Saturday, September 15, 2012

In The Hot Seat With G P Keith

Welcome G.P Keith!

Q-Tell us about your books.

My most recent release was Out in the Back Woods, which came out last Christmas. I have several stories that I am currently working on.

Q- Can you tell us a little about yourself and you books?

Thus far I have tended to write novellas rather than short stories or novels. The novella length (15,000 to 60,000 words) allows a more complete sequence of events and a fuller development of the characters and their growth than does a short story. On the other hand I find the idea of dealing with the complexity of a novel-length story a little daunting.

Q- Have you ever used events or stories contemporary or historical in your work?

I have included a lot of my life’s events in my writing.

Q- Is there anything you find particularly challenging / rewarding about writing?

While writing “story” is something I find easy, namely event following event, writing “plot” is something I find challenging, namely connecting the events in a meaningful way that leads to a satisfying build of tension and then a satisfactory climax and denouement.
I also have a tendency to go inside my characters, to go on at length in their ruminations (which is how I live), rather than write action and interaction. Since my readers/betas tend to find rumination deadly dull, I face the challenge of producing stories with an action-oriented plot line.
Finally, one thing I learned about M/M romance from female writers is the power of describing the sense of finding a kindred spirit. This is something I find challenging.
There are two things I find rewarding about writing: first, the experience of being able to read my own work without seeing “flaws in the glass,” being able to read and become involved in the story; and second, when a reader comments on something in the story that indicates they “got” what I was trying to say, and that they were moved. It is the latter brings the most satisfaction.

Q. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

I always wanted to be a scientist when I was growing up. I studied science and spent a number of years doing research, but found the intensely competitive atmosphere unhappy, and left. I am now trying to launch a career in writing, and am finding my science background helpful in writing stories about science and scientists.

Q: Do you have a writing schedule?

Nope. I just write whenever I feel the urge (often late at night). Often I can “seduce” myself into writing, though. This works when I deliberately start thinking about a story idea, often while doing some mindless physical task such as the dishes or exercising. Sometimes this causes the creation machine in my mind to start spinning out a sequence of events, and I work these out and go write them down when I am finished my task.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?

I am a big fan of science fiction and some kinds of fantasy. More than anything I just love a good story, whether it’s Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. LeGuin, Neil Gaiman, P.D. James, or Emily Brontë. Speculative fiction (sci fi and fantasy) has the element of wonder, which I like, the idea that almost anything can happen. I also like romance, and cut my teeth in the genre on the contemporary romances of Mary Stewart.

Q: What can readers expect from you in the near future?

Since my series of publications at Dreamspinner Press last year I have started literally dozens of different stories, some of which are near completion. There are two things I want to do: first, to publish a full-length novel (something I am finding quite daunting); and second, to write more in my favorite genres: sci-fi and fantasy. Recently I made a point of reading a number of M/M romances in these genres, and feel I now have a sense of what I want to write. I also want to try historical romance as well. There are some interesting gay historical figures from the 19th century here in Ontario that I would like to draw on.

Q: We want to know more, can you give my readers a list of your published works and where to buy them?

Title:              (1) Up at the Cottage
                      (2) “Statistical Outliers” in Higher Learning
                      (3) Out in the Backwoods

Genre:             M/M romance
Release Date:  (1) Jun 1, 2011
                        (2) Oct 17, 2011
                        (3) Dec 1, 2011

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


(1)   Up at the Cottage   (novella)
Mark is looking forward to a dreamy summer at the cottage on the lake, before he leaves home to attend college in the city. To his dismay, he discovers that his parents’ best friends will be there—with their son, Tom. Mark remembers Tom as the bane of his childhood summers—a rowdy, energetic kid whose idea of fun was directly opposite his own bookish, imaginative interests, and sometimes close to actual bullying. Mark’s parents want the two young men to open the cottage themselves, preparing it for their parents’ arrival a week later. Mark and Tom haven’t seen each other for years, but they have a week to get reacquainted. For Mark these seven days hold the potential for a number of firsts: his first post-high school friendship, first sexual experiences, and maybe, if he’s lucky, his first love. But for these to happen, he must first challenge the resentments he’s carried since childhood.

(2)   “Statistical Outliers” (short story), in Higher Learning   (anthology)
Ben is a junior researcher at the local university who teaches a course in statistics for non-science majors, known as “Jock Stats” because it is taken mostly by athletic students. When one of these jokingly says in class: “I decided that the only way I was ever going to pass my stats course was to find out whose dick I needed to suck, and then suck it,” this begins a series of ribald exchanges in which Ben inadvertently outs himself. The revelation causes discomfort between Ben and Tom, his favorite student and someone he likes. But then Tom breaks his leg during a football game and is benched for the season. Ben suggests he spend the time acing his stats course offering him extra tutoring. Tom decides to stay on campus to study over the Christmas holidays, and Ben and he bond in Tom’s rooms in the deserted residence. When they inadvertently fall asleep on the bed, Ben awakes to discover that Tom wants to take their studies down an entirely different direction. But that just creates a difficult situation between teacher and student.

(3)   Out in the Back Woods   (novella)
In an effort to recapture the joy of his childhood Christmases, Matt leaves Toronto for a holiday in the interior of British Columbia. But citified Matt has forgotten his winter survival skills, and when he totals his car on a country road during sudden white-out conditions, it takes a rugged backwoodsman named Jens to rescue him. In Jens’s company, Matt starts thinking all sorts of romantic things about the beauties of Jens’s simpler life. But when an accident on the trapping line turns the tables and puts Jens’s life in danger, Matt must face a harsh reality and pit his limited wilderness skills against wolves and deep snow to save his friend and in the process discover whether he has the fortitude to survive out in the back woods.

HC. Would you like to share an excerpt or three?

(1)   From “Up at the Cottage”:

“To the lake!” Tom yelled. Running to the sliding doors, he leapt out onto the deck. There was the pounding of footfalls on the wood and then silence, followed after another thirty seconds by a distant splash. Mark hesitated only a second after hearing that sound. Filled with excitement he shucked his own clothes and followed, heading toward the splashing sounds from Tom leaping about in the lake. Mark ran straight into the water. He felt the icy cold against his calves and thighs, and finally thigh deep, he dove forward into the lake.
When he surfaced he yelled from sheer excitement and the feel of the cold water against his skin. The yell was echoed by Tom’s voice further out in the lake. The moon was up now, and Mark could see Tom’s head, shiny wet, bobbing in the water. He was swimming for the raft anchored a hundred feet out in the little bay. Mark swam after him. He was halfway there when he saw Tom’s naked form climb up the ladder onto the raft and then leap high into the air with another yell.
“Cannonball!” Tom shouted, clutching his legs and sending up an enormous spray of water.
The surface of the lake gradually settled, and Mark waited for Tom’s head to reappear. As the seconds passed and nothing broke the surface, an icy feeling of panic suddenly began to take hold of Mark. Memories had begun to flood back of one of the games that Tom liked to play in the lake. Mark turned around and started to swim as hard as he could back toward the shore, stifling the ancient fear that now threatened to overwhelm him.
He was almost within his own depth when he felt something grab his ankle. Despite himself he screamed. He wrenched his foot away and resumed swimming for all he was worth. Then he heard a laugh behind him and the familiar cry: “Shark!”
Mark stifled an urge to scream but at the same time also felt a desire to laugh. For the first time he was feeling the pleasurable aspect of this game: the excitement. Yet the fear was still there, which made him put all of his energy into swimming toward the shore. In another second he felt another grasp, more powerful and secure this time, and he was pulled under.
Mark surfaced several seconds later, once the hand had released his ankle. The terror was more palpable now. Even though he was in only about four feet of water, some primordial survival instinct had been engaged that he found himself unable to dismiss. It was only seconds later that he felt powerful hands grasp him again, around the waist this time. Tom erupted from the surface with a loud yell and threw Mark effortlessly into the air in the direction away from the shore.
Mark landed in the water with a resounding splash but found himself laughing now. Something in that powerful grasp had reassured, and more, excited him, changing his entire mental state. Suddenly he realized that he was enjoying himself and was also aroused. The terror was subordinated by these new feelings and instead made the experience more exciting. He turned, laughing, and saw the head lurking menacingly, eyes just above the surface of the water between him and the shore. Mark began to swim to one side, moving as best he could, but Tom was simply faster. He darted forward, and again those powerful hands gripped him and threw him up and through the air backward, away from the shore.
This happened again and again as Mark attempted to reach the shore. He made little progress, since each time Tom would catch him and throw him further out into the lake with those powerful arms. Mark began laughing so much that several times he swallowed mouthfuls of icy lake water. Finally at one point he was coughing up a mouthful of water and felt suddenly weak, tired, and cold. He held up a hand.
“Enough!” he said. His voice sounded loud, and, for once, authoritative, and as he made his way around Tom’s still lurking head, though Tom followed him with menacing eyes, there was no further attack. Finally Mark stumbled out of the last inches of water onto the shore and ran up the path toward the cottage, hoping to hide the erection that Tom’s electric contact had given him.

(2)   From “Statistical Outliers”:

“So anyway, boss, I decided that the only way I was ever going to pass my stats course was to find out whose dick I needed to suck, and then suck it.”
The speaker was Dylan, a burly young man with blond hair and a playful, good-natured disposition. I looked up at him from my lectern, where he sat in the upper row of seats, a big grin on his handsome face. There was scattered laughter from the other students. I shook my head.
The class was all male, so the rules of polite decorum had been left behind some time ago. I saw no reason to be stern with my students, and I have never liked rules for the sake of rules. Anyway, these kids were basically harmless. The course was Statistics for Non-science Majors, colloquially known as “Jock Stats” because the non-science majors taking it tended to be the athletic students. Since our college focused on arts and science, and we didn’t generally have strong collegiate teams, our athletes tended to be more scorned than idolized. This gave the jocks a slight air of insecurity and a real need to be liked, which when combined with their natural playfulness, made them a lot like overgrown puppies. I found them irresistible. And they, realizing this, basked in my goodwill, becoming more openly mischievous in a slightly fawning way—again, just like puppies.
On the other hand, I knew there had to be limits in acceptable classroom behavior, and I regarded Dylan stonily, considering whether he had stepped over this limit. Dylan just grinned back at me, eyebrows raised impishly. His friend Tom was seated next to him, and he wore a slightly uneasy expression, as though he too thought Dylan might have crossed the line.
I was still deciding whether or not to respond with censure, but instead found myself saying in a dry tone, “Oh, that doesn’t always work.”
Dylan wasn’t going to let that one go. “Why not?” he asked. “Everyone loves getting their dick sucked, right boss?”
The question was followed by a tense silence in which I could feel my face beginning to heat up. I hesitated again, but was unable to resist the challenge posed both in terms of the educational opportunity and just from the sheer outrage of the situation.
“Well,” I said, leafing through my notes and pausing to cough in order to clear my tightening throat, “it’s all subjective, isn’t it—individual. One man’s food is another man’s poison.” I paused before adding, “Uh, that is, some people prefer to do the sucking.”
I looked up and gave him a tight “so there” smile. His mouth fell open, but one second later a grin returned to his face, broader than ever, and now accompanied by a slight air of masculine aggression.
“That so?” he almost shouted. “You mean people like you, boss?”
There was a collective intake of breath from the other students, followed by a dead silence. My face was really burning now. I shook my head in dismissal rather than negation.
“Touché!” I countered. “Good one, Dylan.” Lifting my notes decisively, I began the lecture. “Today we are dealing with statistical outliers – s”
“But you didn’t answer, boss!” interrupted Dylan.
I frowned. “Uh, what was the question?”
“I asked, ‘You mean people like you?’”
This, then, was to be a sticking point. But even now I found myself unwilling to back down. And I was getting annoyed. I hesitated, closed my eyes for a second, leaning on the lectern, then looked Dylan straight in the eye and said quietly but clearly, “Perhaps.”

(3)   From “Out in the Back Woods”:       

When Jens was gone hunting, Matt found the question of how soon he would be leaving began to weigh heavily on him. He did various things around the cabin, tidying, cleaning, and in everything he did he felt a pang of regret, as though each—the dishes, the firewood, the dustpan and broom—were objects of great preciousness to him. As the afternoon wore on and the early dusk approached, a growing unease began to replace Matt’s confusion and sadness. Jens, he realized, should have been back some time ago. Matt went to the door and even stood outside for a minute, looking out into the fading daylight and listening for the sound of Jens’s approach.
But there was only the silence of the bush, which now felt not peaceful, but menacing. Then he heard the howling of a wolf. The sound always gave Matt chills, even though Jens had assured him that wolves ordinarily were no danger to humans. And now, when he turned to go back into the cabin, there came the sound of another wolf, and a minute later several more wolves, all howling. This would mean they were hunting, calling to each other to gather the pack to prospective prey. Matt shivered and went back inside, eager to close the door behind him.
Then there was the sound of a rifle shot in the distance. Matt’s skin prickled, and his hair felt like it was standing on end. Almost without conscious realization, he found himself racing to get his coat and boots. Once he had the clothes, he reached for Jens’s spare rifle, put some extra bullets into his coat pocket, and went outside. Jens was in trouble.
Snowshoes don’t make for rapid progress, and Matt’s heart was in his mouth as he moved as fast as possible in the direction of the howling of still more wolves. He had gone perhaps five hundred yards through the bush when there came a second rifle shot. It came from the same direction as the howling. Matt redoubled his efforts at speed, but it was getting dark in the forest as dusk proceeded, and he had to keep an active vigil as he moved. His skin was still prickling, his ears alert for any sounds.
Perhaps a minute later, there was another rifle shot from ahead. It sounded closer this time. But along with this came the growls of a wolf in combat and the distinct yelp of a dog. It occurred to Matt to signal his approach, both to Jens and the wolves. He raised the rifle and fired a shot into the air. Two seconds later, a fourth rifle shot came from ahead.
When he came over the slight ridge, Matt saw a small clearing. Jens was hunkered down, his back against a tree, the sled turned on its side to form a barrier on one side, creating a corner that Jens was defending. In front, barely visible in the dimming light, a motionless form lay on the snow. There were shadowy figures in the trees on all sides. The wolves had apparently pulled back at his approach.
Matt took aim at one of the forms and shot. There was no yelp, so he figured he must have missed, but the shadowy forms pulled still further back. He hurried forward to Jens, who, he now saw, had injured his leg. He was sitting awkwardly, the leg sticking out to one side, tied by cloth strips with several sticks to form a splint. Matt saw the whiteness of Jens’s teeth in the darkness. He bent down and hugged the man quickly before turning to the motionless form of Ben. He laid a hand on the dog’s chest.
“He’s still breathing,” Matt said. “He’s alive.”
Jens nodded. “Let’s get him onto the sled,” he said, making to rise.
“I’ll do it,” Matt said firmly, and Jens relented. Ben’s inert form was very heavy, but Matt’s adrenaline helped give him the strength he needed. When he had strapped him in place, he leaned his face close to Ben’s and whispered his name. There was a flicker of response and a slight moan. “We’ll get you home, boy,” he said. “You’re going to be okay.” He stood up again and saw Ben’s tail wag the slightest bit.
Jens was holding his rifle and looking around them, but it was clear he was in bad shape. The tightness of his face muscles showed the degree of pain he was in, and its general haggard air spoke of a near state of exhaustion.
“Stupid of me to break my leg,” Jens muttered as Matt helped him to his feet. “I almost made it back, though,” he added. “No, I can walk. Hand me that crutch. I must have come over a mile; slow progress, but Ben was with me and we did okay until my friends”—he nodded toward the shadowy forms that still lurked beneath the surrounding trees—“started arriving. God, it’s good to see you, Matt.”

 H.C.  Thank you for dropping by and sharing today.

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