Sunday, March 25, 2012

Newer Muses and Role Models

Early on in my writing, back in high school when I was immature, unsure, and very closeted, I wanted to BE J.R.R. Tolkien. His words were, indeed, magical to me, and I felt like I could get lost (and not want to be found) in his world. I don't think I ever wanted to be a hobbit, but I did want to be an observer in the Shire, Mordor, or just anywhere these characters were. The Lord of the Rings, for me, was the apex of fantasy fiction (and still is, to me). And I continued to grow as a writer by reading the series. Heroes like Aragorn were the bellows that blew the air into my writer's fire, fueling my desire to create.

Later, I stumbled upon Piers Anthony, and I think that helped cement my love of fantasy fiction even further, especially with his clever puns and the land of Xanth, which curiously looks like the state in which I live, but that's purely coincidental, I'm sure. A Spell for Chameleon, Castle Roogna, and Centaur Aisle fed my soul. Although not the same as Tolkien, Anthony had the same effect on my creativity.

I know I have gotten some chiding over the years from reading his works, but I really enjoyed Terry Goodkind's books. His Sword of Truth series I inhaled. I've read all but the three last novels in the series. It entertained me. It inspired me to write. Nothing wrong with that. I could go on about that series, but that's for another post. Nonetheless, it provided me with more forward motion.

None of those authors, however much I enjoyed them, pushed me forward as a gay writer. I have had few role models in that arena, until now. Perry Moore, author of Hero, wrote a book that made me take notice. There's a little Thom Creed in all of us, gay or straight. He has since passed on, but his legacy does indeed endure.

In the present, I have two other authors who have blazed a trail, and I look to their success for guidance. The first is Cullan Hudson, author of Strange State: Mysteries and Legends of Oklahoma and The Mound, a dear friend who helped me find the fortitude to publish my debut novel. He opened up my eyes a little, helped nudge me along, and I am indebted to him for that. In ways that are immeasurable, he has guided me as a writer and, now, a published author. I continue to look to him for direction. More recently, I have met Eric Arvin, author of Galley Proof and Woke Up in a Strange Place (among others), and his success helps to light my own path. He, like Cullan, has a generosity of spirit and a laid back personality that is much like my own, and has become yet another beacon for me. While I don't know either Cullan or Eric very well, I can see they have a following, one that I would like for my own work. I hope to meet both of them at upcoming events this year and, with any luck, glean more wisdom as a writer. A new author, too, my friend Peter Saenz, author of Coven of Wolves, also has my admiration. He'll go places, of that I am certain.

Others who guide me, as a person and a writer, and who have no less a claim on being role models are my dear friends, Randy Ham, Brett Crawford, and Brian Sheperd. These gentlemen push me out of my comfort zone, and I am indebted to them for it. As brothers do, they have each brought me to a new level of understanding as a writer, a comic book aficionado, and a reader.

Last, but definitely not least, is my partner, Gavi. His desire to pursue a career in teaching after spending many years driving limousines, willing to go back to school to finish his degree, inspires me as well. While he wasn't around when I started writing my novel, his love and support helps keep me grounded while I published it (and while I am working on the sequel). I admire his tenacity and drive to fulfill his dreams, and from that, I fuel my own drive.
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