Author Conversation: Jennifer Lavoie and Del Darcy Talk Gay Boys in Sports

Two female first-time authors tackle teenage sexuality among gay boys on and off the playing field in Fair Catch and Andy Squared.



Darcy: That is so true. Yet the challenge of fiction is to make a story that is actually more logical and coherent than life, while also realistic in that it includes the randomness, the sloppiness, of life. Given that, is any part of your book based on real events? Or real people? With the names changed, of course? Is that a technique that's important to your fiction?

Lavoie: When I write, I don’t consciously put people I know into books. For Andy Squared, the only real person that makes some sort of presence is me. I did put a little bit of myself in Ryder. For example, his crammed bookcase: I definitely took that from me. I also love horses and wanted him to ride as well. I guess I lived a little vicariously through him. Most of the locations, though, are based on real places I know. I chose the setting to be upstate New York because that is where my family lives and it is absolutely beautiful. The property the twins live on is based on my grandparents’ land before they passed. In other books, however, this isn’t the case. One that I hope to work on in the future is taken a lot from my life and the lives of those around me. So I guess for me the location has to be personal and I can create characters to fit into those settings. I feel that it helps me keep the characters from being stereotypes if I can get a sense of where they live and what shapes them.

Darcy:  Stereotypes — being aware of them — is so important. As young adult stories and all types of stories about GLBT people become more mainstream and more accepted in all media, I am really hoping to see more and more characters who aren't stereotypes, as Stephen Harper blogged about recently. Beyond that, and this is what I tried to do in Fair Catch, I want stories where the characters' queerness isn't the problem in the story. Instead it's a facet of the characters' lives, of their identities. Of course orientation informs and affects a lot of things, and I do actually love stories that are mostly about coming out, or coming out to yourself, but that doesn't have to be the chief problem of the plot, every time. And finally, I am so invested in stories about GLBT people that have happy endings. That's a motto of my publisher, actually. Fiction and memoir should, must, show crisis and tragedy sometimes, in order to be realistic, but that's not the kind of book Fair Catch is. Some bad things happen to Blake and Alex and Dakota, but everyone in the story gets a happy ending. At the end of the day, I really think it's so important to write three-dimensional characters with families and lives and jobs and etc., who are also GLBT. And I'm so happy to see more non-straight characters showing up in all kinds of books and movies as time goes on — and not being the perky sidekick and not being the villain. Soon, I hope, GLBT characters won't be controversial any more. It'll just be life. 

Lavoie: I couldn’t agree with you more!



Jennifer Lavoie lives in Connecticut in the same city she grew up in. While growing up, she always wanted to be a writer or a teacher and briefly debated a career in marine biology. The only problem with that was she’s deathly afraid of deep water. Starting during a holiday season as temporary help, she worked in a bookstore for six years and made it all the way up to assistant manager before she left to take a job teaching. Lavoie has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education and teaches middle school students. Along with another teacher and a handful of students, Lavoie started the first Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. She is also active in other student clubs and enjoys pairing students with books that make them love to read. Andy Squared is her first novel, and is published by Bold Strokes Books.

Del Darcy, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, has been a radio announcer, a newspaper reporter, and a jazz DJ. She loves campy science fiction, fencing, bridge, and dark chocolate, and hates cell phones and boredom. She lives in Oklahoma with her family and a large collection of dust bunnies. Fair Catch, published by Prizm/Torquere, is her first novel. 

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