Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

GLBT Week- Interview with Brent Hartinger

To start off GLBT Week (btw, it's also National Coming Out Day!), I'm posting an interview with one of my absolute favorite authors, Brent Hartinger. To find out more about him, go to his website. Enjoy the interview!
1) What was it like growing up with so few GLBT books available to you? Nowadays, who/what are your favorite GLBT authors/books?

Oh, the world was so different that it's almost indescribable! Mostly, I remember reading books I liked and just sort of "imagining" they were really about gay people -- books like The Outsiders and Ordinary People that aren't "gay" at all, but that have sort of an "outsider-y" perspective.

Favorite authors? I guess I like authors with a sense of humor, because recently I've liked How I Paid for College by Marc Acito and Band Fags! by Frank Anthony Polito. I also like fantasy/sci fi, because I also love Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series, Steven Harper's Silent Empire series, and Robert Sawyer's Hominids series.

2) You write for AfterElton.com. How did you get involved with that, and what's your favorite aspect of the job?

That really is an interesting story. Years ago, while publicizing my first book, Geography Club, a woman called to arrange an interview with me for a website called AfterEllen.com (about lesbians in entertainment). We got along so well during the phone interview that I eventually asked where she lived, and, weirdly, it turned out it was only a few miles away. She and I and her partner and my partner decided to meet for dinner, and we all got along famously -- so famously that we even became housemates for a year and a half!

Anyway, about a year after we met, Sarah decided to start a website for gay men. My partner Michael was unhappy with his job, so she asked if he'd be interested in editing this new site, and if I was interested in writing for it. We both hemmed and hawed -- writing for the internet didn't seem like it was something either of us was interested in. But eventually, he decided to go for it, and we all came up with the name "AfterElton.com" (after Elton John) to go with "AfterEllen.com."

With Michael on board, traffic exploded, and about a year after that, both AfterElton.com and AfterEllen.com were acquired by MTV for Logo, a new gay television network. So Michael and I found ourselves with salaried positions in a bold new enterprise.

The sites have just continued to explode, and we're rapidly closing in on a million visitors a month! Together with AfterEllen.com, we're the single largest gay network online. It seems surreal to me that I was there the night the website was born -- and that it only happened because I wrote Geography Club.

I only work for AfterElton.com half-time, and the intensity of writing for the internet can be overwhelming -- the demand for content is insatiable! But the best part of the job is when I get to break some story, or write some long in-depth piece that gives me a chance to learn something I didn't know.

And I have to admit, it's fun to interview celebrities, which I do almost every week!

A couple of years ago, I even started my own website (in all my free time!), TheTorchOnline.com, which is devoted to all things fantasy-related.

3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them?

My next book is called Shadow Walkers, and it's a supernatural story about a gay teenager who experiments with "astral projection" in order to solve a mystery. There just may be some romance in there as well!

It'll be about in February, and I'm enormously pleased with it, because it's the kind of book I read and that I've been wanting to write for ages.

4) What was your coming out process like? Did you find it hard to accept yourself? What obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome?

You know, I never had a problem accepting myself. I think it's because I was always "different" in just about every way possible: my (straight) friends and I were all artsy geeks. I never had any interest in any of the things the boys my age were interested in -- cars or guns or sports. Then again, I wasn't interested in any other things the girls were interested in either -- fashion or clothes or hairstyles. My friends and I just wanted to play D&D and play video games and go to movies and read and work on all our geekly little projects.

When I was twelve or thirteen and I realized I was gay, I thought, "Well, this is just one more thing!" But honestly, the fact that I'd never ever fit in anywhere (except with my buddies, who I'm still friends with to this day) actually made it easier, I think.

I did worry about how my friends would react, which was stupid, because they were all unbelievably cool, even back in 1986. My family was a different question. My parents reacted pretty much exactly how Russel's parents reacted in Split Screen. That's basically my story. But the good news is that they eventually came around!

5) Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about coming out, or questioning their sexuality?

That's there's absolutely no rush! Everything becomes clear in time. And on the whole subject of "labels" and stereotypes, it's not important what other people think of you. What's important is what you think of yourself, that you make sense to you.

You can spend a long time living your life for other people, to please them or to live up to some expectation they have of you. But it's an absolute recipe for unhappiness -- for everyone involved, I might add. You'll be tired and bitter and resentful, and everyone around you, everyone you're trying to fool, will sense that, and they'll be unhappy too.

Find out who you are, then be that person, and everyone is better off in the end.


  1. Loved the interview! It was awesome to hear about the founding of AfterElton, especially since I've read quite a few articles from their, and from AfterEllen as well.

  2. I love those sites...I didn't know about the making of it though, that was interesting.

    I'm very curious about Brent's new book. It sounds really good!

    Nice interview,


  3. Loved the interview. And I can't wait to read Shadow Walkers.

  4. Shadow Walkers sounds amazing to me. I want more LGBT genre fiction!

    Also, the founding of AfterElton.com was really interesting. I love that site.

  5. Ok, as someone who practices astral projection, I am soooo excited about that next book. Hope you will review it!