From PrideIndex.com’s never ending search to find the hottest novels and most intriguing authors comes our latest entry Lee Hayes. His books includes: PASSION MARKS, A DEEPER BLUE, and THE MESSIAH. His latest novel THE BAD SEED is about a beautiful but damaged young man who marries a rich, much older man and plots to kill him so that he can inherit millions. Hayes, a Washington, DC resident, spoke with us about the inspiration for his writings and told us why he chooses to push the envelope beyond the typical “beige” subjects found in many LGBT books.
PRIDEINDEX: Tell us about your earliest memory as a writer and under what circumstances were you first published.
LEE HAYES: I’ve always had an interest in writing, but never thought about really becoming a writer until much later in life. My first published work was a poem entitled Demise of a Golden Rose. I don’t remember how old I was, the name of the publication, nor do I have a copy of the poem or the publication in which it was published and that is unfortunate; but, that taught me that my words do have value.
PI: Name at least 3 writers that have most affected your style as an author.
LH: L.M. Ross – he is the brilliant author of THE BLUE MOAN, re-fitted as MANHOOD: THE LONGEST MOAN. He is the author I long to be. His lyrical prose is breath-taking.
I love James Baldwin, of course, and one of my favorite novels is GIOVANNI’S ROOM. What he does with words is profound.
I also love Tananarive Due – her descriptions are simply lovely; and powerful.
PI: Give a brief bio and where did you find the inspiration for each book?
LH: I am a southerner by birth, born and raised in Texas, but I’ve lived in Washington, DC since 1998. I have a vivid imagination and love telling stories that will entertain and titillate. I’m a big horror movie fan so I tend to write on the darker side of life. I don’t like telling boring or predictable stories or stories that have been before. Inspiration usually comes from life. I’ll see something or hear something or have a conversation and think, “that would make a freat story.” For instance, when I wrote PASSION MARKS, my first novel which is about same-sex domestic violence, I was studying Siociology as an undergraduate and was taking a class on family issues. We talked about domestic violence and I was simply amazed. So, I decided to write a book about it.
With A DEEPER BLUE, my second novel, I had come out of a bad relationship and that served, in part to fuel the drama between the characters Kevin and Daryl.
My third novel, THE MESSIAH was inspired by my desire to really push the envelope, I think we have a lot of gay books about the same thing: coming out stories, DL stories, HIV stories or broken men who are waiting to find Prince Charming who will save them from bitterness and heartache. Those stories are fine and they have their place (I’ve read more than a few) but the totality of the gay experience shouldn’t be limited. We can have gay superheroes or serial killers or gays who run the world! As creators, we must take the shackles off our imaginations.
PI: Tell us about THE BAD SEED and what factors influenced your decision to write it?
LH: THE BAD SEED, my latest and greatest (Laughs) is an awesome story fueled, in part, by the gay marriage issue that is so culturally prominent these days. In THE BAD SEED, one of the main characters is a beautiful but damaged young man who marries a rich, much older man and plots to kill him so that he can inherit millions. This is a theme that has been written about since the beginning of time, but now that gays are winning the right to marry it is an issue that I think needed exploring within our community; it just may become an issue we have to deal with in the near future. THE BAD SEED pushes the envelop and makes you say, “DAMN!”
PI: Why did you write THE BAD SEED as two intertwined stories?
LH: I had two ideas that I thought were great and instead of trying to do two separate novels I thought it was be very cool to incorporate them into one novel and loosely tie them together. Each story in THE BAD SEED is a stand-alone story, but when the stories are wedded in the end, it takes the book to a new level. People have emailed or Facebook’ed me saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!”
PI: Describe your thought processes used to develop the lead characters in THE BAD SEED.
LH: I had the most fun developing Blues; I think he is the most complex. In developing Blues there were many issues I explored such as skin color, broken family lives, trying to make it on your own in a cruel city (New York City). Every experience that we have as humans helps to shape and mold us into the people we are now. Sometimes those experiences can lead us down the wrong path; people often get stuck on the wrong road for so long that they don’t know how to turn off onto a new path, even when they see the fork in the road; that is Blues Carmichael in THE BAD SEED. He is so hell-bent on achieving his goals that nothing will stand in his way. He will lie, cheat, ignore his own conscience and kill to meet his goal.
Brandon Heart, in the second story, is simply out of control. He has created this fantastical world in which his actions don’t have consequences; at least he doesn’t think they do. Because of his extreme physicality and beauty he has grown accustomed to getting exactly what he wants and he has learned to use his looks as a weapon. When he is rebuffed he can’t deal with the rejection and plots to make the object of his obsession his prize, in part to just “win.” His actions often create such “beautiful disasters.”
Writing these characters was difficult in the sense that THE BAD SEED isn’t structured like other novels that have the protagonist versus antagonist plotline. Both of my main characters are “bad seed’ and we typically don’t like the bad people in books or movies to win in the end, even though we know in real life, sometimes the bad guy does, in fact win. So, I was challenged on writing characters that readers would love to hate and would be interested enough in their stories to follow it to the end. Luckily, readers have been blown away and have loved the ride that THE BAD SEED provides.
PI: Taking a page from the late author E. Lynn Harris’ playbook, would you consider adapting THE BAD SEED or any of your other books into a screenplay?
LH: Absolutely! In fact, I’ve completed the screenplay to PASSION MARKS and now I’m trying to make some things happen with it; that would be one hell of a movie! Do you know of any directors or producers? (LAUGHS)
PI: Who would you cast in the lead role of the movie adaption of THE BAD SEED?
LH: Wow…interesting question; I’d love to see Mehcad Brooks or Lance Gross as Blues Carmichael in the first story and Lil Romeo, not so little now (LAUGHS), as Brandon in the second story; I think I’d have to think of some other actors to play Brandon, just in case (LAUGHS).
PI: What advice would you offer to an aspiring writer?
LH: Not to sound glib, but the most basic advice I can give to an aspiring writer is “know how to write.” You would not believe the many times someone has sent me something to read that is so poorly written that I can’t get through it; often, there are basic subject/verb agreement issues, a profound lack of punctuation, wrong word choices, etc. So, if you want to be a great writer you have to know how to write. Take a class or join a writers group, but keep working at the craft. And, read other writers. I get really pissed when aspiring writers tell me they don’t read!
PI: What’s next on the horizon?
LH: I’m almost done with my 6th novel—THE FIRST MALE—and working on filming a pilot based on my erotic anthology, FLESH TO FLESH and getting PASSION MARKS, the movie made!
Please visit me on my website at www.leehayes.info or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leehayeswriter.