Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Tainted Love by T.S. Hunter. Tainted Love is the first book in the Soho Noir series of cosy crime novellas. Kudos to Hunter for creating a read that caters for the lover of easy, cosy, crime and also the food for thought readers. Don’t miss the fantastic Q&A with T.S. Hunter and…
Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway below to win – a signed copy of the book, a gorgeous Tote Bag, a #rainbow button badge and some #chocolate.
About the Author
Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.
He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.
He’s a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction.
He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5.
Follow @TSHunter5 @RedDogTweets on Twitter, on Goodreads,
Buy Tainted LoveAbout the book
Some relationships are just murder.
It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town Joe and Chris grew up in.
But when Chris is brutally murdered, the police just write his death off as another rent boy, fallen foul of a bad hook up. Joe realises that his best friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why.
Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer?
A noirish whodunit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer.
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) I’ve been reading Derek Farrell’s Death of A… Series. The latest one, Death of an Angel, is great fun, and definitely his strongest yet. I came across the series, and the author, looking for other LGBT Crime series. And these are cracking.
The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Can I go for TV series instead? Because POSE absolutely slayed me. It’s such a beautifully written, wonderfully acted piece of drama. It’s a wonderful period piece, incredibly evocative of the time, and with so many messages still pertinent today, if not even more important that we are still having those same arguments.
Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper? Obviously, there are countless, but Armistead Maupin, Russell T Davis, and Maya Angelou are all high on that list, certainly.
Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?Freddie Mercury, please. But if he could bring Bowie along too, that would be nice.
A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home – you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why? It’s not clutter if it’s books! I refuse to part with a single one. I will build a fortress of books and repel all who attempt to topple it. You can keep your ‘Spark of Joy’ I’ve got books!
All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Tainted Love.
This is book 1 in the Soho Noir series, which is the first of six crime novellas set in Soho in the 1980s.
Tell us about the inspiration for this series. That’s a tough one. I love crime series. I love Marple, and Poirot, and Midsomer, Endeavour. All of them. I also love all things Noir. But I wanted a gay central character, rather than a sidekick or villain. I realised there weren’t that many about, and it got me thinking. That’s where this came from.
In the end, I just wanted to write a cracking good crime series, in which the main detective just happened to be gay. We all like to see ourselves in positive character roles, rather than just as mirrors to straight heroes.
Do you think LBGT fiction tends to be stereotyped and pushed into certain genres? I don’t know if it’s been pushed there, necessarily, but I’ve realised there is a lot of romance in the LGBT fiction scene and, while there is clearly an audience for that, the other genres tend to be lacking. While there is some mainstream fiction which does feature gay characters, there isn’t nearly enough of it.
Maybe it’s too naïve to hope that we can just have good fiction, with gay characters as well, and hopefully avoid all stereotyping of character in the future. I am aware, however, that many readers would be put off because the characters are gay, and others will be put off because there’s no sex. Hopefully there will be enough in the middle who want good crime, and good gay characters.
Leading on from that is this a way of levelling the playing field when it comes to diversity in literature and in this case crime fiction? Ooh, I don’t know. Every time a book with a diverse character in it happens to find a slot among the mainstream literature, I think that helps. The ideal would be that all characters are created, given gender or sexual preference, skin colour or religion, because that best fits with the story the writer is trying to tell.
Not pigeon-holing those books into categories might help to create a more level playing field, but I think we are a long way from levelling anything, really.
We’ve come a long way in having credible, excellent female detectives, but we can count on one hand the number of gay ones. Maybe that’s why I have a duo in mine. Two for the price of one.
In Tainted Love the crime story flows subtly alongside the discrimination, abuse, fear and oppression the characters experience, which makes the reader more aware of the daily battles the LBGT community endures. Was it important to you as an author for readers to take something away from this read? I think that was definitely a huge part of it. It also helps to create a sense of time, of the inherent and oppressive danger in that world, and of the things that will trouble our characters throughout the series.
Also, I think we have forgotten how hard it was, especially in the LGBTQ community. These days it is less of an issue to come out, to identify as gay, or trans, or non-binary. Back then, we didn’t have the words to explain, and we didn’t have the rights in place. Police discrimination against gays was a big deal, but then so was standard discrimination in the street, in bars, and in homes across the country. I guess I would like us all to take a moment to remember how much people had to fight for us to have the freedoms we have now—and within most of our lifetimes, too.
This is set in the 1980s (best decade ever) and infused with the more stringent fashion, music and political groups the 80s produced, as opposed to the free spirit and lackadaisical attitude of the 60s and 70s. The book titles are also all well-known 80s hits. Why the 80s? Because I think it lends itself well, as a decade, to the spirit of Noir. There is an oppressive government in place causing privation and unemployment, there’s police discrimination and corruption, there’s a background of inequality, but at the same time the dawning of a freedom of expression that we now know well, a sense among the young of injustice, and fight. Also, there is the interminable, constant threat of AIDS, the killer disease which shaped the decade for gay men.
Also, it means I can listen to a fabulous soundtrack while I’m writing. I have a strong nostalgia for the time, even though I was too young, really, to be going through any of the big stuff then.
I really like the quick read kind of vibe, sort of like a Mills & Boons for the crime reader who wants a story in their pocket to read anywhere and at any given time. Is that why it is a series of novellas, as opposed to novel length reads? To appeal to every kind of reader? Absolutely. It’s a great discipline, the short novella. They’re quick to release, and great fun to write. There’s no time to wallow or drift off. Also, I think there is a good market for people who just want a quick read on a cold afternoon. My husband usually only reads on holiday or on cold afternoons, very rarely, after a big lunch in front of the fire. He doesn’t like starting a big novel, in the same way he refuses to start watching a TV programme if he’s already missed the first few seasons. God forbid you suggest we start watching something that is eight seasons in. Even if it’s great, he just won’t commit the time. I guess it is with people like this in mind that I created the novella series.
Thank you answering my questions, even the odd ones! By the way I am loving the book covers, they are sublime and cheeky at the same time. Thank you. It’s been great.
Let me tell you what I love about the concept of the Soho Noir series, the quick read feel of it. You can just pop it or them (there will be others in the series) in your bag. It is the modern crime equivalent to a Mills & Boon romance novella, but with a more serious premise and incorporating important social and societal topics.
Side note – I also adore the cover art for this book and that the titles are an ode to the 80s.
The story follows Joe who discovers the body of his friend Chris and his attempts to find the killer. Chris wasn’t just any old friend though, he was the one who encouraged Joe to finally be himself and to live and love, and not just to adhere to the rules and opinions of others.
In a way this story is about having the courage to identify and love the way you want to, despite the myths, controversy, hatred and discrimination surrounding the lives of gay men. It speaks to the fact that although we, as a society, have moved on from the oppressive laws and opinions of homophobia of previous decades, we haven’t moved on far enough.
As someone who enjoyed her formative years during the 80s, I can speak to the fact that even in a rural area of the German/Dutch border area the wave of paranoia and panic due to the AIDS epidemic was felt. Interestingly enough the threat or alleged threat was perceived to be from infected heterosexuals who thought nothing of having sex without protection. In fact we had a few who infected sexual partners on purpose and were taken to court and punished for it. In the majority of countries there was a paranoia about the gay community being the source of the disease.
It made life even more difficult for the LGBT community in a sense that they were treated like pariahs. It defined the way gay men were treated, and it certainly changed the face of interactions and relationships in said community. It killed too many, too early and in a tragic way.
This is a cosy crime novella with quite a few poignant moments that serve as a reminder that the world has to comprehend the hate and obstacles before we can break them down, because they have no place in the 21st century. Kudos to Hunter for creating a read that caters for the lover of easy, cosy, crime and also the food for thought readers.
Buy Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Dog Press; pub date 18 April 2019.
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