Friday, August 19, 2016

Straight Chatting from the Library: Doug Howery

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Doug Howery will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon GC and an autographed copy of the book to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please note geographical restrictions apply. United States only for the physical prize. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

“Where the Wild Things Are.”

What is your favorite book today?

The Color Purple.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Tethered to the wrong body.

What are you reading right now?

The Grass Sweeper God.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Read the end first.

E-Reader or print? and why?

Print because I like to feel the paper in my hand.

One book at a time or multiples?

One book @ a time.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)


Favorite book you've read this year?

Of Great Expectations

When do you do most of your reading?

At night.

Favorite place to read?

At my pond.

Favorite genre?

Historical and Espionage.

Do you loan your books?


Favorite book to recommend?

The Beans of Egypt Maine

Re-reader or not?


What would make you not finish a book?

Boring; no conflict. Sappy, wife beater.

Keep books or give them away?

Give them away.


Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man's body. In the 1950's Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the "Mentally Retarded Class" because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.

Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him. Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer. Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours. Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized. The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.

Smiley and Lee flee to NYC. They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.

The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things...straightens out that which is bent...which is sick...


Madam Luna: Celestial Fortune Teller, Spiritual Advisor, Psychic and Conjurer of Bad and Good Fortune. The circus had come to the fairgrounds and later, Solitude’s Main Street would swell. People would line Main Street and scurry about in a trance-like state, like they had been put under an ancient spell cast by a conjurer. Elephants, giraffes, zebras, and lions from Africa would parade down Main Street, and people would be entranced. Clowns, fire breathers, bearded ladies, conjoined twins, along with every other human oddity would demand an audience without the sense of judgment, but instead bewilderment. Madam Luna would work her magic, conjuring up spirits, and for every conjure bad bequeathed good. It was how the heavens aligned by balancing the space and time in which bad and good thrived. To conjure up the spirits, to conjure up forces beyond mortal expectation, was to play with the fire of the gods. And she was a fire breather. Those that requested a conjurer’s service always paid the price because people’s nature was to want bad to happen to others. There was always a price to pay for such a request. Madam Luna believed in the adage: We reap what we sow. This was part of the unspoken conjure.


DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.

In many of his stories, as in "The Grass Sweeper God," Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.

Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons' sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as "Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell" and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.

Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: "What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter." Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.

Goodreads: Goodreads>/a>
Book Website: Website

Buy the book at Amazon.

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  1. Thanks for the rapid-fire interview. I enjoyed the tour and wish you much luck with the book and your work on the screenplay.

  2. Thank you for hosting my work. I enjoyed the interview.

  3. Great post, I've enjoyed following the tour for The Grass Sweeper God and can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing all of the excerpts and interviews along the way :)

  4. Congrats on the blog tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  5. How much time do you spend writing each day?