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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: P.A. BROWN






The Heat is On Author P.A. Brown



Author Interview by A.J. Llewellyn





1. Pat, thank you so much for your time, it’s a great pleasure to have you here. My first question would be since you are a leading author of M/M fiction and yet you make no secret of being a woman, have you felt any of the recent backlash toward female writers of the genre?



Not so far, fingers crossed. I like to think my stories speak for themselves. I've never thought it was fair to pigeon-hole writers by sex, or race, or anything. Imagine how bland our books would be if all we could write are characters who were just like us. Trust me, my books would put you to sleep. LOL.



2. What in your mind is the reason so many women are tuning into M/M or as I prefer to think of it, gay erotic fiction?



To tell you the truth I'm not sure. When I first started writing gay erotica back in the mid-80s I didn't even know there was a market for the stuff. Once I started getting more serious about it, I did conceal my identity. That's where P.A. Brown came from. I didn't comply with Alyson's request for an author's photo and the book came out without one. Then I found out lots of women wrote the stuff and I got busted by Neil Plakcy who looked me up on the Canadian Crime Writers site where they had listed me as female.



AJ: How funny! You and Neil are very good friends now, aren’t you?



Yes, we are. After he found out I was the wrong sex, we met up in Toronto at Bloody Words and had a great time. He's not only a great writer, but a fun person to be around. After that it got easier, and of course once my book came out and I wanted to do signings, I pretty much had to come out. But I think woman have a fascination with male sexuality, and how better to express that than with 2 (or more) men together? I'm hoping we can get together again. The other writer I'd love to meet is Josh Lanyon. He has to be my favorite author.




3. Your Chris and David series, which started with L.A Heat sees David, a Homicide detective emerging from his deep dark closet - heck, what am I saying, he burns that thing down and uses it for kindling! – to find true love with Chris – whom you describe as a ‘Silverlake Slut.’ They have other stories coming out including an anthology I believe. How did these two characters come about for you and what have you got against Silverlake?




I love that image of David burning down the closet door. The anthology features 3 stories, one detailing the time between the climax of L.A. Heat and the end of the book at Christmas, a period of about 3 months. David vacillates between climbing back into the closet and giving his libido full rein. L.A. Boneyard, my first full length story after L.A Heat picks up a couple of years later and David faces a new trial with a very sexy Latino detective.



And as for Silver Lake? I love Silver Lake, but I selected it mainly because it wasn't West Hollywood. Originally when I had to decide where Chris lived I had him up in the Hollywood Hills, but talk about a cliché. Almost every book I've read set in L.A has a protagonist who lives in the hills above Hollywood. I wanted something different. Silver Lake has a big gay population so it seemed a good choice.



[Faye] Kellerman had a lot to do with David coming into existence. I loved Milo, especially the fact that he was the antithesis of the gay stereotype. It got me thinking about a character who wasn't good looking, but who ended up with the very epitome of gay beauty. A man so far out of David's league that he could never imagine them being a couple but they become one anyway. I actually thought when I first thought of David being an in the closet cop that I was creating something unique. It was only after it was published did I find out what a stale cliché it was. LOL.




4. Being an Angeleno I always love to read books set here in my city. Faye Kellerman does this to great affect and James Ellroy and of course you do, too. Since you live in Ontario, do you come here much to keep in touch with the changing landscape?




I wish. My biggest dream is to one day go back there. But for now I have to rely on friends there. And Google maps are my friend, too. Actually L.A is probably one of the most written about cities in the world. There is a lot of information available online and in books. As well I have people who will read my books and vet the L.A elements.



5. You’re right about LA being in so many books – which era in the city’s history appeals to you most. Also what parts about it do you miss most?



I like the modern day, at least from the 80's to today. I lived there from '78 to '86 so that's what I remember the best. What do I miss? That's hard. I miss the craziness, London, where I live now is an anally repressed, small town masquerading as a city, ultra conservative and boring as hell. L.A was exciting and dangerous and inspired a real love/hate in me. But mostly I miss the gay bars. They knew how to have fun there. The one gay bar I found here is nothing but a lot of really loud music and flashy lights. No one has fun.



6. I know you spent some time in Bermuda. What was your life like there? What was it like day to day? Did it give you much creative inspiration – will you take Chris and David there for a story?




Bermuda was an incredible place. Literally another world. A different place, a different mind set. I have written a book set in Bermuda which I'm calling Bermuda Heat. Chris and David visit the islands and David finds out a startling truth about his family.



7. Oooh I love the sound of that book! Were there any weird customs or superstitions in Bermuda that captivated you? What about food? You might detect from this question that I am total foodie.





The weirdest custom was the Goombey dancers, a combination of West African tribal heritage with Native American and British colonial influences. What was really bizarre, is it's strictly men who do it, they dress in these outrageous costumes – but there was a huge stink from them one year when a local drag queen wanted to join in their Christmas festival because she would be a corrupting influence on the local kiddies. But I did find that although Bermuda has more churches per square mile than just about any other place in the world, I never felt any pressure to attend any of those churches and when I got sick all anyone ever did was offer me very heartfelt best wishes.

I'm not overly fond of religious people, but Bermudians are lovely people with true hearts of gold. No superstitions, no one outside of tourists ever mentioned the Bermuda Triangle. The food there is wonderful. There was this pub that served a locally brewed beer and the best hamburger I've ever had – a huge freshly ground sirloin burger cooked the way you wanted it (I've never had a medium rare burger before or since) The only thing that was lacking there was a wide choice of fresh fruit and vegetables, since it all has to be imported and fragile stuff doesn't ship well.

9. Most authors of mystery are captivated…nay…obsessed with one particular unsolved mystery. What is your obsessive real life tale?

The case that always obsessed me actually was solved 4 years ago, after 15 years of being a mystery. A student at a local university, Linda Shaw, was raped, killed and set on fire near the busiest freeway in Canada – the 401, which leads from Windsor to Toronto. I've driven it hundreds of times. Her car was found abandoned on the side of the road and they traced her movements to a nearby Burger King. It turned out her car had been tampered with at the restaurant and she was grabbed when she stopped to fix a flat tire.

Her body was found 6 days later. It horrified all of us. Canada doesn't have a lot of crimes like that. Especially in the early 90s. My memories are about driving in the area afterward. Even today I can't drive by that spot without thinking of her and the horror she must have faced.

It's always haunted me. I remember my sister and I driving back from Toronto one night. As we passed the Burger King we hooked up with another woman driving alone. The two of us drove in tandem until I took the turn off to London. She waved at us in a kind of silent acknowledgment that we were together in this shared horror. I doubt if there was a woman in Ontario who could drive that route without being touched by fear. In 2004 they finally did a DNA test on a strand of hair they had taken off this guy. Turned out not only had he killed Linda Shaw, but a cop as well. Rather than go back to jail after an arrest in 1994 he killed himself. It was 10 years before the hair samples taken on his arrest were tested and 2 murders solved. But it still haunts me.

10. What an intriguing, heartbreaking story. The part about you and the other woman driving in tandem in unspoken safety is like something out of a movie. Will you write about this case in some way do you think?

I use stuff like this, but I can't see writing a true crime story. But I use that kind of memory, and others from my experiences to add depth to my characters and stories. L.A was a rich source of fodder for this. I had some choice experiences there, some I don't think I'd ever put down on paper, but they're in my head and available for mining.

11. Speaking of movies and TV…do you watch mysteries? Which ones do you like and which ones do you not like and why?

I love crime TV. NCIS, Bones, CSI NY, the Law and Order franchise, Cops, First 48, Cold Case, Flash Point, Blue Murder, Fringe, Eleventh Hour, Numb3rs – but oddly enough, I don't care for the original CSI or CSI Miami (Horatio and his crew of self-righteous know it alls irritate me big time) I used to be a huge fan of House, but got a little tired of Dr. House's attitude, though I do love Hugh Laurie (Black Adder is one of my all time favorites) For movies I love shows like the new James Bond. I loved Eagle Eye and I'm reallly looking forward to seeing Bolt and Wallee. I adore animated movies, at least the ones that include adult humor. (I love Family Guy and The Simpsons).

12. Wow, I feel the same way about The First 48 and the CSI shows! You describe yourself as a Jill of all trades and I was intrigued to learn of some of your past jobs, including being a housekeeper. You any good at windows? What’s the goofiest job you ever had?

I have had a few. There was the party of self-described gypsies who hired myself and another girl to work a big party they were throwing. The matriarch tried to stiff the other girl and I got so pissed off I dumped a bucketful of ice water over her and her fancy velvet dress. We were chased down Sunset Boulevard by several angry gypsy men. That was pretty memorable. Then there was the job I had at a horse breeding farm handling the mares in season as they were presented to the stallion so he would mount the artificial vagina (Standardbred horses are bred using frozen sperm, so this is how they collected that sperm).

AJ says: Excuse me? An artificial vagina??

All my life I have loved horses. I rode whenever and where ever I could. In fact, I used to ride all the time in Griffith Park in L.A. I got the opportunity to work on a Standardbred breeding farm and did so for over a year. They owned a million dollar stud called Run The Table – Artie for short. He was a gorgeous animal, pretty well behaved too for a stallion. But the way they breed these horses is to collect the sperm and divide it into portions and freeze it, so one 'breeding' can be used to service something like 8-10 mares instead of just one from a regular, natural breeding.

They use a device that's called an artificial vagina. It's heated to body temperature and the stallion is tricked into thinking he's mounting a mare in heat but this thing is slipped over his erection and he ejaculates into it. My job was to tend to the mare used to get him interested – the owner handled the stud and the job of getting the artificial vagina into play. I didn't envy him the job. Would you want to trick a 1200 lb male animal into thinking he's getting laid? LOL

13. No I would not! LOL! Now please tell me, do you read much gay fiction yourself? Who are your favorite authors?

I read a lot of gay fiction. My favorites are Neil Plakcy, Josh Lanyon. Richard Stevenson, Michael Nava – oh there are so many. Too many to list here. I'm always eager to find new authors. I just recently started reading Christopher Rice. I've also discovered a cache of R.D. Zimmerman's at my local library.

Too many books, not enough time. Anthony Bidulka, Greg Herren, Mark Richard Zubro, Laura Baumbach, Caro Sole, Jeffrey Round, Dorien Grey, Lev Rafael, Rick Reed, Erastes, Jay Quinn... and on and on. Part of me hates doing these lists, because I'm bound to miss more people than I remember. Frankly, I was surprised when I got serious about my writing and started buying gay fiction to find out just how much is out there.

14. Please tell me about your writing schedule. I know you have a full time job, so obviously work around this?

I actually got sick in Bermuda and I'm now on long term disability. So my writing schedule is pretty open. I write several hours a day, more if I'm on a deadline, like right now with Between the Darkness and the Light, a new stand alone piece featuring artist Stephen Fischer and LAPD homicide detective Russ Hunter.


15. I see you are an animal lover…but I would like to know what the hey is going on in this picture…

That's Jake, my Doberman puppy in his Halloween costume. He's a lobster! He kept trying to eat it.

16. Okay...and I thought my dog had problems!! I know you used to write SCI FI..any plans to do that again?


I tried a short piece recently, but it didn't work. I no longer read SF and it's such a volatile field that changes constantly and I haven't kept up with either the new science or the books being written today. So unless I come up with a really hot idea that won't let me go, I think I'll stick to mysteries. It's almost the only thing I read anymore, that and true crime.

On behalf of Dark Diva Reviews, I’d like to thank P.A. Brown for stopping by and sharing her work with us. To find out more about her work, please check out these links:

Web site:
http://www.pabrown.ca/

Blog:
http://pabrown.livejournal.com/

8 comments:

Eliza Knight said...

Awesome interview!!! Thanks for sharing!

And I learned something new today...artificial vagina...interesting :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats to both AJ and Pat for a most interesting interview. I'm amazed by all the things I never would have known about Pat without having read it.

Good job to both.

Dorien Grey

AJ Llewellyn said...

Hi Eliza and Dorien,

Thanks so much for the comments! I know the artificial vagina caught my attention too, Eliza.

Leslie Nicoll said...

I just want to mention: the anthology that Pat refers to is L.A. Mischief which was published by Bristlecone Pine Press in September. It includes a 50,000 word novella that details what happens between Chris and David in the months after L.A. Heat ends and Christmas. The book also includes two very HOT short stories.

You can find links to buy both L.A. Heat and L.A. Mischief at the Bristlecone Pine Press website: www.bcpinepress.com

Leslie
Publisher, BCPP

Neil Plakcy said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Pat-- and thanks to both of you for a great interview.

I've read LA Boneyard and I can't wait for it to be published so others can enjoy it as much as I did!

Author Bookie said...

Great interview, what an interesting writer. I had no idea PA Brown as a pen name, but I should have guessed.

Donnell said...

Pat, congratulations and many sales to you. Very nice interview.

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