Joining me today is one of my favourite authors – BG Thomas. **fan girling** I adore his stories, and even more, I adore him. And I know a little secret – it was his birthday yesterday. So I extend the warmest welcome and happy birthday greetings to BG Thomas!
BG: Thank you. You're making me blush.
Renae: So are you going to tell us how old you are? (This is a multiple choice question for you):
a. Old enough
b. Getting there
c. Too old – what the heck happened?
d. Shit, I don’t feel that old
e. When you get to my age, you stop counting
BG: Let's just say my mental and emotional age don't match my physical age. I look in the mirror and ask, "Who is that old guy?" LOL!
Renae: Okay, okay. Now we get to the good part. Your writing. You have your latest book out in two days, Autumn Changes (Seasons of Love #3). It is the third book in the series, following Spring Affair (#1) and Summer Lover (#2).
Blurb: Asher Eisenberg is a brilliant actor, destined for fame and fortune. But a traumatic incident in his past has caused him to reject his Jewish heritage and hide from everyone behind walls of arrogance and selfishness, and he blurs his loneliness with a lot of sex and alcohol. When he meets Peniamina Faamausili, however, he strangely can’t stop thinking about the young man.
Peni is struggling with his sexuality, the Mormonism he was raised in, and the Samoan heritage that calls to him. He longs to receive the pe’a—the traditional Samoan tattoos-- and learn more of his people's ways. He has no interest in a man like Asher, who appears to use men and put them aside and whose drinking can't help but remind him of the drunk driver who killed his father. But he can’t deny his attraction to Asher and finally agrees to a date if Asher can go thirty days without a drink.
Asher is about to go on a journey that will awaken him to his friends, his past, his future, and even to love. But that awakening could well demand the sacrifice of the dream he holds most dear.
BG: With me the answer is usually a lot of things. The series is about four best friends. Each book focuses on one of the friends. Meaning that they are all stand alone books, but if read them in the order I wrote them, they do build on each other.
One of my favorite movies of all time is The Broken Hearts Club, and that is because it portrayed one of the most realistic views of gay men and gay friends. I wanted to do something like that. I find gay friends fascinating because I often observe that from the outside, you can't imagine why they're even friends. They might (from the outside looking in) seem to even hate each other. But inside that tribe? Look out! Fierce loyalty and love.
Another interesting thing about gay friends is many times they met by having a one night stand. They realized they didn't want a repeat performance, but something deep and powerful clicked and they become the best of friends instead. All of these things are something I wanted to explore.
And finally, a few years ago a pagan friend of mine asked me to participate in a year long celebration of the passing of the seasons. Since I honor all spiritual paths (that cause no harm to anyone) I agreed. We got together eight times over a year and noted many different cultures traditions and honored them and the four seasons. Suddenly, the summer which seemed to go by in a flash, and winter, that seemed to take centuries to pass, all leveled and balanced out. It was a powerful experience.
So that is how it came about and it has been an incredibly rewarding part of my life and writing career. I have loved writing each book and learning about the four men, plus watching them grow as people and friends. They have become the most real of all my characters. It will be rough giving it all up!
Renae: I’m assuming there will be a winter to follow? When will this be out?
BG: Tentatively titled Winter Heart, it should be out before the end of October this year.
Renae: One thing I adore about your writing BG, is that you include all types of men in your romances. It mirrors my own writings and beliefs (which is probably why I love you so much **mwah**). Your characters are older, younger, bigger, smaller, hairier, and smoother than the “norm” we often find in m/m. You pick “real” men to star in your stories. So when Spring Affair arrived, I swooned. Now you’ve hit upon my second favourite topic – the non-white character. I saw the cover and began chanting yes-yes-yes. Why do you think that there are not more non-white romance books out there?
BG: Well, I can only assume it mirrors the entertainment industry at large. Look at the typical TV show. Mostly white characters. Look at the movies. Mostly white characters. In fact, ironically, when there is a show with non-white characters as the stars, there are little to no white characters!
Renae: Did you find it hard to write these characters. As far as I’m aware you’re not Jewish, Mormon or Samoan. Did you require a lot of research? Do you have friends to help you?
BG: I work at a place that is incredibly diverse. We have people from all over the world including Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico and...you guessed it...Samoa.
I found myself incredibly drawn to the many Samoan people. I fell in love with their language and culture and was fascinated how they had married the old ways with the new. Almost all Samoans have been converted to Mormonism. And yet, they still (for instance) will endure the incredible painful and dangerous process of getting a p'ea, the traditional Samoan tattoos that cover almost every inch of a man's body from his knees and up to above the waist. They taught me language and have invited me to Samoan weddings and fed me. I knew I had to write about these amazing and noble people. When I mentioned it, they were very excited.
And yes, it was very difficult. Between the Mormon Samoans and Jewish people, it was nerve racking. But I loved it. I have had many Jewish friends as well and even lived in Skokie for a couple of years, a major Jewish community in the Chicago suburbs. It was a powerful experience. I loved it. And I don't know if I will ever attempt anything like it again!
BG: Not personally, although I've seen it ruin friends’ lives. One guy I got to know was clean and sober for several years. He was also newly out of the closet and the only place he could find gay men to hang out with was bars. After a year or so he found himself drinking again and soon lost his job and the last I heard, he actually died. It was very sad.
The alcoholism factor came across when I realized that gay men might drink a lot--since a lot of their socializing takes place in bars--but that Asher was drinking a lot more than his three friends. I was startled when I realized that he might be an alcoholic. It's up to the reader to decide if he had gotten that far, of if he escapes that trap...
Renae: Your Seasons of Love books are rather long compared to the norm. Which makes me happy because I’m getting huge value for money. Was there a lot of story to tell?
BG: Gosh, yes! *rolls eyes* Originally, for instance, the first chapter of Summer Lover is Scott arriving at this "queer" men's gathering out in the woods--which was inspired by this ten day event I go to every year (for years). But Scott is the curmudgeon of the group--the last of the four you would imagine going to such an event. I suddenly realized people wouldn't believe it. I had to get him to the place where he would be willing to go. I have notice through the years men show up at the real life festival broken, suicidal, and in despair--and leave, if not healed, then well on their way to such healing. Spending ten days out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of gay men relying on each other for everything is a powerful spiritual experience. I knew I had to write about it--and that wasn't happening in 60 thousand words.
Renae: How long did it take you to write these books? Did you have to have them all finished before submitting to your publisher?
BG: These books take longer to write than anything else I write. I've written novellas in two or three days! And I am talking 20 thousand word stories. But these books have so many levels and so much depth. They touch on a lot of themes. Addictions, low self esteem, body issues, religion, alternate-to-Judea-Christian-religion, spatiality, suicide, the death of beloved relatives and more. And there is a lot of personal stuff as well.
For instance, co-dependency. I was with a man for ten years that should have ended long, long before it did. He was a sex addict, he put my health and life in danger constantly, he abused me mentally and emotionally--and I didn't leave because I was terrified he was right, and that I would be alone forever if I did. That is Wyatt's story in the fourth book. He has to find himself and believe he is worthy of love. He is going to do it. But it's ripping my heart out writing it. The ending will be so triumphant though, just as in my real life, and I hope very inspiring.
And no, they weren't all written. If it had been a case where the novels weren't stand alones, Dreamspinner Press would have pretty much insisted that all four books be done first. They want to make sure a reader doesn't get burned by getting invested in something that never gets finished. That's not the case here, although by this point I think I have a ton of readers who would breach the castle with torches and pitchforks if I don't tell Wyatt's story--Winter Heart--which is the last one and the one I am writing now.
BG: First of all he pronounces his name like the coin; "penny." It is short of course for his whole name, which is Peniamina--which is pronounced Penny-ah-me-nah. And guess what? It is the name I was given by my Samoan friends at work. It is the Samoan name for Benjamin! I'm telling you a big secret here! LOL!
As for seeing this a lot in my life, I do as far as friends are concerned. And I am always asking them about their lives and wanting to hear about what it was like to live in countries so different from my own. And it certainly enriches my life.
As far as romance goes, I've never dated anyone that wasn't pretty standard USA. Not that I wouldn't, but...I am married! So that is really out of the picture.
Renae: Okay – I promised myself I wouldn’t ask, but I have no self-control. The naked in nature theme on the front of this series. Where did this come from? (And damn, it’s hot!)
BG: Well, they are totally inspired by the works of Alphonse Mucha. He was very famous in the 1920s and practically created art nouveau. I fell in love with his work in my late teens but what made me disappointed was that out of his thousands of works, he only did about four or five paintings of men. They were always scantily clad/near nude women. I wished and wished he'd done some male art. He also did several famous four seasons print sets.
So when I was talking to Paul Richmond about what we might do for the series, he says to me--I couldn't believe it!--that he had always loved the work of Alphonse Mucha, but was sad that the artist had pretty much only ever painted women. He'd been wanting to do an Alphonse Mucha inspired set of prints, but with men--and what did I think of that? Would I mind?
Needless to say I was squealing and shrieking and jumping up and down and my husband comes rushing upstairs from his basement/man-cave thinking something horrible had happened! And what really made me happy was that Paul took the men from the second cover from my photography! And the third comes from a (very bad) sketch that I did. I have really got to be a huge part of these covers and it means a lot to me. Here's to hoping that he will offer some kind of print of the four covers when they're all done. Wouldn't that be nice?
Renae: What are you working on now?
BG: Well, Winter Heart, as I said. I am hoping to have it done in a month. I also just finished a ghost story that I hope will blow your socks off and will appear in the fourth volume of the Gothika series!
Renae: Where can people find you?
BG: You can find me on Facebook here (please feel free to friend me!): https://www.facebook.com/bgthomaswriter
This is my website: https://bthomaswriter.wordpress.com/
And I have a blog that I am very proud of called 365 Days of Silver. In it I am endeavoring to write a post every single day for one year expressing something that I am grateful for. Being grateful attracts more things in our lives to be grateful for. So far I've managed it! The one funny thing is that a friend of mine set it up for me and she lives in England and right now it is set hours ahead of me. So sometime it looks like I might have missed a day because I posted later in the evening and it was the next day in the UK! LOL! Anyway, here is the link to that and I would be honored if anyone checked it out: https://365daysofsilver.wordpress.com/
Renae: Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming and visiting me today. I am ultra excited about this book. So I hope you had a fantastic birthday, and good luck with the release.
BG: No! Thank you! Because I've done a bit of "fan-girling" myself by being in your blog. You are an amazing writer and I am so happy to be getting to know you! And thanks for the birthday wishes! HUG HUG HUG!