We get a lot of email from Timothy James Beck readers, which is nice. We strive to answer every email that we receive and not send a "form" reply in return. I don’t say this to explain how wonderful we are, but offer it as an introduction to how Brandon M. Long came to be included in our Fool For Love anthology, because Brandon was a TJB reader who happened to write a few years ago and tell us that he enjoyed reading He’s The One. I wrote back to inform him there was another book, It Had To Be You, that was published before HTO, and suggested he might enjoy it, too. Months later, Brandon wrote again and started his email with something like "You might not remember me, but…" and said he’d read ITHBY and enjoyed it, too. Well, of course I remembered him and said as much. This went on, back and forth, over the years. Whenever we published a book, a few months later we’d get a nice email from Brandon. As time went on our correspondence bordered on the personal and one day Brandon admitted that he himself had thoughts about writing. Becky and I had just signed contracts for our anthology, so I brazenly replied and said, "Then this is your lucky day. Write a short story for me that says something about romance between men." I was wrong, though. It was both Becky’s and my lucky day and not Brandon’s, because the story he later sent to us, a workplace romance titled "A View" was good.
Timothy J. Lambert: It’s taken a long time for Fool For Love to be published. Did you ever think, Is this thing for real? Timothy must be pulling my leg. If you did, I couldn’t blame you for thinking that.
Brandon M. Long: It has been a long time, but it never occurred to me that the delays were anything other than the normal course of things. At the risk of sounding whiny, very few things just go off without a hitch for me. Why should this have been any different? I just figured that if it was meant to be, everything would work itself out, and if not…well, I already spent my check on a nice blender.
TJL: Were you surprised when I asked you to submit a story for our anthology?
BML: I was extremely surprised. We’d been “E-mail Pals” for quite a while and I was appreciative that you’d taken the time to answer my inane questions, offer suggestions, etc. I never would have guessed that “fan mail” would have led to your invitation. By the way, you’re the only author that I’ve ever taken the time to write to. I’m glad that I did.
TJL: I’m glad you did, too! I’ll be honest and say that I was surprised you sent "A View" to us. A lot of people say they want to be a writer, but never do it. I was impressed that you not only rose to the occasion, but sent us a good story. Had you been working on "A View" beforehand, or did you write it on the fly?
BML: It was something that I’d been working on before your invitation. I’d intended it to be a longer story with a different slant. I had to do some reworking for it to fit within the perimeters that you needed. I like the way it turned out and I’m proud to be included in the anthology.
TJL: Setting is a very important theme in your story. Was that intentional?
BML: Yes, it was. I think that most people experience sensory recall, at least to some extent. I’m very oriented that way. While my story doesn’t go far enough for the recall part, the descriptions and settings themselves set that up. Even after many years, there are smells, views, songs, etc. that evoke special memories; some happy, some melancholy.
TJL:Where do you write?
BML: I hate to admit this but a lot of my writing gets done at work. Usually on my lunch or breaks, but sometimes I just get on a jag and keep going. Other than that, my partner and I have a great study with massive book shelves, an ornate desk and, thanks to a wireless keyboard, I’m able to sit in a leather club chair and prop my feet up. That is, when the dogs aren’t jealous of the computer and hopping on my lap to get my attention. It’s a great room for reading and writing.
TJL: Do you read a lot? What type of books do you enjoy reading?
BML: I read A LOT. I remember coming across a statistic a couple of years ago that the average American reads five books a year. That struck me as incredibly sad. Because of what that says about the state of the American intellect but also because it’s not all that uncommon for me to read five books in a month and people like me are obviously skewing the average. I love reading and will read almost anything as long as I’m interested in the subject matter. I like the classics, action/adventures, sappy love stories (usually the gay sort) but I guess my favorite genres are fantasy (sci-fi type as opposed to the erotic sort) and historical fiction.
TJL: Any particular authors?
BML: I’ve been crazy for stories about the Cathars and Templars lately. My favorite authors (and this is the short list…there are so many brilliant writers out there. I couldn’t possibly mention all of them that have made an impression on me) are Umberto Eco, Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Hemingway, Robert Jordan, Cormac McCarthy and way up on the list is Timothy-either Lambert or James Beck. That wasn’t a cheap shot at sucking up. Honest.
TJL: Your story is in. You don’t have to suck up anymore. Can you remember the first gay novel you read, and where you got it?
BML: The first gay novel I read was Boy Culture by Matthew Rettenmund. That was more than a decade ago and I have a hard time remembering what I had for dinner last night, much less where I bought the book. Since then, I’ve joined a gay and lesbian “Book-of-the-Month” type club and have managed to get some great reads from it. A couple of the big book store chains have gay and lesbian sections that have been steadily improving over the years. I’ve been trying for a while now to remember where I was first introduced to TJB. I started out of order and read He’s the One first and that’s when I started emailing you. You suggested that I try It Had to Be You. I was hooked after that.
TJL:Now what? Are you working on another story or a novel?
BML: I have two novels that I’m working on. When I get bored or blocked on one, I revisit the other. I have a third that’s just in the outline phase. I haven’t figured out exactly where I want it to go. I may just start writing and see where the characters take me. I have a shortish story that I’m working on polishing. I’d pitched the idea to my brother as a possible graphic novel or screenplay and he really liked it but thought that I should be the one to write it.
Do you have questions for Brandon M. Long? Post them in the comments, and I’ll try to get him to answer. Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction, which includes "A View" by Brandon M. Long, will be published in February 2009 by Cleis Press. Click here to pre-order from Amazon.com.
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