Friday, May 29, 2009

Dramarama

On Tuesday, my friend and KIT212 contributor Frank Anthony Polito's second book, "Drama Queers," was released. I caught up with the Fresh Prince of Hazeltucky -- who made me laugh me ass off with his "Band Fags" debut -- earlier today to get all of details from backstage:

KIT212: Congratulations on the success of your first book, "Band Fags." Your follow-up, "Drama Queers," just came out this week. What can readers expect this time around?
FAP: Thank you! It’s been an incredible year since BAND FAGS! went on sale last June. With DRAMA QUEERS!, readers can expect more 1980s fun and frivolity in Hazeltucky, MI. This time around, the story is told from the POV of Brad Dayton, the secondary/best friend character from BAND FAGS!

When my editor at Kensington asked me for another book, I really didn’t have an idea for one. Then I gave it some thought, and realized there’s a chunk of BAND FAGS! where Brad completely disappears. He and his best friend, Jack, have a falling out during senior year, and since BFs is Jack’s story, we only see Brad a few times during those 100 pages. We learn that he’s got a part in the school play, and he takes a trip to New York City to audition for Julliard School of Drama, and that he gets busted hanging out at a gay bar -- but we don’t SEE it happen. Now in DQs, we do!

KIT212: Was it difficult to write a similar story from another point of view? Did you ever have to recheck your facts to make sure the stories meshed?
FAP: The original idea for BAND FAGS! was to alternate chapters between Jack and Brad, telling the story from each of their POV. But because I only had about a year to write the story, I didn’t know if I could actually do this. Much of Jack’s life is based on my own, so I knew him much better than I did Brad at the time. After finishing BFs and having time to think more about Brad, I found it easier to tackle telling his story. Since my background is in playwriting, I have a pretty good knack for writing in different “voices.”

And yes, there were many times I had to refer to BFs, to make sure I was “filling in the blanks” correctly. I think there may actually be one or two moments in DQs that don’t quite jive, but I don’t know if readers will notice -- unless they’re diehard fans, of course. Then I want them to call me out!

KIT212: Now you say "Band Fags" is a novel. But I know you pretty well so I know some of it is drawn from real-life experiences. What was the reaction back in Hazel Park? Didn't you attend your high school reunion right around the time the book came out?
FAP: I did attend my class reunion back in September, after the book had been on sale for about three months, and most everyone treated me like I’m some Big Star. (It was about time!) That June, I did a reading in Detroit and a lot of my high school friends who I based characters on were there. A couple, I hadn’t seen since the ‘80s, so that was awesome.

One in particular, “Luanne the Lesbo” I don’t paint a very nice portrait of, and she was there. Fortunately, she hadn’t read the book yet! But I did stress to her that it IS a work of “fiction” and that anything negative that Jack says about Luanne, is NOT a direct reflection on my feelings for her. I think she punched me and told me to shut up.

KIT212: What has been the highlight of being a published author?
FAP: I’ve made a lot of new Facebook Friends, and met some really cool people as a result. I get e-mails from readers who tell me they enjoyed the book, and accuse me of stealing their story. Which is totally cool, considering I thought my experience was so unique. It’s great to hear how many guys also had gay best friends while they were growing up, and what kind of adventures they had together. One of the highlights was walking past the (now-closed) Oscar Wilde Book Shop here in NYC and seeing MY book in the window!

KIT212: What surprised you most about the experience?
FAP: The fact that nothing really changes once the book hits the shelves. I mean, yes, I’m more “famous” than I was a year ago. I’ve been invited to appear on radio shows, and to attend book club meetings. There are people out there who know who I am now! But at the end of the day, I’m still the same guy working a part-time job, struggling to “make it.”

KIT212: Will we be hearing from Jack and Brad and the gang again anytime soon?
FAP: Fingers crossed! I’ve recently started working with a manager and an agent, and we’re hoping to develop both novels “for the screen.” One of the strong points of both books, I feel, is the characters -- not just Brad and Jack, but the supporting ones, too. I hope to be able to develop their lives more, and flesh out the world even more, either in a film, or even better, a TV series. (Calling all potential producers! If you’re looking for an ‘80s-themed show with a gay teen protagonist … Give me a shout.)

KIT212: Will you be doing any readings to promote "Drama Queers"?
FAP: I have two readings planned thus far: Monday June 1st, Barnes & Noble, 82nd & Broadway in New York City, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, June 18th, Barnes & Noble, 500 S. Main St. in Royal Oak, Mich., at 6:30 p.m. I’m also having a book party at “1984” at The Pyramid in the East Village (101 Avenue A, between 6th & 7th streets) on Friday June 5th. This will include a special screening of the 1978 classic “Ice Castles” starring Lynn-Holly Johnson -- the slut from “Where the Boys Are ‘84.” All readers of the (212) are welcome. And if you say the secret code at the door (“Robby Benson”), cover is only $5!

KIT212: Great. So I guess I'll see you at Monday's reading. Thanks for checking in.
FAP: No, thank YOU!!

For complete details about the book readings, click HERE.

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