When we first connected with one of our new reviewers, Ulysses, it was for a guest post in regards to his Vampire novels, Desmond and Vampire in Suburbia. You will find that guest post below. You will also find a giveaway, so don’t miss that 😉
The more we got to know him, the more we wanted him here to review with us. Much to our delight, he agreed. We are very pleased to welcome Ulysses to our site as a reviewer, but first he will have to suffer Beverley reviewing his two Vampire Novels!
Today was the day we originally scheduled for him to appear and below is the guest post that made me ask him to review with us.
Ulysses Grant Dietz, author of “Desmond” and “Vampire in Suburbia”
I am not a novelist, although I have written two novels. I am, however, a writer, and have been since I was fifteen, which is about the same time I realized I was gay. I write for a living, because I’ve been a museum curator for going on thirty-four years and have a long back-list of books and articles on everything from art pottery to quilts to jewellery. I love writing—love the process. Having no talent for art or music, but being passionate about both of those things, I am grateful that I was given the gift of words.
As a ‘middle-schooler’ I was obsessed with both Dark Shadows and with old houses. I drew floor plans all the time (and still have notebooks full of them). My first writing was in a leather-bound diary my great aunt Ethel gave me for a two week driving tour with my father to see stately homes in the UK when I was fifteen.
Vampires took a back seat as I worked my way through boarding school and university. But the writer in me and the curator flowered. It was in college at Yale that I finally kicked down my closet door and fell in love with the man who has been my boyfriend, lover, partner and now husband these past 38 years (not to mention the father of our two teenage children). Right out of graduate school I got a job as decorative arts curator at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey (the state’s largest museum). Part of my job is managing a great 1880’s beer-baron’s mansion that is attached to the museum.
So how did I end up writing a gay vampire romance novel? Easy—because of Anne Rice.
While still at university, I read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. I’ve read every book she’s written under her own name, including the two biographical novels about Jesus Christ (oh, by the way, I’m an active, church going Episcopalian, but that’s another blog entirely). Rice’s new take on the entire vampire genre galvanized me, and by the time Queen of the Damned appeared in 1988, I felt I needed to write my own take on vampires. There was so much sexual ambiguity in ‘Louis’ and ‘Lestat’ that I wanted to see if I could take it all the way into my world.
I first created my character ‘Desmond Beckwith’ in 1988. My real purpose was to prove that I could write an extended piece of fiction in which I did not sound like a pre-teen girl. I also wanted to write an alternative to Anne Rice’s complex but (ultimately) dark vampires. I knew that vampires really didn’t have to kill and wanted to challenge that convention. I also wanted to create a gay vampire who could love and be loved; who tried to be part of the world in which he existed. The whole vampire romance genre barely existed outside of Anne Rice, and the M/M genre, to my knowledge, didn’t exist at all yet. But there was lot of gay literature out there, and I read it voraciously, taking trips into New York City from suburban New Jersey to visit the Oscar Wilde Book store and pick up the latest novels by Paul Monette or Felice Picano.
Desmond got rejected several times in the next year, and I essentially shelved it and got on with my life. But a decade later, shortly after we adopted our two children, I got an opportunity to re-submit my manuscript to Alyson Books, a gay-lit publishing house owned by The Advocate magazine in Los Angeles. It was accepted, and after an extensive re-write, it appeared in 1998. I was forty-three years old. My husband taunted me constantly that the book was as much about Desmond’s house and his belongings as it was about vampires. Which is totally true. The final title was the decision of the publisher, as was the original cover art (which I never liked). But the book sold. I got fan mail, and not always from gay men.
Then life intervened and I watched Desmond go out of print and the meagre royalty checks fade into memory.
For my fifty-fifth birthday in 2010, my husband bought me a Kindle. I was drowning in paperbacks, in addition to the hundreds of art and architecture and decorative arts books that filled our house. I needed a way to read without clutter.
But that same birthday also triggered a staggering mid-life crisis (having children at forty is a great delaying tactic). I don’t know if gay men’s mid-life crises are different from straight men’s (or women’s, for that matter), but mine left me gobsmacked and teetering on depression. My Kindle became my retreat.
My first few books on my Kindle reflected my love of historical novels and Victorian literature. My first gay-themed Kindle purchase was Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan in 2010. Through that young-adult novel about two boys in love, I stumbled into Brent Hartinger’s masterful Geography Club, and through that into After Elton,the gay pop-culture website founded by Brent Hartinger and his husband Michael Jensen. At the same time, I expanded my reading of YA LGBT novels into the world of M/M fiction and paranormal gay romance. I’d read quite a few before I realized that both the writers and the readers of this literature tended to be straight women with families. But there was no denying that something in the M/M genre touched me and gave me what I desperately needed emotionally. I began to email authors whose books I loved, knowing that it is never amiss to thank someone for writing a book that has moved you.
And it was M/M fiction that opened the door for my second novel.
Through the virtual friends I made on AfterElton, several of whom were writers, I was encouraged to write the sequel to Desmond, something that had been stirring in my mind for several years. There were unresolved issues at the end of my first novel. I had places I needed to take ‘Desmond Beckwith’. I had to give him his “happy ever after.” And now there was an actual literary genre in which to place it. Vampire in Suburbia was completed in 2011. Writing it was joyous and therapeutic. The time-gap between the two books allowed me to make adjustments for Desmond’s changing life. My new understanding of the M/M world let me gear my writing and my plot to the market I now knew existed. But mostly, Vampire in Suburbia gave me a new opportunity to explore the meaning of the idea of home as it might resonate with a man who would live forever, and who has to keep reinventing himself to survive in the mortal world. I shifted most of the action into my world—suburban New Jersey—both for the irony but for the authenticity that I could bring to that setting. It is no accident that both of my books feature museums and curators.
Realizing that I did not want to deal with the limitations of M/M fiction publishing houses, I decided to work with self-publishing friends and release my book through Kindle. Alyson Books had gone under, and I got the rights to Desmond back, so I could release them together with new cover art as a set.
Unlike many M/M writers, I use my own name, and indeed set my second novel in the very place I live and work. Most of my friends think I’m crazy, and that I’m really just writing porn decorated with antiques. But I know who my audience is, aside from myself. I know what we all need. And that’s enough. ‘Desmond’ is not me; but he is who I sometimes wish I was.
I don’t think there’s another Desmond book in me. But I have lots of writing ideas. Meanwhile, my life has intervened again, and my Kindle will be my link to the world of my heart and mind.
In honor of Ulysses and all the other fabulous reviewers joining our ranks, PBA would like to offer 1 lucky commenter a $10 Amazon gift card, which you can use to purchase Desmond, or 1000s of other fabulous LGBT titles.
contest ends 1 March 2014 @ 11:59pm
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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