A schizo interview by and with Jack Mauro by Jack Mauro
(Reporter's note: I visited Jack Mauro, author of the newly released M4M: For an Hour or Foreverâ"The Gay Man's Guide to Finding Love Online , at his downtown apartment yesterday. What follows is what I could salvage from a highly disagreeable hour.)
JM: Well, this is very nice.
Mauro: Yeah, well. Siddown, for Christ's sake. You wanna drink?
JM: Thanks, no. Let's just get down to it, OK? Now, some years ago you were writing fiction, mostly set here in Knoxville, right?
Mauro: That's right. [He moves to a console bar.] Think I'll have a little something myself, if you don't mind.
JM: Go right ahead, please. So. Why the departure to a gay man's manual on online dating? Kind of a genre leap, wouldn't you say?
Mauro: [His eyes narrow to evil slits.] Let me show you something. [Goes to galley kitchen, opens drawer.] You see this spatulet? I bought it with the royalties from the first three books. Of course, I had to kick in a little extra money, too. Answer your question?
JM: Uhâ yes. So you wrote M4M to make money?
Mauro: No, no. I wrote it because I felt it would be the Middlemarch of our times. Yes, you jackass, I wrote it for money. [He pauses.] Well, partly. The truth is, it started out more as a sarcasticâ"very sarcasticâ"look at gay onlineâinteraction. I really did think it'd be a lot of fun. I also really did think this would fly off the shelves, self-published or not.
JM: And did it fly?
Mauro: Like an emu shot in one leg. Hell, it didn't even crawl. But what it did do, see, is get me some agent attention. Hallelujah. [He drinks deeply, pours more.]
JM: I take it an agent is important?
Mauro: I'm wanting to say a writer without an agent is like a hooker without a pimp, but that would be wrong. The hooker stands a better chance of getting by.
JM: So you were on your way, then? All roads clear, book and yourself in professional, marketing, agent hands?
Mauro: [Laughs scornfully.] Who worked the elevator button for you, when you came here? What are you, an idiot? That, pal, was just the beginning. Of rewrites. Of learning what a book proposal is. Of learning how getting a book proposal right is as much of a kick as donating bone marrow. For months.
JM: So why persevere? What made you hang on?
Mauro: OK, no sarcasm here. My agent. She was amazing, indefatigable. She gave her all for over a year with no guarantee of any return, let alone a decent book to peddle when the smoke cleared. But she guided me into turning the book into less of a bitchy diatribe, and more of a real manual. [Drinks, chuckles.] As though any of those bastards stands a chance in hell of finding love. [Eyes widen in alarm.] You're not gonna print that, right? I was kidding. Really.
JM: Sure, I understand.
Mauro: [Very friendly.] Say, you sure you don't wanna little drinkie?
JM: Uhâ no, thanks, really. Anyway. So, lots more hard work, and then you were set?
Mauro: [Long pause, mood swing, hateful stare.] The Metro Pulse sent you. Lucky me. What, was Neely too busy investigating a Diet Coke can on State Street no one can explain? [He drinks more.] No, I wasn't set. Dumbass. Yes, she got me a great book deal. Yes, I got me a superb editor and a committed publisher. But that's when the work really began. Rewrites. Always more rewrites. Then the legal department, just in case I was a little too nasty about America Online.
JM: Well, I suppose a house like Simon & Schuster has to protect itself, after all.
Mauro: Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Listen, I'm an artist . I shouldn't have to deal with crap like lawsuits.
JM: Oh, sure. I understand. Soâ with the official release date of April 24, what are you up to these days?
Mauro: About a bottle and a half a day, not counting Downtown Grill visits. [He slaps me hard on the back, guffawing.] Actually, I'm promoting. Or, as I like to think of it, whoring while zipped up. [He drinks some more, drops head, begins weeping softly.] I was going to be a real writer . I was going to put out great fiction.
JM: [I rise, frightened.] Well, Iâ. think I've got plenty. I should be on my way. Thanks soâ"
Mauro: [Nearly hysterical, standing, fists clenched.] I was going to make William Trevor plotz with envy, damn it!
JM: [I fumble with the door, rush down hall.] Good luck. Thanks, really.
Mauro: [Bellowing after me.] Did you get the name of the book? M4M ? For an Hour or Forever ?? [Yelling as elevator doors close on me.] You need me to spell that for you??? m
M4M: For an Hour or Forever is available online at amazon.com and BN.com. For details about upcoming book signings, please visit www.jackmauro.com .
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