I lived in the South until I finished my education, after which I moved to the Midwest and then to the Northeast. I have lived in Boston and, now, Winthrop, on the North Shore, since 1984. I have two children and five grandchildren. In 1990 I fell in love with the man who became my husband, and we have been together ever since.
WHY DID I START WRITING?
I was deeply moved by Moby Dick when I was seventeen and I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing what Melville did. But I did some other things first. I taught school, I got married, I moved around. But after I had done all those other things and had gotten ready, cleared the decks so to speak, I started writing in 1983, and two years later my friend was murdered by three homophobic boys. In the weeks after the murder, I understood that our experiences—the experiences of the gay men and lesbians in that small town in Maine—were part of the history of gay people in America in the last half of the twentieth century. I believed when my friend was murdered that we needed to write it down, both to understand what had happened to him and to us but also to make a record of the way it was for us. I have written full-time since then, supporting myself at a variety of jobs. I have lived this way because I wanted to be free, not controlled by any church, or by any committee, or by policies that I had not created myself. I wanted, when I wrote, to be free of the power of other people’s money and other people’s values.
WHY AM I NOT PUBLISHING THROUGH NEW YORK PUBLISHERS?
In 1990, I was told by a very well-known gay literary agent, that Ceremonies was a “wonderful book, but no publisher in New York will publish it.” If the market for gay novels has vanished, this is at least partly because the corporate publishers have shown contempt for queer readers. The great majority of the gay books published today are for a narrow spectrum—beach reading, varieties of gay romance fiction, late adolescent coming-out fiction, and porno. Many people don’t look to gay fiction as a source of serious literature. I completed my most recent book—Adam in the Morning, about Stonewall—in April 2010 and decided I would not attempt to publish with a publishing industry I think is corrupted by corporate and ignorant ownership. Instead, I have published all four of my novels myself, printed one-at-a-time, for readers who want to buy them through my website. No publisher has control over what I write or sell, and a person reading one of my books need not think that there are 10,000 other people who like the same story. The number of my books sold is not the measure of the success of any one of my books.
Adriana Books is part of a movement away from the big New York publishers. We have joined an economic model which allows any book to be published without requiring that it sell many thousands of copies.
Each single reader is enough to justify the book. Lulu Books prints only the number of copies that have been sold that day, with commensurate savings that can be passed on to the reader and the author, and with the liberating effect that money can no longer be used as an excuse to refuse to publish a book.
A COMMENT ON STRUCTURE AND METHOD
The characters who live in the worlds of these four novels are men and women interested in living their own lives—their jobs, their lovers, their families, their books, their communities and movies and pictures—but they are also interested in what is happening in Washington, in how national policy may have disastrous effects on the lives of individual gay people. In Adam in the Morning, Bo and his brother Billy remember, in the middle of the riots, that their parents gave them their first copies of The Rebel, by Albert Camus, and what Billy remembers most about their discussions of that book around the supper table at night was “the respect our parents had for that book and for the subject of rebellion” (Adam in the Morning, p. 300). Almost everyone in Ceremonies reads the newspaper and watches the news on TV, and what the reader is reading about in all four of these novels is the narrative right in front of him, about people going about the sometimes difficult task of being gay in America, and the other narrative, where Congress and the Supreme Court and the president and reporters dominate and attempt to rule. There is always a tension between these stories—as there is in our lives. Taken together, these four novels are an extended meditation on what it means to be gay in America in the last half of the twentieth century.
Then there is point of view. Ceremonies is about the consequences of a murder of a gay man. The first question many people ask about that book, is, “Did the cops catch the person who did it?” Well, yes. In the Prologue. I was never interested in the boys who did it, providing the criminal justice system treated them properly. I was interested in the fact that the murder had been committed and in its consequences on individuals, who are members of communities. One publisher turned down the book with the comment that “You don’t have any straight characters, consequently you’re only telling half the story.” Well, no. I was interested in telling the whole story of what happened to the gay community as a consequence of what homophobic boys had done. The boys were not part of the story, but almost no book is long enough to tell all of the consequences of what the boys had done.
PRINT ON DEMAND
I have contracted with Lulu Publishing to print my books. The reader can access the Lulu Books website—or Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other bookstores nationally—and choose the book he or she wishes to buy and pay for.