone of the story, and then I go through it again using power words.
I try to keep blurbs down to 150 words or less, and only three paragraphs.
1) The premise of the story: Henry Hope lies in a coma, and Lord Clearwater’s hunt for his mother’s secret treasure is on hold, when…
2) The ‘thing to draw the reader in’: But when a new clue comes to light….
3) The great question or hook: Will love and friendship be enough…?
As for power words, I mean words and phrases like:
Greatest adventure, most dangerous, murderous enemies, the unknown, harrowing confrontations, war of attrition, storms, gunfights, death…
I also prepare the blurb before I send my MS to my proof-reader, because it makes sense for a third party to check it as much as they check the MS.
I’m lucky to have found Ann Attwood, and she has been my proof reader on every Jackson Marsh book and a couple of my later James Collins titles. It’s important to have a good working relationship with your proofer (who is not necessarily also your editor, in fact, I believe they should be two different people, but that’s up to you).
I invited Ann over to tell us a little bit more about herself and how she got into proofreading.
I started proofreading in my twenties (a long time ago!), mainly doing technical documents, but I have always read a lot.
I read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind when I was around 16. My mum had the hardback edition, which was really heavy to carry around, and, of course, I read all Jane Austen’s books, and Georgette Heyer’s. As you can see, I am a big romantic fiction fan.
I worked in banking (sorry) until I had my family, but reading kept me sane. After they all started at school I was working in a preschool, but had to give up when I damaged my back. I needed something to do.
It wasn’t a big leap to get into reading ARC editions, but many had so many mistakes from lack of editing, I think, so I began sending corrections to the authors.
It wasn’t long before I was asked if I would proofread or edit professionally, so I set up a Facebook page (now Meta), and it snowballed from there.
To be honest, it’s so long since I started working with James and his Jackson persona, I can’t remember how we met. Probably a recommendation, which is how I’ve gained most of my authors (there are about 40 or 50 on my books. Some send regularly a book a month, others may send one or two a year)
James is easy to work with, and his books are extremely good. I enjoy following the plots and untangling the mysteries to see if I reach the same conclusion. The stories are extremely well thought out, and he has obviously done a lot of research. All that is left for me to do is fix his typos and enjoy myself immersed in a brilliant adventure, ensuring there are no continuity issues (which there usually aren’t).
This last book, the finale in the series, is his longest and best yet (IMHO). All the loose ends are tied up, but no spoilers here.
As well as editing and proofreading for my indie authors (genres include romantic, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, crime, and murder mysteries), I proofread for the online edition of a financial magazine, and edit for the marketing arm of a PSP software provider.
Thank you Ann, you sound like a very busy person and I very much appreciate being one of your clients.
So back to checking through the manuscript, your proofer should be able to identify everything from obvious typos to the subtle differences between words, and that’s what Ann does. Although I use a spell check, and a couple of plug-in grammar and spelling checkers in Word, there’s nothing to beat a 3rd party pair of eyes, and an experienced grammarian proof reader. We’re not just talking spelling and typos, but punctuation and consistency of story.There are so many words in the English language that are important to get right, and some of the ones I need a third eye on are these:
And some of my most common typos are character’s names, believe it or not. Often your eye and brain see what they expect to see, not what’s actually written, so I am always missing mix-ups like:
I’ve also put in some accidental typos that have been quite funny (as long as they get taken out). Mind you, nothing is as funny as some of the typos you see left in published classics.
In the Larkspur Legacy, there is one section where one of the characters is reading from an actual copy of Baedeker’s travel guide from 1890, and I couldn’t help quoting it verbatim. Reading from the book, the character says:
‘The façade, towards the boulevard… They must mean this road… Roman circular style… Three stories…” Spelt wrong. “Cottage of the pensioner who keeps the key…”’
The Baedeker travel companions, were very popular in the later 19th century and well respected, but not always so well proofed, it seems. Mind you, I can’t say anything, I am always coming up with new and creative typos: ‘Joe’s not stupid, Sir, he’s dead.’ Instead of deaf, for example. Mostly, I’m able to take them out before they go to Ann, but I also have a checklist of my most common. Form/From, Filed/filled, griped/gripped etc. I have trouble with double-letter words, as you can see, and that’s why you should always hire a professional proofreader, or a proof reader, or, assuming he/she is a compound adjective, a proof-reader.
Proof-reader might not be a compound adjective, actually. I don’t know. Which is why I call in the professionals.
The Larkspur Legacy is due for release next Saturday, 26th March. In the meantime, to celebrate the completion of The Clearwater and Larkspur Mysteries, I am offering Deviant Desire as a FREE download on Amazon until 22nd March. Maybe you had it on KindleUnlimited before but now you can download for keeps, or maybe send to a friend to get them hooked too!
I am also part of a BookFunnel promo running for the week, over 50 fellow MM author are showcasing their first in series, so if you are looking for a new binge read have a browse. I need clicks on this link to build my BookFunnel reputation so please CLICK HERE
This week I am delighted to have fellow MM author, Ellie Thomas, over as a guest blogger. She is here to celebrate her new book, A Touch of Spice and to talk a little about the research behind her writing. I wish you a great release Ellie, the blog is all yours…..
A Touch of Spice
By Ellie Thomas
Thank you so much, Jackson, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m Ellie, and I write MM Historical Romance novellas. This week I have a release day for my new story, A Touch of Spice, set in Elizabethan London. It’s great to celebrate that here!
As I write historical stories, research takes up a big part of my writing preparation. Of course, websites are invaluable for fact and date checking and an online map for a sense of place, but there’s nothing like picking up a book to get solidly into a historical period. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for buying yet more reference books!
A Touch of Spice is the follow-up story to my last year’s Valentine’s story, The Spice of Life. In my new tale, I continue Gregory and Jehan’s ongoing love story and their everyday lives. Gregory is emerging from being trained as a servant in his relatives’ household, and Jehan has transitioned from a spice merchant’s apprentice to a shopkeeper. My intention in this new story was to give an impression of the colour, vibrancy and occasional danger of the crowded streets of Elizabethan London while depicting Gregory and Jehan’s loving relationship. So I had to grab my reference books.
I have two go-to authors for all things Tudor. The first is the fabulous method historian Ruth Goodman whose knowledge of day-to-day life in the 1500s is encyclopaedic. I find her books as lively and entertaining as they are informative (and I have most of them!)
For A Touch of Spice, I consulted How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life. This is a brilliant resource for daily customs (clothes, food, mealtimes and so on) and also gives a fascinating insight into the Tudor mindset, which is pure gold for any author writing historical stories. For a little extra colour, I also had to browse How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain (worth buying for the title alone) giving further insight into what offended Tudor folk, including some choice insults. I mean who could resist calling someone a ‘prating fool,’ or a ‘ninnyhammer’?
The second author I turn to for Elizabethan mores is Judith Cook, the author of one of my favourite books, Roaring Boys: Shakespeare’s Rat Pack. This wonderful volume firmly puts Shakespeare and his contemporaries within the context of the bustling streets of overcrowded London. The introduction gives a wonderfully vivid description of the playwright and man about town Robert Greene, wearing a “wine stained doublet is in his favourite colour, ‘goose turd’ a virulent yellowy-green.” Irresistible!
In writing about Gregory and Jehan’s continuing love, I wanted to give a historically rich backdrop to their sweet love story to place the reader as firmly as possible in my chosen place and time. The fact I relished revisiting my invaluable sourcebooks was a bonus!
In the spring of 1573, twenty-one-year-old Gregory Fletcher is a happy man, set to move into the spice shop on London’s Ludgate Hill with his true love Jehan Zanini, who he spared from being condemned as a thief the year before.
But Gregory’s kind inclinations to help others in need tend to thwart the couple from fulfilling their dreams as Gregory delays living with Jehan to assist his adoptive family in a crisis.
Then William Anstell, their friend and the cause and saviour of Jehan’s previous problems, gets amorously involved with an unscrupulous tavern server and relies on Gregory and Jehan to resolve his embarrassing mess.
Can the lovers finally put aside distractions and other people’s problems to find lasting happiness?
Mistress Cecily looked up from her stitching with a smile as Gregory entered her sewing room. Gregory felt a sting of nostalgia, that increasing sensation of being caught between two worlds. The safe patterns of boyhood grated against the exciting challenges of impending adult independence as he passed the age of a serving lad, only tied to this place by family loyalty.
As a courtesy, Gregory reported the purchase of the nutmeg and delivered his lady’s remaining money. Mistress Cecily nodded her head absently without bothering to count the change.
“And how is young Master Zanini today?” Mistress Cecily inquired.
“Both he and his trade are doing well, and he sends his compliments,” Gregory replied, the courtesy causing Mistress Cecily to smile more widely.
The Master and Mistress, Gregory’s de facto parents, had been delighted when he broached the notion of entering into merchandising. Jehan’s skill and knowledge of the goods he sold were never in question but Master Crossley had previously dealt with the business side of running the shop where Jehan was apprenticed. So the newly established merchant had scant experience of running a business and little certainty in his ability to notate letters and numbers.
Here, Gregory held the advantage. Growing up in a considerable household and being involved in its daily management proved invaluable, and Master Robert had guided him through the rest, poring for hours over the business ledgers and discussing how best to invest Jehan’s store of sovereigns.
If Master Robert had gladly imparted his knowledge of bookkeeping, Mistress Cecily had immediately bestowed her patronage on the Ludgate shop. Gregory reckoned that Master Crossley would not be dismayed at losing such a prestigious customer since he owned both premises, but Mistress Cecily’s friendly support to Jehan was a boon, as well as her recommendation of his services.
A few months after Jehan started trading from the narrow shop, Gregory was set to join him, openly as a partner in the business and privately, to conduct their burgeoning love affair. In overcrowded London, it was usual for men to share a room or even a bed without inciting gossip or moral outrage. Additionally, there was a small upstairs front room in direct proportion to the shop below, ideal for keeping the shop’s records. This chamber had a decent-sized window overlooking the street, garnering enough natural daylight for scribing.
Gregory had been preparing to decamp to Ludgate permanently in the depths of winter, when Master Robert’s elderly father had fallen down from the icy front steps of the Bishopsgate house. The doctor declared that Master Edward was lucky to get away with shock and bruising and a clean break of the bone in one arm. Gregory was a particular favourite of the old gentleman and had attended him in recent years more from fondness than duty. After the accident, not only did Master Edward require more practical assistance until his limb was mended, but the shock of the injury suddenly aged and confused him. For some months, it seemed that only Gregory’s presence could restore his good humour.
Neither Master Robert nor Mistress Cecily expected Gregory to remain to tend to their kinsman, but he could not bear to leave under the circumstances. After all, he reasoned, they had unhesitatingly opened their home and hearts to an orphaned boy. It would be unthinkable to repay those long years of kindness with desertion, especially when the old master needed him.
When he tried to explain his decision to Jehan, he feared outright rejection, even the end of their dreams of forging a life together, but although Jehan’s expressive face was sombre at the disappointing tidings, his dark eyes were full of compassion. “Family comes first,” He said. “You can’t desert Master Edward now. I sympathise, and I would expect no less of you. After all, if you hadn’t stuck by me when I was in trouble, where would I be now? You’re not the kind of man to abandon loved ones to follow your own desires, and I cherish you all the more for that quality. Never fear, I can wait a while longer.”
Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.
Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Tadhg Byrne, the main character from Beck Grey’s latest release, Embrace Me. Just like Joe Tanner, my MC from The Larkspur Mysteries, Tadhg is deaf. I am hoping that he will share how he feels about his deafness and how this language barrier may affect his relationships.
Before I put Tadhg in the spotlight I asked Beck for a little background info…
We first meet Tadhg Byrne on the day he leaves his abusive ex. He’s living and working in Los Angeles, where he went to college and studied architecture. He made a name for himself in the field and outwardly everything looked wonderful, but his ex was controlling and tried to cut him off from family and friends. Tadhg finally has the courage to leave and go back home to his family in Seattle.
The story really picks up when Tadhg starts his new job at an architectural firm in Seattle. We meet him again a few months after he’s back in Seattle, on his first day of work at his new job. He stops at a small café to get coffee and pastries for himself and his interpreter, Kaino. But Kaino is allergic to coconut oil, so Tadhg needs to ask about the ingredients in the food. However, he’s deaf, doesn’t have his phone, and no one working in the café knows ASL, American Sign Language.
As he’s struggling to communicate with the workers in the café, Quinn MacDougall interrupts to offer assistance. He knows some ASL and attempts to help facilitate communication. There is a strong attraction between Tadhg and Quinn, but neither attempts to get or give phone numbers for a future meet up. Luckily for them both, they find out that they now work for the same firm.
What is your full name?
Tadhg Donovan Byrne
Where and when were you born?
I was March 8th, 1986 in Seattle, Washington
What three words would others probably use to describe you?
Deaf with a capital D. Tenacious. Driven.
So that our readers can picture you better, what colour are your eyes?
Quinn would say they’re crystal blue, but I just say blue.
Do you have any physical traits that stand out such as scars, birthmarks or tattoos?
I’d say my most obvious physical trait that everyone notices is my deafness. I was born hearing, but when I was five I contracted meningitis and had a fever that was high enough and long enough to damage my auditory nerves. My mom, who is absolutely amazing, immediately enrolled us in a family ASL class at the local community college. She and I went twice a week for a few hours a session, and she hired a private tutor to come two other nights a week. She dove right in.
I do also have a tattoo of a Celtic dragon on my upper right arm. They symbolize wisdom and power.
It’s a reminder that I’m smart and strong enough to do what needs to be done, but it’s also what I should strive for. It’s both a reminder and a manifestation.
Do you mind telling us a little about how it is to be deaf/non speaking. Do you see it as a disability?
It’s my life. I don’t know any other way to be. I don’t remember much about when I could hear. I was born hearing, but when I was five, I contracted meningitis and had a fever that was high enough and long enough to damage my auditory nerves. And no, it’s not a disability. Hearing is just something I can’t do. Like some people can’t roll their tongue, or other people are colorblind and can’t see certain colors.
A more sensitive question maybe, but have you been bullied because of it?
I think everyone experienced some form of bullying at some point in their lives. But I had friends in kindergarten who stayed my friends after I became deaf. I wanted to stay in my mainstream school with my friends through sixth grade, but the school was smaller and I knew all the teachers and students. It got a lot harder in middle school, and that’s when I convinced my mom to send me to a Deaf School. It was amazing and really helped me learn about what it means to be Deaf and to reach my full potential as a person.
You have already mentioned your mother a couple of times, she sounds like a real rock in your life. Tell us a little more about her.
She is called Mia (nee Dennehy) Byrne. She’s 58 years old and was born in Galway, Ireland. My mom is a force of nature. She’s the strongest person I know and we’re very close. She studied to be a nurse before I was born, and after she married and then divorced my stepfather, Bryan McCarthy, she went back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner. Now she works in a cardiac care unit for a highly prestigious medical group in Seattle and is frequently after Blake, my stepbrother, to stop pushing himself so much. We get together and have movie nights or go to dinner frequently.
And how about the rest of your immediate family?
My father was James Byrne. If he’s still alive, he’s 69 years old. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, but moved to Galway as a young man, which is where he met my mom. My parents were married in Ireland and moved to the USA before I was born. They divorced when I was five after I lost my hearing due to a severe case of meningitis. My mom learned ASL with me, but my father refused. When they divorced, he moved back to Ireland and we haven’t had contact with him since. Then came my stepfather, Bryan McCarthy. He was born in Tacoma, Washington. He was a very jovial, generous man, but he drank a lot and had a wandering eye. He and my mom met in the hospital when he was admitted for tests for liver issues. They started dating and got married when I was six, had several good years together, and then amicably divorced. She got a huge settlement out of it, kept the house, Bryan remarried, and I got to keep my brother Blake. I got the best part of that deal. While she was married to Bryan, I was lucky enough to have a stellar education, both in and out of the Deaf community, an amazing place to live, vacations and nice clothes and so many other things. I also have a stepbrother: Blake McCarthy 46 years old, Born July 29, 1974, in Seattle, Washington.
It sounds like your childhood was a bit up and down…
It was pretty normal until I was five and lost my hearing. Then things were pretty bad for a few years, financially and emotionally. Mom and I had a lot to deal with. But then my mom got remarried and things got a lot better. That’s when I gained a step-brother, who is still one of my very best friends.
So who has had the most influence on you and how did they become your role model?
Besides my mom, who is an incredible woman and the strongest person I know, I’d have to say my step-brother Blake. We’re incredibly close, even though there’s a twelve-year age gap between us. I met him when our parents got married. Blake was 18, and I was 6. We were 20 and 8 when they divorced. Blake stayed in touch with me and my mom, and saw us frequently. He is my biggest supporter, but also the first one to tell me when I’m out of line about something. He always has my back, no matter what. And I’ll always be there for him, too.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
First, I wanted to be a dinosaur, but then Blake told me that wasn’t a viable career path, so I decided that I’d sell ice cream. Oh, the dreams of a six-year-old. When I got older, I wanted to be an artist and quickly realized I loved drawing geometric shapes and things that followed set patterns. When I was at school, one of the dorms was being renovated and I got my first look at blueprints. I was about fourteen. One of the teachers saw my interest and helped facilitate conversations with the workers and the architect on the project. I was hooked ever since. Now Architecture is my passion.
When did you have your first kiss, and who with?
I was sixteen, and it was with Jake Zemanski. He was in my class and I thought he was sweet and cute. We’d been dancing around each other for months because I wasn’t completely sure he was into me. Probably because he wasn’t sure either. As a gay, Deaf teen at a boarding school, there weren’t many other out guys and Jake was still trying to figure himself out. Was he bi? Was he gay? Did he just like me? I knew pretty early on that I was gay. Anyway, we were in the rec room playing foosball and everyone else was outside, or watching a movie or something. This was my first crush that wasn’t a celebrity, and I was in knots over him. At some point, we stopped pretending we were interested in foosball. He came over to my side of the table and stuck the ball in my goal and said he won. I asked him what the prize was, and he said a kiss. Who was I to argue? It was actually really sweet, and soft, and pretty perfect if I’m honest. Not all awkward and too wet, like some stories my friends have told me about their first kisses. I guess I got lucky.
Let’s chat about your relationships with others. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
No. I believe there are the right people for the place you are in life right then. And if they care, and if you are truly compatible, then you will grow together as people and in your relationship. And that will make it last.
What do you look for in a potential lover?
Acceptance. Understanding. Empathy. Kindness. Someone with a loving heart who can express themselves but who can also communicate well.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
How important is it to you that your partner is also deaf or at least can communicate in ASL?
Very. I am a Deaf man. It’s who I am, and I am unapologetic about that. People ask me if I’m sad I lost my hearing, or if I wish I could hear. My answer is absolutely no. I don’t want to hear. I don’t need to hear to have a full life. What am I missing because I can’t hear? Music? I love music and play it all the time. The sound of laughter? I don’t need to hear the actual sound to enjoy laughing, or the joy of seeing someone else laugh. My partner needs to understand and embrace that. They need to want to and be able to be a part of that. My language is ASL, so my partner needs to know my language. I can’t learn to hear, so they have to learn to communicate with me in my language. In any relationship, there is always compromise. Whose turn it is to do the dishes or whether you paint the living room beige or teal are typical couple compromises and are necessary for a stable, loving relationship. But you can’t compromise who you are, and who I am is a Deaf man. The person I’m with needs to understand and accept that, just like I’ll have to understand and accept things about them, too.
What is your greatest regret so far, why?
Getting involved with my ex, Aston, and letting him control me, and isolate me from my friends and family for so long. He made me doubt myself, my ability to make decisions for myself. It was such an abusive relationship, and I didn’t see it until way after I should have. I’m still working on trusting my decisions, but every day I grow more confident. Quinn and Blake have a lot to do with that. Their faith in me gives me faith in myself.
What is your biggest secret?
I don’t really have secrets. Not anymore. My abusive relationship with Aston was a secret for years. I was so ashamed that I let it happen that I couldn’t tell anyone or ask for help. My best friend Tyler and my step-brother Blake figured it out on their own and got me out of there.
Who is the most important person in your life, why?
I have four important people in my life, all for different reasons, but none more or less important than any of the others. My mom, my step-brother Blake, my partner Quinn, and my best friend, Tyler. They’ve all been there for me when things were bleak, and I love them all fiercely.
Do you like yourself?
I do. I like and love myself. And I’m learning to forgive myself for mistakes I’ve made. I’m a work in progress.
It sounds like you are in a positive place, so where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Married to Quinn, the man of my dreams, working at our own successful architectural firm. Maybe having a dog and talking about adopting kids. Happy. That’s where I see myself in five years. Very happy.
And now a few fun questions, what is your favorite color?
Gray. I know! People say that’s boring, but I love the contrast against white, and it’s a pretty bold color in its way.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family, and my culture.
Do you like to read?
I love to read. I read a lot of different things, depending on my mood. I’ll read biographies of famous architects, or Deaf pioneers. I’ll read books about architecture. I’ll read classic science fiction.
My brother Blake is a publisher for Hibernian Press, Gary Atkinson’s publishing company. Gary is one of my favorite authors. I get all of his books from Blake. They’re very similar to Tom Clancy’s books, only with more emotion and better sex scenes.
What makes you laugh?
Quinn, because he’s always doing or saying something funny.
What do you have in your pocket?
My phone and my wallet.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Clothing. I love quality clothing. Quinn thinks I’m a clotheshorse, and I suppose I am. I can’t help it. I love the way quality clothing feels on, and how it makes me feel wearing it. Like I can take on anything and succeed.
And the final question I like to ask everyone, who would you like to invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Frank Lloyd Wright, a world-famous architect, because his designs inspire me and I’d love to discuss his use of space and place and incorporating nature into his work.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, another famous architect. Along with Frank Lloyd Wright, he’s one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. I’d love to pick his brain.
Kitty O’Neil, “the fastest woman in the world”. She was a stunt woman and a race driver, setting 22 different speed records on land and water in her lifetime. Oh, and she happened to also be deaf.
Vinton Gray Cerf, who is a huge advocate for accessibility, was on the board of trustees for Gallaudet University, is an advocate for net neutrality, and is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet”. He’s also hard of hearing.
That sounds like a dynamic guest list!
Thank you so much Tadhg for taking the time to pop in and answer our readers’ questions. Thank you for being so honest and open with your answers, especially sharing how you have turned past challenges into a positive outlook for the future, great inspiration for us all. I wish you all the luck in the world with your new romance, Quinn is very lucky to have found you!
Tadhg: After a nasty breakup with my manipulative ex, I returned home to Seattle to lick my wounds. I’m done with relationships. From now on I’m focusing on my career.There are just a few issues with that.
1. It’s not that easy for a Deaf man to succeed in a Hearing world, even with the right degree and experience.
2. Quinn MacDougall. He’s my co-worker. He’s also incredibly talented, driven, and distractingly handsome.
3. He’s hearing. And that’s the biggest problem of all. How can someone who isn’t Deaf ever truly understand and accept me?
Embrace Me is a 95,000-word contemporary MM romance about language barriers, loving but demanding families, crappy bosses, and sexy guys in speedos. It contains no cheating, and a guaranteed Happily Ever After.
Hi everyone! I’m Ally Lester and I write queer romance across the rainbow spectrum as A. L. Lester. Firstly, thank you so much for having me visit your blog today Jackson! I’m really delighted to be here and to get to chat with your readers.
I’ve come to talk about Warning! Deep Water my release that is coming out on Saturday 7th May. It’s part of a project with Holly Day, Nell Iris, K. L. Noone and Amy Spector. As regular readers of my blog will know, Ofelia Grand (who also writes as Holly), Nell Iris and I write together in the early mornings. This involves a fair amount of chat and discussion about what we’re working on. As Holly, Ofelia writes stories to mark all the different holidays throughout the year and one day in December we were teasing her about what she should write next. We joked that World Naked Gardening Day would be an excellent idea…and lo and behold, here are five of us writing on a similar theme.
Warning! Deep Water! is a 16,300 word novella set in England in 1948. When given half a chance I slip back in time, obviously. It’s set on a horticultural nursery in Somerset. Did I grow up on a horticultural nursery in Somerset? Yes, yes I did. Was this weird? Yeah, a bit—half way through I realised I was having trouble writing any scenes with sexing because the MC reminded me of my dad. Did I change that fairly rapidly? YES, DEAR READER. YES I DID.
Once I’d got over that little hiccup however, it was extremely fun to write. For my historical background I rang my mum. She and my dad met in the 1950s whilst they were working on a nursery that grew mostly chrysanthemums. During the second world war, the place had had to stop growing flowers and focus on growing food. They grew lettuce and tomatoes, mostly to supply the local army camp, and were only allowed to grow a small amount of flowers every year to keep the stock fresh. After the war, once food supplies weren’t such an issue, they expanded back in to flowers and by the time the nursery shut and was sold for building at the end of the 20th century, they were known all over the country for their different varieties—they were the people that other nurseries bought cuttings and rootstock from.
This was the place on which I based Roseland, as a sort of mash-up with my own memories. My family’s place was more diverse—they grew flowers and tomatoes, lettuce, beans and cucumbers; and had pick-your-own fruit as time went on. In later years, my Mama grew plants and sold them at local country markets. We had three big stoke-holes that I remember being converted from coal to oil as a child in the 1970s. Before that we had regular deliveries of coal to keep it going.
The big water tank where George finds Peter swimming is directly modelled on the irrigation tank in #1 greenhouse. It always fascinated me…the mossy sides and the stillness of the water. It’s pumped up from a bore-hole and is fresh and crystal clear. We weren’t allowed to go in the greenhouse by ourselves in case we fell in and drowned, and I can remember getting the bollocking of my life one day when there wasn’t much water in there and my sister and I slid a ladder over and climbed down inside to paddle.
It was an idyllic childhood—of course there were dangers, from water tanks, to piles of broken glass from the greenhouses, to sharp tools, machinery and weedkillers. But we pretty much ran wild when we wanted to. Roseland is an affectionate look back at that and I hope that comes across behind Peter and George’s story.
If you want to find out some more about me and my books, my website is allester.co.uk, where you can sign up to my newsletter for a free paranormal-historical novella; or you can find me on social media, mostly as @CogentHippo. For now though, here’s a bit more about the story, and an excerpt.
Warning! Deep Water
It’s 1947. George is going through the motions, sowing seeds and tending plants and harvesting crops. The nursery went on without him perfectly well during the war and he spends a lot of time during the working day hiding from people and working on his own. In the evening he prowls round the place looking for odd jobs to do.
It’s been a long, cold winter and Peter doesn’t think he’ll ever get properly warm or clean again. Finding a place with heated greenhouses and plenty of nooks and crannies to kip in while he’s recovering from nasty flu was an enormous stroke of luck. He’s been here a few days now. The weather is beginning to warm up and he’s just realised there’s a huge reservoir of water in one of the greenhouses they use to water the plants. He’s become obsessed with getting in and having an all-over wash.
What will George do when he finds a scraggy ex-soldier bathing in his reservoir? What will Peter do? Is it time for them to both stop running from the past and settle down?
A Naked Gardening Day short story of 16,300 words.
“You didn’t say you liked music,” Peter said, as they were sitting across the table from each other over a cup of tea, once he’d finally pulled himself away from the instrument and reverentially closed the keyboard.
“Well,” said Peter. “It didn’t come up, did it?” He paused. “Mother used to play a bit,” he said, eventually. “Not like that, though. Hymns, mostly. She was big on chapel.”
There was clearly a story there.
“It’s nice to hear it played,” George went on. “Instruments should be used, not just sat there as part of the furniture. And…,” he paused again and blushed, “And you play very well.”
“Well,” said Peter shuffling with embarrassment. “I learned as a nipper and just carried on with it. Dad wanted me to go and study somewhere, but I wanted to get out and earn. It would have taken the joy out of it if I’d had to pass exams and such.”
George nodded. “I can see that. And you’re good with your hands.” He blushed again and became very absorbed with mashing the tiny amount of butter left from the ration into his baked potato.
Peter coughed. “Well yes,” he said. He couldn’t help smiling a little at George, although he didn’t let him see. He forged on. He really didn’t want him to be uncomfortable. “I think mathematics and music sort of go together, you know? And I was always good with numbers as well…it’s a good trait in a joiner.”
George nodded, clearly feeling they were on less dangerous territory. “Yes,” he said. “There’s all sorts of things you can use maths for; but music is pretty rarefied, isn’t it?”
Peter nodded. “This way I get to keep the music and earn a living. There’s always work for a carpenter, like you said the other day.”
He gradually became less self-conscious about playing when George and Mrs Leland were in the house over the next few weeks. It made him feel like another piece of what made him a person was coming back to life.
What it didn’t do was make him any less confused about what was happening between him and George. Half the time he thought George was completely uninterested. But then something would happen that would make him reconsider. The comment about being good with his hands was a case in point. It was a perfectly commonplace thing to say and George shouldn’t have been embarrassed. But he had been. Which meant he’d thought of it in a context that might cause embarrassment.
Peter spent several very enjoyable hours spread over several evenings working through different variations of what the other man might have been thinking.
George was nobody’s Bogart. But he was decent-looking. Nice face, especially when he smiled. A bit soft round the middle, but otherwise hard muscled from the physical work he did day in, day out. Clever…did his own accounts. Liked music. Made Peter laugh with his dry commentary on things in the paper or local gossip and the social pickles the girls reported on in the break room.
Peter liked him a lot. And fancied him. After the third night of considering at length how he could demonstrate how good with his hands he actually was, he gave up pretending. He fancied George a lot.
About A. L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.
Today’s blog is going to take us far away from Larkspur Hall and my Victorian mystery writing. Please let me introduce M.A. Church who spends most of her author life amongst aliens on far away planets. Her current romance series are extremely popular and are described as “Awesome SciFi”. She is here to tell us a little more about how the series began and to share a couple of excerpts to tempt you into trying something new. Welcome!
Hey y’all! I’m M.A. Church. I’ve been doing this writing stuff now since 2010. I write mostly paranormal and scifi. I guess the books I’m best known for are The Harvest series, which qualified me for SFWA. This series of books is mpreg, but the actual birthing happens in book two, The Harvest: Journey’s End.
So, do aliens interest you?
What about spaceships?
How about a breeding program?
The Harvest: Taken is the first book in the Tah’Narian universe. It covers Dale’s journey through one of the scariest times in human history. It’s a story of forgiveness, righting wrongs, learning to trust, and finally, falling in love. Sounds interesting? Then I hope you’ll join Dale and the gang on a journey which will lead to the love of a lifetime.
The spin-off series, The Next Generation, follows the young from The Harvest series. I’m working on the last book in that series now. It’s finally Laken’s turn to find the love of his life.
These books will take you on a nonstop adventure through several worlds. Four couples are bound together by the cosmos, and each has a different path they must tread.
This is where it all began:
My name is Dale Michaels. A simple name, right? Nothing very memorable about it, that’s for sure. Or about me, either. I’m just a regular guy with average looks, a loving family who didn’t care I was gay, and good friends.
Just a guy.
Little did I know just how special I was to one Tah’Narian spaceship captain named Keyno Shou, or how he would change my life. *shakes head* Don’t think he swept me off my feet. He didn’t. What he did do was harvested under the agreed age limit, take me from my family, mutate my DNA so I could have kids, tell me I have a deadly disease, claim me as his mate, and destroy the life I knew.
I was not happy, to say the least. Pissed didn’t even cover what I felt. But what’s a guy to do on a spaceship orbiting Earth surrounded by a bunch of aliens with technology far more advanced than ours?
While I was still trying to figure out how to handle the attraction I had for Keyno, a bunch of men who were harvested revolted and tried to take over Keyno’s ship… and I got to see how deeply Keyno cared for me. I also met the person who staged the rebellion, the infamous gang leader, Colt 45.
This is the beginning of my story; a story that’s action-packed, emotionally tough, and truly is the love of a lifetime.
The Harvest: Taken
We are not alone.
In the year 2050 mankind’s never-ending quest for proof life exists in the universe is answered—in the form of massive space ships that appear without warning above the capitals of all major nations. The name of their planet is Tah’Nar—and is dying. The United States sets up a lottery system, and each young man between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-eight is assigned a number.
Once a year, for the next five years, numbers will be drawn and a new set of one thousand males will be collected. The media coined the expression ‘The Harvest’ for when the Tah’Narian’s collect these young men.
Captain Keyno Landium Shou is a Tah’Narian starship captain who has been granted the right to take a mate, any mate, he wants during the last harvest on Earth. Dale was seventeen when the aliens first appeared. His parents assumed he’d be safe since the final collection would be done before he turned twenty-three. He didn’t fall within the guidelines established, so they took for granted he had nothing to fear.
It was in the year 2050 when humanity found out that it was, indeed, not alone in the universe.
They appeared without warning above the capitals of all major nations. The huge, menacing, and completely unresponsive space ships dominated the skies, sending the media into a complete tailspin. The governments of our world argued back and forth on what to do. But, in the end, they did nothing.
First contact came within hours of the sightings. The question of what these aliens wanted prompted emergency closed-door meetings by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Union of South American Nations, the African Union, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, and NATO. The media speculated endlessly. The talks with the aliens lasted for two days, while the world waited and watched. Early on the morning of the third day, news agencies released the details.
The name of their planet was Tah’Nar—and it was dying. Originally, the Tah’Narians were an intersexed warrior race. Chemical warfare had essentially rendered them sterile. Many scientists, from all over the world, eagerly volunteered their assistance to aid the alien race.
After about a week of this, a press release from our government stated that the two strands of DNA were too fragile to be frozen and transported through space. The release claimed that the nucleobases—the four molecules that form the genetic building blocks of DNA—would be damaged and might even disintegrate once the alien starships jumped to star drive, the method used to travel through time and space so quickly. Simply put, it was easier to protect people than extracted DNA.
Each government reached agreements—and boy, didn’t that take a while—that these men would return to Earth once the program was completed. Here in the United States a lottery system was set up. Our government assigned a number to young men between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-eight. Then once a year, for the next five years, the lotto took place.
The benefits to our own world hovered foremost in the mind of every government official present at the meeting. The Tah’Narians required DNA for their harvesting program. Participating males were required to transport to their world since Earthlings couldn’t duplicate their technology. This, of course, triggered all sorts of questions. Why couldn’t this technically advanced race build what they needed to extract the DNA? The story had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
Those unfortunate men were collected and escorted to holding centers where a battery of medical and psychological tests was run on the subjects. Once they passed the tests, transportation to waiting spaceships occurred. Other industrialized nations followed our example and set up their own lottery systems. Word soon leaked that our government targeted gay men, but officials vehemently denied the rumors.
The media coined the expression ‘The Harvest’ for the times when the Tah’Narians would return to collect these young men.
Added bonus! Excerpt from the last book in The Next Gen series, Bound by War (coming soon):
THE SCENT of food woke Torin. His mouth watered, and his stomach growled.
Opening his eyes, he surveyed the room. Curtains now enclosed the medibed giving him some privacy. Machines beeped, reading his vitals. Nevertheless, none of that indicated how much time had passed. His muscles warmed as blood flow increased, and his stomach rumbled again, more loudly this time.
He heard a low chime of bells and the scent of the ocean washed over him.
“Well, I’d say you’re hungry. I can hear that all the way over here. Just a moment, and I’ll be right there.”
So the male hadn’t broken his word. Ridiculous how reassuring that was. Laken’s voice soothed him, and the sweet melody from the bells Laken wore in his hair had infiltrated Torin’s sleep.
Blishue didn’t depend on anyone, much less let their guard down, and that included around his own kind. But he’d slept soundly with a stranger next to him. That was troublesome. As were the annoying IVs. That he hadn’t ripped out them out was its own minor miracle. Being drugged left him vulnerable.
How many hits to the head had he taken?
He stretched, his joints popping. His mind was heavy and sluggish, but there was no pain. He eyed the IV. This was ludicrous. He couldn’t think straight. Maybe he should yank it out and—
“Ah, yeah, I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” Laken nudged the curtain open and ducked inside.
The sight of Laken hit Torin like a space shuttle. How had he not noticed the ice-blue gemstones that sparkled in the overhead lights? They winked from his ears, wrists, ankles, and nipples. The male had his nipples pierced.
Today I am excited to welcome, fellow MM Author, Merry Farmer to the blog. Merry has just celebrated the latest release in her Slippery Slope Series set amongst the gay club scene of 1890’s New York.
So, whilst my Clearwater Crew were solving mysteries in London and Cornwall let’s sit back and learn a little about what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic. Welcome Merry!
The Gay Club Scene of New York…in the 1890s
I have to giggle a little. Before I had even published the first book in my new series, The Slippery Slope—A Touch of Romance—I had people raising an eyebrow at me, scoffing, and saying “The gay club scene of the 1890s????” Saying that as though there couldn’t possibly be any way that gay men were able to live their lives openly, let alone had a thriving club scene back then.
This makes me giddy, because it means I get to share some of that lost knowledge that historians of the mid-20th century so effectively (and regrettably) swept under the carpet. Because the fact of the matter is that there was a concerted effort on the part of historians in “the golden years” of the 20th century to brainwash everyone into thinking that gay men have always been in the closet, ashamed of themselves, and terrified of coming out, lest they be killed.
Guess what? The truth couldn’t be further from that. While it’s true that there were laws against sodomy (in England) and gay marriage was a century off, the acceptance of alternative lifestyles has waxed and waned throughout history. It’s hard for some people to believe, but prior to the 20th century, there were actually times when the LGBTQ community was left alone or, even, yes, allowed to thrive without too much interference.
For most people prior to the 20th century, a big part of this was because ALL stories of intimacy and anything that so much as hinted at sexual relationships—even heterosexual intimacy and relationships—was something people just didn’t talk about openly. Period. And when there isn’t a microscope or social media coverage focused on you twenty-four/seven, people are able to get away with so much more than we in the era of instant communication can comprehend.
But when it came to the gay club scene of New York City—specifically The Bowery—in the 1890s, things were as open and publicized as could be.
The Bowery was well known for being a center of “sin” within New York City. The clubs and brothels that filled downtown became so popular that new slang terms were invented by young people from uptown, from outside of the city, and even tourists coming from overseas, to describe it. “Going slumming” was so popular that guide books to the seedier clubs were produced so that visitors could get their fill. Clubs in The Bowery that featured drag queens (also a historically accurate term of the era) and male prostitutes were some of the favorite “dives” for people to visit.
For the men who made the clubs of The Bowery their home—or their home away from home—however, these places provided a much-needed safe haven where they could be themselves, if only in the evenings and on the weekends. In his seminal work Gay New York, historian George Chauncey writes at length, using first-hand accounts collected and recorded from the 1920s through the 1960s by men who lived in this scene, about the lives gay men lived there.
The club scene of the 1890s and early part of the 20th century was a place where the rules weren’t just relaxed, they were thrown out the window. Though it was illegal to cross-dress in public in New York during this era, presentation of all sorts was accepted and encouraged in clubs like The Slide (the actual club I’ve modeled the club in my series on). Even though The Slide was raided by police and closed down in 1891, its patrons simply moved their activities to other clubs in The Bowery and resumed the wild good times that they had enjoyed there.
The clubs were more than just scenes of debauchery and excitement, though. They were places where men could be themselves, if only for a while. The very term “coming out” was coined as a result of the “debutante balls” that were held in clubs in New York—ones in The Bowery, but also clubs that catered specifically to men of color in locations like Harlem—where gay men presented themselves as their more feminine persona for the first time. These coming out balls were so popular that they were reported on in newspapers of the time, and they were considered highlight events for people of all levels and types of societies.
My hope in writing The Slippery Slope series is to capture some of this exciting time in LGBTQ History, and to shed light on the things that have been deliberately buried by biased historians. George Chauncey is just one of many historians working in this “new” area of study, and I’m certain that even more, fascinating information will come out in years to come that will further change our view of what life was like for gay men back then.
Journalist Marcus Albright did not run away from his London home when he accepted an assignment in New York City. His interest in writing a series of articles about the popular club scene of The Bowery has nothing to do with the disastrous end of a long-term relationship, or his desire to stay as far away from love and commitment that he possibly can. His only concern is enjoying the vibrancy and color that The Slippery Slope is famous for.
…but love has other plans…
Jasper Werther loves his wild, flamboyant life, but the moment Marcus steps into The Slippery Slope, he knows he wants more. Particularly after spending a romantic night out on the town with Marcus as his drag persona, Blaise Rose. After waiting a lifetime for acceptance of everything he is, Jasper believes it’s finally within his grasp.
…until heartbreak strikes.
When a policeman with ambitions threatens to shut down The Slippery Slope, Jasper has a bigger problem than trying to woo a man who has sworn never to fall in love again. Everything within Marcus tells him not to get involved, but he is drawn back to Jasper, no matter how hard he fights it. Will Jasper and Marcus get a second chance at love, or will the pain of the past keep them apart?
Fall in love with romance, a high society ball, a wild, downtown party, a trip to Coney Island, a colorful cast of characters, and a last-minute confession that will keep you turning pages!
PLEASE BE ADVISED: Steam level – very spicy! And yes, this is an m/m romance involving friends to lovers, second chances, and fabulous drag queens, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to pass on this one.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.