Hello again! It’s Sunday, so you know I’m going to get all crazy about short fiction again. Today I’ll be chatting about Bold Strokes Books’s anthology Men in Love: M/M Romance with one of the contributors, Richard Natale. Richard was a “new-to-me” author. As I’ve said often, one of the things I love the most about reading short fiction anthologies is exactly that: I get to meet new authors.
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: Having perused your backlist, you write in a few different genres and styles (YA, romance, short fiction…) I meet a lot of authors who say one style or format “fits” them best, and the others are always more work. Do you have a favourite genre or format?
RN: Many writers believe they have one great novel in them. While I hope that will eventually be my case, but I would be content with one great short story. In fiction as in life, I don’t have a “type.” One day it’s dark and swarthy, the next day, tall and lithe. Short fiction allows me to slip in and out of a wide variety of skins. Many of my stories are about the infinitely complex nature of navigating love and commitment, particularly between two men. I read recently that to most of the world (the other 90 percent) same sex attraction is considered to be purely libidinal between men, and just a phase between women. Yet, even the most footloose and fancy free of my friends yearn for romance and commitment. Getting there, aye, that’s the rub. My non-glbt short stories deal with a wider variety of subjects, particularly the recent spate of stories I’ve written for Hollywood Dementia, most of which focus on career. My forthcoming novel, Rushes, deals with two gay twentysomethings trying to navigate career, friendship and relationships in contemporary Hollywood.
NB: I’m now picturing a “dark and swarthy” short story vs. a “tall and lithe” short story. Tell us a bit about your story in Men in Love. What was the lightbulb moment of writing the story?
RN: The light bulb for “The Seven Forty-Five” was the location. Using the Staten Island Ferry as the focal point of the cat-and-mouse seduction propelled the whole story forward. The outcome of the seduction and its effect on the main characters’ lives exploded out of that tension. Not even I saw what was coming.
NB: I do love when the flow sort of takes the reins from you (and it’s a beautiful story, by the way. A definite high point in the collection for me). What’s on the horizon for you that we should know about? Any new titles, recent titles, or projects in the pipeline?
RN: Besides my novel Rushes, I am working on a long-term project, of which “The Seven Forty-Five” is a mosaic piece. The novel disguised as short stories will trace GLBT romantic life in Greenwich Village from World War II to the present. The first story in the series, a two-parter called “In the Fall of Forty-Four,” has been accepted by Gertrude Press and will appear in mid-year. Another story, set in the early fifties, “Barbara’s Poetry Lesson” (yes, lesbians) is included in the current anthology Off the Rocks. The response to several of my past short stories from friends has been “I wanted the story to go on. You should turn it into a novel.”
NB: Oh yes. The plight of the short story writer.
RN: Easier said than done in some cases, though not impossible. In this collection, the characters in all the stories, recur in future stories either as protagonists or in supporting roles. My hope is to meld love, friendship and the evolving glbt narrative through the lives of these characters. Terry from In the “In the Fall of Forty-Four” makes an appearance in both “The Seven Forty-Five” and “Barbara’s Poetry Lesson.” Both George and Donald from “The Seven Forty-Five” will recur in other stories as will Barbara and her lover Adrian.
RN: More immediately, I’m finishing a short story collection Holidays and Other Special Occasions, each of which centers on a particular holiday (Christmas, Mother’s Day) or special occasion (Graduation, Wedding) but in unconventional ways. “Tidings of Good Cheer” (Xmas) and “Mullen” (Valentine’s Day) have already appeared in Wilde Oats and “The Benefits” (Wedding) will be published in July in the MCB Quarterly.
NB: I’m in love with that sort of cross-over linked short fiction. I love finding series of shorts like this, and a collected volume? Heaven. Thank you!
Richard Natale is a Los Angeles based editor and writer whose short stories have been published in a wide variety of literary publications including Gertrude Press, MCB Journal, Chelsea Station Magazine, Wilde Oats, Hollywood Dementia and the anthology Off The Rocks. His most recent novel is Love on the Jersey Shore from Bold Strokes Books which also published his previous efforts Junior Willis and Cafe Eisenhower, the recipient of an Honorable Mention from the Rainbow Book Awards in 2015. Additionally, his young adult novel, The Golden City of Doubloon, was published by Double Dragon Books.