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I recently had the pleasure to read Bully. I also had the honor of interviewing the author, Emme Dun. I hope you enjoy reading the following interview I conducted with the author.
Timea Barabas on April 15, 2015.
Timea Barabas: Bully is based on true events. How did you become familiar with these? And what caught your eye and motivated you to write about them?
Emme Dun: My partner was sued for forced shared custody of her child and over the 5 years the case wound its way through the legal system, I became acquainted with several mothers in the same situation. As I followed these cases and in light of my background as a lawyer and gay person, my faith in the judicial system was absolutely shaken to the core. I was struck by the utter hypocrisy of the attorneys and judges involved and deeply saddened by their obvious disregard of these mothers’ basic civil rights and the best interest of their children. I decided to write Bully to call out the hypocrisy of these cases and bring attention to the near-absolute power elected politician-judges possess.
Timea Barabas: What do you think the main aspect is that sets this book apart from others in the lesbian/gay genre?
Emme Dun: Most, if not all, previous books that address similar issues frame the story as a blatant disregard of LGBT human rights at the hands of the majority. Here, I decided to illustrate that for all of the LGBT movement’s recent advances, misguided LGBT advocates are using the same type of false pretenses we so strenuously fought against in situations like the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case of Bowers v. Hardwick. In that case, LGBT advocates were revolted (and rightly so) by the government’s use of emotionally-charged arguments to justify trouncing on the rights of consenting adults to engage in private activity in their home. Now, in the cases that inspired Bully, misguided LGBT advocates (i.e., bullies) are using the same type of emotionally-charged arguments to justify trouncing on the rights of good parents who want to raise their families as they see fit in the privacy of their homes. In both of these situations, there was and is, no valid reason for the government to be involved.
Timea Barabas: One of the most captivating concepts presented was the “heart parent” (“the other parent—not the biological parent, but the one who has been there all along nurturing and supporting the child”), what role does this have in today’s justice system?
Emme Dun: There is a concept in law called the “psychological parent,” which Ohio, like many other states, specifically rejected because it’s so subjective. The character of Pat Brown knew this so she just slapped a different label on it. As far as a role in today’s justice system, the so-called “heart parent” or “psychological parent” should never be given the same legal status and/or rights as a fit parent, natural or adoptive, because if it is, as was done in Bully, judges will routinely reengineer or “secularize” familes.
Timea Barabas: There are plenty of characters in the book, which at first seem to have little to do with each other. Was it difficult to tie the lives of so many characters together?
Emme Dun: My goal was to provide enough personal background on each of the key characters so that readers clearly understood how these characters’ lives all coalesced smack in the bulls-eye of hot, current and emotionally-charged events. I also wanted to show readers just how poorly LGBT people were treated not that long ago and still are by some judges.
Timea Barabas: Bully, is without doubt dominated by women, but what do you think about the presence of male vs. female characters in today’s literature/movies? Which gender is “dominating”?
Emme Dun: The role of women in today’s literature/movies has finally been lifted to a status nearly equal to men—equal in terms of action and impact--good and evil; tolerant and intolerant; powerful and powerless.
Timea Barabas: What do you think about the way the LGBT community is represented in literature/movies today compared to the past?
Emme Dun: While progress has definitely been made, the LGBT community is still represented in somewhat stereotypical but more multi-faceted roles, e.g., Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, period pieces like Dallas Buyers Club and Pride, as compared to the more one-dimensional roles of the past. We’ve made great strides, however, in terms of expression and acceptance in that an individual’s LGBT status is not the primary defining characteristic, e.g., Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer, Jane Lynch, Ian McKellen, George Takei, Wanda Sykes, Angelina Jolie, Jodie Foster, and on and on.
Timea Barabas: Did you face any roadblocks while working on Bully? If yes, how did you overcome these?
Emme Dun: I faced some roadblocks in that Bully is such a personal effort that there were times when I just had to stop and let it come to me over the two years it took to write.
Timea Barabas:What impact do you hope Bully will have?
Emme Dun: In my heart of hearts, I genuinely hope LGBT people will wake up and realize any perceived step forward made by trouncing on others’ rights is not true progress and actually makes us no better than those who, throughout history, relegated minorities to second-class citizen status. I also hope people everywhere will become much more engaged in the politial process of electing judges.
Timea Barabas: How would you describe the experience of publishing your first novel?
Emme Dun: Challenging and still “in process.”
Timea Barabas: Do you have any future projects planned?
Emme Dun: Yes. I have two distinct directions and haven’t yet decided which I’ll pursue first.
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