1) How did you get the idea for Band Fags?
Round about Y2K, I was having drinks with some actor friends. I started telling them the story of how me and my Best Friend used to sit around when we were 13 or 14 talking about which guys we liked by saying, "If you were a girl, would you think [fill in the blank] is cute?" My friends found this hilarious and encouraged me to write about it.
At the time I was a member of an off-off Broadway Theatre Company here in New York and part of our mission was to write and develop new plays. Out of the stories about me and my Best Friend came a one-act play called JOHN R (which starred John Tartaglia of Broadway's AVENUE Q) which later became a full-length play called BAND FAGS! (with the title suggested by YA author Brian Sloan, A Really Nice Prom Mess)
2) Was it difficult to get Band Fags published? What was the process like?
It wasn't so much difficult as it was a lengthy process. In 2004 I had the opportunity to meet Kensington Editor-in-Chief, John Scognamiglio, and we got to talking about my BAND FAGS! play. He asked if he could read the script, and after I showed it to him, he asked if I'd be interested in adapting it into a novel.
I had recently been accepted into the Dramatic Writing program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, so I said, "Maybe in two years!" Fast forward to 2006
John got in touch with me again and asked, "So are you ready to write that novel?" I began working on BAND FAGS! in July 2006, and close to two years later, here it is!
The hardest part of the process was that BAND FAGS! is a two-character play featuring Jack and Brad and takes place in one setting (Jack's bedroom.) Throughout the play, the boys talk about a lot of other off-stage characters (parents, teachers, other friends) and events. In addition to adapting the already existing scenes between Jack and Brad, I had to write entirely new scenes to flesh these out. Because the play spans Jack and Brad's four years of high school, I wanted to write a "prologue" to show how they first meet in 7th grade.
Also, I noticed in the play that I had only written two scenes from junior year, which meant that I had to fill in a lot of blanks for 1986-87 and what we see in BAND FAGS! (the novel) during senior year is pretty much all new material not from the stage version.
3) What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Do you outline? Any weird writing rituals?
Every once in a while I'll put on what I call the BAND FAGS! "soundtrack" for inspiration. In the play, I used specific music for scene changes, and the book features a lot of the same song as chapter titles. I usually write at home when my partner is at work. But when I really need to get some writing done, I'll go to my favorite Stabucks (where I won't be distracted by the internet!)
I do work from an outline, but it's very loose and I revise it often. I usually write in chronological order because I find that one event affects the next and it's difficult to go back and insert. Once I finish a chapter, I print it out, edit it on paper, then go back and revise on my computer.
As for weird writing rituals
I try to read my pages aloud to hear what the words sound like, as if it was the script for a one-person show. I don't like to repeat words or phrases unless it's intentional and this helps me to catch this.
4) What have you got lined up next?
Right now I'm a little over half-way through writing the "companion piece" to BAND FAGS!, (tentatively) titled DRAMA QUEERS! I don't call it a sequel because the time frame of the story doesn't come after BAND FAGS!, it actually overlaps it. DRAMA QUEERS! takes place during Jack and Brad's senior year (1987-88) when they are no longer Best Friends. At this point in BAND FAGS!, Brad drops out of the story, and in DRAMA QUEERS! we see how he occupies his time as a member of the Drama Club, preparing to audition for Juilliard, and meeting his first boyfriend.
5) Have you always wanted to be a writer?
You know, I'm inclined to answer "no." But looking back, I was always the kid in school who'd write a ten-page Creative Writing paper when the assignment only called for three. (Hence my long-winded responses here!)
And truthfully, BAND FAGS! isn't my "first novel." At the age 14 or 15, during one summer vacation before I had a driver's license or a job, I wrote a 166-page story called PORTLAND DISASTER. I typed it up on half-sheets of paper and glued the edges together with rubber cement to make it look like a real book. (Yes, I was a Total Dweeb!) I also pretty much ripped-off the plot from my favorite TV show at the time, Days of our Lives, but none of my friends knew because I never let anyone read it! Somehow I don't think it'll ever be published, but who knows?