March 15, 2022

Marshall Thornton Can Do Three At A Time

Marshall Thornton Can Do Three At A Time

Ep: 103 Marshall Thornton and Brad discuss writing multiple series at once, where have the gay hangouts gone, and the different settings for each series.

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Marshall Thornton writes several popular mystery series, most notably the  Boystown Mysteries and the Pinx Video Mysteries. He has won the Lambda Award for Gay Mystery three times. HIs books Femme and Code Name Liberty were Lambda finalists for Best Gay Romance. Other books include My Favorite Uncle, The Ghost Slept Over and Fathers of the Bride. He holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA.

Marshall's website marshallthorntonauthor.com

Marshall's BookBub page bookbub.com/authors/marshall-thornton

Marshall's Amazon Page amazon.com/Marshall-Thornton/e/B003NQP0RQ

Brad's Website: bradshreve.com

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Transcript

Announcer:

It's time to put on your sleuthing cap feel nailbiting dread and face heart racing fear. This is Queer Writers of Crime, where you'll get book recommendations and hear interviews with LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense and thriller novels. Here's your host, Brad Shreve.

Brad Shreve:

Hi, this is Brad. Welcome to Queer Writers of Crime. It is our first official episode back. We had a few weeks ago the Dave Brandstetter returning episode with Paul Oliver. And that was a special edition episode. But as of this episode with my guest, Marshall Thornton, this we are officially back doing two episodes not one, two episodes every week. So as I said, My guest today is Marshall Thornton, who has won three Lambda Literary Awards for Best Gay mystery. He was most known for the Boystown series. But I'd say at this point, there are probably some people that aren't even aware of the Boystown series and know him for his Pinx Video series. And his Wyandot County Mysteries. And I'll say this that when he announced that the Boystown series was going to end people were distraught. And I think he made it okay. Welcome to the show, Marshall.

Marshall Thornton:

Thank you for having me. Brad.

Brad Shreve:

Would you agree with what I just said?

Marshall Thornton:

That people prefer the pinks video.

Brad Shreve:

Now not that they prefer it. But did they get over the distraught over Boystown quicker than they thought they would?

Marshall Thornton:

Um, some people have. I'd still I'm still trying not to give that secret away. But you know, I guess it's Oh, I guess it's maybe time. You know, I have started another series that does reference the Boystown books quite a lot. Let's put it that way. So if you if you love that series, you know you can.

Brad Shreve:

So this is an exclusive.

Marshall Thornton:

I haven't really talked about it before. No, I mean, either. Obviously, people have figured it out. Cuz your Year of the Rat, which came out last year, is a new series with a character named Dom Reilley. But it has really very, very strong connections to the Boystown Books and Nick Nowak. So, and I'm actually writing the second one today.

Brad Shreve:

Actually, I think, as you were writing that you told me that one time, I recall that you mentioned

Marshall Thornton:

it I might have I might have it's certainly I haven't actually talked about in any kind of, you know, public way before. But that I mean, it's been an interesting experience to keep it going in a different way.

Brad Shreve:

I need to ask you this. Are you a plotter or a pantser? There's a reason I'm asking you another reason I'm asking.

Marshall Thornton:

why are you asking?

Brad Shreve:

back two years ago, when before I even decided I was going to do a podcast? I was I told you I was thinking about doing one. And you said, Please, please don't ask the authors. Are they a plotter or a pantser? Nobody gives a damn. I gotta tell you, that was the best advice you could give me. Not just because of that question, you made me realize that this show is for readers, not writers. So even though I do get into writing techniques, because it's a part of a writer's life, it's not the focus of the show. So and you put that in the right perspective for me, so I thank you for that very much.

Marshall Thornton:

You're welcome.

Brad Shreve:

Since I asked the question, why don't you tell people what the difference is between a plotter and a pantser?

Marshall Thornton:

Oh, well, certainly, you know, and some people write with outlines, and some people just start writing. And my personal experience, and what I would recommend to anybody is, you know, you have every book is different, and they write themselves in different ways. And certainly, you know, you're at different points in your writing career. And so, you know, it may work one way, when you written 10 books, and it may work an entirely different way, when you've written 20. It all depends. And, you know, both have their advantage. I tend, I don't think I've ever outlined something or plotted something completely full out, because that then becomes a project in itself. And, you know, I mean, certainly if you're like, in the film industry, you have to learn how to write an outline, and you have to learn how to write one that people will respond to because people will read them. But you know, when you're just doing it for yourself in order to get the work done. You know, you really just need to do what's necessary. And whatever works for you.

Brad Shreve:

What I'm curious about this folks out there. You can email me about this is are you interested in in the writing the craft, if you're a reader? reason I ask is, I know that JK Rowling is plotter. And I know that Stephen King is a pantser. And I only know that because I read it, but really, I don't care. I really, I talk to like, I would talk to you maybe about it. Because as writers, you know, maybe saying I'll put you on but do you do how much do you plot but it's more trade talk beyond that what other people do, it's to me it's not interesting. So I don't know, if we're both wrong, leave a message or voicemail or send it send a message and say, you know, what? Bratton, Marshall wrong.

Marshall Thornton:

I do think what you just said is interesting about JK Rowling, because I have been asked, you know, if I plot my series, all the way through, and typically, I actually typically I had never heard at all I didn't, you know, I had no idea how many Boystown books I would write when I wrote the first one. I didn't even know if I would write a second one. And I've never, I've never done that with any series. I typically get an idea for the next book, while writing, whatever, whichever one I'm working on. And I may have several books in mind. But I mean, at the moment, you know, I have no idea how long I've been to write the Pink's books, you just kind of get a feeling, you know, with boys time, I kind of felt like, I think I've done as much as I can in Chicago. And it was time to move on to something else, wildly different. So I don't know. I mean that I don't know how to do that. Because if I write one book a year and a series, I don't want to plot out 10 books, because by the time I get to number nine, I'm going to start to get bored.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I hope you continue the Pinx Video series. I enjoy Boystown. I really enjoyed reading the the Wyandot County mystery which we're going to talk about today. But Pinx video Noah, I so connected with Noah and his friends. I know all of them personally, that you know, hanging out in Silver Lake with this crowd is i So connect with that. So that's why I enjoy the video series. So for my sake, please continue for at least a little while.

Marshall Thornton:

Okay, Brad, just for you.

Brad Shreve:

Thank you. Thank you. So I want to talk about this. So you announced the Boystown was, indeed, the final one came out in 2020. At that time, you were doing the Pinx video series. And the last one of those stopped in 2020. And I'm like, What's up here. And then you started the book, The Less Than Specatular Times of Heny Milch, which was the first Wyandont Count book that came out in 2020, then you did The Year of the Rat. So what you're saying now is going to write another Pinx Video. So we have a Pinx Video series, we have the Wyandot County series, we have the Dom Reilley mysteries, you were really focused for years on one series. And now you have what is that for three or four? At one time? Very good. Three,

Marshall Thornton:

going?

Brad Shreve:

Hi, yeah, how much of a challenge is,

Marshall Thornton:

um, it's not much of a challenge. I mean, I certainly this year, I realized, okay, I'm only going to write mysteries. And so you know, I have an idea for something else I'd like to write and I might be able to squeeze it in. But it's only you know, it's only gonna be difficult if I get a really strong feeling for something else, I want to write that out of that genre. Also, in there was Fathers of the Bride last summer. So that's part of why the others have taken a little bit longer. But typically, you know, I really want to get back to a particular series, I really wanted to get back to the Don Reilly series, and I'm really happy to be in there about, I guess I'm about a quarter of the way through the book. And that's really kind of,

Brad Shreve:

well, the reason I asked for challenging is because the tone and the feel of each of the books is very different. And I'm impressed when somebody can do that. So Well,

Marshall Thornton:

thank you. Thank you. It's actually not that difficult for me. I mean, they're, you know, since I write first persons I write in character. It's just a matter of like, being with that character. So it's, it's just a, it's a larger extension of what you do in a scene with four people. You know, you try to capture the voice of each character.

Brad Shreve:

It's interesting, you bring that up, because I was I read an article you wrote a few years ago in a screenwriters magazine, about the where writers are taught to write what you know, which I always said was stupid, stupid advice, because if you only write what you know, you're only gonna be able to write two or three books in your be done. But actually, that's not necessarily true. Because there's a little of you in every one of your books. You've lived in Chicago with Boystown you lived in in Silver Lake with Pinx Video. Wyandot County, we have that in Michigan, which is where you're currently living. And I've also heard you say that you've described apartments and such that you've lived in. Yeah. So So in a sense, you are writing what you know.

Marshall Thornton:

Absolutely. I mean, I understand you're, you know, when you say that, you don't feel like there's many books if you're just gonna stick to yourself. And there was a time in my life where I was like, whoa, what, right, but you know, I don't know anything. But I began to realize that I do know a lot. And it's easy to put myself in situations that are partially similar. I mean, I certainly never solved a murder. That part of it right, not writing what I, I guess, you know, I have this really great writers group, we've been meeting now again, for two years, we met a lot when I was in school, at UCLA. And, you know, we reconnected during the pandemic, and they're all a little younger than I am. But I'm realizing more and more that you have to always ask yourself, Why me? When you write something, because you have to be able to market it. And you have to sell it to someone in a studio, or you have to sell it as a book. And people really do want to know, why should I read this from you, you know, what gives you the authority to write something. And the authenticity and I mean, not that everybody cares about these issues, but and actually even helps you as a writer to know why you think you're, it's important that you talk about something. And certainly, even you know, as you're talking about my books, I'm actually very grateful that I started the Pinx Video books and set them in Silverlake because that neighborhood is essentially gone. There's one gay bar in that neighborhood, from what I understand. And it's no longer a gay neighborhood. And so I'm very happy that I'm capturing little tidbits of that. In my books.

Brad Shreve:

There actually may be two, there's the Eagle, which used to be the Gauntlet, which used to be something else, it's been changed its name four times. That's still there. Is that okay, and Ahbar really isn't? In Silver Lake but kind of at the fringe, right. But actually, you know what? That's, that's very gentrified. It's it they call themselves a gay bar. But I think if you walked in the door, you wouldn't know it. So you're right. There really is only one. And I was in Silver Lake about decade after you were during the early 2000s. And it was still very much like you described. And I think I I know I've mentioned on the show, and maybe to you, when I started writing my series, Mitch, my protagonist lives in Silver Lake. And I said, you know, I better take a look over there because I live way on the opposite side of LA now. And I pulled up on Google Maps, and I said, Oh, shit, I'm going to have to go for a drive. Because it is because it's a contemporary story. I said, it doesn't look at all like I remember. Sure. I went over there. And it's it's a whole different world. Yeah, it's a whole different world. It's it's very gentrified. It's a it's a nice community, but it's not Silver Lake like I remember like You remember, right, kind of sad. But that's happening everywhere.

Marshall Thornton:

It is. It is and it's very unfortunate.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, West Hollywood is fast vanishing. You told me Boystown is kind of vanishing. The Castro is vanishing. The ghettos are going away. Yes. For good, for better or for worse. I think there's positive and negative with it.

Marshall Thornton:

Yeah, I think the reason they're going away is really sad. You know, people tell you, Oh, it's the apps and it's I don't believe that for a minute. The reason that these places are disappearing is that young people cannot afford to live in these places. You know, when I was a kid, you know, when I was in Boystown, I was in my 20s when I would hang out in Silver Lake I was in my early 30s And those that's the age of the people who really kept these ghettos quote going but you know, it's really challenging to be those ages now and live in these places. Or you know live anywhere that isn't suburban or your your parents basement

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, and while the big joke and it's not really a joke is that the for the Castro one time was a pretty I wouldn't say rundown neighborhood but wasn't the nicest of places and us gays folks moved in and started fixing up the place and can't afford it anymore. And actually the exodus of the Castro's for for several reasons. One like you said it's grossly expensive and I used to live to go to the Castro every weekend. A lot. My friends have left San Francisco in general because they just say the city has too many problems. And it's one of the reasons why Palm Springs exploded as a gay Mecca. I don't know when the last time you were in West Hollywood

Marshall Thornton:

It was a very long time ago.

Brad Shreve:

But you probably wouldn't recognize it either. Well, first of all, there were still a good number of gay bars before the pandemic, the last count I had since the pandemic hit. And I hate to talk about that, but I'm going to bring up anyway, the last time I had is eight bars had closed since the pandemic it including the Faultline, but one really West Hollywood. But anyway, if you go there now, it's very upscale stores, very upscale condominiums, and a lot of homeless camps. There's no in between. Wow. Lots and lots homeless camps. Yeah, it'd been years before I'd been up there. And I drove up that way, my husband and I drove through it on our way to somewhere, just check it out. And I'm like, Oh, my God, this has changed so much. And been there a few times since then. It's still the same.

Marshall Thornton:

Yeah, you thought it brought up an interesting point. It's, you know, it's not just that we can't live in these neighborhoods anymore. But it's also that the bars can't afford to stay there. You know, the real estate cost of the actual businesses. You know, I mean, uh, the gay guy knows that I lived in most of my life, it's like, you know, it wasn't just bars, it was little restaurants, it was little shops, you know, little places that catered to the community. You know, and they were businesses that didn't have an enormous margin. You know, and so now they're like, you know, they can't compete with some name brand plays that everybody sees, you know. And that's really sad. Because now everywhere you go in the country, it's like, it's the same. There's no reason to travel. Because, yeah, like the same stores in this town that I have. It's just like, weird.

Brad Shreve:

You know, it started with the interstates, because every exit had the McDonald's in the same thing. And now it's pretty much all all cities. Yeah, you know, especially if you go to tourist Cities, everyone has a Hard Rock Cafe and, and I can list off all the stores. It's like, why bother anymore? Because it's just gonna be the same thing that you saw the last place, I do actually have a theory. And I want to ask you this. Okay, since we're talking about the, the leases and that sort of thing, now, you lived in Silver Lake and I lived in Silver Lake and we and we know of Circus of Books. And it's pretty obvious that Circus of Books, for those that haven't been in the area or haven't seen the Netflix, special about Circus of Books, it was an adult video store, with magazines. And, and that's primarily what it was, was the videos, and it was very popular. Now, it's easy to say that the internet killed it. I have no doubt that the internet killed Circus of Books. But I have another theory about stores like White Rabbit books that used to be in West Hollywood was there was a big one in New York City that anyway, every major city had the gay bookstore or a few of the Big Gay bookstores, and they're all gone, right? My theory is, because a lot of people are saying, well, gay people aren't reading anymore, especially gay men aren't reading anymore. My theory is all of those bookstores that had the beautiful displays. All we still had that magazine rack, right. And there were always a lot of guys at that magazine rack. And my theory is that those stores sold great gay novels, or nonfiction, gay books. But it was probably those magazines that kept them running. So my thought is, maybe it was the internet that killed them to think there's anything to that?

Marshall Thornton:

Yes, and no, I mean, everything that you could get in a gay bookstore was stuff you could not get somewhere else. You know, I mean, certainly, you know, if you're talking about porno magazines, per se, does barely exist anymore. And I suppose that is internet based phenomenon. I mean, I would also say that, you know, major gay fiction has really shifted, there was a moment in the 90s, where it was really strong and very specific and very authentic. And now, it's, there's not a whole lot of interest in anything like that, you know, what I see on the shelves and I work in a bookstore is stuff that's palatable to straight people, you know, from from major publishers, it's like they're putting, you know, they want to put out things that strike people want to read about gay people about queer people. You know, it's like so there's a lot of books basically answer questions, you know, and not not just in a nonfiction manner, you know, they they answer questions in a fictional way so that, you know, straight people get curious. So they've got relatives and it's like, oh, go to the bookstore. They're, like the major part of the market, which is a little odd. And I kind of I don't I don't know that I believe gay men don't read because I get contact from them a lot. You know, I have a guy send me an email this morning. So, you know, men are reading. And men are reading fiction. So I think that I think in a lot of ways, the major publishers have just abandoned our community. And they don't want to publish books for us. They will publish books that appeal tangentially, but not directly.

Brad Shreve:

What was the the coming out book that was so popular the past? They made a movie on it? I don't remember. I wish I was gonna go on about how much I hated it.

Marshall Thornton:

Are you thinking about Simon?

Brad Shreve:

Yes. Let's say I hated it. It was but it's very much mainstream, it would appeal to both gay and straight audiences. Those that like a schmaltzy story with a shmaltzy ending. That was my opinion on it. At least I haven't read the book, but I did see the movie. And I was like really disappointed at the

Marshall Thornton:

I saw the movie and I read the book, I had different I feel different things about them. You know, the movie, it was kind of like, in a weird way, it was nice to see a gay High School movie taking place in the same non realistic fantasy high school that every other straight High School movie takes place in. Yes.

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Brad Shreve:

Back to the gay men reading, you know, young adult novels are selling like crazy. And then no selling to straight people, I'm sure are straight kids. So I'm happy to see that. And the other thing I will say is one of the reasons I came back to start this podcast is when I started podcasting, I didn't realize I was gonna love it, and I love it. But that wasn't what really brought me back. What really brought me back was all the emails and messenger and tweet messages saying, When are you bringing the show back? Because I said it was going on hiatus, but I really didn't know if it was gonna be a hiatus. I just said that. So I could come back if I wanted to. But there was so much call for it. And I thought that was a good sign. It means people are reading at least the five or six people that listen to the show are reading.

Marshall Thornton:

I would want to point out one thing, but what you just said the young adult novels are only read by young people about half the time there's a huge audience for them amongst older people. It's a big genre, you know, not just because kids are reading.

Brad Shreve:

So let's talk about Henry Milch. Okay, last month, you published A Fabulously Unfabulous Summer for Henry Milch. That is the second of the Henry Milch stories. When I told you I hadn't read the first one you sent me the the first one just so I could get a taste of the story rather than the second one and jumping in, which I appreciate but I will tell you, I really enjoyed it. So I look forward to the next one. So I liked Henry, tell people who Henry is

Marshall Thornton:

the books are set in 2003. Henry is basically a club kid who would then go into the bars in a way west hollywood really enjoying that scene. And he parties a little bit and you know one night he takes too many pills of different sorts one too many and his roommate finds him non responsive and calls an ambulance and he ends up getting 5150 by his mom. And his choices at that point are is to go and rehab or to go and stay with his grandmother on a farm and fictional county called Wyndot County in northern lower Michigan. He ends up there with a funky little job for the Land Conservancy and stumbled across a dead body in the snow one day finds out that there's a reward and he wants to get it so that he can go back to LA

Brad Shreve:

and watch how you when he stumbled on the body. I was like how Okay, I like amateur sleuths and Marshll is good with them. How is he? Why is he going to care enough to investigate this because Noah, I understood why what his motivations were, but I thought, why is Henry Milch, gonna? Why does he care about this body? And, and he did a good job. Thank you. Once I read it, I'm like, oh, that's why he does it. So how is this different than book two? What's new in book two?

Marshall Thornton:

Oh, well, you can tell I don't know what to say. Yeah, that's what I'm trying to think. What can I say? I mean, he is still stuck there. He's still trying to get home. He is still taking pills that he should not be. He's slowly gradually learning things about himself and still trying to you know, try to figure out how to how to get out of there.

Brad Shreve:

I gotta tell you one thing I noticed just maybe putting you on the spot a bit. When you did the Boystown series, you could tell there was a you have a fondness for Boystown. And the same thing with the Pinx Video series talking about Silver Lake. I tell people I grew up in North Carolina. But actually until the age of 10, I lived in Michigan. This story takes place up up north where I lived on in Western Michigan, I lived in the extreme southwest. However, you did a really good job describing Michigan it took me home.

Marshall Thornton:

Oh, thank you.

Brad Shreve:

That being said it was It wasn't as shown in as good a light as the other stories. Oh, is that a reflection of your interpretation of where you're living now?

Marshall Thornton:

Yes, no. I mean, I'm certainly you know, he's a 24 year old kid, and I don't really know that I'd want to be a 24 year old gay kid here. That makes it more problematic. You know, where I live, it's a purple County, you know, which means that I need a lot of people who are very liberal and very cool, and who I enjoy quite a lot. And then, you know, I meet a lot of people that I don't really want to finish the conversation. Who are challenging and difficult? So, you know, it's, it's a little different, you know, not that, you know, in LA, you know, yeah, you're gonna meet some people who are conservative and dickwads about it, but it happens more frequently up here, I think. And you know, and it happens in a way that's different. You know, you can be walking in the grocery store, somebody starts talking about how horrible Hillary Clinton is, and, you know, that kind of thing. So, honestly, I don't know where I'd live in the world. If I had tons of money, I'd really kind of gotten to the place where I'm here. It's affordable. There's a lot to like about it. So I'm focused on a personal basis, I'm focused on what I like about it, what I enjoy about it, the people I enjoy here, you know, I'm doing what's in front of me. You know, which is not you know, Henry Milch is, you know, he's not someone who's that mature. So he's not really thinking in those terms.

Brad Shreve:

Ocracok Island in North Carolina, and I love the island. And when I was in my early 20s, I almost bought a restaurant there because I loved it so much. And now I look back, and I'm like, it's a village of maybe 700 people and K through 12 is one small building. What would a 20 year old gay man be doing? They're like, in a year, I would have been going crazy. So yeah, I can see why Miss Northern Michigan would not be the best places for a, a young gay man. Since you're there. I know you grew up when you were younger, in Northern New York. And you've lived in various parts of the country. And now you're in Michigan and you're actually having a house built. Where would you say home is?

Marshall Thornton:

Hmm, that's an interesting question. I mean, home is, you know, where my stuff is, where I am, where my dog is, where I have friends, you know, those things are very important. I mean, I've been kind of floating around in people's guest houses for several years and I'm very much looking forward to getting my stuff out of storage and being in a home that's that is completely mind. You reminding me though, that, you know, people ask me, Do I miss LA? Do I miss Chicago? And it's like, I started to answer them in a different way. I miss LA in the 90s. I miss Chicago in the 80s. And you know, that is one of the things that I love about what I do is that I can visit and I know that if I went to LA tomorrow if I went to Long Beach tomorrow, there are certain things that I would enjoy. But then I'd also be scanning around going this place is no longer familiar. You know, I've been gone for six years. And it's like, this is not the same place. You know, it's like, the places that I lived, that I enjoyed, when I was there are gone. So

Brad Shreve:

do you, in a sense, feel like you don't have a place?

Marshall Thornton:

Um, yeah, I mean, I felt that on and off in the last few years, but I'm looking forward to having my own home again. Definitely. Definitely. So, I mean, I try to I mean, I, once again, I try to do what's in front of me, so I don't really dwell any, any more than I have to on what's, you know, not working. I just tried to make it work.

Brad Shreve:

I want to get back to Henry Milch. Okay. Because one thing I found interesting is I hear a lot of advice given to new writer that advice is don't make pop references, because then your book becomes dated?

Marshall Thornton:

Well, I think the you know, I mean, some people would call me a nostalgia writer, because they do specifically write about periods of time. And, you know, you have to put those references in to make the reader feel that that's where they are, it becomes as important as a setting important is character. I would say that, you know, part of the reasons that books date is because they're not specifically set in time. I mean, in a way my books don't really date, because they begin that way, you know, so the first Boystown books are always going to be sat in 1981, you know, and so it's coming to them, when I published them, and started publishing them in 2009. It still it's the same experience now as it was then. Whereas even even amongst my own books, you know, I really enjoyed writing Fathers of the Bride. I did not set that in time. It's sort of in a non COVID world. It's sort of contemporary, non covid world and I know, in 10 years, it's going to be a little awkward to read that book. You know, because you're going to be wondering things. Like, when is this happening? Where is this? What is going on? You know? So in some respects, I think actually setting your book in time is wiser. Although I once got in trouble with a reader, because I've written about Side Tracks in Chicago several times. And I didn't happen to remember where a particular beer cooler was. And I got busted. You know, one thing I've learned is that, in writing about places that I've been, over time, it's I look back, and it's like, okay, I should have spent a lot more time there. And a lot more time there. Because it's like, oh, you know, I, I think I went to Side Tracks twice, you know. So I sort of invested more in my future by spending more time in bars, I guess.

Brad Shreve:

So this should be a little bit about me, but because I'm rolling up to you. In my first, my first book, Mitch has a love interest in his very, very, very slow burn, very slow burn. And people latched on to it much more than I thought they would. In the second book, I'll just say there was trouble. And the reason I'm bringing this up is I don't try to read my reviews. But I did read one in Goodreads. And somebody was very disappointed that the relationship was going sour, and they were worried it was not going to continue. And the comment they made is, and I'm not going to name the books, because I don't want to give any spoilers away. They said, I hope Brad is not doing the same thing that Marshall Thornton did in blank, or Jeffrey Round did in blank. So the protagonist can work through other love interests and make it interesting. What do you have to say about that? To me, they're saying I should write to market.

Marshall Thornton:

Yes. And but even writing to market can lead you astray. And you need to write what works for the character and what works for your how you feel about relationships. And I mean, I've done a lot of different things in 30 bucks. So it's, I've don't always want to do the same thing as well. So I mean, I know that there are people out there who didn't like Nick because he's sort of promiscuous in the 80s. But that, you know, that turned out to be. When I started out in 2009, I was working with a publisher who will who published romance And erotica. And I wasn't really interested in writing romance. So I put a lot of sex in those first books. And then I do read my reviews. And I do listen to what people have to say. And you know, I saw that, you know, it wasn't really being enjoyed. And so I began to kind of tone down what I was doing, which, you know, for the Boystown books I thought worked really quite well, because of the AIDS crisis and the way that that played out in the books timewise. And eventually, you know, the last Boystown book doesn't have any sex at all. And I actually didn't see a lot of complaints about that. So that's that. I mean, I, some of the sex I thought was very important. And sometimes sex is very important to a book. So if you are writing about something where it is the point, that's great. And certainly, you know, one of the things I've learned about readers is that they want to read the same thing again, and again, except they want it to be different. And so when you to thing that you bring to it that's different is part of what they really wanted, you know, then they're disappointed. And certainly, you know, there's a lot of books out there with, which are really more romance first and mystery. Second, if people are looking for that, they're not going to be very happy with what I do.

Brad Shreve:

Well, and I feel the same way. And I really don't know where I'm taking that I haven't made the decision. But I will tell you that I'm feeling this pull that I should write to market, which means people want to see them together and have a happily ever after. And I read you wrote something that I've said on this show many times, in mysteries, the Happily Ever After is, you know, justice served at the end, one way or another. But that's not what it means to everybody. Right? So I'm getting this pull, and I don't know where I'm going to go with it yet. But I'm in a roundabout way I'm I'm asking this there are Facebook groups that I'm sure you're familiar with, that are specifically dedicated on how to, let's say, Get Rich writing books. And what they teach people is research with the market is right now. So okay, this month shifter, romance novels are really popular. Quickly get out of shifter romance novel. Oh, you know what, next month, bisexual adventures are really popular, right? A bisexual adventure? Could you write like that?

Marshall Thornton:

Um, no, I think it's ultimately a bad time. A bad a bad idea. Sorry. Um, and I think the times that I've come close to doing that are trying to do that and not work out. For me. The the things that have worked out best for me are, you know, when I do the thing that's unique to me. You know, when I have a clear idea, I understand why I want to write it when it matters to me along the way, one of the things I realized is, you know, I have done blogging here and there and which is basically bitching in public. And I've run across issues and thought, oh, you know, that really bugs me, I want to blog about that. And when I wrote my book found, that's actually where that came from, is that I thought, oh, I should write a blog about how, how feminine men are treated in the gay community. And then I thought, don't do that write a book. And so eventually, I wrote that book as a response to something I saw. So you know, it wasn't that exactly personal experience. But it's, you know, something that I was really interested in and didn't was bugged by, you know, something's bugging you. But actually, it's better to put it into a book that it is to put it into a blog because can examine it more and spend less time arguing with people online.

Brad Shreve:

And Fem got a lot of really good recognition, I should add to it very well. Gregory Ashe and CS Poe, both write books that are about I consider them almost 50/50 Romance mystery. They are probably the dividing line. I wouldn't go any beyond them. And I was talking to Greg one day on the phone, and I brought up I said, you know, you're smarter than me. How did you do this? And Greg said, I just wrote what I wanted. I can't write romance, because I'm not that interested in romance.

Marshall Thornton:

So you're not a romance reader.

Brad Shreve:

A little bit of romance. And I'm not gonna say, I'm not gonna say I didn't enjoy it. I'm trying to think of the one that you wrote that you had me read. Oh, my goodness. It's a recent one. Code. Oh, Code Name, Liberty. Now, that was mostly romance. It wasn't entirely just romance, and I enjoyed that. But as a rule, it's not I'm not going to go to the bookshelf and grab a romance, my husband will but I am not.

Marshall Thornton:

One of the things that I talk about will talk to new writers, talk to old writers who are working and you know, then this issue comes up a lot of you know, what should I write how do I become successfull. And the thing is, it's a Venn diagram, you know, you have to find the intersection of the thing that's in your heart and the market. So most writers have a lot of ideas. And I encourage people to find that sweet spot. And I think, you know, one of the reasons that I really enjoy writing genre fiction, as opposed to literary fiction is that I get to write about anything I want to as long as I put it into a structure, you know, the structure of a mystery or the structure of a romantic comedy, you know, and then you can write anything. It's a particular path to write literary fiction. And that's really something you can only do through major publishers. Finding that path is very difficult. And so genre, this allows you a lot of freedom that it's hard to find elsewhere. we've strayed from your question.

Brad Shreve:

I actually had a response that I don't remember what it was, but we'll move on. I want to touch on something controversial that came up, I think was two years ago, that was Lambda Literary decided to combined these to have lesbian mystery and gay mystery. And they've combined them together. I don't know what it's called. Is it LGBTQ mystery, or queer mystery? I don't know. But they combined them together. And you chose to write a public letter stating why you weren't happy with this and said, you would no longer be submitting books to Lambda Literary, which is quite astounding for somebody that has been recognized so much as you have care to talk about that.

Marshall Thornton:

Sure.

Brad Shreve:

What upsets you

Marshall Thornton:

I did actually submit this year, people gave a living, let me explain. The problem I saw was that, you know, they said that they were being more inclusive, which I disagree with, because they actually reduce the number of awards. Their top categories have awards that are specific to trans people, and specific to bisexual people, or grouped for them. And consequently, there are more awards in poetry, for example, and more awards and nonfiction for all these different groups. And by collapsing the genre categories, they're basically saying they're not important. They're not as important as the see other words, and the thing is, you know, if you really sit down and think about it, the literary fiction Awards, the poetry award, those are, you know, the nonfiction does it the books that come from big publishers, and very little self publishing at that level. And so of course, they're not collapsing those. So I found it very problematic. I also find it very difficult in the sense that I've been entering that contest said for like, 10 years and thought a lot about how books are judged. And, you know, it is a very subjective process. And for a category like a mystery, you can decide to award books because of a career, or you can decide to award on the basis of which book is a better mystery, or the basis or you can set the criteria as being held literary as the book, or the criteria can be is how gay is the book. So there's a lot of different ways to look at just simply gay mystery. And then you throw in different sexualities and different gender expect expressions and have them compete with each other, you know, then you have to sit down with a scorecard. And you know, after five years, you have to say, Oh, well, you know, nobody bisexual has has ever won since the category has been collapsed. And so now we really need to give it to someone who's bisexual who's written a bisexual book. And, you know, that's really skews the whole thing. So anyway, I have no problem with it. I did. However, I do have to say, this year, I entered my book, Fathers of the Bride, into the gay romance category, which still exists. And I've heard that they tried to collapse that and the outcry was incredible. And so they didn't. So I don't know why it's acceptable to have separate categories there but not elsewhere.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I will say when you posted the letter, I agreed with you 100%. I'm a little swayed the other way now, but I will tell you what my big concern is more than anything. Everybody I know that has been a judge for Lambda Literary has said, it is outrageously difficult to try and read all the books that are submitted. And sometimes you have to judge on a very small section of the book, whether you're going to continue or not. Right. So now I picture the see is that pile has doubled for those folks. So I don't know how it can be done effectively.

Marshall Thornton:

One of the things that they did at the same time, which went relatively unnoticed is that they stopped publishing the entries. You know, previous to that change, they would publish every book that had entered your right. So you could see that there were 30 or 40 gay mysteries in competition for the eight slots. And now, they don't show that anymore. So I mean, I really have no idea how many books have been entered into the mystery category. If other people didn't stop, then there's, like, 70 books. 80 books. Yeah. So I mean, it becomes less and less appealing to send them $65, a book to be considered amongst this crowd of books that are very dissimilar from yours.

Brad Shreve:

And I hadn't even realized they did that. I know in the past, Jon Michaelson, the author who created the Gay Fiction, Mystery Suspense Thriller Group on Facebook, whenever someone would submit to Lmbda Literary and it would be posted that they received their book, he would go way to go, Marshall. Way to go, Brad. That didn't happen in your right. There was a reason we didn't know who submitted. This is where I spin the wheel and randomly get a question. They're they're questions that are, as I said, awkward or difficult to answer or sometimes they're just downright rude. And I'm gonna spin the wheel and we're gonna see what you get. Are you ready? Sure. Okay, Marshall, with you I cheated. I did not choose a random question. I created one based on something I read. Just so the listeners know every week now when I have a guest, I asked them to write a blog post. And you can go to the website queer writers of crime.com and there's a place that says guest blog and Marshall submitted one that actually is very interesting, so good. It's a good post. Thank you, Marshall. And the title of it is How to Read a Mystery. And I'm gonna ask you a question from that because you talk about all the different mysteries categories that are out there you talk about the puzzles, suspenseful the mysteries, the cozy mysteries, police procedurals, pi, amateur sleuth, etc. If you are going to go to the store to library and pick out a mystery, and I'm sure you probably read all the above, which one of those are you most likely to go for?

Marshall Thornton:

I go through periods. I do like procedurals and several of the series that I follow are procedurals. But I also do like cozies. I've read several series with women protagonists that I enjoy quite a lot. But then conversely, I really like Michael Connelly's Bosch books, which are nothing like a cozy or a female protagonist. So I do really enjoy series, I will always choose a series over a standalone because I'd like the long term development of the character.

Brad Shreve:

I'm with you there i much more enjoy series than a standalone. You made me think of something that I've always thought Pinx Video you call a cozy series. It is kind of on the fringe though. I don't know. There's a lot of people that would say that is not a cozy Oh, yeah. I question it. I love the books. Under what definition? Do you consider that a cozy?

Marshall Thornton:

Well, you know, cozy is feature an amateur investigative character, as I call them, and he's definitely an amateur. Normally, I think one of the variances is that, you know, cozies are supposed to take place in a village. And I think for me, silver like kind of stands in for that. It's it's in LA and certainly I do use all of LA when I write the books, but it's in a particular part, you know, it's in a particular social group. The books take place amongst queer people, you know, in Silver Lake mainly a largely gay man, and so that's a smaller group. So it's like, it is a sort of village to me. Definitely, you know, they're not supposed to have a lot of islands and I do buy like that a little bit here and there. And, you know, they're not they're supposed to have a lot of swearing that's, you know, kind of fudge that one a little bit too. So, but he does keep tripping over bodies, which is a very cozy thing to do.

Brad Shreve:

Mm hmm. That's what I love about amateur sleuths. Yes.

Marshall Thornton:

And I like it. I'm making fun of that. You know, because they talk about it. I do know that the next book would tell you to write in the fall. That's going to be called Help Wanted and, and it will start out with him talking about how thank God he has not seen a dead body in six months.

Brad Shreve:

That's awesome. Well, Marshall, it is a pleasure to have you back on. I want you to give the name of your book again, the latest book,

Marshall Thornton:

a Fabulously Unfabulous Summer for Henry Milch.

Brad Shreve:

And you folks as always, I'm no surprise I will have a link in the show notes to purchase the book. And it's a pleasure to have you back. I think this is the third time you've been on fact I'm sure it is. Very few people have been on three times. Welcome back. We'll have to have you on again.

Marshall Thornton:

Okay.