We just had a great Skype chat with A.C. Burch, author of the novel ‘The HomePort Journals‘. The book has been receiving great reviews! Here’s a transcript of some of our conversation with A.C…
The HomePort Journals is a “fantasia.” According to Webster, that means, “a work… in which the author’s fancy roves unrestricted.” The book is about the family gay people often create for themselves to compensate for the hurt and disenfranchisement of youth. Armistead Maupin, one of my all-time, favorite writers, calls this the “logical”—as opposed to biological—family.
I situated this unlikely family in my hometown, the seaside village of Provincetown, Massachusetts. When Marc Nugent escapes an abusive relationship and arrives in town, he’s hired by Lola Staunton, a wealthy recluse who owns the HomePort Estate. Within hours, Dan is party to the zany antics of the denizens of HomePort: Helena Handbasket, the cross-dressing housekeeper who does little to hide her interest in him; Dorrie Machado, a childhood friend of Lola’s who has been estranged from her for decades, and the mysterious “essences” that appeal to Dan to solve a decades-old mystery. Then there’s the love interest, Cole Hanson, a brooding artist who seems to be hiding a tortured past.
Past and present converge when a long-lost journal reveals tales of infidelity, adultery, and passion that mirror the life Marc has recently abandoned. When his ex-lover arrives in search of revenge, Marc must confront his past, his notions of family, and his capacity for love.
Is it part of a series? Are you planning any more?
Yes, The HomePort Murders is underway. It brings forward several characters from the first novel and introduces new ones from the endless array of Provincetown denizens.
What inspired you to write the book?
The HomePort Journals evolved in a very strange way; with a series of names I couldn’t get out of my head. For a couple of years, the name Helena Handbasket would occasionally surface as a superb drag name. Then along came the name Dorrie (short for Andoria). Both names refused to vacate my head, and one day I wrote them down in a sort of exorcism. From that came The HomePort Journals. Not exactly Athena coming forth from the head of Zeus, but intriguing none-the-less. Helena remains in residence and provides interesting social commentary from time to time.
Who do you think will enjoy reading the book?
I’d like to think the book has appeal to audiences of all ages and sexual orientation. One concern I have is that the book is billed as “M/M Romance.” The publishing industry seems to like to slot things into neat little categories, but The HomePort Journals crosses many of those boundaries. There are men loving men, but also loving friendships that cross age and sexual preference. It’s the story of a family of choice made up of people who share a love of Provincetown and each other. There’s something for everyone.
When did you start writing books and why?
I started nearly 10 years ago at a point when my career as a professional musician had run its course. I began to write because I loved the written word, and, I think, a part of me really enjoyed designing my own world and populating it with my own creations. To me, being an author (and I have had several writer friends over the years) is the most magnificent career a person could have. Now that this is what I do, I’m more convinced of that fact than ever.
Which authors, dead or alive, inspire your writing?
First and foremost, my idol Armistead Maupin. Perhaps the most wonderful feedback I’ve gotten is when people compare The HomePort Journals to his masterpiece, Tales of the City. Maupin is a modern-day Dickens and an astute chronicler of gay life.
I’ve always adored Jane Austen and what she does with a comic novel. I’m a great mystery buff and have devoured all of Agatha Christi, P.D. James, and Walter Mosley. Right now I’m reading Gaywick by Vincent Virga. I’m not that far into it, but there’s a lot about his lavish settings that make me glad I wrote The HomePort Journals before I read his book. One reviewer said my book reminded him of it, and I can already see why.
From way out in left field, I’ve always adored John Galsworthy’s The Foresyte Saga. The complexity of the characters, the opulence and long-lost manners all have great appeal. And, as anyone who reads The HomePort Journals can quickly tell, I was greatly influenced by Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame.
When is your book available to purchase and from where?
The HomePort Journals is out in e-book and paperback. It can be purchased from Wilde City Press, Amazon (UK, France, Canada, as well as USA) and Barnes and Noble.