Okay, so I promised I’d reveal the inspiration behind my story in this year’s Dreamspinner Daily Dose anthology, Piano Man, but I’ve been holding off until those who were getting a book from the collection a day had received their copy. And also, I didn’t want to reinforce the stereotype that we writers without evil day jobs just slump on the settee in our pyjamas watching daytime TV.
Occasionally, if I’m having one of those days where I’m running errands or catching up on reading any books I’ve been given to review, I’ll see part of The Wright Stuff. Usually, the panellists are so opinionated they have me screaming and reaching for the off switch, though it is nice to spot Bernice, Sir Guy Masterleigh’s partner and the transsexual who almost flattened me on a bouncy castle at the Pleasuredome fetish party (long story…), in the audience from time to time. However, this particular morning, one of the guests was Mark Curry, who readers of a certain vintage will remember from his presenting stint on Blue Peter (or if you grew up in Yorkshire like I did, Junior Showtime). Somehow, the fact that Curry has come out in the intervening years had passed me by, but I was intrigued by the conversation he was having with Matthew Wright about socialising when you’re gay. He was complaining that once you reach a certain age, the clubbing scene loses its appeal, and he couldn’t really find the places he wanted to go instead. He had in mind a gay-friendly venue where it’s possible to spend time with straight and gay friends alike, listening to good music and enjoying conversation. The outcome was that Mark and Matthew joked they should go into business together and open just such a bar.
To me, that concept fitted perfectly with the brief for the Daily Dose anthology. All the stories in Never Too Late revolve around the theme of men finding love later in life. Graham, the protagonist of Piano Man, feels old and unloved since his partner left him for another man, and like Mark Curry, he’s tired of noisy, impersonal clubs. So he and his best friend, Mike, set up a piano bar that will cater to their needs and that of an older, more sophisticated crowd. There’s just one problem – with the grand opening only a couple of days away, they haven’t found a pianist they need. Which is when the talented and very hot Adam appears to audition…
So that’s how Piano Man came about. Thanks to Messrs Curry and Wright for sparking it into life, and who says daytime TV is a distraction?