About the Book by Doug Howery
Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man’s body. In the 1950’s Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the “Mentally Retarded Class” because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.
Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him. Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer. Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours. Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized. The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.
Smiley and Lee flee to NYC. They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.
The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things…straightens out that which is bent…which is sick…
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Interview with the Author…
It is an editing book that I bought many years ago. I stored it in the basement and don’t know where it is now. That little book taught me enough about writing and editing to give me the confidence to fly with my prose. The pages are bent and soiled. Nowadays, I pay professional editors.
What book have you loved from your youth? What made you fall in love with it?
“Where the Wild Things Are.” The illustrations made me understand what the words meant. It made a huge impact on me. It made me love books. I felt proud to carry it around.
What is the latest book you are reading? What drew you to purchase it (the subject, a friend recommended it, a gift, you met the author somewhere, etc.)
I am actually reading my book, The Grass Sweeper God because I am in the process of adapting it into a screenplay.
What other hobbies/interests do you enjoy?
I enjoy playing with my half Pomeranian, half Terrier dog, Buster Bean. I like to ride the countryside into the Blue Ridge Mountains. I like to hike the trails.
What is your next book about?
My next book is not on the horizon. My next book will be in the form of a Screenplay. I look forward to learning how to write in this format. It will be challenging because what I have learned so far is that each chapter of my novel, The Grass Sweeper God will have to be condensed down to around 3 to 5 pages; can’t wait…Stay tuned!
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About the Author
DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press. In many of his stories, as in “The Grass Sweeper God,” Mr. Howery’s true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.
Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his screenplay.