5 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

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Amazon

Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I found this story to be just brilliant.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

Dividers

Review: Such a well-known story—that of Scrooge and his miserly life, which is interrupted by three ghostly apparitions one lonely Christmas eve. It’s a classic tale that is performed and read every holiday season. Imagine my delight when I heard that author John Inman had re-imagined the old tale and given it new life, a clever twist that morphed into an amazing story called Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

E.B. Scrudge is a nasty man. Having learned from his predecessor, Barley, Ebbie has taken to the love of money and the glee of inflicting misery on others with gusto. He has no regard for his fellow man and unashamedly uses his faithful secretary, Willie, for occasional physical release. This Christmas Eve finds Ebbie handing out his special brand of Christmas cheer in the guise of termination notices delivered by poor Willie. Once done, he ignores the small gift his secretary has for him, uses him for sex and then sends him on his way without a backward glance. After attending the ballet, Ebbie returns home to his penthouse apartment, and a night of terror, revelation and soul searching begins. By morning, E.B. Scrudge will be a changed man—but will it be too late to undo all the harm he has done and prove to Willie he does have a heart after all?

If you have never read Dickens’ version of Scrooge, then this brilliant and campy version may not mean quite as much to you, dear reader, but trust me when I tell you this piece of work was so cleverly done. Not only are the three “ghosts” who visit Ebbie simultaneously terrifying and amusing, the build up to the visits, the eerie setup with lights going off and noises rattling the night, are rather scary to read. But it is the transformation in Ebbie himself that is so genuinely played out as the hours race by—this is the real beauty of the story. Far beyond a truly delightful retelling of an old classic, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. explores the place in each of us that allows for that bit of selfishness to grow. How many times have we passed the homeless and thought they could find work if they truly tried? Or perhaps remarked that it is not “our responsibility” to save everyone? Just these few scenes—and the uncanny voice of the narrator reminding us that we too may see a bit of “Scrudge” in the mirror is enough to realize that lurking behind this simple Christmas fare is a deeper message: hold on to your humanity at all costs lest you find yourself a scrooge as well.

I found this story to be just brilliant. I enjoyed the careful way this author reworked a somewhat tired and overused story and made it relevant and entertaining again. Not only that, I loved that Willie was not a carpet for Ebbie to walk over but more a compassionate and loving man who faced his difficult life head on and knew his own mind. Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a fantasy wrapped in love and a touch of whimsy. If you are looking for a fresh and well-written holiday story, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. will fill that ticket nicely. I highly recommend this one to you!

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You can buy Scrudge & Barley, Inc. here:

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Karen

Review: John Inman’s Greatest Hits Bundle

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title:  John Inman’s Greatest Hits Bundle

Author:  John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  978 Pages

At a Glance:  I am happy I gave this new-to-me author a shot and picked up the bundle.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Hit author John Inman presents five novels of romance, from tongue in cheek to seriously chic—Shy: Funny what a couple of guys can accomplish when they’re crazy about each other. Not even nine hundred chickens can stand in the way of true love.—Loving Hector: Hector’s evil ex is dead set on holding on—even if it means kidnapping Hector to keep him from Dill forever! Now Dill has to pull an army together to rescue Hector, and just where the hell is he supposed to find an army? Gads, if only Dill could write books this interesting!—Hobbled: Danny had plans to come out this summer—maybe even get laid! He doesn’t have time for ankle monitors and serial killers! Then ginger-haired Luke Jamison moves in next door. Gee. If Danny can survive it, this summer might not be so bad after all.—Serenading Stanley: Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city’s lost and lovelorn. While Roger tries to batter down Stanley’s defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love.—Spirit: Toss a murder, a hot young stud, an unexpected love affair, and a spooky-ass ghost with a weird sense of humor into Jason’s summer plans, and you’ve got the makings for one hell of a ride.

Dividers

Review:  I’ve had a few of John Inman’s books on my Amazon wish list for quite a while, but they kept being pushed back by others, and I just couldn’t seem to get around to them.  When this bundle came up, I realized that a couple of the ones on my wish list were included in the bundle and thought, well, now I can knock them all out at once.

I was a little worried at first since I hadn’t read anything by this author that I was going to start reading and not like the writing style or something, and then have five books to read. Lucky for me that was not the case.  As I was finishing each book I would think, I think I like this one the best…until I finished the next one. I will say if you aren’t a fan of insta-love, these might not be the books for you, but even if you aren’t a fan, I would give them a try because the writing is amazing. I was laughing out loud a good amount of the time I was reading.

The pace of all the books is pretty quick, so they were easy, fun, enjoyable reads. I am happy I gave this new-to-me author a shot and picked up the bundle. Now a couple more John Inman books have been added to my wish list, with the Belladonna Arms books moving right up to the top.

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You can buy John Inman’s Greatest Hits here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Coming Back by John Inman

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Title: Coming Back (Belladonna Arms: Book Three)

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: This novel wraps around you like an old comfy blanket, and makes you part of the magical place where some of the most amazing characters live.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Barney Teegarden knows what it’s like to be alone. He knows what it’s like to have a romantic heart, yet no love in his life to unleash the romance on. With the help of a friend, he acquires a lease in a seedy apartment building perched high on a hill in downtown San Diego. The Belladonna Arms is not only filled with the quirkiest cast of characters imaginable, it is also famous for sprinkling love dust on even the loneliest of the lovelorn.

At the Arms, Barney finds friendship, acceptance, and an adopted family that lightens his lonely life. Hell, he even finds a cat. But still true love eludes him.

When his drag queen landlord, Arthur, takes it into his head to rescue a homeless former tenant, he enlists Barney’s help. It is Barney who shows this lost soul how to trust again—and in return Barney discovers love for the first time in his life.

It’s funny how even the hardest battles can be fought and won with laughter, hugs, friends, plus a little faith in the goodness of others. All it takes to begin the healing is the simple act of coming back.

Dividers

Review: I have hardly made it a secret that I believe author John Inman is perhaps one of the most gifted voices in the M/M genre. Moving easily from horror and suspense to romantic comedy, there truly is not a more versatile writer on the scene today than Mr. Inman. I may have squealed with a bit of delight when I saw that there was a third installment in the entertaining Belladonna Arms series. You may wonder why, and I can tell you it doesn’t simply rely on the fact that these novels are sweet love stories at their finest. No, it is much more than that. You see, these tales are a slice of Americana, a gay Americana, no doubt, but still as familiar as small town parades and neighbors who support and love each other despite their flaws. What Mr. Inman has done with this series is create a small community that quietly goes about the business of propping one another up when needed, saving each other when disaster looms, and loving each other regardless of what past mistakes may have been made. In short, he has created a family, and I defy you not to fall hopelessly in love with each one of them.

Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, run by the mountainous cross-dressing landlord, Arthur; where gay men, trans folks, and kleptomaniacs all reside in blissful harmony. A new resident has arrived, a friend of Pete’s, and his name is Barney. Those knowing the series will remember Pete, the accountant, who married Sylvia, who has recently transitioned into a gorgeous female. Barney is small in stature but huge in heart, and that is the main problem. You see, while Barney may love, he is never loved in return, nor does he think he will ever be.

However, the decaying old apartment building seems to weave a magic of its own, and nearly everyone who has come to live within its walls finds love following swiftly behind. All, that is, except for Ramon. Again, if you are familiar with these stories, you will remember that Ramon recently accidentally killed his abusive drug addicted lover, ChiChi, in what may have clearly been part freak accident and part ChiChi running into the knife in Ramon’s hand. Regardless of what truly happened, Ramon fled Belladonna Arms and disappeared nearly six months before Barney arrived. Now Arthur has a bead on where Ramon is, and needs his newest renter’s assistance tracking his lost and emotionally wounded friend. The real question is not whether Arthur will bring Ramon safely home; it is, will Ramon be able to shed the pain and guilt he carries and find hope and, yes, love back in the arms of this magical apartment building where his and Barney’s destiny awaits.

A good novel has an interesting and well-paced plot, likeable characters who draw you into their imaginary lives, and solid dialogue that is both intelligent and clever. A great novel has all those components ratcheted up to the nth degree, making it more complex, its people more multi-layered and believable, and the story captivating and memorable. This is the type of story John Inman writes, and in the case of this series, and specifically Coming Back, you must add witty repartee and breathtakingly wounded characters to the list.

I fell in love with the eclectic band of brothers and sister that peopled this novel. I did so, easily and agreeably, because the way in which each one was delicately written to hinge on the life of the others made them rich and unique and so very easy to care about. Ramon, oh golly, I wanted to hold him till the nightmares went away. I wanted to reassure Barney that love was most definitely out there waiting for him despite his very bad track record of one unrequited crush after another. With each description of yet another apartment dweller, I was pulled inexorably into the story, where I happily remained, gobbling up page after page, sometimes shiny-eyed with tears but more often weeping with laughter.

Coming Back, the third installment of the Belladonna Arms series, is truly brilliant story telling. This novel wraps around you like an old comfy blanket, and makes you part of the magical place where some of the most amazing characters live. I highly recommend it to you.

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You can buy Coming Back here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Sunset Lake by John Inman

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Title: Sunset Lake

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 320 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend Sunset Lake to you. It is an amazing piece of work.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Reverend Brian Lucas has a secret his congregation in the Nine Mile Methodist Church knows nothing about, and he’d really like to keep it that way. But even his earth-shattering secret takes a backseat to what else is happening in his tiny hometown.

Murders usually do that.

Brian’s “close friend,” Sam, is urging a resolution to their little problem, but Brian’s brother, Boyd, the County Sheriff, is more caught up in chasing down a homicidal maniac who is slaughtering little old ladies.

When Brian’s secret and Boyd’s mystery run into each other head on, and Boyd’s fifteen-year-old son, Jesse, gets involved, all hell breaks loose. Then a fourth death comes to terrify the town, and it is Brian who begins to see what is taking place in their little corner of the Corn Belt. But even for a Methodist minister, it will take more than prayer to set it right.

Dividers

Review: Well, it has finally happened. I have been rendered speechless by what I must say is one of the most exciting and exceptional murder mysteries on the market today. John Inman’s Sunset Lake not only exceeded my expectations, given that this author is well known for turning out great stories, but has left me with nothing more than endless superlatives about this incredible piece of fiction.

A cold-blooded psychopath has come to the quiet farming community of Nine Mile. What seems to be a series of random murders has set the town on edge, and the local minister, Brian Lucas, is doing his best to help the victim’s families bear their grief. Having a unique inside view to the investigative process, due to his brother being the town sheriff, Brian has not a clue who could possibly be stalking his flock. Time and again he will turn to his friend Sam for both support and comfort. But these men have a deeply held secret that has been kept for far too long. In fact, Brian is in danger of losing more than members of his flock; he may have to say goodbye to the love of his life.

I never saw it coming. The murderer? The gasp worthy ending? I never had a clue, and I am an avid mystery reader. In fact, one of my pet peeves is that I often figure out the ending of a novel and solve the mystery before it is revealed. But not this time. No, this one was so cleverly written, so intricately drawn that I had absolutely no inkling of how it would all play out. When John Inman finally disclosed who was viciously killing the old women in town, I was shocked. But Mr. Inman was not done with me, not by a long shot, for the ending of this novel was perhaps the most gut-wrenching solution ever offered up by a novelist.

However, the mechanics of this mystery were not the only thing that made this story a nail-biting page turner. What this author does with defining his characters and revealing their inner thoughts and emotions is nothing short of brilliant! In this case, even the town of Nine Mile becomes one of the “people” in his book. With incredible detail and a constant barometer reading of the pulse and atmosphere of the landscape, the story takes on a frantic edge that carries the reader along with it. You literally breathe the air around Sunset Lake. You feel the rain and violent nature of the storms that descend on the town beginning on the day of the first murder. It’s as if even the elements know something evil has come into its midst.

Then, Mr. Inman introduces you to the people of his town and you fall in love with them. From Sam’s irascible aunt to the two young boys, Kyle and Jesse, and a host of others, the inhabitants come to life under the deft hands of this author. But the real stars in this novel are Bryan and Sam, whose secret draws you in and makes you ache for the fragile nature of what you hope will be a long term solution. I hate to be cryptic, but you really must read this story to understand all the complexities within this gorgeously crafted community.

It is no secret that I have been a fan of this author’s work in the past. This novel has solidified for me that John Inman deserves to rank high on any best seller list. He is just that good. I highly recommend Sunset Lake to you. It is an amazing piece of work.

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You can buy Sunset Lake here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Pia

Audio Review: Work in Progress by John Inman – Narrated by Caleb Dickinson

Audio Gem

Title: Work in Progress (A Belladonna Arms Novel)

Author: John Inman

Narrator:: Caleb Dickinson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 14 Minutes

At a Glance: I adore John Inman, I really do, and I’m glad I got to listen to Work in Progress.

Reviewed By: Pia

Blurb: Dumped by his lover, Harlie Rose ducks for cover in the Belladonna Arms, a seedy apartment building perched high on a hill in downtown San Diego. What he doesn’t know is that the Belladonna Arms has a reputation for romance—and Harlie is about to become its next victim.

Finding a job at a deli up the street, Harlie meets Milan, a gorgeous but cranky baker. Unaware that Milan is suffering the effects of a broken heart just as Harlie is, the two men circle around each other, manning the barricades, both unwilling to open themselves up to love yet again.

But even the most stubborn heart can be conquered.

With his new friends to back him up—Sylvia, on the verge of her final surgery to become a woman, Arthur, the aging drag queen who is about to discover a romance of his own, and Stanley and Roger, the handsome young couple in 5C who lead by example, Harlie soon learns that at the Belladonna Arms, love is always just around the corner waiting to pounce. Whether you want it to or not.

But tragedy also drops in now and then.

Dividers

Review: I adore John Inman, I really do, and I’m glad I got to listen to Work in Progress, the second book in the Belladonna Arms series.

After being dumped by his lover, author Harlie Rose leaves for a four month road trip, returning to San Diego during a rain storm, where he meets Arthur, an aging, hairy drag queen, who rents him an apartment and introduces him to the rest of the strange and wonderful tenants of The Belladonna Arms.

Finding a job at a deli as a baker’s assistant, he meets Milan, tall, sexy, broody Milan, who has also just broken up with his partner and who is also attracted to Harlie but isn’t planning on doing anything about it. Thanks to meddling friends and the Belladonna’s pollen, most of our favourite quirky characters get their happy ending.

I think Caleb Dickinson did a great job narrating. Each person had depth and character, and I never once got confused or had to ask myself who was speaking. The only thing I would change is the long silences at the end of each chapter, but other than that I loved this audio book.

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You can buy Work in Progress here:

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Horror, John Inman, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: The Boys on the Mountain by John Inman

Title: The Boys on the Mountain

Author: John Inman

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 330 Pages

At a Glance: This is a very well written horror story by John Inman, and ranks right up there with Stephen King, in my opinion.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Jim Brandon has a new house, and boy is it a pip. Built high on the side of the San Diego mountains by a legendary B movie actor of the 1930s, Nigel Letters, the house is not only gorgeous, but supposedly haunted. As a writer of horror novels, Jim couldn’t be happier.

But after a string of ghostly events sets Jim’s teeth on edge and scares the bejesus out of his dog, Jim begins to dig into the house’s history. What he finds is enough to creep out anybody. Even Jim. It seems long dead Nigel Letters had a few nasty habits back in his day. And unhappily for Jim, the old bastard still has some tricks up his sleeve.

As Jim welcomes his ex, Michael, and a bevy of old friends for a two-week visit to help christen the new house, he soon realizes his old friends aren’t the only visitors who have come to call.

Dividers

Review: First, I have to warn readers there are some extreme cases of abuse in The Boys on the Mountain, so it may be offensive to some. It is descriptive, shocking and scary. This is a very well written horror story by John Inman, and ranks right up there with Stephen King, in my opinion. It drew me in from the start, and I couldn’t stop reading no matter what happened. In a way, it’s a sad tale too, as we have heard of such abuses in this day and age, and I can’t even begin to imagine how this would have been handled in the 1920s and ‘30s.

Most of the time setting for this tale is the 1940s, during World War II. Many of these young boys were homeless and used their youth and beauty to earn money just to stay alive. Timmy (TJ) Johnson, Kenny, Arturo, Charlie Simms, Jeremiah (Jerry), Josh, and Joey; and the exception, Allan Crisp—these are only a few of the boys who faced horrific tragedy.

During this time, Nigel Letters was aging, and work in Hollywood had disappeared for him. He amassed his wealth as a B-horror movie actor in the ‘20s and ‘30s, but left the Hollywood life to live in the secluded mountains of San Diego, where he committed suicide.

Seventy years later, we find Jim Brandon and his faithful dog Rex moving into Nigel’s eighteenth century Mexican hacienda. Its purchase price was worth it to Jim, as it gave him the solitude he was looking for. And, the house was supposedly haunted. Being a horror story author, what more could he ask for, as eerie occurrences start when Jim and Rex spend the night in the carriage house? At which point he also gains some interesting information from Caroline, his housekeeper, as well as ninety-six-year-old Clarice O’Donnell.

There is a lot of humor in this story when Jim’s friends Michael, Lyle, Frank, and Stu show up and practically move into his home, which helps to balance out a lot of the horror in the plot. As a horror story fan, I was really pleased that Jim’s friends didn’t call him crazy or didn’t believe what he was telling them. There was great camaraderie between all the friends—no one ran off screaming. The rekindled romance between Jim and Michael was a plus to the story too, as Michael showed how much he was willing to sacrifice to be with Jim again.

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You can buy The Boys on the Mountain here:

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DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, John Inman

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and John Inman

DSP Publications

Oh, the horror! And I mean that in the best way possible. ;) John Inman is here with me today to tell you all about ghosts and haunted houses and moldering skeletons in creepy closets. I’m talking, of course, about John’s new release The Boys on the Mountain, released just yesterday from DSP Publications. So light your candles and get out your Ouija boards—but first, let’s have a look at what’s in store.

Dividers

tna-dspp--john inman for 05-13The Boys on the Mountain

Jim Brandon has a new house, and boy is it a pip. Built high on the side of the San Diego mountains by a legendary B movie actor of the 1930s, Nigel Letters, the house is not only gorgeous, but supposedly haunted. As a writer of horror novels, Jim couldn’t be happier.

But after a string of ghostly events sets Jim’s teeth on edge and scares the bejesus out of his dog, Jim begins to dig into the house’s history. What he finds is enough to creep out anybody. Even Jim. It seems long dead Nigel Letters had a few nasty habits back in his day. And unhappily for Jim, the old bastard still has some tricks up his sleeve.

As Jim welcomes his ex, Michael, and a bevy of old friends for a two-week visit to help christen the new house, he soon realizes his old friends aren’t the only visitors who have come to call.

Dividers

Carole: So last time you were here, John, I called you DSP Publications’ answer to Stephen King, and though you demurred, I haven’t seen anything yet to change my opinion. Now, I know one of King’s least favorite questions is “What is it about the Horror genre that appeals to you?” so let’s be evil and start with that one.

John: Horror stories are always fun. Usually they are so over the top that they make the writing of them a true blast. In horror you can let your imagination take you wherever you want to go. There are no restrictions of reality or time or reason to hold you back. Next to flat out gooshy love stories, which I adore making up, I enjoy writing bloody, creepy, scream-inducing horror stories the best.

Carole: Quite the contrast there! Now, horror as a genre has such broad appeal. Why “narrow the audience,” so to speak, by featuring the M/M dynamic?

John: I guess it boils down to being who I am. Since I’m gay, the M/M perspective on a story is just the way I instinctively go. I’ve always written male on male, even before I ever sold a manuscript and before I ever knew there was actually a market out there for that type of story. And at this late point in the game I don’t think I could change because it’s the only way I know how to write.

Carole: And why should you, really? Okay, so let’s move on to the good stuff. Tell us about The Boys on the Mountain.

John: This book was sort of a test for me. It was my first foray into writing a ghost story. It was also the first time I tried writing a story that encompassed two separate time periods, decades apart. I have published ghost stories before this one but The Boys on the Mountain was written before those. Boys is the story of a serial killer of young men who lived half a century earlier than when the present day part of the story takes place.

Nigel Letters was an old ham actor of the forties who starred in a string of B movies and made quite a name for himself doing it. He also had a few kinks in his persona that his fans didn’t know about at the time. Fast forward five decades. James Brandon is a writer of horror stories who is buying the old Letters home situated on the side of a mountain in Southern California. Once there, he realizes, through his pen, that something horrible once happened in that house, and the victims of that horror are still in residence. When his coterie of gay friends come for two weeks to christen the house, they find themselves in a battle with the ghost of Nigel Letters who still wields control over the poor souls he murdered here fifty years before. And not everyone survives the battle.

Carole: Yikes! Sounds like a book to be read with all the lights on and maybe a guard dog or two. ;)

So, The Boys on the Mountain is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in The Boys on the Mountain and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

John: The Boys on the Mountain was accepted by Dreamspinner Press about three years ago, and has been on hold until the new DSP Publications imprint opened up, because they thought it would be a better fit. While Boys is indeed a romance, the romance part of the story is overshadowed by the spooky stuff. My other release through DSP Publications, Willow Man, was likewise held in limbo until the imprint went live. Both books are horror, and both are ghost stories. Anyway, they’re here now, and I couldn’t be happier. Stephen King has always been one of my favorite authors. I think I’ve read every word he’s ever written write down to his grocery list, so if the reader sees any similarities (not in style and deftness of execution, mind you, I could never match King for that, hell, nobody could) but in mood and basic imagery, then I hope I’ll be forgiven.

Carole: *refers John to intro and whistles* Ahem. All right, now it’s time for what’s always my favorite part of Genre Talk: Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of The Boys on the Mountain?

John: The germ of an idea for this story came into being one spring day in San Diego when I was visiting the San Diego Zoo. It’s about a 15 minute walk to there from where I live so I go there quite often. Anyway, one early morning I snuck into the zoo when they first opened and not too many people were around. I was happily hiking the trails and pathways of the zoo, all by myself, chomping down on a humongous bucket of popcorn, when I strolled through the valley of big cats. There were almost no people around at all. It was still really early in the morning and some fog lingered from the night before. As I was passing this vast wire cage that reached about 15 feet high and 30 feet across, a black panther came storming out of the bushes and crashed flat out into the fence, feet first, hissing and snarling and spitting, not two feet from where I stood. Needless to say, my popcorn went flying and I damn near peed my pants. That cat meant business. I guess he thought I was on the breakfast menu. I have never forgotten that moment, and I knew I had to work it into a story. So believe it or not, all 150,000 words of The Boys on the Mountain came from those few seconds of abject terror when I stood in the fog at the San Diego Zoo and tried not to keel over in a dead faint when that black panther flew at me out of the bushes. Haha. I did manage to work the moment into the book though. It also gave me one of the major players in the story. Tania, the puma. And what a bitch she is!

Carole: (Do you see why that’s my favorite part? Always such awesome answers!) Okay, for this last question, I basically just asked John what he would like to talk about. Here’s what he came up with.

John: Since I’ve been told I can say anything I want during this part of the interview, I would like to direct a couple of words to the people out there (you most certainly know who you are) who have a dream to become a writer. To you I would like to say just one thing. Do not ever give up. Hold true to your dream. Practice your craft. And read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Trust me, every rejection letter and every unanswered query you are faced with now will make the final signing of your first contract all the more exciting – and well earned. I wish you all the luck in the world. I really do. Oh, and more thing. Write from the heart. That’s where the best words always lay hidden.

Carole: Oh, John. You’ve gone and made everyone all swoony now. Thanks so much for being with us today and best of luck on the new release!

And thank you, readers, for coming along for the ride. As a reward, please enjoy the following excerpt from The Boys on the Mountain, and look for the buy links at the end of the post.

Dividers

Excerpt: A TOUCH at the side of my neck brought me crashing back to the present, my connection to the past lost in the space of a second.

Michael stood over me, smiling down. His hair, freed of the stocking cap and considerably thinner now than when we were an item, poked up around his face in a dozen different directions. Bed hair. Crumpled, baggy pajama bottoms hung precariously from his slim hips, and he sported a nicotine patch on his upper arm. He was trying to quit smoking again, a quest he had pursued off and on and with a constant lack of success since the day I met him.

But for the smoking, and a few too many drinks occasionally (especially when the five of us got together), Michael was something of a health nut, popping God knows how many vitamins every day, jogging or racewalking every morning, working out at his gym four evenings a week. Compared to him, the rest of us were slugs. We basically kept ourselves trim with periodic bouts of starvation. Michael did it with hard, steady exercise. His devotion to it was mirrored in the clean, trim lines of his body.

I snaked an arm around his waist and pulled him into my space, pushing my face into the sprinkling of hair on his firm, rippled stomach. His skin felt sleep-warm and heavenly.

He rested a hand against the back of my neck. “This may come as a surprise to you, Jim, but most life forms require sleep to survive.”

I grinned and kissed his stomach. He not only lived a healthy lifestyle, he had also taken it upon himself to constantly lecture the rest of us on the advantages of one. For my part, his lectures usually oozed in one ear and dribbled out the other without making any long-lasting impressions anywhere in between.

“Nag. What time is it?”

“About an hour before dawn. The sky is just beginning to lighten.”

“Is that what woke you?”

“No,” he said, chuckling. “A warm fuzzy body crawling into my bed is what woke me. I was hoping it was you.”

“Hmm. Who was it?”

“Rex.”

“He misses you.”

“Anybody else around here miss me?”

“Yeah. I do. All the time.”

He ran his fingers through my hair. “Right. That’s why you moved to practically another country. We’re twenty miles from the Mexican border, for Christ’s sake. When the wind is right, you can probably smell the salsa.”

“Right now I can smell only you,” I whispered, breathing in the familiar fragrance of his warm skin.

I felt a stirring beneath the fabric of his pajama bottoms before he gently took a step backward. “Let’s not complicate matters,” he said, but there was a smile in his voice. “We have other things we should be concentrating on.”

“Like what?” I asked innocently.

“Well, gee, let me think. Judging by all the paperwork scattered around you, you’ve just been mysteriously channeling the story of another boy who was murdered in this house more than fifty years ago. Our friend is lying in the back bedroom with first-degree burns over most of his face and so strung out on pills and booze that he doesn’t realize he should be in pain. And, oh yes, you’re in the process of buying a home that is crawling with ghosts and goblins and demons, and we need to be checking the yellow pages for a good exorcist before one or all of the spooks living here decide to set fire to the rest of us. Did I miss anything?”

“Well, there is the small matter of the beast who attacked my dog, but I suppose that would fall under the general demon category, unless you’d prefer to sublist it. Organization is, after all, your middle name.”

“And chaos, my friend, is yours. It follows you wherever you go.”

I studied his face. “Is that why you left?”

He smiled. “Who said I left? Maybe I’m on hiatus.”

“If that’s what it is, it’s been a long one,” I said, but I could feel my heart doing a happy little patter. Maybe there was hope for us yet. Michael apparently was harboring the same thought. At least I hoped he was.

“Complications aren’t necessarily bad things,” he said, moving closer.

“Not bad at all,” I agreed.

“And the other stuff we can work around. Ghosts. Goblins.”

“Demons. Absolutely.”

I slid my lips across his stomach. “Fuck it,” he said. “Let’s go to bed.”

“If you insist.”

He laughed. “You’re so easy.”

I pulled the drawstring on his pajama bottoms and watched them slide to the floor.

“And you’re so hard.”

“Nice segue,” he said.

“Thanks. I’m a writer. We’re good at things like that.”

“What else are you good at?”

“Let me refresh your memory,” I said. And I did.

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john-inman-17Author Bio: John Inman grew up on a tiny 60-acre farm in Indiana. His childhood was a happy one. He spent most of it barefoot with a cane pole over his shoulder, fishing and roaming the countryside and dragging home every wild creature he could get his hands on hoping to make it a pet, much to his mother’s horror.

Longing to see the world (what kid doesn’t?), he joined the Navy two minutes after graduating from high school. The Navy carried him all across the Orient before finally landing him in San Diego, California, a city he fell in love with at first sight. He lives there to this day with his husband John (yep, John and John), and an assortment of pets they’ve happened to adopt along the way, (Yep, he’s still doing that too.)

The one great longing that has stayed with John his entire life, from his childhood on the farm, to his years in the Navy, and all the way up to retirement from the working world, was the need he felt to write fiction. And he did. He wrote every chance he got, from elementary school all the way through to Social Security.

John calls this passion of his a wonderful addiction, and he thanks God every day that he suffers from it. Since he can’t think of a happier way to spend his remaining years on this marvelous planet, you can now find John seven days a week, merrily slogging along on his computer, doing what he most dearly loves to do.

Writing. (And there’s usually a pet on his lap while he’s doing it.)

You can follow John via his website, his blog and/or Facebook

Buy The Boys on the Mountain now in ebook or paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major distributors

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Next on the chopping block for Genre Talk is… eek! Me! J Tullos Hennig will be turning the tables and giving me a taste of my own medicine and other mixed metaphors. So, until then—thanks and happy reading, everyone!

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Chasing the Swallows by John Inman

Title: Chasing the Swallows

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Just because this novel may not have been my cup of tea, that does not diminish the breathtaking scope and treatment of a love story that spans decades.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Sometimes an entire lifetime can be spent in the arms and heart of one person. It is not so with imaginations, for they go anywhere they wish.

David Ayres and Arthur Smith are about to find that out. When they meet as young men within the garden walls of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, one man from one continent, one from another, an uncontrollable attraction brings them together. But it is something stronger than attraction that holds them there. It is love. Pure and simple.

After forty years, when the fabric of their existence together finally begins to fray because of David’s imaginary infidelities, it is with humor and commitment that they strive to remain in each other’s heart.

And turning fantasy into reality, they find, is the best way to do it.

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Review: I feel it’s important to remind ourselves that we should review with the thought in mind that objectivity is the goal. While it’s nice to know if a reviewer liked a book, I think it’s more important to know a book’s strengths and, in turn, the author’s skill at writing a solid and convincing story.

There comes a time in any relationship where the romance dulls, where it takes just a bit more work to stay connected to the other person and maintain that “spark” that brought you together in the first place. For some, this is easy to do, for others, it takes a shock or two along the way to remember just how much our spouse means to us. For David Ayres, it took the idea of nearly losing the man he loved to pull him from a deeply rooted and routine fantasy life where he imagined himself in sexually compromising situations. Fantasy was David’s addiction and as we all know, what really faces us each morning across the bed can rarely live up to the fantasies that play out in our heads.

Luckily for David, his husband Arthur had no such problem. You see, David fulfilled every fantasy for Arthur. He loved David completely and with such tenderness that forgiving his husband those routine sexual musings was commonplace. But something else was afoot in David and Arthur’s marriage, a thief of sorts had entered their life, and it would prompt such change, such devastating awareness, that David would not only abandon the fantasies that he so richly enjoyed, he would recommit himself to loving Arthur as fully as Arthur did him.

Chasing The Swallows unfolds the life of two men now in their sixties from the time they first met to the present day. Interwoven with current day life, we discover step-by-step the journey these two have taken to arrive where they are today. There are moments of such tenderness, a discovery of a strong and lasting love, and yes, times of pain and hurt, of lashing out at one another and nearly losing the love they both so desperately wanted and found in each other.

Arthur was so incredibly patient with the wandering mind and heart of his husband, David. In turn, David lost touch with what was always right before him, the center of his joy, the love of his life. How he lost it was as gradual as how it grew, and, thankfully, David discovered before it was too late that any good and healthy thing needs nurturing and tending, or it will wither and die. Due to Arthur’s fierce loyalty and deep well of love, David was never without a reminder of just what it was that he was slowly destroying with his endless fantasies and lusts. And so, step-by-step, we are given this intimate view of how two men keep their love alive over the span of several decades.

By using flashbacks, John Inman keeps the story moving and the desire to see how the characters’ lives played out fresh and interesting. But, this author also does not shy away from showing us the darker underbelly of long-term relationships, and just what compromises and adjustments need to be made to keep love alive and help it to endure. This was a gritty, realistic story that spoke of great highs and equally deep lows in the life of two men who were determined to remain in each other’s lives and love each other fiercely.

My one criticism is small but important. I felt there were times that the story leapt from one decade to another without clearly delineating where we were headed and where we ended up. At times, I was unsure if we were in the present, or midway, or back at the beginning of Arthur and David’s relationship. It was not always clear to me where we were in the time continuum of their past and present. However, this did not happen often and had just a minor impact on my enjoyment of the novel overall.

I feel it is important, before I close this review, to state two facts about this novel and my very subjective feelings about it and this author. I really enjoy John Inman’s body of work, he is an auto-buy for me, and I take such pleasure in reading his imaginative and lush stories. However, I personally had great difficulty with Chasing The Swallows. Suffice it to say that I did not care for David very much by novel’s end. I felt him to be selfish and callous toward a man who would love him despite his less than kind treatment of the same. However, just because this novel may not have been my cup of tea, that does not diminish the breathtaking scope and treatment of a love story that spans decades. For that alone, this novel is one you may want to check out.

TNA_Signature_Sammy






You can buy Chasing the Swallows here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Payback by John Inman

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Payback

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: In true John Inman style, the tension gradually grows in Payback until it reaches an action packed climactic end.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: When Tyler Powell’s life is torn apart by an unspeakable crime, the need for vengeance takes over. Every moment of every day, as he tries to pull his shattered existence together again, it’s all he can think about—revenge.

Will he give in to his rage and become the very thing he hates most? A killer?

Only with the help of Homicide Detective Christian Martin, the cop in charge of his case, does Tyler see the possibility of another life beginning—the astounding revelation of another love reaching out to him. A love he thought he would never know again.

Will he let that love into his life, or is he lost already? Is payback more important to Tyler than his own happiness? And the happiness of the man who loves him? Tyler is determined to find a way to exact his revenge without sacrificing all hope for a future with Christian, but it will be difficult—if not impossible—and in the end he might be forced to make an unbearable choice.

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Review: John Inman has written books that have made me laugh, cry, and even believe in ghosts, so when I got the opportunity to review this book I was ecstatic. I was hoping this one would live up to my expectations and WOW! did it ever.

The story begins by showing us the love Tyler shared with his partner. This was not just a run of the mill, small kind of love. No, this was a full on, love of his life, can’t live without him type of love. Tyler’s world is turned on its axis by a vicious hate crime very early in the story, and my heart just shattered for him. I can’t imagine waking up in the hospital only to find out my reason for living is gone. This is exactly what happened to Tyler. The following weeks and months were a true test for Tyler. One of the only things that got him through it was a cautious friendship with Christian Martin, the detective investigating his case.

Christian is a homicide detective and takes his job very seriously. When he catches Tyler’s case, he takes it very personally and promises that he will solve the crime and get justice for the two men. The worst thing for Christian is the attraction he feels for Tyler. He knows he can’t act on it, so he settles for friendship, and he does his best to keep Tyler from completely shutting down.

As the case begins to grow cold, with no new leads, the veil of depression begins to lift for Tyler. But depression is then replaced by anger and a deep need for revenge.

While Tyler is on the brink of becoming a vigilante, he also begins to acknowledge he is starting to have feelings for Christian. As they begin to slowly test the waters of a new relationship, Tyler ends up doing something that could end them before they even start.

In true John Inman style, the tension gradually grows in Payback until it reaches an action packed climactic end. The journey, however, was the focal point of this book and it was amazing.

I can’t count the number of times I cried while reading this book. It was such a realistic portrayal of the grieving process, and I felt like I could have been living this story instead of just reading it. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next from John Inman.






You can buy Payback here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Serenading Stanley by John Inman – Narrated by Tyler Stevens

Audio Gem

Title: Serenading Stanley

Author: John Inman

Narrator:: Tyler Stevens

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours, 2 Minutes

At a Glance: I loved listening to Serenading Stanley, loved the fact there was more than one romance going on, and offer thanks to these wonderfully talented men

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city’s lost and lovelorn. Shy archeology student Stanley Sternbaum has just moved in and fills his time quietly observing his eccentric neighbors, avoiding his hellion mother, and trying his best to go unnoticed… which proves to be a problem when it comes to fellow tenant Roger Jane. Smitten, the hunky nurse with beautiful green eyes does everything in his power to woo Stanley, but Stanley has always lived a quiet life, too withdrawn from the world to take a chance on love. Especially with someone as beautiful as Roger Jane.

While Roger tries to batter down Stanley’s defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love: Ramon, who’s not afraid to give his heart to the wrong man; Sylvia, the trans who just wants to be a woman, and the secret admirer who loves her just the way she is; Arthur, the aging drag queen who loves them all, expecting nothing in return—and Roger, who has been hurt once before but is still willing to risk his heart on Stanley, if Stanley will only look past his own insecurities and let him in.

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Review: Since I gave an earlier review of the e-book version of Serenading Stanley, I mainly want to talk about the audio version in this review. If it came down to a choice between re-reading this book or listening to the audiobook again, the audio wins hands down. In the beginning, I wasn’t too sure about Tyler Stevens’ performance, but as he warmed up to the story, all I can say about his characterizations and how he performed his lines is that it’s an absolute joy to listen to. And what a sexy voice he has when it comes to the more intimate parts of this story.

Stevens’ narration of Stanley’s mother was to die laughing for, especially during the haircut scene when she was with Ramon, but he also did a fantastic job when it came to the more tender moments of the story, such as when Roger was beside himself convincing Stanley where his heart lay, or when Sylvia ended up at the hospital.

I loved listening to Serenading Stanley, loved the fact there was more than one romance going on, and offer thanks to these wonderfully talented men—John Inman for writing such an awesome and funny story; and to Tyler Stevens for an outstanding performance. They made Serenading Stanley well worth a read, a listen, and this book has earned a permanent spot on my faves shelf. I can hardly wait to re-read and listen to Work in Progress, the second installment in the Belladonna Arms series.






You can buy Serenading Stanley here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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3.5 Stars, DSP Publications, Horror, John Inman, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Willow Man by John Inman

Title: Willow Man

Author: John Inman

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 336 Pages

At a Glance: Though unevenly paced, this book turns the unusual into the horrific

Blurb: Woody Stiles has sung his country songs in every city on the map. His life is one long road trip in a never-ending quest for fame and fortune. But when his agent books him into a club in his hometown, a place he swore he would never set foot again, Woody comes face to face with a few old demons. One in particular.

With memories of his childhood bombarding him from every angle, Woody must accept the fact that his old enemy, Willow Man, was not just a figment of childish imagination.

With his friends at his side, now all grown up just like he is, Woody goes to battle with the killer that stole his childhood lover. Woody also learns Willow Man has been busy while he was away, destroying even more of Woody’s past. And in the midst of all this drama, Woody is stunned to find himself falling in love—something he never thought he would do again.

As kids, Woody and his friends could not stop the killer who lived in the canyon where they played. As adults, they might just have a chance.

Or will they?

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Review: As soon as this book came up for review, I grabbed it. I have read and enjoyed almost all of John’s books over the past few years, and was dying to read this one too. I do not have a horror background, mystery/ suspense type books are my norm, but I loved Head-On and A Hard Winter Rain, so I figured I could handle the change of genres by one of my favourite authors. His characters are always quirky and extremely well defined, and the settings for his stories are vivid; be it a mountain, farm, or a rooming house, I can always picture exactly where the characters are and their surroundings.

In Willow Man, Inman does this very well indeed. I can clearly see the dreaded canyon, dark and full of scrub, trees and rock. I can picture Woody’s house and the backyard and even his Mother’s roses. Woody is the MC of this book, and most of what we see is from his POV. He is a musician who is returning to his childhood home for the first time in a dozen years. He left his home after his parents were murdered, and took his music on the road; he struggled with drugs and cleaned himself up, and now has hopes of breaking through with his music, with a couple of shows he will perform in his hometown. But Woody had more than just his parents’ death as a reason to avoid his home, and we are introduced to the cast of characters through recurring flashbacks to Woody’s 13th year, and the summer it all went wrong.

Willow Man was scary for thirteen-year-olds, but the true scope of its evil nature is unveiled as the intervening years are played out with the adult Woody and his best friends. The group of 5 kids have a very close and dynamic relationship that John explores fully. The blindness of acceptance that kids have for one another is tempered through hindsight to the youthful yearnings they each had, and is an added layer to the traumatic events they survived. The scene where Woody and Chuck seek to draw out the Willow Man, while riding Woody’s bike double, is so real and vivid that a week later I can still see it clearly in my mind. John’s ability to paint a scene with words is enviable and a true talent that shines in this book.

A good portion of the success of a really scary horror story comes from the constant build up of dread that an author creates, and John does this well many times in this book. For me, though, the timing and/or pace was off somehow. It seemed that just as I was totally involved and full of anticipation, the story switched from past to present, or vice versa, and then the tension had to be rebuilt. It created a lag for me in the flow of the story, and I found it to be a slow read and a lot to absorb.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, as it is a dark and tangled read, with lots of blood and gore, and a sexual predator twisted into the plot. The idea that sparked this tale—a plane crash that John actually witnessed—is gruesome with possibilities that he takes great advantage of. It is typical of horror to turn the unusual into the horrific, and this he has done very well.






You can buy Willow Man here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, John Inman

Guest Post: Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and DSP Publications Author John Inman

DSP Publications

Greetings all, and we hope you had a fantastic New Year! I’m here today with DSP Publicationsanswer to Stephen King, John Inman, author of the newly released horror novel Willow Man. Actually, he’s kind of DSP Publications’ answer to lots of things, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

Carole: You’ve written a range of works in different genres, from romance to mystery to zombie humor, and now horror. The common thread through most of your work seems to be gay lit, so with that in mind, tell us about your genre.

John: The way I see it the gay genre isn’t much different than straight lit as far as the writing goes. The same principals of construction apply. The same plot devices are brought into play. It’s still just as tricky in gay lit as it is in straight to create a story line from start to finish that doesn’t fall flat on its face somewhere along the line. The only real difference is that in the gay genre, a predominance of the characters are gay, natch. And being a gay man, that to me is what makes the writing of gay lit fun. I don’t have to pretend to be anything I’m not. I can truly draw from my own experiences, whereas delving into the thought processes of a straight person always makes me feel like I’m walking on pudding, just a teeny bit unsure of every step I’m taking. When you say, “tell us about your genre”, the first words that come to my mind are this — writing gay lit makes me feel at home. It’s where I belong. It’s where I love to be. And that’s what this genre means to me.

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Click Here To Purchase

Carole: Tell us about Willow Man.

John: The idea for Willow Man was born from an actual experience of mine. One September morning all the way back in 1978, I was standing at my dining room window when I heard a loud boom in the sky. Looking up I saw a jetliner, with flames spewing from the side, angling down toward the earth. And to my left I saw a small plane tail-spinning straight down in freefall. When the jetliner struck the earth less than half a mile from where I stood, shaking the very floor beneath my feet, the explosion was deafening and the sky across the city grew immediately dark with black, billowing smoke. 144 people died that day when PSA Boeing 727 Flight 182 collided over San Diego with a small Cessna. It was 9:01 in the morning. I’ll never forget it. When the idea to write a horror story came to me, I knew, since that plane crash was one of the most horrific things I had ever witnessed, I would somehow have to incorporate it into the story. So I did. There was no prisoner on board PSA that day as depicted in the book, or none that I know of. Nor was there a detective taking him to justice. But I thought, what better way to bring a monster to life? And wouldn’t it be fate’s greatest irony, to let the one truly evil man on board be the only one to survive the crash? In malevolent spirit, at least. And now that I had the bad guy, I had to find his adversaries. And to me, one of my favorite aspects of horror stories is the juxtaposition of good and evil, purity and cruelty. That’s why much of the story is told from the viewpoint of children. For what good is horror, without innocence for the horror to prey upon?

Carole: So, as with most DSP Publications books, we shouldn’t mistake this for a romance, then.

John: While there is a love story in Willow Man, it is most certainly not the main crux of the story. I suppose that is why this book fits better in the DSP Publications imprint, rather than the more Romance-oriented DSP. But to be honest, it is a fine line that is often a little blurred in my mind. Why DO some books fall under Romance, while others don’t quite make the cut? And rather than drive myself nuts worrying about it, this is where a writer’s faith in his publisher comes to bear. I leave it up to DSP to steer my books in whichever direction they choose. Hell, I’m just thrilled to death to be published at all. And the wise souls at Dreamspinner Press know what they are doing far more than I do. I just write. That’s all I do. That’s all I WANT to do. I envy those writers who are masters at marketing themselves. I truly do. But that’s not me. I don’t much worry about the business end of the trade. That’s why, when you are lucky enough to find a publisher you trust completely, as I have done, you can just concentrate on the writing. And to be able to do that, my friend, is a treasure like no other.

Carole: So, you’ve told us about that horrible plane crash and the inspiration for this story—how did it evolve from that devastating scene you witnessed and into Willow Man?

John: This story was a long time coming. I have worked on it off and on for several years. Long before I was ever published at all, in fact. It is one of my first submissions to DSP and they held it for years while waiting for the new imprint to come to fruition. And as I was saying earlier about trust, DSP was exactly right in holding back on its release. Because of that decision, Willow Man now has a truly comfortable home with DSP Publications. Before, it would have been a DSP novel that would never have really fit in with the rest of DSP’s romance-driven catalog. It’s hard to carry a romantic storyline within the confines of a true horror story, because horror is just too overpowering for romance, I think. People who buy romance novels, want romance. People who buy horror, want horror. Maybe now, with DSP Publications alive and kicking, we writers can play with both themes at once, within the boundaries of the same book, dropping in just enough of one to season the taste of the other. It makes the writing a lot more fun to know you can go wherever it is you want to go without the restrictions of a strictly romantic plotline hanging over your head. But don’t get me wrong. I love writing romance. The more sugary the better. The wooing, the winning, the sex, it’s all great, and I get as gooshy as the next person reading it. But with DSP Publications up and running, it’ll be fun to be able to spice up those stories with a little gore and mayhem now and then. I’m smiling right now because just thinking about it makes my fingers itch for the keyboard.

Carole: Okay, you had a novel just waiting around for years, waiting for a suitable publisher to invent itself because before now, one simply didn’t exist. Why wait? Why not just change it and mainstream it? Why did this story need to be told with the M/M dynamic?

John: I have been writing my entire life. Short stories and poems when I was a kid, novels as an adult. As an adult, almost every book I have written, and that numbers about 20, was told under the umbrella of a M/M dynamic. Probably because, as they say, you should write what you know, and since I’m gay, what the hell was I supposed to write about? Lumberjacks? Well, maybe SOME lumberjacks. Heehee. Wait, I’m getting off track. The simple truth is, I was writing M/M before I ever knew there was an actual market out there for it. God knows I wasted enough years sending manuscripts to the wrong publishers. Which reminds me, by the way. A good tip for aspiring writers? Research publishers before you waste their time and yours sending them stuff they don’t deal with. I learned that one the hard way, but then, I’ve always been a slow learner. And truthfully, the whole marketing thing is a huge mystery to me anyway. Like I said before, writing is what I love. I leave all the other stuff to wiser heads than my own.

Carole: And lastly—here’s a question authors either love or hate, but I think it’s one of the first ones we answer for ourselves: Why do you write?

John: And there it is. The million dollar question. Why do any of us do what we do? Why does my next door neighbor edit chemistry textbooks for a living, and pride himself on doing it the best he possibly can? Why does my partner tear himself up running marathons at the ripe old age of 65, and then come home so tired he can barely walk but still beaming like a lighthouse with a million-watt grin on his face? I write because it is something I was born to do. I can think of no other reason. I did it as a child. I do it as an adult. I’ve grown tired of a lot of things in the long course of my life, but writing is not one of them. Every minute of the process is fun. Even the minutes when I’ve lost my way and I find myself pulling my hair out trying to find my way back. Yep, believe it or not, even that is fun. Well, maybe a few days later it’s fun. Writing is also heart-wrenching at times. Bad reviews. Poor sales. Rejection slips. Computer crashes where you lose four chapters and head straight for the scotch before girding your proverbial loins and sitting down to rewrite the damn things all over again. A lot of being a writer hurts. But then one day you get an email from a reader in Casper, Wyoming, and she thanks you for helping her come to grips with the fact that her son has just told her he’s gay. Or you find a letter in the mail from a young man in Altoona, PA, who says your writing inspired him to want to be a writer himself. Or you get a note from a young woman in Brussels who is sick with cancer, and who tells you your book made her laugh for the first time in months. I’ve received those letters. And there’s your answer. That’s why I write. That’s EXACTLY why I write.

Carole: Awesome! Thank you, John, for spending some time with us and answering questions. And thank you, Lisa and TNA readers for stopping by. A preview of Willow Man is available on Amazon.

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Author BioJohn Inman grew up on a tiny 60-acre farm in Indiana. His childhood was a happy one. He spent most of it barefoot with a cane pole over his shoulder, fishing and roaming the countryside and dragging home every wild creature he could get his hands on hoping to make it a pet, much to his mother’s horror.

Longing to see the world (what kid doesn’t?), he joined the Navy two minutes after graduating from high school. The Navy carried him all across the Orient before finally landing him in San Diego, California, a city he fell in love with at first sight. He lives there to this day with his husband John (yep, John and John), and an assortment of pets they’ve happened to adopt along the way, (Yep, he’s still doing that too.)

The one great longing that has stayed with John his entire life, from his childhood on the farm, to his years in the Navy, and all the way up to retirement from the working world, was the need he felt to write fiction. And he did. He wrote every chance he got, from elementary school all the way through to Social Security.

John calls this passion of his a wonderful addiction, and he thanks God every day that he suffers from it. Since he can’t think of a happier way to spend his remaining years on this marvelous planet, you can now find John seven days a week, merrily slogging along on his computer, doing what he most dearly loves to do.

Writing. (And there’s usually a pet on his lap while he’s doing it.)

Order Willow Man now in ebook and paperback HERE and HERE.

Follow John at his website or on Facebook.

Next time on Genre Talk, Yeyu gives us a fascinating education on Chinese modern fantasy.

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Carole Cummings, EM Lynley, Ines Johnson, Jaime Reese, John Inman, Morticia Knight, Shae Connor, Sid Love

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend filled with plenty of good reading. We have a great week in store for you: more reviews, guests, giveaways, and who knows what else? We’ve learned to expect the unexpected too. :)

Here’s what we have on tap in the week ahead:

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MondayShae Connor kicks off our week with a guest post and giveaway on the Unfortunate Son blog tour

TuesdayMorticia Knight drops in with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway today on the Copping an Attitude (Sin City: Book Two) tour

WednesdayCarole Cummings is back with more Genre Talk. Her guest today is DSPP author John Inman, who’ll be discussing the Horror genre

ThursdaySid Love joins us today with an interview on his Let it Go blog tour

Friday – We’ll be participating in the cover reveal for Jaime Reese’s new novel A Restored Man today

We’ll also be hosting EM Lynley on her Dirty Dining blog tour

Saturday – Finally, to end our week, author Ines Johnson is back with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of her novel The Pleasure Hound (Book Three)

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And that does it for this time around, friends. Until next week, happy reading!

 

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Sammy, Romantic Comedy

Review: Work in Progress by John Inman

Title: Work in Progress

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Dumped by his lover, Harlie Rose ducks for cover in the Belladonna Arms, a seedy apartment building perched high on a hill in downtown San Diego. What he doesn’t know is that the Belladonna Arms has a reputation for romance—and Harlie is about to become its next victim. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

John Inman’s “Head-on” Is One Of This Year’s Finest Novels

“Saving you is the only thing that will bring me peace for all the wrong I have done.” – Jillian Peery


Title: Head-on

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: At twenty-six, Gordon Stafford figures his days are numbered. At least he hopes they are.

Wearied by guilt and regret stemming from a horrific automobile accident two years earlier in which a man was killed, Gordon wakes up every morning with thoughts of suicide. While the law puts Gordon to work atoning for his sins, personal redemption is far harder to come by. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

“Spirit” by John Inman – It Makes You Laugh, Cry And Believe That Love Never Dies – Reviewed by Sammy


“The past will always come back to haunt you…” – Unknown


Title: Spirit

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Jason Day, brilliant designer of video games, is not only a confirmed bachelor, but he’s as gay as a maypole.
Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, John Inman

John Inman’s “Paulie” Is Good For More Than A Few Laughs


“Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.” ― Stephen King


Title: Paulie

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: To the casual observer, Paulie Banks lives the perfect life. After all, he’s young, handsome, and rich. But Paulie has a secret. He’s madly in love with Ben, his old college roommate—and Ben is straight! Now Paulie has arranged a two-week reunion with his three closest friends to rehash their college years and get to know each other again. Jamie and Trevor are coming, along with their new lovers. And to Paulie’s amazement, even Ben has accepted his invitation.
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John Inman

If You Don’t Know The Words To “Serenading Stanley”, Just Hum A Few Bars



“So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.” ― Sylvia Plath


I don’t know about anyone else, but every so often I crave something that’s funny and not so full of angst that I become even tenser than I already am, something that just helps me escape, in a good way, from a really cruddy day.

Aaaah…what a little tickler I found in Serenading Stanley!

Stanley, even though he’s geeky, is sweet with a little spunk thrown in for good measure, though his cofidence, when it came to his own self-image…sucked! He was so afraid that someone who was as gorgeous as Roger would never even consider starting something with someone as drab as Stanley, and Stanley would rather run than take a chance on love. Guess we can blame that one on his chain-smoking harpy of a mother.
Continue reading

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