Two weeks after he was born, Gregory Huffstutter’s parents – defying doctor’s orders – took him to San Diego’s Windansea beach. He would never be able to shake the trauma of a sandy pacifier, always returning to Southern California after living in both Oregon and Colorado.

Gregory graduated from UC San Diego’s Writing Program and was the co-Editor-In-Chief of the campus’ humor newspaper, The Koala. After coaching volleyball, cleaning carpets, pouring beers, selling health club memberships, and cataloging deep-sea core samples, he now works in advertising and lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and two daughters.

Did you really coach women’s volleyball at one point?
Yes, which means I’m used to being the shortest person in the room.

What makes you qualified to write about things like cops, furries, gay activists, BASE jumpers, or Hollywood actors?
I think the old saying “write what you know” is a pile of crap. Between the Internet, e-mail, and telephone, anybody can write about anything if you’ve got enough curiosity and willingness to pick up dinner tabs. For ‘Katz Cradle’, I interviewed over 50 people who were to a man (or woman or wolf) incredibly generous with their time and helped guide the story.

And the references to X-Men & Spider Man comic books?
That, I’m afraid, required very little research. Anybody want to buy 500 comics from the early ‘80s? They’re in my garage and still in plastic…

Are you related to that old Raiders quarterback?
No, that was Jeff Hostetler. And as a lifelong Chargers fan, I cringe at the implication.

Does ‘Katz Cradle’ share any similarities to Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’? 
No, although I was once tempted to name a character ‘Newt Hoenikker.’  Also, like Vonnegut, I’m a big fan of ending my sentences with a period.

How did you come up with the idea for ‘Katz Cradle’?
Back in college, it struck me that you’ve seen every variation of the buddy cop formula – white cop/black convict (48 Hours), white cop/Russian cop (Red Heat), whitecop/drug-sniffing dog (K-9) – but nobody had introduced homosexuality into the mix. That idea percolated for a decade, and after finishing my first novel “Camille Spa,” I decided to pursue it.

Why?
As a straight dude, it seemed like a huge challenge, and I feel you do your best work when scared to fail. In many ways, sexual preference is the final taboo – now that it’s no longer cool to discriminate against religion, race, and gender. During my initial research, I came across authors like Michael Nava and Richard Stevenson, who wrote mysteries written specifically for a gay audience – but you’ll find remarkably few mainstream novels with strong, gay protagonists. Jonathan Kellerman, Suzanne Brockmann, Tami Hoag, and Joe Lansdale are four who deserve kudos for breaking into this territory.

What was your first novel “Camille Spa” about?
“Camille Spa” was written between 1993-1999, and centers around a small group of wealthy travelers paying $150,000/day for the ultimate Caribbean vacation. Once they arrive, the guests find unexpected hardships and a spa director who may or may not have taken hospitality lessons from Idi Amin. Unfortunately, shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘Lost’ eventually came along and mined this territory to depletion. But if you’d like to read this proverbial ‘first novel’, you can find it here.

Why so long between books?
You try working a full-time job and writing a novel in your free time, punk.

Is DOOR a real organization?
DOOR is a figment of my imagination, but based on real activist groups like ACT UP and Queer Nation. Former members of both organizations – including Michelangelo Signorile, Gabriel Rotello, Michael Petrelis, Greg Scott, and Jay Blotcher – helped make sure I didn’t totally mangle the details.

Which character in ‘Katz Cradle’ are you more like in real life?
Personally, I share more qualities with Z. Katz. However, I’m not as much of a thrill-seeker, and at some point, learned the value of a mental edit button. Also, unlike Katz, I love shopping for Kenneth Cole shoes and have been known to get teary during Les Miserables.

Do you think Tom Cruise is gay?
No idea… ask Xenu.

Who are your biggest influences?
Nobody does better dialogue than Gregory McDonald. I also like how Carl Hiassen’s subversively packages his message with entertaining characters. Robert Crais’ “LA Requiem” influenced my shifting, multiple perspectives. And I still think Michael Connelly’s “The Poet” is the tightest procedural ever.

So what’s next?
Book #2 in the Zero Katz saga, titled “Fly Out.” It will be a bit of a departure from “Katz Cradle” in that the central theme will be baseball. However, at least one character from DOOR will be coming back.