What I miss about Ireland

I miss the stars and the inky nights. Sometimes I think I can smell the seaweed on damp sand and hear the sound of the waves on Inch Beach if I close my eyes. I yearn for the thunderstorms and the crystal dews clinging to long grass. ~Liam For Hire, forthcoming 2018, August 24

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/LiamForHire

Beaten Track Publishing: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/liamforhire


Blue Jay preview


This is from Blue Jay, the third novel of my series of London stories. The protagonist is gender queer Chris and she has taken her new beau Alex to see her friend Victor/Victoria Leather, a drag act:

Victoria nods. “Let me tell you. This is her natural self.” She presents Chris to the crowd with a flourish. “It takes me two fucking hours to transform my ugly mug to look like this, people.” She points to her face and down her body.

The audiences respond with a collective sigh and then laugh. Chris blushes like mad.

“My darling, I think you’ve dragged along a fine gentleman to see my act tonight. I’m going to dedicate this final song to you.” She kisses Chris again and then directs her eyes to Alex who can’t help but grin.

Before Chris leaves the stage, Victoria leans in and whispers, away from the microphone, “Thanks for coming, my old pal.”

Chris smiles, showing her dimples, as Victoria launches into a rendition of The Kinks’ Lola. Chris makes her way back to a smiling Alex when Victoria starts to sing “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls”. Alex notices how all eyes have been on Chris as she negotiates the throng of people.

Alex clips Chris’s shoulder, dips his head and shouts over the music. “Take it you know her.”

Chris laughs. “Obviously! Him. Victor. He’s one of the very few friends I made when I was an underage actor.”

~~ Liam for Hire will be released 24 August 2018! ~~

Liam for Hire preview


Eighteen months after Sasha left.

In my dingy bedsit room, I get ready to go to my appointment. It’s going to be with someone new. I consider my skinny jeans and tight shirt in the mirror. I often wonder what the johns see when they meet me the first time. I’m not what you call a stunner, but I’m good looking enough. I have dark hair, pale skin and thin lips. A few freckles make me appear a little younger than my age. It costs to keep my hair under some control but I have to do it for the sake of my job. I run my fingers through it again. My Old Spice deo. Shit, where is it? Found. Apply. I give myself another once over before heading out to face the world.

To save money, I ride the bus to my meet. I sit down upstairs of the double decker where I can disappear into my own world for a while. Through the smeared window I can see the dirty streets of Haringey turn into the greener Islington, inhabited by people who have money and class. The streets here are arranged into these clean lines like the kind of life the well-off lead. Seeing how the other half lives reminds me of my time surviving in squats and the reasons why I love and hate London at the same time. I like it for its openness; it’s a place that absorbs people from all over the world and all walks of life. But it’s unforgiving to those who have nothing, like Sasha and I when we were younger. We used to laugh at ourselves; I was the stray dog and he the alley cat. I’d watched Sasha sell himself on the street but I was too hopeless to help him. We were not creatures who could be good for each other. We’d been co-dependent and we’d eventually destroyed one another. The city swallowed us—two homeless kids with no prospect—and it unceremoniously dumped us in a deep dark hole without resource to crawl back out.

While I pass the time pondering about my past, the bus soon reaches my destination. I get off, and take the short walk to this neat town house off Essex Road with a small but organised front garden. I feel my usual nerves about meeting a new john. Every time I go to a client’s house, I feel like I’ve set foot in a film set. I’m just a street punk pretending to be a confident escort.  No matter how long I’ve been doing this, the first time is still strange. I take a moment and gaze at the dark green door. Deep breath. Check myself again, and ring the bell.

I don’t expect the man who opens the door to be this good looking in an unassuming kind of way. Most of the time, my clients scowl and furtively glance around, as if I wear a big sign to announce to the neighbourhood that they’ve ordered an escort. But the guy in front of me smiles, revealing straight white teeth, and he holds the door wide open. Once inside, he shakes my hand, his palm firm and warm. Then we hug awkwardly, and he introduces himself, “I’m Ali. It’s short for Alastair.”

“Liam.” I grin back.

I guess he’s in his thirties, fit, wearing a simple blue shirt and dark jeans. He is a couple of inches taller than me, which makes him about six feet. His hair’s light brown and the eyes are clear green like two pools of tropical sea. They are striking and unmissable. It is a cliché to say eyes are the window to the soul, but they do tell me a lot about the men who hire me. And this man here has beautiful eyes. My eyes on the other hand are dark as maybe they make my soul impenetrable.

“Want a drink?” Ali asks, while I am still contemplating about him. I’ve kicked my worst drug habits but I still indulge in cigarettes, dope and alcohol. I say no to a drink, though. Maybe later. Alcohol makes my nerves worse. Yeah, no matter how long I’ve been selling sex, revealing myself to a stranger is not easy. He pours himself a small shot in the wood and chrome kitchen, and takes a sip. The house smells clean. I can glimpse the TV and the books in the sitting room and a sofa covered in cream canvas. I like the decor, which seems as understated as the man, even though it’ll have nothing to do with me. I only expect to use the bedroom, not the rest of the house.

He gazes at me. “Shall we?”


Re-posted from: https://gaybookpromotions.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/author-spotlight-a-zukowski/

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in too many places to name, but I consider Manchester, UK, my home town. I grew up roaming the gay village, which was a red light district. They tried to clean it up, so it’s not that bad now. Later, I worked in London and studied screenwriting. After many more moves, I’ve come back to London where I’m based now.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

Ah. If you meet me in person, you’ll think I’m totally, absolutely ordinary and boring. ^_^

How do you relax?

You know, that thing people do…

Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one’s you’ve read)?

I’m with you in Rockland

where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter ~ Allen Ginsberg, Howl

How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?

As a screenwriter, I found myself creating things that simply wouldn’t sell! Everyone kept telling me to write something else, write what I knew. When I did that, it never lived up to what they thought my life was about. Well, the only person who never judged me that way was my mentor, who’s a wonderful producer, and who used to work for the BBC. So, about three, four years ago, I started writing fiction, fully expecting none of it to see the light of day. I dabbled with blogging. But when I finished Jay and Sasha’s story, I really wanted to share it.

Did you always want to be a writer? No. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my writing. I still don’t.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? Do I have a writing career now? The reaction I’ve been receiving for my debut novel has been a surprise to me, and it’s encouraging. I’d like to carry on writing, and to find readers who get it. I have no particular ambition as a writer.

What’s your favorite part of writing?

The emotional journey. It’s a bit clichéd, isn’t it? But seriously, my stories are always about characters. The MCs end up living in my head for months on end. They love, they hate, they self-doubt and they make big fucking mistakes. I like that.

Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance? Why not another genre? Ha! I think one of the recent reviews states that my book’s not a romance. I tell stories, and I try not to fit them into genres. I’ve been told by publishers that they can’t consider my books because people die(!) or they don’t have sex scenes etc. I do give my characters love and a happy ending, though, because they’ve earned it.

Do you write any other genre? I think that’s why LGBTQ romance is useful because you can combine it with other genres. After the London Stories series, I’ve also got several WIPs, which are part of a queer romance sci-fi series.

Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry? Hmmm. The child abuse in The Boy was hard to write, and I cried more than once. I didn’t want to detail it first, but my editor suggested that I really should, since it’s an important part of Sasha’s character. Of course, she was right. In fact, writing so many horrific scenes in his story was not easy. I was so depressed all the time, I can’t tell you. In case you are wondering, though, I enjoy the lighter scenes as well, and there is HEA. The MCs are both tremendous characters who can laugh about things, even when they struggle through life.

Give the readers a brief summary of your latest book.

Jay Palmer is two months away from his sixteenth birthday. He doesn’t realise how his life will be changed forever when a gang of thugs leaves a badly injured boy on his doorstep. He and his single mum Maggie nurse the stranger, who turns out to be sixteen-year-old Aleksander Zukowski, also known as Sasha. Sasha ran away from care two and half years ago. He sleeps rough, is addicted to drugs and sells himself on the streets of London to fund his habit. For the first time in his life, he has a reason to change.

Sasha confirms what Jay already knows about himself but it’s not easy for Jay to come out to his macho mates in a largely black neighbourhood. Sasha has an uphill struggle to stay clean when his past simply throws him back into the abyss.

It’s a YA gay romance about two teenagers finding love, courage and redemption on the mean streets of London.

What genre does it fall in? A YA/NA gay romance

Share a few words about your latest book, other than the usual blurb.

At one point, I’d drifted through the Dutch cities—Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam—sleeping in shelters and hostels. Before some of these places opened for the night, we’d waited in the train stations and sometimes on the streets. It was foolhardy, but my eighteen-year-old self was fearless, and I live to tell the tale.

The Boy Who Fell to Earth comes from memories like this, and of my experiences of growing up. It’s also a dedication to some people I’ve lost. They’ve inspired me with their deep flaws, and their hope for love and acceptance.

Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?

Jay’s a mixed race boy from East London. His mum’s a formidable mother figure, and they are poor, but strong people. He’s able to see through all the darkness to imagine the light. An absolutely stunning character to write. Sasha refers to Jay at one point, “I saw the little droplets of water on the fabric. They were as beautiful and pure as him.” That’s Jay.

Sasha’s basically a broken person, on the way to total self-destruction at various points of the novel. The question for me as a writer is what kind of journey he goes through, and how to get him there. How he learns that he can love another (Jay) and love himself. His story is absolutely heart-breaking. His personality is much closer to mine, so I seriously should have some counselling after finishing the novel.

Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?

It was not my intention to start a series, but I’ve already drafted the next book of the “London Stories series”. That’s Liam’s story. He’s Sasha’s drug addict friend who shares the squat with him. An Irish lad who ran away from home and ended up a panhandler in London. He’s going to find his own redemption in Liam for Hire. The third story in the series is a WIP at the moment, which is about Liam’s friend Chris who’s a trans/queer, bisexual man. The story will feature Chris and Alex, who’s an ex-boxer. Alex will come to terms with his sexuality, too.

Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I have absolutely no clue! River Phoenix circa. Running on Empty as Sasha? Ah, in the recent French film Quand on a 17 ans, the main character is mixed race and he really has a great presence. Let me find the name: Corentin Fila. He’d be a perfect Jay.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style. I don’t know if I have one! I want to touch my readers, make them feel the characters’ emotions. It was suggested to me by my mentor (see above) that I’d always have a goal when I wrote. How do I want the readers to feel at the end of the story?

What does your writing process look like? Messy. I usually start with the characters and a setting, and let the story flow. Not being schooled in literature, I don’t consider plot till much later. I do however think as a script writer, and am aware of the dramatic arc. Then, I spend months over the editing.

When/where is your favorite time/place to write? Night time. Too late – something like ten to two.

What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time? As a reader, I don’t think about genres either, but these days I almost never read or watch anything that is heteronormative.

What was the last book you read? What did you like about it? I am reading My Name is N by Robert Karjel, a Swedish writer. It’s a thriller and very layered, with intertwining stories happening in Indonesia, New York and an American detention centre in the Pacific. I’m enjoying it. The writing style is crisp, and the characters detailed and interesting. There was a news story when the translation came out in the USA, because some readers complained that they’d inadvertently picked it up, and hadn’t liked the fact that they were not warned about the central character’s bisexuality. Comments like that totally annoy me. The book’s working for me so far as a thriller.

Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books? is it interesting that quite a while ago I worked with criminals (not in the sense that I robbed banks with them!)? They are great inspirations. Seriously, they, together with my own demons and all the crazies I’ve known, I have no shortage of characters I can write about for a very long time.

What hobbies do you have outside of writing? I swim. I’m a geek who likes board games. Told you, absolutely bloody boring.

The first time Jay and Sasha visit a sex shop

Sasha doesn’t feel weird to be in Soho anymore. He and Jay sometimes pop in the Estrella for a drink and to see Sasha’s bouncer friend.

Today, Jay’s on a mission.

When they stop outside the shop window full of plastic penises, Sasha grabs Jay’s big hand and whispers, “Remind me why we’re here again.”

In the past, Sasha had used dildos and sex toys with his johns, but the nineteen-year-old ex-rent boy has never been inside a sex shop. So, when Jay suggested that they’d take a look, just for fun, Sasha’d blushed like a virgin bride. Damn, my pale skin. He thought to himself.

“Because we need to confront your sexual hang-ups. I think you still have some issues with being open about sex, and seeing it as something fun. Part of a lurving relationship.” Jay, who’s year younger than Sasha, smiles and flashes his big white teeth.

Sasha arches his right eyebrow. “What a load of crap! Who the fuck told you this?”

Jay scratches his head full of dark brown curls. “Uh. I read it online. It’s a reliable gay site.”

Sasha gives him an eye-roll. “Reliable? FYI. I don’t have sexual hang-ups. I’m more than capable of talking about sex, with you at least. But, sometimes it feels as though you think we’re in a sex comedy, rather than a lurving relationship.” Sasha pokes Jay’s broad chest to show him that he’s joking.

Jay laughs. “What are you afraid of, then? Come on.” He pulls Sasha through the door into the emporium of all things to do with sex.

Sasha is mesmerised by the display of sex dolls. “Hey, Jay. I have wondered about fucking a female doll. Do you think I may be bi-curious?” He picks up a box containing a doll that looks nothing like a real woman.

Jay tuts. “If you fuck that plastic hole, I’d be seriously curious about your mental health.”

Sasha chuckles.

“What are these for again?” Jay examines some cock rings.

Sasha gazes at Jay. “They, uh, make you last longer.”

“And that’s a good thing, how?” Jay tries to read the small text on one of the packages.

Sasha coughs, while trying to suppress a smirk. “Some people want to make it last. They’re not impatient like someone I know.”

Jay tosses the ring back on the shelf. “What’s the fun in that? The quicker you come, the faster you get to go again!”

Sasha shakes his head and stares at his boyfriend. “The faster you get to go again. It’s sometimes nice to play with each other, you know?” He’s only teasing because they play, a lot.

“Then, this is a complete waste of time.” Jay throws his arms up in an exaggerated way. “Our sex life is perfect, and we can’t possibly have more fun than we already have.”

Sasha picks up a box and heads towards the till. “I’m getting this.”

The gorgeous staff winks at Sasha while he puts the merchandise in a nondescript black bag, which makes Sasha blush again.

“What is it?” Jay grabs the bag as they are about to exit the shop, and looks at Sasha’s purchase. “Holy shit!”

The box containing a large, vibrating butt plug reads, “Just when you think your sex life is perfect…”


Author Spotlight ~ A. Zukowski

Gay Book Promotions

A warm welcome to today’s Spotlight Author, A. Zukowski.

Thank you for joining us and sharing more about yourself.

A. Zukowski

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in too many places to name, but I consider Manchester, UK, my home town. I grew up roaming the gay village, which was a red light district. They tried to clean it up, so it’s not that bad now. Later, I worked in London and studied screenwriting. After many more moves, I’ve come back to London where I’m based now.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

Ah. If you meet me in person, you’ll think I’m totally, absolutely ordinary and boring. ^_^

How do you relax?

You know, that thing people do…

Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one’s you’ve read)?

I’m with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the…

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