L’O: How was writing this novel different from your first book?
SL: I wanted this book to feel like you’ve read, by the end of it, like you’ve just read a self-help book when actually you’ve just read a story that has hopefully entertained you and taken you on a journey. But I didn’t want it to feel preachy at all. I wanted to leave the reader with the feeling that there is hope. Hope for greater self- acceptance and greater self-forgiveness and greater self-love.
L’O: There are parts of “Broken People” that are so raw – about sex, relationships, and insecurities.
SL: I cried a lot writing this book. So much of it came from a place of real heartache for me. There were about a dozen places in the book where I was like ‘I can’t fucking write that, I can’t say that’ – it’s too personal, it’s too intimate, it’s too vulnerable. I’m embarrassed by it. I’m ashamed of it. And those were always the places that I knew were most important. It’s the point at which it becomes too much is always the point that’s going to show you the thing that you need to see.
L’O: You write openly about sex.
SL: I think it’s really important to write about the realities of sex, especially for queer people. I think that the sexual lives of gay men often get erased or neutered, especially in popular culture and writing. The ability to really write about what sex is like and the fear, the desire, the kind of craving, the pain of sexuality, especially as a gay man, it’s something that’s really important to me. And also so uncomfortable. I’m actually pretty prim for the most part.
L’O: You moved from New York to Los Angeles after your first book.
SL: New York always felt like a real survivalist culture. There are so many little challenges and indignities to living in New York. Many of which I wrote about in “Broken People”. LA has a very different pace and a very different texture, which in many ways is really luxurious by comparison. I was really struck by the culture around wellness and mysticism and self- optimization that existed in LA, which felt like it intersected with a very looks-driven, showy, materialism that was also present in LA. LA is sort of flashy in a way that New York is not. But at the same time, there’s this real sort of new-age culture that’s coinciding with that superficial culture. LA seems to be a city at the crosshairs of mysticism and materialism. That was so fascinating to me as a writer. That was really the world and the ethos that I wanted to capture with this book. What happens when those two currents cross paths?
L’O: You’re working on the screenplay for “The Gilded Razor.”
SL: We have a script. I’m really really excited about it. I’ve been developing it with Dustin Lance Black, who is an extraordinary writer, director and Academy Award winner for the movie Milk. He’s attached to direct it.
L’O: Are you working on a third book?
SL: I’ve started. It is another novel and it is totally different than either of these two books in terms of the autobiographical or semi-autobiographical nature. It is fully a work of imagination and I am just having a blast with it.