Hal Bodner

Video with Outspoken Gay Author: Hal Bodner


Lately, every time I see someone complain offhandedly about the quality of self-published/indie books on Amazon (or anywhere) I tend to cringe a little. And that’s because it’s getting tired as a general statement. Even though there are bad self-published books out there all over the place (and a few bad published books as well that cost far too much money), there are also experienced, bestselling authors now moving into self-publishing. The reasons authors who have been traditionally published do this are many, and far too complicated to get into in one simple post. I had very distinct reasons, one of which was I wanted more control over my work. I got that control with “Chase of a Lifetime.”

But the main point nowadays is that with more and more traditionally published authors self-publishing their own books (most seem to be on Amazon)the reputation of indie/self-publishing is taking a turn for the better and that old cliche about authors who do self-publish because they can’t get a publisher or agent doesn’t work anymore. In fact, literary agents are now taking advantage of these self-publishing opportunities and I know they are offering “services” for their clients. I even know authors who are trying to juggle their schedules with publishers because they prefer self-publishing their own books. And, more important, pricing their own books.

More than a few authors I know who have been traditionally published, and have had agents, have moved into indie publishing quietly, and Hal Bodner is one of them. I met Hal through a friend when he started getting into the digital first market about four years ago. I’ve posted about Hal before on the blog, and about his books. I’ve read his latest LGBT novel, THE TROUBLE WITH HAIRY, that he released on Amazon himself, and I can tell you without question the quality is there, the story is there, and it’s just as good…if not better…than anything he’s had published before.

Hal recently did an interview that is now on youtube, to which I’m linking right now. It’s not only interesting to watch Hal on video and to put the face and voice with the name, but also to listen to what he has to say about his own personal experiences. And like the title of the post says, Hal’s an outspoken gay man with a professional background in law, he’s a businessman, he was in a long term relationship before his partner died suddenly, and he’s a bestselling author with books that have been released from traditional publishers. You can check out his books here.

"The Trouble with Hairy" by Hal Bodner


This isn’t an actual review, because I don’t do many reviews here as a rule. A lot of authors ask me to read their books and review them and there’s no way I could do all those reviews. There wouldn’t be enough time for me to write, and it would change the blog too much.

But I will comment in a general sense on books I love…and authors I respect. I wrote about Hal Bodner’s new book a week or so ago and wanted to follow up. The first book of Hal’s I read was “Bite Club.” I loved it for many reasons…the solid writing, the well developed characters, and the way the gay characters/situations are treated…and when Hal told me about “The Trouble with Hairy,” I couldn’t wait to see what he’d done this time.

The interesting thing about “Hairy” is that Hal self-pubbed this one on Amazon. I want to begin by stating for those who are looking for books self-pubbed that the quality of this book is as good as anything that would have come from a “traditional” publisher or small e-press. Hal is a well published author and he’s had more than one book published the traditional way. He’s not new to publishing or LGBT fiction. This time I noticed a few nice additions to “Hairy,” like a note to readers at the beginning. And a personal dedication page. I like reading these personal things in books. With this book from Hal, I had a feeling of intimacy I don’t see as often as I’d like. (Fanny Flagg does this a lot, with recipes and comments.) Hal’s voice, which is a strong voice in fiction, came through with absolute clarity. Maybe I’m carrying this too far, but I had the feeling Hal was doing what he always wanted to do and he knew what his readers would enjoy. And that’s a nice feeling!! It’s evident this book is all about the readers.

The storyline returns to WeHo, with returning characters Chris and Troy…and gay men are being murdered. Yes, it’s suspenseful and chilling at times. But it’s done with a sense of humor mingled with suspense…and there’s a werewolf. Other enjoyable characters are brought back, and some elements continue where they left off. But this time I found more character arcs…or rather in-depth development that should, indeed, happen in a sequel. I felt closer to them, if that’s even possible. Though it’s paranormal, there’s enough humor and wit to make you smile more than once. A few times I laughed out loud, as I tend to do when I’m reading anything from Hal…even his facebook posts are funny. There’s also a little bit of camp, and it’s the kind of camp I don’t see often enough either. For those who don’t know what “camp” is, here’s a link. And the pace moved quickly, which for me is an important element in any novel.

Becky, the WeHo coroner, is an interesting character:

Despite her ghoulish profession, or perhaps because of it,
Becky was always quick with a smile, a clever quip and a helping
hand in times of adversity. She was a favorite of the City Council
and adored by her staff and the members of the Sheriff’s
Department with whom she worked. Even West Hollywood’s
ineffective mayor, Daniel Eversleigh, looked upon Becky as he
would a favorite niece. She was also, to Delaney’s further irritation,one of the few people besides Clive himself who seemed to be able to actually get along with West Hollywood’s notoriously
cantankerous City Manager.

Hal writes the best detailed scenes/descriptions that help draw the reader into the story, and we and care (and fall in love with) the characters and settings as a result. I especially love old film star references. Here’s one good example of what I mean:

Gertie and Ruth lived in a small one bedroom apartment in the
converted old Charlie Chaplin Studios on Poinsettia Place. Each
unit was unique and, to most people, would be uninhabitable with
oddly slanting floors and windows and doors chosen for quirkiness
rather than functionality. In the women’s living room, the trunk of a huge avocado tree grew smack dab up through the middle and out
through the roof which Gertie had surrounded with a cunningly
constructed wooden bench adorned by Ruth’s needlepoint
cushions. Visitors found their home strange, but Gertie and Ruth
loved it.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, and to anyone who’s looking for a good read in LGBT fiction. No spoilers…but I really loved the ending most of all. It’s clearly fiction, yet authentic in a slightly larger than life way like all of Hal’s fiction. And I’ll be recommending this one to my partner, Tony, who happens to be the worst critic I know when it comes to gay fiction. I rarely recommend anything to him because he is so critical (He has what I call “Ivy League Syndrome”). But this time I know I’m safe.

Another Indie Book by a Traditionally Published Author


This week I received a surprise e-mail from an author I’ve known for a few years now. His name is Hal Bodner and I read his book, Bite Club, and loved every single word of it. I might even have posted about it here somewhere. I’m not sure now.

He’s been published by Alyson Books and I met him after he wrote something for Ravenous Romance. We both have a lot in common because we’ve both been published by “traditional” gay presses before we moved into digital publishing. We can sit and remember the good old days when things get hectic.

I would consider Hal a classic gay author, and in more than one way. He has the voice of a gay man, the wit and humor of a gay writer, and the ability to convey his message without coming off too harsh. He writes smoothly, with tight narrative, and his characters jump from the page with authenticity. The wit and humor of some gay authors is not something that can be duplicated. It comes from within. Sometimes it can be cutting; other times downright hysterical.

Now Hal has decided to do something different. I had no idea he was doing this and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him. He just released a book through Amazon Kindle titled, The Trouble with Hairy. I’ve started reading it, I love it, and I’ll post more about it in a week or so, depending on how much time I have to read for personal pleasure right now.

But I wanted to do a short post to let people know The Trouble with Hairy is out on Kindle and that it can be purchased here.

Those who read this blog regularly know how interested I’ve been in indie publishing, particularly published authors who have decided to take control of their careers and go that route. Though I’m still on the fence about doing it myself at this time, I am thrilled for the authors who’ve decided to do this. And I couldn’t recommend an author like Hal Bodner more. This is one case where I know an indie e-book on amazon isn’t going to disappoint the readers who purchase it. In other words, you’re getting a book by a seasoned author who knows what he’s doing.

Here’s the blurb:

Oh, Bloody Mary – with a twist!

Cruel, sharp teeth hunger for a taste of human flesh. Powerful jaws salivate at the thought of innocent victims. And twisted, gnarled claws are just dying for a manicure!

Something not-quite-human stalks the city streets under the full moon after the gay bars close. As the ravaged corpses start piling up, coroner Becky O’Brien and her unlikely allies realize they are the only defenders who can protect scores of unsuspecting pretty boys from a grisly, bone crunching Death by Werewolf.

Welcome back to West Hollywood, where the drinks aren’t the only things that are stiff! Get ready to howl with laughter under a full moon when Becky, her best friend Christopher Driscoll – who happens to be the city’s resident vampire! – and his quirky boyfriend Troy battle to save West Hollywood’s hottest men from a vicious monster’s hunger.

Brace yourself for another runaway macabre black comedy from the author of Bite Club where you, too, will find yourself trying to discover just what, exactly, is… The Trouble with Hairy.

Hal Bodner’s previous book in the Chris and Troy series, Bite Club, was a genre best seller. A widower, he lives in West Hollywood with several dogs, a veritable flock of parrots and a new boyfriend barely half his age who was astonished to find out that Liza Minelli is Judy Garland’s daughter.