My approach to authoring books is not unique, but I believe it is lost in many quarters. Many times books are conceived as the author’s self expression, disregarding the reader. Readers become outsiders looking in, fishing around for ephemeral meanings and significant themes. At other times, authors attempt to pander to reader’s likes and dislikes, setting quotas on sex or violence, creating plot-driven sequences meant to fill in rainy Tuesdays. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It’s just not my approach.
I strive to engage the reader, challenging them to think. Not only should they put one word in front of the other to achieve an end, they should collaborate with me and complete my thoughts; escape to a world that we both share. I do not aim at a mass audience, or even a gay audience. Although all my books have gay characters and many have gay themes, I write for just one reader and don’t care about their sexual orientation. I present that reader with living, breathing characters, who stick in their mind and lodge in their cares. Story is almost immaterial. The journey is the thing; a path that glues the reader to the page as they turn and turn and turn . . . An escape — a refuge.
Into this stew pot of authoring, I inject my experiences. I have degrees in Chinese History and have traveled extensively. As such, my longest works, The Jade Owl Legacy series is China-themed; and The Academician is a tale of 12th Century China. I have an affinity for fantasy, so alternate realities play a role in my books. As a gay activist with many years in service to the cause, books like Turning Idolater, No Irish Need Apply and Cutting the Cheese are gay-dominant, although you might be surprised that these have been embraced by the non-gay community. I feel ambassadorial. Bobby’s Trace spans both the gay-themed and the fantasy worlds; and as a gay-veteran (1966-68), I have a military tale based on my experiences in the U.S. Army in 1967 (Surviving an American Gulag).
My latest work is the third installment of The Jade Owl Legacy series, called The Dragon’s Pool. Like its two predecessors, it revels in the nexus of the modern and ancient world; and continues the epic of a band of characters that have been well received by readers of the series. I am currently working on two new works — the second installment of the Southern Swallow series, entitled The Nan Tu (The Southern Migration), an historical fantasy recounting the bifurcation of the Sung Dynasty during the early 12th Century. It will continue to explore the contours of human sexuality in medieval China. The other work is a romance in the time of AIDS, entitled Look Away Silence, a work that channels many of my own experiences as an AIDS service volunteer and takes a side-glance at the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA).
My motto will continue to be — Write with your heart, edit with your mind, instill the work with poetry and humor, and the book will author itself. From my mind to your imagination . . .