Who the hell is Bill Konigsberg?

So suffice it to say things are happening for Openly Straight! Today it was announced that the novel is a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee. The list of kudos for Openly Straight is a bit surreal and mind boggling to me, and it makes me think, you know, maybe I can stop relying solely on my belly dancing career? Soon, maybe. Have jiggle will shake, I always say.

So I started to think about what happens when teens from all over the country vote for their favorite books from a list of 25. I don’t mean to get all Glenn Beck-paranoid on you, but I do think maybe I’m at a bit of a disadvantage going up against authors people have actually heard of–Rainbow Rowell, Francessca Lia Block, James Dashner, Andrew Smith, Rick Yancey, among others.

So I decided to create this primer for those who might want to get to know this Bill Konigsberg guy. So I bring you 12 facts–some truer than others–about Bill Konigsberg.


1) I began to realize I was different when I was eight, and I had a strong emotional reaction to Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park. Someone had left the cake out in the rain! And she’d never have that recipe again! I liked cake, sure. But also I truly felt her pain. How does one make sure they don’t lose rare recipes and the like? This was before the cloud, people. You lose a piece of paper, and that recipe for mint marshmallow squares is forever gone. Forever.

2) I further understood I was different due to my obsession with the Construction Worker from the Village People. They made me want to join the Navy, and here I was, just 12. Too young. But they. Wanted. Me! It was a challenging time in my life.

3) I ruined my 20s by wearing a mustache that didn’t suit me. It was the 90s. No one was wearing mustaches anymore outside of 70s porn movie actors who had been for two decades too poor to buy a razor, and there I was, cute as a button and mustachioed.

4) I also ruined my 20s by being the least stylish gay man in the United States. Of course, this also ruined my teens, 30s, and to some degree my 40s, though now I do take advice from more fashionable people and try to at least pretend to care how I look. One time when I was 25 and living in Denver, a guy I vaguely knew came up to me, put his arms around me, and whispered seductively in my ear: “Bill, I want to take you home, undress you, and RE-DRESS you.” It was a pretty good burn.

5) Sometimes when people read Openly Straight, they ask me how I so easily get into the mind of a neurotic teenager. I’m always like, um, yeah. That’s a real puzzler. I must be super talented to MORPH into someone SO UNLIKE me.

6) One time I gave my husband dead hydrangeas for Christmas. I thought I was so clever to be creating a Christmas scavenger hunt, all leading to gifts representing his favorite words (hydrangea, chutney, Canarsie). The day before, I hid the hydrangeas under the bed in a guest room. It did not occur to me that putting flowers in a dark place for 24 hours might kill them. When you give your husband dead hydrangeas for Christmas, you spend the next six months assuring him you love him.

7) I am known to put marshmallow peeps in the microwave. It’s really fun watching them expand and expand, and then, if you let them cool for like 20 minutes, they get super crunchy and delicious.

8) One time when I was in my mid 20s, I was invited to a graduation barbecue for a person I didn’t know very well. When I drove up, I saw that there were only five people there, and two of them were people I disliked. Everyone turned and looked at my car as I pulled up to the curb. I stopped, looked at my watch (watches were like the cell phones of pretending you had something else that required your immediate attention of the time), put up a finger as if to say, “One sec, I’ll be right back” and pulled away. I did not return after “one sec.” To this day, this is the most awkward exit I have ever made from a party.

9) When I moved from Arizona to New York in 2005, I missed a local brand of cotton candy so much that I ordered a box of 25 1-pound cotton candy bags. I look back and think that’s disgusting and I’m so above that now, but a month ago I was on the Utz potato chip website, seeing what it would cost to get them to send me a box of crab chips, sold only on the east coast.

10) Somewhere out there, there is a VHS tape of me, at 18, singing Bruce Springsteen’s Brilliant Disguise while dancing in front of a green screen of cars driving by on a highway. There is also a tape of me singing “Tomorrow” from Annie when I was about 16, with my 6-year-old brother. I apparently got really into it, and he has on numerous occasions threatened to release this on youtube. If he does so, I will no longer have a brother.

11) From an athletic standpoint, I have the dangerous combination of the speed of a chunky 43-year-old and the mindset of a fearless 18-year-old. A couple years ago, I tore my labrum sliding into home my first inning back from a glute injury (also caused by this dangerous combination). I was out by about 5 feet on the play. I will probably never play softball again, as I am clearly a hazard to myself.

12) I have playlists counting down my favorite songs for every year of my life, from 1970 to 2013, on my iTunes. I also have a Top 40 of all time, and Top 40 lists from each decade of my life. My number ones per decade: Dreams by Fleetwood Mac for the 1970s; Voices Carry by ’til Tuesday from the 1980s; Freedom 90 by George Michael from the 1990s; and Go or Go Ahead by Rufus Wainwright from the 2000s. So far for the 2010s, Oh My by Haley Reinhart would be the number one song.

So now you know more about me than you probably wanted to know. Now go buy my books, please. So I can stop frightening people off with my belly dancing.