Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Frame of Reference by Christopher Stone - Interview & Excerpt

Publisher: MLR Press (October 1, 2012) Category: GLBT Romance, Hollywood ISBN: 978-1608207749 Tour Date: January, 2014 
Available in: Print & ebook, 332 Pages

His world-view shaped by retro movies and TV series, small-town boy, Grant Jackson, moves to Hollywood, in pursuit of television stardom.

Grant Jackson is a small-town guy, with the world-class, big city dreamof becoming a network television star. But how do you make the dream come true when your resources are scant, and your frames ofreference are retro motion pictures and the television series?

Determined to find out, Grant moves to Hollywood. But can he remain focused on his big dream, or will Grant be swept away in the anything goes world of gay West Hollywood - including its adult film and male prostitution scenes?

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Buy 'Frame Of Reference


Chapter One

Tuesday, September 3, 2002
6:12 a.m.

On the morning of Grant's move to Hollywood, he awakened early.

This much is true; I may awaken in this bed again, and in this room. But it will never again be my bed, or my room. It will never again be home.

That was a somewhat scary thought. Grant gulped as he looked around the only bedroom he had ever known. His eyes stopped at the Will & Grace poster that he had won on eBay; it hung on the wall, despite his father's initial protests. Next, Grant's eyes settled lovingly on the framed lobby card from My Fair Lady. Picturing Audrey Hepburn as Eliza at Ascot, the sun-faded souvenir was a treasure from his mom's youth.

Grant had briefly considered taking his bedroom treasures to Hollywood, minus mom's lobby card, but then he abandoned the idea. If I leave this room as is, then it will look more familiar when I visit. That was a comforting thought. His sentimental mother wouldn't change a thing, and his father never fooled with furniture and decor.

Grant's gaze shifted to his dresser. He smiled at the framed bathing suit photo he had taken with his best friend Greg Rockvam, four summers ago. It was one more thing of which Papa disapproved.

Grant remembered the afternoon that photo had been taken. It had been one of the many scorching summer days that he had shared with his best friend, diving, splashing and swimming, in Greg's back yard kidney-shaped swimming pool. Grant had been sexually stimulated whenever Greg left the water to step onto the diving board, his water-soaked bathing suit lowered somewhat, revealing tantalizing, white, muscled butt cleavage.

Although Grant was unfettered by what anonymous others thought about his gayness, he cared very much about what his best friend thought and, not knowing Greg's attitude about homosexuality, he had kept his sexual orientation, as well as his attraction to Greg, a secret.

But Greg's mother, Terry, had given Grant the chance to forever savor the moment, as well as her son's sexy butt cleavage.

"I'll give you boys a one, two, three," Terry Rockvam had said, eyeballing her son and Grant through the viewfinder of her brand-new five mega-pixel Canon. "One, two –"

Before Terry said three, Grant had turned Greg's back to the camera, thereby capturing his provocative butt crack on film. It had been an Auntie Mame moment, Grant thought gleefully. Just like when the camera finally revealed the plunging back on Mame's otherwise conservative black widow's weeds.

Although Grant didn't know how Greg felt about homosexuality, he found solace in the knowledge that his best friend had never referred to gay people as "homos," the way most of their classmates did. Nor had Greg ever joined in on the locker room harassment of the boys who were suspected of being gay.

These days, though, Grant didn't see much of Greg. Since graduating high school, the two friends had slowly grown apart. Greg was attending College of the Sequoias, his heart set on becoming a child psychologist. He was engaged to Linda Pollock, the only child of the owners of Pollock Funeral Chapel, Selma's highest profile mortuary. Grant felt a pang. Maybe, when he became a big star, he would invite Greg and Linda to his home in the Hollywood Hills, perhaps for a barbecue.

Leaving the "naughty" photo of Greg, Grant's eyes next swept over to the framed print of a very Caucasian, almost blond, Jesus. This artistic print constituted the compromise that had made it possible for Grant to display his Will & Grace one-sheet poster. He had agreed to give Jesus equal space with Will & Grace, thus placating Papa who thought Will & Grace inappropriate in a Christian home.

Enough of this, Grant decided, ending his nostalgic, sentimental journey. I want an early start. I'd better get going.

8:19 a.m.

Grant was showered, shaved, dressed, and the car was packed. It was time for good-byes.

He found Papa at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and reading the Bible. This was Mark Jackson's morning ritual.

"It's time for me to go," he told him.

"Interesting that you're leaving right now," Papa said, still looking down at the Bible. "I'm reading Luke fifteen, the story of the Prodigal Son."

Typical, Grant thought. He went over to Papa, and hugged him.
Still seated, Mark Jackson gave his son a perfunctory squeeze in return. "Don't forget to call your mother when you get there," he said, returning his attention to the Bible, and its story of that other wayward boy.

Grant's mother was still making a case for Grant to stay as he stashed the last box into his filled to the brim green VW Beetle.

"I still can't understand why you're leaving."

Grant didn't need, nor did he want, this last-ditch drama. But he didn't want to break his mother's heart, either. "Mama, you told me to leave."
Outside the car, Ellie Jackson was clueless. "I did no such thing!" she protested vehemently.

Grant returned her protest with a smile. "Remember Follow That Dream, the Elvis Presley movie?" he said softly. "We watched it together. You said we should always follow our dreams."

Ellie countered limply, "That's fine for Elvis- he isn't my son!"

Grant started the ignition. "I don't know what else to say, Mama, except that I love you."

He saw the tears standing in her eyes as he backed out onto the street. His heart broke a little. This moment felt like death. Perhaps it was the official death of his childhood. Unofficially, his childhood had ended during his first visit to Michael Quintana's house. But he told himself that everything would end up all right.

Mama will be all smiles on the Red Carpet when we attend the Emmys together, or maybe even the Oscars. And that's what we're going to do -as soon as I land my first television series.

Grant turned the corner and was gone

About Christopher Stone

Born in Bronx, New York, and raised in Fresno, California, Christopher Stone's early years were dominated by school, watching television and motion pictures, bicycling, skating, and reading avidly. Summers were spent swimming, and doing whatever it took to survive the oppressive San Joaquin Valley heat. But he also remembers fondly the yearly summer trips to New York, to visit family and friends - and to see Broadway shows. 

Christopher left Fresno, for Hollywood, California, during his college years after being accepted into the Writers Guild of America's Open Door Program, a two-year, scholarship, training ground for aspiring screen and television writers. As it happened, rather than a teleplay or screenwriting gig, his first professional writing job was in journalism - as the Los Angeles Editor for Stage Door, at that time, Canada's equivalent of the U.S. entertainment trade weekly, Variety.

Christopher would later use his Writers Guild of America training to co-author and sell the original screenplay, The Living Legend, with Jon Mercedes III, to the Erin Organization, and later, and also with Mercedes, to write two seasons of The Party Game, a Canadian TV game show.

As a young freelance entertainment journalist, he contributed to many Los Angeles-based publications, among them The Advocate, for which he wrote a breezy film column, "Reeling 'Round," and the Los Angeles Free Press. During this time, he became a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Christopher dipped his toes into the world of motion picture advertising and publicity, as assistant to the West Coast Director of Advertising and Publicity for Cinerama Releasing Corporation, in Beverly Hills. At the same time, he also did special advertising and publicity projects for 20th Century-Fox. Christopher went on to become an Account Executive for David Wallace & Company, a public relations firm specializing in entertainment accounts - and located on West Hollywood's legendary Sunset Strip.

Returning to his first love, writing, Christopher became a full time freelance contributor to national consumer publications including Us, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, McCall's, In Cinema, and The National Enquirer, among others. Many of his stories were syndicated worldwide by the New York Times Syndication Corp.

Another important area of endeavor for Christopher Stone was Re-Creating Your Self. A Blueprint for Personal Change that he first developed for himself, the journalist went on to teach the principles and processes of Re-Creating Your Self to others - first, in private sessions, later, in workshops and seminars, and, finally, for California State University Extended Education. Eventually, one of his students suggested he write a book version.

Re-Creating Your Self was first published in hardcover by Metamorphous Press, and subsequently published in a trade paperback edition by Hay House. It has since been published in Spanish, Swedish and Hebrew language editions.
He went on to co-author, with Mary Sheldon, four novellas for a Japanese educational publisher, and then, also with Mary Sheldon, the highly successful The Meditation Journal trilogy of hardcover books.

In his private life, Christopher Stone met David M. Stoebner on May 17, 1994 and they have been together ever since.  In 2008, they were married in Los Angeles.  They share a home with their three pets in Coastal Los Angeles County.

Quick Questions with Christopher Stone

What inspired you to start writing and when? 
In childhood I intuitively understood that, professionally speaking, I was born to write. My first salvo into the world of words was a one-act play that I wrote in third grade. It was produced as my class’s year-end project.  

What is your preferred genre?
Metaphysics, in its philosophical sense, comprise my favorite book genre. Among my all-time favorite books are Science and Health With Key to The Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and absolutely everything written by twentieth century metaphysician, Jane Roberts. In the coming years, I will explore themes metaphysical in my own writing.

Tell us your latest news.
I savor my every day. Gratitude is my constant attitude, and I am most grateful to be blessed with health, a loving spouse of twenty years, a four-legged family of three (a Yellow Lab, a Min Pin, and a tortoise shell Calico), as well as the blessing of work that I love. I am also very active at church. This year, I have again been voted onto the Executive Board of my and my David’s branch church, and then , I have a very busy social life with some of this world’s most wonderful friends.  Life is fulfilling and good, and I do not take one iota of it for granted, or as my due.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest work?
I recently completed the sequel to Frame of Reference. It is titled The Dark Side of Stardom. This sequel is a fully self-contained novel. Readers need not have read Frame of Reference in order to thoroughly enjoy and understand its sequel. 

How long did it take you to complete?
I worked, part-time, on the first draft of Frame of Reference for about eighteen months. I submitted the first draft to MLR Press, and a contract to publish was subsequently offered. I spent the next seven months, full time, retooling my original concept, with the help of Jennifer Ayres, a great editor,  into the book they wanted to publish.

Are any of your characters based on real life friends or acquaintances?
Yes. Quite a few of them. Additionally, for some years, I worked as an entertainment journalist in Hollywood, interviewing A-list stars for major, national print publications. So some of my characters are also based upon celebrities with whom I worked.

Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?
No. I did have a cover concept. Because my lead character is a fanatic for retro movies from the 1950s and 1960s, my cover concept for Frame of Reference parodied the motion picture poster for the 1950s’ horror film, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. But my publisher chose to go another way. So the highly talented Lex Valentine designed the cover that was used.

Where did you get your inspiration for your cover?
The cover concept was Lex Valentine’s brainchild, and it is perfect.

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
I wish I could write by the seat of my pants. To work that way takes a much more gifted man than I. I plan, plot, and outline extensively. I must, or the results are highly disappointing. 

My friend, the late, great Sidney Sheldon, once advised me, “Christopher, just create characters you love and then let them tell their stories.”  That works for me so long as I outline carefully, and in advance, the stories they tell.

Do you write under a pen name?
I do not, and I never have.

Do you have any advice for other writers starting out?
“Write about what you know.” One small example from my own writing: If I write about a restaurant meal, it is always a meal that I have eaten at the restaurant about which I am writing.

Coffee or tea?
I start the morning with coffee - strong coffee. I brew it from freshly ground, medium roast beans. I 86 sugar, but I use sufficient cream to turn my brew a medium brown color. After one and a half mugs of this caffeinated brew, I switch to drinking mugs of boiling water, to which I add freshly squeezed lemon juice and coconut oil. I sip this cleansing hot drink, all morning, as I work at my desk. I have a mug of this at my side, right now.

White chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate?
I am definitely a milk chocolate man, with white chocolate as my first runner-up.

Winter or summer?
Winter me, summer me. I have no clear cut choice. I love both seasons equally, and for different reasons. Here in Coastal Southern California, weather wise, there frequently is not much difference between the two. It’s not unusual to have a temperature high of seventy-eight degrees in January, nor would it be unusual to have that very same weather day in July.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
I’d like to leap tall buildings in a single bound – just because it sounds like fun. But, truthfully, my super power of choice would be to possess an absolute knowledge of the nature of reality.

If you could be somebody else for a day who would you be and why?
Truthfully, it has never entered my mind that I would want to be somebody else – not even for a day. I belong in, and I feel comfortable in, my own skin.

What are three things you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?
That is an easy one. Quite simply, a smile, a positive attitude, and self-confidence.

Are you a technology buff?
Yes, except for technology as it relates to warfare. But I’m a goner for the positive side of technology. Just ask my Gold iPhone 6 Plus.

What is a movie or a TV show that you just watched recently and enjoyed?
Last month, I saw, and loved, The Imitation Game, starring Benjamin Cumberbatch. It was shown at a private theater in Beverly Hills, and after the movie, the screenwriter, Graham Moore, was in person to answer questions from the audience. It was a memorable evening. And I suspect Mr. Moore will receive an Oscar nomination, perhaps even the coveted Gold Statutette, for his screenplay.

Praise for 'Frame of Reference

"Christopher Stone, a new name on the GLBT romance scene, makes a memorable debut with FRAME OF REFERENCE. In this case, the titular frame of reference happens to be American television and the prologue takes us through the main character's life in vignettes showing how the medium shapes his past, present, and future. The book is a good example of how to create an extremely sympathetic character and how to tell a story with simple, unadorned prose that rises above the page to create true imagery where it belongs: in the readers' mind. I was enchanted with the book and read it from cover to cover in just a few hours, happily coming along on the main character's journey toward self-actualization and, ultimately, love. I'm sure that a romance reader seeking the elusive "happily ever after" will be quite enchanted with this work by an important new author."-Rick R. Reed, AmazonVine Voice 

"This book is definitely not in a genre I ordinarily read, so when a friend recommended it to me, I was admittedly a little skeptical. Skepticism, however, soon turned into genuine delight. Using an almost Christopher Isherwood, I-am-a-camera-like precision, Stone expertly evokes the world of a young gay man from a small town who struggles to establish himself as an actor in Hollywood. Written vividly and wryly, the book is by turns touching, exciting, erotic and dark, and is always compelling. The characters were full-bodied (in more ways than one!) the dialogue was realistic, the situations off-beat and interesting. When I finished the book, my first thought was, "Bring on the sequel!" I can give "Frame of Reference" no higher praise than that!"- Robert J. Van Dusen, Amazon Reviewer 

"This book was recommended by one of my gay friends and I must admit, as a straight lady, I wasn't sure it was something I would be interested in reading. Glad I took the plunge. Interesting characters, in an interesting Hollywood setting that the writer is very familiar with. I loved the references, by the main character, to all the TV. and movies. Clearly, Mr. Stone has done his homework. The sex scenes, (while a bit too much information for me!) will be much appreciated by the appropriate audience - in other words, quite hot! Still, no romance novel is worth its salt without a good story line. Again, Mr. Stone has shown his mettle. The characters are well developed and the story interesting as a young man fights his way to the top of the heap. Bring on the next book, sequel!"- Sharyn St.Clair, Amazon Reviewer 

"I stumbled on Frame of Reference at the nail salon. A lady was reading it and would read passages to the entire shop. So, I bought the book. What an eye opener into the world of gay young men. Being raised in Hollywood as a non-gay, I had no idea about this vibrant subculture. Being mature and growing up in a movie family, I understood all the references to movie stars, TV shows, and cinema. Do read it, you won't be able to put it down!"- Dee Lewis, Amazon Reviewer "Stone is at home in this world and he is an excellent writer with a touch of sardonic wit and his erotic scenes are very hot. I was totally amazed at the way he pulled me into his story especially since this is his first novel. His prose is simple but just right and Stone tells us a tale that allows us to draw mental pictures of what we read."-Reviews by Amos Lassen

Follow the Tour

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Paranormal Romance Jan 21 Review 
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking part in the tour and hosting Christopher!