Ep:043 Robert Innes is the author of The Blake Harte Mysteries – a series of head scratching and impossible crimes.

When he’s not trying to work out how to commit seemingly perfect murders and building up a worrying Google search history, Robert can be found at his local slimming group, wondering why eating three pizzas in the space of a week hasn’t resulted in a weight loss.
Since the creation of the Blake Harte mystery series in November 2016, each book has become a best seller in LGBT mystery both in the USA and the UK.

Robert’s Amazon Page

Robert on Facebook

Link to Dollhouse

Vermillion by Nathan Aldyne

Transcript:

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Brad Shreve 0:01
Welcome to Gay Mystery Podcast featuring interviews with renowned LGBTQ authors, and up and coming talent of mystery, suspense and thriller novels. I’m your host Brad Shreve. And Justine is here with her weekly recommendation. Well, hello, Justine, how are you today? I’m doing great. And I have a fabulous interview coming up with Robert Ennis.

Justene 0:29
I really like his stuff. He’s very popular. Yes, we reviewed his 10th book and flipchart series earlier, when earlier in this show, I think one of our first episodes we did that now he’s out with a new one.

Brad Shreve 0:44
Yep, number 11. has just come out. Looking forward to it. Before we get to that, I want to hear who you’re going to talk about today.

Justene 0:52
I’m reviewing or recommending, boy, I’m never going to get that right in my head.

Brad Shreve 0:58
Eventually, you’ll get it

Justene 1:01
Yes, because everything I wrote a review for this is something I would recommend. And so it’s my weekly book recommendation. And I’m recommending Vermilion by Nathan Aldyne. It’s the first of four Valentine & Lovelace mysteries. And Nathan Aldyne is the pen name of two writers – Michael McDowell, and Dennis Schuetz with Michael McDowell is the more prominent writer of the two of them. He was called one of the greatest paperback novelists by Stephen King. He did the screenplay for Beetlejuice. And we lost him to AIDS when he was 49. Dennis Schuetz, he was also a writer of mystery novels. He’s also written for a few major things and one of his episodes, one of his solo efforts was on Tales from the Dark Side. You know, I don’t know about you, but when I go to a play, and I You know, all these names, I don’t know. I’m always like looking at their little BIOS to see if they’re from something on TV. I watch more TV than anything else.

Brad Shreve 2:08
You watch more TV than you read. I find that hard to believe.

Justene 2:13
Yeah, well, sorry. Actually, we keep TV on here almost all the time. Usually, other people use radios and music. We don’t listen to music at all. We just keep the TV on in the background. And that and Dennis died at 42 and I can’t find what he died. But we thought it would be a pretty good assumption in 1989. He was 42. And you know, we lost most of that generation of writers, to AIDS.

Brad Shreve 2:39
Too many.

Justene 2:41
So this book was first published in 1980. It was republished by Felony and Mayhem and it is it’s a it’s a classic amateur sleuth mystery, and it’s very, very well done. The main character Daniel Valentine, I blanked on his first name because they call them Valentine. Daniel Valentine was laid off around the Bureau of Prisons, and he’s working full time as a bartender, and his straight woman friend, Clarissa Lovelace is a works as a real estate property manager, but she’s hardly ever in the office. The Office doesn’t complain because she makes so much money going and renting places and like, but she’s got a lot of free time on our hands and he’s got a lot of free time on his hands during the day. They dated at some point, and then Valentine realized he was gay. So they became friends. And now it’s, I don’t know its a dozen years later and they’re still best friend.

Brad Shreve 3:43
I can tell from experience that usually will end a relationship a male

Justene 3:48
hey, yeah, let’s Okay, we’ll skip that whole bag. Good can of worms. A street hustler gets murdered on New Year’s Eve. cop comes around asking questions, and he goes to the bar Bonaparte’s where Valentine works and it’s not the kind of bar where hustlers hang out. And he makes that very clear, but the COP is hassling him. He’s also hassling the straight bartender who works at the gay bar, where there were hustlers and also the owner of the bathhouse. Apparently, they both seen him with a nondescript man, the evening before he died, so he had gone to the hustler bar and then he gone to the bathhouse but nobody can really remember what this guy look like in the policeman is all suspicious. So Valentine and Lovelace and undertake an investigation themselves because they’re worried that the cops are gonna try to pin it on a homosexual. The body was dumped on the lawn of a local Congressman, and Congressman is the one who keeps blocking the bills. It’s probably a state legislator. He’s blocking the bills that would guarantee homosexuals against discrimination, their jobs and housing. And he is got this whole fire and brimstone anti homosexual agenda. And now there’s a hustler found on his property. So he is making noises about how the homosexual community is out to get him and the COP is looking to pin in on one of the three of these guys. So Valentine Lovelace set out to solve the mystery and it’s got an interesting number of twists and turns but I was the kind who wanted to really know who did it at the end so during the ride, I might have been able to figure it out. At some point I thought they made it look very obvious and then it turned out I was wrong. So you know, as usual, I fall for the for the regular tricks of making it look obvious and then switching it up at the end. All in all, it was a great read.

Brad Shreve 5:55
I love those I know who did it and then Oh, no I was wrong.

Justene 5:58
Yeah, yeah. And it isn’t a cheap shot at the end. It’s not like oh, this other person who you haven’t heard anything about and the clues don’t fit, did it but no, all the clues fit neatly into the actual killer. So it’s really a fun ride. It’s a short, quick read and I recommend it for a summer’s afternoon.

Brad Shreve 6:19
And what kind of rating do you give it?

Justene 6:22
I give it a fun recommendation.

Brad Shreve 6:24
A fun recommendation. Yes, this is the second fun in a week.

Justene 6:30
Well, it’s summer. I like to have fun. But yes, it’s the second fun recommendation that we’ve done. Nathan Aldyne is one of the classic mystery writers in the genre, so you won’t go wrong by picking up this book.

Brad Shreve 6:47
Okay, and do you have anything about Requeered Tales today?

Justene 6:51
Requeered tales is just released Sunday Best last week, and next week we’re going to release Lavender House which is the second of the NickI Baker books,

Brad Shreve 7:03
it’s really been busy this year.

Justene 7:06
When every other week except when we got slowed down by COVID nobody was buying books and but now we’re all back in full force.

Brad Shreve 7:13
Well, thank you. You have and I’ll see you next week.

Justene 7:16
See you next week Brad.

Brad Shreve 7:22
Hi, this is Brad. Not only do I interview authors, I write novels too. Check out my Mitch O’Reilly mystery series on my website, Bradshreve.com. You may know my guests Robert in his from his popular Blake Hart mystery series. Welcome to the Gay Mystery Podcast. Robert.

Robert Innes 7:46
Thank you very much. Nice to be here.

Brad Shreve 7:49
Its a pleasure to have you o.? I’m going to start out the gate with a question I usually don’t ask right up front but I’m curious. Why mysteries?

Robert Innes 8:00
I think it’s just because I enjoy them. And I think you’ve got to write about things that you that you like that you’ve got an interest in because otherwise I think it comes across in the books it comes across in your writing, if you don’t care about what you’re writing about, and I enjoy mysteries, I enjoy sort of making my way for a story and finding, you know, finding clues, all that sort of thing so I can work it out when I get to the end of it. So if I enjoy it, you’ve got to think of it somebody else might enjoy it so why not write about it?

Brad Shreve 8:27
Yeah, you know, there’s websites and even Facebook groups that teach you how to make a supposedly a fortune writing books. And what you’re supposed to do is just whatever the trend is this week, you need to write a book about that, man. I can’t imagine doing that. I can’t write what I don’t love doing.

Robert Innes 8:46
No, exactly. It’s I don’t see how people can I mean, if they you know what, if people can write something that’s absolutely amazing. They have absolutely no interest in then all credit to them, but personally, I find it quite difficult.

Brad Shreve 8:59
Yeah. It would be hard for me. Were there any particular authors who gave you inspiration to write mysteries?

Unknown Speaker 9:06
Um, authors Not really I because I tend to get a lot of my inspiration from TV series and all of that sort of thing, either, you know, and for me series, Jonathan Creek was quite a big inspirations because of the way that the Blake Heart Mysteries are with the impossible crimes. I love that genre. You know, there’s so many stories where, you know, you can walk into a room and someone’s been shot on the floor, anybody could have done it, anybody could have walked in and out of the room at any time. And it’s like, that’s good. That’s nice. You know, you get to know your suspect. But there’s an extra added layer, you know, if that doors locked, and nobody really could have gotten around. So how has this guy been shot? You know, it just adds that extra sort of level of interest to it, which I enjoy. So yeah, the Jonathan Creeks episodes, if anybody hasn’t watched I strongly recommend them if you’re into that sort of thing.

Brad Shreve 9:56
Well, you’re known for writing the impossible crime. You kind of hit on it, but tell us what that means.

Robert Innes 10:02
So an impossible crime essentially is Yeah, essentially they go to the locked room mystery which again, like a describe someone’s getting has been stabbed or shot or strangled or battered to death in a, in a locked room in a sealed room that nobody could have gotten in or out of without being seen without being detected, but somehow has this dead body in here but it also kind of widens out to anything that kind of looks impossible maybe disappearances You know, there’s there’s different types there’s different types of impossible crime essentially, the the remit is that you shouldn’t the what you are looking at should not have been possible to happen. And then you kind of scatter clues throughout the throughout the story as to how this might be possible and then your lead character is able to then work it out and deliver a perfectly rational or logical explanation as to how the event happened.

Brad Shreve 10:54
So it’s really two mysteries in one

Robert Innes 10:56
Essentially yeah, it’s a whodunnit as well as a howdonnut.

Brad Shreve 10:59
Very interesting. Does it require any research to pull that off?

Robert Innes 11:03
Oh, good god, yes, you should see my Google search history,if the FBI was was to look through my Google search history, I probably be arrested and thrown in person for a very long time. You know, there’s all things you know, you might have to look at poisons that can can’t be detected in an autopsy, you know, the amount of times you you find yourself searching questions like, does this kill a person? Is this possible to kill a person can this be detected? And so you’ve got to do a lot, you’ve got to do a lot of that sort of thing, because the thing about impossible crimes is that you’ve got to sort of write yourself into a corner with it in a way because you’ve got to come up with a mystery that looks impossible and looks intriguing, and looks as though the reader thinks I need to find out how this was done. But then at the same time, you’ve got to come up with a satisfactory a satisfactory explanation at the end that feels satisfying that feels logical, and that feels like it was worth the wait to get there because if you look at a lot of magic tricks, You know that any magician on stage might perform. And then if you look at how some of the tricks are done, some of them are so convoluted, but by the end of the explanation of how they’re done you, you’re kind of like, I don’t care anymore. Like, surely nobody went to that much trouble. So yeah, there’s, it’s not, it can’t just kind of do any tricks. So it kind of does require quite a lot of research in some ways to make to try and come up with an exciting explanation, as opposed to a logical one.

Brad Shreve 12:26
Well, what’s one of the most interesting things you found in your research?

Unknown Speaker 12:30
Oh God. I mean, it’s always it’s always nice to find a certain type of poison that can’t be detected in an autopsy. That’s always useful because especially seeing as though I’m writing a series where the main character is a policeman so has forensics at his disposal. You know, if you’ve got a guy that somehow been killed in a room, and you then you know, you find the body on page five and by about page 20, the autopsy person turn around to you. Oh, yeah, he was poisoned. This is poison. You know, you haven’t. You’ve got quite a short story. so far. Whose poisons that can’t be detected as always quite interesting. There’s also I don’t want to spoil it but there’s a couple of times in my stories where you’ve got a nice classical explanation to some mysteries is the source of killed earlier but survived until the door was locked sort of thing. And there’s a couple of things I’ve discovered that that works with that you can build an interesting mystery around. So it’s those sorts of things that kind of make you think now that’s a story.

Brad Shreve 13:28
Well, the policeman you referred to is Blake Harte. Yes. And that’s the series you’re known for. Describe Blake Harte. What kind of man is he?

Robert Innes 13:40
I mean, like, is a guy who is I like I like to think like as a fairly normal type of guy. He’s good at his job. He is a detective. So he’s got a an inquisitive mind. He’s got a curious mind and he enjoys looking at details that other people don’t necessarily look at, but he’s also your every day man. He enjoys chilling out as much as anybody else he enjoys, enjoys his height, he enjoys being with his boyfriend he enjoys. He enjoys life as a whole and he’s got friends and he likes to go, you know, he can go out and get drunk he can. He can do everything that everybody else can. But then he finds himself sort of solving these cases that explain why he is so respected in his field at the same time. Yeah, he’s gotten from big city policeman, which gives him all sorts of cases to deal with on a daily basis. So moving to this village that should be picturesque and tranquil and quiet. And yet, you soon discover that the case is sorts of feed into skills that he might have learned when he was a city officer.

Brad Shreve 14:46
Well, your most recent novel in the series that just came out is Dollhouse. And that’s the 11th book in the series. How has changed over that time?

Robert Innes 14:56
It’s been a years since book 10. You know, it’s a lots changed in the world since since book 10 came out, you know, I don’t think it’s any spoilers to say that we’ve got a bit of a pandemic going on at the moment. And I felt but I couldn’t, because I think it’s, it’s, it’s in everybody’s brain, this pandemic, everybody’s thinking about it. And I had to write it out of my brain almost. I was finding that if I wanted to know how the characters dealt with a pandemic, in Harm’s Chapel Village, so Blake and Harrison have been engaged for a year and they can’t get married because of this pandemic. So it’s frustrating for them, but essentially, they’re still the same people. They’re still the same characters. And the pandemic is sort of there in the background. It’s not a huge part of the plot, but it is relevant. And I felt that I wait to see how Blake would deal with that.

Brad Shreve 15:48
Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting. I my stories I write a year behind that way I can add some actual events that occurred. And I’m not looking forward to when I have to start writing this pandemic. Because it does make everything more difficult.

Robert Innes 16:03
It does. It does. But I think it also you it’s I think it’s interesting to see what characters you you enjoy doing to deal with to deal with it. And I just don’t i don’t think there’s in other certain genres of stories where you can completely forget about this pandemic, you know, but I think that I, I like to sort of have a realistic approach to the stories if I can, and I felt it This was just too big a world event to ignore. You know, and I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some readers who turn to a book for complete escapism, and that’s completely understandable. But I I felt I needed to at least write about it.

Brad Shreve 16:43
Yeah, it’s certainly hard to ignore it. Yeah, absolutely. No, your first published novel was Untouchable. And that was the first in the Blake, Uh Blake Harte. I don’t know why I can’t get this name. Right. Blake Harte series. Yes. Its safe to say you were an overnight success,

Robert Innes 17:02
I thought about that last year. , and it went well, yeah, it did go well. And I was able to, I was able to write more afterwards, which was, which was an absolute thrill for me, because I didn’t, you know, I didn’t expect, I didn’t expect the Blake stories to be as well received as I have been. It’s been, it’s been a really humbling experience because I was able to become self employed, and live purely on live purely on Blake. So I’m forever grateful for him for that, and do what I love doing as an actual living, which is amazing. But yeah, it’s people seem to have reacted really well to it. And I think it is the combination of the impossible crime as well as putting an LGBT character at the center of it, which is something that I really wanted to do. I wanted to I wanted to write a book about gay characters that didn’t necessarily have to focus on their sexuality to be the driving force of the story wants to just sort of be and they happen to be gay.

Brad Shreve 17:58
So how was that transition from working outside working world to being a full time writer.

Robert Innes 18:04
It was delightful because I think I was you know, I was doing a job that paid the bills it It helped me sort of live a normal life but then to be able to do a job where I was doing what I loved writing and then be able to actually see people enjoying it see people react into it was an absolute thrill. I absolutely loved it. And yeah, Blake has absolutely changed my life. It’s until at the very sort of early stages of one of being a full time writer I want to branch out into screenwriting, all of that sort of thing. But while I’ve got Blake I can I can really do what I love doing which is amazing.

Brad Shreve 18:42
We actually have quite a few writers on the show that either work screenwriters or are looking to be screenwriters. So you’re not alone.

Robert Innes 18:49
Yeah, it’s it’s a big dream of mine. So maybe one day hopefully I’ll be able to take Blake further.

Brad Shreve 18:55
Now with each of your novels starting with Untouchable, they’ve all been bestsellers. On the LGBT mystery list

Robert Innes 19:03
Yes, it’s been amazing.

Brad Shreve 19:05
Well to put you on the spot, why do you think Harte and you captured the hearts of so many?

Robert Innes 19:12
I think it’s I think it’s the mysteries I think the the mysteries are the thing that kind of keeps people coming back. And I think that people enjoy the from what I can see from what people have said to me is it’s all I can tell you so that really, and I know that people enjoy the characters, they enjoy the interactions between the characters, they enjoy Blake and Harrison’s relationship. And they and they like the mysteries they like the sorts of mysteries where you have no idea how it’s going to happen, how the mystery happens, until you start working it out for the story and you hopefully if I’ve done it, right, you start working along with life and people enjoy that people enjoy seeing people seem to enjoy working out the puzzles, as well as enjoying the relationships between the characters, which which is a thrill for me and I’m really happy about it.

Brad Shreve 19:59
Yeah, I’ve said Many times on this show that mystery writers or mystery readers are interesting bunch, because they absolutely want to solve the puzzle. And then they’re mad if they do.

Robert Innes 20:13
Oh, yeah, it’s real. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s hard in that respect because if I read, you’re going to base it on your own experiences, and I, if I am watching or reading a mystery, I want to feel like I could have solved this at the end. I want to have that moment of, Oh, I see the end, rather than while I knew that, and it’s, it’s a really fine line between the two, which which, which can make it quite difficult to write some time. So if I get it right, a reader will say, Oh, I see at the end of it and feel satisfied. If I get it wrong. People will either say, Well, I knew that or, well, how was I supposed to work that out? So it’s it’s a difficult sort of balance between the two, unfortunately.

Brad Shreve 20:54
Well, and it’s tough when the person may have figured out who who done it, or at least they think they figured out who done it. Yeah. And but they really don’t know why. And at the end, they didn’t know why. But they still feel like they were cheated.

Robert Innes 21:06
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, if you’ve worked out who done it by page 20, you’ve kind of got a long journey to work out the why, which is, which can either be enjoyable or not. It depends whether I’ve done it right or not, I guess.

Brad Shreve 21:19
Yeah, you’d have to write a pretty damn good story if you’re gonna keep them after 20 pages.

Robert Innes 21:23
Yeah, I mean, I think that you know, people will, there’s always gonna be somebody that works out before other people do. I think it’s pretty impossible to write a crime story that’s read by a lot of people but not one person works out until you want them to work out.

Brad Shreve 21:38
Right. Well, it is now time for awkward questions, authors get out there. And what this is, is questions that we get that are sometimes they’re just difficult to answer. Sometimes they’re awkward. Sometimes they’re rude or blunt. But there are questions that come to us from time to time. Cool. So if you hold still I’m gonna spin the wheel.

Robert Innes 22:07
Okay, it’s a big wheel you’ve got

Brad Shreve 22:13
So Robert, what do you plan to do when you’re done with this whole writer nonsense?

Robert Innes 22:19
And so I’m what I’m not writing anymore at all. Is that is that? Is that what I’ve got to think now? Or do I plan to do when I finish writing? I don’t know, kind of hopefully, enjoy the success of writing if, if it’s gone that way. If not, then I guess I keep writing until that happens, or try and find something else to do that gives you the same sort of satisfaction and off the top of my head. I wouldn’t know what that would be.

Brad Shreve 22:44
Yeah, it’d be hard to picture what i’d love more to do than writing. So we talked about Blake Harte. Yes. Let’s talk about Robert Innes. Other than writing what are you passionate about?

Robert Innes 22:55
and oh, I I enjoy spending time with people. I enjoy a so feel like I’m filling out a dating profile now, I enjoy spending time with people and I like socializing. I like just I’m a big fan of TV I because that’s what I want to get into as well, I feel like my life is quite career orientated in my interests. And it helps that I’m working in what I love. Because I think you’ll find that once you get into that situation, it kind of becomes an all encompassing thing. So, you know, if I’m enjoying it, if I’m watching a TV series, I’m watching it to enjoy it, and I’m watching it to sort of get a critical and career type thrill from it as well. So it kind of it kind of encompasses it all. You know, I, I’m the same as anybody I enjoy going out and socializing and going and getting drunk and making mistakes and on creating problems for myself and all of that sort of thing. It’s, it’s, it’s, yeah, I live a fairly normal life, I think.

Brad Shreve 23:50
Well, it’s interesting that you thought you want to get into television and that you watch television and you call that part of your career. And then you’re 100%. Correct? Correct. I had Lev Raphael and not too long ago. I told him I feel guilty when I’m reading because I should be writing and his response was reading is writing.

Robert Innes 24:13
Yeah, that’s the only response to have to that. It makes you feel better about yourself. I’m sat there slaving for the TV. And I feel guilty about not writing on he says that there is thing Oh, well, no, it’s fine. This is research and I feel much better.

Brad Shreve 24:27
Yeah, it does make you feel less guilty about that. So you’re an indie author. Yes. What’s your experience been bruises? highlights? What lessons have you learned?

Robert Innes 24:37
Um, the I mean, it’s, it’s fast. It happens fast. And the biggest lesson I think I’ve learned from it is that you just have to keep keep the work going. Because the thing about being an indie author is that this type of stories, I’m releasing these short short novellas was on and off. They don’t feel like short novellas when you’re writing them. You know, every single 30 thousand words I write, you know, I feel like I’ve just written War and Peace. And the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that once people have read that, and said, Oh, that was very good, well done very good at all, that was rubbish, right again, even at, you’ve been on to the next one, there’s no sort of resting on your laurels and sort of waiting for the praise, to be enough to kind of get your career going again, you’ve got to sort of keep them going. So that was a that was the biggest lesson that I’ve learned, and one that I still sort of am learning in all fairness. But you know, highlights are when you know, you read a really lovely, really lovely review, and sometimes you know, a negative review that’s helpful to you. You know, I think if you’re going to read the reviews, you’ve got to take both of them on board. Obviously, you know, being a sensitive egotistical writer, I find myself sort of remembering the negative reviews far more than I do the positive reviews because that’s just that’s just the way they are.

Robert Innes 25:55
But it’s it’s

Robert Innes 25:56
I just loved. I do love the fact that I can say that this is my job. It’s a great feeling. And the fact that I have been able to do that is a highlight in itself.

Brad Shreve 26:07
Yeah, I’m gonna have to learn to write much faster. I’m a slow writer.

Robert Innes 26:10
You and me both I know a great writer who is behind the Agatha Frost, if you know her, she’s very big in the cozy writing genre and the speed, the speed of which this person produces their books is insane. I don’t know how they do it. I’m jealous of how they do it. And each book has a consistent quality to it as well. It’s it’s awe inspiring. It really is. I wish I was like that, and was able to churn out book after book after book after book after book and it all be perfect and loved and adored and have a great quality to it and look professional and sound professional. And so I think there’s always a point where you sort of need to go, you need to try and reach and then you end up looking for another point that you need to try and reach but it’s it’s a fun genre to be in.

Brad Shreve 26:59
Well, you You mentioned that your novels are in more than a novellas. And I don’t know about that. I think they’re a little longer than a novella. But they do tend to be shorter novels. Is there a reason for that, that just the way you like to write or

Robert Innes 27:13
I think it was, I think what happened was I started out doing that. And then you sort of think, Well, I know this, and this is working. So I guess I’ll stick with this format, which lasted until book 10 of this series, which was the first novel length story that I wrote. And the one I’m probably one of the one of the ones in the series that I’m most proudest of, because it was a it was a full length novel, you know, 70,000 plus words. And when I received my copy of it, in actual book form, that was a great feeling because it it was thick and chunky and was only a bit smaller than the first Harry Potter book, which felt amazing. You know, I felt that was the day I think, you know, I think every now and again, I’ll get a new feeling of Oh my God, I’m a writer. And you know, the first time that I was getting sales on Untouchable that was that feeling. And then writing up to this book and making this big making this bigger story that was another type of feeling like that. But yeah, I enjoyed writing the novel size one. But it’s, it’s a hard, it’s a hard thing to do and you need to have a story that fits within that perimeter, you need to have a bigger story to to sort of warrant the novel because I think that as well. You know, if you’re writing a story, that’s 30,000 words, it’s, it’s, it might sound a lot when you’re flicking through it, but it is a lot, you can fit a hell of a lot of 30,000 words. So it’s a length of works for me, unless I feel that I need to do a bigger story in which case I will I’m not limited to that sort of lens, but I find that that sort of works the best in this particular format.

Brad Shreve 28:48
Well, you mentioned earlier about reading your your reviews. What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve heard from a reader?

Robert Innes 28:55
The first the best review I’ve ever received was I think it was a review on the first time book that was talking about how the reader felt that I was writing a gay character in a way that they wanted to read as a gay person in terms of, you know, Blake isn’t some sort of muscle porn star. He’s not a, you know, he’s not, you know, stopping the action every 10 pages to have a wild shag on the table. You know, he’s it’s just a normal person that happens to be gay that’s doing his job. And that was a really satisfying review to me because that’s exactly what I was aiming for. And then the review ended with the words thank you for writing this book. I mean, what a feeling, what a feeling to have somebody who has enjoyed your book that much, and has got from it what you wanted them to get from it. You know, it, it gives you a sense, it gave me a feeling of Yeah, I did that right. Which was amazing. And I don’t do everything right in writing. You know, we’re learning every day even the most even, you know, the likes of Stephen King and James Patterson. They’re learning every single day. I don’t think you ever stop learning about it. Writing, which is one of the things that makes it enjoyable, you know, and I, and yes, it can be an absolute nightmare, but it’s when you get reviews like that it makes it all worth it.

Brad Shreve 30:11
I agree. What can we expect from you in the not so different, not too distant future?

Robert Innes 30:16
Oh, God. Well, I mean it now I’ve released the release Dollhouse. I’m sort of trying to think of my next plot. I am also trying to script up book one in into a pilot group so that I can send it off to a couple of people and see if I can actually start making some first steps into the TV industry because hey, you’re going to try right. And at the same time, I’m sort of doing a another job at the moment where I’m doing night shifts to get through this virus and, you know, try and see if we can’t all get the world back on its feet. So it’s a combination of just trying to keep all the money coming in and keeping life turning and, and yeah, but at the minute, I’m just thinking of my next plot, and I haven’t really got anything Solid in my brain at the moment, but I’m sure it will come at some point.

Brad Shreve 31:04
Well, you have two novels in your golden Gold and Silver series.

Robert Innes 31:08
Yeah, they, they didn’t do as well as I’d like because I was trying to throw them into a big genre in all honesty. I mean, LGBT mystery is a very specific genre that’s quite easy to sort of get attention in whereas cozy, which is what I was trying to get into with the Gold and Silver mysteries that were you know, it’s a it’s a bigger it’s a smaller fish in a much bigger pond. I didn’t really get noticed, which was a shame cuz I didn’t enjoy writing the characters. I did enjoy the stories. I liked them. But you know, maybe one day I might return to them and try and get them built up again, because I didn’t enjoy them. I wasn’t it didn’t feel like I was just writing them to try and get another book out. I was in I liked the characters and people, the people that did read it seemed to enjoy it. So yeah, maybe one day go back to them.

Brad Shreve 31:52
Well, back to what you were saying earlier about your writing mystery where the character just happens to be gay. One of the The thing that’s important to me on the show that I tell people is sex is okay. romance is okay. But the crime has to be prime.

Brad Shreve 32:08
Of course.

Brad Shreve 32:09
Anybody listens, don’t nothing makes me more furious than when you have an erotic novel where there’s a mystery thrown in there in a few pages. And they, and they post it as a mystery novel.

Robert Innes 32:20
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.

Brad Shreve 32:21
So it is refreshing to hear that you say that, that that’s your goal?

Robert Innes 32:26
Well, it was interesting, because one of the things I very quickly discovered about writing in the LGBT genre, especially the first couple of books, where people were sort of discovering the series, you know, I would get a lot of reviews saying there’s not a lot of sex in it. And then I you know, that’s a negative thing, which I found fascinating because it’s kind of like, right so because this book is about gay people it has to have wall to wall cock in it is that what was that what was without what we’re saying here and that kind of it works for some people. The genre works for some people. There are some amazingly successful gay erotica authors out there. It’s not what I’m interested in and whole point of the writing the stories for me was to just make a story about a guy who happens to be gay or who goes around solving mysteries. And it really fascinated me and the sort of disturb me a little bit that people were just expecting sex by page five. And you know, the relationship between Blake and Harrison had to stop so that their gayness could be addressed.

Robert Innes 33:31
And it just it It’s weird to me,

Robert Innes 33:33
I you know, I think people expect certain that some people expect certain things from gay characters in books, and I’d love to sort of distract from that expectation.

Brad Shreve 33:45
I don’t want a character that feels like he has to pull the cock out every five minutes.

Robert Innes 33:49
No. I don’t see the point in it and I don’t see I you know, and my books, and certainly at the moment, you know, aren’t going to be focused on you know, the front cover just being a topless guy staring smolderly at the camera, you know, I say there’s a there’s a market for that, and definitely no credit, no criticism at all to people read that who write that, you know, that works for them and for their readers, but it’s not my personal taste.

Brad Shreve 34:14
I agree there’s nothing wrong with it. But it is disappointing that people assume that because it’s a gay novel that there should be some sex in there, or, and especially a lot of sex. I received a review from another writer, and they put that they did not finish. And because there was another writer, I was very curious. So I looked at their profile and they are a romance writer. And I looked through their books that they reviewed, and they were all romance novels. So I’m like, of course they didn’t enjoy that I was the wrong book for them.

Robert Innes 34:51
Yeah, it’s it’s it’s it’s very strange that people see gay people in the stories and expect that to be successful. That they can, you know, to some people, it’s something they want to read this book and they want to they want to get off to it, which, to me is a complete and utter mystery. It’s sort of, it’s kind of like, why would you just want that from the characters? It doesn’t make any sense to me. But, you know, I think that if you see people that are reading romance, well, then yes, you might expect that in the book and that’s what you get. And if you don’t get that you’re going to be disappointed but I’ve never marketed the Blake stories as gay romance. Yes, they have gay characters in them but that’s not the same thing in my eye.

Brad Shreve 35:32
No. totally different thing. That’s there’s nothing wrong with getting into the sleuth’s life. In fact, most people want to want that and if that includes you know, a lover or husband or whatever, fabulous,

Robert Innes 35:44
I’m not averse to writing a sexy but if it’s relevant to the plot, you know, it’s exactly the same as you know, because these are murder mystery is exactly the same as going into them expecting massively gratuitous violence. I’m not about to do that either because it doesn’t feel relevent at the moment, you know, yes, there are there is blood in the Blake stories. And yes, there are horrible deaths that, you know, if you really sat and think about thought about them, you think my God, that character went horribly, you know, but it’s, it’s, it’s about the way that you write them, it’s about the way you perceive them, it’s about the level of importance you put on that particular detail of the writing. And if you come for that, then, you know, you’re either going to be disappointed or pleased by what you get. But I think that you need to go into particularly gay mysteries with sort of expectations of a story rather than a certain type of story, and then sort of get to the end of the story and and decide from there whether it works for you or not.

Brad Shreve 36:39
Yeah, my most recent novel, I wrote a couple of sex scenes in and I was actually very proud of them. I thought they were pretty good and pretty erotic. Before I finished with it when I was editing that I thought, you know, it really doesn’t serve the plot at all. It’s, you know, just in the middle of the book, all of a sudden, we have two guys, you know, fucking so I decided to pull them out. And I had more of the fade to black. Yeah, you know, they go off and everybody knows what they did behind the door. And there was no I saw no reason to go into graphic detail. Again. There’s nothing wrong with that there’s some something people really enjoy reading. It just didn’t feel right for me in my book.

Robert Innes 37:17
Well, funnily enough, you know, Untouchable was originally because I, you know, I was all I was doing when I first started, was thinking, right, I need to write a book and people are going to read so Unsearchable originally was going to be a little bit more erotic, you know, it was going to take it, you know, the mystery probably would have taken a little bit of a backseat. And then I just realized it isn’t what I want to write. So I didn’t write it. And the result is that I’m still writing these books, what, nearly four years later, so it was clearly a good decision for me and for the people that enjoy my books. So I can’t say fairer than that. Really.

Brad Shreve 37:51
What you’ve written 16 books in four years?

Robert Innes 37:55
Well, this is the 11th in this series. What? 13 or 14? I think 14 Books.

Brad Shreve 38:01
No wonder you able to make a living at it. That’s excellent.

Robert Innes 38:04
Yeah, I mean, the thing the proudest thing about the show, will it be in the locked room mystery. I once read an article that said that people who want to get into the impossible crime genre they, they manage about, they sometimes manage about three books, and then they just completely run out of ideas. And I will say, I’ve been able now to write my 11th impossible Crime Story, which is, is is a feeling of absolute pride for me. I’m really proud of that, because they’re not easy to write. I’m not trying to, you know, build up my own ego or make myself sound amazing here, they genuinely are very difficult to write sometimes. So to be able to say that I’ve written the level of them It’s a great feeling.

Brad Shreve 38:42
Well, yeah, I mean, it’s hard enough to write a crime that just regular who done it in somebody’s throat slash you got to figure out who slashed him in the throat but to have add that extra. How in the world did this crime happen? My hat’s off to you.

Robert Innes 38:55
Thank you. Yeah. It’s it’s a satisfying feeling. You know, and it does something I kind of feed into that well known phrase from writers saying I hate writing, but I enjoy having written. And trust me, I greatly enjoy having written these books. There are many times where I am banging my head against the keyboard thing I hate writing. I hate writing Why am I a writer? But yeah, you get to the end of the story is it’s it’s a satisfying feeling. It really is. Especially when people enjoy it.

Brad Shreve 39:22
Yeah, as much as you can hate writing in the end, you really have to love to be a writer otherwise, because it’s hard work.

Robert Innes 39:28
Oh, God. Yeah. And I mean, there are many writers, they will throw around you and say, you know, if you ask them, why are they a writer? You know, you sort of thinking about the answer. It’s like, Well, I mean, I just just I must just be some sort of sadist to myself. I don’t know, I’m a glutton for punishment. You know, there are times when being a writer is the worst thing in the world because you’re sat there in front of a blank keyboard, feeling the expectations of your readers and thinking how the hell am I ever going to satisfy what we see what you know what my readers want, what I want out of it, and it feels impossible every single time that you start But then you’ve just got to sort of tell yourself Well, I’ve done it before. Hopefully I can do it again.

Brad Shreve 40:05
Yeah, you know, I’m bringing up what we talked earlier about writing to market to to earn money. And if somebody just wants to make money, there’s a lot easier ways to do it. I’ve got into writing, so it has to be a passion. Yeah,

Robert Innes 40:18
absolutely. He can’t, I don’t think he can do it unless you enjoy it. No matter what you’re writing, even if you are writing something, like I said, At the start, you know, some people are more than capable of churning out amazing books that they have no interest in, in the genre in whatsoever. And all credit to them. I wish I wish I could do that. They in some ways, probably are a better writer than I am that they can create something that is amazing, and that they couldn’t care less about themselves. You know, yeah. It to try and get money out of it as well as creating satisfaction from it is a it’s a tricky dichotomy, I think.

Brad Shreve 40:53
Well, Robert, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.

Robert Innes 40:56
Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Brad Shreve 40:57
Again, let everybody know that Doll House is You’re-

Robert Innes 41:00
out. Yes out on Amazon now. So yeah, please please read it please leave a review has reviews keep it? Yes. something to say to all. All readers please leave reviews, they keep writers going. They keep they keep our business going. They keep interest in the books go into please leave a review and books can keep on coming.

Brad Shreve 41:21
I couldn’t agree with you more. Well, thank you again.

Robert Innes 41:25
Thanks very much.

Brad Shreve 41:29
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