Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellJosh Aterovis was probably the first young adult author I read, and maybe one of the first mystery authors also. I found him thanks to the power of the net, I read a book by a new author (very new) and when I listed it on LibraryThing, Josh was one of the other libraries listing it. I browsed his profile, I was curious to know if maybe he had other books in his library I could be interested in, and instead I found out he was an author himself. I bought his books basically since I thought, if he likes the same books I like, maybe I will like to book he writes... so, more or less, it was like for one of my Inside Reader posts, only way before I started to post them ;-) So, welcome Josh!
Hello everyone! I have a couple points I need to make before jumping into my Top Ten. First off, these are not necessarily the ten best books I've ever read, or even my ten favorite books. These are the books that had some sort of impact on me personally, influenced me as a writer, and few that I just plain love. Also, they're not all gay-themed, although most are. Some are really about the entire series, but I've chosen a single title to represent the whole series. Without further ado, here's my Top 10 Books.
1) The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Series). I stumbled across Nancy Drew in my elementary school library. I was in fourth grade and my family had just moved to a new town where I knew no one. I was an awkward, shy, gay boy, and books became my new best friends...and Nancy was my BFF. I started reading the 50's revised versions of the original series, and later moved on to the slightly racier updated series from the 80s and 90s. These later books probably had the most influence on my Killian Kendall series. In some respect, Killian is a gay Nancy Drew, except that he actually ages as opposed to being suspended in time. Nancy, on the other hand, will always be a teenager...and I'll always love her for that.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 210 pages
Publisher: Applewood Books; Facsimile edition (September 1, 1991)
Publisher Link: http://www.awb.com/catalog/product_info.php?authors_id=1135&products_id=5
Amazon: The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1)
In this first of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. Her search not only tests her keen mind but also leads her into a thrilling adventure. This volume presents the original, 1930 version of the story. In 1959 the story was rewritten and condensed and this original version went out of print.
2) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Ten Little Indians). I discovered Agatha Christie's timeless novels not long after I met Nancy Drew. As much fun as the Nancy Drew books were, Agatha Christie really introduced me to real mysteries. It's all well and good to find some jewels in an old clock, but it's something else entirely when you've got a dead body in the drawing room. When I first read it, And Then There Were None was called Ten Little Indians, but that was deemed too non-PC. Whatever you call it, the story itself was (and is) brilliant. There's no arguing the fact that Dame Christie was a very clever lady. Between her books and the Nancy Drew novels, I began a lifelong love affair with mysteries.
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper; Masterpiece ed edition (March 3, 2003)
Publisher Link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060736330/And_Then_There_Were_None/index.aspx
Amazon: And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie Collection)
The world's best-selling mystery with over 100 million copies sold! Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…
3) Magic's Pawn (Last Herald-Mage Trilogy) by Mercedes Lackey. It was a few years later before I randomly picked up my first Mercedes Lackey book and found myself immersed in her incredibly imaginative world of Valdemar. I was around fifteen at the time, and I immediately fell in love with her take on magic and fantasy. I devoured all her books I could find. Then I read Magic's Pawn, and it's not an exaggeration to say my life changed forever. It was the first time I'd ever seen a gay character in a book. And that wasn't all. Vanyel wasn't just gay. He fell in love and had sex, and it was all presented as being completely natural. My entire world-view shifted in that reading. All three books in the trilogy left a deep, lasting impression on me. Vanyel was my first literary crush, and he still holds a special place in my heart after all these years.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: DAW; later printing edition (June 6, 1989)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781101119952,00.html?Magic's_Pawn_Mercedes_Lackey
Amazon: Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage Series, Book 1)
In Magic's Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life--an age when the kingdom was ravaged by the ungoverned fury of bandit warlords, ferocious ice dragons, and the wild magic of wizards. A new addition to Lackey's Valdemar kingdom--and her most powerful series to date!
4) Listen to the Silence by Marcia Muller (Book 20). If I had to pick only one other author who has been most influential for me as a writer, it would have to Marcia Muller. Her Sharon McCone series is everything I aim for as a writer. Ms. Muller published her first book in the series, Edwin of Iron Shoes, in 1977. The series is still continuing today, and it's still just as fresh and interesting as it was thirty years ago. Why? Because the main character has grown and evolved along with the series. It doesn't hurt that the character-driven series has often focused just as much on McCone's personal life as the mysteries. As an added bonus, the series was gay-friendly long before it was politically correct to be so. Listen to the Silence was Book 20 in the series, and I chose it out of all her excellent books because it resonated deeply when I read it a few years ago. Marcia Muller is a master of her craft, and I hope to have even a fraction of her success and longevity.
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Mysterious Press; 1St Edition edition (July 19, 2000)
Publisher Link: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780892966899.htm
Amazon: Listen to the Silence (Sharon McCone Mysteries)
Upon the death of her father, San Francisco-based PI Sharon McCone discovers she's adopted and is determined to find her biological parents. She journeys to Idaho's Flathead Reservation for answers but discovers some locals who will stop at nothing to keep certain secrets hidden.
5) Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez. When I started my first book, Bleeding Hearts, there were almost no gay-themed books aimed at young adults. The first edition of Bleeding Hearts was published in 2001, the same year Alex Sanchez' Rainbow Boys hit the shelves and became a smash hit. The publishing world would never be the same. Suddenly, publishers realized there was a market for YA books about gay teens. Sanchez went on to write two more books in the Rainbow series, and has published several other excellent books as well, but it was Rainbow Boys that really paved the way for gay YA novels.
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 1, 2003)
Publisher Link: http://books.simonandschuster.net/Rainbow-Boys/Alex-Sanchez/9780689841002
Amazon: Rainbow Boys
Jason Carrillo is a jock with a steady girlfriend, but he can't stop dreaming about sex...with other guys. Kyle Meeks doesn't look gay, but he is. And he hopes he never has to tell anyone -- especially his parents. Nelson Glassman is "out" to the entire world, but he can't tell the boy he loves that he wants to be more than just friends. Three teenage boys, coming of age and out of the closet. In a revealing debut novel that percolates with passion and wit, Alex Sanchez follows these very different high-school seniors as their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love, betrayal, and ultimately, friendship.
6) Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. David Levithan has written or co-written a number of excellent young adult novels, including the one the charming movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was based on, but the one that really caught my attention was Boy Meets Boy. It represented a fundamental change in the way YA gay books were written. Up to that point, almost all gay YA novels were coming-out stories. Boy Meets Boy is an unapologetic fairy tale set in world where being gay is so normal and accepted, the high school quarterback is also a drag queen. The main character doesn't struggle with being gay. He just deals with the same problems as every other kid. How revolutionary!
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375832994
Amazon: Boy Meets Boy
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right. This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.
7) Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling. After Mercedes Lackey, I never found another fantasy series that really captured my attention until Lynn Flewelling came along. Luck in the Shadows, the first book in her Nightrunner series, rocked my world. Her main characters, Seregal and Alec, are unrepentantly gay, her action exciting, her world fascinating and original. It was nice to see a successful mainstream series with gay central characters.
Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Spectra; 10th printing edition (August 1, 1996)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780553575422
Amazon: Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner, Vol. 1)
"A new star is rising in the fantasy firmament...teems with magic and spine-chilling amounts of skullduggery."–Dave Duncan, author of The Great Game. When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.
8) Geography Club by Brent Hartinger. The first book in Brent Hartinger's YA series, Geography Club, has joined a venerable list: books often banned by libraries. I wish a library would ban my books. You can't buy that kind of publicity. But Brent didn't really need the extra help. His excellent books drew an audience all on their own. His characters are flawed and realistic. They don't always make the best decision or get perfect, fairytale endings, but they grow because of that. Just like real life...
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 17, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://www.harperteen.com/books/9780060012212/Geography_Club/index.aspx
Amazon: Geography Club
Russel Middlebrook is convinced he's the only gay kid at Goodkind High School. Then his online gay-chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school's baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students too. There's his best friend, Min, who reveals that she's bisexual, and her soccer-playing girlfriend, Terese. And there's Terese's politically active friend, Ike. But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves? "We just choose a club that's so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call it Geography Club!" Brent Hartinger's debut novel is a fastpaced, funny, and trenchant portrait of contemporary teenagers who may not learn any actual geography in their latest school club, but who learn plenty about the treacherous social terrain of a typical American high school and the even more dangerous landscape of the human heart.
9) Island Song by Alan Chin. One of my favorite books I've read in the past few years, I was struck by the sheer beauty of Island Song. Technically, this book would probably be categorized as a romance novel, but it's really so much more. Island Song is about loss, healing, finding love in unexpected places, leaving the world a better place when we're gone... and the sacrifices we sometimes have to make to achieve that. Chin masterfully blended a compelling story of redemption, a believable romance, and mysteries of the spiritual world to create something that transcends mere genre.
Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Zumaya Publications, LLC (September 8, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://www.zumayapublications.com/search.php?q=alan+chin#title.php?
Amazon: Island Song
Two years after the death of his lover, Garrett Davidson sits in a Hawaiian beach shack, gazing out over the vast, empty Pacific. He has nothing left. Despair has robbed him of his elegant home, his lucrative job and his sanity. The single thread holding him to reality is the story he has come to this shack to write: Marc's story, the story of his lost love.Then Songoree breezes into his life.Songoree, a Hawaiian surfer and Garrett's new cook, is not gay, but he can't help being captivated by Garrett. He has always been attracted to broken things, like the crane with a broken wing he once mended and cared for. He is drawn to anything that reminds him of the broken image he has of himself. When he attempts to heal Garrett's spirit they become entwined in an extraordinary relationship.The stakes are raised when Songoree's grandfather, a venerable Hawaiian kahuna, frees Garrett's mind from anguish by using ancient shamanic methods to induce altered states of awareness. Garrett and Songoree struggle to transcend their differences in age, race and life experiences. They soon discover that some of the islanders will stop at nothing to destroy their unique bond, while Songoree's grandfather is hell-bent on bringing them together to fulfill an ancient Polynesian prophesy. A clash of wills erupts between grandfather, grandson and hostile islanders, with Garrett caught in the middle fighting for his life and plunging headlong to a moment that will brutally test the boundaries of the human spirit.
10) The Phoenix by Ruth Sims. The Phoenix is quite possibly my single favorite book I've read in the past decade. It's another one that is technically a romance novel, but proudly defies such a simple box. The story is epic; it spans several decades and two continents (it's set in the theater world of Victorian England and America), and is filled with rich historical detail. At its heart, though, The Phoenix is a love story, plain and simple. And a truly effective one at that. You won't quickly forget Kit and Nick. This is a beautiful novel by a very talented writer.
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press; New edition (February 1, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://lethepressbooks.com/gay.htm#sims-the-phoenix
Amazon: The Phoenix
At fourteen, Kit St. Denys brought down his abusive father with a knife. At twenty-one his theatrical genius brought down the house. At thirty, his past—and his forbidden love—nearly brought down the curtain for good. A compelling Victorian saga of two men whose love for each other transcends time and distance—and the society that considers it an abomination. Set in the last twenty years of the 19th century, The Phoenix is a multi-layered historical novel that illuminates poverty and child abuse, theatre history in America and England, betrayal, a crisis of conscience, violence and vengeance, and the treatment of insanity at a time when such treatment was in its infant stage. Most of all it is a tale of love on many levels, from carnal to devoted friendship to sacrifice.
About Josh Aterovis: Josh Aterovis has been writing fiction for over six years. His first two books, Bleeding Hearts and a spin-off mystery Reap the Whirlwind, were first published in 2001 and 2003 respectively. The first book, Bleeding Hearts, introduced gay teen sleuth Killian Kendall, and won several awards, including the 2002 Whodunit Award from the StoneWall Society. He followed up by winning the Whodunit Award again the following year for Reap the Whirlwind. In addition to novels, Aterovis also writes for AfterElton.com, an entertainment news website for and about gay and bisexual men, doing articles, interviews and reviews.
Aterovis was born and bred on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Aterovis is a Latin pseudonym meaning “black sheep”.
He has won numerous awards for his writing and for his website, which also features his well-received art gallery.
All Lost Things
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc. (September 27, 2009)
Publisher Link: http://www.pdpublishing.com/lostthingsendpage.html
Amazon: All Lost Things
Killian Kendall’s life is changing faster than he can keep up. He’s graduating from high school, breaking up with his boyfriend, and starting a new job with a private investigator. He’s barely settled at his new desk when his ex-boyfriend calls with a desperate plea for help. He wants Killian to prove his new boyfriend is innocent in the shockingly violent murder of his abusive father. Killian reluctantly agrees to take the case, little knowing how complicated — and dangerous — things will become before it’s over. On the home front, Killian’s surrogate parents decide to buy a historic mansion and turn it into a bed and breakfast. The house comes with a rich history... and maybe a ghost or two. Killian doesn’t want to believe in such things, but he’s quickly becoming convinced that something terrible happened to the home’s original owners. The century-old mystery both terrifies and tantalizes Killian. In the end, he may be the only one who can uncover the truth.