Posts tagged “award

Interview with Award-Winning Novelist David Pratt

Looking After JoeyDavid Pratt, Lambda Award-winning novelist for Bob the Book, is back with a funny and touching new novel, Looking After Joey (Wilde City Press). In it, Calvin, a single accountant, must look after Joey, a porn character who unexpectedly steps through the TV into Calvin’s life–and can’t go back. Calvin’s friend Peachy comes to the rescue, declaring that he and Calvin will teach Joey what he needs to know to be a gay man in this world—from Cher and Liza to how to cross the street without getting hit. But on a deeper level Joey’s presence causes Calvin to reevaluate what he desires, and his yearning for connection propels everyone through the story, as they find themselves forming a family of choice.

As our work shares many themes, primarily those of love and family, I appreciated the time Pratt took to connect to discuss our definitions of family, particularly their meaning for us as gay men.

Kergan Edwards-Stout: David, thank you so much for taking the time to chat! As you know, I was a big fan of Bob the Book, and was so pleased to hear of your new novel. One of your gifts as a writer is in bringing objects to life. In Bob the Book, you animate a book, and in Looking After Joey, you create depths and layers in a porn character.

David Pratt: In Bob, I actually created humans in the guise of books, who live as books might if books were sentient. In Looking After Joey, it’s Joey’s vulnerability and curiosity that bring him alive. He’s a porn character who crosses into our world, like a baby bird fallen from the nest. His reactions to what we call “real life” are hilarious and touching. Or both at once, as when he sees his first handicapped person. There is humor to it, but the scene is also gripping.

Edwards-Stout: Key to my enjoyment of the book was the role that family plays in it. Your lead character, Calvin, is on a quest to find a relationship, but ends up finding much more than that. It occurred to me, though, that while I know much about you as a writer, I don’t know much about your personal life, aside from your relationship with your partner, Rogério. How did you meet him? (more…)

GIFTS Named Finalist in 2014 Indie Book Awards!

awardMy thanks to the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for naming my collection, Gifts Not Yet Given, as a finalist in the LGBT category! It’s always gratifying to have others acknowledge your efforts, and I so appreciate this recognition.

I was honored when the Next Generation Indie Book Awards tapped my debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, for the top LGBT award in 2012, and having my next book be honored by them this year is humbling indeed.

Thank you!

Congratulations, Trebor Healey!

Trebor HealeyA big “congrats” to Trebor Healey, who was awarded his SECOND Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley award for gay fiction for A Horse Named Sorrow. I had the pleasure of meeting Trebor at Palm Springs Pride last year and enjoyed chatting with him.  I went on to name his book my favorite of the year for Band of Thebes author survey, and also interviewed Trebor for Huffington Post and LGBTQ Nation.

Horse Named SorrowMuch deserved win.

Courtesy of Band of Thebes, here are all the winners:

Lots of repeat winners last night as Trebor Healey took his second Ferro-Grumley Award and former lifetime achievement winners Bechdel (2012) and Bram (2003) both won their nonfiction categories.

Lifetime achievement: John D’Emilio, author/co-author of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture, and Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University.

The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction: A Horse Named Sorrow by Trebor Healey

Debut Fiction: Monstress: Stories by Lysley Tenorio

Lesbian Nonfiction: Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Gay Nonfiction: Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram

Lesbian Poetry: Song and Spectacle by Rachel Rose

Gay Poetry: Looking for the Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco

2012 Holiday Gift Guide recommends “Songs for the New Depression”!

What a thrill to have Songs for the New Depression land on Queer Me Up’s 2012 Holiday Gift GuideQueer Me Up Come to think of it, a red ribbon around this book might be just the ticket!

Happy holidays!

An Acclaimed Gay Author Surprises with Two New Novels

I first met fellow writer Trebor Healey at Palm Springs Pride, where we were both signing copies of our novels at the Authors’ Village.  Given that the title of my first novel includes the word “depression” and his recent title contains the word “sorrow,” we quickly bonded over a shared lament of others trying to convince us to change our titles into something “more happy.”  Feeling that our work embodies both joy and heartache, we each chose to stick with our original vision, and I’m happy to say that Healey’s new work, A Horse Named Sorrow, is as wonderful and nuanced as its title.

Healey’s debut novel, Through It Came Bright Colors, was awarded both the Violet Quill Award and the Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction, making his new work highly anticipated.  Entirely by happenstance, Healey found himself with his next two works both released on the same day.  While A Horse Named Sorrow is a meditative tale set in San Francisco, Faun focuses on an adolescent boy discovering that his body is quickly morphing, but not into the expected stage of puberty.

Having just named A Horse Named Sorrow as my favorite LGBT read of 2012, I was pleased that Healey was able to take some time with me to discuss his work and inspirations.

Trebor, when we first met, we talked about the use of “sad” words in our novel titles.  Why did you feel so strongly about your title for A Horse Named Sorrow?

Well, first of all, it’s a line from a Nick Cave song, and it’s a song I really love—the Carny Song—and it’s very much evocative of what San Francisco was to me at that time…a carnival, a circus, but a macabre one haunted by an enormous overarching sorrow. And when you think of how a horse plods along when it’s tired, it’s just such a perfect metaphor for the weight we feel when we carry sorrow. And we carry it. Grief is a profound experience, it’s one of the cardinal experiences if you will. But my book is not really a sad book; in many ways, it’s very comic and full of youthful enthusiasm, but it’s about something real, and one of the things the characters have to do—that we all have to do—is carry the sorrow of life with us until we are able to set it down or transform it into something else. I also think sorrow is a beautiful word—the symmetry of it, with the two r’s and two o’s, and the sound of it is wonderful. There is a lot to every word and we can experience it fully, and I think words in titles of artworks are important that way. They have a lot of work to do and they need to be good, full words.

In A Horse Named Sorrow, you vividly recreate San Francisco in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  What is your impression/recollection of that period?

It was a very intense time—terrifying and urgent and enormously alive as only a place under siege can be. I came out into the AIDS crisis and the city was on fire in a million ways. There was anger and activism, art, conflict, love and sex, and the feeling that you were at the center of history on some level. Maybe we all feel that way when we are 21, but there was a vitality during that time that I’ve never experienced anywhere or anytime since. It was a time that demanded things of people. My brother was fighting cancer, I was working at an AIDS hospice and active in ACT UP and Queer Nation, I was meeting my first boyfriends, reading my first poems out loud to strangers in smoky cafes. It was a time of birth for me, I suppose, in all the pain and blood and wonder that birth entails. It was exciting, and yet that overarching sorrow was there, like the fog rolling in every night.

How did that then lead to this novel?

Well, the things that make you feel, in all the rawness of feeling, are what you write about, I suppose. I worked on this book for 15 years. I knew it was a book I had to write. And I had to get it right. And oddly, or maybe not, it wasn’t until I was in a place where I felt that intensely again—in Argentina where I lived for a year—that I was able to finally get it right.

One of the key images in the book is a bicycle, wrapped in different strings.  How did that come to you?

I actually rode a bicycle across the country in the summer of 1986. It was an amazing way to travel, and felt to me like traveling by horse, which is how the whole horse/bike/sorrow metaphor first came together. The speed, the human scale, the way you had to maintain your vehicle and plot your trip. It’s very meditative and seemed a perfect style of journey for a person in need of retreat and reflection. As for the strings, I think that came from how kids used to tie strings around each other’s ankles and wrists, and the idea was that you’d make a wish, and when the string came off, the wish you’d made would come true. There is a lot about wishing in the book, both the good and the bad of it.

You have a very diverse body of work, having written everything from poetry, to erotica, to fantasy, to both non-fiction and fiction…  As a writer, do you follow your muse, or do certain influences impact your decision of what to write next?


THIS SHOW IS SO GAY gets even gayer–with me!

A huge shout out to Ken Schneck at THIS SHOW IS SO GAY for the fun interview.  He had actually read the book and done his homework, leading to some really great and surprising questions.  I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to be on the show, and hope that you all check it out.  The podcast is online, and the show is carried on several radio stations, so listen and let me know what you think!

Blade California Covers “Songs for the New Depression”!

My sincere thanks to the great folks over at Blade California for including Songs for the New Depression in their June gay pride issue!  Our family did a photo shoot for them many years ago which was lots of fun, and it is terrific to be included now with my book. The magazine is on their website in flash format, so the screenshot is difficult to read, but if you head over to their site, the article is on page 31.  Thank you, Blade!

Indie Reviewer: “Songs for the New Depression”

I so appreciate the wonderful review of my novel by Indie Reviewer.  There are times, even now, when I wonder if what I’ve written is as intended, and it is only through reviews such as this and the lovely notes and emails I’ve received that I can see that it is indeed having the desired effect.  Thanks, Indie Reviewer, for your understanding and appreciation.  I’m very grateful…

Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout

“I’m leavin’ my fam’ly
Leavin’ all my friends
My body’s at home
But my heart’s in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon’s full and high”
(Shiver Me Timber by Tom Waits, 1974)

Kergan Edwards-Stout’s debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, is the poignant and darkly humorous story of Gabriel Travers who is HIV positive and convinced that he’s dying despite his doctor’s proclamations to the contrary. His viral load is undetectable, his T-cell count is up, but according to Gabe one glance in the mirror tells him everything he needs to know. “His ass, once the talk of West Hollywood, now looks suspiciously like a Shar-Pei…” Faced with his own mortality, Gabriel’s first person narrative takes the reader on an emotional journey as he recounts his life experiences and relationships, reflecting on the choices that he’s made along the way and questioning his treatment of the people in his life.

“It seems impossible that my choices have led me here, to this spot, drained of every ounce of life. Despite my long-held belief that one’s journey – or ride, if you will – holds more importance than one’s destination, I am no longer cocksure. For if I, at age 17, had been handed a snapshot of myself as I am right here and now, providing the gift of foresight, isn’t there a chance I might have chosen a different path?

…Perhaps I would have ended up here, regardless of choice. Perhaps it was destiny. Fate. An unlucky draw of the straw. Whichever, it is much too late to ponder, for no amount of wishing can change who I am or what I have done.”

The title of the novel is taken from the Divine Miss M’s 1976 album of the same name. The story spans some two decades, from 1976 to 1995, and unfolds in retrospective but begins and ends in the present with the Prologue and Epilogue. Divided into three parts, each section of the story delineates a specific period in Gabe’s life, and each is thematically linked to a particular song from the album. Part I of the novel (Shiver Me Timber by Tom Waits) takes place in the near present (1995) as Gabe ponders his life and mortality. The reader is then taken back in time to 1986, Gabe’s 20s and a time of love, money and sex (Samedi et Vendredi by Bette Midler and Moogy Klingman) and finally to 1976 during Gabe’s adolescence and the determining events that occurred during this period time in his life (Let Me Just Follow Behind by Moogy Klingman).

Songs for the New Depression is beautifully written with a rich narrative and resonant characterization. Gabriel is written with honesty and depth. While he is self-absorbed and can be insensitive in his treatment of others, at the same time, he is both generous and sympathetic. There is an authenticity to this character that makes him altogether accessible to the reader. I loved Gabriel’s sarcasm and manner of viewing the world and there were many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the story, including his description of his somewhat zany mother, her new wife Pastor Sue and their wedding. Most heartfelt, however, is Gabe’s narrative in respect of his relationship with his partner Jon, and his first love Keith.

The author peels the proverbial onion one layer at a time when it comes to Gabriel as he looks back on his life. From the beginning we are aware of Gabe’s often-difficult relationship with his parents but are unsure as to the reasons. There are also hints early in the story as to a life-altering experience in high school that still affects him as an adult and of course the pivotal importance of Keith in his life. All is slowly revealed as the story progresses and the present-to-past narrative is extremely effective in not only emotionally enveloping, but also deeply investing the reader in Gabriel’s journey.

This story touched me on such a personal level that it was difficult for me to immediately put my thoughts out there via review without feeling exposed. While I finished reading this novel a number of weeks ago, I needed a level of emotional distance from the story before putting my thoughts on paper. In many respects I believe that I was blind-sided by Gabriel. Lulled into a false sense of emotional safety by his sarcasm and acerbic wit behind which he hides. But Gabriel wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily. Even with an extremely engaging character and his humorous descriptions of some of the events in his life, this story remains one of a 36 year-old man facing the sheer horror and trajedy that he’s dying of AIDS. As the story progressed to its fruition and the many mysteries of Gabriel’s life are revealed, including the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding his HIV infection, so did the blurriness of the pages increase.

“Voices call to me. Soft whispers, beckoning, offering tales of the sea. Suddenly I am in the sails of a pirate ship, adjusting my cap, a gull perched at my side. The wind cools my sunburned face.

Below, the men, my brothers, count towering stacks of gold coins while eating gigantic turkey legs. It is odd, though, that the turkey heads and bodies are still attached.

Even odder still is one pirate in a wheelchair, dressed as a mermaid. He looks to me, knowingly.

Though I cannot place his face or the long ringlets of hair, I am certain we once shared a meal or conversation.

The bell clangs as I glance to the stern, my father at the wheel. He winks at me, playfully, before turning the boat toward open sea. As he does, a purr, sad and resigned, plays through my head.

Shiver me timbers, it whispers, and before I can fully grasp what is happening, I find myself sailing away…”

Songs for the New Depression is both heartrending and bittersweet without melodrama, or attempts by the author to manipulate the reader’s heartstrings with cliché. This, coupled with the sincere and textured depiction of Gabriel, who is altogether human, demonstrates respect for the character and his story, but also for the reader. It is a deeply soulful account of a man coming to terms with having AIDS and his eventual death from the disease, of redemption, and ultimately of both human fragility and enduring spirit.

“What I wouldn’t give to once again experience such brazen, all-embracing delight. To hold Jon in my arms, heart racing, and say nothing. Just to feel a flicker of sunshine, a spark, some reminder, of our love. A love that lingers, now only as memory. The weight, the truth of it, I am no longer capable of feeling.

And if all feeling is gone, I ask myself, what, then, remains?

With a jolt, the elevator completes its descent, doors opening. The influx of wind sends the sounds and regrets of Paris coursing through me and, pulling my jacket tighter against my throat, I step into the waiting city to begin my life anew.”

Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout received the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the LGBTQ category and was also short-listed for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in the same category. The novel is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and through Indie Bound in print and ebook formats.

“Songs for the New Depression” Wins 2012 Indie Book Award!

My sincere thanks to the judges at the 2012 Indie Book Awards for selecting my novel, Songs for the New Depression, as the winner in the LGBTQ category. I am extremely honored and grateful.  This book has been a labor of love, crafted over a great many years, and I’m pleased that it has resonated with so many.  As an author, it is an odd thing to send your child out into the world, and sometimes hear nothing.  It is the wonderful notes, reviews, and awards such as this that tell me that, for many, my tale rings true.  I am touched and honored.  Thank you!