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Sunday, July 29, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
What prompted these thoughts?
As a writer, as a person, I can often be an insecure soul, full of doubts and lacking confidence. When you release a book into the world, it takes on a life of its own, almost as though it's your child out there in the world, making its way. There are people out there, waiting to put the stamp of their own experience on your work. Sadly, no matter how hard you try, there are people out there who want to say that your child is less than you want, hope, and believe for him or her.
Such is the case with my novel, Caregiver, which is based a lot on my own experiences as an AIDS buddy back in the early 1990s, when being HIV+ or having the virus itself was truly a death sentence. On a site called Goodreads, where thousands of readers come together to critique, catalog, and talk about books, I found a review of Caregiver that caught me short. Among all the glowing reviews (and there are many), was one reader that didn't like the book because he thought the main character's love for the AIDS buddy in the book happened too fast to be credible.
Now, this is where the insecure part of me comes in. I can easily shove aside all the many five-star reviews and immediately begin to doubt myself and my work. "Maybe this reader is right," I muse, "And all the good reviews are wrong."
The part that wants to defend my child against this person, though, wants to shout at that reviewer, "But it did happen that fast. It wasn't made up. This connection happened after only meeting two times. That's my truth, not fiction."
See, this is where the stamp of someone else's experience and mine diverge. Intellectually, I do believe that reviewer's criticism was valid. That person, sadly, has maybe never experienced an instant connection with another person. It's not his or her experience. So, he's not buying it.
But, for me, I believe fiercely in love at first sight. For me, when I met Jim, who would become Adam in my book, I felt a rush of emotion for him: sorrow, fear, but most of all a deep, human connection that, in spite of death and the passage of many years, I still feel. And all it took was meeting him for a couple of times. Like Adam, Jim did go to prison--and died there from AIDS. I can count on one hand the number of times Jim and I were actually face-to-face, yet his impression on me is powerful, lasting until this very day, some twenty years later.
I believe we often, or maybe even always, know when someone is right for us, when there is a connection of heart and mind, perhaps even of spirit. This connection happens for no logical or intellectual reason, no basis in shared interests or experience. It's just there, and we know it, deep inside ourselves. For me, that is true of almost every person I've loved. I wish I could explain it, and maybe my writing, which is chock full of people loving each other very quickly, is an attempt to make that explanation.
And I fell in love, then. There was no basis for it. I had no idea then that we would share many things, like a lifelong passion for the humor and wit of Lily Tomlin (for whom our dog is named), or that we would one day compose a family.
But I knew it. I knew it in my heart. Just from one glance....
I can tell you the same story about others whom I have loved. Friends I fell for immediately--based on only a smile or a quick conversation.
I can't explain why. It's almost like magic, as though something deeper lies beneath the surface of body and spoken language. It as though we see something in the other that proves to be deeper than easy explanation.
Most of the people in my life that I have truly cared about--and conversely, truly loathed--I knew right away, before I had any rational basis for believing it. I think, when we connect with someone, it's because of something we may never even consciously know, but our heart knows it.
So, while a lukewarm review caused me to write this blog, I will give that reader his or her due because I know that we all have different frames of reference and beliefs.
But for me, I will stick to mine about loving at first sight. My heart tells me it's true.
Monday, July 16, 2012
I am really excited to share with you the cover for my late September release from MLR Press, RENT. The cover was done by the very talented artist (and amazing author as well), Lex Valentine. Look for RENT to appear around the third week in September.
Here's what RENT is about:
Sex can be a dangerous business. So can love....
On the worst day of his life, Wren Gallagher wants oblivion when he steps into Tricks for a drink. He’s lost not only his job, but his wallet as well. When a mysterious stranger steps up to pay his tab, he also offers Wren the key to fulfilling his dreams of prosperity and true love. But appearances are not always what they seem….
His savior is the owner of the escort agency, À Louer—and he wants the young and handsome Wren to work for him. So down on his luck, Wren figures—why not? He can use the money. When he joins, though, he hadn’t counted on meeting Rufus, another escort with whom he quickly falls hopelessly in love.
But their love story will have to overcome the obstacles of not only trading love for money, but À Louer’s dark—and deadly—secrets.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Last Friday, the book was Ira Levin's horror classic, Rosemary's Baby. Oh, the memories mention of that book brought back!
I was a weird kid. I read Rosemary's Baby when it first came out. I was nine years old. My eyeballs were probably scorched by the demonic goings-on in Mr. Levin's mid-1960s New York City and his Dakota-like Bramford apartment building, which was filled with sinister plots and people.
I don't quite know why I was allowed to read such a book at such a young age. But even then, I read voraciously, so much so that my parents would wonder, "Why don't you go outside and play instead of sitting in here with your nose in a book?" all summer long. They probably tired of keeping tabs on my reading material.
Anyway, I am sure Levin's groundbreaking horror novel had an impact on me and my writing frame of reference, which, even then, was beginning to form. I'm glad I read it.
Later on, in 4th grade, my friend Michael Taylor and I wandered one Saturday to our small Ohio burg's downtown to see the newly-released film version of the novel. I couldn't wait and Michael was just along for the ride, with a brown paper bag full of popcorn his naive mother had popped for him. Much to our dismay, we didn't get in. A dour-faced ticket taker sat in her glass booth, with a hand-lettered sign above her head, saying something to the effect that minors would not be admitted.
Didn't they know I had read the book at age nine?
We found something else to do that day.
I have since seen Roman Polanski's amazing film adaptation many, many times and I even own it on disc. It's one of my favorite movies of all time.
But re-reading Rosemary's Baby right now, I can really appreciate the reverence Polanski had for the source material. It's almost jaw-dropping now to see how closely Polanski aligned his film with the novel. Same dialogue, same pace, same sequencing. It's as though he truly brought the book to life--just the way the author intended.
I had wondered, when I bought the book, if it wouldn't hold up to my older and much more jaded literary tastes. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Levin's prose is clean, powerful, and without a wasted word. His story immerses you in his world effortlessly and carries you along so that you are lifted out of words on a page (or a screen) and wholly in his universe. That's artistry. And it's a real classic when it holds up so well so many years later (going on 50!).
Of course, the same can be said for Polanski's film, which is also a classic.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
This quote, from The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom really resonated with me because of its simple, yet profound, truth. I am grateful to have found my certain love.
People say they find love, as if it were an object hidden by a rock. But love takes many forms, and it is never the same for any man and woman. What people find then is a certain love. And Eddie found a certain love with Marguerite, a grateful love, a deep but quiet love, one that he knew, above all else, was irreplaceable.
Monday, July 9, 2012
John Barrowman (Torchwood's Captain Jack) had this to say about the video in the Hufflington Post:
"Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning to discover that it was suddenly illegal for you to be you? That the law said because you had blue eyes, or were short or because you wrote with your left hand you could go to jail."
Read the rest of the article here.