Author Interview: Huston Piner

About the Author:

A native of the US Mid-Atlantic coast, Huston Piner grew up in the Stonewall generation and has seen the great strides made in the acceptance of LGBT people in society. He’s witnessed firsthand the ignorance and prejudice that has driven brutality and oppression even to today’s times. As the survivor of a closeted youth, Huston writes adventures and romances that explore the issues and problems gay young adults of every generation experience as they mature and face questions about their sexual orientation. Written with understanding and humor, his characters deal with the same situations and difficulties today’s readers face in their daily lives. Older readers will gain insights into the awakening of adolescent gay sexual identity. Closed minds will find challenges to preconceived notions. My Life as a Myth is his first novel.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

It’s a bit of both really. In My Life as a Myth, I had the idea for the main character’s first day at school, a day in which everything that can go wrong does. From there the story took off. Early on, I had thought it would flow in a certain direction, but the more I wrote the more the plot turned in ways I didn’t expect. As an example, the Christmas sequence almost literally wrote itself; I was shocked at how it unfolded.

In general, I think you have to have a basic idea for a story, but it’s essential to let the story tell itself. That can sometimes be startling, but I think it’s always for the best.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Not only do they want to, they generally do. Right now, one character of a project I’m working on is waiving incriminating photos in front of me threatening to go public if I don’t do exactly what he tells me.

What is your favourite food?

In another life, I must have been Mediterranean; anything Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc., speaks to my taste buds and soul.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of both. Yawn…

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I’d love to spend a month in the UK, followed by a leisurely tour of Europe, ending with a slow trek from Italy to Morocco.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Not so far, unless you consider Virginia among those “faraway places with strange-sounding names.”

Do you listen to music while writing?

Yes. For example, My Life as a Myth is set in 1969-1970. I played songs from my already considerable collection from that era, which I supplemented as the characters found themselves listening to the occasional song I didn’t already own. In addition, I listen to a lot of classical music, being particularly fond of Beethoven, Bizet, Carl Neilson (not to be confused with Harry), Rachmaninov, Satie, and Schumann.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

My Life as a Myth is one of those stories that practically wrote itself. I remember clearly getting ready to go somewhere and the phrase, “My life is a myth” came to me. I wrote it down, and when I came back wrote the first draft of the first scene. It’s a story about self-discovery and coming to terms with who one is in the face of societal opprobrium.

Nick Horton begins his freshman year of high school seeing himself as a loser. He equates his differences from other boys as obstacles he can’t overcome. His self-perception as he struggles to understand his emerging homosexuality is the heart of the story. The views of others about him, both real and imagined, colour his understanding of the world around him.

A counterpoint is the pressure society puts on people, particularly young people, to conform to this or that “ideal.” Nick isn’t attracted to girls, but the image Jesse constructs for him demands that he must be. That’s a terrible strain to deal with and his subconscious awareness of the potentially brutal consequences if the truth were known drives the narrative.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

My Life as a Myth is actually my second novel. The first, yet to be published, was a learning experience. I was just becoming familiar with the Young Adult literary world, and realizing that the themes I wanted to write about didn’t fit the format I was initially envisioning. It took me quite a while to find the proper voice. You really have to put yourself in the mind of the characters; you have to think and act like they would in any given situation, not as you might do. That means sometimes a character will make a choice that is ridiculous, but wholly appropriate for how he sees things.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I would have started reading the genre earlier. It’s true that observing how others approach something gives insight into how to do it oneself.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

Authors who have influenced me, in no particular order, include the following: Tolkien, Rowling, Stevenson, Chandler, Hammett, Rimbaud, Stoker, Whitman, and Wilde, to name a few.

In the contemporary young adult world, again in no particular order, I’m very fond of these: Brent Hartinger, Jeff Erno, J R Lenk, Keith Hale, John Green, Dakota Chase, K M Soehlnlein, Bart Yates, and Kim Harnes.

Needless to say, neither of these lists are complete.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Read up on the craft, read the genre, then throw the rulebook out the window and start writing. For every advice to do this or not do that you’ll find a dozen examples of violations that work perfectly. Still, keep learning; and revise, revise, revise.

Then consider a revision. Believe it or not, it helps you get to know your characters better, and that makes the story stronger.

What are three words that describe you?

How about any of these: LOL, WTF, IDK, OMG, YKM

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

My Life as  Myth
Huston Piner
Prizm Books
YA LGBT/Historical

My Life as a Myth -- 1969 freshman Nick Horton has problems. He suffers bouts of depression, he’s a high school social outcast, and he doesn’t understand why he’s just not attracted to girls. So when a series of misunderstandings label him a troublemaker, he’s delighted to have Jesse Gaston and his gang befriend him. Nick just wants to explore his attraction to Bobby Warren, but Jesse promises to give him a new image and soon transforms the shy loser into an anti-establishment student hero.

Thanks to his new reputation, Nick finds himself besieged by would-be girlfriends and expectations that he live up to his public image. As Jesse’s PR campaign becomes more and more outrageous, Nick’s road quickly becomes littered with ridiculous misadventures and unexpected psychedelic explorations. Meanwhile he struggles to understand his emerging romance with Bobby while dealing with the Vietnam War’s continuing impact on his family and the dangerous goings-on at school.

Nick’s freshman year is a remarkable journey of struggle with his unwanted reputation and his deepening passion for Bobby. Can he accept who he really is and the meaning of his love for Bobby? Is a world still reeling from the sexual revolution, Acid Rock, and the illicit pleasures of underage drinking and pot smoking ready to accept two boys in love? Will Nick and Bobby’s love survive or will the world’s prejudices drive them apart?

List of previous books if any

None published.

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Facebook | Amazon | Blog | Amazon UK | Prizm Books


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