By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I’m a total media junkie, and I’m always on the lookout for multifaceted gay characters. Whether I find them in TV shows, books, fanfic, web series, or just hear about them on a podcast, I get immediately hooked. One day out of the blue I had an idea for a story of my own, and I decided to try and see if I could turn it into something. Cut to about a hundred years later, and voila, here it is.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I’ve tried to create a world that has relatable characters that are fun and have some good drama. Then I throw in a nice dose of true love plus a happy ending and call it a day. That’s often what I look for in what I want to read. Give me some good lesbian chick-lit and I’m a happy person.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My family and friends are unbelievably supportive. I am very, very lucky. My wife gives me a ton of time to write; she listens to plot lines and character sketches and gives me her honest opinion, whether it’s initially what I want to hear or not. My sister, my parents, and my extended family constantly ask about what I’m working on. As for my friends, I can’t say enough about them. They ask me questions, give me ideas, and read for me. They’re amazing. I have always known that I am truly fortunate to have such a wonderful, close-knit group of people in my life. They are encouraging, kind, funny, and caring. I love them all immensely and am eternally grateful for their friendship and support.
Where do you get your ideas?
Well, the idea for Totally Worth It came from my own life. The book is set in a fictional lesbian condo development in the suburbs of New York City. I live in a very straight community, also in the suburbs New York City. One day, shortly after moving in, I was walking my dog through the neighborhood and admiring how nice it was. There’s so many trees, and it’s kind of set off from the main road, and although I grew up nearby I never really knew it was here. It’s so close to Manhattan that it takes me only twenty minutes to get to work, which is insanely short as far as commuting from the outer boroughs goes. I found myself wandering along thinking that the only thing that would make my neighborhood better is if there were more lesbians. Or…all lesbians. That was it—my lightbulb moment.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I plan a lot, way more than I thought I would. Because I’m writing a series, for me it was important to know how it all ends before getting started. I had to figure out who ends up with whom, how they get there, what that journey is like, what’s the conflict along the way. The result is that I do a lot of outlining. Whether it’s the framework of a scene or just bits of a conversation that I know has to happen between two people, I sketch that out first. That said, as many writers will tell you, once you sit down to write the scene, sometimes something totally different comes out. It’s crazy and I really didn’t believe that could happen until I experienced it. So even though I do a tremendous amount of planning and plotting, sometimes even I’m surprised at what ends up being the finished product.
What makes Totally Worth It special to you?
Totally Worth It is special to me because it’s the first thing I’ve ever written. It took me forever and I almost gave up a million times. But it’s finally done and I’m super proud of it.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
A number of my characters have bits of me in them, sometimes amplified to really show a particular trait. I tend to write characters that would probably fit in with my friends in real life. Some of those characters also possess qualities I wish I had: they’re very smart or suave, they’re good at math, they eat healthy. They’re the me I always wanted to be. I think that’s the fun part of writing. The characters get to make better choices than I might have. They get do-overs. And they are always, always taller than I am.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
I am probably most inspired by Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. I read all of them in succession during senior year at my very conservative Catholic college. I simply could not put them down. What Maupin does with character, community, friendship, and love, particularly showing how these things evolve over time, is something I am still in awe of to this day. I’m also a huge Rita Mae Brown fan. Her characters are always so well drawn and thoroughly entertaining. Likewise, I loved the book Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King for its hilarious characters, biting wit, and general optimism in dealing with life. I feel the same way about Kiki Archer, Clare Lydon, and Kate Christie. Those three ladies write fun characters and great drama. I’m constantly checking their twitter feeds to see when their next work will hit the shelves.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
Well, I have two little kids, so I spend a lot of time at the park, the playground, and the beach when the weather is nice. On the rare occasion I can get a babysitter, I love going out with my wife and our friends. I also can’t get enough television in my life. When I was growing up, my parents actually refused to get cable until I was away at college, I think because they were afraid I would never leave the house—probably a wise move on their part. Now, with the miracle of DVR and Netflix, I can still do all the things I want and get my binge on!