Wayne Goodman - Friday Flash Q&A
Welcome to Friday Flash Q&A, where I corner a fellow author to share their insights into creativity and culture. I feel like I'm turning the tables on my first guest. He is the host of the beloved Queer Words podcast, on which I had the honour of a guest spot in summer of 2019. He has also written novels, short fiction, erotica, and even children's titles. Welcome to Friday Flash Q&A, Wayne Goodman!
You've written everything from children's books to retellings of LGBTQ classics, to erotica. How do you market yourself with such a wide audience?
Marketing is the toughest part of being an author for me. I publish my own works (having had years of word processing and desktop publishing experience), and having to learn marketing is yet one more thing, one more tool, I have to add to my already overflowing bucket of skillsets. With help from my writing group members, I am picking up a few tips here and there on how to get the word out. Also, my partner, Rick May, used to work in publishing, and he introduced me to the concept of the “sell sheet,” which I now produce and send to queer-identified bookstores worldwide to let them know of my new releases.
When you go in to write one of these retellings and you're exploring these stories, what surprises you the most and why?
The most surprising thing for me is how early in history authors have braved putting their sexuality into published books. The first English-language gay novel was published in 1823. The first American gay novel was serialized in The Atlantic in 1869. There are books highlighting same-sex relationships in other languages I have not yet tackled. However, my first “retelling” was Mikhail Kuzmin’s Wings from 1906, the first gay-positive novel published in Russian.
Your book Princess Aina: Queen Victoria's Yoruba Godchild saw you collaborate with illustrator Ajuan Mance. How was that process different to writing a story alone?
I had previously worked with Dr. Mance on my retelling of the first American gay novel. One of the choices I made when updating the story was to make the romantic interest an African-American man. He and his sister are pivotal to the plot, and I wanted to make the story more inclusive. Before writing the characters, I discussed the potential issues with Dr. Mance, who provide guidance on what not to say and what to include. She read and approved my final draft.
When I set out to write Princess Aina, she was an obvious choice for illustrations. I have enjoyed her highly-creative artwork for years, and she was the only person I considered for the job. Fortunately for me, she agreed to work together. Not only did she provide beautifully crafted drawings, she also gave me cultural sensitivity feedback that helped me guide the story in a more authentic way. Without her input, I think the book may not have been as well received by the African-American community.
Who's your dream Queer Words guest, living or dead, and why?
The one regret I have is that I had tried to coordinate a time to sit down with Kevin Killian and record his episode. Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly, before we had a chance to chat. Kevin had always been supportive of my work, having given me blurbs for several books. If I could go back in time, I would have pressed harder to find a time to meet.
When I speak to authors and they mention someone famous, I usually ask if they could connect us. I handed Michael Cunningham my card at Saints + Sinners; he said he was interested, but he never contacted me. Names that have popped up are Harvey Fierstein and Bruce Vilanch, given their contributions to the queer canon. I’m currently waiting to hear back from Colm Toibin.
I would have liked to have spoken with Audre Lord and Toni Morrison, their names comes up quite a bit as a queer hero figures.
Like me, you're a big Eurovision Song Contest fan. How did the contest enter your life? What got you hooked?
I had heard of Eurovision years ago, but mostly as the butt of jokes, usually on Saturday Night Live. The first time I saw the program was in 2014, when my partner, Rick May, introduced me to the phenomenon. That was the year Conchita Wurst won for Austria with “Rise Like a Phoenix.”
I believe I have more of a world view than most of my countrypeople. My Skype tagline reads, “Hello fellow citizens of Earth.” It is a source of pride for me that I have had video conversations with people on every continent except Antarctica. The idea of a multinational competition based on talent really appealed to me. Oh, sure, the Olympics have been around for a long time, but can you dance to them? Part of my enjoyment comes from seeing and hearing people dress and perform using their cultural norms. Hearing people sing in English is a big disappointment to me in light of the fact that only three of the competing countries are English-speaking.
Now, if they could only carry it live on US cable…
All the Right Places: Short Stories by Wayne Goodman is now available on Amazon.
Wayne Goodman has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of his life (with too many cats). Goodman hosts Queer Words Podcast, conversations with queer-identified authors about their works and lives. When not writing or recording, he enjoys playing Gilde
d Age parlor music on the piano, with an emphasis on women, gay, and Black composers.