Interview

So what makes you think your story and your experiences are unique?

Many homosexuals have struggled with their identity with varying degrees of success and acceptance. The cultural traditions and social mores of American society make than difficult, particularly when those who use the Bible as a weapon rather than a guide weigh in. My conflict has never been fully reconciled although I came to rid myself of my internalized homophobia and came to know a richer and deeper faith in my slow steps to become a better Christian.

Why do you have commentaries at the end of each chapter?

The text of the chapter follows a chronological sequence that is easier to follow without interruptions. At the end I try to put my experiences into the context of the time, where I was in my own development, and some explanation of what impact my experiences had upon me. It took a decade for me to come out that was partly due to the homophobic society in which I was raised, but mostly it was due to an internal conflict within myself. I never liked stories that jumped back and forth in time so I kept with a simple timeline. I just said "pause" after each sequence to offer my explanation of what happened and why. The reader may not agree with my conclusions, but at least I've stated my case.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up and lived most of my life in Texas. I write some about my life there, but I don't think there is a Texas angle to it. It would have been much the same anywhere in the South at that time. I have been a writer in a range of genres before, but it was always in the short form (magazines). I also was a technical writer and an editor. I've belonged to several professional writing and/or editing organizations but never with the idea of writing a book. My two books were written reluctantly and over a period of time. I think that being gay had more of an impact of my life experiences than where I lived. I've never considered myself a professional writer even though I have a Master's in journalism.

When did you first start writing?

I submitted a short feature to my college literary magazine that was rejected, which was the first of a long string of rejections. In between jobs in 1962 I completed the Famous Writers correspondence course in fiction writing, and I chose the wrong genre. I've primarily read and written non-fiction. I wrote for trade journals in the 60's and then edited a small magazine for 20 years in which I did most of the writing. I have subscribed to Writer's Digest since 1978 but can't say I've really applied what they taught since I was not dependent solely on writing as a job. After I retired, I guess I was too lazy to write regularly or felt that i didn't have anything significant to say.

What's the story behind your latest book?

My first book was a biography of my sister who was a career woman just following World War II. This book is my story, but it's not all of it. I left out a lot of the mundane stuff or some of the more explicit sexual adventures. In retrospect, it seems to focus more on coming to terms with being than than in developing as a Christian. Although I was ambitious, I was not career-oriented because I had not clear goals or objectives.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Writing always has been hard for me; it's not something I feel compelled to do or enjoy doing. It's hard work. I work without an outline and usually wake up around 4 or 5 in the morning and sit down and type what is in my head; more like a stenographer than a writer. I don't know where it comes from or how long it has been gestating, but then it just pops out. Of course, then I do a lot of re-writing. My first book required eight drafts; this one only took three. I had to do a lot of research for the first book about my sister, but I still had to do some research even though it was my memoir to document some of the things I was fuzzy about. The hardest thing for me always has been creating realistic dialogue. After I've read and edited a manuscript several times, I have to put it aside for awhile before I can come back to it with a fresh approach. I can't proofread my own material, and even with others proofreading typos always seem to end up in the final text, which is a big embarrassment. I'm not very disciplined in my writing, which is why I could never make a career out of it alone even though I've been writing for a very long time with different approaches and subject matter.

Who are your favorite authors?

I primarily read non-fiction about current events and policy issues that I gather from Charlie Rose and Fareed Zakria and their TV shows that interview authors. If one peaks my interest, I will download it from Amazon. The library in my study is full so if I buy a printed book I either have to give an old one away or sell it to a used bookstore. I gave my entire LGBT collection to the Raleigh LGBT Center that has acquired about 2,500 books in just two years with very little funding and is dependent upon donations.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I am retired, but I keep a fairly busy schedule with volunteer and social activities that often interfere with my writing. I have a rule that I will get out of the house every day to either do errands, exercise, or have a meal with someone so that I can escape the loneliness of living alone. I'll admit that some mornings I just roll over and go back to sleep, especially when my arthritis is really bothering me. I have low-level dull pain all of the time in my hips and knees and many of my muscles. I've been to about a dozen doctors without any permanent relief.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?

I'm an Amazon addict. Their algorithm has figured me out although I have a very broad range of interests that confuse it sometimes. Plus my interests change over time. I team teach a Bible study class and buy a lot of reference books for it, and I'm involved in social policies and political activism so I read in those areas also.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

The Kindle software from Amazon allows me to read on my desktop computer, iPhone, and iPad, and even keeps track of where I am so that I can just pick up where I left off. I also can highlight (in a choice of colors) and add notes that will be listed to help me find something I want to look up again. You can't do that in print without thumbing through the entire book. As my eyesight has deteriorated from macular degeneration, it's also easier to enlarge the text and doesn't require such bright light.

Describe your desk

I have a computer desk in my study with a file cabinet next to it I have a color and a B&W laser printer, battery back--up, external speakers (so I can watch Netflix) and two reading lamps. I have a large credenza on another side of the room that frequently stacks up with stuff, but I try to clear it at least once a week. I'm very organized and can't stand clutter. I have an iMac with a 24" screen that will display two pages or applications at a time, and I have 68 apps on my desktop, 100+ on my iPhone, and about 50 on my iPad. Some of them will automatically sync, which is handy which transcribing notes from an interview. I'm a tech junkie, but I'm lost when you open the cover.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I spent three years researching and writing my first book, including taking a memoir course from Writer's Digest. I spent a year trying to find an agent, and finally decided to give up and do it myself. I went with a Print-On-Demand publisher that was about $2,500 and I spent that much or more on marketing. The second time around was a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper even though I hired a cover designer, someone to check my text and photo formatting, and a computer guru to upload to Amazon Digital Select and recently to Smashwords. In both cases the text in the books is directly from my MS Word files (typos and all) including photos. I've spent less than $500 on the current book.

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

Reading books and magazines on my iPad, attending concerts and the theater, regional travel, church work, swimming, doctor's appointments, social evenings with friends, attending meetings, dealing with email, paperwork, sitting on my deck, watching Netflix movies, watching Turner Classic Movies, book promotions, housework, checking Facebook, posting to my blog, attending online webinars, taking photographs, napping, listening to classical music on the radio, taking too many pills, waiting on hold for customer service, twittering, scanning the news on Flipboard, trying to figure out Goodreads, lusting after hunks, day dreaming, trying to ease the arthritic and muscle pain to get enough sleep, making excuses for not cleaning the bathroom, trying to remember what it was I was looking for, trying to ignore that little voice in my head, Bible studies, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, advocating for numerous public policy issues, giving unwanted advice, and putting my foot in my mouth.

What are some of the issues that concern you?

public transportation, health care, eldercare, economic inequality based upon tax preferences, corruption in government and corporations, the cultural divide in our nation that has fostered a political war between the extremes, assault on public education, focus on technology rather than social justice, irrational cost of higher education, and politicization of religion.

Published 2013-08-22