by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I don’t know; I guess I always wanted to create and contribute. As part of my career in media and marketing I write a lot—mostly about technology and the business world. But to me, fiction is art, and I really wanted to write something I could call art—not just content. I promised myself two things when I turned thirty: first that I would run a marathon and second that I would write a novel. Well, when I turned thirty-nine I realized I had run that marathon, but the novel hadn’t happened. So I got to work and had my first novel, Brothers, completed and contracted to Bold Strokes one week before my fortieth birthday.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write stories that are focused on self-discovery. People and characters that don’t fit into expected molds inspire me. I have always been interested in the concept of people falling into unconventional relationships where there is a struggle and a period of learning.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My husband, Dana, has been very supportive. He has been my rock in just about everything in life, and writing has been no different. My broader family has also been just great: they’ve helped me brainstorm and listened to me talking through characters and plot lines. I’m one of those people who like to talk through things as I think, and my brother, mom, and the rest of my family have been great listeners.
When it comes to the editing process my friend Erin is always my first read; she is a total soldier because she gets the worst draft. Her job is to tell me if the concept of the story is a yes or a no. I also had a lot of help from family and friends in the broader editing process. I went through eight drafts of Brothers before I submitted it anywhere.
Where do you get your ideas?
Oh wow, what a great question. I get ideas from everywhere. The idea for Brothers came mostly from my ma’s brothers and sisters. Ours is a large Irish family, and the way my aunts and uncles took care of me and of each other is amazing. While I was growing up, my ma always told my brother and me that nothing in this world is more important than your brother. That really stuck with me and inspired the book Brothers.
My second book, The Photographer’s Truth (out from Bold Strokes in summer 2016), was inspired by a photographer I met on a business trip to France.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I start with what I call sketches—paragraphs of characters or scenes. Then I work through the story and develop a chapter outline. From there, I dive in to each chapter, usually in chronological order. But sometimes I’ll write out of order if inspiration strikes me.
What makes Brothers special to you?
In Brothers, I wanted to explore the concept of family and how our families impact our lives and decisions as gay people. A lot of the book is about the role straight allies play in our lives and how important they are.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
None of my characters are based on actual people, but I do pull traits and situations from things that happen to me in real life.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
I love to read, so yes, I have a few favorite authors. Mary Renault and Edmund White are two of my favorites. I love Jane Smiley’s writing too, especially Greenlanders. Armistad Maupin has been a major influence on my writing; I love the Tales of the City series and have reread it probably a dozen times. He has a sublime way with plot and characters; there is just such great harmony in his writing. Whenever things are rocky for me in life, I curl up with one of his books.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
My husband and I love to travel, so we do a lot of that. In day-to-day life, you can usually find me at the pool doing laps or out running if I’m not writing.