This week, my accent is on a writer who has more talent and imagination in her idle daydreams than I can hope for in my best writing. Suzana Wylie, known also as Susan Wylie Wilson, writes in the gay paranormal romance genre. Let’s get personal!
…Su, what ten words do you think best describe you?
Optimistic. Introvert. Generous. Cat-lover. Unconventional. Curious. Intelligent. Devil-may-care. Truthful. Creative. (That was hard.)
…Tell us about yourself!
I was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, which increased its population tenfold during my life there. After graduating from high school with three foreign languages under my belt, I turned my back on Tupelo and went to college at Millsaps in Jackson, where I promptly became a hippie. Three years later, I married my high school sweetheart and we remain married to this day. We’ve lived in northern Maine, coastal Mississippi, western New York (twice), the Florida panhandle, southern middle Tennessee, and now Alabama, the most improbable of them all. We’ve put in 63 changes of address cards in the 49 years we’ve been together, and two of those places we lived more than 10 years each! We have four living children, two of whom are adopted. They range in age from 40 to 17. Our lives have been much enriched by various cats and a dog or two over the years.
…What do you think sets you aside from other writers in your genre?
According to some sources, most writers in this genre are women, married, and heterosexual. I’ll give you the first two, but I don’t fit the third criteria—I am not straight. Being part of “the family” (or as it’s sometimes called, “the commUNITY”) gives me a slightly different perspective. It gives me access to open, often very explicit, conversations regarding the attitudes, preferences, and practices of gay men. Not that all gay men react the same way or have similar settings, which I realize quite well. Though I don’t use what I’ve learned from the men who talk to me as the end-all and be-all of the queer world, it does help my understanding. I have people I can ask really awkward questions about various sex acts or practices, and their answers have kept me from making some really big mistakes.
…Su, list your work for us, along with a purchase link.
The Cost of Belonging. In the book, set in 1783 rural England, vampire Eliot Whiteoak meets human Gabriel Rodgers. They quickly fall in love. If they are going to be together, they must overcome the temper and ill will of Gabriel’s father Jack, and Gabriel’s humanity. [not yet available]
Bittermoon is set in contemporary Portland, Oregon. Vampyr Kesan Glendubh is an author whose next book will be a graphic novel, and he needs a graphic artist like Leo Ruggeri to work with him. Kesan and Leo get along well together, and their instant lust for each other becomes love as Leo cares for wounded Kesan. Leo’s first lover, at the time a simple Catholic priest, has become a vampire hunter of extraordinary means, and is determined to find Leo and bring him back to the enfolding arms of the church and the soft down of his bed. http://bit.ly/bittrmoon
Stygian Moon. Leo is deeply grieving and accepts comfort from Jamie Tasso, a young-looking vampire in Kesan’s bloodline. He should have remembered what happens to comfort given over a period of time. When the unhoped for happens, he has no hesitation in making his choice. Love runs deep in Leo’s heart, and he gives his heart to the one who loves him best. Jamie makes a huge sacrifice for Leo’s life and to set him free from the political machinations of the ruling Council. Leo is left, once again, to deal with bereavement by himself. http://bit.ly/stygianmoon
Fallow Moon. The focus shifts to the Alliance being worked out between Vampyr and Varulv (werewolf); the old enemies will become friends, and the fathers of a new race. If the Alpha Varulv can cement his newly admitted love for one of the lead Vampyr, if that love can hold strong against the treachery of former lovers, perhaps thre fragile Alliance—and the children it produces—will survive. http://bit.ly/Fallow3
Buy all three in a box set: http://bit.ly/FMboxset
Raveneye, in its own unique universe, is the story of Matteo Velasco, Latino/Native American massage therapist at a gay resort in the Arizona desert; and Dusan Sukolov, Bulgarian/Romanian assassin who has no idea why he is immortal. Both mean seek answers to their problems by means of spiritual paths, one of meditation and the other primarily of visions seen in a peyote dream or while united with Raveneye, seeing the world through the eyes of a raven. The unexpected answer can be found within the simplest and yet most difficult path of all—their love for one another, and for Edie Newsome, the transwoman they both care deeply for. http://bit.ly/RaEye
Note: Readers will find my review of Raveneye right here, on this blog… https://bit.ly/2vcBl0D
…Would you describe yourself first as a writer of gay themes/characters; or first as a writer, period, without limiting yourself to any genre or sub-genre?
Definitely a writer first. I’ve been writing since before I knew the ways of “normal” sex, much less that people—some of whom I knew quite well –led a hidden, solitary life, sheltered and protected from the world. Today, those people—and myself—are well able to be out, to be who we are without shame. We had to be gay first and writers second, but now? Now, we can be who we are . For another look at this process, this life, please go to YouTube and watch this: https://youtu.be/-XZRNL9ZnyM. Every word I write is written for one purpose and one purpose only—to be the light at the end of someone’s struggle, to be the one who cries out with shared pain.
…What is your opinion of exploring the angst of the gay lifestyle in your writing? Or do you write about characters who happen to be gay and whose sexual preference is not their most defining characteristic or even an important part of the story? Maybe some of both?
The angst is there; it has to be, because there is no way a person with all their mental faculties right and in order can step into another person’s shoes (or skin) and be that person without having themselves changed forever. If you’re going to write authentically, in a world derived from this one recently, you have to deal with angst. Perhaps in the days of the Greeks and Romans, it would have been possible to write about gay love without some angst. Not now.
…Many romance/erotica authors struggle with the bedroom stuff. Do you get turned on writing sex scenes, or skip and go lightly?
[sounds of laughter fill cyberspace] Honey, the “bedroom stuff” is the only sex life I have. The only trouble I have with them is what doesn’t go on “offstage.” Hoooboy, would I like to have one tenth of the sex life most of my guys have!
…What excites you most as a writer, Su?
The beginning stages of book creation, when literally anything can happen. I love getting an idea—lets say that the main characters are working for and with a race of sea-dwelling off-worlders who want to use this planet as an extra nursery for their young, which means it needs the sea levels to rise until even the tippy-top of Everest is underwater by several hundred feet. Think of the possibilities! Would interspecies sex work? Why? Why not? Are there homosexuals and heterosexuals in their cultures? Are their genders even the same through their whole lives? That kind of thing excites me greatly! (And of course, now, I’m going to write the danged book I just described.)
Who are your ideal readers? Who do you wish you could reach out and speak to, call your fans, help you spread the word about your books? And how have you tried to do that (if at all)?
That would have to be my favorite writers. It means a great deal to me, for instance, to have Erin O’Quinn tell me that she thought a particular phrase was poetic, or that I captured the emotion well here… I wish I could reach out ot some of my other favorites, Josh Lanyon and CS Poe, for instance. I daydream about one of them reading some of my stuff and liking it, helping me get going in trad publishing rather than semi-indie as I am now.
…Describe your proudest moment or crowning achievement.
This may not be the kind of thing you’re looking for at all, but these are definitely my proudest moments, and crowning achievements. Two of my three adult children have come to me and said, “Mom, all those times when you wouldn’t let me do something, or made me do something else? Thank you. I understand now.” I know the youngest will get to that point. The oldest, I’m not too sure of. She has some issues, especially with me, and I don’t know if she’ll ever be willing to do the work necessary to pull out of those holes.
… Please ask a question you’ve always wanted someone to ask you . . . and then answer it.
Q: “How do you manage to do all that you do, and so wonderfully well, at that?”
A: Why, a combination of extraordinary good looks, hard work, exquisite talent and superb timing.
😀 Geez, I don’t know what to say to either of those. The q&a are either going to be very silly, like the one above, or they’re going to be so serious that no one can answer them, for instance, “what is the meaning of life?” (Fighting hard to keep from breaking into Monty Python song “Look On The Bright Side of Death.”) The answer to that one, to the best of my ability is best said by John Lennon: “All you need is love,” and the lyrics to “Imagine.”
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
…Now sell a book, Suzana Wylie! Give us a reason to buy it.
Raveneye: Answers may be found in the desert, if the right questions are asked.
With Matteo Velasco and Dusan Sokolov, the questions are simple. It’s the answers that are complicated. Teo’s answers are found in sharing existence with his pet-who-is-more, Raveneye, until the day Dusan walks into the desert resort spa where Teo works. Dusan’s answers are found in meditation spent battling the beast he knows he harbors within, until the day Teo sees and touches his wounds.
Their encounter brings more questions, and to have any hope of sorting out the answers, each man will need the help offered by Raveneye and the beautiful transwoman who cares for them both.
Dusan—straight, assassin, immortal. Teo—gay, seeker, human. When men look at life… and death… through the eye of the raven, will they see the answers hidden in the desert?
In the following excerpt, Matteo is about to begin Dusan’s massage. It is important to note that “massage” is not a euphemism for sexual acts. For Teo, massage is sacred, a part of his spiritual journey through life, which journey also includes the use of peyote. Teo has explained some of this to Dusan, who is curious about this man who knows things he has no way to know, though he retains his skepticism.
Sokolov huffed, but settled onto the table again. The remainder of the allotted time passed in silence, as Teo worked his client’s tensions away with his hands and with his own energy flow. He watched with both sets of eyes as he worked down from his back, then up from his calves. Rather than tensing when Teo drew his hands lightly over the smooth globes of Sokolov’s ass, the man took a deep breath and held it, longer than most people untrained in yogic breathing could manage.
This man knows things most do not. And he is pleasing to my eyes, warm and yielding to my hands. He would be salt-sweet to my tongue.I want him, Raveneye. Shame at profaning the sacred work with his lust tightened the sinews of his arms.
Sokolov’s head came up and he rolled over. Teo jerked his hands away and stepped back, making sounds of regret and apology as Sokolov levered himself to sit on the edge of the table. Teo saw the path of his eyes, followed his gaze down his own torso.
“I… I’ll leave,” he stammered.
“Why? Because you are aroused, or because I know that you are aroused?”
“I am not—”
“You have told me you do not speak untruth in your holy place. Will you now make yourself a liar?” Sokolov’s voice was flint, and yet spoken as softly as the feathers that line a nest.
Teo shook his head. “No. My saying was that I am not clear within myself which it is. You see my desire. I feel shame.” He held up a hand. “Perhaps because I am aroused in my holy place, or perhaps because I cannot control that I am aroused.”
“Why is that shameful? You have surely been aroused by clients before.”
“No. Not like this.”
Sokolov lifted a brow toward the ceiling, even as he allowed his eyes to drop to Teo’s tented pants again. Teo squirmed under the pressure of this desirable man’s scrutiny, as his traitor cock stiffened into an even more pronounced tent pole. Finally Sokolov lifted his eyes to Teo’s and said, “I see no reason for you to feel shame. You find me attractive. Though I’ve told you I have no interest in sex with you, that does not mean I’m repulsed by your desire. I find it flattering. As you can see,” he looked down at his own motionless groin, pulling Teo’s gaze with him, “I don’t find it arousing, but I assure you, I am not repulsed by it. Stay. Finish the massage. You have already eased much of the tension, and yes, the pain also. Complete the work. Please.”
Perhaps I could speak about it more clearly, Teo thought, but I won’t try. Especially not after seeing… He cut off his thoughts abruptly. Dwelling on the thick dark curls nestling an uncut cock and tempting balls would serve neither man’s best interests. He gestured for his client to lie down once more. “No, Mr. Sokolov, lie on your back, please.” Help me, Raveneye, to put aside this desire. It is time to test my resolve.
Sokolov permitted a small smile and a twinkle in his eye. He laid back and made no move to cover his genitals with the sheet.
Is he tormenting me? Teo moved to the head of the table and began, as always, with his client’s scalp and facial muscles, working his way downward, working first one arm and then the other. He forced his thoughts toward only the energy flow and the alternately knotted and relaxed muscles he worked, until his erection was all but non-existent. It remained that way as he began on Sokolov’s chest, his fingers gliding easily over the dusting of dark hair that marked the beginning of a trail downward. He had reached his client’s abs when the talons of the eagle once again made themselves felt as Sokolov grabbed his wrist.
“Cover me,” he spoke gruffly.
Teo reached for the sheet and drew it across the man’s groin. He kept the smile to himself as he noted that Sokolov’s cock wasn’t quite as uninterested as it had been previously. The tightness around his client’s eyes and mouth made it clear that there had been nothing to see, that if Teo thought he had seen something, he had been mistaken. Fine, Mr. Sokolov. Not telling lies does not mean that everything must be spoken.
When the massage was complete, Teo slipped out quietly to prepare himself for his next client. Edie knew better than to speak to him as he shed the energies of one client in order to be fresh for the next.
When the door to his room opened, Teo looked away. Clients were often uncomfortable meeting his eyes after a session. Much is written on the pages of the body and some of the phrases aren’t pleasant. Sokolov walked up to him and stood, waiting silently for him to make eye contact.
“I want more,” he said after a moment.
“Edie will—” Teo looked up.
“Not just of that. The other, too. But not today. You were correct. I am not ready. Where can I reach you?”
‘The other, too?’ What other? Your disguised arousal? “When you are ready, close your eyes. Be still in your mind. Look for me with the eyes of your spirit. They will see me. Follow them.”
“When you are ready, come. I will be waiting.”
Sokolov drew back. “An hour ago, I would have said that was psychic bullshit. Now, I am no longer certain. You are an unusual man.”
“As you yourself are, Mr. Sokolov.”
“Dusan. Call me Dusan, Teo.”
With that he was gone.
Here are a few places you can explore more facets of this intriguing writer: