Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sarah, Son of God – Justine Saracen (Bold Strokes Books)

Buy it direct from Bold Strokes Books or from our store – Sarah, Son of God

The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. 

The Tempest

The word “Apocrypha,” has meaning
here: Ancient writings from men disposed to provide their testament, their take, if you will, on Jesus Christ and
his teachings. The interpretation by, the writings of these ragtag mendicants
and eccentrics about the Man and His lessons—not fitting nicely into what the
honchos of the Christian movement at the time believed to be in their best
interests—were thus not included in the New Testament and are what comprise  “Apocrypha.”

Beginning in Venice, circa 1560, we
find the Inquisition in full bloom presided over by Dominicans who certainly
believed in the worth of unconscionable torture to extract truths and repentance from perceived enemies of The Faith. In this
case, the enemies of The Faith have knowledge or possession of a diary of sorts
that provides evidence that one of the Great Mysteries of the Roman Church was,
um, contrived. (To go any further with this component of Saracen’s storytelling
would be unfair, an egregious give-away of the plot’s conclusion.)

The storytelling moves to circa
1970, where Tadzio, later changed to Sara, is a transgender who is fired from
her job for transitioning from male clothing to female, and becomes the main
protagonist within the storytelling. Sara finds a new job with Joanna, an
academic, who needs an assistant who is fluent in Italian and can accompany her
to Venice where the object of her research is believed to reside. Sara and
Joanna hit it off, and the storytelling begins in earnest.

Let’s pause here for a moment.
Tadzio/Sara, through the administration of those drugs that provide the
requisite effects for the transitioning from male to female, have given her
perky little breasts, a smooth face and an all-in-all satisfying female mien.
She is quite ambivalent about her penis, and—in my reading—has no intense
interest in undergoing the ultimate “cut.” Joanna, on the other hand, is
vaguely lesbian and finds Tadzio (as she interviews him to fill a translator
position on what is called the “Venice Project”) quite alluring, in spite
of—or, perhaps, because of—the fact he unabashedly admits he is a
“…transvestite.” Joanna hires Tadzio who soon becomes Sara…quite striking as a

The storytelling proceeds with the
premise that an ancient diary—actually published in renaissance Italy
(Venice)—tells a tale that rebuts (the Apocrypha) one of the most valued
Mysteries of The Church. The essence of the Saracen’s storytelling revolves
around, in, through the efforts of these two ladies, Sara and Joanna, to seek
the truth contained in the long-lost
diary of another lady, who, at the time of Jesus’ travails, apparently had the
inside scoop on what really occurred in the last days of The Savior’s
life/death on this earth.

Saracen’s storytelling reveals a
depth of knowledge, experience with the delights of Venice. It also reveals the
perspicacity of Sara, a transgender, in applying her sublime intellect in
assisting Joanna to solve the mysteries of the lost diary that may, or may not
(I wont, I swear I wont reveal the upshot of Saracen’s storytelling!) call into
question age-old perceptions, beliefs with regard to the Roman Church.

I must admit if I’d know the
subject matter of this book I’d probably not have spent much time sifting
through it. But such is the fate of a reviewer who is given books to read, for
better or for worst, with the expectation that he, the reviewer, will bite the
bullet, read on, and report on his/her conclusions.

My conclusions: This is a charming
venture into the world of, not only the transgendered, but the charisma of
Venice itself. The storytelling is ultimately a “…riddle, wrapped in a mystery,
inside an enigma…” (Thank you, Winston!)

And, yes, once you’ve read this
book your conclusion may be that,  And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
the Mysteries of the Church fade likewise…empty fables, empty promises. 

Reviewed by George Seaton

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A Hundred Little Lies – Jon Wilson (Cheyenne Publishing))

Buy it direct from Cheyenne Publishing or from our store – A Hundred Little Lies

Maybe it’s just my exposure to the genre, but whenever I
think “western,” I automatically assume a gunfighter or two will show up along
with some heathen Native Americans and, of course, some campfire homosex. But I
love having my expectations confounded so the small, yet complex, story in Jon
Wilson’s A Hundred Little Lies truly engaged me.

Jack Tulle, general store owner and respected city council
member of Bodey, Colorado has a wonderful relationship with his eight year old
daughter, Abigail, and friends all over town. But when a poker tournament comes
to Bodey, with it comes Tom Jude—Jack’s ex-lover—to threaten Tulle’s way of

Most impressive about this book is its portrayal of relationships.
Rich with detail and expression, Jack’s relationship with Abigail—a willful
girl savvy beyond her years—is beautifully done. Her grunts, squeals, evil-eye
squints and moods are immediately understood but never belabored, and their
give-and-take dialogue is anything but stickily sentimental. It has an edge as
well as an underlying respect on both their parts.

Jack’s relationship with Tom Jude, however, has a different
cast. It’s all smoke, veils and onion layers where what’s said isn’t
necessarily what’s meant. If not for Abigail’s mother, Fiona, Jack and Tom
would never have parted company. That doesn’t mean Tom wants to start up a new
life with Jack—or does he? A dalliance with a past lover or the beginning of a
new chapter? Tom’s intent isn’t clear until the final chapter. And even then, a
sequel is possible.

However interesting, the plot takes a backseat to the finely
drawn characters. Jack Tulle is complicated and three-dimensional. A man of
some education with a rough and tumble past behind him, as is his former career
as a circus performer, he now lives and works in a small town, satisfied to
raise his daughter. Full of common sense, homespun wisdom and a (mostly)
even-temperment, Jack is the perfect prairie papa.

But even Wilson’s minor characters have complexities—notably
Tom Jude, who may or may not be a rouge, shifty bank president Emmerson Knowles
and town marshall Ethan Evans, Tulle’s best friend. And Wilson’s characters are
as well-drawn as his portrait of small town Colorado life during that time
period. The sense of place and time here is dead on. You can almost smell the
dusty cowshit—and that’s not a bad thing.

Jon Wilson’s A Hundred Little Lies is a multi-faceted
gem of a read, with plenty of depth as well as sparkle. 

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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My Hero – Tristam Burden (Rebel Satori Press, 2007)

Buy it direct from Rebel Satori Press

Tristram Burden’s My
is an improbably successful and captivating debut novel. 

Telling the story of Joshua My Hero, the novel partakes in
the generic tropes of science fiction and pornography, is structured as both a
gay coming-of-age tale and a spiritual quest narrative; it reads like a mystery
and a mythological epic in turn.  The
world it conjures is populated with wizards, cyborgs, giants, aliens and
shape-shifters.  Its post-apocalyptic
setting allows for critique of contemporary religious, political, cultural,
economic and environmental norms.  In the
hands of a lesser author, this jumble would spell disaster, but Burden keeps a
firm hand on the narrative rudder and sketches fully rendered, believable,
intriguing, sympathetic characters. 
While the jacket invokes Burroughs and Lovecraft, I heard Georges
Bataille and Pierre Klossowski in the wings. 
(Although Burden’s work is certainly a watered down version of their
scandalous tales.)

Joshua My Hero, the improbably surnamed protagonist, is a
teenage parricide fleeing a Christian fundamentalist trailer park.  At the novel’s beginning, he contemplates
becoming a prostitute to survive, but eventually realizes that he has a grand destiny—a
destiny involving ancient divinities (who speak through his cock), bound up
with his visionary power (that comes to fore during his orgasms) that may
result in Earth’s post-nuclear-holocaust renewal.

Burden is a masterful storyteller.  The multivocality of the novel’s first few
pages demands that the reader sort past from present, narration from internal
monologue.  The mystery continues for the
remainder of the tale:  it unfolds and
expands at just the right pace.  Burden
uses third-person objective narration deftly: 
there is no rapid oscillation between characters, but just enough shifts
away from Joshua that the reader questions the motives of other
characters.  (Burden offers a single
instance of direct address to the reader. 
Because it happens only once, and late, I found it jarring, rather than
formally interesting.)  His sex scenes
are raw, hot and creative.  And even
though Joshua insists that he doesn’t like girls, the novel’s eroticism is not confined
to male homoerotic encounters.  But as
importantly, Burden effectively evokes desire between characters who never
engage in sex.  He is so adept at
maintaining erotic tension, in fact, I expected certain characters to
consummate their relation by story’s end. 
I was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t, and enjoyed the
expectational frisson.   

The post-apocalyptic cultural critique is a strong presence
in the book.  It is most successful when
it is implicit in events.  When Burden
relies on dialogue to express this critique more directly, it gets clumsy,
heavy-handed and trite pretty quickly. 
(This is surprising given Burden’s gift for dialogue—and the stammering
of speech—more generally.)  The
connection between Joshua’s sexuality and his spiritual destiny provides the
novel’s most powerful critique of contemporary cultural politics.  Again, when the marriage of the erotic and
the Divine is presented in Joshua’s sexual adventures or his orgasmic visions,
it works incredibly well.  When Joshua
compares his rebellious spirit to that of Eve, or his mentor explains how “the
Fall” was not about sin but knowledge, things feel a little shopworn.  Burden’s use of the Tao Te Ching is also odd. 
Joshua has a tattered copy of the text and flips through it to gain
insight:  this is, of course, exactly how
Christian fundamentalists treat the Bible. 
It also veers close to an exoticizing Orientalism.  Joshua also has a vivid erotic fantasy
involving Jesus’ crucified body, and the penetrability of its wounds:  a more interesting religious critique might
have been possible if Burden had moved around in the Christian imaginary rather
than casting it solely as villainous presence.

My Hero has a lot
to offer and will undoubtedly please a wide range of readers.  Like any good hero tale, Burden draws his
story to a close in a fashion that leaves open the possibility of Joshua’s
adventures.  I would certainly follow
where Burden and Joshua lead.

Reviewed by Kent Brintnall

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My West – Patricia Nell Warren (Wildcat Press)

Buy it now direct from Wildcat Press or from our store – My West: Personal Writings on the American West — Past, Present and Future

Patricia Nell Warren is known to
most readers as the author of The Front
and Harlan’s Race books about gays in athletics. But to those
of us privileged to have met her, she is almost instantly perceived and
understood as a Westerner. I didn’t meet her until I’d moved to California, but
I’ve conversed with her about purely Western concerns: places in Utah and
Arizona to visit, how to raise a natural-dry versus a wet garden, and even how
we each discovered our own particular “totem animals.” So I looked forward to
reading My West and having done so I
found myself at times surprised, edified, moved, and admiring. Like this now
iconic woman herself, the book is complicated, at times unexpected, well
written if usually plain-spoken, and surprisingly interesting.

I don’t mean the last to sound
patronizing. But the truth is I’d never expected to read about hay-making
techniques and machinery in Montana, or about small wildcats, or about the
specifics of gate-making, or even about some of the details of rodeo life –and
I’ll bet neither did you.

Because, as Warren makes clear
early in her preface, this book is about her
West, and not the West of movies and cliche best sellers. If she has any peers
in what she knows and writes of, it would be Larry McMurtry, Annie Proulx and
perhaps also Louise Erdich. Like them, in her novels, and now in this
compendium, she extends our own knowledge deep into this least truly understood
part of America.

Warren’s West begins with family,
and in a way, this book is an extended love-letter to her ancestors and her
precursors. These include Quarra Grant the First Nation woman who built and
decorated the Montana ranch home Warren grew up in; Conrad Kohrs, one of the
two European immigrant settler-partners who bought the extensive ranch land and
became a cattle herder; his wife Augusta (Grandma or Oma), and Warren’s father
and brother. These were all people who lived on the land, by the land, and
taught young Patricia much of what she knew and much of what she values today
and they come through as wise and strong.

Warren has divided her large book
into sections—Agriculture, Animals,. Arts, Cities, Politics, Sexuality,
Sprituality, Women and Zest. She has been writing these articles for many
years, for many differing types of publications and on-line sites, and
sometimes the topic is extremely specific (my favorites) such as wild grasses
of the West; and as often the topics are more broadly observed and commented
upon. There’s a lot of overlap, and some repetition here, but just enough to
make you feel comfortable.

I’m guessing that my favorite
pieces are studded throughout, but that the section “Women” was the most
generally intriguing to me for facts and new information. Here, Warren writes
of some of her heroines: Calamity Jane – “that awful girl”, whom she typifies
as the anti-Victorian woman. Also Janet Thompson, the first woman thoroughbred
horse trainer, and Alice Greenough, who returned women to rodeo via
“barrell-racing.” Pat Quillen, who is trying to conserve and save endangered
world species of smaller wildcats, is one of Warren’s heroines, as is Earth
Thunder, a powerful Medicine Woman who sums up much of what has been lost to

Warren correctly sees that Native
American Reservations were “prison camps” and that white misunderstanding, fear
and prejudice held back First Nation peoples and all but destroyed them.  Her essay on Two-Spirit People (what we often
think of as Berdache) should be required reading for any anthropologist,
historian, sociologist or GLBT person.

could just as easily have titled this volume, “My Life,” or “My Essays,” or
even “What I Know,”– it’s that personal, and it’s that variegated, and it’s
that diversely interesting. Like the woman herself.

Anyway, any book that gives me new
words –“Metis” for mixed blood, as well as “passamanterie” – any book that
recalls a fact I’d long forgotten –i.e. that early women’s jeans had zippers on the side, from the waist down! – and
any book that gives me new factual information – just too much to point out —
is in Patricia Nell Warren’s own plain spoken writing, a worthwhile book.
Warren’s My West is much more than

 ©2011, Felice Picano

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The Company He Keeps: Victorian Gentlemen’s Erotica – Dale Chase (Bold Strokes Books)

Buy it now direct from Bold Strokes Books or at our store – The Company He Keeps: Victorian Gentlemen’s Erotica

I’ll admit to being a sucker for Victorian literature.
There’s something wonderfully adult (and I don’t mean in an XXX way) about the
language and sentence structure. It’s all about saying exactly what it means in
the most expressive manner possible, no matter how many words it takes. The
concept of Victorian erotica, then, is enough to make me reel with delight—and
Dale Chase’s most recent collection, The Company He Keeps, surpasses all
my expectations.

It makes perfect sense that the most sexually repressive
period in history would have produced some of the randiest literature, and
Chase evokes that epoch with absolutely delightful abandon. Her characters are
university students, professors, writers, businessmen, artists, lawyers or
simply well-to-do ne’er-do-wells with but one thought in mind—men coupling with

As with Chase’s last collection, If the Spirit Moves You:
Ghostly Gay Erotica
, the vastly differing plotlines keep the stories from
sounding too “samey,” but even so you’ll not want to read more than one or two
at a sitting. They’re far too rich, heady and pornographically sumptuous to be
consumed in one evening’s go. These delicacies are meant to last longer than a
one night stand.

My favorites? “The Uninitiated Eye,” which explores the
carnal relationship between a groundskeeper and his employer’s son, the
perverse artistic delights of “A Genius for Sitting,” the reluctant (at first)
three-way of “Old Friends,” the kinky initiation into “The Westbrook Club,” the
seduction of a bridegroom-to-be in “Magnificent Surrender,”and the purposefully
wicked university professor in “A Fine Corruption.”

None of these, however, will prepare you for the delicious
“The Late Manner,” in which writer Malcom Arnold—well into his career—takes on
a typist named Elgin Ford, who brings a totally different type of novel out of
Arnold. This brilliant story is not only wonderfully dirty, but it bears a
philosophical stamp as well as illuminating the inner workings of one writer’s
mind. This one has a delightful twist that gives you food for thought as well
as a rise to your lap.

So brush up on your Henry James, stoke the fire, pour
yourself a nice brandy and settle in for a few long, wondrous evening with some
erotica that unfolds with grace, dignity and sheer love of language.

And keep a towel nearby too. 

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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Hidden – Tomas Mournian (Kensington Books)

Buy it now direct from Kensington or from our store – hidden

No matter how many chances you give them or how much you
want to like them, some books straddle that subjective line between good and
not-so-good with wobbly steps, falling into both territories at random. Tomas
Mournian’s Hidden walks that chalk line and stumbles as often as it

Ahmed, a young gay boy, brings up the possibility of his
queerness in his journal, which falls into the hands of his parents. They send
him to a rehab facility called Serenity Ridge, from which he escapes. He lands
in a safe house in San Francisco—basically a small, run-down apartment shared
by several fellow teen runaways. There, Ahmed (now renamed Ben) finds love,
conflict and heartbreak as well as several near misses with the agents send to
re-capture him.

The story here is extremely compelling, and Ahmed/Ben’s
voice is fresh and original—perhaps too fresh and original. The slang and
idiomatic expressions are piled on so thickly as to be almost incomprehensible
at times. Don’t get me wrong; I love slang. It allows our language to breathe
and makes it unique, but at many points, I longed for clarity instead of
character. I kept thinking of a butterfly that refuses to land—you know that
it’s amazing but it needs to sit still occasionally so you can see it clearly.

That said, Hidden never panders to any particular
audience, nor does it compromise for the reader, which a wonderful artistic
choice. It’s exciting, vivid and absolutely dead-on as far as its portrayal of
teen angst goes. There is much to admire in this butterfly. The scenes where
Ben and his friends go out to a Halloween party and end up fighting for their
freedom against the men sent to find them are tense and terrific—real
hold-your-breath writing. 

Ahmed/Ben’s escape from Serenity Ridge, however, really
blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Ordinarily, that would be fine but
as it’s the section that starts the book, you begin with a feeling of
groundlessness and never get a firm platform on which you can gain traction.
The explanation for this is that he’s coming down from the drugs fed him at the
facility, but there are ways to ground the reader and still get that across.

Nevertheless, Hidden is an interesting, if flawed,
read that will definitely speak to teens in the throes of coming out. It spoke
to me as well.

I’m just not sure what it said sometimes. 

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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The Buoyancy of It All – Robert Walker (Lethe Press)

Buy it now direct from Lethe Press or from our store – The Buoyancy of It All

Poetry is so immediate and confessional that the best of it
sounds like an intimate conversation with your best friend. Even if you don’t
know the poet personally, by the time you finish a slim volume of his, you
sometimes feel as if you know him better than you know yourself. Such is the
case with Robert Walker’s debut collection, The Buoyancy of It All.

Walker’s gay-basher, straight-acting, molested, bullied,
boogeyman-nightmared past comes rushing at you in a short 80 pages. But as
serious as that sounds, his wry, knowing voice sugars it enough to make it not
only palatable, but downright addictive. His pop culture references range from
90’s teen heartthrobs to The Wizard of Oz, but they’re never too obscure
or far out. His sense of humor is evident in many of the titles: “Sacred Cows
Make Fine Cheeseburgers,” “Mrs. Potatohead’s Uterus,” “5 Viable Routes of
Explaining Your Role in a Pornographic Film” and “Question # 26 On The Red
Cross Donation Questionnaire” are some of my favorites. But the work that
follows the cute titles is intricate and the kind of funny that makes you
wonder why you laughed in the first place.

Several poems in this collection have multiple parts, each
branching off the other to tell a story too large for one to contain. My
favorite is the “Nightmare” series, especially “Nightmare: The One In Which I
Tell Her I Love Her & She Believes Me.” This nine-part poem tells the story
of a young gay man trying to pass for straight, a beautifully conflicted word
salad that, at times, reads more like prose than poetry:

naked. You’re pulling the covers off. You’re saying
try it, you

            might like
it. I’m cold. I want to stop; to wake up. It tastes plastic like

Barbie parts. I think this is what aliens must taste like. I think if

            I wrap
my lips tight enough, if I suck until we’re both chapped, I can

            turn you
inside out—I could find a mouthful of something familiar. But

cunt is stubborn. It stays moist and concave. I am convexed by the


Walker’s wordplay leaves me breathless and jealous, as does
his honesty and directness in such frank poems as the powerful “The Rapee
Remembers,” the self-loathing of “A Joke I Used to Tell” and the painful regret
of “My History of Violence.” Yet nothing can quite prepare you for “The
Boogeyman and I Seek Couple’s Counseling (A Poem in One Act).” This brief
play/poem—one, again, of a series dealing with the boogeyman—embodies Walker’s
work. It’s simultaneously funny, scary and heartbreaking, cutting close to some
essential relationship truths. Brilliant stuff.

I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Walker and listening to
him read at this years Saints and Sinners gathering, and his delivery is as
impeccable as his words. It’s a shame you can’t hear his performance, but this
is a wonderful collection full of heart and nerve.

The Buoyancy of It All will take you away indeed. 

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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Zombielicious – Timothy McGivney (MLR Press)

Buy it now direct from MLR Press or from out store – Zombielicious

If you pick up a book titled Zombielicious, you have
to know straight off you’re not in for an experience to rival, say, Charles
Dickens’ Great Expectations. I read books like this because authors or
publishers send them to me or, for reasons known only to my inner masochist, I
ask for them. Based on its title alone, Zombielicious has every right to
be a hot, steaming pile of zombiecrap. But it isn’t. It’s a surprisingly
well-plotted action story with some interesting characters.

Sibling trustafarians Walt and Molly combine forces with
Jill—a retired porn star turned nurse—the uber-macho Ace and Walt’s love
interest, a patient named Joey, to fight off an onslaught of zombies. Where did
the zombies come from? Who knows? The zombiepocalypse, perhaps? That’s not the
point. The point is they’re here, they’re hungry and they’re legion.

The book is separated into acts, and that goes along with
the feeling that it’s a movie script writ large. I almost expected lengthy shot
descriptions or camera angles included in the text. This doesn’t detract from
the piece, however. It moves at a dizzying pace, pausing only for rifle volleys
or interludes to bandage injuries.

But McGivney has also created some excellent characters to
move his plot along. Walt may be a proto-typical nice guy, but his sister Molly
has some deliciously warped “American Idol” fame fantasies. Jill, formerly
known as Katie “Killer” Kummings, has an interesting backstory that hooks up
nicely with the studly Ace, a janitor at the same hospital, who has discovered
her identity. 

Though this doesn’t sound marvelous, Zombielicious is
more than the sum of its parts. McGivney manages to keep things fresh and
interesting, and it accomplishes a great deal in its 209 pages as two survivors
(I won’t tell you, but you can probably guess) ride off into the sunset on a
motorcycle to spend the rest of their lives fighting the rotting, shuffling
enemy. Will Zombielicious remind you of Charles Dickens? No.

But I’ll bet he would have liked it.   

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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A Conversation with Dale Chase by Gavin Atlas

Dale Chase has been
writing male erotica for 13 years and loves not only the subject matter but the
writing community it brought her into. Her short stories have most recently
appeared in
Tented: Gay Erotic Tales From Under The Big Top (Lethe Press) and I Like To Watch (Cleis Press). Stories will appear in
the upcoming
Wings: Subversive Gay Angel Erotica (Bold Strokes Books), Hot Daddies (Cleis) and Hot Jocks (Cleis.) Dale’s first story collection, If The Spirit Moves You: Ghostly Gay Erotica was published by Lethe Press in 2010. Her latest collection, The Company He Keeps: Victorian Gentlemen’s Erotica is a brand new release from Bold
Strokes Books. Chase lives near San Francisco and is at work on an erotic
western novel. Check her out at

Hi Dale!  Thanks so much
for agreeing to the interview.  Could you
tell us a bit about your background? 
Also, what experiences in childhood, or later, led you to want to be a

I grew up in the Los
Angeles suburbs in a decidedly non-creative family so I’m not sure where I got
this inventive bent. At age four I discovered my imagination and have spent a
good deal of time there ever since. A love of words began guiding the
make-believe onto paper in my teens and my first short story was published in a
motorcycle magazine at age twenty-two. Eight years writing for those magazines
followed, along with attempts at straight novels, detours into a couple
marriages, and raising two children as a single parent. I’ve been writing all
the while, wandering into gay erotica thirteen years ago and finding a home. It
is not so much that I wanted to be a writer as that I evolved into one.


You identify as hetero, what do you find is the attraction of
gay erotica for you? 

Gay erotica allows me
expression of my strong male side. Always a tomboy, I have what I call a gender
blur which I very much enjoy, one foot in each world so to speak. When I found
gay erotica I fell in love with the genre as it turned loose the boy inside.
Writing my first gay erotic story was one of the most memorable and rewarding
experiences of my life. Since I’m a straight woman who adores men, I feel most
comfortable in the genre. In addition to the personal satisfaction is joy of
being successful with my efforts and also at being accepted as a member of the
gay writing community. I consider it an honor to be there.


Last year, you had a collection of ghost stories called If The Spirit Moves You, and I was impressed with the number of inventive angles you
found to explore your theme.  How much of
a challenge was it to make each story distinct? 

The ghost collection was
somewhat a surprise to me as I’m not the least attuned toward spiritual or
supernatural things. I collect titles and one, “Secondary Sprits,”
had been tucked away for some time. When a friend said something about all the
energy inside a library, it sparked an idea for a library ghost story which was
great fun to write. I then went back and made a story out of “Secondary
Spirits” after which I realized I could do a collection. Pondering the
subject, I focused on originality which is always my goal. It was amusing to explore
various angles so there was really no challenge, just surprise at the various
ways ghosts get up to things. A friend who is into the supernatural educated me
on different types such as the residual ghost and those residing in objects.
Who knew a ghost could inhabit a piece of furniture?


How did you get the idea to write a volume of Victorian male
erotica?  Also, I understand the
collection had an interesting journey toward publication.  What did you learn from that adventure?

Henry James is one of my
favorite authors so I’ve read a great deal of his fiction and from there I
moved to Trollope and Thackeray. For a time I devoured Victorian fiction,
totally enthralled with that world. It was a line in a Henry James novel that
sparked the first story and subsequent collection. In the James novel, “a
very good thing” was applied to a young hetero couple about to be married.
I thought, “what a great title” and then “what if it was two
men?” Writing that first story unleashed a flood of them. I still have
enough in the drawer for second book.

The stories were written
eight years ago and it took three publishers to get them into print. The first,
Starbooks Press, imploded for awhile and my book was a casualty. The second was
Haworth Press who were sold and fiction contracts cancelled. The third,
Strokes Books
, published the book, much to my delight. What I learned from
the experience was more a confirmation of something I’d long believed: never
give up. A writer must be prepared for adversity and overcome it by writing
still more.


What, if anything, do you find more erotic about the language of
the Victorian era than contemporary language? 
Or are there aspects of that era, such as the added danger, you find
more erotic in general?

I don’t think it’s so much
that Victorian era language is more erotic than contemporary, it just appeals
to me more. Language from another era is frozen in time but contemporary
language is always evolving, just as are social mores, settings, fashions,
music, etc. Victorian language is rich and elegant while contemporary language
feels smooth and efficient. I don’t really consider the repression of the era
in terms of danger. For me it is fuel. It may have been repressed but the
tradeoff is not having to deal with safe sex issues so it can be very hot. I am
currently writing an erotic western novel which is very enjoyable as I love
that period even more than Victorian. What is fascinating is that language in
the old west was surprisingly formal.

What in particular draws you to westerns or historical fiction
in general?

What I like best about
historical fiction is the escape to another era. There’s a lot going on in the
present but to me the past is richer and more textured. The Victorian period
had elegance, dignity, and formality which is great contrast when writing sex.
The old west was intensely masculine and quite lawless at times, thus a perfect
setting for hot sex. I also have a lifelong love of cowboys and writing about
the old west feels like coming home. The little girl who loved watching
westerns on television is having a blast.


I seem to have several friends who must have majored in Pointing
Out Anachronisms in Historical Fiction, and I imagine if I attempted to write
historical, they would drive me bats.  
How important do you find authenticity to be?  What kind of research did you have to do and
is that kind of research enjoyable to you? 

I hate research and do as
little of it as possible. Reading so many Victorian novels gave me a good feel
for the period and language and when something required research, I either
looked it up or avoided it altogether. As for authenticity, it is fiction after
all so I can do what I want while making an effort to portray the period. I
tend not to be highly descriptive so it works. My writing is character driven
and I believe readers are more caught up in the people than how things look. If
someone objects to some detail, I respect that but I’d venture most readers
will not quibble. Working on my western novel is different as it portrays real
people, thus I’m following history but loosening the reins enough to allow
fictional sex scenes and whatever else is needed to move the story along. I’ve
done lots of reading about these characters but it is all biography which is
most entertaining and does not feel like research.


A lot of times, erotica authors are asked to write a story
around a specific theme such as construction workers or police officers, so it makes
sense that a story might form around a specific fantasy instead of first
focusing on character development.   How
easy or difficult do you find it to write unique characters, especially when
writing for a theme you didn’t choose? 
Are there characters you’ve created that you love most?

My work is character driven
and when I write for a specific theme that I didn’t choose, I begin by
inventing strong people to fuel the story. It is my favorite part of writing
and because I’ve done it for so long it is quite easy and most pleasurable.
Inhabiting the men I invent is very rewarding. I never impose any specific
fantasy in a story, preferring to go where the characters lead me. Staying
within a specific theme is no problem although sometimes when the theme is well
worn (daddies, jocks, hard hats) it becomes a challenge to write something
fresh. Other times when the theme is new and original (circus erotica, train
erotica) I’m totally jazzed and have a grand time. As for characters I love
most, there are lots. I fall in love with my characters quite often and when
that happens, the story is better for it.

I was actually a fan of yours before we met, so when we did
meet, my reaction was something like “Holy Cow! 
It’s Dale Chase!” and it seemed like you were thinking ‘Wow.  How neat that I rate a ‘Holy Cow.’” What have
been your favorite fan or reader reactions?  
Are there other memories or events that you consider the best moments of
your career so far? 

I’m always pleased when
someone tells me they like my work but I went a long time before I knew any
reader reaction. For the many years I wrote for magazines such as Men, Freshmen,
In Touch, and Indulge and while those were read worldwide, I had
no idea of people’s opinions of the stories. This was not a problem as I simply
don’t spend time dwelling on such things. I like that people read my work, but
my focus is on the writing which, to me, is like breathing—not optional. My
most memorable event was when I was writing for the magazines and an editor
told me another writer wanted to collaborate with me on a story and that the
editor had broken the news to him that I wasn’t a guy. When I emailed the
writer he was still in shock, his email to me shouting (the caps were his):
Apparently he’d had some fantasy about this guy Dale. He’ll never realize what
a great compliment he paid me. More substantial best moments of my career are
seeing my two books in print and meeting gay writers who have become very close

What do you think was the best advice you ever got from another

As a fiercely independent
person, I don’t seem to elicit advice from anyone, probably because people
realize I wouldn’t listen. I am self taught, the process entirely internal,
thus I have never looked for guidance from the outside. I wrote for many years
before getting into gay erotica without knowing another writer so I’m used to
being on my own and it seems to have worked out fine. Of course, I now enjoy
talking with fellow writers about every facet of our work but that’s more an
exchange of ideas than advice.

What are your hopes and plans for the next few years?    

My immediate goal is to
finish my erotic western novel and see it published. Next would be following
that with other novels while continuing to write for the anthologies. I’ll
never give up short fiction but I do like it that characters in a novel move in
with you while those in short stories are more weekend guests. Novel characters
sit across from you at the breakfast table, follow you to the post office, even
kick back at the hairdresser’s. I love that constant feeling. It is also fun to
look forward to the growth that every writer experiences with new work. The
thought that there are ides yet to hatch is very exciting and, as I was
fortunate enough to retire from the day job this year, I can now stay immersed
in novel writing. It is pure heaven—at long last.

Thanks so much, Dale! 

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