Hello and Happy TGIF! I hope you had an excellent week. You can now breathe, it’s Friday!
I want you to enjoy yourself while you visit me, and what better way to relax and enjoy yourself then to lounge around learning the secrets of a great author and maybe reading a small snippet of his work. I've got some pillows, thick cushy blankets and a teddy bear to hold close.
I'll share the pillows and blankets with you, but this bear of a man is all mine for the time being.
Let me introduce you to the one and only Bear on Books, who also happens to be one of the best angsty M/M romance writers of the year… Mister TA Webb!
The morning, you are tea or coffee?
Tea definitely. Coffee smells so wonderful brewing, but tastes so yucky.
What kind of books do you write?
Hmm. Contemporary gay fiction. Gay romance. Urban gay erotic fiction.
Why did you choose this genre?
It’s important that people who read know gay people love, live, hurt, suffer, grieve and celebrate just like everyone else. What better forum that in books that hit us all where we live—our hearts?
When you write, are you keyboard or paper?
Keyboard. When I was younger it was all by hand. But age and time wait for no one, and these fifty-year-old hands flat out ache when I write too much anymore.
Are you more motivated to write when the sun shines or when the weather is gray?
When it’s gray. Something about it lets my emotions flow more honestly. And I prefer to write at night also. There’s something safer about exposing all those dark corners when you are alone and safe at home at night.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Hell if I know. I just see a situation and think, what if? What if that were two men? What if this happened? What if behind that smile was really that? And I let it flow from there.
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head, or is it built progressively?
I have a framework. But what I’ve learned is, the characters drive where the book will go. I am surprised by them myself sometimes. And if I try to tell them no, the book stalls. So, I go where they tell me.
How do you feel before the release of a book? Fear, joy? And after?
Relief. And then fear. I am absolutely convinced I could do it better, and that no one will ever want to read what I’ve done.
Between your first and last novel, do you feel a change? Do you write differently?
Oh yeah. I wish I had “Second Chances” back and I would change three things right away. I am proud as hell of it, but I learn so much every single time I sit down and write something.
They say that writers project themselves into the skin and into the head of his hero / heroine, is that the case for you?
For the most part. I read out loud what I write, and write the dialogue as I would speak it. If I can’t feel it true for myself, then it has to go.
You define yourself more like a bookworm, a city mouse or a country mouse?
Somewhere in between them all, maybe. I grew up in the country, have been a reader all my life, but work and love the city.
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?
I have mixed feelings. I don’t write for the money. I write because it’s fun and I love it. When it ceases to be fun, I will stop. But there’s nothing wrong with making money either. Where that statement takes me is a dark place, and I hope I never sell myself for a dollar like that implies.
Your books have already been translated?
Nope. Would be cool if they were. I would love to hear one of my works in Italian.
Do you pay attention to literary criticism?
Yes. I take what fits and use it as feedback. But, the final word is mine. When I start writing for the critics, it’s time to hang it up.
The days are 25 hours. You spend that extra hour in the garden or in the kitchen?
The kitchen. I love to cook. And I love to eat.
What is the book you would bring with you on a deserted island?
Ahhh only one??? Amy Lane’s “Keeping Promise Rock”. I can NEVER get enough of Deacon and Crick. Although…I have seen her final Promise Rock book and that one may be it.
In the evening, do you turn off the light directly or do you take the time to read?
I always read. I can’t imagine not being able to. Thank God my Kindle has a speech function, because some nights I turn it on and listen to a chapter instead of reading. But I have to have something.
Auntie Social is the biggest, baddest drag queen in Atlanta—she knows what she wants and she gets it. She’s tough, merciless, and top dog. That’s what Paul Stewart, reporter for the Journal, had heard, and all he expects when he’s assigned to interview the legend.. But nobody really knows the person behind the make-up.
What if…what if the person behind the sarcasm and music was more than just a man in a dress? What happened in his life that, thirty years later, made him a successful CEO, a philanthropist, and a legend in the gay community? Thirty years and almost a million dollars raised for people living with HIV/AIDs, yet still no one knows the real story.
Until one night, one man breaks through the shell, and Matthew Trammell—Auntie Social—opens the door he closed many years ago and lets his secrets spill out.
Pain is like rain, it covers your skin and soaks in bone-deep, but it eventually recedes and allows fresh things to grow.
When Paul Stewart walked into the small dressing room, he stopped to take in the chaos. There were wigs, boas, rhinestone and sequined outfits…it looked like Dolly Parton exploded and settled like feathers all over the room. The blaze of colors and fabrics slowly came into focus, and he recognized that there seemed to be some subtle order at play here, although he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
But what drew his attention was the man sitting in a battered office chair, primping in front of the Barbie Glamor Mirror. Even seated, he could tell the man was tall and well-built. His goatee and shaved head were in stark contrast to the huge amount of black eyeliner around his eyes, and the fuck-me red lipstick he was applying like Paul had seen his sisters doing—lips rolling inward and then pressed together.
Paul must have made a noise, because sharp blue eyes met his in the mirror, and any thoughts he had that the man might be effeminate were dashed by the quirk of the lips, the quick wink, and the low, rumbly voice. “So you are the unlucky bastard the Journal sent over to interview me, huh?”
Paul started, then offered the man a wry smile. “Paul Stewart. And I assume you are Matthew Trammell.”
“Better known as Auntie Social. At your service.” The man stood, and while Paul wasn’t short, Matthew towered over him by a good five inches. He snuck a glance down to make sure the guy wasn’t in heels, and caught sight of muscular, hairy calves. He must have stared for a moment, because that low rumble filled his ears again, settling in his balls this time. “Not your mamma’s drag queen, am I?”
Paul felt the heat of a warm flush of embarrassed pleasure crawl up his neck, and he extended a surprisingly steady hand out for Matthew to shake while he tried to gather himself. He wasn’t used to losing control of his interviews, and his professional pride kicked in and he focused on the story, like he always did. He’d been attracted to men he interviewed before, and this one would be no different. Keep telling yourself that, and we’ll see how much you believe it at the end of the night, some little part of his brain whispered.
“Is it okay if I use my cell to record the interview?” Paul pulled out his iPhone and waggled it at Matthew. “I can transcribe it easier this way, and the facts and quotes I use are much easier to verify. I’ll also be taking some notes as we go, just to refresh my memory while I write the story. I can capture your words, but sometimes that doesn’t necessarily translate very well on a recording.” He slid a small notebook out of his pocket and flipped it open to a blank page.
Matthew looked thoughtful, then nodded, turned, and sat. He picked up a funky-looking triangle of some sort of white foam, dipped it into a light brown liquid, and began applying it to his cheeks. “As long as you don’t mind me getting ready. You know, the show must go on and all that shit.” With a foot, he shoved a simple wooden ladder-back chair out from the desk beside him, then turned back to the mirror and began dabbing the makeup on his face.
Paul pulled the chair up beside Matthew, facing him sideways and watched the sure way he applied the color for a moment before flicking the iPhone on and starting the recording application. After stating the date and time, pulling out a pen and making a quick note in his pad, he dove right in with the questions.
“Matthew, you’ve been a fixture in the Atlanta gay community for almost thirty years. And in that time, you’ve raised close to a million dollars for local AIDS charities. I’d like to know, what keeps you going? The disease is more manageable now, the mortality rate is down, the cocktails more affordable than ever. What is it that keeps the spark alive for you?”
The sudden quiet made Paul look up from the notes he’d been scribbling, and it was a totally different man he saw. The sadness in Matthew’s eyes, the hardness in his jawline that wasn’t there a moment before, the tension in his shoulders…Paul swore the temperature at once rose and dipped. Paul had done his research. He knew Matthew started his drag career when he was eighteen, and that he was forty-seven now, just a couple of years older than Paul himself. In that moment, he saw the weight of those thirty years on this man’s face, through the patchy makeup and the kohl around his eyes, and started to reach a hand out to touch—comfort—him, but Matthew blinked and turned back to the mirror and the moment passed.
“Do you want the story I give at all the bullshit banquets, Mr. Stewart? That this disease isn’t cured, that only those with health insurance and ins to the pharmaceutical companies have access to the latest and best drugs? That the infection rate is rising again? That kids who can barely find their peckers without a roadmap think that they’re bulletproof and are barebacking because they think the drugs will be there to keep them alive, and by the time it matters, we will have found a cure?” Matthew spoke casually as if reading off a grocery list, but his words somehow throbbed and Paul swore he heard anger. And pain.
Paul cleared his throat and, in a quiet voice, said, “I’d rather hear the truth. Not that those aren’t very real reasons. I could probably fill in a few you didn’t name. The disease doesn’t have the same impact among the hundreds of other worthy causes, because who really cares about the hundreds of thousands of Africans dying of it. The government has other hot-button issues to deal with, and the Baby Boomers have to worry about keeping their cocks hard with Viagra, and their hips and knees working to play tennis. No”—he leaned forward and did touch Matthew this time—“I want to hear the story that put the storm clouds in your eyes a moment ago. Please. Just…please.”
He held his breath and waited. The moment stretched, and when Matthew carefully laid down the blush applicator—yes, he did know what it was, he chastised himself—he wasn’t sure if the interview was over, if he’d overstepped and taken the interview into an area that was too personal. Then Matthew turned his chair to face Paul and pulled the iPhone close in between them.
“I was a teenager back in 1984, and my best friend was Patrick Holton.”
And Paul settled back and listened.
T.A. can be found on Facebook, on Twitter, or if you really want to, you can email him at AuthorTAWebb@aol.com.