Love By The Book
Ted Randler is the publisher of Palari Publishing and a writer in his own right His new book, “Anyone Whose Heart’s Been Had” had an interesting start.
The first few chapters originally appeared in 1992 under the name “Cha Cha Cha” as a serialized story. When the publication in which it ran closed down, Randler completed the manuscript and then lost track of it over the next nineteen years.
Years later, while cleaning out his barn he found it in a box marked “Ted’s Old Manuscripts.” and was taken with how the characters still cracked him up and, more importantly, how it could be used to satirized the absurdity of denying gays and lesbians the recognition of marriage or legal long-term partnerships.
“I think it’s odd that there are those who promote the notion that by asserting our basic human rights we are trying to destroy the sanctity or convention of marriage,” he says. “I thought why not show how nutty that idea is by creating a character who actually wants to abolish marriage.”
So an originally minor character in the first draft, Muffy Griggslet Hart, became the main philosophical foil of all the intersecting stories in the final novel. As a celebrated feminist, she can say things like “What does getting married have to offer you that you haven’t already got?”
It was perfect because in the ‘90s, gay matrimony was completely off the radar of popular culture but the feminist movement was challenging established notions of marriage.
“Typically in chick lit, marriage is the happily-ever-after goal of the tale. So I wanted to create a heroine who inverts the romance template and disengages from her marriage in the beginning of the story and it still leads to a happy ending.
And the other trick was to fashion all the love stories around how we get our concepts of what romance and marriage should be from the idealized and flawed images in pop culture. Actually, I don’t think that is as revelatory as it was just plain fun to satirize our infatuation with celebrities, romance novels and tabloid fodder,” he laughs.
It takes place in Richmond and centers around a kooky, dysfunctional family, the Claremonts, who are all pursuing sex, love and happiness via their own twisted agendas. There are about fifteen characters (gay, straight, closeted, out and proud, undetermined) who bounce up against each other at one time or another, all while looking for different ideas of romance or happiness.
In the novel most of the characters are chasing after some idealized aspect of a romantic situation. In the novel, “Retta and her cousin, Baby are searching for the perfect companion idealized in pop culture and romance novels—a sexy someone who truly understands you, shares your vision of life—so there’s an element of truth. It’s just that they can’t settle on their own sense of what makes them happy and so they seek it through their disastrous relationships.
On the other hand, Rhetta’s best friend, Miriam doesn’t want anything to do with emotional connection; she’s big into being in control, physical affairs and good times. Peggy, Rhetta’s mother turns to her misconceptions of a lesbian romance to resolve her unhappy heterosexual marriage. The Glamour Chef is the embodiment of the romantic hero/object of affection in those bodice-ripper novels—he’s attractive, mysterious and unattainable.
I think we are constantly becoming infatuated with people, places and things and then forgoing those for next sparkling moment. If you can find somebody who will happily indulge your infatuations or even find you new ones, then you’ve found your true romantic partner.”
And Randler should know. He’s been happily partnered for sixteen years. “I’m really thrilled when my partner says those magic three words on a Friday night, ‘Let’s stay in.’ We spend so much of the week covering events, networking and at local entertainment that being left alone on the farm is a luxury.”
But what romance writer doesn’t have a clear idea of happily ever after? For Randler, that means working on the next idea or project.
“I don’t want to think I never went after something because I was afraid to attempt it. I spent the first half of my life in the closet out of fear in order to fit to the prescribed notion of happiness and not really living life. Being gay in America means you have to be assertive in the pursuit of happiness—there aren’t any cultural programs or templates for long-term gay relationships. We create them by living openly and teaching the straight community about gay families, by celebrating the things we share in common and respecting the validity and values of our different orientations.”
“Anyone Whose Heart’s Been Had” is available at your local independent book store, Barnes and Noble or in an iBook, Nook, or Kindle format through Amazon.
Karen Newton is a freelance writer and full-time nerd who isn’t happy unless she’s going out every night for food, music or art and blogging it at www.icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.
“Highland Rape” was the name that British designer and couturier Lee Alexander McQueen, commonly known as Alexander McQueen, gave to his first collection that debuted in the Fall/Winter 1995-96 season. To many the name was controversial but to McQueen, the name held the history of the slaughter of his Scottish Ancestors by the English. This [...]September 5, 2013
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