Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, David C. Dawson – David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core.
Thanks so much, David, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
David C. Dawson: I became a full-time writer this year. It put all sorts of pressure on me to start with, especially as it came at a time when I had to find a new publisher. But it’s made me a lot stronger as a person, and a lot more disciplined. I am now officially my own slave-driver!
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
DCD: Hah! Well my study wall is covered with flipchart paper and post-it notes with plans and plots scrawled all over them. However…once the characters start talking to you, you have to listen to them. You can’t force a plot on them. They have to make decisions based on their personality and motivations. Of course, if I get into a tight corner with the plot, I can always kill them off…
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing For the Love of Luke?
DCD: The main plotline of For the Love of Luke is the vile practice of gay conversion therapy. I was fortunate to be able to interview several people who had experienced it, and that was tough. In fact, one of the storylines in the book is based on a real person’s experiences.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
DCD: I go for a ride on my motorbike. It clears my head, and suddenly all the problems in the plot simply drop away.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
DCD: My boyfriend, my cat, and an endless supply of coffee.
JSC: Do you reward yourself for writing, or punish yourself for failing to do so? How?
DCD: I reward myself with biscuits (cookies for those in America)! Now that’s a real problem for my waistline if I’m being a good boy…
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
DCD: I’ve seen all the advice that you shouldn’t read your reviews – and I ignore it. The thing is, I’m partly writing for myself, but I’m also writing for readers. Reviewers are readers who’ve kindly taken the time to give me feedback. I always take what they say on board.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
DCD: Turing Day. Alan Turing was the brilliant British mathematician featured in the movie The Imitation Game. Thanks to his brilliance, the Nazi’s Enigma Code was cracked and the Second World War was probably shortened by two years. But Alan Turing was gay. In the 1950s he was prosecuted for being gay, and the state chemically castrated him. He killed himself. He was only posthumously pardoned in 2013.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
DCD: There’s never a bad time for a brilliant idea! I have a notepad by the side of my bed, in the car, and I use the notepad feature on my phone to capture ideas when I’m out and about. Never let them go to waste. I’ve heard some of the best dialogue while sitting on a London bus.
JSC: What are you working on now?
DCD: I’m writing the third installment of The Delingpole Mysteries. It’s due out next year, so I need to get a move on! Dominic will be travelling to Russia to sort out some very unpleasant homophobia going on there.
David is sharing a couple books with us today:
A young man. Unconscious in a hospital bed. His life is in the balance from a drugs overdose.
Attempted suicide or attempted murder?
British lawyer Dominic Delingpole investigates, with the help of his larger than life partner Jonathan McFadden.
Compromising photographs of senior politicians and business chiefs are discovered.
Is the young man a blackmailer?
Dominic and Jonathan uncover a conspiracy reaches into the highest levels of government and powerful corporations.
Three people are murdered, and Dominic and Jonathan struggle for their very survival in this gripping thriller.
“Mrs. Gregory,” said Dominic. “I would be very happy to have you as a client, but I’m not sure in what way I can act for you.”
Samantha smiled. “And neither am I just at the moment. Let’s call you a professional friend. I have no one else who I can turn to, and your legal mind will help me to see things a little more clearly. As you can tell, I’m a little emotional just now.” She turned away to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye. Then she looked at him steadily.
“Simon and I are very close. Ever since Richard, his father, died in a climbing accident, we have been a very tight family unit. I’d like to think Simon and I can tell each other everything.”
Dominic wondered if she was keeping up a brave front, or whether she really believed Simon told her everything. Her comments clearly contradicted what Simon’s housemate Jay had said an hour ago. Dominic decided that, as she was his client, he owed her the duty of honesty, and he should tell her about what he had learned in the last few hours.
“Samantha, I’m afraid I believe Simon may not have confided everything in you in recent times. I went to see John this morning before coming here. He told me about their relationship and how Simon was not yet ready to tell you.”
“Dominic, I’m his mother. Do you think that I didn’t know?” She sighed. “I knew he was finding it difficult to tell me, and I was waiting for him to pick the right time. I didn’t want to rush him.” She paused. “But yes, you’re right, and I am wrong. Simon hasn’t confided everything to me; I merely know and am waiting for him to tell me. John is a lovely boy, and I was just pleased to know that Simon is happy.”
Samantha narrowed her eyes slightly as she asked, “But why do you think that means he must have kept other secrets from me? Surely you of all people must know how difficult it is to come out?”
Dominic blushed briefly. “Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, and for young people it really is much easier….”
“Oh nonsense! Can I just say that I think it’s a bit rich for you to judge Simon when you’re so secretive about yourself? We spent nearly three hours in the car together last night, and I still don’t know whether or not you have a boyfriend!” This time Dominic’s face turned crimson.
“Samantha, could we just get back to—”
“Well, do you?”
Dominic sighed. “I think it’s my turn to acknowledge that I am wrong. Yes, I do have a partner, and no, I am not very open about it. In this day and age, it probably is unnecessary for me to be quite so discreet. But after a while, it gets to be almost a habit.”
Samantha giggled. “Oh, Dominic, how delightfully bashful you are! I imagine that it’s rare you have a conversation like this with your clients.”Dominic smiled. “Samantha, I can tell you truthfully that I have never had a conversation like this with my clients. You must meet Jonathan some time. I think you two would get on like a house on fire.”
A handsome naked man.
Unconscious on a bathroom floor.
He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.
Who is the mysterious Luke?
British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke’s different. Luke’s a talented American artist.
With a dark secret in his life.
“Evening, Mother,” Rupert called as he entered the large scullery off the main kitchen. “I’ve come to give you a hand with supper.”
Lady Cynthia Pendley-Evans peered around the open kitchen door into the scullery. She had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of her nose.
“No you haven’t,” she said. “You’re here because Luke told you we should have a little talk.”
She turned from the doorway and stood with her back to him at the large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. “Although, now you’re here,” she said, without turning around, “you can scrub some potatoes for me. I’m making a potato salad to go with the gammon.”
Rupert could not remember the last time he had seen his mother cook. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in the kitchen. He unhooked a large pot from above the stove and carried it to the sink to fill with water.
“Don’t keep me in suspense,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Oh, darling, you are funny,” said his mother. “I want to make sure you’re going to carry on seeing Luke, of course.”
Rupert set the pan of water on the stove with a clatter and lit the gas. He turned and leaned against the worktop with his arms folded. “I have no idea. Does it bother you?”
Lady Pendley-Evans put down the large knife she was using to slice tomatoes and looked at him over her glasses.
“Stop being so defensive, darling,” she said. “I asked a perfectly simple question. He’s a charming young man. Your father and I would be very happy to see you two together—”
“Father would?” asked Rupert. “I can’t believe that for a second.”
“And why the devil not?” said a voice from the hallway. Rupert’s father appeared at the kitchen door, a bottle of gin in his hand.
“Ready for a snifter, old girl?” he asked Lady Pendley-Evans. He looked across to Rupert. “What are you drinking, my boy? Gin?”
“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thank you, Father,” replied Rupert. “Can I help with them?”
“No, no,” replied Lord Pendley-Evans. “You stay with your mother. And tell her why you think I’m such an old fart.”
“I didn’t say that,” protested Rupert.
“No, darling,” said his mother. “But we know that’s what you think of the pair of us.”
“Well,” said Rupert, “I have some reason to.” He pulled a bag of small earth-encrusted potatoes from the cupboard and tipped them into the sink. He began scrubbing fiercely with a brush to remove the soil. “You’ve made it very clear for years that neither of you approve of me being gay.”
“Don’t take it out on the potatoes,” said his mother. “They’ll have no skins left if you carry on like that.” She picked up her knife and resumed slicing the tomatoes. “And you’re being grossly unfair. Of course, we were rather shocked when you sprang it on us. But that’s fourteen years ago. Please bless us with a little intelligence to have thought about it since then.”
Rupert set down his scrubbing brush and turned to look at his mother. “Then why haven’t you said anything before?”
“The subject never arose,” replied Lady Pendley-Evans. “Whenever I’ve asked you about your life in London, you’ve told me very little. I learn more from the Daily Mail about your night life than I do from you.”
Rupert laughed. “No wonder you don’t approve of me, if you believe what you read in that rag.”
“Darling,” said his mother, “it’s not that I don’t approve of you—”
“Well, maybe a little,” interrupted his father. He entered the kitchen and set down a tray of drinks on the table.
“Don’t interrupt, Clarence dear,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “It’s not helpful.” She turned back to Rupert. “I’m worried about you, Rupert darling. You go to all those dangerous places with your work. We see you on the television in Yemen or Iraq or somewhere equally terrifying. The next moment we read about you in the newspapers, flitting from one nightclub to another. Then once in a blue moon you come back here and spend the whole time being grumpy.”
She took the drink her husband offered her, and tasted it. “Heaven.”
Lady Pendley-Evans took off her glasses and looked at Rupert. “I just want to know when you’re going to settle down and be happy.”
“And we’d like to think,” added his father, “that this young chap might be the one to do it.”
Rupert could scarcely believe his ears. He accepted the tall glass his father handed him and drank from it. He was grateful Lord Pendley-Evans had been generous with the gin.
“When did you change your mind about me being gay?” asked Rupert. “Because I know damn well you hated ‘having a poofter for a son,’ as you so charmingly put it.”
“Yes, well,” said his father. He coughed loudly. “I suppose I’ve had a few years to think about everything—”
“It helped a lot when Roger told you he had a boyfriend,” added Lady Pendley-Evans.
“Roger?” said Rupert with incredulity. “Your school friend who was in the Guards? You never told me.”
“Well, you never asked.”
“Why on earth would I ask you if Roger was gay?”
“I thought maybe you chaps had a sixth sense about these things,” said his father. “Because I certainly didn’t. Mind you, he seems very settled with Jeremy. So it’s all for the best.”
“And their wedding this spring was absolutely heavenly,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “All those beautiful young men in uniform. I simply swooned.”
Rupert turned to his mother. “All right. How do you explain me away at All Saints Church these days? Are you still telling them I’m waiting for the right girl to come along?”
“Oh, don’t be so silly.” Lady Pendley-Evans put her glasses back on and resumed preparing the salad. “Reverend Whittaker left years ago. The Reverend Kenneth might be a little progressive for your father’s tastes, but I find him charming. And it’s so convenient that his partner is the organist and choirmaster.”
Rupert nearly dropped his glass. “The vicar of All Saints is gay?”
“I’m sure I’ve told you,” said his mother. But Rupert was certain she had not. “He’s so charming. And he’s marvelous with the flower committee. Anyway. You haven’t answered my question. Is Luke the one?”
Rupert was speechless. Partly because of everything he had just learned from his parents. But mainly because he was unsure of the answer to his mother’s question.
“I really don’t know, Mother,” he said at last. “We’ve known each other for such a short time—”
“That’s got nothing to do with it,” interrupted his father. “I knew with your mother the moment I laid eyes on her. As soon as I asked her to dance, she was the girl for me.”
“And I knew I wasn’t going to get any better than your father,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “He was quite a catch that season. Luke seems to be a lovely young man. And he’s very smitten with you. Are you smitten with him?”
Rupert set down his glass and leaned back against the sink. He thought back over the last few days. He had never felt so happy in his life.
“I suppose I am,” he said. “But Luke’s got a lot of problems in his life.”
Lady Pendley-Evans crossed the kitchen to where Rupert stood. She put her arms around his waist and reached up to kiss him on his cheek. “My darling boy. We all have heaps of problems. Life’s like that. But they’re so much easier to face when you’re with someone who loves you. I think he could be very good for you.”
“Hey, hey,” said Rupert. But he could not help smiling. “Aren’t you rushing ahead just a bit? Let me take things at my pace. It’s been a very eventful week.”
“Of course, darling.” She patted his chest and looked up at him. Her face wore the same expression he remembered when she came into the nursery to say good night when he was a boy. “And when the time comes, Reverend Kenneth will be very happy to offer his blessing on you both.”
“Mother,” said Rupert. “Just….” He put his arms around her waist and hugged her. “Hold your horses, eh?” Rupert dropped his arms and wiped his eyes. “But thank you.”
He turned to his father. “Both of you. I wasn’t expecting to hear any of this tonight. And as for the vicar of All Saints—”
He was interrupted by a loud thumping on the front door.
“Who the devil’s that?” asked Lord Pendley-Evans. He put down his drink as the banging on the front door sounded again. “All right, all right, I’m coming as fast as I can.” He stomped off to the hallway, followed by Rupert.
Standing on the doorstep was Christian. He looked past Lord Pendley-Evans to Rupert. “Thank God I’ve found you. Where’s Luke?”
“What on earth are you doing here?” asked Rupert. “I brought Luke here to get him away from London. Just like you said. What’s happened?”
“It’s Pa,” replied Christian. “I think he’s tracked him down. He wants to kill him.”
David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book For the Love of Luke is a romantic suspense about an American who falls in love with a British man in London.
His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters”.
The second in the series, The Deadly Lies, was originally published in December 2018.
David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.