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Archive for January, 2008

*”A fair breeze and 38 guns, who could ask for more?”*

*INTERVIEW WITH LIEUTENANT DANIEL LEIGH (RN)*

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*You are an only son, Daniel. Highly unusual that you’re pursuing a
career in the Royal Navy. Shouldn’t you be looking after the family
estate?*

I should, yes. And you may believe me that my parents have tried every
trick in the book to dissuade me from my plans to go to sea. Oddly
enough, my mother more than my father! She would read to me all news
about our losses at sea, adding gruesome details she made up in the
process. My dear mother has developed a rather morbid affection for
sharks.

*Interesting strategy, though highly questionable from a modern point of view. Weren’t you afraid?*

Not at all! When I was eight years old, I ran away from home and
chartered as a ship’s boy aboard the “Sweet Louise”, a merchantman. It
wasn’t before Sicily that my father caught up with me.

*I suppose Admiral Leigh wasn’t too pleased.*

Mildly put! I received a truly good hiding, I couldn’t sit for days!
Just because he liked to call me “powdermonkey” he obviously didn’t
want me to be one! But in the end he accepted that I couldn’t envision
a career in politics or spend my days looking after our estate. I leave
poachers and grumpy tenants to my cousin, Francis. He’s a pedantic
bean-counter; can you imagine that he’s writing all his business
letters ink-over-pencil? The man is thirty-five years old, for crying
out loud! And still not married, if I may add. Not that this surprises
me.

*You are not married, either. Not that this fact would surprise /me/.*

I have John and serve on a fine ship. A fair breeze and 38 guns, who could ask for more?

*Captain John Meadows is a very quiet man, withdrawn into himself. You are the opposite; how comes you’re so captivated by him?*

Do you desire me to sort the list in alphabetical order? There is his
sarcasm and dry wit. John is a man of honour, always putting his duty
first. I wish there were more men in the Royal Navy like him. All
through his suffering, he has never complaint, and was willing to
sacrifice his own life for me. It is good to see him freed now from
this creature which has haunted and almost murdered him. All that
aside, I really enjoy kissing him. Not that I’d admit to that in
public, of course.

*Aren’t you worried about the consequences of this love? If you and
Captain Meadows were found out, you’d face a court martial and possible
death.*

That is very true. But we would have to be caught in the act first,
with two eyewitnesses present. As we’re careful, that’s not very likely
to happen. No coupling in the captain’s cabin, that’s Article of War #
99.

*Don’t you find it difficult to adhere to that rule? Being at sea for
weeks, if not months, with no privacy but your lover right in front of
your nose?*

Pardon me if I should be too forward in answering this question, Miss
Collingwood, but that’s one of the reasons why the front flaps on our
breeches are so convenient. In the cable tier-

*-it is very dark, I’m aware of that, and now it’s time for a /very/
quick change of subject: how would you describe “Lieutenant Samuel
Blackwood (deceased)” to our readers?*

It’s a Georgian ghost story, featuring a cursed ship, a vengeful ghost,
a haunted captain and a very daring lieutenant. Extraordinary events! I
thought I was doomed to spend the rest of my days in that stuffy office
at the Admiralty, and before I could think twice, I was right in the
middle of an adventure I’d have never dreamt of! A ghost! A ship with a
mind of her own! And Captain John Meadows. I would also like to add
that I find cover and illustrations by Mlle Amandine de Villeneuve most
charming.

*What is the next mission of HMS /Privet/?*

We will return to Spithead next month. John will then take the waters
in Bath, and we both hope that you will write us into a less dangerous
adventure next time.

~*~*~*~

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An interview by Sylvia Shults 

 

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           I pull up to the small white villa in the Campanian countryside, coast to a gentle stop, and shift the Ducati LaVerda into neutral.  The purr of the engine stops when I turn the key off, and I sit for a moment, enjoying the quiet of this tiny piece of Italy.  I swing off the bike and pull my helmet off.  The Italian sun smacks me in the face with a sensual kiss that smells of lemon and fresh basil.

            I walk up to the front door and ring the bell.  A chime sounds from deep within the house.  Before I’ve admired the moss roses on either side of the front walk for more than a few minutes, the door is flung open.

            “You’re here!” Angela squeals, and pulls me in for a hug.  I smile at her easy affection.  My heroines are much like me – quick with a grin, and friendly.  She shows me a chair in the front hallway where I can put my motorcycle gear.  Then I follow her into an airy, sunlit dining room.  Pillows make a welcoming nest on the built-in seats underneath the bay windows, but Angela directs me to the bar stools set up next to the breakfast nook.  She bustles into the kitchen, tossing a question over the counter at me.

            “Can I get you something?  We’ve got tea, coffee, milk – of course the Italians like their milk warm, bleagh.  That’s something I haven’t gotten used to yet.  You can’t get a nice cold glass of milk at a restaurant.  Makes me feel like some kind of deviant, I have to drink my milk cold in the privacy of my own home!”

            “It’s a beautiful home, Angela.”  She beams at the compliment.  This is definitely a change from the apartment in Ercolano where I left her.  As if she’s reading my mind, she replies, “Yeah.  Valerius – I mean Gabriel – is so much happier here than in the city.  This is more like what he was used to back in – well, in his first life, I guess.”

            I’m not confused at all by her words.  It was my idea to put Valerius Tullus Valens’ soul into Gabriel Massimo’s body when Gabriel was hit by a car.

            Angela has been rummaging in the fridge.  She turns around, holding up a bottle.  “How about some sparkling lemonade?  I’ll get us a couple of glasses.”

            The cold lemonade is just what I need after my ride.  I sip it as I think about the questions I would ask my character.

            “Angela, what got you interested in Roman history?”

            “Oh, I’ve always been interested in history – not the boring dates-and-battles-and-treaties part, but the human part.  People are people, no matter what year it is.  That’s what fascinates me most.  The idea that the ancient Romans were people just like us, with the same hopes and dreams, the same needs, the same desires…”  Her voice trails off and pink colors her cheeks.  She takes a quick sip of lemonade.

“Actually,” she says, setting her glass down, “I didn’t start off as a history major.  My freshman year in college, I was a biology major, if you can believe that.  Can you imagine me as a doctor or something?  Ha.  Anyways, that lasted right up until I hit my first chemistry class.”  She shudders with the memory.  “I was struggling and panicking to make Cs in my science classes.  Not fun.  Then I realized that I was making As in Latin without hardly even trying.  That’s when I switched majors.  Even though my Latin class was at 8 in the morning – yeesh!”

“I don’t blame you a bit.  I’d have done the exact same thing,” I grinned.  “So what’s it like, being an American living in Italy?  How has life as an expat been treating you?”

“Oh, I love it here!  Taking Latin in college was a great foundation for learning Italian later on.  I’m almost as fluent now as Val– Gabriel is.  And Valerius and I helped each other so much during the first few months we were together.  I mean, it was almost like we were both foreigners.  I was this goofy American chick, and he was a Roman from the first century.  He helped me settle into life in a foreign country, and I helped him adjust to life 2000 years in his future.”

“Ah, yes.  That was one of my favorite parts of your story, I have to confess.”  From the corner of my eye, I see Gabriel sneaking into the kitchen.  He puts a finger to his lips, and I focus on Angela.  Stalling for time, I say, “So what’s Gabriel doing now?”

Angela claps her hands in delight, oblivious to Gabriel stealthily creeping up behind her.  “He is brilliant.  He’s still an archaeologist, of course, but now – eep!”  She squeals as Gabriel grabs her from behind and pulls her in close for a nuzzling hug.

“Now they’ve got someone excavating the Villa of the Papyri who really lived there,” Gabriel/Valerius says.  “You’re right, darling, I’m brilliant.  My supervisors just have no idea why.”

I smile at one of my favorite characters, the Roman surgeon who now inhabits a hunky Italian body.  “Okay, Angela, I have to ask – what was it like being with two men at the same time?  Especially when one of them was a ghost?”

Gabriel grins and buries his nose in Angela’s hair, breathing in deeply and making her giggle, even though she’s blushing again.

“I’m a little shy, okay?  I would never have thought I’d be in a threesome.  Ever.  But I really like sex.  Good sex makes me feel – primal.  Earthy.  Sensual.  Desired.”  (“Oh yeah,” Gabriel murmurs into her hair.  “You are definitely desired, my love.”)  “And having Gabriel and Valerius at the same time – oh my god.”  I can see a shiver pass through her.  “I felt – well.  I felt a little bit naughty!  But mostly I felt like I was losing control, and loving every minute of it, because I was perfectly safe with both of them.  Even though I couldn’t see Valerius, I could feel him.  And I could feel that he wanted me.  I felt loved, and adored – and god, I felt sexy!”

“I’m glad,” I say, and I mean it.  Writing is a way to explore our deepest desires and our wildest passions.  What I may never experience, my characters can.

Valerius reaches out and takes my hand.  “Thank you for giving me a second chance at life.”  He grins.  “After what happened to Gabriel, I’m particularly careful about crossing the street.  I want to have a long, happy life with the woman I love.  I’m not going to make the same mistake twice!”  He winks.

“I wish you the best,” I say, smiling at his joke.  I finish my lemonade, and head back to the front hallway to gear up.  Before I reach for my helmet, Angela gives me a hug.

“I want to thank you too,” she whispers into my ear.  “He’s perfect – so wonderful, and smart, and kind.  And he’s Roman!”  She pulls back, her eyes twinkling.  I smile at her.

“I just knew you’d be happy with him.”

~*~*~*~

‘Timeless Embrace’ is available here

 

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Interview with Jake Riordan

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It’s eleven minutes after the hour when LAPD Homicide Detective Jake Riordan walks in. He moves with that alert but easy confidence I remember. He spots me immediately, joins me at the bar. He nods a curt hello, leans across to order a drink — what is that scent he wears? Soap, the leather of his jacket, a hint of his own clean sweat. He settles back on the stool and studies me.  His eyes are hazel. I’d forgotten that — forgotten how long his eyelashes are too. I guess I didn’t want to remember how attractive he is, but now that he’s here in front of me…he’s not easy to dismiss.

 

“Okay, Josh,” he says, and that wry suggestion of a smile is sort of disarming. “What the hell is so important that it couldn’t wait?”

 

“I need to ask you a couple of questions. And I need you to be straight with me.”

 

“I’m always straight.” He’s not smiling.

 

“Listen, pal, your continued existence depends on the next five minutes.”

 

He meets my gaze levelly. Lifts a broad shoulder. “Shoot.”

 

“You’d be surprised at the number of people who want me to do just that.”

 

His lifts his brows, apparently unimpressed. He dumps the shot in his beer. Picks the glass up and takes a sip. “It’s always a possibility in my line,” he says.

 

“I know.” Oddly enough, he looks a little sympathetic, meeting my gaze. “You’re married now,” I say. “How’s that going?”

 

His face closes. After a moment he says, “You know Kate lost the baby, right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Yeah. Well…” He sighs. “It’s been rough. Rough on Kate. You know women. She keeps going over it. Thinking maybe it was something she did or didn’t do.”

 

“I’m not that interested in Kate.  I want to know how you feel.”

 

His expression is pained. “Jesus, Josh. How the hell do you think I feel? I wanted the kid. I wanted…”  He stops. “Anyway. It’s okay. It’s good. I got what I wanted. She’s a great girl.” He corrects himself. “Woman.”

 

“You used to do the clubs. Are you still active in the s/M scene?”

 

He gives me a long look. “You know damn well, I am, so why are you asking?”

 

“Not exactly Leave it to Beaver this marriage, is it?”

 

“No.” He looks pointedly at his expensive wristwatch — the one Kate gave him for his birthday. “Next question.”

 

“You were involved in a homosexual relationship for a while with Adrien English, a gay bookseller –” I hesitate as I note the fleeting softening of his expression. “That relationship ended in violence –”

 

“Violence.” He shakes his head. “Jesus. I shoved him, he fell. I shouldn’t have — I feel like hell every time I think of it, okay? I wouldn’t — it was an extreme situation, and, yeah, I was jealous, frustrated, bitter, I admit it. All of it. I regret it.” He gives me a level look. “Ask Adrien if he thinks I’d ever — never mind.”

 

“Do you ever see Adrien anymore?”

 

“I tried calling him a couple of times. Left a message.” He sips his drink. “He could get in touch if he wanted to.”

 

“You’re married!”

 

“I mean as friends! Jesus. You people. You know, guys can occasionally be close without jumping into the sack.”

 

“You really are pretty damned insensitive,” I say disgustedly. “No wonder Adrien wouldn’t pick up the phone.”

 

He finishes his drink. “That it?”

 

I study him for a long moment. “One last question. Do you still love Adrien?”

 

His hazel eyes meet mine, and just for a moment I see something — or maybe I want to see it. His face…changes. Just for a moment there’s something almost too painful to look at. He doesn’t answer, and I realize he can’t. He recovers so fast I think I probably imagined it.

 

Jake gets up to leave. Without looking at me, he says, “Tell Adrien…tell him to take care of himself.”

 ~*~*~*~

 Find Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English mysteries here

 

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Openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka is the protagonist in three of Neil Plakcy’s Hawaiian mysteries: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, and Mahu Fire (April, 2008).

Interviewed by Anthony Bidulka, author of the Russell Quant mysteries, this is the twin of last weeks interview 🙂

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1. Boxers or briefs? And how many other people than yourself can answer that question?

Boxers, in patterns and prints that many men would find embarrassing, like shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, hearts and cupids for Valentine’s Day, tropical fish, surfing dogs and naked Santas. But hey, I’m secure enough in my masculinity to wear goofy shorts. If you get me stripped down that far, you’re thinking about what’s inside the shorts, not what’s on them! And as to how many people can answer that—a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell (or strip and tell, for that matter.)

2. Many would say, Kimo, that you had a rather interesting coming out process. Is there anything you regret about how you came out? On the other side of things, what is your favorite thing about how you came out?

I wish I’d been able to come out on my own terms, on my own schedule. Being dragged out of the closet by the media, when I wasn’t really ready, was tough. But then, everything happens for a reason, right? Who knows, I might have stayed in the closet a lot longer otherwise. And think of the fun I’d have missed!

3. What do you think of the word “mahu”? When is its use appropriate?


Mahu is a really tough word in Hawaii. I remember when I was a kid, I’d hear people mutter that word like it was some kind of a curse, and once in a while, when I was being whiny, my dad even said things like “Don’t be a little mahu.” And that hurt, you know? But I think we can take the sting out of any word, like mahu or queer or faggot, that we claim as our own. When you use it from a position of power—like “I may be a mahu but I can still kick your ass”—then it’s fine with me.


4. You are a Hawai’ian boy. Some say Hawaii is a paradise. Others feel it is too small and isolated. What is your opinion? And if you would ever live anywhere else, where would it be and why?

I went to college in Santa Cruz, and I liked California—but it wasn’t home. There’s something about the islands that connects to me. I look out at the waves and imagine my ancestors sailing across those seas to this place. I grew up here, and every street, every corner, every beach has some connection to my past.


Yeah, sometimes I get island fever, and I get jealous of my college friends who live on the mainland—you can just get in a car and drive for hours if you want. Cross state lines and climate zones. You can’t do that when you’re stuck on a rock in the middle of the Pacific. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But if I did, it’d have to be a place with great surf!


5. What would life be like if – for whatever reason – you could no longer surf?


Man, that would be a tough one. Surfing gets me away from all my troubles, makes me concentrate on the wind and the water, live in the moment. If I couldn’t do that I’d go crazy. Or start parasailing.


6. What is your definition of despair?

That’s a tough one. But I have to say I’ve seen people in despair—criminals at the end of their rope, victims who’ve nearly been destroyed—and it’s not a place I want to go. I think despair arrives when you lose faith in happy endings—the chance that things will work out for the best some day. When you lose that hope, you’re prey to all the bad things in the world.


7. Who is your best friend and why?

I’m lucky to have two best friends. The three of us were high school friends, and now Harry Ho is my best guy friend and Terri Clark Gonsalves is my best gal friend. With Harry, I can kick back over beers, surf, and talk stink. He’s always got my back. My friendship with Terri is different; I feel like she can see into my soul, and she always knows what to say when I’m feeling lousy. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, and you can see that in the way she treats everybody.

Of course, I’m in the market for a third best friend—the kind that includes romance. Maybe that guy, when I find him, will take the place of these other two—but I hope not. I’m a big-time romantic, despite the reputation I’ve got for sexual adventuring, and I’m waiting for that special guy to come along who’ll be my heart’s best friend.

8. Of all the bad guys (gals) you’ve come across in your career as a criminal justice professional, which one still haunts your dreams and why?

Sex is such a powerful force, you know? When we’re chasing some sexual dream, it can be enough sometimes to make us do all kinds of things we wouldn’t usually do. When I was struggling with coming out, I was also chasing this big, handsome, sexy bad guy named Wayne Gallagher—and he knew just how to manipulate me. Teasing me. Touching me. It made me ashamed to be attracted to someone I knew intellectually was just bad. I put him behind bars, but when a guy’s chasing me in my nightmares, it’s Wayne.

9. Describe you dream date – not only the person, but how the date/event would unfold.


My dream date will make me laugh, and I’ll be so interested in him and what he’s got to say that I won’t notice the time passing. I’ll be totally attracted to him, dying to rip his clothes off and run my hands and lips over his whole body, and yet I’ll want to talk to him, and listen to him, even more. Am I a romantic, or what? As for the rest of it, well, I live in a tropical paradise, so we’re talking a fabulous meal of local seafood, accompanied by a couple of tropical cocktails. Then a walk along the beach with waves as our sound track, gentle ocean breezes, the scent of plumeria blossoms, the stars of Orion’s sword twinkling above us. And then, of course, amazing, hot, passionate sex afterwards! (Oops, did that last line make me sound like a slut?)

10. What makes you belly laugh?

Slapstick. Watching the stuff they put contestants through on reality TV. The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and anything made by the Farrelly brothers. You gotta laugh, right? It’s nature’s best medicine. It keeps you young. And it sure makes you sexy!

~*~*~*~

You can find ‘Mahu Surfer’ and the other books in the series HERE

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Author Neil Placky interviews Russell Quant, the star of Amuse Bouche, A Flight of Aquavit, Tapas on the Ramblas, Stain of the Berry, and the new Sundowner Ubuntu.

In a fascinating departure from our usual style, Neil is interviewing a character who is not his own creation, but who is the star of Anthony Bidulka’s series of detective novels. Next week we’ll have an interview of Neil’s lead character by Anthony, so this is a two part treat 🙂

Stain of the Berry

Gay private investigator Russell Quant is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (in the middle of the Canadian prairie) but in five books by author Anthony Bidulka (Amuse Bouche, A Flight of Aquavit, Tapas on the Ramblas, Stain of the Berry, and the new Sundowner Ubuntu), he’s been around the world.

1. You’re half Irish and half Ukrainian. Do those two ethnicities blend well in you?

If you had asked me that question ten…maybe even five years ago, I would have stared at you with a blank look in my eyes, quickly followed by some not-so-quick witted reply. Growing up, I never considered myself half Ukrainian or half Irish. My parents—my dad in particular—always said we were Canadians, plain and simple. I think he’d gone through so much—leaving behind family he was never to see again, poverty, bone-breaking labour, heartbreak, disappointment—to come to Canada in the first place, that by Jove he was going to be a Canadian, and so were all his descendants.

Though my dad had a heavy brogue, and my mother to this day rolls her ‘r’s and wails her ‘oi’s’ to great effect (and let’s not forget her penchant for garish color combinations), I never caught on to the fact that I was made up of stuff from a country other than the one I was born in. Until recently. I find as I grow older, I’m thinking more about this. Especially now that my dad is gone. I’ve begun to recognize traits in me that speak loudly of who and where I come from. I like to think—as a tribute to my two fine parents—that they leave me with the best those two ethnicities have to offer. And maybe some of the rascally qualities too—but hey, what’s life without some rascally qualities.

2. I know you were a police constable before you became a private investigator. What drew you to police work in the first place? And what caused you to go out on your own?

I am a sad cliché. I wanted to help people. Ever since I was a boy, the people I related to on TV, in movies, in books, in real life, were the ones who reached out a hand to those in need. I must admit, part of the whole cop/PI thing may have come from crushes developed on Starsky, Hutch, Magnum, Remington Steele and Sonny Crockett. And when I saw reruns of shows like The Rookies and Rockford…well, how could I not follow in those footsteps? Joshing aside, I just have this thing I guess, where it means something to me to ensure people in need are being looked after.

Although I have been accused of being a dreamer and taking risks when I shouldn’t, I am smart, I am pragmatic, and I am realistic. I knew becoming a PI in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan wasn’t any of those things. So I became a cop. When I left for training in Regina, I knew it wasn’t my ‘exact’ dream. It wasn’t a perfect fit. But I would get exceptional training—which I knew of no other way to get—and I believed that once I became a constable on the city streets, I could achieve most of my goals. And who knew, maybe I’d love being a cop.

I didn’t.

In many ways, I am a lone wolf. To be a good cop, you need to be part of a team. The weakness is mine, not that of the profession.

And there was another problem. The people I wanted to help the most, I couldn’t reach: the people who, for a myriad of reasons, are beyond the scope of the police service’s scope. For the first time I truly understood the need for private investigators. They are not there to compete with the police, they are there—in the best sense of that profession—to give aid to those who fall between the cracks, who have a need that cannot be fulfilled by traditional policing.

That is what I wanted to do.

But I couldn’t see a way to do it on my own. My greatest barrier still existed: the unknown. Could a private investigator survive in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada? Sure, there were other detectives in Saskatchewan. But from what I could tell, their bread and butter came from rather mundane activities I wasn’t interested in. Without going into much detail, at about this time, my uncle and life mentor, passed away and left me with a small inheritance. The money came with a price tag. It was to be used to “Buy a Dream”. And the dream I bought, was to leave my career as a City of Saskatoon Police constable and hang my shingle as Russell Quant, PI. I’ve never looked back.

3. Where’s the place you’ve traveled on business where you wish you could have stayed longer?

France continues to appeal to me. It’s odd really, as I don’t speak French, so one might think I wouldn’t feel all that at home there. Especially in the countryside where English-speaking locals can be more difficult to find. But there is something about the French attitude that I admire. They treat their daily lives the way you and I treat vacations. They nap in the afternoon, they dress up just to go for a walk, they drink wine all the time, dining is an experience, they don’t take sex or themselves too seriously, humour is sharp and smart, relaxation is an art.

Also, my friend Anthony has a place in Tuscany that I’d happily return to. Africa changed my way of looking at the world. New York is adrenaline for me. I could go on and on, don’t get me started.

4. People are always asking when you’re going to get a boyfriend. Do you have commitment issues?

First off, I’d like to lay claim to at least some ‘commitment’ cred. The people who ask about my boyfriend-less status are generally only looking at my life in the last five years or so. They either don’t know, or have forgotten, that I have a couple of long term relationships in my past. Then again, those obviously did not last, and here I am, single (for the most part) for over five years.

So do I currently have commitment issues? Yes. And no. It’s not that I don’t want to be committed, or feel incapable of it. But for whatever set of circumstances I haven’t been looking for a commitment. Part of it is that I feel some compunction to prove, at least to myself, that being in my thirties and single is a viable lifestyle. I really love my life. I love what I do. I love my friends and family (most of the time). I love my dogs, my house, my car, my office. My life is very full. But yeah, yeah, I know, it’s still empty of the love of a good man.

I know I may sound like I do have commitment issues, and just don’t know it (or won’t admit it). But deep down, I really feel when the right guy comes around, I’m going to know it and I’m going to go after it with greater vigor, aggression and commitment than anyone has ever seen from me before.

***SPOILER ALERT***

As you know, I have met someone who I’ve been spending a lot of time with. It’s the longest relationship I’ve had in some time. Obviously I don’t want to get into it here, but I’m still working on where this thing will go. To be honest, I am having issues. Emotions are a complicated thing. And I’m not helping any. I don’t know if it will lead to a greater commitment.

5. Where’s the place you most hope a case will take you?

You know, I’m kind of hoping that sooner rather than later I’ll get to go somewhere just for a vacation. No bad guys/girls. No guns. No tracking down leads. No jumping out of exploding jeeps or ducking punches. I think it would be a delight to go somewhere hot and only worry about my tan line and whether I want a margarita or a nice cold beer.

6. Do you have any regrets about the cases you’ve handled?

Uh, yeah. There was this young man while I was on a case in New York…

At first it appeared to be suicide. It wasn’t. His death wasn’t my fault of course. I know that in my head. But in every other way I am filled with regret about what happened to him. I can’t help but wonder if I’d stuck a little closer to him, knew more about what was going down, that I couldn’t have saved his life. He was a beautiful, charming, intelligent, witty, young man who should not be dead. This is the crap part about what I do.

7. Tell us more about those black pants of yours!

Do you remember Lassie? Or The Littlest Hobo? Or the Olsen twins? Like them, the wonder pants have actually been more than just one specific pair of pants over the years. There have been certain immutable occasions in fashion history that have necessitated my wonder pants be updated. Stuff like wide leg changing to slim fit, flat front in favor of multiple pleats, that kind of thing. Other than that, wonder pants are that one pair of black trousers in your closet that you can always turn to, regardless of the occasion, time of year, or whether or not you’ve just ingested a bag of Zesty Dorito chips. They always fit, they never wrinkle, never show stains, and they always make your butt look great. Everyone must have a pair.

8. Is Saskatoon really as great a place as you make it sound?

I’m asked this question a lot. I think it’s because Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is a place not many people have heard of, and fewer have been to. And, let’s face it, it’s not L.A., Paris, Toronto or Hong Kong. But why should that mean it’s dull and boring? It is an awesome place to live. But so are L.A., Paris, Toronto and Hong Kong. One is not better than the other, just different. And, I’m a full believer that anyplace is a great place to live, as long as you surround yourself with people you love, and/or love to spend time with. Fun is in the air. You just have to breathe it in.

9. What’s your favorite food? And how do you stay so slim?

May you live forever with all the riches of life at your feet!

Sometimes I think my obituary will say (along with other more uplifting things): Russell endured a lifelong battle against weight gain.

I am not naturally, genetically, or any other way, predisposed to be thin. My body wants to be bigger than I allow it to be. I’ve known this since my first, much-beloved, forever-owned, pair of wonder pants (see above) had to be “super-sized” two sizes bigger. This happened when I was about 27, and there was simply nothing I could do any longer to maintain my grade twelve waist size.

So, I work hard at it. I go to the gym and walk the dogs. Now, to be fair to my metabolism, I do cheat—outrageously at times—which brings me to my favorite food: cinnamon buns. My mother makes these incredible cinnamon buns, the kind that are soft all the way through (I don’t like crusty buns) and they’re slathered in this sauce that is creamy, rather than sticky, and tastes vaguely of butterscotch.

10. Tell us about your dogs—you seem to have a real fondness for them.

Barbra and Brutus are standard schnauzers, pepper and salt in colour. They are brother and sister. I will admit, given my line of work, and the fact that I travel as much as I do, it might seem wiser for me not to have pets. Or to have a cat or fish or some other type of pet that needs less attention than dogs do. But I am fortunate to have people around me who love Barbra and Brutus too, and are willing to watch after them if I’m busy on a case or out of town. And, over the years, the two of them have become quite accustomed to my sometimes odd hours and lifestyle choices.

There are times, it’s true, when I’ve been on surveillance for the past fourteen hours, I haven’t slept or eaten, I’m exhausted, and I come through the door and the last thing I want to do is take a dog for a walk or fix dinner for anyone other than me. But mostly, there are the times when, even though I live in a large house, all three of us are cuddled up on the same sofa, it’s cold outside, we’re watching a movie together, there are cinnamon buns nearby, and I could not be more content. There’s something about having something living in your home other than you. Yeah, it could be a boyfriend or husband, but for now, well, I love my dogs. Who says I have commitment issues?

~*~*~*~

You can find more about Russell in Anthony Bidulka’s series of books, available HERE

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