Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Bound Pleasures
by Owen Keehnen
2003-11-12

This article shared 5369 times since Wed Nov 12, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Let's get right between the covers.

Most folks familiar with mystery novels will also be familiar with Steven Saylor and his novels set in ancient Rome. In my inexplicable but ongoing quest to de-mystify the gay and lesbian sleuth/ whodunit writers I was lucky enough say 'Hey Saylor' and chat a bit with the chalice and sandals series master—the author of such wonderful mystery books as Roman Blood, Catalina's Riddle, The Venus Throw, A Mist of Prophecies, and The Arms of Nemesis.

Owen: What first attracted you to the subject of your ancient Roman mysteries?

Steven: I've had a prurient interest in ancient Rome and Greece from childhood, thanks mostly to the movies like Spartacus (John Gavin in the baths), Cleopatra (Liz in a million costumes), and of course those cheesy gladiator muscle-fests like Hercules with Steve Reeves. My interest grew slightly less prurient when I went to college and seriously studied ancient history and the classics. A fascination with mystery fiction came later, when I read every word of the Sherlock Holmes stories from beginning to end and found I was hungry for more.

Owen: Do you get a lot of input from classicist readers?

Steven: Yes, and from all over the world, thanks to e-mail (and having the books translated into 13 languages, most recently Serbian). My Web site is easy to find (www.stevensaylor.com), and there are hundreds of scholars out there who know more than I ever will about some tiny aspect of Roman life, so I have to be very scrupulous about detail. But the academic world seems to have accepted me; a couple of years ago I was invited to give the commencement address to the Classics Department at UC Berkeley, which was a career high for me.

Owen: What do you think it is about your personality that especially suits your being a mystery writer?

Steven: There's a quote from Cicero: 'Nature has planted in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.' That applies very much to Gordianus, my sleuth, and to me, too, which I suppose explains my addiction to both writing and reading mystery fiction: a deep longing to see the truth uncovered. We live in a world so thick with lies (every gay person knows this from very early in life) that it's a great relief to escape into a book in which truth actually matters.

Owen: When you are working on a mystery what is the first thing you decide upon—the murderer, the victim, the motive, the means ... ?

Steven: Since I write historical fiction, the very first element is the setting, and sometimes there's an actual crime for which we've got evidence from the historical record, and that's what I build the plot from. In that case, all or most of the elements you mention are already in place for me. But when I do have to make up the crime myself, those four elements all have to come together pretty much at once, simply to make sense and to resonate with the rest of the plot and the theme of the book. The crime and everything around it has to somehow reflect the message I'm putting across. I think that's very important in a mystery novel, to elevate it above being merely a puzzle. When the theme, the puzzle, and the history all come together at the end of a book and all resonate in harmony, I think that makes for a deeply satisfying read.

Owen: And from all your experience writing what is the main thing you have learned that you feel has really helped improve your work?

Steven: That old adage, 'Write what you know,' doesn't mean you have to write about your everyday life or the town where you grew up; it means you've got to reach deep inside and find the kind of story that lights up the world for you, whether that's a Tolkien-style fantasy, or an erotic thriller, or stories set in the ancient world. If you're lucky, you'll find readers who like what you're doing and you'll be allowed to actually make a living at it, which seems to be what happened with me, for which I'm very grateful.

Owen: What mystery writers do you admire?

Steven: I cannot get enough of Ruth Rendell. She's a household word in England, but not as well known here. She's grim, darkly funny, and the absolute master of plotting. I was honored to dine with her last time I was in London, and was amazed to find she also keeps a busy schedule attending The House of Lords, where she's what they call a Life Peer, thanks to being named Baroness Rendell some time ago. I admire her amazing energy and drive, and her books are completely addictive.

Owen: What are you working on now?

Steven: The next book in the Roma Sub Rosa series is called The Judgement of Caesar and follows my sleuth Gordianus to Egypt for a fateful meeting with Cleopatra. I've been building up to Cleopatra for several books now, and I think my vision of The Queen of the Nile is rather different from the way she's usually portrayed. This was a woman who married her brothers, ruthlessly put her own siblings to death, and literally considered herself a goddess. 'Mad, bad, and dangerous to know' might sum up the Cleopatra whom Gordianus encounters. The book should be out in spring 2004. ____

And there's more exciting news for fans of the Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa novels ... the second novel in the series, The Arms of Nemesis, has been adapted for the big screen by scribe Donald Westlake (the Oscar-nominated writer, for adaptation of The Grifters). But as yet no further advancement has been made in the filming or production. ____

Some additional news on the gay literature/film adaptation front. Mike Nichols is directing Tony Kushner's Angels in America (both 'Part 1: Millennium Approaches' and 'Part 2: Perestroika') for telecast on HBO this December. The beyond distinguished cast includes the mega talents of Al Pacino as Roy Cohn, Emma Thompson as The Angel, Meryl Streep as Hannah, and Mary-Louise Parker among others.

Gay writer extraordinaire, John Rechy has a new book on the shelves, The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens. Rechy (recipient of such prestigious awards as The Publishing Triangle's William Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN-USA West's Lifetime Achievement Award) is the author of such novels as City of Night, The Coming of Night, Bodies and Souls, Our Lady of Babylon, Numbers, and Rushes. Recently I had a chance to toss a couple questions his way.

Owen: How about a teaser for your new book The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens from Grove Press?

John: The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens is my 12th novel, 13th book (The Sexual Outlaw is non-fiction, documentary). It's loosely based on Henry Fielding's picaresque novel Tom Jones, but it takes place today, in Texas, Las Vegas, and California. It follows a young Texan, Lyle Clemens, son of a Miss America aspirant and an unknown father, from his adventures with cunning televangelists, who want to turn him into 'The Lord's Cowboy,' on through Los Angeles, where, after an incident at The Playboy Mansion, he becomes 'The Mystery Cowboy,' and, finally, on Hollywood Boulevard a naked cowboy. It's funny and sad at the same time, and my gay readers will not be disappointed because although Lyle is not gay—but very accepting—it also has several gay characters, including what I hope is a very tender gay romance.

Owen: 12 novels, 13 books—if you were to give one predominant theme in your writing, what would it be?

John: A predominant theme? Please don't think I'm being lofty. But that would be this: 'There is no substitute for salvation.' That phrasing occurs in every single one of my books. What that indicates to me is that very early on a horrible betrayal occurs, when we discover the meanness in the world (no benign God), and so we try to substitute for that huge vacuum with sex, drugs, the whole spectrum of possibilities—and finally discover there is no substitute, and we're left with yearnings that can never be fulfilled.

Owen: I also wanted you to know, too, that reading City of Night when I did changed my life.

John: I've written so many books that are better than City of Night, but even today people will come up and say to me, I loved your book. Which one? City of NIght, of course. Eventually, I know, the rest of my work will be evaluated correctly, among the best of its time.

Owen: Thanks John. ____

Also out now, Fourth Estate/Harper Collins has The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde, which should prove fascinating since it is the first publication of the uncensored transcripts of Wilde's notorious 1895 trial. (Though reading it could be the sort of thing that makes a person's blood boil!—OK, mine anyway.) Despite the fact that it all happened over 100 years ago, the topic seems especially pertinent these days and a grim reminder what with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding sodomy laws. The book also includes an introduction by Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland. ____

Well, a few weeks ago Madonna's first children's book, The English Roses, hit book stores to solid sales and mostly positive reviews. On Nov. 10, Viking Children's Books is publishing the second of her five children's novels, Mr. Peabody's Apples. It's odd to consider that an entire generation could possible know Madge primarily as a writer. ____

Also coming this November from Kensington Books is the debut novel/mystery from TV series and screenwriter Rick Copp (The Golden Girls/Wings/The Brady Bunch Movie). Here's a guy who seems to definitely be writing about the world he knows. The Actor's Guide to Murder features the tag line —Love this—'Where there's a murder, there's a method ... .' Anyway, the book introduces gay detective/fictitious former child star Jarrod Jarvis—and faster than you can say 'West Hollywood,' Jarrod becomes embroiled in murderous doings. There's death and danger in the land of dreams. This mystery promises to be a funny, fast-paced and entertaining, and hopefully is just the first in a successful new series.


This article shared 5369 times since Wed Nov 12, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Women & Children First marks its 45th anniversary 2024-04-11
By Tatiana Walk-Morris - It has been about 45 years since Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon co-founded the Women & Children First bookstore in 1979. In its early days, the two were earning their English degrees at the University of ...


Gay News

UK's NHS releases trans youth report; JK Rowling chimes in 2024-04-11
- An independent report issued by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) declared that children seeking gender care are being let down, The Independent reported. The report—published on April 10 and led by pediatrician and former Royal ...


Gay News

Judith Butler focuses on perceptions of gender at Chicago Humanities Festival talk 2024-04-10
- In an hour-long program filled with dry humor—not to mention lots of audience laughter—philosopher, scholar and activist Judith Butler (they/them) spoke in depth on their new book at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on ...


Gay News

Kara Swisher talks truth, power in tech at Chicago Humanities event 2024-03-25
- Lesbian author, award-winning journalist and podcast host Kara Swisher spoke about truth and power in the tech industry through the lens of her most recent book, Burn Book: A Tech Love Story, March 21 at First ...


Gay News

RuPaul finds 'Hidden Meanings' in new memoir 2024-03-18
- RuPaul Andre Charles made a rare Chicago appearance for a book tour on March 12 at The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. Presented by National Public Radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM, the talk coincided with ...


Gay News

Without compromise: Holly Baggett explores lives of iconoclasts Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap 2024-03-04
- Jane Heap (1883-1964) and Margaret Anderson (1886-1973), each of them a native Midwesterner, woman of letters and iconoclast, had a profound influence on literary culture in both America and Europe in the early 20th Century. Heap ...


Gay News

There she goes again: Author Alison Cochrun discusses writing journey 2024-02-27
- By Carrie Maxwell When Alison Cochrun began writing her first queer romance novel in 2019, she had no idea it would change the course of her entire life. Cochrun, who spent 11 years as a high ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Women's college, banned books, military initiative, Oregon 2023-12-29
- After backlash regarding a decision to update its anti-discrimination policy and open enrollment to some transgender applicants, a Catholic women's college in Indiana will return to its previous admission policy, per The National Catholic Reporter. In ...


Gay News

NATIONAL School items, Miami attack, Elliot Page, Fire Island 2023-12-22
- In Virginia, new and returning members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County School Board were inaugurated—with some school board members opting to use banned books on the topics of slavery and LGBTQ+ ...


Gay News

Chicago author's new guide leads lesbian fiction authors toward inspiration and publication 2023-12-07
- From a press release: Award-winning and bestselling lesbian fiction author Elizabeth Andre—the pen name for a Chicago-based interracial lesbian couple—has published her latest book, titled Self-Publishing Lesbian Fiction, Write Your ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Tenn. law, banned books, rainbow complex, journalists quit 2023-12-01
- Under pressure from a lawsuit over an anti-LGBTQ+ city ordinance, officials in Murfreesboro, Tennessee removed language that banned homosexuality in public, MSNBC noted. Passed in June, Murfreesboro's "public decency" ordinance ...


Gay News

BOOKS Lucas Hilderbrand reflects on gay history in 'The Bars Are Ours' 2023-11-29
- In The Bars Are Ours (via Duke University Press), Lucas Hilderbrand, a professor of film and media studies at the University of California-Irvine, takes readers on a historical journey of gay bars, showing how the venues ...


Gay News

BOOKS Owen Keehnen takes readers to an 'oasis of pleasure' in 'Man's Country' 2023-11-27
- In the book Man's Country: More Than a Bathhouse, Chicago historian Owen Keehnen takes a literary microscope to the venue that the late local icon Chuck Renslow opened in 1973. Over decades, until it was demolished ...


Gay News

Photographer Irene Young launches book with stellar concerts 2023-11-20
- "Something About the Women" was appropriately the closing song for two sold-out, stellar concerts at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage November 19, in celebration of the new book of the same name by Irene Young, the legendary ...


Gay News

Rustin film puts a gay pioneer into the spotlight 2023-11-16
- The story of activist Bayard Rustin is one that should be told in classrooms everywhere. Instead, because Rustin was an openly same-gender-loving man, his legacy has gone relatively unnoticed outside of LGBTQ+-focused history books. Netflix hopes ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.