Interview: Kyell Gold discusses 'Green Fairy'
Isiah sits down with Kyell Gold to discuss his latest novel, recently reviewed by Fred Patten.
Isiah's comments and questions are not to be taken seriously.
Isiah Jacobs: Welcome back to the show, Kyell! It's nice to have you back!
Kyell Gold: It's a pleasure to be back!
Isiah Jacobs: So, your first publication for the year was back in March, with the release of Green Fairy. I assume it's a story about a gay environmentalist?
Kyell Gold: That's an excellent guess, but most people think about absinthe first, especially with the theme of FWA being "Moulin Rouge".
Isiah Jacobs: In fact, half of Green Fairy takes place at the Rouge.
Kyell Gold: A little less than half, but yes.
Isiah Jacobs: But your story and the convention wasn't the only things with the Rouge-like themes. Rukis also came out with Red Lantern AND both your story and hers were released at FWA. So that's triple the dose of Moulin Rouge, AND you were both guests of honor. Was all of this planned?
Kyell Gold: Some of it. Red Lantern isn't specifically Moulin-Rouge-themed; it's about a brothel in a fantasy world rather than a cabaret in a sort-of-our world. Sofawolf had some production issues which they and Rukis have documented that led to the release being delayed, and they thought with her being a guest at FWA, that would be appropriate.
Green Fairy, however, was specifically planned for FWA. In 2011, I went to FWA for the first time, where they asked me to be a GOH for 2012 and told me the theme and that Rukis would be the other GOH. So I talked to her at that con and asked if she would be open to working on a project with me to release at FWA 2012, since that con doesn't have a con book.
She was excited about that, but of course was also very busy with Red Lantern, so the first idea I had--to do a comic of some sort--wasn't going to be practical. So I started thinking about the story, how I could incorporate Atlanta, sort of, and the Moulin Rouge into one story. I wrote down a bunch of notes for Green Fairy on the plane ride home, and two months later I had a first draft. I sent it to Rukis. She said she started to read it one night and ended up reading it 'til 5 am to finish it.
Isiah Jacobs: Ok, first of all, a first draft in two months? Seriously? And secondly, how come you just didn't go to Blotch? Don't they bend over backwards to do everything you say?
Kyell Gold: It surprised me, too--the time, I mean. I didn't really register it until I looked at when I had the draft done and thought, "Really?" But I spent a lot of time outlining it, because the weird structure of the book really demanded that I know in advance which scenes went where. And then it was mostly a matter of filling in the scenes I'd written and identifying which ones I'd missed that needed to be included. As for the artist, well, Rukis was the other GOH and so this was always planned to be something for her to work on.
Isiah Jacobs: So did the plot generally stay the same from its original conception?
Kyell Gold: Yes, actually. I was just looking back at those notes the other day and was surprised at how little it had changed. Sometimes I'll look at initial concepts of books and barely recognize them compared to the final form.
Isiah Jacobs: So the path the book follows was there from day one?
Kyell Gold: When you've got a restriction like the two places and times, and you choose a vehicle like the supernatural to link them, that pretty much defines the major points of the story. Certain things changed. Some characters were fleshed out, some were never developed as much as I'd thought they would be, but overall the basic plot was set down on that plane flight back from Atlanta.
Isiah Jacobs: What were some of the things you came up with?
Kyell Gold: In the initial plot outline?
Isiah Jacobs: Yes.
Kyell Gold: Well, without spoiling TOO much of the book... The three-part narrative was there from the beginning. The main character (Sol)'s journey from self-absorbed teen to being somewhat more conscious of others was there. The dancer and Jean were both in there (though Jean was a white stag initially), and their stories were at least partly shaped. And I knew how all three of them would interact.
When I start plotting a book, I should say, sometimes I know the ending and sometimes I don't. But I usually have an idea of the character's journey. In Sol's case, I knew the journey but I wasn't sure exactly how it would play out.
Isiah Jacobs: And the flight had to have been, what? A three or four hour flight?
Kyell Gold: It was a good long flight. I think it's five hours at least.
Isiah Jacobs: What made you decide on the direction the book takes? Why didn't you have the entirety of the story set in the early days of the Rouge? Or in modern day Monmartre?
Kyell Gold: Well, because I wanted to specifically call to FWA, so I wanted something that linked modern-day Georgia to old-time Paris.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, but still. Why did you decide on the story for it to connect between Georgia and Paris?
Kyell Gold: Are you asking why I picked this specific story as the link?
Isiah Jacobs: Right. What made you come up with the whole plot that happens with Jean and the plot that happens with Sol?
Kyell Gold: You realize that you're dangerously close to asking a writer where he gets his ideas, don't you?
Isiah Jacobs: Well, I mean, it’s not like you stole the idea. Right?
Kyell Gold: I wanted to write about gay relationships, because, you know, it's what I do, and I think there is still a lot of ground to cover. And I was thinking, if I had a gay kid in Georgia, he'd probably be having a tough time of it, and I could see him turning to the Moulin Rouge time as a sort of ideal of freedom of expression and such.
And I thought that it would be interesting to parallel his story, where he's got this pseudo-relationship going on, with another (more contemporarily accurate) pseudo-relationship, in such a way that he could learn something from it. I.e. not repeating the mistakes of the past. And I liked the supernatural angle because it's something I've always had a fascination with and haven't written about very much.
Isiah Jacobs: And Silver Circle wasn't enough for you?
Kyell Gold: Different kind of supernatural.
Isiah Jacobs: Still supernatural!
Kyell Gold: Besides, I wrote that like three years ago. And I had no idea if anything would even come of it at the time.
Isiah Jacobs: So, what was your target audience for Green Fairy then?
Kyell Gold: People who like good stories. I don't know, I don't usually write books thinking "I'm going to write this book for these people." I write books because I think "this is a story I think is really cool and I want to tell it," and I have been startlingly lucky in that the kind of stories I think are cool also mysteriously appeal to a bunch of other people.
Isiah Jacobs: Is there any symbolism in Sol's name? Like how Sol is another word for the Sun. King Solomon?
Kyell Gold: There is a little bit of symbolism, but it's more of "Sol" as in "solitary."
Isiah Jacobs: And speaking of names, what the hell is it with you and furry names? Natty? Taric? Tanny? What the hell kind of names are those? Xavy?
Kyell Gold: Xavy is short for Xavier. Taric's similar to Tariq, an Arab name, and Tanny is a diminutive. Natty's short for Nathaniel. (I confess, I don't know what Tanny's full name is.) But I like slightly odd names. It gives the characters individuality. If I'd called Taric "Mike," he'd be just another "Mike" and there are a ton of them out there. Now when Rukis says she wants to draw Taric, she doesn't have to say "from Green Fairy." It's a little courtesy I extend to my fans.
Isiah Jacobs: You could have at least chosen better names. I know Sol was stressing out about being gay, but personally, I think Nate and Xavier should have been the ones worried. And whatever the hell Sol's e-boyfriend's name was. Carcy!
Kyell Gold: Yeah, okay, Carcy is a bit of an odd name.
Isiah Jacobs: Thank you! I accept your apology. So, obviously, the title is a reference to absinthe, an alcoholic drink. The characters, who are underage, drink it. You support underage drinking?
Kyell Gold: I think you're confusing me with that guy who only writes characters doing things he personally believes in.
Isiah Jacobs: If you don't support underage drinking, why is it in your book? Check and mate.
Kyell Gold: Well, I don't support parents not understanding why their children are gay, but that's in the book too.
Isiah Jacobs: I'm going to take your dodging the question as an answer, and that answer is you are a liar. So, during the course of the novel, the main characters, Sol, and his friend, Meg, are doing a history project on Van Gogh. Why did you make him a fox?
Kyell Gold: I think that was actually a suggestion from one of my readers. Originally I'd made up an obscure artist for them to be researching, and then my reader said that that was probably too obscure for high school, and besides, he liked the idea of van Gogh as a scruffy-looking fox missing an ear. So I said, sold!
Isiah Jacobs: I thought you didn't like having your readers suggesting ideas for stories? What's so special about this person?
Kyell Gold: Not just a reader, I should say: one of my beta readers, part of my critique group. A very select club. There's an initiation test and yearly dues and a secret handshake.
Isiah Jacobs: I'm assuming a blow job.
Kyell Gold: You have a filthy mind, sir. I admire that.
Isiah Jacobs: Don't blame me for believing in this stereotype, blame society. Check mate. So, as you said, there is a heavy theme of supernatural stuff in this novel. Several parts throughout the book, there is this sort spiritual time travel thing back to early 1900s Lutece. In these spiritual encounters, we are introduced to an artist. A rat named Henri Trunoir. Would he happen to be inspired from your personal friend, Malcolm Cross, and from real life artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec?
Kyell Gold: Henri is definitely inspired by Mr. Cross, less so by Toulouse. His last name is a French corruption: trou noir means "black hole."
Isiah Jacobs: From the way Henri speaks, it sounds like he would fit in perfectly in a film noir!
Kyell Gold: He is very dedicated, singular of purpose.
Isiah Jacobs: What about Meg? Personally, she is my favorite character in the story. She's just so brutally honest and holds this cynically true opinion of the world. How did you come up with such a character? Why?
Kyell Gold: Setting aside the "all characters are aspects of me blah blah (yes, even the bad ones)," Meg is, I think, the character we would all like to be, the one who tells it like it is, who doesn't hold any illusions and really understands the world. It was important for Sol to have that counterpoint, someone who understands that being gay isn't a big deal, whom he could confide in, but also someone who cares enough about him that the later parts of the story will hold some weight. Because Meg's cynicism doesn't prevent her from caring about people, just from admitting it.
Isiah Jacobs: Well it makes for a very admirable character. A while, you mentioned there is a theme of parents not understanding their child being gay. The setting for Green Fairy is Bumfuck, Georgia; so obviously, not a whole lot of people are keen on homosexuality.
Kyell Gold: (Which is kind of strange for a place called "Bumfuck," really.)
Isiah Jacobs: (I know, right?!)
Kyell Gold: (Not that being gay is all about that, as Dan Savage has said many times--obligatory disclaimer.)
Isiah Jacobs: Sol's father, Jerius, is a really big example of this. I mean, Sol goes vegetarian to appease his e-boyfriend, and I mean, even without the context, that is admittedly a rather gay thing. Have you received a lot of messages from your readers saying how much Jerius reminded them of their own father?
Kyell Gold: Not yet. But yes, the wolf-going-vegetarian is sort of an allegory for being gay--going against nature and all that.
Isiah Jacobs: Yes, I will admit, that was a pretty clever allegory. Now, one of the characters, Tsarev, is a fox from Siberia, I believe?
Kyell Gold: He is.
Isiah Jacobs: Now, I can understand how he represents the whole alternate version of Nikolai from Lutece, and I know that Tsarev explains how he ended up in Bumfuck through the whole transfer student program, but you have to admit, that's a bit of stretch. You couldn't have gone with something simpler?
Kyell Gold: Something simpler to... get a Siberian fox to Georgia?
Isiah Jacobs: No, to represent Nikolai.
Kyell Gold: Oh. Well, he doesn't, really. He's there sort of to make Sol think he might, and to serve other roles later in the story (again, trying not to spoil things). But he's not, strictly speaking, Niki. And anyway, I don't like to do simple when I can make things a little more interesting.
Isiah Jacobs: So Tsarev essentially serves as literary slight of hand?
Kyell Gold: Bit of a red fox herring, yes.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, well, at one point, Tsarev is talking about this particular athlete for his favorite soccer team, and this individual is also a fox who was born in Novosibirsk. Why Novosibirsk, of all places? Do you know what's been going on there for the past 50 years?
Kyell Gold: Pretty much nothing, from what I remember. But that was also a shout-out to a friend, Kevin Frane, who has a story called "Shadows of Novosibirsk" that was in ROAR 3. So ask him why Novosibirsk.
Isiah Jacobs: Domestic Fox? There has been a fox domestication program going on there. It started as an experiment on foxes to find out how wolves have become the domesticated dogs we own as pets today.
Kyell Gold: Oh, I know about that program. I forget if I knew it was in Novosibirsk.
Isiah Jacobs: And now tame, domestic foxes are shipped worldwide. Well now you know it was in Novosibirsk.
Kyell Gold: It actually started as a way to find out if they could make foxes tamer so they didn't get as damaged when they killed them for fur. And then they found out that while they could make the foxes tamer, the fur got splotchy and strange and generally useless. So the fur farmers abandoned it and the scientists took it over.
Isiah Jacobs: Are you telling me the internet lied to me?! Why would the internet lie to me?!
Kyell Gold: I'll tell you another secret: the Internet doesn't actually like any of us humans. That's why it lies to you.
Isiah Jacobs: God damn it, CERN! So, there is a character in this book names Reis. I take it that's a shout out to Rukis?
Kyell Gold: Yep, correct. There's a Marc or Marcus in the same scene.
Isiah Jacobs: How many other shout outs do you have hidden in there?
Kyell Gold: Oh, there are a few. I'll generally admit to them when people find them, but I don't point them out myself. Honestly, that book was finished half a year ago, so there may be a few I don't remember.
Isiah Jacobs: One of the very big themes for Green Fairy is about life. Like, all that hippie stuff about "what is life all about?" For example, one of the character says that life isn't about art. Art enhances life, but you shouldn't devote your entire life about it. The same with love. Love enhances life.
What about sex? Do you think sex enhances life? Do you think sex enhances your stories?
Kyell Gold: I think sex enhances life, sure. It's also very necessary for life, and I don't just mean that in the "none of us would be here if our parents hadn't had sex" way. It's necessary for life in the way that food is and water is: we're born with the drive to have sex. Now, you can survive on rice and water; you can satisfy your sexual urge in the simplest way. But you can also choose to eat at nice restaurants, you can choose fresh fruit and wine rather than bread and water. You can choose to make sex meaningful by finding someone special to share it with.
As far as my stories, well, it enhances the ones that include it. There's a lot of mystery around sex, and the writing of it tends to be rather idealistic, in which everything is perfect and wonderful--and for good reason. It's escapist fantasy. Now, I do subscribe to the saying that sex is like pizza: when it's good, it's great, and when it's not, it's still pretty good. But there's so much more to it. You can have two people who mesh beautifully in every area, and yet, if the sex isn't good, they might break up. You can have two people who are completely wrong for each other, yet keep coming back because they have amazing sex. You can have people jeopardize relationships, careers, even lives, for sex. And I think that's fascinating. Especially when you get into gay relationships, where the sex is less well-known, it's important. I have not read many books that dealt with the way sex affects the relationship of the characters, other than oblique references in old Anne McCaffrey books. That's important (though not in all relationships, as evidenced by the lack of it in Green Fairy), and I wanted to talk about it.
Isiah Jacobs: Well then, I expect to see all of you stories with sex in them to carry deep meaning!
Another strong theme that's introduced in this story is from my second favorite character, Henri. He carries this raw, deep passion for art that's not really seen in today's culture. Sure, there are things that are labeled as "art" but it's more for monetary gain than artistically expressing oneself for the sake of artistic expression. It's a passion that I wish I saw more of in the film industry, the gaming industry, and to be absolutely honest, furry literature. I'm sure there are writers that intend to put meaning into their stories, but for a lot of it, it just seems like it comes second to the sexual aspect.
Was this passion also inspired from Mr. Cross?
Kyell Gold: Not specifically. It's the kind of passion that is sort of stereotypical of many career artists, especially the bohemians of the Moulin Rouge era. I couldn't really write about the Moulin Rouge without including an artist in there somewhere, and of course he will be obsessed with the purity of art and all.
Isiah Jacobs: Is this something you believe in?
Kyell Gold: Do I believe in a passion for art? Sure. Do I hold exactly the same beliefs as Henri? Well, no. I've known people who place the creation of art above all else, but that seems to be an extreme view. In any case, I'm not sure that what I believe really matters in the context of understanding the book: the characters should stand alone. I don't think the beliefs of the author should really affect how you read a story.
But since you asked, I believe that if you have a drive to create art, if you can't envision your life without it, then you are hurting yourself by not acknowledging that drive, not nurturing it and learning how to express it. Clearly you need to live, and few people come out of college with an artistic skill that can support them. Life experience lends depth and meaning to art, and it's important not to neglect that part of your life either. And I think if you were to map my philosophy to anything in the book, it is closest to what Niki says in the end, that love and art are part of life and enhance it, but neither one is a substitute for life on its own.
So what is life? Well, if I could answer that question in a 300-page book, I would be writing this from my vacation home in Paris.
Isiah Jacobs: That is very beautiful. I wish I had the words for a proper response. Let's move on. So, another interesting thing to take note of about your novel is that there's no sex. What made you decide this?
Kyell Gold: Well, for one thing, this isn't a story of sexual discovery or identification. It's not a story where a relationship is at the core of it, where the main character's view of sex or the sex he has with other people is a critical part of the story. So there was no part of the outline that you would look at and say "we need to see the sex there."
For another, I have written a book in which a high school student discovers his sexual identity, and which includes a few (not many) explicit scenes. And that book, Waterways, has proven to be so helpful to high school students that I have at times regretted putting sex in it, only because I think it would be more acceptable as a "younger teens" book without it. (though when I've expressed that thought in my blog, I have had people write passionately that they thought the sexual discovery was important in the story, so who knows)
But in any case, even though Sol is nearly eighteen, I wanted this book to remain accessible to younger readers, because there is a message there that is important to young gay kids about trusting older people and having confidence in themselves.
Isiah Jacobs: And only young gay kids?
Kyell Gold: No, but those are the ones (a) most vulnerable to manipulation by older people, and (b) most affected by the adult or non-adult content of a book, which was your question.
Isiah Jacobs: So how are young gay kids most vulnerable to manipulation by older people and most affected by adult/non-adult content of a book? What makes them so special over other young kids?
Kyell Gold: Because there's still a stigma attached to being gay. Some kids are lucky enough to be in very accepting environments, but high school is still a fairly brutal place to be different in any way. If you're gay, speaking generally, you are having a harder time dating (because there are fewer eligible partners and because of this social stigma) and therefore a harder time socializing and therefore are more prone to feeling alone, rejected, depressed, and so on.
So when an older person comes along and offers trust and understanding, it is so rare and feels so good that you're inclined to place much more trust in them than you normally would an adult. They gain a kind of power where they can say, "Well, if you don't do this, then that's okay, I'll just go away," and as a lonely, isolated kid, you can be so desperate for companionship that you'll give in.
Isiah Jacobs: What about all the straight nerds and geeks in high school? Do you have a problem with them? The quiet ones who also get bullied and can't find a proper girlfriend because she finds your rock collection creepy? And then when you stand alone naked in the gym shower, Jake the school bully will kick you in the ass and ridicule you that you'll die alone! Why Jake?! Why couldn't you just understand that Buttercup was my favorite Powerpuff Girl?!
I'm sorry, I just had something in my eye for a moment. So, there's obviously about half the book that takes place in Lutece and multiple narrators. One of them is Jean de Givern, who is definitely gay, right?
Kyell Gold: Jean is quite gay, indeed. Which is a problem for him as his well-to-do father wants him to marry and have a family.
Isiah Jacobs: Just like your father did, I'm sure. What a disappointment you turned out to be. Now, this is something that both fascinates and confuses the hell out of me about not only gay men, but straight men as well. See, Jean finds another gay man to do gay stuff with, and he really enjoys seeing him in girly outfits. Which doesn't really make sense. If girls don't turn on gay men like Jean, why would he enjoy seeing a man look like a woman? I mean, I'm a straight. I like to consider myself a 1 or a 2 on the Kinsey scale, but men don't really turn me on. However, I'm into butch girls, but I can't explain it!
Kyell Gold: Depending on how far you want to get into politics, here, I'll just say that cross-dressing and sexuality are often linked but are not always related. There's a point in the book where Thierry, who introduces Jean to the dancer, says that "not all boys who dress as girls like other boys," and the inverse is also true: not all boys who like boys also like to dress as girls. I can't explain it either! It just is.
Isiah Jacobs: I can. Choice. I know about you problem but I didn't choose to be this way, and frankly, it's a little frightening! So, another really good topic about this book that I'd like to bring up is Sol's house. It's made of stone. This stone carries some significance in that it locks in the scents of Sol's family. Wouldn't their scents linger no matter what type of house it was? What's the significance of a stone house?
Kyell Gold: Scents do linger, but you want a good compromise between something that holds a scent and something that's durable. Wood holds scent, but wood also warps. Bricks might hold scent, but I've always been partial to limestone, which is a solid enough stone to be used for building, but is also somewhat porous.
So limestone works as an interior decoration, something permanent that holds the scents of the people who've passed--and even then, not forever, as you would be cleaning the house and so on. But symbolically. I had a story in which families kept cloths in the house that each of them would handle regularly so that when ancestors passed on, their scents would remain on the cloths. But that didn't seem very modern.
Isiah Jacobs: Another house that's interesting in the way you describe is Meg's house. They have indoor mini pools. Why is this?
Kyell Gold: It's sort of a callback to Waterways. Meg's family are otters, so they like an aquatic environment. They feel most at home there, so they've incorporated it into their living space.
Isiah Jacobs: So in your head, you believe otters are always needing to be wet?
Kyell Gold: The otters in my fictional world do, sure.
Isiah Jacobs: What about religion? I've noticed that religion plays absolutely no role in this story, even though it's set in such a small, conservative, God-fearing town. Why is that?
Kyell Gold: It just wasn't necessary to the story. Again, this isn't a story about someone accepting homosexuality, in which case churches and religious leadership become important (as they were in Waterways). It's a story about someone finding the courage to believe in himself, and the outside pressures aren't religious in nature.
Sol's family still goes to church, but he, like many teenagers, has fallen away from it. And in fact, there's not much indication in the book that this is a particularly God-fearing town, so I think you're just projecting your own deeply held religion onto it. I'm totally fine with your religion, by the way. I mean, Zoroastrianism isn't for ME, but I can see the appeal.
Isiah Jacobs: I think YOU'RE just projecting YOUR America destroying beliefs on to it!
Kyell Gold: Well, yeah. It's my book. That's sort of the point.
Isiah Jacobs: So you admit it! And furthermore, how do you know I believe in a religion in the first place?! That is so prejudiced of you! Let's move on before I get angrier. So, you say that this book is about discovering true relationships, you said? Not about sexuality?
Kyell Gold: It's more about discovering relationships with sexuality as a component. Obviously sexuality plays a part in it, because if Sol weren't gay, he wouldn't feel that he had to keep his relationship a secret; if Jean weren't gay, he wouldn't be driven to such extremes to find a partner.
I think it's less about sexuality in Niki's case, but even there, there is difficulty in finding the right person. And how I think that affects the plot and theme is that even when it's difficult, even when you may think that this person is your only chance, taking that chance may not be worth it if they really aren't the right person. And that message applies to anyone.
Isiah Jacobs: And this is why Sol only sees that one guy as friend at the end of the novel? Not as a boyfriend?
Kyell Gold: Right. (Also to play off the myth that "hey, there are two gay characters around the same age--they must be dating!!") (Which is no more true than "Harry and Ron must both be in love with Hermione! After all, they're all straight!")
Isiah Jacobs: So you're saying not all men are sex hounds?
Kyell Gold: In my experience, they are not.
Isiah Jacobs: Regardless of sexuality?
Kyell Gold: Pretty much.
Isiah Jacobs: Were there any parts of Green Fairy that you based off your own life?
Kyell Gold: Well, let's see. I'm not supposed to talk about my career dancing in a Paris nightclub... I did have an online relationship that went badly, though not in the same way that Sol's did. And I played baseball for about one year of my childhood, with far less success than Sol had.
Isiah Jacobs: But you didn't go through all that trouble Sol had to put up with?
Kyell Gold: No, no. For one thing, I wasn't out until after college.
Isiah Jacobs: Let's talk about your OOP series for a moment. You said that you have a working title for the third novel, right?
Kyell Gold: I do. That is, I have said that, and it is true.
Isiah Jacobs: What about the fourth?
Kyell Gold: I do not have a title for the fourth yet. I do have one for the fifth, though.
Isiah Jacobs: ...what? I can see how it could be a trilogy and it turned out to be too long and split them but a fifth?! Come on, Mr. Gold!
Kyell Gold: Oh, originally it was going to be four books, and then the third one got so long it turned into two.
Isiah Jacobs: May I make two suggestions for the last two titles?
Kyell Gold: You can always suggest. But you don't get any royalties if I use them.
Isiah Jacobs: I just want to be mentioned if you do! Fourth and Goal And Tie Breaker.
Kyell Gold: I think those are too brilliant for me to use. I couldn't write books worthy of those titles.
Isiah Jacobs: Again, just a suggestion. Who were you cheering for during the Superbowl?
Kyell Gold: Um. Who was playing, again?
Isiah Jacobs: The Patriots and the Giants.
Kyell Gold: Right, right. I was cheering for a good game. I think I said that if I had money, I would have put it on the Giants--you can go look it up on FA; I said that before the game.
Isiah Jacobs: Good for you, Kyell! That's something we can at least agree on! Have you been hearing reports about NFL players being paid to tackle other players so much that they can't play?
Kyell Gold: I have heard about that. The Saints, specifically, are being charged with offering money for knocking opponents out of games, and one player is countersuing the NFL for the damage to his reputation. You may also have heard that this week, a former NFL player came out as gay to the media. Wade Davis, former Washington cornerback.
Isiah Jacobs: Right, but right now, let's focus on the other thing. Do you plan on incorporating that kind of corruption into your novels?
Kyell Gold: Well, not in a major way--there may be a couple references to it--but in general, no, for a number of reasons. First of all, the bounty thing has been going on for a long while, if not quite as official as what the Saints were allegedly doing, where the coaches and defensive coordinators were involved. Players have been paying other players for decades--a lot of former players talked about that in the wake of this scandal breaking.
So I'd been aware of that and had considered it for Isolation Play, where you might have players paying to take Dev out of the game. But there are a couple problems with that. First off, it's not unheard of for a bounty to be placed on a defensive player, but it's more common for them to be on offensive players.
Secondly, the bounties are more commonly placed on players who are a significant threat on the field. Star quarterbacks, most commonly, maybe a wideout or running back. On the defensive side, maybe a middle linebacker or cornerback, but the problem is that offensive players usually don't tackle defensive players, so they don't really have the opportunity to do that.
And Dev wasn't perceived as the biggest threat, playing-wise, on the field. There could have been a rival who said, "I don't want that gay guy on the field" and put a bounty out, but because the teams only play once, generally, that would've been a one-and-done mini-plot.
So from a narrative standpoint it is hard to make it a big thing without making it the focus of the book. And there's also the question of how he'd find out about it if half of it took place in a different locker room. So that was the long answer. :)
Isiah Jacobs: Well I appreciate long answers, so thank you! Before we discuss Mr. Davis, you just mentioned something that reminded me of another question I have about Green Fairy. In both this story and Out of Position with the main characters involved in some sort of athletic extra-curricular activity, they're never in the starring role. With Dev, he's a generic defensemen. Sol plays second base. Why did you decide this?
Kyell Gold: A lot of things are easier when you're a star.
Isiah Jacobs: Well put.
Kyell Gold: And one of the rules of fiction is "make things difficult for your characters." It wouldn't be much of a story if Dev were a three-time Pro Bowl player making $10 million a year and regarded as the best linebacker in football and then he says, "By the way, I'm gay." Everyone would be like, "So what?" Or if Sol were a fireball-throwing pitcher.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, that does make sense. Now, I admit, I don't follow a lot of sports news. What made Davis originally quit football?
Kyell Gold: A dislocated kneecap.
Isiah Jacobs: Ouch.
Kyell Gold: Yeah, I never like looking at videos of knee injuries.
Isiah Jacobs: Do you see his coming out as a sort of victory for the gay community?
Kyell Gold: Oh, definitely. I don't know if I'd say a victory, but a step forward for sure. I think that more and more, people are starting to ask why no professional athlete (in the four major sports) has come out, and so there are surveys and polls of players and more and more of them say they'd be fine with a gay teammate.
I think that behind closed doors, perhaps, it's not quite as certain, and those athletes are hyper-sensitive to the fact that any little thing can become a reason for a team to cut them, or demote them, or trade them. Anything unrelated to their sport can threaten their career.
So while it might be a positive thing from a public relations standpoint, a team might also wonder, "well, hey, this guy is now out as gay...is he going to be doing interviews all the time? Is he going to be able to keep his focus on football?" and there will be an extra level of scrutiny on him. It will make things more difficult for the first person to come out, no question.
Isiah Jacobs: Would you recommend they read your OOP series?
Kyell Gold: I would definitely recommend that. And they should give it to all their friends.
Isiah Jacobs: Would you want them to sign your personal copies?
Kyell Gold: If the first active pro athlete to come out has heard of my books, I would love to have a signature.
Isiah Jacobs: That would be awesome, by the way. So, as I understand it, you have a story published in this year's issue of Heat. What do you have planned for release later this year?
Kyell Gold: Well, let's see. The paperback of Silver Circle, which we talked about a couple weeks ago, is coming out in a week at Anthrocon. I do have a story in Heat, also coming out at AC, which I'm quite proud of. Later this year I will have another in our Cupcake line--I just got that ready to send to my critique group this week. That will likely be in September if all goes well. And I think that is about it. Oh, I have stories in the conbooks at Gaylaxicon and Oklacon, where I will be a Guest of Honor, both in October.
Isiah Jacobs: Do you know if the stories in those con books will be available to purchase or read online?
Kyell Gold: Usually my policy with the conbook stories is not to publish them online for a while--they should be a treat for people that go to the cons. But I have done enough now that I might publish a future collection of conbook stories, once enough time has passed.
Isiah Jacobs: Well I look forward to reading them in the future! As of this morning, June 8th, I got an email from Sofawolf alerting my that my order for Heat #9 has been shipped, so I look forward to having you back on the show AGAIN very soon! Like, really, really soon! Thank you so much for you time, Kyell! The book is called "Green Fairy" and is available on Sofawolf.com!
Kyell Gold: Yay! Hope you enjoy Heat, and thank you for having me back again.
About the authorIsiah Jacobs — read stories — contact (login required)
a furry journalist and Spider from Michigan, interested in science fiction
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