Sunday Shorts – “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with Larry Faulkner

Biggest LoverOne of the more awesome things about having a story in The Biggest Lover has been revisiting authors I’ve shared a table of contents with before (in today’s case, that was in Tales from the Den). One of the cool things about Bear Bones Books is how there’s a community of authors who write in the bearosphere. I’m happy to sit down today and chat with Larry Faulkner about his story in The Biggest Lover.

We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex.  Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


NB: I love meeting new (or new-to-me) authors through anthologies, and “Tag Team” is my second table of contents with you. One of the first things I always want to know from authors is how their stories germinate. How did the story come to you?

LF: “Tag Team” is a direct result of my lifelong affair with professional wrestling. Yes, it’s silly and over-the-top, but can be really compelling, and the performers are extremely talented. Plus, the guys are generally really hot! Since I’ve been writing, I’ve had a story seed in my head about a tag team forming when two wrestlers fall for each other, and this anthology was the perfect opportunity to finally put it into words. For this project, I wanted something really sweet and simple, with just a little bit of angst and a whole lot of encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement.

NB: Absolutely. And building on that need for encouragement, the theme of The Biggest Lover (that of plus-sized men) is pretty darn unique. Did you find it a relief or a challenge in any way to work on a story with bodies not usually eroticized in the general community?

LF: I’m gonna say something possibly controversial here: It’s “pretty darn unique” because big gay men have been sidelined and looked down upon in the gay community for as long as I can remember. It’s my understanding that the Chub/Chaser community predates the Bear movement with the first Girth and Mirth chapter being formed in 1976, yet how many guys in the bear community have even heard of Girth and Mirth in more than a negative light, if they’ve heard of it at all?

NB: It wasn’t until Ron Suresha told me about it that I learned. And my first brush with the bear community certainly didn’t have that backstory as part of the history they shared with me, no.

LF: There for a while it seemed like the only “valid” bear body type was the muscle bear, when in reality bears always have come in all shapes and sizes, regardless of what anyone says. I will have to say that in the past couple of years, representation has been getting better. You see more chubby bodies on the TV and in print. You have celebrities like Daniel Franzese who are out, gay men of size and not ashamed to love themselves for it. Big Men’s events like Convergence (put on by the Big Gay Men’s Organization), seem to draw a bigger crowd each year. It seems that with the Body Positivity movement, people of size are being “rediscovered” again as what they are: people who are attractive, and attractive not despite their bodies, but because of their bodies (among everything else they have to offer). So, it’s kind of a relief in that sense, but it’s also a challenge because I know that fat can definitely be fetishized. One thing I tried to stay away from in my story is a sense of objectification. I wanted my big guy to be shown as someone who was more than just a fat belly to lust over, that he had other attractive qualities too (as do we all, really).

NB: Absolutely, and it was so refreshing to have an anthology that allowed me to explore my love of the sexy lug. Speaking of—if you had your druthers, what anthology call would you love to see that you’ve not seen yet? Any themes you’d love to write for, but don’t out there?

LF: Well, ultimately I’d love to work towards publishing a novel. Right now, I have two sitting on my hard drive waiting! I’m a huge geek and anime nerd. In anthologies, I’d love to explore themes of geekdom: sorcery, superheroes, mecha pilots, or magical guys (bear versions of Sailor Moon?) I have an idea for a superhero team story and also a different idea involving a team that pilots a giant combining super robot! I have entire plot arcs, characters…are there any artists out there who want to draw comics for me? Otherwise, I’m always up for exploring different themes with my erotica and romance. I’d love to write a sequel to my story in Tales From The Den, so another supernatural bear anthology would be awesome. I’ve been writing things and I’ll be posting it on my tumblr, in addition to my regular sexy, smutty stories, including my wrestling slashfic too!

NB: I so want to read bear versions of Sailor Moon. Please do that. Thank you, and I’ll pass all those ideas to my editor friends, because frankly I’d love to have more bear anthologies, too, which I suppose makes me a wee bit selfish.

For those of you looking for a copy of The Biggest Lover of your own, you can buy it direct from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) at the website, here. Or, check Indiebound for your local brick-and-mortar. Or, as always, ask wherever quality LGBT books are sold.


WLP_7401After writing for fun for most of his teen and young adult years, Larry Faulkner was finally first published in the Bear Bones Books anthology Tales From The Den: Wild and Weird Stories for Bears.

He has a passion for writing m/m gay romance and erotica with a husky slant, and hopes to publish more in the future, both short form and novels. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

You can read more of his writing and see selfies galore at his tumblr.

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Sunday Shorts -“The Biggest Lover,” “Threesome,” and “Not Just Another Pretty Face” Q&A with Jeff Mann

It’s triple threat time. Twice over, even. Sextet threat? Cubed threat? Meh. Math is hard. Let’s bake cookies for the boys.

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Jeff Mann, who—if you’ve been paying attention to me at all in the last couple of years—I’ve raved about before and will continue to do so. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, Mann writes it all (that’d be the first triple threat I was mentioning) and he’s in three of the anthologies I’ve been chatting about lately (the other triple—see what I did there?)

By a wonderful twist of coincidence, I’m actually in New Orleans right now, as is Jeff, at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. Happily, this was written and scheduled earlier, as frankly, I’ll likely have had a szazerac (or two) by now, and typing would not be a good idea.

Biggest LoverWe have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex. Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.
It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


Threesome

Few sexual fantasies are as potent or lasting as “the threesome” – as an adolescent, the first time you saw a hot couple walking hand in hand and you wanted to follow them back home and into their bed, as an adult when you discover that your partner has been fantasizing also about the bartender at your favorite club.
 
1+1+1 = sensual delight!
 
Editor Matthew Bright, no stranger to threesomes himself, has invited twelve authors to write stories that range from the sweet and romantic to erotic and playful and even a bit depraved.


NJAPF_CoverThe stories, poems, and essays in this collection have a single element in common that unites their wide range of literary styles and genres: they all spring directly from photographs of go-go boys.

The ideal go-go boy is the perfect erotic object. We may imagine him as lost or broken so that we might rescue him, or as potent and aggressive so we might be the focus of his desire. But the images captured here suggest deeper, more complex realities. These dancers are whimsical, haunting, satiric, playful, ominous. They are not icons, but stories waiting to be told.

Twenty-three photos of male go-go dancers become the basis for stories, poems, essays, and drama by twenty-seven authors, revealing unexpected mysteries, romance, fantasy, and humor. Contributors include 2015 Sue Kaufman Prize winner Michael Carroll, 2013 Lambda Mid-Career author Trebor Healey, and Lammy winners Jeff Mann, David Pratt, and Jim Provenzano.


 

NB: I recently wrote a story with a drag queen who explains a “Triple Threat” (someone who can sing, act, and dance), so the term is fresh in my head. It occurs to me you’re a literary Triple Threat: prose, poetry, essayist. And you’re in three of the collections I’ve been discussing lately in these Q&As – The Biggest Lover, Threesome, and Not Just Another Pretty Face. What are we in for?
JM: Well, “The Last Gift,” my story in The Biggest Lover, is set in Manchester, England.  Several years ago, I got to visit that city during one of my university’s Spring Breaks, and I found the “Gay Village” there a really cool place to visit, i.e., there are lots of pubs in which to drink and eat.  The story is about being middle-aged and mourning the recession of erotic outlets.  It’s also a tribute of sorts to a chubby, tasty, bearded boy I saw in a pub.  I was, sadly, in no position to seduce him, so I wrote a story about him instead.
I took the call-for-submissions for Threesome as an excuse to write another short story about my ongoing vampire character, Derek Maclaine, though I did something different by writing the story in his husbear’s voice rather than Derek’s.  An acquaintance of mine, Jason Burns—who works in the Office of Multicultural Programs at West Virginia University and who kindly gave me an opportunity to read my work at WVU last October—is a specialist in West Virginia ghost stories, so the information he gave me helped me flesh out that story a good bit.  “Spring on Scrabble Creek” involves more than Derek and his husbear Matt ravishing an emotionally and erotically needy former coal miner.  It also features ghosts connected to an infamous industrial disaster at Hawk’s Nest, West Virginia, back in the early 1930’s.
I’ve been focused on the writing of a big whopping novel for the last year—Country, due out from Bear Bones Books/Lethe Press in June 2016—so I haven’t been writing much poetry.  But Louis Flint Ceci, whom I’ve known from the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, invited me (cf. the paragraph above: what would writers do without kind invitations…including your kind invitation to have me talk about my work on this blog?) to choose a photograph of a go-go dancer that spoke to me and write something about it.  Good excuse to compose a poem.  Of course I chose one of the hairy, bearded guys that I’d love to hire as a houseboy/sex-slave.  Aging horndawg, c’est moi.
NB: If lyrical edgy aging horndawg wasn’t an oeuvre prior, it is now. I was actually quite pleased to see how many of the photos in question showed go-go dancers who had chest hair and beards. I wasn’t expecting that. 
Speaking of, The Biggest Lover was an unexpected theme—big guys aren’t often seen in erotica (though there’s some crossover to bear culture and bear erotica, where neither of us are strangers). Threesomes aren’t necessarily uncommon in erotica or romantic fictions, but they’re not the mainstay. Not Just Another Pretty Face began with images and is very rare in its inclusion of essays, poetry, prose, and even a short play. Did you have any surprises with your processes or muses with these different collections?
JM: I initially had no idea that my vampire story would include all that West Virginia folklore.  “Spring on Scrabble Creek,” is a sequel of sorts to “Snow on Scrabble Creek,” which appeared in The Bears of Winter, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler.  It’s also a kind of bridge leading to my vampire novel Insatiable, which Bear Bones Books/Lethe Press is publishing in the fall of 2016. 
NB: I need a moment here to squee like a fanboy. Eee! I’m such a Derek fan, and I scrambled to find all his stories in the various collections, and was over-the-moon when I got my hands on Desire & Devour. Okay. Carry on.
JM: When I decided to set the introductory section of “Spring on Scrabble Creek” at Hawk’s Nest State Park (just up Gauley Mountain from Scrabble Creek), it occurred to me that I knew Jason Burns, the West Virginia ghost-story expert, so after a few e-mail back-and-forth messages with him, I decided to add some material from that aforementioned industrial disaster in the 1930’s, when a large number of workers who helped dig a tunnel through Gauley Mountain died of silicosis.
NB: Learning moment of the day: silicosis is lung fibrosis caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica, which must have been a horrible way to die. You touch on mortality quite a lot in your works, and I have to say it’s always done so deftly and is genuinely moving, whether the piece is fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. 
As someone who touches so many different forms of writing, what are some collections or themes you’d like to see? (Or, if not collections, maybe even formats—I find I’m really looking forward to the “cross-over” nature of Not Just Another Pretty Face‘s inclusion of poetry alongside prose and nonfiction.)
JM: As for formats, I love the juxtaposition of poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.  Ummm, collections and themes? Anything not urban.  I like to read about small-town and rural settings as much as I like to write about them.  I’d actually like to see an anthology of gay male stories all set in different countries, so as to give the reader a glimpse of what gay life is like in those places.  Your novel Light gave me a sense of that for Ottawa, and for that I’m grateful.
NB: Sort of a rural Around the world with 80 Gays? I like it. When I’m done these Q&As I may post a list of all the ideas the authors have had for anthologies. And thank you, it was important to me to include a slice of Canada, even if I did get a lot of questions about loonies.
For those of you looking for a copy of The Biggest Lover of your own, you can buy it direct from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) at the website, here. Or, check Indiebound for your local brick-and-mortar. Or, as always, ask wherever quality LGBT books are sold. For a copy of Threesome, look no further than Lethe Press here, or Indiebound, or, again, shop local. You can find Not Just Another Pretty Face at Beautiful Dreamer Press here, or check with your nearest brick-and-mortar store. Or, said thrice, ask for it wherever quality LGBT books are sold.

IMG_0249Jeff Mann has published five books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology, A Romantic Mann, and Rebels; two collections of personal essays, Edge: Travels of an Appalachian Leather Bear and Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South; a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; four novels, Fog, Purgatory, Cub, and Salvation; and two volumes of short fiction, Desire and Devour: Stories of Blood and Sweat and A History of Barbed Wire.  The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards, a Rainbow Award, and three NLA-International awards, he teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Find him online at jeffmannauthor.com.

Sunday Shorts – “Threesome” and “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with Dale Chase

If you haven’t discovered Dale Chase yet, allow me to be the one to introduce you to your next book crush. Dale did something I thought no one could do: made Westerns enthralling. I say that with no malice toward the Western, but that my encounters with the genre in my bookselling and my lit-degree days left me completely unmoved. Turned out all I needed was to find someone who could make me feel the grit and taste the sweat. Didn’t hurt that the men involved were as hot as the often-seen sunsets. All that said, Dale is no stranger to other genres, other periods, and the most recent Chase collection I read, Hot Copy, was scorching, and all the stories were more-or-less contemporary.

I was lucky enough to sit down for a virtual chat about Dale’s stories in both “Threesome” and “The Biggest Lover.”

ThreesomeFew sexual fantasies are as potent or lasting as “the threesome” – as an adolescent, the first time you saw a hot couple walking hand in hand and you wanted to follow them back home and into their bed, as an adult when you discover that your partner has been fantasizing also about the bartender at your favorite club.

1+1+1 = sensual delight!
 
Editor Matthew Bright, no stranger to threesomes himself, has invited twelve authors to write stories that range from the sweet and romantic to erotic and playful and even a bit depraved.


 

Biggest LoverWe have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex.  Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


NB: You have stories in both Threesome and The Biggest Lover. You opened the door to enjoying gritty western tales for me, so I can’t help but wonder if we’re in store for some of your awesome western tales with either of these stories. What are we in for?

DCSurprise! Neither story is a western. When Bill Holden and I heard about The Biggest Lover while at Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, we immediately started talking on what kind of stories we’d do. Historical was kind of a given because we’re both comfortable in other eras, and at first I did consider a western. But the more talking we did, the more I started thinking otherwise. By the time we left our bench by the river, I knew I’d write a Victorian set in the theater in San Francisco. Turned out to be great fun. As for Threesome, the subject didn’t pull me toward historical so it’s a contemporary featuring a hot dentist.

NB: After years of dental reconstruction, I’ve got to say, I think you’re probably the only person I would trust to make me think of a dentist as sexy. I’ve lost track of how many of your short fiction pieces I’ve read and you have a way of drawing into the senses that I really find engrossing. Despite having written over 150 erotic shorts, your stories always strike me as unique and fresh, so you obviously don’t struggle with that, but does having more unique themed anthology calls help? The Biggest Lover has a theme we almost never see, and Threesomes might not be as uncommon, but did holding a threesome as the central theme spark a different idea?

DC: I too am a dental reconstruction veteran who once encountered a dentist of great appeal so it wasn’t a stretch to write a hot one. I do pride myself on originality in story writing. The first thing I think when looking to write for a new anthology call is what will others write. I then write something else. So I’m essentially trying to expand even the rather routine calls, most often by way of character development. Unique themed anthology calls are more fun because they give the writer a chance to stretch. Ninety-six of those 150 shorts I wrote were for men’s magazines and it was all contemporary, all young hot guys getting it on. Doing something different, whether historical or unique themed, is a refreshing change. Jerry L. Wheeler has done wonders in this with his Tented, Riding the Rails, and especially his Dirty Diner book of food themed erotica. I loved writing for that.

NB: Ohmigosh yes. “Cookie” was a great story.

DC: When Jerry L. Wheeler first mentioned a possible erotic food anthology, we were in New Orleans at Saints & Sinners (so many ideas are hatched there!) and he said to me, “I know you’ll write a western” to which I replied “Of course, a chuck wagon story.” I then had to read up on chuck wagon fare, finding it fascinating at how much can be done with a Dutch oven. The Biggest Lover was most welcome in its originality. Threesomes, on the other hand, was just the opposite. A fine theme and I enjoyed writing my story, but it had the familiar feel of simply putting some guys together to get it on.

NB: I’ve barely dipped my toes into novellas and novels (and find them very daunting) but you move between formats with apparent ease. Do you have a favourite format, or does one speak to you easier than another?

DC: I consider myself a novelist who also writes shorter works. Short story characters are like weekend guests while novel characters move in with you. You face them across the breakfast table and they climb into bed with you, nudging as you try to sleep. If you’ve created a lead character you really like, the novel can be great fun, despite the challenges of managing a large work. In writing my first novel, Wyatt: Doc Holliday’s Account of an Intimate Friendship, I lived with Doc Holliday which was the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything. I like the room of a novel, time and space to thoroughly develop characters while creating a multi-layered story. Writing short stories is an entertaining diversion from the longer work so I welcome new and different calls for submissions. I’m always writing something because I enjoy the process. If I’m between novels or need a break when in the middle of one, I write a short story. I’m always checking for new story calls and if one pops up that has appeal, I stop the novel and write that story. I’m two-thirds through my current novel about a pair of cowboy detectives but have stopped to write a couple western novellas as well as answer several calls. I like that the novel waits for me, characters standing in the wings, waiting for me to bring them onstage. I also think diverting myself allows me to return to the novel with a fresh eye. Sometimes a writer needs a vacation from his characters. It’s like leaving them the house while I take an excursion. As for one being easier than another, the short story will always be easiest, simply because it’s short and therefore quite manageable. Almost sad that this gets it relegated to second chair because it can be great fun.

NB: Absolutely, and I love the image of characters moving in. Thank you for taking the time for this!

For those of you looking for a copy of The Biggest Lover of your own, you can buy it direct from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) at the website, here. Or, check Indiebound for your local brick-and-mortar. Or, as always, ask wherever quality LGBT books are sold. For a copy of Threesome, look no further than Lethe Press here, or Indiebound, or, again, shop local.


 

Dale ChaseDale Chase has written gay men’s erotica for eighteen years and is having a grand time. Retired from the business world, she’s free to fully indulge her creativity and when she’s not writing the westerns she’s come to favor, she’s pursuing her art, whether drawing, painting, papier mache, or her latest passion, magazine paper collage. Dale has two erotic western novels in print: TAKEDOWN: Taming John Wesley Hardin from Lethe Press, and WYATT: Doc Holiday’s Account of an Intimate Friendship from Bold Strokes Books. Her Victorian erotica collection The Company He Keeps from Bold Strokes Books won a silver medal from the Independent Publisher’s Association in 2012. Her first erotic story collection If The Spirit Moves You: Ghostly Gay Erotica was published by Lethe Press. Dale has story collections from Bold Strokes Books and Wilde City Press, all westerns, currently available as e-books. Her short stories have appeared in over sixty anthologies with more on the way. Dale’s earliest work was more than ninety stories published in magazines such as Men, Freshmen, In Touch, and Indulge, two of which were also translated into Italian and German. Prior to erotica, Dale wrote short stories for motorcycle magazines such as Cycle, Cycle World, and Motorcyclist. A California native, Dale lives near San Francisco where she’s at work on various stories, novellas, and her next novel Hot Pursuit which features a pair of cowboy detectives working out of a San Francisco agency in 1876.

Sunday Shorts – “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with Jay Neal

Biggest LoverOne of the awesome things about doing this Q&A series is finally having an excuse to reach out to some authors I’ve shared table of contents with but haven’t actually met. Jay Neal is one such author, and by virtue of this wee project and the magic that is the internet, I was able to connect with him. Happily, he was willing to come aboard, so I can bring you our chat today, and talk about Jay’s story in The Biggest Lover.

We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex.  Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


NB: Tell us about “He’s Five-One, He’s Beautiful, and He’s Mine.” What are we in for?

JN: I decided early on that I wanted to tell a love story about a big guy longing to be dominated, and his surprise when he discovered it could happen with a man much smaller than he is; the thought never crossed his mind. The story blossomed in my mind when, at once, the ideas arrived that 1) the boyfriend would be Mexican-American, and 2) the story could take place in a Wal-Mart in West Texas. These two guys’ personalities grew on me real fast. The hostage situation at the Wal-Mart with the open-carry advocate who helps them resolve their relationship miscommunication was just a bonus. I like happy endings.

NB: I love those magic moments when a story suddenly gels. And I’m a fan of the happy ending, too, in erotica as well as romance. Speaking of, you’re no stranger to the erotica world. We’ve shared a table of contents quite a few times now, in erotica collections with themes of food, circuses, trains, magic, and of course, bears. The Biggest Lover has gone somewhere rarely traveled, though, in exploring big guys and the fellows who admire them. Are there any themes you’ve not seen explored that you’d like to see?

JN: We certainly have, and each of them was an inspiration, usually a quirky inspiration, which is my favorite kind. I like to write in response to these unexpected themes, and I’ve been pretty happy with most of the results. That usually finds me wanting to see what will stimulate my next story, but it also seems to mean that I don’t have stories very often just wanting to be written on their own. I seem to need to have an outlet in mind to get my writing in high gear. Still, I’d like to see a science-fiction type of theme that would inspire me in that direction.

NB: You know, I’m not sure I can think of an SF erotica anthology off the top of my head. Good call.

JN: I also need to figure out vampires someday.

NB: I’ve been told this is a mean question, but I can live with that. Do you have a favourite child… uh, I mean story that you’ve written?

JN: Several, since I see different qualities in them. Since the question is so mean, though, I get to name more than one. When I want to introduce someone to my fiction, I usually start with “A Bedtime Story”, a classic fairy tale that gave me nothing but trouble in the writing but came out as near perfect as one could hope. “Confessions of a Failed Pervert” is probably my funniest story–I seem to have a bit of a reputation for screwball-comedy porn.

I’m fond of “The Lighthouse Keep” for the sadistic ghost who appeared in it, and a sex scene that turned me on more than I ever expected. “My Best Friend, Frank”, a sex farce involving an alien doing research on [human] bears, took me several years to find the right voice to tell it in, but it covered a lot of ground that I hadn’t expected and I was very satisfied with the result. There there’s the scandal of “Time Out” and the guy who stops time by farting….

I put all of them in my collection, Waking Up Bear, and Other Stories, by Jay Neal, from
Bear Bones Books / Lethe Press, along with all the other children I adore but was forced not to mention. You’re mean!

NB: Warned you.

 

You can find The Biggest Lover through Lethe Press’s website here, or, of course, you can check Indiebound to locate your nearest brick and mortar. Otherwise, you’ll find it wherever quality LGBT books are sold.


 

 jnshaumeyer20A Jay Neal BioPoem
I sing the body hirsute and husky,
The legions of those I love have girth and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, write of them.
The expression of the well-made bear appears not only in his beard;
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his knees,
The curve of his belly, the volume of his chest.
This is my story: Mouth, tongue, lips, nose, eyes, ears,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, hips, inward and outward round,
Man-balls, man-root, strong set of thighs well carrying the trunk above.
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, or more,
I linger to see his back, his ass, the hair on the back of his neck.
Examine these limbs—they shall be stript that you may see them.
I bear witness.

Sunday Shorts – “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with Hank Edwards

Biggest LoverThough I’ve managed to share the table of contents with Hank Edwards quite often, I can only aspire to be as prolific. Hank is another of my Saints & Sinners group of authors, people I’ve met through that wonderful festival, and I’m always glad when I get to catch a moment to chat with him. Though, it being New Orleans, I might not always have a full recollection of what it was we talked about.

This conversation, though, happened digitally, so happily it’s all here for you. Hank’s story, “Furball,” opens The Biggest Lover. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex.  Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


NB: Capers, vampires, fluffer erotica where you’re laughing as much as you’re engaging… You have so many different tones and voices. It’s a good thing you’re so nice, or there’d be a tonne of jealousy aimed your way, you know. Was it fun to play with such a rarely seen theme with The Biggest Lover?

HE: Thanks so much for the kudos! I’m a fan of bears, and many of the characters in my stories are hairy, so that part of the story was a fun and comfortable fit. I tend to write longer fiction, so the word count limit was really the biggest challenge for me. I had to balance characterization, dialogue, plot, and, of course, the sex. After a few books with darker themes, I was in the mind space of something lighter and sweet. Hopefully I pulled that off!

NB: You definitely did. Also, there’s a kitty-cat, so you know I’m on board. And speaking of longer fiction, you revisit characters quite a bit in short fiction (and in your novel series). Do you go into a story intending there to be more tales, or do you have no idea if the character will make a comeback?

HE: For some of my longer works, like my crazy vampire/zombie/witch/Old West gay cowboys mash-up Venom Valley series, I knew it was going to be a series. I had a lot I wanted to do, but no idea just how long it would be. Sometimes the characters drive the series, like my new Critter Catchers humorous paranormal series, with a straight-gay friendship-to-possible-relationship that kind of just dictated several books. Sometimes, though, I do come up with a standalone story idea, and once it’s done the characters fall silent, so I know it’s time to move along to the next project.

NB: Like Dale Chase and Jeff Mann and Jerry Rabushka, you have a great deal of range in your format, too: novels, novellas, and short fiction. Do you have a favourite format? What comes first: the story, or the format?

HE: The story most often comes first, unless I’m writing for an anthology such as with The Biggest Lover. Story ideas are kicked off by a number of things: a line of dialogue might come to me, or the title of a story, or a scene. Once that happens the story will spin itself into a ghost of what it will become, and I’ll try to fit in all the elements in my head.

NB: Well, it definitely works. I love your writing. Thank you so much for dropping by!

 

For those of you looking for a copy of The Biggest Lover of your own, you can buy it direct from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) at the website, here. Or, check Indiebound for your local brick-and-mortar. Or, as always, ask wherever quality LGBT books are sold.


 

Hank Edwards_WebHank Edwards has over a dozen books published in a host of genres, from humor to paranormal to suspense to time travel romance. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter (@hanksbooks) to become a true “Hankie.” You may also visit his website at www.hankedwardsbooks.com.

He also writes a young adult series beginning with The Midnight Gardner, The Town of Superstition: Book One under the name R.G. Thomas, which you can learn about on Facebook.

 


Folks, I also want to add that in putting together this post, I read the description for the Critter Catchers and now I need it. Here it is (with a link to Wilde City Press):Terror By Moonlight_cvr

Terror by Moonlight: Critter Catchers Book One

Cody Bower and Demetrius Singleton have been friends for over twenty years even though they are polar opposites. Cody is tall, handsome, athletic, and straight, and Demetrius is average height, more of a thinker, and gay. They have started an animal control business together and have to figure out how to be business partners without letting it affect their friendship, but that’s the least of their problems. When one of their first clients ends up brutally murdered in what appears to be an animal attack, the two realize something big and dangerous is stalking their tiny town of Parson’s Hollow, and it’s up to them to catch it before it kills again.

Sunday Shorts – “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with Ben Bauchlein

Biggest LoverAs far as I’m concerned, one of the best things about anthologies is the opportunity they present to find a new (or new-to-me) author. Today I’m having a chat with a new (and therefore also new-to-me) author whose first short fiction publication appears in The Biggest Lover. Ben Bauchlein (or Big Belly Ben as he’s known online) debuts with “What the Hell?”

The Biggest Lover: We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex. Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.


NB: Can you tell me a bit about “What the Hell?”

BB: The main character is also named Ben (so lazy, I know) and he’s a tech guru who travels a lot. The main premise is that Ben’s feeling like he’s in a bit of a rut, including his sex life, and it tells the reader how he breaks out of that. With help, of course!

NB: I’ve yet to use the name Nathan in any of my stories. I’m a little in awe of your courage, frankly. Where did the notion of “What the Hell?” come from?

BB: I haven’t read a lot of chub/chaser erotica, but I’ve seen a fair number of videos. One thing that always confused me was that many of the porn clips seemed to be exclusively from the perspective of the chaser. In some cases it was almost like some straight videos I’ve seen where you don’t ever see the guy, just some girl bouncing on a faceless dick! The chubby dudes in those videos were always big bubba types, or you know, the Dan Conner from “Roseanne” blueprint.

Those are awesome things to be, awesome for chasers to appreciate, and I understood why most of the content was like that, because there was so little out there that did frame fat dudes in a sexy, positive light. But I also thought, hmm, I don’t really see myself in those particular representations. So I wanted to have a big dude as a central character whose experience was a little closer to my own.

I also wanted to explore a bit about power, about perceptions with size and power, in the story. Some of that came directly from my dating life. Guys would see my photo on Bigger City, or Bear411, and make assumptions based on my size or my photo that I was this extremely dominant uberdaddy that was going to toss them around. And I’m a pretty versatile guy, but I’m not that kind of growly, intimidating porn dude they were always seeking. I’m a nerdy guy, and that usually meant I had a lot of nice coffee dates and made friends, but that didn’t always translate into getting laid, you know?

NB: I get it. When I first came out and explored the bear community, my experiences were not at all great (I’m a little guy, even though I’m a fuzzy little guy). I wasn’t “bear” enough for the first crowd I met. Happily, I later met a more inclusive group, but there are definitely “you look like this, therefore we expect you to act like this” preconceptions out there.

That’s one of the things I’m really loving about The Biggest Lover: the exploration of themes we don’t often see (especially in erotica). This is your first fiction piece, and your first erotica piece, and it’s in a very unique anthology. What was it like seeing your first piece come to fruition?

BB: It’s great to see it in print!

I’m a published writer in other media, other platforms, but it’s really different writing fiction. The pacing is really different, and the structure is obviously very different. But I’ve written feature stories for newspapers and magazines, and the structure in those stories aren’t so radically different. You have to weave a narrative, capture the reader’s attention, and try not to bore the shit out of them with the details!

The biggest challenge was to think of language in a different way. In a magazine story, the prose can be somewhat simple and unfussy, newsy and direct. I had to adjust the vocabulary and try to make it flow, without getting too ornate or bizarre. I didn’t want to be a nominee for the Bad Sex In Fiction award — not even for my first time out!

As for the anthology, it’s really rewarding to be a part of it. I was in my mid-20’s before I knew the bear community even existed, and it was a few years after that before I met a guy who was an out-and-proud chaser, so to see this in print, to see so many stories and so many perspectives all together like this? It’s pretty amazing.

NB: As is your story. I really enjoyed “What the Hell?” and how it played with the roles and preconceptions (and stayed sexy—I daresay you have nothing to worry about for the Bad Sex in Fiction award). It’s fun, too. Does this mean you’ve been bitten by the bug—can we expect more short fiction from Ben Bauchlein?

BB: I hope so! I’ve just launched a Tumblr site that I hope to use as a space for ideas and practice. It’s probably not a surprise to any writer that my work seemed to get better, that the building of a story seemed to run more smoothly, when I’m writing every day, doing something to get my mind working and my fingers moving on the keyboard!

I’d definitely like to do more, whether it’s erotica or mainstream fiction. Hopefully, I can write about people we don’t always see or hear about, just as I did with my work as a reporter.

NB: Well, consider me one of the first fans. I look forward to more.

 

You can find The Biggest Lover through Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) right here. Or, of course, you can visit Indiebound and find your closest brick and mortar store. Or you can find it wherever high quality LGBT books are sold.


 

Ben Bauchlein authorBen grew up in the Rust Belt, meeting a lot of interesting characters along the way. He’s a journalist by trade, covering a variety of beats, including faith and religion, technology, and the LGBT community in local and national press. While he’s written some erotica for himself – and for a few lucky friends – this story is his first in print.

Ben Bauchlein—or Big Belly Ben—can be found online on Twitter at @BenBauchlein and on Tumblr at BigBellyBen.