After giving you teasers of the stories included in the Shades of Pink Charity Anthology in September, this month I'll tell you a little more about the authors involved. I interviewed them with questions about their contributions, their writing life, their works in progress...
Today, Amber Green
Kallysten - First, a big thank you for taking part in this anthology with a story as fascinating as ‘The Touch’ is. Can you tell us a little about where the idea came from?
Amber Green - Here and there I will read or see something tragic enough to lurk in the back of my mind, galling me, sometimes for years. Sometimes I dream up ways to make a happier story of it. "The Touch" in part grew out of Depression-era photos of scrawny youngsters with hopeless expressions hawking newspapers and polishing shoes. The certainty of crushed dreams and squandered talent weighed on me. I wanted to take a born underdog like that, a guy with no reason to hope, and I wanted to give him hope. Characters seem to work better if given two primary talents, one of which is used openly and one of which is not. Being in the mood to write paranormal again, I made one of his two talents a rather precise form of telekinesis. Monk had to reclaim that suppressed talent in order to take control of his life.
K - When I first read the story and met an entirely new (to me) realm of words, I started being a little afraid that I wouldn’t understand a thing. And then, to my surprise and delight, I did understand. Not only that, but the use of this gritty dialect painted a complex world that completely drew me in. Is it easy for you to slip into that era and its language? What do you like best about it?
AG - I love listening to people talk, analyzing how people choose and arrange their words in speech as opposed to in writing. Usage and definitions change in fascinating ways. Researching another book gave me an excuse to devour newspapers, pulp magazines, and diaries of the era, so it was convenient enough to browse back through them to get a feel for how an Irish gangster might speak in an era better known for Italian gangsters. For example, "bimbo" was often used for a male of the thuggish sort, especially among people with some exposure to Italians, while "bim" was sometimes used for a female with the same connotations we see today.
K - The last thing I expected in that dark world was for a supernatural element to come up, but when it did it was nothing other than perfect. Do you enjoy adding supernatural elements to your stories? What is the attraction for you?
AG - The edges are where interesting things happen. A paranormal setting places a story on the edge of reality, where wondrous things become possible. Contrast, say, a high fantasy where just about anything is possible—what's left to evoke that sense of wonder? Urban fantasy is more bound to reality, but is the province of powerful or potentially very powerful people. My character simply isn't that ambitious. His talent is very much a symbol of who he is. He had the touch from the very beginning, but didn't realize what it was until he picked up the key.
K - Looking at your backlist, I saw M/M, M/F and F/F, which I’d think means you care more about the chemistry between characters than their genders. Is the process of writing different for each pairing for you or do you see it as variations on the same theme of love?
AG - Sometimes I'll be two or three scenes in before I make a final decision on a character's gender. Even then, if the story doesn't feel right, I'll reconsider that decision. If you take a stack of a hundred brain scans, you can sort them into male and female stacks with a fair degree of reliability. If you take females as the norm, most men have abnormal thought patterns, speech patterns, culturally ingrained behavior patterns, and patterns of reacting to stress. But some men follow the female norm. And, if males are taken as the norm, some women are normal. Those abnormally normal people live in a war zone that cis people can often simply walk through, immune to and ignorant of the flying shrapnel. People living in a war zone have to deal with war, though, even when shells are not falling nearby. And you know the stereotype of love in war—it's more intense, more consuming, more demanding, and more rewarding.
That said, the process of writing is different for each couple. A male couple is not the same as a female couple or a heterosexual couple, but then one male couple is probably not very much like the next male couple. People are individuals.
K - Can you tell us about your current writing project or next release?
AG - Right now I'm mostly re-editing stories that are currently out of print. The next one will be One Good Turn, first of the Turner & Turner mysteries.
K - Would you care to share an excerpt from it?
"Be sensible, Kendall." My mother spoke in the patient tone that can drive me to a seething rage in three seconds flat. "In the video you are, to put it crudely, tanked."
To put it even more crudely, I’d been tanked enough to let a guy I’d been stupid enough to trust — for a few months anyway — ream my ass until I gave in to his exhortations to squeal like a pig.
The video ended, with a curious delicacy, while I was still just bleating: Ah! Ah!
Helpless noises. An aural demonstration of my pathetic, nonpredatory status. But not as bad as the next moments would have been.
I suspected I had the family’s go-to guy to thank for that delicacy. The guy standing behind me, out of sight but never long out of mind. I’ve beaten off to dreams of Turner Scott since high school.
He’d disappeared the week he graduated, showed up three years later for just long enough to pull my nuts out of the fire, and disappeared again until a few weeks ago. At which point he’d taken his place at Father’s side, as if he’d been there all along.
He must have brought this little home movie, must have shown it to my parents and my nauseatingly perfect big brother. Nobody else would have edited it to spare the last cowering molecule of my dignity.
But he could have just pitched it into the river. Jacksonville has so many bridges he had to have crossed at least one to get here. Thinking about that suppressed any hydraulic reaction. Or gratitude, for that matter.
Father clicked off the monitor and folded it flat into its compartment on his mahogany desk. The back was veneered with a copy of the 1609 La Florida map. He rested neatly buffed fingertips on the gleaming wood for a moment, then steepled his fingers and regarded me.
Mother spoke for him. "You must agree to counseling."
I crossed my arms and worked at not digging my fingernails into the cashmere of my jacket sleeves. Unless I went back to accepting an allowance, I couldn’t afford to replace the jacket. Cleaning it strained the current budget. But living poor was better than living with Father, I reminded myself.
Father has ten fingertips. Thanks to him, I have nine.
I cleared my throat. "Certainly, Mother. Have you already identified someone willing to help with your unseemly interest in the details of your adult son’s sexuality?"
Neither of my parents was capable of turning purple, but eyelids dropped and lips thinned. A white line traced Father’s mouth.
K - Thank you again for being a part of Shades of Pink. Any last word before I let you go back to your writing?
AG - In the last few months, cancer has killed two people I know, one person I liked quite a lot, and my younger brother. It's past time to stop this beast.
K - All my condolences for your loss, and past time indeed...
Find Amber at http://www.shapeshiftersinlust.com/