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: Morgan David is a multicultural European male writer. Born in France in 1964, he has lived abroad most of his life, from California to Denmark. He has spent years of his business life studying ‘people from the inside’, analyzing the drivers of human emotions throughout the prism of different cultural backgrounds and drawing parallels between ethnicities. Morgan has a keen interest in liberal arts and especially in piano music and European graphical arts. He finds comfort and depth ‘in putting words on emotions’ and in analyzing male-to-male relationships.
‘A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck’ is Morgan’s first major literary project and is at heart an attempt to answer the question ‘When is late too late for a relationship?’ It addresses a range of powerful issues from betrayal, to domestic abuse and abandonment. Morgan’s style is best described as analytical, with constant interactions between characters and with a good touch of humor and irony.
The reader will get acquainted with Jeffrey, a mature art expert longing for a new creative start in his life after decades battling with painful memories. Jeffrey meets Stephen, an officer in the local police force, twenty years his senior. They engage in a mutually beneficial relationship where Stephen helps Jeffrey emerge from his self-imposed isolation. In return, Jeffrey provides Stephen with safety and helps him grow more self-confident. While they both realize that the age difference is not an issue in itself, they still remain secretive when it comes to their respective past history. Until the past finally catches up with them and events force them open up to each other and win over their fears.
Thanks so much, Morgan, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
Morgan David: I take a step back, I turn off my computer, go for a walk, play the piano. In short, I listen to my brain cells, they are telling me that they need some time off. At least, that is how I understand writer’s block. But I never, never, never give up… I just give time to time.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MD: Great question. I would say, it’s a bit of both actually. I don’t overplan but I start with a rather clear structure of what the manuscript will be, storyline, main characters, key issues. Now, this is an outline only, then the writing thing starts and I let words – call this inspiration perhaps – take me where they want along the ride.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
MD: the sixty-four dollar question I guess. I wanted to write an LGBT novel that appeals to readers of all age groups of course, but first and foremost a novel that sheds light on what mature and aging gay men have experienced throughout their life. Now, my generation has had to go through quite some ‘challenges’, the ravages of Aids and a new hope slowly emerging twenty years ago, the right to get married and start a family, etc. We have a lot to say. This is not always reflected in LGBT literature today. Don’t misunderstand me, I read great LGBT stories all the time, there is so much creativity in our community. However, I wanted to write a story that goes beyond ‘eye contact, fall in love, have great sex, even greater sex and that’s it’. That is why there are so many dialogs in ‘A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck’, characters are eager to understand who ‘the other one’ is, they go deep into issues.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
MD: There are two main characters in ‘A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck’, Jeffrey and Stephen. Then you have a side character, Maria, Stephen’s devoted and over protective sister. One thing that struck me as I kept tagging along, editing, changing… was how more prominent Maria became each time. Consciously or not, I understood that I needed this ‘guardian angel’ to keep a benevolent eye on both men as they started building a new life together. I wouldn’t say I had a favorite character, but Maria was clearly great fun to work with. As a matter of fact, I have some readers who came back to me and said how much they personally identified with her. That was heart-warming!
Morgan is a real pain in the a… He is never satisfied, he is always looking for the right words, new twists in the story, changing personality traits and introducing new themes, such as domestic violence in gay couples or jealousy. Let me give explain, I, Jeffrey, was clearly Morgan at start, then Morgan ‘morphed’ him into a funnier, more endearing though irritating mature guy. Stephen was supposed to be somewhat light-headed, immature, then Morgan changed him into a force in the relationship, a foundation. Phew, there is no easy page with Morgan.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
MD: I play a little of the piano, mostly classic, tangos, a bit of Jazz. Now I started late, I was 44 years old at the time, and to be honest progress is slow. I like the regularity, the discipline that comes with piano playing. It’s about the same as writing actually. Some days I feel that I can’t even play a bar the right way, yet I keep trying, come back to it. Then all at a sudden, one day, a sheet I’ve struggled to play starts sounding like ‘something’. Oh bliss! The same goes with writing, never give up. It will come.
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
MD: I am bit of an art and history buff, especially when it comes to Rome and ancient Greece. Biographies especially I find inspiring. I just finished two biographies of Roman emperors, Hadrian and Augustus. Actually, I was in Rome, Italy, a few weeks ago and made a point to go and check their mausoleums. Art books too, especially European paintings. I tire my friends to death with my ‘babbling on color dots’ as they say. LOL.
JSC: What qualities do you and your characters share? How much are you like them, or how different are they from you?
MD: I would say ‘resilience’. Both characters in ‘A House, a Dog and an Old Truck’ have been through quite a lot from the loss of a partner to abusive relationships, yet they are still there, and want a meaningful life. I guess I also have the lesser good sides of that ‘quality’, I am not necessarily the most flexible and patient guy. Am working on it, I swear.
JSC: What food(s) fuel your writing?
MD: anyone who has read ‘A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck’ will not be surprised to read that ‘Cheese’ is my fuel. Actually, the first title of the book was ‘Of Trucks and of Cheese’. It’s cultural actually, French background, couldn’t live without cheese. I spend a virtual fortune on cheese. If someone has ever heard of a Betty Ford clinic for cheese addicts, please do contact me, am interested.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
MD: I am about 90% done with the first draft of my next manuscript, then the looooong painstaking edit, proof-reading, beta-reading process will start (all help is very much appreciated 😊). My goal is to publish by Christmas this year. This next novel is of a slightly different ‘genre’. A ‘noir trope’ – and a very’dark one it is – taking place in L.A. in the early 50’s. Two men who meet and fall for each other, while investigating a murder case ‘meshed’ with art theft and forgery, Nazis on the run and policemen going rogue. It’s a little spooky, some gay Dick Tracey meets ‘Black Dahlia’ plot.
And now for Morgan’s latest book: A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck:
In ‘A House, a Dog, and an Old Truck’ the reader will get acquainted with Jeffrey, a mature art expert longing for a new creative start in his life after decades battling with painful memories. Jeffrey meets Stephen, an officer in the local police force, twenty years his junior. As their relationship progresses, Stephen helps Jeffrey emerge from his self-imposed isolation. In return, Jeffrey provides Stephen with safety, and helps him grow more self-confident. While they both realize that the age difference is not an issue in itself, they still remain secretive when it comes to their respective life stories. Until this finally catches up with them and events force them to open up to each other and win over their fears.
‘A House, a Dog, and an Old House’ is Morgan’s first major literary project and is at heart an attempt to answer the question ‘When is late too late for a relationship?’ It addresses a range of powerful issues from betrayal, to domestic abuse and abandonment. Morgan’s style is best described as analytical, with constant interactions between characters and with a good touch of humor and irony.
Morgan David is a multicultural European male writer. Born in France in 1964, he has lived abroad most of his life, from California to Denmark. He has spent years of his business life studying ‘people from the inside’, analyzing the drivers of human emotions throughout the prism of different cultural backgrounds and drawing parallels between ethnicities. Morgan has a keen interest in liberal arts and especially in piano music and European graphical arts. He finds comfort and depth ‘in putting words on emotions’ and in analyzing male-to-male relationships.
There was baseball and then there was Jeffrey. It was like two planets orbiting around the same sun but never getting any closer to each other. Truly, the laws of astrophysics also applied to Jeffrey and baseball. Actually, to Jeffrey and any form of sport.
That day Lakefield High was playing against the Police Activity League Junior Team from Maddison School on the other side of town. The email from the school’s principal left no ambiguity, explaining that political correctness factored with an inclusive and positive teaching attitude multiplied by let’s not forget that Lakefield Police is a pillar of our community equaled all teachers have to attend on a genuinely supportive basis. Period.
“That email reminds me of an old black and white movie with German subtitles in Gothic print,” Jeffrey mumbled as he escorted Mrs. Sandstrom, the math teacher, towards the Baseball field. “You see, Mrs. Sandstrom, to the exception of calculus which, no harm intended, I was never able to make heads or tails of, I view baseball as something extra-terrestrial, just like the pyramids in Egypt, something awe-inspiring and which—in all logic—should leave me stunned. Yet, something that actually bores me to death.”
“A good cause, good cause. The crusaders conquered the Holy Land for a good cause, look at where that took them,” Professor Grumpy, a.k.a. Jeffrey, mumbled.
Here they sat, front row, a few feet away from the foul line. A herd of screaming teenagers had colonized the back rows competing to post a video of the first inning on Instagram, Tiktok and the like. The game started, and just when the second baserunner touched home plate, did Jeffrey notice that someone was staring at him from the coach’s box behind first and third base, thirty feet away.
A now familiar manly figure, a row of splendidly white teeth, thick short wavy black hair, a nicely tanned bronze-like complexion, a firmly stable body posture and broad shoulders. Stephen was wearing a white baseball jersey and a Red Sox cap.
For a long moment, they gazed into each other’s eyes, an eye-to-eye lock.
Stephen stopped breathing for a few seconds.
Jeffrey squinted the way he usually did when confronted with the unknown.
The game went on with Stephen actively involved, and Jeffrey surreptitiously monitoring how Stephen had a natural talent at interacting with younger people. His body language was all but aggressive. He was the supportive and encouraging coach, providing advice and keeping a firm and constant tone of voice. Even though Jeffrey could not hear distinctively from where he sat, it was evident that Stephen was not struggling to reach out and grab the attention of younger people. Jeffrey wondered what the actual secret was since he himself sometimes had to fight to be simply heard in the classroom. There is no way that the intricate and mystical beauty of Gothic cathedrals or the lavishness of Monet’s color palette can possibly compete against baseball, he thought. A sad but true fact of modern age, he concluded.
There it was. Stephen was staring at him again. He was smiling and looked so happy. It was a longer, unrelenting eye contact this time. An eye contact that put Jeffrey into a position of choice. There would be a third eye contact and this time he would have to either reciprocate with a smile or…
And Jeffrey walked away as usual, since what is unknown is only one step away from what is dangerous.
It is only several seconds later that Stephen realized that Jeffrey was gone and a feeling of distress suddenly overwhelmed him. He lost his smile, panicked, and blamed himself for having offended Jeffrey with his way of being so insistent and needy. Estebán Sanchez, think a second, you scared the living bejesus outta him.
He excused himself, did a quick cop-experienced visual scan of the place and spotted Jeffrey who was walking his way around the school’s main building towards the now half deserted parking lot. Stephen walked, well more like ran and was soon next to Jeffrey who was by now unlocking his truck.
“Jeffrey, please wait, I wanted to say…”
Jeffrey turned around. Stephen was now less than two feet away from him, he could feel his heavy warm masculine breathing. There was something desperate, innocent in Stephen’s eyes, a tender and expecting look, like a child asking for forgiveness. Jeffrey thought that Stephen had never looked more adorable than now in his vulnerability.
“Oh, hey, Officer Sanchez,” he said, playing naïve and surprised while his inner voice was blaming him for being so incredibly cruel.
“I wanted to say, I mean, I am not sure…” Stephen inched even closer and soon his right hand rested on Jeffrey’s left forearm. “I am not good at these things.” Stephen now stood a micro-inch away from Jeffrey.
Then, without knowing how, his lips got close to Jeffrey’s. They touched and he softly kissed him. There was no violence in the fact, just an expression of attraction. Stephen’s lips felt fresh, lush, friendly, and his hand on Jeffrey’s forearm felt as soft as silk or old worn cotton. Jeffrey was by now torn between a feeling of deep pleasure and of disorientation. Should he reciprocate? Should he push Stephen away? After all, he was already running away, wasn’t he?
He gently, albeit very gently only, perhaps too gently as a matter of fact, pushed Stephen back, looked at him in the eyes and mumbled “I am sorry, I cannot. It is my fault, just my fault, not your fault. I am too old for this, you are too young, and I cannot, I will not. Please understand.”
He ran away as he was used to, since that was the safest thing to do. He opened the door of his old truck, struggled to ignite the engine and drove off.
Stephen, by now in tears, was stuttering “Jeffrey, I am sorry, so sorry, I do not know what got hold of me. Please, Jeffrey, forgive me.” He felt powerless.
But Jeffrey did not hear anything, his monstrously noisy old truck was shielding him from Stephen’s imploring voice and from a feeling of emotional danger.