I can’t believe I am already at Interview #6, I have been lucky to meet a lot of great people on Twitter and the guest for today’s interview is no exception.  Jack Urquhart, whom you should follow at @JackAUrquhart, caught my attention tweeting about his experiences.  I went to his blog and found an intelligent, thoughtful individual who can write circles around me and a lot of others.  I liked his personal story, the struggle and the triumph, and I wanted to share that with you, and of course in my traditional style, find out a lot of cool stuff about Jack.  Jack’s blog is at http://www.jaurquhart.com and you should all run there right now and take a peek at Jack’s writing; it’s amazing.

Hello Jack, and right off the bat I will confess to snooping around your blog a bit, well no not a bit, a lot.  You have some fantastic stuff up there.  Tell the readers a bit about the two works you have published “So They Say” volumes 1 and 2.

Thank you for welcoming me to your blog, Peter—and for asking about “So They Say”.  The two volumes you mention are my take on a traditional bildungsroman—a coming of age novel—except that I’ve presented mine as a series of self-contained, interconnected stories.  There are twenty-one in all—stories, that is—spanning the early 1950s through 2007.  My protagonist, Rex Fordham, is what you’d call a late bloomer, or, perhaps more aptly, a slow learner.  A good old southern boy, it takes him a long time—a decade and more of marriage, fatherhood, and professional endeavors—to own that he’s no good at self-denial and that he ought rightly to be living as a gay man.  Which is the decision he eventually makes.

When were those written, Jack?

My recollection is that the earliest stories were written in Colorado between 1992-97.  I wrote most of the other stories between 1998 and 2009 while I was living in San Francisco—except for “Pas de Deux” and “Bread Pudding”, which were born here in Florida last year.  Although the stories weren’t written in a chronological order, I’ve presented them that way in the e-book volumes—i.e., 1950s to 2007—and more recently in the single volume paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3713625

Do you have other books in progress?

Yes, I have several stories completed or in progress.  Seems I’ve fallen in love with some of the supporting characters in “So They Say”—so much so that I’m contemplating a collection that follows one of those characters for a few decades.

What genre are they in?

Aside from my blog posts, I write fiction.  Usually short stories, though some of them exceed twenty thousand words, which I suppose makes them novellas.  Genre?  General or literary, I guess.  Although the latter moniker seems a bit pretentious.  I should add that my stories are never autobiographical, ‘though I’ll plead guilty to focusing on things about which I know a little something.  Write what you know, the saying goes.

What genre do you like to read for relaxation?

For relaxation?  Again, fiction.  Usually novels.  Though I’m not immune to a compelling biography, memoir, or even occasionally a great sci-fi or crime thriller.

Your reviews are very good, how long does it take you to write one, typically?

Oh lord.  It takes me forever—at least the better part of a day-and-a-half, which is why I’ve only posted a handful.  I figure if I like a book well enough to write about it, I should take my time, be thoughtful, bring in relevant, specific details.  It’s my way of showing respect for the author’s labors—which isn’t to say that I don’t admire reviewers who can do as much in twenty minutes and two hundred words or less.  It’s just that I can’t.

The introductory paragraph of your blog indicates you are a gay man.  I understand from reading further on your blog that you “came out” in middle age.  Can you tell us a bit about how that was, the reactions from your family.

Yes, as you may have read on my blog (www.jaurquhart.com), I came out at thirty-six after nearly twenty years of marriage, two kids, careers in banking and teaching.  It was no fun; in fact, for a while I wasn’t sure that I could do it—break with my past, that is; live true to myself.  My ex-wife, a wonderful woman whom I loved and still love and respect, took the worst of it—she and my children.  My parents had a terrible time with it, too.  But we got through the mess with much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth—not to mention (laughing) long hours of therapy and the chemical assistance of Prozac.  These days, we all get on well enough and do our best to be mutually supportive.

I can imagine it was a surprise to them, how about close friends, what was their reaction?

My friends, the real ones, were unfailingly supportive.  That helped immensely.

Do you have a partner now?

Yes.  Raymond and I have been together since August 11, 1998 (around 3:30 p.m., I think it was).  We have similar backgrounds—formerly married, both fathers, both former teachers.  I’m so lucky to have found him—luckier still to have snared him (given my paltry charms and allurements).

Ok, enough of the snoopy personal stuff, but I do want to thank you for sharing that with us and I think the readers will appreciate it as well.  Let’s learn a bit more about what makes you tick and why.

Where were you born?

Orlando, Florida.

What places have you lived?

  • Apopka, Florida (‘Apopka’, I’m told, is a Seminole term meaning “potato eating people”; quaint, huh.)
  • Bloomsburg and Lime Ridge, Pennsylvania
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Boulder and Nederland, Colorado
  • San Francisco, California
  • Brief stints in Paris and Bordeaux, France

What part of the Country do you live in now?

I’m back in Central Florida for the time being.  Mount Dora, to be exact.  Lovely town.

What or who is your Favorite Musical Group or Artist?

I don’t think I have any enduring favorites.  But I do appreciate music—all kinds.

I imagine your work is a huge success, so this may be a moot question; do you have a day job?

Oh boy, I wish I could confirm your assessment of my ‘success’ as an author; however, I can claim no particular triumphs for my writing—not in terms of sales (more’s the pity).  I’d love more readers, of course; but I do derive a great deal of satisfaction in the work itself, in completing and disseminating my writing, and most particularly, in those readers—however few or many—who do me the honor of reading my work.  That, I believe, constitutes ‘success’ of a sort, and it will do for now.

You asked if I have a day job.  No, I don’t have one.  My former employer, the Judicial Branch of California, where I worked as a technical writer and analyst until twenty months ago, granted me early retirement when the state went bust.  Still getting used to that!

What is a typical evening routine for you?

Dinner, the television news, Internet cruising, more reading and writing.

What is your favorite room in the house and why?

The study (laughing)—where all the computers reside!

Who was or is the most influencial person you have had in your life?

That’s easy.  Raymond, my partner—the man responsible for getting me into print, and for making me fortunate and happy in a thousand other ways.

If you could change one event in history, what would it be?

The Holocaust.  It would never have happened.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a loving father, spouse, friend.  And as a writer.

What is your best memory of childhood? Worst?

Best: My father planting a flower garden in the shape of the letters of my name “so the airplanes flying overhead will look down and see your name in a big-ole splash of color.”

Worst: Fourth grade, my teacher announcing in class that my achievement test stanines in math and science were the lowest in the class.

Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?

Yes.  Andy, or sometimes Anda-Panda.  Since my father and I shared the same first name (Jack), family members used diminutives of my middle name, Andrew.  Lucky me!

What is the craziest thing you have done for your partner?

Seasoned an expensive steak with lavender potpourri.  I thought it was just another ‘spice’.  Oops!  Needless to say, he keeps me out of the kitchen as much as possible.

If we looked in your refrigerator, what would we find?

Whatever Raymond purchases at the market; he’s a terrific cook—plus my Gatorade.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I don’t know.  I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t ultimately be self-serving, so I’d rather remain ‘normal,’ as much as that applies to anyone.

Now some snappy fast questions, one or two word answers please:

Favorite color?  Red

Lucky Number  9

Most money you have spent on a single Book? $65.00

Best book you ever read?   Pride and Prejudice.  Never tire of Jane Austen.

Favorite TV Show (Laughing again) “Antiques Road Show”.  Us ‘antiques’ appreciate each other.

Movie that you watch every year or more often?  “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  Perfect movie.  Perfect novel.

Favorite Season?  Fall

Regular or Decaf? Regular

City Guy or Country Guy?  Depends on my mood.

4-door sedan or sports car?  4-door (Prius)

Favorite food?  Anything Raymond cooks—except sweet potatoes.

How many books a year do you read?  25 or 30

Favorite Day of the Week?  Saturday

Wow, you did great on the one or two words, mostly.  Jack I want to thank you for agreeing to my rank amateur interview.  Hopefully one day you will be a famous Author and when that happens I promise to destroy all copies of this interview.  Personally I will be watching your blog for future developments and checking out So They Say Volumes 1 and 2.

A new feature to my interviews, I am giving each subject a chance to promote his or her favorite charity or cause.  Jack if you have any please give us some links here.

-Jack- I’m a recent fan of Flattr http://www.Flattr.com—an Internet site that facilitates social micropayments that let you support bloggers, content developers, and other creators—as well as charities.