"If Paul Beatty and James Earl Hardy had a love child, he would be Lamar Ariel".
This statement from author Ferentz Lafargue in praise of New York based author Lamar Ariel speaks to the enormous passion, creativity, and fearlessness unleashed by this talented author in his literary debut of autobiographical fiction- Ready To Male: A Collection of Letters.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking with Lamar about his book, his affinity for writing letters, and finding and maintaining healthy gay relationships. His infectious personality and humor that is woven throughout Ready To Male was also alive for our interview. Two key ingredients that won me over along with his unique ability to tell stories that are his own but resonate with many.
LOLDARIAN: How did you come up with the idea to write the book as a collection of letters?
Lamar Ariel: I started writing letters to people just to get stuff out of my head and would then e-mail them to my friends. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that I just decided to put it into a collection. I felt like there were other men who lived and loved like me who shared some of the same experiences and would appreciate seeing it on paper.
LOLDARIAN: So explain the title of the book and the obvious misspelling.
Lamar Ariel: I was fascinated with the word "ready'. And one day I sent a letter to a friend on his Blackberry and he said, "child you should definitely "male" it to him" and he spelled it m-a-l-e-(because he's a retard:). And a few days later it just stuck.
LOLDARIAN: There's a letter in the book written to "Dear Mr. Nice Guy" who happens to be what some would consider a real catch, but you're turned off by him, why?
Lamar Ariel: Dear Mr. Nice Guy is actually a letter that I wrote to myself a few years ago. The letter really speaks to being so jaded that you can't participate in love in the way that you should. When you've become so accustomed to being in dysfunctional relationships that you can't embrace a healthy one.
LOLDARIAN: There is a common myth in the black gay community that our relationships don't last and if one wants to be in a committed relationship you have to step outside of your race. Do you believe there's any truth to this myth?
Lamar Ariel: If you want a good job you find one. If you want a relationship that works you find somebody who wants the same things you do. I just think for some reason it's not always a priority in our community, maybe because of the shame that is still associated with being black and gay. Personally, when I wanted to be in a relationship and committed to one person we found each other.
LOLDARIAN: What has the response been from readers so far?
Lamar Ariel: People have been really warm and receptive. I've actually been very blessed to have a lot of young gay black men who have responded to it in a really nice way. They let me know that I'm making a difference and that was my intent.
LODARIAN: When should we expect Ready To Male 2?
Lamar Ariel: Late 2009 or early 2010. The plan is to grow my audience by introducing them to my writing style through the letters followed by short stories and a novel to conclude the Ready To Male series.
Lamar Ariel received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University. He currently lives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
Order your copy of Ready To Male here and check out a special message from Lamar Ariel below.