We were blessed with the opportunity to interview the prolific Gay Romance Author Rhys Ford.
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and is a two-time LAMBDA finalist with her Murder and Mayhem novels. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people. Join us in this fun conversation as Rhys talks to us, about the thought process involved in the making of her novels and upcoming book releases!
1) Your books are guilty pleasures with a consistent theme of crime thriller or murder mysteries. Why are you so intrigued with these genres?
Oh I love the intrigue and twists of a murder. I think it adds spice to a plot and well, it’s fun to take a reader along for the journey. I enjoy the puzzle of a mystery and then how to reveal it slowly so the reader can follow along with the clues and hopefully guess who did it. Or sometimes not. Depending on how I want to write it. I just enjoy that element of darkness along the plot.
2) “Cole McGinnis Series” focuses on the love affair between private investigator Cole McGinnis and his Korean lover Kim Jae-Min. How did you envision this dangerous world, while focusing on their addictive romance?
Ah, I wanted to write Cole’s world as an old-style 1970s-1980s television show in many ways. There’s a bit of over the top violence… definitely… but he needed to be able to take all of that punishment and keep going forward. And having Jae-Min as his very complicated lover was icing on the cake because Cole had a few internal struggles he needed to get over as well as learning how to love Jae in a way they both could be happy. Cole is very much a White Knight (although maybe a little tarnished) and he wants to be able to fix everything and everyone but Jae likes to do things on his own and Cole had to accept that. Then add murder into the mix and it’s a great series to write.
3) I can’t help comparing “Cole McGinnis Series” to the “Criminal Intentions Series” by Cole McCade. Have you by any chance read those books? Was there any specific reason to have a Korean protagonist?
Ah, no I haven’t read them but I just looked them up and it appears they were fairly recently published. 2018, yes? They look intriguing.
As for why a Korean protagonist, I wanted to introduce the reader to the Asian cultures that I grew up around and back in 2010 when Dirty Kiss first came out, South Korean was still battling with recognizing LGBTQ+ people’s relationships. And so was America, really. Gay marriage wasn’t on the horizon and the series developed as the LGBTQ+ community gained the right to marry. But the series was really focused on the differences between how homosexuality is viewed by homogenized America and traditional Korean families and how those attitudes affect both men. I didn’t want to demonize either culture but rather show how different both struggle against prejudice and familial obligations in their own way.
4) Cole and Jae Min are back in your spin-off series “McGinnis Investigations Series”. Why did you decide to revisit this couple, after almost four years?
I had always planned to have Cole return in a murder mystery series following his marriage to Jae-Min. This series isn’t about them falling in love and overcoming their cultural obstacles but about Jae’s support and love for Cole as he gets into perilous situations. I do want the reader to have fun and to enjoy seeing them as a couple.
4) “Sinners Series” has an interesting mix of rock stars who are forever in the midst of murder and mayhem. How did this suspense thriller materialize?
I have absolutely no idea *grins* I really began to write about a rock star who lost everything and the cop who fell in love with him and it became a murder mystery so I continued along that line. Honestly, I just wanted to tell Miki’s story and after some rearranging of who Kane was, the Morgan family came into being.
5) The premise for “Hellsinger Series” is quite different. A paranormal researcher is hired to discredit the main protagonist’s psychic abilities, but ends up falling for him instead? How did you conceptualize this storyline?
Oh that series is so much fun. I knew Tristan was a medium and could see ghosts and having a ghost debunker … a known hardcore skeptic … fall in love with him would be a good challenge. Wolf doesn’t believe in ghosts. Doesn’t believe in the supernatural and here’s this man he’s attracted to that tells him there are spirits all around him. It seemed like a good premise to have a conflict, a bit of fun and also a bit of horror. I enjoy writing that series.
6) Both books in the “Half Moon Bay Series” have main characters who have been given a second chance to redeem themselves. How did this book series materialize?
That’s a good question. I knew I wanted to write about a man who made some mistakes but was trying to do right by his niece who he never met. That he fought to get custody of her and moved to a small town so he could re-boot his life was key. Deacon is a good man who made a lot of wrong choices and didn’t care about what happened to him until he had someone he had to love and nurture. He’s not a perfect father-figure but he tries. Both he and Zig aren’t used to living in a house, in a good neighbourhood and doing all the normal things people do so they’re having to figure out their own way. The same can be said about Angel and his younger brother. Deacon meeting Lang and falling for him was a bit of sweetness I loved writing and having Lang’s brother, West, woo Angel back into his life was nice to craft. Half Moon Bay is all about taking chances and trusting someone enough to love them.
7) “Murder and Mayhem Series” involves an intense drama between a cat burglar, Rook Stevens and Detective Dante Montoya. How did you craft their intriguing love story?
I wanted to write about someone who by nature was a pirate, a criminal with a good heart but really just can’t stop stealing. Rook loves being a thief. And Dante Montoya is a cop down to his soul and while he’s attracted to Rook, he knows he’s falling for a thief. The push-pull of their relationship has been a great dance for them to do and add to the mix their crazy families, it makes for a fantastic world to write in.
8) “415 Ink Series” is one of my favorite book series. How different are these couples from each other and how much fun did you have depicting their romance?
Oh the brothers who found each other! The couples are quite different and well, each brother has his own issues, his own traumas to overcome and the series is about the struggles they have with their pasts and then there are the men who fall in love with them. I wanted to explore social and psychological issues / traumas and how each brother emerged from what damaged them as a healthy individual. That’s key in this series. That each one of the 415 Ink brothers find their happiness as well as heal or begin to heal the wounds they carry.
9) Do you have any favorite book, drama or movie that has left an ever-lasting impression on your mind?
Oh my favourite book of all time is Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury. Absolutely love the writing and the world crafting is incredible. It’s a book that needs the reader to fully buy into the novel and to plunge headlong into the author’s vision. Totally worth it. I wish I could write as well as Kingsbury did in this book.
Favourite movie is Bladerunner. Visually and artistically, it presented a complete world with complicated characters. I love movies that leave the viewer challenged and reflective of what they watched.
10) Do you enjoy reading MM Romance novels written by your contemporary authors? If yes, then who is your current favorite author and why?
Yes I do! I enjoy a lot of authors’ writings… so so many. TA Moore, Bru Baker, Mary Calmes, KC Wells, Angel Martinez, Felice Stevens, CS Poe… really too many to even name. I could go on and on. I can’t have favourites *grins*
11) What is your opinion about the current status of LGBTQ representation in books?
My opinion is that there is fantastic authors who provide well-rounded LGBTQ characters in their books and we certainly could use more. I also would like to see more cultural diversity in all books because we should be writing in the world that we live in and it would be so good to see different viewpoints, especially in romance.
12) What are you working on right now? Talk to us about your future MM Romance books?
I am working on a murder-romance sort of right now. It’s in the beginning stages so it’s not enough to talk about yet but soon. Since I took a year off following a couple of deaths in the family and my own health issues, I’m having to examine what my timelines are and what I’m going to write. I would love to write everything! But for right now, I’ll say I’m working on the current murder-romance, then probably the next 415 Ink and then Kai Gracen. After that, I’ll see what I have in my head.
The BL Xpress would like to thank Rhys Ford for taking the time to answer our questions!