Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Ethan Day for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from MLR Press A Token of Time – Retro Reads Interview. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed A Token of Time – Retro Reads Interview. You can find the review here.
Retro Reads Spotlight with Ethan Day
We are here today to talk about A Token of Time. What can you tell us about it?
A Token of Time is a bit of a genre mash-up, it has elements of mystery/suspense. There’s time travel and as a result touches of historical are included. There is a paranormal hook and loads of romance. But more than anything, I think it’s a story about redemption and true love that spans decades…ultimately surviving the constructs of time. Our main character, Zachary, he is truly tested. He grows and transforms into a different person by the end of the book.
Tell us more about our Main Characters?
Zachary is a young guy who has been forced to grow up too quickly. He’s suffered abuse in the form of neglect and eventually forced to flee from his family home after unexpectedly inheriting one of the ‘family gifts’ which are usually bestowed unto the first-born females of each generation. The only way for his sister to take this gift back from Zachary is to kill him. As a result he is forced to run, accompanied by the son of a housekeeper – his first love and best friend.
Marc Castle is a Matinee Idol in the late 50’s who has had some modest success acting in films. Unfortunately, he’s coming into his own around the time that the studio system is breaking down and falling apart. Like a lot of actors and entertainers of his generation, Marc falls through the cracks during this unstable time in Hollywood’s history.
Despite coming of age forty years apart, each man is at a precarious point in their own personal evolution, standing at a precipice, staring off into an unknown future.
What about A Token of Time makes you the proudest?
That I finished writing it! Historical is difficult for me because I loathe doing research. On top of that Token was a plot driven story with lots of twists and turns – there were a lot of balls in the air within the narrative and each one needed to be tied off by the end of the book. It took me several years to complete but it was a story that wouldn’t let go of me and I am proud that I managed to finish it.
If you could change one thing in A Token of Time what would it be and why?
Hmm, I’m not sure honestly. I’m sure there are things considering I have yet to write a book that I’ve not wanted to tweak one thing or another following its release. That being said, if left to my own devices, I could very likely tweak until the cows come home. At some point I have to let go and hand the manuscript over to my editor.
What was your inspiration for A Token of Time?
A Token of Time came to me as part of a daydream one rainy afternoon. That first niggling nugget of inspiration came after watching a film I’ve always loved but hadn’t seen in ages called, Somewhere in Time. It’s a sad and romantic love story you should definitely check out if you’ve not seen it before. At the time, I’d also recently finished reading Tab Hunter’s autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. Those two outside influences came together, infecting my brain with a story I couldn’t rid myself of until I sat down and started writing.
Tell us more about the world in which A Token of Time is set.
The book is set in Los Angeles and bounces back and forth between 2008 and 1958. It is very much rooted in reality, which hopefully helps anchor the otherwise fantastical storyline. It isn’t a sci-fi sort of time travel story, more magical, though again, I tried to root the fantastical with explanations that made them seem realistic and plausible to me.
Will we be hearing more from these characters/this world?
Most definitely, though not the main characters necessarily. I do have a storyline bouncing around in my brain for a prequel to Token with two of the side characters from the book, Jonathon and Max. They definitely deserve their own origin story, I think. Now I just need the time to get it written. The fact it will require more research doesn’t help motivate me, however, lol.
Tell us about some of your other titles.
Most of my books are contemporary romantic comedies. Lots of laughs, zany antics, plenty of love and romance staring a wide array of neurotic leading men who are looking for love in all the right and wrong places, lol. I love writing Rom-Com’s – those books are typically easier for me to write. Token of Time is sort of the odd man out by comparison, which is likely another reason I love the book. It was fun and scary to step outside of my comfort zone, but ultimately this book did a lot for me in terms of raising my confidence level as a writer.
Rapid Fire Time
Sweet or Savory? Don’t make me choose damn it! I can’t…I just can’t! : )
Shave or wax? I’ve done both and they both kinda suck.
Jocks or Nerds? Again with the limitations…can’t we have both?
Red Heads or Blondes? Yes, please.
Hamburger or Hotdog? Hmmm…depends entirely on my mood.
TV or movies? I actually love both – they each come with limitations when it comes to storytelling and sometimes I’m in the mood to see a story play out over 12 to 24 episodes and other times it’s nice to sit down and experience a story arc from beginning to end within a couple of hours.
Cat in the Hat or Horton Hears a Who? Cat in the Hat!
Pasta or potatoes? I love both but never at the same time.
Favorite Color? I’m more of an Earth-tone kinda guy.
Cook or bake? Definitely bake. I’m a decent baker but not a very good cook.
What are you working on? What is next?
I am currently STILL working on the first book in a new series titled, Welcome to Meteor Springs. It’s another genre mash-up, a contemporary tale with elements of mystery, paranormal, sci-fi, romance, comedy…basically everything but the kitchen sink! It’s another one, much like Token, which I’ve been working on for years now. I am determined to get it finished and ready for release this year, though. Nothing else is leaving the station until this book is in the hands of my editor! : )
Title: A Token of Time – Retro Reads Interview
Author: Ethan Day
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Lex Valentine
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Drama, Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller
On the run from his family, Zachary Hamilton was cursed with a gift he neither wanted nor asked for. The recent murder of his lover unleashed a chain of events revealing Zachary’s connection to the recently deceased legendary matinee idol, Marc Castle. Attempting to unravel the mystery behind the movie star, Zachary encountered an ancient relic shrouded in history and folklore, leading to a discovery so shocking it altered his very existence – challenging everything Zachary knew to be true – to believe that the impossible, was possible.
Zachary carried in an open bottle of wine and three glasses as Dave continued to fiddle with the projector they’d set up on top of the dining room table. Jonathon looked about the room as if taking note that the place was in a state of disrepair. He glanced back at Dave every so often to see how things were coming along.
Zachary watched him carefully for a few moments, thinking he seemed nervous, or was it anxious? Something told him that Marc wouldn’t appreciate the mess. Placing the glasses down he proceeded to fill them, handing one to Jonathon before pushing another across the table to Dave.
“I think it’s ready,” Dave said to no one in particular. He took a sip of wine and further examined the projector. “I couldn’t find the screen…Jonathon would you happen to know if Marc had one?”
Jonathon nodded, heading over to the large plate glass window showcasing the courtyard between the house and garage. Zachary followed, ready to help him carry the thing till he realized what Jonathon was doing.
Zachary smiled at the simple genius of it when Jonathon flipped a switch in the corner. A mechanical hum began, followed by a screen which slowly began to drop down in front of the window from a long metal grate in the ceiling. Zachary had assumed it was an air vent of some sort.
“Very cool,” Dave said.
“Thank you for inviting me for this.” Jonathon stood, hovering in the corner for a moment. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come at first, but…”
Zachary watched as the older man once again trailed off into his own thoughts. “Did you drive yourself?”
“Goodness me, no,” Jonathon said. “My eyesight has gotten too poor.”
“Would you…I mean…shouldn’t we invite your driver in? Feels funny leaving the guy out there all alone.”
“He’s used to it.” Jonathon moved to a chair. He stopped as if realizing. “But if it makes you uncomfortable and you don’t mind, of course. He is family.”
“Please.” Zachary nodded as Jonathon began to make his way to the front door. “Nephew or grandson?”
“You misunderstand me.” Jonathon poked his head out the front door and placed two fingers in his mouth. A freakishly loud whistle followed. He motioned as if to wave the guy in, pulling the door closed. “He’s family…as in homosexual, not by blood.”
“Oh!” Zachary felt his cheeks flush with heat.
“And not like that, get your dirty mind out of the gutter.” Jonathon managed to get out before the chauffeur came bounding through the door. “My Max was it…the only man for me.”
Zachary was embarrassed, having unintentionally offended his elder. He heard a low rumble of a laugh coming from Dave who was standing behind him, enjoying his awkwardness.
“Sorry.” Zachary apologized to Jonathon before offering his hand to the newest member of the Divine Secrets of the Ga Ga Homohood.
The man introduced himself as Bruce, who was beefy, filling out his chauffeur’s uniform quite nicely, and certainly wasn’t hard on the eyes. Zachary guessed Bruce to be in his mid twenties. He had short black hair, a nice chiseled jaw line, but was on the shorter side with quite large hands, something Zachary always appreciated.
Bruce didn’t have much to say outside of yes, no, and thank you.
Zachary brought him a can of coke, since he’d declined wine. Probably just as well considering he was definitely the designated driver out of that twosome. Zachary and Jonathon exchanged grins catching Bruce and Dave eyeing one another.
It suddenly occurred to Zachary that Dave probably enjoyed having sex, something the poor guy hadn’t had time for having been glued to Zachary’s side since Nick died.
Dave had never looked at him that way and on some level he should probably be upset by that fact, though quickly decided to let it go. He had enough to deal with as it was.
They finally all settled in once Zachary topped off everyone’s glasses and turned off the lights. Dave flipped the switch on the projector and the light flickered, reminiscent of the way Zachary’s visions began. The film had no sound, but it was in color, they discovered. Whoever was filming had been standing out on the patio filming the ocean and the boats off in the distance.
The film had a faded, old fashioned quality—both bright and dim at the same time as if the colors were separating. Zachary was grateful it played at all considering how old it had to be.
Zachary listened to the ticking sound of the projector behind him as the photographer slowly turned the camera toward the section of the house that hung out over the cliff. The patio looked deserted, but you could see someone moving around inside the house and the camera began heading in that direction. Once close enough, he could see it was a woman.
Okay…didn’t see that coming.
“That’s Madison Sinclair,” Jonathon said. “One of Marc’s Hollywood friends.”
Zachary nodded, deciding not to press further hearing a hint of disdain in Jonathon’s voice.
The Madison lady looked up at the camera; gave a little wave and a huge smile. She was extremely beautiful, like a movie star herself; with long Rita Hayworth styled blonde hair. She was flawlessly put together in a seaside ensemble wearing a wide brimmed straw hat, a retro looking one piece swimsuit, and a long wrap around skirt tied at the waist.
The camera whipped around, causing the four men watching the screen to shift in their chairs from the vertigo. It stopped on Marc, standing out on the patio in nothing but these sexy form fitting swim trunks that had tiny red and white checks. His skin was well tanned as he walked around acting silly— making macho, he-man poses, before moving on to jumping jacks.
Zachary smiled, watching Jonathon stare up at the screen with a big smile.
Marc suddenly walked up to the camera very quickly, in a kind of Three Stooges manner and licked the lens. The camera jerked wildly as Marc laughed hysterically. The camera operator turned it around and looked into as if he were angry. He was an attractive young man, and Zachary was surprised by the sudden flash of disappointment in his gut.
The guy wiped the lens off with the corner of his open shirt.
“That would be Leo Archer,” Jonathon announced. “Another of Marc’s Hollywood friends…always good for a laugh. So terrible what happened to him.”
“What happened?” Dave asked.
“No one knows really. He simply vanished one day without a trace,” Jonathon answered. “There’d been a string of young gay men who’d disappeared like that back then. If I remember correctly it made the papers during the time Max and I spent in Los Angeles in ‘59 and ‘60. There was an investigation of some sort if I recall correctly. Not that the gay aspect was being reported mind you.”
Zachary nodded, unable to tear his gaze away from the screen.
Leo finished cleaning the lens, turning the camera back around to film Marc in a purposefully over-the-top embrace with Madison. It was very melodramatic. They both jumped and separated slightly, looking across the patio where Marc’s bedroom was located.
Zachary chuckled; understanding they were going for a corny, silent movie-like feel.
Marc and Madison turned, looking into the camera with awe and shock before Marc shoved Madison away.
Zachary’s heart nearly stopped, seeing himself up there on the screen, acting fake-upset with Marc. His doppelganger wore nothing aside from a tight pair of black swim trunks, and there it was…slightly distorted in color yet dangling from his neck…Pepi’s token.
Every muscle in his body stiffened, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Zachary heard Bruce and Dave leaning forward in their seats behind him.
Madison was wringing her hands on screen, wailing away pretending to be distraught. Marc was trying to grab fifties Zachary, who was attempting to fend off his advances on screen.
Apparently not too great of an actor…not even a great bad actor.
“Dude…that’s like…you,” Bruce said, obviously stunned.
No one else spoke, but Zachary sucked down what was left of the wine in his glass. He watched as Marc pulled fifties Zachary into his body, kissing him. Madison faux crumpled onto the ground like she’d fainted, and Marc picked fifties Zachary up and tossed him over his shoulder, carrying him off toward the bedroom. Fifties Zachary looked into the camera with a big smile and waved goodbye with both hands.
Leo turned the camera around and stared directly into the lens with a they’ll never believe this back in Ohio expression.
The screen went black briefly and then white as the film ran out of the reel.
Everyone sat perfectly still, all eyes were on Zachary.
“C…can we…rewind that?” Zachary finally got out, placing a hand over his chest.
Dave snapped to attention and began working on that.
Zachary’s gaze slowly drifted over to Jonathon who was staring back at him with a told-you-so grin.
About the Author
I am a gay man living in Missouri…I can hear the gasps already!! How very un-chic of me, yes I know. It was here I was born and here I have stayed. The youngest of four children and the only boy, I’ve always suffered from an extravagant fantasy life. When I played with my Star Wars action figures as a child, I liked to make up my own stories. Naturally, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were totally meant for each other, and Princess Leia made a bitchin’ wise cracking Fag Hag.
I managed to survive high school living in a small, racist town in Southeast Missouri and emerged unscathed, realizing life was too short to pretend to be anything other than who I was. It was very Lifetime Movie Network meets After School Special, I assure you.
After several stints in college, I signed up for a Creative Writing course, choosing the class because there were no tests. For once my scholastic laziness paid off, and I found an outlet for all the fantasies running amuck inside my head. It was love at first write, and I’ve been doing it off and on ever since.
I’m willing to offer an ebook copy as a giveaway – this can be handled in whatever way you guys typically do such things.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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