Of Dirty Kisses and Things by Rhys Ford

I am not an activist.

I don’t march in parades. I don’t wave signs in protest. I don’t stand on a street corner and shout from a soap box.

What I do do is write.

I really didn’t start writing to make a point. Mostly I wrote because I had stories piling up on the rocks in my head and figured if I didn’t scrape them out, I’d soon go crazy. It’s not a calling. It was never meant to be a higher purpose. They were just stories.

Then something happened on the way to the pixels.

I found I wanted to write about things I felt and knew. Of feeling like an outsider. Of straddling the line of different cultures and having to not talk about how I act in some instances because I know the people I’m speaking to wouldn’t understand. Of the process of exploring who I was and where I needed to be. Of not liking who I’d become and changing it — one behaviour, one word at a time.

I never meant to do anything other than write about the world as I saw it and how it affected the people around me.

I am not an activist.

But at the same time, I wish I had a larger voice.

The video at the beginning of the post is something I wish everyone would have a chance to be — happy and singing about loving themselves today. I think that there are a lot of people — from gay teens to culturally trapped adults to that guy standing there waiting for the bus — who wish they could sing with such abandon and in the safety of a loving environment.

That is what I want to write about.

Flawed and cracked characters, preferably gay and male, reaching the point in their lives where they can sing that song with such gleeful abandon.

When I started Dirty Kiss, I knew I was going to write about a Japanese-Irish detective, Cole McGinnis [1], who was raised in a purely culturally Caucasian family.

I have friends who are Caucasian and have adopted children from various parts of Asia and this is a subject we’ve talked a lot about; being ethnically Asian but culturally Caucasian.

On the flip side of this couple coin would be someone who was culturally Asian, a young Korean man named Kim Jae-Min [2], trying to fit into an American social structure while balancing his filial duties.

Oh… and there had to be sex. Did I mention the sex? Two hot men. Having sex. Isn’t that a good reason to write a book?

See? I can’t be an activist. I’m too shallow.

At the core of the book(s) is Cole solving mysteries and dealing with the fallout of the death of his lover Rick and his growing relationship with Jae. I didn’t delve much into Rick’s death, wanting to leave the gristle of it to another book but I did want to lay the groundwork for that in Dirty Kiss. Nothing pisses me off more than a “surprise” complication introduced in Book Three when something could have been worked in at the get go. So, I tried to lay all the cards on the table. So to speak.

Jae was a deeper oyster to shuck. I wanted to keep him as Cole saw him and not peek too far into his psyche other than where necessary. Jae’s much more private in his emotions and thoughts than Cole who wears his heart on his sleeve. Jae needed to be coaxed out to the reader until more and more of him was revealed. I wanted the reader to know he was unconsciously sexy and more than a little bit stubborn. He’s more damaged than Cole and much more wary.

Dirty Kiss is as much about Cole drawing Jae towards him as it is solving the mystery of Kim Hyun-Shik’s death.

But Dirty Kiss also needed to have a bit of fun so it wasn’t all sturm und drang.

I wanted the reader to feel that Cole had a full life, close friends and really just was a guy fumbling a bit through life despite his intelligence and good nature. Enter the supporting cast; his office manager Claudia, best friend Bobby, and his brother Mike. Rounding out the book’s supporting cast is Scarlet, a Filipino “ladyboy” and “older sister” to Cole’s love interest, Jae. Creating Cole’s world and filling it with people who loved him was very satisfying and in some places, like eating cotton candy. They love him but damn, he drives them crazy sometimes.

The mystery itself is pretty simple. Kim Hyun-Shik is found dead in a Korean gay club. He supposedly killed himself but after a few hours of questioning, some destruction and meeting Hyun-Shik’s hot cousin, Jae, Cole is convinced Hyun-Shik was murdered. The mystery is pretty simple. Find out who murdered Hyun-Shik.

See, this is where writing gets interesting because I didn’t want a hard-boiled detective who spots a hot Korean boy and has sex on the kitchen counter as soon as he meets him. I wanted a intuitively-intelligent but sometimes obtuse young man who relies on his wits and dubious charm to get from Point A to Point B. Unfortunately, people don’t necessarily want Cole to get to Point B. See? Mystery is fun and easy!

Jae just wanted Cole to get to the Tab A into Slot B parts but that’s to be expected. Cole wanted to get there too, eventually. And he did.

Their relationship begins here. Amid the death, blood and grit, Jae and Cole begin to create something that hopefully will heal their wounded and lessen the scars life has given them.

More importantly, by the end of Dirty Kiss, Cole takes the first step in being able to sing “I love myself today”. And maybe — just maybe — Jae has as well.

Dirty Kiss can be purchased as an ebook or dead tree book at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and other fine bookstores.

Dreamspinner ebook, Dreamspinner Paperback Trade, Amazon Kindle, and Amazon Paperback Trade

Rhys Ford can be contacted at: rhys_ford@vitaenoir.com

Caveats:

[1] If I had enough money to license him for Cole’s face: Leandro Okabe. Much lust over this boy. What? I’m human.

[2] If I had enough money to license him for Jae’s face’s: Kim Jaejoong. I chose Kim Jae-Min because it’s an approachable name for English audiences as Jae and Kim’s a very common surname in Korea.

[3] Dirty Kiss cover by the talented and wonderful Anne Cain

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