Thursday, June 6, 2013

Interview: William Maltese


Hello everybody. Today I have the great pleasure to welcoming an eclectic author who loves good wine and fine dining: William Maltese (don't tell him, but I really enjoy his books...)

The morning, you are tea or coffee?
I’m hot cocoa AND two (or more) pieces of Xocai Healthy Chocolate; the latter by way of revving up my antitoxins for the first part of any day.
What kind of books do you write? And why did you choose this genre?
Literally, I write all kinds. In fact, I can’t think of a book type that I haven’t written. A lot of times I’ve had first-time readers tell me that they went looking  for one of my books on or but had difficulty finding it among all of the other books written by all the other authors named William Maltese…when, in fact, there’s only one William Maltese, and all the books listed are mine.
In an attempt to keep my writing kind-of sorted, mainstream publisher WILDSIDE/BORGO PRESS came out in 2010 with a reference book devoted entirely to the books I’d written up until then: Draqualian Silk - A Collector's and Bibliographical Guide to the Books of William Malese 1969-2010.
 “Variety-the-spice-of-life” has pretty much always been my mantra, and I get bored pretty easily if I’m forced to stick with any one thing, genre, or subject matter, for any extended period of time. The advantage to that being that, somewhere within my output of over 250 books, there’s surely a book there for everyone, whether it be my children’s book, i.e. Dog on a Surfboard; my teenage-angst vampire series, i.e. William Maltese's Flicker: #1 Book of Answers; my mainstream romances, i.e. Dare to Love in Oz; my mainstream sweet romances, i.e. Matador, Mi Amor; my mainstream cozy romances, i.e. Amaz'n Murder;  my mainstream mysteries, i.e. The Fag Is Not For Burning; my gay novels, i.e. A Slip To Die For;  my six cookbooks, i.e. Everyday Gourmet: A Memoir; my wine series, i.e. William Maltese's Wine Taster's Diary; my espionage-adventure, i.e. Spies and Lies series ; my sci-fi, i.e. Bond-Shattering; my mainstream western, i.e. The Brentridge Gold; my play, Murder By Meteorite; my Moonstone Murders,The Movie Script…et al. Anyway, you get the idea.

When you write, are you keyboard or paper?
I wrote for years using a fountain pen and paper. In fact, even after computers became so popular, I remained so well-known for using a fountain pen for all my writing that I have a custom-made fountain-pen collection — William Maltese's Heirloom Fountain Pens — named after me. Of course, in my younger years, I did a good deal of traveling, and, back in those days, computers weren’t as conveniently small as they are today, which made lugging one around inconvenient.
Recently, I’ve become more adept with the use of the keyboard, and can actually sit down and write without putting it all down on paper beforehand.
That said…I always have a fountain pen and paper near to hand.
Are you more motivated to write when the sun shines or when the weather is gray?
Give me a sunny day any day of the year, over a gray or dismal one. Had I been a pagan, I would definitely have been a sun-worshipper. As soon as the weather hits 60 degrees, and is sunny, I’m into my Speedos and out the door (not a pretty picture, I know!). I get more productive on sunny days, feel better on sunny days, and even feel sexier on sunny days; something about the combination of sun, heat, and the smell of Hawaiian Tropic genuinely turns me on. While gray days keep me pretty much sequestered inside, with more time spent at writing, they usually see me far less productive than if the sun is shining.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I glean my inspiration pretty much from everyone, everywhere, and anything.  In fact, I’m always amazed when an author bemoans lack of inspiration.
Initially, of course, I gleaned a lot of inspiration from my extensive world travels, which I managed to commence at an early age. There’s nothing like new people, places, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells, to get the creative juices flowing, and you’ll find most of my books take place in areas of the world where I’ve spent a good deal of time. Certainly, the fact that I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, burned it, tossed the ashes, is to what I attribute so many people telling me that I make the locales about which I write seem so genuinely real to them.
It was because of my travels that I was asked to do not only my wine series of books but my cookbooks as well.
By the way, I’ve seen people whose good-looks alone inspired me to write whole novels.
Finally, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve written around what I consider a genuinely good title. In fact, I usually have to have a title before I even begin to write a book.
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head, or is it built progressively?
I find nothing more boring than having a plot laid out from start to finish. That’s one of the reasons I’m so delighted to be where I am in my writing career where it’s no longer necessary for me to submit detailed synopses of my novels to a publisher before the publisher will make a commitment to publish.

I love the process of discovering what characters and plot-lines are all about as any novel progresses and takes all of its unexpected twists and turns. Always knowing what’s going on, before fleshing it out on paper or the keyboard, takes away too much of the mystery and leaves me, usually, with nothing but a very big yawn…which I always suspect can inadvertently be passed along to my readers.

I can think of at least one exception, of course. Isn’t there one to every rule? In that I was seldom bored when writing, with my co-author, scholar Drewey Wayne Gunn, our daringly frank re-creation of history’s infamous love affair between the French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, and the brazen and bawdy poetry that blossomed from it.  Their lives have been pretty extensively covered in a lot of non-fiction books. That didn’t give us too much leeway as regards how the story started, proceeded, and ended up.
How do you feel before the release of a book? Fear, joy? And after?
I’m always delighted when I know I have a book in the pipeline which is about to make its appearance. And when it does, I’m always happy to see it, especially a print version (which I still pretty much insist happens, as regards most of my books), in that there’s nothing quite like holding one’s own book, or any book, physically in-hand. However, by the time I’m usually about finished writing any book, certainly before the boring proofing of it begins, I’m usually in the process of losing interest, another project already in mind that has me anxious to get to it. Often during the final phases of publication, during the proofing, the book off to the printer, and the book finally arriving on my doorstep, I’ve long-since moved on to something else, the book finally on the shelves turning out to be somewhat anticlimactic.
Between your first and last novel, do you feel a change? Do you write differently?
Surely. Everyone must, I would think. I’m just not the same person writing my next novel as I was when I wrote the first one. My experiences have widened. My vocabulary has widened. I’m more aware of the whole process of book-writing than I once was. No better proof of that than when a publisher approaches me (as they have) with the hopes of reissuing some book or books I’ve written in the past. I always think how easy that would be, just to let it happen, but I invariably end up reviewing the book, or books in question, and deciding that any reissues of which I could approve would require a rewrite or rewrites, just because what I wrote, then, isn’t any longer up to my own standards, now.
They say that writers project themselves into the skin and into the head of his hero / heroine, is that the case for you?
Sure. As the writer, if I haven’t a clue as to what’s going on in the heads of any of my characters, who the hell else does? And if I don’t know, how can I possibly write realistically enough to make a reader think I know about whom or what I’m writing. Readers want insights, and if I can’t give them, I suspect whatever is being read isn’t going to bring anyone back for more.
You define yourself more like a bookworm, a city mouse or a country mouse?
I’m not too sure I define myself as any of those, all of which are involved in the destruction of books, aren’t they? I have a tendency to hold books in fond regard to the point of still being reluctant to turn down the corners of the pages.
Molière said: “Writing is like prostitution. First we write for the love of it, then for a few friends, and in the end for money.” What do you think about it?
Woe be it to me to disagree with Molière, but, in fact, I disagree with Molière. I’ve written a good deal about prostitution (my Diary Of A Hustler and The Happy Hustler comes most immediately to mind), and I don’t remember very many prostitutes, male or female, taking up the trade because they loved it, nor continuing with it because of “friends”. Getting into that business is usually, from the start, all about the money and/or, more often than not, just about plain survival.

I think a writer, a true writer, is someone who “has” to write, and, when doing so, does it for the sheer pleasure; certainly, not writing for anyone else but for himself. If other “things” fall in line, like fortune, fame, as well as friends, family, and fans, pleased with the results, that’s just bonuses.

By the way, with the present state of publishing, less people reading than ever before, even those who do with restrained attention spans…and more people writing and more publishers publishing (due to the ease of self-publishing)…anyone will be hard-pressed to end up a very rich man or woman if the prime objective for taking up writing, as a career move, here and now, is the money likely to be accumulated.
Your books have already been translated?
Not all of my work, for sure, but, yes, admittedly more than a few. Something I consider exceedingly good luck, in this day and age, when it costs so much money for any foreign-language publisher to hire translators, far easier and cheaper for them to publish writers who already write in the language the publisher already publishes.
My three mainstream Superromances (Loves Emerald Flame, From This Beloved Hour, and Love's Golden Spell ), written for Harlequin, under my Willa Lambert pseudo, to help that publisher launch that imprint, ended up being published in over fourteen different foreign-language editions, primarily because Harlequin did and does have so many foreign-language affiliates.
My A Slip To Die For, the first book of my cross-over “Stud Draqual” mystery series, was spotted at a German Book Fair, picked up, and read, by a translator who wanted to convert it into German-language and convinced a German mainstream publisher to let her. Through that translator’s connections, I was able to have one of my short-stories from Love Hurts translated into German for publication in an anthology by a second German publisher. And through a friend of a friend of that translator, I was able to hook up with another translator who began doing a lot of my gay books for the “loverboys” imprint of uber-German gay publisher Bruno Gmünder.
Also, although, I don’t really remember the how or why, my gay novel Slaves was picked up by a Brazilian publisher who came out with the Portuguese-language edition, NO CALOR DE ZANZIBAR.
Do you pay attention to literary criticism?
Only if it comes to me via an editor or publisher whose opinions I respect and who is already committed to publish my work. The more a writer pays attention to criticism, constructive or otherwise, and adapts his writing to comply, the more he pollutes his own muse with that of others.
The days are 25 hours. You spend that extra hour in the garden or in the kitchen?
In the kitchen, if just because with six cookbooks already under my belt, and several more already contracted, I can always use an extra hour cooking, experimenting, eating, and drinking. Besides which, while I reputedly once had a thumb so green I could plant a pogo stick and have it take root, those days are long-gone.
What is the book you would bring with you on a deserted island?
Probably, stereotypically, THE BIBLE, since I suspect every man who spends a lot of time in a foxhole, or on a deserted island, will eventually try to find God.
In the evening, do you turn off the light directly or do you take the time to read?
For a good many years of my life, it would have been the latter, in that I loved to read books and still do. However, lately, the hours in any day don’t seem to last nearly as long as they once did; so, I find I’m doing less and less reading (along with so many other people, these days), and am more likely to fall asleep on the couch while (Alas! Alack!) watching … dare I say? ...television.


And now, what about a peak of one of William’s book? I chose Tusks because... well, because I liked it, a lot. Hope you'll enjoy it too. And I must add that the cover is... nice, isn't it?

RICHARD HAD BEEN PREPARED to hate this handsome man whose touch sent uncontrollable sensations racing along his spine, whose low and melodious voice brought back memories of his childhood before it went sour.

“Welcome to Lionspride,” Christopher said, and smiled. He didn’t recognize Richard. Richard didn’t expect he would. They weren’t children now, and Richard’s professional by-line was Richard Westover, not Richard KeIley.

Christopher’s teeth were brilliantly white in contrast to a tan burnished deeply bronze by the South African sun. His golden eyes were black-flecked. He didn’t look like his father,

Vincent. He never had. He took after his mother’s side of the family. Richard didn’t remember Gretchen Van Hoon, but he remembered Christopher’s father very well. There was no forgetting or forgiving him.

“May I offer you and your crew something cool to drink before we get started?” Christopher asked, holding Richard’s hand, still smiling. Richard recalled a biblical quote about how the sins of the fathers were visited upon their children. “I’ve taken the liberty of having wine punch brought out on the terrace,” Christopher added, releasing Richard’s fingers. “Emphasize the punch. De-emphasize the wine — all of us realizing, of course, that this is a working visit, isn’t it? I mean, neither of us would want to end up tipsy before the cameras, would we?”

Richard should refuse. He had a job to do, and he wanted it over with. He wasn’t taking this as easily as he had planned. Seeing this place and Christopher brought back too many memories — painful and otherwise. However, there was his crew to consider. The air-conditioning in the van wasn’t working; Tim and Roger could use a cool drink before setting up the equipment. So could Jill, the makeup artist.

“A drink of punch would be lovely,” Richard said. He felt guilty. There was no reason to feel that way; Vincent Van Hoon, dead, had left an unpaid debt.

“This way, please,” Christopher said. He motioned them along a walkway that circled toward the back of the main house.

Richard tried not to concentrate on Christopher. He wasn’t successful, even with the wealth of distraction offered by the mansion, its gardens, and the view from the terrace. All around were sights and smells that helped renew Richard’s acquaintance with exotic Africa: flaming aloes, unbelievably large proteas, flowering mimosa. In the distance, the well-remembered swimming pool and bathhouse were separated from the South African veldt by a line of dense acacia and blue gum trees.

Lions had growled among those trees. Elephants had filled the air with their trumpeting. Quaggas had made shrill and barking neighs. A boy had felt the thrilling of first love.

There were no longer lions and elephants this close to the Van Hoon estate. They were locked in parks farther inland. As for the quaggas and the boy —

“Mr. Westover?” Christopher queried, interrupting Richard’s reverie, offering a crystal glass filled with ice and an attractive amber liquid. Richard took the glass with thanks, careful not to touch Christopher’s fingers. He tasted the punch. It was tart but thirst-quenching. He turned to the scenery, resentful that Christopher’s presence wouldn’t let him concentrate. Richard was resentful, too, that Christopher didn’t recognize him, although such recognition could ruin everything. Richard would know Christopher anywhere.

“Is this your first trip to Africa, Mr. Westover?” Christopher asked.

You can find William Maltese on Facebook.


  1. Read the interview and picked up a few interesting points. What is mainly interesting is to get some insight into how a reader handles him/herself and approaches the writing challange.
    I might eventually get published and putting together an antology through the encouragement of a person who is in process of getting a publishing company created. One problem is that I am experiencing a strong "block" of doing even just the work of reviewing past work let alone getting around to new things. It's an all time fight but there is a desire to keep trying. (Maybe too much interferance from outside).

    1. I wish you good luck with getting published. I am not a writer, but I learned a few things, and what you need is someone to help you with what you already wrote. Try to find someone to trust, and show them your work. They will tell you what to change (if something needs to ba changed) et will point the errors you may have made. I hope you'll succeed :)

    2. Jade - I beg to differ, my sweet yin...but you are a published author so nanner nanner...

      And Gallant, I hope your dreams and wishes do come to fruition. :)