Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Because of A Book with Dorien Grey

Dorien Grey started out as a pen-name, nothing more, for a lifelong book and magazine editor who wanted to write a mystery novel with a gay detective. However, because he was living in a remote and time-warped area of the upper mid-west where gays still feel it necessary to keep a very low profile, he did not feel comfortable using his own name--a sad commentary on our society, he admits.

But as the first book led to the second and then the third, he found Dorien slowly became much more than a pseudonym, evolving into an alter ego. "It's reached the point," he says, "where all I have to do is sit down at the computer and let Dorien tell the story."

As for the Dorien's "real person," he's had a not uninteresting life. Two years into college, he left to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program: he washed out and spent the rest of his brief military career on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. The journal he kept of his time in the military, in the form of letters home, honed his writing skills and provided him with a wealth of experiences to draw from in his future writing.

Returning to college after service, he graduated with a B.A. in English, and embarked on a series of jobs which worked him into the editing field. While working for a Los Angeles publishing house, he was instrumental in establishing a division exclusively for the publication of gay paperbacks and magazines, of which he became editor. He moved on to edit a leading L.A. based international gay men's magazine.

Tiring of earthquakes, brush fires, mudslides, and riots, he returned to the midwest, where Dorien emerged, full-blown, like Venus from the sea.

He . . . and Dorien . . . of course, moved to Chicago a few years ago, and now devote "their" energies to writing. After having completed thirteen books in the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series--the fourteenth to come later this year, and a western/romance/adventure novel, Calico--"they" have embarked on a new mystery series with a new protagonist: the Elliott Smith Mysteries, which will alternate with the Dick Hardesty Series; three books in this series have been released: His Name is John, Aaron's Wait, and Caesar's Fall.

You can visit Dorien at his website or blog.

Frank L. Baum & the Oz books

I am eternally grateful to my mother for giving me a fascination with and love for words. It was she, by reading me stories even before I was able to understand many of the words--though I loved the sounds--, who opened the doors of wonder contained in those words.

From the time I learned to read, the library was a very special place. I got some sort of award while in first grade for having signed out more books than anyone in my class. Most of them were pretty elementary stuff, but among the first "real" books I remember were the Oz series, by Frank L. Baum. The most famous of which, of course, is "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", from which the classic movie was made. I saw it when it was released in 1938 and though I was not yet five years old, it enthralled me then, and it enthralls me now.

Once I discovered that there was an entire series of Oz books--fifteen in all--I'm quite sure I read most of them if not all. I can still close my eyes and see them...outsized, as I recall, with thick cardboard covers with wonderful illustrations. To open them was to open the door to the imagination and all the wonders therein.

The fifteen books, should you be curious, were The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl Of Oz, Little Wizard Stories of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, The Scarecrow Of Oz, Rinkitink In Oz, The Lost Princess Of Oz, The Tin Woodman Of Oz, The Magic of Oz, and Glinda Of Oz.

The books' concept that there was a special place, somewhere "over the rainbow" with enchanted creatures and wondrous fields and forests and cities where anything was possible, acted like a magnet for my own imagination, and taught me that if I was not happy with the world in which I lived, I was free to create my own.

One of my favorite characters in the Oz series was a little boy named "Button-Bright," about my own age, who appears in several of the books. He got his name from his parents, who thought he was "bright as a button." I'm sure I strongly identified with him. As I recall, he was constantly getting lost, then being found, then getting lost again. Eventually, he moved to Oz permanently. I take particular delight, on looking back, to realize that he was a friend of Dorothy's, because a long-time code between gay men was to ask "Oh, are you a friend of Dorothy?" I certainly was, and am.

The Oz books contain all the ingredients required to nourish and enrich any child's imagination, as it did mine. They teach the child that the mind--the imagination--is not tied to the body; that it can go anywhere, do anything; that it can provide a refuge, a haven, when the real world is harsh and cruel. It teaches that there are other places, other worlds. Every book is an arrow, a path, a guide to where the imagination can take us.

In an inscription to his sister in one of his books, Baum wrote: "I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp, which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."

I'd take that one step further and point out that an adult with an imagination is still a child, and it is to the adult child that I have dedicated my own books. And so I embarked on a life-long journey to create my own arrows, my own paths, my own guides for others. It's been a wonderful journey, and I hope that when it is over I, like Button-Bright, often lost and often found, may move permanently to Oz.

My thanks to Shelly for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you here.

About The Wizard of Oz
The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection, All 15 Books, including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, and MORE plus Active Table Of Contents and Original Cover Illustrations.

We all know that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum, but did you know he published many more and all were beautifully illustrated by W.W. Denslow. It was originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, and has since been reprinted countless times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the extremely popular, highly acclaimed 1939 film version. The story chronicles the adventures of a girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 Broadway musical Baum adapted from his story, led to Baum writing thirteen more Oz books.

Here now you can read every one of his other stories which few know exist but indeed they do and together with the delightful illustrations and active table of contents this is surely a joy to read. Rare stories that indeed make up a whole world of Oz, are now all here at your fingertips.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

About His Name is John
Elliott Smith wakes up in the hospital with a head injury...and an invisible companion. At first, he's convinced "John" is just a figment of a damaged brain, but when he's fully recovered John is still around; and desperate to find out who he is. Reluctantly, Elliott agrees to help, and discovers Chicago PD has a John Doe on their hands with six bullets in him?who died in the ER at the same time Elliott was there.
As Elliott digs deeper into the mystery of John, he stumbles on a body hidden behind a wall for 80 years, meets a sexy artist who could become more than just a one-night stand, and uncovers a deadly secret that has haunted a nun for two decades.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

1 comment:

Brimful Curiosities said...

You know, I've never actually read any of the Wizard of Oz books. Sounds like a good book challenge this year for me.

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