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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anouncement: I’ve been interviewed

This isn’t really much of a blogpost. As I said, I’m in NYC this week, busy dividing my time between my 92-year-old mom, whom I only get to see twice a year, and showing my boyfriend the city where I was born and where he’s never been. That doesn’t leave me much time.
Michele~n~Lisa reviews (until yesterday Michele~n~Jeff) has obligingly filled in the gap by posting an interview with me. You might learn more about me there than on this blog, at least in a single posting – for example, what you’re likely to find under my bed.
Along with the interview you’ll find very positive reviews of 2 of my novels: 5 kisses for The Memoirs of Colonel Gérard Vreilhac, which I blogged on a few days ago (click on the label “about my books”) and 5+ kisses for P’tit Cadeau, which the reviewer calls “a story that will survive the test of time” and I’ll blog about in the near future.
Stay tuned for my New York adventures.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A little something I'm working on

I’m off to spend a week NYC today and probably won’t blog again until I get back. I’ve started a long story I hope to submit for one of the Halloween anthologies. For a change, I began at the beginning.
I cut the opening section by about 1/3 to use as my contribution this week to the GayFlashFiction group. (The prompt was “Forensic Evidence”.) I’m posting it here, too, so you’ll have a bit of a foretaste. It’s far from polished and is bound to go through several revisions before I’m done with it, but let me know whether you think the idea is worth pursuing.

After the sex I took a shower and went back to my cubicle to cool off, maybe have a short nap.  I was awakened by a soft knocking on the door.  I opened it a crack and saw one of the bath attendants.  He looked nervous.
“Did I oversleep?” I asked.  “Are my eight hours up?”
“No.  You have to come with me.”
“Where to?  Why?”
“To the lounge.  I’m not allowed to tell.”
“What time is it?”
“Going on three.  No, come as you are.  Just wrap a towel around your waist take your key.  Nothing else.”
“Am I in some kind of trouble?”
“I don’t think so, not you personally.   Unless we all are.  I don’t know.”
We had to pass the lockers on our way to the lounge.  The night manager was there with his set of keys.  He’d opened one of the lockers.  Two cops had dumped its contents on the floor and were sorting through it item by item, examining everything, writing it all down.
“What’s going on?”
“A search.  They’re going through everything, first the lockers, then the cubicles.  That’s why you had to leave your stuff behind.”
“But why?”
“Can’t tell you.  There are cops posted at the front door and the emergency exit, and God knows how many more in the street.  You can’t get away; you’ll have to play along.”
“Why would I try to get away?  Can we go by the toilets so I can take a leak first?”
He nodded.  That gave me a chance to pump him for more information, not that it was forthcoming.  “Play along with what?” I asked.
“Answer a few questions.  Then you can go home.  They promise you’ll remain anonymous if you’re not involved.”
“Involved in what?  Questions about what?  I suppose you’re not allowed to say.”
He shook his head.
They’d posted a cop in the lounge doorway to make sure nobody tried to leave, but he kept his distance.  Another attendant stood behind the bar with free coffee for everyone.  There were about fifteen of us so far, each with just a towel around his waist.  The attendant left to rouse the next guy.  He’d been instructed to fetch us one at a time.  When he’d brought in the last of us, we numbered a little over two dozen.  Some of us sat apart from the others, looking terrified and not saying a word, probably the men with a wife and kids at home, or with jobs or reputations to protect. Others whispered excitedly together.  A small handful were leafing through a magazine or watching the TV, pretending they weren’t concerned.  No one seemed in the mood to indulge in a little groping, not that anyone dared with a cop standing right there.  This was a private club, but we were in an open space, and they could book us for public indecency.
The wait was excruciating.  After half an hour the manager came to the lounge with three plain clothes detectives.  One of us had the nerve to ask what was taking so long.
“We can’t start questioning you till we finish the search.  That means your cars, too.  You can speed things up if you give us your plate numbers and the model of your vehicle and tell us where you’re parked.  Anyone come by bus?”
They must have run our licenses already.  You had to leave them at the desk when you signed in, and most men checked their keys as well.
He went on: “We have to spray everything down with luminol, too.  That takes time.”
“What’s luminol?” someone asked.
I knew from watching CSI.  “That stuff that makes blood glow in the dark.”
The detective read out some half-dozen names.  “You guys can go now.  We won’t be needing your testimony.  An officer will escort you to pick up your belongings.  It’ll go quickly now,” he went on.  “We’ve set aside three cubicles to question you one on one.”
As soon as he left someone asked, “How come they get to go?”
“They all got here after ten,” the manager said.
“Didn’t you understand?” the cop barked at him.  “You give out no information.”
The manager clammed up; we couldn’t get anything out of him.  Three men were called for questioning, then after ten or fifteen minutes a detective would  show up and call another name.  Those who left didn’t come back.  We asked about that and were told that after they’d been questioned, they took their things and went out by the emergency exit.  It sounded likely enough.
Meanwhile the rumors were flying.  Something had happened before ten o’clock; they were looking for blood.  The consensus was that an attendant had opened a cubicle and found the occupant dead, his throat slit. 
“Why ten o’clock?” someone asked.
“Rigor mortis must have set in,” another explained.  “It starts about three hours after death.  And I’m guessing the blood was still wet, not just damp.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I work at the hospital.  As an orderly.”
A third man joined in.  “Why wasn’t there a scream?  I didn’t hear anything.”
“Not if the victim didn’t it coming,” the orderly began.  “Like if he was lying on his stomach and the slasher was fucking him and cut right through his windpipe—”
The manager quickly hushed them, but their grim expressions of his staff confirmed what had been said.  Several men shuddered and one began sniveling.  Guys who bottom face down, I thought.  You can imagine what we looked like, all of us, waiting our turn with a detective—nervous, despondent, avoiding eye contact, trying not to freak out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Tribute to Sunday

24 Oct. 1997 – 28 Feb. 2011

This has been an awful week. Five days ago I had to have my dog put down. She had lost a lot of muscle mass in her hind legs over the last two years and was very weak. Then, over the weekend she stopped eating and seemed to be in pain. The vet found her riddled with cancer. The house seems very empty without her.
Sunday was a very special dog, loving and gentle, fond of both humans and others of her species, though akitas are said to be aggressive and hard to handle. She originally belonged to my older son. I inherited her in 2000 when he suffered a major stroke. He has been completely paralyzed since then. I used to take Sunday to the nursing home regularly to visit him. I’d put doggie treats between his fingers so he could feed them to her. Everyone there loved her, and she became a kind of mascot/companion dog for the patients and staff.
Sunday was a natural hunter. She caught her first rabbit when she was only 6 months old. When she was in her prime, I often took her camping and hiking off leash. I never had to worry that she would misbehave or wander off.
I’ve attached some photos so you can all see what a beautiful dog she was.

Sunday as a puppy, with my son

Sunday in the woods

Sunday in the snow

Sunday at the beach

Sunday in old age
I thought when I set up this blog a week ago that it would be a place to talk about my writing and occasionally to vent. I hadn’t realized I could also use it as an outlet to grieve. Composing this did provide a bit of comfort while I wait for time to heal. My next post won’t be as off topic.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writing my first published novel

Almost without exception, my stories are character driven. This was especially true of The Memoirs of Colonel Gérard Vreilhac. I began with a situation in mind: two lovers who find themselves on opposing sides of a political upheaval, one would risk his life to help the other escape, and they are finally reunited after a separation of some 15 or 20 years. Because of my background in French history, I decided on a historical novel and chose the Revolution. The characters now would be separated by class rather than their political sympathies. The peasant Gérard would help Julien, his aristocratic lover, flee the Terror of 1794 and the Restoration of 1815 would reunite them.
Of course, that left me with over 20 turbulent years to fill with more than two men pining for each other. Keeping them faithful to each other simply didn’t seem realistic given Gérard’s personality, which quickly took over. The fellow entered into relationships of convenience with three other partners, each of them very different, and went ahead and fell in love with them all. I also had to find a way for Gérard to move up in the world so the two could meet on equal footing when they got together again.
When Julien returns, Gérard is involved with someone else, though he loves Julien, too, and Julien has also made another life for himself. My “happily ever after” could no longer rely on just their reunion.
Some female readers have complained they cannot relate to Gérard. They find him “detached”. I disagree. Calculating, yes – the Terror teaches him he has to be in order to survive – and very cautious, which is why we see so little overt homophobia in the novel. (There was extensive homophobia in France at the time, but homosexual acts between consenting adults was legal.) And while it is true Gérard does not conform to the norms of the genre, although his other partners start out as a sexual outlet, he does come to love each of them in a different way. That only his love for Julien would qualify as what we call usually romantic does not mean he loves them less.  But you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself.
I have written only one story in which the characters took over the plot and ran away with it more completely than did Gérard.  It’s my novella, The Father of Free Men, which will appear as a serial in the April and August issues of Wilde Oats. This time two women who were supposed to be secondary characters pushed the main character into the background, making my story theirs. But I’ll let that wait until April.
“When I think of the things that happened and the things I did, it is as though I were living them ... My hands feel what I touched, and the smells that surrounded me fill my nostrils ... Old joys swell my heart, old sorrows clutch at my throat ... I remember every face, every name, every street ...”
So Gérard Vreilhac begins the story of his life from his boyhood as a gardener at the Château d’Airelles before the French Revolution through six decades of upheaval and social change to the eve of Napoleon III’s coup d’état. It is a story of heroism and devotion, of political intrigue, of the great battles fought in Napoleon’s conquest of Europe, and of unprecedented upward mobility. Most of all it is the story of the men he loved: Julien, the aristocrat; the jealous and possessive Laurent; his Egyptian houseboy, Akmoud; Anatole, a male prostitute... And every time he fell in love with a man, it was forever.
Dreamspinner Press released the novel in May 2010 as an e-book and a paperback. 292 pages. As far as I know, it has received 5 reviews, all very favorable (links below):
  • “For anyone who enjoys historical romance with an emphasis on history, and correct history at that, this book is a perfect read.”
  • “Anel Viz has managed at one and the same time to create a brilliant and literary (in the best sense of the word) historical novel and a piece of erotic fiction worthy to share the shelf with the classics of the genre.”
  • “The cast of characters is large and brilliantly drawn, each of them unique and psychologically convincing...”
  • “...historical events are not used as a simple background; they are closely linked to the characters’ destinies and evoke an authentic atmosphere.”