Q: You've said that the process of writing this book was very difficult.
A: It wasn't so much the content. I didn't have any resistance around the content. But I don't have writing technique. I have acting technique; I have singing technique; I don't have a writing technique to fall back on. So I felt like I was flailing and all over the place. Even when I felt I was editing myself, it was kind of a mess.
Q: And Lara Embry, your wife, sort of served as your unofficial editor?
A: My unofficial editor and co-writer. Absolutely. She would go in there and take what I had done, and she would shape it. And she would say, "Now read this, does this ring true for you?" And I'm like "Oh! Yes! That's exactly what I was trying to say." She moved a word here, she added a word there — "I think what you're trying to say is this. Is that right?" And I'd say, "Yes, that's it!" And then in my own words I would tell her, and she would type it for me.
Q: During your freshman year at Illinois State University, you wrote, you "managed to continue to ignore the pounding refrain of 'You're gay!' knocking on my psyche's door." How were you able to overcome that denial and achieve acceptance?
A: I absolutely fell in love with somebody. You know. And so I had to look at it. Because it was so clear. I don't have a very high tolerance for discomfort, psychological or otherwise; I can't go a lifetime in denial like some people can. You see some people and you're like, "I can't believe they don't see this right in front of them!" I don't, relatively speaking, have much tolerance for denial.
Q: And you and Lara celebrated your one-year wedding anniversary?
A: Yes! May 31st.
Q: How’s that whole marriage thing working out for you , Jane?
A: It's working out quite well, let me tell you. We have not been faint of heart in our first year of marriage; we've taken on so much. Lara moved from Sarasota, where she left a thriving practice. She's a psychologist. Took her child, brought her to me. We live together in West Hollywood in an apartment, because we're renovating our house. You're not supposed to do all this stuff in the first year. I remember in Sobriety they say, "Don't do these things in the first year." And I think they probably apply to marriage. And then we wrote a book together. And we're doing great.
Q: Lara rows as a stress reliever. What's your outlet? Are you an athlete? What do you do?
A: I go to coffee shops for my outlet. Which is just not healthy at all. But Lara's been a great influence on me. I'm kind of a manic exerciser. I'll like exercise for a week and be crazy, and then I won't do it for six months. But she does it every day, and I go with her. She'll say like, "Let's take a walk…take a hike."
Q: And it was on one of those walks in Runyon Canyon that the genesis for the book came about —
A: Yeah. She was very gung-ho about it. She said, "You should write a book."
Q: Why did she say that?
A: Because I think she thought it was interesting. I always start with emotional motivation. She's a psychologist, she's all about that. So I think it jazzed her. She said, "Why don't we write it down? Maybe there's a book in here."
Q: What specific stories were you talking about that caused her to say, "You need to get that on paper."
A: The childhood stuff — when we were talking about my relationship with my family and my sense of alienation, no matter where I was. And how I went out of my way to feel even more alienated, instead of going toward people. And how the woman she knows today is not that way at all — I'm very open to connection and intimacy. I surprise myself.
She said, "If for nothing else, for yourself: Take a look at the big picture." Because I hadn't, I hadn't looked at the big picture of my life, and here I was, 50 years old, married, in a relationship for the first time in my life where I didn't want to bolt. The first time in my life. And it was something to take stock of.