Today I welcome author Joan Opyr, whose novel Shaken and Stirred has just been released by Bywater Books. Shaken and Stirred is the story of Poppy Koslowski, who is trying to recover from a hysterectomy while her family has other ideas. Poppy is the one with the responsibility to pull the plug on her alcoholic grandfather in North Carolina. So she’s dragged back across the country from her rebuilt life into the bosom of a family who barely notice the old man’s imminent death. “And it’s a comedy,” remarks Joan. “Really. It’s quite funny.”
Considering that Joan Opyr’s first novel was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, this new novel should be a terrific read!
So where does her inspiration come from? Joan told me the queer writer she’d most like to sit down with for a chat is the Bard of Avon himself, William Shakespeare. Here’s Joan:
It doesn’t surprise me that the greatest writer in English, the most deeply kind, funny, and forgiving in his approach to humanity, was a bisexual. Shakespeare was open to the world, to all that it had to offer. And I have no time for the fruitcakes who argue that a glover’s son from Stratford could never have written such tremendous body of work. In truth, you’d have to be a working man or a working woman to understand the broad spectrum of life. Shakespeare was perfectly placed. He knew people from the bottom to the top. And he knew love in all its guises.
Has Shakespeare influenced my writing? It seems obnoxious to say yes, but it’s the truth. You don’t have to compare yourself to Shakespeare to see that knowing his work broadens your perspective, or makes you more aware of language, and how you can use a vocabulary and an accent to sketch out a character. Chaucer did this too, of course, but you asked for queer writers. I like bawdy comedy. I like slapstick and farce. I also like the histories and the tragedies, but I’m not ready to write one of those yet. I’ll need to be a little closer to taking the old dirt nap before I get to tragedy.
Sometimes, I think my story is about addiction and adultery. Other times, I think it’s about bad luck with the Avon lady. And not just one—one I could chalk up to chance. Two rotten Avon ladies feel more like a curse.”