Reading Round Up: Q & A with Author Jeffrey Ricker

Jeffrey Ricker I’ve mentioned many times of my love for the anthology Fool or Love: New Gay Fiction and one of the reasons is that this compilation of short stories introduced me to several wonderful writers, one of whom is author, editor and graphic designer Jeffrey Ricker.

Since the publication of his first short story “At The End of A Leash” in Fool for Love, Jeffrey has contributed over a dozen short fiction titles to anthologies by some of the best known publishers of LGBTQ fiction, including in: Wilde Stories 2011: The Year’s Best in Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press), The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy (Northwest Press) and Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press); as well as in numerous titles by Bold Strokes Books: Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up, Men of the Mean Streets: Gay Noir, Night Shadows: Queer Horror, Blood Sacraments: Gay Vampire Erotica, Raising Hell: Demonica Gay Erotica and Riding the Rails: Locomotive Lust and Carnal Cabooses.

Several of his single short fiction stories, such as, Maternal Instincts, Straightening Up and New Normal are available from Untreed Reads and he has also written non-fiction essays that appear in The Other Man (JMS Books), Paws and Reflect: A Special Bond between Man and Dog (Alyson Books) and in the upcoming A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships (Touchwood Editions).

A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Jeffrey is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

The Unwanted Detours

His first novel, Detours was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books, and on the occasion of the recent release of his second novel The Unwanted, Jeffrey was kind enough to accept an invitation to answer some questions here at Indie Reviews.

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Reading Round-Up: Q & A with Author ‘Nathan Burgoine

'Nathan Burgoine 1 ‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller – a job he still does, and still loves. A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog?” détente continues and according to ‘Nathan will likely end with the acquisition of a dog. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

Fool for Love

My introduction to ‘Nathan’s writing came by way of his first published short story “Heart” a beautiful and poignant tale of love and loss, which appeared in the critically acclaimed 2009 Cleis Press anthology Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. My introduction to ‘Nathan came about while I was on the hunt for a second print copy of Fool For Love (my first one had fallen apart from re-reading). Coincidentally, the only bookstore in Ottawa that wasn’t sold out of copies was ‘Nathan’s, and a great thing happened when I got to the bookstore – I met one of the authors of one of my favourite anthologies.

Since the publication of “Heart,” ‘Nathan’s had over two-dozen stories appear in anthologies by some of the best publishers of LGBTQ fiction, including in: Men of the Mean Streets: Gay Noir and Boys of Summer (Bold Strokes Books); Tented, a Lambda Literary Award finalist and The Touch of The Sea (Lethe Press); and Afternoon Pleasures: Erotica for Gay Couples (Cleis Press).

‘Nathan’s story “Sky Blue” appears in Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction From the Festival (Bold Strokes Books) as a runner up in Festival’s short story contest for that year, and his story “Hometown Boy” appears as a 2011 finalist in Saints and Sinners 2011: New Fiction From the Festival (Queer Mojo). In July 2013, his story “Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones” was published in This Is How You Die: Machine of Death 2 (Grand Central Publishing). His non-fiction pieces have appeared in I Like It Like That: True Stories of Gay Male Desire (Arsenal Pulp Press) and 5×5 Literary Magazine.

Not only a writer of short stories, ‘Nathan’s also an avid reader of short fiction and combines insightful reviews of the stories he’s read with equally thoughtful observations about, among others, his experiences as a bookseller through his Short Story 365 Series.

LightHis first novel Light was released by Bold Strokes Books earlier this week, and to mark the occasion I invited ‘Nathan to participate in an author Q & A here at Indie Reviews.

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Reading Round Up: The Best in LGBTQ Literature for 2012

If I were to choose a theme to characterise my reading year in 2012 it would be the year of the debut and independent author. The majority of books I read either for my own pleasure or specifically for review were by first time and/or predominantly self-published authors. While self-publishing tends to get a bad rap in some reading circles, in general, my personal reading experience with self-published and independent press authors has been positive as I find that they are able to push creative boundaries not always readily achievable within the realm of more mainstream publishing. Works by several such authors have made the list of my reading best for 2012.

The list also features works by some of my favourite authors that have become staples in my reading life, they include Alex Jeffers, Erik Orrantia and Brandon Shire. Several new-to-me authors such as, Drake Braxton, Kergan Edwards-Stout, John Goode, Red Haircrow, Jeff Mann, Tom Schabarum, Lee Thomas and Arthur Wooten joined this list in 2012 and I look forward to reading their previously published and future books.

My reading best for 2012 includes a mix of novels, novellas, compilations and short stories across a variety of sub-genres and within the realms of LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction that were published in 2011 and 2012.

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Reading Round Up: Words and Music

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Reading Round Up. This post, however, is slightly different from my periodic summaries of the books I’ve read and reviewed in that it is focused on reading and music.

Music has always been a very important aspect of my life, including my reading life, and as with books my tastes in music are varied and eclectic. There is almost always a connection between a story that I’m reading at any given time and a particular piece of music. It is the rare occasion when no musical piece comes to mind for a particular story. One of my favourite features of LiveJournal is the ability to list a specific song or music with each post. Something I have taken full advantage of over the years when posting or linking my book reviews there.

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Reading Round Up: The Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011

Each December I compile my list of favourite books read over the course of the year. Unfortunately, the trend I experienced in 2010 persisted in 2011 and my reading and reviewing time was extremely limited due to the demands of work. As a result, the number of books I did read was less than in previous years and there were a number of new releases by some of my favourite authors, as well as books by new-to-me authors of interest that I wasn’t able to get to. They include, among others, The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam by Alex Jeffers, The Palisade and Finding Deaglan by George Seaton, The Visionary: Welcome to the Fold by the writing duo of Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine and The German by Lee Thomas. I’ve included these 2011 releases and several others in my reading list for 2012.

Even with less time to read, my reading habits remained consistent and I continued to read across sub-genres. My list of favourites for 2011 includes an eclectic mix of novels, one anthology and short stories from a cross-section of sub-genres including fantasy, horror, the suspense/thriller, erotica, contemporary, historical, indigenous and young adult literature. In addition, my list includes not only gay fiction (as in previous years) but also books and stories that feature lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer characters and themes, something I hope continue in 2012 as I broaden my reading experiences.

Always a thrill for me is the discovery of new authors and there are a number of books that made my list for 2011 written by new-to-me authors, including a debut author, all of whom I look forward to reading in the future. Also listed this year is The Equinox Convergence by Erik Orrantia, a novel that does not feature a prominent LGBTQ theme (there is a lesbian relationship involving secondary characters in the novel) I chose to include all the same because it is an excellent story by this LGBTQ award-winning author. Finally, two of the novels listed are past favourites re-read in 2011.

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The Art of The Delaneys by Anne Brooke

Liam is determined to prove to the Delaney twins that he’s more than just a good bed-partner for them. His chance to show them what he’s worth comes unexpectedly soon when his boss at the art gallery, Melissa, is asked by the Delaneys to take part in an art scam, and Liam agrees to help her.

When the Delaneys turn up with their henchmen on the night of the scam, Melissa and Liam are startled to discover that it will involve a painting by one of their best artists.

Can Liam make sure the gallery doesn’t get too seriously involved and keep the Delaneys satisfied, in the only way he knows how, at the same time?

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Entertaining The Delaneys by Anne Brooke

Since his initial encounter with the Delaney twins, Liam’s thoughts have turned back to them time and time again, and he can’t help hoping for another meeting. His chance happens one night when Mark Delaney rings and tells him to get into the car waiting outside. Liam does so at once, eager to see the twins again.

Once at the Delaney estate, Liam is at first overawed by the grandeur and style of his surroundings, the lush gardens replete with nude statues and the opulence of the residence itself, but seeing Mark, together with Johnny, focuses his mind on the entertainment to come. And it looks as if entertainment is certainly what’s in store. A business associate of the Delaneys, Mr. Buchanan, has agreed a deal with the twins, and part of that deal is Liam himself!

How will the evening end, and will Liam be able to handle the salacious challenges thrown at him this time?

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StarCrossed 4: In The Blink of An Eye by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine

StarCrossed 4: In the Blink of an Eye takes us back to Salem, Massachusetts, where the town is evolving from openly making amends for its witch-burning past to something darker. While some people choose to lock their doors and pretend those who are Other don’t exist, some decide to use them to turn a profit.

For years the home of vampire Gennady Zaitsev has been a refuge to wayward supernatural boys. Taken in at the age of four, werefox Fallon Demeter has grown up with the love and caring of his blended, surrogate family. As the fragile peace enjoyed by the supernaturals begins to break down, Fallon draws the unwanted attention of a vicious enemy from Gennady’s past. Plunged into a harrowing adventure that brings his forgotten past back with horrifying clarity, Fallon becomes lost and alone in the brutal outside world.

As the buffer the supernaturals have enjoyed for so long continues to erode, Salem may no longer be their safe haven.

The secret is about to get out…

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Honorable Silence: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by editor Kris Jacen

The debate over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) continued to rage in the United States when I picked up this anthology. By the time I had finished reading and was ready to begin writing this review the U.S. Senate had already voted to repeal DADT opening the door for the U.S. to join the grouping of liberal democracies around the world that had rid them selves of such anachronistic, ridiculous and harmful policies and laws years ago. I am ecstatic that what was only a few short weeks ago an anthology of, for the most part, contemporary stories about some of the impacts of DADT on gay service men, is now a compilation of what used to be with DADT thankfully passing into history.

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Reading Round Up: The Best in Gay Fiction for 2010

When I began writing this post I had the intention of listing ten of my favourite books in gay fiction for 2010. But it quickly became apparent that it would be impossible to restrict the list to only ten. Despite the fact that my reading time was more limited over 2010 due to the demands of real life and work and I read much less than in previous years, there were too many reading gems that I did read and could not omit from the year’s best.

Over the course of the year I made several wonderful discoveries in new-to-me authors, finally got around to reading books that had been sitting on my shelves for years, I received some great recommendations from online friends, some of my favourite authors released incredible stories and I gave myself permission to re-read some past favourites without guilt.

In the end, twenty books (novels, novellas, anthologies and short stories) made the final cut of my best in gay fiction for 2010 across several genres – contemporary, erotica, horror, historical, mystery, romance and young adult. Some were weighty stories, others lighter fare with happy endings, and several had unforgettable characters that continued to haunt me long after I was done reading their stories. But all the books listed as my best of 2010 in their own way dealt with the stuff of life and fed my mind, heart and soul.

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