June 15, 2021

Shane K. Morton's Drag Queens Aren't A Drag

Shane K. Morton's Drag Queens Aren't A Drag

Ep:088 - Shane K Morton is a best-selling own voices author of LGBT romance, mystery and YA. Showing the LGBTQIA human condition in his work is important to him because visibility is everything. He writes darker horror/mystery under the name Sean Azinsalt. Before writing novels, he was a playwright and musical theatre actor who has performed in all 50 United States as well as three countries. His films have played at film festivals around the country. He is married to his husband and they have been together for twenty years. When not writing Shane can be found at a film festival or singing cabaret in a dark dive bar.

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Shane K. Morton's Drag Queen Detective Series on Amazon

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Death Trick by Richard Stevenson

Long Live The Queen by Jon R. Swank

Brad Shreve's Website


Transcript
Brad Shreve:

In this episode, Justene gives a book recommendation to a classic author. who's one of my favorites. Plus she has an honorable mention. In addition, I have Shane K Morton to talk about a drag queen and not just a drag queen. A drag queen that solves murders. I'm Brad Shreve and you're listening to Queer Writers of Crime, where we feature LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense, and thriller novels. This week listeners, I have a special treat for you because of technical difficulties. You don't have to listen to me babble on and on at the beginning of the show. Fortunately Justene's book recommendation was saved and you'll get to hear it now. Think you probably have a book to share with us.

Justene:

I do. I do. I do

Brad Shreve:

Well, I'm on pins and needles to hear about it.

Justene:

Well, you're going to have to wait a longer to hear about it because I've got an honorable mention here as, as you know, and maybe as the listeners can guess, I go through a lot of books trying to find what I recommend. and some weeks there's a lot, but one that I think is an honorable mention is a Texas Hill Country Mystery Novel book, one in that series Long Live the Queen. and it's by John Swank. And it's an also ran because the first long part of the book is all relationship building and getting together. And it's not really a romance, but it's relationship building and the dead body shows about halfway through the book. And then the real mystery is the last quarter of the book. So since, crime is not prime, it doesn't warrant a recommendation here, but, the mystery at the end is pretty good.

Brad Shreve:

And that's Texas Hill Country.

Justene:

Texas Hill Country Mysteries book one, and it's called Long Live. The Queen first, let me just say the first three quarters, not only is it relationship building, but he stays and to the PhD level, and this is lot, a lot of discussion of ants. Now, not everybody is into that, but I could turn on a documentary about paperclips and I'd be fascinated by that. So I really like all the scientific discussion of ants.

Brad Shreve:

And sometimes when you don't think you're going to be that interested, once you start it, it's kinda cool.

Justene:

it's well-written and, uh, anyway, it's an honorable mentioned. Let me get on today's book.

Brad Shreve:

I actually, I want to stress one thing I only have to, I only have to read one book a week because depending on who the guest is So I'm lucky, but I, well, I want to stress again. Justene goes through a lot of books, folks. She doesn't just read one and say, okay, I'm going to promote this book. She really believes this is a good recommendation when she does one. I just wanted to get that in. Now you can speak.

Justene:

Okay. Well, several weeks in a row, I had gotten lucky with the first book, but last week it was a bit of a slog. So this is called Death Trick by Richard Stevenson. And it is the first in the, Donald Strachey private eye novels, which have become, legendary. Many have been made into some films and, they've spanned a lot of time. He just came out, I think with, I think book 16. Do you know offhand Brad? How far he's gotten.

Brad Shreve:

Ah, no, but I can look it up while you talk.

Justene:

Okay, that sounds good. So this book, this is the first book it came out originally in 1981. The version that's out there has been released in 2008 with a author's note on, Kind of looking back with perspective on what it was. He says that it came out in the spring of 1981, which is around the time that AIDS was starting when they were still calling it the gay cancer. But this book is set in pre-AIDS times and it's the only Donald Str achey book set in that time. So. As you can imagine, there are an awful lot of like, overlapping relationships so-and-so slept with so-and-so supple so-and-so's so-and-so or so-and-so, and the bars and the nightclubs and that whole scene, which went away for a very long time. Donald Strachey he has a boyfriend, Timmy. They seem to have no problem. They seem to be generally monogamous, but you know, occasionally step out, and that doesn't disrupt their relationship at all. So what happens is that Donald Strachey every now and then in the course of the investigation needs to sleep with a witness to get information out of them. The mystery this time is a very wealthy, suburban couple in Albany, New York, hires him to find their son, their gay son, who has been accused of murder. And they are disapproving of his life cycle. And along the way, Don gets, suspicious of them and what their true intentions are. And. What are the alternatives to jail that they have come up with that they're not sharing. And he's also pretty clear that the young man, Billy Blond has not committed this murder. And he runs into a lot of Billy friends, all of whom his name, he has not committed this murder. I'm not quite sure when what information he had to make that final click, where he suddenly started, you know, he realized who the real murderer was and went out there, uh, knew who it was and was going after him convinced the police officer Sergeant, who has this antagonistic relationship convinced him that this was the murderer. But at the end, when he tells you how he puts it all together, that makes sense. It's a very satisfying mystery on this point. Crime is prime. The relationships are all secondary, certainly not a romance. But it's interesting to see what the gay community was like in those last pre-AIDS days.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. And actually I can say this because. When I had, Richard Stevens on, as a guest, we talked about this openly, when the first novels began, it is the very early eighties and they did it. Wasn't wild, but yeah, had the kind of, sort of hinted that they had an open relationship or there, there were troubles here and there. As the book progressed past the AIDS crisis, you saw much less of that, which is very true to what happened in society.

Justene:

Yes. Yes. And, and that's why I think people need to look at this book in the context of the times. And mystery still holds up The characterization of the various people still holds up, but that kind of carefree, don't worry about who you're sleeping with. has long since gone.

Brad Shreve:

I did look, and he does have 16 books out. And he and I are in pretty regular. I'm not gonna say we're buds, but he and I communicate pretty regularly. And he sent me an email cause he was very excited. He has number 17 coming out probably next year. it's being published by Amble press, which is the new press. That is head editor is Michael Nava

Justene:

right.

Brad Shreve:

They're a subset of Bywater books, which has been around for awhile. So expect number 17 to becoming,

Justene:

Sounds good. Sounds good.

Brad Shreve:

And I love that series.

Justene:

So that's all I have

Brad Shreve:

That's all you have? I've got Shane K Morton on, and we had a lot of fun talking. So listen in. My guest, Shane K. Morton is a bestselling own voices, author of LGBT romance, mystery and young adult showing the LGBTQIA human condition in his work is important to him because visibility is everything. He writes darker horror mystery under the name Sean Azinsalt Before writing novels, he was a playwright and musical theater actor who performed in all 50 United States, as well as three countries. His films have played at film festivals around the country. He is married to his husband and they have been together for 20 years. When not writing Shane can be found at a film festival or singing cabaret, dark dive bar. Welcome Shane.

Shane K. Morton:

Thank you, Brad.

Brad Shreve:

There's no bar better than a dark dive. one.

Shane K. Morton:

Those are my favorite kinds.

Brad Shreve:

You are the author of the Drag Queen Detective series, and you sent me the very first novel in the series, which is Men Murder and Makeup. June 14th, you have a new one coming out. And this show will be on June 15th. So yesterday Himbos, Homicide and Heels came out. so folks out there, you can start with the first book in the series, or if you want to jump into the new one, Himbos, Homicide and Heels I love the titles of both of them. It's available now as well. And that's number four. Is that correct?

Shane K. Morton:

Number three.

Brad Shreve:

Oh, number three. Okay. Okay. I hate to ask where people get their ideas because it's a difficult question to answer. And as authors, we get asked it a lot and we get asked a lot on radio, TV, podcasts, whatever, but I have to ask you, when you came up with the idea, did you say, I want to mystery with drag queens or did the idea to write a mystery come to you and it just kind of led into drag queens.

Shane K. Morton:

Well, I, so my very first book that I ever wrote was a paranormal college mystery romance. it kind of blended all of that together and it was about drag queens. Uh, I've always had this. So I was a drag queen. at one point in time, I paid my help pay my way through college, uh, by being a drag queen in the local gay bar.

Brad Shreve:

That's awesome.

Shane K. Morton:

It was, and it was fun. And, you know, like, you know, being a drag queen, You're kind of like a spokesperson without being a spokesperson, especially in small town, Kentucky. Uh, but you definitely are looked up to and, everyone knows your name and, you know, people come to the bar because you're there sometimes. Right. So, I had this drag mother, whose name was Raven Ravel at the time. And, he was one of my very best friends. He took me under his wing in college and made sure that everyone treated me great because I was this little kid from an incredibly small town in Kentucky who. showed up at a fairly liberal university and had no idea what was going on. And he just pretty much helped usher me through college. Right. And then one day, um, he helped me get in drag because I was seeing how much money he was making. And I was like, I think I could do this. So we did it. I looked like a cross between Bernadette Peters and, um, Bette Midler, If they had a baby together, which wasn't always pretty, but it got prettier. And so when I wrote my first book like I said, it was a college paranormal drag queen mystery, but it was based on a lot of actual things that happened to me in college and a Raven. I used her original drag name, which was Ursula Moulay, which is, you know, It's the kind of name you don't forget, right? Ursula Moulay. And, um, I, I used her in the book and she's actually kind of crossed over into a lot of my books and into, the drag queen mysteries she's crossed over into the first two of those. That was kind of like the. The concept, like she was kind of the core nugget of thinking about it because she keeps saying she's been in two other books prior to Men, Murder and Makeup. And, uh, she's always involved in the mystery and is always saying, I have a nose, I have a, I have a sleuth there's knows, like, you know, she's always the person who kind of pushes that mystery forward. And So the idea kind of came from her, even though she really is a supporting character in the drag queen, detective books. But I guess you could say Brad, that they came from life.

Brad Shreve:

So in other words, like usual, you have no idea where it came from. It was just, everything came together.

Shane K. Morton:

I mean the, the, the drag queen mystery books I was watching, I mean, in truth, I was sitting and watching Murder. She Wrote, and then a couple hours later I put on RuPaul's Drag Race and I was like, oh, Murder. She Wrote with drag queens. I could use Ursula. And then when I started writing it, I realized that this wasn't really Ursula's story. So I went back and. kind of chucked everything away except the core concept of the murder. Uh, and, um, came up with the character of, Victor slash Raven, Raven, the drag queen in town slash Vicky Dean, her third personality, which is a reclusive, mystery author that has become very popular. Very quickly and Victor's kind of trying to deal with all of the identity is also one of those things that I like to write about. So, he's trying to kind of come to terms with mixing and juggling all three of his identities and each individual personality that kind of comes with that.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I looked back in the book and I tried to find the exact quote. I wrote it down and I lost it somewhere, but I couldn't find it, but I can tell you what it was. Uh, Victor said he couldn't do something that Raven could. And it had to do with personality. Like basically Raven was more ballsy than Victor

Shane K. Morton:

exactly.

Brad Shreve:

What is the idea behind the different personas? How does that work?

Shane K. Morton:

Well, I mean, so when I was doing drag, I had a lot of drag queen friends, and I kept Shane and Shea, which was my name, back then very separate, um, Shea came out when I put the makeup on. and it happened only at the drag bars when I was performing rarely did I just. put high heels and attitude on and go to bar. I usually went as Shane and Shane is a little, Fairly robust you as human being. I'm a Gemini, but I do have that other side that likes to not be very peopley, And Shea always, I mean, Shea black was a people person. Like, you know, she was there to please the audience, it's a performer thing, but I saw a lot of drag queens that I was friends with that their personalities, but might've been here at one point, like, you know, Tom might be down here in kind of his thing. And, uh, Bobette is up here and all of a sudden they all started to kind of blend together and. noticing that from some of my friends that they have, they've kind of brought their drag queen persona into their, normal un-dragged life, that, they still kind of took on a lot of those qualities that they had in And, that kind of was the impetus of that. For some people it's, like these are separate things. I do a, because of a, I do B because of B and for Victor, it was, I'm a drag queen one night, a week when I MC the show. Most of the time I'm Victor, I'm the hairdresser in town who really wants to quit his job and retire and, I'm a quiet kind of personal, And then there's Vicky Dean, who he didn't ever really get to know. be a hundred percent. She was kind of this enigma in life at this point in time. And, you know, Vicki had done, you know, maybe some radio interviews and telephone interviews, but no one had ever actually filmed her taking pictures of her, except for a really far away cover on the jacket. Right. Like he didn't really know who she was. So kind of discovering that. Vicki is this person, Raven, is this person and I'm this person, you know, identity is such a, great thing to write about because it just leads you down the most truthful roads to me. So, whenever I, I think about that question, it always kind of brings up personal baggage of my own, that kind of winds up coming in the books, I guess.

Brad Shreve:

It reminds me a lot of actors. It's very frequently that you hear actors say I'm an introvert

Shane K. Morton:

yeah,

Brad Shreve:

and I'm very uncomfortable being in front of people. And I don't want to, well, I don't know. I'm sorry. I'm going to put them on the spot. Michael B. Jordan. Who's very hot right now. It seems like he, and, Anthony Mackie are in every other movie. There is out there. I saw him interviewed last week and he seemed like an absolute nervous wreck. And I thought of that now, maybe he was just having a bad day, but all I could think was, you know, he's not acting right now. He's trying to be himself. And there is a big difference. Yeah.

Shane K. Morton:

I mean, acting pay my bills for 15 years before I moved to Los Angeles. It's hilarious. Right? Uh, I, I came from the stage, so New York to here, and there really is a difference. Um, you slide on the character. It's like, some people use the costume to kind of figure out the character. Some people it's all mental, like, they have to write a five page treatise about, their character or their characters childhood to kind of get into it. And, you know, it's different for every actor. Right. And I mean, that's kind of the same thing for me. It's. Well, like now, so it's really easy when I'm, when I was acting to, to just be able to drive the train forward and a shame I'm a little, all over the place and it's hard to stay quite on topic, but, um, but Yeah. no, it's, it's true. Actors are just in the end, just people who got lucky. And most of the time an actor is more introverted because that's why they're so good at figuring out and sliding on another character, you know?

Brad Shreve:

I'll go back to, I want to make sure I got something you said correct. You started drag in Kentucky?

Shane K. Morton:

Yeah, I was a sophomore. I had been going to the, so the gay bar was 35, 40 minutes away from where I grew up. I mean, my town had nothing, it had churches,

Brad Shreve:

Yeah.

Shane K. Morton:

uh, and by the time I think I was in maybe junior high school, a Walmart and I got cable, out on the farm when I was in high school. So I finally got MTV. Right? So I drove in, I used to sneak in, I didn't have a fake ID, but, you know, a smile and, meeting the right person to get you in, can sneak you through the door.

Brad Shreve:

Yep.

Shane K. Morton:

and, uh, when I was 19 is when I started doing drag. and I did it till I was, I quit my senior year of college. so I did it for like Maybe two and a half years. And, there was just too much going on after that. So I decided it was time for a Shea to get her heel caught in a bridge and fall over the edge. And so I just put her aside.

Brad Shreve:

Now you say though, that you're still doing cabaret. Is that in drag?

Shane K. Morton:

Nope,

Brad Shreve:

No.

Shane K. Morton:

I haven't been in drag since actually, except for onstage. I have done it on stage for like a musical, a couple of times. but for the most part, no, I haven't, haven't done it. I've never revived Shea she died to me. Like when I decided she was her time was done, she was done for me. and then I moved to New York and, started finding other characters, doing that instead.

Brad Shreve:

It's interesting to me that you said you were doing drag in the south. We were discussing a little bit before that I grew up in North Carolina and I knew there were gay bars in my area, but I had no idea where to find them, but I took a trip to Atlanta. and I said, I'm going to go to a gay club. So this was back when the gay rags were actually in the racks, sadly don't exist anymore. And I picked one up and I looked in it and I found this ad for a bar and it

Shane K. Morton:

Do you remember the name of the bar?

Brad Shreve:

I don't remember the name of the bar, but it was a leather bar and I was on my way there. And I saw guys in leather walking up the street and they scared the shit out of me. And I'm like, I don't know if I want to go in there. I was really frightened by the whole idea But. I happened to stop right in front of a drag club or at least a bar that was having a drag show. So I went in there and checked it out and it was fantastic. I don't remember their names. They were hysterical, did great songs and I absolutely loved it. And that was my first experience in a gay bar.

Shane K. Morton:

I think drag queens are a lot of people's first experience in a gay bar. I really do it. It was actually a high school drag queen. There was this guy named Timmy and he he's dead. now. He died late nineties I believe. and we weren't like great friends or anything. We were choir together and I always kind of admired him because he was out like I wasn't in high school. I was still trying to hide. Though very badly, to be honest. I mean, I didn't do a real good job at it, but, no one really bothered me at my high school. Like they bothered my friend Timmy because he was out and he was strong out. Like, he would take no crap from anyone in the hallways, rednecks, jocks. It did not matter. He, he would, you know, Throw his backpack at them and not think twice about it. And I always admired him so much for that. And one day we're in choir and he was like, what are you doing tonight? And I was like, uh, Magnum PI. I have no idea, you know, like nothing. And he was like, I know you're not out. And let's just be honest. I know you're a sis. right? And I was just kinda like...yes. And he was like, I'm taking you to the gay bar in Paducah tonight. And I was just kinda

Brad Shreve:

I know a Purdue kids. I'm surprised there's a gay bar there.

Shane K. Morton:

actually quite a few actually. Uh, there's there's been numerous amounts of gay bars in Paducah. Um, and at one point there. was three. Now I think there's one now.

Brad Shreve:

I'm sorry to cut off your story.

Shane K. Morton:

No. So he just took me in to the gay bar. They knew him. We were like 17 years old and he walked in in drag, which. I was mega impressed with at the time he was gorgeous, like prettier than any of the cheerleaders that we had in our high school who were all pretty, but he was gorgeous. And, uh, uh, his name was Kimmy in drag, actually I can't believe. I remember that. And he walked us right through the door, into Nirvana. I had never, in my life experience, 17 years old, I had a drink. In a bar, which was, you know, like for me, such a big deal. And you know, all of a sudden I'm making out with probably a year old college boy, maybe, you know, like I don't, it was just, it was a mind exploding night for me. It was amazing. And I went back numerous times after that, just because, finally found my people, I guess, it's, being from a small town

Brad Shreve:

That was your first bar experience.

Shane K. Morton:

first

Brad Shreve:

So it's your first bar experience. You had a drink, you were with a drag queen and you were making out with a guy you jumped in the deep end.

Shane K. Morton:

I was a hoe.

Brad Shreve:

Oh, Hey, I've already talked a little bit about my background here.

Shane K. Morton:

It was crazy. It was amazing.

Brad Shreve:

I don't regret that time. It was wonderful. I I'm glad I have a wonderful husband now and that's past, in my life, I have no regrets

Shane K. Morton:

That's exactly right. Me too. Me too. My husband, my husband and I actually met doing Shakespeare in a leather bar. So if that in Philadelphia,

Brad Shreve:

Shakespeare in a leather bar.

Shane K. Morton:

Shakespeare in another bar.

Brad Shreve:

and I do want to say. despite my fear of the guys and leather in Atlanta. I have been to many leather bars since then, and I have no problem with guys in leather, but we won't go there. I want to talk about drag in general. I think other cities are like LA and I'm not going to say LA drag is dead, but it's really sick. And actually one time I think a was dead. Uh, I'm going to give the listeners who aren't familiar with Los Angeles, just a real quick geography layout There's one side of the Hollywood Hills and then. you go on the other side of the Hills and it's the San Fernando valley or where you've heard of valley girls, Well I live on one side and you go over the hills and Shane lives on the other side in the valley. And I will say the drive from Hollywood to where Shane lives, it's a very short drive that people wouldn't LA will make it sound like it's 300 miles away. the reason I'm bringing all that up is on this side of town. there was this. outstanding place Tommy Tangs, where the servers were drag queens. And they would just, I'm sure was not as random as I recall, but they would just get on these shows and they would are, they were absolutely gorgeous, just gorgeous. And I loved to go there and I could not wait to take my daughter there someday because the colors were in fantastic. And all this sort of thing. Then over on your side town was. place that was very famous called the Queen Mary

Shane K. Morton:

Yeah, which actually right before I moved here closed

Brad Shreve:

Yes, they closed while I lived there. I used to live in studio city where you are, and they're both gone. And I don't think there was anything else. Now we have Hamburger Mary's, which does some drag events. That's in West Hollywood. And I think on your side town, there's a, um,

Shane K. Morton:

Not anymore.

Brad Shreve:

Diva Royale did that exist at one time?

Shane K. Morton:

I don't know that actually Oil Can Harry's was over here by me, but it just actually shut down.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. That's where my husband and I used to go dancing all the time. It absolutely rips our hearts out that that it's gone, but

Shane K. Morton:

it was so sad. It's the last gay bar in the area.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, it's, it's really sad. I think we've lost five gay bars in Los Angeles since the pandemic started, but the whole reason I was bringing up these two bars and the disappearance of drag clubs. Why do you think that is?

Shane K. Morton:

That's a hard question, because I think that even within our own LGBT community, you know, I don't want to date a drag queen. Right. I mean, I was cute when I was younger and so many of the guys met Shane and wanting to date him and met Shea and wanted to run away, like it was. We always eat our own kind. It seems like sometimes in our community. Drag queens are, this irreverent part of gay culture. And, even sometimes, put on pedestals and looked up to, But there's also that kind of. I don't know, darker side to the community that looks down on dressing up as a woman. For some reason, I've never really understood that. Cause I don't, care Be who you are and enjoy it. And it's no skin off my back. I'll let you be who you are. You let me be who I am. Right. But I do think that that is, I think that that is a definite issue. And I think that. being LGBTQ IAA became more, okay. within society that having that irreverent part of the community, almost felt like a. boil. I don't, you know, I don't, I don't know. Um, I'm not sure of the right way to put that, but, put the drag Queens back in the closet until kind of RuPaul's Drag Race, came back out. Like there are some, some of the most amazing artists I have ever met in my entire life. And I work in their performing arts and worked in the performing arts. All over the country for over 15 years. Some of the most amazing artists I've ever met. Visual performance wise, dancers, singers are drag Queens. They need to be revered, um, because what they do is not just. One kind of art. It's almost this all encompass missing art. I mean the design, the makeup design alone. We're not talking about just throwing on some blush, some lipstick and some eyeliner and some fake eyelashes and running onstage. Cause that's not what it is. I mean, there is a real. Art to drag painting, um, the under paint, the highlights, I mean, you can look at RuPaul's drag race and, and just see what they do now. And a lot of those Queens actually perform, um, you know, they all have their hometown bars that, that they're at, but a lot of them are actually at Mickey's in Los Angeles doing a show girl show there. a lot of the bigger ones, And in New York of course doing the thing. But now I think that the cause of RuPaul's drag race, I feel like there's this kind of resurgence of respect that kind of went away for a little bit. And I felt like that was kind of in the, the late nineties, the early two thousands. But I think RuPaul's drag race has kind of brought some of that back, which I'm so excited by.

Brad Shreve:

I want to clarify when I said drag is dead in LA. it's not completely dead. Like in Mickey's they put on shows. the, I know there's been some shows at the Abbey, but they're like special events.

Shane K. Morton:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

there's not drag clubs or clubs that have them, several nights a week that's, what's missing. But talking about RuPaul's drag race, I think it has really helped I also think it's really hurt and I'm gonna explain why, and I wanna hear what you think of that it's been on for 14 seasons, which is amazing.

Shane K. Morton:

yeah. In numerous iterations.

Brad Shreve:

yes, the first two years. I absolutely loved it. And the reason I loved it, do you watch The Great British Baking Show?

Shane K. Morton:

I've watched some of it, but I've never really gotten into it.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. It's staged like any reality TV show, but if somebody there is a competition, but if semi's cake starts to fall, the others all run over and try to help them put their cake back together. And the first two years of RuPaul's drag race was like that if somebody dressed started to rip or, they couldn't get something on, right. they all got together to help them look right. So they could perform the best they could. And I really enjoyed it then yes, after that it became the stereotype. I'm sure it's because it was more drama for ratings, but it became the stereotype bitchiness. just virtually hate each other kind of thing. In that sense, I think it's really hurt the situation. Well, what's your feeling on that?

Shane K. Morton:

Well, I think it got a little boring for me, towards the later seasons. Cause they're the same kind of feels like the same show over and over to an extent for me. and it feels like the drama has been hyped a little bit without. need, because what they captured in those first few years, I, I agree with you was, uh, was watching sisterhood unfold. They were competing. But one of the things that RuPaul says, it always makes me laugh. This is it RuPaul's best friend race. Right. It's RuPaul's Drag Race. but I felt like that those earlier seasons, it was also about the friendship. Um, no one was really trying to. For the most part, really get in somebody's head and make them fail. They were all supporting each other. but I will say that there is some truth to that even in the bar world, but especially in the pageant world. I mean, if you have never. If there's gotta be a documentary about drag pageants, there just has to be, but it's like the Miss USA or Miss america Pageant. I mean, it's, they're massive things, right? A person from every, uh, I mean they have Ms. Gay USA, Ms. Gay America, Ms. Gay Ameritas, Ms. Gay Entertainer Of The Year. Like there's a huge pageants that have somebody from every state competing in one big, giant pageant and they are not nice. It is. It is cutthroat and it's like Showgirls. but I mean, you know, like it, it definitely the pageant world and the bar world are kind of two different things. Like the pageant world is much more cutthroat and which is kind of what RuPaul's drag race has become to an extent for me, even though it's not really about pageants, it still has that kind of, I mean, it's the biggest pageant of all. If you win RuPaul's drag race, there's a very good chance that you're going to be okay for the rest of your life. You might not make billions of dollars, but you're going to make money doing drag for the rest of your life if you want.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, I want to get to talking about the book, but I want to get out something that came to my mind that I just have to get out there. When you mentioned Jessica Fletcher and drag queens, my brain immediately went to Agnes Morehead, dressed as Endora in Cabot Cove solving crimes. and it's stuck there. So

Shane K. Morton:

That's a, beautiful thing, Brad, that's beautiful.

Brad Shreve:

I had to get it out.

Shane K. Morton:

I always saw Vicky Dean as looking like a Midwestern soccer mom with a little more glamorous clothing because he can afford it. But you know, like, uh, but, but Yeah. I've, I always kind of thought, Victor as Vicki has to be incredibly fishy as the drag community says has to be very real. Like she has to be able to go into Walmart and not get clocked by anybody that this is a drag queen, right? Like this is, uh, this is just a woman in the neighborhood. And so, learning like The way he gets ready as Vicky Dean is very different than the way he gets ready as the drag queen or anything like that. Like there has to be that. kind of difference to it. So, Yeah. I've always thought SAR as a, as a soccer mom with really great clothing,

Brad Shreve:

I

Shane K. Morton:

but the Agnes Morehead thing, I love that

Brad Shreve:

So let's talk about, your novels and I don't know where you want to go. I read murder Men, Murder and Makeup Your latest book is Himbos, Homicide, and Heels. If you'd like, you can talk about either of those two are, you can talk about the Drag Queen Detective series in general. I'll leave that up to you.

Shane K. Morton:

Okay.

Brad Shreve:

How do you like me throwing that out at you?

Shane K. Morton:

I mean, you? throw it out. It's fine. I, I kind of write all over the place to be honest, right? Like I wrote a lot in mystery, or a lot of my books have mystery in them. even if they are more of a. You know, a romance book. I definitely have mysteries built into some of my, Point Pleasant books. and, uh, Sean Azinsalt definitely kind of blends, mystery and horror together with, a little more kink Usually because they're a lot raunchier than my Shane K Morton books. But I think that when it comes to, my drag queen mystery books, like I've been really happy with, the way that people are responding to them. I mean, I've been, writing for five years. Um, I used to put out a book a year, and then some fabulous women, took me under their wing after my third book. And, um, kind of explained to me, like, I didn't even really understand that there was romance community at the time. I thought I was just writing LGBT fiction. Right. Like, you know, kind of romance. but I really had no idea. So, when I. wrote the drag queen mystery books. I want it to make sure that romance wasn't really the through-line for it. That the mystery was, um, because I had been writing a lot of romance recently, like, the last two years has been for the most part 80% romance for me. So I really kind of want it to just write something different and. Gay cozy mystery. Like there are some, and there's actually more than people think, honestly. but you don't hear people talking about the gay cozy very, very much with some authors, but for the most part, it's, you know, darker mysteries and that kind of stuff. And I really wanted to write a cozy and. before I did that. I had to learn the rules of cozy mystery because I had never written one before. And what I had written was so far removed out of the rules of cozy mystery. You know, I was showing bodies and blood and, um, uh,

Brad Shreve:

That's okay. But it ain't a cozy.

Shane K. Morton:

It's not a cozy. and murder, you know, cussing all over the place. Right. And I kept the cussing because they're drag queens and you just got to get with the, gotta get with the time. Right? So, the drag queens cuss, drag Queens use colorful language. It's in the book, but the rest of it, I squished it all and rewrote everything. And once I really learned what the roles of the cozy mystery word, because cozy mystery readers will clock. you. If you are not following them, I mean, red herrings, the plot has to be able, all of the clues have to be in the book. You can't just say, oh, Well, she found out something later, you know, like it all has to be within the book because they want to try to figure out the mystery themselves. And I love that about them because that's one of the things I love about cozy mystery TV shows. And reading cozy mystery myself, but definitely TV shows. I mean, I am a huge Murder. She Wrote fan. I love that stuff. Um, and I am very happy that the books. Became something that people really love. And the second book, which is, Divas, Death, and Drag, which came out last month, is actually about a drag pageant in California and the drag Queens. All of a sudden these attempts on their lives start happening and, Vicky Dean has to step in and, and solve it, uh, with Raven's help because even as the MC of the pageant. So we have Raven involved in the pageant in Vicky Dean on the outside of the pageant, helping with the cops. Right. And, It was one of the hardest things I have ever written in my life, 12 different drag Queens, in the book that are competing in the pageant, all completely different. and. Finding ways I could tell you finding ways to kill a drag queen is fun. It's a lot of fun. I'm just going to say I had the best time writing that book. I like Men Murder and Makeup. I, I was so proud of it when it was done, but it was five months of struggling. With figuring out what it was. I was really writing, it, it definitely took a lot of what am I doing? I'm not writing this book. I'm writing this book. I'm used to writing this book, but I'm writing this book. So, uh, and then. Going back and making sure that everything that needed to be in the book was there, all of the clues, the red herrings, I had a blast writing it. I complained a lot as I was writing, but I had a blast writing it. And the second book came, like in a wave of joy, because I was so happy with the first book that the second book, I don't want to say it wrote itself, but like, The plot and the mystery came so much simpler, so much easier to me because my brain was focusing on it. Like it was there, it wasn't in the romance world any longer. It was in, it was in this world and I didn't have to really go back and do it because I was now doing it. You know, I was putting everything where it needed to be. And, um, I wasn't the third book, It has been more challenging because I kind of am doing an homage to the Agatha Christie style of books with this one, one of my first plays that I ever, I didn't want. I don't want to say that actually. I'll just say that it's an Agatha Christie style of mystery and, it is definitely an homage to, A few of her, of her novels. I mean, they're all trapped inside a European looking chalet at the top of a mountain during a snow storm and they can't get out and people start showing up and things start happening. so it's very Agatha Christie, and it's a little bit, certainly a switch in style, but it is a kind of just, uh, A shift in genre just a little bit. Right. because her mysteries are really specific, into what they are. so it took me a little bit to kind of focus that where I wanted it to really go, but I'm very happy with the result eventually. So, And Vicky Dean is just a cool character.

Brad Shreve:

What I find interesting and I, everybody out there forgive me because I don't. like to compare this to mental illness, but the dynamics between Victor Vicky and Raven is very interesting in is almost like we're dealing with multiple personality disorder. Because you have these different personalities working together and sometimes against each other. So interesting dynamics.

Shane K. Morton:

Yeah, I can see that it's not, it's not written really to be that, but there is always that struggle with identity. I mean, whenever you become something other than yourself, Right.

Brad Shreve:

Right.

Shane K. Morton:

it's a part of natural life for every. human being on the planet. You can't tell me that you go to a rich person's house who has servants and white gloves and you're served blah, blah, blah, Right. All over the place that, that doesn't change who you are while you were there. You go to a red carpet event in Hollywood and all of a sudden you're a little bit more than you really are. You know what I mean? Like there's always that shift of, of personality that we all kind of have. Whenever we're put in a situation that's different. I just kind of amped that up to a hundred for Victor because he really does have to have three distinct personnel.

Brad Shreve:

it reminds me a little of. I worked in the hotel industry for a lot of years. And w at one time, large part of my job was to wine and dine general managers of our hotel chain. And a lot of them were very upscale hotels in San Francisco. And I, you know, I would mingle the room, I'd talk chit-chat and, just fabulous. And then I would walk over to some of my employees that this was kind of a new thing for in their life I want you to teach me, you're such a natural at that. And I said, natural, I fucking hate it every second of it, but you know, I gotta put it on. I got to put it on and I got to do the show because that was my job.

Shane K. Morton:

yeah. it's what we have to do. And I mean, it's what, and I think that's what everyone does. I mean, you're working at, you know, a giant hotel chain. You, maybe you're the concierge you deal with incredibly, people who are used to getting what they want, or you're working at seven 11 and you come in and you've got to deal with people who are used to getting what they want. Like, you know, like. No matter what you are. I definitely have a different work persona my day job than I do sitting around my house. Even that the personality I have with my husband, you get me around my college friends and boys, they're a shift, you know, like the way I talk changes. I mean, it's just, yeah. I mean, we all, we all have to deal with those personality shifts and I love writing about that actually. And my YA books are really all about identity. I write about identity a lot when it comes to those stories, because I find. When you're young, that sense of identity is more malleable. So you find yourself, um, Questioning who you are. and I think there's such a strength in that, you know, like if you are open to that concept and idea that maybe I am not who I am perceived as, um, something else, uh, I mean, it's just such a fascinating, side to a character, so I, yeah, I'm totally drawn to identity. Sadly, totally drawn to drag queens. I have written, I've been running a lot of drag queens, not just mysteries, but even I have drag queens into some of my other stories too. I just, I find them to be fabulous unicorns for me, you know, like they, they are the gift that keeps on giving a drag queens vernacular and their way of just looking at the world and being like, yeah, You know, it could be better. Let's just, you know, I mean, I just find it fascinating. So, and Ursula Moulay, who was in both the first of the two, drag queen, detective books was the character that was in my very first book. Uh, The Trouble With Off Campus Housing, which is the paranormal college. mystery romance. And then she had her own book two years later called Faultlines which is a mystery book. Um, Did you ever read Tales of the City?

Brad Shreve:

oh, of course not all of them, but, but I'm working on it.

Shane K. Morton:

I love those books and Armistead Maupin was like my first, you know, I mean, so I saw the, was that on Showtime or PBS?

Brad Shreve:

it was on, it was on, PBS and PBS almost got shut down for it.

Shane K. Morton:

Okay. Yes. Thank you. So I saw it on PBS when it first came out and I had never heard of the books. They were, it was one of my first times, right. Seeing LGBT characters on screen that on TV, especially that really were just living life and being fabulous, just like any other character of the show. So I immediately devoured the books, everyone that was out at the time And then, what, 10 years ago, when he started redoing, The older versions of the books, like these are the characters older now of course, are I read all those too? So Faultlines was kind of my love letter to Maupin, It's like five different revolving storylines that all take place in a, a condominium complex. And how all of the mysteries start to, squish together and intertwine and Ursula Moulay is the, there'll be character in that she's kind of, I guess you would say the Marianne from, uh, tells the city, and, uh, I'm going to write a sequel to that. probably next year, I'm looking at now that will be called Aftershocks and then I plan on spinning Ursula into her own drag queen detective series, where she opens a PI, uh, private investigator business here in Los Angeles. So kind of. Taking the drag queen, detective mystery and splitting it between Ursula and Victor and, having the same world, of course, and the characters can come back and forth as they have already and the first set of books. And, um, yeah, we'll see kind of where that goes. I'm looking forward to discovering that myself. So

Brad Shreve:

Now is the time on the show at some of my listeners favorite part, and I call it awkward questions, authors get,

Shane K. Morton:

Oh,

Brad Shreve:

and I interviewed dozens of authors and said, what are some uncomfortable, unusual, or just downright weird and rude questions you've been asked. And what I do is I spin the wheel and you get one of them. Okay, so you prepared.

Shane K. Morton:

I'm ready. I am.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. I don't think this is going to be that difficult. Which book have you written? That is your favorite.

Shane K. Morton:

So a Private Waterloo's is just a piece of LGBT general fiction written in third person. and, uh, I love it. It is the story of my life. It's incredibly autobiographical in some ways. and, uh, it's my favorite. because I used it as therapy.

Brad Shreve:

so it's not any type of genre fiction.

Shane K. Morton:

No, it's, I mean, It's Southern family. It's like a Southern family, a story, about overcoming the obstacle that you've never thought you would overcome. Um, private Waterloo's. it's just general LGBT fiction.

Brad Shreve:

Sounds great. I want to thank you Shane for being on and remind everybody, this is Shane K Morton, the author of The Drag Detective Series and it latest novel that came out yesterday. If, depending on when you'd listen to this. podcasts. Let's just put this way when you listen to this show, no matter when it is, the book is out, it's out and it's Himbos, Homicide, and Heals. So thank you Shane very much for being on the show. It's been a lot of fun.

Shane K. Morton:

It was my pleasure, Brad, thank you for having me. It's fun just to. Talk to another author and have a good time.