One of our community's best and most famous writers, Armistead Maupin, is the featured author at Palm Springs Pride's Author's Village. Not only will he be in the parade, but he'll also be signing books, and he couldn't be more excited. "I haven't been to Palm Springs for 25 years, and I've never been to Palm Springs Pride," he laughs. "It'll be a brand new experience, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Won't it be fun to ride in the parade like a beauty queen?
(Laughs) Well, the good thing about riding in parades is you get the best seat!
You might get tired of waving, though. I hear Queen Elizabeth is on her fifth wrist replacement.
Oh, that's a burden I can handle.
How've people responded this year since Michael Tolliver Lives came out?
Very positive—the book seems to have legs and the reviews have been very good. I've been promoting it so far in 20 different cities around the world, so it's been a very busy—but productive—time.
Now that you've caught up with Mouse, you're going to write a book called Mary Ann In Autumn, right?
That's right. I'm looking forward to revisiting that character and finding a little redemption for her.
She was always my favorite, and I'm glad to hear it. Is it cool to realize how much these characters mean not only to the fans, but also to you?
Yeah. They do mean a lot to me. They have their ups and downs in life just like us. It's fun to be back in that mode again.
What would you say to someone who doesn't believe in celebrating Pride?
I think that there's always someone who benefits from Pride. A lot of us feel quite jaded about the experience because it's not a new one to us anymore, but there's always someone for whom it's a transformative experience. So I don't see any reason why we can't continue to enjoy ourselves and create that space for people who need to come out.
You'll be signing books, too. What's your favorite part of that?
Talking to the readers. This is difficult, because you're making me brag about myself. (Laughs) It's very gratifying. People often explain the roles the books played in their lives or coming-out process. They tell me that their boyfriend or girlfriend read the books to them in bed. I get a lot of intergenerational stuff these days—mothers and daughters who read the books at different times in their lives, even fathers and sons. It's extremely rewarding. It's like receiving applause from an audience.
Just seeing how important your work has been to them, right?
It can be quite moving and unexpected sometimes. People have cried sometimes. To see such a strong response to your work is pretty much a writer's dream.
You've accomplished so much already in your life. What's next for you to conquer?
You know, I've reached a point in my life where I want to continue to be healthy and spend time with my husband, Chris, and enjoy the life that's come to me. I don't have a lot of career ambitions at this point except to continue to tell these stories.
Everyone's going to be trying to get your attention at Pride, so what would you like to say to them here?
It's very hard to deliver a message to the world—I'm not the pope! (Laughs) My message has been pretty much the same for 30 years: Be yourself, love yourself and get on with it! It's a pretty simple message, but it's amazing how many people are still afraid of their true natures.
And that's the point of Pride, right? To embrace who you truly are?
Yes! If you ain't proud, you shouldn't be there! (Laughs) It's not so much about being proud and being gay, but about being proud and open about who you are, whoever you are. —J.R.
A Novello Evening with Armistead Maupin
Armistead Maupin will be appearing at the Novello Festival of Reading at ImaginON in Charlotte, NC October 16, 2008 at 7:00 pm.
Tickets can be ordered at https://www.ctcharlotte.org/store/index.php?catid=186
The following is a list of the other great authors appearing at the Festival.
If any of you lucky dogs get to see him, post me a comment back. Rumor has it, that Maupin's next book is "Mary Ann in Autumn."