People Who Read Dorian Gray Also Read… (An Interview about Angel)

This is an interview I did about the novel Angel a while back.  It appeared last month for the first time on the blog of Lynelle Clark.

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

Angel was inspired by a trip I took to Mount Rainier in 2000. My tour guide revealed towards the end of a day-long tour that he had been a minister before he “burned out.” The question of why a minister would retire to become a mountain guide seemed like the good basis for a story. I wanted to explore the mystic nature of places and what would draw a person to the church and to a beautiful natural setting. I wanted it to be a certain kind of conflict, a crisis of faith or a difference of opinion with his congregation. I had a “feel” for the story long before I had the specifics. The idea that the minister fell in love with a man came to me much later, but it seemed to be just the right kind of conflict. It would hit on all the right notes.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t think the author gets to decide that.  Ian has to be beautiful, an actor/model, but someone who can also act, like Ben Barnes in the film Dorian Gray.  Paul would need to be able to convey interior emotions.  For some reason Michael Sheen comes to mind.  He is absolutely nothing like I pictured the character or Paul or described him in the book.  What brings him to mind though is that I admire his talent for showing that his character is trying not to show his emotions.  (Watch him in Frost/Nixon if you haven’t.)  Anyway, good actors.  That is who I would like to play the characters in the movie if such a thing were ever to happen.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Christian minister meets young man and is shocked that he is strongly attracted; conflict and growth follow.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the Decadents of the late 19th Century; Oscar Wilde and his circle.  I’m not going to say anything as absurd like “If you like The Portrait of Dorian Gray you will love “Angel.” But I’ve noticed that a lot of the themes that those writers were exploring are the same ones I was exploring with Angel, the role of beauty, public and private selves, the experience of the spiritual through the physical.  I hadn’t delved into the writing of this period in any great depth prior to writing Angel, so it isn’t a direct influence, but I think I tapped into a lot of the same obsessions and drew from the same well.  I’m discovering my literary heritage after the fact!

Of course, if you go on Amazon, it will tell you that people who bought my book also bought a whole series of male/male romance novels. Fans of stories with gay male protagonists should like the book for that reason.  Sometimes romance fans love it, and sometimes they are disappointed in it because it doesn’t exactly fit into that category.

I like to read literary fiction, and so that is what I enjoy writing. Some people find that Angel is a little more literary than they were in the mood for.  For others that’s the draw.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The themes of the book being what they are, there will be people who will assume the book is meant to be shocking or that it is polemical. What I wanted to do was explore characters and see them wrestle with some of the important challenges of being human.  I wanted to tell a good story


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