By the time I asked myself that question, we were already deeply into the project, and the thought of abandoning the book was not an option. After all, I had previously written a book that was far more difficult in Spare Them? No Profit. Remove Them? No Loss. where I had to enter the mind of a man who had been a Cambodian teenager trying to survive apart from his parents during the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in a country where the culture was radically different from my own.
Both books required extensive and rigorous research. With the one, I traveled to Cambodia to try and get a feel for the country itself. With the other, I accompanied my “consultant” to numerous gay events, and took advantage of opportunities to attend some on my own. I read and studied everything that I could get my hands on, trying to verify everything that each of these individuals described to me: events, timelines, persons involved, procedures used, and more. As an author whose name was on the cover, I wanted nothing to be inaccurate.
Here is how the gay novel came about.
I had just lost my beloved husband to cancer and was still stunned by what had happened. Four days a week, I would go and sit on the lawn outside a nursery school waiting for my granddaughter to come out. The facilities manager, Robert, took his cigarette break just at that time and so we would sit together and chat. He was empathetic and listened to my tale of woe. Eventually I discovered that Robert was gay as he began to tell me his life story, which, for me in 1998, was a look into an American subculture that I had known nothing about. We became close friends through the telling of our stories, and I realized that here was a tale worth telling, but where to begin? His life was complicated.
At the heart of his life-experience was an obsession for a fellow airman that had never been reconciled, so as we talked this through, we decided to create this story, not as a biography, but as a novel; he was too afraid to reveal himself so intimately to his friends and acquaintances. It took a couple of years to develop the novel. Three readers, a psychologist, a gay pastor, and a pilot (to verify the vernacular used in the air traffic control tower) read the manuscript and suggested changes that enhanced the story before the manuscript was finally finished.
Then Robert got cold feet, and couldn’t go through with publication. I set the story aside and moved on to other things. Not until more than a decade later did he come to me and suggest that it might be time to tell the story. He is retired and no longer is concerned about who might surprised at his story.
I reviewed, re-edited, and polished the manuscript and now offer it to you the reader. Ambiguous is based on a true story of the relationship of three young men at a time when being gay was less accepted than it is today. After you have read it, I would welcome your comments.