Today, Andrew Q. Gordon stops by the QSF blog to answer some of my questions. 🙂
Thanks so much, Andrew, for joining me!
JSC: When did you first start writing, and what was your first published work?
Andrew Q Gordon: I first started writing stories in junior high school, but it wasn’t until college that I began to write seriously. My creative writing courses were basically required me to complete a short/novella length story in a semester. As much as I reflect fondly on those, none of them have ever been published or will be.
JSC: Do you see a difference between MM Romance/fiction and LGBT fiction?
AQG: Of course. That’s like saying is there a difference between Romance and General fiction. The lines seemed to blur for many years because the publishers who accepted LGBT works were mainly MM Romance publishers. That’s not to say they only accepted romance stories, but authors who wanted to sell books needed to appeal to their publishers readers. And those were primarily romance readers.
Fortunately, as people’s views on LGBT rights and LGBT people in general, attitudes about our fiction have changed and there is more acceptance in the ‘general genres’ like thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, horror etc for books with LGBT characters.
JSC: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
AQG: I’m not sure that place exists. I love small towns. I would love to more to one of those ‘quaint’ towns you always see in movies, tv or in books. The trouble is, I don’t know if they exist and if they do, I’ve not found one that meets my mental image.
Ideally it would be a small town, with enough amenities to keep me in coffee, books, and electronics. Mountains would be nice and a lake or two. I’d say someday I’ll get there, but my “somedays” are dwindling in number so I may not ever make it anywhere except on paper or on the screen.
JSC: How do you navigate the space between the LGBT market and the sci fi market? Have you found effective ways to sell stories that are mainstream sci fi but that have LGBT protagonists?
AQG: This raises an interesting dilemma for me. Assume the story is pure fantasy or sci-fi and there is no romance. How does one work in the LGBT angle without it appearing gratuitous? Meaning, if there isn’t a romance angle, so the protagonist’s love life or lust life isn’t important, does it need to be mentioned?
Now even the most sci-fi stories seem to have some romance angle, so when that happens, it’s a matter of mentioning it and moving on. None of which answers your question.
Not really. I think the only way to move into mainstream sci-fi/fantasy is to try. Find those outlets and push your work and not worry about it being LGBT. Mention it? I suppose so, but only in passing. Sell the ‘genre’ not the sexuality of the MC. Does it work? I don’t know yet. I’m working on it, so I’ll let you know.
JSC: What was the first speculative fiction title you remember reading?
AQG: The Lord of the Rings and then The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson.
JSC: Boxers or briefs?
AQG: Trunks/Boxer Briefs— (I’m a contrarian, what else did you expect – other than commando and that’s so not me.)
JSC: Are you more a pantser or a plotter?
AQG: A bit of both, but more of a pantser. I have a vague outline and do a basic story board, but I rarely stick to that and the end product hardly resembles the board.
JSC: Tell us a little more about Purpose – what’s it about? How is it different than what you have done before?
AQG: Purpose is paranormal where I generally write fantasy or contemporary MM Romance. It’s darker than most of what I’ve ever done. It delves a bit more into moral issues without actually addressing them.
The main character is host to the Spirit of Vengeance. He’s killed thousands of guilty people as the human vessel for vengeance. The idea of an eye for an eye isn’t exactly an acceptable system of justice—at least not one that people are willing to embrace in public. But that is what William Morgan is doing. The innocent dead demand justice before they can rest, and it’s Will’s job punish the guilty. Not exactly the stuff of fluffy romance or even epic heroes. Purpose is far more Batman than Superman, Magneto than Charles Xavier. (My inner comic book geek poking through.)
And because of my contrarian nature, I didn’t want my paranormal like everyone else’s. So this is a bit of a risky book for me. I don’t think it will have the broad appeal of comfort read ala MM Romance, nor will it have that sweep you up appeal of an epic fantasy story. That said, I think it’s some of my best work.
JSC: What are you working on now?
AQG: Book Four of Champion of the Gods (no working title yet, sorry.) A MM Romance with Anyta Sunday (no fantasy, sci-fi or paranormal on any page), the sequel to Purpose – which will be titled, Redemption and some where in there is my idea to finish Harp Strings another MM Romance.
JSC: Where do you foresee LGBT sci fi and fantasy going as a genre in the next five years?
AQG: Ideally I’d like to see it go away, because that would mean it got folded into sci-fi and fantasy in general. When I was a young Q, I got a lesson in how male centric the world was (still is). A professor used to start sentences with “A lady lawyer I know . . . ” when talking about a lawyer who was a female. The person seated next to me all but slammed her head onto the desk. I asked what’s wrong, because I didn’t get the problem, providing I wasn’t much better than the troglodyte teaching the class.
Those lawyers he spoke of didn’t need to be qualified with the word ‘lady.’ They were lawyers just like the ones who were male. But of course the professor never said a ‘gentleman lawyer I know . . .’ Male privilege at its worst.
Sci-fi/fantasy doesn’t need the LGBT label. It’s no better or worse that sci-fi/fantasy. No one qualifies it as heterosexual, or non-sexual sci-fi/fantasy. Why do we need the LGBT tag? We don’t of course.
Will that happen? Beats the crap outta me, but hey, I never thought I’d be able to get married in my lifetime. Stranger things have happened.
Thanks for having me to today.
QSFer Andrew Q. Gordon has a re-release paranormal book out:
Forty years ago the Spirit of Vengeance—a Purpose—took William Morgan as its host, demanding he avenge the innocent by killing the guilty. Since then Will has retreated behind Gar, a façade he uses to avoid dealing with what he’s become. Cold, impassive, and devoid of emotion, Gar goes about his life alone—until his tidy, orderly world is upended when he meets Ryan, a broken young man cast out by his family. Spurred to action for reasons he can’t understand, Gar saves Ryan from death and finds himself confronted by his humanity.
Spending time with Ryan helps Will claw out from under Gar’s shadow. He recognizes Ryan is the key to his reclaiming his humanity and facing his past. As Will struggles to control the Purpose, Ryan challenges him to rethink everything he knew about himself and the spirit that possesses him. In the process, he pushes Will to do something he hasn’t done in decades: care.
Note: 1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.
He turned where he saw the others disappear and understood why they had stopped: dead-end alley. Ryan stood with his back to the brick wall, wide-eyed and pale. Gar noted the uncontrolla-ble shake in Ryan’s body as the four jackals slowly inched closer. White knuckles surrounded the small bag he’d carried off the train.
The one closest to Ryan inched closer. “You know what time it is.”
“Police!” Gar didn’t wait for them to react to his command. He tightened his leg muscles and moved the moment everyone turned toward the front of the alley. Using the split second before they could focus on him, he leaped over them, twisting in the process.
The space between them and Ryan wasn’t much, but he managed to avoid contact with the kid, landing a foot to the left. He reached into his coat and removed a collapsible metal baton with his right hand and a pair of brass knuckles with the left.
One step right, and he completely covered Ryan’s shaking form. Not risking a glance back, he kept his eyes on the startled thieves in front of him.
“Stay behind me, Ryan.”
A muffled grunt, barely audible, told Gar the kid heard him. He dropped the police officer illusion, staring calmly at his prey. Assessing his adversaries, he ignored the hint of a thought that said they were not the guilty. Too late for that—they would have been had he not stopped them.
“I know what time it is,” he hissed, tossing the slang for street robberies back in their face. “Time for vengeance to collect its fee.”
In the recent past, Gar had taken to finding a way to take out the guilty without doing it himself. This time he couldn’t risk it; Ryan was too close. One of them had a gun. He could smell it now.
He definitely didn’t have time to make it look like an accident.
Spinning on his left foot, he kicked the kid with the gun so hard his skullcap flew off when his head hit the wall. Allowing his movement to carry him around, he brought the metal baton down on the arm of a robber with a knife. Metal on flesh and bone was no contest. Gar saw Ryan flinch when the kid let out a scream of agony and fell to the ground.
At least he would live, Gar noted. The first kid was probably dead already. The other two were rooted in place, stunned into inaction. Two seconds ago, they were about to rob a defenseless kid. Now they were being taken apart. Before they could run away, Gar lashed out.
Using the palm of his left hand, he struck the one closest to him. Even using the inner part of his hand, he heard the brass knuckles crack the kid’s sternum when he connected. The last kid fi-nally moved and made it three steps before Gar swept his feet out from under him with the ba-ton.
The face looking up in terror was that of a kid, a juvenile. They were all kids. Reaching toward the teen’s head, he heard movement behind him.
“Gar.” Ryan’s timid, urgent tone caused him to turn. “Don’t kill him.”
“I won’t.” His voice was a cold hiss. Instead, he touched the sweaty forehead, inserting confused thoughts. He quickly repeated the process with the others. The first kid still lived, but probably not for long. The other two, he left sobbing out their pain.
“Come on.” He grabbed Ryan’s left arm. “We need to go.”
Ryan resisted the pull, but Gar was prepared for this. “Either you come with me or I leave you to explain this.”
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Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting to the times, he now writes with a shiny new MacBook that he sets on the same desk as his manual typewriter and vintage adding machine.
Long a fan of super heroes, wizards and sports, Andrew’s works include high fantasy, paranormal spirits, magic as well as contemporary fiction. He is still trying to find the perfect story that will include all his favorites under one cover.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and occasionally sleeping.