“You’ve got a real sexy voice…” by David Swatling

Before I head to the airport to catch a plane to Nottingham for the Bold Strokes Books Festival this weekend, I’ve just enough time to repost this piece I wrote for the BSB-UK Blog. I’ll get back to posting here on my own site soon. I promise. Time to break the radio silence!

Bold Strokes Books, UK

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Amsterdam, 1998. On the way home after an evening of pinball, pool, and porn at my local gay watering hole, I stop at a snack bar called The Penguin for a late-night bite to eat. I order my favorite Dutch treat – a kaassouffle (deep fried cheese) – and while I wait, strike up a flirtatious conversation with the attractive young guy behind the counter. All of a sudden, he gives me a quizzical look.

“I know you,” he says.

“I don’t think so,” I say. Although I’d like to get to know you, I don’t say.

“Yeah. I recognize your voice.” He grins from ear to ear. “You read those dirty stories on the radio.”

My cheeks blush bright red, dooming any attempt to deny the truth.

“You listen to Alien?”

“Every Sunday,” he says with a wink. “Sometimes customers stick around so they can hear the end. You’ve…

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Synchronicity at ThrillerFest X

Leo

Leo

A few days before ThillerFest X began, I was dog-sitting in Brooklyn. As I walked Leo around the neighborhood, I found the charming community bookstore Terrace Books. Leo agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to wait outside while I took a quick look. Almost immediately I found a novel I’d been hearing a lot about in the last year: The Fever by Megan Abbott. I met the author when she was on a panel with my editor at Bouchrcon 2013 in Albany.  So I bought it and began reading in Prospect Park. Preparation for ThrillerFest, I told myself. I whipped through the book in two days – not so much devouring it as it devouring me. Wow!

The evening I finished The Fever, it won the Strand Critics Award and three days later it won Best Hardcover Novel at ThrillerFest. Preparation indeed!

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A Little Metathesiophobic by David Swatling

Somehow between Book Expo America and the Lambda Literary Awards, I managed to squeeze in some time to write this short reflection for the Bold Strokes Book Festival in Nottingham, where I’ll be on a couple of panels June 6 & 7 at Waterstones. More on the Lammys later – probably while I’m on a plane, train or bus in the next couple of weeks!

Bold Strokes Books, UK

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Metathesiophobia: fear of change. It’s something we all share to some extent. Humans like routine. It’s a natural survival instinct that’s ingrained in us. We resist change so that we always feel in control.  Fear of change isn’t a bad thing – unless it results in full-blown anxiety attacks, which can paralyze us, force us to reject anything and everything new.

Like most of us, I’m seriously resistant to change; and yet, I adapt to it quickly – almost seem to embrace it. What’s more, I’ve always been a huge fan of reinvention. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” (A timely shout out to Walt Whitman, today being his birthday!)

For me there’s a subtle difference between reinvention and change – one is a choice, while the other is thrust upon us. I choose to become something new, when I’m…

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Tennessee in New Orleans

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

Birdsong greets the dawn in my friend’s back garden. No matter that clouds mask the rising sun. I’ve a party to get to, so I don’t have much time. It’s Tennessee William’s birthday and I’m celebrating in his “spiritual home” – New Orleans, that is – at the literary festival named in his honor. I don’t want to be late.

I attended the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival back in 2001, covering the event as a journalist for Radio Netherlands. It was my first visit to the city known as the Big Easy and I immediately fell under its spell, much like the young writer who arrived in 1938. Tennessee wrote his Mama: “I’m crazy about the city. I walk continually, there is so much to see.”

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My Bloody Valentine

Vondelpark GateOn Tuesday I got a message from a friend asking if I could account for my whereabouts after the book-signing event on Sunday. He attached a link to a local news story. A body had been pulled from the water in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, very near the site of a similar crime scene almost twenty years ago – a crime scene that inspired my debut thriller Calvin’s Head. The book I spent Sunday afternoon signing. The book that begins with the grisly murder of a man called Valentine, whose remains are discovered in a Vondelpark pond.

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A BSB AUTHOR INTERVIEW with DAVID SWATLING

Bedtime ReadingSo much has happened since I did this interview six weeks ago for Bold Strokes Books Authors Blog – not least of all the official release of Calvin’s Head. I had to give it a read to remember what I talked about. But as it happens, I did delve into my darker side, which is appropriate for this particular time of year.

Early readers tell me it gave them a scare or two. So, maybe it’s not the ideal bedtime reading for the faint of heart. Or maybe you’ll need to keep the lights on!

Trick or Treat!

Dog Days, Starry Nights

Parker & Monk

Brothers Parker & Monk

The dog days are done. They arrived somewhat late a month ago while I was still in northern New Hampshire, followed me to New York City and out to Long Island’s North Fork, back up to Boston and across to upstate New York. Now in Brooklyn, I’ll soon head home to Amsterdam. For me the dog days of summer correspond to the seasonal transition from one place to another – and not only geographically.

Ralph and Gypsy in the White Mountains, Swee’Pea in the Catskills, Jackson and Lily in Clifton Park, Max at Mirror Lake, Parker and Monk on Long Island, and Leo in Brooklyn. Connect the canine dots and you’ll find a dog days map of my summer journey, roughly shaped like the constellation Canis Major. “He really likes you,” I’m told again and again. It’s reassuring to know I’ve not lost my empathic bond with the descendants of Sirius, the Dogstar, brightest beacon in the night sky.

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