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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Guest Interview - Shad O. Walker

* Another exciting new voice in the GLBTQ community. Shad O. Walker is doing a series about magics and paranormal with a gay black male as the leading character. I'm stoked! Of course, I had to reach out to Shad and ask him bunches of questions and let's say he more than delivered very poignant, colorful answers. Enjoy my sitdown with Shad O. Walker, the author of the One Warlock's Love Story. 

Shadrach Walker
One Warlock’s Love Story

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I wanted to learn more about the inspirations behind your books?  Can you tell me and the audience what inspired you?
I’ve always been a science fiction and fantasy reader. I love to read, especially when I am feeling down. The first fantasy book that I ever read was Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I’ve been hooked on fantasy ever since. Escaping into a story takes my mind off of my problems. I was going through a rough period in my life and was looking for a story, a series, to get into.  I searched for hours and hours and couldn’t find one single science fiction, fantasy or paranormal series that featured LGBT characters of color. I finally went to bed frustrated that Friday night, but woke up at 3:07am with the entire One Warlock’s Love Story storyline running through my mind like a movie. I got up and just started outlining and writing – I wrote all weekend long. Before I knew it, I had the makings of entire series right there in front of me.

I’m intrigued about the stories of a black warlock. So many minority characters, especially queer ones, often get overlooked. What do you think needs to happen to change that?
Literature is really no different than film, music or any other media. Things won’t change until we (LGBT consumers) demand more balanced content or create it ourselves. I am still amazed at how few LGBT paranormal/fantasy/science fiction stories there are out there.

I have to ask this question and I hope I’m not stepping on any toes, including yours. Being a person of color myself, I see a lot of authors who feel their “black character” must act a certain way to represent black culture. Do you agree or do you feel as I do? Write the character as you see fit and squash the stereotypes. IE the way we dress, slang, the neighborhood, etc.
I’ll respond to this question by sharing advice that was given to me by the late, great L.A. Banks, “writers should write from the heart.” I’ve found this to be great advice. The minute that a fiction writer tries to do anything but write from a place of honesty, is the minute that the work becomes unauthentic.  The writer is a vessel and he/she must allow the story to flow through them without any political, cultural or emotional filters. If the story calls for a “stereotypical” character, then write it that way.  If it doesn’t, then don’t. It is story, not a political manifesto. 

 Many non-minority authors are scared of writing black characters for fear they’ll get it wrong. What would you say to these authors?
I think every writer/author should challenge himself/herself to write outside the boundaries of their own personal experience. To me, it is no different than a gay writer writing a straight character or a male writer writing a female character.  Good writing evokes emotion and transcends race, sex and sexual preference.

What books influenced you before you became an author?
More than individual books, there are authors that influenced me. I don’t really feel like I know an author until I’ve read all of their books. The authors who influenced me are L.A. Banks, Octavia Butler, E. Lynn Harris and James Baldwin.  So with that said, I think L.A. Banks’ Vampire Huntress series, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, and E. Lynn Harris’ Invisible Life are must reads.

Is there any particular book that you’d say would be the go to book for someone who loves fantasy/paranormal stories?
Yes, One Warlock’s Love Story! Beyond that, I would suggest anything by Octavia Butler or L.A. Banks.

I read the passage on your website about how you were unsuccessful in finding queer characters of color in urban fantasy.  Do you feel there will be more now that you sort of, took the lead, in making this subgenre more diversified?
Yes, I do! I get emails every single week about someone who is looking for more stories like One Warlock’s Love Story or someone who is planning to write their own LGBT urban paranormal romance.  The first few seeds have been planted and I am glad to be at the forefront of a new literary movement. And here is where I would like to give a shout out to author-brothers K. Murry Johnson,  Lee Hayes, and Marcel Emerson who are also writing in the paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi/thriller space.

I’m a black female author who writes a lot of characters in mixed relationships. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your books yet, but have you done it? If not, do you see yourself doing a book and or series with mixed race couples in the future?
Sharita! I hope you’ll eventually check out One Warlock’s Love Story. When you do, you’ll find that the series features several mixed race relationships. I couldn’t complain about the lack of diversity and inclusion in mainstream literature and then create a series with only same-race homosexual couples.  I appreciate diversity in all forms and I try to capture that in my writing.  

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories since I could write full sentences. I had no idea that not everyone wrote stories. As a child, I would rewrite stories that I had read and insert myself or family members in them. 

 What is your favorite subgenre to write?
I feel like urban, gay, paranormal romance is a subgenre all its own. My biggest fans call themselves OWLS after the series’ title, One Warlock’s Love Story.  And if they are any indication, it is a subgenre that is positioned for growth.

Would you ever write a hetero romance? Why or why not?
Absolutely. There is a hetero romance storyline in my One Warlock’s Love Story series. I also have an entire story that centers around a heterosexual couple that I have not yet published. At the end of the day, a good story is a good story no matter how the characters express themselves sexually. 

Your first published book?
My first published book was the first book in the One Warlock’s Love Story series. The subtitle is All Knight Long. There are eight books in the series. Four of the books have been released and the next two are due out on October 21, 2015, and April 27, 2016, respectively.  The series titles are as follows:
Book I - One Warlock's Love Story: All Knight Long - Released
Book II - One Warlock's Love Story: One Moore Knight - Released
Book III - One Warlock's Love Story: Last Goode Knight - Released
Book IV - One Warlock's Love Story: That Stormy Knight - Released
Book V - One Warlock's Love Story: The Knight Reign - October 21, 2015
Book VI - One Warlock's Love Story: Knight And Dae - April 27, 2016
Book VII - One Warlock's Love Story: Hunt At Knight - TBD
Book VIII - One Warlock's Love Story: Knight of Wrath - TBD

I’m of the opinion that erotica doesn’t have to be real all the time to make a good story, what are your thoughts?
Sharita, I agree. I don’t like boundaries. In my opinion, the only requirements for a good story are that they are well written, evoke (positive or negative) emotion, and take the reader on a journey. 

What are you working on now?
I have three other series already written. I am just trying to decide which one to release next.

When creating your characters, do you have models in mind or are they totally fictional?
I create my characters in my mind first and then look for images on the Internet that match that I can use for character boards. I am a very visual person and author. Once I have a good character image, I fill my board with facts about the character so I can really “get to know him or her.”

 If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are you in your sex scenes?
Relatively speaking, I think I am very descriptive. Character development, dialogue, storyline and description (especially in the sex scenes) are four things that I think readers enjoy about One Warlock’s Love Story.  Sex is a part of life. We spend so much of our lives suppressing our sexual urges and not talking about our real sexual feelings. Why not allow ourselves to experience our fantasies through books.

A while back, a writer sabotaged her career by answering a bad review on a blog. How would you have handled this and do you think authors should answer their reviews?
Writers, like all other creatives, are “sensitive about their shit!” With that said, we have to expect both good and bad reviews. After all, “everything ain’t for everybody”.  I appreciate anyone who takes the time to sit down and write a review. I hope for good reviews, but it is important for me to stay true to my vision for the story. If one angry reader/reviewer just doesn’t get my story, then that is their issue. I remember how devastated I was when I read my first nasty review. Then I realized that the reviewer was a heterosexual female who had a problem with the gay sex scenes. I thought about writing her back, but figured that it wouldn’t do her or me any good. She wasn’t and still isn’t worth my energy. Instead, I focus on the young reader who contacted me and said that reading One Warlock’s Love Story helped him deal with his own coming out and kept him from committing suicide. It is all about where we choose to focus. I choose love and light.

Do you think women being a good portion of the amount of m/m fiction writers detracts from the genre? Be honest and why or why not? No. I welcome all readers, and I believe that there is something in EVERY story for everybody. We are all connected and we can find ourselves in every story we read if we just look hard enough.

Do you feel authors should be held responsible for the covers or pictures they post on FB or other social media sites? Why or Why not? Yes. Authors should be responsible for everything they publish and/or post.  In much the same way that I wouldn’t walk outside with my ass out without expecting a response, I can’t post a provocative book cover image on social media without expecting a response.

Your favorite gay tv show or movie? Spartacus on the STARZ network really isn’t a gay series, but it has a few gay love stories that I think are well done. It also has agreat fight scenes, which I also enjoy. 

Your favorite gay celeb? I really can’t think of very many. I would love to have Frank Ocean and Meshell Ndegeocello on the soundtrack if/when One Warlock’s Love Story is made into a movie. 

For the men in your books, commando or underwear? Commando. Just read One Warlock’s Love Story and see! LOL.

Favorite character(s) in one of your books? Giovanni Nugent for his humor; Zander Knight for his willingness to change and grow, and Muslee because she is the ultimate vampire house mother.

The character you identify with? Tau Long. He is very assertive and a bit entitled.

Please give us your links to website, blogs etc as well as the cover of your latest book, blurb, excerpt and buylink.  

www.shadowalkermedia.com. You can find the One Warlock’s Love Story on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, at Torquere Press or anywhere else fine books are sold.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Guest Interview - J. Scott Coatsworth

*I'm always excited to have new voices from the GLBTQ community. J Scott Coatsworth runs the Queer Sci-Fi website and I'm happy to have him here on IRM for a vitual sit down and some promo for his new serial.

How long have you been writing?

Like practically forever. I started when I was in fourth grade, writing for a contest to get a troy into the University of Arizona library. I wrote a sci-fi story (illustrated in crayon) that, in hindsight was probably Jetsons inspired.

Since then, I wrote a novel or two and some short stories in my twenties that were never published, and then came back to it in my mid-forties. Since then, I've sold about ten short stories and novellas, and have a ton of other irons in the fire.

What is your favorite subgenre to write?

Hmmm. I have three.

Science Fiction, because I love playing around with what could be. Fantasy because eI love playing with what never was but should have been. And Magical Realism, because I love injecting a little magic into the contemporary world.

Is there one that you haven’t tried that you see yourself doing in the future?

Yeah. I would love top try something a little steampunk. I love the idea of anachronisms, but of course I'd have to put my own weird spin on it. Maybe steampunk in a fantasy world? Gandalf on a train?

Your first published book?

Between the Lines. OK, so it's a novella, but it was my first published stand-alone work. It combines my current hometown – Sacramento – with a bit of politics and a dose of magical realism. And it's the launch pad for a new serial storyline I'm starting on my blog, The River City Chronicles.

Who are the authors that you look up to?

There are a number of them. Angel Martinez, who is my co-admin at QueerSciFi.com and who has an amazing style and sense of humor. BA Brock, a new up and coming author who is also the QSF reviewer. Jamie Fessenden, a talented writer who should be getting more attention than he has, especially for his new book Violated, which explored what happens after MM sexual abuse. Jonah Bergan, whose new book Off World manages to fuse great sci fi and an MM(M) premise. And Matt Buscemi, who is self publishing, and whose flash fiction book Lore and Logos blew me away. There are so many more…

What are you working on now?

Oooh, I'm so glad you asked. I just wrapped up a new fantasy fall-themed story for an anthology coming out later this year from Mischief Corner Books. I sold a fantasy-sci fi-climate change piece mostly set in San Francisco to Wilde City Press along with three other authors. I am working on the third of four parts of a sci fi novel too.

Oh, and The River City Chronicles. This is my fun weekly project – a serial fiction thing set in Sacramento, with a bit of magical realism. And it will be published simultaneously in English and Italian. :)

If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are you in their sex scenes?

I can write a mean sex scene when I want to. But generally my stories are of the fade-to-black variety. While many of my stories have romances, they tend to focus more on the genre aspects. I'm a firm believer that, outside of erotica, if it doesn't advance the story, sex (or any other element) has no place in your story.

As a gay fiction or m/m romance author, do you feel that the trend is changing where it is becoming more mainstream?

Yes. There's so much great energy in both the MM romance market and in LGBT romance and fiction in general./ I think we're seeing that start to bleed into the mainstream – both into mainstream romance and into mainstream genre fiction. Something I'm actively encouraging with QueerSciFi. I want to see more MM romance, but also more sci fi, fantasy and paranormal stories that just happen to have LGBT characters.

What is the distinct difference between m/m and gay fiction?

Oooh, good question. I think MM romance was born out of traditional (ie MF) romance, and carries with it some of the rules of that genre. It can be great to read – I mean, who doesn't want to have a Happily Ever After? But as with any formula, it can also be restrictive.

LGBT fiction, on the other hand, is often truer to the real experience of LGBT folks. That means it can be messier and sometimes go places where MM romance can't.

I think both have a place, though, and there's a fair amount of crossover between the two.

Do you believe it’s important for you to know the gender of the author?

Not for me. I only care if the story is good – and I've read some great MM works by female authors and some lousy ones by gay ones, and vice versa. But I also accept that some folks want to read stories that are written by people like them. I think it's a matter for each reader to decide.

A while back, a writer sabotaged her career by answering a bad review on a blog. How would you have handled this and do you think authors should answer their reviews?

Almost never. Generally, you should ignore your reviews. If you do respond, it should be limited to "Thank you for taking the time to review my story." Do not, ever, challenge a reviewer, professional or otherwise. That way lies madness.

Readers and reviewers are the ones who make this whole thing work for us so we can keep writing.

Your favorite gay tv show or movie?

Oh, hands-down, Queer as Folk. It reveled in the gay experience, and there's never been anything like it before or since.

Your favorite gay celeb?

Um, probably Graham Norton? The guy just kills me with his show, and that's just with the clothes he wears…

Favorite character in one of your books?

OK so it's in the serial I'm working on, but I'm in love with Carmelina, my Italian-American fifty-something recently-bereaved, strong willed character. I just started writing her – she's based on a couple friends – but I can already tell we are gonna have so much fun together.

Please give us your links to website, blogs etc as well as the cover of your latest book, blurb, excerpt and buylink.


I'm just launching The River City Chronicles, a free weekly serial fiction story centered my on current hometown of Sacramento.

It's an extension of my story Between the Lines, and will carry over the stories of the main characters, Brad and Sam. But I'm also introducing a bunch of new characters too, including Matteo and Diego, a gay couple from Italy who have just opened a new restaurant in Sactown; Carmelina, a recently bereaved Italian-American widow, Rachel, a young lesbian tattoo artist who grew up in town, and Ben, an African-American writer who transitioned years ago.

Sacramento is known as the City of Trees, but it's also the River City, where the American River and the Sacramento River meet.



Four hours later and Matteo had served a grand total of five customers. At least they'd all been drinkers. Wine was all that was keeping the place open these days.
Diego closed down the kitchen, and they sat together at the big round famiglia table in the middle of the place, the blinds on the windows closed, and counted their earnings.
$203, Matteo announced, tucking the cash and deposit slip into the bank sleeve for deposit. Another hundred days like that this month and we can pay the rent." He sighed. He'd been sure, when they made their plans to come here, that America would be their land of opportunity.
Some days he longed to return to Italia. Sure, the government was corrupt, the taxes were too high, and the opportunities were rare. But with all her flaws, it was still his home.
He wasnt sure that this place ever would be. The Americans had such strange customs - eating at five in the evening. Drinking everything with ice. And going everywhere in their cars instead of on foot.
Diego looked up from his half-finished plate of lasagne. He took a slow sip of his wine, and said softly "Ho un'idea."
Matteo looked up. What kind of idea?" He was doggedly sticking to his plan to become fluent in English by speaking it every chance he got. Diego was less diligent about his English practice.
"Una scuola di cucina - posso insegnare a cuocere meglio questi Americani."
"A cooking school?  Here in the restaurant?" The idea was crazy. They had no experience as teachers. Sure, Diego was a fantastic self-taught chef, but how would they get things started?
Theyd already spent a lot of money on advertisementsradio, newspaper, even nailed to posts around townand had yet to hit upon the magic formula to bring people in the door. Why should this be any different?
"Ho fatto questo." Diego pulled a flier off the chair next to him, handing it to Matteo.
"Learn to Cooking," Matteo read. "Give Classes With An Italian Chef How Easy It Is". He laughed. "OK, the grammar needs a bit of work. But maybe we could do something with this"
Not maybe. Can. Diego grinned. I can.
Matteo looked around at the modern enoteca they had created. It had gone from the sadly out of date Little Italy Restaurant they had found when they'd first arrived to something sparkling and modern and new.
They had sold their house in Bologna and mortgaged everything they had to make this dream come true. It would be a shame to lose it all and be sent back to Italy with their tails between their legs.
"Okay," he said, taking Diegos hand in his. "I'll tell you what. Send me the file, and I'll clean it up a bit. We'll put these out around the neighborhood and see what happens. When do you want to start?
Diego grinned. Domenica prossima?
A week from Sunday, it is. He grasped the little golden cross his mother had given him before she passed away and said a little prayer to her. Ti prego. Mi manca, mamma.
Then they put away the dishes and turned out the restaurant lights. Matteo teased Diego with a kiss, and then pulled him up the staircase at the back of the restaurant to their apartment.
On the table, the flier sparkled for a moment before becoming dark once more.