Monday, August 8, 2016

The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Doug Howery, who answers the question...

ELF:  What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?

DH:  Historical fiction is the genre I write in.  My strongest attraction is the freedom it gives me.  For instance, I can turn history on its head if I choose to do so.  I can put a character in that time period and change history for that particular event.  It is like going back into a time machine, like back to the future, if I may be so bold.

Research is paramount.  That is the interesting part.  I have always been a history buff.  To go back in time while developing characters to fit that time period is beyond thrilling for me.  My current novel, The Grass Sweeper God is set back in the 1950s.  What an interesting time period.  We think of “Leave it to Beaver.”  However, my take on 1950s Americana is totally different. 

My main character is as far from “Leave it to Beaver” as the polar ends of Earth.  How about changing 1950s Americana to include a transgender individual set in the coal fields of Appalachia…?  So many questions arise from this premise.  How does this person react in a setting that doesn’t allow for differences?  How do the people around the effeminate character react to him?  Inherent built in conflict for the picking based upon a historical event that leads up to the NYC Stonewall Gay Riots of 1969.

So, history is based upon social upheaval.  One can tackle these events and perhaps tell us if we are bound to repeat.


The Grass Sweeper God

by Doug Howery


GENRE: Historical Fiction



Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man's body.  In the 1950's Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the "Mentally Retarded Class" because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.

Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him.  Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer.  Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours.  Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized.  The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.

Smiley and Lee flee to NYC.  They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot.  She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others.  In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots.  The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.

The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things...straightens out that which is bent...which is sick...



This godforsaken place was the backwoods of Appalachia coal mining country.  And being sixteen meant a cultured age of about ten or twelve, really.   Especially if you were retarded and rode the short bus.  This meant riding a school bus designated specifically as the retarded kids’ bus, but it also meant boarding normal kids alongside retards at each bus stop.  The only real specificity:  If you were trapped inside the wrong body—if you were a young man who wanted to be a young woman—you were the bull’s eye in the kids’ cross-hairs because you were the biggest, retarded mongoloid excrement of ‘em all, really.   Excrement being too proper of a word:  Specifically you got the ‘cultured’ and ‘godforsaken’ shit kicked outtaya every school day by retards and rednecks.   Proper language left this place along with any civility once branded as a retarded freak, really.  Indifference to proper language and civility ruled the day, and brutality beat the night.

Amazon link


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press. 

In many of his stories, as in The Grass Sweeper God, Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced. 
Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons' sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as "Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell" and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.

Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: "What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter."

Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here


  1. I liked the video, thanks for the contest.---

  2. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  3. Thanks for the post! I find stories where some upheaval or chaos is introduced into an historical situation quite interesting.

  4. This sounds like such a great story.

  5. This looks like a very good book that I know I would really enjoy reading. :)

  6. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

    1. Thank you for the question. I like to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway. I enjoy playing with my precious little dog, Buster Bean.

  7. Really great post, thanks for sharing!

  8. Hello to all who have taken interest in my book. Good luck in the contest! The paperback is great to hold in your hands. Thank you for hosting.

  9. A different take on the '50's sounds good to me.