Will: My great-grandparents were from Romania (actually Transylvania), and the few remaining drops of “gypsy blood” pumping through my veins usually keep me from staying in any one place for very long. I was born and raised in a small steel town outside of Pittsburgh, but I’ve moved around a lot. Readers won’t be surprised to learn that I spent a considerable amount of time living in Boston and Washington, DC. I currently reside in Morristown, New Jersey with my husband and our golden retriever. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I’m a lawyer by trade, but honestly, it’s probably the least interesting thing about me! My job doesn’t leave me with much free time, but when I’m not on the clock, I love hanging out with good friends, reading, and losing myself in writing.
TNA: How long have you been writing creatively? Is this something that came along recently, or have you been writing since you learned to hold a pencil?
Will: I’m a pretty intuitive guy, but it took me forever to realize my true calling. My dad was a steelworker, and although my parents always encouraged me to do well in school, being a writer would never have really fit into the “grand plan” they’d envisioned for their only living son. Like the protagonist of my novel, I wasted four decades buying into everyone else’s ideas about what I was supposed to do with my life. Luckily, the perfect world I was trapped in kind of fell apart in 2001, and I had a chance to start over. I’ve always been a voracious reader and a good storyteller, so stringing together sentences came easily. Alas, slicing and dicing all those beautiful words into a coherent novel was decidedly more difficult. Fortunately, I have a wise and thoughtful editor – Maggie Cadman – who lovingly guided me along the way.
TNA: When you think about some of your favorite authors and favorite books, is there one or two that you’d say inspired you to pursue writing? Who/what are they, and in what way(s) did they influence you?
Will: Hands down, I would have to say that Bob Smith has had the greatest influence on my work. In 2011, I read Remembrance of Things I Forgot and reached out by e-mail to tell him how much the book meant to me. The story was well constructed and the humor entertaining, but there was something haunting and raw about the underlying message of the book. Bob was a successful comedian and writer, so I didn’t really expect a reply. But he did respond, and we became fast friends. I eventually worked up the courage to send him some excerpts from Favorite Son, and he gave me the best advice I’ve ever received: writing is about editing, editing, editing. Every time I was ready to feed my book into the shredder (seriously, I had a dark, intimidating machine right next to my desk!), Bob was always there with a pat on the back or kick in the pants. Many people don’t know that Bob is living with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Despite formidable physical challenges, he fiercely produces innovative work and inspires me every day to be a more deliberate writer and a better man.
TNA: There is often a debate in the distinction between what is gay romance and what is gay fiction. What are some of the best examples of gay fiction books you’ve read, books you wouldn’t hesitate to say everyone ought to read? And feel free to name your own. 🙂
Will: That is a really hard question for me to answer. I talk about books the way most guys talk about football. Sticking with the sports analogy, here’s a partial list of my “fantasy all-star team”: Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City), Stephen McCauley (The Object of My Affection), Joseph Olshan (Nightswimmer), Jim Grimsley (Comfort & Joy), Andre Aciman (Call Me by Your Name), Christopher Bram (Father of Frankenstein), and Bob Smith (Remembrance of Things I Forgot).
TNA: Speaking of your own book, let’s talk a bit about Favorite Son, your debut novel with Dreamspinner Press. What inspired you to set the story in the political arena?
Will: Going in, I knew I wanted to write about infidelity and betrayal, but I didn’t want the story to be contrived or clichéd. Despite what you might see on the nightly news, politics – the bartering of privilege and power — is sexy. John’s job as chief of staff to a senior United States senator functions almost like another character in the story – the selfish lover that seduces him and drives a wedge between John and the people he loves.
TNA: Your protagonist, John Wells, leaves DC to reinvent himself for a while in Provincetown. For those of us who’ve never been but have seen/read more than a few novels set there, tell us what it is you personally love about the place, and why you felt it was the right setting for John to retreat to.
Will: Although there’s a running joke that Provincetown is a “little drinking village with a fishing problem,” anyone who has spent time there, especially off-season, can attest to its transformative magic. The natural beauty of the seascape and sense of remoteness always seems to amplify whatever I’m feeling or experiencing. I also made it a point to write about the quality of light; there’s definitely something about the way the sun reflects off the sand and water that makes people see things differently than elsewhere. When faced with a threat, most guys have a fight-or-flight response. John Wells has been fighting to survive since birth, so when his world finally implodes, it makes sense that he feels compelled to run away. Like most politicians, John believes that everyone is motivated by the idea of quid pro quo (this for that), but after suffering a series of losses, he rejects that ideology and assumes a completely new identity. In Provincetown, Peter becomes part of an eclectic community where he’s valued for who he is, not for what he does for a living. That could only happen in a place like P-town.
TNA: As a newly published author in the genre, what would you say have been some of your best/most gratifying experiences since Favorite Son was published?
Will: Without a doubt, the most satisfying and gratifying part of this crazy roller-coaster ride has been meeting such wonderful people. I read and savor every review, post, comment, blurb, and “like.” It’s hard to describe the sense of connection I feel with readers who reach out and share their reactions to the book. I’ve also loved meeting other writers and giving/receiving creative support. This is an amazing community, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.
TNA: Because I always love to see how authors picture their characters, let’s pretend you’re casting the movie adaptation of the book. Who would you cast to play your lead characters? What makes them so right for the roles?
Will: OK, this is a fun question. I’d have to cast Jon Hamm (John/Peter) and Henry Cavill (Danny) in the lead roles. Like Don Draper in Mad Men, John hides behind a slick veneer. He’s good at his job, but terrible with relationships and feelings. Consequently, he makes a mess of his life. Besides, Jon Hamm looks pretty good in a suit and tie. Henry Cavill (aka the Man of Steel) is the embodiment of the strong-and- silent type. He can stare right into the camera and convey everything he’s thinking and feeling with a single look. Plus, he’s got to have the right hair to play Danny! 🙂
Just in case anyone is interested, here are my top picks for the rest of the cast: Bradley Cooper (David), Eric Sloan (Andy Cohen), Emily Blunt (Melody), Donald Moffat (Senator Patrick Donovan), Judi Dench (Florence Woodside), Nathan Lane (Byron), and Idina Menzel (Dr. Lynn Morris).
TNA: Would you care to share a little information about your current WIPs and/or upcoming releases with us?
Will: Like John/Peter, I’m a little schizophrenic when I write, so I’m working on two novels at once. I started writing The Plumb Line a couple years ago. I was walking my dog late at night and noticed the way a bunch of gray moss was hanging from an old southern oak tree. Something about the image got me thinking about mortality and my father’s struggle with ALS. By the time I got home, I had the idea to write a novel about Travis, a young musician who comes home to Charleston to spend time with his dying father. Although Travis thinks he knows everything about the old man, he quickly comes to realize that his father sacrificed everything, including the great love of his life, for the sake of his son’s happiness. I got a little emotionally overwhelmed by the story, so I put it aside and started working on Indian Summer, a prequel to Favorite Son. Set ten years earlier in Provincetown, it’s the story of the unlikely friendship between Max Balais (the swarthy guy from Spiritus Pizza who puts the moves on Peter) and Danny Cavanaugh. I had initially planned to take a little time off between projects, but it feels great to have the opportunity to develop the backstory of these dear characters. I love them all so much.
TNA: Will, thanks so much for being here with us today. Will you share with readers where we can find you on the Internet?
A Video Reading From the Book
Blurb: Born into a blue-collar family, John Wells beat the odds and came out a winner. As chief of staff to Patrick Donovan, a US senator and aspiring presidential candidate, he enjoys all the power and privilege of a DC insider. But while riding high on a wave of success, he’s blindsided by a series of betrayals from the people he trusts the most. In the space of a single day, John’s perfect life unexpectedly unravels when his career falters and his marriage implodes. Following a final, devastating blow, John assumes a new identity as “Peter” and flees to Provincetown, where a tight-knit community of eclectic characters slowly transforms him.
Peter finds himself drawn to Danny Cavanaugh, an enigmatic carpenter who is struggling to come to terms with his own troubled past. As they work together to renovate a local landmark, the two men forge an unlikely friendship that blossoms into love and becomes the foundation for a new life they hope to build together. But when a reversal of fortune pulls John back to DC, the treacherous world of politics he thought he’d left behind threatens to destroy his chance at true happiness.
The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED