What writing GLBTQ literature means to me.
When I heard of the opportunity to participate in the highly anticipated RAINBOW BLOG HOP, hosted by Rainbow Book Reviews August 24-26, 2012, in honor of launching the Rainbow Book Reviews website (http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/index.php), I jumped at the chance to participate with fellow writers. Below is information posted via the website in the “about us” section for those unfamiliar with the new GLBTQ book review site:
“Rainbow Book Reviews is a site dedicated to GLBTQ-related books, reviews, and authors who write about topics of interest to us and our friends.
We have a wide range of activities for you to check and participate in, if you wish. Feedback is always welcome. We publish new releases on a daily basis, have a team of reviewers who try to help you understand what to expect from a book, we publish monthly author interviews, and have author pages with in-depth information. You can also find out about the many great publishers who publish GLBTQ-related books.
We want to make sure the site offers what YOU (the reader!) want to see, so please contact us with any ideas or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. For individual staff members, please see the overview below.”
As a participant in the RBH, I was given the task to describe what writing GLBTQ literature means to me. Right off the bat (does this date me?) I am asked to reveal my thoughts about referencing very complicated question. I will be as totally honest and forthwith in order that you – the reader – may gleam some sense of what makes me tick; why I write at all.
I have been writing stories most of my life, beginning around age seven or eight, I’m not really sure. What I do know, however, is the person who first influenced my writing and encouraged me to further explore my “active imagination”, my beloved grandmother, who I affectionately named “Mana” when very young. It was my attempt at mimicking my mother who called her mother, Momma. When she readied for bed each night, I would sit on the side of her bed reciting the stories I had dreamed up – she never once questioned the reasons or motivation driving my need to create make-believe, fictitious imagery of people or animals of whom became characters of my words. I’d jot a few pages longhand on paper while at school during lunch or recess to read to Mana during out nightly ritual. Those times spent with my grandmother are my most treasured memories even today after having lost my best friend three years ago at the young age of seventy-nine years old.
So, getting back to what writing gay literature means to me: at first glance, it’s opportunity to share ideas, historical or current happenings of circumstance. My earlier pre-teen stories covered popular genres of the day based largely upon what I was reading at the time (I was a voracious reader in elementary school – even winning the coveted “top reader” award each year at the local library during summer break) or had watched on television, which influenced my imagination. I remember the one book and movie that was the catalyst pushing me to start writing my first story: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, originally published in 1960 (my birth year) and adapted to screen in 1962 (starring Mary Badham and the legendary Gregory Peck), the novel won the Pulitzer Prize and the movie earned Gregory Peck an Oscar for his supreme performance. I didn’t see the movie until I was older (my mother had worried the film was too “heavy” for a young, impressionable boy) and read the book as an assignment for school. I knew then I wanted to write stories. In fact, my first quasi-serious attempt putting pencil to paper was a hysterical fantasy titled “The Ship”, about a pirate ghost ship off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. I even named the main character of the story Atticus, the same as Gregory Peck’s character.
At second glance during my formative years, many stories flowed from my pencil, encouraged both by my grandmother and teachers in school. Born and raised in south of Georgia, USA, my family could not afford to purchase books for me (I come from a blue-collar family that worked in the cotton mills on the Chattahoochee river) so I lived in the school library checking out as many books as allowed. I read everything from fiction to non-fiction, biographies and history. I couldn’t get enough. I wrote fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery and thriller stories during those years and always wrote for the love of telling a story, which I shared with my family and some teachers. My favorite memories of grade school was each spring when English or History class teachers would read books to us the final week of school. One mesmerizing novel I recall was titled “Island Of The Blue Dolphins”, by Scott, O’Dell, about a young Nicolero Indian girl stranded on an island off the coast of California for eighteen years. The story remains with me even today; the power of the written word is unmatched.
I didn’t realize I was “gay” until later in my teens (this was the late ‘70s), so writing gay stories wasn’t yet a priority. Majoring in English when I went off to college was a no-brainer, even minoring in Broadcasting (go figure!). While seeking my under graduate degree, I wrote fictional stories for the campus newspaper, often turning them into serials that had attracted a decent readership. I finally came out my second year in college, and my writing began to focus more on gay characters, considered risky in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s of the south. The first homoerotic novel I read was “Good Times/Bad Times” by James Kirkwood. The novel about the relationship of two young men in boarding school affected me deeply and I began seeking out gay-themed novels once I realized they existed, often perusing the bookstore shelves for hours, too embarrassed to ask the store clerks.
Then I came across the cover of a paperback novel showing a young man sitting on the bench in a locker room. The book was the groundbreaking, “The Front Runner”, by Patricia Nell Warren. This novel became catalyst of my writing gay-themed stories. I devoured every novel I could find by Ms. Warren, moving on to other gay-centric novels thereon. What was so important to me during the early years of my emerging sexuality was reading fictional stories that resembled me, what I was all about or could be. I relied on these stories for self-discovery, unable to speak to my parents or other family members about my being gay.
Fast forward thirty years and third glance; I have been writing stories for several years that have always featured a gay protagonist, concentrating mainly in the mystery/suspense, thriller genres, many with romantic tendencies. But, it wasn’t until as recently as 2008 that I began to submit my stories for publication. Though frightened and unsure, I wanted to share my writing with others besides my family and friends. I am a gay author and I write stories of mystery/suspense and romance novels where the main characters are gay. I don’t feel this fact defines or limit my characters, but more often provides excellent opportunities for exciting plots. Many diverse writers have influenced my written style, such as David Baldacci, John Grisham and Michael Crichton, along with the groundbreaking gay novelists Patricia Nell Warren, Michael Nava and Felice Picano. Some of my current favorites and influencers are gay mystery writers Greg Herren, David Lennon and John Morgan Wilson – and many more.
Finally, writing GLBTQ literature means being true to the gay culture, to create realistic, (in my case, fictional) characters that represent the gay community correctly. Knowing some readers just coming to terms with their sexuality might be reading my stories, I research meticulously to ensure accuracy and strive to present positive role models within my writing even as my characters face bigotry and intolerance, dating, falling in love…and usually, murder! My characters must grow through challenges and experience, be representative of the gay community, whether negative or positive, and not all my stories end with a HEA.
I will continue to write as long as I enjoy creating stories, and I am happy to be able to share my writing with others. Recently, I released an erotic thriller, False Evidence: Murder Most Deadly 1 – the first novella of a two-part murder-mystery. I am currently writing a gay, murder-mystery, police-procedural, featuring closeted Atlanta Homicide Detective, Kendall Parker, which I hope to get published sometime in 2013. I am also a Juror for the 2012 GLBT Rainbow Awards sponsored by Elisa Rolle, (http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/tag/rainbow%20awards%202012), which I am greatly enjoying.
Links to my titles:
Amazon Purchase Link:
PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES!
Click on the link below to read more about prizes and give-aways for the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog Hop:
In celebration, of the Rainbow Blog Hop, I am giving away two (2) copies of my latest novella, False Evidence. Just respond with you name to be entered into a random drawing set for Saturday, Sept 1, 2012.
I would love to hear your thoughts and what reading/writing GLBTQ literature means to you!