Rhys Ford on *Dirty Secret* and the flavor of sound

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Loving Kim Jae-Min isn’t always easy: Jae is gun-shy about being openly homosexual. Ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis doesn’t know any other way to be. Still, he understands where Jae is coming from. Traditional Korean men aren’t gay—at least not usually where people can see them.

But Cole can’t spend too much time unraveling his boyfriend’s issues. He has a job to do. When a singer named Scarlet asks him to help find Park Dae-Hoon, a gay Korean man who disappeared nearly two decades ago, Cole finds himself submerged in the tangled world of rich Korean families, where obligation and politics mean sacrificing happiness to preserve corporate empires. Soon the bodies start piling up without rhyme or reason. With every step Cole takes toward locating Park Dae-Hoon, another person meets their demise—and someone Cole loves could be next on the murderer’s list

Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a black Pomeranian puffball, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.

Rhys blogs at http://www.rhysford.com.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Damn, so very important. It sets the tone for the character. There’s a certain flavour to a sound and even while it’s written word, that sound still resonates. In Sinner’s Gin, my upcoming series, I went back and forth on the lead character’s name until I finally decided on Kane. It said solid and protector. Cole from the Dirty Mysteries wouldn’t have the same feel if I named him Irwin. Not that there isn’t a place for an Irwin, it just didn’t lend itself to the “feel” I needed the character to have.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: The Cole McGinnis mysteries are set in Los Angeles. The setting is important because it boasts a large Korean population and much of the series’ complications come from the cultural conflicts Cole and his lover, Jae, experience. Also, Koreatown, and Los Angeles as a whole, has a rich history of triumph and tragedy which makes for a fascinating backdrop when I’m busy killing people off.

Sinner’s Gin, the first of four books in the SG series, is set in San Francisco. It has a slightly different feel, less about the cultural aspects of my characters and more about the familial strengths and weaknesses they have. Still, more murders but personal demons really drive the story for Miki and Kane.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I wouldn’t say they have power but there’s definitely a “truth” in how each character would behave. Consistency in characterization provides a stronger story. If a character isn’t tolerant of tomatoes to have him suddenly become a master lasagne maker mid paragraph doesn’t make any sense. So I think I’d prefer to say, once a character has been established, it’s up to the writer to feel their way through the circumstances and have the character(s) react true to their nature.

The cat however always will puke in the most hard to reach places. That’s just how it goes. To write it any other way would be silly.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: Aish, hard question. I think there’s an enchantment in seeing two men… men who are traditionally the “strong and solid” half of a couple… being made more vulnerable because both have to open up. Not to harp on the word traditionally but a woman with a man allows a softness to be explored, an accepted avenue if you will. By both partners being male, I think it shows a deeper break from the masculine archetype. There is no typical hetero conduit for the reader to have the character’s heart and vulnerability exposed. This is probably not making any sense and really for a writer, I’m probably botching the shit out of this but I think writing masculine characters exploring their love and vulnerability without the option of a feminine outlet is a challenge and satisfying.

If I’ve botched this, then I’m going to claim moon madness and possibly a lack of coffee. Yes, lack of coffee. I’m going with that.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Nope, haven’t really had a lot of input in that regard, mostly probably because I’m usually head down and writing. I’ve written pieces that were reader-driven and it’s more difficult because it creates walls in my mind. It also makes me grumpy and I start to rail at my word choices. There has been interest in Bobby’s story and I can honestly say we’ll explore that. *grins* I haven’t made up my mind yet if I’m going to say why Ben shot Cole. I do know why. I just haven’t decided if I’m going to share it. I probably will. Maybe.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: The ideal relationship? Oh God, such a loaded question. Basically what it comes down to is, I, as a writer, have an obligation to entertain and provoke thought. I am asking people who go to work every day to GIVE me one to two hours they’ve spent earning their money for a few hours of reading. That is a lot to ask. I have to caretake that work they’ve done by producing the best product I can. They buy my words. I might share some personal things on my blog but the bottom line is, they are purchasing a story from my imagination. I can’t think of a greater responsibility than to exchange someone’s hard work for my words.

As an author, be nice. Don’t say bad things about other people and for God’s sake, be courteous. Remember to be polite and say thank you. Okay pretty much how you should treat people in general but pull up your socks, make sure your hair is combed and smile pleasantly even when someone is stepping on your book. Nothing good can come of foul discourse.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Reviews are great to build up an ego and shatter your heart. People are either going to like to hate a book or perhaps even not care enough to have an opinion but either way, they’ve spent the time and money on your book and then expressed their opinion. Not every book is going to make everyone happy. And if one reads a thoughtful review, an author might learn what works and didn’t work in the story. Take everything with a grain of salt however, remember that salt also makes the meat tastier. Use reviews to make your books tastier but only use a little bit. Decide what is valid and isn’t. Or you’ll oversalt your book and no one will like it.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Wow, um… I’d have to say Miki. I like his belligerence and unconscious strength. I kicked the shit out of him and he emerged stronger for it. I liked his street rat-ness.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Damn, I’ve written so many words. I’d have to say right now what I’m happiest with is a piece of Dirty Secret. A part of a love scene between Cole and Jae.

I licked him.

And held an explosion of stars on my tongue.

I didn’t want to swallow. Ever. But I did, knowing there’d be more. If I had my way, I’d die with Jae’s taste in my mouth. It was scary, how fast I was falling…how quickly I’d fallen.

Fuck, it was going to hurt when I hit the ground. And fuck me if I didn’t care.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Right now I’m at the front end of Dirty Laundry, book three in the Cole McGinnis mysteries and following that, I’ll be working on Whiskey and Wry, book two in the Sinner’s Gin series. I’m also thinking of doing a short story for an anthology. I’ll be at Yaoi Con and GayRomLit so look for a round, exhausted and possibly whiskey drunk hapa girl wearing a Dorthi Ki Seu t-shirt.

Thanks for letting me playing in your sand box and you owe me these questions from you on my blog!

An Excerpt from Dirty Secret

“No, let me look at you,” I murmured. “Let me…taste you.”

Jae’s pale skin shone under the soft light. He was a contrast of cream and pearl against the dark green sheets with splashes of darker rose on his chest, his nipples hardening as I watched. His slender cock glistened at its wet slit, already damp from need. I was torn between smearing his seed over the bulb and watching him writhe or licking him clean so I could have him in my mouth as I kissed his body.

I licked him.

And held an explosion of stars on my tongue.

I didn’t want to swallow. Ever. But I did, knowing there’d be more. If I had my way, I’d die with Jae’s taste in my mouth. It was scary, how fast I was falling…how quickly I’d fallen.

Fuck, it was going to hurt when I hit the ground. And fuck me if I didn’t care.
I started at his thighs, hooking my thumbs under his knees so I could pull his legs apart. He resisted, briefly, then let me in with as his shyness turning his face nearly as pink as his lips. There were times when he couldn’t watch me love him then there were moments when he was bold and needy. Tonight, he looked away, closing his eyes so his dark lashes shadowed his cheekbones.

I knew this side of Jae. Vulnerable, a little scared to trust and trembling under my questing mouth and fingers. Stroking his thighs as they parted, I laid a gentle kiss on the tender skin above both his knees. He squirmed and I nipped him, growling softly to keep him still.

Then he giggled.

It was definitely a giggle. Hardly a manly chuckle or a hearty guffaw. No, it was a bubbling pop of laughter he cut off by biting his lip and staring down at me with a barely repressed smirk. The honey gold his eyes flashed and Jae dropped his head back onto the pillows, his body shaking with mirth.

My tongue on his balls ended that quickly.

“Yeah, laugh while you can, monkey boy.” I played with them, rolling one to the side with the tip of my tongue. My hands remained on his thighs, stilling his quivering with a firm touch. I teased him, never touching his cock until I crawled up to his belly. Then I only brushed my fingertips along his shaft before grabbing at his hips. Biting at the skin around his belly button, I murmured, “Stay still, damn it.”

The rough and soft of a man’s body was an erotic thing. I loved the heady scent of Jae’s warm skin and the rasp of his sparse body hair on my hands and mouth. Plum-coloured nipples were a delectable treat, hardened to tight tips with a flick of my fingers. The muscles of his stomach jumped with every kiss I ghosted over his ribs and the dark hollow of navel was a thing of beauty, flat with a slight dip to it and a lip of skin begging to be gnawed on.

He was also slightly ticklish so my mouth on his belly button made him squirm, even more so when I cupped him and squeezed lightly. I nibbled, taking my time with the taste of him, fondling him slowly. His hands drifted down to my shoulders and I bit harder, loving the feel of his fingers digging into the meat of arms.

5 Comments

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5 Responses to Rhys Ford on *Dirty Secret* and the flavor of sound

  1. Pingback: Rhys Ford Interview over at Lou Sylvre’s Place « Rhys Ford

  2. “The cat however always will puke in the most hard to reach places.”

    I’m totally stealing this. It’s going to be my new mantra. 😉

    Great interviews by both of you, and much love. <3

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