Bill Lee – Author Interview

What is your most recent book?

My most recent book is “Sensuous Mates” although more recently I have released only e-books (see web site at www.authorbilllee.com ). “Sensuous Mates” is composed of two gay novellas (“Montana Mates” and “Inseparable Samurais”).

These seem like two very different subjects or settings.

They are two gay men’s love stories based on special settings from my personal experience.

So who is Bill Lee?

I am also Bill Warner, Editor and Publisher of GLB Publishers, one of the larger publishers of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender books, established twenty years ago, when I was writing under several pseudonyms. Most prolific then (1980’s) was Barton Lewis, and those original novels are now available as part of “gay history.” There is a special web site for those works ( www.bartonlewis.com )

You mentioned “personal settings?”

“Montana Mates” is based on a fictional meeting between a ranch-hand (cowboy) in Montana and an Indian from a tribe in Montana in the recent past. This started from a motorcycle trip I made with some friends in the ’80’s to a gay ranch near Missoula, Montana, when I first learned about the Indian reservation near there. “Chad” met “Buck” in the mountains when Chad was doing fence-mending on the ranch. After the initial meeting high in the mountains, Buck would signal Chad from time to time with a mirror to inform him that he was waiting at their special pool near the top of the mountain, so Chad would ride up there for sexy meetings.

In regards to the samurai story, “Inseparable Samurais,” I spent some time in Japan in my previous job and then I took a Japanese lover in San Francisco, so all this led to an interest in Japanese history and Samurais, especially in the 1800’s. That story developed between two samurais during the military-political movements which switched the capitol from Kyoto to Tokyo (notice the spellings are the same but reversed). As part of their initial romance while in the field with their Daimyos, I adapted the traditional tea ceremony for gay men for this story. In the second half of the story, they worked under cover for their two Daimyos, Okubo Toshimichi and Saigo Takamori.

These plots were in the back of my head for many years, long after I retired from my original career in clinical research and established GLB Publishers, a new publishing company in 1989.
In 1990 openly gay writing was not common nor was it respected much, so it needed a guiding hand, I decided.

Then when the Internet became popular about 5 years later, and when I noticed that gay men everywhere were using the Internet for communication, I decided to join the then-new venture of publishing e-books along with continuing to publish print books. That meant that I had to become proficient in handling a computer, but I had been writing on a computer for many years by that time. I was very busy then, and didn’t have time to write my own fiction because other authors, mostly gay men, wanted me to publish their works. I started by converting all the print books to e-books as well in 8-10 formats.

A couple of years ago my health became uncertain and I decided to retire from publishing, too, and trotted out some of my old fiction brain-nuggets as described. By then I had about 70 print-published books by about 20 authors all together and over 100 e-books in many different formats. I am still publishing a few new e-books every year.

I am now interested is selling the company to others. The buyer would be involved in a major role in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community if they want to be. They can call or email me directly. They can also find all these books and information at www.glbpubs.com.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I am now encountering a lot of gay authors who think a memoir of their life story would be of great interest to everybody. I don’t agree. A true memoir restricts you to the truth and that can usually be greatly improved by fictionalizing, so my advice is to use fiction as broadly as you can. You can certainly use your experience as a basis for a story but you should use your ability to dream up sequences. Be realistic and be aware of the need for frankness without resorting to smut.

The gay community is really very broad now and writing generally should focus on specific audiences, I think. That’s why, in covering all the bases for e-books, I established different “magazine” web sites for each audience.