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BLOG TOUR: Foreign Affairs: Male Tales of Lust & Love by Daniel M. Jaffe (Excerpt + Q & A With Author)

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Foreign Affairs: Male Tales of Lust & Love

Author: Daniel M. Jaffe

Publisher: Rattling Good Yarns Press

Cover Artist: Ian Henzel

Genre/s: Short stories, literary fiction, LGBT romance

Trope/s: Travel romance, flirtation, sexual encounters, history in contemporary life

Themes: Travel, sexual/gender identity, love, desire, loss,

friendship, historical memory, spirituality

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 60 000 words/168 pages

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Publisher: Rattling Good Yarns Press

Paperback – US addresses only (includes FREE shipping)

 

 

Blurb

In this newest story collection from award-winning writer, Daniel M. Jaffe, red-blooded American men make mischief while vacationing abroad. They encounter a serial killer in a Munich bathhouse, a gay Holocaust ghost in Prague, a shape-shifting seductress in Mexico City, a desperate prostitute in Seville, a closeted Catholic school administrator in Dublin, and many others. These stories will transport, titillate, intrigue, and tug at your heartstrings.

 

Excerpt

Bill understood Quinn to be whispering “dirty,” but in the raspy, heavy brogue, the word came out as “dehrty”: “Yer a dehrr-ty, dehrr-ty man.” Quinn flicked out his tongue and sucked it in, frog-like. With a thurping sound: “You’re a dehrr-ty, dehrr-ty man,” thurp thurp thurp.

A journalist for the Chicago Tribune, Bill had arrived in Dublin this morning to write a human interest story on the upcoming gay marriage referendum. Polls anticipated Ireland becoming the first country to authorize gay marriage by public vote. Traditional, Catholic Ireland.

Not having slept on the plane—and his body reminding that he was older than he used to be—he spent the day napping in his Jury’s Inn Christchurch hotel room, studying local newspapers and webzines, making notes and listing questions for his article. He supped in his room on take-away from the “great wee chipshop” around the corner, Leo Burdock Fish & Chips—greasy, salty, thick-crusted smoked cod accompanied by more fries than he could possibly consume. Later on, he trimmed his gray beard, donned jeans and a button-down blue shirt that showed off his squarish pecs without appearing too obvious—his decades-old uniform whenever scoping out a new city’s gay life. Bill always enjoyed these forays most of all, surveying the terrain before his newspaper’s photographer arrived and hovered, thereby preventing Bill from conducting his most enjoyable background research.

Passionate encounters with locals were the secret to Bill’s success as human interest story writer—even in his late 50’s, he could still get laid with fair enough regularity, especially as exotic foreigner. Few journalists’ articles contained the under-the-skin insights Bill’s did, revelations feeling like disclosure to a trusted confidant. Bill’s interviews read like intimate pillow talk because that’s precisely what they were.

Bill put little stock in ethical baloney about maintaining journalistic distance: if you want to get an inside story, you need to get inside. Repressed countries were Bill’s specialty because they burst with scared horny locals who had few other bed partner options. Want a journalist to cover police harassment of Russian gay activists? brutality against gays in Iraq? death-threats against gays in Uganda? Send Bill with a pack of condoms to ferret out the under-cover(s) scoop. Only a matter of time before he’d win a Pulitzer. He sure was having fun trying.

Bill headed out in the cool evening for George, the nightclub touted on all Irish gay websites as Dublin’s primary gay hangout. He’d undoubtedly find some trick to “interview.”

Strolling down Dame Street—odd, he thought, how historically grand the word “Dame” sounded in Ireland, whereas in American ears it came across as outdated Al Capone cheap. He walked the narrow sidewalk past restaurants, pubs, cafés, repeatedly bumping shoulders with those walking toward him until he realized that the Irish walked the way they drove—on the left, unlike on-the-right Americans: head-on collisions were inevitable.

A scan around the cobblestone courtyard of Dublin Castle, a mix of red brick Georgian palace, gray medieval fortress, and white-gray Gothic revival chapel. A quick look-see at City Hall with its white-gray granite columns and triangular pediment. On the corner of South Great George’s Street, a main shopping avenue, he faced an enormous mural covering the entire side of a gray building: two young men, one in white sweater, the other in black, snuggling in romantic embrace. Larger-than-life gay love, four stories high. And tacked to a lamppost on the corner beneath it—a bold, green-lettered “Yes For Marriage Equality” poster sporting a rainbow flag. All this smack in the center of Catholic Dublin. A more in-your-face public display than he could recall having seen in Chicago’s Boystown.

That must be the place, with the rainbow flag over the entrance and a thick bouncer staring into Bill’s eye. He nodded at the guy and stepped inside. A low-lit cavernous space with stairs to the right—the upper level looked closed…well, it was a Sunday. The music was fast-paced and louder than he liked. Bill walked to the far end of the long bar with men and women in their 20’s chatting, noted the stage behind the bar, empty now of the drag acts he’d read about. He grabbed a black leather barstool, asked the muscular barman for a pint of Guinness, one of those touristy must-do’s. He savored the thick molasses foam, the mix of bitter and heavy sweet, then turned to the lean young man beside him, a handsome fellow with close-cropped blond hair, and introduced himself, knowing that his accent would lead at least to a where-are-you-from conversation. Bill slapped on his personae of naïve visitor: “All I basically know about Ireland is leprechauns and four-leaf clovers.”

“And all I know about America is that you all carry guns and shoot black teenagers when you’re strung out on crack.”


Q & A With Daniel M. Jaffe

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Before I turned seriously to writing, I worked as a corporate/securities lawyer. It’s a fine profession, but wasn’t satisfying for me, personally. When I told my father over the phone that I was leaving the legal profession to become a fiction writer, there was initial silence over the phone. Then Dad said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Fortunately, he was mistaken.

Q: What’s your favorite scene in your latest book and what makes it a favorite? Please also share a short excerpt from the scene with us.

I don’t know that I can pick a favorite—I’ve included in FOREIGN AFFAIRS: MALE TALES OF LUST & LOVE only stories that I really enjoy. But one moment especially tickles me every time I think about it because it captures my fear when traveling that I’ll be a gauche Ugly American. It’s a scene early in the story, “The Importance of Being Jurassic,” about an American journalist in his late ‘50’s who travels to Dublin to report on Ireland’s gay marriage referendum. Soon after arrival, he searches out a popular gay club:

That must be the place, with the rainbow flag over the entrance and a thick bouncer staring into Bill’s eye. He nodded at the guy and stepped inside. A low-lit cavernous space with stairs to the right—the upper level looked closed…well, it was a Sunday. The music was fast-paced and louder than he liked. Bill walked to the far end of the long bar with men and women in their 20’s chatting, noted the stage behind the bar, empty now of the drag acts he’d read about. He grabbed a black leather barstool, asked the muscular barman for a pint of Guinness, one of those touristy must-do’s. He savored the thick molasses foam, the mix of bitter and heavy sweet, then turned to the lean young man beside him, a handsome fellow with close-cropped blond hair, and introduced himself, knowing that his accent would lead at least to a where-are-you-from conversation. Bill slapped on his personae of naïve visitor: “All I basically know about Ireland is leprechauns and four-leaf clovers.”
“And all I know about America is that you all carry guns and shoot black teenagers when you’re strung out on crack.”
“Point taken,” said Bill, impressed by the cleverness, sour as it was. He switched strategies. “Of course I also know Shaw’s plays and Beckett’s, Joyce’s Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist—as a teenager, I even won an award at an oratory contest for declaiming the fire and brimstone sermon.”
“A literate American? Who’d believe it? No doubt you’ve read Angela’s Ashes, too, loving every page that confirmed your image of downtrodden Ireland.”
Not unusual for younger men in bars to be disinterested, but hostile?
“And,” continued the young man, “surely you were self-righteously appalled by that movie, The Magdalene Sisters?”
“The one about Irish nuns enslaving unwed mothers? Of course I was appalled.”
“Makes you feel all superior, doesn’t it? Like you Americans don’t have pedophile priests and other such.”
Bill held up his hand like a stop sign. “Didn’t mean to offend by my mere existence.”
The young fellow dropped his head. “Three pints and I turn jackass. Sorry. Guess I’m pissed because I’m out of commission.” He grabbed his own crotch.

Q: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
I’d love to spend time with Tim, the main character in “The Trickster,” about a bearish man who fantasizes about endless sex and romance during an international gay men’s gathering in Sitges, Spain. Tim keeps deluding himself about fantasy men’s interest in him, just as he fails to recognize when someone truly is interested. I wish I could sit and discuss his approach to dating, help him learn to read men’s signals better, so that he’d know when it’s reasonable to get his hopes up, and when it’s not. I feel so sad for him.

Q: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?
Definitely the Devil in “Walpurgisnacht.” He’s monstrous, a serial killer. I could never tolerate even a moment with him. I’d want to send him to Hell…but that would be counterproductive because, being the Devil, he’d love that!

Q: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre?
For me, what’s most important in fiction is the characters. If I care about characters, understand their motivations, root for them or find myself wanting to caution them against making mistakes, I just get totally swept away. I love protagonists who are self-reflective, who struggle to do the right thing, whatever that is in a given circumstance. I can’t say that I have a favorite genre, but I’m especially drawn to fiction that transports me to places I’ve never been or that puts me in the mindset of people different from myself. I recently read Colette Sartor’s short story collection, ONCE REMOVED, and loved how she shared women’s intimacies, particularly thoughts about bodies. The stories gave me insight into the feel of pregnancy, for example, in a way I’d never before encountered.

Q: What books and authors would you say influenced you to become a writer?
One novel, in particular, leaps to mind: Andrew Holleran’s DANCER FROM THE DANCE, that showed how beautifully one could write about sexuality and gay men’s experiences. Holleran not only captured urban gay life with incredible honesty and frankness, but did so with a lyricism that deeply moved me. Thirty years or so after first reading the novel, I found myself seated beside him on a panel at the lgbtq writers’ conference, Saints & Sinners. I’d been waiting decades to thank him and tell him how much his novel affected me, so I shamelessly gushed. He was incredibly humble and gracious in his reaction. A perfect literary moment.

Q: What are your least and most favorite things about being an author?
My favorite thing is when I’m deep into writing a story or novel and all of a sudden, I gain an insight into a character that I hadn’t even considered before. For example, I knew that the story, “Where the Old is New,” was about a man who travels to Coimbra, Portugal to visit a former college roommate. I also knew, as I was writing, that he’d be shocked upon learning that his old roommate had transitioned from male to female. What I didn’t realize until deep into the story was that the gay protagonist has been in love with this roommate he regarded as male, and has traveled all the way to Portugal in the hopes of finally declaring that love. What happens now that the object of affection is no longer “he,” but “she”? How does he re-think the current relationship as well as the past one?

My least favorite thing is when I read what I wrote the day before, and think it’s absolutely awful. This happened at times with the story, “El Bochorno,” about a hetero man who visits Seville, Spain after losing his wife. He’s in grief, meets a prostitute who’s intelligent, cultured, beautiful, and caring. Part of him is tempted, but part of him feels guilty for being so tempted. Some days, at the end of a writing session, I felt that I’d captured his deep sorrow beautifully. But the next day I’d read what I’d written only to realize that it was sentimental slop. Time to start over. Very frustrating, until I found a way to fix the problem and then write material that I’m pleased with, as I was eventually able to do after about a dozen attempts.

Q: What’s the best piece of writing/author advice you’ve ever received that you’d pass on to someone just getting started in the business?
Focus on writing, not publication. No one can guarantee publication, of course. But if the writing isn’t good, publication is unlikely to follow.

Q: What’s the one genre/sub-genre you haven’t written yet, but would love to? What’s kept you from it so far?
I’d love to write science fiction, but I’ve always questioned whether I know, or could learn, sufficient science. I’ve begun toying with the genre, recently wrote a sci-fi/horror story that was accepted for an anthology of lgbt horror called Unburied. So, maybe there’s hope for me yet!

Q: If you could choose one of your books to be adapted for the silver screen, which would you choose? Why do you think it would translate well to film?
There’s a story in FOREIGN AFFAIRS that I think would lend itself well to film. In “Cobblestone Elegy,” the Jewish-American protagonist travels to Prague, the city of his ancestors, where he experiences a flirtation with a man who turns out to be a Holocaust ghost. I could picture a film that moves around in time, showing his ancestors’ pasts, the ghost’s Holocaust experiences, and the interactions between the ghost and the protagonist in the current moment. Lots of potential for a poignant film, I think.

Q: If I were to interview your main characters, what would they say about you?
I really love this question. They’d probably say a few things: Daniel always means well, but sometimes he’s incredibly annoying! In one draft, he puts us through one set of hoops, but then he totally changes his mind in another draft and puts us through others. C’mmon! Figure it out, Daniel!

On the other hand, they’d probably say, too, that I’m always trying to understand them, my characters, that I really care about representing their perspectives as honestly as I can. I do my best to give each character a fair shake because I genuinely care about each of them (except, perhaps, that Devil in “Walpurgisnacht”).

 


About the Author

Daniel M. Jaffe is an award-winning writer whose short stories and personal essays have appeared in over half a dozen countries and several languages. He has been profiled in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature, and his work has been taught in college and university courses. Daniel is author of the novels Yeled Tov, The Genealogy of Understanding, The Limits of Pleasure, and the short story collection, Jewish Gentle and Other Stories of Gay-Jewish Living. He lives in California with his husband, the writer and professor, Leo Cabranes-Grant.

Read more at www.DanielJaffe.com.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook: Daniel M. Jaffe

 

 

 

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts, interviews, and reviews here

 

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