December 1994: I'm asked by my best friend, who was then a teacher, to help chaperone a group of high school students on their senior trip to London and Paris the following summer.
April 1995: I get my first passport.
June 1995: The trip. A week in London and a week in Paris and inspiration galore. We stay at the Metropole Hotel in London and in a tiny hotel on rue Rampon in Paris called the Bel Air. Across the street is an apartment with a long balcony and rooms full of books.
July 1995: The Saint-Michel Metro Station is bombed by Algerian terrorists.
August 1995: I watch a Jeanne Moreau film festival and the inspiration for Irène Laureux is born. Key films: Elevator to the Gallows, The Lovers, The Bride Wore Black, La Femme Nikita and Until the End of the World.
August/September 1995: I complete a spoken word performance for two voices called Poems for Conquering Venus, which is performed around Atlanta and on WREK's Advise & Dissent program with Christeen Snell.
October 1995: I complete a screen play version of Conquering Venus in about three weeks.
Early 1996: An agent agrees to represent the screenplay version of Conquering Venus. It's read by everyone from Jon Avenet (Fried Green Tomatoes) to Jodie Foster's Egg Productions, and several more studios. It's called an "expensive art house movie" more than once.
Late 1996: My agent suggests that I turn Conquering Venus into a novel.
Most of 1997 - 98: A rough version of the novel begins to emerge. I've gone back to Europe four times by then and have a real sense of place and time for the story.
Most of 1998: Conquering Venus takes a backseat while I work with another writer on an action/adventure screenplay about terrorists who hijack the Air France Concorde and crash it into the World Trade Center. I'm not kidding. We wrote it with Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Bruce Willis in mind for the lead characters. We find an agent and go another round with Hollywood.
1999: Back to working on Conquering Venus.
Late 2000: The novel is complete. I begin searching for a literary agent in New York.
Early 2001: I find a literary agent in New York.
Sept. 11, 2001: The day my agent sent out the first round of manuscripts to NYC-based publishers.
The rest of 2001: Gay boys AND terrorists? Thanks, but no thanks.
Most of 2002: Thanks, but no thanks.
End of 2002: My agent and I part company on good terms. She really loved the book.
2003: Conquering Venus goes back in a drawer, while many of the poems written in 1995 find their way into my debut collection of poetry, Better to Travel.
Early 2005: Conquering Venus comes out of the drawer for a look-see. I still think it has potential, so I start submitting it to contests and indie presses.
Mid-2006: A small press takes interest in the novel and the editor does a thorough edit, encouraging me to lose 20 pages. I do this, and then he decides he doesn't want to publish it and totally flakes out. However, cheers for the free edit.
2007: The novel is a finalist in the Project Queer Lit contest.
2008: Poet and novelist Kate Evans reads the manuscript and encourages me to submit it to her publisher, Vanilla Heart.
2009: Vanilla Heart Publishing gives Conquering Venus a home.