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And I flew to Paris where I went to the Lido with a businessman from Lyon and avoided weasel-faced Frenchmen who wanted me to buy them dinner. Europe was not for me. Back to New Orleans to live forever. I had chosen my city and my guy.

In the Fall of '72, Richard urged me to try college.

"Go to school; you ain't doin' nuttin'"

So I enrolled in the University of New Orleans as Mrs. Richard Catoire and got my B.A. in Drama in '76.

By that time I had decided to become a professional writer, so I stayed home and wrote full-time, year after year, book after book, for rejection after rejection. I didn't have children. I eschewed any social life. I just wrote without pay.
Tony and Richard in 1983

Meanwhile, Richard had been earning promotions, worked his way up to utility foreman in marine construction, and was making great money as his company flew him around the hemisphere to push crews in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

In 1983 Richard hurt his back on the job, rupturing two disks. His off-shore career was over and he had no experience doing anything else.

I said, "You speak French and Spanish and you like to talk all the time. Why don't you go to college and become a teacher?"

So he did, got into three honor societies including Phi Kappa Phi and spent his junior year in Belgium on scholarship. Later he did graduate summers in Spain and now teaches high school Spanish in St Bernard Parish.

So much for him.

The Glory Hole Murders was the eighth book I wrote and the first to be published. It was set here in New Orleans and introduced the bitchy gay detective, Matt Sinclair, who has since become a cult favorite, translated into German, Japanese, Danish and Czech, and (in the single lucky break of my career) it would be nominated for an Edgar by the MWA.

The Glory Hole Murders came out in October of '85, during the year I worked for the State of Louisiana in the welfare office. I used that (awful) experience for my second Matt Sinclair mystery, The Closet Hanging, which came out in '87.

My third Matt Sinclair mystery, Kiss Yourself Goodbye, was published in England, Germany and Denmark, but not in the U.S.. I heard from some agents and publishers that they didn't want to touch a gay detective anymore because of the AIDS epidemic.

My current series features Margo Fortier, a clumsy, tactless, middle-aged uh.. red-haired, former stripper who is now a writer.

(I don't know anyone like this. I just have a great imagination.)

The first of the Fortier series, The Hippie In The Wall, came out from St. Martin's in June '94, the second, 1 (900) D-E-A-D, in January 1997. And the third, Don't Blame The Snake, was published by Top Publications in 2001.

When I first started writing about Margo, I sort of envied her because she had a glamorous job on the paper and that takes connections in New Orleans which I don't have. And she is welcome in the drawing rooms of society uptown.

But being the author of hardcover books does provide some cachet. In the past few years I've been invited to places where most people with normal well-paying jobs never go. In '87, I debated the radical Rabbi Meir Kahane on radio and WON. In '88 I stood on the floor of the Republican Convention in the Super Dome when President Reagan gave his farewell speech. In the summer of '89, I was the "Star" of the Semana Negra in Gijon, Spain, led a conga line of 4,300 people along the marina, and had my photo plastered all over the walls of a seamen's bar. (Maybe I haven't come so far from b-drinking on the riverfront after all.)

In '91 I was treated like a celebrity in Germany made a nine-city reading tour which earned me enough deutchsmarks to buy a full-length mink coat. In '92, I played the female lead in the Irish Literary Theater's production of Brian Friel's "Aristocrats". And I acted and sang in the Jefferson Performing Arts Society productions of "Showboat" and "Kiss Me Kate".

I've learned about Mexican politics in Paco Taibo's living room in Mexico City, climbed the Aztec pyramids at Chichen Itza, travelled through the mountains of Cuba escorted by an author who had fought for Castro up there and had my coconut shells read by a priest of Chango in Havana.

I love to give lectures and speeches and travel whenever I have the chance, but Margo Fortier stays in New Orleans. That's not a limitation. Anything that can happen anywhere else can happen here.