Ep: 120 When ReQueered Tales obtained the rights to Grant Michael's Stan Kraychik series, they never expected to come upon an unpublished 7th novel in the series. That novel, Do-Si-Do with Death publishes in May 2022.
Ep: 118 Brad has interviewed three of the 2022 Lambda Literary Award nominees for Best LGBTQ Mystery. Now, it's Justene's Turn to say a Word About One of the Novels We Haven't Discussed.
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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 00:23
Philip Bahr, you are back to give us your book recommendation. This is your week to do it. I want to hear who you are going to recommend.
Well, Brad, this month, I have a very special novel to share with everyone and the novel is being released this month, which is May of 2022. It's called A Do-Si-Do with Death, a Stan Kraychik Mystery book severn, Which is for those of us who are Stan Kraychik Mystery fans. Mystery Book Seven is pretty much of a an amazing feat. And it's by Grant Michaels. So before we jump into the book, I just want to read something from Justene I had Justene, email me some thoughts that she had about how this book came to be in the possession of ReQueered Tales and how they were able to publish it. It's pretty incredible.
Brad Shreve 01:15
And I'm gonna stop you there cuz everybody knows if you've listened to so regularly. Justene used to be the person every week that did book recommendations, but she is one of three people that owns ReQueered Tales. So that is why he's getting a quote from her. Right. I love that all three decided to start this company.
Me too. Me too. So Justene says when we began ReQueered Tales, Grant Michaels was one of our primary targets. We had to thread our way through his real name, the county where he died, the lawyer from the probate records to the executor of his estate, who then put us in touch with the man who held the rights. The papers had all been donated to the Boston Athenian, which only had possession. When we began publishing the books, Lee and Wallace, who wrote the foreword to this final book, told us there was a seventh book, which had been edited by Greg Heron back to the authentic Miam, which had the fully edited manuscript located within the grant Michaels papers, we got the right to publish from the rights holder, and here we are. When we started looking, I thought there was no way we'd ever get this book. So bring it out now is immensely satisfying. So the book again is A Do-Si-Do with Death. It's grant Michaels seventh and final book in The Stan Kraychik Mystery book series. First of all, I'm happy to say that it passes the Shreve test, which, which those of you who may have heard a previous book recommendation I did, I've created the Shreve test, which means that Brad loves it when a book can be read in a series and without having read all the books. So it's a standalone it can stand on his own. So definitely A Do-Si-Do with Death is, is one of those books. So you don't have to have read the previous six books to read this book.
Brad Shreve 03:05
I liked that you named it after me. I'm honored. But we'll have to put that in the dictionary.
Well, you know, I before before I started listening to Queer Writers of Crime, I never really thought of that. And you're the one that really put that into my head. And it does make perfect sense, we should be able to pick these books up at any point read them, they make sense. And then if we want to go back and read all the previous books in the series, so And let
Brad Shreve 03:29
me tell you from a writer's perspective, it is very hard to do. Because you're thinking of a new reader, right? You want them to know who the character is, but the person that has read the series, you don't want to bore them. Yeah. Yeah. So it does take skill to do that.
Yeah. So I think like Grant Michaels, there's a little bit he has a little bit of explaining at different points in the books, but I feel like it's done very casually, and it catches up that new reader, which is what you were just talking about. It's done very well. There is however, one particular spoiler for a secondary character. Now, I'm not going to give any spoilers obviously, but there is when you read this book, one particular spoiler, so if you do start with book seven, the book that I'm talking about today, you'll know something significant that happens to Lieutenant Bronco. And there's also a change in Stan's living situation which happens in a previous book, but those are really the only two spoilers that that might give you more information than you need to know for the previous books. So obviously Bronco is back. Nicole is back who owns snipped salon, which is where Stan worked full time for for many of the books. So he started out the series as a full time hairdresser. The location is in Boston, it's during the 1990s. The series really runs between 1990 and 2000. Benji's also back then she worked with Stan and Nicole early on and now works for a tech company. And he's also got it really bad for Stan. So that's, that's that's a great sort of interaction between Benji and Stan, especially during this book because Benji really has stands back through a lot of this book. So there's another test that I love to do for myself. And that's whenever I read a really good series and really get sort of wrapped up in a good series, like I have with Stan Kraychek, I think about what I call The Rhoda Test. So, Brad, do you have any ideas about what The Rhoda Test.
Brad Shreve 05:24
when you said that I can only think of Rhoda on Mary Tyler Moore.
So that's exactly what it is. So for me The Rhoda Test is I love this show. I either love this TV show. I love this book series. Who is there anyone that could spin off into their own series? And I say yes to Nicole. And I say yes to Benji. So it's really bittersweet that Grant's no longer with us because I think that the two of them would make really fun lead characters for their own series of books. And in particular, Benji refers to Stan throughout the book as Penny, which is very sweet and very funny. Stan's got copper colored hair. So hence, you know, the penny is made from copper, it really makes for a very sweet and endearing nickname. And it also reminded me of my group of gay friends from my 20s and 30s, which my 30s took place during this time period during the 90s. We all had nicknames for each other. It was very silly, but it was also very sweet and sincere as well. So so throughout the entire book, every time Benji is in a store, he's like, Penny, let me ask you about this. What do you think about this? And it doesn't get it does not get old. It's just very sweet and very funny. So aside from those three major secondary characters, Grant Michaels, A Do-Si-Do, gets its name from the famous call in square dancing. I had to sort of look that up to make sure I had that right. And you probably guessed it by this point, the story revolves around a gay country western weekend in Boston. So the mucho macho, huncho dance convention. I'm gonna say that again. The mucho macho huncho Dance Canet convention is an inaugural event that the promoters hope to go national with. It's kind of a gay country western traveling show. So that's really where all the action of this novel takes place. And it all happens within one weekend. It's really fun.
Brad Shreve 07:16
When you say a pass The Rhoda Test. I presume you're talking about the first two seasons. Spoiler alert. Because once Rhoda broke up with Joe, the show went down the toilet.
It really did.
Brad Shreve 07:31
But the first two years were pretty good. Y
eah. first two years were good. Yeah, it's really true. Once they got divorced, it was all downhill
Brad Shreve 07:39
. It was all slapsticky and silly but in anyway, The Rhoda Test. I liked that name. So we'll, we'll let you go with that. All right,
thank you. So there's also some new characters. Obviously, every book has new characters. So we've got Miss Fannie Mae Knox, who in the beginning of the book is known as the pink lady. She's the stories drag queen, very mysterious, very snarky as a lot of drag queens can be when they're when they're on duty. She's also the co owner of the club where the event is taking place. There's also Paladin and Chester, which are a gay male couple that are competing in the dance contest. During the convention. Chester reminds Stan of his first love and fifth grade. So there's this moment that grant Michael sort of sets up that I just have to read this from that this quote from the book because it's so sort of silly, but also very grant Michaels. This is Stan now talking about Chester, he says, "But I hardly hear him speak. His gentle and inviting face has usurped my senses. And I am overcome and I am overcome with a memory of my first true love a boy in the fifth grade, even back then before I had any notion of homosexual even then I had wanted to run off and live with Him forever in perpetual grade school bliss." So he has this moment I guess, where he thinks back on his puppy love from from elementary school and sort of supplants that on to Chester even though he's never met Chester, and he's not talked to Chester. And Chester somehow just sparks this memory for him. So there's some other fun characters kind of kooky characters actually. So the deejays name is are you ready for this? Yes, I am. So the DJs name is Colt Remington.
Brad Shreve 09:23
That sounds like a soap opera name. It or or porn star name?
Yes, it's definitely soap opera porn star. Yeah, so Colt Remington is the DJ. He's got a body like armor and his ego is pretty much the size of New England, I would say. There's also Wang Chu, who is also known as kitty. She's actually he's known as kitty throughout the whole book. He's the costume designer, so everybody goes to him for their costumes for the competition. And then there's somebody named Boustany Evans and I'm not making that name up. I'm not mispronouncing that name. It's Busteni Evans. She's the promoter and creator of the convention. And then there's Heather, the bartender who is also a co owner of the club with Miss Fannie Mae Knox. So those are sort of the cast of characters. Some of them, some of them fun and light and fluffy. And then others are, of course, because it's a murder, mystery hunters tend to be a little darker. There's a surprising amount of diversity in the book for the late 90s, which I think proves that things happen over time changes happen over time, and not just overnight, like some people in social media might think today. So there's conversations a quick conversation about the difference between the words queer and gay, which that did come about during the 90s. There's some different differently abled dancers performing in wheelchairs, which is a lot of fun. They call themselves loco moco Mavericks. And there's a whole bunch of young guys that are in wheelchairs that are dancing in the competition. And then even though this is pretty much like a gay male event, there's straight and gay characters mixed up throughout the whole thing. And someone even accuses Stan of being a hetero phobe at some point, which made me laugh, laugh out loud, completely. So. So before the actual murder happens, what we are, what we are handed is there are a number of items that go missing. And that's really what pulls Stan into the mystery of the book. Bronco, bring Stan in stands just recently gotten his PI license. So he's actually able to officially help the police in this capacity. So there's a pair of collar tabs that go missing. And then also an antique belt buckle. And both of those things sort of weave their way through the entire book. And then when we finally get to the murder, which turns out into two murders, the chase, that's when the chase is really on at that point. So as I mentioned, Stan now can officially work with the police. You know, Bronco works reluctantly, with Stan throughout this book, he doesn't really trust Stan, but he needs Stan's expertise, because this is obviously a weekend in the LGBT community. And because Stan is a gay man and out and a part of this community, he really needs his help so and Stan because of certain changes in his life has a lot of free time. So he can really focus 100% of his attention on this case. So he's not exactly welcomed with open arms. But by the end of the book, he and Bronco with the help of Benji, they really solve the case together. So I think grant Michaels, one of the things I love about his writing is that he has the habit of having Stan say something and he does sort of three different things. He'll have Sam Stan say something as dialogue, then the next paragraph is what Stan is thinking. And then the third paragraph ends up being Stan speaking directly to the audience, which is us. So he's like breaking the third, the fourth wall with us. It's very funny throughout the book, and even now, I'm not going to reveal the murderer because that would be horrible for me to do. But when he does reveal the murderer, it's hysterical because he says quote, it's so and so whoever the murderer is, it's so and so. And then it says comma, but you knew that. So like he's assuming that because we've read the last couple of pages we've you know, the audience has figured out who it is so very funny and very sort of inside joke on his on his part. I just thought the book was just funny and witty, it's fast paced, it's really a lovely cozy, and it really makes me miss grant Michaels a lot. He's been gone now for 13 years. So this is like an incredible gem and such a gift to have. So again, I want to thank ReQueered Tales for all of the work that that the three partners did on earthing this jam. So this is A Do-Si-Do with Death, Stan Kraychik Mystery book number seven by Grant Michaels and it drops on May 24 of 2022. So check wherever you buy your books from and either preorder it or get it now.
Brad Shreve 13:49
How did they handle the queer issue?
That's a really great, great question. But before I answer that, I do want to mention that obviously Stan has been an amateur sleuth throughout this whole series. So by book seven, and I guess this is a this isn't really a spoiler, but he does get as I mentioned already, he gets his PI license. But he really continues to sort of be an amateur sleuth, because he has to sort of bumble through things because Bronco the lieutenant that is the cop that he works with just doesn't he doesn't quite trust him completely yet. So it's a still a lot of fun with the story even in book seven as an amateur Sleuth. And then as far as your question goes, Brad, it was a very short comment. But basically, someone was using one of the characters was using the word gay, somebody else started using the word queer. And it really was Stan that basically says, I don't have a preference. You can call you know, you can refer to me as gay. You can refer to me as queer, it's fine, whichever is fine. So it was not a huge thing, but I thought it was a nice touch and also because we are really in this transitional period right now in 2022. We're a mountain of people Barbara and a huge part of the community has started to embrace the word queer. It was nice to see that that was included all the way back in the in the 90s. In a book,
Brad Shreve 15:08
yeah, that is surprising. Yeah. The reason I asked is when I decided to change the name of the show from gay mystery podcast to Queer Writers of Crime, it was a bit of a controversy. And I did it for diversity sake, because lesbians today, at one time, they said, I'm a gay woman. In fact, Ellen, when she came out on her show, she said, I'm gay. Right. But that has passed. Yeah. And so I wanted to be inclusive of lesbians, trans bisexual individuals. So that's why I used to queer plus, I used to hate word queer. And I like it now because I don't have to say that whole damn alphabet. Right? Right. Because that just drives me crazy. But there was a lot of controversy when I was going to change the name because I did announce on Facebook in a group, what do you guys think about this? And I think it was equal. Don't do it, and how dare you do that. But it was, say in Twitter, somebody sent me a message that said, you should know better. And he called me some names. And he said, I'm not following you anymore. i He's still following me. I don't he probably doesn't listen to the show. But he still follows me. But I had a minimum of 12 people sent me a message that said, thank you.
Oh, there you go. There you go.
Brad Shreve 16:28
So times are changing.
Yeah. And you know, I have a take on that as well, because I as I mentioned, like I was I was in my 30s. During the 1990s. I lived in New York City. And it was during the AIDS crisis. And after the AIDS after act up was around for a while there was a another group that started up and it really gained a lot of momentum, but it isn't remembered as much as the as ACT UP is. But it came along at the same around the same time and it was called queer nation. And you know, that, that there was that whole thing about we're here, we're queer, get used to it. So I think that from my vantage point of living through that time, and now living in this time, I think that the word queer, you know, obviously, originally, it was meant as a derogatory comment like faggot and dyke and all this stuff, then we re embraced it in the 90s. But it was more of a political, it was a political word, it was a word of anger, we re embraced the word. Now I really see the word queer as being, as you mentioned, it's it's inclusive. And it's also it's an easy word to use. So it's no longer I don't think it has politics connected to it. I don't think it has anger connected to it. And I don't think it has anything derogatory connected to it. It's literally just the queer community because then it includes gender, sexuality, you know, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non binary, asexual, any, anybody that's under that umbrella can embrace just one word. And I think it makes it a lot easier for the rest of us to talk
Brad Shreve 17:55
only one I'm not real fond of is you have a which one is asexual and the other is Ally. I'm thrilled that people are allies. But come on. That just that just opens it up to many people.
And I think we're all evolving. That's the great thing about I think this, I think this time period that we live in is so exciting, because we are so many people are coming out of the closet in so many different ways with their gender and sexuality. And it's like, I'm so happy to see the young people taking a lead. And it's just I think there's a lot of positive things coming out right now. And I'm just thrilled. I'm really thrilled.
Brad Shreve 18:37
Thank you. This sounds great.
Yeah, it's so cool that they I mean, how much work they had to do the record people had to do to get this but it's so worth it. It really. And for anybody that read the sixth book a long time ago, this is going to be such a such a treat. And if you haven't read any of the books, and you're a you're a cozy mystery fan, definitely check these out. They're really wonderful.
Brad Shreve 19:01
Well, thank you so much, and we'll see you next month, I guess.
Absolutely. Thanks, Brad.
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