No-Accounts: How the Novel Came to Be (5)

A reader asks: Is the character of Peter in No-Accounts based on a real person? Is the character of Martin based on me?

Peter’s character reflects the behavior of many gay men I met during my five years of taking care of AIDS patients. He has some of the characteristics of the more flamboyant gay men I knew. He even exhibits a few mannerisms of men that some in the gay community called “queens.” Peter is an extrovert writ large. He’s tall, good-looking, and used to being the center of attention in the gay world.  He has his own entourage of sycophants who flatter his ego.

Martin is not based on me. Some aspects of his character are an amalgam of buddies I worked with, but Martin, like me, is straight. He suffers the same hostility from gay buddies that I did. He is in many respects the opposite of Peter—introverted, quiet, lacking in self-confidence. And he has his own life problems not related to his role as a buddy.

So neither character is based directly on people I knew. I didn’t consciously create either of them. As always happens with me, they came to be as if from a muse, revealed themselves to me as I wrote, and stopped me if I portrayed them inaccurately. Both are men with obvious faults who nevertheless found the courage to meet the challenges of AIDS and triumph, even in death.

The last sentence from the blurb on the back of the books summarizes their story:

No -Accounts is a story of two men, one gay, one straight, who learn from one another how to become men by accepting loss, including, in the end, life itself.”

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