Jen: Today we welcome Albert Nothlit to Romancing the Book. Albert, will you share a short bio with us?
Albert: Hello, my name is Albert Nothlit, and writing fiction is my passion. I have a background in engineering, having studied a Masters in Environmental Systems Engineering at UCL, and I think it tends to show in the geeky details I sometimes include in my stories! I love writing science fiction and M/M romance, and if I can find some way to combine the two then I definitely will do it. I currently live in Mexico with my longtime boyfriend and soon-to-be husband, somehow finding time to write despite my job. Links to my published books as well as a couple of free stories I have released online can be found at my website, http://www.albertnothlit.com. I am also very active at the website Gay Authors, where I publish my free stories: http://www.gayauthors.org/author/albertnothlit
Jen: Tell us a little about your newest release.
Albert: My novella Bear Hunter is being published through MLR Press. It is a tale which explores the dynamics of defiance and submissiveness between two men who have every reason to hate one another, but who might end up being hopelessly attracted to the strength displayed by the other.
I first came up with the idea after watching a documentary on Alaska, where the story takes place. From there I went to imagining what it would be like to be on the run from the law, just like my main character, Sven. I realized I would probably need some place to hide, and from there to the idea to have Sven kidnap Matt and hide in his house came naturally. Once I got to that point, the story took on a life of its own. It was great fun to describe the deeply antagonistic and charged atmosphere between prisoner and captor, and when you add the fact that these two men could just as easily beat each other up as start kissing passionately, my setting was complete.
Here’s a short excerpt from Bear Hunter:
It was nighttime, just after sunset. It was still early, but the itch in my mind wouldn’t go away. I was hunting.
That’s what I liked to call it anyway. I walked through the streets, hands in my pockets, my leather jacket zipped up tight against the cold of autumn. I kept my eyes open for any guys out alone. A pair of tight jeans; something that would catch my eye. I was still a little jetlagged, and I didn’t know the waterfront streets at all, but I could see a couple of bars were already open. Likely places, maybe. I took my time, walked slowly. The hunt is more fun that way.
The sky was a heavy, washed-out gray over my head. I felt the bite of the wind on my face, and smiled. I even stopped for a moment and looked out between two houses at the rocky beach that was never far; at the deceivingly calm sea just beyond. I wondered what it would be like to suddenly plunge into the cold waters of the bay just then. The clothes I was wearing would soak through, dragging me down. My heavy boots would be like concrete shoes. I wouldnot be able to move my arms well with my jacket, and I would probably have to fight for my life. I grinned. Somehow the prospect excited me.
I resumed walking as the light faded from the town streets. Some of the people I passed glanced at me curiously, but they looked away when I glared. I could practically hear what they were thinking. Too late in the year for tourists, and too early for the heavy winter work and the wandering laborers that came with the snows. All of the locals stayed out of my way, and a few even went out of their way to avoid me. Perhaps they could feel something about me that told them to stay away. They were right.
I walked until it got dark. Under the cover of darkness I felt much better. I could walk noiselessly when I wanted to, and in a town with streets as wide as this one, with few streetlamps to light the way, I could become a shadow.
I walked through the streets that crisscrossed the town. Silent. Thinking. Not many people saw me, but I saw them all. Nobody recognized me. Good.
By now they had probably lost the trail anyway, if they hadn’t before. I had not used the stolen credit card on the last leg of the journey, only cash. Hard to trace a man without an electronic trail to follow. I had also made sure my face was covered on the highways in case a camera got a glimpse of me, and once past the state line I had simply thrown all my old stuff into some ditch. I’d let my beard grow too. It was neatly trimmed, red like my hair, and it transformed my face and made me seem older than I really was. Nothing on me was mine either. No way to tell my name was Sven Madison at all. And they’d have to be really lucky to trace me all the way to this godforsaken town in the middle of nowhere. Alaska is just about as far from the rest of the world as you can get.
I blinked, focusing back on the moment. The night had grown colder while I had been walking aimlessly and thinking. I was not wearing a hat and I wore my hair very short, so the bite of the wind was getting uncomfortable. I quickened my pace to get to the bar sooner. That’s where I had been heading all along.
It stood all by itself, in the bad part of town. I’d chosen it because of its location, and because in here it would be more likely to find the kind of man I wanted. A tacky neon sign above the main door proclaimed the bar as “Roger’s Place.” The building was mostly wood; a single story, and built low like a warehouse, which it probably had been at some point. The paint on the outer walls had long since peeled away, any bits of metal long ago corroded by the salt of the sea. A couple of cars were parked along the far side of the building and I saw a guy leaning against a post near the front door, smoking. I walked quickly up the dirt path that led to the bar from the sea-facing side and went right in.
The warmth engulfed me as soon as I was past the doors. It was almost uncomfortably hot in the crowded bar, in complete contrast to the chilly night outside. I took off my jacket and waded through the people sitting at tables or standing in random places talking. I headed straight for the bar and found an empty stool on which I sat. The bartender came soon enough, and I ordered a beer. When it came, I paid for it, and turned around, the cold beer in my hand, to watch the people gathered there.
There was an improvised dance area near an old-fashioned jukebox that was actually playing country tunes. Not many people were dancing; it was still too early for most people to be drunk enough to attempt it. I only saw about six men and women over there, with a few onlookers cheering them on.
Most of the people were near the front, sitting around low tables chatting, drinks and snacks set on the tables. Most of them seemed to know one another, and every time someone new came in, he or she was greeted by at least one of the groups gathered around the tables. Their conversations were animated, and I could feel a sense of community that reminded me of my own rural town, where everybody knew everybody else.
At the back of the bar were the fishermen. I could tell by their clothes and the way they kept apart from everyone else. Occasionally one of them would come up to the bar and ask for another round of drinks That group was promising; it was mostly men, some obviously notlocals judging by their accents. From where I was sitting I couldn’t hear much of their conversations over the loud music, but I heard enough to know most of them were relieved to be ashore now that a storm was reported to be coming.
I scanned the group of a dozen or so fishermen, looking for a likely candidate. Most of the men were older than me, or not my type at all. I caught the eye of a couple of the more likely ones after looking long enough, but none appeared to be interested. That left me fewer options to choose from, and I began to think I might not find anyone tonight after all.
I turned. A woman sat next to me, smiling. She looked to be around thirty, a couple years older than me. Dark, long hair, a skirt that was too short and a blouse that left little to the imagination. She gave me what she must have thought was a seductive look and introduced herself.
“Sven,” I said.
“Haven’t seen you around here before, Sven.”
I paused. “Just passing through.”
“I see… Hey, it’s kind of hot in here, don’t you think? What are you drinking?”
I caught the hint and ordered her a beer, more amused than annoyed at her interruption. She was greatly encouraged by the gesture, and edged closer to me on her stool.
“Where are you staying?” she asked me.
I’d been scanning the room all the while, looking, and at that moment I saw a likely guy. He was standing near the jukebox, a drink in his hand, looking at the dancing couples but notparticipating. He looked young, about my age. He was on the thin, weak-looking side, which was a slight disappointment. His face was attractive enough, though, and his dirty-blond hair framed his angular features nicely. He was wearing a checkered shirt and a pair of faded jeans that were too tight for him. Had a nice package, too, from what I could see.
“Sven?” Tiffany said. She had probably asked me something.
I followed the guy’s look. He was watching the dancers intently but only focusing on the men as they awkwardly stomped and jumped around to the tune of the country music blaring from the jukebox.
I grinned. I’d found what I was looking for.
I absently left some money on the bar to pay for the drink I’d ordered and left, making a beeline for the guy. When I was halfway there, he saw me coming. I nodded at him, and was gratified to see him give me the once-over and smile uncertainly back at me. I crossed the crowded room in a few more steps and stopped right next to him, beer in hand.
“Hey,” I said, my deep voice carrying over the sound of the music and the laughter from the fishermen’s table.
The guy looked around, as if he expected me to be talking to someone else. Hmmm. Not very confident.
“Hi,” he answered.
I would have probably left right then if I had been in any other place, but there were not a lot of options in this town and I was horny. This guy would have to do.
I stuck out my hand. “Sven.”
“I’m Gordon,” he said, shaking my hand. Firm grip, but he winced when I squeezed a bit harder.
I leaned back on the wall and watched the dancers for a bit, waiting to see what Gordon would do. He obviously had no idea what came next, and the silence made him uncomfortable. I didn’t offer any help. If he was as interested as I was, he’d have to show me.
“Um…” he began, “are you new here?”
The same tired line. Valid, though. “Yeah.”
I took a long drink from my glass until it was empty, then wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. I looked at Gordon with a steady, calculated stare that clearly made him nervous. I glanced significantly at his crotch and adjusted the fly of my jeans with an exaggerated motion.
Gordon gulped. “Listen,” he said, as if surprised to hear himself speak out loud. “You want to go, you know, someplace?”
I grinned. Not bad. The guy was showing some initiative at least.
“Follow me,” I said.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing?
Albert: Publishing stories means a lot to me. I have known I wanted to be a writer ever since I was a teenager. I distinctly remember being completely captivated by the Animorphs series of the incredibly talented writer K.A. Applegate. As a young middle schooler, I was blown away by her world and her characters and I decided that one day I wanted to be a writer, just like her. A couple of decades have gone by since then, and I’ve discovered that writing is the most rewarding thing I could ever hope to do with my life. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth it.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Albert: The comment that touched me the most was part of a review for one of my free published stories, Tantalus. As the first book of the story was wrapping up, one of the readers said that he was sad that the story was coming to an end since it meant that he would have to wait for the second part to come out. I think that’s when I realized that I was genuinely doing what I set out to do by writing: touching other people’s lives in a small but perhaps meaningful way.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Albert: In my free time I am an avid reader, of course, but I also love cooking and watching documentaries. My boyfriend doesn’t understand my fascination with the minutiae of the life of, say, an endangered moth, but I love learning new things about the world!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Albert: After this story I will begin working hard on editing a full-length novel which will be released early next year by DSP Publications. The working title of this novel is Light Shaper, and it is a work which is much larger in scope than anything I have published yet. I’m very excited and I have full confidence it will be a great success.