Posts tagged “Q&A

Legendary Author Patricia Nell Warren: Ever the Front Runner

The Front RunnerI recall it as if it were yesterday: stepping inside the sprawling bookstore, which smelled faintly of dust; walking past the periodicals, where gay porn titles peeked at me ever-so-discretely from the uppermost row; crossing to the back of the store, reaching “my” row, and nervously looking about before finally stepping up to the shelves, above which hung a large sign, “Gay Studies.”  I felt uncomfortable standing beneath it, as it labeled not just the shelves, but my own burgeoning identity, and committing to this unfamiliar label so publicly felt entirely premature.  While the “Gay” part I understood, it was only years later that I realized the second part of the sign was equally true, as I was studying the world I would soon fully inhabit.

Coming out has changed greatly in the years since, but what I found through the books on that shelf provided for me the same reassurance as those emerging today seek;  through the stories, I learned I was not alone.  Novels by such authors as Larry Kramer, Armistead Maupin, Andrew Holleran, and Felice Picano filled me in on this mysterious world, where other men openly searched for love, but one book from that time stands out to me as unique, and resonated with me deeply.  Patricia Nell Warren’s groundbreaking novel The Front Runner follows coach Harlan Brown and his protégé Billy Sive as they discover love against the backdrop of the Olympics and a changing world.  As a young man myself, I had yet to find a book which spoke to my generation, and identified both with Brown, as he emerged from his more rigid, conservative environment, as well as Sive, who embodied the new, free spirited era, exploding on the horizon in front of me.

Prior to The Front Runner’s publication in 1974, Warren authored her first novel, The Last Centennial, published in 1971.  She had also published three volumes of Ukrainian poetry independently, as well as amassing a large body of unpublished work.  While the debut of The Front Runner introduced Warren to a new legion of fans, she was surprised to find that the book rankled some in the literary establishment, who were uncomfortable that such a seminal gay male romance had been written by a woman.  It didn’t seem to matter to them that she had come out in 1974 as a lesbian.  In the years following, however, Warren solidified her reputation in both the gay and literary worlds with continuations of The Front Runner saga (Harlan’s Race and Billy’s Boy), as well as novels The Fancy Dancer, The Wild Man, and The Beauty Queen, and non-fiction (including Lavender Locker Room and My West.)

The Fancy DancerWhether as an American writing Ukrainian poetry, a runner helping to usher women into the sport, a woman writing gay male fiction, or as a writer, taking control over her own work as publisher with Wildcat Press, Warren has long been a game changer, moving into uncharted waters and navigating them for others.  She graciously agreed to take time out from her busy schedule to talk with me about her body of work, issues facing the LGBT community, and the rewards and challenges of having written a literary classic.  As a bonus, she also reveals more about the prospects for the long-awaited The Front Runner movie, as well as the continuation of that tale in a fourth book.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.  In reviewing your work, I became very curious as to the key, pivotal moments in your life.  What most shaped you and your journey?

Patricia Nell Warren:  It wasn’t so much a moment, but an experience, of being raised on a ranch in the West, at a very particular time.  So much of what we think of as LGBT literature is based on an urban worldview, but growing up in a rural setting, as I did, is very much a part of who I am today.  Looking back, now that I’m 76, that life gave me a very different viewpoint, as you’re living in a situation where, any day, there could be a storm that wipes out the wheat crop.  That kind of day-to-day existence is challenging, and in many ways, at heart, I’m still a ranch kid. In fact, I’m co-writing a book on that with my brother, called Kids on a Ranch.

Edwards-Stout:  Did you find it difficult, making connections with people in that kind of environment?

Warren:  Our ranch wasn’t that far from town.  We were close enough that we could walk, bicycle, or ride our horses into town, so we had lots of friends.  It wasn’t an isolating kind of life, but it was definitely a different life, with different jobs at home than the town kids, who may not have known one end of a horse from the other!

You had to take a very practical approach on how to handle things, which today has led me to have political impatience.  My dad used to say, “When your horse is caught in barbed wire, you don’t sit around making speeches.  You grab the wire cutters and get to work!”

Edwards-Stout:  Look at what has happened recently, with the Sandy Hook shooting(more…)


Out Indie Artist Matt Gold Learns He Must “Drown” Before He Can “Swim”

Matt GoldIn the not-so-distant past, gay musicians hid in the closet or played coy about their sexuality, but today’s artists are an entirely different breed.  For up and coming singer-songwriter Matt Gold, being gay may be a given, but is simply one more piece to his overall puzzle.  For Gold, inspiration is found in key moments from his life’s journey; they tell of growing up in a small town as an only child, of being adopted, the search for identity, and the experience of being abandoned, due to being gay.

Such themes and more are explored in Gold’s debut album, Drown Before You Swim.  Tellingly, in its CD format, the album is broken into two discs, “Drown” and “Swim,” balancing his darker and lighter elements within.  Gold recently took time to share more about his life, art, and the passions that fuel him.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Matt.  To begin, as your songwriting is so tied to your piano, how did you first come to play it?

Matt Gold:  Originally, I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mother was concerned that it could affect my mouth, especially as I needed braces.  So instruments in your mouth were out!  I tried the bass drum, bells, xylophone, and finally settled on the piano–but only took a month’s worth of lessons before I quit.

What made you quit?

I was really frustrated at my inability to learn it as quickly as I wanted, but, more importantly, I realized that improvisation was really my style.  I love taking music out of the expected and making it my own.  I played piano in church for a long time, and those are very structured, by nature.  But with hymns and ballads, particularly, you can do so much more than what is written on the page.

Was religion important to you, or was playing in church just what was expected? (more…)


Q&A with Marten Weber, Author of “Benedetto Casanova” and “Bodensee”

While readers of gay fiction may be familiar with author Marten Weber due to his best-selling novel Benedetto Casanova: The Memoirs, over the years he has crafted many a tale, with each set in unique and varied places and times.  He graciously took the time to answer some questions as to his work, writing process, and issues with which the LGBT community grapples.

With tales as disparate as Benedetto Casanova (a fictionalized memoir set in Italy), The Almost Unbelievably Curious Case of Jeremiah Hudgejaw: America’s First Gay Wedding (set at the beginning of the last century), Shayno (a tale of mid-life crisis set in Silicon Valley), as well as your new title, Bodensee (sci-fi), it seems you’re intent on covering every place and genre under the sun!  What guides your decision of what to write next?

I think most genres in modern literature have become very stale and narrow. Every new best-selling thriller out there seems follows the same formula. Writers spend too much time copying television shows and learning from bad teachers in overpriced writing courses. I want to bring a new approach to each genre. I’d like to show that it can be done differently, outside the established boundaries.  Not every crime novel has to read like CSI in book form. Luckily, I don’t have the pressures of a publisher’s money-making machine behind me, so I can write what and how I want, and experiment.

What commonalities does your work share?

Most of my writing starts with specific aspects of relationships between men, but I then put them in whatever setting I want. Bodensee may be science fiction, but it’s also an attempt to merge sci-fi into the context of a 19th century literary tradition.

What’s more, I’m not very comfortable with the idea of genres at all. These categories were invented by book-sellers so they knew which shelf to put a book on. Authors shouldn’t care about them.  You’ll find that most of my books cross boundaries. I’m working on a crime novel now which will have neither murderers nor police inspectors as major characters, nor a traditional investigation. So most publishers would say that doesn’t quality as a ‘whodunnit.’

(more…)


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Glenn Gaylord – Director of “I Do,” “Eating Out 3,” & Screenwriter of “Leave It On the Floor”

Throughout my life, I’ve met a great many people. Some stay, some go, some are remarkable, some not…  But one of the constants has been the unforgettable Glenn Gaylord, who I first met over 20 years ago when we both volunteered at AIDS Project Los Angeles.  He has charisma and wit to spare, and takes on each task, whether educating people about HIV or directing an actor in a laborious sex scene, with unbridled enthusiasm.

Glenn is a noted director, having helmed the new indie hit I Do, which is receiving accolades and awards at gay film festivals around the world, as well as the gay cult fave Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat.  Prior to I Do, Glenn wrote the screenplay and lyrics for the musical film Leave It On the Floor, which also received great acclaim, and is newly out on DVD.

Recently, Glenn took a break from his busy schedule to share with me more about his films, his life, and his views on the gay community.

Glenn, thanks for taking the time to chat!  First of all, congratulations on your new film, I Do, which I’m hearing great things about.  What can you tell us about it?

I Do is an intense romantic drama about a gay English man in New York who, despite wanting to stay to help raise his niece, faces an expired visa.  He marries his lesbian best friend, Ali, played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler of The Sopranos fame, but things get complicated fast when he meets and falls for a sexy Spaniard.  The film touches upon some very profound issues of our time, the Defense of Marriage Act, and how even though gay people can get married in certain states in this country, immigration is a federal right.  So even if a gay person legally marries someone, it doesn’t grant citizenship because of DOMA.  All told, despite its hot button topicality, this is the very human story about a man who has to decide who’s life he’s living. (more…)


18 Questions with Author Kergan Edwards-Stout

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to answer a few questions from Terrence Moss, a terrific writer and blogger who read and loved Songs for the New Depression.  He even went so far as to post an ad for it on his site–which is above and beyond generous. (Thank you, Terrence!)

Check out his 18 Questions, as they give you a fun behind-the-scenes look at the book!