My guest today is Patricia Marie Budd, Canadian born and bred, educator and author, who is here today to celebrate her latest release, Hadrian’s Lover, a powerful novel about a dystopian future where sexual orientation is legislated and people who don’t conform are persecuted.
Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
I live and work in northern Alberta Canada where I am teach high school English and run a writer’s guild after school for teenagers who love to write.
When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
I love to read. I deem that act very creative as my mind merges with the writer’s characters and I become the people I read about. My first protagonist, John Connolley from A New Dawn Rising was a big reader. I also studied mime when I was younger and my students still get me to act like a Gorilla for them. I have performed this silly Gorilla routine (stolen from – and nowhere near as good as – Shields and Yarnell) every year seven times a year for over twenty-one years. When I wrote Hell Hounds of the High School I made the English teacher in that book a mime turned educator like myself and wrote her doing the Gorilla as a gift to my students. I love to cook so Katherine from A New Dawn Rising is an exceptional cook. I played basketball when I was younger (but I was never any good at it) so Todd Middleton (and his father) played basketball.
What are you reading? Fiction or non-fiction? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?
Currently I am re-reading Anna Karina by Leo Tolstoy. He is an amazing writer. I’ve read War and Peace Twice, as well. I love Charles Dickens’ work, Jane Austen, Wilke Collins, George Elliot and William Shakespeare. Ken Follett is one of my more modern favourites, especially his Pillars of the Earth! I love Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series, and his historical fiction. I am a huge fan of James Clavell and love teaching his novel King Rat. If I could recommend but one of these works – yikes, that is a tough call – but, since it is also the one I wish I had written then that book would be Romola by George Elliot! I was completely daunted by the opening chapters of this novel. I remember having to reread the first ten chapters before I could fully understand the logic of her writing and begin to make headway in understanding plot and character flow. This was such a reading challenge for me that when I finally got the sense of what was happening and to whom I was so thrilled that the novel has become one of the loves of my life! There is nothing better than overcoming what at first seemed like an insurmountable obstacle.
In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
Character. Everything begins and ends with character for me. I write about people not events. Events occur because people act. Action is critical because someone is committing the act. Setting serves the character; plot occurs because the character wants or needs something and must act to obtain it. All my work is character driven.
Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them?
My characters begin as individuals I have only just met. He (or she) is striking, fascinating and I want to get to know him (or her). In that sense they are fully fleshed out I just don’t know it yet as I have yet to build a relationship. The writing process is that relationship growth.
Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
Tough question. Yes and no. I can usually describe a character’s physical appearance early on in the writing process but that may change after I get to know the indicidual better. My characters are feelings they way someone I love is a feeling but as concrete in my mind as the people in my life are concrete in the flesh.
Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake?
I love writing historical fiction. My novel writing career began with A New Dawn Rising, set in 1809 near Savannah Georgia. I loved the challenge of creating characters of a different era, a world I have never lived in and can only know through imagination and education. The research was fascinating. Ironically, this is also what I loved about writing Hadrian’s Lover a work set in the future. Again, I will never live in the time my novel is set but I enjoyed creating this potential future and doing the research necessary to help me postulate and create a future setting on this planet.
I honestly don’t know what genre I’d avoid. I see all of my books as having a romance edge as writing about people means writing about feelings and love often comes into the picture. But I don’t think I’d ever write a full out romance. Still, never say never as life is a constant flux. I may change my mind down the road.
What inspired you to write a story with such a strong theme as Hadrian’s Lover?
Hadrian’s Lover came to me in a nightmare. I remember waking up in a sweat, utterly terrified. I had dreamt that I was living in a society that hated heterosexuals and was hiding my true identify just to fit in. When I awoke I immediately expressed my relief over it having just been a dream and that everything was normal and okay. That was when I realized that everything wasn’t normal and okay, leastwise not for my LGBT* students.
Since my second year of teaching students have been coming out to me. I am seen as a safe zone, someone they can talk to about who they are without judgment. I love all my students and just knowing that so many teens suffer, actually live their day-to-day lives in the horror that I experienced from one short dream, inspired me to write this book. I choose to write about straight men living in a gay world as my observations show that gay men suffer from extreme abuses. I do not wish to underscore the suffering of lesbians but my observations have shown men to be very hard upon gay men. From my perspective I have observed that coming out and living an open gay life in the high school is slightly easier for lesbians than it is for gay men.
I have turned the table on our cultural and religious attitudes towards the LGBT community making heterosexuality abhorrent. It is my hope that Hadrian’s Lover will provide my readers a vicarious understanding of the abuses we heap on our LGBT mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.
Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The bigoted society. What sort of villains do you prize?
I prize the villain who is human, the man (or woman) who acts because he or she truly believes what he is doing is right, just, necessary. These characters are complex, very real and terrifying. They frighten me because it is an axiom in our society that one should act on their beliefs regardless of what others think – and yet, what if those actions are harmful? What if what I truly believe is right is actually wrong? What if my views say gay men are disgusting, horrid creatures that deserve to die. What if my views are that all Jewish people are the cause of all our woes and should be exterminated? What if my views are that all Tutsis are cockroaches and be chopped to death with machetes? You see, these people act fully aware of their crimes but do not view them as crimes. Ironically, they see wanton murder as a benefit to mankind. They also frighten me because the very opposite side of that coin is to act knowing you are right regardless of public opinion even if it means fighting a war to stop men like Hitler and war means death – the death of soldiers and the death of innocents. It is the human paradox – the human conundrum where the villain is the hero and the hero the villain.
Could we please have an excerpt of something?
How long of an excerpt would you like? Something risky?
HNN—Melissa Eagleton Reporting
Earlier this week, we had quite the heated debate over the topic for tonight’s Salve! In all honesty, I was at first uncomfortable about discussing such an issue so openly on air. I suggested this topic be best left to the education system to deal with. Hadrian’s Sex Education Curriculum is one of the finest worldwide. However, my producer pointed out, quite correctly, that this topic is not something meant only for our children. Parents, too, need some coaching—not in terms of “how to”; most of us can figure that out quite nicely on our own—but rather in terms of how to talk to our children about this issue. So today’s topic is masturbation and what to do if you accidentally walk in on your child—doing—ahem—pleasuring him—or herself privately.
Often when a parent accidently walks in on his or her child masturbating, the moment becomes one filled with consternation and embarrassment for both parties. What is really important in this situation is not to allow our initial emotional reaction to take precedence. Allowing discomfiture and disquiet to dictate the now critical discussion, or worse yet, to allow these emotions to avoid the issue all together, is not instrumental in helping your child develop a healthy attitude toward his or her body and the act of masturbation. Clearly this is an act everyone has committed once or twice, perhaps many times over. The old religious myth fanatics used to scare their sons’ hands away from their penises. “You’ll go blind” is, as my producer succinctly put it, “hooey.” Therefore, the question begging to be asked is: Why do some parents still react badly upon the discovery of their child’s masturbatory acts? When we respond unfavorably to such a natural instinct, we are perpetuating the folly that masturbating is sinful. Again, to quote my producer, “That very notion is absurd.” As the parents of Hadrian’s children, we need to remind ourselves that masturbation does not hurt anyone! On the other hand, it is actually beneficial to both body and spirit. Masturbation is a great stress reliever, and the release of sexual tension is something every single human body demands.
In fact, masturbation is a great sexual alternative for our youth. The startling rate at which our teens become sexually active suggests the need for proactive measures. What better pro-active measure than masturbation? It allows your son or daughter to release built-up sexual tension without sexual bonding and forming of intense relationships prior to being emotionally ready. For, as we all know, the body is often ready for sexual release long before the average person is emotionally ready for a serious relationship.
Still, it is important that your child understand how masturbation, colloquially referred to as “petting the kitty” or “lengthening the leather,” is a very private act and not one to be shared with others—and no doubt, many a parent has been embarrassed by the accidental discovery of his or her child’s private affairs. But it is critical you step past these uncomfortable feelings—wait out enough time to allow the embarrassment to abate, and then discuss the issue with your teen. This is critical. Children of Hadrian should never feel wrong for committing such a natural, useful act. Murad Nasser, Hadrian’s top medical practitioner, recommends that we orgasm at least once a day, even if one does not have a sexual partner. Masturbation, he says, is a necessary act, possibly even vital to maintaining good physical and emotional health.
In fact, parents, don’t wait for that accidental moment; be pro-active. Sit your son or daughter down today and hold a frank discussion about this matter. Let your child know that it is okay to masturbate—just remember, it is a very private act that should never be expressed in public. As well as ensuring your child understands and accepts masturbation as a natural act, make sure he or she knows masturbation is something best done alone.
Patricia Marie Budd was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada. She lived in Japan where Patricia taught English as a Foreign Language for two years. In her early twenties she studied mime in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and then later in life renewed her interest in physical theatre by studying with Phillip Gaulier in London, England in 96/97. Her current residence is in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada where she has been teaching High School English since 1991. Her extra-curricular involvement includes running a writer’s guild for young adults.
For Patricia writing is a passion. She has been writing since early childhood when, in grade five, she wrote a short play and performed it for her peers. The controversial quality of her writing was evident even then as her teacher shut the show down. Much of Patricia’s writing has been theatrical in nature, having a one act play produced in The Rhubarb Festival’s Special Event in 1984. She has also participated in a number of playwriting labs under the tutelage of Sharon Pollock. In 1998 she was a part of the Alberta Playwriting Committee. In 2003 Patricia’s play The Aging Philosopher received honorable mention at the Alberta Playwright’s Network Playwriting competition.
Patricia’s first novel A New Dawn Rising is set near Savannah, Georgia in the early 1800’s. John Connolly, a white man born into slavery, struggles to purchase his freedom. Hell Hounds of High School, released in 2011, is set in northern Alberta, Canada where veteran teachers battle with new millennium students. Her soon to be released third novel, Hadrian’s Lover is set in a future dystopia where heterosexuality is illegal.
For more information about Patricia Marie Budd’s work please refer to her web site: www.patriciamariebudd.com.