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Archive for the ‘promo’ Category

Mani from ‘Space, Man’ by Sharon Maria Bidwell

When I wrote ‘Space, Man’ I wanted to hit a mildly comic note. It’s a ‘fling’ and therefore it’s intended to be a light, quick read. Some people have said they only wish it were longer and I admit I could have gone for more character development if I’d increased the story length but I was subject to the guidelines for the category as demanded by the publisher. Still, these two characters hold an unexpected place in my heart.

I came up with the idea while in Padstow, which is a small seaside port on the left side of the United Kingdom. I know the above images are a tad ‘poser-like’ and maybe you need to be British or have visited Padstow to appreciate them, but the idea of someone stumbling over this man in white on the quayside amused me so much I wanted to ‘see’ the vision I had in my mind. I simply had to write this story. I also think Yaoi influenced me a little. I’d love to write a Yaoi novel one day but I definitely see Mani as one of those characters. I also saw the world from his perspective. He arrives; he falls in love. He sees nothing wrong with whom he chooses to love despite it being someone of the same sex and… Well, read the interview and find out for yourself.

***

I’ve asked Mani to wear his spacesuit for this interview. I felt a little awkward asking but he’s so amiable that he didn’t seem to mind. I even felt a little foolish and then the door opens and he walks into the room. Alex’s thoughts when he first saw Mani spring instantly to mind:

“Another beach bum. Just great. With that shaggy hair bleached white and falling in a thick, tumbling wave over his face, the man could only be a drifter. The white hair was one thing to arrest the attention, but the white, tight outfit, was quite another. It… clung. No wonder the stranger attracted so many odd glances.”

On with the interview, if I can clear my throat enough to speak. Cling is the perfect word. I swallow, try to drag my eyes away, but I can’t. He’s like a magnet and goodness knows what the folk of the quiet little seaside resort of Padstow would think of a gay alien in their midst. Saying that, Mani and Alex live in London. Alex’s parents live in Padstow but he and Mani visit them often and it’s where Alex first set eyes on this man in white.

Mani turns to take his seat and presents me with the perfect round globe of his backside. At once, I struggle to stifle a laugh and fight to pull my face into some semblance of order before Mani sees my expression. No wonder Alex was so taken with this man at first sight. I recall Alex’s promises not to take home another beach bum when he first saw Mani. Yeah…ri-ghhhttt. Alex, you didn’t stand a chance.

While Mani is definitely sex on two long and lean legs, there’s also something very innocent and demure in his attitude. I sort of understand why, but is the universe really such an innocent place?

“Hello, Mani.”

He nods and smiles. The smile immediately lights up his face. His beautiful, violet, almond-shaped eyes distract me. His thin nose leads down to full kissable lips. I only just realise I’m starting to purse my own lips in time to stop before I make little kissing gestures.

“Thank you for granting me an interview. I’d like to start by addressing the issue of your name.”

“Addressing?” Mani frowns at me, the centre of his brow crinkling up adorably. “Ah, address is where you live.” He seems to think about this. “I do not see how you can put an address on a name.”

For a second, I’m speechless, and then I remember that Mani is still learning the subtle nuances of our language. Indeed, he’s learning the nuances of an entire planet. “It also means dealing with an issue, concentrating on a topic.” Not wanting to give him too long to think about this as I can see Mani leading us off on a whole tangent of questions, I swiftly forge ahead. “Alex gave you your name. What’s your real name in your language?”

He utters something that makes me think of a dyslexic typist crossed with the sound of nails on a chalkboard. There’s no way I’m going to be able to come up with a way to spell it. So much for that.

“I wondered what you thought of the name Alex gave you. I mean, Mani is quite unusual.” Alex took the name from a Norse legend. It means Moon but I want to know if Mani truly likes the name. “Do you like the name or would you rather choose another?”

Another smile teases Mani’s lips. “I like it,” he replies. “I like the sound of it, the story behind it, and that Alex gave it to me. He named me almost as if he was my destiny, the one to take my hand and lead me into this new life.” His gaze is a little unfocused and wandering. His hand presses against his defined pecs and then the hand starts to slide. I’m lost for a moment watching that hand descend over the ridge of abdominal muscles that the suit hugs so…intimately. They sure do make them well formed out there in the universe. That’s a vote for space exploration if ever there was one. I’m wondering how far down he’ll sweep his hand when it stops moving. I’m trying not to glance any further downwards. That suit sure does cling. His voice brings me out of my trance. “I always remember when he gave it to me,” Mani continues and I have to give myself a mental kick to recall that we’re talking about Alex giving Mani his name. “He was so flustered. Of course, then, I did not understand why. I have learned much since then.”

A faint flush touches his cheeks, so delicate that it’s almost the type of rosy blush you’d expect to find on a Victorian maiden. Is Mani shy? About sex? He certainly never appeared to be.

“Mani, you told Alex that you have three forms and that the one you maintain on your home planet is a block of wood?” I sound as uncertain as I feel.

Mani laughs. “No. I said he would no more look at me in that state than he would a block of wood. The form we use on my world is no more interesting than wood.”

If Mani understood the concept of slang and that there are many forms of “wood” I can’t help thinking he’d have second thoughts as to whether Alex would be interested or not.

“I see. You also said that on your world you don’t mate in the conventional sense.” As that small frown that makes me want to kiss Mani’s forehead appears once more, I think that maybe I’ve made my question too complicated.

“We do not mate the way your species mate,” Mani says, showing me that he’s learned a lot in the last year on Earth. “Females do not need more than our seed.”

“Yes, that’s what you said. What I don’t understand is why you were not eager to seek female companionship then? What made you choose a man?” This question just popped into my head, but it’s a good one and deserves an answer. I also want him to explain why he chose Alex in particular but we’ll get around to that.

“I did not choose in the way I think you mean it. We met by accident but my race believes in destiny. We…flow along with the design of the universe. What will be, will be. Alex was meant for me.”

“How do you know that? Why Alex? If you wanted a man then why pick Alex as that man? Was he simply convenient?”

I give Mani the few moments he often needs to work his way through our language. When he finally understands I see him blink. A look of something like consternation sweeps over his face.

“Alex was not convenient,” he says and the tone of his voice tells me that he most resolutely refutes this and even dislikes the question. “I was not looking for anyone, male or female. I did not even know that you could mate with your own sex but I am glad, for my heart opened to Alex long before…” He stops. The flush rushes up his face and he’s actually blushing now. “Before other parts of me did,” he finishes.

Despite the startling scarlet blush that stands out so starkly in all that pale skin, there’s something altogether too smug and delighted in the set of his mouth and the way his eyes sparkle. He might be embarrassed enough to blush but he loves Alex and clearly adores making love with him. I’m a little sorry that he’s embarrassed at all. When Mani first arrived here, he was so innocent that he saw the world as it should be, rather than how it is. He saw nothing wrong with loving someone even if that person was the same sex. Now the idea embarrasses him a little and I can’t help wondering how many more of our prejudices he’ll be subjected to in the years ahead. I hope Alex can keep him safe, protect him. Still, I also see that he’s unrepentant and proud of the person he loves, and I’m very pleased about that.

“Give me three reasons why you fell in love with Alex.”

I expect Mani to answer me at once but he pauses. When he finally starts to speak, I realise that it’s because he wanted to get his words just right.

“He’s loving,” is the first thing Mani says. “I didn’t realise how loving he was at first, but he was looking for love, longing for someone he could believe in, and I felt it. I felt his need but I felt more than that. He was so open with his heart even when he tried to close it off. I knew I was worthy of that love.” If a human being said this, no doubt we’d think them conceited, but Mani isn’t human. He doesn’t know what conceited means. “I knew I wouldn’t betray him. That made me worthy. He needs protecting, and I can do that.”

It’s my turn to blink. All this time I’ve thought of Mani as the innocent one that needed protection, and now I realise that he’s right. Alex needs someone to look out for him just as much as Mani does.

“He’s kind.”

I smile at this. Yeah, Alex is too kind sometimes.

“He took me in, a stranger. He’s so kind that sometimes he lets others hurt him.”

Wow. Mani is just getting more perceptive by the minute.

“His type of kindness is a vulnerability, but it’s rare and precious so that is the second reason I love him.”

“And the third?”

Mani shakes his head. “I have more than three reasons. Alex is smart…for a human being.” I want to protest in defence of our race, but considering what Mani can do with technology, I grant him this. “He’s funny, usually when he doesn’t mean to be, which is adorable.” Mani smiles sweetly. “He’s sexy and a good lover. I can sum Alex up by calling him a good man, and that’s why I love him, but there is one more thing.” Mani grins at me and I see something in his expression that I never expected. That look is mischievous. He leans forward as though he’s going to confide in me.

“Would it be wrong of me to say that he makes me horny?”

We stare at each other a moment and then fall about laughing.

http://www.loose-id.net/searchresult.aspx?CategoryID=237

Sharon Maria Bidwell
aonia – where the muses live
http://www.sharonbidwell.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/aonia

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“So, Josh,” I say, stumbling at the combination of unaccustomed petticoats and the long oily swell of the sea—best not to think about that—”you’ve done very well for yourself.”

It’s very windy on the quarterdeck, and the pages of my notebook riffle manically through my fingers, making me almost miss Josh’s sharp, black, pondering look. He’s wondering why I said that, whether I intended to insult him, what he can say without giving anything away. I know him well enough to guess that this interview will be like pulling teeth, and sigh.

“Peter was glad enough to talk to me.”

His mouth twitches at the side, and the brown eyes warm for a moment before he looks away to hide the smile. “Peter is always glad to talk about himself. It is one of his favourite topics of conversation.”

“How shocked he’d be to hear you say so! He thinks you worship him.”

“Well so I do.”

Silence falls, leaving what seemed a promising start thrown overboard and drowning. The deck tilts and a great fountain of spray bursts over the bow, making me lurch for the rail. But Josh is still standing, perfectly balanced, eyes sparkling, completely at home. “I’m sorry,” he says, seeing my expression. “Sure I’m being no gentleman. Let’s start again and I’ll try and pry some answers out for you like winkles from the shell.”

He raises his russet eyebrows and gives me a peculiarly Irish smile; roguish, full of charm. Predictably I forget my annoyance at once.

“Alright then, lets start with something easy. Favourite colour?”

“Green.”

“Is that through patriotism or…”

“It’s the colour of Peter’s eyes: You’ve seen icebergs? When the bright arctic light slants through white mountains of towering water. You look in there and you can see an emerald whose beauty is not equalled anywhere on earth. Deeper in there are fleeting colours you catch like an enchantment; aquamarine, and leaf green, and the shy, shady, private green of wildernesses where Man has never trod. That colour.”

I take a step back, blinking. “‘Worship’,” I say, a little spooked because this is more like idolatry, “I was right about that. He’s not worthy of it, you know.”

Josh shrugs, still smiling. “Who is?”

“He almost had you hanged!”

“‘Almost’ makes quite a difference. But, don’t you see, if he’d chosen to denounce me I could not have held it against him. I would have known he was doing what he thought was the right thing. He does that. It’s part of what makes him so…” He’s searching for a word, embarrassed by the one that comes to mind. “So pure.”

I realize, belatedly, that we’ve begun talking about Peter again. It’s pleasant enough, but really not the point. “What part of Ireland do you come from, Josh?”

“From Rathmoines, near Dublin. We’re a minor offshoot of the FitzGeralds. Settled in Ireland by the Normans in an attempt to civilize the natives.”

“Did it work?”

Josh laughs. “Depends on how you look at it. We ended up somewhere in between – too English for the Irish, too Irish for the English. Story of my life. If it wasn’t for Peter intervening in my career….”

“Oh no!” I hold out a hand to arrest the turn in the conversation before it starts. “We’re not going there.” I can’t decide if it’s sweet or just infuriating, the way he turns every question into a chance to talk about the man he loves. No wonder the two of them get on so well, completely in agreement as they are about which one of them is the centre of the universe.

“It’s you I want to know about, not him. Now, let’s try again. What made you want to join the Navy?”

His dark, dark brown eyes look almost black in the shadow of his hat. There’s salt on my lips from the sea, but – catching his mood – I fancy it tastes like tears. “I wanted to make it easier on my family,” he says, quietly. “A man like me – with my vice – it’s only a matter of time before I bring them dishonour. I thought if I was gone, long gone to some foreign shore, when my depravity was uncovered I’d only be a distant embarrassment and not a present shame. Or, if God was kind to me, I could die somewhere far away, as a naval hero, and no one would be the wiser.”

Silence falls again. I tuck my notebook into the pocket I have strapped between my hoop and my gown. He’s reminded me why he is so reticent, why he has this habit of secrecy that only love has been able to penetrate.

“Did you always know you were gay?”

“Always know I was a sodomite?” The tilt of his head is mocking. His lips draw up to show his canine teeth, in what I think is amusement at my pity. “An invert? A molly? One of the third sex? Yes, I did. I knew I was different – wrong – from the age of about four. We used to go into Dublin, me and the boys on the back of a grain cart, and throw stones at the prisoners in the pillory for a day out. We’d club together and buy the broadsheets to read about the crimes, and all my friends would laugh most over the sods. So I learned early what I had to expect in life.”

“It’s funny,” I’m leaning forward now, trying to read him better, wishing I hadn’t made him so damn tall. “This is one of the things I don’t understand about you. Didn’t you try and fight it? You’ve been through more casual, meaningless sex than I’ve had hot dinners. There probably isn’t a wharf tavern or backroom where you haven’t picked up a temporary shag. How can that co-exist with the burning poetic glory of your love for Peter? Don’t you have any self control at all?”

His face hardens from boyish smoothness into a man’s cynicism. I’m a woman, so he won’t threaten me – that’s not his style – but all the same I have a new appreciation for how scary he can be.

“Why should I? I was born to go to Hell. I was damned in my mother’s womb. What good would self restraint do me? Why not forget, by whatever means I could, the future that lay in store for me? Who was going to redeem me? I knew it couldn’t be done.”

“But you were redeemed.”

The flash of anger dies away leaving a hollow behind his eyes. He looks as if he’s been punched. “Yes. By death and fire, by Peter, and by Giniw.” Pushing back hat and wig to pull at his hair – auburn as autumn leaves in this Bermudan sunshine – Josh gives a bark of rueful laughter. “I don’t think I want to talk any more. One of my men will escort you ashore.”

“Can I just ask you what comes next? You were both left without a ship at the end of ‘Captain’s Surrender’ yet here you are, on deck again.”

He looks too worried for a man whose miraculous return from a David and Goliath victory must have made him the toast of the Royal Navy. “I’ve been given another command. There’s talk about making me Post. That is, confirming me in the rank of Captain permanently.”

“Oh! Well, congratulations!”

“Except… except that Peter surrendered. The chances are he won’t be reinstated – he’ll go back to being a lieutenant.”

“It’s not a tragedy, surely?” I say, watching Josh’s downcast look with concern. “He was a lieutenant when you met.”

Josh grimaces, raising his hands to draw a nebulous shape of frustration and fear in the air. “Can you see Peter Kenyon being content to take orders from me?”

I’d always thought of the two of them as equals, but really, could I see ambitious Peter, arrogant Peter, playing second fiddle to his own bedmate? “He loves you.”

“I suppose I will have to rest my hopes on that being enough.”

~*~*~*~

‘Captain’s Surrender’ is available here

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Johnnie is from Heaven Sent 1: Heaven by Jet Mykles

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Link to my website: http://www.computerotika.com/home/books-stories/heaven-sent/heaven-sent-1-heaven

Buy link (ebook): http://www.loose-id.com/detail.aspx?ID=267

~*~*~*~
Johnnie Heaven waits for me on a balcony overlooking the distant Pacific Ocean. My, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? To have a gorgeous rockstar waiting for me? And it is lovely. I spend a short moment watching him, his long body folded into a chair, bare feet propped up on the balcony railing before him. Blue lounge pants cover his long legs with a lighter blue dress shirt draping broad shoulders and slimly muscled arms. All that glorious hair is loose, spilling down the back of the chair in hues from gold through chestnut to chocolate.

He chuckles without looking at me, sipping at his soft drink. “You’re late.”

I grimace and finally step onto the small space. “I know.”

“You’re the one who kept putting it off.”

“Quiet, you,” I mutter, sitting in a chair beside him.

Being the pompous ass he is—

“Be nice,” he warns me, setting down his drink on the small table between us.

“Okay.”

Being the lovely creature that he is—

“Oh that’s nice.”

—he’s consented to give me an interview. Since this is virtual, I don’t bother with pad and pencil or recorder, just curl up in my chair and face him. He’s nicer to look at than the landscape anyway. “Where shall we start?”

“Oh, let’s not start at the beginning.” He adjusts in his chair, posing for me. One leg comes down from the railing, showing off just how long and sleek he is. “My adolescence wasn’t that interesting.” Given that his parents were divorced during that time, it’s understandable.

“So, where should we start?”

“How about when I met Luc?”

I nod. “All right. How old were you?”

“Almost eighteen.”

“How did you meet him?”

“At Purgatory, the club where we got our start.” He smiled fondly, adjusting the sunglasses that, unfortunately, hide those stunning emerald eyes of his. “We both ended up crashing a private party that turned out to be a dud. I can’t even remember who it was for.” He gives it a moment’s thought then releases it with a shrug. “I heard him mention this band he and his friend were thinking of starting and we started talking. By the end of the night, we’d agreed to meet that weekend.”

“You just hit it off?”

“We seemed to. Luc and I think a lot alike, you know.”

Yes, I do. “The rest is history?”

“Pretty much. I met Brent that weekend and after hearing him play, I couldn’t pass up the chance. They had another drummer back then. He played with us for a few months then left when he got a ‘real’ job.” The amused disdain in his voice is obvious.

“Where did you find Darien?”

“At Purgatory. You know his uncle owns the place. We’d just convinced Garth to let us play one night when Thom quit. When we told him we had to quit because we didn’t have a drummer, he suggested his nephew.” Johnnie laughed and gave me a look over the rim of his glasses. “You know how hyper Darien is now?”

I nod.

“Multiply that times five.”

“Whoa.”

“Yeah.” Another chuckle. “But not when he was playing. He learned the few songs we had pretty much in one night and played with us in our normal spot. We didn’t make any money that night to speak of, but Garth did ask us back.” A smug look. “The girls really liked us.” His grin takes on that wicked tilt he’s known for. “Really liked us.”

I can’t resist. “You get laid?”

“Oh hell yeah.”

“Girl or guy?”

“It was a girl that night.”

“You remember?”

“I remember them all.”

Somehow, I believe him. “Were you bisexual back then?”

“Proudly so.”

“The other guys didn’t mind?”

“Not that I noticed. Surprised at first, but they took it in stride.”

“And you converted them all.”

“Not personally, no. Damn it.”

That makes me laugh. “Who did you want to sleep with?”

“I would have slept with any of them,” he says without hesitation. “Have you seen them?”

“I have.”

“Then you can’t blame me.” He sits back in his chair.

“No, I can’t. The idea of promoting the band as all bisexual was your idea, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. I thought it’d be a good gimmick. I never thought it’d really last that long or that they’d really take to it.”

“Did it surprise you when they started being interested in guys?”

He thinks for a second. “Brent? No. I kinda thought he was gay. Darien, well Chris was his first so it took him awhile.” He chuckles. “Luc surprised me, though. I didn’t think he’d go for it. But once he did…” He laughs harder.

“Ah, the life of a rockstar. Fun, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s all over now, though, right?”

He arches a brow at me. “All the fun?”

“All the sleeping around.” I glance behind us, not that Tyler is there. He’s in the hotel somewhere but not anywhere in hearing distance. “You’re rather committed now, aren’t you?”

His smile turns from smug to beatific. “I am.”

“Tell me about that.”

“What’s to tell? It’s great. He’s great.”

“Did you see yourself settling down with a guy?”

“I never saw myself settling.”

“Not even in your later years.”

“Nope.”

“You don’t want kids?”

He shrugs. “Never really thought about it or expected it, to be honest. I always thought it’d be nice. I like kids. But if it didn’t happen, that’s fine too.”

“What about Tyler? He want kids?”

“We’re discussing it.”

“You’re in love?”

“Hopelessly.”

“What is it about him that draws you?”

He sighs. “What about him doesn’t?” He shakes his head. “He’s smart, he’s talented, he’s got a head for business that makes my head spin. We amuse each other. He’s fucking gorgeous.”

“He’s good in bed,” I tease.

“I decline to answer that one,” he says with a small grin.

“Was it love at first sight?”

“I have to admit that it was lust at first sight. For me. He had an unfair advantage.”

“Oh?”

“He’d seen me before.”

“But he hadn’t met you in the flesh.” I glance down at said flesh.

He grins. “Too true.”

“And then…”

He shrugs. “At first, it was a lark. He was beautiful and I couldn’t miss those big, blue eyes looking at me. For such a sharp businessman he’s got the worst poker face. Plus he gets this gorgeous flush when he’s excited.” He clears his throat.

“He was straight when you met him.”

“So he thought.”

“What made you think otherwise?”

He stares at me for a quiet moment. “A feeling.”

“Meaning?”

He turns aside, scowling slightly at the horizon. “He… didn’t act straight. He was at least bi, even if he didn’t know it.”

“That’s kind of high-handed of you to decide for him, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, well. I didn’t force him.”

I lay my hand on his shoulder. “I know you didn’t. Just… persuaded him.”

He has the grace to look a little embarrassed. “Yeah. I pushed the point. But my brain didn’t work right when I was with him. Still doesn’t, completely.”

“What made you want to be with him forever?”

He gives it some thought, staring into the distance. Then he shrugs. Removing the sunglasses, he gives me the full effect of those gorgeous green eyes. “I fell in love. I can’t imagine being without him.”

How sweet.

“So what’s up with Heaven Sent now?”

“We’re taking a break. We’ve got a few gigs lined up between now and June, but then we’re playing it by ear. Brent and Hell have a few projects they want to look into, Darien’s spending time with Chris. I think they’re going to travel some. And Luc’s got this movie thing.”

“You ever thought of doing movies yourself?”

“Oh sure. I’ve had a few offers. Nothing that really hit me, though.” He shrugs. “I’m not opposed but I’m not going out looking.”

“Is this the graceful end of Heaven Sent?”

“Nah. I know it looks like it could be, but it’s not. We’re not done with each other.”

Good to know. “Ever thought of a solo career?”

He shrugs. “Again, I’ve had offers but I’m not really interested. Maybe I’m just lazy. I’m used to working with the guys. Doing it all on my own doesn’t appeal.”

I smile. “So you go your separate ways for awhile, then meet up again?”

“Something like that.”

“And in the meantime, you’ll get to spend more time with Tyler.”

“Yeah. I’m looking forward to that.”

Out of my own questions, I consult the list left by fans. “Seems to be a fascination with your hair,” I muse. “You ever think of cutting it?”

He pulls a handful over his chest, admiring it. “I’ve thought about it. It’s a pain in the ass, to tell you the truth.” Frowning, he brings the lock of hair closer to inspect the ends. With a sniff, he drops it back to his lap. “But I think I’d feel kind of lost without it now.” He chuckles. “Tyler might not be too happy if I cut it. He might let me cut it to mid back or something, but I don’t think I’d go shorter than that.”

“What kind of conditioner do you use?”

He laughs. “You know, I’m not even sure which one it is. I change a lot. This one smells like peppermint, though.”

“Have you written any songs dedicated to Tyler?”

“Every love song since I’ve met him has been written about Tyler.”

“Were you ever in love before Tyler?”

He picks up his drink to sip at it. “Not really. I kind of thought I was, but all those relationships were too easy to give up. Might have been because I was all about Heaven Sent for so long.” He’s thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t regret those other relationships, but I don’t miss them either. I’d be a wreck without Tyler.”

I laugh at the next fan question. “Have you beat Hell at video games?”

He scowls. “The little beast won’t play anymore! He just got lucky.”

Which just makes me laugh harder.

“What’s so funny?”

What a delightful surprise. We turn to see Tyler stepping onto the balcony. He looks achingly gorgeous in a blue and white striped dress shirt and silver gray slacks. The slacks are obviously part of a suit but he’s left the jacket somewhere else. His curly gold hair is loose about his picture-perfect face and those enormous blue eyes fasten on his husband as he closes in for a kiss.

I watch them slowly brush lip to lip and see the hint of tongues that quickly swipe each other.

“That was for my benefit?” I ask archly.

Tyler straightens, leaning his hip against the back of Johnnie’s chair. “Yours and the readers,” he says with an unrepentant smile.

“You’ve been around him too long,” I accuse.

Tyler squeezes Johnnie’s shoulder. “No doubt.”

“All right then, you get to answer the last questions.”

“Okay.”

“What did you do for your last anniversary?”

Tyler’s eyes go wider than normal, then he ducks his head to hide a blush. Johnnie laughs.

“Oh, this must be good.”

Tyler slugs Johnnie’s shoulder, which just makes the singer laugh harder.

“Well?” I prod.

Tyler sighs, still not looking at me. “We decided to stay here. We got all the food and anything we’d need for three days and I told the staff not to disturb us.”

What’s so bad about that? Unless… I smile. “Good God! Did you guys ever get out of bed?”

Tyler’s flush deepens.

Johnnie’s grin is positively demonic. “Not really.”

Oh man!

And that, lovely readers, is where I’ll leave this interview because my brain is now scrambled just thinking of such a weekend!

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*”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.

~*~*~*~

Buy 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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Nat and Ritchie from ‘Roses in December’ by Fiona Glass

Nat was easy. I’d already written about half the book and had a fair idea what he looked like when I came across a page of photos of Karl Urban in a film called The Irrefutable Truth About Demons – and suddenly I found I was staring at Nat!

If you’d prefer not to know who Fiona would cast as Nat and Ritchie, don’t click on the cut 🙂 If you’d like to know, but you have a very different idea of what the boys look like, why not tell us in the comments who you would cast instead? (more…)

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