God, Gays, and Grits

James Hannaham's debut novel is a comic coming-of-age story set in the conservative South.



It's interesting that there's so much emphasis about the "sin" of homosexuality these days when the Bible your characters follow similarly proscribes gluttony. Gary and his mother are both obese -- so how do those two "sins" compare for him?Gary probably prefers eating over sex, but the thing about him is that he can't really control any of his appetites.

And his mother?It's funny, I actually cut a scene where he and his mother leave a restaurant and see their waiter in an alley making out with another guy. Gary's mother starts shouting about sin, and the waiter shouts back, "What are you talking about? You just ate the crab cakes!"

Is the current cultural and political environment one that will be receptive to your book?It's not very fashionable to write a gay novel right now. Gay bookstores are closing all over the country.

So is this a "gay novel"?Well, I'm not entirely sure what that term means. It's a novel with gay content. But it's not a novel that has sex only with other novels.

Funny. Speaking of -- the dust jacket features an endorsement from Steve Martin. That's impressive for a first-time novelist. How did that come about?I know Steve's wife, Anne Stringfield. These days Steve is a little -- how should I say? -- cranky. People he meets want to talk about movies, but he really doesn't want to talk about his films. He'd much rather talk about writing than making Bringing Down the House with Queen Latifah. So I sort of became his buddy, talking about writing. Later on I thought, Why not ask him for a blurb? Just shoot the moon, you know?

Tags: Books