As Fiction Becomes Fact

Homecoming by Nell Stark

Homecoming by Nell Stark.

Local author Nell Stark’s latest novel, Homecoming, follows the story of Sarah Storm after she’s disowned by her family and dumped by her first love. As she picks up the pieces, Sarah enrolls in school at the University of Rhode Island where she quickly dives into the LGBT community. Finding her groove in volunteer work and a new internship fighting a marriage amendment, Sarah doesn’t realize she’s become a hearthrob to everyone on campus… including her seemingly straight roommate, Rory.

Our Lives’ Sydne Conant sat down with the author to find out more about Stark’s process, her muse, and to find out what we can expect next.

How long have you been in Madison?

I’ve lived in Madison for five years now. I moved here in 2003 to start my Ph.D. work in English literature, and I expect to finish up next year.

Do you have a favorite place/experience here?

My favorite place is the Memorial Union Terrace. I love sitting on the Terrace with friends, drink-ing beer and enjoying a warm summer evening. I also love sailing back toward the Terrace after an amazing day out on the lake in a sailboat.

How much of your stories do you draw from personal experience?

Every character that I write is a part of me in some way. But what I enjoy the most about writing fiction is creating the people involved. There’s such freedom in that act of creation—in the ability to first form and then develop an entirely new person, who (if you’ve done it right) can feel just as real to your readers as their next-door neighbors, friends, lovers.

In the book, Sarah Storm works on a campaign against a marriage amendment. The struggle you depict is sobering and realistic.

It’s scary how closely the events of Homecoming ended up predicting the Proposition 8 struggle, isn’t it? Even the numbers (52% vs. 48%) were right on. When I wrote Homecoming, I was effectively transposing Wisconsin’s 2006 “Vote No” campaign onto Rhode Island. While a timely issue at the moment, I could never have predicted just how relevant the book would be.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a novel in collaboration with another author, Trinity Tam. She and I are writing a paranormal romantic thriller about vampires and “weres” set in New York City. The book is slated for release in autumn of 2009. I’m very excited about it—it promises to be a dramatic read.