Brad, it's a real pleasure to have you here today and that you've taken time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for me is very exciting. Let's start this off with...
1. If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change in your latest book? No, I’m happy with it…now. Of course, I just hit “publish,” so give me time! It would be nice to be able to sit on it for a few months before going to press, but it’s been a while since I’ve published a full length gayrom novel. Also, I’ve discovered that no matter how many times you or anyone else looks at a manuscript, there’s always another typo to be found.
2. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Using “challenge” in a positive sense, I’d say the research on this book. I’m pretty sure I have mild dyscalculia, which is like dyslexia for numbers. If I hear a number more than four digits, I have to repeat it over and over out loud as the “words” that stand for the numbers until I can write it down ASAP. This book has a lot about Bitcoin and cryptography, which are both mathematically intensive subjects. I failed algebra in high school and that was the end of math for me. So I was really beating my head against the wall trying to understand how this all works. But I think that helped with the writing, because people who are really mathematically adept tend to make presumptions in their writing that “of course everyone knows you solve for Y before transepting the thingie across the parallax” or whatever. And they leave readers like me in the dust. So I knew I had to make it as clear to my readers as I needed to make it to myself.
3. How did you come up with the title for your book? “Strength in Numbers” is actually the Bitcoin motto. The idea being that the currency’s security is based on math, and on consumer confidence in that math. And that also appealed to me because Marc and Jesse are a team now, like Nick and Nora. Neither of them could do alone what the two of them can accomplish together.
4. Can you share a little of your current work with us? I’d love to!
“No,” Jesse said firmly.
Marc laughed. “You’re blushing. You’re…you can’t dance.”
Jesse stood up. “No, and I don’t want to. Especially…that. Or any dance, in public.”
“We’re in Argentina. Buenos Aires. The night is, by local standards, still young.”
Marc could see that his powers of persuasion were hitting a wall. But that was the fun in it, wasn’t it, he thought. To see where the chink was in the wall. To show Jesse he could hack his defenses…
“I’m going to say it,” Jesse said, refilling his whiskey glass, “since we’re here, where nobody can hear me. I think it’s silly. It looks silly.”
“Yeah, you’d better not say that outdoors. This is tango we’re talking about, the national dance.”
Jesse gave Marc a look of appeal. “You know that nature documentary, Planet Earth?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Remember that bird, that had the big blue spot on its feathers, that spread them like a peacock and did that mating dance?”
Marc laughed. “Is that how you see tango?” He got up, crept behind Jesse, and put his arms around his waist, whispering in his ear.
“Do you know how the tango started?” he murmured softly. “In the late eighteen hundreds, legions of poor immigrant men came here from Europe. Since they’d left their wives and sweethearts behind while they got themselves established, well, they outnumbered the womenfolk by a considerable margin. So they’d smoke and drink in cafés and, with no other partners, they’d dance with each other…”
He nibbled on Jesse’s ear. “And don’t you think that such an intimate dance led some of those lonely young men to do…other things to console each other?”
Jesse chuckled. “I bet it did,” he growled, moving Marc’s hand down to his crotch, letting Marc feel his massive erection.
“Oh, no you don’t, mister,” Marc warned him. “You aren’t going to distract me with your… admittedly impressive alternative.”
He put his hand on Jesse’s shoulder and turned him around. “Listen. We’ll do it here. Nobody will see you.”
“And you’re going to lead?” Jesse said with a raised eyebrow.
Marc grinned. “Yeah. For once, I’m going to be the dominant partner. Unless you’re scared.”
“That’s it,” Jesse said decisively. “If you’re calling me chicken, you’re on.”
“Good. Put your shoes back on.”
5. What book are you reading now or have read recently? I’m participating in the “Infinite Winter” reading group, a bunch of people who’ve all committed to reading and talking about David Foster Wallace’s 1,000+ page novel “Infinite Jest.” Like a lot of people, it’s one of those book you buy, start, and then it gathers dust over the years. I’m nearly finished now, and I’m loving it, and loving having people to talk to about it, bounce ideas off of.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book, and if so, what was it? I learned a lot of technical information about cryptography, cryptanalysis, and cryptocurrencies, but my real takeaway from it is that it’s not so much how well you encode a secret, but where you hide it. Putting a thing where nobody would ever think to look for it is more secure than locking it in an “uncrackable” bank vault, when everyone knows it’s there. The real secret of keeping secrets is outwitting your opponent, not just outcrunching his calculations with your own.
7. Do you read your reviews? Do you have any advice for how to deal with the bad? I read every review on Amazon, and every blog review. I haven’t had the terrible experience on Goodreads that some authors have endured (i.e. one star reviews on books that aren’t even live yet). Some are really helpful (though I wish people would email me my typos rather than call them out in a review!) – when I first started writing gayrom, I didn’t know what “head hopping” was and I did a ton of it in A Little Too Broken. I got called out for it, and I went back and rewrote certain sections to fix that. That’s the joy of selfpub ebooks – nothing’s ever set in stone.
8. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What it is? Well, I’d be the last person to write a sweet Amish romance novel! Other than that, I can’t say. You never know when inspiration will strike and what it will produce. Sometimes it’s taboo, sometimes it’s risky, but the Idea Factory has its own production schedule, and I always consider anything it sends my way.
9. What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Ahh, a lie that big must stay a secret forever! But I’ll tell you a funny story. When I first moved to San Francisco in 1987, I had a high school diploma, but I was one of the few people who knew how to work a PC – word processing and spreadsheet software, which was WordStar/WordPerfect back then. And companies were transitioning from dumb terminals and IBM DisplayWriters to PCs, so temp agencies desperately needed people who knew PCs. But in the short time I’d lived in SF, I’d been daunted by the number of universities there, and everyone I worked with assumed that since I was smart and had skills, of course I’d been to “school.” I was such a hick that I didn’t even know that people meant “university” when they asked “where did you go to school.” The first time I said, “I went to Reno High School,” and got this pitying look – suddenly I wasn’t as smart as they’d thought, because I hadn’t been to “school.”
So when I signed up for a new temp agency, I lied on my resume and said I’d graduated from University of Nevada Reno. A few days later they called me. “You aced all the tests, your references check out but…UNR has never heard of you.” I immediately blurted out the truth, that it felt like nobody would even look at you in this town without a degree. They said, “Normally this would be the end of our conversation but…you are one of maybe ten people in this town right now who have your skills and are looking for temp work, so we need you desperately. Just…don’t ever lie again.”
TL;DR – the one time I lied on my resume, I immediately got caught.
10. What is the most important thing in your life? What do you value the most? My freedom. I’ve been self employed for a full year now, and it’s hard. It’s stressful. Amazon changes the rules on compensation all the time, so one month you make five digits and the next you’re lucky to clear four. But, sitting in a cubicle, working on someone else’s schedule, sitting there watching the clock, getting paid for my time and not my labor, doing mindless repetitive work that software will automate within five years, gaining ten pounds every year as I tried to eat my way out of that cubicle… My freedom, hands down. I think at this point it might kill me to have to go back to the old life. Now I’m writing, I’m working as an editor for other authors, I’m branching into audiobooks (take a listen to me here:)