By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
There was no decision-making involved. Rather it was something I found myself doing, something inside I could not ignore. That sounds so clichéd, but it’s true and carries through to today: that odd nagging in the back of your mind…or maybe heart…that insists there’s something you need to be doing. I started by writing for my closest high-school pals, romantic “scenarios” embellishing (a lot) on their straight crushes. What evolved into my first attempt at a novel started in tenth-grade French class, when I was bored and daydreaming about a girl becoming a rock star. I’ll never part with it (and maybe someday I’ll tackle it with serious intent) because it really chronicles the changes in my attitudes and lifestyle, not to mention my writing ability through the years.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
That’s a tough one because I’ll jump into practically anything. I do have a love of history and enjoy “using it” to tell a tale. In a broader sense, I suppose I lean toward strong, bold, female success stories because there just aren’t enough of them. My stories tend to be very visual with lots of dialogue, because I want readers to see and hear exactly what I’m seeing and hearing as I write. I’ve considered writing scripts but know I’d miss digging into all the small details.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
Family members are very happy for me, knowing that I’ve written all my life, but unfortunately, they have never wholeheartedly accepted my lifestyle. Friends, however, provide the finest, most genuine support system I could ever imagine. My partner Kathy is my ultimate blessing. In the past few years, I’ve found it interesting that my work tends toward family themes, the support and “connection” experienced by my lead characters. I’ve never set out to write such things; they’ve emerged on their own. And I’m a bit proud of that.
Where do you get your ideas?
Anywhere and everywhere. As an only child, I guess my imagination has always been “out there,” making toys, games, adventures out of simple things or nothing at all. (At family parties, I’d be the one with the kids, making tents with them, pretending to camp out in a toy-filled bedroom.) As a newspaper reporter and editor, I believed in “looking deeper” into stories. There’s a root of a good story in everything around us, as long as we allow ourselves to “see.” That includes the woman pushing the double stroller, the solitary oak on forty acres of meadow, or your grandmother’s engagement ring. The literary version of the “photographer’s eye.”
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
Easy question. I’m a pantster to the core. I bounce lots of ideas off my better half, and Kathy has learned to “play catch” with me very well. I might jot down a few thoughts, but I often joke about what my fingers have typed, as if they’re on their own and leave magical things on the screen for me.
What makes Stick McLaughlin The Prohibition Years special to you?
As my first novel, it’s beyond special to me; it’s surreal. Stick was a fun adventure to write because I was able to step back—not only into an exciting historical period—but into the city, sights, and neighborhood I remember growing up. And I’m very happy for the characters and their story, to have them so well received at this early stage.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
Doesn’t every writer, possibly every type of artist, leave fingerprints behind? There are bits of me scattered throughout most of Stick’s characters—the good ones, that is. J
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
It’s impossible to point to one or two. I can say, however, that three particular novels stand out as having had an impact on me: Curious Wine, by Katherine Forrest, for its gloriously romantic storyline; Lee Lynch’s Swashbuckler, for the timeless character Frenchie; and Radclyffe’s Safe Harbor, for seamlessly blending romance, characters, and a setting I loved into the perfect package. I’ve attended Women’s Week in Provincetown for years and been fortunate to meet/hear Radclyffe, Lee Lynch, and many Bold Strokes Books authors enough times to know these women are special. I’m grateful for the time each of them has spent with me, signing, reading, at Q&As, and simply chatting. Individually and collectively, they’ve been my inspiration.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
Write. You truly never know when opportunity will strike. It’s okay to start out writing what you know, because you’ll see how much you don’t. Soon enough, you’ll be researching, compiling data that you’ll discover you need “techniques” to use. Next thing you know, you’re studying the craft more, learning how to weave that data into your work, and looking at your piece from a more well-rounded perspective. All good.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I’m a fan of Boston pro sports and have played guitar/sung for years, mostly just for fun. My workday is fairly long, so there isn’t much “free” time until the weekend, and I’m usually very content when my partner, Kathy, and I can just hang out at home. (Yes, I usually end up writing…bless her.)