So my father breezed into town from his home in Australia on his way to an Alaskan cruise with his new girlfriend yesterday. He rented a sports car at the airport and they drove to my place.
It had been a lot of back and forth, with my father saying they would stay at the Chateau Marmont instead of with me.
"Why?" I asked. I barely get to see him and was hoping to have some time with him.
"Don't be ridiculous," he said. "You don't have a spare room. You have that loft thingy and I don't like looking at all those pictures of naked men you have around the place."
"Naked men? You mean my book covers?"
"Yeah." His voice sounded pained.
So I relinquished control and let him have his way. They arrived while I was in the middle of posting a blog and I had to hustle to get everything done on time. I had shampooed the carpet, cleaned the place within an inch of its life. The dog had been groomed and looked adorable. The cat just IS adorable...
He walked in, told me my dog looked old and that it was time to get a new carpet and say, had I put on a little weight?
"Gee, dad," I said. "I'd forgotten how much fun you are to have around."
He laughed and realized he was being a jerk. He showed his new lady friend around. My dad has always loved my place, even though he moans about how much money I spend on books.
"What are all these boxes?" the girlfriend asked me. It has always staggered me that my 80 year old dad still scores. This one looked like she'd had a lot of work done and I put her in her mid 50s. She strutted around in her high heels and miniskirt and looked like she thought I live in a dump.
"Books," I replied. "I am having a book launch next month. My first book, Phantom Lover was just released in paper back!"
"Oh. So why are the books stacked up here by the front door?"
Now, I'm thinking is this woman dumb or what? Where else does she want me to store nearly a hundred books? Between my own book and copies of eXtasy's anthologies in which I have stories, plus promo materials sent to me by other authors, I have nowhere else to put it all.
She stared disdainfully at my cat Banjo who was curled up asleep on the top box.
"Why's your cat sleeping up there?"
I stared helplessly at my dad. On a scale of one to ten, this newbie rates a zero so far.
"Um...because he likes it?"
"What kind of a book is it?" she asked me, her fingers running along the taped, closed lids.
"Oh, I love erotic romances."
"You don't want to read these," my father assured her.
"Yes I do."
"These are gay romances." My father looked pained and was starting to tug at his shirt collar.
"Gay?" she blinked at me. "Why in the world would you write gay fiction?"
I stared at my father.
"Do gay people believe in romance?" She was laughing now. "You're joking, right?"
"No, I'm not joking."
I opened a box and handed her a copy of Phantom Lover.
She read the back cover blurb and put the book down.
I recently had a very experience going from book shop to book shop trying to get them interested in carrying my book on their shelves and it went a lot like this.
What happened next was exactly what happened in a lot of the book stores I covered. She picked the book up and started reading.
"It pulls you in," she announced.
Say, this chick might work out after all.
She was turning pages, I made coffee, my dad complained about my animals bugging him but got down on the floor and played with the dog.
"Oh, my stars!" Dad's girlfriend squawked. "They're having sex!"
My dad looked up at her. "Yeah, AJ's characters do a lot of that."
She kept putting the book down, then picking it up. She was a third of the way through when she proclaimed it to be "not my thing" but the second my dad and I started playing backgammon she had her nose back in the book again.
I told her she could take it home with her.
"Oh, I won't read it," she kept saying. "It's not my thing."
"Okay...sorry." I went to put it back in the box.
"But I do want to find out how it ends. There's a nice love story here once you get past all the...you know...cocks and asses."
"Thanks," I said.
"Have you read this?" she asked my dad.
He looked agonized. "Yes."
"All of it?"
"And what did you think?"
"I told AJ never to send me one of his books again."
His girlfriend smiled. "My mother reads romances...I wonder if she would like this."
I burst out laughing. Her mother?
My dad wiped his hand over his face. "You're kidding, right?"
My dad looked at me. "I get all the freakin' weirdoes," he said when she tripped off to the bathroom. "Now my girlfriend wants to read gay sex."
"Well dad, at least she hasn't asked me if I have any gay porn. The last one was..."
"Yeah, I remember. Riveted by it. This one is too classy for that AJ so don't start banging on about bloody Frank Sagat or whatever his name is, okay?"
When his girlfriend emerged from the bathroom, she nudged me. "AJ, you know, I was just wondering...got any gay porn?"