Saturday, February 12, 2005

Publishing a Book

My first novel, a mystery featuring a gay detective, will be published in May 2005 by Haworth Press. I thought I'd record some of the steps I've gone through in getting this book published so that other writers, and people interested in gay books, can see what's involved.

I started writing Mahu, which means homosexual in Hawaiian, in 1992, after a visit to Hawaii. I had just graduated from Florida International University with an MFA in creative writing, and I was trying to find something to write a novel about.

I studied under two writers who were already writing mystery novels set in Florida, Jim Hall and Les Standiford. Other classmates, including Dennis Lehane and Barbara Parker, had staked out their territory. There was an explosion of writing set in Florida, and I despaired of finding my own turf.

Then I went to Hawaii. My father had just passed away, and my mother inherited his frequent flyer miles. I had accumulated a lot myself, flying back and forth between the northeast and Florida, so we decided to use those miles for a trip to Hawaii. It seemed like a once in a lifetime trip, so we planned to visit as many islands as we could in two weeks.

I fell in love. I'd learned so much about Florida by reading mysteries by authors like Edna Buchanan, Carl Hiaasen, and others, so I thought I'd look for the same kind of books about Hawaii. There weren't any. Aha, I thought. Market opportunity!

I discovered that what I loved about Florida was found in Hawaii too-- the mix of cultures, the contrast between light and shadow, the fragility of the environment, and the sense Hawaii, like Miami, was on the edge of the country. It was as if somebody had shaken America and all the nuts had landed at the bottom.

I thought there was novelistic possibility in what Graham Greene called "shady characters in sunny places." So I got an idea for a book and started to write.

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