We were just the teensiest bit excited when we heard that our friend and SGS contributor Lamar Van Dyke has been slaving away over a novel for the last few years. The lesbian activist has led a very colorful and eventful life and we had every hope that her personality and life experiences would result in a book that was as rich and passionate as her own personality. (Click here to read a terrific piece at Jezebel on Lamar and the Van Dykes)
Her first published work, STUCK has just been released at Amazon.com (printed copies available now with Kindle version in the works) and while it’s not particularly autobiographical, it certainly manages to capture the larger than life personality of Ms Van Dyke as it explores the lives of two VERY unique sisters. Maybe it’s best if the press blurb explains the plot of STUCK…
Raised by an overprotective and neurotic mother, conjoined twins, Marlena and Adrian Converse find themselves ill equipped to deal with the world around them. They have been at odds with each other since birth, fighting over which way to go, what toys to play with and what to wear. Newly ensconced in their first apartment, they are determined to learn about sex, something their mother neglected to mention. Out in the world for the first time, they manage to get themselves hired at the corner bakery as cake decorators, something they’ve been doing with their mother since they were children. When Joy walks through the door to order a cake for her parents anniversary party, Adrian is smitten. The feeling is mutual and the sisters have to figure out how to accommodate each other as they clumsily navigate their way through this uncharted territory. Marlena is adamant about her heterosexuality and is succumbing to the advances of Tony, an internet porn mogul who is deliberately misrepresenting himself as a car mechanic in the hopes of filming them for his website, “Freakathon”.
STUCK is an outrageous book and a helluva lot of fun and that brief synopsis only hints at the tongue in cheek delights awaiting a reader…after all, when was the last time you read a novel about conjoined twins, one of whom is lesbian and the other is not? AND, they have to deal with the fact they share EVERYTHING below the waist…all that, plus frequent allusions to the beloved musical film, “The Sound of Music” and you have yourself a merry, perverse romp that’s probably not fit for the entire family…
We were delighted to pick Ms Van Dyke’s brain and try to discover everything we could about the creation of STUCK. Enjoy!
Michael Strangeways: Hey Lamar Van Dyke! You’ve written a BOOK! A NOVEL! About conjoined twins! And, one of the twins is a lesbian and one of them isn’t! Now available at Amazon.com! What’s the story behind “Stuck”? What prompted you to write this novel?
Lamar Van Dyke: Sometimes my girlfriends would get so up my nose that I felt like a conjoined twin. You know, there you are, there’s no escape in sight…Then a few years ago I saw a show about Abby and Brittany, conjoined twins who are so in sync that they finish each other’s sentences and share each other’s thoughts. It made me wonder what it would be like to be stuck, I mean physically stuck to someone that you didn’t particularly like.
MS: How much research did you do, into the world of conjoined twins, besides the story of Abby and Brittany? Obviously, there is material out there about the Hilton Sisters and Chang & Eng, the original “Siamese” Twins. Having read STUCK, it seems apparent to me that you must have done some reading on the subject.
LVD: Oh yes, I read Chang and Eng’s biography. They seemed to work it out pretty well until one of them became an alcoholic and the other one didn’t. I also read about the Hilton sisters who had a career in show business until their agent ripped off all their money and they became cashiers in a supermarket. It made me realize that if you’re always been connected to another person it’s just how it is, as opposed to suddenly having a girlfriend who wants in on every thought that runs through your head. In the end there’s really no comparison, but it did get me going down the road writing STUCK.
MS: I think it’s pretty apparent that STUCK is a black comedy. Conjoined twins; one gay and one not, who end up in a sex scandal. Are you worried some people might not “get it”? Are you looking forward to your Amazon reviews? They can be pretty crazy sometimes…
LVD: I’m not trying to change the world with this story, I simply hope that, for the most part, people find it entertaining. People not “getting it” is something I’m familiar with. It comes up a lot in my life and yes, I can’t wait for my Amazon reviews whatever they are.
MS: Obviously, conjoined twins face very unique obstacles in life, but it’s also not difficult to see that parallels can be drawn between their lives and how society treats ALL kinds of “freaks” regardless of their bodies, or skin color or sexuality. General society is fascinated by the “freak” but they can also be the first ones to shove them in a cage or an oven…
LVD: Yea, it’s that age old battle over who defines “normal”. Right now the war is on. The “haters” are hanging on by their fingernails convinced that if they scream long and loud enough everyone will comply. Of course, it’s not going to happen, we’re not going away and we’re not ever going to comply. It’s simply a matter of time. It’s all right with me if they want to classify me as a freak. It means I’m not one of them, and I’m really good with that.
MS: “The Sound of Music” plays a recurring theme throughout the book…is that Lamar Van Dyke’s “comfort” film? Do you yearn to “Climb Every Mountain” in the Austrian Alps?
LVD: Many years ago some friends took a holiday in the Alps and came back with unforgettable photos of wildflowers covering the alpine meadows in the spring. I’d love to walk through those fields, but The Sound of Music is Adrian and Marlena’s comfort film. I’m more drawn to Lawrence of Arabia as well as Harold and Maude.
MS: Considering the VERY special casting needs, a movie sale for STUCK might be a hard sell, but who would be your dream cast?
LVD: Lindsay Lohan might be feisty enough to play both sisters, if she could keep it together long enough to make a film. And Johnny Depp would make a great bad guy!
MS: Does STUCK satisfy your novelistic urges or do you have some more twisted tales up your sleeve? Is there a sequel in the future for Marlena and Adrian?
LVD: I do believe that Adrian and Marlena, having survived this particular ordeal, could certainly get involved in a couple of new adventures, the possibilities are endless. I do believe there’s more to come when the dust settles.
Thanks to Ms Van Dyke for the chat, and for fans of unusual stories we encourage you to check out STUCK!