TNA: Hi, Geoff, thanks so much for visiting with us at The Novel Approach today. Why don’t we start by having you share a bit about yourself?
Geoff: Thanks so much for having me, I always love coming to The Novel Approach. For those who don’t know me, Hi, I’m Geoff. I’m an author and I also own Wilde City Press along with Ethan Day. I’ve been writing gay fiction since 2007, my first book was a gay adventure called The Cross of Sins which one reviewer described as “Gay Raiders of the Lost DaVinci Code”. I loved that line and now it’s kinda stuck! The Cross of Sins was the first in a series called Fathom’s Five, which is about five hot, hunky adventurers who travel the world solving ancient mysteries, sort of like a gay Indiana Jones… except hotter… and there’s five of them.
The next two books in the series, The Riddle of the Sands and The Curse of the Dragon God were both bestsellers on Amazon. And I’m happy to say I’m currently working on the fourth book in the series, The Temple of Time, which I’m hoping to have out in early 2015. I also write gay romance and gay thrillers. My favorite gay romance (of mine) is an Australian-set story called The Pearl, about which one reviewer wrote “If you only read one book this year from a recommendation, make it The Pearl”. I was pretty happy with that, that’s the holy grail of review quotes! :) I’ve also written a few mysteries, my biggest being To Catch a Fox which was co-written with the awesomely amazing Ethan Day. We had a LOT of fun writing Fox; it’s got suspense, twists, romance, action and some hot man-on-man love, and we’re about to throw ourselves into the sequel, A Fox in the Hole, which we’re both super excited about!
TNA: Let’s cut right to the chase and talk about why you’ve dropped in on us today—Buck Baxter, Love Detective. You’ve created a character and set him right in the heart of Wilde City. Tell us how you came up with such an original idea.
Geoff: When we were coming up with names for our press, we wanted to create a destination, something that didn’t just feel like a company or a website, but rather an actual place, where you could imagine our authors and their characters living. Hence we created Wilde City, and branded it with a very “Great Gatsby”-like art deco look and feel, complete with a cityscape, towers, bridges, even an airship (I have a thing about airships, I think they’re so old-world cool and romantic and full of adventure, expect more of them coming up in my books). Opening up that setting to stories and plots seemed a natural progression, not only for our brand, but for the stories we want to tell. For me, it was just a matter of time before I grabbed hold of that setting and turned it into a fully fleshed-out world full of romance and mystery. The atmosphere of Wilde City – the place – was something I knew I had to capture in the very opening of Buck Baxter, I knew I had to put the reader smack-bam in the middle of this city right from the get-go. Here’s a snippet of the first page. Hopefully I succeeded.
Wilde City, 1924, a crane on the top of every skyscraper, a party in every club, a romance on every dance floor, a shooting every night, a broken heart on every street corner and a dirty secret behind every window with the curtains drawn. It’s a city crammed with tough guys, dangerous women, loud jazz, and illegal booze; the kinda place where everyone carries a hipflask in their pocket and a spare pistol in their sock, no matter whether they’re dealing opium in a dark alley in Little Chinatown or dancing up a storm at the Rainbow Palace atop Wilde City Tower. You want a good time, you come to Wilde City; you wanna last a long time, you go someplace else. Because here in Wilde City there’s only three types of people: the lovers, the famous… and the dead.
TNA: The story is set in 1924. Why a historical setting rather than a contemporary? What is it about the idea of the 1920s gumshoe that’s attractive to you?
Geoff: Because we gave Wilde City – the press – such an iconic art deco branding, I felt I simply couldn’t stray from that 20s setting. I think there’s so much romance and mystery in that era, things were flashy and fun, yet sinister and filled with secrets. The parties were big, the fashion was beautiful and violence was rife due to bootlegging and prohibition… it has everything from underworld crime to forbidden romances. For a storyteller, there’s so much material to play with. One thing I love doing in my writing is really creating a scene, letting the reader see and smell and hear everything that’s going on, to really place them inside the narrative and feel like they’re living the story. That 1920s era is so rich in colour and setting and character that I had a LOT of fun building the world of Buck Baxter.TNA: The detective stories of old always have their femme fatale. Is there an homme fatale in Wilde City? If so, who is he and what makes him so?
Geoff: There is a homme, although if I tell you whether or not he’s a fatale it might give the mystery away. I have to admit though that I LOVE writing female characters, so there’s a few very strong femmes thrown in for good measure… some good, some evil, and some are very mysterious such as Madame Chang, the blind opium queen who lives on a barge called The Peking Empress. She’s a very mystical character, you can expect to see more of her in future tales.
TNA: Holden Hart: he’s the man who catches Buck’s eye. What is it about Holden above all the others that makes Buck stop and give him a second glance?
Geoff: That’s a good question, and one that Buck asks himself the entire way through the story. Readers will have to read the book to find out the answer ;)
TNA: If you were casting the movie Buck Baxter, Love Detective, who would you choose to play your leading men? Why would they be the perfect actors for the roles?
Geoff: Oh, I think Buck would definitely be played by a young Hugh Jackman. He’s rugged and rough and a bit snarky, very good at keeping his own secrets even while he’s getting paid to dig up the dirt on everyone else. Holden’s a lot more suave and sophisticated… and blond and handsome… although he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty in a fight. I think Kellan Lutz in a tuxedo would do quite nicely, thank you!
TNA: If you could live in Wilde City, would you? What are some of the things that would make it an interesting place to live?
Geoff: Oooh, yes, in a heartbeat. As a storyteller there’s inspiration and ideas everywhere in Wilde City, plus there’s a place – and a person – to suit every taste. If you’re after somewhere fancy to eat and dance, you can head up to the Rainbow Palace atop the Wilde City Tower where the trans-continental airship docks… there’s plenty of champagne and caviar to be enjoyed up there. If you’re after something more fun downtown, there’s plenty of respectable dives like Ginger’s Gin Mill for a drink and a flirt. If you’re after some culture, you can catch a world-renowned opera at the Maharaja Majestic Theatre, so long as you don’t find yourself caught up in another mystery. Or if you feel like a little pleasure without the strings attached, there’s always that den of iniquity, The Velvet Viper. And the inhabitants of Wilde City are larger than life as well, like the underworld crime boss Mama Marlow who’s currently at war with her rival (and ex-husband) Bugsy Brown; or the billionaire tycoon and transportation magnate Howard Hart, who happens to also be Holden’s father; or the feisty and fabulous Stella Starling, a three-foot-tall prostitute and Buck’s best friend who tells it like it is, toots! In fact, there’s a whole cast of characters I’ll be introducing throughout the series, some you’ll love… and others you’ll love to hate.
TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from the book with us?
Geoff: I’d love to! This is from the scene with the sightless Madame Chang, on board The Peking Express. The barge is a floating, lantern-lit opium den… complete with two Komodo Dragons by Madame Chang’s side. Buck has been persuaded to stay and enjoy the pleasures of Madame Chang’s poison of choice, her opium, and from there begins a conversation that throws light onto one or two of Buck’s own demons:
Excerpt: I moved to get up. My head was spinning merrily, but I was no longer sure I wanted to stay to become dragon dinner. Madame Chang placed her hand on my chest and pushed me back down with more force than I expected.
“Poison chooses just like a dragon. It gives, and it takes. It can enlighten us and open our minds, or peel us open like a rotten pear. It weaves its way among us every day. Poisons choose us, and rightly or wrongly, we choose them. When they come in the form of hate, they will always unravel us. But every now and then, poisons come in the form of love. Sometimes love will kill. Other times…” She looked into me with those glassy white eyes once more. “Other times it will save.”
I tried to struggle against the weight of her hand pinning me down, but in my giddy state, I quickly gave up and said, “All due respect, Madame Chang, but I ain’t never seen love save anyone. I’m a detective. Every case that walks through my door is about cheatin’ and lyin’ and leavin’ someone in tears. Broken hearts is my business. How can I believe love will ever save anyone when all I see are the pieces it leaves shattered on the floor? Do you know what it’s like to tell a woman her husband’s been cheating on her? Do you know what it’s like to be the one to destroy a marriage, to be the one to bang the last nail in that coffin?”
Madame Chang smiled at me. “You’re only seeing one piece of the puzzle, Mr. Baxter. You’re only unraveling one part of the mystery. You see the hurt, but never the healing.”
“What do you mean?”
“You are not the destroyer of love, Mr. Baxter. You do not create the pain. You free it. You open people’s eyes to what they must abandon and leave behind. You show them the path to a new future. You do not destroy love. You create new opportunities for it to exist someplace else. You give love hope to live on. Don’t you see? You are not simply a detective, Mr. Baxter. You are a love detective.”
The smoke must have gotten to my eyes, because all of a sudden I had to blink away cloudy tears. “I never looked at it like that before.”
Madame Chang laughed. “That’s because you’ve never looked at the world through eyes like mine before. Take away the clutter… and you can see.” She placed a hand over my chest then and held it there, feeling my heartbeat. “Love is looking over your shoulder, Mr. Baxter. It will find you again someday.”
TNA: When can we expect Buck Baxter to arrive in Wilde City?
Geoff: Buck is available from Sept 3 at www.wildecity.com, then on Amazon and the third party suppliers soon after that.
TNA: The next book in the series will be Buck Baxter and the Disappearing Divas. Can you give us a little teaser about what we can expect in this book, and when we can expect it?
Geoff: The next book will be set largely at the Maharaja Majestic Theatre during the season of its current show, The Snakecharmer’s Slave, which was touted to be the hit production of the year except for one thing… its lead actresses keep disappearing. Is there a murderer in the wings… or a phantom at the opera?
TNA: Is the series planned out to a certain number of books, or will Buck be back as often as there are cases to solve?
Geoff: I’ll keep writing Buck for as long as there are cases to solve, and in a town like Wilde City, there are mysteries everywhere! I’ve already started work plotting the third mystery, Buck Baxter and the Wicked Waxworks. I’m hoping to have Disappearing Divas out by the end of the year, then Wicked Waxworks early in 2015. After that, stay tuned for more romance and suspense!
TNA: Geoff, thanks again so much for stopping by today. It’s been great to have you here! Where can we find you on the internet?
Geoff: Thank you SO much for having me. I’ve had a lot of fun with this interview, and I hope everyone loves Buck as much as I do! :)