What a joy to talk to and read from Dale Cameron Lowry, whose collection of m/m short stories is out this month.
Read on for:
*My review (spoiler, I love these stories)
*Lowry talks about characters who span two worlds
*A touching moment with Damian from Mi Alma
FALLING HARD features nine of Dale Cameron Lowry’s best short romance stories, available for the first time in one book. Meet a sign language interpreter who finds unexpected love at middle-age, college students in their first relationships, a vampire who would rather be a vegan, and a proudly gay ex-Mormon atheist who sells Bibles for a living. From sweet to erotic, this collection exhibits the quirkiness, fun, and diversity Dale’s writing is known for.
I’ve read two of the shorts in this collection and will read more. DCL is a wonderful writer who understands love in its many shades, and brings thought to light stories and fun to deep stories. Both works were a delight to read.
I also appreciated the thoughtful indication of relative heat and subject matter that made it easy to pick stories for the place I was.
I loved READING THE SIGNS immediately. Twenty-three-year-old linguist Theo De Jong meets mature Alfonso Grossman while studying for six weeks in New Mexico. The story is a beautiful example of a simple thing done exceptionally. There was a heartfluttering romance between delightful people and essentially no angst. The bright New Mexico setting, the careful way the men spoke in various languages including ASL and Dutch sign language. It all added layers to the charm and chemistry of the characters. Highly recommended.
I was also caught up in BORN OF FIRE from the first paragraph. The story is both fascinating and fantastic but has this deeply practical voice and is loaded with gloriously level-headed humans. A beautiful story.
Pene: Do you have a theme you return to time and again?
DCL: Yes! I only recently figured this out, because I’m apparently not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to ferreting out themes in my own stories. I tend to write about characters who straddle multiple cultures that don’t always fit well together, or have aspects to their identity that sometimes conflict.
Probably the most obvious way this appears in my writing is that I write a lot about gay/queer Mormons. It’s an uncomfortable place to be for many individuals who have both identities. The Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has become somewhat more accommodating in recent years in that it no longer encourages all homosexuals to marry members of the opposite sex in an effort to change their orientation, and it has officially adopted the position that there is nothing inherently wrong with being attracted to members of the same sex. But it continues to condemn “acting” on those attractions. Even things as innocent as holding hands have led to discipline by the church hierarchy. And one of its apostles famously/infamously claimed last year that “There are no homosexual members of the church,” widely interpreted as meaning that anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, or homosexual (as opposed to “having a problem with same-sex attraction”) can’t be a real Mormon.
We all live in a world where other people are constantly telling us who we can and cannot be. I love characters who fight that categorization and decide for themselves how to integrate the various aspects of who they are. They teach me how to do that myself. So I write about gay Mormons, one of whom makes an appearance in Falling Hard in the story “Mi Alma,” which also features a gay Dominican who’s overcome the idea that masculinity and queerness are incompatible.
But they aren’t the only characters who face these challenges. In a couple stories in Falling Hard (Reading the Signs; and Pacific Rimming), I deal with hearing children of Deaf parents who feel a closer tie to the sign languages they learned as children (American Sign Language and Dutch Sign Language) than to spoken ones. In “Sweeter Than Blood,” we follow the struggle of newly turned vampire trying to reconcile his former life as a pacifist vegan with his current situation. In “Born of Fire,” an Irish basketmaker wants romance, but is hindered by his belief that his widespread burn scars make him unlovable . In “Rough Love,” a white kid from Idaho has to let go of his image of himself as an enlightened liberal with nothing to learn as he deepens his relationship with his biracial boyfriend.
The older I get, the more I realize that every one of us is a bag of contradictions and conflicting priorities. One of the hardest lessons in life is to learn to accept those contradictions—sometimes by finding ways to integrate them so that they’re no longer contradictory, other times by letting go of bits and pieces of ourselves that were once important to us, but now only hinder us in navigating life.
I love being a writer, because I get to explore endless different ways of doing this through the experiences of my different characters.
Pene: Now a couple of character questions. What would happen if Keith, the newly turned vampire from “Sweeter Than Blood,” met Theo, the Dutch linguist from “Reading the Signs”?
DCL: That’s an interesting combination! Keith is a bit of a misanthrope, a trait that goes back to even before he became a vampire, so generally when he meets anyone he’s not very impressed. And Theo, being only 23, is a little young for Keith’s taste, both literally and figuratively. He prefers men who have been around a little longer. Drinking from them is like imbibing a fine, aged wine—only in the metaphorical sense, because Keith hates the smell people give off when their bodies are processing alcohol.
Theo would feel a little boost of confidence when he noticed that Keith’s skin was even pastier than his own. And he would be intrigued by the way Keith talks, probably taking notes on it and trying to figure out if Keith’s word choice represented a specific dialect of American English or was a mishmash of several—either possibility pointing to Keith’s background as someone who didn’t grow up in New York City but moved there in adulthood.
I’m fairly certain sparks would not fly. At the most, they would view each other as interesting objects of study, rather than friends. And Keith would find Theo’s scent inoffensive, except when Theo’s recently been on a date with his love interest and they’ve enjoyed too much organic wine.
Pene: Describe Damian from “Mi Alma”’s ultimate bathroom.
DCL: One day while Damian is lifting weights at the gym, his mind wanders to thoughts of a dream apartment for him and his odd, wonderful, Mormon-atheist boyfriend Alma. The bathroom would be as big as their current bedroom, with one of those rain showers that also has jets of water coming at you from all sides. It would feel great to wash up in there after a workout, and it would probably be pretty hot to have sex with Alma in there, too. Afterward, they could relax in a Jacuzzi as big as the bathroom in the apartment where they live now. The trim and floors would be textured granite, and he could control the bathroom lighting from the tub so that it always cast the perfect, romantic glow.
When he gets home from the gym, he finds Alma working at the kitchen table, tweaking the coding for some new Bible app he’s working on. Alma looks up and takes note of the sweat that stains the front of Damian’s workout shirt. He grins. “You didn’t shower at the gym?”
Damian’s been with Alma over a year now, but something about the way Alma smiles at him still makes his insides feel all jumbled and warm like a delicious sancocho. He ducks his head, peering at Alma from beneath his eyelashes. “I thought maybe we could take a shower together.”
Alma’s shirt comes off before he’s even out of the kitchen chair.
Later in the shower, with Alma’s lips on him and his skin everywhere, Damian thinks, “This is the perfect bathroom. Dondequiera que él esté … ese es el lugar para mí.”
Wherever he is—that’s the place for me.
WHERE TO BUY
Falling Hard is currently available through the secure downloading platform PayHip, Amazon, Apple, and other sellers worldwide. You can read a preview and find sales outlets at:
To celebrate the release of Falling Hard, Dale is running a giveaway. The prize is one of Dale’s short romances that is not in the anthology: Love Unmasked, a lighthearted romance about Aaron Loreto, a gay man who’s been unlucky in love because he occasionally turns into a raccoon. For some reason, his ex-boyfriend didn’t like the way he’d spend all night digging through the trash. But somewhere out there is a guy who’s more understanding, and Aaron might just have found him at his favorite coffee shop.
You can enter every day to increase your chances. Enjoy!
(If you can’t see the Rafflecopter giveaway here, go to www.dalecameronlowry.com/falling-hard- giveaway/ to enter.)