Interview by: Lauren
Josh Aterovis, author of Bleeding Hearts (review in April) and Reap the Whirlwind, who is also a contributing writer on the site Afterelton.com
You have two novels out featuring the character of Killian Kendall. Do you feel that your books are a good mix between dealing with the characters’ sexuality and the overall story of the novel?
[Josh Aterovis] In the first two books, the main characters (Killian in Bleeding Hearts and Will in Reap the Whirlwind) are dealing with self discovery and coming out, so their sexuality plays a very central role to the overall story. The mystery plays an equally important role, however, so I’d say it’s a good mix. In later books, Killian’s sexuality won’t be as front and center except for the fact that he dates boys instead of girls.
Are there any plans to release any more novels following Kendall? Are you currently working on anything at the moment?
[Josh Aterovis] The plan is for the Killian Kendall series to be around for quite a while. Marcia Muller was a big influence on me and I’d love to see my series age as well. I’d like for Killian to age throughout the series, and continually grow and evolve, just as we all do as the years go by. I’m currently working on getting the third Killian Kendall book, called All Lost Things, published and I’ve just recently started work on a new one.
What are your thoughts on GLBT literature these days? Are there any you would recommend, whether for young adults or adults?
[Josh Aterovis] I think GLBT literature is in a kind of weird state of flux right now. On the one hand, there are more talented, creative GLBT writers out there right now than ever before, and they’re putting out books in every imaginable genre from mystery to fantasy to romance. GLBT books have really come into their own over the last decade. It’s not just coming out stories or sad AIDS or drug addiction tales anymore. On the other hand, it seems like there are less and less places for us to get these books published. One of our biggest and best GLBT fiction publishers closed in 2007, and many other presses have vanished over the years. The big publishers often aren’t willing to take a risk on gay fiction, especially genre fiction. If it’s not Literature (with a capital “L”, don’tcha know) they don’t want it.
Recently, I’ve really enjoyed Eric Arvin’s books and N.L. Gassert’s The Protector. For young adults (and adults too!) I can’t recommend Brent Hartinger enough. His Geography Club series is just wonderful. And, of course, Alex Sanchez and David Levithan are also great.
Beyond just books, how do you feel the GLBT community is represented in the media?
[Josh Aterovis] I think we’re woefully under-represented. Just take a look at GLAAD’s report “Where We Are On TV” or AfterElton.com’s fantastic, in-depth investigative report “Gays in Primetime.” There are currently only five regular gay characters on network television right now, and none of them are main characters. There are no lesbians at all, no bisexual characters that I know of, and only two transgender characters. We finally get two gay teen characters on daytime TV, Luke and Noah on As the World Turns, then the show neuters them. Two teenaged boys dating for months and they haven’t kissed on screen once since before they started dating. The couple is treated very differently than the straight couples on the show, that’s for sure. There’s no denying it’s discrimination.
Cable is a little better, but the ratio is still far away from being anything close to fair representation. Of course, other minorities have been complaining about this for years and not much has changed for them either. And it’s not much better in the movie theaters. After Brokeback’s huge success, we all hoped it would mean more big budget Hollywood movies about GLBT people, but it just hasn’t happened. The best we got last year was I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and trust me, nobody was happy with that.
Along with being an author, you also write for the website AfterElton.com, which features articles, interviews, and the like about gay and bi men in entertainment. How did you get involved with the website? What are the best parts of being a part of a site such as AfterElton?
[Josh Aterovis] I used to write an opinion column called “Heart to Heart.” It touched on a wide array of topics, but all of them had to do with GLBT issues. One particular piece was about the lack of gay characters on TV, and the editor Michael Jensen read it and emailed me to see if I’d be interested in writing for the site. Of course, I jumped at the chance. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m honored to be a part of such a quality site. (One of our writers recently won an award from GLAAD for his investigative report on gay men in broadcast news.) The best part would have to be getting to do interviews with people I watch on TV every week. I get to ask all the questions everyone is dying to ask but usually never has the chance.
What would your general advice be for someone who might be struggling with their sexuality and/or coming out?
[Josh Aterovis] Be honest. With yourself first, and then, when you’re ready, those around you. You can never be truly at peace if you’re living a lie day in and day out. Seek out people you trust to help you on your journey. Having a strong support network makes coming out a lot easier. I definitely believe the most important thing, though, is to just be yourself.
If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for?
[Josh Aterovis] My pageant answer would be for equal rights for all people. My selfish answer would be a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list. LOL