January 22, 1973. The United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that no government, state or federal, had the power to outlaw abortion, that it was an individual choice. That has been the law of the land ever since, but many will not rest until that decision is reversed.
What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned? My next novel drops you right into the middle of a world where that has already happened.
As I said in an earlier post, the arrival of my Kindle truly reawakened my passion for reading. The ease of finding, purchasing, carrying around a new book whenever I wanted, all without requiring me to find a new space on my already crowded shelves, has turned me back into the reader I used to be. But that doesn’t hold a candle to what it did for my mother.
She was constantly reading as long as I can remember. A visit from my sister, Maureen, would usually involve the exchange of multiple books before they parted. But Mom is now 85. Her knees and back aren’t what they used to be. Spending hours browsing the shelves of her local Borders was no longer in the cards for her, even before Borders went to that Big Bankruptcy Court in the Sky. Some time last year, she was actually reaching the point where the stack of books next to her favorite chair was down to its last volume. At that time her knee was really bothering her, so the idea of going to Barnes and Noble really didn’t appeal to her. Then her youngest son came over with his new purchase, the latest (at the time) Amazon Kindle.
I first stumbled across Timothy Kurek on a LinkedIn group about book marketing. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that a realized that he was the same guy I had been reading about, the former Conservative Southern Christian who went underground in Nashville’s small but vibrant gay community, effectively going into the closet as a straight guy and coming out a year later with his outlook profoundly changed. The book that resulted has earned the author an appearance on The View, been dissected on Huffington Post, and received glowing praise from no less a figure than Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Too often, issues surrounding our gay and lesbian neighbors get clouded by superficial discussions of sexual morality and abstract arguments about legal equality. Kurek’s book cuts through that and performs the not-inconsequential feat of bridging two communities who seem irreconcilably at odds, and opening a channel for communication, for those who choose to use it.
In the following interview, Kurek says his lack of a college degree was one factor which contributed to his early reluctance to go ahead with a book. I suspect he learned more about life in that year than a lot of college graduates managed to absorb in four.
I believe there are a few among us have, under the spell of curiosity, alcohol, or some really good weed, “experimented” with a member of their own gender, but that never goes beyond the surface and past the moment. Kurek “experimented” with every aspect except the sexual for an entire year, immersing himself in the humanity behind the endless discussions, and the result should be illuminating for anyone willing to hold their own bias, about gays or Christians, up to the light he’s shining on the issue.
Upon reading the book, I thought I needed to have a talk with the author. He was gracious enough to agree.
I have a love hate relationship with the back roads in that part of country. They are beautiful and, when you know where you’re going, a lot of fun to drive. That part about knowing where you’re going is key.
Back in the days before in-car GPS systems, I was in the Vienna/McLean/Tyson’s Corner area on business. I landed at Dulles at night and was driving to my hotel. If had gone right, I would have been in the brightly lit heart of Vienna. I went left instead and found myself in a semi-rural residential neighborhood. Back in those days (1995), the people in those parts didn’t believe much in street lighting. About once every block, the road I was on seemed to be named after a different Confederate general.
This was also before I owned a cell phone, of course. Fortunately, my search for a pay phone led me across the road where my hotel was supposedly located. If I hadn’t stumbled on that, I might still be roaming the wilds of Northern Virginia like a Flying Dutchman in a rented Chevy.
In Human X, the one and only time we see Ted, Colin’s original partner, he say he’s headed to Della and Lisa’s house. Presumably, Della and Lisa are friends of Ted’s and acquaintances of Colin’s. Their role at first is twofold. First they symbolize the estrangement between the two partners, as the two men seem to live in separate worlds. Continue reading “Anatomy of a Character: Della and Lisa”
The political background of Human X is not completely beside the point. It helps to define Colin Jeffries, and it also sets the groundwork for future stories. His father, Remington Jeffries is a U.S. Senator, but not for one of the two major parties with which have been all too familiar this year. Seriously, previous election years may have seemed like the country was giving birth to a new administration. This year felt more like we were collectively passing an especially painful kidney stone.
When I wrote the climax of Human X, I thought I was taking some liberties when I described the missile site nestled in the oil fields of northern Orange County, Site LA-29. The site was real but I was certain that, by 2011, much less 2039, it was a neatly manicured tract of homes. Turns out I was wrong. The old site was still a decaying, graffiti-covered collection of abandoned structures. It was, however, far more complete than I describe in the book. Fortunately for accuracy, the remaining structures are marked for demolition and, by 2039, the site should be the relatively pristine wilderness described in the book.
In Human X, the character of Antonia Milos is a textbook example of the organic way I develop characters, especially my supporting cast. I put a fair amount of a planning into my major characters, while still giving them room to develop with the story. I knew who Colin Jeffries was and where he had come from before I wrote a single word. When I started typing chapter one, however, Antonia Milos didn’t even exist. In fact, when I typed the words “Chapter Two,” she still didn’t exist.
As I said in the first post, much of the second half of Human X takes place around Orange County, CA. The safe house of the enigmatic character “Woodstein” is located in a not-completely-real place called Capistrano Canyon. Capo Canyon, as its denizens would probably call it, if they existed, is a more remote version of the very real canyon communities upon which it is modeled.