Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea, so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
My mind reeled back to the day he whisked past me at the office, out into the corridor while I clutched the doorknob wondering who he was. Halfway down the stairs, he turned back. He had forgotten something, although nowadays I couldn’t recall what it was. As he looked up at me limply holding the door open, he introduced himself.
“I’m Warwick, the new guy.”
I was under his spell. An instant bond, which I didn’t realize would have potent repercussions in the future.
“Allan, not quite the new guy.”
“Are you in Fiona’s office?”
“I wish. No, I have that adorable black hole of need as my boss.”
“Oh yes, I’ve heard about Mr. Beasley. He has quite a reputation.”
“I have a talent for ending up with clueless managers.”
I felt totally myself with this stranger. He stood framed amongst the dreary white cement walls and floor-to-ceiling glass panels, giving a spark of interest to my mind-numbing day. Another staff member, whom I took no notice in, ambled between us as we continued our conversation.
“So, Warwick, whose office are you working in?”
“Steven’s. He hired me a couple of weeks ago. I was sure I wasn’t going to get the job, but he told me that the aftershave I splashed on for the interview clenched the deal!”
“It pays to have the right accessories when being interviewed by the lavender mafia.”
Fiona strolled past us, so we both came back inside and continued our chat near the doorway.
“Have you given Pat your five dollars for the sweep, Allan?” she called out, looking back in our direction. I didn’t break my mutual gaze with Warwick as I answered.
“Yes, Fiona, but I didn’t get a good horse.”
Warwick chuckled as I took note of his alluring features. He was handsome. His cute Maori nose highlighted his Aboriginal characteristics. A gorgeous indigenous mix. His eyes spoke confidence, ready to guide me into his web of friendship.
“Allan, I’d better get back to Steven. I’m the typing pool.”
“I’ll come with you. I want to see how you’ve set up your office.”
Those idiotic words just fell out. I liked this guy. I wanted us to be close from the start.
“Follow me,” he said.
I didn’t know why, but for the first time in ages, I had a spring in my step. I felt like I was courting, even though I had a boyfriend at home.
“Where do you live, Warwick?”
“I just moved into Balmain. Nice terrace house with three other friends. You?”
“Uptown Dulwich Hill. Balmain, huh, expensive?”
“A bit. I think I made the wrong decision, but I’m trapped there for at least six months. Who do you live with?”
“Oh, a friend,” I said. It wasn’t a complete fib. My boyfriend and I were acting more like friends at that point in time.
We entered his office. A sturdy stapler and hole punch sat to the right of his desk in an era when most people had embraced a paperless office. To his credit, there was only one binder on a shelf behind his chair. Everything else was placed in neat little groups. A bronze cup and saucer with a teaspoon sat diagonally left of the in-tray. Post-it notes in small, medium, and large were piled on top of each other next to his phone.
Warwick was either a neat freak or a serial killer. Death by staple! Nametags for his victims made of yellow Post-its. Who’s who and where in the compactus you will find their bodies, all printed out on A4 in his binder. The boys would be cataloged behind the blue divider, and the girls behind the pink. The yellow was for those no one’s sure about.
It was my book, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, which had not only been professionally assessed three times when I scored my initial publishing contract, but had been developed over eight drafts over as many years. This is not uncommon for first novels.
I was assigned erotic writer and editor, Mary Belk, because the original publisher made an assumption that, as the book was gay themed, it must be sexual. It’s the way this non-gay publisher thought. That misconception was cleared up quickly.
But then the real pain began.
Her first issue was ‘show don’t tell’. It’s a trap novices make if they don’t know better, and it’s important because telling your reader everything bores them. But when you give them the words to paint their own picture, their own imagination allows them to get hooked on your book.
In the submitted manuscript, the first words that describe Allan’s lodgings in the Afterlife were simply –
"I sprawled out on the plush red sofa, gazing at the antique harlequin money box in the display cabinet."
– and –
"I wanted to admire his light brown skin and his alluring dark brown eyes enhanced by the furnishings."
Pardon the camp tone, but after a bit of reworking an actual description emerged –
"In renovation terms, it was “grandmother meets gay boy.” Its welcoming décor could include a cultured old woman working on a crossword, with her grandson seated next to her checking out male models in Cosmopolitan. The crisp aroma of Beef Wellington, which either might have prepared, would fill the room."
Clean endings to my chapters was the next thing my editor said was wrong with my manuscript. I would end each chapter, as if it were its own individual story. Mary quickly informed me that while a reader may enjoy the chapters, it won’t compel them to return to my book. Each chapter must end on a cliff hanger. That was the start of a scene by scene restructure.
She also didn’t like this –
“There’s something strange about this storm,” Mary said, as she wandered to the bar to mix herself another cocktail.
It always had to be –
“There’s something strange about this storm,” Mary said. She wandered to the bar to mix herself another cocktail.
This style that has stuck with me, even though another editor referred to it as ‘stage direction’. I sometimes break this rule, but I read another novelist who does this, so I generally stick with it. Why? I’m not exactly sure. Somehow it seems cleaner.
I was unemployed at the time, bolstered financially through redundancy money, so I had time to rework my novel. Mary suggested a new subplot, and I was already re-arranging chapters while combining a few to keep the story moving. Where I made notes to ‘show not tell’ next to certain descriptions, I let my imagination fly for the rewrites. And, as she was an erotic writer, I finally agreed to several sex scenes.
While I loved working with my editor, I had grave doubts on this new structure. Reluctantly, I printed my completed manuscript and read it straight through in two days.
Mary was right. The book was a hundred percent better.
Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.
From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.
His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.
So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.
Facebook (book page): https://www.facebook.com/DramaQueensWithLoveScenes