Wednesday, November 2, 2011
My Inspiration: CAREGIVER
Picture it: Tampa Bay, Florida, 1991. A young man flees a troubled life in Chicago to begin anew on the Gulf Coast of Florida. White sand beaches and azure waters beckon. Shortly after landing in Tampa Bay, the young man, in a gesture of solidarity with his gay brethren who are dying by the thousands, volunteers to become an AIDS buddy, focusing his attention on one victim of the virus…
Actually, if you’ve read the blurb of my new novel, CAREGIVER, you might think that the above is an alternate synopsis I wrote for the book. But the truth is it’s about me. Like my main character in CAREGIVER, Dan, I too fled Chicago for a new life in Tampa, FL and I too joined a program that supplied AIDS buddies to those suffering from the virus. In 1991, the afflicted had a very bleak outlook. But sometimes, we meet a person who can overcome that bleakness with biting wit, humor, grace, and style. My buddy was just such a man—he left a mark on me that has stayed with me until this very day and will always be one of the most special people I have ever met.
My book is called CAREGIVER, but by the end, the reader will wonder who really is the caregiver.
It’s taken me twenty years to write about Jim, my AIDS buddy from 1991 (who becomes “Adam” in the novel), my funny valentine who ended up dying in the Florida State Prison—but I think the results are ultimately worth it.
In CAREGIVER’s first review by fellow author (and icon) Victor J. Banis, he says:
"Reed has a fine command of words that sometimes approaches the magical...I think few readers will come away from reading this emotionally untouched... I could not stop reading until I had finished, and I don’t know how you can pay a writer any better compliment than that...I began by explaining my aversion to AIDS novels—but I’m not so great a fool that I didn’t know from the first page or so that this is a terrific work, insightful and bold, by a very talented writer..."
Read the whole review on Reviews by Jessewave.
It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.
Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original—witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.
Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.
BUY from Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Kindle version