For a little change of pace, I thought I'd highlight the great works of a friend of mine, author Lee James.

He's releasing a new edition of his book, and to promote it a little, we did an email interview. Lee is also going to give away two copies of his new book. We'll pick two random folks who leave a comment below to get a copy -- be sure to put your email address in when the comment form asks. You can comment any time before December 11th, when I'll pick the two random winners.

The interview:

SANDERS: Tell me about your upcoming new release, Icarus Ascending.  

JAMES: Thank you for allowing me to pimp my next novel: Icarus Ascending will be released on December eighth, and may be pre-ordered as we speak From DSP Publications, Amazon, and wherever fine (GRIN) M/M fiction is sold. ( Ascending is the second edition of Errors and Omissions, which was released in 2012 by Dreamspinner Press. You ask, Why DSP Publications instead of Dreamspinner Press? As with Errors and Omissions, the second edition release, Icarus Ascending is a crime noir novel with a backdrop of M/M and M/F relationships. To put it bluntly, ICARUS ASCENDING IS NOT A ROMANCE STORY! Icarus Ascending is about 8k words shorter than the original release, has the same plot and characters, new scenes and a different ending. Icarus Ascending’s tag line is: LA Private Detectives, Book One. Yes, I’m talking series. 

SANDERS: What sparked your fiction writing? Is there a particular event or book that prompted you to write your own stories, or have you always been a writer? 

JAMES: Given my day job, some might say I’ve been a creative writer for over thirty years. I could tell you that I wrote my first line of fiction when I was three, playing with my magnetic alphabet board. I might claim I wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Recognizing I had a solecism in splicing two complete sentences with a comma, I tossed the board across the room in a fit of anger. I made all that shit up because I quietly chuckle each time I read an author stating, “I wrote my first short story when I was two or four or five.” Yes, and I’m certain it was brilliant. I suppose I’d say I’ve been a writer since my undergrad years where all my exams were of the essay variety. I filled countless legal pads with briefs while in law school. For more than three decades, there’s been my daily writing at work, then the evenings and weekends I spend writing crime noir. 

SANDERS: In Icarus Ascending, who was your favorite character to write dialog for? 

JAMES: The two main characters—Kirk MacGregor and Austin Hunter. Much of the time, Kirk plays straight man, never mind he’s gay, to Austin’s off-the-wall comic relief. I also enjoyed writing dialogue and internal narratives for the villain, John Phillips; a character whom I created after reading trial transcripts of pathological sadists accused of homicides.

SANDERS: Who are some of your favorite mystery writers, and why? 

Hmmm, I’ve countless authors whose works I like; most are not mystery writers. From classic to contemporary, I enjoy Virgil, Socrates, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Melville, Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson, Keats, Hugo, Steinbeck, Yeats, Chandler, Didion, Oates, Wambaugh… just off the top of my head. As a writer, I must do a great deal of reading; if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t possess the skills to write. (I believe Stephen King said something to that effect.) 

SANDERS: Can you see Icarus Ascending being made into a movie, TV-show, or cable TV series (with plenty of nudity and/or sex!)? 

JAMES: Movies or TV series from authors’ works are the gold medal, top-drawer, ain’t that just the cat’s nuts award. I’m certain Hollywood will be calling any day; that, and pigs will be flying out of my ass at any moment.     

SANDERS: What's your favorite swear word or phrase? 

JAMES: This list could get longer than my roster of favored writers. For some reason, your question reminds me of George Carlin’s list of “the seven words you’ll never hear on TV: piss, shit, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.” With the exception of the two “C” words in that list, I use the others in my M/M erotic novels. I like some of the more recent “unseemly” creations: ass-ton, ass-hat, ass-clown, got fuck-all, got fuck-nothing, Christ on a crotch rocket, take a flying fuck at the moon, cock so long it’s in another time zone, dickwit… for more of my favorites, just read Icarus Ascending.

SANDERS: Do you suffer from Cat on Keyboard Syndrome, and if so, what's your favorite home remedy (e.g. spray bottle, catnip treats, dog...)?

JAMES: We had a calico Persian named Elly who loved to sit on top of my desk while I was writing and occasionally tap my keyboard. A quiet, “No, Elly,” usually worked. I was heartbroken when Elly went into renal failure (common in Persians and Himalayans) and we had to have her “put down.” Elly is memorialized as the cat character in Icarus Ascending.  Our current housecats; Charlie, Larry (both Maine Coons) and Sammy (Persian); don’t get to my keyboard because I keep my office door closed—no spray bottle needed. Mind you, our Maine Coons are HUGE cats. In Threads, “LA Private Detectives Series, Book Two, the main character, Mike Hauser, has a red Maine Coon named Heathcliff. It’s to be hoped thatThreads will be released sometime in late 2016—depending on whether that lazy bastard muse gets off his ass.  

SANDERS: What is it about Los Angeles as a location that generates so much noir crime fiction? I mean, I know why New York, San Francisco, and Chicago do, but Los Angeles? Doesn't the sun shine there, like, all the time?

JAMES: I set my detective series in Los Angeles because my spouse and I lived there for over eight years, and we both love LA. I use the megalopolis as a setting because none of the crime noir I write can ever be too strange for the “City of Angels.” Yes, the sun shines there most days, although it often must filter through smog or is obscured by wildfire smoke. There’s an anecdote about a NYC playwright who spent a summer in LA while writing a screenplay. He’s in his hotel room, gets out of bed early one morning, opens the curtains and sees the sun shining, blue skies, and people walking around in shorts. It’s reputed he said, “Shit, just another goddamned beautiful day.”

SANDERS: How do you handle the internet vitriol published authors are hit with? 

JAMES: I don’t handle it well. There are some who can write objective reviews. Unfortunately, these open-minded folks appear to be in the minority. I abhor the nitwits who don’t read a novel, either by “skimming” it or reading the first chapter, then having the chutzpah to score it “one,” and providing brilliant comments such as, “This book sucks,” or, “I don’t get it,” or “I don’t see what’s so great about this book.” The librarian of what I consider the worst site on the internet told me in writing, “We do not require our reviewers to read the books they’re scoring.”  Isn’t that incredible.   Some of these “reviewers” should be embarrassed having countless people reading their illiterate jottings. I do not give a flying fuck if they’re expressing their opinions, and they shouldn’t get all upset when I give them my opinions about their “reviews.” Over the years, I’ve read countless novels that weren’t for me.  I keep my opinions to myself. I’ve never felt the need to trash and burn an author’s baby on the internet. I simply don’t recommend that novel to friends and I’ll hesitate buying anything else by that author. I’ve a quotation on internet vitriol an author friend sent me: “User comments alone have crushed many a genius. Do not read that shit! Those are people who are lonely and want to be heard, so they scream." I believe those words sum it up.