Going 'Hungry' :: Author J. Patrick Redmond on His New Novel

by Milke Halterman

HotSpots! Magazine

Saturday April 30, 2016

Author J. Patrick Redmond knows South Florida very well. He used to live in Miami-Dade County for sixteen years and is a graduate of Florida International University. Recently, he packed everything up and returned home to southern Indiana. His experiences back home inspired him to write a book -- one rooted in fiction, but very much a blueprint of his own life.

The book, "Some Go Hungry," discusses what life is like for people in a small Indiana town after an unsolved murder and possible hate crime tears apart the social fabric of the community in 1986. People knew Robbie Palmer was gay; they didn't know what to do when he turned up dead.

In the book, we are immediately introduced to the protagonist, Grey Daniels, who returns from Miami Beach, an area that represents tolerance, accceptance, love and authenticity, to Fort Sackville, a real fort-turned-fictional town located close to Vincennes and an hour from Evansville. His family owns a homestyle buffet restaurant, which is one of the few restaurants in town and is very popular with church folk on Fridays (Catholics) and Sundays (Baptists). After being away for so long, and having a true chance at love with ex-boyfriend Rio, Grey returns to make an honest stab at assisting in the family business.

Immediately, Grey's life is turned upside down when his best friend from high school, Daryl Stone, returns to town to serve as the new pastor of the local Baptist Church. Daryl has embraced fundamentalist Christianity (to serve as a front for certain repressed feelings -- you will find out more as you read the novel), and has set his sights on "mentoring" a seventeen-year-old boy who works for Grey's family. The boy has dreams of a singing career on his mind and is biding his time until he can make it big in New York. He won't ever make it there. The reasons why make up a big portion of the novel. Another big part of the novel is the dichotomy between small-town life, where hypocrisy and gossip reigns, and big cities such as New York City, Miami Beach, and even Evansville, where gay people can be themselves.

I spoke to the author, J. Patrick Redmond, about his book in this exclusive Hotspots interview.

The book is described as a fictional account based on your own experiences. How much of the story in "Some Go Hungry" mirrored your real life? Was there really a "Robbie Palmer" kind of case back then?

The novel is part roman à clef and part fiction. I often say it's up to the reader to figure out which is what. The Robbie Palmer murder in "Some Go Hungry" is inspired by a classmate of mine, perceived to be gay, that was found dead, his body having been disposed of in a farm field drainage ditch. It was 1986 and the crime is still unsolved. His mysterious death was a scandal that rocked my hometown.

Reading the book, I gauged the "modern day" time setting to be roughly 10 years ago. Has southern Indiana changed in that amount of time or is it still more of the same? Is there any hope for this area and for similar rural areas to evolve socially?

The story jumps between the new articles from 1986 to the contemporary story approximately 20 + years later. Indiana is, as are many states, a battleground right now in terms of LGBT civil rights. What has changed is that there is more awareness and opportunity for conversation. "Some Go Hungry" touches on the AIDS hysteria of the '80s and '90s and how it was the lens through which homosexuality was seen and discussed. Today it seems that these so called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and anti-gay legislation are a similar lens, a mirror of that same national hysteria from 30 years ago. And you are right, there are stories like "Some Go Hungry" taking place today all across our nation today. In that sense, nothing has changed.

In the book, Miami Beach represents an oasis of tolerance and respect. Why should people in Florida read this book, centered around a small town in Indiana -- everything Florida isn't?

Miami Beach is an oasis of diversity and for the most part tolerance and respect. It is a success. Having lived in South Florida for over 16 years and also having traveled to and spent time in many of our nation's major cities, outside of New York City I can think of no other community as diverse as Miami/Miami Beach. South Florida, in fact Florida in general, is populated by people from middle America. There are a few native Floridians running about but for the most part people move to Florida from places like Indiana to escape. To begin again. I think people in Florida will absolutely relate to the story. In a way "Some Go Hungry" may in fact be their story.

"Some Go Hungry," published by Akashic Books and Kaylie Jones Books, will be available for purchase on May 3. Go to akashicbooks.com to pre-order. For more information, visit facebook.com/somegohungry

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