Monday, January 9, 2012

Guest Blogger Jerry Sacher

Good morning! Please welcome my guest, author Jerry Sacher, who is going to discuss his book, The Saint of San Francisco, as well as answer the infamous Rick Reed questions. Wish you could join us, we're watching the sun rise over the Golden Gate Bridge. Let me show you the picture I just took. Breathtaking, eh?  While we sip our coffee, and watch the boats in the bay, let's get started, shall we? Jerry, why don't you answer the questions first, and then I'd love to hear about how you came to write your book.

The Questions

1)      1) You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?  My partner Scott and the one item I would have with me would be The New York Times Guide to Practically Everything.

2)      2) Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you? I would say that there isn’t one that exemplifies my life but a mixture of all of them.  I do find a lot of comfort in music from Broadway and Tin Pan Alley circa 1900-1940

3)      3) Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them:  parking, burnt, crack:  It involves Jeremy E. Haniver and Mark leaving a restaurant and walking down Market Street in San Francisco to a parking garage. When they got to the car, Mark looked down and saw several pieces of burnt paper and a pane of glass with a crack running through it. The perfect setting for a mystery.

4)      4) You've just been let loose in the world of fiction, with permission to do anyone you want. Who do you fuck first, and why? If I was given that permission, there are so many guys in the world of fiction who would be in trouble! But my first choice would be Ben Hamilton the cop from RJ Scott's book: The Christmas Throwaway. The first reasons would be because he has a heart of gold, and is the kind of guy to make you feel safe. The second is a scene in the book where he has just stepped out of the shower, and well...enough said....
5)      5)What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other? My idea would be to spend the day out at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs, talking and stopping with a picnic to enjoy the day. Then making love among the trees.

6)      6)When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot? I always begin with a plot, and then I will sit down and write a biography for the characters I want to introduce.

7)      7) If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you? I would love to have the actor Anthony Rapp, the star of Rent.

8)      8) Who’s your favorite horror villain and why? The Mummy aka Boris Karloff, because he wanted to be immortal with his true love forever.

9)      9) Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it? Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov, so in effect two people.

1    10) Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it? Yes, I would love to write the original story about The Saint of San Francisco. A romance set amid religious intolerance and genocide….

Tell us about your original story, Jerry...

Twenty five years ago a friend who was relocating gave me a box of books and magazines, and when i was looking through the magazines, I found one from the early days of the AIDS crisis. What I read in this article frightened me and intrigued me. It was a story about the US government putting gay men and women into walled ghettoes and internment camps.
It gave grim details of lack of food, water, medicines, and sanitation… and these gave way to hatred and despair, but I thought to myself this scenario would make a  good novel of the growth and triumph of love between two men: Jeremy and Mark. It was set in San Francisco behind the walls of Alcatraz, which was reopened for the purpose of housing gay men and women. The work on this novel took me about four years and when it was finally finished I let the guy I was dating at the time read it... He thought it was a piece of crap, and that the United States is so forward thinking and cultured that such a thing couldn't happen here. I destroyed the entire work! 
Though four years of hard work, and that guy were gone, I never lost the title Saint of San Francisco or the two main characters, Jeremy and Mark. I wanted to bring them together, and I played with different story lines until eight years ago when I found some old notes from the original story. Rereading it I came across a short sentence about the murder of a young, closeted sailor: This is how the present day Saint of San Francisco was born. I made the murder of the sailor the background of the story. One of the things I do when I write, which I did for this novel, is write a biography on each character; even if they only say one or two lines, they have a bio. I write these so that I get a feel for the person. I will look for faces in crowds for someone who matches Jeremy and Mark
Why is it set in San Francisco when i live in Chicago? San Francisco has always been my refuge, and the place where I feel at home. There is a paragraph in Chapter 1 of the novel where I mention Jeremy's love affair with San Francisco. That is a scene taken from my own life. My parents let me stay up to watch the 1936 film San Francisco with Clark Gable and Jeanette Macdonald. I remember hugging my favorite pillow, and Iwas in love....
Yes, there are some things in the novel that are autobiographic. Jeremy's love for SF, his desire to be a monk, and his quest for love....

Wow, that's amazing. I know I'd love to read that story whenever you write it. Can you give us a little bit of Saint of San Francisco, please, Jerry?

Blurb: After finding himself still depressingly single on his thirty-second birthday, Jeremy Haniver accepts an invitation to move to San Francisco. Though he falls in love with the Castro and the city, it’s not enough to cure him of his loneliness or the depression that dogs him. He almost throws his life away, but fate intervenes when Jeremy meets Mark Caparelli.

Mark is a former Marine and a detective with the San Francisco PD. Unfortunately, he’s also seeing someone else—at first. Life finally seems to be going Jeremy’s way, until a homicide breaks up his first date with Mark. Jeremy desperately wants to get over his past and start a new life with Mark, but they have to catch the killer first... before he catches them.



AMERICAN AIRLINES flight 370 taxied and paused at San Francisco International. I sat back and took a deep breath. In the cockpit the pilots received the clearance for takeoff, and they eased forward on the throttles; we were moving. As the plane rolled forward gathering speed, a low rumble passed through the cabin.

The plane gained speed and then became airborne, the ground falling away under us, the familiar thump of the landing gear retracting. I watched the well-known landmarks and my favorite places in San Francisco grow smaller, vanishing in cloud cover, then reappearing. I was sorry to be leaving home, but Mark, who sat next to me, eyes closed, sensed that a temporary return to Chicago and a visit to his family in Massachusetts would be good for the both of us.

The jet made a wide, slow turn, and my last sight of San Francisco was the Golden Gate Bridge. Was it really six months ago that I stood on that same bridge preparing to jump, only to fall at Mark’s feet?

Chapter 1

Six Months Earlier

ALL my life I’ve had a love affair with San Francisco. When I was eight years old and living in Chicago, my parents reluctantly let me stay up late to watch the 1936 film, San Francisco with Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald. I lay on the floor in front of the television with my favorite pillow, and I was in love. I wanted my own Blackie Norton played by Clark Gable, a bad boy with a heart of gold. I wasn’t exactly Jeanette MacDonald, but Blackie always battled his way through the ruins of San Francisco and through fire, flood, or Acts of God to rescue me. Blackie never showed up, but my love for San Francisco never diminished. When I reached the age to travel alone, I would go out there once or twice a year, finances permitting. I would come back savoring every sight, every smell. Never could I admit saying that about any man or woman.

After my thirty-second birthday, I looked back over my whole life as if I had already been through it. I saw an endless parade of men who were nothing more than frogs in disguise. They were beautiful to look at, but I found no depth or trace of goodness, no feelings whatsoever. I suppose every man who volunteers in a soup kitchen or opens a door for someone thinks he’s good, like having a big dick makes him a great lover. All over Chicago I found nothing but fake people and false friendships.

At the invitation of my two close friends in San Francisco, Patrick and his lover of ten years, Terry, I decided to go to California and stay with them in Patrick’s ancestral home in Pacific Heights. I felt I was in a bad situation, and in a moment of weakness I had decided to take my own life. Not with pills or a gun, but by drowning after a fall from the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s rash, you say, but you don’t know me.

A whole other world, a lifetime away from San Francisco, I wanted to become a monk. Not as an escape or refuge from the world, a normal reaction of most people. I was attracted by their prayers and their work among the poor and the forgotten refuse of the teeming cities. I felt the call from God to be one of them, so I made applications to several monasteries that had shown an interest in me. I visited and made friends, and the whole process ground to a halt. I told them I was gay. Never mind, of course, that many priests and brothers in religious orders are openly gay and proud of the fact too. I was told to lie about it, but what’s the point of being in the service of God if you have to live a lie. I didn’t lie, and many a good-natured Abbot or leader of the community would take me into their office and sit me down. They were very kind but very final about my future in their order. Now, if I looked like someone who would climb in the window in the middle of the night and steal the silver, they would greet me with open arms. I was guilty of the sin of telling the truth.

It was very discouraging, to say the least, and would have driven any other man away from God and the church. I have seen both happen in my life. I wasn’t acceptable anywhere it seemed, not in the church or even in the gay community of Chicago. A great darkness settled over my heart. Yet my family and friends, the community at large, sat by, blissfully unaware. 

That was the story of my life. I used to wonder if I was really gay because men were such a bitter disappointment to me. To be honest, I met plenty of decent guys, but one or the other of us wasn’t ready for a relationship. But you aren’t reading this far to hear my problems. While I was sitting up in the bedroom of the limestone mansion in Pacific Heights, unable to sleep, the hands on the clock were moving toward 3:30 a.m., and there was someone else on the other side of the city also not sleeping.

MARK ANTHONY CAPARELLI stepped out of the shower and dried himself with an oversized gray terrycloth towel, trying to be as quiet as possible. Hoping to get back in bed before Chris woke up and would want to join him under the hot, steaming spray. Through the dissipating cloud of steam, Mark could see Chris lying on his back through the partly open bedroom door. His lean, muscular body and his boyish face obscured by the shadows. Mark turned and wiped the damp, clouded mirror with his towel to look at his own reflection.

In the foggy glass, Mark examined the small jagged scar in the center of his right cheek. It was no longer painful or swollen, and it only added to his rugged handsomeness, this souvenir from a fight at a bar near Camp Pendleton. A brawl started over a confrontation he had long forgotten, or had chosen to forget. Mark ran his tanned, callused hands over his damp body. He was happy to be in excellent shape for thirty-five years old, though guys didn’t look at him as much as when he was younger, still a Marine, and always horny. Over time Mark had come to realize that it didn’t matter if he was sought after or not, he had built a life here in San Francisco, and he was happy. Mark found himself smiling at his own reflection before he turned off the light and went back to bed. Making sure not to disturb Chris, Mark eased himself down and pulled the blanket over his naked body. In the throes of some dream, Chris moaned softly and rolled over, facing Mark. 

Mark lay on his back staring up at the ceiling, listening to the noises of the night: Chris’s slow, steady breathing, his own heartbeat, the creak of the bedsprings to the movement of their bodies. Somewhere in the city the wail of a fire engine pierced the still night air. In the apartment above, his neighbor Drew and his boyfriend were making love. Their groans and the movement of their bodies in bed were louder than usual. The red numerals on the digital clock flashed 3:59, then 4:00.

I WAS awake on the other side of the city as well. I was up and had gotten dressed quietly so as not to wake Patrick and Terry. Though their bedroom suite was on the second floor and I was on the third, I kept my shoes off until I reached the main foyer and the foot of the stairs. The hands of the ornate Grandfather clock moved, and the chime rang: 4:15 a.m.

UNABLE to sleep, Mark climbed out of bed carefully, so he wouldn’t disturb Chris. In the dim light from the hall Mark pulled on a pair of faded jeans and an old NYU sweatshirt. He laced his new black Nikes in the hallway, looking once into the darkened room. Chris moaned softly and shifted in his sleep, but he didn’t wake up. Trying to make as little noise as possible, Mark grabbed the keys to his Jeep and closed the door behind him.

A minute or two later, the key turned in the ignition and he drove into the fog-covered San Francisco night.

WITH the heavy oak door shut securely behind me, I walked the next several blocks in the misty fog to the Fairmont Hotel. I went there only because it was one of the few places I knew where taxis would be lined up waiting for a fare. To make myself look like a guest, I slipped in and came out the front door. The driver was wary of taking someone to the bridge at this hour of the morning.

“In this fog you won’t see anything,” he said.

I curtly reminded him that I could also walk and that he could return to his queue in front of the Fairmont. He drove on, not talking, which is the way I prefer my taxi drivers. If I wanted to have all the sights pointed out to me, I knew how to make use of Gray Line Tours, thank you very much.

MARK drove, not paying much attention as to where. Driving always helped him think. He did it whenever there was a difficult case in his job as police detective. The fog was heavy, and there wasn’t much traffic: only buses and delivery trucks, people on their way to work or on the way home from late shifts. Mark recalled the day that he met Chris. It was February, two months earlier.

After work Mark had gone to the Safeway on Church and Market to pick up some food for dinner and then head home to chill out in front of the TV. That was the plan until he found himself in the produce department surrounded by a cascade of oranges. A tall, good-looking guy with blond hair had just happened to pick the one orange that started the whole avalanche. Mark stood in the middle, oranges rolling everywhere, people staring and employees scrambling to catch the rolling fruit.

The young man stood opposite Mark, his eyes wide from embarrassment. He introduced himself as Chris.

Mark and Chris shared a laugh and some small talk. He didn’t remember what they talked about, but they spent the rest of the evening hanging out and had dinner at an Italian restaurant in North Beach. 

That was two months ago, about a month longer than Mark had expected it to last. He liked Chris well enough, but something was missing. There was an element of Chris that seemed to be beyond Mark’s grasp. Many times Chris was emotionally distant, even when talking about love. 

He knew Chris was a model, obsessed with clothes and his body image. He loved gossip, and Mark suspected that he did drugs, a fact that Chris always denied. Even sex was dependent entirely on Chris’s whims and desire for control over their every movement. Mark wasn’t innocent when it came to partying and hitting the bars and having sex, but lately he wanted more. What that more was, he wasn’t sure. He felt sometimes he was being too much of a gentleman by not saying anything.

Last night Chris had come over and was nearly naked by the time Mark reached his front door. Mark felt that he had had enough, so he pushed Chris off.

“Chris, I think you should go home!”

“I just got here, and I want to feel your arms around me tonight, babe.”

“I’m sure any guy in the city would be happy to oblige, just not tonight, okay?”

“But, Mark, I want to be with you.”

“Look, Chris, I’m tired, and I’m not in the mood to play right now!”

Chris was undoing the buttons on Mark’s shirt, but he pulled away.

“Dude, I don’t believe this shit.” Chris looked angry. “What’s wrong, did I do something?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I’m not in the mood for this right now.”

They watched a movie in silence, and for once they sat on opposite ends of the couch. They went to bed after 10:00 p.m. Neither one had said a word. Now here he was, sitting in his truck, trying to find a way out, driving God knows why across the Golden Gate Bridge. On the other side of the bridge, he pulled over and cut the engine, taking his jacket as he climbed out and started walking. He narrowly missed being run down by a taxi that stopped near his Jeep. A young man got out of the cab and started walking toward the Bridge. Mark didn’t know why, but he followed him.

Available from Dreamspinner Press, in ebook and print.

Wow, this sounds amazing, Jerry. 

Do you have any links that you'd like to share with us?

Thanks again for being here today, Jerry. I wish you all the best!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

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