Ken Bachtold on Writing, Stories and his latest ‘A Company of Players’ (guest blog)

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A Company of Players (States of Love) by Ken Bachtold
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ken Bachtold here today answering our questions and talking about his release A Company of Players, the latest in Dreamspinner Press’ States of Love series.  Welcome, Ken, tell us about yourself, writing and your story!

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Ken Bachtold: First of all, being a great fan of the whimsical, I love the title of your blog! Makes me smile! Also, I think your question and answer approach is the very best way to understand an author, and I’m delighted to answer all your questions.

I do put a lot of my own thoughts and actions into my characters, particularly the protagonist, also the other characters often say things I think are important.  A few of my own experiences do come into play, i.e., more in this story than any of the others, since I did come to New York (not with a Barb) and I did start my own theater company called, surprisingly, A Company Of Players, the origin of which is explained in the book. The trip to the used theater seating company is right out of my experience. (I can still see those beautiful light blue seats that were too impractical to be used). However, most of the rest is made up. The local color (New York) is almost all authentic (i.e. the little square, so important in the story, actually exists), as I do live in New York (and I did come from San Francisco, where my knowledge, with research, remembers affectionately, The Fairmont Hotel.) I have a BA & MA in Theater with a minor in Art from San Francisco State University, so all of the theater references are spot on.

Yes! Research is vitally important, because someone, somewhere will have exact knowledge concerning what you’re writing about.  Heaven help the author who disregards this reader!  One of my stories had the main character going out of state.  I ordered a great book titled Writers Guide to Places by Dan Prues and Jack Heffron, and settled on Montana.  I found that, besides being the home of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, it’s rumored that they have a potluck dinner every 2.3 seconds and they favor pickled eggs and bull’s testicles! After reading all that, and putting most of it into the story, I would never try to describe a different locale without research!

When younger, I read (and often re-read) the Dobbie Gillis stories by Max Schulman (who else would name a female character something so delicious as Poppy Herring!)? I’ve since always been attracted to that kind of humor (Paper Moon, Auntie Mame, etc. For instance, I loved the movie Deadpool.) My main characters in this story, Nick and Barb are constantly (with good humor) teasing each other and trying for one-upmanship. I feel it keeps the dialogue bright and interesting. Although, I do have moments of very serious conversations. Also, when I found her, I read all the Regency romances by Georgette Heyer (the very best in the genre) for their authentic period descriptions as well as the wonderful stories, and, when desperate, I must confess I even read Barbara Cartland (one of her heroines was named Panthia – which I thought rather pretentious.) My favorite main stream authors are Lee Child’s Streacher stories, and anything by Jonathan Kellerman and Dick Francis. As for MM stories, my most favorite novelist is Pat Henshaw, a fellow Dreamspinner author.

I’ve never had to put an “in progress” story aside because of emotional angst, because I never let my characters get to that absolute desperation point.  Worry, insecurity etc., but never any truly painful stress. Their hearts may ache, or even shatter a bit, but they never bleed to death!  I’ve always hated sad endings and with movies I won’t even go to one, because the depression stays with me for days.  So, too, with books.  I’ve literally thrown an MM book on the floor when at the very end, the characters look sadly at each other as the sun sets over the beach, and then they walk in different directions. Grrrr!

I have had to put a story aside when I get two ideas going at the same time.  I write just enough to get my ideas down and then put one away.  I’m very linear, not a multitasker! At the moment, I’ve had to put aside one titled Looking Back For Tomorrow and concentrate on another titled Something Happened In Paris (I was lucky once, being able to go there (had never been out of the U.S.) with a stage production – as a friend – and I remember it vividly – but research, I will faithfully do)!

I have mixed feelings about the e-book phenomenon.  As a reader, I feel like a traitor when I read my Kindle (and its most likely storage of 400 or so MM books, as well as detective stories) but they’re so convenient and handy. Books tend to get dropped and lost. (I once dropped an almost-finished paperback onto the subway tracks and, stupidly, looked both ways and dropped down and then back up to retrieve it. Well . . . I had to find out how it ended!) As an author, I’d much rather be published in paperback and have the actual book in hand, as there’s something too ephemeral about e-books! I plan, for the first time, to exhibit at the Rainbow Book Fair, and it would be great to have all of my books in paperback form instead of only two!

Re: Covers! With my second book published by Dreamspinner, All By Myself, I discovered cover artist Reese Dante, who in my opinion is the greatest! I was so delighted that I requested her expertise on my next book, Mood Indigo as well as this current one.  She is outstanding, as she always has faint depictions of the scenes of the book in the background behind the figures and/or faces.  And her color palette and font choice are always exquisite, and perfectly fitting to the mood of the book!

Do I have a favorite among my stories? OMG, that’s like asking a mother if she has a favorite child.  I love all my books equally, and you would never hear me even murmur otherwise!  After all, I wouldn’t want to hurt any feelings, and I would if any one of them thought they weren’t number one!!

I came to my writing in kind of a roundabout way. I had a terrible time finding MM books that I liked to read.  I found most of them (but not all) rather weak on character and plot and heavy on minutely described sex scenes every two or three pages. To my mind, they bordered from kind of sleazy to absolute porn.  I discovered (in an Advocate article that most of the writers were women and most of the readers were youngish girls).  But . . . what about guys like me?   So, I decided that instead of just moaning, I would try to write the kind of book I favored. Writing was not so foreign to me, as I’d written four musicals, book, music and lyrics and a very successful play (Starting Over) produced at the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival).  So, figuratively, pen in hand, I forged ahead.  When I finished my first one (Seeing The Same Blue) I figured, why not go for it? So, I sent it to the firm I believed to be the Cadillac of publishing houses, Dreamspinner Press. I nearly fell off my chair when I was fortunate enough that they accepted it!  And, I was off and running. I write books heavy on plot and character, with, I hope scintillating dialogue and some titillation along the way. Luckily, I’ve found an audience that likes my kind of book and I’ve had some very nice comments on Amazon.  (Also, a few real stinkers – but that’s to be expected.)

Well, I hope I haven’t gone on too long, and that the last paragraph is not off-putting.  It’s been a real kick to be able to detail all these things about me and my books, and I thank you for the structure you provide!

Yours in whimsy,

Ken Bachtold

Friendlykenn@aol.com

 

About A Company Of Players

Leaving romantic wreckage behind him, Nick Charles and his best friend Barb Anderson use Nick’s sizable inheritance to fly to one of the most exciting places in the world—New York City—with plans to open their own theater. In doing so, they meet Ross Taylor, the handsome real estate man and actor, and Rudy his construction-worker cousin. Ross is determined to heal Nick’s fragile heart, while shy Rudy and oblivious Barb stumble toward their own connection. Will Rosie Dupree, a rigid method actress, and talented but devious Gordon Holmes destroy their theater dreams? Was choosing the original piece, Starting Over, by an unpublished young playwright the best move for opening night? Will the invited critic show up? Amid the frantic and colorful world of the New York City theater scene, Nick and Barb must open their hearts and risk everything for their endeavors to succeed—both on the stage and behind the scenes.

About the Author

Ken Bachtold 

BA & MA from San Francisco State University in Theatre (Acting and Directing) with a minor in Art.

When I constantly had trouble finding the type of book I liked to read, I finally said to myself, “Why don’t you stop moaning and write one yourself?” So I did. I was thrilled to the marrow (literally) when Dreamspinner accepted Seeing the Same Blue. Then followed acceptance of Blue Valentine Blues, part of their Valentine anthology. Next, came acceptance of All By Myself, Mood Indigo and now A Company Of Players is being released on March 22, 2017. My cup runeth over!  All books can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Before that, Outskirts Press published Love Like Lightning – Ten Stories of Love at First Sight, also on Amazon.

My original play, Starting Over (which I also directed), was just staged as part of the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in New York.  Audience reaction was terrific.  It was one of nine plays accepted out of 60 submitted.  It was an MM romance.  The blurb in the brochure for the festival read, “A play about love and loss.  Griff has recently lost his longtime partner.  Can he find happiness with Ben, the new neighbor down the hall?  He’s supported by his sister and opposed by his widowed mother, now remarried to a homophobic preacher.”

 I’ve also written 4 musicals, book, music and lyrics.

Saloon (loosely suggested by the old melodrama The Drunkard) which opened The Gatetway Dinner Theatre in New Jersey to great reviews (I can forward them if you wish). It was subsequently optioned by Broadway producer Jerry Schloschberg (who, at the time was, producing the revival of On The Town with Bernadette Peters), but a show sluggishly following the old material opened and closed the same night, and he backed off thinking there was now a “stigma” on the material.

 The Facts of Life (a musical about War, Prejudice and Aging, circa the ‘60s) was written at the BMI Music Workshop, taught by Broadway legend, Lyman Engle, and only after several auditions before acceptance in the class.  It was deemed worthy of a staged reading there.

 Boo! based on the old gothic novel The Castle Spectre was done by several regional theatres.

I was hired to doctor a musical based on Iphigenia At Aulis, called The Winds Of Aulis.  I changed the name to Dilemma! and wrote a subplot and mostly new lyrics.  Although the play was fully backed, it never reached production and I never found out why.

 I’ve written and staged numerous night club and cabaret acts and taught singing for the musical stage for 15 years.

Contact Ken at:

  • Website:              www.kenbachtold
  • Twitter                 Ken Bachtold
  • Facebook            Ken Bachtold
  • Tumblr                 Ken Bachtold

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