New Hope plays part in new gay murder mystery

Writers draw inspiration from myriad sources. For author Mark McNease, quaint LGBT-centric town New Hope served as one of the pools of inspiration for his latest writing venture — and takes center stage in the new series.

McNease is a New York City-based writer who also owns a home with his partner in Kingwood, N.J., about 20 minutes outside of New Hope. The out author tapped into his affinity for his town, as well as for LGBT Pocono resort Rainbow Mountain, for “Murder at Pride Lodge.”

The book, which hit shelves and cyberspace last fall, is the first in the Kyle Callahan mysteries series, with the next edition, “Pride and Perilous,” due out by June.

The story focuses on the murder of handyman Teddy at the LGBT resort, which is placed shortly outside of New Hope. The tale takes readers on the mystery ride that Callahan dives into to piece together the murder and ensure no further mayhem happens.

The venture is McNease’s first full-length murder-mystery, although the 54-year-old is a veteran writer.

“I started writing when I was a child,” he explained. “I was always a big reader, reading far ahead of my grade levels, and I started writing short stories when I was 10 and never stopped.”

McNease has published several works of short fiction, wrote a number of plays that went on to be produced and, in 2001, won an Emmy Award for a Chicago children’s program he co-created, wrote and produced.

Two years ago, he also created lgbtSr.org, a multifaceted forum for LGBT older adults that provides news, commentary and resources on aging in the community.

LGBT topics and themes have been present in his other writings, McNease said, although the Kyle Callahan series takes a more focused effort on delving into the LGBT fiction market.

“[The novel] is now number-two, but it had been number-one in gay mysteries on Amazon for the last six months,” he said. “I would love to have this seen just as a mystery and not a gay mystery, but I think it’s done well because it is pigeonholed into the gay-mystery category. But that’s not to say it’s just fiction for gay men. There are lesbian characters as well, and there’s all kinds of people and themes.”

McNease said that a trip to Rainbow Mountain inspired him to pursue the mystery angle, and to then anchor it near New Hope, where he and his partner, Frank, frequently visit.

“I thought Rainbow Mountain was a great place to set up a murder mystery,” he said. “And I love New Hope, it’s where I’d love to live someday. We spend our weekends in Kingwood and usually go to New Hope every weekend to shop and eat. It’s a great place.”

New Hope will also feature into “Pride and Perilous” and will serve as the setting of a third book already in the works, which will center on the series’ lesbian detective, who lives in the town.

Like his lgbtSr.org venture, McNease said he hopes the Kyle Callahan series empowers older LGBT adults, and shows younger readers the value in the aging community.

“What I would really like people to take away from the book and series is that older characters are engaging,” he said. “And older readers like to see themselves in the stories they read. It’s purely entertainment, what I call a popcorn mystery — something you can enjoy on the couch with a bowl of popcorn — but features an older male couple and characters, because that’s my life and target audience.”