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Please help me welcome today’s guest and what better way to do that than getting to know him a bit better. That’s what I love about interviews!!
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading my novel, “The Grass Sweeper God.” Not out of vanity, OCD, etc. because, I’m adapting it into a screenplay.
Do you have a favorite author? Who is it?
Favorite author; Steven King.
When did you start writing?
I began writing poetry in elementary. I began writing my novel in 1992.
Why do you write?
Prose is a way of self-healing for me. We as humans get battered and bruised in so many ways. Writing is an outlet for me, my freedom of expression.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
People who like historical fiction, suspense & thriller genres. As a diverse, tolerant and intolerant society, my book is as much about how we raise our children as it is about showing us where we’ve been and perhaps where we’re headed.
If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be? Why? What would you say to them?
Anyone that is a martyr for their cause is considered famous or a legend in my thinking. So, I would meet my mother because, I would need to tell her that, “This too shall pass.”
How did you come up with the idea for your book? Why did you want to write it?
Since I am a gay man, I wanted to tell the story of the historical Gay NYC Stonewall Riots of 1969. To juxtapose that societal change against the societal change in backwoods Appalachia.
Tell us about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
Mario Sanchez Nevado from Spain designed the cover art for my book cover. The cover art represents the last scene in chapter 2 of my novel. The art was my concept based upon the scene. The whip-like image connecting man to woman represents an umbilical cord since, my main character is a young man who wanted to be a young woman.
Who would you cast for the main characters if your book became a movie?
How about an excerpt from your book meant to capture our imagination and make us want to read more?
The ripping exploded through Smiley’s intestines and he could feel an exploding burning sensation followed by the release of his bodily fluids. Like the sheep was to Jud, Smiley was to Ted. Ted’s speech slurred, “Now, you want to be a girl, fag boy?” He smashed Smiley’s head into the tombstone and pulled out his pocketknife. Ted began slicing Smiley’s red hair until he could see nothing but raw scalp. In an instant the tombstone became a flash of brightness. The last words of the engraved epithet on the concrete headstone seared into Smiley’s fading consciousness:
Died: Her spirit to be continued.
Will it. . .the struggle. . .the fight
He felt himself levitating, suspended between darkness and a brilliant light. He wasn’t human anymore, but glittered gold in the summer light. Alien corn, dwarfed among the other corn. There was an eerie silence in the field corn, then a sound like the field grass, like the Grass Sweeper God had made earlier. He saw the face of Permelia. Her face was snow white. Her petticoats ruffled in the breeze and the radiant surroundings washed through her translucence. She extended her arm and pulled Smiley from the encroaching darkness. Her voice soothed his body, cooling his damaged, torn veins and sent him shooting back toward the light.
“Go back,” she said.
“You must go back.”
And he did.
The Grass Sweeper God
by Doug Howery
GENRE: Historical Fiction
Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man’s body. In the 1950’s Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the “Mentally Retarded Class” because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.
Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him. Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer. Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours. Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized. The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.
Smiley and Lee flee to NYC. They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.
The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things…straightens out that which is bent…which is sick…
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AUTHORS Bio and Links:
DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.
In many of his stories, as in “The Grass Sweeper God,” Mr. Howery’s true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.
Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons’ sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as “Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell” and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.
Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers’ Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: “What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end–hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter.”
Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.