Today marks the release of best-selling gay author E. Lynn Harris' eleventh novel, Basketball Jones. A novel centered around a closeted professional basketball player(Dray), his secret male lover(AJ) of seven years and an inconvenient case of blackmail.
E. Lynn took some time out of the beginning of what is sure to be a busy promotional blitz for his new book to give his first online interview for Basketball Jones exclusively to loldarian.com.
We chat about his creative process, the real life events that inspired Basketball Jones, sports and of course the beautiful men who occupy the uniforms.
LOLDARIAN: How did you come up with the concept for Basketball Jones?
E.Lynn: About three years ago I got a call from a representative of an NBA player who said his client was thinking about coming out because someone in his family was blackmailing him. I gave him my number and nothing ever happened after I that, I guess he changed his mind. I was never told who he was(the player) but I was told he would call me himself. I'm not sure why he thought I would be the person to talk to, but I felt God had given me a story.
LOLDARIAN:How long did it take you to write Basketball Jones?
E. Lynn: I wrote it in about four months. Some books take a lot longer. But when I'm in my groove and I'm really feeling the characters, and I really felt AJ & Dray, the story pours out of me relatively quickly. And I tend to date athletes so I know what the rules are.
LOLDARIAN: You have a huge African-American female audience. Were you at all apprehensive about writing a novel with a down-low theme given how women are so turned off by down-low men?
E. Lynn: You know the last book I wrote was basically a mother son book and I got more letters from women than I did from men asking when I was going to get back to the old E. Lynn. They really like these kind of stories.
LOLDARIAN: The character Dray was extremely concerned about his father finding out about his sexuality and subsequently being disowned. This is a real fear particularly for closeted gay black men. Do you think this fear has fueled the down low phenomenon?
E. Lynn: Yes I definitely think that has something to do with it. I think as men, gay or straight, we're always concerned about our father's love. And one of the reasons is because father's don't show love the way mother's do. Father's don't always show love and when they're hurt it's usually shown in negative ways.
LOLDARIAN:Do you think the world has changed enough for a professional athlete to come out and find acceptance?
E. Lynn: I don't think so yet, but we're getting there. I remember logging onto your site and seeing pictures of that handsome Braylon Edwards; a lot of athletes who are not gay become gay icons like Braylon and (Houston Texans safety)Will Demps, and now they're carrying it like a badge of honor, whereas before they'd run from it.
LOLDARIAN: So what's next for E. Lynn?
Well I'm working on two novels right now as well as getting ready to go on a book tour to promote Basketball Jones. I'll be at Outwrite Bookstore tonight at 7:30 PM in Atlanta reading and signing books and then I'm off to New Orleans, Texas, Arizona and all over the west coast through February.
LOLDARIAN: Awesome! Well thank you so much for taking the time chat with me and I'm sure I'll see you tonight.
E. Lynn: I appreciate you and your site Darian and I'll see you tonight.