Friday, May 18

The Importance of Being Gay

As The Housekeeper's Son will be released on the morrow (May 19, 2012), I'm inspired to write a little about one of the subtle subplots in my book--the importance of being gay. The subject homosexuality is a sensitive one to many, so I shall try to tread lightly on fragile areas, yet clear in my intent.

Last week, President Obama announced his support for gay marriage, which caused an uproar among conservatives and Christian groups alike. (Notice that I don't use the term "religious groups." It's because Christian sects contribute to the majority of the protests against homosexuality.) I don't negate their love for traditional marriage and their need to uphold the standards of morality according to the dictates of their religion. I, too, belong to a conservative religion that does not tolerate the act of homosexuality--I understand where these protestors are coming from--so, of all people, I should know better. (Now, again, I am careful with my words. We don't condemn the sinner. Just the sin, right?) But the looming question remains: Is homosexuality even a sin?

In The Housekeeper's Son, I have created a world of conservatism with conservative, religious players. And then I throw in my main character, who is anything but conservative. After all, she'd killed a couple of little people. But the one character that I want to talk about is Edmund, the only seemingly gay character in my book, although the truth of it is still debatable, because much of the observation comes from Eleanor, the housekeeper and protagonist. And if you know her as well as I do, she can be a little confused upstairs. However, the idea of a gay kid growing up in a Mormon family is interesting to me, which I explore in the book.

Edmund's story is never about being gay at all. Like many gay people I know, being gay is never the issue. But being accepted and treated equally is. Being gay is like being black, white, red, or yellow. It is like having a limp. It is like being a little slow in learning. It is like losing a father, a mother, a sibling. It's like being poor. Or being old. Being gay is no different from being you or being me. It's about being different. And if being different is a sin, then being gay should also be. There should be no exceptions. No double standards. Now, wait a minute. That doesn't seem so right, does it?

In our world today, perception rules our actions. What we see is often what we believe. By writing The Housekeeper's Son, I hope to help people understand that not all ugly things are ugly. Not all beautiful things are beautiful, either. There is good in everything, if only we take the effort to explore, to discover.

So, back to our subject at hand: Why is it important to be gay? Because it reminds us of the battles we fought, collectively and individually, for our worth as humans. We have fought for our children to go to the same school regardless of race and color. We have fought for our daughters to be able to vote and earn a fair salary. We have fought for our right to belong. And now, we are fighting again--this old war--to be able to love and live honestly, without lies and without fear.

And here's the truth, as Edmund painfully learns: the enemy is never out there. It's in us.

The Housekeeper's Son will be released worldwide May 19, 2012. You are all invited to the launch party. For details, click here.

Tuesday, May 8

What the Heck Have I Written?

So, the official launch of my book is about ten days away; my heart is pounding and I can barely concentrate. I've got a lot of things in my head--big and bigger things. But of all the fast-moving objects that convolute my simple thought-process, one question remains in the foreground, huge and looming: What the heck have I written and why would anyone want to read it?

So, without much ado, I present to you a conversation with myself in my attempt to answer the epic question posed above.

"How are you today?" he asks.
"Fine, thank you," I answer. "Never been better."
"So, your book is coming out in a little more than a week. What are your thoughts?"
"I just peed my pants," I snort. There is brief moment of awkward silence. "I'm just kidding. It's obviously a joke--"
"Just answer my previous question."
"Ah, yes," I say. "I feel nervous."
"Because I'm not so sure what people will be saying about the book. My first book."
"It seems like a normal thing. All authors have to face this kind of nervousness some day." The interviewer smiles.
"I know." I heave. "I'll get over it."
"Tell me about your book. What is it about?"
"It's about an old woman--" I pause. "She kills her son, goes to prison, gets released, works as a housekeeper, and kills again. This time it's her employer's daughter."
"Sounds interesting."
"Does it?"
"Of course. You have a protagonist who is also your antagonist. Your main character is also the villain. Now, isn't that genius." He claps, takes a deep breath, and continues. "Why does she kill? What is the reason for her to do so?"
I think for a while, gathering my thoughts. "She kills because she has to. She has no other choice. She is put in a position where she has to pick her battles. She has to choose between two evils."
"Now, that is a deep plot," he says, turning to read his notes. "According to some critics, the idea of killing children just may not sit so well with readers who are parents, or people who have a soft spot for little children."
"That's the point--to bring some danger and tension into people's lives. I never like playing it safe. I want to cause people to think."
"Think?" he looks puzzled. "Think of what? Killing children?"
"No. I want people to think about the act of killing children. It is an unfathomable sin. Yet, this old woman, my protagonist--a mother herself--is subject to that decision. Can you imagine the hell she has to go through to make that kind of decision?"
"So, it is a decision. She's not a psycho killer."
"That is what makes the book so amazing. She is not a murderer. It's a choice she is forced to make, and she chooses the lesser of the two evils--murder."
"That is very thought-provoking. So, what is the universal theme of your novel? Surely you must have one."
"In fact, I do. If not, I wouldn't have written it," I say. "The Housekeeper's Son is about choices. It's about how society labels everything. We tend to associate certain actions with either good or bad. For example, let's talk about lying."
"You mean the act of telling lies?" he asks.
"Yes. Not all lies are bad, right? Sometimes you lie to protect yourself. And you shouldn't be guilty about it either."
"But you're talking about murder here in your book."
"Yes, but it's all the same. Some people have to kill to survive."
"Your protagonist has to kill to survive?"
"Not in so many words, but yes," I nod.
A sound erupts.
"What is that?" he asks, pinching his nose.
I snigger.
"Did you just fart?" He stands and makes a face; he is clearly disgusted. "I can't believe you did that."
"I'm human. I make mistakes," I shrug.
"But in a professional interview?"
"I'm sorry, but farting's not even a crime and you're already so perturbed by it. You've suddenly labeled me by an insignificant action."
"Your point?"
"Sit down, please," I ask. He straightens his jacket and sits. "Amazing, isn't it? That people tend to get so fussed up about small little things they forget about the bigger things. Sometimes murder is the only way to save a child."
"Do you think people will love your book?"
"I sure hope so."
"You consider yourself a good writer?"
"I hope so. But I'm not without flaws. I'm not perfect. I am not a grammarian or a professor of the English language. I am merely a storyteller who can write better than most people." I smile. "So, is my book perfect? No, it's not. But is it worth reading? Absolutely!"
"Looks like your confidence is back. Nice to see you so excited about your first book. Will there be more?"
"You betcha."
"Can you tell me about the book you're working on?"
I sit back. "I'll have to get back to you on that. Take a rain check." I wink.
Another awkward silence follows.
"Okay, then," he says.
"Yeah, I think we are done?"
"Sure." He lets out a loud fart nonchalantly.
"What was that about?"
"What, the fact that I just passed gas? I thought you said never to judge. I'm just practicing what you preached."
"You disgust me."
"The feeling is mutual." He pats me lightly on my back, his eyes looking elsewhere. "Thanks for the interview. It's really crap. You've really outdone yourself this time. You've written a piece of epic crap."
"I know. And thanks for asking the most stupid questions in the whole wide world."
He turns to leave, muttering one last word under his breath: "Ugh, what a waste of time."
"But wait," I holler.
He stops and turns to look at me, raising an eyebrow.
"Are we going to talk about the ending of my book?" I ask.
"Not interested anymore."
"But it's a twist of an ending. You'll love it."
"You think so?" He approaches me.
"I know so."
"Will it blow my mind away?"
"My aunt Bertha read it, and her head literally exploded when she reached the ending. Does that count? She made quite a mess."
[Transcript ends]

There, you have it. My interview with myself. And it really helps clear up a few things in my mind. I am now ready to go out and face the world. Well, the truth is, my publicist will probably question this blog. But oh, well. Life is about living. And I often live it strangely in awkward circumstances. That's how I like it.

Until next time, I invite all of you to come support me. Attend my launch party and buy a book. A copy of the flyer can be downloaded here. See you all there. And remember to come tell me how good I am when you see me. I love compliments. (Who doesn't?)
Twitter: @ChristopherLoke