Author Ken O’Neill took the time to answer some questions regarding his humorous and innovative new book, The Marrying Kind. The Marrying Kind tells the story of what happens when the LGBQT community of wedding planners, florists and designers in Manhattan band together to boycott all heterosexual unions, leaving the city in a state of (hilarious) turmoil.
I admit that I would love to see this situation play out in real life, and O’Neill manages to write humor in a way that’s not contrived or inauthentic, making the book not only a quick read, but one you’ll want to perpetually re-read.
For Liz Baudler’s book review of The Marrying Kind, click here and provided after the interview is a link to the book’s page on Amazon.com. Without further adieu, here’s Ken O’Neill:
What inspired you to write THE MARRYING KIND?
Oprah. Of course. Like all great ideas this one was sparked by an episode of her talk show. She was interviewing a celebrity wedding planner, who seemed pretty gay to me, and I thought: what must it be like making your living creating events that you are forbidden by law from having for yourself? Once I started thinking how gay—florists, dress designers, hairdressers, organists, etc—the whole industry is, I realized there was potential for an interesting and funny story.
Is there a particular message you want readers to grasp?
If I’d been asked this just when I wrote the book I would have said that the message was we all deserve to be treated equally—and of course that message is in the book. But really I think the message is that we must find our own voice and speak up for what we believe in even when that’s difficult—especially when it’s difficult.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
I love all these characters. But I’ll pick my main character and narrator: Steven Worth. He’s the partner of the wedding planner and he’s a bit lazy and neurotic, but also funny and charming and a great cook! He’s sort of like me, but with a better head of hair.
Who are your major influences when it comes to writing? Why?
This may seem an odd choice since I’m writing comedy, but I love Patricia Highsmith. Her prose is so spare and simple. It seems like what she was doing was easy, but it’s not. Her language is unadorned, but there is so much going on. Just thinking about her makes me want to lie down (lay down?) and admit defeat. If you’ve not read THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, do so. But please read my book first so that I don’t completely pale in comparison.
What is your favorite quote and why?
The first thing that came to mind was: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” crazy really because I’m afraid of so many things. Maybe that’s why I like the quote. I think of it when I need to talk myself down or when I have anxiety about what I’m writing.
What are you currently working on?
See how I made the nice segue from the last question to this one? I am working on a book about an agnostic with the unfortunate name of George Bailey who, after a series of misfortunes meets Jesus—or maybe just a guy named Jesus—and must figure out if it’s a miracle or a nervous breakdown. It takes place during the Christmas season, naturally. The working title is George Bailey Gets Saved.
Do you aspire to have The Marrying Kind turned into a feature film?
Yes! And if you can help with that I will gladly move the setting from Manhattan to Chicago. Keep me posted. We’ll do lunch. Have your people call my people.
What inspires you more: food, wine, music or people?
While I love them all, I will immediately rule out food and wine—they are more likely to put me to sleep than inspire. I’ll pick people. And often strangers. A look, a tone of voice, a snippet of cell phone conversation can really spark my imagination.
When is your favorite time of day to write? Why?
My favorite time of day is when I’ve finished writing. But since that’s not the question, I do most of my work in the afternoon to early evening. But I have a fantasy of being an early morning writer, and I would be if I didn’t devote so much time to coffee.
What is your favorite word?
I’m going with RAW. I like a word that can describe both uncooked meat and dreary, cold, wet weather.
What did you learn while writing this book?
Writing something meant to be Laugh-out-load is not so easy. And now I feel like I should end with something really funny to prove that I can be LOL, but honestly I’ve got nothing.
Ken O’Neill’s novel, THE MARRYING KIND, is the winner of the 2012 Rainbow Award for best Gay debut (fiction or Nonfiction). The book was also included on Smart Bitches Trashy Books list of top three favorite books of 2012.
Ken was born in Bridgeport Connecticut to an Irish Catholic father and Romanian Orthodox mother, which means that most years he had the good fortune to receive Easter candy not just once but twice.
He lives in NYC with his partner and their two cats. When he’s not checking his Amazon rating to see if anyone has purchased his book, he enjoys reading, dancing (though usually only when no one is watching) and eating dark chocolate, purely for medicinal reasons.
Filed under: Interviews