Two-For-One Thriller Duo

Thriller Duo_edited-1Two thriller novels from Lambda Award-winning author, Marshall Thornton, for the price of one! Includes:

Desert Run

Palm Springs, 1973. On the lam after killing a mobster’s son in a bar fight, Don Harris hides out as a piano player in a Palm Springs restaurant until he’s accidentally found out. Broke and desperate, he walks into an unfamiliar bar where he meets…

Harlan, the secret lover of a well-known movie star. Stashed away in the sleepy resort, Harlan is bored and often alone which is why he’s spending the afternoon at his favorite gay bar.

When the two meet, Don thinks he’s using Harlan for a place to hide out but slowly realizes he’s falling for the kid. Don knows he shouldn’t get involved but can’t help but step in when Harlan gets into trouble. To save himself, Don’s got to save Harlan.

Full Release

Studio accountant, Matt Latowski orders an erotic massage on the one-year anniversary of a bad break-up but is surprised when the masseur calls him a couple weeks later to ask him out on a date. Unable to say no to a freebie, Matt begins a journey that eventually leads to his becoming a murder suspect.

As the police close in on him, Matt is left with no choice but to turn the tables and become an erotic masseur himself in order to find the murderer. Along the way, he meets Detective Aaron Tripp. Sparks fly as Matt wonders whether the detective might be the murderer, or worse, the murderer’s next victim?

Only available until August 15th, 2017

 

Buy it here.

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Writing Satire in the Age of Trump

Back in 2010, I published The Perils of Praline, or the Amorous Adventures of a Southern Gentleman in Hollywood, which was basically the silliest, sexiest book I could think up. It also included a hefty dose of satire, both political and cultural. Over the years fans have asked if I was going to write a sequel. For a long time, I answered maybe. I had originally planned to write two more of the books, the second set in Las Vegas for which I had notes, and the third to be set in Washington. Other projects kept taking precedence and eventually I began answering the question of a sequel with no. Then last summer, I was asked the question again and I said, “No” but then reflected and added, “Unless, of course, Trump wins. Then I may have to.” Of course, I thought this was incredibly unlikely and forgot all about it.

Then, the election happened. Like a lot of the country I was truly shocked and in the subsequent weeks depressed. In fact, I had trouble writing anything since I was so focused on the disaster that had just happened. Until, I remembered that conversation and thought, “Why not? Why not write another Praline book?” and so I began working on Praline Goes to Washington, or the Erotic Misdeeds of a Newly Native Californian in our Nation’s Capitol.

Satire is the art of making comedy by heightening reality to the level of absurdity, in the process exposing the hypocrisy and imagined intentions of individuals or types of individuals. That’s my definition. Miriam Webster’s definition is simpler and, at the same time, less clear: “a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.” What I found interesting about writing a satire contemporaneously to the events I was satirizing is that, in this case, Trump and his new administration would either match or exceed the over-the-top heightened reality I was creating. A couple of times, after I’d written something I thought completely absurd it would appear on the news.

In the new book, instead of getting into the whole Russia thing I brought back the tiny (and fictional) principality of Malvania. Helmut Dump’s wife, Melanoma, is Malvanian and so Malvania spreads a lot of fake news to help his campaign. When I wrote that, I knew that Russia has likely involved in the hacking of the DNC and the subsequent distribution to Wikileaks. That they were also involved in spreading fake news stories did not come to light (or at least to my attention) until well after I had had Malvania do exactly that.

Another weird and incredibly disturbing coincidence is that in my book, Helmut Dump is quoted as saying, “Don’t listen to what I say, listen to what I mean.” Later, Dump’s assistant Keely Angst in an interview says, “You shouldn’t listen to what Mr. Dump says. You should listen to what I say he says. And I’m telling you the president-elect did not say any of the things you heard him say.” Both of these moments are eerily similar to something Kellyanne Conway said when she accused the media, “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

Some of my friends have worried that I might face legal action over the book. Satire is protected speech under the first amendment. No president in our history has gone un-satirized. It comes with the territory. There is a libel case that the Trumps are pursuing, but it’s in England where the libel laws are looser (and more to Trump’s liking) and the case is about the reporting of events that may or may not have happened as true. Satire is not journalism. None of what I’ve written is true or presented as true. I don’t have any information that we’re not all reading in the news every day.

And speaking of the news, oh-my-God. Every day it becomes more and more bizarre. I have to say it’s a challenge to write satire when those you’re satirizing keep becoming increasingly over-the-top themselves. Suddenly, the most absurd things I could think of are part of the news cycle. And every day it becomes more and more apparent that the people leading our country are more dangerous than any caricature I, or anyone else, could write. I wish that none of this was true. I wish they we still lived in a time when Chevy Chase’s big joke about Gerald Ford was that he was clumsy, or when we joked about Jimmy Carter’s Southern accent and what he might be lusting about in his heart. Gradually, we’ve moved into a time when we have to joke about politicians who are mean, corrupt, ill-prepared, traitorous and dangerously erratic. That can be a hard thing to make jokes about. But I think we have to. No matter how bad things get, laughter will lighten our load.

And finally, I know that some people might say that satire doesn’t serve a purpose, that it’s nothing more than preaching to the choir. It’s true that I don’t expect a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump to pick up my book and miraculously change their minds. But the thing is, I think the choir does need to be preached to, at least occasionally, if only to remember why they’re singing.

Originally published at Lambda Literary

Boystown 7: Bloodlines wins Lambda!

Boystown 7 Cover 2nd Edition2Last night Boystown 7: Bloodlines won the Lambda Award for Best Gay Mystery. Thanks to the Lambda Foundation and thanks to my longtime editor Joan Martinelli and everyone else who’s been so supportive over the years. (I’ll be doing a longer thank you later) …

In the seventh book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery series, Private Investigator Nick Nowak finds himself simultaneously working two cases for his new client, law firm Cooke, Babcock and Lackerby. A suburban dentist has been convicted of murdering her adulterous husband. Nick is asked to interview witnesses for the penalty phase of the trial–and possibly find the dead man’s mistress. At the same time, he’s deeply involved in protecting Outfit underboss Jimmy English from a task force out to prosecute him for a crime he may not have committed. While juggling these cases Nick slowly begins to rebuild his personal life.

 

How Far Will I Go?

One of the questions I get a lot about the Boystown series is, “How many books will there be?” Of course, since the question is about the future the most honest answer is, “I don’t know.” But at the same time, how many books to write and where to leave Nick Nowak is something I think about and obviously something that interests my readers so I thought I’d put down a few thoughts…

Typically, as I finish one book I get ideas about the next one. Boystown 8: The Lies That Bind came out a few days ago and I already have about fifteen percent of Boystown 9: Lucky Days written in the form of notes and first draft scenes. This is important as I have to keep track of the mystery arc in books 7-9 about Jimmy English, and of course the ongoing lives of the recurring characters. I imagine if I finish one of the books and have no ideas, or very few ideas, about the next book I’ll know that the end has arrived.

The first eight books cover the period from January 1981 through August 1984. I definitely want to do two more books set in 1984 and have one in mind for 1985. That would bring me up to eleven—Joseph Hansen, one of my idols, did twelve in his series. I hope that I’ll write more than eleven. I wouldn’t mind getting all the way to nineteen or twenty like Michael Connelly, another of my idols. It would be nice to take the books all the way to the first glimmers of hope in the AIDS epidemic, but that wasn’t until the mid-nineties, which right now is a long way off.

As a gay man who lived through the eighties there are so many stories from that period I feel I can tell. So many stories I think are still important. One of the most satisfying aspects of writing this series has been collecting the little bits of real life that I remember from that period and weaving them into the mysteries. Quite a few of the characters and situations I’ve touched on in the stories come from people I knew during the period, in many cases people who can no longer speak for themselves. Collecting those stories matters to me a great deal on a very personal level.

There are many ways to classify the Boystown series. I think it would be fair to include it as AIDS literature. Most of AIDS literature took place in the eighties and nineties, and most of it was a cry for help, a warning bell rung as loudly as possible. Writing about AIDS from this vantage point is a very different experience. I’m able to focus on the way very real people reacted to the crisis. Knowing that things improve, allows me to focus on the ways in which individuals reacted, sometimes heroically, sometimes not. Of course, AIDS is still an issue. It hasn’t gone away. Reminding people of how it began and how we got to where we are is something I find to be vital.

I think if the Boystown series were a romance series with mystery elements—as opposed to being the opposite of that—I would have would have stopped at two or three books as I find manufacturing “conflict” in a happy couple uninteresting. Some writers do it well; I don’t think I’m one of them. Several of the Boystown books have ended in a happy-for-now kind of way, but if Nick ever finds a truly happy ending it will likely mean the end of the series.

An important indicator of whether a writer should keep writing a series is sales. Not for financial reasons—certainly many writers do well writing multiple series of three or four books—but because each sale represents one or more readers. The last year has been very positive for the Boystown series. Boystown 7: Bloodlines opened better than any of the previous books, and even though it’s only been a few days it looks as though this year’s book is on tract to exceed that. Equally important is that last year the first book in the series actually sold more copies than it had since it was published five years before. The audience is finding the books and I’m so happy about that. With all of that said, I’d like to send out a big thank you to all who’ve bought and supported the series over the years. It means a lot.

The Perils of Praline, Or the Amorous Adventures of a Southern Gentleman in Hollywood is now available at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!


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Before Kim Kardashian broke the Internet with her butt…Peter “Praline” Palmetier brought it crashing down with his. When he falls in love with a contestant on a reality TV show, Praline decides to leave his home in rural Georgia and—failing to realize this might be considered stalking—travels to Hollywood to find and meet his soul mate, Dave G. Once in Tinseltown he encounters a collection of startling, and often horny, characters in his quest. They include a studly steward, the Godfather of the Gay Mafia, a bondage-crazed landlord and casting assistant Jason Friedman, who always manages to be there in time to save Praline from total disaster. But it is conservative pundit, Malcolm Wright who propels Praline’s derriere into the Internet hall of fame when the two are filmed in the backseat of an SUV. Will Praline eventually realize his dream of becoming a same-sex celebrity spouse? Or will he find everyday, ordinary love?

From Kassa at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, “It’s fun, humorous, and a wild romp with outrageous characters and ridiculous actions but that’s what makes it so absorbing and engaging. It’s a crazy whirlwind that is only eclipsed by the next even more ludicrous antic. Sit back and enjoy the humor without thinking too closely at the reasons.”

Available at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback.

Boystown 6: From the Ashes is a finalist for the Lambda Award in Gay Mystery!

Boystown 6 Cover 2nd Edition2It’s winter 1984, Private Investigator Nick Nowak has allowed his life to fall to pieces: he’s stopped taking cases, given up his apartment and taken a job as a bartender at a sleazy joint tucked under the El. All he wants to do is stay hidden and lick his wounds after the death of his lover, Detective Bert Harker. But, when the least likely person in the world shows up at the bar and asks him to take a new case he finds himself investigating the very un-suspicious heart attack death of a priest. Nick is convinced he’s wasting his time until the clues begin to add up to something entirely unsuspected. Release date: May 23rd, 2014.

Excerpt available at Goodreads.

My Fiction Nook: Best of 2014

The Christmas Visit Available Again for only 99 cents!

A Chicago art director in his early thirties returns to his tiny Upstate New York hometown to spend the holiday with his recently widowed father only to find himself involved with his boyhood crush, now a closeted sheriff’s deputy. It’s sentimental and sexy, with a bit of mystery stirred in.

From Rainbow Reviews, “The Christmas Visit is a compelling, strongly-written, realistic short story of love lost and found. Beautifully woven, the mystery of Travis’ marriage plus the long-held attractions make for a story that will keep readers riveted, and returning for a second and third read. Marshall Thornton delivers a not-to-be missed holiday tale of romance, lust, family secrets, and entangled relationships. Do not let this one pass you by!”

From Dark Divas, “Marshall Thornton has packed so much into this story that it amazed me. There’s heartache, anger, mystery, soul searching and of course love and romance. There weren’t just remote references to these things either. All were complete scenes told in great detail that had me totally engrossed until the very end. I don’t think I’ve ever known an author to get so much into so few pages. And the ending, well, lets just say it left me with a big smile on my face!”

Rated # 5 Delightful Divas by Helen!

Available exclusively at Amazon.com.