Simolke was also honored recently by the LGBT resource website Antny’s Place (http://antnysplace.org). He was the Poet of the Month there for both June and July of 2003.
Born in New Orleans on May 28, 1965, Simolke now lives in Lubbock, Texas. Majoring in English, he studied at Belmont University (B.A., 1989), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., 1991), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., 1996). He has always loved books and movies, especially science fiction and fantasy.
Simolke wrote the earliest drafts of Degranon during the 1980s, then revised it for its eventual release in 2002. Before Degranon’s publication, Simolke wrote and released three non-genre books: The Acorn Stories; New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio; and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems.
Degranon was his first novel, and first work of science fiction. The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems both received StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts awards in 2002.
While revising Degranon, Simolke edited and co-wrote The Acorn Gathering. That mainstream fiction anthology is a spin-off from The Acorn Stories, with all author and editor royalties going to fund cancer research.
The alternate universe Simolke created for Degranon features characters that his readers might think of as Native American, African American, Latino, Asian, or gay. In fact, white characters receive only passing references, while gays seem idealized.
Simolke stops short of calling Degranon a “gay novel,” since he wrote the book for a general audience, and since the main characters are heterosexual. However, he uses some of those non-gay characters to explore gay themes, as well as wider themes of diversity, freedom, and violence.
Though primarily a high-concept adventure, Degranon challenges every reader’s views, perceptions, and prejudices. Everyone who reads it will find it disturbing at times, exciting at times, and ultimately optimistic. In fact, many people will interpret certain scenes, characters, and events in differing ways.
The prolific author already has the next decade or so planned out in terms of his books. He is co-writing a fantasy novel, polishing a second edition of The Acorn Stories, and developing ideas for two Degranon sequels.
Readers can visit http://DuaneSimolke.Com to learn more about Simolke and his award-winning books, or to find a variety of writing resources and LGBT resources. His site also includes Rainbow: Lubbock, a frequently updated online guide that he created in August 1997 for other gays in the West Texas city that he calls home.