The idea for "Dante Alfonso" came about in a curious way after I found a box of old family pictures in the loft. One was simply inscribed "Gus" and dated from 1941--here it is, a young soldier smiling on his 21st birthday, unaware that within a few weeks his ship would be sunk by a German U-boat. He had been engaged to my wife's aunt, and no sooner was he dead--his body was never recovered--than she had found a replacement.
My mind went into overdrive. Supposing Gus had not died--supposing he had been rescued by a hunky male and taken to America, to begin a new life there? Then I got to thinking about all the homophobia there in those days--the fact that gay men were perceived as effete and lily-livered. How would Gus have reacted to that? Then suddenly I moved him to Italy, and went back a few years, and suddenly I see a future for that cute face in the movies. This is the thing about fiction, you can make up anything you like so long as the end result is credible. So, with Gus's picture on the wall in front of me, I started writing and in next to no time he was no longer a pretty sailor from Northern England who drowned--he was a sexy young Italian, ousted by his family for having an affair with the nephew of the local priest! He headed for New York, had a shipboard romance with a rich Frenchman, moved in with him, and then hit the rocks when the Frenchman was deported for embezzlement. By now, I forgot to add, he's changed his name to Dante Alfonso. He's big, he's hairy, and he's well-blessed where he should be! He gets a job in a dance-hall where young men often end up on the matron's menu, and the next thing he's offered an audition with a moving pictures studio. Prejudice rears its head at once, so to kill the rumours he bonks his leading lady. Then he decided that he no longer wishes to live a lie, just as he is offered a big Hollywood contract...
“Dante Alfonso, Italian God of the Silent Screen”