Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest Blogger - Dorien Grey

"The Man Behind the Curtain"
I read your blog. I read reviews, excerpts, your books, poetry and finally, I said to heck with it and threw away all my formal list of questions (when did you decide to become a writer; when was your first book published; where do you get your ideas ) and just toss out what came to my mind as I was exploring the world of the "Man Behind the Curtain".
Jeanne: Of all the poetry you've written across the years, what are three of your favorites and why?

Dorien: Books and poems are the children of the writer's mind, and I love allof mine. But I can pick two which reflect the very core of my being."Playmates", which is dedicated to my now-long-dead partner Ray Lopez, who the passage of time, which blunts the sharp edges of reality, now tells me was the love of my life. "The Boy With the Poppyseed Buns", which addresses my deep sense of irony. A third I especially like is "Dreams of a Calico Mouse" which points to the fact that there are two sides to every coin. All are in my chapbook of poems, "The Poems of Dorien Grey" available as a download from GLB Publishers (www.glbpubs.com). Dreams of a Calico Mouse can be found at the end of Dorien's interview.
Jeanne: You wrote: "Nostalgia requires distance." Your non-fiction Navy memoir, A World Ago is slated for release later this year and in reading your blog, you often turn to your life in the Navy. Could you share just a few moments that, in retrospect, impacted on your writing? Dorien:Ah, I wish it were possible to do so, but it isn't...not for me, anyway. Life and Time are the same river, constantly moving toward the sea, and I cannot take a knife and cut it into specific pieces or point to a specific spot and say "here is an example of what made me who I am." I write because I have to write, and every experience I have ever had has contributed to it. I have any number of memorable moments, but to say they influenced me more than, say, a half-remembered dream or someone memorable I encountered briefly on a bus is really impossible.
Jeanne: Okay, I had to ask a book related question because The Angel Singers, your latest Dick Hardesty mystery (an even dozen!) centers on the world of music, a subject near and dear to my heart. (Well, okay, the question isn't quite book related, but music related.) What music inspires your writing? When you were writing The Angel Singers, besides "I Am What I Am", are there any songs that you find particularly meaningful?
Dorien: As an unabashed romanticist, I find that I react to some songs like a tuning fork reacts to being struck with a small mallet, and the effect on me is the same. Anything that moves me deeply, be it a song or a book or a movie or a personal experience, resonates long after the experience has ended. In "The Angel Singers" I very carefully and deliberately chose the songs for the program Jonathan and the chorus perform. Every one of them is, in its own way, an anthem of pride and hope, and those two words sum up my entire view of life.
Songs from the concert include: "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret,"You're a Grand Old Flag," "God Bless America", "I Hear Singing" from Call Me Madam, "Somewhere" from West Side Story, "Oklahoma", "What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Consider Yourself" from Oliver, and "This is My Country." Again, all songs of power, empowerment, and hope for the gay community.
Jeanne: Well, here's another "book related" question. Here you are writing wonderful mysteries with a well-beloved cast of characters, and then "Calico" appears. What prompted his appearance?
Dorien:Truth be told (and I think I'm telling this particular truth here for the first time), "Calico" was the first book I ever had published. I was working for a publishing house in L.A. that needed westerns. I always hated westerns, but the saving grace in them was that they were not quite so blatantly heterosexual as other genres. (The cowboy often rode off alone on his horse, which he seemed to prefer to the heroine.) So I wrote an on-the-surface "straight" western which I called "Calico" (the publisher for some unfathomable reason changed the title to "Stagecoach to Nowhere" which had absolutely nothing to do with anything in the book). That it had a barely-concealed gay sub-theme seemed to elude the editors. After the copyright expired and reverted to me, I rewrote it the way I wish I could have originally done it...as a gay love story.
Jeanne: One more book question. I mean, after all, you "are" an author. Seems that your devoted fans will be seeing number thirteen in the Dick Hardesty series with The Secret Keeper. Can you share a snippet or a brief blurb?
Dorien: Delighted to. Jonathan is hired by an elderly millionaire to help with the old man's garden. When the man is found dead, apparently a suicide, Jonathan...and the man's gay grandson...refuse to believe it, sending Dick off in search of the truth and who, among the man's greedy and dysfunctional family, may have resorted to murder.
Jeanne: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa and now Vermont have all passed same sex marriage laws. Do you think more writers will incorporate this into their story lines? Would Dick and Jonathan marry if they had that right?
Dorien: I certainly hope that more writers...and especially straight writers...will incorporate stable, monogamous gay relationships into their books. As to Jonathan and Dick's taking advantage of the right to marry, I'm not sure. Probably, if Jonathan insisted on it, and also probably if by doing so Dick could share legal custody of Joshua. But as Dick says, "A piece of paper doesn't make a very strong glue."
Jeanne: And last do you have any questions you'd always wanted to ask your readers?
Dorien: I'm endlessly fascinated by my readers' reactions to each and every book, to the characters in them and to both the issues the books address and the way in which they address them. There is nothing I (or any writer that I know of) loves more than to hear from a reader.
Jeanne: Thanks so much, Dorien.

Dorien: And thank you, Jeanne, for the opportunity to talk to your readers. I truly appreciate it.
* * * *
Dreams of a Calico Mouse
In a quaint little cottage, a calico cat
naps by the hearth on a calico mat.
Contented and warm in the heart of the house,
it purrs in sweet dreams of a calico mouse.
In a garbage-strewn alley, where scrap-paper ghosts
dance in the wind ’round graffiti-scrawled posts,
in a box by a trash bin, a calico cat
trembles in dreams of a calico rat.
* * * *

Dorien's Links:


Victor J. Banis said...

Here I am again, courting frustration by trying to post to a blog.

Great interview, Dorien, and I loved the Calico Mouse.

Write, for the night is coming.


Jeanne said...

Victor, you made it! A successful post.
Thanks for stopping by and I loved the Calico Mouse, too.

Mykola Dementiuk said...

The Calico Mouse was the best for last...I loved it ;)

Lloyd said...

Tasty interview, Jeanne and Dorien, although more of an appetizer than a full meal.

Dorien, you are one of those authors I'd love to converse with for a few hours one afternoon. I hope I get that chance one day.

Jeanne, great job of prying out of him what you managed.

Lloyd Meeker

Jeanne said...

Dorien has more to tell of course...but that's show biz -- always leave 'em begging for more!