I met Dave Hughes in the vast meeting place of the internet sometime last year and have been reading his columns at RetireFabulously.com ever since. A new column in the email inbox means more great information from the perspective of someone who’s been there and done that – in this case, designed and lived his retirement, discovering both the expected and the unanticipated along the way.
Dave’s new book, Design Your Dream Retirement: How to Envision, Plan For, and Enjoy the Best Retirement Possible, just came out. I’ve read it and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who is living their renaissance or planning to. There’s so much we don’t know about the realities of retirement, both exciting and challenging, and Dave is an expert at providing that information in easy-to-understand language, with concrete examples that can help you form and design your own dream retirement.
Following are ‘6 Questions’ Dave found time to answer. Enjoy them, and be sure to check out his book, for yourself or as a gift for a friend or loved one. It’s invaluable.
I recently had the pleasure of asking author Michael Graves ‘6 Questions.’ Michael is the author of Dirty One, a collection of short stories that was both a Lambda Literary Award Finalist and an American Library Association Honoree. His new novel, Parade, is set for release by Chelsea Station EditionsOctober 1. Described as “a tour-de-force, comic tale of religion and government,” the book tells the story of Reggie Lauderdale in the midst of his crisis of faith. His cousin, Elmer Mott, dreams of becoming their hometown mayor. Both boys are doing their best to be adults in suburbia, but have yet to learn to be fully themselves.
Read on for Michael’s answers, some advance praise for Parade, and stay tuned – he’ll be a guest soon on the Live Mic Podcast in early October.
I recently happened upon Kate McLachlan’s new book, Ten Little Lesbians, on the “hot new releases” list for LGBT mysteries on Kindle. I loved the cover and soon found myself thoroughly enjoying the story of ten women stranded at the lesbian-owned Adelheid Inn in the Cascade Mountains after a mudslide closes the only road out. Murder and mystery ensue in a delicious Agatha Christie homage with a distinctly lesbian twist.
I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather pose ‘6 Questions’ to than Kate. A double Goldie Award winner from the Golden Crown Literary Society and a Lambda Literary Award finalist, Kate shares her experiences, work and insights into the writing life. – Mark
MM: You’ve written a good number of books, including the RIP (“Rip Van Dyke”)time-travel series, mysteries, and the romance “Christmas Crush” that was a Lambda Literary Finalist in 2014. Have you always been a writer? What trajectory has your writing taken over the years? (That’s a twofer.)
KM: I’ve always been a writer in the sense that I’ve always written something, whether it was diary entries, journal entries, poetry that NOBODY ever saw, or the beginnings of stories without end. I wrote my first novel when I was in my mid-30’s, a historical adventure book for middle-school kids. I was teaching at the time, and I wrote the book to try to make ancient Rome come alive for my 6th graders. They seemed to like it, and I sent it off to some agents. This was in the mid-90’s. Publishing companies wouldn’t even read your query letters if you were unrepresented, and expensive vanity presses were the only choice for self-publishing. I had no luck finding an agent, so I stuck the book in a drawer, and there it still sits. I had proved to myself that I could finish a book, though, so I continued on that path. I decided to write what I enjoyed reading, so I wrote a few mysteries. Three of them still sit in that same drawer with my children’s novel, but two of them–after many intervening years filled with law school, career change, and coming out–have since been extensively rewritten and published as Hearts, Dead and Alive and Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl.
I had the pleasure of meeting Maurice at this year’s Rainbow Book Fair – and now the double pleasure of asking him ‘6 Questions.’ His book, Businessman First, tells the story of Henry G. Parks, Jr., a successful African American businessman. Maurice was as nice and engaging as his book is fascinating – a story that both needed to be told, and that Maurice promised to tell. He has, in spectacular fashion.
MM: Congratulations on being nominated for a QBR Wheatley Book Award. Can you describe those awards and how you came to be nominated?
MWD: QBR The Black Book Review, the Harlem Book Fair are partnered by the Columbia University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library, Literacy Partners, Inc. and C-Span Book TV. The Harlem Book Festival is the largest and most respected African American literary festival. I was recommended by a friend in Washington, DC.
If you’re a reader of gay mysteries, you’ll inevitably come across the name Marshall Thornton. His Boystowndetective series is among the more widely known and admired series in the genre. The series received two honorable mentions and was a runner-up in the Rainbow Awards, and has twice been a finalist for the Lambda Book Award – Gay Mystery. He’s currently re-releasingthe series, with Boystown 7: Bloodlines set for release in March.
MM: I was looking at your bio. Having lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s, I’m wondering: why Long Beach? What got you there?
MT: Like many decisions in life, moving to Long Beach was a bit random. In my early thirties I decided to go back to college to finish my B.A. I applied at both Cal State Northridge and Cal State Long Beach and got into both. The deciding factor was that the Cal State Long Beach brochure said that you could see the ocean from campus—and, if you go to the top of the tallest building you can. Looking back, that’s a ridiculous reason to choose a college. But I’ve been here about twenty-two years. It’s really a great city.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Jean Ryan, a gifted writer and generous spirit whose story, Manatee Gardens, opens the collection Outer Voices Inner Lives. Jean has since kept up a correspondence with me and had several of her blog posts featured here at lgbtSr. Her collection, ‘Survival Skills’ (Ashland Creek Press) is available for anyone interested in superb writing and stories with deep insight into the human experience. I couldn’t think of anyone better for a 6 Questions feature. – Mark/Editor
MM: It’s been really good to get to know you more since we “met” through the Outer Voices Inner Lives collection. Can you tell readers a little about Jean Ryan? Native Vermonter, now in Napa, CA …
JR: I was born and raised in Vermont. After college I moved to Boston and eventually wound my way to California, drawn by visions of sunny beaches and the freedom to live openly as a lesbian. Berkeley was everything I’d hoped for and more. It is still a treat to drive down from Napa and walk through the colorful neighborhoods of Berkeley, where everyone is accepted and anything goes.
I recently read aboutBeautiful By Night, James Hosking’s documentary in which he invites the audience into the lives of three older drag performers at Aunt Charlies, a legendary venue in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Olivia Hart was one of those three veteran performers in what some consider a disappearing art form. You wouldn’t know it from talking to Olivia. I had the pleasure of asking her ‘6 Questions,’ which she graciously answered. – Rick
Miss Olivia Hart
Her Excellency, Royal Countess de Orenburg
“From the Heart, Through the Court, For the Community”
I learned about author David Lennon a few years ago when I read his first mystery, The Quarter Boys, set in New Orleans. Subsequently, his Michael Doucette and Sassy Jones Mysteries series was nominated for three Lambda Literary Awards and won the 2010 Lammy for Best Gay Mystery. I just finished his newest novel, DeadFall, and had the pleasure of asking him ‘6 Questions,’ which he graciously answered in depth and detail. – Mark McNease/Editor
MM: You have a new book out, DeadFall,that begins in 1975. It made me think a lot of having been a gay teenager, first love, regrets and what-ifs. What inspired you to write that story, and why now?
DL: The why now part is easy. I’m at an age where there’s most likely more time behind than ahead, so I’ve begun to reflect on the past. As I mention in the introduction, the summer of 1975 when I was thirteen was one of my favorite times because I was experiencing so much for the first time and it all felt so intense, heightened by hormones and possibly other substances. It was also the time when I first felt like I was leaving childhood. All of that is something I’ve thought about trying to recapture for about five years now.
Last week I shared a recent Aged to Perfection podcast with Lady Ellen, founder of Le Femme Finishing School in New Jersey, the only one of its kind in the state. Talking to Ellen, I quickly realized the deep value of what she offers her clients: a space to be themselves, to explore their identities, express their spirits and use their experiences with Ellen to emerge from the chrysalis into themselves. Following are six additional questions for her about the School, her clients and her mission.
MM: What is some of the most common guidance your clients are looking for?
LE: Most clients want to see what they would look like as a female, want to know if they can “pass” in public and wish to learn makeup application techniques. I teach my clients what they would have learned from the women in their lives if they had been raised as a woman. I offer lessons in makeup, deportment, movement, image and style and constantly tell them to keep their knees together when wearing a skirt. That is why clients come to me, but often they thank me the most for lending them a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, an understanding heart that makes them feel accepted. I give a lot of advice about accepting one’s self and going forward with confidence and courage. Liking what they see in the mirror helps build that confidence and positive self image.