Today the Pup and I have a very special interview to offer up to fans of The Fox Hole. Yesterday Lyrical Press released Lost and Found by author Gwenna Sebastian and it received a lovely welcome from Rainbow Reviews: 5 stars! Any time a new author joins the ranks of the GLBT writing community is a time for celebration. In Gwenna’s case she has offered up a tale of two military men and the love they come to share.
I am proud to have Ms. Sebastian as a special guest today. So, come grab some coffee, a sweet sticky cinnamon bun and pull up a comfy chair and help me give her a fantastic welcome. 🙂
Welcome, Gwenna, it’s a delight to have you here at The Fox Hole. Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m thrilled to be here! Besides being an author, I’m a wife and mother. My son is an Army National Guard Medic who served in Iraq and more recently trained other combat medics. (Obviously, I’m very proud of him!) I have a regular job- two in fact, but why bore you with those details? I have three cats, I knit (not very well), I build and maintain web pages, and I have this unending fascination with the Vietnam War. I’m also a big supporter of gays in the military and in abolishing the unfair policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as well as gay rights in general.
I agree with you on the unfairness of the DADT policy. To me who you love should have absolutely nothing to do with your ability to protect your country. Hell, some of the greatest military minds, Alexander the Great among them, have been bi-sexual or gay. It always pleases me to see another person that supports our troops no matter their sexual orientation.
I’ve interviewed quite a few writers at this point and each one has been unique as I’m sure you are. One of the questions I always ask is if you have you always wanted to be a writer and if so when did you start writing?
Very much so, and I started when I was around fourteen. I had a teacher who loved encouraging young people to write in her class and it stayed with me ever since. I love the art of storytelling. Since then, I’ve written and published several short stories and articles. I got away from it for awhile, while raising my son but came back to it about ten years ago when I started to research for a novel I wanted to write about Vietnam. I got so caught up in it that I switched up my direction of writing and started to focus on the military, and more recently, gays in the military. It would be my ultimate dream to be a full time writer.
Many things inspire writers–what inspires you?
Complicated characters! I love the damaged ones! (Gosh, what does that say about me?) Seriously, I do love creating complicated characters who have been put through the wringer already and are still going through it, struggling everyday. You add in the element of war- especially something like Vietnam and it ups the ante as it were.
That’s something we have in common. For me the damaged heroes are the more realistic ones and I prefer a shot of realism in my stories. Perfection bores me and besides if our hero is perfect in the beginning what does he need to overcome to be with the one he loves. Frankly, what that says about you is that you’re a writer who writes from realism in my humble opinion.
Of all the writers I’ve interviewed I’ve discovered most writers are voracious readers as well. Do you have any favorite writers?
I’m sort of “series” person- I’ll like an author for a particular series. If the characters are well done, it’s easy for me to invest in them. I’ve been reading JD Robb’s “In Death” series for years- a futurist murder mystery series I can’t get enough of. I also love Suzanne Brockmann’s “Troubleshooter” novels. This one is like candy for me because it’s based on a Navy Seal Team and also features a gay FBI agent that I adore. Then there’s Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” books- they are big thick epic things with so much rich background and characters. All three series are so incredibly different but have complicated characters that I can’t get enough of.
Sounds to me as if you write what you like to read. That makes two things we have in common.I knew there was a reason I clicked with you from that first e-mail exchange. 😉
As you pointed out earlier many writers have other professions at one time or another. I myself was a professional cook at one time and I always have to ask this one. Food in my opinion can act as a peek into the personality of any person. So, Gwenna, do you have a favorite food?
I love to bake, especially cheesecakes and cookies. The girls I work with are constantly asking me to make one. But to eat? I’m a lover of Italian, I gotta admit. You just can’t beat manicotti or ravioli! And I make a killer 5-layer lasagna!
Damn, I’d love it in your kitchen. *chuckles* I adore Italian and you’re right nothing can beat an excellent manicotti or ravioli. And don’t get me started on lasagna.
Well, now we’ve pranced about in your brain, but we haven’t touched on your favorite subject as a writer. Why Vietnam or even the military for that matter?
It started out quite innocently about ten years ago, I was looking for a new idea for a novel- something completely different than anything I’d done before. I happen to catch a re-run of a late eighties television series called “Tour of Duty” and got sucked in almost immediately but the power of it- the characters, the times, the music, what these kids were thrust into. It’s been said it was a thankless war fought for the ungrateful and it’s true. And back then, there wasn’t the term “gay”, it was still considered a disease and you were called a lot worse. If you were found out- you could be killed by your buddies.
I started to research the times and eventually made friends with a former Vietnam veteran who was a military advisor on Tour of Duty. His real world experiences were fascinating to me and made me want to learn more. He was an amazing resource- sadly he died a few years ago. Over the course of the last ten years, I met and spoke with several vets and not just from Vietnam. Then my son joined the military because of the events of 9/11.
It’s hard to explain what these men experienced, what they saw and did. Most of them were barely 18, right out of high school- not old enough to drink but old enough for us to shove a rifle in their hands and to be sent thousands of miles away. If they survived- and so many didn’t- they were often spit on and vilified by the same country that sent them to war to begin with. Add the stigma of being a queer and there is a lot to write about, you have to agree.
Now that we’ve touched on the reason for your love of the military can you tell us about your latest work? Don’t hold back!
It’s a novella called “Lost and Found”- it’s a contemporary M/M romance that features two older men with backgrounds in the military. Mark Connor is a Vietnam veteran, drafted right out of high school in the late 1960s and shoved into an impossible situation at the age of 18. He finds the love of his life there-Ryan, who would later die in an ambush. It destroyed him and he spends the rest of life bearing the guilt of being the one who survived. Josh Myers is a former Marine who survived the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in October of 1983. Unlike Mark, Josh embraces his second chance at life with wide open arms. He’s sweet natured, ridiculously outrageous and loves life.
Mark gets in over his head on a remodeling job he’s doing in the northern Outer Banks and hires on Josh to help him. Both men recognize each other for former military, but Mark refuses to discuss his time in Vietnam. And he certainly doesn’t know what to make of Josh, who plays sixties era music and who looks and dresses like a hippie.
Josh is at first intrigued, then more and more curious as he works with Mark. He can see Mark’s in a world of pain and denial and from a time when being gay and in the military was not only unacceptable, it was dangerous. Josh finds himself drawn in by Mark’s pain and what started out as a goal to get Mark in his bed for some fun casual sex, turns into something a lot more complicated.
Mark is finding it hard to deny his attraction, something he hasn’t experienced in years. His memories of Ryan are all he has left. But the longer Josh stays, the more Mark feels he’s betraying his long dead lover.
I wanted the readers to experience Vietnam the way Mark did. His flashbacks and nightmares are vivid with the intention of putting you right there with him- be it riding in a Huey helicopter with his buddies back to base, or fighting through a nighttime ambush that would eventually take Ryan’s life. The sights and sounds, the feel of the jungle heat, even the Army “lingo” of the times are all designed to pull you into Mark’s Vietnam.
This sounds like a wonderful story of redemption and love rediscovered. Definitely putting this one on my list of must reads. Well, our time has ran out, but I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to share of yourself and your writing. You’re welcome back anytime, Gwenna. Before I let you go for the time being I think this would be a great time to share a blurb and excerpt for your latest work.
Blurb Lost and Found:
Mark Connor survived two tours during the Vietnam War, a hero by most people’s definition. But the last thing Mark feels like is a hero, being one of only a handful of men who survived a vicious ambush in the jungles north of Chu lai. He lost his best friend and lover and now lives with the guilt every day, refusing to be close to anyone. It’s worked for him for almost four decades until he hires Josh Myers to help him with his current job, an extensive remodel of a home in the northernmost part of the Outer Banks.
Josh is also a survivor, of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, and unlike Mark, he embraces life with wide open arms. He also finds an instant attraction to Mark and is sure Mark feels the same way, even though Mark refuses to acknowledge it. Alone in the northern Outer Banks in January, Mark finds himself desperately clinging to his past even as Josh offers him a future he doesn’t feel he deserves.
Excerpt Lost & Found:
Mark started to reach for the pot when Josh made his entrance.
He stared as the younger man came down the stairs, scrubbing his face before running both hands through his long hair. He yawned, walking across the great room, wearing nothing but a pair of dog tags and white socks, his personality bobbing between his legs with each step he took.
Well, sweet fucking Christ, the guy was a helluva sight. Yesterday, the oversized tie-dyed t-shirt and baggy carpenter’s jeans along with the bulky flannel jacket had done a fine job of hiding most of Josh’s rather spectacular attributes. He was tall and long-limbed, but, Mark couldn’t help but notice how ripped he was. Well-defined arms, flat stomach, not a body builder but what Mark called “working man” shape, a body earned with sweat.
And damn, Mark had to admit, the guy was hung, out there for anyone to see.
Josh tripped over the ottoman, swearing as he regained his balance. Mark narrowed his eyes, taking the cigarette out of his mouth. Josh walked into the kitchen, heading straight for the coffee maker. That put him right beside Mark with no regard for personal space.
“Fuck yeah, I love a Starbucks that’s open early.” Josh filled the mug that Mark had set out on the counter before going over to the refrigerator. He disappeared behind the door for a long moment. “Awesome, I was worried there for a minute that all you had in here was beer.” Josh emerged with a small carton of milk, letting the door swing shut behind him. He topped off his mug, leaving the carton on the counter. He sipped gingerly before letting out a satisfied sigh.
“Forget something, did ya’?” Mark tapped the ashes off his cigarette in the sink. He let his gaze travel the length of the naked man standing beside him.
Taking another sip, Josh pushed the mop of hair out of his face. “Nah, I don’t need glasses to get a cup of coffee.” With a sleepy grin, he went back the way he came, presenting Mark with an unobstructed view of a rather fine ass. There appeared to be a tattoo on the left butt cheek, but Mark couldn’t make out what it was and he’d be damned if he’d ask.
Well after that fabulous interview and excerpt I suspect my readers would love to learn more about Gwenna Sebastian and her work. So if you’d be one of those readers please show Gwenna your support and check out the following links:
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Author Website: www.gwennasebastian.com
Author Blog: gwennasebastian.blogspot.com/
Live Journal: gwennasebastian.livejournal.com/