Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Sorry Hollywood, I don't have the luxury of embarrassment right now

My friends all know me as a fairly outgoing guy. I always have a smile for people and I always try to do what I can to help anyone I can see who needs it.

But things aren't really all that great for me right now. I'm using all my strength to stave off depression, 'bad' thoughts, and trying to keep my head above water.

I've always been a bit reticent to ask for help. Having been brought up with the adage 'you're big enough and ugly enough to help yourself lad', this is how I've tended to cope. And I've always been embarrassed to directly ask for what I want.

This has all changed now, though. I literally have nothing left to be embarrassed about. I don't have the luxury any more of feeling stupid or crazy for even thinking anyone in the world would want to help me make a success of my creative endeavour.

I published a little novel last year, my first. And I'm not saying it's a game changer or 'one of the most important LGBTI novels of our times' (thank you Bridget Jones). But, you know, it is a decent story, really, with a great setting - Europe for goodness sake - and a fab 'soundtrack' that the main character has with him on his travels.

There are some great characters too - Madame Gilbert is a stand out favourite. And an LGBTI storyline - definitely bang on trend, some would say.

But, I've exhausted nearly all my limited cash and resources trying to encourage people to read it. It's been a mountain to climb, because I've had no backing from publishers or agents.

As if this wasn't enough of a pipe dream, I really would love to see it made into a film. It's set mostly in the 1980s, so there's loads of nostalgia factor; it takes readers to some of Europe's most glamorous locations - Paris, Barcelona, Alicante & Benidorm (What?), Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo and Venice.

So I figured this has to be a director's and actors' dream project. And yes also a logistical challenge for location managers, but, hey, details.

Which is why, this author, with nothing really left to lose, is writing to some of the world's best directors asking if they would be interested. I mean who do I think I am?

So here is my first: Brad Anderson, Hollywood director with credits like The Machinist and TransSiberian. He is on record as saying he would love to make any film set on a train. Well Brad, mine is set on a train, told from a train and the character is on-and-off them all throughout the story.

This is what I wrote to Brad. Do you think he'll ever see it or get back to me?
If he does, I'll let you know:

My email to Brad Anderson. Will he come on the journey?

Tough times as an indie author

It's the start of a new year and I'm unsure what happens next in my life. It's almost exactly a year since I published my first novel. I wish it had sold more.

It's not a groundbreaking story of triumph over adversity, nor a shagfest - although there is gay sex, woohoo - but I'm told by everyone who has read it that it resonated with them, made them feel good, took them back to their own experiences.

If I had a publisher and agent, maybe it would be different. But I just wish that indie authors like me could be given the same kind of exposure as the publisher/agent route.

The problem is that this is now my livelihood. Yet, because I'm totally unknown, it's really hard to get the word out. Although, I'm super grateful to the 19 people worldwide who bought my little story in December, and I really hope they enjoy it.

Of course the awful truth is that this kind of income meant that Christmas was tough for this writer. Poverty is horrible. And even though I published the book I've also tried to find a job to pay the mortgage, bills, etc.

Sadly, despite 25 years experience as a journalist, I can't even get an interview. I've got loads of experience and I work hard, but with the cold months ahead, it's not looking good. I quietly think that maybe people see my CV and think I'm too old. But of course no recruiter is allowed to say that. I feel that ageism is the hardest kind of discrimination to claim.

So here's my request to the universe - I wrote something that people seem to like, so I would love, no
I need, your help to find a way to get more people looking at it and buying it and maybe save me, too? Or at least help me earn enough to focus on more books.

When times are tough, like now, I try to be strong, but it's lonely here, unable to find enough income, unable to get even one well connected Twitter person to recommend my efforts as a read. It really matters. I dream that even just one 'important' person likes my story and then says so.

I'm not battling an anxiety illness. I consider myself fortunate that I don't have any debilitating depression - at least not yet - but I'm really beginning to struggle and sure could do with a lift, if anyone is able to give that to a complete stranger. Just a normal, gay guy, trying to survive.

Sorry to be so frank, but I do need some good news. Here's a link to my book, if you fancy a nice low cost read. And thanks to anyone out there who feels like giving this author a chance.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Getting over the gay age gap

Me and my man, Fouras Western France, Nov 2018
I've fallen in love for only the second time in my life.

I wasn't expecting it and thought I was past this kind of thing, being 52 and all. 

He is 38, so quite a bit younger, but insists he's totally in love with me, too. The age difference doesn't bother him. If anything, I'm the one being ageist, forward thinking our lives together, double checking if he really does mean it, worried about 'getting involved' with a younger guy.

When did I get to be so insecure? Well, that's a loaded question actually. I've been insecure for a couple of years now. Life has been a struggle, but I've held myself together and now want to enjoy the prospect of a new love in my life.

Photo: @dlanceblack Instagram
To be honest, if I look around, there are plenty of other couples in my life who have similar age gaps and who are perfectly happy. There's no end of hetero men happily re-married to 'younger models', and in my particular community - the gay one - such age gaps are common.

Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley seemed the most recent example I could find where gay love and age were proving a successful match; Their 20 year age bridge proving no barrier at all. And of course there's 'Elton and David', with a mere 15 years between them.

And then I suddenly remembered that my muse for Changing Trains, Christopher Isherwood, also fell for a much younger man.

Bachardy (left) and Isherwood when they first met
Isherwood was 48 years old when he met 18 year old Don Bachardy on a California beach one Valentines Day. Their 30 year age difference raised many eyebrows at the time, but the couple remained together for the next 30 years, until Isherwood's death in 1986.

They were an outrageous pairing who did nothing to hide their love for each other. They became one of Hollywood's most famous openly gay couples at a time when many gay actors were forced to remain in the closet.

It's only been a month with the new very special guy in my life, but I hope it keeps getting better. I'm not 100% over our 14 year age gap yet, but I'm working on it, and loving our time together. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Gay drama steps up a gear

Call Me anytime
We've had a raft of really great new gay stories being transferred to screen lately.

Call Me By Your Name and God's Own Country kicked off the year for me.

Two very different stories set decades apart, but both uplifting tales of gay love. They were equally stunning, and led to both winning many awards culminating in wins at this year's BAFTA/Oscars gong shows.

But, thankfully, it wasn't just on the big screen that we were being treated to new dramas of the love that hitherto dared not speak its name.

Darkly compelling
We're still recovering from the sumptuous, dark, disturbing and compelling real life drama The Assassination of Gianni Versace. A superb cast beautifully and audaciously took us through one of the most shocking gay serial killer stories of recent times. 

Currently, we're being treated to A Very English Scandal courtesy of  the BBC. A drama about the scandal involving then Liberal party leader and gay scoundrel Jeremy Thorpe, that rocked the UK political establishment in the 1980s. Hugh Grant plays the seedy politician at the heart of the affair and the fabulous Ben Whishaw as ex lover/victim Norman Scott.

Wilde is back
Around the corner we will all be heading back to the cinema to be enthralled by The Happy Prince, as gay actor Rupert Everett makes his directorial debut with the poignant biographical drama of the final chapter of Oscar Wilde's life. i definitely think we're going to need tissues for this one.

Streaming channel Netflix has also thrown it's rainbow coloured beach towel on the gay section of the broadcasting beach as it prepares to screen new coming of age drama, Alex Strangelove.

There's many more to come in what's turning out to be quite a year for LGBT cinema and TV drama. Check this list out. It's encouraging to finally see a broad variety of gay stories being written and transformed into major productions, whether for the cinema or TV.

Of course, I'm hoping that someone at BBC, HBO, Netflix or Hollywood will ring any day now telling me that coming-of-age coming out stories like Love Simon are the next big thing and that they'd like to film my book Changing Trains next.

Well, one has to hope. To quote Mr Wilde, "We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

What they're reading on Fire Island this year

Life really should be a beach
The other night I was Facebook messaging with a lovely woman I didn't know, but who co-runs a fab book group called The Fiction CafĂ© - Book Club, and whom I discovered was based in New York.

I was thrilled when she told me she had ordered a digital version of my novel for herself. Great, and thank you very much.

But then she added that she had also purchased a paperback version for the guests to enjoy at a beach property she manages on Fire Island, a long slithering and beautiful barrier stretch of land off the East Coast of the US.

Now I was born on the coast. Okay the east coast of Scotland, not half as sunny, so I've sought out
Gay favourite Fire Island
hot beaches out my whole life and I have great memories of partying on Fire Island in the late 1990s.

Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, as most visitors will know, are two of the most exclusive areas of the island and have long been popular destinations among the gay community. Don't we just love a bit of destination exclusivity?

By the way, there's a lot of beach in my novel Changing Trains. As the main character Sam travels around Europe, he heads to some fab beaches from the overcrowded sands of Benidorm on Spain's Costa Blanca, to the chic glamour of Cannes and Nice and the glittering, opulent shores of Monaco's Monte Carlo.

Isherwood (left) & Auden, Fire Island regulars
But back to Fire Island, and I only just discovered that my muse for Changing Trains, Christopher Isherwood, often visited the island along with his great friend, the poet WH Auden. Of course both typically got up to no good and were generally outrageous, I'm very pleased to learn.

Now, I don't have the rights to use it here, but if you Google 'Isherwood on Fire Island', you will come across photos of these two friends, together with fellow British writer Stephen Spender, on Fire Island in 1947.

I'm really touched that my little novel about Sam, travelling around 1980s Europe, coming to terms with his sexuality and learning about the wider world, has made its way to one of my favourite US beach destinations.

But I'm more impressed to learn that my muse also enjoyed everything that Fire Island has to offer, long before I was around. I feel closer to Isherwood now and share his love of fun in the sun.

So thank you Meghan Gibbons, I hope the boys enjoy their reading material. This modern day British, gay, writer is hoping they'll give it a glowing review on Amazon, once they've bronzed themselves in the hot Fire Island sunshine of course.