Lisa Gayle is both beautiful and funny. An upstate NY resident and a proud parent, she helps to bring the Erie Gala Transgender Conference to life every year in Erie PA. She’s also a budding author with a new book that explores questions of gender and life transition, immortality and facing realities as a woman she could have never considered as a man. I caught up with Ms. Gayle for coffee and a chat about her new book, “Emerald Spirit”. Ms. Gayle may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Becki: What led you to write your book?
Lisa: I spent my whole professional career in an office. Got my degree in accounting of all things and I hated it. I was never a detail-oriented person. (Is that right brain or left? I can never remember.) I was always more interested in the arts. My favorite subjects in school were always English and the arts. I enjoyed writing short stories bur never thought I could put together a story that would be suitable for a book. This story didn’t start out as a book either. I just started writing about this idea I had and it kept growing.
Becki: So the story kind of took on a life of it’s own, or, maybe picked you up and carried you on a journey to see it written! Have you always written, what were some of your earliest works?
Lisa: Always. I made up elaborate stories as far back as I can remember.
I have a series of short stories, mostly in the Twilight Zone kind of genre that I may publish someday. Some of these date back to my college days, back when there were still dinosaurs roaming around. I need to finish the three or four ideas I have in progress before that compilation could be book length.
My favorite has to be “The Foxhole”. It’s about a soldier in war who finds himself in a foxhole with a few other GI’s whom he does not know. As they shelter from enemy fire there, they discover that they are not even fighting the same war. One is from Viet Nam, another fought in WWII and another Korea.
I also adapted a short story by Robert Sheckley, “The King Wishes” into a stage play. I would love to produce that for the stage one day.
Becki: I bet the range of characters in your stories is very wide. Can you tell us how you come up with your main character for “Emerald Spirit” Gordon who becomes Susan?
Lisa: Susan wasn’t really a character until later in the process. I started writing not about a specific person but about an idea. What would it be like to wake up in a strange hospital and find that I was no longer a male? But not just a male who had say, undergone SRS, perhaps by accident, (you know the old urban myths: the hospital got the wrong patient for the transplant surgery and now this guy has someone else’s heart and there was nothing wrong with his. That kind of thing.) but that he, now she, was 100% genetic female. So when you read it, the chapter in which that happens is the first part written. After a while I thought there was a larger story that could be told. It expanded in both directions from there. Eventually Susan needed to be a real person.
Becki: The main character, Gordon Carson, with his millionaire, wealth and expensive plane sounds similar to a Howard Hughes or Richard Branson, what led you to create a character like Gordon with his unique attributes?
Lisa: I needed to have someone with a great deal to lose. Someone for whom this sudden change would be even more devastating than the obvious physical changes. It didn’t hurt to give him the means to have done so many things in his life that would come in handy during the story. Making him wealthy, intelligent and successful provided all that.
(Next in part 2: Lisa’s favorite scenes from her book “Emerald Spirit”, how her friend got her motivated, and what’s next for Lisa?)