Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Todd Peterson author of My Razzle Dazzle: An Outsider's True Story. Todd, which is the author's pen name, skated for various professional roller derby leagues from 1973 to 1992. In 1998 he became owner of the San Francisco Bay City Bombers team, forming his own league, the San Francisco-based American Roller Derby League (ARDL), The award-winning documentary film Jam, screening at film festivals and special events in 2006, followed Peterson's attempts, from 1998 to 2004, to find success with his league. The documentary also appeared on the SUNDANCE channel for 2.5 years on rotation.
In 2014, Todd had also authored Why I Cheat: Men, Marriage, and Cheating. Currently, Roller Babes 1950's women of Roller Derby is being published and expected to be available by Jan 2016.
Norm: Good day Todd and thanks for participating in our interview.
Is your recent story told in My Razzle Dazzle: An Outsider's True Story something that you have been wanting to tell a long time or did it suddenly catch up with you at a certain point in your life?
Todd: I did want to tell the story for years but was too frightened. I never really had the nerve to tell the truth for many years, decades really. I thought I'd be hated or socially humiliated if people knew what happened to me or what I did. At the age of 60 and after seven years of Craig and Al, flat mates asking.... I just started writing one day.. and could not stop.
Norm: When were you first aware of your preference for men? How did you feel about this? Did you talk with anyone about this? Who? What was that like?
Todd: I suppose I always knew I was different ... especially from my older brother. I knew there was something wrong with me. I liked all the wrong things for a boy. I kept everything a secret until I was 20 years old. Small town boys and farm boys like me might still feel this fear? I had to drink some wine and finally speak about my gayness.
Norm: How has the gay scene in San Francisco changed over the years? What types of places did you go when you went out? What do you feel are some of the more important changes?
Todd: As a young man in San Francisco I loved the dance clubs. I got lost in the music and I didn't have to talk much. Even in my early 20's I wasn't very sure of myself and who I was or comfortable socially. I had NO idea of what being gay was and no role model until I moved to San Francisco in 1973. Today, society is more experienced with gay men. We're on TV! There are 'out' role models. Schools have gay and gay friendly groups that help young men understand who they are. It is like we've come out of the dark ages!
Norm: What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read the book? As a follow up, what do you want your book to do, entertain, provoke thinking...?
Todd: I wanted the story to be fun and funny. Any young man or boy who might be living in the shadows might enjoy the book. But in all reality, everyone has felt just a little like an outsider in their life. Everyone needs a little inspiration to help elevate their esteem and jump over the next hurdle life has placed in front of them.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
Todd: Once I started, I could not stop. I had writer's cramps for the 10 months while writing and editing. It was fast! My previous book took three years! The scenes would not stop. I became a volcano spewing all sorts of ugly lava from deep. I slept very little. I was diagnosed with cancer and wrote while in the hospital and all the way through radiation therapy. I wanted to tell these things so bad and for so long ... I didn't want to die before I told this story.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Todd: The Junior High School and High School years. I didn't want to relive that! But I did, and I cried many times again as if it was all happening to me again as a much older adult. My dad's scenes were painful.
Norm: How did you come up with the title My Razzle Dazzle?
Todd: A razzle dazzle is the secret name of a roller derby play used in professional roller derby. It is used near or at the end of a tightly fought game where the teams are tied, and then POW the razzle dazzle play brings the fans to their feet in one breath taking final score for the win! I fell in love with roller derby at a very young age and it is part of me still.
Norm: Were there any parts of the book that you were uncomfortable writing about?
Todd: MANY! Phew. Some scenes I took out. But I was frightened of telling things and even the one chapter at the gay bath house or the things with my dad. Things that were far to private, that I never told anyone... too many secrets to put into print for me.
Norm: How as been the reaction from your readers? What kind of things do they say?
Todd: Readers and friends really love it. My closest friends, roller derby and work colleagues really responded incredible. I am glad I shared. It is an enduring story for everyone so far.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Todd: The big web sites like Amazon and Goodreads....
Norm: What is next for Todd Peterson?
Todd: I am halfway through a money guide for men only. Not just gay men but all men. It is an investment and lifestyle guide. Say you are a freshly divorced man, this guide will help you.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Todd: Most people wonder why I'm still alive. lol. I would just answer, the luck of the draw.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors