Today I have the distinct privilege of hosting my new author friend, Denise DeSio for a little chat. A while back, I got a glowing review for The Redheaded Stepchild on Goodreads – the first one from someone I didn’t know. This kind soul was Denise DeSio, and I figured that if she liked my book, odds are I would like hers, too. It did not disappoint in the least; I can honestly say it’s probably the best book I’ve read this year. We began chatting back and forth about our books, our writing processes, and the ridiculous heat of the Southwest, so today’s just a little continuation of this chat. I was anxious to get an interview going with DeSio, and I welcome her today!
KH: You mentioned to me that you didn’t even know you were writing a book until you threw the characters of Ricky and Eli into the mix. What did you start out thinking you were writing?
DD: I started out doing what I always do with my emotions, putting them to the page. I’m not the type to cry on anyone’s shoulder.
KH: How long did it take, from the first word you wrote to publication, to complete Rose’s Will?
DD: I started writing in September of 2001 and got published in September of 2011.
KH: Why did you choose to go with 48fourteen as your publisher?
DD: 48fourteen’s submission process is respectful of an author’s work. They ask for 3 sample chapters, provide an online form to fill out with room to add unsolicited comments, all of which they read in a timely fashion and deliver a personal response to the submission. They were about to open a new eBook division when I submitted and offered to feature Rose’s Will on the launch. I liked the idea of being a big fish in a small pond, but most of all I really appreciated their sense of commitment to the process. They were also very good about negotiating the contract.
KH: In Rose’s Will, Glory is what you might consider a late-in-life lesbian, after a conventional marriage and children. What kind of message do you think Rose’s Will has for late-in-life lesbians?
DD: Glory is in her mid-twenties when she enters her first lesbian relationship, so yeah, maybe a bit of a late bloomer. I didn’t intend to convey a particular message about that, but if you want a message, here it is: Everyone has the power and the right to fully explore life at any age. We come through this way only once and there is absolutely no reason to be constrained by fear and narrow minded beliefs. So, go for it.
KH: Rose’s Will is a perfect example of how we continue to seek our parents’ love and approval long after childhood, no matter what they do to us. If you could say anything to someone dealing with parentally-inflicted childhood scars, what would it be?
DD: The first and most important thing to say to people who have been wounded is to validate the experience. After that, support whatever way they choose to deal with it. Instead, we often urge adult victims of childhood abuse to let it go or move on, as if that’s all it takes to solve the problem, even when the physical abuse turns to verbal abuse in the adult relationship.
KH: God, the gay gene, writer’s block. Which of these is real?
DD: <Laughing!> I’m going to have to choose writer’s block.
The whole god thing seems no less a myth than Santa, Tooth Fairies and Unicorns. In Rose’s Will, Eli, my Bulgarian Holocaust survivor is an existentialist/humanist. He is one of the most moral characters in the book.
As for the gay gene, I’m not a scientist but I don’t think it’s a gene. I do think that A) sexuality is fluid, B) there might be a physiological component, and C) even if we choose not to play the “born this way” card, no government or religion should regulate love. The world would be much more pleasant if we put our energy into improving the well-being of humanity instead of policing affinities.
KH: What’s your next great project, and when can we expect to see it?
DD: I can’t decide whether I want to edit the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November or edit my Tenants Straight From Hell series. The novel is kind of heavy and TSFH is horrifying and hilarious. I guess I’ll see how I feel after the move. We just bought a house today, so for the next two months I’ll be re-nesting. I’m hoping to have something ready to go by the end of the year, but look for the release of the print version of Rose’s Will in the next couple of months. My publisher just finished re-formatting it.
KH: And finally, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
DD: I probably would have said something entirely different 20 years ago, but right now I’d like to zap politicians with a truth serum. I’m seriously sick of their lies and I am dreading this election year. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to vote, though. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF BECOMING SO DISGUSTED THAT YOU DON’T VOTE! There truly is such a thing as the lesser of two evils.
A big thanks to Denise DeSio for giving me an interview right in the middle of house shopping. You’ll hear me talk more and more about Rose’s Will, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, do it. Today. Or when you get paid next, whatever. It is a recent winner of the Reader’s Choice award for general lesbian fiction, an award well deserved. I’d tell you more of my opinion of it, but I think you get the point. You can always check out my Goodreads review of it as well.