We’re so pleased to have author Olivier Bosman visiting The Novel Approach today to celebrate his recent release, Gay Noir. Olivier is sharing a snippet from the book with us as well as offering up the change for one lucky reader to win an eCopy of Gay Noir, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.
I have always been attracted to the 1940s and 50s. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s the way people dressed. Men in sharp suits and fedora hats, women in tight dresses and crazy hats. Or maybe it is because the world was still unspoiled; no traffic jams, no plastic waste. The world was bigger then, and more glamorous.
I love watching old films and reading books of that era. Noir books, in particular. They bring me into a sexy world of tough, fast-talking detectives and seductive, double-crossing dames. An exciting world of smugglers, gangsters and spies. I particularly like how dark and twisted the stories are. There are no straight, honest heroes in noir fiction. The characters are cynical, morally skewed and flawed, which makes a refreshing change to the predictability of character and plot arcs of other genres.
Another thing I like about this genre is that, at a time when gay characters were largely absent from fiction, noir was the only genre which acknowledged their existence. Of course, the gay characters in it were usually the villains. They were portrayed as cowardly, or untrustworthy or narcissistic. But what if I redressed the balance? What if we had an exciting, fast-paced thriller, set in the glamorous 40’s and 50’s, filled with intrigue and suspense, where the hero just happened to be gay? Instead of a femme fatale, there’d be an homme fatal, perhaps. Or a tough, wise-cracking P.I. in a slick suit with an eye for handsome men, rather than glamorous showgirls.
It was this notion which led me to write Gay Noir. Inspired by the pulp fiction novels of the 1940’s and 50’s, the novellas in this anthology emulate the dark, thrilling, sensational and taboo breaking stories of the post war era and gives them a gay twist.
About the Book
1950’s London. Felix Stone is an openly gay P.I. He is approached by a mysterious woman who pays him to shadow her husband. What at first seems to be a run of the mill adultery case, soon turns out to be much more serious. When the people involved in the case suddenly start dying around him, Felix finds himself embroiled in the world of cold war espionage and his own life is put in danger.
1949. The East End of London is still recovering from the blitz. Fitzgerald O’Sullivan is a young man with romantic notions of living like an impoverished writer. In an attempt to escape his past, he abandons his life of privilege and rents a room in the East End. There he meets Roy Parker, a chirpy Cockney with a working-class charm. Roy asks Fitz to write a story about how he saved the lives of two Jewish ladies during the war. What follows is a far-fetched tale filled with lies and exaggerations. This is is a noir thriller where nothing is what it seems. A dark tale of love, bitterness and vengeance set in the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War
1950´s L.A. Sixteen year old Henry Blomqvist is the son of an aspiring actress and stepson of a millionaire businessman. He is an embarrasement to his parents, a useless layabout who is constantly getting arrested for cruising the parks. But his vices pale in comparison with the dark secrets in his parents´ lives. The kidnapping of Henry´s stepfather triggers a series of events which expose the skeletons in his parents´ closets and which finally give Henry the chance to step up to the mark and show what he´s really made of.
Buy the Book: eBook || Paperback
Six hours had passed since I crept onto the sofa in my office to get some sleep. I’d been awake for five of them. I kept trying to think of the name of the man who was snoring beside me. Was it Jim? Or Jack? Or Jeffrey? Anyway, it started with a J, I knew that much. Where had I got him from? Was it from the Apollonia? Or the Bird Cage? Or had I picked him up off the street?
The lock of the office door turned. It was Joanie. Punctual as ever, come to open up. I should’ve jumped up and rushed towards her. Detained her for a few minutes with stories of my wild, debauched night. Given ‘J’ the chance to get dressed and make himself decent before Joanie came barging in. But I was still groggy from last night and I couldn’t be arsed.
The door to the office swung open and Joanie came marching in. Oblivious to my presence, she walked towards the blinds – in that brisk and efficient manner of hers – and opened them up. A horrible flood of light rushed into the dusty office and finally woke ‘J.’ He popped his sleepy head above the bed sheets and squinted and rubbed his eyes.
“Morning,” I said, addressing both him and Joanie.
They turned to look at me, surprised and confused. I could understand Joanie’s confusion – after all, it’s not every day that a secretary walks into the office and finds her boss naked on the sofa with another man, but what was ‘J’ so confused about?
Joanie put her hands to her mouth and shrieked with embarrassment. ‘J’ pulled the sheet over his head and curled himself into a ball.
“Oh my God, Felix,” Joanie said, shaking her head and frowning. “You might have warned me you had company!”
“I was sleeping,” I lied.
She looked down at ‘J’, who was still cowering under the sheets. “I’m sorry to have alarmed you,” she said. “Don’t worry, you’re not in any trouble. I’m used to this sort of behaviour from Felix.”
‘J’ finally popped his head above the sheet and looked at her sheepishly. He was blushing.
“What’s your name?” Joanie asked him.
‘J’ was still too shocked to respond. She turned to me for an answer.
I shrugged. “Something with a ‘J’, I think.”
“My name is Michael,” ‘J’ said finally, giving me an indignant look.
Joanie frowned again and shook her head at my callousness. “Hello, Michael. I’m Joanie,” she said to him. “There’s a shower in there.” She pointed towards the bathroom. “You had better get dressed. It’s eight o’clock. We’ll be opening soon. I’ll go outside and make you some coffee.”
‘J’ barely had three sips of his coffee before he rushed out. He couldn’t get away fast enough. Well, who could blame him?
“You really are quite disgraceful,” Joanie said to me after he had left. She was sitting on the edge of my desk, sipping from her coffee cup. “I don’t know why I’m friends with you. That poor chap.”
“You’re friends with me because I’m disgraceful,” I said, taking the sheets and blankets off the sofa and folding them up. My clothes still lay on the floor, and I wore nothing but my boxer shorts. I could tell that Joanie was trying very hard not to look at me as she kept her eyes fixed on her coffee cup.
“Isn’t it time you got your own flat?”
“This is my flat.”
“This is the office, Felix. We’re supposed to work here.” She turned away from me and looked out of the window.
“Work?” I said. “There is no work.” I opened the cupboard and placed the sheets and blankets on the shelf. “Anyway, I can’t afford another flat. I’m four months behind on the mortgage of this one as it is.”
“There’s a woman standing outside,” Joanie said. “Do you think she’s for us?”
I joined her by the window and looked out. An elegant woman stood outside the building, with a calling card in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She kept looking from the card to the door. She seemed nervous.
“Good Lord, do you think she could be a client?” I asked. “We haven’t had one of those in ages.”
There was no need for Joanie to answer, because just at that point the doorbell rang.
“You had better get dressed,” she said. “I’ll go let her in.” She rushed towards the door.
“I suppose you must have heard these kinds of stories a million times before.”
Mrs Celia Skinner spoke with a crisp, cut-glass accent. She was wearing a dark blue cashmere twin set. Her cardigan was left unbuttoned in order to display her pearl necklace, with which she kept fidgeting as she spoke. Her light brown hair was tightly permed, and the little pearls in her ears were just the right size to give her face a little sparkle. Although she wasn’t sparkling now. She kept looking down at the desk, unable or unwilling to meet my eyes.
“It’s about my husband.” She crushed her cigarette out on the ashtray and rummaged in her handbag for another. “He’s having an affair, and I want a divorce. I need you to provide me with proof.” She popped the cigarette in her mouth and lit it.
“Who is your husband?” I asked.
“Mr Raymond Skinner.” She blew a ring of smoke into my face. “He works for the admiralty.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Oh no, there’s nothing impressive about it.” She frowned. “He’s just a lowly civil servant. He’s been in the same post for five years. He’s been passed over for promotion a thousand times. My father warned me about him. I should never have married him.”
“Why do you think your husband is having an affair?”
“What else would he be doing when he doesn’t come home at night?”
“There are numerous things he could be doing.”
“He’s having an affair, Mr Stone. I know he is. He hasn’t touched me in years.”
“Where do you live?”
Mrs Skinner hesitated before answering. “Wimbledon,” she said eventually. “We live in Wimbledon.”
There was something not right about this dame. She acted suitably nervous and uncomfortable while talking to me. And so she should be. After all, the dirty streets of Spitalfields were far removed from the lush green suburbs of Wimbledon. But all the fidgeting with her necklace aside, there was something about her eyes that suggested the opposite of unease. She seemed strangely confident.
“Why did you come to me, Mrs Skinner?”
She looked confused. “What do you mean? You’re a private detective, aren’t you? This is what you do, isn’t it? Chase after cheating husbands and try to catch them at it?”
“But why did you come to me? Where did you get my details from?”
“The telephone directory.”
“I’m not in the telephone directory.”
She frowned again. “Well, what does it matter. I’ll pay whatever you ask. I just want proof so that I can correct the terrible mistake I made in marrying that man six years ago.”
“What I’m trying to get to the bottom of, Mrs Skinner, is why an elegant and well-spoken lady like yourself would travel all the way to Spitalfields to speak to a private detective when there must be dozens of detectives closer to your home. Especially when money appears not to be an issue.”
“You were recommended to me.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Recommended? By whom?”
“By my maid, if you must know. She saw the sign outside your building. I came here precisely because it is out of the way. I wouldn’t want to be bumping into a nosy acquaintance prying into my personal life. But what I’d like to know is, will you help me?”
“It’ll cost you two hundred pounds,” I said. That was much more than I’d normally charge, but I wanted to see how she would react.
“Two hundred and fifty to cover expenses.”
“Three hundred if I employ any of my associates.”
This time she paused, wondering whether she was being conned. “Fine,” she said. “I’ll pay whatever you ask for, Mr Stone, but only if you provide proof in the form of photographs.”
“In that case, I’ll need another fifty pounds in advance to buy new camera equipment.”
She looked at me sceptically.
“The last one got smashed by an angry husband,” I explained.
“Fine,” she said and opened her handbag. “But the photographs must be clear and irrefutable.” She took a fifty pound note and handed it to me. “You must catch him in the act, if you know what I mean. I don’t want anything that he can explain away.”
“I do know what you mean, Mrs Skinner.” I took the fifty pound note and stuck it in my shirt pocket. “You can trust me. I’ll get you that divorce.”
About the Author
Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia.
I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various dvd collections!)
I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield. After a failed attempt at making a carreer as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called ´Death Takes a Lover´ (which has since been turned into the first D.S.Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim.
I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English.
Keep in touch with Olivier Bosman via his Website
a Rafflecopter giveaway
8 thoughts on “Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Gay Noir by Olivier Bosman”
Olivier Bosman, Thank you for all the times I got to review your novels for The Novel Approach. I really like the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries, John is such a great character. Can’t wait to read Noir and hope there’s more coming for DS Billings series.
Yes, there will be more DS Billings mysteries. I am working on one as we speak :)
A new to me author. The book sounds quite interesting. Congratulations and much success to you, Mr. Bosman.
Sounds interesting. I’ve always recast conventional MF pairings in stories with MM.
Such a over-looked area of literature! I’m looking forward to exploring…
Thank you for the excerpt!
Thank you for the excerpt, Oliver. It sounds really good!