Lloyd Meeker comes to us today with a brave hat choice--a LIVING one! :3 Check out his interview PLUS the giveaway! (Details at the end)
Hello Lloyd and welcome to The Hat Party! <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!
Thank you! I love randomness.
On a scale 1 (super chill) to 10 (falling apart at the seams) how cool are you when it comes to reviews?
I’m probably a four. I know the theory that a harsh review is just someone else’s opinion and I should just let it roll off my back, but it still stings when I get one. I love thoughtful constructive criticism but I have no use for sniping from someone who thinks I should have written a different story to meet his/her personal expectations and gives me a bad review because I didn’t. And of course if they love the story then they can go on as long as they like! Sad double standard, isn’t it? Haven’t grown past it, though.
You’ve been given the opportunity to go back in time and give your 13-year-old self a message. What do you say?
Hang in there, Lloyd. I know you can’t say anything to anyone yet, they wouldn’t understand and you wouldn’t be safe. What you feel is not wrong! You are not broken. If I could reach in and lift that twisted self-doubt from your heart, I would, but I don’t know how. I can tell you, though, that the god you believe in so passionately did a great job, made you exactly the way you are, which is beautiful, and smart, and sweet, and kind, and compassionate.
You’ll face plenty more challenges ahead, but I promise you – your life will eventually become more wonderful than you can presently hope for, than you can even imagine. Your life won’t look anything like you think it should. It will be better than all your expectations, trust me. Hang on to your compassion, it’s hard to get back if you lose it, and shine as much of it on yourself as you can. Never, never give up on the wise light in your heart, Lloyd! That’s who you are. Trust the gifts you have to share with others. They are fine gifts.
So, you were editing along and zombies attack. And they are on fire! What do you do?
Heh. I’ve never understood the appeal of zombies, so I’d just let them burn! And move upwind so I don’t have smell the smoke as they do.
What one food item do you consider to be your arch nemesis?
I’m a pretty adventurous omnivore. I had trouble getting sea cucumber down my throat in Korea, long ago. It was presented as a great delicacy, so I couldn’t refuse. It seemed to me like it was still moving on the plate, but that may not have been true. I don’t think I’d eat that again voluntarily. That was the most challenging thing I’ve put in my mouth. And no, I didn’t intend that as a joke, so let’s not go there! J
Describe yourself using song lyrics.
I have to bend the rules a little and use poetry instead. These are the last lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses. He can’t stop adventuring, just because he’s old. The older I get, the truer they become for me.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
If you could pay someone to do one part of your writing/publication process for you, what would it be?
Maketing! Social Media! That stuff makes me crazy… if I think about it too much, a paralysis of fear sets in and I’m lost.
You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)
This is from my most recent book The Companion, out from Dreamspinner Press this week:
Something happens in a man’s eyes, when he welcomes another man into him. They widen slightly, and deepen with entry. Then a light comes up in them—some inner radiance is liberated, a wordless beauty, a triumphant, sacred maleness.
I slid slowly in and Marco’s eyes ignited with that light, glowing as if to guide me all the way to his center, to the kind of homecoming that two men know when they consent to become lovers, even if lovers just for a moment. Only a lover enters into that kind of welcome, pushes home to that kind of light.
I knew he could see similar recognition in my face, his smile said so. “Oh, god,” he moaned, “yes.”
When he was relaxed enough for more I turned him onto his side, hugging his left leg to my chest, pushing in all the way. Something melted in me, some distance-keeping barrier I hadn’t noticed, and the heat of his body washed over me, claimed me. The coarse hair of his thigh scraping against my chest marked me, sparked me with every thrust.
What makes you inexplicably happy?
Inexplicably? Farmers markets and street fairs. I don’t know what it is about them, but when I walk among the buskers, between the pavilions of trinkets and scarves and food and tarot readers something effervescent bubbles up in me, and I become ridiculously happy. Maybe it’s a past life thing, but whatever it is, it overtakes me completely, and I love it.
Biggest mistake you’ve made in your writing career and what you’ve learned from it.
My first three novels were published by three different houses, each under a different author name. I lost a ton of momentum doing that. That wasted marketing focus takes a long time to overcome, especially if at your most productive, you write only one novel a year. I’m consolidating now, as much as I can.
And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kinds of dachshunds?
My sister’s dog Jasper is mostly some breed of wire-haired dachshund. He’s not the brightest dog in the world, but he’s certainly among the sweetest. He has a deformed front foot so when he stands, he looks like he’s posing for Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. I call him “Mr. Jaunty-foot.” Picture attached.
~ ~ ~
Shepherd Bucknam hasn’t had a lover in more than a decade, and doesn’t need one. As a Daka, he coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy all the time, and he loves his work. It’s his calling. In fact, he’s perfectly content—except for the terrors of his recurring nightmare, and the ominous blood-red birthmarks on his neck. He’s convinced that together they foretell his early and violent death.
When Shepherd’s young protégé is murdered, LAPD Detective Marco Fidanza gets the case. The two men are worlds apart: Marco has fought hard for everything he’s accomplished, in sharp contrast to the apparent ease of Shepherd’s inherited wealth—but their mutual attraction is too hot for either of them to ignore.
Shepherd swears he’ll help find his protégé’s killer but Marco warns him to stay out of it. When an influential politician is implicated, the police investigation grinds to a halt. Shepherd hires his own investigator. Marco calls it dangerous meddling.
As their volatile relationship deepens, Shepherd discovers his nightmares might not relate to the future, but to the deadly legacy of a past life—a life he may have to revisit before he can fully live and love in this one.
“I CAN’T wait,” Bill Smith wailed, his head thrashing from side to side on the bed. “I’m going to explode! I’ll die—I can’t!”
I wasn’t worried about the noise. I’d had my studio soundproofed as soon as I bought it. Bill could have screamed, and nobody would have heard much at all. The thick fragrance of our sweat, our breath, and the sage we’d burned at the beginning bore us up, up, into prayer.
He brought his hand to his penis to stroke it, but I pushed it away. “No. Don’t make it happen. You don’t have to. Just let it happen. Keep your eyes open. Listen to me. Let your body break all the way open, it’s good.” After weeks of practice, he was ready, so ready.
“See yourself opening to the sun, like a lotus,” I coaxed, undulating inside him. “Not to me, or me inside you, but to the whole universe. Give yourself to sun-fire, petal by petal. Keep your eyes open, breathe from your belly, let the mystery take you.”
He bucked, his eyes wide and fierce. He clamped his legs around my waist and dug his fingers into the sheets. He stopped breathing.
“Breathe out, now, all the way. Give all your beauty away. Now!” I pushed in all the way, and his breath burst out of him in a ragged prayer to “Oh, God!” as he came. His body arched and shuddered, beautiful and holy in release. Magnificent. I loved this work.
For a while, neither of us moved, just sweating, still joined. The only sound was our breathing as it slowed. After a few minutes, I leaned forward to kiss his throat softly as I reached for a small alabaster jar beside the bed.
“Thank you,” he said shakily, as I wiped him clean and slowly anointed his heart and belly chakras with sandalwood oil from the jar. “Fifty-some years since puberty, and I’ve never come without someone or something touching my dick before.”
“And?” I asked with a smile. I knew the answer already.
His belly convulsed as I slid out. “Amazing.”
BILL’S WEATHERED face still glowed as he tucked in his shirt, smoothed down the fabric. His hand stopped just below his solar plexus. “I can still feel that,” he said, his voice soft with wonder. “My breathing goes all the way down, wide open. Powerful.”
“Isn’t it wonderful?” I said, toweling my hair dry. “Breathing,” I repeated from our very first session, “is our first and most primal sex— welcome in, as deep as we can; pour out, twice as long as in. Twice as much time giving as taking. Without breath, we have nothing, are nothing.”
I came up behind my client to give him an affectionate peck below his ear. I rubbed my clean-shaven cheek along his neck, wondering how long he’d stay this pliant, this gentle. “You did great today, Bill.”
I knew what Bill Smith’s real name was. I took on clients only by referral and then only after a thorough background check, but I honored professional convention. He was a relatively new client and, so far, preferred the pretense of anonymity. If that made him feel safer with me early on, no problem—his comfort made it easier to do the work. We could go deeper into the mystery.
He caught my eye in the mirror and held it, as only a tough, silver-haired airline executive could. Very used to being in charge. “You didn’t answer the question I asked in the shower,” he said. “But I’d like an answer. Do you ever regret being so beautiful?”
“Not that I’m aware of.” I hesitated, cautious about where this might lead. “Why?”
He shrugged, his smile disappointed. “I would have preferred you to say yes. It’s selfish of me, but the world would seem a little more just if once in a while you felt there was a downside to your looks. Even here in Los Angeles, your physical perfection is... unnerving. When we’re together, I’d rather not be the only one in the room who felt a little awkward about that, at least once in a while.”
Involuntarily, my hand rose to cover the three blood-red spots of the birthmark that lay along my neck. “I’m not perfect.”
His laugh carried a hard edge. “You,” he said with quiet accusation, “are more physically perfect than any human being has a right to be.” His gaze flicked to where my fingers lay. “And those things serve only as punctuation, like an eighteenth century beauty mark.”
I laughed too, just to deflect him. “Okay, then. But that’s not really what my coaching is about. Would you be less interested in working with me if I were less attractive physically?”
He pulled the knot of his tie into place, looking thoughtful. “It might have mattered to begin with. Not now, certainly.”
“That’s because you’re beginning to experience your own beauty, inside.” I waggled a finger at Mr. Smith’s reflection. “But I’m hearing comparison and competition creeping back into your language already, and you’re not even out the door.”
“Competition makes the world go around,” he said, showing teeth.
“Not with me, not here in my space.” I hugged his trim, mature body from behind, catching a rich whiff of sandalwood, and whispered into his ear, “You are unique. That’s what makes you a pleasure to be with, for whoever you’re with.”
“Huh. I’ll bet you say that to all your customers.”
“Clients,” I corrected. It was almost the same thing, but not quite. Certainly not to me. I gave him another smooch on his neck, on comfortable territory again. “Of course I do. Because it’s true. My work is to help a man discover how true that actually is.”
“By having the most spectacular sex imaginable.”
“Exactly!” I squeezed and pulled away. “Can you think of a better way to discover your sacred inner beauty?”
Bill shook his head, finally surrendering a real smile. “Trust me, I’m not looking for a better way.”
I winked into the mirror at him. “Me neither.”
After he left, I massaged my chakras using lavender oil as I always did to separate from a client. I did some stretching, showered again, and dressed slowly.
His question about beauty had touched a nerve. From childhood, I’d been keenly aware that people thought me beautiful. I was. It had been one of Mother’s favorite topics of conversation with her martini friends. But in spite of Bill’s curt dismissal, I was also marked by ugliness.
I stared into the mirror at the rough red spots that lay on my neck like blood spatter. As they had since puberty, when I’d first started having the nightmares, they whispered to me of grisly, violent death. Mine.
Any number of times I’d decided to have them removed, but I’d never been able to go through with it. Always—once as late as actually settling onto the table with the plastic surgeon standing next to me—I decided it would be wrong to cut them out. They were a true part of me, somehow, even though I hated that they were. I didn’t want to be beaten to death like the nightmare promised.
My throat tightened and began to ache. I’d looked at them too long. Sweat beaded on my forehead. I shut my eyes and breathed into the rising swell of nausea. I’m safe right now. I began a silent affirmation. This is my studio. I choose my clients. I’m safe here.
I wouldn’t let that prophecy of violence and death become reality, even though it had marked me from birth. I had the resources to make sure it didn’t. I took all the precautions.
I wiped my face with the damp towel and shrugged into a fresh shirt. I needed to schedule another appointment with Reggie, my therapist, to work on that again. But right then, I was due for lunch with Stef at Chez Henri. My reservation was for two o’clock, and they wouldn’t hold a table even for a regular like me.
~ ~ ~
About the Author:
Lloyd Meeker can't help what he writes – stories arising from the between places, the mystical overlapping between the worlds of matter and spirit, and the eldritch beauty that dwells there. It’s his natural habitat.
He's in love with the adventure and magic of living there, loves plunging into stories full of both, and wants to take you along. Mostly he's in love with love, and believes deeply in the power of love to overcome any challenge. He’s known it in his own life, and seen it in the lives of others.
In addition to his written work, which includes novels, essays, poetry and short stories, he has served since 2008 as a judge in the Queer Foundation’s annual National High School Seniors Essay Contest, which promotes effective writing by, about, and/or for queer youth, and awards scholarships to the winners. Finalists are selected from schools across the United States by members of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Happily ensorcelled by music, subtle energy healing, and the wonders of nature, he lives with his very understanding husband in southern Florida, among friends and family, orchids, and giant hibiscus that take his breath away every morning.
The Companion is his fourth novel. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at @LloydAMeeker, or visit his website at www.lloydmeeker.com.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/MBe1gp
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/MBe1gp
Comment between now and July 29th at 11:59 PM CDT with your email address for your chance to win a .mobi or .epub version of Lloyd's novella Enigma!