Tell us a little about your new book.
Lincoln Avenue is my first short story collection. The twelve stories were culled from a much larger manuscript. My publisher, Raymond Luczak, wanted the book to have a more cohesive theme. Because the focus of Squares and Rebels Press is Midwestern LGBT writers, we chose a dozen stories set in the region. There were others set in and around Chicago, as well as Boston and Washington, DC, that didn’t make the cut. I hope to put them together to create a new manuscript.
Chicago and some of its closest suburbs, Skokie and Evanston, for example, are very much a part of your stories. Would you consider yourself, like Stuart Dybek, a writer of place, as much as of character?
Wow, Stuart Dybek! Yes, place has always found, well, a place in my work, both prose and poetry. I love reading writers who write about places where I have been as much as I love reading about new places. I hope that people who read Lincoln Avenue, those who have been to the Chicago area as well as those who haven’t, feel as though I have taken them someplace familiar or new.
One of your characters, Craig, appears in several of the stories in Lincoln Avenue; do you consider these linked stories to form a novella, of a kind? Would you say too that he's a fictional double for you? (I suppose tangentially I'm wondering if you've ever written personal essays or a book-length memoir.)
Other than the Chicago theme, I actually don’t consider the stories to be linked. Even the beginning and ending stories, “Your Father’s Car” and “Your Mother’s Car,” are intended to be unrelated, separate. Yes, the main characters in the stories all have elements of my personality, but they are all fiction. That’s my (short) story and I’m sticking with it.
No personal essays or memoirs in the works for me. All of my non-fiction writing energy is tied up in my career as an entertainment journalist.