One of the best voices in current literature, let alone gay-themed literature, is Brandon Shire. Like Jeff Mann (see my last interview) he is an expert at using the musicality of language to reel in the reader. Plus, he spins a damn good tale. I had the privilege of chatting with him for the GLBT Bookshelf this month. See more about Brandon and read the entire interview here. Below is a sample of our conversation.
Lichen Craig: Brandon, it is such a pleasure to get the chance to pick your brain. From when I first picked up The Value of Rain,
you struck me not only as an unusual and gifted writer but an unusually
passionate person. I’ve been dying to ask you this: You have said that
you write with a pen and paper – some psychological studies have
suggested that doing so may allow the writer’s brain to connect more
readily with emotion and creativity. Do you believe that?
Brandon Shire: Absolutely. Writing, especially in
handwritten form, allows one to go deep into the spaces between the
words to that point where the breath lives and drives us. It is within
those small spaces that passion exists and where a writer seeks to go to
pull that passion from the reader.
My personal conviction in writing is that it is the writer’s
responsibility to connect with the reader on a deep emotional level,
regardless of genre. I think good writing often reflects that
LC: In an era when much of gay fiction is given
over to vampires, werewolves, and light Harlequinesque romances, you
have dared to reach for a social statement in your work. Was turning to
writing novels a natural outgrowth of your work with GLBT youth?
BS: Actually it was an outgrowth of my practice of
Zen Buddhism. It was through an active listening exercise that I met the
men on which The Value of Rain was based. Many of the characters in Rain
were based on the stories of real people, what they went through, what
they suffered, and how they felt. I did a tremendous amount of listening
and very little talking. As you noted, I am a deeply passionate person,
so their stories affected me deeply, ultimately all that passion needed
an outlet. Rain was the result.
See the entire interview at the OurStory section of the GLBT Bookshelf: http://bookworld.editme.com/Our-Story-GLBTQ-Historical-Fiction-Features