I recently had the pleasure of chatting it up with black gay author Lee Hayes. Hayes is one of my favorite authors in the African-American gay fiction genre. He has just released his latest novel The Bad Seed which has only cemented my love affair with his incredible talent.
The Bad Seed is composed of two novellas or short stories in one novel. "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" is about a cosmetically beautiful but emotionally damaged young man who marries a wealthy older man to go from rags to riches. After beginning an illicit affair with his husband's attorney, he decides that he would rather enjoy the amenities of limitless money minus the husband. He will stop at nothing to see his husband six feet under so that he can dance on his grave, toasting with expensive champagne.
In "Crazy In Love", a hyper-sexual seventeen-year-old high school boy develops a fatalistic crush on his reclusive high school English teacher. When the teacher rebuff's the boy's advances, all hell breaks loose-and the upstanding teacher's life is put on the line. Hell hath no fury...
Hayes and I talked about the inspiration for the book, what sets his work apart from others in his genre, and the creation of the two leading characters Blues and Brandon.
Darian: What was your inspiration for The Bad Seed?
Lee: I think I was really intrigued by creating a story about characters typically you wouldn't like. I wanted to explore the darker side of things. And as we know in life sometimes you run across some bad seeds, and they have stories just like everyone else. I was really interested in writing a story about them because sometimes the bad seed wins.
Darian: You've explored murder and fatal obsession before in some of your previous novels like The Messiah. Do you find these themes fascinating to write about?
Lee: When it comes to gay literature I don't like to write about the same common themes. Down-low and coming out stories have their place but I think it's been done a lot. I think there's so many things we can write about as gay authors. I personally kinda tilt on the darker side of things. I've always been a horror movie buff, so I think my writing tends to explore the darker side of literature.
Darian: What was your process for creating the two protagonists Blues and Brandon in The Bad Seed?
Lee: Well I don't want you to think I'm crazy or I'm murderous (Laughs) but you really have to become your character. You really have to put yourself in the mindset of this character and really become this person and think and feel as they would. Sometimes it's difficult for writers to do that, but in order to create realistic characters writers have to have that ability or the story will suffer.
Darian: You dedicated the book to anyone who has ever been misunderstood. Do you think the characters Blues and Brandon and people like them are often misunderstood?
Lee: To a certain extent I think we're all misunderstood. No one will ever completely know us the way we know ourselves. Blues went through some pretty bad stuff as a child and he did some bad things as well. Moving from adolescence in to adulthood and marrying his husband...he clearly lost his way. Instead of taking the time to get the help he needed to deal with his issues he chose a different route. Even with Brandon, he has a lot of issues that I don't even think he understands.
Darian: Is there anything in particular that you want readers to take away from The Bad Seed or your work in general?
Lee: Generally speaking I want to provide people with an outlet to step away from the world to have a good time and to be entertained. All of my novels have been very gay centered and when people read my books I want them to really start seeing gay people as a part of the world. I hate using the word normal because it's just a terrible word. Being gay is just as normal as anything else. I tend not to make it a big deal in my books because some people are gay and some people are not. It's just that simple.
Darian: How can people purchase a copy of The Bad Seed?
Lee: If readers want an autographed copy they can get it from my website, www. leehayes.info. It's also available at B. Dalton, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and pretty much wherever books are sold.
The Bad Seed is definitely one to be included on your summer reading list. It's a page turner!