Collin Kelley: ‘I’m a writer who happens to be gay’

When did you begin writing and why?

My parents taught me to read at a very early age. I had read all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books by the time I was in first or second grade and wanted to move on to something more challenging. My mother checked out whatever I wanted.

I read Judy Blume when I was 8 or 9, “Gone With the Wind” when I was 10 and was already reading Shakespeare and classic poetry by the time I was in middle school. Except for a year or two when I wanted to be bionic or Wonder Woman, I never wanted to be anything but a writer. It’s hardwired into my DNA.

Why did you decide to release ‘Remain in Light’ first as an eBook and then to trade paperback? What are your feelings about eBooks and online reading?

My publisher, Vanilla Heart, is trying a “digital first” strategy because the majority of sales for my first novel, “Conquering Venus,” were eBooks. Vanilla Heart wanted to capitalize on eBook sales for the holidays, especially with the new Kindle and Nook readers coming out, so it was a no-brainer.

Pushing the paperback release back to January also allows us to get some good reviews and blurbs when we do another big publicity push. I love physical books, but I’ve embraced eBooks. I’ve been reading them on my iPhone, but I decided to take the plunge and pre-ordered a Kindle Fire.

Your new book is the second in a trilogy. Why did you decided to write three books and what kind of research went into writing a mystery and suspense novel?

I had an agent back in 2001 who was sending “Conquering Venus” out and she thought I had left it too open-ended. She encouraged me to write a sequel and I thought, hell, might as well go for three.

I’ve written the books so they can be read in any order. If you want to start with “Remain In Light” and then go back to “Venus,” you won’t get lost. I’ve done a good bit of research about Paris, especially the student/worker riots in 1968, which is pivotal to the entire trilogy.

Last summer, when I was wrapping up the book, I went to Paris and wrote some of the final chapters sitting in the cafes and in the Jardin des Plantes.

Do you consider yourself a gay writer or a writer who is gay? Is there a difference?

I’m a writer who happens to be gay. I’ve never understood the whole “gay writer” tag. Is a “gay writer” someone who strictly writes about LGTBQ characters and situations? If I write about straight people am I suddenly not a “gay writer?”

It’s a semantics thing, but I also think it’s lazy shorthand that got foisted on LGBTQ writers by the publishing world and the media.

Who would you cast to play the leads in a movie based on your Venus Trilogy books?

Oh, I’ve had some great conversations with readers on Facebook about this. I had Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve in mind when I was creating Irene Laureux. Parker Posey would be perfect as Diane, the mouthy schoolteacher.

As for Martin, I think Keir Gilchrist, who played Marshall on the “United States of Tara,” might be an interesting choice. He has the gravitas. Martin has two lovers in the trilogy and I wouldn’t mind if Taylor Lautner played either one of them.


Top photo: Collin Kelley (Photo by Colin Potts)