Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Manifesto

I’ve been struggling with a new tagline for my books that will encompass all of them—something Jeff Goins calls a manifesto. I used to use “gay men in love and danger,” but that doesn’t cover my golden retriever books or some of the other miscellaneous things I’ve written.

It’s an interesting exercise, to look at all the thirty-plus books I’ve published and see if there is a common thread that runs through them. Though most of my work has involved gay characters, not all has—so maybe being gay or living a gay life isn’t at the core of what I write, or why I write.

Coming out, and what I call “the pain of the closet,” which often drives people to do dangerous or unexpected things, dominated my early work. The early arc of the Mahu Investigations dealt with Kimo’s coming out process—getting dragged out of the closet in Mahu, making gay friends in Mahu Surfer, finding love in Mahu Fire.

Once he was settled down with Mike, I wanted to explore further dimensions of the authentic life he was able to lead—moving in together, getting a dog, fostering a child, eventually fathering twins. But all of this in the end, is about love—he couldn’t have that life he deserved until he opened himself to the possibility of finding love with the right person.

Of course this is rooted in my own life, and the love that I found once I came out. So I began to see that there’s a connection in all my books between living one’s true life, and the ability to find love.

My MFA thesis at FIU, Invasion of the Blatnicks, became my first published book. Steve Berman has to learn to let go of the expectations that surround him before he can fully come into himself. Steve Levitan, in the Golden Retriever mysteries, has to recover from a divorce and incarceration before he can begin to live fully once more. Rochester helps him with that process, giving him unconditional love and teaching Steve how to love again. (And in case you haven’t figured it out, my middle name is Steven, and these two guys represent big parts of who I am, even though both are straight.)

The same is true for my gay characters. Though Aidan Greene of the Have Body Will Guard series has been out of the closet for more than a decade, loving the wrong guy has screwed him up. And even though Liam McCullough chose to come out rather than remain closeted in the US Navy, he doesn’t get to live a full life until he falls in love with Aidan.

And finally, the Love on Series is all about young guys finding their way after college, and opening themselves up to love once they know who they are and what they want.

I’m still struggling with the exact wording for this manifesto, or tagline. One possibility is “Follow your heart to find your authentic life,” while another is “Living your authentic life leads to love.”


Neither is quite punchy enough—but then, since my writing life is a work in progress, why wouldn’t my manifesto be one, too?

9 comments:

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