Meet Timmothy J. Holt, Author of Square Affair
TJH: I’m a retired physician living with my partner, Dan, in Chicago. My medical specialty was geriatrics. I grew up on a farm in central Illinois where most of my writing inspiration come from. I have written extensively on medical/geriatric issues and when I retired I decided it was time to write on topics I’m more interested in. One of the issues that has defined me is that I’ve been HIV + since 1985. The issues of dealing with this show up in my poetry, short stories, and plays. Writing has been a way to get me through the years of living and the years of seeing others die.I took disability from work in 1997 because I was not doing well, but here I am still alive. While living in New Orleans I was active in the local LGBT community and in AIDS care. I owned a community theatre space there and a country/western bar. Like some of the men in Square Affair, I was married and have 2 children. Realizing my sexuality on the farm it was expected you marry and have children, which I did, though I was sure I was gay. I did not act on my gay impulses until after I married. Like the characters, I too sought sex in public places, running the risk of being caught. My wife found out and wanted a divorce. Subsequently after the initial shock we are best of friends.
TJH: I grew up in the small midwestern town which is the setting for the novel. The affair is real and I heard about it when I was in high school. No one said much and it was swept under the rug. I talked to individuals who remember it happening, but no one knew the names of the men, or were unwilling to disclose them if they did. There is a web site for my home town and when I queried about the incident a number said yes they remembered. When I asked for names I was told to stay away because they still had family alive. That made me more intent on writing the story. Since I knew no names, all the characters are fictional, but consistent with who would have been living in the town in the late 60’s.
BBB: Tell us about your main character?
TJH: The main character of Square Affair is the town of Dewers. The story chronicles what the affair has done to the community, the individuals, and families involved. The story is told on the day of the trial in multiple first person voices. Tying the story together are two narrators, Clara May, and Frieda. Clara May is a retired high school English teacher, and Frieda a retired principal’s assistant. The are the self-appointed town matriarchs and know where all the town skeletons are hidden. They are God fearing women, but do not like the current pastor at the Methodist church who thinks it’s his job to rid the community of this homosexual evil.
TJH: I have a number of projects in the air. I’ve completed the second in the series entitled, The Train Does Not Stop Here Anymore. When a cornerstone and time capsule from the high school are opened Frieda finds her twin sister in a photo, problem is, she was supposed to have died years earlier of TB. Frieda and Clara May go on a search to see if she is still alive which takes them to Frieda’s Kentucky home town.
The Note is the third in the series of Frieda and Clara May. A high school student disappeared a number of years earlier and he or his body were never found. In the process of demolishing the old high school a note is found behind Frieda’s desk that implicates her in the disappearance. Frieda claims she never saw the note. She and Clara May work to discover what happened to Tommy and to clear Frieda’s name.
AIDS Poetry Collection
I am finishing up a collection of poetry I’ve written about dealing with AIDS over the years.
In the same vein as the AIDS poetry collection, I am working on a personal story of finding grace in my AIDS journey.
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
TJH: I have a web page, timmholt.com and I have a weekly blog at blog.timmholt.com.