As promised, help me to welcome Joshua Skye, author of THE ANGELS OF AUTUMN.
IDI – Hello Joshua. I’m glad you could join me.
JS – Thanks for having me.
IDI – Let’s start off big. Are you a dreamer, and if so, what are your dreams?
JS – Of course, I would love to have a bestseller or two. Similarly, who wouldn’t want fame and fortune? I love writing and am proud of my work, but I would have to say my goals are more modest. I want my stories to find their audience and have the ability to take care of my family. A couple of movie adaptations and I’d be as giddy as a kid in a candy store. I can’t lie about that. Everett Lewis would be the perfect director for The Angels of Autumn.
IDI – What are you the most passionate about within your writing? What keeps the fires burning?
JS – The imagery. Creating fantastical, surreal moments is what I live for. I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time getting my descriptions just right so that they invoke a dream-like picture. Even if the subject matter is horrific or perverse, I want it to have this fairy tale quality to it. I get so caught up in those moments. Love it.
IDI – I know that I have ideas that cross over from my preferred genre. Do you have any such ideas? What are your views on genre crossing?
JS – I’m all for it. I prefer to defy genre conventions anyway and often combine various genres. I particularly like horror and fantasy, I find the surreal nature of both greatly appealing. I have some ideas that aren’t within my comfort zone, but nothing has quite coalesced just yet. William Peter Blatty, the author of The Exorcist, was originally a comedy writer, if I’m not mistaken. Look at what he accomplished when he crossed genres.
IDI – I’ve heard arguments for each side, but when you begin a novel, do you outline or sketch before you feel comfortable enough to start or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
JS – I’ve done both. I must admit, I am happiest with the final product when I don’t do a detailed outline. The process is more fun for me, as well. The Angels of Autumn is the result of both. I had a detailed outline but deviated quite a bit. The ending is nothing like I had originally intended. It’s much better.
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
JS – I’d have to say, I have two. Stephen King and Shirley MacLaine, two completely different authors. Stephen King has always fascinated me, ever since I was a kid. I once got into trouble in the third grade for bringing Night Shift to school to read. Shirley MacLaine appeals to the spiritual being in me. I love her candor. In my opinion, they are both American treasures.
IDI – Hands down, all time favorite book?
JS – Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it. I love it. I have several copies of it, paperback and hardcover. Absolutely, without any doubt, that is my favorite book.
IDI – They say first know the rules, and then you may break them. Which rules do you find yourself breaking most often and how does it add to your writing?
JS – They say avoid the taboo subjects: politics and religion. I ignore that rule constantly. I also ignore the idea of censoring sexuality or restricting it to sexually based plotlines. The Angels of Autumn defies these rules and I think it works very well. These are subjects we deal with on a daily basis; I think it’s unrealistic to pretend they don’t exist when writing. It is especially cowardly to avoid them out of fear. I believe in going where the story takes you and that is exactly what I do.
IDI – Who has been the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
JS – My fiancé Ray and our son, Syrian, equally. They are very sweet and so very supportive. I am very lucky. We always do goofy little happy dances when something of mine gets picked up for publication. My best friend Alyssa is very supportive as well. I love them all. Their support means the world to me.
IDI – Who, in your opinion, was the best character ever written?
JS – Harry Potter. I have never personally come across such a detailed or more well-drawn character in literature. As readers, we were there with him as he grew up, as he became this beautiful, flawed, altruistic human being. It was an amazing journey, once-in-a-lifetime really. J.K. Rowling has much to be proud of, and other authors all across the world have much to be jealous of.
IDI – Who (or what) has been your biggest inspiration?
JS – My dreams.
IDI – How often do you read? What are you reading now?
JS – I read quite a bit depending on my mood. I read political commentaries, spiritual journals, biographies, genre fiction both adult and young adult in nature, and magazines. Rolling Stone is my favorite magazine. That’s what I’m reading right now; the latest issue. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to The Shining. I have high expectations.
IDI – How much of your creativity do you think is innate and how much do you think is learned?
JS – I think I’m a natural storyteller. It’s something I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. That much is completely instinctive. I’ve learned to be a good writer. I think I’ve grown and improved over the years. My work is nothing like it was when I was a teenager or when I was in my twenties. In fact, I think my work has significantly improved over the last few years so there is definitely a learning process involved.
IDI – Joshua, one last question. Do you believe creativity and genius go hand-in-hand?
JS – Absolutely.
IDI – Well, that was interesting. Thank you very much for sharing your work and your thoughts with our readers. I wish you the very best in your writing career and hope you’ll drop by from time to time to keep everyone up-to-date with you accomplishments.
IDI – I’d like to include a little bit about Joshua and where you can find his work…
The Angels of Autumn Info Sheet
Kincaid Kingsley returns to the town of his childhood after the death of his twin brother, Xander. Believing the crime to be motivated by hate and prejudice, Kincaid sets out to discover why the police are no longer actively investigating the case and hopefully uncover his brother’s killer in the process.
Things in Wren are not as they seem, however, and the closer that Kincaid gets to an answer, the more danger he encounters. Why are all the townspeople so afraid to share what they know?
As the mystery surrounding Xander’s death unravels, the town becomes increasingly blind to what is actually going on. Can Kincaid discover who killed his brother and save the town from evil?
Tagline: A Profound and Powerful Gay Erotic Thriller
Author: Joshua Skye
Publisher: Pink Pepper Press
Number of Pages: 212 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0615702100 (Pink Pepper Press)
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Links for Purchase:
The Angels of Autumn Excerpt:
From Chapter Five…
The Lombardi Funeral Home was among the oldest of buildings in Wren, constructed in the late 1800s as both a business and a residence by the Lombardi family, immigrants from Italy, of course.
They conducted the bulk of their unusual profession on the shadowy, beautifully decorated, meticulously maintained first level while the untidy dealings with body preparation were carried out in the basement. The second and third levels were where they actually lived. Kept in the family for well over a hundred years by strict legal clauses in every will and testament down the Lombardi line it was now owned and operated by the widow Mary Anne Lombardi and her only son, Angelo.
Kincaid felt queasy as he looked around the parlor. The furnishings were ancient, most assuredly antiques, perhaps even the original Italian décor, all aglow in the flickering light of electric candles. Aside from what little daylight filtered in through the dark sheers, there were no other light sources. A little bell had announced his arrival several minutes before but he’d yet to be greeted.
There was a musty smell and a pungent chemical odor beneath it. Someone, somewhere deep in the house turned on a hissing record player and after a few scratchy seconds a low, somber sonata began to play over unseen speakers. A curtain parted and a tall shadowy figure emerged. He said, “How may I help?”
Angelo was a handsome man with typically Italian features. He was dressed in a nice, solemn suit and had his hair combed strictly back. His large hazel eyes fell on his guest and there was an audible sound of shock, a sigh and then a deep intake of air. He said, “Kincaid. Wow, I thought you’d never come back to this place especially when you didn’t attend your brother’s funeral. Everyone thought it was pretty scandalous. So, how’s it going?”
Ignoring the crude judgment, Kincaid detected a genuine surprise in Angelo’s voice. He was the same age and had been in many of the very same classes as the Kingsley twins, he’d even been one of the disapproving assholes who had put them through hell. Angelo had been one of the popular kids, one of the over-exulted Wren Dragons, a dumb jock destined to forever mourn his golden high school days. As an adult, Angelo didn’t seem so intimidating anymore. He was just a man in his late twenties, wasting away in the family business, no longer taut, tan and toned, no longer important, no longer a Dragon…the toast of the town. He had a beer belly which alone made Kincaid happy. “I’m okay,” he replied. “How have you been?”
Angelo’s lips quivered when he forced a smile and answered, “Good. Thank you. How’s your mother?”
“As good as can be expected, I guess.”
Angelo said, “Right. Well, how can I help you?” He was stiff, formal. The fingers of his hands were entwined and resting at his waist. He cocked his head to one side, the sympathy in his eyes was counterfeit, a professional automation.
“I wanted to talk to you about my brother’s funeral, actually.” Kincaid found he couldn’t look at Angelo when he said ‘funeral,’ and so he diverted his gaze across the room to nothing in particular. Everything about the place was so old.
Angelo’s voice got deeper and there was a hint of umbrage to it. “I imagine you would. Your mother expressed her disappointment in your brother’s restoration. We’re very sorry she was so displeased. I assure you we pro-rated our fees accordingly.”
Kincaid slowly brought his attention back to his host and said, “Yeah well, do you do the restoration?”
“No. My mother does.” Angelo’s stance changed, he was getting defensive both vocally and physically.
“May I speak with her, please?”
“I’m not here to cause a scene or anything. I just want to talk to her. That’s all, Angelo. I’m not going to berate your mother.”
The Italian man just stood there for several tedious and silent moments assessing the guest’s intentions. Kincaid refused to look away this time no matter how nerve-racking or unsettling the situation slowly became. He wasn’t in high school anymore, he wasn’t the frightened and belittled teenager who shied away from everyone and Angelo wasn’t the pompous cock-of-the-walk anymore. They were adults and far more equal now than Angelo was probably even aware of.
Kincaid prepared himself for a physical altercation. Being picked on mercilessly had prompted him to take quite a few self-defense classes over the years. Angelo might have been able to beat the shit out of him once, long ago, but his glory days were long over. He was out of shape and didn’t have his buddies around to back him up. Kincaid put on a confident little grin and stated, “I said please.
Angelo’s shoulders slouched ever so slightly. He swallowed hard and his eyes turned down as his voice became professional, disengaged. He said, “Of course. If you’ll excuse me I’ll see if she’s available. Please, take a seat.”
“Thank you, Angelo,” Kincaid said lowly.
Angelo nodded and disappeared behind the curtain.
Kincaid turned and meandered into the small, dismal sitting room and over to a stiff, uncomfortable sofa and sat down. A spider crawled over the surface of the weathered coffee table. Not particularly squeamish about such things, Kincaid watched it with a distracting fascination, the way it moved, the legs click, click, clicking along. He frowned as he realized that this spider was malformed. It had nine legs instead of eight and yet the added appendage didn’t seem to impede it in the slightest. He found himself leaning down, close, to get a better view of the little creepy crawly. The spider stopped. Perhaps it was now quite aware of its audience. It was perfectly still, frozen.
“Mr. Kingsley.” The voice was soft.
Kincaid flinched. The spider lurched into motion and scurried over the edge of the table and vanished. Being polite, Kincaid stood and turned his attention to the petite woman standing in the entranceway. She clutched a leather-bound portfolio to her bosom. Her salt and pepper hair was pulled into a tight bun on her head. She had modest make-up on and was dressed in a long, conservative black dress. There was a beautifully crocheted shawl draped over her shoulders perhaps utilized to hide the slight curvature of her upper spine. Kincaid said, “Ms. Lombardi, thank you for seeing me.”
She smiled courtly and entered the room, moved gracefully around the back of the sofa and sat down next to her guest. Kincaid sat down as well. Her eyes were down. He wondered what she was thinking. He imagined she thought he was there to complain. He wanted to reassure her he was not and so he said, “I didn’t come here to…”
Without looking at him, she shoved the portfolio at him. Sheepishly, he accepted it and took a deep breath before opening it. For a moment he expected to see pictures of his dead brother, before and after. It wasn’t something he was even remotely interested in. They were pictures of the dead and indeed they were before and after shots, instamatic snapshots, many of them yellowed with age. The first was an old man whose face had practically been pulled off in some horrible accident. After the restoration he simply appeared as though he were napping. The second was a woman whose forehead had been cleaved open and again the after picture was perfect. On and on the pictures went, each turn of the page revealing flawless transformations.
She said demurely, “My work. As you can see, I am very good at it.”
“It’s immaculate, you’d never know, but my mother said she could…” Kincaid paused as a realization hit him. He turned his eyes away from the Polaroid snapshots in the photo album. The widow Lombardi looked sad and afraid at the same time. His voice was shaky, hesitant. He said, “You did it on purpose.”
Mary Anne nodded and took the album back from him, she closed it and pressed it, embraced it, to her breast. Her eyes moved downward until she stared at the floor and there she focused for a long time, barely breathing, silent and still. She was contemplating something. Kincaid’s mind raced with what those thoughts might be. His heart fluttered nervously. What secret was she about to reveal?
Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of LILY WHITE LIES and MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE, under the pen name, Nova Scott. You can find her books here: LWL or MIAS
Or you can learn more about her and her work in any of the following places