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Ask an Author 2.0 #36

Carlos Hazday


G’day, y’all!

Can you tell I’ve been writing something with an Aussie and a Southerner as the main characters? Who cares, right? After all, you’re here to read what other authors have to say. I’ll shut the heck up for now.

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Which author/poet (alive or dead) do you identify with most, and why?


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I'd say Essex Hemphill. His work moved me with its rawness, activism, and he elevated other marginalized, talented authors not seen as having a story worth hearing. He's unapologetic in his delivery, imagery, and leaves a lasting impression on whoever reads his work. He is one of my biggest inspirations and influences my own artistry. I only wish I could've known him, but he passed when I was still a toddler. It also didn't help that he lived on the other side of the country.

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 I have more than one, because I am constantly searching for inspiration. 

First, I do lean a lot on Paulo Coelho for words of comfort. Manuscript Found in Accra is a favorite. He has a way with words that makes me nod and agree no matter the occasion, and I think that's powerful. His books are great for when I'm feeling my soul is a little battered.

When it comes to writing inspiration, I find it in manga-kas. I love manga and how insanely creative it can get. My first and forever inspirations came from creators like CLAMP of Legal Drug and Maki Muramaki of Gravitation. They got me writing my first fanfiction. The list gets long from there, all I can say is that I could spend hours reading manga because it entertains me on such a basic level. It can get obsessive.  I love discovering strange concepts that sort of open new worlds to explore. There's nothing impossible in a manga. You just need to level up, 😉.

I can obsess over genres I come across, when their characters take a grip of me and won't let go. This can also turn so obsessive it morphs into full blown research and character write ups. 😆🤣 My latest author obsession is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.  She writes great suffering and enduring love. 😎🙈 

And now, I have decided that this is a tough question to answer. So many authors stick with me and I want to mention them all.  Why only one? hahaha

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I’m choosing to answer this question in terms of the author’s writing style, body of work, and characters they’ve created - and not as the person themselves.

When I first aspired to writing gay fiction, the gay authors I read tended to be serious fiction writers, the likes of Edmund White, Alan Hollinghurst, and Paul Monette. You know, the kind of fiction where you have to pay attention and often have to go back over a paragraph to make sure you understood what the author was trying to say. Not a style to which I was ever going to aspire.

Thankfully, I soon stumbled upon Armistead Maupin and Joe Keenan, both who not only have a unique sense of humour, but whose gay characters are never tragic, and are mixed up in stories with plots that are fun to follow, if at times a little absurd. At the same time, I discovered the very English Patrick Gale, whose style of prose I continue to admire (but who is far more fearless than me when it comes to subject matter).

The author that brought me out of the writing closet, so to speak, was Josh Lanyon with the Adrien English series. Finally, I thought, an author of gay fiction who could write believable and relatable gay men with all their quirks, foibles and insecurities, but men who are still essentially men (very different men, admittedly). Moreover, one of them is not simply a pronoun shift from she to he (as happens with all too many female authors of commercial MM fiction). The Adrien English series is still my go-to favourite when I want to settle in an armchair, kick off my shoes, and lose myself in something warm and familiar.

Around 2015, when Josh came out as a women (Diana Killian, I believe), I felt as shocked and betrayed as the rest of the MM reading community. But at the end of the day, good writing remains good writing, and I love the readability of Lanyon’s prose, the light touch of her humour, the way she builds her mystery plots around her main characters, gives them brilliant dialogue, and never loses sight of them, growing them along the journey. I even love the way she has me invested in minor characters. 

So the simple answer wrapped up in my long-winded response is that the author I identify with most is Josh Lanyon.

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An interesting question which can be taken in all kinds of directions. I'm sticking with the 'author who's influenced my writing the most' angle.

I often seem to kinda cheat with these questions where one, and only one, answer is permitted. So what's new... In that vein, I'll present a runner-up before I settle on the main act.

Pat Barker is best known for the Regeneration trilogy which looks at an element of WW1 from a very different angle. She comes from north east England (like me) and that comes through in her writing, whatever the actual subject. It's difficult to put a finger on - language, style, outlook on life, but I know it when I read it. That's what I'd like my writing to be like, and to match her spare, characterful prose.

My main act is Susan Hill. You'll probably know her best as the writer of The Woman in Black. It's an excellent, scary ghost story with heart-stopping moments achieved with an economy of style. (Spot a trend?) She writes about ordinary people and allows us into their thoughts and actions. Even the worst offenders in her detective novels see 'normal' to others as they so often do in real life. My favourite novel of hers is Strange Meeting. In one tiny corner of a WW1 battlefield, she creates a quiet, profoundly moving meeting of two lives. A friendship deepens, broadens, until you wonder whether in another age the two men would have become lovers. Then one is killed and the other wounded and you're left to ponder. 

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I definitely don't mean to sound presumptuous and imply the quality of my works matches that of these authors, but just in terms of subject matter and style, I identify myself with Lloyd Alexander, who wrote fantasy (mostly aimed at younger audiences), specifically The Chronicles of Prydain; also there's James Hilton, whose adventure/fantasy novel Lost Horizon always inspires me, and it definitely had an impact on my short story The Island of Poa. I find their ideas refreshing and original, and their style of writing enjoyable and easy to read, which is something I aim for in my stories.

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@Parker Owens


I find it hard to choose a single author with whom to identify. There are many I admire, others I might wish to emulate, others with whom I might find common life experiences, still more with whom I’d like to share a long weekend lunch. Bring them all together at once, and the room might get very crowded indeed.

W. Somerset Maugham comes to mind. Here is a writer who believed his own work to be labored and mechanical, as I have often felt. Yet I have come to admire his variety and prolific output over decades of work. I have a number of his books still on my much-culled shelves.  

Robert Louis Stevenson is another I can take to heart, if only for our shared weakness as children and similar birthdays. I still smile at his Deed of Gift, in which he gave his birthday to young Annie Ide of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, who, “…  was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore, out of all justice, denied the consolation and profit of a Proper Birthday ….”  He, too, was an exile of a sort, though he felt the need to go all the way to Samoa.

And then there is the composer Alexander Borodin, who wrote brilliant and beautiful music – symphonies, operas and exquisite chamber pieces – all while teaching and doing important research in chemistry and medicine. I empathize with his dual passions in creation and education, in science and in music. His story inspired me as a young man to try writing in my own spare time: first music, then fiction. It is a tragedy his untimely death cut short such a marvelous musical output.

This list could be a lot longer, but I fear I may have already tried the patience of GA readers

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@Timothy M.


I had a hard time answering this question. At first I didn't understand it, but Carlos gave me this explanation: What author do you like so much they influence your writing or you try to emulate them?
So then I spent a while trying to come up with author names and reasons why. I've read a lot of stories in the past 50 years, and there are plenty of authors I enjoy reading and admire for their skills. But I don't identify with any of them. To me, the idea is absurd.
The main reason for this reply is I would never presume to compare myself with real authors or pretend I could live up to their example. I'm simply not able to say I want to write like this author, or identify the 'technical' reasons why I like their stories in order to emulate them.  And this includes all my favorite authors on GA.
The only way I can manage to improve my writing is via the hard work of my editors and input from my readers. What they praise or approve of, I try to keep doing.

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I can’t think of one author I identify with the most, but there are several throughout my life I would say I identified with for one reason or another. When I was a teenager, I read a lot of poetry and the work of Sylvia Plath really spoke to me.  I was pretty dark as a teen and struggled with depression, so I identified with the darkness of her writing.   I would also say Piers Anthony, since I love a good play on words, and his entire Xanth series is basically one pun after another.  I also identify with Tolkien and his love of language.  Language is something that’s always fascinated me.  I actually spent a summer once translating and learning Tolkien’s runes and Elvish language with a friend of mine.  When I went to college, we wrote letters to each other in runes and Elvish. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the skill throughout the years. 

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I don’t know about you, but I had to google a few names after reading the responses. A couple of things were added to my reading list in the process.

On a serious note, I really, really need questions. How about helping?

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      To Craftingmom: What sort of things do you do after dealing with the darkest parts of your stories?
      That's a tough question. I'm not really sure I do anything specific afterwards. I do go through a bunch of tissues while writing them. I think since I tend to do most of my writing between midnight and 4am, the fact that I get to crawl in bed with my husband and cuddle up with him helps too. Before bed, my girls also crawl into my bed and beg me to read to them. Mind you, they are 13 and 15, so the fact that my 'teens' still want to be with me and have me read to them is very comforting.
      One other thing my husband and I usually do is, when we are eating out, if any first responders come in to eat, we'll pay for their meals. (When 12 walked in at once, that was a little more overwhelming!) It's not something I do specifically because of the dark subject matter I write, but I do think about how these people help the kinds of souls that I write about, and it's a small way of thanking them for their service.
      Back with us again is Author Riley Jericho, most well-known due to his epic saga An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA. Riley flirted with us for four years before finally completing his saga last fall (Sept 2016). He writes to us from all the way over there in Manchester, UK. Although a quiet, private person, Riley is quite friendly, do don’t hesitate to swing by his profile and say, wish him a belated birthday (Jan), or poke him about writing us something new, not that I’m one to talk. Still, who knows what random comment or thought will lead to the next big story?
      To Riley Jericho: How do you feel about your stories being so popular and well received here on GA?
      I'm a Brit. It's genetically impossible for us to accept compliments, so that's a tough question! The truth is, I value every chapter read, and drink in each review, answering them methodically. I love hearing what people think and it also feeds me with many new ideas.
      Some of my least-proud moments here on GA have been the times I've disappointed readers. I think you know what I mean, and even though my reasons and situation were very real when I disappeared for a long while, I'm also very sorry for doing that—and thanks to all who sent hugs and kept looking out for me.
      So in answer to your question, it astounds me that most of my readers still stuck around! And yes, I'm extremely grateful my stories are well received. That said, I've learned the lesson that you have to write because you want to. Sometimes there will be lean times when it comes to how well readers respond. It's only when the story is important to you, do you keep writing.
      Author Roberto Zuniga is the better half of Albertonothlit, who you might remember appearing in this blog once or twice. In addition to writing, Roberto is an amazing artist and has created book cover art for his husband. Mexico certainly has its challenges when you’re gay, but these two almost make it seem like a fairy tale. An interesting tidbit for those Star Wars fans out there: Roberto’s birthday is Star Wars Day! (May the 4th) Now you’ll always remember. According to his friends, this is one sweet man, and he can also write a mean story. Roberto has several stories that are in progress, but I think the hidden gem in his collection is Bred for War. In this story, there are two countries at war. They’ve been at war so long that their entire economy has slowly become only about the war. What will happen when two soldier-boys from opposite sides meet? They’ve been raised from birth to believe their enemy is “evil.” It’s a devilish conundrum for the main characters and the world Roberto has created makes my inner sci-fi geek purr.
      To Roberto Zuniga: First, congrats on your husband being promoted to Promising Author! So, when it comes to writing, have you two collaborated on projects or bounced ideas off each other?
      Not really. Carlos is very secretive when it comes to his writing, I think it's basically a matter of wanting everything to be perfect before he shares it with anyone, including me. I have been lucky enough to get to read many of his works before everyone else (LOL) and I've also encouraged him to carry on and publish. Take Earthshatter for instance -his new novel published by DSP-, I loved him so much I wouldn't stop bothering until he accepted to publish it LOL. Something I do have to say is I love his finished products and drawing for those projects.
      Regarding my writing, pfffff! I'm so messy! Ideas can flow through my mind sometimes, scenarios, particular characters. Sometimes I share some of my ideas or tell him I feel conflicted about this or that character, but he usually advises to work it the way I feel I should. We do read each other's work and encourage each other to keep on writing, since we both enjoy it so much.
      Author skinnydragon comes back to finish up our blog for the day. Skinny is the author behind https://www.gayauthors.org/story/skinnydragon/18weeksoftwoey]18 Weeks of Twoey and has recently begun a sequel that is generating a lot of attention. Unfortunately, Skinny received bad news at the end of 2016. Send him some love and well-wishes. I feel blessed to have been able to be on the periphery of his life the last couple years. I hope that he is able to maintain the strength of body and mind long enough to see his bucket-list completed. Headstall I think said it best: “I just want you to know, though we've never met in person, you have impacted me from the first interaction. You are one of the bright lights in my life, skinny … I wish I could hug you for real... I really do.”
      To skinnydragon: What motivates you to write? For example, do you hope to publish or is it simply a creative or artistic outlet?
      That’s a good question. It is an artistic outlet, in a way. I certainly never intend to publish - ever. I am not a writer, which should be pretty plain to any reader. I’m an artist. I was challenged by a mentor/writer, when younger, to write a back story for a few things I painted. In doing so, I discovered it helped improve everything I subsequently drew. Now I do it all the time and they have become the germs for a few story ideas. Some stories may even get written and make the journey from my laptop to GA.
      That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!
      I’ll see you next time, with authors JackBinimbul, mikiesboy, palantir, and WolfM!
      I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark).
      Until next time!
    • By Renee Stevens
      I can't believe it's already November! The great thing about it being the start of a new month, is it's time for a new Ask An Author feature and this one is a Special Edition! For those who don't know, Ask An Author is when members send their questions for their favorite authors to Dark and they ask the questions. So remember, if you have a question you want to ask, but don't want to do the asking, send it to Dark!

      Ask an Author #33

      Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors!
      In AtA #32, we had questions for authors Aditus, Cia, and Wolfwriter.
      In AtA #33, we have a special feature for you: 3 x 3 or nine different authors with the same question to answer. This is a question that is asked by many a person, with just as many different answers. Please note that all author replies are copied as is, spelling errors and grammar eccentricities original to the individual.
      And the question is … What made you decide to write m/m fiction?
      Andy78: I've always enjoyed writing stories since I was a child. However, I only started writing m/m when I joined GA. The simple fact is that until I joined here I didn't have an outlet for any m/m fiction.
      BarricadeBoy: Well i started reading gay fiction back in 2013 and it grew fron there- i wanted to create my own characters and i knew GA was the best place to do it, and i was right. It all started with a Story i read here called "A Class By Himself."
      CassieQ: I decided to write m/m fiction because I like to read m/m fiction. Once I find something that I'm really interested in, I can't wait to try it out and add my own flavor to it.
      Cia: I read everything, so I write everything, including MM. I found GA as a writing 'home' because the writing community here is so encouraging to newcomers. The feedback kept me motivated to finish stories for the first time ever... and the rest is history!
      Jammi: I loved the dynamics of male relationships. Best friends like brothers, realizing what they felt went beyond friendship. I loved writing stories like that. I also felt like there weren't enought gay stories out there and definitely not enough visibility for the gay community. I just wanted to be a part of that
      Krista: For me, I got into M/M fiction because of my gay male friends. They had found M/M fiction sites, but didn't like that it was mostly pornographic smut. They wanted more romance, something they could relate to being in a closed-minded small town. They had found some good stories and had sent them to me. So I started writing and sending them what I had. I started writing other romances on the side, but it was their encouragement from reading the M/M that got me hooked. By that time they had gotten more out of the closet and more willing to expand their search for other gay people. I stopped sending them what I had written. So my audience changed from them to readers on the internet. I did well enough for it to encourage me to continue.
      The stories I write are also stories that I want to read, so that helps.
      layla: I'd written with the same characters for almost 17 years, their stories had gone all over the place, but there always seemed to be a lingering connection between two of the guys and one day I decided simply to begin exploring it. The story simply begged to be told and once I got into writing it, I found myself really enjoying what I was doing. To me its not so much about the genre but about giving the characters what they want. Not to mention that I have never been a big fan of m/f stories and despite being female don't really enjoy writing female characters, so it just seemed a very natural genre for me to write in.
      Mann Ramblings: I'm old enough to have grown up without any visibility of gay characters in movies, stories; etc, that wasn't a serial killer or other affected comic relief. There was so little in entertainment that reflected the person I tried to hide. Positive examples of gay men and women were virtually non-existent. I wanted to see the domineering hero save his buddy and bed him down, not the obligatory girl placed in to prove his unerring heterosexuality. I wanted to see and read the stories that I never got to see and read.
      When I first found M/M fiction, I was looking for porn, to be honest, but then I found out there were real stories out there with quality writing! The hero can get the guy! Who knew? I always had a knack for storytelling and now I have the chance to write the stories that were missing from my life. I can't give it up now.
      Renee Stevens: I’ve been asked similar questions a number of times. To be honest, I never have a good answer. I used to read (and write) M/F romance, but it seemed like it was always the same and it was hard to find something that hadn't been done. I can't remember the exact details, but somehow I ended up reading a story by Sara Bell called "The Magic In Your Touch". I thoroughly enjoyed it and joined her yahoo group. She allowed other people to post stories and not only did I meet a lot of wonderful people, many of which became good friends, but I read countless stories.
      After reading Sara’s story, and a few others, I decided that I wanted to see what I could do in the Gay Romance genre. My reasoning at the time was that as a M/F Romance writer I would have less chance of getting published as it is so hard to get noticed amongst all the other authors that write M/F romance. With a lot of encouragement from the friends I met through Sara’s group, I started my first M/M story and Eternity was the result. It's quite a bit rougher than my more recent works, but it was the first M/M story I completed. I ran it by my friends and they really enjoyed it and encouraged me to keep going, so here I am .
      That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!
      See you next time, with an extra-special edition of Ask an Author!
      Want to ask your favorite author a question? Simply PM me (Dark).

      Until next time!


    • By Renee Stevens
      Typically, this would have been posted last week, but better late than never. For those who don't already know, Dark provides us with the Ask An Author feature. Members send in their questions for authors and Dark goes about getting the answer and then compiles those into this wonderful feature. Don't forget, if you have a question for an author, but don't want to ask it, send it to Dark!

      Ask an Author #34

      Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors!
      In AtA #33, we had questions for nine different authors in an extra-special feature.
      In AtA #34, we hear from authors ColumbusGuy, craftingmom, and pmdacey.
      For their protection, the members who asked these questions shall remain nameless (unless they choose to reveal themselves). Please note that all author replies are copied as is, spelling errors and grammar eccentricities original to the individual.
      First up is author ColumbusGuy, who first appeared in AtA #29 a few months back. I’m sure it’ll come as a shock to know that this author is from Columbus, Ohio. You probably will remember this guy as the author of Jay & Miles, but there’s also Pompeii Passions, which is way better than the movie. Of course, I like historical fiction and convoluted characters. Still, if you haven’t branched out to some of ColumbusGuy’s other stuff, you’re missing out. For shorter works, check out his prompts. Oh, and did you know this guy likes to garden? Perhaps he can talk some sense into my black thumb…
      To ColumbusGuy: I think Jay and Miles is very evocative of its time and setting, and I have read in your forum that this is your first attempt at non-historical fiction, so what inspired you to begin writing the piece?

      In all honesty? Regrets for lost chances, and a desire to go back and explore what might-have-been. Miles' thoughts and feelings are so bound up in how I was in high school back then, that it is like a second chance to go back and do things right this time; knowing what you want in your relationships isn't enough if you don't have the courage to try for it--I had the same invitation that Miles was presented with--the very same circumstances and joking references leading up to it--despite his fears, Miles took the risk and said yes to himself, and opened up to his Jay. I didn't, and what could have been more than a casual friendship lost any hope when graduation came around.  

      More recently, the historical fiction was going well, even with some male-male experiences thrown in since they were acceptable in the Ancient World--but it was academic in a sense...it wasn't real--and the only way I could begin to gather myself together was to tell my own experience in my past where it would have made a difference. My urge to write at GA came after reading AC Benus' Dignity--it showed me how much more there could be to gay fiction than simple eroticism or blatant sex. Without that story, I wouldn't have written Jay & Miles--his was the first hand extended in friendship to a newbie. Subsequent events morphed it into more than a series of prompts.  

      I had a health scare this past summer, and I realized that if I was going to be true to myself, then I had to stop hiding behind historical creations and situations--my real dreams needed to come out into the open, hence: Jay & Miles began as a series of prompt responses--and well--Mikey and Jay just won't shut up until they tell me I've gotten myself out there completely.  

      This had been eating at me since 2007: I've had some good relationships, but none the life-long kind I'd always wanted--in that year, my longest one (and it could have been the life-fulfilling one) came to an end when my love succumbed to overwhelming stresses he was under from family and other problems and took his own life...the allegedly homophobic ex-military man came to me, sharing his feelings, his sad poetry, and himself physically and spiritually with me for years until he couldn't handle things anymore--so besides helping to reweave my past I hope I'm helping to give him some peace of mind--that in a better world, we both could have finished our lives in a happier place together.  
      Next up, in her Ask an Author debut, is Promising Author craftingmom. You can find stories from this author in many a genre, including young adult. Look her up on GoodReads under pen name Taylor Ryan. Craftingmom likes stories filled with angst. She likes taking hurt, lost, and abused characters and giving them a new start in a safe place with people who love them. Tears of the Neko was her first story here on GA, but her latest is just as compelling. Recently completed is Lie of the Serpent, a story filled with monsters, mystery, and revenge and, of course, friendships and love. Find a new character to fall in love with and read craftingmom today!
      To craftingmom: Is it difficult writing a character's struggle to get through abuse and hardships? Finding ways to resolve them?

      Yes, I cry--a lot. I often try to put myself in the character's place, getting into their head, their thoughts and feelings of guilt and hopelessness and such, relaying as much of the emotional turmoil that I think someone would almost have to be feeling in such a situation--and I try to write it as realistically as possible. I figure the more emotion and struggle that I can convey that the character is going through, the more the reader will feel it as well. I go through a lot of tissues when I'm writing highly emotional scenes, often having to stop to dry my eyes long enough to read the screen. I know that I sometimes drag my readers through a bunch of emotional turmoil, but I hope that it's because I've managed to create for them a connection to my characters that makes them feel real. Then when the resolution finally comes, I hope readers feel some satisfaction in the ending, hope that things will be better; healing takes time and patience, and of course love. Yes, I'm an emotional sap.
      We finish up today with author pmdacey, who comes to us from Portland, Oregon. 2014 brought us more chapters of Things are Different, which was sadly put on hold in early 2015, but was very much enjoyed by readers. It’s the story of Jay, who moves from Texas to Portland and made me wonder from early on how much was based around pmdacey’s own life. In addition, google his husband’s name to find some cool art.
      To pmdacey: How did you overcome the writers blocks that almost overwhelmed you the first time you tried to tell your Portland story "Things Are Different?”

      I have to overcome it every time I sit down to write (when I can find the time to write). I have to constantly remind myself to not care what other people think, that I am telling this story for myself. It is a story I would want to read and if other people like it, then that is a bonus. Not only that, but it is also a deeply personal tale. It is fiction, but the characters, in a sense are very real. I suppose I have always struggled with some form of writer's block and it initially took putting "Things Are Different" out there anonymously and getting some positive feedback to let me expose more and more of myself and grow some of the confidence to handle criticism. The fear of criticism is, after all, what keeps writers from putting pen to paper or an artist putting brush to canvas.  
      That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!
      See you next time, with authors A.C. Benus, Aditus, and the return of Mark Arbor!
      Want to ask your favorite author a question? Simply PM me (Dark).

      Until next time!


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