Monday, August 15, 2016

VBT + #Giveaway: The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery @dhowery1 @GoddessFish

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...


Lettie sat on the twin bed with the gun and the letter in her lap.  She noticed Brac’s graduation picture sitting on the nightstand.  She turned it face down.  She placed the love letter from Brac’s lover on top of his graduation picture.  She placed Ted’s bankbook, her letter to Ted, her cat-eyeglasses and dentures beside Brac’s turned-down picture.  She lay down on the bed.  She stretched out and placed the gun at her side and stared at the ceiling.  She thought about her children.  She had never owned them, never owned herself, and now they could choose their own road in life.  But she could choose when to exit this world and how.  She had to get out of her head, out of her heart.  Tears like the mistakes she had made in life flowed down her face.  She put the gun under her ribs and pulled the trigger.

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write The Grass Sweeper God?

My inspiration for writing, The Grass Sweeper God was the suicide of my mother in 1982.  My brother wanted me to tell our story.  I fulfilled his wish and dedicated the book to him.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In in 1992 at age 32, I determined that I wanted to write.  I began studying the craft of writing and began reading 2 to 3 novels a week.

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

In the 3rd grade.  I read, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy espionage novels along with thrillers, suspense and of course, historical.
What is your favorite book?

“The Beans of Egypt Maine.”

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King is my favorite author because he is multitalented in prose.  He can write something homespun like, “Dolores Claiborne” and write so many fantastical stories like, “It,” etc.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

I would travel back to the Ford Theatre to warn Abraham Lincoln about his assassination. 

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

The creative process comes and goes with me.  Sometimes it can be arduous, sometimes it flows like a hot butter.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

Buster Bean, my dog.  He character is as large as his name.

What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?

Meat loaf, potatoes and corn.  Doesn’t get any better than that.

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

Don’t quit your day job.


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.

Author Links:

Book Links:


$25.00 Amazon GC and an autographed copy of the book. Please note geographical restrictions apply. United States only for the physical prize.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Doug Howery said...

Good morning. Thank you for hosting my work. Look forward to questions & comments. Good luck with the contest!

Unknown said...

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

Rita Wray said...

I liked the interview.

Jen said...

Thanks for the interview! Where the Wild Things Are was a favorite with my kids (although they did not like the movie that much - just the book).

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great post, I enjoyed both the excerpt and interview!

Mary Preston said...

A great interview.

Nikolina said...

Shared on G+, have a great day!

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