June 23, 2008

In preparation for putting A CAGE OF BONES on-line as an e-book, I've been re-editing the original text. This is frequently an exercise in embarrassment. While I still enjoy the characters and their stories (and my memories of what actually happened back then), I often find myself cringing over the prose. When I wrote it I was entranced by Marcel Proust's intricate sentences and Sylvia Plath's punchy adjectives. These days, I prefer something simpler.

To be fair, I still receive fan mail for the book, which continues to sell locally as well as on the Internet. For that, I'm endeavouring to maintain its spirit while curbing some of its stylistic excess and creating something I might enjoy reading.

June 19, 2008

Last weekend I learned that my ex-boyfriend, Trent Hurry, died of a heart ailment at the age of 44-and-a-half. I was saddened by the news, though we hadn’t spoken in almost 20 years. While I’m tempted to eulogize him, I’m not sure he would have wanted that. He wouldn’t think it fair that I got the last word—something he always tried to do. I think it is fair if I reminisce about him, however, since he was an occasional inspiration in my work. If you want to read more, here's the link: http://www.jeffreyround.com/AValedictionForbiddingMourning.php

June 16, 2008

A little past midnight on Saturday I finished the new book, Mystery at Sulphur Springs, after writing 3000 words a day for 13 consecutive days. At 39,000 words, it’s just short of novel length. The storyline is fun: an 82-year-old woman returns to a hotel where she unwittingly participated in a murder 70 years earlier, ultimately solving the crime long after everyone involved has died. The results are mixed—I have a rough draft with some good material and a lot that will have to be cut or revised. I’d intended to write for one more day to bring the full complement up to 42,000 words, but something told me I’d be stopping here for the time being.

June 13, 2008


Excuse my enthusing, but the new and very sassy edition of The P-Town Murders just arrived today, with a brand new cover and all. When the original edition sold out last fall, I thought that was the end of things, but I've since been blessed by having publisher Marc Cote and Cormorant Books pick up not only the first book but the series as well. Book number two, Death in Key West, is scheduled for a fall 2009 publication.

If you haven't been able to get a copy of P-Town or if you want to buy one for someone else, you can now do that. Ordering information is available through my website (www.jeffreyround.com), and the book is available in all the usual on-line places.

Please keep in mind that your independent bookstore needs your patronage. In Toronto that would be Glad Day Books on Yonge St., Pages on Queen St. and This Ain't The Rosedale Library, now in Kensington Market. In Ottawa that store would be After Stonewall, and in Vancouver it's Little Sister's. I'm always happy to sign them, if you can find me!

June 11, 2008

Yesterday I did something I do very seldom: talk in person with another writer. I met up with writer PA Brown (LA Heat), who was in town for the Bloody Words Mystery Writers Conference. People have the impression that writers are solitary by choice, and that may be so, but there’s one thing we all love to do—talk about our writing. In my and Pat’s case, we were both happy to spend a couple of hours by the harboufront rehashing writing stories and griping about other people’s countries, specifically the one to the south, where Pat lived for a number of years. At present, Pat's working on procuring a new agent after the defection of her last one (to another job), as well as polishing a fourth novel she hopes to place as the follow-up to LA Heat. We had a good gab about writers’ habits (how long does it take to write a book, where do we find our stories, etc.) as well as the craziness going on in the land to the south (then again, when isn’t it going on?), and the likelihood that Bush and his sordid bunch will provoke a war with Iran to extend Bush’s presidency. (In the event of a major conflict, US elections can be suspended—let’s hope Bill C. still has some influence, especially if it means a better position for Hillary if the elections are held.) Then I came home and did what I always do—spend hours in a room populated by the people who exist only in my imagination.

June 8, 2008

Recently I read a post on a Yahoo gay writers group that got me fired up. Author Mykola Dementiuk had just received a disturbing review of his new books, Vienna Dolorosa and Times Queer (Synergy Press.) The reviewer called his work 'depraved, 'fanatical', 'gruesome' and lacking in 'entertaining' values.

Many writers have been judged harshly by critics, including JD Salinger who, as recently as 1979 could boast that he had written the most frequently banned book in US history (The Catcher in the Rye.) Not being unfamiliar with disturbing reviews myself, I sent Mick this response:

Hi Mykola

I wanted to pass along my three-cent's worth on critics and reviews. A well-known Toronto literary agent once told me my first novel, A CAGE OF BONES, which contains a rape scene in a men's prison, was "disgusting". I sold it to an English publisher and it was published to very favourable reviews around the world, but also one very big pan in -- guess where? -- my hometown of Toronto.

Around the same time, I wrote what I consider my finest play, THE MICHAEL RIDLER PROJECT, about a man coming to terms with the death of his sadistic lover to AIDS. It's a true and not very pretty story. It opens with an anonymous sexual encounter between two men and includes a molestation scene in which an alcoholic mother abuses her ten-year-old son, who grows up to become the subject of the play. A highly renowned and highly closeted theatre director in Toronto wrote to tell me he thought it was "disgusting." Hmmm, I thought. That sounds familiar. It was eventually produced by my theatre company and got one of the best reviews of my career, as well as one outright pan in -- you guessed it! -- Toronto.

Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, DH Lawrence and Henry Miller are names you will be familiar with. They all offended somebody at some point in their careers. Their works have even been put on trial for breaching obscenity laws. All of the things that reviewer said about your book have been said of theirs. Who knows why. Closeted critics with something to hide? Born-again former sex trade workers with a bone to pick? Homophobes with hidden agendas? It doesn't matter. It didn't stop them from writing, even if it made somebody stop reading their work. Those people aren't your readership, so why should you care? But of course -- you're a writer, which makes you an extraordinarily senstitive person. It's one of the reasons we write, after all.

I was at the Cyndi Lauper True Colors Tour two nights ago. Rosie O'Donnell was one of the guests. The first thing she told the audience was that she'd just been voted Most Annoying Celebrity of the Year. We all cheered and clapped because, in our eyes, that was some accomplishment. To know you can move someone that much that they would pan your work is an accomplishment. You may never get over your sensitivity to unkind criticism, but go out and have a drink to remind yourself that you write because you have something to say, and don't worry whether anybody wants to hear about it or not. Eventually you'll find the people who do.


June 5, 2008

To reward myself for a lot of hard work and having received payment on two book contracts (like I needed an excuse!), I took Shane to see Cyndi Lauper and her True Colors LGBT Equality Tour last night. Sheesh! I’ve never seen so many old boyfriends gathered together in one place! And who knew there are so many people running around with all the words to B-52 songs in their heads? It was a great four-and-half-hours (true!) Rosie O’Donnell was terrific, both as a comic and as a stand-in drummer for Cyndi (she danced, even!) The B-52s look and sound pretty much the same as they did 30 years ago. (I can remember the first time I heard She Came From Planet Clare, and they’re still the only rock group I know with coloratura riffs in their songs.) And Lauper’s still an adorable waif with the wickedest Boston accent you’ve evah hoid! It was a blast! But judging by some of those retro-80s fashionistas last night, we probably didn’t look as great back then as we thought we did, with our asymmetrical haircuts and wearing those day-glo colours.

June 1, 2008

When I write mysteries, I find that setting has a lot to do with inspiration. The P-Town Murders wouldn’t be the same anywhere else, just as Death in Key West (Bradford’s second, as yet-unpublished volume) needs Florida’s coral key chain to bring all the right elements together for that story. Yesterday afternoon’s trip to the Dundas Valley conservation area yielded an idea for yet another novel. At a derelict resort in a place called Sulphur Springs, I felt the glimmerings of a story about an old woman returning to the scene of a murder many years after it had been committed. As with P-Town, it was a matter of stumbling across the right things at the right time: a small boy sitting in the ruins and telling his father ‘This is my home’ felt similar to the old woman in Provincetown who grabbed my arm as a car rushed past, telling me, ‘You’ve got to watch it around here, honey. They’ll mow you down like wheat!’ I feel that if I knuckled down I could write this one in two weeks, though it would have to come out under another name, or else it won’t have a chance at being published till 2015!


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