Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Author Interview: DORIEN GREY

Author Interview by A.J. Llewellyn

1. Hi Dorien and welcome to the Diva’s Den. My first question has to be how you manage to be so prolific. You have two major hay detective series out, a yahoo group, an active blog and you’ve dipped your toes in the YA pool. How do you manage all this?

Hi back, A.J. Interesting question, and I actually see it as a sort of "glass half-empty, glass half-full" situation. Where you might see me as being prolific, I often feel guilty for not writing nearly as much as I should. Since I don't have a 9-to-5 job, I should be able to do more than I do.

2. I happen to love "The Picture of Dorien Grey." Do you have a painting in the attic?

Just in the attic of my mind. There are lots of dark corners up there.

3. What made you choose this particular character as your pseudonym?

Wilde's character remains young and beautiful on the outside, while his soul withers and becomes ugly. I remain young, though I was never beautiful on the outside, while my body is subject to the ravages of time, my soul remains young.

AJ says: I don’t know, Dorien. I’ve seen your photo. By the way, I love your dad’s satin outfit. I really feel the love you have for your family history from your photographic blog. This needs to be a book. Any chance of this?

Well, Lord knows they deserve it. Both my parents were wonderful people, flawed as are all people, but I never for one instant did not believe that they did not love me with all their heart. I loved them dearly, and miss them terribly. But I doubt I have the depth to do such a book justice. As an upcoming Dorien Grey and Me blog says, I am a wide pool, but shallow on the inside, while my body is subject to the ravages of time. I hate reflective surfaces.

4. Please tell me about your dashing male leads – Dick Hardesty and Elliott Smith. Dick Hardesty is an amazing character. Where did the idea come from and has anyone approached you regarding a movie yet?

A movie? From your lips to God's ear! As for where Dick and Elliott came from, well, I'm Dick. Or rather Dick is me in an alternate universe; the person I wish I were. We share our outlooks on life, our sense of humor, and our love of being in love and devoting our life to a partner.
Unfortunately, I don't have one, but we both have Jonathan and Joshua. As for Elliott, I was a little hesitant about him at first because he is NOT me...at least not nearly as much me as Dick is. But I also wouldn't mind being Elliott. He's the kind of nice, average gay guy I admire.

5. I’ve seen one Elliott Smith novel - "His Name is John" - so far. Any more in the works? I really think Elliott is an extremely accessible character. As somebody who writes two different series myself, I have to ask you, don’t you find it refreshing to have this new character to draw on? I am seeing very positive response to him from both readers and reviewers. This too, must be gratifying.

I'm so glad you like Elliott. It is indeed gratifying to know others appreciate your work. And yes, after 11 adventures with Dick, much as I enjoy him, it was time to try something new. I've toyed with having Dick and Elliott meet up at some point, but Dick is now much older than Elliott (the DH series is set in the 1980s, Elliott is today).
"Aaron's Wait", the second book in the Elliott Smith series, is scheduled (always the operative word) for release this June, and I'm like a horse at the starting gate, champing at the bit and snorting and pawing the ground. Patience is not one of my virtues.

6. I know the feeling, Dorien. You were in the Navy and you blog about your military life – well at least you did until last April…but I am intrigued about that experience. Has it influenced your work?

Glad you asked about my blog "A World Ago" (http://www.doriengrey.blogspot.com/ ...excuse the plug); it is scheduled (again operative word) to be released in book form in July, though I don't know if the publisher can get out two books in two months. But I'm looking forward to it. As to whether it "influenced" my writing, I don't know. Probably, but it's just me the way I was. Actually, all my books are just me as I am.

7. There is a lovely quote from you on your blog: “When I was five years old, I never wanted to be six. I have fought time...and reality...tooth and nail, which is of course why I became a writer. Never satisfied with the world as it is, and never feeling I truly belonged there, I write to create worlds which do not exist, but should."
What is this world like?

I have never been the least bit ashamed to claiming to be an all-out, dyed-in-the-wool romantic. I always expect the world to be better than it is. I can't comprehend why people seem incapable of just following the Golden Rule. Can you imagine how much better life would be if we did?

8. What was your childhood like and where did you grow up – I know it was Northern Illinois, but where and what was it like?

I was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, which I used to refer to as "the last stronghold of stupidity north of the Mason-Dixon line"--no offense to your readers from the South.

AJ: Laughing…I love it! Geez…you are a little tough on the old hacienda. I just Googled it and it’s the birthplace of some pretty interesting folk. Apart from you, there is James Henry Breasted, the first American teacher of Egyptology, actress Susan Saint James, Aidan Quinn and the Rockford Peaches! But anyway, please continue.

The Rockford Peaches! My folks used to take me to their games. Women's baseball came about because many of the men's teams were decimated by the numbers going into the service. But all that is a much longer and different story. And don't forget Barbara Hale, who played Della Street, Perry Mason's secretary. She lived just down the block from my aunt and uncle. Again, another long story. There are so many.
I realized I was gay when I was five years old, and never for one instant of my life ever wanted to be anything else. Being gay from age 5 ain't easy.

AJ: Can I ask how you knew at that age? I am really intrigued by this.

Since each of us has only one life and our own set of experiences to fall back on, realizing I was gay at 5 was no big deal. It was like realizing I had brown eyes. I just knew I liked other boys. Girls were a different species, and while I appreciated them as people, that was as far as it ever went.
I was blessed with a family which, though I didn't officially come out to them until I was in my thirties, totally accepted me for myself, never questioned, and never made me feel I should be someone other than who I was. The quote you referred to from my blog really sums it all up.

9. By the way, when was the last time you cleaned your apartment? I’m only half kidding. I read your blog. The second part to this question is what kind of coffee do you make your guests and er…are the cups clean?

I am cut to the quick by such a question! I vacuumed the living room just last....uh, week, I think....And I do dishes regularly (which is to say whenever the cupboard doesn't have any more clean cups or glasses). And on those rare occasions when I have visitors, I rush around madly with a steam shovel and fire hose clearing a path. As for coffee, it is an example of the power of habit. I usually buy French Roast, though I'm not sure why...habit, probably. I drink several cups a day, but I almost never finish one.

10. I love French Roast. Okay, so now, please tell me a little about your writing routine.

I honestly try to write as much of each day as I can. There is no real "routine" since I'm always juggling time between writing blogs and emails and the current book (which, by the way, is #13 of the Dick Hardesty series: "The Secret Keeper"). I do always have classical music on, though. And I never write past 5 p.m.

11. You never write past 5pm? Why?

Because having wrung the sponge dry during the day, it's time to sit back and start absorbing things. I'm rather addicted to TV, which is hardly surprising for someone who does not care for reality.

12. Who are your favorite authors and do you have much time these days for reading??

One of my greatest regrets is that I simply do not have the time to read as much as I would like to. I don't think I could pick out any one author who is my favorite...often it is the author of the last book I read, whatever that may have been. Which I suppose is some sort of protective coloration since when I read a book I enjoy, I have strong self-doubt about my own writing.
I compare that writer's style, description, dialog, overall feel to my own and far too often find myself wanting. I want several things out of any book I read: to be picked up by the words and carried along from first page to last without being aware of the outside world; to be entertained; and most importantly of all, in books as in life, I want it all to end in hope.

13. What about Roger? Does Roger write? Does he have self doubts?

What I love most about Dorien is that he has no limits. He can be anything/anyone he wants. He can fly. He never has to worry about the things those of us with corporate bodies do. And he can live forever. Roger envies him to the core of his being. As for the writing, and Dorien and Roger's relationship, I always say that Roger is the bulb, and Dorien the flower.

14. As somebody who is a major voice in gay fiction, what do you perceive as being good and band current trends in the genre?

I stand in awe of many of our current-day writers. But I sometimes am concerned by the lack of....well,....warmth. Of "let's not take all this too seriously" good humor. I fear we are becoming hardened. As I said earlier, the most terrible thing a book can do is to end without hope. And there's too much of that going on now.

15. I hope you don’t mind a political question but I think people would want to know how you feel about the passage of Prop 8 in California last November. How did you feel about it? Did you expect it? Do you think equality for gay couples will come soon?

I think stupidity and ignorance are in our racial genes. They are infuriating, but like many of our now-no-longer-so-necessary protective devices, serve the purpose of keeping us from moving too far too fast. The failure of Prop 8 was disappointing, of course. But I lived through Anita Bryant and Prop 13, and in the end it all worked out. This will, too. Personally, I have often said that a piece of paper does not make a very strong glue. All I want is for all glbts to have every legal and social right heterosexuals have. I don't care what name is put to it, as long as we have total equality.

On behalf of Dark Diva Reviews I would like to thank Dorien for taking the time to stop by today. To learn more about this talented author, please check out his links:

Website: http://www.doriengrey.com/
Dorien Grey and Me blog: http://www.doriengreyandme.com/
"A World Ago" blog: http://www.doriengrey.blogspot.com/
Dorien's life in photos: http://www.doriengreyphotolife.blogspot.com/