I would like to thank Vastine Bondurant for joining us today to talk about her Dreamspinner Press release, Glory Lands.
You are new on the M/M scene, what can you tell us about yourself?
I’m Texas born and raised and have lived here all of my life except for three years when I lived in Birmingham, Alabama. I now reside in a semi-rural community just outside the Houston area. If I’m not dreaming about past eras, I’m writing about them. Even as a child, I wrote and often drew my stories in comic book fashion. I love the imaginary worlds my mind goes and feel life is richer with those wonderful places to ‘go.’
What inspired Glory Lands? What can you tell us about the novel?
My mother was born and raised in the community where the story takes place and I’d always yearned to write stories centered in this area, in the era when her parents lived and worked there. “Glory Lands” is just a simple tale of a small town that embraces its religion and what happens when one of the community’s beloved is arrested for homosexual acts. For the first time ever, they have to examine what they’ve always believed and weigh their hearts and faith against the old ‘standard’ they’ve lived by.
The first scene of your book is quite shocking. You introduced it as something that really happened and it just made the bad guy in this novel so much more chilling, as readers know from the beginning that he is based on a real, evil man. How did you first learn about this incident and did you always know that you had to incorporate it in a story?
A co-worker of mine grew up in the same town as my mother and one day he told me an account of something he saw when he was very young—the racial killing of a young man in broad daylight by a county sheriff. The story haunted me, and I wondered (since I write m/m): how would such a man handle homosexuality in his community? The answer in my heart chilled me. And, yes, the moment I heard about this man, I was haunted and knew, just knew, I had to write him. Of course, the year was altered as well as his name, and I didn’t name the town. I do admit I embellished the part at the end of the scene where the sheriff winks at the scared young boy…lol…but he indeed did commence to sit on the bench after the killing and smoked a cigarette as though nothing had happened.
The literary style of your historical novel reminded us a lot of the American literary classic “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Did you do a lot of research for the southern accent and the atmosphere of that region and historical period?
I am honored by that. I really am. To be honest, it took very little literal research for accents and atmosphere. The area is my ancestry, my roots, and I was fortunate enough to have been close to my grandparents, great aunts and great uncles who lived this era. To live and breathe in their mannerisms, their dialect, everything about them that never changed with time. We visit the area often, even now and it’s hard to explain but the East Texas Piney Woods area has a life of its own. It’s timeless, parts of that world that time seems to have never touched.
It is often a very difficult thing to integrate religious characters and themes into a story without alienating some readers. I thought you did a very good job of showing that while some people use religion to justify their bigotry and hatred, others find strength and acceptance. The book never felt preachy, as it allowed for non-believers and seemed to support that not every word in the bible should be taken literally. Do you personally belief in god or a higher power and how do you ‘justify’ your love for the genre if you do?
Thank you for asking this. I do personally believe in a higher power. Which was one of the reasons for this book—to justify my love for the genre in the face of what I know the biggest chunk of Bible believers feel about homosexuality. I craved desperately to speak out on my stance on it all. I was weary of so many books in so many genres painting men of faith as evil, always, always the antagonists. The bad guys, caricatures. It’s no secret that bigotry stands firmly on parts of the Bible, just enough of it to support its hatred. When I began writing m/m, I was a Sunday School teacher. I, like Charles in the book, had to examine—once I started creating these characters I loved—if my religious beliefs contradicted what I wrote. I had to face it full-on. And I knew, without doubt, that I could not say I loved as I’d been taught all my life, and still find any condemnation for any living soul based on their gender, their color, their anything. I fell in love with Charles as I wrote him. Writing him helped me to delve deeper into my own faith and tolerance.
The novel ends in a very unconventional manner. Are you anticipating a sequel or are you allowing your readers to draw their own conclusions?
This is so funny, as I’ve been asked that by others I honestly felt it come full circle by the end, or at least in regards to the ordeal and then the closure for both boys—particularly Glory. But you know what? I have indeed thought of a sequel…because…what ultimately happened to ‘Elihu Bishop’ in real life was the stuff fiction is made of, but it was true. And almost fitting. And I honestly have considered a sequel if for no other reason than to tell this part of the story. And, yes, to give readers a glimpse into Glory and Emory Joe, now that they have connected once again.
The novel is not just from the POV of the two young lovers, but we also see the story unfolding from the POV of the straight minister, who is the father of one of the boys. Was this a necessity to integrate the first scene or did you plan to tell the story in that way to show the father’s struggle with his faith ?
It was a necessity for me—but, oddly, after the fact. His character came out of the blue, a non-romantic point of view on the boys. And, as you say, once he DID create himself, I figure he must have been meant to be in order to show my deep personal feelings on the clergy and how I think a true man of the cloth of any faith, denomination—should feel and act.
What is next? What do you have in the works?
Well, now you’ve got me thinking I ought to do that sequel. LOL. I have so many stories in the works. I have begun a second Piney Woods story. It’s in very early stages. And I’m even daring to think of a second series, The Big Thicket Series (oh, hey, just another name for The Piney Woods), only this series might be paranormal.
Where can readers find more from you on the web?
I have a brand new blog, and it’s at http://vastinebondurant1953.blogspot.com/ .
Thank you so much for having me here! This has been a fun interview and I thank you for the stimulating questions, giving me a chance to share my heart about this story.
About the Author
When Vastine Bondurant isn’t dreaming about romance from days gone by, she’s writing about it. A southern gal with a very vintage heart, Vastine’s sure that in other lives she’s tangoed with Rudolph Valentino, wined and dined with Gene Kelly, and slow danced to Big Band numbers at The Coconut Grove.
Vastine is proud of her family’s roots in the piney woods of East Texas and she now resides in the semirural town of Liberty, just outside Houston.
You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vastine-Bondurant-Author/334563729964169, or on her blog site at http://vastinebondurant1953.blogspot.com/, or you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to Buy
Vastine has kindly offered 1 lucky commenter an eCopy of Glory Lands.
Contest ends 4 Feb 2014 @ 11:59pm. Must be 18 or older, etc
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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