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April 2011


my (our) books

Fool for Love When You Don't See Me

Someone Like You I'm Your Man

He's The One It Had To Be You

The Mammoth Book of New Gay Erotica Best Gay Erotica 2007

Best Gay Love Stories: New York City Best Gay Love Stories 2005

Three Fortunes In One Cookie The Deal


If you have any of the above books and would like them signed, mail them to:

P.O. Box 131845, Houston, TX., 77219.

Please include three dollars for return postage.

Send email to timothyjlambert@gmail.com

Warning: This blog may contain homosexuals which in the states of California and Maine have been alleged to destroy the sanctity of marriage. Read at your own risk.


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talk about the passion

After Best Gay Love Stories 2005 was published by Alyson another contributor to that anthology, David Puterbaugh, wrote to tell me that he enjoyed my story. I was glad he contacted me, because I'd enjoyed his contribution and was glad I could tell him I did. At that time, Becky Cochrane and I had been approached about maybe editing the anthology that, years later, would become Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction. I told David that we'd keep him in mind if we ever signed contracts to edit an anthology. I'm sure he probably thought, "Yeah, sure," and put it out of his head as a possibility. But, more than a year later, contact him we did, because his previous work stayed fresh on our minds. The story he eventually sent for Fool For Love, "Thai Angel", was just the kind fresh and heartwarming story we hoped for.

TJL: Were you surprised when we asked you to contribute a story to our anthology?

David Puterbaugh: I thought, “Oh my God! This is for real!”

You've submitted stories to collections cold, and now you've been approached by editors. Which is preferable to you?

I think it’s safe to assume that when you’re approached by an editor--or editors--there is probably some familiarity with your work, and that he or she must enjoy your particular style of writing. Beginning a project in that way for me is preferable, as knowing up front that someone likes what you're doing removes the fears and doubts which usually accompany the blind submission process. Although, if I’m being honest, once the story was in the mail “Will they like me?” quickly became “Will they like this?”

Becky and I didn't impose any limitations on what you could contribute. If I remember correctly, our only guideline was that the story had to say something about romance between men. Was having so much freedom with creativity difficult?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult. For the most part I liked the freedom I was given to present my own interpretation of “men romancing men.” If anything I think I was curious as to how my story would eventually fit in with the others stories in the collection. I still am! What did you and Becky have in mind for the collection in the beginning?

Our only goal was to create a collection of well written stories. There's a lot of gay fiction in the market now, so whatever we add to shelves--whether it's our own fiction or a collection like FOOL FOR LOVE--we want it to be good. We also wanted the collection to have new writers, as well as established names. Because we're somewhat known as romance writers, the editor at the publishing house [Haworth Press] who originally approached us to edit this collection, Greg Herren, asked that it be a romance anthology. While brainstorming a list of writers to query, we remembered your story in Best Gay Love Stories 2005 [Alyson], "Me too." We enjoyed that story, your tone, and your style. "Thai Angel" was perfect, so I'm glad we stayed in touch with you.

Did the book turn out as good as you had hoped for? Better?

This was our first time editing an anthology, so it's hard to say. Maybe it's like the first time you have sex, which can be a fantastic experience, but even though you're proud of yourself for getting the job done you still wonder if you were good at it. I've read the collection many times from cover to cover throughout the editing process and I still enjoy it, so I'm going to say we give good book.

Has editing a collection of short stories by other writers had an effect on your own writing?

Not really. Only in that it inspires me to write well. Becky and I were lucky to be in a position to act as mentors for a few new writers, and we got to work with writers whose work we've admired for years. Both experiences inspire me to want to be a better writer, so those writers might say "I was proud to work with him on that collection." Do you feel the same way the more you contribute? How was writing "Thai Angel" different from "Me too," or other things you've written?

“Thai Angel” was different in that it relied heavily on dialogue. I knew that the mother in the story would only speak Thai, and I had to find a way to make it obvious to the reader when her children were speaking to her in Thai and when they were speaking English to their customers and to each other. The things I’m working on now are mostly character based, and I’m focusing a lot on voice and point-of-view these days. But I think my work on the character of the mother in “Thai Angel” was my first concentrated effort to try to get a character to sound as they would in real life.

You definitely did. What inspired "Thai Angel?" Did you just sit down and knock it out, or did it take a long time?

My story began in my head about a year before I sat down to write it. There are two Thai restaurants within walking distance of the apartment I used to live at in Astoria, Queens. The restaurant closest to my house (right on the corner, to be exact) was my favorite, and I ordered the same take-out from them (Spicy chicken with eggplant) at least once a week. The restaurant has no name, just an old sign that says “Thai Food.” Across the street is the fancier “Thai Angel,” which I remember being very crowded in the summer and on weekends. But even though the “no-name” restaurant was older and smaller (there are a few small tables as you come in the door but it’s mostly a take-out place) it was very popular with the locals. The people who worked there when I lived in the neighborhood were very friendly. One guy in particular always smiled at me whenever I went in, and he always remembered my order. I quickly began to notice that he was like this with all his male customers, and I wondered if he was gay. As I would watch him interacting with people I wondered if there was anyone in particular that he really liked, and if perhaps there was customer who really liked him. I also wondered about the older woman who worked in the kitchen and never smiled, and the young girl who took orders over the phone and cleared tables between customers. When I sat down to write my story I borrowed the name of the fancier place across the street, but “Thai Angel” is all about the people who worked in my favorite little hole-in-the-wall.

Why do you write? Have you always wanted to write? Was there a defining moment where you decided to be a writer?

I write because the stories and characters in my head are too loud to ignore. The first time I ever thought about writing as something I could do was after I read Jackie Collins’s Hollywood Wives at the age of 13. I had seen the mini-series on TV, and I begged my grandmother to buy me a copy on a weekend trip to the mall (at Waldenbooks!). I devoured it in three days. After I finished it I immediately began working on my own "novel," which had the simple working title of “Riches, Romance, Murder, Madness and Hollywood.” (At the time I didn’t see it as a problem that I had never been to Hollywood, let alone California!) It was as pretentious as it sounds I assure you, but I loved every word of it, and the experience of writing it made me want to write more and more.

While you're writing do you think about who might read your work? What about when you're finished? What do you hope a reader will get out of reading your work?

I don’t think about the person so much as I wonder about the genre my story will fit in. I try not to think about it at all as I’m doing the actual writing (especially the first draft) and try save those thoughts instead for the revision process, when the story as a whole usually becomes more clear. I always hope whoever reads my work will enjoy it. As the saying goes, “a parent only want the best for their children!”

Do you read your writing after it's been published? If so, what's that like? Good? Bad?

I’ve re-read the stories I’ve had published a couple of times since publication, although I haven’t read them in awhile. Someday it might be nice to sit down and read them all (assuming there will be more!) and try to recall what I was thinking about when I wrote them. In that way they might act as milestones, and a way to remember different chapters from my life.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read, and then read some more. Read the writers you like, read the writers you don’t, read the stuff you want your own writing to look like. And listen, always listen. Listen to how people talk, pay attention to how they sound, notice how the talk when they think no one is listening. And then make your characters sound like that, as real as humanly possible.


Do you have questions for David Puterbaugh? Post them in the comments, and I'm sure he'll answer. (If he doesn't, I'll poke him with a stick or threaten him with clown photos.) Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction, which includes David Puterbaugh's story "Thai Angel", will be published in February 2009 by Cleis Press. Click here to pre-order from Amazon.com.