Saturday 3 September 2011

Guest blogger

This is the first of a series of posts by a guest blogger. Narvel Annable is a novelist, writer and campaigner. His novels are based on his own life and contain details of life in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the1906s. But I think I'll let Narvel introduce himself.

About Narvel Annable

My life has been a series of re-inventions.  In September 2010, a sudden promotion catapulted me from local to global author.  The Nazca Plains Corporation in Las Vegas published my third gay novel Secret Summer which is now available all over the world.  This boosted the sales of previous efforts including Lost Lad set in Heanor, Derbyshire; a rugged, macho, homophobic, hill top colliery town.  Lost Lad follows the transformation of a miserable prepubescent into the confident and happy adolescent who was re-invented and rechristened Dobba by his mates.  The move from a grim, gas lit, Dickensian Church of England all boys junior school in 1958 to Howitt Secondary School, a culture of kindness, was a dramatic improvement.

A further re-invention is described in my second autobiographic novel Scruffy Chicken.  It took place in 1963 when I emigrated to the United States and arrived in Detroit on the day before the assassination of President Kennedy.  It was a steep learning curve.  The repressed Derbyshire teenager of thick accent, deeply locked inside his shameful homosexual closet, had to fit in as a clean cut American, to be comfortable with his all-white racist buddies and appear hot to trot for the chicks.

The following years in Motown involved several jobs before graduating from Eastern Michigan University (magna cum laude) in 1975 followed by a year teaching African-American history at St Bridget High School.  Adapting to this strict Catholic environment, behind respectable spectacles, Narvel imitated his former teachers and transformed himself into a strict schoolmaster with traditional views.  This was a far cry from his parallel existence, the promiscuous, secretive chicken who consorted with Negroes and haunted the notorious bath houses of Detroit, Chicago and New York from 1964 to 1976.

People have asked me – ‘Why did you describe yourself as a scruffy chicken during your 1965 six month vacation in Britain?’  Scruffy in the title of Scruffy Chicken is not so much a comment on me; it is more a criticism of the Derby and Nottingham snobs who made me feel scruffy – scruffy accent, scruffy clothes, scruffy manners, scruffy education etc.

A rollercoaster of passion and pain, magic and menace, is celebrated in my latest novel Secret Summer.  In 1966 I fell in love with a mysterious tough guy who held me in the grip of agony and ecstasy.  The title - a comment on the necessity for gay teenage boys to lust in secret, hunt in secret and love in secret – is, sadly, still true here in the 21st century.

After several annual holidays in the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s, chronic homesickness fuelled my departure from Detroit in 1976 to resettle in Derbyshire where I met my future long term partner Terry Durand who was married with children.  The trauma and shock of coming to terms with his life-long repressed same sex attraction triggered a breakdown and several weeks in a psychiatric hospital.  Electric shock aversion therapy was suggested as a ‘cure’ for his homosexuality.  This low point was followed by a painful and slow journey to eventual contentment and happiness.  On September 3rd 2011, we celebrated our 35 years together.

Narvel’s website is at  

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