GLBTQ, 1996

picano f 120

An encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture 

The Best is Yet to Come: A Talk with Felice Picano
By Owen Keehnen

When the Lambda Literary Award nominations were recently announced [in 1996], Felice Picano was cited in two different categories. Over the past 20 years Mr. Picano has not only been a prolific writer in a number of different styles and genres, he has also run two gay presses, lectured extensively, and managed to lead a busy and active life outside of gay literature. At the news of his dual nominations, I phoned Felice, and he agreed to take a break from working on his latest epic to chat for a few moments.

Keehnen: Congratulations on your recent double Lambda Literary Award nominations for Like People in History (Best Gay Men's Fiction) and Dryland's End (Best Gay Men's Fantasy/Science Fiction).

Picano: Thank you. I'm very proud of both books.

Keehnen: As the author of 17 books including Smart as the Devil, Ambidextrous, and The Lure, do you find a common theme running throughout your fiction?

Picano: 17! I'd say it's the outsider or rather "ordinary person" or "man on the street" who's put into an extraordinary situation including a whole life history as in Like People in History. I hate this word, but it seems fairly universal, but also inexhaustible.

Keehnen: After 20 years as a published author, what do you consider the pinnacle of your writing career?

Picano: There are several. First I'd say breaking a totally gay book like The Lure into the mainstream in 1979 that included best-sellerdom, book clubs, airport paperback racks, etc. Another peak was literally changing style and direction for the intimacy and honesty of Ambidextrous in 1985. The success of Like People in History has also been a pinnacle, but I think the best is yet to come.

Keehnen: How has gay literature changed over that period of time?

Picano: 20 years ago there was no gay literature! Its existence, growth, and phenomenal diversity and richness have changed. In 1979 for example, The Lure was the first and only gay mystery thriller, now there's one released every month. I've also seen a serious decline in the quantity not quality of gay poetry. We're now pretty much poetry illiterate.

Read the rest of the interview here --> GLBTQ