Black and Blue and Pretty Dead, Too is the latest installment of the Paul Turner Mysteries by local author Mark Zubro. This time around, Detective Turner gets caught in a tangle of intrigue and corruption, as a brutal
Chicago cop is found murdered at a gay leather festival.
You can see the author himself reading from this gripping new mystery Sat., April 21, 2 pm at Leather Archives and Museum, 6418 N. Greenview.
Mark took a moment to chat with Nightspots about Detective Turner, leather and some tricks of the writing trade.
Nightspots Magazine: Your main character Detective Paul Turner is a very well-rounded, fleshed out gay character. How important was it for you to portray him as much more than a stereotype?
Mark Zubro: When I thought of Paul Turner I knew he was going to be gay and a tough, smart detective. I also wanted him to be a father and a family man so I gave him two sons. To increase his need to be a totally involved parent, I gave one son spina bifida which meant a lot of room to showcase Paul as a caring, loving father. From the beginning it was vital that he be multi-dimensional.
NS: This is his first adverture since 2007. Are you already working on the next case?
MZ: My next book is tentatively titled Another Dead Republican and tells the story of a murder connected to a recall campaign of a right-wing, homophobic governor who is trying to destroy workers' rights.
NS: The book is just dripping with Chicagoness, if that's a word. How long have you lived in Chicago? Do you consider the city itself as a vital character in your books?
MZ: 40 years. Setting is always vital and Chicago is particularly central.
NS: Be honest, how often do people you meet end up as characters in your book? If so, how do you go about disguising that (if at all)?
MZ: All the time. The traits are universal, for example idiot school administrators, but disguising them is easy as none of them think they are idiots. Another example, you get the same universal notion when thinking up characters who are Republicans and showing them as viciously anti-gay, unprincipled, lying pigs who cannot deal with reality. Again disguising them is easy as none of them think they are, or at least they will not admit to being, viciously anti-gay, unprincipled, lying pigs who cannot deal with reality. As for specific methods of disguise there are a number of simple and obvious tricks: Changing names, ages; taking away or adding physical characteristics; changing a person's gender. The characteristics are real and hopefully universal. The methods of disguise are only limited by my imagination. I heard at a writer's conference once someone say that, in fact, you could describe and use an actual person and it wouldn't matter as that person would never recognize him or herself. I've never had the nerve to try that except in one case. Mrs. Talucci in the Paul Turner books is not based on my grandmother, she is my grandmother, who was a smart, tough, independent woman.
NS: What did you grow up reading? Did Detective Paul Turner begin in your mind as a young reader?
MZ: The characters I most enjoyed as a kid were Freddy the Pig and Sherlock Holmes. I didn't think of Paul Turner until I was in my 40s.
NS: What's your connection to the leather community?
MZ: A hot man in leather can be a joy to behold. I've been to IML a few times and the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.
NS: Will you be at IML this year with your book?
MZ: An author's booth is planned where the books will be available.
NS: Who would you like to play Paul in the movie version?
MZ: Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling.
Get on the case with Detective Paul Turner in Black and Blue and Pretty Dead, Too, by Mark Zubro, available as a paperback or e-book from mlrpress.com or at Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway.