Michael Thomas Ford is the author of more than fifty books for both young readers and adults. He is best known for his best-selling novels Last Summer, Looking for It, and Full Circle and for his five essay collections in the "Trials of My Queer Life" series. His work has been nominated for eleven Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book and twice for Best Romance Novel. He was also nominated for a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award (for his novel The Dollhouse That Time Forgot) and a Gay lactic Spectrum Award (for his short story "Night of the Were puss").
Ford began his writing career in 1992 with the publication of 100 Questions & Answers about AIDS: What You Need to Know Now (Macmillan), one of the first books about the AIDS crisis for young adults. Named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the book became the most widely-used resource in HIV education programs for young people and was translated into more than a dozen languages.
The follow-up to that book, The Voices of AIDS (William Morrow, 1995), was a collection of interviews with people whose lives have been affected by the AIDS crisis. This book too was named an ALA Best Book, as well as a National Science Teachers Association-Children's Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children and a Booklist magazine Editors' Choice.
Ford's next book, 1996's The World Out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community (The New Press), was a handbook for people coming out and wanting to know what it means to be part of the queer world. It earned him his first Lambda Literary Award nomination in the YA category, as well as a Firecracker Alternative Book Award nomination.
1998 saw the release of two books, the first being OutSpoken (William Morrow), a collection of interviews with gay and lesbian people that was again aimed at young adults. The book was widely praised for its candid discussions of queerlife, and it was named both a National Council of Social Studies-Children's Book Council Notable Children's Book in the field of Social Studies and a Booklist magazine "Top of the List" selection, and received a Lambda Literary Award nomination, Ford's second in the YA division.
Ford's second book to come out that year was Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me (Alyson Books), the first of what has come to be known as the "Trials of My Queer Life" series. The book was based on the columns Ford had been publishing for several years in his syndicated newspaper column, "My Queer Life." The book received a Lambda Literary Award for Best Humor book, winning out over titles by lesbian comic Kate Clinton, columnist Dan Savage, and cartoonist Alison Bechdel.
Ford followed the success of Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me with That's Mr. Faggot to You (Alyson Books, 1999). Slightly more acerbic than its predecessor, Mr. Faggot brought Ford a whole new audience hungry for a voice they could relate to. Again the book soared to the top of the bestseller charts, and once again Ford walked away with a Lambda Literary Award, edging out previous winner comedian Bob Smith. That same year he began recording his weekly radio show for the GayBC Radio Network.
The third in the "Trials of My Queer Life" series, It's Not Mean If It's True (Alyson Books), arrived in stores in 2000. Following in the footsteps of the first two, the book was an instant bestseller, and Ford was once again nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for best humor book. Although he lost to comic superstar David Sedaris, the attention earned Mike the notice of Michael J. Rosen, director of the James Thurber House and editor of the prestigious "Mirth of a Nation" series of Best American Humor Writing. As a result, two of Mike's essays were included in the second Mirth collection (Simon & Schuster, 2002) and featured on a CD read by actor Tony Roberts.
Also coming out in 2000 were two other projects. The first was Ford's first audio recording. My Queer Life (Fluid Words), featured Ford reading some of the most popular pieces from his three essay collections. The recording also contained two songs from "Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me," a musical project for which Ford wrote the lyrics and performed the narration. A full-length recording of the musical, performed by the Lehigh Valley Gay Men's Chorus, is also available on CD. My Queer Life received rave notices in audio media journals, and was named one of the two best humor audio books of the year (the other being David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day).
In December 2000 Ford released Paths of Faith: Conversations about Religion and Spirituality (Simon & Schuster). Written for young adults, the book was a collection of interviews with leaders from a wide range of spiritual traditions and included the last interview given by former Archbishop of New York John Cardinal O'Connor. The book returned Ford to the genre in which he first became well-known, and like his previous books for young adults this one was unanimously praised for its insightful take on an often delicate topic, being named a Booklist magazine Top 10 Religion Book of the Year, a Booklist Editors' Choice "Top of the List" selection for YA Nonfiction, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.
In October 2001 Ford's fourth essay collection, The Little Book of Neuroses, hit bookstores and like the previous three collections became an instant favorite with readers, immediately shooting to #1 on numerous regional bestseller lists. Also like the others, in February 2002 it was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, giving Ford an unprecedented four consecutive nominations in the category of Best Humor Book.
The summer of 2002 found Ford embarking on yet another adventure as This Queern Life, a stage production based on his work and penned by him, premiered at the Loring Playhouse in Minneapolis. An insightful and riotous collection of scenes drawn from his essay collections, the play wowed audiences and is currently being considered for production by numerous regional theaters. Also in that year, his short story "Night of the Werepuss" was published in the Lambda Literary Award-winning collection Queer Fear II and was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award for best short fiction.
In 2003 Ford entered a new phase of his career with the release of his first novel for adults. Published by Kensington Books, Last Summer centered around the character of Joshua Felling, who escapes to Provincetown for a few days of reflection after discovering that his lover is having an affair and then finds himself caught up in the lives of the people he meets there. The book was an immediate hit, earning rave reviews and comparisons to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Publishers Weekly described the book as a "brimful first novel about life, love and self-discovery" and praised the "crisp prose and snappy, contemporary dialogue," while Entertainment Weekly lauded Ford's prose, calling it a "winner" and "addictive." This new book was a huge favorite with fans, and won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Romance Novel.
Also appearing in 2003 was Sting, an unusual and haunting vampire novella included in the book Masters of Midnight, and My Big, Fat, Queer Life, a best-of collection compiling the most popular essays from his "Trials of My Queer Life" series. Both books received Lambda Literary Award nominations.
In early 2004 Ford surprised fans with the arrival of Ultimate Gay Sex, a beautifully photo-illustrated guide to sex and relationships for which he wrote the text. Drawing on his years of experience writing the "Sexpert" and "Sex Adviser" columns for gay men's magazines FreshMen and Men, he created an indispensable manual covering topics ranging from coming out to aging, sexual health to sexual positions.
Ford's second novel for Kensington Books, Looking for It, was published in the summer of 2004. Centered around the lives of a group of gay men living in a small upstate New York town, the novel was heralded by Booklist as an "engaging page-turner of lives within lives, an insightful and entertaining read about what we seek, and what answers we find within and without." Like its predecessor, Looking for It reached the top of gay bestseller charts and quickly became the hottest gay book of the summer.
Ford's second vampire-themed novella was featured in the 2004 Kensington Books collection Midnight Thirsts. Set against the background of a weary American Midwest during World War II, Carnival is the story of midway ride mechanic Joe Flanagan, who finds his quiet life disrupted by the arrival of the mysterious Mr. Star and his traveling freak show.
2005 brought the publication of The Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca, and Living a Magical Life (Citadel Press). Drawing on Ford's interest in religion and spirituality, the book set forth a blueprint for gay men interested in exploring pagan spirituality from a uniquely-gay viewpoint. Praised as an eloquent meditation on pagan thought and beliefs, the book brought Ford his tenth Lambda Literary Award nomination. In it, he revealed that between 2001–2002, he wrote the Wiccan-themed, YA Circle of Three series under the pseudonym Isobel Bird.
Also in 2005 came Tangled Sheets, a collection of erotica Ford had written under various names over the years. Long-asked-for by fans of Mike's nom-de-porn, the book was welcomed as a literary exploration of sensuality, desire, and self-discovery.
In 2006, Ford released the much-anticipated novel Full Circle. Called by one reviewer "the Great Gay American Novel," the book chronicled the lives of two men—best friends born a day apart in 1950—through six decades. In effect a history of gay life, the book was also a profound statement about the friendships that exist between gay men. Upon its release, the book went to the top of numerous regional bestseller lists.
Changing Tides, Ford's fourth novel for adult readers, was released in August 2007. Exploring the themes of family and self-discovery, the novel centers around a marine biologist in Monterey whose quiet life is turned upside down by the arrival of his estranged teenage daughter and by his attraction to a graduate student in English who comes to California to research what might be an unpublished John Steinbeck novel about a Cannery Row worker coming to terms with his love for another man in 1940s America. The novel won Ford his second Lambda Literary Award in the Gay Men's Romance category.
In October 2008, Ford returned to his young adult roots with the publication of Suicide Notes (HarperCollins), the blackly-comic story of a young man forced to come to terms with his emerging sexuality after a failed attempt at ending his life puts him in a psychiatric hospital.
In 2009 Ford released his fifth novel with Kensington, What We Remember, a portrait of a family torn apart when the father, believed to have committed suicide, is found to have been murdered. As the mystery around his death is unraveled, so too is the tragic history of a family that isn't what it seems. What We Remember won the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Mystery.
In December 2009 Ballantine released Ford's Jane Bites Back, the first of a three-book series about Jane Austen, who still exists as a vampire bookshop owner living in the New York suburbs, who has to deal with two suitors and a dark figure from her past. In May 2010 Ford published The Road Home, his sixth novel for Kensington Books. The Road Home is the story of a photographer who, following a car accident, reluctantly moves in with his father. As he recuperates, he becomes intrigued by the story of a local man who fought in the Civil War, and his interest leads to uncovering some surprising truths.
In September 2010 HarperCollins will release Ford's next YA novel. Titled Z it tells the story of a young man who finds that his involvement with a zombie hunting role playing game is much more than it seems. This will be followed in early 2011 by Jane Goes Batty, the second in Ford's Jane Austen-as-a-vampire trilogy for Ballantine Books.
Last Summer was the first in a line of books from Ford that at first glance were guilty pleasures but ended up being meaningful reading experiences. Starting with the readily identifiable covers that define the series of books, each one delivered the same thing: an immersion in the lives of gay characters who we wanted to spend time with, going through life, battling troubles we could relate to, finding and losing love and loved ones. Last Summer is a particular favourite because the memories it evokes of Provincetown. I’ve only been there once in person. But with this book I can visit any time I want. I love when a book can do that. --Anthony BidulkaFurther Readings:
The Road Home by Michael Thomas Ford
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
Amazon: The Road Home
The award-winning author of "What We Remember" and "Changing Tides" portrays the modern gay experience in a moving story of love, family, and finding one's place in the world.
What We Remember by Michael Thomas Ford
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
Amazon: What We Remember
James McCloud, a Seattle district attorney, gets an early-morning phone call from his sister Celeste announcing that their father's body has been found. Police officer Daniel McCloud disappeared years ago - but this discovery proves that he was murdered. When James returns home to Cold Falls, New York, he's reunited with his mother Ada and his troubled, gay younger brother Billy. His brother-in-law Nate is the town sheriff and the mistrust that has hovered between them since school still simmers. As the truth emerges, so do powerful secrets.
Full Circle by Michael Thomas Ford
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (July 31, 2007)
Amazon: Full Circle
History professor Ned Brummel is living happily with his partner of twelve years in small-town Maine when he receives a phone call from his estranged friend--Jack--telling him that another friend--Andy--is very ill and possibly near death. As Ned boards a plane to Chicago on his way to his friend's bedside, he embarks on another journey into memory, examining the major events and small moments that have shaped his world and his relationships with these two very different, very important men.
Growing up together through the restrictive 1950's and confusing '60's, Jackson "Jack" Grace and Ned Brummel took solace in their love for each other. But once they arrive at college in 1969 and meet handsome farm boy Andy Kowalski, everything changes. Despite Andy's apparent heterosexuality, both Jack and Ned fall hard for him, straining their close friendship. Soon, the three men will become involved in a series of intense liaisons and bitter betrayals, coming together and flying apart, as they alternately hurt, love, shape, and heal one another over the course of years. From the heady, drug- and sex-fueled days of San Francisco in the wild seventies to the haunting spectre of AIDS in the eighties and the righteous activism of the nineties, their relationship transforms and grows, reflecting the changes going on around them. Now, together again in the most crucial and intimate of settings, Ned, Jack, and Andy have another chance to confront the damage of the past and embrace the bonds of friendship and love that have stood the test of time.
"Impactful. . .real. . .Ford's beautiful story makes it all seem possible and believable. . .these are rich characters, heartfelt descriptions and real-life happenings that resonate. . .allow yourself to get lost in this story." --The Lambda Book Report
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