My dear friend Charlie Cochet invited me to take part in the Fabulous Five Blog Hop. No big deal. Answer five questions on my blog and I’m done. One of these days, I’ll learn that nothing is ever as easy as I think it will be. After much pondering, knuckle-gnawing, and hair-pulling — a high cost activity at this stage of my life — I finally came up with my answers. Enjoy.
What am I working on?
At the moment, nothing. I’ve been too busy preparing for last month’s release of Happy Independence Day and A Taste of Honey to write much more than my weekly blog posts. My fourth novel will probably be a departure from the holiday tales, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Earlier this year, I wrote at least a few thousand words for three different parts of a trilogy loosely based on my life and finished a short story I’m thinking about expanding to a novella.
Writing about my life poses numerous challenges around separating fact from fiction and protecting my friends and family I haven’t really figured out yet, so I’ve moved the trilogy to the back burner. Every character in my first three novels has a story to tell. Many will come out sooner or later. But for now, I’d really like to start with a blank slate, free from the constraints of reality — mine or the one I’ve created in the Holiday Tales novels.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Good question, and one I really couldn’t have answered until recently. My stories are about gay men. Some of the characters are in or pursuing a relationship, but few who’ve read my stories would call me a romance novelist. The label I hear most often is gay fiction. My first novel (Until Thanksgiving) is a thriller set in 1996, the second (After Christmas Eve) is a mystery set in 1966, and the latest (Happy Independence Day) — let’s call it historical-action — revolves around the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.
Why do I write what I do?
To show people the way things used to be so they can appreciate how very far we’ve come. I came out in 1979, ten years after the Stonewall Uprising. Living out and proud in Lexington back then, or anywhere else for that matter, was a good way to get your ass kicked — or worse. The local gay bar was a sanctuary and the center of our universe. A few friends were out to family. Most were not. Almost nobody I knew was out where they worked. At the bar we could dance, get drunk without worrying the gay would show, and fall in love, often several times in the same evening.
Thirty-five years ago, we didn’t talk about gay marriage. For us, the push for equal rights was about not having to fear being arrested, fired, evicted, or harassed for being gay. Entrapment schemes were still common, but police raids were rare. I’ve never been part of a raid and thought they’d gone the way of the dinosaur until cops raided the Atlanta Eagle a few years ago.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I survived to tell our stories. Too many did not. They’re the reason I write what I do.
How does my writing process work?
I wish I knew. The process from start to finish takes me about nine months and has been different for each of my three novels. The anal-retentive, OCD part of my psyche that enables me to finish a story wants detailed notes, outlines, and character profiles. The free spirit that comes up with all the good stuff resists planning and actively sabotages any preliminary ideas I may have about characters and plot. Fortunately, the OCD side knows when to get the hell out of the way.
The experts say to avoid editing or revising a story until the first draft is finished. I agree, but the practice never works for me. If I’ve set something aside for more than a few days — which is often the case because of other commitments — I go back and read from page one to get my head back into the story, editing as I read. Most the edits are minor, but if I see the opportunity, I’ll often weave in a thread that occurred to me when I was writing a later chapter. Getting to the end of a first draft takes forever, but the manuscript is usually in pretty good shape when I finally do.
Who’s next on the blog hop?
Sometime the week of September 8, the hop continues with these stops:
To hop backward, click here to bounce over to Charlie’s post where I’m tagged. Thanks for stopping by!