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Saylor, Steven (b. 1956)  
 
page: 1  2  

The Aaron Travis books went out of print, but due to a resurgence of interest, several have been reissued, and many of the Aaron Travis stories are included in recent anthologies.

Saylor put his study of history to good use when he wrote the mystery novel Roman Blood (1991), a tale dealing with Cicero's murder trials. He saw the book as "a literary novel" and was surprised when his editor asked for a sequel to continue the series.

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Fortunately for mystery fans, Saylor took up the challenge, which, he said, presented "a fantastic chance to tell [about] what, to me, remains the most interesting period of human history, which is the end of the Roman republic."

Saylor has taken Gordianus, his detective--or "finder" in the terminology of the novels--through ten adventures. Critics have praised him for his "carefully researched stories" and "twisty fair-play plotting" as well as his uncanny sense of time and place that permits him to bring the long-ago and far-away vividly to life.

In his Gordianus novels (known collectively as the Roma sub Rosa series) Saylor deftly weaves epochal events of Roman history together with the evolving story of the finder and his family. His writing has earned him an audience both devoted and highly engaged. Saylor reports that his readers have expressed very clear opinions (sometimes contradictory) about their ideas for the future of Gordianus's family and their life in the business of crime detection.

The Gordianus novels have earned numerous awards, including Lambda Literary Awards, the Crime Writers of America Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, the Herodotus Award from the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society, and the Hammett Award of the International Association of Crime Writers.

In addition to the Roma sub Rosa series Saylor has written two stand-alone mystery novels, both of which bring him back to Texas.

In A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry (2000), Saylor offers a potential solution to a series of murders that plagued Austin in the 1880s when the young William Sydney Porter, who would go on to fame with his pseudonymous O. Henry stories, was still just an aspiring young writer. As he does in the Gordianus books, Saylor skillfully evokes the place and society of the period. His research, documented in an endnote, was clearly meticulous, but he allowed himself one playful flight of whimsy: in a list of best-selling authors of the day he included "Aaron Warren Travis," lending his middle name to his persona as a writer of erotica.

Have You Seen Dawn? (2003) is set in a town very much like Goldthwaite and includes a character closely based on his beloved grandmother. Saylor stated that writing the novel brought him particular joy "because that got me further into my own roots."

Saylor's current project is Roma, scheduled for publication in 2005, which he calls "my big Micheneresque panoramic saga of the origins of Rome." He hopes to follow it up with histories of the city through the Empire, the medieval and renaissance periods, and "up to Fellini."

Saylor has become a California resident, living and working in Berkeley. His partner Solomon is a member of the board of directors of the Folsom Street Events in San Francisco, an organization that "promotes diversity within the leather/alternative lifestyle" community and raises money for glbtq charities. The couple also maintains a home in Austin and returns there several times a year.

Asked in a 2003 interview what particularly suited him to being a mystery writer, Saylor replied, "There's a quote from Cicero: 'Nature has planted in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.' That applies very much to Gordianus, my sleuth, and to me, too, which I suppose explains my addiction to both writing and reading mystery fiction: a deep longing to see the truth uncovered. We live in a world so thick with lies--every gay person knows this from very early in life--that it's a great relief to escape into a book in which the truth actually matters."

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

"A Gladiator Only Dies Once: The Further Investigations of Gordianus the Finder. (Book review)." Publishers Weekly 252.18 (May 2, 2005): 179.

"Folsom Street Events." www.folsomstreetfair.com.

Melloy, Kilian. "Twenty Questions with Steven Saylor." (June 1, 2004): www.wigglefish.com/stories/0001_0019_0086.cfm?id=1650.

Saylor, Steven. "A Marriage Manual." Friends and Lovers: Gay Men Write about the Families They Create. John Preston and Michael Lowenthal, eds. New York: Dutton, 1995. 95-106.

_____. "Amethyst, Texas." Hometowns: Gay Men Write about Where They Belong. John Preston, ed. New York: Dutton, 1991. 119-135.

_____. "My Mother's Ghost." A Member of the Family: Gay Men Write about Their Families. John Preston, ed. New York: Dutton, 1992. 61-74.

"Steven Saylor." www.stevensaylor.com.

"Welcome to the World of Aaron Travis." www.stevensaylor.com/AaronTravis.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Saylor, Steven  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated October 4, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/saylor_s.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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