Please welcome fabulous authors B.G. Thomas, J. Scott Coatsworth, Jamie Fessenden, and Michael Murphy as they answer a couple of questions about the anthology A More Perfect Union from Dreamspinner Press.
What was it like working with other authors on this anthology?
B.G. Thomas came to me personally early in 2015, pitching the idea for the anthology. At the time, we didn’t know how the Supreme Court was going to rule in June. But he wanted to tell the stories of gay men and marriage, by authors who were all gay men, and married.
I jumped at the chance. I penned Flames, drawing on my own personal history and my old hometown of Tucson, Arizona (we’re in Sacramento now).
When the stories were all finished, we each had the chance to read the other stories, and I was thrilled with the variety in the collection. But they all had a common theme. Love. But I hadn’t met the other three authors until this past March, when all of us were at the Dreamspinner Retreat in Orlando. We had a chance to spend a little time together, and got some great pics of us as a group and of our four hands together with our wedding rings.
I totally should have worn a dress shirt. But I wanted to show off my support for marriage equality instead. *sigh* Anyhow, it’s a great group of guys, and I am proud to be a part of it.
I knew Jamie and Michael already and love them—two very different but wonderful guys who wrote very different and wonderful stories. And when I did the anthology “A Taste of Honey,” I fell madly in love with J Scott’s story and when I presented the idea for “A More Perfect Union” to my publisher, I knew instantly I wanted him to be a part of it. Working with them was as wonderful and I would do it over and over again!
I’d been friends with all of them before Ben proposed the anthology, and I knew they were all good writers, so I was happy to jump on board.
While there are four authors represented in this anthology, the editor did all of the work with the authors, so it was not until all of the stories were completed that I knew what the other authors had written. The Editor was wonderful at coordinating, guiding, and nudging us along when necessary. From that point of view, I could not have asked for a better collaborator than Ben Thomas.
Were there any challenges writing to this theme?
As far as challenges? Not really. It’s a theme I am intimately famliar with from my decade plus fighting for it, and it felt natural to write about it. I hope you love the stories!
To me it was a dream come true. First, of course, the anthology was my idea. And I was the one who approached the authors and asked them to join me. And it really was a dream. While the stories had some similarities, they were all very different and my heart just zinged as I read them.
For a long time, I’d been wanting to tell the story of how Erich and I met and eventually married. To me, it was very romantic (of course), and I thought I could make it romantic for readers. But real life is complex, and condensing all the events that took place over a decade into a novella was very challenging.
Obviously, I had to leave some things out. I also took several of our female friends and distilled them down into one character — Adrastia. My husband refused to read the story. He was too self-conscious about it. But he helped me recall several details, and gave his blessing to the project. His only directive was, “Just make me handsome.”
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Authors: B.G. Thomas, Scott Coatsworth, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Length: 104K / 350 Pages
Format: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: 6/26/16
Price: 6.99, 17.99
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.
But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say “I do”?
Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.
To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself—and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.
Someday, by B.G. Thomas
Lucas Arrowood is walking to school on his first day of kindergarten when he meets Dalton Churchill—a boy who stops and helps him tie his shoe. He knows from that moment he is going to marry that boy one day. “Boys can’t marry other boys,” his mother explains, but that doesn’t stop Lucas. He knows what he wants.
He and Dalton become best friends—and then, no matter how much he resists, Dalton falls in love with Lucas. Dalton’s very conservative family can’t accept that their boy loves another boy, but finally Dalton stands up for love and for Lucas. Still, he declares he won’t marry Lucas until it is legal everywhere. He hates the “Commitment Ceremonies” gay men have. They aren’t the real thing. Why bother?
So Lucas waits for his day. The day same-sex marriage finally becomes legal and he can be joined forever with the love of his life.
Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth
Alex and Gio had a big fight, and Alex ran away. Then a fire at home destroyed the life they had built together, and threatened to take Gio away from him.
Alex had always thought love was enough to keep them together. Why did they need wedding rings or legal certificates? But now, with Gio lost in a coma, his mother has banished Alex from his side.
What if Alex’s voice is the only thing that can bring Gio back from the brink? Their memories are all Gio has left, and the urge to just let go is getting stronger.
Still, nothing can keep Alex from Gio’s side. If it’s against the rules, he’ll break them. In stolen moments alone together, Alex fights to bring him back, one memory at a time.
Destined, by Jamie Fessenden
When Jay and Wallace first meet at an LGBTQ group, they have no idea they’ll be dating six years later. In fact, they quickly forget each other’s names. But although fate continues to throw them together, the timing is never quite right. Finally they’re both single and realize they want to be together… but now they can’t find each other! With determination and the help of mutual friends, Jay and Wallace can finally pursue the relationship they’ve both wanted for so long.
It’s only the beginning of the battles they’ll face to build a life together.
From disapproving family members all the way to the state legislature, Jay and Wallace’s road to happily ever after is littered with obstacles. But they’ve come too far to give up the fight.
Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy
Living as an open, loving gay couple in the rural South isn’t easy—even today.
When Jeordi and Tom move in together and come out to their families, Jeordi’s family does not take the news especially well. When yelling doesn’t work, they send in one sibling after another to try to separate the couple. When that fails, they call out their pastor to help Jeordi see the error of his ways. But Jeordi’s love for Tom is greater than anything they throw at them.
When an accident sends Jeordi to the hospital, his family goes too far when they try to keep Tom from visiting his partner. Jeordi and Tom are determined to do everything in their power to gain legal protection so this can never happen again. But when a bigoted county clerk refuses to issue them a marriage license, Jeordi decides a big, bold effort is called for, which is precisely what he sets in moVon so no one can ever separate him from Tom again.
Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy
“When the front door of the trailer slammed shut with a loud bang, followed immediately by an animalistic howl of rage and frustration, Tom knew Jeordi was home. He snickered and shook his head.
“Hey, babe,” Tom called out. “I forgot this was the day you were going to visit your parents. It went that well, huh?”
One glance at his boyfriend told Tom all he needed to know. Despite the scowl and look of anger and frustration on Jeordi’s face, it only took one glance at the man to ignite the most sensitive parts of his nervous system (and everything connected to it).
He couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Jeordi. He wasn’t handsome in the New York runway model sense, but was handsome in the real man sense. Jeordi turned heads every time he walked down the street, although he consistently missed the many glances people cast his way.
All Jeordi saw when he looked at himself was that he wasn’t tall, and he felt his ears were too big. Tom daily told Jeordi that he was the most studly man he’d ever known—and he quietly gave thanks that the man was all his.
Tom felt two strong hands wrap around his waist as he stood at the sink in their kitchen. Carefully setting down the dish he’d been washing, he leaned his head back against his boyfriend’s solid shoulder, brushing his smooth cheek against Jeordi’s fuzzy cheek—fuzzy not from a beard but from a strong five o’clock shadow the man dependably had every day by late afternoon. Jeordi hated it, but Tom loved it and loved rubbing one part or another of his body over the stubble.
“Love you, babe,” Tom whispered. “I’m glad you’re home.”
“Why?” Jeordi whispered into Tom’s ear.”
“Why? Why? Why do I keep subjecting myself to the same crap?”
“So, they didn’t throw their arms open and tell you they’ve joined PFLAG and ask for your advice on what to wear in the next Pride Day parade?”
Jeordi snorted. “Um, that would be a great big no.”
“What did they do this time?” Tom asked.
“Prayed—and then some. They tried to have some kind of healing service to rid me of the evil that had ‘grabbed hold’ of me, to quote my mother. They said they needed to cast the devil out of my body.”
“Oh, isn’t that special,” Tom joked.
“Not so much,” Jeordi disagreed.
“Was it just your parents?”
“Oh, no. That’s what made this one more frustrating. They had their minister there. He brought a backup minister—poor kid looked freaked out just being in the same room with a known homosexual. Don’t know what he thought was going to happen.”
“They upped the ante, I see,” Tom said.
“Oh, there’s more,” Jeordi said.
“Hell, yes. They had some of my more uptight brothers there with them this time.”
“They succeeded in getting any of your brothers to be in the same room at the same time? How the hell did they swing that one?”
“Don’t know. Must have been one hell of a bribe. They, of course, brought their wives, I guess to show me how a good strong Christian heterosexual marriage works. They pissed me off so much I slipped and asked Beau how he could take part in something like that when he’d been off screwing half the women in the county. He didn’t appreciate it. I guess his wife didn’t know he was a hound dog she needed to keep on a tighter leash.”
Tom stopped what he was doing and dropped his head back, deep in thought. “Hmm, your brother Beau would look damned good in a collar—and naked,” he said. “Now, if you maybe added a blindfold, put him on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his back—now that’s just freaking hot. Maybe I should call his wife and give her a few suggestions. How do you think she’d take that? I’d be doing it strictly to help her out since I doubt she’d ever come up with an idea like that on her own. And of course I’d need to be there to help her, you know, to consult.”
“Don’t go there,” Jeordi warned with a chuckle. Beau was beautiful, but unfortunately he knew it and wasn’t at all opposed to spreading his beauty around to any and all women who’d have him. “At least that got the two of them out of the whole ritualistic crap my mother had planned for the weekly visit.”
“Two down, ten to go,” Tom said.
Tom turned around and wrapped his arms around Jeordi, kissing his neck. “I love you, babe,” he whispered into Jeordi’s ear as he held tightly to his man.
“I’m so glad you do. My family certainly doesn’t.”
“Oh, they love you. They just don’t understand it because the playing field has changed since you came out,” Tom said.
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B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade. They’ve been married twice. First in 2005—although it wasn’t legal. They jumped the broom (as well as the sword) and were married in heart in front of their friends and loved ones. Then in 2014, they flew to Baltimore and made it legal (and couldn’t have without the help of B.G.’s fans who practically funded the entire weekend!). He can’t get enough of seeing that gold wedding band on his hand, even two years later.
B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.
Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he submitted a story and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the stories have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of stories!”
Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”
Scott has been writing since elementary school. After leaving writing for twenty years, Mark, his husband, told him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.
Mark and Scott have been together for twenty four years. They met at the Pacific Center, an LGBT center in Berkeley, California, in 1992. They dated for two weeks, and then Scott moved in with Mark, and the rest is history. They run their own business together, study Italian, and are almost never found apart.
Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple of short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie published his first novella in 2010, and has since published over twenty other novels and novellas.
After legally marrying in 2010, buying a house together, and getting a dog, Jamie and Erich have settled down to life in the country, surrounded by wild turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote. A few years ago, Jamie was able to quit the tech support job that gave him insanely high blood pressure. He now writes full-time… and feels much better.
Michael Murphy met his husband Dan thirty-four years ago during a Sunday service at MCC in Washington, DC when a hot, smart man sat down beside him. Due to a shortage of hymnals they had to share. The touch of one hand on the other in that moment was electric. Sparks flew that day. Though neither had planned it, they spent the day together followed by the night. From that day, for more than three decades they’ve rarely been separated, each finding in the other their soul mate.
In the District of Columbia, where they lived, marriage became possible in early March 2010. The minute it happened they were in line to get a marriage license, only to be stumped because the license required the name of the person who was going to marry them. There was such a sudden rush of same sex couples wanting to get married that the office already had a two-month backlog before an appointment could be secured. Since they weren’t at all convinced that the Congress wasn’t going to step in and do something stupid to take away this right, they started calling everywhere to find someone who would marry them. It might be legal, but finding someone to marry them was proving to be a challenge.
When an article appeared in the newspaper telling of a small, local United Methodist Church that had decided to go against general church policy because marriage equality mattered deeply to them, a conversation started. After a series of emails and phone calls, suddenly they were seated with two retired UMC ministers who were willing to risk it all to do the right thing. A few days later, license in hand, surrounded by a handful of friends and their best dog, Shadow, they were finally legally married.