With an impressive backlist to his credit, and the author of several incredible series, including My Vampire and I, and Nick Fallon to name a few, there’s no shortage of gay fiction with the name J.P. Bowie on the cover. His novel, Time After Time, was my first foray into his work, having become one of my favorite books of 2010. One of my cohorts organizing the upcoming 2011 GayRomLit Retreat in New Orleans, JP can also be found as the sexy voice behind the audio books available at MLR Press. : ) He was kind enough to spend a little time satisfying my curiosity by answering some probing questions about his latest book, Nowhere to Hide, available now at Total E-Bound.
Ethan: The choices an author makes are somewhat of a fascination of mine, forever wondering about the why of it all. When you planning and plotting your latest book, Nowhere to Hide, what made you decide to set this romance against the back drop of Darfur, a region filled with such unbelievable turmoil, strife, and sadness?
JP: I’m a great admirer of Doctors Without Borders. These men and women go to the most godforsaken parts of the world and do amazing work, despite sometimes having to dodge bullets and bombs from the very people they are trying to help. I wanted to, in some small way, using Mark’s dedication to his work and patients as a kind of token of my respect for those doctors. Doctors Who Care International, the organization I invented for the book is a reflection of DWB. Most of their work is done in regions like Darfur where death and suffering is an ongoing problem.
Ethan: Expounding on that topic a little more, living where we do it’s difficult to imagine a parent willingly parting with a child, let alone selling one for money. What was it about Ghali that made him so important to this story and to our hero’s?
JP: In some parts of the world children (and women) are treated heinously. Obviously in a war-torn country, without law and order, children are very often the first to be victimized. Ghali represents those children. Actually, he was supposed to be a minor character in the story, but as it progressed, his voice grew stronger, letting me know he had to be an integral part of Mark and Jack’s story. I think maybe the softie in me had to ensure Ghali was protected and cared for, and who better to do just that than Mark and Jack?
Ethan: You touched on this topic briefly, gays in the military, and I wondered if in your research you’d found a different mind-set from our friend’s Down Under than what see here in the good ole USA? I wondered simply because Mark seemed to be the only one of them that worried much about the consequences while Jack was business as usual. It was apparent he never wanted to flaunt it, but at the same time Jack doesn’t hide anything either. It does feel at times that the US, who’s supposed to be the great and shining beacon of freedom and democracy, seems to be falling behind the times when it comes to issues of equality, so I was curious if this approach to these two characters had been intentional for that reason.
JP: Gays have served in the Australian military since 1992! The US and Turkey are the only two NATO countries that still uphold the ban—or I should say the US upheld the ban until very recently. So yes, when Mark wonders about Jack’s situation as a gay man in the military I was making a point. That brave and honorable men and women who want to serve in the military should be able to do so without fear of debasement or physical harm. Jack, for me, and I hope for the readers, represents that kind of man who inspires confidence and respect among those he leads. Of course, he’s also the kind of guy that if anyone got in his face about his sexual orientation, he’d just lay them out.
Ethan: Jumping onto the topic of Jack, who is obviously the kinda guy we’d all want by our side when in a pickle – a slight understatement for Mark nearly being sold into slavery, I know. : ) Obviously, he’s a very heroic guy, but I found myself wondering if Jack hadn’t kept himself so busy all these years because he never found anyone he wanted to settle down with as he says, or if perhaps there might have been a little part of him that never stopped because he was subconsciously trying to avoid falling? The fact that he meets the good Doctor the way he does, it was certainly chance or perhaps even fate – but he definitely wasn’t looking. Do you feel like he was really running until, or was there perhaps a part of him running away?
JP: Jack’s been in the army most of his life, and I think he comes across as a man totally in love with what he does, and dedicated to the safety of the men under his command. He’s a straight-ahead man, no frills, no fancy talk, but despite the death and destruction he’s witnessed in Iraq and Somalia, he’s still an optimist, with a goal of one day, owning a horse station in Australia. Romance wasn’t part of the equation as far as he was concerned, and that’s when fate stepped in, as it sometimes does, to give him, perhaps, a shot at something more than he had dreamed of. I don’t think he was running away, or ruling out the possibility that one day he’d meet his mate. It just wasn’t uppermost in his mind, until he met Mark.
Ethan: And Mark turned to be quite the surprise for me in the book. From the beginning of the story, I would have never guessed Doctor Mark would have hailed from the background in which he did. From privileged society drop-out to Darfur, he is quite the changed man – which I would venture to guess was no easy feat to overcome. The fact that he decided to go back to the refugee camp after his first brush with disaster, it really did feel as though Mark had something to prove – to himself maybe more than anyone else. With regard to themes, was redemption as important to you as the author as it was to his character?
JP: You’re right. Mark is a more complex character than he seems at first. When Jack asks him if his being in Darfur is a form of punishment, he almost nails it. Mark sees it as more of a form of penance for the time he had wasted in a life of drugs and booze, the wakeup call finally coming when he reached bottom. His determination to do something worthwhile was his motivation for joining Doctors Who Care International. Mark’s the kind of man who wants to see things through—for example, he was willing to wait it out until the authorities finally built the hospital they had promised for the refugees. After his first run in with the slave traders, and against Jack’s advice, his decision to return to the refugee camp, may appear foolhardy, but it’s important to him because he feels he owes it to the people, to accomplish what he’d set out to do. I’m not sure a longing for redemption is his driving force, more a stubbornness to see the job done, even though he knows dealing with the Somalian authorities is near impossible.
Ethan: Thanks again for spending a little time with me and thank you for letting me read, Nowhere to Hide. It was most definitely an afternoon well spent. : )
JP: Thanks for having me.
An American doctor meets an Australian soldier in the wilderness of Darfur, and soon their passion burns hotter than the desert sun.
Doctor Mark Hamilton working for Doctors Who Care International and stationed at a refugee clinic in Darfur, never thought he’d meet and fall in love with someone like Sergeant Major Jack ‘Boomer’ Caruthers in the middle of the strife torn territory—nor could he ever imagine being sold as a sex slave to an exiled Prince!
Fortunately for Mark, it’s Jack to the rescue. The two men make a daring escape into the desert and are picked up by Jack’s team, but Mark ignores Jack’s warning not to return to the clinic, with dire results.
Once again made captive by the slave traders, Mark can only cling to the hope that Jack’s love for him is strong enough to face the dangers he will encounter in the vast deserts of Somalia.
Excerpt from Nowhere to Hide:
“Nice place you got here.” Jack’s lips twisted wryly as he looked around the small tent. Because of his height, he was forced to duck his head to avoid bumping it on the canvas roof.
“Have a seat.” Mark indicated one of the two camp stools. “It’ll be more comfortable.” The stools, along with a narrow bed, a box full of books, a radio, and a rack from which hung Mark’s clothes, was all the tent could hold.
“How long you been living like this?” Jack asked, watching Mark pour them both a drink into plastic cups.
“Three months and two days.” Mark handed the Aussie one of the plastic cups filled with Scotch, and sat down on the other stool. “They keep telling me it’s temporary, but so far I haven’t seen any sign of the promised permanent hospital. I know this is only a refugee camp clinic, but half the time, I feel like I’m the forgotten man. Cheers.” He touched his cup to Jack’s and smiled. “I’m glad you’re here—I mean, I’m sorry for the reasons, but it’s kinda nice to have good company.”
“Cheers, mate.” Jack threw the Scotch back in one long swallow, then grinned at Mark. “Good stuff.” His piercing blue-eyed gaze swept over Mark, taking in the fine-boned, almost delicate planes of the young doctor’s face, the shock of blond hair that fell disarmingly over his forehead, and the striking green of his eyes.
What a corker this bloke is, he thought. A beautiful man, maybe too beautiful for his own good around these parts. His cock swelled inside his shorts as his gaze fell on Mark’s lush lower lip. I’m going to taste that mouth before I leave this tent…
“Like another?” Mark asked.
“Uh…yeah. Good on you.” He watched, his lips parting in a silent gasp of lust as Mark bent to pick up the Scotch bottle, his shorts tightening across the curved swell of his butt. That is one beautiful bum…
“So, why do the men call you Boomer?”Mark refilled Jack’s cup.
“Uh…oh, well, it’s a bit of long story…”
“I’ve got time.” He glanced at his watch. “Just have to check in with Asima before lights-out.” He smiled. “I know, you’re an explosives expert.”
“Not exactly.” Jack gulped his Scotch.
“Well, what exactly? There must be a reason for a nickname like Boomer.”
“Well…uh…it’s m’ feet, if you must know.”
“Your feet?” Mark chuckled as the sergeant’s handsome face slowly filled with colour.
“Yeah, well…” He stretched out his long sun-darkened legs and both men looked down at the feet in question. “Boomer’s the name we give kangaroos. They’ve got big feet and, well mine…they’re big, y’see…”
“Yeah,” Mark murmured, “they sure are.” And not the only things, he thought, his gaze travelling back up Jack’s legs to the bulge in his shorts. He reached for the Scotch bottle and refilled the sergeant’s empty cup.
Jack gave him a lopsided grin. “You trying to get me drunk?”
“Do I have to?”
Jack grabbed the front of Mark’s shirt, pulling him in close until their mouths were a fraction apart, then he said, “No,” and planted a forceful kiss on Mark’s lips.
Startled, Mark gasped into Jack’s mouth, but as the heat of the other man’s lips seared his, Mark opened to him. Every nerve ending in Mark’s body responded to the sensuous sensation of the other man’s tongue as it swept inside Mark’s mouth, finding and caressing each and every part of his moist warmth. He wound an arm around Jack’s neck and held him, returning his kiss with a fierceness that surprised himself, his free hand sliding under Jack’s shirt, stroking his muscled torso, bringing soft moans of pleasure from both men.
Mark pulled back slightly and smiled into Jack’s blue eyes. “I think I’ve found another reason for your nickname.”
“Oh yeah?” Jack’s breath warmed Mark’s lips. “What’s that?”
Mark chuckled softly. “You make my heart go boom, Boomer.”
“Smart one, ain’t ya?” He toppled Mark over onto the floor and lay on top of him, grinding his bulging crotch into Mark’s. “What else?”
Mark stared up at the bigger man with lust and longing. “I think you could ream my ass any time you want.”
© Copyright 2011 J.P.Bowie