The Grass Sweeper God

About the Book by Doug Howery

Cover Art The Grass Sweeper GodSixteen-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…

Author Doug Howery PhotoWhat book do you have on your shelf that you go to over and over for help on writing technique/ craft. Why do you find this one so helpful?

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.

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15 Responses to The Grass Sweeper God

  1. Lisa Brown

    Congrats on the tour and I enjoyed the interview.

  2. Victoria

    Great interview, Buster Bean sounds sooo cute! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Rita Wray

    Sounds like a great read.

  4. It´s always good to find new to me authors.

  5. Thank you for the nice comments. I hope that the story is entertaining. All input is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks for hosting, Lilac Reviews!
    Doug Howery

  6. Becky Richardson

    Do you read much, and if so, who are your favorite authors?

  7. Thanks for stopping by Doug. The cover of your book is certainly a work of art. Best wishes to you in your writing career.

  8. Mai T.

    Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

  9. This is a must-read!! Thank you for the reveal!

  10. Jen

    Thanks for the interview. Good luck with the screenplay!

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  14. debbie

    Do you have a muse or ever get writers block? 🙂