Recent Comments


    Authors Owen Keehnen and Rizi Xavier Timane Share How Writing Helps Us Heal

    michelleMichele Karlsberg: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 

    Owen Keehnen: Young Digby Swank is a novel about a gay Catholic kid coming of age in a small town who, after numerous missteps, eventually learns to become comfortable in his own skin. Writing this book prompted me to reflect upon my own life as a gay kid/outsider and exorcise some of those grade school and adolescent demons through humor.

    Making the novel funny was extremely liberating and reaffirmed my belief in the healing power of laughter. Early on in the writing, it became apparent to me who the real crazies were in that fictional environment, and it sure wasn’t Digby. The church, for example, can be terribly wounding to the self-esteem of a gay kid. Exposing the lunacy of many Catholic teachings and much of the dogma was great fun. And having the church as the butt of so many jokes felt wonderfully karmic.

    Upon finishing the book, several people have remarked that they really connected to the feeling of being an outsider and the pressure to belong. I love that Young Digby Swank is allowing people to be able see the humor in all that. If I can get folks to have a good snicker over the church or the Cub Scouts or gender roles or small town values or the crazed need to fit in, I’ve done my job.

    I was always different, but writing this novel confirmed for me the benefits of being unique and how the quest for conformity hurts everyone. Hopefully readers will arrive at a similar conclusion and, most importantly, have a few chortles along the way.

    Author Owen Keehnen’s latest book is “Young Digby Swank” (Wilde City Press).

    Rizi Xavier Timane: Writing can be an emotional experience; putting words down on a page has the power to make us happy and sad and angry and elated all at once. When you’re writing a memoir, it comes with a whole other set of emotions too—ones I did not foresee when I started writing my story in 2013.

    In my memoir, An Unspoken Compromise, I share my journey as a transgender individual. I candidly explore the most traumatic experiences of my life, including the passing of my cousin, Adam, who at one time was the only person in the world who supported me; the sexual abuse I went through as a young child; and the exorcisms my family’s religious community subjected me to in an effort to rid me of the demons they believed caused my gender and sexuality confusion.

    In writing about these events, I relived them in vivid memories and flashbacks. But where this might have been painful for me, I instead found that by delving into them, I was able to process them in ways I never had before. I could see others’ motives and my own more clearly, and hindsight afforded me the space and time to work through them—to forgive others and myself and, most importantly, to move on. Through writing I learned that wherever there is pain, there is possibility for healing, and in writing down our stories for others to read, we free ourselves of the chains that hold us to our painful pasts.

    Rizi Xavier Timane is the founder of The Happy Transgender Center,

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-five years of successful book campaigns.