Hi guys, we have Jackson Marsh stopping by today with the tour for his newest release The Stoker Connection, we have a brilliant character interview, a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway where there’s two books (The Blake Inheritance, and Remotely) up for grabs, so guys, check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
The Stoker Connection
What if you could prove that the greatest Gothic horror novel of all time was a true story?
Dexter and Morgan meet on their eighteenth birthday. The attraction is instant but confusing. As they deal with coming out, they are bound together by more than first love.
Both keep diaries, and each has the same goal – to prove that Stoker didn’t write ‘Dracula’. They are convinced that Harker, Van Helsing and the others existed and wrote the novel’s journals themselves. If Dex and Morgan can prove it, they will blow the lid off the vampire myth: Dracula existed.
As the two teenagers fall in love, so they fall into an adventure as thrilling as it is dangerous. They are being watched, and someone is willing to kill to stop them from making ‘The Stoker Connection.’
The Stoker Connection is an MM Romance treasure hunt thriller. It draws on the original text of ‘Dracula’, but it is not a story about vampires. It is a story of first love and the power of friendship. Sometimes funny, it is an intriguing and honest account compiled from Dex and Morgan’s original diaries.
Interview with Morgan Davis
Morgan is now 25, but the ‘The Stoker Connection’ happened when he was eighteen. This interview does not contain spoilers.
Tell us about yourself when you were eighteen
Imagine coming down to breakfast in a large, modern house and having to put on a persona, pretending to be straight, ‘normal’, ‘acceptable.’ Your father’s son, your mother’s eldest child, your sister’s heroic older brother.
I can’t imagine how hard that must be because, at home, I never had to be anyone but myself. Mother, the sex therapist, brought us up to be honest and there were no holes bared in our house.
‘Morgan, are you masturbating yet?’ she asked me continually from the age of eleven. In our house, although it was embarrassing, it was the norm.
When I was seventeen, in fact, only a few months before I met Dexter and everything went wild, my sister asked me, ‘When are you going to have a boyfriend?’ She was fourteen, and we were having dinner with my grandparents. They asked the same question. So, at eighteen I was out when I was at home; out when I was in, you might say.
However, school was a different matter. When I was out of the house, I was in the closet. In when I was out, as it were. My close group of friends, Shags, Dennis, Kate and that lot, all say they knew I was gay. None of them pressed me on it, it was just how it was. All the same, I kept my head down and was ‘straight’, although I never did anything sexual with a girl, and never pretended I had – as Shags constantly did.
And then there was Dexter, but, at the same time, there was Simon. I don’t want to say that lovers come along like buses but in this case… Well, Simon was only a temporary stop on my route to love, Dexter was always going to be the destination.
In summary, at eighteen I was partly closeted, but not confused. I was also working hard to get my exams so I could go to Oxford, and living a peaceful life in Wiltshire. Then, of course, I met Dex on our 18th birthday, and the whole ‘Stoker Connection’ thing kicked off.
When did you first realise you were gay?
I knew I was different when I was ten, but I didn’t know what it was called. Older men have told me that ‘in their day’ (the 1970s and early 1980s in Britain), they felt the same, but there weren’t as many out and proud role models as there are now. These men marched for equality when being gay (in the UK) was illegal until you were 21, a stigma, the cause of AIDS and all of that made gay people a legitimate target for homophobia.
My generation is luckier. Thanks to those now older men and women, were have equality in the age of consent, marriage, and some equal rights. The homophobia is still there and always will be, as will racism and ageism, sexism and everything else with ‘ism’ as a suffix.
I first said ‘I am gay’ to my mother when I was fifteen and I was able to do that for two reasons. 1) She’d brought me up to be honest, and 2) being gay in 2014 was not such a big deal to decent, free-thinking people.
I remember the conversation.
‘Mother. I am gay.’
‘I know, dear. Pass the salt.’
That leads me on nicely to the next question. What’s it like having a sex therapist as a mother?
It’s a mix of blood-freezing embarrassment and gratitude.
‘Morgan, have you tried fingering your prostate when you wank?’
‘Mother, we are in Tesco.’
‘Oh, fuck that, all of these people jerk off, but I bet they’ve never had an orgasm while tickling their arse.’
Later, I tried it out – and was grateful for the tip. (By the way, my mother is one of the top therapists in the country, and she speaks more professionally to her clients, she tells me.)
Seriously though, although that kind of thing happened to me regularly from the age of eleven, it came from a caring mother whose outright honesty I soaked up. I wouldn’t say it was easy having a sex therapist for a mother, but it did mean I was counselled expertly as I grieved for my father and started to understand my sexuality.
What made you think that there was something worth investigating in ‘Dracula’?
As I wrote in my diary, now part of ‘The Stoker Connection’, I was given a book when I was eleven. The author, James Arnold told of a fascinating possibility; that ‘Dracula’ was a collection of real diaries and journals. He also put forward some (not very well thought-out) hypotheses as to how this could be proved. That book inspired me to first look into his research (and discount much of it) and later, when I had freer access to the internet, to dig deeper.
My starting point was to discover what was real and what was considered fiction. I listed the locations Stoker used, and the addresses, companies etc., and then checked their origins. Some had been real, others were also real but only if you changed the name slightly.
That made me wonder if the names of the characters had been changed, and they all had, apart from the Westenra family for a reason we’ve not yet been able to explain. When I found a birth registration for a boy born at the start of the 20th century who had such an unlikely collection of names, I knew I’d hit on something.
Without giving too much away, if you look at the closing passages of Stoker’s novel, you find the most significant clue; a child born to the Harkers seven years after the events. A boy with the same unusual collection of names was born to a Mr/Mrs Harper at the right time, in the right place, and the mother’s maiden name is given as an anagram of Murray, Mina’s name before she married Harker.
Finally, what was it like meeting Dexter?
It was inevitable. For some months before we met, I had this indescribable feeling that something big was about to happen. I was about to turn eighteen, of course, but it wasn’t that. Something else was coming my way and couldn’t understand what it was.
It was Dexter.
I first saw him as I came down the steps to the submerged terrace of an Edwardian theatre in Folkestone, Kent. I lived in Wiltshire and had never been to Folkestone. I’d certainly not met Dex before, but when I saw him, I felt that I already knew him. I knew that this was what I had been building up to.
My first thought was a bit dirty because he is so cute. He had to tear my ticket as he was working the front of house, and so we had to connect. But he also had to call out the pre-show calls, five minutes and so on. We hit it off when we both quoted from ‘Noises Off’, and I knew we shared the same humour and interests. When, later that night, the other coincidences stacked up, that strange feeling left me, and another took over. We were born on the same day, that night was our eighteenth birthday, and we’d spent it listening to a (not very enlightening) talk about the life of James Arnold, the conspiracy theorist. Odd, for sure, but when Dex also dropped me that note about him being gay, well, the world both fell into place and dropped away from under me.
Meeting Dexter Mitchel was always going to be my destiny.
Dexter Mitchel’s Diary
8 November (written on 9th). — Continued. And then there was his face, and his build, his clothes and something else that started to nag at my lust-muscles, whatever they are.
I knew I had to say something. He was looking expectantly at me, and to ignore him would be rude. I stuck out my hand on impulse.
‘Great questions,’ I said, my throat dry.
He took my hand, damp with sweat, and shook it.
‘What a let-down,’ he said, jerking his head towards the stage.
‘Hell, yes. Not what I wanted to hear.’
‘I know the play wasn’t about Arnold’s theory, but she must have looked into it.’
We were still shaking hands.
‘You’ve read the book?’ he asked.
‘Loads of times. You?’
He nodded. ‘You’re the only person I’ve met who’s even heard of it.’
‘Ditto. You believe it? His theory?’
Hands still being shaken, voices enthusiastic, my lust-muscles now in hopeful overdrive.
‘I do, but I have one of my own.’
I grinned. ‘Me too.’
I was aware that my palm was wet, and I glanced down. It was a bit embarrassing to still be holding hands now, so I opened my fingers to release him. He didn’t open his. OMG, was that a signal of some sort? He was gorgeous. A moment of social ‘What do I do?’ and I gripped his hand again, sending my own signal.
‘Sorry you didn’t get to ask anything,’ he said as if it was his fault.
‘I didn’t need to. You did it for me.’
He looked surprised and then impressed. We were the same height, more or less, so I was able to look right into his eyes. I saw something there. Something that I couldn’t quite grasp at first.
‘Would you…? No, forget it,’ he said, and let go of my hand.
‘What?’ I continued to grip his.
‘Just a thought.’ He pulled his hand away.
That was that, then.
‘Dexter, are you ready?’
Mum was at the door. I don’t know how long she’d been there, but she would have been there long enough to see us holding hands.
‘You have to go,’ he said, a matter of fact rather than a disappointed enquiry. ‘Yeah.’ He received a disappointed reply. ‘Birthday dinner with family.’ ‘Dexter?’ Mum insisted.
I told her I would be there in five minutes and she made it clear it had to be two, which made me feel ten years old, but at least she left us alone.
‘Look,’ he said, as soon as she had gone. ‘I’d like to talk more, about Arnold’s theory, and about my own. If you’re interested?’
‘Yes please,’ I blurted, sounding lame. I recovered. ‘Dexter Mitchel.’ Except I tapped my chest like I was Tarzan when I said it.
‘Me Morgan Davis.’ He did the same, with a Tarzan voice, and I knew then that we were going to hit it off.
The question was, to what extent?
Actually, the pressing question was when? I fumbled for my notebook and tore out a page. ‘My email,’ I said, trying to write neatly (a gift I have yet to receive). I must have looked like a flustered waiter who’s just been torn off a strip. I handed it to him so hurriedly I dropped my notebook.
‘My card,’ he said, coolly offering a white business card and taking my scrap of paper.
His name and email were all that were on it.
‘I’ll message you,’ I said, picking up my book and noticing mum back at the door.
Upright again, I added, ‘I’d invite you, but it’s on the uncle and aunt.’
‘You would invite me?’ he said, eyebrows raised. ‘How kind.’
Who says ‘How kind’ like that? Morgan, obviously. Perhaps he was much older than he looked.
‘Yes, I would, but I can’t. Let’s talk, yeah?’ I had to move away from him, I had to go. I was desperate to stay and learn more. I mean, who else out there has even read this book, let alone had a theory about it?
‘I’ll write,’ he said. ‘Email me.’
A sudden thought attacked out of left field, and I don’t know why I did it, but I took back the scrap of paper and wrote, ‘I’m gay,’ before handing it back and saying, ‘Don’t let that put you off. It’s not why I want to write to you.’
‘Dexter.’ The last warning from mum.
‘Tomorrow,’ I said, suddenly sick inside. What the fuck had I just done? And why? Too late to worry now, I’d done it. ‘I’ll email you tomorrow…’ I was heading for the gents so I could change, bright red and trembling.
‘I won’t, Dexter,’ he called after me. ‘And have a birthday drink for me too.’
It stopped me in my tracks. Sod the Adams family currently gathering at the Metropole. They could fester for another minute. I spun around to find him facing me. We were both grinning.
‘For you?’ Did he mean it was also his birthday?
‘Today.’ He made a small bow.
‘Mum?’ I pleaded towards the exit. She shook her head. Even randomly meeting a stranger who shares the same obscure interest and birthday was not enough to get him an invite.
‘How old?’ Morgan asked, and I didn’t find it intrusive.
‘Eighteen. You?’ It was easy to ask.
He did that friendly wink again. ‘Would you believe eighteen?’
No fucking way. ‘Today?’ I glared at mum again. We had to invite him.
‘We would invite you,’ she told him. ‘But it’s not up to me.’
‘No, no, of course not, don’t worry,’ he said, all smiles and thanks. ‘I have a journal to write up in any case.’
‘Fuck off!’ That was out of my mouth before I knew it. ‘I do that too.’
We stared at each other until he said, ‘These coincidences are a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner.’ An altered quote from the end of chapter two (‘Dracula’ obviously). He nodded to me. ‘I’m away from my email until tomorrow night, but I’ll be waiting to hear from you.’
‘I’ll write,’ I stammered back.
He waved my piece of paper at me as he left. ‘I do hope so.’
Hi. Jackson was born in 2017 as the penname for me (James) so that I could publish my new gay fiction independently from my other writing work. I was born on the south coast of England during a blizzard, but now like to warm thing up with MM romance novels, gay mysteries and some occasional erotica. In 2007 I was awarded and EGPA award for my erotic short stories, and in 2018 I won a Best Screenplay award for one of my films. I am a diverse writer with thrillers, comedies and horror stories under my James belt, and now romance and mystery under my Jackson belt.
At the moment I am concentrating on two genres: older/younger MM romance, and youth mysteries with early 20s main characters and a love story included.
I live on a Greek island with my husband. My interests outside of writing and reading are outdoor pursuits, traveling, piano and genealogy. That’s probably why my books tend to involve characters who are musicians, writers, mystery-solvers and rock climbers; there’s a bit of me in every one.