Title ~ Spirit
Author ~ John Inman
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Published ~ 17th March 2014
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Jason Day, brilliant designer of video games, is not only a confirmed bachelor, but he’s as gay as a maypole. One wouldn’t think being saddled with his precocious four-year-old nephew for four weeks would be enough to throw him off-kilter.
Wrong. Timmy, Jason’s nephew, is a true handful.
But just when Timmy and Uncle Jason begin to bond, and Jason feels he’s getting a grip on this babysitting business once and for all, he’s thrown for a loop by a couple of visitors—one from Tucson, the other from beyond the grave.
I’m sorry. Say what?
Toss a murder, a hot young stud, an unexpected love affair, and a spooky-ass ghost with a weird sense of humor into Jason’s summer plans, and you’ve got the makings for one hell of a ride.
So not only is John Inman a funny man he's also got spooky down to a T as well. I've laughed, cried, shivered and goosebumped my way through this entertaining book. The plot had me nose to kindle and as always I fell hard and fast for the characters I was supposed to and boo'd and hissed at the ones I wasn't!
Before I go any further I have to talk about Timmy!! OMG! I adored that little scamp. Four years old going on forty and one of the best kids I've ever come across in a book. I hate precocious, sickly sweet children but Timmy is far from that. He's funny, manipulative, tiring, inquisitive, naughty, cute, mischievous, full on, loveable, impish and did I say hilarious? Then on the opposite side, because of the nature of the plot, he's also a sad little soul at times and there were a couple of little incidents that had me tearing up and reaching for the tissues! Yes there's some poignant and sad moments in this too. Not forgetting a few creepy moments involving the little tyke that had tingles running up my spine!
Basically the book is set around a small ensemble of people, the main guys being Jason, Timmy his nephew and Sam, Jason's love interest (who arrives with a few secrets of his own). Then there's Sally, Jason's sister and Jack, the skeezy boyfriend, so there's not really that many characters involved, yet the story flowed and twisted and turned so that one minute I was sure I knew what was going on, the next minute...not so certain! I mean come on, out of that small amount of people surely it’s going to be easy to see what direction this is going in? Well yes and no. There are things that you see coming, that are pretty obvious to us the reader, that take Jason a bit longer to cotton on to but there's also directions that I think John very cleverly uses to play with us! I can't really say much else for fear of spoilers but I came away really impressed by the underlying mystery/ suspense plot.
Then of course there's the paranormal side to the book and the haunting. Did that satisfy this ghost loving reader? DO RABBITS LOVE BUNNY SEX Of course it did! I loved every spooktastic, spine chilling minute of it! Who is the ghost? Why hasn't Jason been bothered by him before Timmy came to stay? What message is this spirit trying to convey to him? Why is bugs bunny talking to them through the TV screen (HA! now you're intrigued aren't you?) and Who is Timmy talking too through the murky basement windows? That's just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of really eerie, uncanny things start happening and when Sam appears things escalate even more! Like I said, it wasn't long before I guessed the nature of the haunting and I'm pretty sure you will but don't get complacent because there's more afoot!
Jason and Sam have now joined all my other favourite John Inman characters.
Every time I'm seduced by his couples so it was a no brainer I'd fall for them both. Jason is a very funny guy, as always, he's self-deprecating and the conversations, banter and interactions between him and that ' old beyond his years' four year old had me in stitches. Sam is gorgeous, a perfect fit for Jason and the attraction between them turns pretty quickly to love but it just seems right! I never question the fast falling in love between his guys, for me it just works without feeling the eye rolls coming on. The love scenes are hot and sexy but always the romance shines through and you feel the chemistry and connection in the relationship. There's things they discover about each other that could make or break their love affair but love prevails and in this case it’s a bloody good job it does! And despite the seriousness of the subject matter I still got my belly laughs. Not easy to balance humour against sadness and get it right. That's why I love these books.
All I can say is, if you're a fan of Mr Inman's I doubt very much you'll be disappointed. This had everything for me. A well thought out plot, a delightful hot, sexy romance, a proper chilling ghost story, vibrant, three dimensional characters, humour, pathos, excitement and best of all.... another of Johns colourful doggie characters! Not the same without one of those... Aww thumper...I loved you too old girl!
Oh yeah and Timmy, I just have to mention him again!
As for the ghost....he has a name too but you'll have to meet him yourselves!
"Did you hear that????"
Macky Interview’s John Inman
Macky: Hi John, thanks for visiting us again at SSBR. Its always lovely to see you. *big smile* First of all congrats on the new release. I've got to say I had the best time reading Spirit and got the impression you had a lot of fun writing this one, if I'm wrong, it sure didn't show!
John: Hi Macky. It's great to be back. I love you guys at SSBR. And thanks. Like you said, my new book is titled SPIRIT, and yeah, it's always really exciting when a new release comes out. I get sort of hyperdrive crazy every time. Dreamspinner Press posts the new releases on the COMING SOON page on their website about a month before the release date, and my god, that month drags along. I think the universe runs on a different time frame when you have a book on the COMING SOON page. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, and you're right. It really was a lot of fun to write. Sex, spooks, bad guys, a four-year-old brat running around. What's not to like?
Macky: You've gone for a paranormal theme this time, but on the spooky side, not shifters or vamps, which is a refreshing change. How did you get your ' light bulb ' moment for this story?
John: I love ghost stories. In fact I have a couple on the backburner at DSP waiting for release dates. Those two books are titled THE BOYS ON THE MOUNTAIN and WILLOW MAN. I can't wait until they come out. They are really spooky. As for SPIRIT, I had written so many straight comedies lately (straight is probably the wrong adjective there, huh?) that I wanted to do something different, but still make it light and hopefully funny. There's some serious backstory going on in SPIRIT, and a hot romance too (at least I hope people will think it's hot), but in the end it's the spooky aspect of the plot that steers the action. And the humor, of course. Gotta have the humor.
Macky: Okay ** Warning**... cliché question alert... Do you actually believe in ghosts and an afterlife?
John: It might be a cliché question, but it's still a tough one to answer. I'm torn about the whole "afterlife" thing. When I was in my early twenties I lost my brother, Gary. He and I were really close. When he died, the family was absolutely shattered. My mother was so grief stricken she had a nervous breakdown over it. Then one night I dreamed of Gary. In my dream, he was fishing by the side of a pond we used to fish at when he was alive. He turned to me in the dream, waved, and smiling broadly, said, "Tell Mom I'm happy." And that was the end of the dream. It took me a long time to get up the courage to tell that dream to my mom, but when I finally did, she got this wondrous look on her face. I still don't know if it was just a dream or wishful thinking or an honest-to-God message from my brother, but my mom believed to the end of her life that Gary was happily fishing by the side of that pond, waiting for the rest of us to join him. And you know what? Maybe I do too.
Macky: What I loved about this story was the way you balanced the humour against the pathos, suspense and spookiness. Was it hard to do in this, considering the fact that you're dealing with a pretty serious, underlying subject matter?
John: I seem to have this thing in my writing about trying to meld funny with tragic. SHY, HOBBLED, even LOVIING HECTOR took on some serious issues in the background, but still it was the humor in each of those books that really drove the story. It's the same with SPIRIT. If a book doesn't have at least a dash of humor now and then, I find it a bit of a downer to read. There's enough misery in life. When I decide to invest the time to lose myself in fiction, I want to be entertained, and to me being entertained means to smile now and then, maybe even spit up a chuckle or two. If I laugh so hard I'm squirting coffee through my nose that's even better. Don't get me wrong, I like angst as much as the next guy. But in my humble opinion it needs to be tempered with a little humor, otherwise it's just too much sadness. The problem with me is, I write like I cook. When I start with the condiments I go overboard. And usually that's what I do with the comedy too. I start with a slightly humorous idea and by the time I'm done doctoring it up, there's a pratfall, a pie in the face, and the next thing you know it's totally over the top. But as long as it's still funny, who cares? There are enough authors out there striving for realism, and I love every one of them. But I'm not chasing realism in my comedies. I just want to give people a happy read. If it takes clown shoes and a rubber nose to do it, then that's okay with me.
Macky: They say never work with children and animals but you've got both in 'Spirits,' Timmy and Thumper, and once again you've nailed both! Please tell me there's a real "Timmy" running around out there somewhere, because that kid is awesome! I laughed so hard at some of the stuff he comes out with and does but you also had me weeping around him as well. This child can't just be a figment of your imagination because he's far too 'alive' and vibrant! I adored him.
John: Anyone who has read any of my books knows there's usually a few pets sprinkled around. I love animals. Couldn't live without them. So it's only natural I would want to incorporate them into my stories. As for creating the character of Timmy in SPIRIT, that was a new one for me. Frankly, I was pretty nervous about attempting to write a four-year-old. You don't want to make them too smart, but you don't want to make them too dumb either. I've been around kids that age, but not a lot. So every time Timmy had a line or an action in the book, I analyzed the crap out of it. Would a four-year-old do this? Would a four-year-old say that? Would a four-year-old respond this way? It's kind of tricky. I guess I'll have to wait until a few more reviews come in before I know if I succeeded or not. Hope I did. I really adored writing Timmy. And I have to say, I loved that kid. He's one of my favorite characters ever. It's a lot of fun writing a character as pure as a four-year-old. Their reactions are just so -- bizarre. And honest. Is there a real Timmy running around in my life? No. Do I wish there was? Yeah, I sorta do.
Macky: As I said, this time you've given us lovely old Thumper the geriatric dog, bless her! What a sweetie. Is it a deliberate move on your part to always have a colourful dog character in one of your stories? A John Inman signature? I still think of Pepe the chihuahua and snort, and how can we forget the zombie poodle....
John: I guess one of the reasons I rely on dogs to fill out my list of characters, is that, especially in comedy, I always think something needs to be happening every minute. If you have a lull in the people action, you can always slip a few lines in about the dog in the story humping a fencepost or something. Well, not really. But you know what I mean. The dog isn't just another character, it's also another piece of backdrop. It's another reality to tap into. And if it's the main character's dog, then it also adds another piece to his characterization. It rounds him out a little more and makes him that much more real. After all, in my opinion characterization is the backbone of any book. You have to have believable, relatable characters or the story won't ring true. And the more pieces you fit into the whole the more complete the story feels, the more well-rounded your fictional world becomes. Plus, as far as comedies go, dogs are great. They're sort of like four-year-old kids. They'll do anything, but whatever it is it's usually the last thing you expect.
Macky: I fall in love with your guys every time and each time I think I've found my new favourites. Jason and Sam were no exception. I'd fallen before I knew it! You do funny, romantic and sexy so well! Is it hard letting them go once you've finished their story and have you ever considered writing a sequel for any of your couples?
John: I love writing romance. And I fall in love with every one of my characters. But I have to tell you, by the time I've finished writing a book, and rereading it a hundred times in the process and fixing this and tweaking that and piddling around for weeks and months trying to get everything right until I finally throw up my hands and ship it off to the publisher -- well, by then I'm pretty well fed up with them. Glad to see them go. As for sequels, they are hard for me to write. I'm learning that now, writing the sequel for SERENADING STANLEY. So many readers asked me to further the stories of Arthur and Sylvia and some of the other tenants in the Belladonna Arms that I began to think maybe I should. And it is fun, I have to admit. But it's also hard, because I tend to get bored with the same old characters over time. I'm really impressed by writers who can write multiple books about the same characters and still keep their stories fresh.
Macky: Without giving anything away, I thought I had the conclusion pegged a few times, but you really surprised me! When you start to write a book like this, do you already have the ending planned or does it evolve as the story goes along?
John: It evolves as I go along. Sometimes when I start, I don't have the least idea where I'm going with a story. I usually begin by fleshing out a main character. Picking a name, deciding what he looks like, what he does for a living, what his personality is like. Once I'm a few pages in, and I start to feel like I know him, then the ideas start coming about what I want to do with him. With SPIRIT I did know I wanted to do a ghost story when I started, and I also knew I wanted a kid in it, but other than that the whole plot just kind of gradually arose during the course of the writing. It's usually like that with all my books. I've never done an outline in my life (I'm not that organized), and most of the time I'm halfway through the required word count for a full-fledged novel before I begin to really know how I want the story to end. I've been surprised more than once by the wierdass direction my imagination takes me at that point in the writing, but I figure if I'm surprised, then the reader will be surprised too. And that's a good thing. Right?
Macky: When I think of a John Inman book, whatever the basic plot is, I automatically think funny. Not everyone gets it right because everyone's sense of humour is so different but you have me laughing and snorting every time. Do you ever find yourself laughing out loud at the funny bits whilst you're writing it?
John: If I do find myself laughing at something I've written I know I've done it right. And if I still chuckle at it by the fifth reading, I'm thrilled to death, but that's rare. Still, humor is subjective. Everybody isn't going to think your gags are funny, no matter what you do. But I'm just as happy to elicit a teeny tiny smile from a reader as I am a belly laugh. And actually they don't even have to smile. If I can merely hold their interest so that they keep turning the pages all the way to the end, then that's enough for me. I just want to tell stories. Humor is simply one of the formulas I use to make it fun for myself. Of course, all my books aren't comedies, but still they have comedic moments. That's just the way I write.
Macky: Okay so you've done ghosts, serial killers, nasty cops, man eating hogs, randy teenagers, hairy transvestites, crazy moms and very naughty grandads! What's coming next and when? I know myself and all your fans are dying to know... If its hush, hush we promise not to tell... Honest!
John: God, I'd never realized how twisted I was until you rattled off my list of credits. Hee hee. Man-eating hogs. I still love that one. Okay, let's see. The next book I have coming out after SPIRIT is titled HEAD-ON. By the way, I'm still not thrilled with that title. It may change before the editing process is over. I'm not sure. Anyway, HEAD-ON ended up going off in a different direction for me. Angst and drama sort of took over during the course of the writing on this one. It's about a man whose life has been shattered by a fatal traffic accident he caused while driving drunk. He loses everything because of that one drunken night, and the story details how he comes to grips with his guilt and eventually learns to forgive himself for what he did, and in the process he also finds love in the guise of a sweet but damaged homeless man he befriends during the course of his rehabilitation. It's about as far from a comedy as I've ever gone. But having spent a few years on the wrong end of a bottle myself, I found writing the story a cathartic experience. And as always, I fell in love with the characters. It's funny how love has no boundaries whatsoever. It can lead you anywhere. And to anyone who takes its fancy.
Macky: Last question John and then you can get back to doing your thing! So...how many episodes of 'Ghosthunters' did you watch for research purposes? LOL. No, seriously, did you do much research into spooky happenings or is all this just from that fertile imagination of yours? Whatever you did, you had me shivering and goose bumping more than a few times!
John: Glad you thought the story was spooky, but as far as television goes, I'm almost embarrassed to answer your question. The truth is, I don't watch TV at all. Maybe the news, but that's it. In the evenings my husband and I (his name is John too) sometimes watch movies (I own hundreds) but as for regular programming -- zilch. Sometimes I see my Facebook friends chatting about this show and that and going all fangirl and stuff and I get a little jealous because they're having so much fun talking about their favorite shows and characters, but so far I haven't been tempted to tune in long enough to see what they are getting so excited about. Let's see now, the last actual TV shows that John and I watched were my DVD's of the entire ten seasons of FRIENDS. Love that show. I'm madly in love with Ross. Go figure. And Joey. Oh, yeah, and Chandler too. Nothing gay about me.
Macky: I'd just like to end by saying thanks again John for taking time out of your busy life to pop over to see us. Its been an absolute pleasure reading 'Spirit' and just as much of one chatting with you on the blog today! We love having you here and hope you'll be back again soon. Perhaps you'll bring Timmy with you next time! I'll make sure there's plenty Popsicles to keep him under control...oh and tissues...lots of tissues...
John: Thanks Macky. It's been fun. I'll see if I can round up Timmy to accompany me the next time I come around. Tell everyone at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews I said hi. You folks are the absolute best. And as for everybody else out there -- KEEP READING!
About John Inman
John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie. John's advice for anyone who wishes to be a writer? "Set time aside to write every day and do it. Don't be afraid to share what you've written. Feedback is important. When a rejection slip comes in, just tear it up and try again. Keep mailing stuff out. Keep writing and rewriting and then rewrite one more time. Every minute of the struggle is worth it in the end, so don't give up. Ever. Remember that publishers are a lot like lovers. Sometimes you have to look a long time to find the one that's right for you."
You can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org
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