Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Q&A with Byron Lane




Byron Lane is the author of the new novel Big Gay Wedding. He also has written the novel A Star is Bored, and he's a playwright, screenwriter, and journalist. He lives in Palm Springs, California.


Q: What inspired you to write Big Gay Wedding, and how did you create your character Barnett Durang?


A: I had a “little gay wedding” with my now husband, author Steven Rowley. It was in the thick of Covid in April of 2021, so we couldn’t really have a big wedding. And we were ready! So, we had a small ceremony with only us and one of our best friends as an officiant in our hometown of Palm Springs.


When it came time to write my second novel, the wedding was on my mind and I wondered “What could have been?” I grew up in a rural part of Louisiana and imagined having a big gay wedding there. And 300 pages later, the book was a real thing!


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Barnett and his mother?


A: Barnett and his mother, Chrissy, love each other very much. Barnett had a beautiful, idyllic childhood—until he came out. And then later, his father died. These events affected both Barnett and Chrissy. They share in the trauma of those events, which acts as both a push and pull—magnets attracting each other and also pushing each other away.


The “gay thing” is at the center. Barnett isn’t brave enough to push it. Chrissy isn’t open-minded enough to understand it. And like many things in life, something happens that forces us to confront the unsaid. In Big Gay Wedding, that’s Barnett’s engagement.


Q: The writer Bobby Finger said of the book, “Reading Byron Lane’s warm and hysterical new novel made me feel like I hit the wedding guest jackpot and got seated at the very best table, surrounded by gloriously weird and funny guests I’ll remember long after the grooms have been waved off.” What do you think of that description?


A: First of all, what an honor and a thrill that Bobby Finger would read my work. I’m a big fan of his.


Having my work called “warm and hysterical” feels right on brand for me. I try to craft stories that are both funny and heartwarming, mixing serious with absurd. Having a sense of humor about life has served me well and helped keep my mental health in check. Life is so much more interesting if we can laugh at our mistakes… and our triumphs.


Q: The novel is set in a small town in Louisiana--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: The Louisiana angle was helpful because I grew up there. All of the locations and characters are crafted from people I’ve known or met or heard about or saw on the news or had as a server in a restaurant. My hope is that having that perspective helps bring the characters to life in a way that’s interesting and authentic.


I have many happy memories from growing up in Louisiana, but also some hard ones. It was tough being gay in the South. I’m so grateful things have changed, at least a little bit. And I enjoy the rich history of New Orleans whenever I go home to visit.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m kicking around ideas for book number 3! And in the meantime, I’m working on developing Big Gay Wedding into a film. I’m also developing my first novel, A Star Is Bored, for television. Please cross all your fingers and toes for me! 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’m really grateful to share this story! Hope you enjoy!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb


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