by Connie Ward
1.) What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
Back in the day when I was just becoming a youth worker, one of my fourteen-year-old clients began selling himself to older men on the streets. Despite all of my efforts to warn him of the dangers of his behavior, the boy contracted HIV. He came to me the day he was diagnosed and asked me to write a book for other gay kids on the subject. I was at first reluctant to tackle the subject, but five years later after he died of AIDS complications, I wrote a book based on his experience.
2.) What type of stories do you write? And why?
I normally write about at-risk behavior. This includes drug/alcohol abuse, teen suicide, and HIV and AIDS. I think kids who are given a chance to read about such subjects will make the right choice in regard to changing their behavior. It’s a way to reach them, sort of an “edutainment” approach. Although my books are action-packed, I lace the stories with a message.
3.) What do your family/friends think about your writing?
Most of my friends have the misconception that writing books is very profitable.
Family members, however, are well aware that the difference between an author and a large pizza is, a large pizza can feed a family of four (meaning an author cannot).
I once joked with a friend and told him if someone ever kidnapped me and held me as a hostage, they would be sadly disappointed. There wouldn’t be money to pay the ransom!
4.) Where do you get your ideas?
I have been fortunate to have stumbled upon most of my stories. My work as a consultant for several agencies who spread AIDS awareness puts me in touch with some interesting characters. I feel that, after having an emotional attachment to most of my subjects, I can plant a seed. It might take a month or even a year, but when a story starts knocking around inside my head, I have to write it down.
5.) How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I usually dwell on an idea for several weeks, then sit down and write the first scene, keeping it tight with plenty of action to grab the reader’s attention. (God forbid that I ever write a boring book). I then look in the distance to see where the story might be going. I write an outline, very sketchy, because it changes. But once I have an outline, I try to keep the story in the perimeter of this. Most stories are character-driven, and I simply report what I see them doing. Images come to me like a movie inside my head. I simply write what I see. Intricate plots give me fits, but once I see one clearly, I am set to go. However, I have ADHD, and therefore I “hyper-focus” on each book I write. The thing is, I work on three or four projects at once. It keeps things moving.
6.) What makes The Fall of a Gay King special to you?
I really wish I could elaborate here, but since this story is based more on fact than fiction, I am not sure how much I can reveal here about the actual conspiracy. My source for the story was stalked and threatened with a lawsuit in regard to what he revealed to me. Some players are still in play, and I need to remain as discreet as possible when it comes to giving too much away.
I believe that the events in the story take place not only in America, but in most major cities throughout the world. The subject matter is swept under the carpet and kept very secret, yet the millions involved in the practice have been active from the dawn of civilization. I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, but I try to convey the facts so that others can form their own opinion on the subject, for better or worse.
7.) How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
My main character is an author who, because of the story sent his way, has to act more like an investigative journalist. I would like the title of “investigative” added to my resume, but in truth, I am just a simple author. However, much like Logan, I do extensive research before I start work on any book. I once read fifty books on the subject of HIV/AIDS before writing my one book. It went on to sell 15,000 copies, so all the research paid off.
And unlike Logan, who, at the end of the story, ends up financially set, that is pure fiction when it comes to my real life.
8.) Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?
Yes, I was honored to have Greg Herren edit my book. I first read one of his stories in the My First Time series. It was a sex scene and I learned a lot about writing one from reading his story. I have also read several of his other mystery books involving his gay private investigator. Greg is a great writer. Also, I admire Randy Shilts of The Band Played On. His book about the AIDS epidemic was incredible.
9.) Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
Yes, one word of advice: if you want to write a book, plant your ass in a chair and write!
10.) When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I do a lot of walking. I walk my dog each day, and when I am done with her walk, I take one of my own. I live only a mile from the country, and so I often take to the bike trail, where I have a great view of the open countryside. It helps me think, which leads me right back to writing.
When I really want to cut myself off from not thinking about stories or plots, I fire up the computer and throw myself into a Multiplayer online game, although I totally suck at Call of Duty!