Lesbian Authors on Alcoholism, Abuse, and Acceptance

Marianne K. Martin, author of The Indelible Heart, and Joan Opyr, author of Shaken and Stirred, reflect on the power of humor in overcoming life's tragedies. 

BY Sunnivie Brydum

September 18 2012 3:00 AM ET

Martin: One of the things I find remarkable about your writing, especially in your latest book, Shaken & Stirred, is that ability to use humor so poignantly to handle some of the most difficult and emotional life situations.

Opyr: I'm not being poignant deliberately. I think it arises out of my own and my family's natural reaction to trial and tribulation. There's a story in Shaken, where Hunter is lying on the living room floor, passed out drunk, that's taken straight from life. While there's nothing funny about your grandfather in a drunken stupor, what happens here is funny. It's ridiculous, it's awful, and it's comic.

My father was abusive. All of my uncles were alcoholics. But as often as our home was full of violence and turmoil, it was also filled with laughter. The Southern sense of humor is indomitable. We will forgive much in those who can tell a good story.

One of the things that I enjoy most about your work is that you write roman fleuve? Do you find that it limits you in any way?

Martin: No, I find it affords me room for the characters to change and grow, to have their day in the sun. I find something that intrigues me about a minor character in one book, and explore it in another. Sharon Davis, for instance, was a character who pulled together, somewhat rudely, the two main characters in Legacy of Love and played an important role in Love in the Balance, and she is now the main character in my most recent book, The Indelible Heart. She was an all-or-none kind of person, hard to win over, but once you did she was there through the worst of it. So, I asked myself how she would react if the murderer from Balance had the possibility of an early release from prison. That's what started the new storyline, and then I just kept throwing situations at poor Sharon.

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