I don’t know that I can be more excited than I am right now. To have T.A. Webb here for “Connect Four” is…well…no words… ****** (<-me, rendered speechless…)
As I posted here on my review of his book “Second Chances”, Mr. Webb’s stories have seriously impacted my life. Shortly after reading SC, I picked up his short 30-pg “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”. If you haven’t read this…do so…IMMEDIATELY. It is haunting, heartbreaking, and it reminds us that though it’s not in the news as frequently as it once was, AIDS has not gone away. We can’t forget…
So…without further ado…WELCOME TOM!
Tom: It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s an honor!
1. Is it true that you started as a reviewer and “one of us” before you began writing? And (yes, sneaking in a second part to Q1), had you always had aspirations to write?
Tom: Absolutely. Well, I actually started as a reader. Funny story…I had my Kindle and was reading something (I love fantasy, sci fi, serial killer books, stuff like that) and realized there was a search function on the e-reader. Anyway, I decided to search for “gay cowboys”. And holy cow, there were so many to choose from!
(Gay cowboys! YES!)
Tom: I hadn’t really read much gay fiction since I was a teenager. I read Patricia Nell Warren’s “The Front Runner” and Gordon Merrick’s “One for the Gods”, and it made me realize there were other gay men out there, I wasn’t alone, and they weren’t all pathetic losers.
So, I downloaded the first book and decided to give it a read. It was Chris Owen’s “Bare Back”. And I fell in love with Tor and Jake. I started looking at the reviews and trying to get some recommendations for other books that might be as good. Some were and some weren’t. And some of the reviewers were good, and some weren’t so good. I found a couple I could trust and stuck with them.
Then I started leaving reviews of my own. I figured, I know what I liked about some of the books, and my opinion as a gay man might help others know what we really thought. Because I noticed a lot of the readers were women (that puzzled me – I had a WTF moment LOL) and I am a guy, and so I did. I tried to keep my focus on the book, not the writer.
Not long after, a couple of writers contacted me! I was so flattered, beyond words. And I had a serious fanboy attack. One was Sue Brown, and she and I quickly became friends. She suggested that I start my own blog. I thought, why not?
That’s how A Bear on Books was born. November 1, 2011 I posted my first reviews there.
And, to answer the second part of your question, yes and no. I started as an English major in college, but quickly realized I didn’t want to teach. And I have an affinity for numbers, so accounting and finance became my professional choice. But I never stopped reading. It wasn’t until I started reviewing at age 50 that my love of writing came roaring back to life.
(Very, very cool. (PS – love your blog!))
2. Your books FEEL…gosh…they just FEEL. I guess it seems like you’re telling stories from personal experience. How personal ARE your stories?
Tom: “Second Chances” is very personal. I lost my mother about 13 years ago, and it was very hard. I was working with a nonprofit at the time, and they were so understanding and supportive, like you would imagine people in that field would be. My relationship was solid, but I had so much stress. I did meet a young man at the agency I was at for ten years (we were a residential treatment center for abused adolescents) who I adored. He was the basis for Robbie. He ran one day, and I only ever saw him one time after that, and I don’t know what happened to him. It broke my heart, and I wanted so badly for this young man to have a happy life, and happily ever after. So I gave him one.
“Let’s Hear it for the Boy”, very personal. Very true to life in some ways.
The other works incorporate some personal experiences and contain threads of people I know, but not as much as these two stories.
3. I have never connected with the EMOTION in books as closely as I have with yours. What do YOU look for in books you read…who/what are your favorites from your reviewer days? Do you still write reviews?
Tom: I look for something that catches my eye. Sometimes I want a good story, sometimes I want to escape. Sometimes I want to read about something real. I always look for something I can relate to. Even if it’s just erotica.
Oh gosh, Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, Andrew Grey, Laura Harner (my writing partner), Scarlett Blackwell, SJD Peterson. Damon Suede’s Hot Head. Anything Chris Owen ever wrote. I will read almost anything.
And yes, I still write reviews. Not as many as I did but I am working on a kind of re-launch of the review blog, featuring some guest reviewers, and maybe some “flash reviews” – limiting them to a hundred words.
(“flash reviews”…I like that idea!)
4. So the follow-up to City Knight, “Knightmare” just recently released and you left us with quite a cliffhanger. What happens next? (j/k…well…unless you want to give us a tiny hint?) And then a follow up to Second Chances based on Robbie’s story…did you know you’d write this or was it due to the overwhelming response to SC? What else is in the pipeline?
Tom: The third Knight book is coming. There will be six this year total in the series – I already have them named and the rough ideas for the stories. There will be another three book arc, but different than Marcus and Benjamin’s. And they will make an appearance. Plus, the four of us Pulp Friction authors are toying with the idea of a “round robin” write featuring all the characters in one story.
“Thursday’s Child” will be next – that’s Robbie’s story. I’m submitting it to Dreamspinner, and hope they want it.
I’m working on a story for the Goodreads M/M group project called “Love on a Wing and a Prayer”.
Then, I have a couple of other stories in the pipeline. One is based on two porn guys who have a flirtation. The other is a period piece set in the 40s. Also I have a sports/grief/comfort related anthology I am planning with two other writers I am VERY excited about.
And not least, “Free Falling Crimson”, the next Altered States book with Laura Harner,
(GAH!!!! So much to look forward to! I’m dying!!!!)
Ok…I’m not ashamed, nor am I apologizing, for making Connect Four into Connect Eight (I’m CURIOUS!) Thanks for allowing me to ramble, Tom. It’s been OUTSTANDING to have you here at “Love Affair With An E-Reader”!
Tom: It’s been terrific. Thank you for having me. And thank you most of all for liking my guys, all of them. It’s humbling and an honor!
...seriously...how AWESOME is he????? SUCH a huge fan...talented writer and good, good guy!
T.A. Webb's books can be found at ARe and Amazon.