Interview: Marshall Thornton

Hi! Thank you so much for being with us.  We have…questions!

51w+BhxbDqL._SY346_Let’s start with Femme (the audio version is what we reviewed.) Did you base Lionel on someone you know?

Yes and no. There are bits of a couple different friends woven in there. But mostly Lionel began as a stereotype and became more and more real with each page.

Can you walk in high heels?  (Just curious!)

LOL. Well, I haven’t worn women’s heels since I tried on my mother’s pumps at age eight. I did however have a couple pairs of platforms when they were popular for men in the late 70s. When I was a teenager, I bussed tables in three-inch platforms.

Did you have a choice in who would perform (narrate) the audiobook? What is required to turn your book from print to audio?

I published Femme under my own imprint, Kenmore Books. All the choices were mine. I heard Joel Leslie read Haley Walsh’s book Foxe Hunt. I thought he did a great job so I asked him to read Femme to see if he might like to work on it. He loved it and that was it… 

From my end, very little is required to turn a book from print to audio. Joel did the work. I did have to listen at various points and approve everything when it was finished.

I’m going to go back to a blast from the past – The Ghost Who Slept Over.  I just re-read it and it was just as funny the second time.  Where did that idea come from?

I adore The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I watched it as a child, I loved the TV series (Charles Nelson Reilly! OMG) and I’ve watched it three or four times as an adult. I’d watch it tomorrow if I weren’t busy writing Boystown 10. Anyway, I wanted to write something like that and The Ghost Who Slept Over is what I came up with.

What is your ideal writing set up?  Coffee or tea while you write?

I like a very big desk with a lot crap on it. I drink a lot of coffee – fortunately I read yesterday that drinking a lot of coffee adds to life-expectancy. Even if it’s not true, I believe it.  

Do you come up with characters first or the idea?  

It depends. Usually, it’s the idea and then I think about what kind of person would do that… I’m launching a new mystery series soon and I wanted to make sure that character was not Nick Nowak and so building who he is became more important than the plot.

What do you do when characters won’t cooperate?

Change the ending. You know I don’t really think of characters that way. I have written characters and realized that it made no sense them to do what I thought they were going to do. The positive thing there is then that what’s been written is strong enough to suggest a different direction.

Humorously, what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

I have no idea. I did briefly work as a gossip columnist for the Sun-Times in Chicago. That experience was full of humiliation, humorous and otherwise. I remember this socialite coming up to me and saying, “You look like you really know how to party when you’re not on duty.” I had absolutely no clue how to ‘party’. I was kind of a clueless kid. 

35499656Let’s talk about Aunt Belle’s Time Travel and Collectibles.  Why time travel?

A couple reasons. First, I think it’s a common thing to wonder what it would be like to go back and re-do a few things in your life. Second, my mom loved science fiction and I remember watching the Time Tunnel with her other time travel shows and movies. I’ve seen a lot of them and they always lead to funky questions about whether you can or cannot change things. I starting thinking about what I might do with a time travel story and how I might answer some of those funky questions.

The obvious question – where (when?) would you time travel to and why?

Well, in Aunt Belle’s Time Travel and Collectibles you can’t really change the past, so I think I’d just take a nice vacation in 1981 Chicago in my 23 year-old body. That also happens to be where the Boystown Mysteries begins. So, in a metaphoric sense I’ve already done it. 

Have you had a David in your life?

Wait. Is this TMZ? Did I miss something? Of course I’ve had David(s) in my life. I write about writing for ScreenwritingUMagazine so I give out lots of advice. I’ve never given this advice before but it’s kind of true. The best thing a writer can do is go out and have a completely disastrous relationship. It will give you something to write about for decades.

Do you read reviews? 

I do read reviews. I even go to Goodreads and read reviews. I have a BA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting. Both of those programs were workshop-based, which means I’ve developed a thick skin and I’ve learned to translate the funky things people say into useful, constructive criticism. Reviews don’t affect standalones much but when I do a series they can change the direction of what I’m doing.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn. Driven. Ambitious. (Eek, I don’t even want to spend time with me. LOL.)

Awww, we do!

mt-bwMarshall Thornton is the author of the popular Boystown series. He has been a finalist for the Lambda Award five times and won once. His romantic comedy, Femme was a 2016 Lambda finalist for Best Gay Romance. Other books include My Favorite Uncle, The Ghost Slept Over and Desert Run. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America.


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