Sunday, January 31, 2010

NOTES ON DEBAUCHERY from I, DEBAUCHEE author William Maltese

Upon first contracting with MLR Press for its publication of my “I” series of m/m books, it was always my intention that my I, DEBAUCHEE (just released) should be the first in the line-up, if just because of my long-time fascination with the subject matter: Extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures; dissipation.

My initial fascination revolved around my early penchant for all things “Roman Empire”; that time frame one of extreme indulgences wherein debauchery was, more often than not, synonymous with lust and gluttony that included banquets with courses of humming-bird tongues, dormice … of carp fattened on the human flesh of murdered slaves … of wild boars stuffed with live thrushes that took wing when the beast’s belly was sliced open … of rabbits with swan wings attached to resemble Pegasus … with special rooms (vomitoria) for periodic purging that allowed the feasting to continue, non-stop, for days on end … all accompanied by marathon fornication among the diners.

Later, of course, I learned of libertines, during all periods of history, who used food as if it somehow signified sexual prowess. The infamous Marquise de Sade, renowned for his debauchery, fed prostitutes chocolate laced with the dangerous aphrodisiac Spanish fly before masochistically and sexually making short use of them.

Excessive dining, of course, not always needed to definite the term that, likewise, can include … being led morally astray or into dishonesty and vicious practices; corruption leading to loss of chastity; excessive indulgences; licentiousness, drunkenness, bad habits; promiscuity…

My first inclination was to write I, DEBAUCHEE as a period piece, set in ancient Rome, or in some decadent royal court of pre-revolutionary France. And while hot and heavy sex in my novel occurs in such places as an Italian island grotto, the French Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, even in the dungeon of a Rumanian lodge, and in the inner-sanctum of the ruined Transylvanian castle of Count Dracula, I decided that there was already so much written about the debauchery of past times, but so little written about the ongoing debauchees of the present.

While true debauchery requires great deals of money to back it up, purchase its pleasures, grease the wheels to make it happen (who dares be a great debauchee if he or she needs always be fearful of being caught, reprimanded, even arrested, and jailed?) … and while the present world economy is presently flushed so far down the proverbial toilet bowl that it has many mistakenly believing that great wealth, and the excesses that go with it, are possibly things of the past … I know for a fact that there are people out there, still, with so much money, power, and influence, that they make the debauchees of earlier times, including mere emperors, kings, marquises, and counts, look mere novices in comparison.

However, with the inclination of today’s readers of m/m fiction to be so romantically inclined, and more likely to prefer their reading material, even of debauchees, not so far off the scale as to have stomachs turned by the kind of excesses that are not only still possible but can, and do, occur, daily, within a segment of today’s populations that can afford them, I’ve concentrated on contemporary characters who are a tad more sympathetic than many of their counterparts, and whose appetites are not so far different from yours and mine as to seem totally alien. I’ve even, hopefully, instilled within them a sensibility about love that has them yearn to experience it, even as they realize that their ability to indulge every conceivable sensation, can, and does, make true love for them far more difficult to achieve than pleasures more easily and quickly purchased by merely opening their pocketbooks.

Of course, by way of supplementing, this tale … of all that money can buy … I’ve once again called upon the creative genius of wax-artisan Jfay, to provide me with an “I, DEBAUCHEE CANDLE” to not only be included within the story-line but to personify, universally, the kind of money-is-no-object excesses that this story and its characters are all about. Once again, she has come through, this time with the visual epitome of an object one merely needs look at to conjure all sorts of candle-lit orgies of sheer debauchery in palaces, castles, mansions, and within island grottos, where food and wine flow in abundance, and where the naked and near naked super-wealthy cavort in sheer licentiousness and amusement, while the rest of the world, and its less fortunate, are pretty much ignored..

William Maltese Websites:

Author William Maltese, Cover Model

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of Love and Music

Music, few things in this world are so transcendent and eternal. From the first time humans put their hands together and found rhythm, to the complexities of a Beethoven symphony, music has existed as long as we have. It’s one of the few forces that’s unstoppable, endless. It crosses cultures with the ease of the wind to remind us we all share the connection of being human regardless of who we are or where we come from.

Music has always been in the background of my life. Memories of my early childhood are filled with listening to my father play rock on his Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster, and as I write this now a Mozart compilation CD is playing. It was while listening to the Queen II album I realized I wanted to pursue writing seriously. With always having a love of music, melding it with my love for writing in crafting my novel, CONQUEST, was the ultimate combination.

In the time since CONQUEST has been released, I’ve been asked many times who are my favorite musicians, are Jesse and Evan based off any real life singers, what band does Conquest sound like. While in my mind I have a clear vision for what the band Conquest as a whole sounds like, and I can clearly hear the tenor of Jesse, the baritone of Evan, there isn’t any one particular band or singer who I know of that’d sound exactly like them, which is perhaps the best thing about them. As people read about Jesse and Evan, they can make their sound their own.

For me, there’s nothing more wonderful than when a reader tells me they hear my characters in the music they love. I’ve come to learn and appreciate how valuable music is to people, how if there’s one topic many are eager to discuss, it’s their favorite musicians. Music binds us all. Different cultures, different ages, different social classes, different genders, we can all be touched by that one chord, that one beautiful voice.

And it’s here that the cliché follows as I say that love is the same way. Like the first notes of a song that resonates instantly within the heart, so does love. Can anyone of us really say why we like the music we do? Sure we can say it’s the singer, it’s the beat, but what strikes you doesn’t always strike another. Can any of us say why we love who we do? Certainly we can say because they’re attractive, they have a great sense of humor. But we don’t fall in love with every attractive person we see. We don’t want to enter a relationship with everyone who makes us laugh. So when it comes down to it, what music we listen to, who we share our lives with, from our souls to our physical bodies, it’s simply who we are.

Am I thinking too deeply on it, or perhaps too simply? Just like music, that’s for you to interpret. All I know is there’s a reason why love songs are so popular, why so many couples have a song and how others turn to music for comfort when a breakup occurs. Just like how we live our lives by the relationships we have, romantic and otherwise, many of us mark the moments in our lives by songs. I’ve used music make happy times richer, sad times easier to bear. I’ve heard my exact emotions in the lyrics of a person I’ve never and will never meet, felt my mood reflected in the notes of a piano.

Years ago, I worked as a manager in a large multi-media store. I was standing at a cash register one day and saw a woman about to leave empty handed. She looked upset, and so I asked if she had found everything okay. She glanced at me, her face holding so much sadness.

“No,” she said. “I was looking for a song, but your associate couldn’t find it. But it’s not his fault. I don’t know the name or who sings it.”

I stepped around the counter to stand by her. “Do you know any of the lyrics? Was it a man or woman singing?”

“It was a man, and his voice was just so beautiful. The song, it’s about knowing someone is still close to you.”

I saw her eyes moisten, it seemed to take more effort for her to speak. I smiled, because I knew the artist and song. “You’re looking for Josh Groban.”

Hope filled her expression. “Do you think that’s who it is?”

I nodded. “Come with me.”

I took her back to the music section and Josh Groban’s self-titled debut CD, which had only recently been released at that time. I picked it up from the rack and held it toward her. “This is it. The song is, ‘To Where You Are’.”

She held the CD, staring down at the cover. “I wish I could be sure before I bought it.” She looked up, instantly apologetic. “I’m not saying you don’t know, I just wish I could hear it first.”

I didn’t know the meaning this song held for her, but knew whatever it was, it held great importance. “No, it’s alright. Let’s go over here.”

We walked over to the displayed stereos and I took the CD back from her. I tore away the plastic wrap to the brand new, not-yet-purchased CD.

She looked at me with wide eyes. “Should you be doing that?”

“No,” I laughed. “But it’s okay.”

I popped the CD in the player, skipped to the right song, and as the first notes sounded with Josh’s rich baritone floating over them, the woman’s expression became a mix of joy and sadness.

She turned to me. “That’s the one. That’s it.” Then before I knew it, she wrapped her arms around me in a gentle hug and softly said, “Thank you.”

I had never seen her before, and never saw her again, but in that brief moment, music brought us together. It didn’t matter who either of us were, where we came from, what beliefs we held. In that moment, music made us nothing more than two people sharing in its beauty.

In writing CONQUEST, my passion for music grew to a new height, as did my understanding about it and love. Now I wonder, what musicians have touched you? Who is your favorite artist? Is there one special song that brings you back to a moment in your life? I would love to know, but I also understand that music can be very private and personal, just like love. So as you finish reading this, take a moment and think of all the harmonies that have played in the background of your life and how music has touched you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Allure of the Tattoo

Some tattoos are worn to symbolize the individual, some to boast, label, or revere individual characteristics, circumstances, or people in the person's life. And I'd venture (though not speaking with expertise on the subject) some are even used by gangs.

But what is the allure? What do we find so intriguing about a faded anchor, entwined with a thorny rose, inscribed with the name, Lulu? Or any of the elaborate tribal bands that encircle biceps or calves, the Kanji symbols adorning the backs of necks, or the assortment of colorful spreads of flowery designs and mythical creatures spread shoulder-to-shoulder or hip-to-hip that we must inquire their origins from the owners?

In one of my current WIPS, my surfer turned P.I. sports quite a number of distinctive tats himself, because that is who he is, at least according to him. I never stopped to ask him why, though I know how and when, he got them. If I think about it, I've never inquired but simply admired quite a number of beautiful tattoos in my life, never questioning any owner . . . until now.

Now . . . well, last week to be more precise, when an eight year old little boy came crying off the school bus, rushed into the house—then into the bathroom to furiously scrub away at his face, neck, hands and arms with some funky concoction of rubbing alcohol and baby oil. When I inquired to the reason for his behavior, he simply replied through the tears that he didn't want to get kicked out of school and . . . "I think we need more baby oil."

Apparently, his four packages of child's vanity tattoos that he so proudly pulled from his Christmas stocking and later splayed over and across nearly every inch of available skin, trying in vain to impersonate a number of characters at once from the Anime, Naruto, didn't go over well with the teachers. He had violated "dress code," his teacher had told him. The tats had to go or he'd be suspended.

Cut the kid some slack, I thought. For Christ's sake, he's a child—a little boy ecstatic about a simple (and cheap) gift, who wanted nothing more than to enjoy it. They'd gotten my attention. My hackles were raised. I couldn't recall reading anything about tattoos in the school's dress code. I sat down with David and we looked it up.

Never mind that tattoos of any kind are not addressed in the code, and never mind that the code does not apply to Third graders or younger, the disclaimers were obvious and clear. "An item of dress, article of clothing, or accessory should not be deemed 'approved' simply because it is not listed herein" . . . and "The administration reserves the right to address inappropriate clothing on an individual basis in all grades."

According to the teacher, David was being disruptive, drawing attention to himself, distracting class.

Oh, the mystical allure of the tattoo . . . .

Such power to command every gaze in a room. I think next year, I'll have Santa put ten packages of those "apply-with-a-damp-rag" tats inside the boys' stockings.

Bryl R. Tyne is a wrangler by nature and a writer by choice, published with Noble Romance Publishing, Ravenous Romance, Dreamspinner Press, and STARbooks Press. You can find out more about Bryl at:

This post is X-posted to The Rainbow Studio, Defying Description, and Bryl R. Tyne's author blogs.