Today I’m sitting down with Kevin Klehr, another one of the many fine and talented authors I met through the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. When I first met Kevin, he was on a panel and he mentioned a witty (and oh-so-damn-fun) novel he’d written where two men die and get their chance at a happy ever after with an emphasis on the ‘after,’ and I nabbed it as soon as the panel was done. I was really happy to see his name pop up in Men in Love, and he was kind enough to chat with me about his piece.
Spring approaches with the promise of new beginnings, fresh adventures, and the thrill of romance rekindled or discovered. Hot, sexy guys abound—meeting on the ball fields or the boardroom, at the theater or the classroom—falling in love and lust for the first time or celebrating a lifetime. Come join the rites of spring and indulge yourself in the passion and pleasures of our luscious men in love. Stories from some of today’s popular m/m romance authors explore the many faces of men in love: gay for you, seductions, weddings and more.
NB: I loved your book, Drama Queens with Love Scenes. Romance in the afterlife? Showtunes? Sign me up. It was such a fun (and witty) ride, and totally unexpected. What can we expect from your piece in Men in Love?
KK: Thanks for your vote of love for Drama Queens with Love Scenes. Ironically my angel character from that book, Guy, makes a cameo in the piece, but he’s definitely not the star.
The story was influenced by the relationship of a good friend of ours. He was seeing a man from a culture where family was everything, and the risk of shaming the family could lead to being ostracised. So his phone would chime or ring constantly whenever he was with our friend. Over time he was able to negotiate one night a week where he could sleep over. Saturday was their night to play and feel like a real couple. Eventually leading a double life took its toll, leaving our friend with a messy breakup.
I felt for this guy. There were times he would switch to automatic pilot when talking to his mother with a blank face and many lies. And as an older gay man I remember what it was like to want to please everyone, but in the end just being the one who got hurt. In this day and age it’s hard to fathom that this still goes on in some cultures.
NB: It’s funny, but I often have the opposite reaction, thanks to my own coming out experience: I’m still stunned at wonderful, accepting, and positive stories of people coming out. I’m not sure what that says to me. But I can only imagine what it’s like for those who want to maintain those familial relationships.
KK: Our friend’s heart was broken when it ended, but I wanted to explore the relationship from his boyfriend’s side. His emotions. His pain.
NB: Speaking of exploring, if you had your pick of any theme for an anthology to submit a story to, what would it be?
KK: When I first read this question I was stumped. I really didn’t know. But virtually everything I’ve written has a supernatural edge to it. So I’d probably go for an anthology that explores one of my favourite contemporary genres, Magical Realism.
I mean, seriously, I have an angel guiding my characters in my piece for Men In Love. My two Drama Queen novels use the Afterlife as a setting, while reviewers of those novels have talked about how the characters seem real enough to sound like their own friends. So I think by default, that genre has chosen me.
It’s a great way to explore contemporary issues, or simply what it means being human, with a touch of the unexpected.
NB: Absolutely! I’m almost always firmly in the supernatural, spec-fic, or magical realism camp myself, and love the extra “wiggle room” it gives you to play with a theme or an issue. So, given that you’re not abandoning the supernatural (huzzah!), are there any new projects we should be aware of? Some of us are waiting for our next hit of Klehr, you know.
KK: I’ll just blush where no one can see me. Hmm, next hit of Klehr? I have a new ebook which is closer to a traditional romance book, but not. In fact, one recent review said it was neither HEA or HFN, but a look at how a new couple negotiate the things that need to be ironed out.
Nate and the New Yorker is about a realist and a dreamer. One Australian, one American. Which gave me a chance to include all those subtle differences between the two cultures first hand, as I’ve visited the US several times. You know, being confused by imperial measurements. Trying to work out what a dime was. Driving on the wrong side of the road.
Apart from the new release, I’m someone who keeps working on various projects, giving them breathing space between drafts to work on another. One is a dystopian novel looking at the decline of face to face human contact, another is an erotic tale of tops trying to bottom, and the other is the third Drama Queens novel which introduces the devil. I also plan to start on a tale of a middle aged man losing his grip on reality because of his affair with a dream lover.
But currently I’m working on the first draft of Nate’s Last Tango. I found that the characters in Nate and the New Yorker weren’t ready to be forgotten as there’s a lot to explore in relationships that are fairly new, and there’s a lot to recall from experience.
NB: I look forward to it! And hey, with a name like Nate, he’s gotta be a winner.
If you want to nab a copy of Men in Love for yourself, you can get it directly from the publisher, Bold Strokes Books, here. Otherwise, you can always use Indiebound to look for your closest brick-and-mortar, or visit any store where quality LGBT books are sold.
Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.
From an early age Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties.
So far the result has been two novels about the theatre district of the Afterlife, Drama Queens with Love Scenes and Drama Queens with Adult Themes, and a short tale of love across Prague, Sydney, New York and Tokyo titled Nate and the New Yorker.