This is part 2 of my exclusive interview with bestselling writer Josh Lanyon. Due to its length, it is published in two parts and also appears in its French translation on my French gay book website livresgay.fr. You might want to read part 1 of this interview before proceeding.
PD: I always think of you as the Britishest US-author—sorry for that word—because your writing reminds me of Agatha Christie, E.F. Benson, or your fellow countrywoman, Elizabeth Peters, especially your pitch-perfect dialogues and the wry humour you show in, say, the Adrien-English-series or Séance on a Summer’s Night, for example. Did you read many British authors?
JL: My family background is what they used to call “Scotch-Irish”—(air quotation marks again, accompanied by a laugh)—which is accurate, given the amount of drinking that went on—with a bit of French, Italian and Welsh thrown in for emotional variety. I grew up in the Southern California Scottish sub-culture. (Seeing my amused expression, she adds) Yes, that is a thing!—My sisters and I learned highland dance, country dance, I studied Gaelic, and we’ve been in a Celtic folk band for just about thirty years. I grew up surrounded by Brits—Scots in particular—so yes, I grew up reading British crime writers. I read writers like Georgette Heyer, Ellis Peters, Agatha Christie, and all the Golden Age greats long before I got around to American crime writers like Chandler, Hammett, Hansen.
JL: I’m trying to find more time to read this year.
PD: What genres do you prefer?
JL: Mystery is definitely my preferred genre. Before I published Fatal Shadows I had literally read every single gay (and most lesbian) mystery published before 2000. My preference is actually vintage mystery. Particularly those written in the 1940s. In fact, my husband—the writer/critic Kevin Burton Smith—and I are working on a non-fiction book tentatively titled Mr. and Mrs. Murder about fictional married sleuthing couples prior to the 1960s.
PD: Oh, such as Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford! Just love those characters.
JL: Correct! Yes. Very good!
PD: Now to something completely different. In early August, your latest novel, Mainly by Moonlight, will be released (more about this book below, note from PD). If I’ve counted correctly, that’ll be the fourth novel you publish this year—to say nothing of your participation in the M/M Mystery Romance Anthology Footsteps in the Dark. How do you manage to be so prolific? Do have you have a special writing schedule? When do you have time for your hobbies—I gather you do have hobbies?
JL: In theory I do have hobbies! I love to garden, swim, watch classic film noir with the SO, chase my crazy little dog around the house and yard. (As a matter of fact, her dog, which she tells me is called Marlowe the Mutt, is currently curled on the back of her chair, snoring into her neck). I would love to read more. (Her expression becomes somewhat longing before she shakes it off.) I’m having a productive year, yes, but this is the most productive year in a very long time. I had a serious burnout in…God. When was it? 2012? I had done fourteen projects the previous year—three for mainstream publishers—and I had a spectacular crash and burn. I couldn’t bear to think of writing. Anything. At all. It was frightening. And it’s taken me this long to get back to what I consider a healthy and reasonable full speed.
PD: I also noticed how well edited and almost typo- and error-free your novels are, not counting the tiny errors the good old “shit happens”-ghost sprinkles any written work with. Do you proofread your work yourself, or do you have a special someone who does it for you? If it’s the latter, a big kudos to her/him…
JL (lights up): Merci! I’ll pass your compliments to the chef (winks at me). I use Keren Reed for editing most of the time. I can also recommend Deb Nemeth (she does all my Carina books) and Dianne Thies for copyediting.
PD: What are your next writing projects? Any chance we might get a sequel to the Adrien English-series? I guess I’m neither the first nor the only one to ask that question…
JL (with mock surprise): WHAAAA??? I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT!!!! I don’t currently have another AE novel in me. However, next year is the 20th anniversary of Fatal Shadows, so there will certainly be some kind of AE fiction happening. Most likely codas, but perhaps a short story or a novella. We’ll have to see.
PD: Mmmh… Can’t wait to be there and read it! By the way, my boyfriend is frustrated so little books have been translated into French. Do you have any projects in that sense? You’d make one man exceedingly happy as it is…
JL: MxM Bookmark does plan on translating the Art of Murder series and the Holmes & Moriarity series, so that’s good news, I hope. Of course, they can only publish so much, so I am open to working with an additional French publisher should one come along. I do have a lot of books out there needing translation.
PD: Have you already visited France? Or my home-country, Austria?
JL: No! Next year will be my first trip to France. I’m very excited. Sadly, I’ve never been to Austria. It always looks like a fairy-tale kingdom to me.
PD: It’s worth a trip, I can tell you. And I’m not only saying this because it’s my home-country… (Looks at his list of questions). Tell me—if you were to name only one, what would be your Favourite Book Ever, you know, with capital F, B, and E?
JL: I know some people can answer this, but I’m not one of them! Different books have meant different things to me at different points in my life. Sometimes these books stand the test of time, sometimes they don’t, but they all “do their work” (air quotation marks) as it were. I can say that the book that most influenced me was, as I mentioned, The Charioteer, by Mary Renault, but I’m not sure even that book would be my single most favorite book.
PD: Sometimes, we read a book and can’t help musing, ‘Darn—why haven’t I written this!’ Is there any such book you can think of?
JL: Ack. Again, I’m going to disappoint you. I’ve never read anything that I wished I had written. I’ve read things so good—and so bad!—I found them inspirational. I’ve read things I’ve loved and things I’ve thought, ‘Hm, how can I capture that feel in my own writing?’ Maybe when I was very young. I remember reading The Egypt Game and thinking it was the most fantastic book.
PD: Your upcoming release, Mainly by Moonlight, seems to be a murder mystery with a witchy twist (claps hands with excitement). Just for the record—two of my favourite genres! Now, I remember the first time I came upon that mix—murder mystery cum paranormal—in your writing when reading The Darkling Thrush. What made you stray, if I may say so, from your usual path?
JL: Well, you know as much as I love mystery, it’s fun to try different things. Also, it’s good to learn new things, to stretch those creative muscles. It keeps it fresh for me, and it attracts new readers. I like writing romantic, funny holiday stories too—and I try to do one each year. One of the best things I did—though maybe one of the least popular—was the Edwardian mash-up Curse of the Blue Scarab. There are some projects worth doing simply because they test you, which pushes you to be a better writer.
JL: I love, love, love this new trilogy. It’s—at least I hope!—funny and romantic and poignant and, yes, mysterious and magical. But at heart it’s an exploration of what it means to love. The story begins with Cosmo, who happens to be a witch, falling in love at first sight with John, who is non-magical and, worse, not terribly romantic. But Cosmo’s best friend—unbeknownst to Cosmo—casts a love spell on John. So, we have a relationship that starts out based on a false premise. By the time the spell is removed from John, he thinks he’s in love—maybe he is in love?—, and their wedding is two days away. Oh, and Cosmo is suspected of murder. So… it’s complicated. And in the second book, due out later this year, matters get far more complicated when John learns that Cosmo is, in fact, a witch. That’s when all hell breaks loose—though hopefully not literally. (She laughs at that).
PD: You’re very successful with M/M murder mystery romances. Is there another genre you’d like to explore?
JL: Eventually, I’ll probably transition to non-fiction; I see that as a natural progression. But for whatever reason, right now I’m experiencing a kind of creative renaissance, and I’m full of ideas and stories. The challenge is finding time to actually write everything buzzing in my brain.
PD: Speaking of time—my gosh! I didn’t see it fly by! I guess I should let you do some more writing. Again, a huge thanks for talking to me!
JL: Thank you so much, Dieter, for such thoughtful and entertaining questions. I enjoyed chatting with you!
Josh Lanyon Interview Part 1
Title: Mainly by Moonlight: Bedknobs and Broomsticks 1
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: August 1st, 2019
Genre(s): Murder Mystery/Magic
Page Count: 158
A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie.
Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth?
Cosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. And if he can’t undo a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars…
Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John races to prove his fiancé’s innocence before they take their vows.
As Cosmo searches for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm.
Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?
Mainly by Moonlight is the first book in the sexy Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery series. If you like spell-binding suspense, steamy star-crossed fun, and a dash of paranormal, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s charming tale.