Last week, Alex Akira interviewed me for his blog,
Alex Akira: I’m pleased to have with me here today Gay Fiction Author Alan Chin. Thank you for joining us today.
1) Could you please share three words that describe you?
Devoted, Persistent, Enthusiastic
2) Please organize these words, placing the most important to you first and briefly explain your reason. Family, Writing, Sex, Music, Friends, Animals, Love, Sports, Children
This is a great question.
Love, Family, Friends, Children, Animals, Writing, Sex, Sports
I have practiced Buddhism for over thirty years, which means I strive to place love and compassion for all living creatures above all else, explaining my first five picks. After my spiritual love, I place my devotion on writing, which remains something I’m consumed with. I love the creative aspect of developing characters, settings and story plots. Last come sex and sports. They were a large part of my life a dozen years ago, but the older I grow, the less significant they become.
3) How long have you been writing?
I have loved writing since getting my masters degree in writing back in 1991. I didn’t start writing to be published until I retired from the corporate world in 1999, and started writing my first novel, Island Song, in 2002, which was published in 2008. Since releasing Island Song, I’ve published six other novels and one short story.
4) What are you working on right now?
Just days ago I completed a novel, First Exposure, that I’ve been working on for three years. It will be published by Bold Strokes Book in Aug. 2014. It’s about a straight, military man who mistakenly becomes the target of homophobic rage by befriending a gay sailor.
I’m also working on a collection of six short novellas all taking place in Thai Buddhist temples. Most of these stories (some based on true events) are stories of Western men traveling to Thailand to become monks. They are about culture shock, about finding or losing love, and about realizing what is really important in life.
5) Which character in your book(s) do you identify with, and why?
Ha! All of them. (grins) They all come from inside me, and good or bad, saint or scoundrel, they are all splinters of my varied personality and imagination.
6) Share the names of a few authors who inspire you.
There are so many. Colm Toibin and Marguerite Duras for their beautiful prose. Truman Capote for his vivid characters. Christopher Isherwood, Michael Cunningham and Evelyn Waugh for everything. I’m also a fan of Michael Crichton for just solidly entertaining storytelling. And of course, Annie Proulx for her brilliant short stories.
We are so lucky to live in a time where we have so many masters to choose from.
7) Share the music/musicians that you like and how they add to your life or writing?
When it comes to music, I’m a bit of a gay cliché. First and foremost, I’m an opera queen. I love all types of classical music, and most types of jazz. I was raised on ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s rock, and that still holds a place in my heart.
Music has a huge hold on my life. I met my husband at the San Francisco Opera twenty years ago, and it is a love we share, something that brings us closer together. We have traveled to over forty countries over the last fifteen years, and have attended concerts and opera performances in many of those countries.
8) If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you choose?
I once managed a team of software engineers and cutting-edge IT projects, but I don’t think I would go back to software development no matter how much they paid me.
I have considered from time to time—and I’m leaving this option open—of becoming a novice, Buddhist monk, and walking the spiritual path, inching my way toward enlightenment. Part of me would really love to study the scriptures, and have a master who would guide me down that path. I’d be there now if it were not for my commitment to my husband (also the thought of getting up at 4am every morning and begging for food, only to eat one meal per day. It’s a hard life that I’m not sure I could endure.)
Barring that, I would want to do something creative like producing/directing documentary films. I guess I’m still a storyteller at heart, and a different career would need to incorporate that aspect of my personality.
9) Where can we find you on the internet?
You can read the first few chapters of all my published books (seven in all) at http://alanchin.net You can also select the “Free Story” button and I’ll email you a free short story from my Thai Monk collection.
I also maintain a writers blog at http://alanchinwriter.blogspot.com/ where I post my thoughts, book reviews, writing tips, and excerpts from my works.
10) Share a brief excerpt from your latest work with us.
The Plain of Bitter Honey - Published by Bold Strokes Books
Buy link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Plain-of-Bitter-Honey%2C-The-%252d-by-Alan-Chin-eBook
At last, Aaron opened his eyes to find himself staring into eyes that were disturbing in their clarity. Those eyes bored into his; they seemed to dissolve all questions and all answers within their depth. They were the eyes of a man watching the trajectory of a stag leaping off a cliff, with more amusement than horror, but at the same time expressing sympathy for the stag.
“I’m sorry that I’ve put you in danger,” Aaron said. “I’ll never do it again. Packs?”
“Because you’ll give up these underground activities?”
“Because I’ll keep this shit far away from you.”
“Okay, packs.” Hayden hooked his little finger through Aaron’s and gave it a tug. He leaned forward and kissed Aaron on the lips—a loving, sensual kiss. Aaron didn’t resist. Considering our circumstances, Aaron thought, this might prove to be our last chance to show affection.
Hayden pulled back. “No matter what, I love you.”
“Yes, but I wanted to say it out loud, just once.”
Hayden squeezed Aaron’s hands with icy fingers. “What about this Julian fellow. Does he make you happy?” Aaron asked, already knowing the answer.
“Brother, have you forgotten the last chorus of Oedipus: Call no man happy until he is dead.”
Aaron nodded. “You writers are so full of shit.”
They kissed again before Aaron led his brother back into the living room. All eyes turned toward them.
“Listen up, people,” Aaron said. “It’s time for a hasty retreat. We’ll go over the roof in pairs, three minutes apart. Hopefully they’re not watching the alley. Stubbs, you take Maggie. Hayden, you and Julian can leave the way you came, but you’d better hurry.
We’ll meet up at the safe house in the Castro in three days time.”
Stubbs and Maggie checked their handguns; both clicked their safety off.
The Armenian hissed, “Van coming. Looks like Marwick’s.”
Aaron rushed to the window. A black van was too far down the hill to identify. He’s guessing, Aaron thought. He snatched the binoculars and waited. Seconds ticked by like months until the van moved close enough for him to check the license plate. His heart fell. He turned back to the room to see Stubbs and Maggie still standing at the doorway.
“Go dammit; go now.”
Stubbs took Maggie by the arm. They disappeared into the hallway.
“Hayden, Julian, change of plans,” Aaron said. “You both go over the roof.”
Aaron dashed to Hayden, pulled a Glock from his belt and held it out. “Things might get dicey. Take this.”
Hayden shook his head.
They glared at each other, and Aaron saw the emotions churning behind his brother’s eyes.
“Shit,” Aaron hissed, returning to the window. He dropped the Glock beside the mirror and his wallet. As he picked up the binoculars he wiped the sweat from his forehead before training the binoculars down the hill.
The van chugged up the street. When it reached the end of the block, the two Homeland HumVee-Xs dashed out of hiding, again, to block the road. The van stopped as four uniformed men jumped out of their vehicles. Two officers converged on the driver’s door, one barking orders and the other standing off with his gun drawn. The other two sauntered around the van, their M4s held at the ready. One officer walked to the driver’s door and shined a flashlight on the driver, no doubt asking to see I.D. cards. The driver’s window slid down; red flashes burst and shots rang out. The van sped backward, spraying more shots. From the rooftops on both sides of the street, spotlights sprang to life, casting theatrical beams on the van. Machinegun fire cut the air, pelting the van with red tracers from above.
There was no way to help them. Aaron waved at his team still standing in his living room. “Everybody! Go now, over the roof! GO!”
They all rushed out the doorway, except Hayden.
“Aren’t you coming?” Hayden asked.
“I’m right behind you.”
“Brother, I’m simple, not stupid.”
“Look, dammit, they’ll be here any second. Now go. Hurry!”
A crashing sound yanked Aaron’s head back to the window. The van spun out of control, smashed into a parked car, and flipped on its side. Bullets peppered the van for another half-minute. The noise sounded like a twelve-foot string of firecrackers. Then it stopped, leaving a stunned hush. No sign of life registered within the van. Two officers lay on the street, motionless. Smoke rose through the beams of spotlights, a shifting pall between the borders of light.
Suddenly, another noise cut the silence—the throaty growl of an engine starting below Aaron’s window. Aaron glanced down to see a man straddling his brother’s motorcycle. The lean figure and dreadlocks were unmistakable. Hayden gunned the engine to get everyone’s attention. The spotlights turned on him. He revved it once more and flew up the street in the opposite direction.
“What the…?” Aaron whispered to an empty room. On a hunch, he glanced at the coffee table, and his heart imploded. His brown wallet, which held his I.D. card, was missing. In its place was Hayden’s calf-skin wallet.
The screech of tires whipped Aaron’s head back to the street. Two HumVee-Xs now blocked Hayden’s exit. Uniformed men leaped from the vehicles with rifles drawn.
Hayden slid into a tight turn and gunned the engine, rocketing him the opposite direction. He bent low over the handlebars. But now he was barricaded in from both sides of the block. Hayden came to a dead stop in the middle of the block. The searchlights zeroed in on him, yellow and brilliant, catching him like Bambi in the headlights. Someone shouted in a throaty voice. Two officers on each side of the block dropped to one knee and raised their M4s to a firing position.
It appeared to be a stalemate.
Aaron knew his brother was drawing all the attention on himself to give Aaron a clean getaway, but before he could move the front door burst inward. Officers rushed in with weapons held at the ready.