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Travis O’Toole is still being blackmailed by John and eager for Spike to come to his rescue. Although Travis has asked for Spike’s help, he still hasn’t done anything to stop John from continuing with his demands. What is taking Spike so long? Why does Travis have to endure John’s sadistically cruel sexual tortures? And when Spike does arrive, how will he force John to pay for his evil deeds?
And then there’s Bart Findley, the colossal college football stud who, to his shock and utter disbelief, finds himself abducted from the Calderfield College locker room and taken to a private gym, where he is forced to explore a hidden desire he’d experienced only once before.
The fun has only begun, and the boys of Calderfield College will never be the same again.
Ron Radle, the author of Degrees of Passion, took the time to answer a few questions.
Degrees of Passion takes place during the Reagan years, can you tell us why you chose that time period.
I grew up during that period, matured sexually and in other ways, so it seemed natural to choose it as the setting of a novel.
One of the things I really enjoy about Degrees of Passion is the relationship David has with his straight roommate, Laddie, who doesn’t have a problem with David being gay. Their relationship is pivotal to the story, IMHO. How do you view David and Laddie’s relationship?
It’s a complex relationship. They’re total opposites in so many ways, politically, sexually, temperamentally, but they love each other and accept each other like brothers. Perhaps it is because they are, deep down, seeking the same thing – which is romantic love and sexual fulfillment. They understand each other very well.
Men are very physical beings, which is shown in Degrees of Passion. How does the aspect of being a gay man help and hurt David?
He’s drawn as being attractive himself physically, although no Colt model or Falcon Studios stud. So he is able to attract, for the most part, men he truly desires. On the other hand, his idealism hurts him, He doesn’t always understand that physical beauty and character are not entirely correspondent.
As a publisher, I think that Degrees of Passion has a very personal feel to it. How much of yourself was put into the writing? How close to this book are you?
It is one of the most personal things I’ve ever written. I’ve experienced so much of the hurt and passion David experiences. There was a Derek Windsor in my life, the blond, handsome prince, the physical ideal, and much of the background of the book comes from my own background.
The south plays a big part in both Degrees of Passion and Two Sides of the Coin. I know that you’re a southern boy yourself, and southern fiction has its own niche in literature (i.e. Faulkner and Tennessee Williams); do you think you could ever write about a non-southern person.
Yes. I’ve written pieces with non-Southern settings and non-Southern characters. Human nature is, basically, the same, whether we hail from north or south. Writing about the South allows me a bit more creative use of the language. What was it Flanner O’Connor said? The South produces so many good writers because we have the Bible and Shakespeare. Language, and specifically language in the cause of storytelling, flows naturally from us.
I’m an east coast, northern boy through and through, so reading about the south and having it so ingrained into a story gives it a texture that’s alien to me, which is also what attracts me to it. A lot of what I like to read for my own personal pleasure are books that bring me out of the place I know, into another reality. Books like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker made me look at the world around me in a different way. Is this something you hope to do with your writing? Do you hope to show people the south as a gay man?
Yes, I do. So much gay writing is urban centered. Even books set in Atlanta do not always give an accurate feel for the lives of many, many thousands of gay men live in the so-called “boondocks.” I’m very interested in the boondocks, Southern or non-Southern, and how gay men carve out their lives there. In a way it is more of a challenge than living one’s life in NY, LA, or Atlanta.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m always working on short fiction and have some pieces set to appear in various anthologies. And I’m kicking around some ideas for a new novel. One may be a sequel to Two Sides of the Coin in which the two main characters, Danny and Brad, become involved in the mystery of an abused young gay man.
What do you hope people will take with them after reading Degrees of Passion?
A sense of how gay men love and bleed the same as anyone else. And of course hardons. I want them to close the book feeling frisky and ready for love themselves.
Seventh Window Publications is looking for unpublished authors with new and innovative manuscripts. Do you have a desire to write a sizzling gay romance? Now is the time to put your fingers to the keyboard and tell your story. We’re looking for novellas and novels that are well written and fresh. They don’t have to be full of sex…unless that’s what you want. Story matters more than sex, along with interesting characters and vivid settings.
I would like to stories with minorities, interracial romance and some dark paranormal. A fun, spooky ghost story would really make my day. Take a look at our web site to get an idea of what Seventh Window publishes to see if your story might fit in. http://www.seventhwindow.com/
If you want to submit your manuscript, go here: http://www.seventhwindow.com/index.php?main_page=contact_us and tell us about your story. Please include the word count, your name, and a brief summary of the plot. Keep the plot to the basic, don’t tell every nuance of the story.
Our most recent titles are Light and Shadow by GL Roberts, Missing by Drake Braxton, Velvet by Xavier Axelson and Out of the Past by Jeffrey Ballam. We have published NL Gassert, MJ Pearson, Eric Arvin, Michele L Montgomery, Christopher Trevor, Bebe Burnside and others.
Xavier Axelson’s first novel, Velvet, was just published by Seventh Window. I decided to ask a few questions about the novel and Xavier’s writing process.
Tell us a little about how you came up with the idea for Velvet.
The last page of a fashion magazine inspired Velvet. There was a pair of velvet shoes accompanied by a write up about velvet, the 15th century, and how back then you could be killed for wearing it. I began doing research and discovered the laws of sumptuary, and the seed of a story was discovered.
The laws of sumptuary plays a pretty big role in Velvet. Can you tell us a bit about these laws.
The laws of sumptuary were enacted for a number of reasons, most involving the need to make clear the distinctions between levels of society. It was believed that if you couldn’t distinguish a peasant from a prince, moral chaos would certainly ensue.
The language in your books is strong and particular to each story and sets the tone while giving the reader an added sense of the surroundings. In Velvet, I feel this is your most lush use of language. How much thought do you give your word choices when writing? Does it just flow with the story?
It really just flows with the story. My brain tends to naturally gravitate towards the language tones in Velvet. I love the Elizabethan, and Medieval periods and find the language incredibly satisfying and lyrical. The characters also guide me. All I have to do is follow their lead and they usually give generously of their voices.
Some authors write one type of story stick with it, but you seem to bounce around the board. You’ve written a western, a pulpy police story, two paranormals (egads, a repeat!) and now a historical. Do you think this has helped you grow as a writer?
Well, to be fair, Velvet is historical in the sense that it is based on an idea in history, but I was sure to make the world a place out of time. I did not want to be held to the hard and fast rules of history.
I think everything I write helps me grow as a writer. With Velvet, I did learn to take control and not let the story become the boss. There were moments when I would tell myself, “Wait a minute, I’m writing this. I can fix whatever isn’t working, I can write my way out of whatever predicament I’ve gotten my characters into.”
Like in The Birches, there’s an almost magical quality to Velvet. Is this something we’re going to see more of in your fiction?
The idea of writing magically is unintentional, but apparently ingrained in my creative process, so I would have to say yes, it would be something that will pop up again in future writings.
All your titles (Earthly Concerns, The Incident and Velvet in particular) have a strong sense of story. Do you feel that story is more important than genre?
Genre is a myth. It’s like the idea you can only drink red wine with red meat. I wrote a zombie story called, “Cravings,” in between Earthly Concerns and Velvet, I’d never written anything in that genre before. I was stunned when it was accepted for publication. It was a challenge to see how far I could push myself. If a story comes to me, I write it, regardless of what genre it falls under.
Clothing plays a role in Velvet, do you pay attention to fashion?
I pay attention to design. I love architecture, art, fashion and the design process. I find fashion to be a facet of inspiration and expression, and I do read many magazines involving these interests.
What new projects do you have awaiting your fans?
A short story called “The Sons of Orion” will be part of the Tricks of the Trade anthology with Bold Strokes this January. I also have the first book of a trilogy submitted for publication and apparently, my column at examiner.com will continue its crazy journey with new interviews and fringe culture madness.
The first novel from Xavier Axelson is set against a backdrop of decadence, privilege, and intrigue. Virago, the royal tailor, makes a discovery that will test the bonds of brotherhood, unravel the forbidden secrets of his heart and threaten the very fabric of his existence.
In a land where cruelty is disguised as allegiance, loyalty is masked by obligation and the laws of sumptuary govern the people, nothing is more dangerous than Velvet.
Love and lust combine in the sizzling new novel from Ron Radle.
It isn’t easy to be a gay man in a small southern college, especially during 1986, the Reagan years. Nobody knows this better than David Meador, small town Southern boy whose desire for men is a secret shared only with his closest friend and roommate, Laddie Crawford.
When David is asked to become a tutor for college football player Derek Windsor, his life is turned upside down. David has been fawning over Derek ever since he first saw him on campus, which makes his job as tutor for the handsome jock with a possessive girlfriend that much more difficult. And to make matters worse, David suspects that Derek might have some hidden desires of his own.
David is about to learn that in college, students learn more than what is in their textbooks and that heartache and lust are tempered by Degrees of Passion.