Introduction and interview by Tracey Meyers
**Giveaway is now closed**
Recently, I wrote, for Chick Lit Central, about a dream I had. In this dream, I traveled to Saugatuck, MI to attend a writers retreat led by humorist Wade Rouse. Well, today I have a confession to make... It was not a dream after all....
I really did attend one of Wade Rouse's writers retreats! During that time I had the pleasure of getting to know Wade not only on a professional level, but on a personal one as well. I mean how could I not? I spilled a glass of wine on him about half an hour into the meet-and-greet that took place on the first evening of the retreat. (And yes, this really did happen! No dreaming involved.)
Upon my return home, it came to my attention that although Wade's "Go-To-Gay" column gives CLC readers a glimpse of who Wade Rouse is, it doesn't paint a full picture, which is why I proposed that in lieu of his August column we feature him in one of our author interviews.
I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful Wade Rouse is. (I can only hope the interview below gives you a further snapshot of this.) In a short period of time, he has become someone I greatly respect, admire, and consider a role model. I appreciate his sense of humor, and the pearls of wisdom he so eloquently weaves into all of his writings.
Even though I have yet to read one of Wade's books (Sorry Wade, I will get to this as soon as I can!), I am a loyal reader of his "Go-To-Gay" columns, Beach Coast columns and the pieces he narrates for Michigan Radio. I look forward to each and every installment of these works knowing that they will not only make me laugh, but they also make me think more intently about the things taking place in my own life.
Thanks to Wade, we have a copy of "At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream" to give away to one lucky CLC reader located in the continental US.
To learn more about Wade, visit him at Facebook, Twitter and his web site! Also, more information about his writers retreats can be found here as well.
Do you feel men can be successful Chick Lit writers? Why or why not?
Of course. I think any writer, first and foremost, must be passionate about his or her book, no matter the genre. Great writing is great writing, period, no matter who is writing or what the genre. As a writing teaching, I always instruct aspiring writers to follow their hearts, to write what is screaming to get out of them, to overcome their fears and channel that unique writing voice. Only then can you be successful. If you try and write what you think is going to sell, or what you think isn’t going to hurt anyone, or what you believe will be easiest, then you will fail. You either won’t finish, or your work will not be inspired. Some of the greatest books about women have been written by men, and vice versa: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb instantly comes to mind as does A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (there are many, many more).
This topic is vital to me because – after five books, four of which are humorous memoir – I am working on my first novel, which happens to have a female protagonist and would be classified as “chick lit.” I wonder what the reaction will be to this book, not only by publishers but also by critics and readers. The wonderful Meg Wolitzer recently wrote an essay for the New York Times Sunday Book Review titled “The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women,” which talks about and how men and women writers of this genre are often separated, with women relegated to “women’s fiction” while men’s novels are celebrated as events. It’s a fabulous discussion of gender and writing. As a gay male humorist, I can intimately relate to what Meg writes. But, yes, I think a man can be successful in chick-lit.
Why do you think Chick Lit fans relate to your books?
Largely, I think, because I write about universal topics that women readers can relate to intimately: Relationships, family, work, sex, loss, love. Largely, too, because most of my writing role models have been women: Nora Ephron, Anne LaMott, Dorothy Parker, and, of course, my idol, Erma Bombeck. I don’t finger point or preach in my books; I use humor to make readers laugh and learn. They eventually can see themselves mirrored in my words: Yes, we admit, we are not perfect, but we are trying our damndest. I think readers yearn to laugh in today’s world, and I’m thankful they look to my books for that.
Moreover, I have no edit button, I do not filter my emotions, and I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. My goal is to make readers laugh and cry on the same page, experience a wide range of emotions, and women tend to be emotionally in tune with my humor, experiences and life. It’s an honor and blessing to have such a loyal following of female readers.
Imagine you had a time machine that would allow you to visit any author who ever lived. Who would you want to meet? At what point in their lifetime would you choose to meet them? And, why that person and that point in time?
Wow. Great question. I think I’d go back and talk to Erma Bombeck in the 1960s when she was first writing humor and everyone was telling her, as a woman, she would never make it as a writer. I’d tap into her wisdom and drive, her humor and poignancy, and I’d let that fuel me whenever I felt defeated.
On a side note, Writer’s Digest recently named me the #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, “We’d Love to Have Drinks With” … I was just behind Ernest Hemingway and just ahead of Hunter Thompson, two of my all-time favorite writers because they broke the rules in life and literature. After Erma, I think I’d go on a wild weekend spree with them to infuse myself with their wildness and vibrancy. And then, of course, I’d write about it.
What topic do you wish interviewers would ask you about, but don't?
What my overriding goal as a writer is. I’m often asked about my writing routine, my latest book, how I got started, but never what drives me, what made me start writing and what motivates me every day. And that is the fact that I want to reinvent the humorous memoir, which has sort of devolved these days into a disparate group of essays that are funny without necessarily serving any deeper purpose. My M.O. as a writer is to make you laugh and learn, cackle and question, guffaw and grow. I think humor is a great uniter of people, and when I can get readers laughing, I can teach them something, make them view the world differently, see themselves reflected in the mirror I provide via my book. I want the humor memoir to be both important and funny, to be inspirational and humorous, to inspire laughs and knowledge. And I feel I am succeeding in accomplishing that.
If you could send a letter to your younger self, what words of guidance, comfort, advice or other message would you put in it?
Be yourself. Follow your passion. Don’t be shackled by fear. Don’t let others define you. Love without shame. Laugh without restraint. It does get better.
I lived the first three decades of my life scared to be who I really was: I was scared to be a writer. I was frightened to come out. And that nearly cost me my life. I insulated myself in food (I have kept off 120 pounds for nearly 15 years now) and suffocated myself in fear. I worried about what everyone else thought: What will my parents think if I tell them I’m gay? What will they think about my writing? What if I don’t succeed? What if everyone hates me? I was paralyzed for no reason. And then I followed my heart, my passion, my faith, and my life changed: I finally became whole. We are all unique. We just need to celebrate that. And too few of us do.
My celebrity crush is:
Ryan Gosling. (Although I’d love to have drinks with Diablo Cody.)
What is the craziest thing you've ever done (that you're willing to publicly admit)?
Besides write about my partner, my family, my friends, and everyone I love? That’s actually hard to narrow down. Let’s see: I’ve streaked at a college football game. I came face-to-face with a shark while diving. I’ve dressed up as Hannah Montana, Miss Teen South Carolina, a toddler beauty queen and an ‘80s prom queen (as an adult male). I threw a glass of iced tea over my shoulder (a plastic glass which I thought was a much, much heavier real glass) during a job interview (and still got the job). I showed up very, very drunk to an early book signing and slurred my way through a reading (nerves, I learned, are much better to live with than four shots of tequila and an audience in front of your face). I ripped a hole in my pants, without knowing, and entered an important meeting with an ass cheek showing. Shall I go on?
I'd never be caught dead:
Wearing jean shorts, a mesh half-short and sporting a spiral perm while giving a foot massage to a stranger. For a more succinct answer, I’d never be caught dead without lip shimmer.
Special thanks to Wade for a fabulous interview and sharing his book with our readers. Thanks also to Gary for just being so wonderful!
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US only. Giveaway ends August 14th at midnight EST.